Friday, 14 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Shroud

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

Evil plant like beings nicknamed the "root" are taking over the multiverse and it is up to us at the small outpost of Ward 13 to stop them. Given the task of finding "the founder" we set out into the city which is infested with the plant men who are supported by black cloaked archers. These things are annoying as their arrows apply a bleed effect that needs a bandage to cure if they hit and a cloud of rot that needs a potion to cure if they miss. Furthermore, like most other non-heavy root units they can teleport (or burrow whatever) at will.

While traversing the sewers to fight roundish goblins a boss type of these archers shows up: Shroud, who is not just stronger HP wise but has an added ability of "orbital bombardment" which doesn't even need line of sight! There is an audible cue when this happens though, and that's the signal to RUN (specifically not into where a team mate was standing before). Only after upgrading our gear (and both DL and I getting the heal mod as well on the long guns) do we fight it off... only to run into again in its boss chamber!

This time Shroud summons endless waves of root (who technically are our ammo resupply but are annoying nonetheless) and has plenty of space to run. DL quickly works out that Shroud is weak to melee so I focus on chasing down the archer to apply the "hammer to the face" technique while he and Jim focus on crowd control (and obviously shooting Shroud in the head when time permits). As the melee focused guy, I can confidently say there is a semi-safe spot to attack Shroud at: point blank. If it doesn't have any summons nearby its only two valid counters are to teleport away or to do orbital bombardment as the other bow attacks start out too far / I clipped through its bow. To move faster, practice the slide (which is sprint + duck).

Ultimately its the orbital bombardment evasion that is key. Once we started calling out "run" over chat, and learning when NOT to try revive each other with Dragon Hearts, we finally laid low this evil archer.

Remnant: from the Ashes

Since the latest update of GTFO: Rebirth is giving us connection / drop issues for all the level B maps, we voted to move on to this game until GTFO can get its act together. Our starting setup is as follows: DL as the hunter, Jim as the ex-cultist and myself as the scrapper. A perfectly balanced team... or is it? :P

Chapter 1 - Shroud

This story is ongoing! Please come back for updates!

Kong and Godzilla

Two giant monsters. Three action movies.

Kong: Skull Island

Set in 1973, an expedition is formed to explore the mysterious and titular Skull Island (which I assume is mostly made of monkey poop) with the semi-secret not so secret task of locating a gigantic monkey the size of a mountain. For some reason, an expert tracker (played by bored Tom Hiddleston) is hired for this because ... the directors wanted it to happen? :P

Even Tom himself wonders what he is doing in this film in every shot he is in as the plot often borders on lunacy. That said, there are some really cool beasties on Skull Island as everything grows big there - not just the monkeys. Luckily they, and Samuel L. Jackson's character are pretty fun to watch. Just remember to turn your brain off to get the most out of this. I give it two random attacks out of five. Would I watch it again? Probably, but I won't go looking for it.

Godzilla: King of Monsters

A sequel to Godzilla (2014), man has discovered around seventeen more "titans" like him in hibernation and naturally, this means militarist eco-terrorists go about waking them all up to destroy the pollution that is humanity. Totally logical.

Despite the eco baddies, the plot lines involving the humans is actually ok, or at least, better than the previous film and this time around there is plenty of Godzilla some of the other beasties too, but strangely not as good as the critters on Skull Island. Not great, but a solid "its alright". I give it two Millie Bobby Browns out of five. Would I watch it again? Sure. Maybe after a few years...

Godzilla vs Kong

Five years after Godzilla was "crowned" the King of Monsters, he's back causing havoc on us puny humans - mainly because a clandestine and super wealthy corporation that cuts corners in their security department is hunting some unobtanium type power source by releasing King Kong from his now enclosed Skull Island.

Their fights are pretty epic.

The graphics and action sequences are very cool with the monsters definitely taking center stage each time they are on the screen but this does mean the plot takes a back seat a bit to get these two giants into battle. As long as you don't expect too many things (or anything really) to make sense when it comes to the humans and you'll be in for an entertaining time. I'd probably watch it again and give it three kaijus out of five.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

The First Tree

Fails to be zen.

With really cool visuals, a nice sound track and decent controls the First Tree is quick to grab your attention as you play a fox looking for her pups in an almost sand box environment with no enemies and a nice visual goal of a huge, distant tree.

Awesome opening.

My problems come with the constant narration, where in a man describes this "fox dream" you are playing through to his partner/wife/booty call/shrink as he basically tells an entire life story to the poor woman. Worse than this though, is that somehow the level design still incorporates platform puzzles some of which are mandatory to advance. And not in the "just do a double jump" kind of way. More like in the "hunt the x" which will "make you jump higher" or "open the vines".

Never had I more wanted to be human height so I could see where all this crap to find was without meandering through the tall grass. Good idea, poor execution. I don't recommend this walking simulator to anyone. Just get your fill of fox antics from the saveafox channel instead.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Tyranny: Fall of the Archons

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the trial of Graven Ashe complete, Tunon the Archon of Justice then put Shelumu on trial for betraying Kyros and found him guilty! To enact this death sentence both Tunon and the executor and Archon of Shadows, Bleden Mark, attacked Shelumu and Sirin. Thanks to Sirin's increased power, the Archons of Justice and Shadow fell in combat leaving the victors free to return to their home spire.

"I guess that makes me the last archon!" laughed Sirin giddily. "Indeed," replied Shelumu in a measured tone. "About that..."

Only a fool would keep a potential traitor alive.

With the next of Kyros forces assembling at the border, Shelumu turned to the ancient device to cast his next Edict - one that would throw Kyros armies into retreat and inspire many others in the Kingdom of Kyros to begin openly rebelling against the overlord. It was time to see just what Kyros was made of.

Shelumu grinned.

Insight: Archon wise, I found Graven Ashe to be the easiest to fight while Bleden Mark was the hardest. If you play your cards right (which I didn't in either play through) you can probably end the game without fighting ANY of them which is really cool!

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Secrets and War

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets, didn't expect Verse's will to be so strong. She overpowered his mind and took over his body. Loyal to Shelumu, the Voices of Verse then took all the remaining Scarlet Chorus for an all out assault on the Disfavored main base and Barik went with her to confront his ex-commander and Archon of War, Graven Ashe. Shelumu and Sirin wished them luck and instead headed to Tunon's court to angle for a different type of victory.

The battle is fierce and Ashe's ability is to protect his soldiers makes them a force to be reckoned as Chorus suffer terrible losses. Graven Ashe personally manages to trip Verse over and smash her head like a watermelon with his giant maul and then proceeds to smash Barik's armor off one swing at a time. Suddenly, Bleden Mark, Archon of Shadows appears and whisks Graven Ashe away... and right into Tunon's court where the Archon of Justice finds him guilty of sedition and war crimes thanks to evidence presented by Shelumu.

Tunon is ready to play GTFO.

The Archon of Shadows immediately carries out the sentence and executes Graven Ashe. Unfortunately this means all those once protected by the Archon of War suffer the same fate in an explosive fashion, leaving Barik the sole survivor in the camp, free of his cursed armor but broken in the mind amidst the bodies of his half sibling and his previous brothers and sisters in arms. All he can do is scream.

