Tuesday 31 December 2019

Surviving Mars

Requires micro management!

As something I got free from Epic Games I didn't know what this was till I loaded it, and I can safely say it is not my cup of tea.

With the objective of colonizing the red planet, you are in charge of everything from the budget, to where to land the build rocket, how to power your base, where to build your dome, how the power cables and pipes are connected to facilities, if said facilities turn off at night (because solar power only works during the day), which people to bring to your dome (based on age/traits/talents/defects), what place do they work (down to which shift) and ultimately how to send rockets back to Earth to make a profit.

Operation make Mars look like a junk pile: Commence!

Phew! There's a lot going on, but there's also a shit load of waiting, even with things sped up. Wait for research. Wait for build completion. Wait for rocket to arrive. Wait for colonists to have babies. So yep. Not for me.

Also, the second tutorial mission just doesn't work which doesn't give me much hope for the rest of the game. Anyway, if that sounds fun to you - go for it. Otherwise, send it off to Mars!

Monday 30 December 2019

Cloak and Dagger (TV)

Pancakes and waffles - the best part about this show.

As children both Tandy (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) are affected by an accident that gives them some pretty odd super powers. Years later, these powers manifest and they use them to do good totally confuse the audience which isn't helped by a plot that seems to just go where it wants to on a whim.

Those daggers look ridiculous too.

Tyrone, whose dad is a member of a sewing gang (wtf), has anger issues but actually turns out to be the more heroic of the duo as Tandy, has very few redeeming qualities past her looks. She is selfish, actively steals from people, abandons people and almost enjoys killing - or is at least nonchalant about it.

The most grating parts about this show is when they go into their "fake worlds" which happens often. I think only one of those actually proved to be entertaining, the rest were just filler or a poor vehicle to illustrate something required of the plot. Argh. It's a pity since there are actually a few good moments in here, but not enough for me to recommend this two season show to anyone.

Sunday 29 December 2019


You have 60 seconds.

Using black and white graphics, Minit is a simple adventure game where you go on an epic quest to stop the bad guy. The catch? After the tutorial you have 60 seconds before dying and being thrown back to your spawn point.

It doesn't use the best graphics around...

This makes game play very rushed and somewhat frustrating as you need to explore, solve puzzles and win some combats in that time. An early NPC really rubs it in when he talks sooooo slow.

Thankfully it's a short game, and while it's certainly interesting I can only recommend it to those who have patience (ironic huh?). I give it 1.5 cursed swords out of 5.

Insight: Don't go to the desert maze on your first play through.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Hannibal (TV Series)

Artsy and tasty at the same time.

Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) has a unique gift that helps the FBI catch some deranged killers. Alas, using this talent also pushes him closer to his mental breaking point so he is assigned a psychologist to keep him in check. Unfortunately for him, that psychologist is none other than Dr. Hannibal Lecter (a very suave Mads Mikkelsen) who secretly enjoys pushing his patients to their limits. He also secretly eats people.

Why don't you come over for dinner?

This is a very dark three season series, with lost of gore and buckets of blood (and cooking!?) but also a great script and fantastic artsy cinematography. Alas the third season goes a bit overboard with the artistry and the "dark" bits - literally dark that is, making it hard to see what's going on. There is a sharp decline in quality at that point but at least it ends with a decent showdown.

If you like procedural police shows, thrillers, the two main stars or simply are a Hannibal fan then you should give this a watch. The first two seasons are especially great.

Friday 27 December 2019


It's quite literal.

In this program you can be anything from a tiny speck of dirt to a massive black hole in space and everything in between while you explore the randomly generated terrain while exploring your own mind listening to a seminar by philosopher Alan Watts.

Everything is connected. You are everything. This is enforced by finding galaxies if you shrink far enough into a giraffe - and if you ascend past the universe you find might yourself to be a molecule of a plant. Yep. It's weird.

Yes, creatures naturally face plant as a form of travel.

To call it a game is a bit generous though since there is no objective. It doesn't matter where you go. What you do. It's so laid back and tripping ballsy that you can just let it auto-play with itself... if you like to watch. You can even just do that on Youtube.

The seminar is interesting, but the game - not so much. I give it 1 out of 5 wiggly nouns. As Alan Watts says "When we play a game, and the outcome of the game becomes certain - we cancel the game immediately". My recommendation? Leave that youtube link running in the back ground to listen to while doing something else.

Insight: Don't play it.

Thursday 26 December 2019

December 2019 Review

Wow, that year just flew past. Putting this early as I'm going to be away for a bit - no need to worry though, my automated services should keep posting if I set it up right! Haha. Game backlog has expanded again thanks to the all the freebies of the Christmas season. I'll have to tackle them when I get back!

    End 2019 with less weight (FAIL +3 kg from last month, running total: +6 kg)
    Make 1 web comic page (nada)
    Make new board game idea (nope)
Borderlands 2 [gift]
Try Shroud of the Avatar [free on Steam] (priority NWO: Infernal Descent Mod)
Soma [free from Epic Games] (done)
The Messenger [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+Jotun [free from Epic Games] (done)
+Wasteland 2 [free from GOG] (done)
+The Escapists [free from Epic Games]
+The Wolf Among Us [free from Epic Games]
+Postal 2 [free from GOG]
+Into the Breach [free from Epic Games] (done)
+How to Survive 2 (gift)
+Towerfall Ascension [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+The Wolf Among Us [free from Epic Games]
 +Superhot [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+Little Inferno [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+Ape Out [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+Undertale [gift]
+LISA: The Painful [gift]
+Rimworld [gift]
+Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain [gift]
+Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes [gift] (done)
+Totally Acurate Battle Simulator [free from Epic Games]

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (0/13)
Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats (4/4)
+Love Letter
+Black Orchestra


One Year Ago

Neverwinter Online released a crappy professions workshop and I started "The Cursed" story which began with the old D&D game - Curse of the Azure Bonds. Also Netflix started axing a whole bunch of Marvel superhero TV shows!

Five Years Ago

I am still very much into Vindictus and Tiamat first appears in Neverwinter Online.

