Sunday 31 December 2017

Happy New Year - 2018!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful (and safe) New Years Eve! I did, killing time till the stroke of midnight playing a great round of Zombicide: Black Plague where my uncle (first time player) was the MVP! :)

I'm trying resolutions again this year, because I did absolutely terribly on them last time! :P
  1. Relearn my old compositions (5 songs - I do have recordings to work of)
  2. Complete chapter 1 of my web comic (harder than it sounds, given my track record)
  3. End the Year with less weight than I started (Carefully worded so I have a chance!)
  4. Finish a board game prototype that I'm happy with (good luck me!)
Are any of you doing any resolutions? Or is everyone else smart enough to stay away from them?

Lastly, here are the current blog survivor stats of my "one post every three weeks" rule.

I have been slack adding new bridges though.

Friday 29 December 2017


It's like first Person XCOM except everyone is an idiot.

I can forgive a FPS for being linear and for having a strange story filled with plot holes. I also am ok with it using a checkpoint system, having standard "exploding barrels" in odd spots, and a questionable physics engine that sends exploding cars flying around the map. AI that usually doesn't use cover is around the Doom II era but sure, I can look past a highly trained squad of marines and their foes lining up in the open like in the American Civil War to shoot each other with modern assault or futuristic energy weapons.

"It's ok Sir! We don't need cover against that!"

What I don't like? Unskippable cut scenes. That is my biggest pet peeve in this game, and given it is single player - one that should not exist at all. I was also annoyed that there was no option for subtitles and that all the video settings are not handled in the "video settings" menu, but via squirreling around with game files themselves. That just reeks of bad design. Enemies popping out of thin air is also a bit cheap and the final boss is a HP sponge with no indicator if what you are doing is right.

There are positives though. The game features a good array of poorly explained enemies, a unique squad system where their performance improves or declines with morale and it has huge vehicular stages that have small optional bits apart from "the way forward". Steering is done via mouse though, so don't expect to be able to check your mirrors without turning the vehicle.

There are way better shooters these days (and there were probably better shooters when this was released) and only takes one afternoon to complete, so I give this 1.5 clipping helicopters out of 5.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Saints Row 2

Open world silliness at its best.

The Saints Row franchise has never been on my radar, and I only got this game when Greenman Gaming was giving it for free. Yes, it's now very dated and the combat is hilariously bad/over simplified, but props for getting some capoeira in there.

It's got tons of humor, story, and skilled voice actors as well as a decent vehicle system, when you get used to it. It also has a great selection of radio stations, one of which my wife kept singing along with while I played!

You play as the resurrected Saints gang leader, and are tasked with violently taking over the open-world city. There are a multitude of extra activities (racing, stunt jumping, being a bodyguard to celebs, stealing ho's, lowering real estate value by pouring poop from a sanitation vehicle, and more) as well as collectibles hidden all over the place. I've finished the game and I'm only on 70% completion!

Need to stop more prostitute uprisings. With a chainsaw.

There's a crazy amount of customization too - for your character, your clothes (each article independently), your vehicles, your gangs, your cribs. Yes it's silly, but god damn it's fun. Graphics wise, its very dated but I still can recommend it for anyone who likes driving around in open world craziness. Three police cars out of five! Now my interest is piqued for the other Saints Row games...

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Today I Smiled: The Gift of Gaming

What do you give a guy who doesn't buy himself games? My friend Juris had a good answer, giving me two big plastic bags filled with his old games as an early Christmas present! Sure, I've already played one or two and half probably won't work due to Steam validation or whatnot but there are still lots in there for me to get through! Thanks Juris! :)

That, along with my eldest brother and his family staying over for Christmas means I'll be going dark for a bit, so have a Merry Christmas all! Here's an online "game" for all of you too, courtesy of ASIO - Australia's Spy Agency. Not sure if it will work for those out of the country but give it a whirl. All I can say is I'd make a terrible spy.

Monday 18 December 2017

The Foreigner

Tell me the names!

When Quan (Jackie Chan) loses his last family member to a random bombing, he decides to hunt down the perpetrators himself. Not the most unique of premises, but the method he takes to do so is interesting.

The acting is ok across the board and I didn't mind all the accents but the highlights are definitely the action pieces. Unfortunately there aren't that many of those. The plot also has holes with numerous filler scenes, especially near the start.

This poster almost has more action than the movie.

The Foreigner is an alright flick, but not one I can recommend to anyone other than Jackie Chan fans as the Taken series does a similar story, better. I give the Foreigner 2 IEDs out of 5, and am in no rush to watch it again.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Review

A post for Isey!

I know I've leveled up in obfuscation when I can write 30 or so chapters based on this game yet leave readers wondering what the game is about!