Insight: Verse is actually the first companion you can kill, with the same scripted death as the above. Finishing her quest lines to avoid the boss fight against Nerat is handy though. In combat she has a few handy combo moves that are nice (the one with Barik especially) but needs some management as she is not too tough. Meanwhile Barik is great as a tank, but is easily replaced by Killsy who can tank AND DPS. Also, its a pain to get that armor off him (for both Barik and the player).

Monday, 10 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Blood and Hunger

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the war in full swing, Eb and Kills-in-Shadow return to Lethian's Crossing to aid their forces in repelling a massive Disfavored attack. Eb's tide casting is handy in putting out the fires while the beast woman tears into the enemy force... until she is killed by Lucia. This rallies the Disfavored forces to victory and forcing the rebels to surrender. To further teach them a lesson, Lucia executes Eb in front of them.

Lucia's celebration is short lived however, as Bleden Mark the Archon of Shadows catches her in the privy soon after and slits her throat for Kyros, taking with him the Silent Archive.  

Don't mess with the Archon of Shadows.

Meanwhile Verse had come up with a plan to handle the Voices of Nerat so she, Shelumu, Barik and Sirin push on to the main Scarlet Chorus base to confront him, a surprisingly easy task due to the low number of guards. Nerat knows he is on the back foot and offers a deal - he and the Chorus will withdraw from the region if Verse gives herself up and she agrees.

The Voices of Nerat devours her on the spot.

Insight: You can execute Eb much earlier, after the battle for Ascension Hall. Kills-in-Shadow is a little trickier as you can only eliminate her in the later part and only if you are too friendly with Graven Ashe and the Disfavored. Eb is an ok mage but not much of a loss (I rarely used her), but Killsy is an excellent and ultra mobile DPS machine (titan tree) so think hard if you really want her gone.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Stone and Fire

[Part of the Cursed story line]

A broken Barik, on a suicide mission against the Chorus, eventually found his way to Shelumu in the Stone Sea and thanks to Verse (who turns out to be his half sister) convinces the soldier to join the rebel team. There they also manage to convince a tribe of earth shakers to join their growing alliance by breaking the Edict of Stone and putting their leader to rest. As a side effect, this also ruined the already low crop supply of the main Chorus camp nearby.

Enraged, the Voices of Nerat unleashes the Chorus horde upon Shelumu, but thanks to Eb's studies of the ancient devices atop the spires, Shelumu manages to halt their advance by recasting the Edict of Stone! This kills over three quarters of the attacking force, causing the rest to flee. Admittedly, this does fix their low food issue thanks to the fewer mouths AND the return of fertile ground.

Elsewhere Lucia found herself back in the Burning Library, which was still ablaze with the Edict of Fire she herself had proclaimed years before. Kyros' intention was for the fires to continue until all the forbidden knowledge in the library was gone, but with the Chorus trying to save said knowledge to strengthen themselves in the war she had no option but to take a more hands on approach, eventually finding the last remaining item called the Silent Archive - a magic scroll that knew the answers to almost everything.

Well, that looks like a trap.

Despite strict orders to destroy everything, she opts to take the powerful artifact for herself. As soon as she leaves the library the Edict of Fire ends, as all the forbidden knowledge within is gone. While the Disfavored are easily fooled about its destruction, her crime does not go unnoticed by the Archon of Shadows, Bleden Mark, who is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Insight: When fighting people I normally go for two handers and mages first, followed by the weaker scout types and leave the tanks for last. Regular bane wise, I find the red ones scarier than the blue so I always burst them down first. It's all about enemy DPS mitigation.

Tyranny: Storm Breaker

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the artifact in hand, Lucia and Barik manage to pierce the endless storm and with a contingent of Disfavoured, attack the hated lord of Sentinel Stand. This is because said lord is directly tied to the Edict of Storms, where it proclaims "Let Our storm rage until the last blade be broken, or the line of Regent falls".

The artifact magically farts the storm away.

The selfish bastard who let his people suffer is easily dealt with, but as the storm persists after his death the Disfavored are thrown a nice curve ball. His prisoner, the daughter of their leader, Archon Graven Ashe, had fallen in love with the lord's now also deceased son and bore child. While this was a shock to the squadron, Lucia didn't flinch.

She killed the mother, who clearly was now a traitor, and ordered Barik to prove his loyalty by killing the baby. With heavy reluctance he complied, ending the Edict of Storms once proclaimed by Shelumu that bound him to his armor. This also ended Graven Ashe's trust of Barik - who promptly renounced him from his army and exiled him into the wastes.

Elsewhere Shelumu continued to explore the Old Walls, finding more spires to awaken and even a whole colony of refugees. Unfortunately for them, they were doing experiments with captive beastmen so Shelumu let the bane take them all, save for the one beast woman he could save called Kills-in-Shadow.

Insight: Obviously there's a non child murdering loop hole option here. Now is a good time to mention Lore is the highest required skill to have more options during dialogue sequences so wizardly types might get more options than fighters. Also, yeah, I don't think you can get Ashe to renounce Barik so early in real even with this evil act. :P

Friday, 7 May 2021

Tyranny: The Bane

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the armies back in their respective camps, Tunon summons both Shelumu and Lucia to his court for a debriefing all while under the watchful eye of the executor, Bleden Mark, Archon of Shadows. When questioned why he sided with the rebels, Shelumu argues that peaceful subjugation is better than outright conquest - a concept Tunon agrees with, thus the Archon of Justice allows him to continue helping them, for now.

Tunon then tasks the pair with investigating both Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat for any broken laws they or their forces have committed before sending them on their way with Lucia travelling to Sentinel Stand to help the Disfavored reinforce their base there while Shelumu heads to Lethian's Crossing to secure supplies for the rebellion.

In the small town Shelumu encounters Sirin, the Archon of Song, who has defected and is hiding from the chorus. It is an easy task to convince her to join his party as they end up exploring the nearby Old Walls - ancient structures that normally are forbidden by law to enter, mainly because they house magical "spirits" known as the bane. While doing so, Shelumu manages to activate a second spire.

Any time you see a bubble, it means boss fight!

At the same time, Lucia also deals with the bane in walls that have been breached by the Edict of Storms in an effort to claim an artifact that will help break the edict once and for all.

The Old Walls are the combat orientated "dungeon" section of the game with a small set of puzzles while the overland areas are mostly dialogue choices peppered with optional combats. So yes, there is A LOT of reading in this game!

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Tyranny: The Battle for Ascension

[Part of the Cursed story line]

In a drastic move - Eb, one of the leaders of the rebellion, secretly met with Shelumu and asked him to join their cause. Having heard the edict, the rebels believe that by swearing fealty to Shelumu and letting him take their base of Ascension Hall will cancel it out. Shelumu agrees to this, though it does mean now requiring to defend the hall against both Graven Ashe's Disfavoured and Nerat's Scarlet Chorus.