Most Viewed Posts last Month
The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt: Rats
The Wild Hunt: Generals

I'm guessing this was helped by the recent release of the Witcher series on Netflix. ;)

Top Search Terms last Month
rurouni kenshinn
neverwinter drowned shore heroic encounters fountain of fear
what level do you get a workshop in neverwinter

It's nice to see rising interest in Neverwinter again, but Kenshin just came up out of nowhere with literally 32 times more hits than both of those!

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Somehow, less Batman is more awesome? What!?

A major improvement from the last game, this one sees you control the entire Justice League as they do their hero thing. It also fixes the problems of having the Batman theme on loop (he's not around as much) and being able to carry only one suit at a time. In this game, if you have a suit unlocked it and its abilities are always available to you.

This does make the game slightly harder as you have more options for puzzle solving which don't always make sense: such as Batman's ice gun being able to put out fires EXCEPT these fires which look exactly the same which can only be crossed by someone holding a shield. Uh, sure.

The game also comes with nice extra levels (the Arrow one is great, thanks Stephen Amell!) and the side missions are more enticing to participate in. Definitely a step up from the last outing, I give it 3 shrunken cities out of 5.

Insight: Not sure where to go? Follow the trail of ghost lego!

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

A continuation from the short-lived Nickelodeon series sees Dib Membrane, 12 years old and regarded by everyone to be crazy due to his alien-hunting hobby, waiting and watching for the reappearance of his rival - the titular Invader Zim, who has vanished for a long time.

He's back!

This turns out to be part of Zim's Earth conquering plan, a job he is mainly undertaking to gain the approval of his leaders, "the tallest" - much like how Dib just wants the approval of his own dad.

There are a few disgusting bits but it all works within the great comedic script. It might be too much for some people though, especially those unfamiliar with Zim or at least some of the other Nickelodeon titles. However if you liked Invader Zim the series, then this is definitely for you! I give it 3.5 GIR pizzas out of 5 and have already watched it twice! 

Monday 23 December 2019

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Batman is more violent and destructive than ever!

Unlike the first game which just kept crashing for me, this one has the fantastic improvement of being playable, and more than that - is quite enjoyable given the low difficulty and decent story. In it you play (mostly) as the dynamic duo, puzzle solving their way through levels.

Yes, Superman is in it too...

Make no mistake, this is a puzzle solving game more than anything. Obviously this is tuned for kids though, and possibly selling many lego toys and mini figures. It's quite interesting that Batman and Robin get a number of different suits with various puzzle solving abilities, but you can only carry one at a time (which is irritating).

Also as cool as the cartoon Batman theme is, you might get sick of it as it plays almost non-stop throughout the levels. Lastly the story only gets you 20% completion of the game, with the remainder being the exploration of Lego Gotham if you so choose, but there's no real motivation to do so.

This results in an OK game, but not one I would actively recommend. I give it 2 bat suits out of 5.

Insight: When in doubt, hold the button down.

Terminator: Dark Fate

You can sort of change the future, except when you can't.

Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor to actively retcon a few of the previous Terminator movies, and to stop yet another "unstoppable" threat from the future who seems to be following a similar plot to Terminator 2. There's decent violence and a mandatory chase scene and almost everything plays out just like you might guess it will, especially if you've seen the rest of the franchise.

I'm going to say not breaking out of the mold is one of the biggest weaknesses of this franchise, which is why Terminator 1 and 2 are hard to top. The first one introduced a fresh concept while the second one makes the previous bad guy a good guy and improves the things that worked in the first film. After that it's mostly a rehash of Terminator 2 all the time - which is what we have here.

Basically its Terminator with girl power...

Acting wise, Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis (Grace) are great. Almost everyone else is passable, but unfortunately the one person most lacking in depth is Natalia Reyes' Dani, who gets a lot of screen time but not a lot of agency. All up it's another OK outing that I give three drapes out of five. Will Terminator be back for round 7? We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday 22 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Retirement

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With the Hunt destroyed and no tactical genius like Radovid to oppose them, Nilfgaard conquered the rest of the Continent, apart from the vassal state of Temeria which Ves and Vernon fought so hard for. Having realized his vision the Emperor did as he had initially promised, and abdicated his throne to his daughter - Ciri.

You mean I have to wear more fancy shirts?

Thanks to her, the Skellige Isles too were left alone and prospered under Queen Cerys, who stopped their raiding ways. Meanwhile Zoltan helped Dandelion run his new cabaret at Novigrad and Letho surprisingly inherited Kaer Morhen which presented an opportunity for rebuilding his school of the viper there. As for Geralt, he and Yen eventually retired far away to a place of solitude to live out their days together in happiness. 

Of course, this doesn't mean they never saw Ciri again, for the girl could teleport to anywhere at will and on occasion would sneak out to play Gwent with the White Wolf, much to the annoyance of her handlers.

Insight: As expected, this is but one of multiple endings to this game. It's great when your choices matter!

Saturday 21 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Conjunction

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With Radovid out of the way, Nilfgaard turned its attention directly to Skellige. Among their massive armada sailed Geralt and company, with an Emperor approved plan to lure the Wild Hunt into battle for one final confrontation.

As Avallac'h expected, they took the magical bait and arrived right into the prison dome maintained by the lodge sorceresses where Geralt, Ciri, and the Nilfgaard army ambushed them. Not one to sit out of a fight, the Skellige fleet also arrived with Crach and Hjalmar at the helm.

None could match the King of the Hunt though, with even Crach falling victim to his blade. Unfortunately for him, the White Wolf's reflexes were better than his magic and the witcher avenged his fallen friend with style.

His death did not end the threats though, as their arrival had begun another Conjuction of Spheres - where the gateway to other worlds opened to let numerous creatures teleport in. The worst of these was the White Frost, a world killing magical storm who prophecy claimed could only be defeated by a child of the elder blood. Ciri.

So this is what it's like inside a snow globe...

Having been trained by Avallac'h for exactly this purpose, Ciri stepped through a gateway to face this unstoppable threat... and won.