At its heart, Battle Brothers is about managing a band of mercenaries in a fantasy world. You need to keep everyone paid, fed, happy and hopefully alive! There are two main parts to the game, the first of which is combat, which is a turn by turn activity wherein individuals, represented as busts (clever when you get used to the idea), are moved around a hex based map to gain tactical advantage and defeat their opponents.

While basic concepts like holding the high ground comes naturally, the game has other factors to take into account. At night all ranged units perform worse. A spearman at the ready can auto push back an advancing foe. Orcs have bad morale checks so do you kill lots of weak ones to get them panicked or concentrate on the slow heavy armored ones at the back? There are many choices, and while team member death is highly likely during the game more frequent are injuries - some of which permanently affect your team.

This is where the second activity: management, comes in. Each brother you hire has a background and particular traits. Sure a laborer might be more physically adept than a tailor, but you then have to balance things out such as hiring youth over experience or vice versa. You also have some people who are secretly murderers, or drunkards, or greedy. Maybe they are really small, which makes them hard to hit but in turn means they do less damage. The list of combinations is a long one.

They all are very different.

People improve as they survive combats, but do you fire them when the injuries pile on? Sid Sidorovich in my play through suffered a weakened heart (less stamina and hp), broken elbow (less chance to hit), lost a finger (less chance to hit), lost an eye (less chance to hit) was traumatized (less morale), yet was being paid a good amount per day because I chose to keep him on.

While traveling on the world map you also have random events ranging from funny to very serious. The characteristics of the team you have also determines additional choices and/or consequences for each event. Outside those the main "story" is for your company to survive through the "late game crisis" which currently is either an undead invasion, an orc rampage or a war between the noble houses.

To answer Isey's question of how does this translate into a story - easily as the game is already rich in content. Obviously I had a blast with this one and highly recommend it to the tactical war gamer types among you. I give it 4 Lindwurms out of 5.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Suicide Squad

Too many characters, not enough development.

When the government decides to leverage "gifted" criminals into working as a team against an equally overpowered foe, one has to ask what could go wrong?. "Plenty," is the correct answer. The plot features a fair bit of action with good effects that go eclectic at times but not much else as it is mired in clumsy story telling.

Part of the problem is having too many characters who don't actually need to be there (similar to my Thor: Ragnarok review). Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and Katana could easily be dropped. Acting wise everyone (except the overly "dancey" main bad guy) is ok, with Margot Robbie (Harley) being fantastic. I had reservations with Will Smith being Deadshot but he pulls it off well enough when he isn't wearing a pimp hat.

Could have halfed the team and made a better story.

I also liked Jared Leto's Joker, but again his use in most of the non-flashback segments feels forced. I should mention the antagonists of the film make little sense too, but with everything else going sideways they just get a shrug. I give this 2.5 floating rings of trash out of 5, and can't really recommend it to anyone.

Friday 15 December 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Extremely bad luck for a murderer to have (possibly) the world's greatest detective on the train.

Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) finds himself on a train where one of the passengers is murdered. Despite the dark tone the bright scenery is fantastic and the train set is awesome. The acting is good all around and the music, when it is used, is really great. There are a few funny bits and small action pieces to break up all the dialogue which I was happy with.

Too bad the pianist who plays "suspenseful music" didn't make this pic.

It's hard to say more without giving anything away so I'll wrap it up by giving it 3.5 huge mustaches out of 5 as someone who went in blind (never read books or remember previous movies), and recommend it to murder mystery fans -especially- those who don't know the answer to this one before hand.

As an interesting exercise, I wonder what Batman would have done?

Thursday 14 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Retirement

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Retired as a rich man, Sahkarov purchases a keep and pretty much buys his own little fiefdom near the sea where his allies of House Ruhmolt are glad to have him. Scribes visit regularly to notate the impressive adventures he and the Spears have had as the remaining members all went their own ways.

Ragner and Rollo took to pirating on the seas, Sir Erland left on a quest to hunt down a "dragon", while Sunbro became a champion of the noble house tournaments. Sir Winfred Steinhart, Wilrech and Ulfert joined another mercenary band to try destroy a goblin city but never returned.

Too bad I never ran into a Lindwurm.

The last surviving member, Raven Skinny Bastard would visit Sahkarov often - still with a mind to build up a company strong enough to reach the Black Obelisk. Whether the ex-juggler would actually achieve such a goal would have to be a tale for another time.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Path of Peace

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Having lost face, Sir Winfred Steinhart asks to join the Spears - which Sahkarov agrees to despite Sunbro's protests. Sahkarov also convinces Ulfert the pimp, who was part of the entertainment caravan, to abandon his sinful ways of and join them instead (because murder is better than lust apparently).