Fortunately, their chances are greatly increased as the two archons declare war on each other the night before he attack which results in both sides fighting each other during the siege! Outside the walls Lucia and Barik join the Disfavored to face down Nerat's song bird, Sirin, the 15 year old Archon of Song whose ability is to control the minds of others. Despite this, they soundly defeat her and force her to retreat in humiliation.

Without that dampener Sirin is probably the strongest Archon.

It is the Scarlet Chorus who manage to enter the keep and with their impressive numbers manage to take Lantry down and spirit him away from the battle. Shelumu, Eb, Verse and the remaining rebels fight off the horde and Shelumu claims Ascension Hall for himself. This breaks the edict and somehow also awakens the ancient spire above them with magical light!

Both the armies of the Disfavoured and the Scarlet Chorus scatter at this sight, but it does not save old Lantry who is taken back to the main Scarlet camp in the Stone Sea and devoured by the Voices of Nerat.

Insight: This is Lantry's scripted death if you don't save him from the Chorus Camp. While he is a "sage" I used him more as a skirmisher/warrior as he can be decent with a sword. Just be sure to give him a throwing weapon too so that you can make use of his quill throwing skill tree.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

GTFO: R5A2 - Recollect (Normal)

Retrieving Hi-Sec cargo is the goal this time around and our loadout is almost the same: DL with the Double-tap Hanaway, Sniper and mines, I still have the Raptus, HEL Gun and c-foam while Jim brings Burst Rifle (which he disliked), a Hel Sniper and sniper sentry.

This isn't such a big map so just push forward to find the bulkhead key and controls then unlock the "main mission" one and face a class II cluster alarm. I don't think we even bothered setting up for this one and just fought well. Through the door is a most important central chamber... with those yucky sac things on the roof. There's also a scout in here so we bop a few sleepers quietly before DL snipes the thing, and we use the long straight firing position back through the bulkhead door to hold the rest.

With the objective behind a key-locked door, we make use of the terminal to pick the correct blood door to open next. DL puts double mines pointing into the door and I open it, and we all fall back to the previous firing position to handle the wave which includes a pair of barrage hybrids.

Now, because we're not keen on getting a scout respawn in the central chamber I opt to stay inside to see the respawn mechanics while DL and Jim proceed through the blood door to find the key - luring things back to my line of sight if things go loud. DL swaps out with me when he runs low on ammo, and nothing respawns.

Key in hand its time to open up the locked door for a regular non-alarm scan into a big dark room. Can't have someone hang back in the central chamber here since there's a class III cluster alarm door to unlock so we all go in, clear, and prep the single bridge with the sniper sentry facing inwards, followed by all my cfoam, followed by rows of mines. In addition, Jim and DL use their sniper rifles from numerous vantage points here which actually results in an easy hold.

Once done, DL waits back in the central chamber where nothing has respawned while Jim and I continue to the objective room that holds a lot of gear. We hand that out before Jim picks up the cargo because as expected - this triggers an endless, but slow and light sleeper spawn. Thanks to DL camping the central chamber NOTHING RESPAWNS FROM THE SACS. So it is a pretty easy escort the cargo back to the entry site, hold and GTFO. Another first attempt win - huzzah!

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

GTFO: R5A1 - Floodways (Normal)

The first map of Rundown 5 brings us to a zone of large hallways and rooms where we must end the shutdown by finding a particular terminal and entering the code "OVERRIDE_LOCKDOWN". Our loadout this time was as follows: DL with the new Double-tap Hanaway, Sniper and mines, Jim testing the Heavy SMG, Machinegun and sniper sentry and I brought the Raptus, HEL Gun and c-foam.

As the "tutorial" level, it is quite light on sleepers and is a great place to joust them. Also introduced are the annoying invincible ceiling sacs which is a new mechanic for this rundown. If you clear a room of sleepers with the sacs and move far enough away when you come back they will all be back too - so try to maximize your searching per zone.

Searching for what? Artifacts! Another new thing that counts for the whole team when someone finds a piece. You can equip up to three assembled ones that give you a one off boost for one mission which is a nice bonus I guess? You'll still mainly want the big three though: ammo, tools and health so use terminal pings for that.

Back to the mission, EAST is the correct direction to go and when in doubt always pick the door that leads to the highest letter value printed on the door. This will lead to a non-alarm team scan and eventually to a huge room with an unpowered security door whose generator is in the deep pit in the center of the room. Find the nearby cell and behold the first Class II cluster alarm of the mission.

With only one door in, this is a simple hold (even if the horde introduces a giant striker or two). Foam the door once (10 shots) and one mine is more than enough to clear the circles. After clearing the wave proceed through into Zone 63 where the objective terminal is which for us is guarded by a scout! DL sniped this one since we bopped the room already, but even if you goof this up just hold your nerve and JOUST as it won't be summoning more things than you've already beaten to this point.

Type in the code at the terminal and nothing bad happens. YAY! Now you just need to get to the forward extraction point all the way to the WEST of the map. Remember those ceiling sacs? Yep. You will probably run into things you've already killed. Just kill them again. It's the simplest solution. The security door that would have blocked your path (because we actually went West first LOL) will already by open so just calmly proceed through.

Only one more security scan is in your way and this one if a class III cluster that has three doors in. We cfoam grenaded two and I foamed the third while DL mined all (pointing the laser light into the door is preferable). Also we rightly guessed that the horde arrives from the smaller door downstairs, so Jim's turret is placed in the hallway and I'm on door duty (continuous cfoam of the door) while the other two scramble for circles.

Once done we held the top of the stairs to kill... one little sleeper? GTFO. DL's mine and Jim's turret got everything else. The forward extraction spot is just beyond the door, and despite setting up for a final zerg rush nothing came once we stepped in so it was a really easy end to a pretty easy mission, won on the first go. We've improved a lot! Note this also already unlocks the B level for this rundown.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Tyranny: A True Monster

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Before departing the camp, each Fatebinder was assigned a body guard. Barik, an elite Disfavored soldier who had become fused with his armor when he was hit by the Edict of Storms (previously proclaimed by Shelumu) understandably chose to go with Lucia.

Verse, a murderous fury of the Scarlet Chorus, volunteered to be Shelumu's escort and took him to their side of the camp. While Graven Ashe's Disfavored elites were few, well equipped and orderly this place was teeming with warriors, and with filth, chaos and barbarism - much like their leader, the Voices of Nerat.  

While there Shelumu went out of his way to rescue the sage Lantry, from execution as well since the old man had ties to the rebellion. In trying to avert the loss of life, Shelumu slowly helped the rebels by letting them escape the advancing armies and treating them with dignity.

I also like that you can sneak past enemies instead of having to fight everyone.

Elsewhere Lucia mostly killed every rebel she could get her hands on (the Disfavoured way), with only few occasions of capturing some for the Scarlet Chorus and their "Join or Die" motto. In reality some died and joined anyway, since the Voices of Nerat's ability as the Archon of Secrets is simply to devour people to gain their skills and knowledge. That is a true monster.