Insight: The King of the Hunt is a pansy compared to his generals. Just dodge often and igni his frost armor off to deal some good damage.

Thursday 19 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Politics

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Upon his return to Novigrad, Triss and Yen enlist Geralt in rescuing the few remaining sorceresses they can track down. One is freely released by the Emperor of Nilfgaard, one saved from Radovid's dungeons in Oxenfurt, and one about to be murdered by Dijkstra.

Freeing the last one comes with a price: the witcher is forced to agree to aid Dijkstra's conspirators, which surprisingly include Vernon and Ves, to assassinate King Radovid. However the mad king is no fool, easily foiling the plan but an unexpected attack ends him on the spot.

Regrouping at the hideout, Vernon reveals the conspirators had made an arrangement with Nilfgaard - kill Radovid and become a vassal state and in exchange the Black Ones would take the war elsewhere. Of course, Dijkstra openly declares to renege on that deal - intent on taking Radovid's place instead. Naturally that also means killing Vernon and Ves.

Well, that's not going to happen.

Dijkstra invites Geralt to leave since witchers don't get involved with politics, but the White Wolf opts to stay with his allies who helped him at Kaer Morhen. The battle is short and bloody, and at the end of it Dijkstra and all his goons lie dead.

Insight: If you opt to fight skull level baddies, make sure you use the appropriate preparations first. I still think it's not worth it however.

The Wild Hunt: Generals

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Intent on counter attacking the Wild Hunt while they were weakened, Ciri and Geralt left Kaer Morhen in hopes to catch one of their generals in the Velen region. Avallac'h had said this particular one had become the master of the swamp crones who regularly enticed him with offerings of the flesh.

The information was good and while the witcher burned the general's face to death, Ciri slew the majority of his evil crone cohorts. Having earned a measure of trust from the White Wolf, Avallac'h next took him world-hopping to reach that of the Wild Hunt's origin.

Beauty in far flung places.

There, another general is encountered but instead of killing him Avallac'h, who also originates from that world, instead reveals proof that Eredin - the Wild Hunt leader, had killed the previous Elf King. Being a friend and a loyalist to the deceased leader, this general agrees to no longer send troops to reinforce Eredin. Avallac'h is confident he will keep his word.

Insight: The world jumping bit is really cool. In the cold world, fire will restore your health so look for ignitables.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Siege

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

By the time Ciri and Geralt return to Kaer Morhen, all the allies have gathered - now including Letho, Keira Metz and Triss. As expected, the Wild Hunt are not far behind so while Yen shields the castle with magic, Triss provides fiery artillery support for the three volunteers who go out to attack the enemy: Geralt, Lambert and Letho.

Witcher Strike Team!

The fighting is fierce and despite their best efforts and various traps, the sheer numbers of Wild Hunters gradually force the defenders back towards the keep, with Vigi, Folan and Vesemir being killed. Seeing the old witcher get his neck broken triggers something in Ciri, and she loses control for a few minutes wailing like a banshee. The sound proves fatal to the Wild Hunt and they are forced to retreat after catastrophic losses.

Having won the day, the team spends some time mourning before they go their separate ways. Hjalmar and Ermion return to Skellige, Vernon and Ves to Velen, Zoltan to Novigrad, Eskel to Lormark, and Keira and Lambert to gods know where - as a couple.

In hopes to better protect Ciri, Yen and Triss head off as well to try rebuild the Lodge of Sorceresses, leaving only Geralt, Letho and Avallac'h to watch over the girl.

Insight: So... she could have just yelled at them this whole time? Mmhmm. In any case, if you run out of dimetrium bombs, Yrden can also shut down the portals.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Allies

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Once everything is prepared, Yennefer's magics finally lift the creatures curse - revealing him to actually be an elf sage named Avallac'h, who happens to be Ciri's mentor. The elf tells Geralt how find Ciri at the magically hidden Isle of Mists.

Vesemir warns them that they'd need a plan first though, as no doubt the Wild Hunt would be nipping at their heels the minute Ciri leaves that island. Geralt agrees, and states the plan is to bring Ciri home - luring the hunt into a battle at Kaer Morhen.

While the others prepare, Geralt goes to seek other allies first - being turned down immediately by Dijkstra, Crach, Cerys, and the Emperor of Nilfgaard. Fortunately Zoltan, Vernon, Ves, Hjalmar, Vigi and Folan all agree to fight. Surprisingly so does the Skellige druid Ermion, who is zen enough to put aside his hate of Yennefer.

The White Wolf then sails to the Isle of Mists, and without too much fanfare finally locates Ciri.

Been looking for you, kid.

Insight: Ahh this part is great, as it is one where all of your previous decisions either pay off or bite you in the butt!

Monday 16 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Witchers

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Acquiring the ugly critter turns out to be rather easy once Geralt returns to the Continent as the late Baron's successor is more than happy to part ways with his "useless jester" who is actually the victim of a powerful curse.

The White Wolf decides to take him to Kaer Morhen where Yennefer, having received his summons for aid, was already preparing after teleporting ahead - much to the annoyance of the resident witchers, Eskel, Lambert and old man Vesimir.

While Vesimir looked after the new "guests", the younger witchers went about collecting materials for Yennefer's spell during the day, and spent their evenings getting absolutely hammered with various forms of alcohol. It was a fine change of pace, and one that happened all too rarely.

We need more stories with Lambert and Eskel!

Insight: Speaking of drinking, Golden Oriole potions and White Raffard decoctions are two important ones you will likely drink often. Make sure to have them in stock before taking on tough and/or poisonous enemies.

Sunday 15 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Bears

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

While the feast starts off as a normal rambunctious affair it quickly sours when a number of guests suddenly shift into bears and slaughter all but three candidates for the crown before Geralt can put them down.

Fighting without gear was the only way Geralt could give the bears a chance.

Hjalmar immediately decides to hunt down the bear related clansmen but the witcher opts to stay and assist Cerys in actually investigating the crime scene, discovering that those that transformed were actually poisoned to do so by the mother of the third contender and son of the previous King.