The Spears defend the mountain town of Finsterkoppen against leftover orc marauders, joined by the local militia and the brothers Ragner and Rollo Eagle Eye. They are successful, though all but one militia man dies and Ragner loses an ear.

With the blood still fresh on the ground, Sir Winfred and Sunbro are dueling again - this time for real. Sahkarov manages to use his priestly ways to talk them both down, earning another recruit - Wilrech the apprentice. The company then completes more hunts, reclamation quests, and a lot of envoy escort missions becoming the premier troop the nobles want to hire for such treks.

The company goes on to survive undead ambushes, more orc marauders, and a skirmish against House Grimmund soldiers when the Spears rescue a Lord of Folsach from a prison wagon. Sahkarov earns a broken knee during the jail break and finally, having been with the company for over a year now, the monk decides to retire.

Wise enough to know when to fold.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Warriors to the End

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

While at the tavern, a contingent of House Grimmund soldiers arrive to announce that the war is over! The main horde is retreating into the wild lands, and any clans that remain can be wiped out without the need for mercenaries. Gander is still relieved, and when Sunbro jokingly asks for a raise for all the troops Gander happily agrees.

Despite the news, the Spears are given clean up duty - destroying an orc base in the rainy mountains where Hanke and Adam Chaplin are slain and one of the magic shields is cleaved in two! Gander returns the company to hunting thieves, dire wolves and easier escort missions for a bit - even enjoying a stint with a caravan of women offering the oldest profession. For 300g it's a bargain!

Escorting the caravan up the mountain the team fights off goblin raiders as well as large bands of brigands led by Ingolf the Red. Sir Lancel manages to slay Ingolf, but he and Gander fall in battle, leaving the monk Sahkarov now in charge. Upon arrival at their destination a rotund Grimmund knight named Sir Winfred Steinhart makes fun of the company, leading to a jousting contest between him and Sunbro Forever.

Sunbro easily puts him in his place.

Monday 11 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Heavy Casualties

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Having saved Lazenfeste, Gander purchases 9 war dogs and recruits the bowyer / archer pair of Eberhard and Hartmut "One Shot" before leading the company to the twin ports of Meerburg and Holnisland where they are joined by Sir Lancel Hildebrand, Sir Albrecht Kettilmund and Sir Donatus Donbert, all of whom have lost their companies in this war.

Sir Donatus has restarted building his though, introducing his small militia of Bernhard the traveler, Torkel the fisherman, Thorben an ex caravan guard and Hanke his sergeant. The Spears then conduct a rapid strike operation on a nearby "Long Spears" goblin camp, eradicating it at the cost of Corynx getting fatally skewered, Eberhard being out archered, and Hartmut getting eaten by the mount of a goblin wolf rider.

Upon their return the find the twin ports under attack by hordes of orcs and jump right into the fray. Sigmar and Bernhard are butchered by orc berserkers. Bertram, Thorben, Torkel, Sir Donatus, Sir Albrecht and Sid are also all killed in action. With the remaining orcs scattered, the survivors hit the tavern to drown their losses in ale.

But not before leaving a warning for all the other orcs.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Battle Brothers: The Green Sea

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Unwilling to lose any more cities, Gander marches the Spears back to the Western front - hiring the sell swords Oghren and Adam Chaplin on the way. Even with House Ruhmolt soldiers, the clash against goblin forces costs Emile and Stargazer their lives. Hakon also has his shield destroyed in the melee and his throat cut from ear to ear. Sid is traumatized by the experience.

Despite their victories, word arrives that Reinbruch - a village just across the mountains - has also fallen, and now the horde marches upon House Folsach's stronghold of Lazenfeste. The Spears are contracted to destroy the orcs forward war camp, gaining volunteers Sigmar the vagabond and Bertram the miller to fill out the long axe row at the back. Ironically, the Spears of the Church no longer use Spears.

Maybe this caught the orc warlords by surprise?

The war camp is easily destroyed, but since it was just one of many Lazenfeste falls under siege and the Spears rush to aid it with a company of House Folsach soldiers. They are terribly outnumbered, but find victory on the field, losing Harlech, Oghren and one of Sid's eyes to orc warriors as well as all but one of the House Folsach soldiers.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Battle Brothers: The Ruins of Kragenheim

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After rescuing the survivors of Stakendorf, Stargazer injures himself while training as the Spears are sent to clear the Ruins of Kragenheim. The resident goblins have superior positioning and a shaman to boot who continually casts AoE root spells. The magic and the net throwing skirmishers makes advancing an arduous task. Hakon is pretty much useless the entire fight as he never succeeds in freeing himself.

The fleet footed gobbos get to work dismantling the rest of the team, dismembering Sir Wilhelm, cutting down Arl Eamon, Reimund, and Gaius, removing one of Raven's ears and breaking Sunbro's elbow before Gander finally reaches the shaman and impales it with the company battle standard. The remaining enemies are subsequently cut down easily.