Insight: It is actually hard to unintentionally lose party members through combat (or traps) in this game since often times if they die it most likely means you are about to lose the battle you are in anyway. And since any battle loss is an immediate Game Over, you are pretty much required to load the save and do better or come back later with more XP/Gear. :P

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Tyranny: The Fatebinders

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With Kyros' power extending across the continent, Shelumu took it upon himself to learn how the overlord's magical "Edicts" worked by gaining employment under Tunon, the Archon of Justice, as a Fatebinder - those chosen to read out these powerful words.

After years of service, he now stood in the commanders tent in Vendrien's Well as he finished reading out the second of Kyros' edicts he ever proclaimed.

"...Unless Our representative holds the Hall of Ascension on Our Day of Swords, all in the valley of Vendrien's Well shall perish."

These words shook those present to the core and forced the Graven Ashe, the Archon of War and his rival the Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets to stop squabbling among themselves and to prepare their forces to attack one of the last remaining rebel strongholds.

Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat.

Only fellow Fatebinder Lucia wasn't taken a back, instead wearing a wry smile on her lips as she twisted her dark locks around a finger. Shelumu always thought there was something wrong with the girl, and that made her dangerous.

Insight: As this story will be an amalgamation of two playthroughs I had expect there to be a lot of artistic / dramatic license to it! Well, more than usual anyway. And yes, I liked it that much to play through twice! ;)

Saturday, 1 May 2021

The Frankenstein Chronicles

Raising the dead because they can.

The discovery of a composite corpse (one made of many people) at an ill opportune time for the scientific community prompts an secret investigation by John Marlott (Sean Bean) to track down where this thing came from and more to the point: who made it.

Decent cast, questionable plot.

The suspect list is long and the detectives aren't very good, especially since Marlott suffers from tedious hallucinations at least then percent of the time. This makes for some slow viewing at times in this two season show but its not terrible. The plot goes to interesting places but ends leaving more questions than answers. Not one I'd really recommend unless you are a Sean Bean fan, I give it two and a half Galvanists out of five.

Friday, 30 April 2021

April 2021 Review: Encrypto Currencium!

This has been a strange month in that while I got a lot done, it's not really news worthy... oh, other than my initial attempt at cryptocurrency which ironically was suggested to me by my Uber driver a few years ago. Made an ok profit (+266%) with XRP (Ripple - which is trying to get adopted by banks), and should they win their pending court case (updates on Apr 30 hearing, May 14 SEC report and June 4 Ripple Formal reply with the discovery phase ending Aug 16) I'm expecting that price to go up for what I have left in there.

Meanwhile as an experiment, I've put some of the earnings into VRA (Verasity - an esports gaming crypto), VET (VeChain Thor - crypto supply chain of VTHO), and DOGE (Dogecoin - a super volatile joke currency that seems to go up everytime Elon Musk tweets or talks about it). While the others are pretty much a wait for years sort of deal, I really need to keep checking on DOGE. With Elon hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8, most are expecting that to go up again. He did say he'll take it to the moon (could be an April fool's joke), so we shall see.

Sometimes that's all it takes!

Doesn't seem so hard to crypto actually. Compare old news with the price chart dates then keep track of current news for each to better gauge the direction. Mostly it's just watch and wait. Don't treat this as financial advice though and remember if you are going to to try it out, only put in what you can afford to lose as it's basically gambling. :P

Anyway on to gaming: I've been playing Black Desert Online and have found it to be pretty damn cool so I'll be posting about that a little after posting my Tyranny play through story which is coming up next!

Also, Rundown 5 of GTFO releases around the time of this post, so I'm excited to get into the new  stuff and we're also thinking of adding Remnants: From the Ashes to our co-op game session nights (probably only after we get thoroughly stuck in Rundown 5 though).

Lastly, some bonus stuff for you this time around in the form of musicians Seth Everman and Mina GF Band, both of whom I found through Davie504 who is still cranking out the Lolz.

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Thursday, 29 April 2021

NWO: Sharandar Episode 2 - The Lazy Devs

Erm, I mean "The Soul Keeper".

Carrying on from the last episode, this elves decided to open a gate to an even SMALLER adventure area with mad redcaps (mad caps) and oni who both raise the ancient dead and corrupt a few of the living. Each week, prepare to grind out around ten repeating tasks which you can only carry two at a time for the most part and are mostly variations of each other (per alt), to eventually encounter a semi-cheating mini boss who can hide and damage you for decent periods of time.

The zone and inner instance dungeon bits look great once again and sure the displacer beasts are nice, but there's almost nothing to do here. Story wise I don't think this would even count as filler. So many poor decisions, such lazy devs. Or maybe not lazy, simply reassigned to Magic: Legends.

The biggest problem is you only unlock the weekly (25 currency reward) towards the end of this campaign. I might have been less negative if it was one of the first ones like in the previous chapter. Anyway, if you ever wanted to experience a beautifully polished turd of a release, this would probably be pretty close. Can't believe we lost the old Sharandar for this garbage.

Insight: Ugh, this is so stagnant and repetitive you may as well do what I did and try out Black Desert Online (or literally any other game) instead.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Baron Zemo steals the show.

Another strong superhero show from Marvel, this one focusing on two of the now inactive Captain America's closest friends: Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and "Bucky" Barnes (Sebastian Stan) who are both trying to get back to living post-Thanos.

I think Marvel is onto a winner making these short series. Helps avoid filler!

With a decent budget, great action scenes and most importantly excellent character development this six episode series is a must watch. Even if it's just for the scene stealing Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). I like it better than Wandavision and give it four shields out of five.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Quad-mire: Four Games I'm Skipping

For various reasons...

Creature in the Well

You are a robot who sets out to explore a mysterious and sand swept region and while the art style is really good, don't expect to get any answers unless you are good at PINBALL. What? Yep. They entire game revolves around variations of pinball, with some sections requiring perfect angles and timing. Not the way I expected the game to go, and not one I enjoy.

Pinball... really?

Tales of the Neon Sea

As a grizzled investigator (and his pet cat!) in this futuristic and artfully pixelly city you need to think hard to solve the puzzles ahead of you. I do not exaggerate: while I got past the prologue I immediately got stuck in Chapter 1 which doesn't bode well at all. If you like puzzle games you might enjoy this one, but its not one for me.

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty

As Abe, a mudokin who discovers his race is next on the menu for a meat corporation, you must use your platforming skills to escape and free as many others as you can in the process. This starts out as a pretty fun and funny game and while death is frequent it is inconsequential in the early stages as respawn points aren't too far apart.

Avoiding enemies is key.

This is not so true later on where bigger rooms require multiple sections of death evasion. Coupled with some really poorly designed bats, that just killed the enjoyment altogether.

My Time at Portia

In this RPG / simulator you arrive as a new builder at the titular town, populated by many NPCs you can interact with. You can fight, fish, build stuff, improve your house, etc. but most of the time you will be harvesting resources of one sort or another as the game leans more to the crafting side, which is something I have no interest in.

I wonder what the llamas kill to level...

In addition to that I really dislike how NPCs you talk to move their mouths when the player character is speaking and if I'm going to play a grindy RPG, I may as well grind in my regular MMORPG instead to help my guild, or at the very least any MMORPG with other real people. 