The guilty party is arrested and for her intellect Cerys is voted the first ever Queen of Skellige. During the coronation celebration, the witcher unexpectedly finds another trail to follow on his hunt for Ciri. That of a hideous man creature he and Yen previously heard about.

One of the Jarl's actually knew of such a monster, having sold the misshapen tyke to the Continent to a trader who worked for the Bloody Baron.

Insight: While it's fun to aim the crossbow by holding the button down, it's often more useful to just tap the button which will let Geralt auto aim and fire at the nearest enemy.

Saturday 14 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Kingmaker

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With Yen returning to Vzima to report to the Emperor, the White Wolf decided to remain in Skellige for some witcher's work - freeing a cursed gladiator spirit by letting it win, appeasing an ancient leshen to protect a village, and destroying a regenerating werewolf by forcing it to eat itself.

On his travels he also aids the children of Crach who, like many others, were off trying to accomplish heroic deeds in hopes to be crowned the next King of the isles.

Crach's daughter, Cerys, didn't need much help while trying to cure a neighboring Jarl of a demon possession. In comparison, his son Hjalmar took an entire boat load of warriors to a monster inhabited isle and lost almost all of them. Geralt was hard pressed to save the hot head prince, Folan the archer and Vigi the Fool from certain death.

Only someone named "the Fool" would wake an Ice Giant.

Crach is overjoyed at this, and allows Geralt to attend the election feast that follows.

Insight: While none of the horse racers in Skellige are that good, their fist fighters and duelists are fantastic. Make use of small dodges for the former to strike while they are open and counters for the latter. In both, don't just attack like crazy or you will regret it.

Thursday 12 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Djinn

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Geralt found sharing the small skiff with Yen to be quite pleasant. Just the two of them, sailing out in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't without purpose however, for Yennefer did have a destination in mind - a shipwreck that she deduced was the home of a djinn.

One of the more dangerous fights in the game.

After a difficult battle, the pair managed to capture the air spirit with Yen making but one wish before letting it go: To undo Geralt's last wish made with a previous djinn, a wish that the two of them would always be together.

The creature accepted before flying off, leaving the two wondering why their feelings for each other remained despite having their magical link removed. It doesn't take long for them to realize that the magic of true love is much stronger than any wish, and they share a kiss while watching the sun rise.

Insight: Uh, you probably could have used the djinn to... I don't know... destroy the Wild Hunt, find Ciri, and win the game but sure - lets use it to resolve feelings instead. Be sure to prep for this fight though, it's one of the hardest you will face!

The Wild Hunt: Outlander

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

By the time Geralt returned to Novigrad, his beard had grown too much for his liking so he had it shaved clean before finally deciding to the Skellige isles and meet up with Yennefer. The one ship willing to take him didn't fare well in the crossing, but all things considered, the witcher arrived in one piece on the isles - just in time to join Yen for the King's funeral.

Those "birds" are actually sirens!

The sorceress hadn't managed to investigate Ciri's whereabouts as thoroughly as she liked, having been hindered by the druids led by Ermion in these parts despite permission from Crach an Craite, jarl of the largest village and Geralt's friend.

In fact most of the locals treat them coldly, mainly due to them being outlanders from the Continent. Tired of trying to be nice, the pair instead use guile - stealing an artifact from the druids and desecrating one of their sacred sites to search for Ciri. Unfortunately her trail ends up vanishing into the cold, wide sea once more.

Insight: I mentioned this in the last post but just so it's clear - drowners and sirens are "weaker" underwater because the crossbow is overpowered while swimming. Especially for sirens (who can fly in this game) that attack while you are on a tiny boat, it's often better to just dive into the sea and wait for them to go into "swim mode" and shoot them there.  

Wednesday 11 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Explorer

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Having heard of Geralt's previous success as a horse racer, Cleaver hired the witcher as his rider in the big four three's night time race. Unfortunately the small fortune he wagered was lost as Bedlam's rider won by a neck, leading the frustrated dwarf to tell Geralt to piss off.

This suited the White Wolf just fine as he was done with Novigrad for the time being, opting to head out and explore the rest of Velen, taking care of any beasts and brigands he came across. One particular bandit group stood out as they were humans following a werewolf leader... a rare occurrence that made Geralt wish he knew how to dual wield.

Every area in fog is probably home to these tricksters...

Due to the war, there was also a great deal of treasure and equipment just lying around for the taking - including some underwater chests. As expected, drowners who are rather easy foes on the surface have quite the advantage underwater. Luckily, it turns out a crossbow works even better when fully submerged.

Insight: Reaching the edge of the map gives a "end of the world" message, followed by a quick travel option. While it takes away from immersion, the convenience results in good design!

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Doppler

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Needing something other than Dijkstra's offer to think about, Geralt looks for the doppler Dudu who is believed to be in hiding within Novigrad. While it takes a lot of leg work, it isn't actually difficult to find him and get his help in freeing Dandelion. Dudu simply has to look like the Eternal Fire boss Triss immolated, bark some orders, and the bard is freed.

Dandelion is overjoyed at his rescue, but informs Geralt that Ciri had teleported herself out of Novigrad during his capture. Since Geralt's searched most of the mainland, odds are Ciri has gone to Skellige island - which is where Yen is looking.

Somewhat relieved, Geralt decides to take it easy for a bit - helping his friend Zoltan get out of debt from Bedlam by tracking down collectors edition Gwent cards, Dandelion in setting up his new cabaret club, and an elf cook in regaining sword making privileges from Cleaver which earns the witcher a master blade, all while hunting down a mass murderer on the side.

Ugh, I'm terrible at this game!

Insight: Gwent is a fun card game you can play at numerous locations. If you are serious about winning though, you will need to make sure to buy new cards when you come across them and most importantly keep your deck thin by replacing out the weaker cards!

Monday 9 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Escape

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With Triss more hunted now than ever after her pyromania episode, she asks Geralt to help her and a few other mages finally flee Novigrad. The witcher soon learns that "a few" is an understatement, as there are around thirty mages to escort from the basement of a mage friendly inn all the way to the docks via sewers crawling with drowners and rats, mostly attracted by all the corpses Cleaver has been dumping.