And their corpses put on display.

Weakened and in low morale, Gander pulls the Spears back to the safer Eastern cities for an easy nachzehrer hunt and to resupply rations. While doing this the horde advances and destroys Gerworld village.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Deviant Scum

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The Spears are soon on the road once more and run into Sir Wilhelm Erkenbrand with a group of refugees who claim the greenskins (orcs and goblins) have now combined forces (Gander previously thought they were always allies), and a great horde of them now marches upon the lands of man.

Having lost his company and the backing of the Houses (partially his fault for being a traitor), Sir Wilhelm asks to join the Spears in his quest for vengeance. Gander accepts the hammer wielding knight who is quick to show his skills against a few bandits.

A fitting end to bandits who surrender.

They also encounter a monk who shares his ale with the company, and a man hanging upside down and being flogged for screwing a dead horse. The man begs the Spears to let him join, but when he is cut down he falls awkwardly and breaks his neck (lol).

He isn't the only deviant around though, as the Spears are next tasked with rescuing prisoners from the greenskins. Sir Siegfried Baranor and his men assist making the combat easy (2 soldiers die), but finding the naked and tortured victims afterwards shakes most of the men to their core. Eager for vengeance, one survivor named Hakon joins the Spears.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Battle Brothers: Many Masks

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The Spear's banditry continues as they do the same ruse at Kielseng, before moving on to guard caravans and hunt more dire wolves. On the road, Sahkarov convinces a "war" band of children to disperse shortly before running into House Grimmund soldiers who attempt to arrest Emile. Using their legendary renown, Gander makes them back off.

The very next day they are side by side with the same troops, led by Sir Wilhelm Erkenbrand of House Grimmund (previously of House Ruhmolt, guess they pay better up North?) to successfully defend against more marauding greenskins.

Afterwards the Spears do a bunch of easy envoy escort missions, with Harlech taking the opportunity to learn some moves from Arl Eamon. Gander also spends a bit of coin on upgrading the Spears equipment, including a magic helm, and accepts a task to defend Wiesendorf from roaming bandits - who turn out to be undead!

The Spears still honor their contract, and despite Arl Eamon losing an eye and the enemy necromancer having an undead hero who manages to stand up even after Stargazer beheads him, they undead are no match for the mercenaries. Raven gains a few more coins afterwards by using his juggling talents in the village.

Happy times among all the killing.

Fighting a headless foe takes its toll on Stargazer though, who drowns his nightmares with ale. He is now a drunkard.

Battle Brothers: Skinny Brigands

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The peace after the invasion is pleasant, but coin hard to come by once more for a mercenary band. Harlech tries his hand at a tournament, jousting against Sir Albrecht but only wins himself a broken shoulder. Raven and Sir Erland also injure each other again when quarreling about status, Emile continues thieving, and Stargazer pockets a magic knife from a corpse in the woods.

To keep them busy, Gander returns the Spears to hunting dire wolves and courier work, as well as "posing" as bandits and raiding Erzberg, slaying a good number of peasants as part of an extortion racket for House Folsach. Gander feels guilty about this afterwards, with Sid consoling him saying money is money.

The ultimate motivator.

Almost right afterwards the Spears are back at Erzberg, defending it from rampaging green skins with the Hungry Hounds and soldiers led by Sir Wilhelm Erkenbrand. There are a few allied losses, and Corynx suffers a broken elbow thanks to a goblin pike. On a more positive note, Sir Erland manages to get a traveling troupe to perform for free upping morale, and Raven Fat Bastard is no longer fat! Needing a more appropriate name, the Spears re-dub him Raven Skinny Bastard.

Friday 1 December 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Aka. Asgard gets caned.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) experiences a lot of loss in this film (its titled Ragnarok after all) but he somehow manages to be a cheeky and funny fellow throughout. Eventually finding himself a gladiator at an alien arena, he not only has to regain his freedom but make it back to Asgard to save his home and his people.

The action pieces in this film are quite good, and the CGI is superb as to be expected. It's also very humorous, especially the cameo filled stage play and Korg (played by the director himself, Taika Waititi). Thumbs up from me for the main villain as well.

Plot wise, while Thor himself grows a lot there are a few things which felt off for me ... Karl Urban's extended extra and that other wizard probably didn't need to be here for example. The female lead also felt lacking. It's like the studio just needed to put a colored female to balance out the cast.

Easy way to test: If you removed those characters or switched them with throw away ones, could you still tell the same story?

Literally the best thing she did.

All up, Thor: Ragnarok is a very entertaining film and one I wouldn't mind watching again. I give it four melt sticks out of five and can easily recommend it to any action fan.