Monday, 26 April 2021

La Revolution

French vampires.

The basic premise of this one season show is that mistreated peasants rise up against the powerful nobility while a strange plague infects people into becoming near immortal cannibals.

Such a good opening... wasted.

While it has a good budget, decent cinematography and starts of really strong... it kinda dials it back down to zero to explore the spread of the disease. More annoying is they can't decide how strong the infected are. For example they claim to get enhanced strength and senses but often struggle to find people hiding nearby.

Don't expect anything to be resolved by the final episode. Not recommended, I give it two blue bloods out of five.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Fall

Has a cool story if you can solve the puzzles.

As the AI of an ARID combat suit, your job is to keep your unconscious human pilot alive after a catastrophic fall. While set in a 2D environment there is actually very little platforming, and more simple find the spot puzzle solving combined with easy to grasp combat (obviously you have to fall into a hostile environment).

Your flash light has to be on to "see" things.

What makes it standout though is the story. It is very good and is the main hook that keeps you pushing forward yet is not too long to overstay its welcome. Highly recommended for everyone. I give it three crosses out of five.

Insight: If you are stuck, examine things that are "up". Also, there are some bits where an examinable spot doesn't appear until you discover the clue in game to look there so expect to do a little back tracking. I usually hate back tracking but I'll let it slide here as the areas are relatively small.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Son of God

Where Pilot is a bad ass.

A tale focusing on the life and death (mostly the death) of Jesus (played by Diogo Morgado), this decently budgeted film is actually the condensation of a mini-series which explains all the cool old testament segments right at the start.

Spoiler: Jesus saves.

Diogo plays his part well and the others are passable to good. The stand out part for me was Pilot, who is often portrayed as a neutral party in this tale, has quite the iron fist this time around which is gets a thumbs up from me.

Of course, there are some oddities like one particular Pharisee who seems to be everywhere and Barabas not being quite as evil as I'd like him to be. Still surprisingly watchable. Would I watch it again? Eh... maybe after a few more Easters. I give it two crucifixions out of five.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Legend of the Moon

Dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight...

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Beth (wifey), Benchley (me), "the Kid" (mom), Rasputin (Juris) and new protector John (DL) could scarcely believe their eyes when they arrived at the observatory where the phases of the moon were changing every few minutes! "We need to get the lunar mirrors to the telescope room," muttered Rasputin. "Only that can thwart this evil science sorcery!"

You can tell you are insane if you see smiley faces on any of these.

Thanks to the compact layout of the building, this wasn't too difficult to do especially as the Kid found a spell to pull the mirrors an extra step right away. Rasputin and Benchley pulled the further ones to John in near the foyer, who passed it up to the stairs to the Beth in the telescope chamber. Beth too found a spell to quickly get the moon phases to their desired state to save time and summoning the King in Yellow!

The Kid then used the daggers of shadow and light (+3 dice in new moon/full moon) which she had been using to keep the halls clear of ghouls and cultists on the elder god, causing it to flee but not before the curse of the yellow sign on Rasputin triggered and killed him (which is a first, Hastur loves handing out yellow signs but this is the first death from one).

The team pursued the King in Yellow to the yellow gate and fired everything they had at him. Even John, who rescued a lady with a gun earlier, could finally attack from range. This enraged Hastur to advance at them but John was able to tank all his hits. Suddenly Beth emerged from the shadows and emptied all her bullets into the weakened elder god, killing it and once more saving the day.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try)!

Insight: It's a small map, but since you can't move mirrors if they are in shadow you can't delay when they are lit up - even if it means taking hits.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - My Heart Will Go On

The beginning of the legend...

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Jack (DL), "the Kid" (mom), Rasputin (Juris) and new hired guns Benchley (me) and Beth (wifey) arrived at the docks of the little port village where Rasputin detected the next cultist disturbance - this one involving human sacrifice! The task is simple: save three elders from house Allen and three from house Marsh by getting them back to the boat.

Benchley, who is actually the psychopath this round, decides to charge right through the cultists, deep ones and monstrous cthonian - clearing the path for his allies to rescue the elders in the vicinity, as well as other Marsh and Allen family members who even in these circumstances can't stop arguing with each other. With them in place, Benchley activates the lighthouse so the ship can go. This summons Cthulhu beside him along with all the other horrors that gave chase!

The Cthonian arguably looks scarier than the elder ones...

He does go crazy a few times to clear a few of the lesser foes, but through sheer luck (and leveling up the toughness skill instead of attack skills this time), he manages to survive long enough for the Kid to arrive and provide cover fire saving him as she cleans up the remaining monsters while Cthulhu flees to the docks to his deep ones.

Beth, Rasputin and Jack are there waiting for him and smack him hard enough to make him flee to the ship  which is about to depart! Rasputin and Jack hop on in pursuit but the ancient one flies into a rage, killing the Allens, Marshes, and crew before eliminating Rasputin (it's ok, he'll get back up) and mortally wounding Jack who was tying the monster down with the anchor chain.

Then from the docks a barrage shots rang out - it was Beth, using her sharp shooting to land headshots on Cthulhu and one last bullet into the boat's fuel line for good measure. The explosion capsized the ship and sent Cthulhu down into the deep with it.

The day and the village is (mostly) saved, and a crispy Rasputin is fished out of the drink sometime later.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try - but very close to defeat time wise)!

Insight: It might not look like it but this map is HUGE, and is made worse since a character can only ferry one elder at a time so get moving and get moving quick!

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - A Night at the Museum

Even monsters can visit, just don't touch the displays!

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

It was the middle of the night when Rasputin (Juris), Adam (me), Miss Ives (wifey) broke into the museum with new members "the Kid" (mom) who has latent magical abilities and Jack (DL with same character, but afflicted with psychotic tendencies). It is handy that the artifacts needed to disrupt the gates here are just lying around - they just needed to be collected and placed by two of the three portals simultaneously.

The first hurdle is the massive shoggoth blocking the way which survived the opening salvo from the ranged team members so Jack took it upon himself to lure the creature and other cultists to the South hall to stay away from the team. Sure enough, his psychosis triggers multiple times and what initially looks like a Jack suicide turns out to be the annihilation of everything chasing him!

Meanwhile both Rasputin and the Kid are arrested by the night watchmen, still on patrol and somehow oblivious to the gates, monsters and cultists around. It doesn't take the pair long to get free  and by this time the others are already in position with the artifacts and disrupt the ritual, summoning a weakened Hastur into the museum right next to Jack!

An epic brawl erupts between them as a pistol wielding Rasputin and a random golden retriever he found joins the fray severely weakening the King in Yellow. Miss Ives and Adam wearing an ancient queen's tiara provide ranged support blasting holes in the abomination but this enrages him, and quickly impales both to death using his tentacled throne (at least we hope its a throne) in one hit. Hastur just diced amazingly well - even through rerolls, everything was a hit. Twice! >_<

The kid arrives immediately after this, wielding a shotgun in one hand and Excalibur in the other - laughing manically as she puts down what's left of this incarnation of Hastur in what amounts to be an epic curb-stomp finisher.