The sewer monsters have no chance against this duo.

The White Wolf clears the path, and is surprised when Dijkstra himself helps at the dock end to slay a witch hunter patrol. With the way clear, all the mages board and Triss bids farewell to Geralt, leaving him and Dijkstra at the pier.

At this rare moment Dijkstra speaks plainly to the witcher, admitting he had been helping the mages in hopes to ally with them one day, and then about his hatred at the current ruler of Redania - suggesting Geralt aid him in assassinating the mad King Radovid. Knowing what the witcher's immediate answer would be, Dijkstra instead implores him to "think about it" before leaving.

Insight: It seems named allies are in no danger of dying if their health bar doesn't appear on the screen. Your mileage may vary with nameless henchmen support though.

Sunday 8 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Junior

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Since an assault on the temple is out of the question, Geralt hunts down Whoreson Junior next with the aid of Cleaver's dwarves but the wily scum always seems to just be out of reach - with his clowns thwarting any takeover Cleaver had in mind.

Skilled in brawling and in make-up application.

It takes contacting the spy, Vernon Roche, hiding out with what's left of his Temerian company and saving his favored soldier, Ves, from an unsanctioned suicide mission against a Nilfgaard unit to finally find Whoreson at a safe house provided by King Radovid himself in Oxenfurt. He had been passing the time by murdering strumpets in various ways.

During his beating, Whoreson divulges that Dandelion, Ciri, and the doppler Dudu were to bring him Dijkstra's hoard as payment to repair a phylactery. The robbery didn't go as planned and Whoreson admits to exchanging blows with Ciri. Unimpressed, Geralt mercilessly kills the bastard who attacked his "daughter" before taking the repaired phylactery for himself.

Insight: Ciri's charge up attack is very powerful, just make sure you dash away to give you time before using it. Despite teleporting everywhere you will always finish right where you start.

Saturday 7 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Dijkstra

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Searching for Dandelion leads the White Wolf to a meeting with Novigrad's criminal bosses: Bedlam, Cleaver and Geralt's old enemy, Dijkstra. This meeting is cut short by an attack by gang members of the fourth crime boss, Whoreson Junior, whose minions have taken to dressing up like clowns.

While the attack is easily thwarted, only Dijkstra offers to help find the bard provided Geralt does some work for him first: track down Whoreson for the attack and recover his recently stolen treasure hoard.

One of these days I'm going to kill you. Just saying...

The witcher goes after the treasure first, and with Triss' help by volunteering to be tortured by Eternal Fire cultists, Geralt bluffs his way into the good books of their boss who reveals not only where the treasure is, but that one of the thieves is locked in the temple dungeon: Dandelion.

Triss then proceeds to incinerate her torturers and their boss in the fire they so worship.

Insight: Novigrad is a pain in the ass to navigate. You are probably faster on foot in the city.

Thursday 5 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Monsters

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Novigrad smells like burning flesh, and for good reason. The Church of the Eternal Fire are here and are actively fanaticizing the city folk into discriminating against the non-humans and burning witches and magic users at the stake.

There's still plenty of work for a witcher though, but this time Geralt saves more "monsters" than he kills as they are often the victims of the city residents. On one such job he helps his old flame, the sorceress Triss, who is now living doing menial tasks while in hiding from the Witch Hunters.

Hiding in extravagant parties that is.

While she has no leads on Ciri, she does get Geralt reunited with his dwarven ally Zoltan who bluntly informs the witcher that their other friend, the flamboyant bard Jaskier Dandelion has also gone missing. Since the bard's trail is fresh, they decide to look for him first.

Insight: Fast travel via sign posts to save a lot of time.

The Wild Hunt: Baron

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

It was only after more of his men died that the Baron met with Geralt, putting an end to the fighting. It just so happened he needed the witcher's services, and was willing to pay via information about Ciri who he clearly had met.

In exchange Geralt was to find his missing wife and daughter who both fled due to the Baron's love for booze. To complicate matters, his wife had fallen into the service of powerful, child eating swamp crones. It was not a happy reunion.

Despite the result, the baron kept his word and explained he helped a wounded Ciri heal up and even gave her a horse and supplies to get to the free city of Novigrad. He then ended his tale the only way he knew how.

Hmm. That's a strong rope.

Insight: It pays to check the bestiary to find the weaknesses of whatever you are fighting. You can apply sword oil mid-combat as necessary.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Letho

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Having completed his mission of destabilizing the North for the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Letho was now a loose end that the Nilfgaardians wanted silenced.  It was by pure chance Geralt happened upon his hiding spot, but it was greed and loose lips that led the pack of soldiers there too.

The shit we go through for each other...

While eliminating them would have been easy for the witcher pair the only way for Letho to be free of the endless stream of bounty hunters was to fake his death, so Geralt helped him with that. When the coast was clear he subsequently sent his once mortal enemy to the sanctuary of Kaer Morhen.

Letho was grateful for this and advised the White Wolf to ask the "Bloody" Baron, ruler of these parts, about Ciri as his many hired goons would have no doubt run into her. Of course, some of the said goons had already tasted the end of the Geralt's blade due to their many mistreatments of the local villagers. Their friends at the keep, having heard about this, would only greet Geralt with steel in hand.

Insight: Despite being an open world, there are really strong foes lurking some parts of the map which effectively block off regions. As a result it's not too fun to explore in this game since you can't "clear" all the extra locations until you are higher level. Worse, you can't tell what places you shouldn't go yet because these enemies are just peppered at random it seems.

Tuesday 3 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Coin

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Geralt lunged as the nightwraith hovered into the circle of Yrden that dispelled its defenses, his silver blade ringing true as it finally destroyed the creature. Taking a memento from its remains as proof, he began walking back to town to get his pay.

These contracts were dangerous, but paid slightly better than the fisticuffs and horse racing contests he had participated in to earn coin - an unfortunate necessity that delayed his search as it was required for food and repairs.

It's great dodging practice!

His next job was to clear out an abandoned homestead of monsters but found the place surprisingly full of mechanical traps - an unusual talent for any monster. It didn't take long before he found who was behind it... fellow witcher Letho, better known as the kingslayer (and Geralt's main adversary in the last game).

Insight: Food is health, and you can eat mid-combat. Try keep only high quality food in your pack.

Monday 2 December 2019

The Wild Hunt: Rats

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

As thanks for her assistance, Geralt decided to help Keira remove a curse from a nearby island - one involving many rats. Humorously, the drowners, ghouls and rotfiends that inhabited the isle would have been no problem for the sorceress but when it came to rodents her phobia trumped her magic.

Close quarters actually favor you in this fight!

Stemming mainly from a resident pesta, or plague maiden, the curse was lifted when the witcher freed the suffering spirit. Overjoyed, Keira then treated the White Wolf to a romantic evening and shared her despair about living in the swamp.

Geralt offered her sanctuary at the witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen instead, an offer Keira accepted. He could not go with her though, not yet. Not until he found Ciri.

Insight: The pesta likes to summon slow moving clouds of stinging insects. You can destroy these with Igni, just like any bee swarms you accidentally provoke elsewhere.

Sunday 1 December 2019

November 2019 Review

Ugh, keeping track of food intake is really annoying! Totally shot myself in the foot by adding that so I'm ditching them post haste. It's fine enough to measure sugar from packaged things, but how much is in a slice of cake or a buffet of tasty treats? Dumb idea Joe, real dumb. Also with the Christmas season coming up my weekends have been filling up quickly, meaning the board game sessions and other creative works are probably taking a back seat till next year. Doh!

I did do my first(?) almost all day provision of live music for a family gathering though. That was great! It doesn't usually happen since I'm in a very musical family and people take turns performing, but due to a few absences last time it was all me. That was a very interesting workout for sure!

Lastly I'm going to start heavily cutting back on those "free" games too, or dropping them faster. While there is no dollar figure attached to them, there is certainly one of time which is everyone's most valuable currency.

    End 2019 with less weight (+1 kg from last month, running total: +3 kg)
    Drink Less Soft drinks (epic fail!)
    Eat Less Sweets (epic fail!)
    Make 1 web comic page (well, that didn't happen)
    Make new board game idea (narp)
Enderal [free on Steam] (done)
Borderlands 2 [gift]
Try Shroud of the Avatar [free on Steam]
Alan Wake: American Nightmare [free from Epic Games] (done)
Observer [free from Epic Games] (skipped, will reveal why in future post)
QUBE2 [free from Epic Games] (done)
Layers of Fear [free from Epic Games] (done)
+Soma [free from Epic Games]
+Costume Quest [free from Epic Games] (done)
+Ruiner [free from Epic Games] (done)
+Nuclear Throne [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+The Messenger [free from Epic Games]
+Bad North: Jotunn Edition [free from Epic Games] (done)

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (0/13)
Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats (2/4)


One Year Ago
I played through BattleTech and found an amazing fix for the Witcher: Adventure Game which has improved it from being one my group was disinterested/bored with to one of our favorites.

Five Years Ago
Juris released his novel "The Golem City" and the Archwing was first released in Warframe.

Most Viewed Posts last Month
The Cursed: Slave Rebellion
The Cursed: Another Detour
The Cursed: Iron Shortage

I know Iron Shortage and Another Detour have been up the top since I started keeping track of these, but it's interesting Slave Rebellion has overtaken both this month. I wonder if it's to do with the number of tags?

Top Search Terms last Month
neverwinter lofty ideas
neverwinter fiery pit too difficult to solo  
part of anomen

Another reshuffle from last month - Neverwinter might be picking up as a search term with the new and ultimately disappointing Hell Pit event as well as the upcoming Infernal Descent mod.

Saturday 30 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Clues

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With legal papers in hand, Geralt's next stop was to find one of the Emperor's spies for information about Ciri. Unfortunately the Wild Hunt had visited first, and with the spy dead the witcher had to piece clues together from his hidden ledger instead. He didn't expect one such clue to lead him to an old acquaintance.

"Burn everything" is an interesting search method...

Keira Metz, once a member of the Lodge of Sorceresses, was now in hiding in a nearby village from Redanian Witch Hunters. Despite her situation, it doesn't take much convincing to get her help in the search for Ciri and she takes Geralt to a cave that might hold more answers.

All the pair find instead is the Wild Hunt, who leave one of their members behind to battle Keira and the witcher. This does not end well for the Wild Hunter, who shatters the illusion that the Wild Hunt are invincible. Tough? Yes. But also still kill-able. Geralt's hopes rise a little at this revelation.

Insight: Rolling is great to put distance between you and an enemy, like to get away from a wall or from an exploding rotfiend. However if you want to strike back, using the small dodge step (Alt on PC) is much more versatile. Just don't move into an attack with it.

Friday 29 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Squirrels

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Since a forged pass was now out of the question, Geralt asked the local Redanian soldiers about getting a proper document. They agreed to make it his payment if he tracked down the beast that kept attacking their supply wagons.

Beasts and men can all be monsters.

It would have been easy to blame the alghouls he found loitering in the woods but upon closer inspection the beast was actually a group of "squirrels", better known as Scoia'tael: militant  racist, non human commandos.

Geralt agreed to surrender his weapons to be taken to their hidden camp just to make sure he wasn't missing anything, but as he expected - they were no better than common bandits. Not one to mince words, he says exactly that to their leader who responds by giving the order to kill him. Try as they might, they are still no match for the unarmed witcher.

Insight: Alghouls are like ghoul porcupines that sprout spikes in combat. Attacking them in that state will also damage you so use Aard to break the spikes first!

Thursday 28 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Vultures

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Yennefer gave Geralt a task he couldn't refuse: finding his old ward, Ciri. While officially they were working for Ciri's father, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Yen had discovered that the malevolent force known as the Wild Hunt was also after her for some mysterious reason.