Side note: There is actually an "XCaliber" Shotgun.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try, though I did make an error with the order of Hastur's AI cards)!

Insight: We got lucky with Jack's ability here especially since fighting a shoggoth makes it really easy to trigger. Also while the guards are annoying, don't be afraid to get arrested if you can get the artifacts next to the gates.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - The Ballroom Shuffle

Keep up with the quick beat of this killer song!

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Morgan (DL), Safir (Mom), Miss Ives (wifey), Adam (me) and Rasputin (Juris) were dressed nicer than usual as they entered the mansion where the party was already in full swing with dancers, cultists and exotic animals already all over the place. To stop this ritual, they would need to find the four sorcerers hiding among the dancers and get them all to the waterfront to be eaten by deep ones. Rasputin has some whacked out plans.

With no time to waste the team split up, Rasputin taking on a hunting horror while Miss Ives and Safir investigating the main ballroom leaving Adam and Morgan to handle the dancers upstairs. Finding the sorcerers is time consuming and just as all are found the ritual nears completion and a FULLY POWERED and IMMORTAL Cthulhu appears, right on top of Rasputin! "PAY BACK TIME, BITCH!" it yells, but not in a tounge anyone can understand.

It lands a mighty murderous blow but Rasputin is unfazed, as the (one shot) magic armor he had found and was wearing absorbed all the damage! The others are quick to usher the last sorcerer to the waterfront, fighting off stray deep ones in the process which reduces Cthulhu to his weakened, mortal state just as Rasputin leads him into range of Miss Ives' new hand cannon. The ancient one is sent reeling and retreats upstairs where his forces amass at the blue gate.

With no choice (since the doom track is almost finished), Morgan, Rasputin and Safira all charge the monstrous horde forcing Cthulhu to abandon his allies and flee to the entry way. Alas all three, along with Safira's gorilla bodyguard and flamboyant peacock are slain in the melee. This leaves Miss Ives and Adam to blast away at the ancient one... leaving him with one hit point just as the doom track is about to finish (and end the game in defeat - luckily the next card DOES NOT advance it)!

With his victory in sight, Cthulhu is laid low by a moment of de ja vu: Rasputin who has revived (only one death this game) flies down the stairs and punches the ancient one in the face - defeating it!

Epic victory after a first round loss!

MISSION SUCCESS (after one failure where we ran out of time, but I did shoot a king cobra out of my rifle at a hunting horror that round :P)!

Insight: Try to keep the sorcerers away from any "face down" dancers or they could try hide in the crowd again. Also, go fast. Time is really against you this mission.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Dark Cata-Tomes

Reading books in the dark is bad for your eyes.

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

To make up for their lost members from the last outing, Rasputin (Juris) had sent Morgan (DL) to do some recruiting - collecting another gypsy named Safir (Mom) and two hired guns Miss Ives (wifey) and the narcoleptic Adam (me). Having tracked new cultists to some catacombs, they needed to loot the correct sigils from them to be able to collect two of the four tomes powering another summoning ritual.

Adam was quick to show off his skills, eliminating all the nearby guards with his rifle and promptly falling catatonic just as a confused Cthonian (giant alien type critter) arrived to investigate the noise (enemies don't attack catatonic people - LOL). Rasputin and Morgan beat this horror down and advanced with Safir deeper in the darkness while Miss Ives covered the entry way with her pistol.

These cultists were certainly better armed, bringing tommy guns and unstable grenades but it was relatively easy for the squad to find what they needed - even while fighting past ghouls that shambled ever closer. As Safira picked up the second tome a weakened Hastur was summoned into existence! While the King in Yellow managed to snap Rasputin's neck, he was no match for the firepower brought against him (including a grenade thrown by Safira and Adam's powerful rifle - when he was awake anyway). 

Hastur seems to have more tentacles than Cthulhu...

Hastur fled behind a contingent of ghouls and cultists but still couldn't take the punishment meted out against him. Rasputin even managed to land a few blows before being immolated and dying again (by now he had leveled up to revive again anyway) before Safira, having been patched up by Miss Ives' medical kit, back stabbed the King in Yellow, defeating him - causing the ghouls to crumble and die and the remaining cultists to flee. Rasputin would wake up later with a slight headache.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try)!

Insight: Our tactic of having a harvest squad and a ranged cover squad seemed to work well here, with the cover squad basically only holding either the start room or the central chamber.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Burning Insanity

When a burning building isn't burning enough!

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

The university building was already on fire when they arrived, just as the gypsy Fatima (Mom) predicted. Behind her was their leader, the pyromaniac Russian Rasputin (Juris), who had assembled this merry band with the sole purpose of preventing the ancient ones from emerging into this reality. The other recruits were a crazy knife wielding nun (me), Morgan the safari master (DL) and crack shot Lucky Liz (wifey).

A janitor fleeing for his life was quick to tell them about the alchemical rituals being performed by the robed nut jobs and the team knew time was of the essence to wreck their labs... because the fire wasn't wrecking them fast enough! In a mad rush upon entry, they split into two teams: the nun and the gypsy stabbing the cultist guards while the others easily destroyed two of their targets.

The main stairwell became the rally point for both the team and the cultists though, with a flaming fire vampire (slug) and hideous star spawn (mini Cthulhu)  joining the ranks of cultists to hold the line. With cover fire from Lucky Liz's revolver, Morgan advanced cracking his whip at the creatures while the gypsy and the nun continued their stabbing spree.

This gave Rasputin an opening to run past them, and they all gave chase right to another alchemic table guarded by a byakhee (man bat). Before they could do anything, Rasputin destroyed the table with his fire, the explosion killing most of his pursuers - and his pyromania killing everything else!

Morgan, Fatima and Lucky Liz used the opportunity to take the stairs up while the nun remained to hold off more cultists spawning from the gates. She was quickly overwhelmed and stabbed to death just as Liz fired an impossible shot to destroy the final lab which brought Cthulhu into the staircase next to her - but in a weakened, mortal form.

While Liz barely survived the creature's attacks, she did not expect Rasputin - burning brightly from the flames that engulfed him, to charge up the stairs and use flaming magical Krav Maga on the ancient one, causing the entire staircase to explode and ending Liz's lucky streak as she too burned to a crisp! Terrified, Cthulhu fled but was pursued by the crazed Russian who once more pummeled the creature into further retreat.

The cultists covered their god's escape by stabbing Rasputin to death, but didn't realize Morgan and Fatima had caught Cthulhu at the entryway. In the melee Cthulhu managed to grap hold of the gypsy and devour her in his tentacled maw and then turned to focus on Morgan, who excelled at tanking damage. The squid face was caught totally off guard when familiar threat had returned.

The map tiles are quite small compared to some figures...

Rasputin had come back to life (that character's special ability), and nearing the edge of insanity charged one final, flaming time at the elder being... and killed him (without going crazy). With Cthulhu and his monstrous allies banished to the void once more, Morgan and Rasputin quickly left the building and sealed the doors from the outside - trapping the remaining panicked cultists within to die: once from the smoke inhalation, twice from the fire, and a third time for good measure as the building collapsed on top of them.