To cover more ground the two decide to split up with Geralt heading Velen, a no man's land between the territories of Nilfgaard and Redania. Knowing it would be easier to move around with a pass, the witcher accepted a job to assist a forger and his "vulture crew" to pick clean a nearby battle field of all the free loot just lying with the dead.

The local vultures are also pretty monstrous.

As expected, the necrophages are here too and while the ghouls are more numerous this time and led by a rotfiend (zombie that explodes) they still aren't a problem for the veteran monster slayer. What he didn't expect was for a nearby mounted bandit patrol to get involved, resulting in the deaths of all the vultures - the forger included.

Insight: The fire sign, Igni, is effective in startling horses to throw off mounted enemies.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Yen

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Geralt wiped away the ghoul blood from his silver sword as he scanned the battle field. The corpses of the soldiers that died in the recent battle had drawn the necrophages here, a fact the witcher used to his advantage by bombing their nest first before finishing the exposed monsters.

The victors of that battle, the Nilfgaardians - also known as the black ones thanks to their armor, now garrisoned near the village. The populace was understandably shaken by recent events, going so far as to fight each other simply because some perceived others to be willingly aiding "the enemy", even if it wasn't the case.

He had only made it a few steps back into the village when a group of Nilfgaarian soldiers blocked his path. In their midst, a ravishing woman in black and white attire. A woman he knew all too well.


Insight: Meditating with high quality alcohol in your pack will refresh any potions and bombs you've used, so you don't need to carry around all the ingredients to make them again.

The Wild Hunt

Welcome to my play through of the Witcher 3. I intentionally didn't do a story for the previous Witcher games but since this seems more open worldy I thought I'd give it a go. If you haven't played it yet I highly recommend you do so as there will undoubtedly be spoilers here, even if I try to skip some details.

Chapter 01 - Yen
Chapter 02 - Vultures
Chapter 03 - Squirrels
Chapter 04 - Clues
Chapter 05 - Rats
Chapter 06 - Coin
Chapter 07 - Letho
Chapter 08 - Baron
Chapter 09 - Monsters
Chapter 10 - Dijkstra
Chapter 11 - Junior
Chapter 12 - Escape
Chapter 13 - Doppler
Chapter 14 - Explorer
Chapter 15 - Outlander
Chapter 16 - Djinn
Chapter 17 - Kingmaker
Chapter 18 - Bears
Chapter 19 - Witchers
Chapter 20 - Allies
Chapter 21 - Siege
Chapter 22 - Generals
Chapter 23 - Politics
Chapter 24 - Conjunction
Chapter 25 - Retirement

That concludes the Wild Hunt story! Thank you for reading!

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The Cursed: Charming Lady of Murder

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Mariliths require severe magic piercing/negation to damage, and even force Catharina into slayer form to defeat. However, with all the focus on them - a sneaky succubus charms Sarevok who then relentlessly slays Imoen before Catharina can dispel it. Obviously he does the same to the succubus after. Alas, Imoen is in too many pieces to revive.

Healing up with potions the remaining pair destroy the last well and face Melissan and her glabrezus for the final showdown. They basically throw everything they have at her, and with Catharina down to 20% health, Sarevok and Melissan exchange killing blows and both crumble to the ground. The remaining minions vanish as a Solar sent by the gods appears.

She says Catharina is strong enough now to make a choice: relinquish all her power to become mortal and destroy Bhaal's taint for good, or take the throne and ascend to god hood. Covered in blood and shivering with power, she chooses the latter - becoming a balancing force for the world: The new Lady of Murder.

All hail the Red Lady!

Insight: Charm protection. It's a thing. I even had a helmet that auto-does it, but was it equipped? Nope!

Monday 25 November 2019

The Cursed: The Last Well

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The second well of power is defended by ice themed guards led by Cryonax (Prince of Evil Cold Creatures) and while his minions are easy enough he is quite resilient. Catharina uses a projected image to time stop and imprison him while Imoen destroys the well.

Cryonax is one ugly customer.

As expected Melissan appears again, this time with shadow slayer demons who are kept busy by summoned skeletons and sword spiders - just long enough for Sarevok and a planetar to beat Melissan down again. Once more she retreats to power up and the team heads for the final well, guarded by a fallen Solar and high level demons!

The Solar destroys the teams planetar but Sarevok manages to finish it off. Catharina's images don't work in this battle so she and Imoen go through many summoning scrolls to handle the others - using djinns, efreets, mord-swords, an adamantine golem and demons of their own but those Mariliths just won't go down!

Insight: Unlike the Black Pits 2 finale which is super intense and short, this is a marathon of a fight since you cannot rest on the platform at all. Though, if you have high enough wisdom (naturally or via potion/gear) a wish spell can rest/recover all your spells and fatigue. That's why Catharina has it memorized. ^_~

Sunday 24 November 2019

The Cursed: Contingencies

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Upon arrival at the Throne of Bhaal, which is a large platform floating in Abyssal space - the pocket plane is destroyed by Melissan, aka Amelyssan the Blackhearted now in her battle gear, grinning on the notion that she's trapped her prey. She is caught by surprise then at the instant trio of horrid wilting cast upon her as Catharina has learned the chain contingency spell (Insta Cast 3 spells of your choice on nearest enemy upon sighting an enemy).

So... what are the feathers for? Vanity?

She quickly flees to absorb more Bhaal essence she was collecting to power up... the fool didn't expect Catharina to be so strong! This gives the team the opportunity to destroy one of the wells of power nearby guarded by spirits and Yan-C-Bin (elemental Prince of Evil Air) whom Sarevok thrashes easily.

Melissan returns to fight again, summoning bone fiends and spirits this time but they are ineffective as the trio have protection from undead active (all attacks from undead insta-miss, letting Sarevok and his simulcarum beat her down with greater whirlwind attacks. She retreats to power up again, and there are two more wells of power to go.

Insight: Defeating Melissan also auto-defeats her summons!

Saturday 23 November 2019

The Cursed: Not Winning

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Alias and Arzang survey the field of the fallen and are soon joined by the survivors of the rear guard, equally amazed that the Planar Hunters have all been defeated. Even a bloodied Symm shows up from another exit and proclaims that Dennaton has been "taken care of".