MISSION SUCCESS (after two+ failures where we were still learning)!

Insight: Use the fire to go crazy faster. Also, "recurring trauma" is almost an instant lose card. Just be aware of that.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die

Going crazy makes you stronger, but go too crazy and you die!

This miniature heavy box includes six missions that you can play against either Cthulhu or Hastur, who each add their own flavor to the tasks at hand - and in all cases it is too late to stop the ritual that is summoning them. Instead the goal of up to five cooperative (and already unhinged) investigators is to disrupt the proceedings so the big bads are summoned in a vulnerable state and then kill them.

It's a big box with lots of nice figurines.

Each investigator has three abilities, one of which being unique to them only, which level up as you go more and more insane. All of them also have stress tracker they can use to reroll dice, and there is A LOT of dice rolling here. Enemy movement is also simple: either a card moves or summons them or, more frequently, they just chase anyone who leaves their board space.

This can result in an army of cultists and monsters standing with you in a tiny pantry, which would be much easier to do if the board tiles were of a decent size. I think this is the biggest complaint of the game: the board pieces are too small. My only other complaint is one of the insanities handed out at the start is way harder to deal with than the rest. Other than that, it is a truly fun cooperative dice throwing romp that we greatly enjoy. Recommended! I give it three and a half tentacles out of five.

Coming up next are write ups or our play throughs through the each mission!

Chapter 1: Burning Insanity
Chapter 2: Dark Cata-Tomes
Chapter 3: The Ballroom Shuffle
Chapter 4: A Night at the Museum
Chapter 5: My Heart Will Go On
Chapter 6: Legend of the Moon

That's it for now, but more to come when we play Season 2! :)

Insight: To track the health of monsters, I use a similar method used in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. I just put the markers on a piece of paper listing the monster names rather than following the figures as they shamble around the board. You only really need to track the non-unique big ones.

Friday, 16 April 2021

In the Heart of the Sea

Call me Ishmael.

Chris Hemsworth leads the talented cast as one of many Nantucket whalers in a voyage of adventure and survival. It's a pretty interesting story which features a few good action scenes. Indeed, the only thing that detracts for me is everyone trying to do the Nantucket accent with makes Chris sound like a Nantucket Australian, and possibly one poorly done CGI shot.

A whaling do they go...

Not necessarily a film for action fans but its nice enough to watch just for the story - especially if you are in a sea faring mood. I give it three harpoons out of five and would definitely watch it again.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Castle Panic (and Wizard's Tower, Dark Titan and Engines of War)

Where boulders are missiles.

Your castle is under attack by goblins, orcs and trolls and it is up to six stalwart defenders to cooperatively fight them off by playing cards! The only way to lose is if all your inner keep towers are destroyed, and the only way to win is to defeat all the monsters.

A turn is pretty simple - first draw up to your maximum card limit, and replace one if you want. Then you can also opt to trade one with another player. Afterwards, play as many as you can then draw two new monsters - some of which aren't monsters at all. They could be plagues, bosses, extra monster moves, or simply MORE monsters than you initially thought.

Feels good to clear the field.

Definitely a lighter game thinking wise, but one that is still very fun and plays really fast. Easy to set up, easy to play, and easy to take down - each game will be around an hour. I give it three and boulders out of five. Note that playing with more players and more expansions (the three below) does add to everyone's downtime, which is a weakness of the game.

The other big weakness is quarter backing - though somewhat mitigated in that you don't show each other your cards, some card counting people with good memory (*cough* my mother *cough*) might push other players for an optimal move.

Insight: Always check if the next person to play has a good trade before players further on to lessen the chance of the monsters dodging you plans.

Castle Panic: Engines of War

This expansion adds a resource deck to the game and removes the random brick and mortar cards from the usual selection. Now you can order your engineer to build weapons, traps and repair walls. Functionally though, you will only want to build that catapult to fight against the new threat of enemy siege engines which are the highlight of this expansion. They are doubly nasty in that destroying one simply lets the two orcs hiding underneath pop out.

Definitely different from the other two expansions but one that seems mostly under utilized (outside the catapult) in our games - except in the instances where someone has a turn with no enemies in range.

Insight: Build the catapult as a priority.

Castle Panic: The Dark Titan

While this adds annoying elite monsters that require dice rolls to kill, it also brings the super handy support and cavalier tokens (friendlies) that make an awesome change to the steady swarm of enemies. The titular Dark Titan Agranok, an 8 hit point enemy, is awesome too as he comes with five levels of difficulty (so far we've beaten the first three). Of all the expansions this is my favorite as it can really pile on the difficulty but doesn't change much else in the game.

In fact if you only play with Dark Titan you don't need to do the extra setups at the start with the other two expansions: no extra decks to shuffle (new cards go in existing deck) and no extra enemies to keep outside the pile (other than six starters as per normal).

Insight: Try hold the barbarian and nice shot to deal with Agranok.

Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower

Having a friendly wizard in the castle is not only amazing, it is almost mandatory against the new enemies he brings - some of which breathe fire! This expansion includes a nice monster bag for tokens, some ok new enemies, and the super handy wizard deck which you can slowly draw cards from as long as the wizard's tower (which replaces one of your usual towers) remains standing.

While its definitely cool I feel it suffers from being "too cool" in that the only correct move is to draw wizard cards when you can - anything else being sub-optimal. Why pull a color limited, one point of damage archer when you could get something that deals one damage to everything on the board, or sets them on fire (1 damage every time they move) or simply insta kills everything in an arc (provided you sacrifice your own corresponding tower)?

Still fun when you want to see everything / most things wiped from the board in a single move.

Insight: As mentioned, always draw wizard cards when you can. Not all are winners - just most.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Lost Pirate Kingdom

Sailing away with a mercury injector...

We've had Romans, we've had Ottomans, and now we have a Pirate based documentary/drama based around Nasau and the golden age of piracy. Time flies fast in this six episode series but you can tell the budget is a definite constraint based on the sets, computer graphics, and the reusing on footage to the extent that its like one pirate kept robbing the same ship... using the same moves... hmm.

Anne as the mandatory eye candy.

While I found it entertaining enough, it is definitely lower quality than the previous docu-dramas mentioned here. Recommended only if you have an interest in pirate history, or are a fan of Black Sails. I give it one an a half fire ships out of five.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Sequence (Board Game)

Connect 5.

In this competitive game, up to 12 players in either two or three teams (whatever divides equally) are given four cards and on a players turn they play one card which often just lets them put one of their tokens on the matching space and draw one from the deck. 

A light an easy party game.

The only specials are that the corners of the board can be filled using any card, single eye Jacks let you remove enemy tokens and two eye Jacks let you put a token anywhere. The first team to place five tokens in a line horizontally, vertically or diagonally TWICE wins the round.

While there is some strategy involved, luck plays a major factor. Not only are you at the mercy of your cards but you also cannot communicate with your team (or sit beside them). It is very fun though, and there is very little down time which keeps everyone engaged (and I played with eight)!