Suddenly the arena scribe appears and says he is actually a sorcerer of no small power, and with Dennaton out of the way he can take them all home, away from Thay. While some are hesitant, they eventually all agree. 


The scribe then throws off his disguise revealing himself to be Baeloth, whom each of them has heard of from Party Girl and Sir Erland. All weakened from the fighting, they have no opportunity do anything before Baeloth opens a gate underneath each of them. As they fall in, all they can hear his evil laughter as the world goes dark.

Insight: Wow, they went with a downer ending for Black Pits 2! It's like they've been reading some of my stories! Lol.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Neverwinter is going to Hell

Isn't it already there? Lol.

There's a new event up in Neverwinter Online called the Hell Pit which is likely the precursor to the next module: Infernal Descent (which in turn I assume will be loosely based on Baldur's Gate: Descent to Avernus, but maybe without the Mad Max cars).

You must survive the solo level 80 arena for a few days to be able to buy some nifty rewards, one of which is a legendary mount which is awesome for free players like myself! The bad news is these wins are tracked at the account level, so only one character per account will have enough time to earn it. Also the horses bonuses aren't great compared to other legendary mounts available but hey, beggars can't be choosers right?

Update: Looks like Cryptic made a devilishly sneaky adjustment... now if you want the horse, TOO BAD! Only 1 Token of Achievement will be awarded during Hell Pit. Subsequent events throughout the year will each reward 1 Token of Achievement for minimum participation PER event. 

Yeah, and it's anyone's guess how far apart those events will be time wise... so that's a massive "F-U" to your alts! Nice one Cryptic, showing once again you are the king in stupid design decisions as this has pretty much killed all my excitement for doing this event!

Just to clarify, that's like doing 75 days of work (split up into 5 across the year, without any pre-warning of when they are) in which you will only get paid after all 75 days of work are done. You miss even one and tough luck buddy! No main reward for you!

Oh well, I've survived without a legendary mount this far, and it doesn't look like I'll be getting one from this bullshit either.

Insight: If you are still interested, you'll need 15 wins to earn the "main" token.

The Cursed: The Hardest Fight

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

The fallen planetar only has two allies left, so Shinordium (now an adamantine golem) goes to combat the salamander while the other, some wimpy looking mage, is ignored for now so that everyone else and their summons can focus on taking down the boss, who is weakened thanks to Gezzthemin's mass produced scrolls. Sir Erland goes in fast and hard, taking her down to less than half health before he is vorpaled (insta-killed / exploded) by her sword. A number of summons and Najim the genie meet the same end before the planetar is finally put down. 

The "wimpy" mage also turns out to be incredibly bad, slaying Dragonbait with a back stab. Party Girl sacrifices herself against his fire shield, burning herself alive, to hold him in place so Arzang can remove his shields, while Alias beheads him. In this time, the salamander has destroyed Shinordium but is equally almost dead and out of magic protections letting Arzang finish the battle with the most basic spell of all. Magic Missile!

The most reliable spell ever!

Insight: The wand of resurrection and mass resurrection abilities are almost mandatory here. I just edited out how much I actually used them (a lot). It's an insanely tough battle, the hardest in the entire series I think!

Sorry, second hardest. The hardest would winning at the tavern right at the start where they are full strength and pre-buffed while your team is surrounded and flat-footed.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The Cursed: Test of Ravaging

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After selling loot and spending all their gold on potions and scrolls the team returns to the pocket plane which Sarevok says can take them to the Throne of Bhaal. Unfortunately it refuses, as Catharina must pass two more tests first.

In one, Cyric himself sends his three favored champions to battle the team but they are easily dragon breathed to death. The final test is much more difficult - the Ravager, what Catharina will turn into if she lets the Slayer take over for too long, is a powerful demon that enjoys summoning bone blades.

For some reason the Ravager looks like these guys in Hexen...

The team fields all the summons they can and with Imoen and Catharina repositioning frequently to avoid the flying weapons and dragon breath and horrid wilting the monster till it finally dies. The pocket plane is finally happy to take them to their desired destination so the team rests up one last time before their battle with Melissan.

Insight: Dragon breath is quite handy in the Ravager fight as the blast also pushes back the bone blades. Your own summons are crucial though, since they too hold back the bone blades and the Ravager. Killing the blades just makes them respawn on your mages so focus on the big guy.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

The Cursed: The Big M

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Upon returning to Amkethran the team finds that they are now being hunted by Balthazarr's monks and mercs. This doesn't stop them from selling loot, buying supplies or restoring that girl with her soul stone that Hexxat was borrowing. Once ready they find a quiet way into the monastery via the graveyard cavern, avoiding all the guards.

The unarmed guards.

Summoning up a small army they then confront Balthazarr, who wants to be "the one", and his few monks. As expected, fists and feet can't do much against planetars and mord-swords. Balthazar himself is cut down by Sarevok. At this point Melissan appears and reveals she was actually Bhaal's high priestess but instead of using the Bhaalspawn souls she's been collecting since forever to revive him, she's going to do a Jon Irenicus and use it herself to become the new goddess of murder.

Because she doesn't have a handy magic tree to drain, she just needs Catharina's soul as the final piece. However its now too strong to take here in the prime material realm so Melissan challenges her to battle at the Throne of Bhaal before vanishing into thin air.

Catharina just stared blankly at the space Melissan vanished from, then after a short silence she suddenly asked "Sarevok, you know where that is right?"

"Sister, you are an idiot," Sarevok sighed.

Insight: Yay, after the slog of getting through Sendai and Abazigal's lairs, Balthazarr is a breath of fresh air. He also doesn't cheat too much (that I saw) and is around the level of combat I enjoy. The designers really need to put it more normals / low level fights.

It's absurd that all those nameless soldiers after Irenicus have +1 to +3 gear and are backed by what must be a surplus of level 20 casters. Just like how liches are "common" now, it's a sign that the creators just wanted to make artificial challenge than follow the role playing world their game is set in. Stupid design!