A light and fun game, perfect for parties and easily recommended. I give it three sequences out of five.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

The law is different for undercover cops.

Wei Shen (voiced by Will Yun Lee) is an undercover cop trying to take down a triad in Hong Kong, and to do this he must do criminal acts as a gangster to keep his cover intact while also balancing out doing criminal acts as a cop because... its fun? And that's the important bit: FUN!

The multitude of activities in the open world map of Hong Kong range from the mundane to the hilariously out there. You have street racing, fight clubs, karaoke, chop shop thefts, debt collection, and for collectors lots of lock boxes and shrines to discover and vehicles and clothes to purchase. Yep, different sets of clothes provide different bonuses and I cannot think of another game where I changed attire so frequently. It's so easy to get engrossed in this one, even if Wei tends to inexplicably lose firearms all the time.

Occasionally, cars are made of explodium!

Losing guns doesn't matter though as guns are actually a "rarity" in the game (yeah, not so much later) making gun play one of the weakest aspects of Sleeping Dogs. Still serviceable, but just OK. Most of your fighting will instead be ye olde school martial arts with a system similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum but more robust. I cannot stress how brilliant the systems all work so well together. Also, if you get the Definitive Edition you have the additional content of the DLCs!

Nightmare at North Point sees Wei take on supernatural beings (which features a rarity - the Chinese hopping zombie / Jiangshi), Year of the Snake deals with an end of the world cult who have way too many explosives, and the Zodiac Tournament is where you are invited to a remote island to fight against the other best fighters in the region. An easy one to recommend I give this game four and a half DZS-90s out of five. Yes, even with the random bugs. It's just so much fun!

Insight: Always get massages. If you are going to fight, also drink some Dragon Kick and eat some street food before hand. Also, remember car-fu is stronger than any kung-fu so feel free to run over any criminal scum when you can.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Last Bastion

Can you defeat the warlord(s) of the Baleful Queen's army?

With a monstrous army laying siege, up to four heroes can cooperatively defend the castle and will achieve victory if they can defeat the warlord (or warlords on harder difficulties) leading them before the town falls under the grasp of evil (three grasps of evil to be precise).

It's a colorful board, and one that packs away nicely in the box.

On your turn your monster board activates first - any already there use their "I'm already here" ability, and if you have space you draw a new monster who uses its "I've appeared" ability while if you don't have space you suffer a penalty. Then, in any order, you can move and do an action - which could be move again, use the ability of the castle tile you are standing on (which move around per game), or fight something that is adjacent to you (for most heroes) so corner tiles are great for dual fighting.

Fighting involves rolling three custom D6's which each usually give you a 33% chance to score a hit which you can then improve by using the matching colored equipment (discard for insta hits) and a few other tricks. The number of hits required depends on the monster you are attacking, and if you beat the required number it dies. If you fail, nothing happens.

It's pretty simple to learn and pretty fast once you get the sequence down with games going around an hour. It is also challenging - more so if you play with less than four people. Component quality is great, and the game play is really engaging too so its one I definitely recommend and give it four bomb carts out of five.

Caveat: This is a remake/reskin of a game called Ghost Stories though, so if you already have that one there might not be too much here that is different, other than the theme.

Don't waste turns fighting (rolling dice) until you have favorable odds.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Dulf Demented

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The first stop for Dulf, Aloth, Sagani, Zahua, Maneha and the Grieving Mother is the Leaden Key hideout in the sewers where they murder everyone. Then it's onto the Ducal Palace to try get into the hearings but are unable to without an invitation. The only group left that may have one are the Dozens, but again they refuse to help.

Aloth convinces Dulf this is because they are on the Leaden Key payroll so they too are all killed and as the violence spills out onto the street - more guards and more brave citizens meet their end against the enraged Dulf. Eventually, when the streets run red with blood, Aloth points the attack towards Hadreth House, the local intelligence facility who again are not forthcoming with an invitation. "They must be on the take too," whispers Aloth.

So Dulf slays them all while Aloth watches with glee. In truth, only Hadreth House had the capacity to stop the Leaden Key and with them out of the way his mission was complete. With a flick of his wrist Aloth vanished, leaving the Dulf to face the justice about to befall them from his own friends as Symm, Hort, Alias, Mercy, Gerrod and Arzang arrive to stop the blood bath.

Out numbered and shaken by what they were doing, Dulf's team just stood aside as Arzang and Gerrod broke through the old wizards magical defences and then burned his mind, leaving him a stuttering and incoherent shell of a man.

Then they abandoned him there as he deserved - unrecognized, unloved and doomed to wander the streets of Defiance for the rest of his days.

The end.

Insight: So, this is the non standard ending of the game (kill Lady Webb) and one I got locked into since all the factions were dead. Supposedly, Hadreth House would also give an invitation to the hearings as a last resort but only if you personally kill all the other faction leaders. Too bad for me, this design didn't count on the Knight Crucible commander getting killed by enemy NPCs (the forge knights he so badly wanted to create). Oh well, I'll chalk that up to poor design, or is it genius design? :P

Friday, 9 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Devil Destroyed

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Abbey of the Fallen Moon is well guarded, but fortunately the guards are all idiots as Dulf manages to bluff his way past them AND their leader, allowing Maneha access to their salt pool which removes some bad memories for her (by getting tentacled).

And the rest of the party just watched...

Indeed, the team only end up fighting one insane monk on the lower levels which Dulf then floods as a distraction so the team can reach the frozen lake beyond. There in the center is a huge chunk of a fallen moon - and the base for those mechazoid monsters. Fighting their way in, they find a way to sink the entire thing but not before the Devil of Carroc is pulverized into pieces. Dulf too almost dies in the ensuing collapse but is saved by Aloth who finally reveals he is a Leaden Key spy, but wants out of the organization swearing allegiance to Dulf.

The group returns to Caed Nua for a trial where Aloth reveals the Leaden Key are after all things animancy and are especially targeting the animancy hearings back at Defiance Bay. While most of the Black Pit crew vote against trusting Aloth, Dulf and the others overrule them and take them with him back to the city to continue the hunt for the Leaden Key.

Insight: Monks have some amazing abilities which makes Zahua pretty awesome. It also means fighting through the abbey will be super painful as all those monks have the same moves.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Hiravias Halved

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having cleared the dungeon, the Caed Nua group spend most of their time keeping the peace around the stronghold - a peace disturbed by a mercenary army attacking their quiet neighbour, the archmage Concelhaut.

As the mercs are jerks they are wiped out, only for the team to discover Concelhaut is a bigger jerk - and a lich! The archmage laughs at the notion of needing help and decides to kill them for their trouble. Hiravias is cut in two by one of his ancient death guards before the others can behead Concelhaut, taking his skull as a trophy.

That table is handy in separating the lich from his guardians.

They then meet one of Concelhaut's rivals, the archmage Llengrath, who orchestrated this attack. Llengrath makes a pact with the Caed Nuan's as thanks for their service - giving them another powerful ally.

Meanwhile Dulf is dealing with powerful enemies in the White March - giant mechanized men who are resilient to damage. They seem to be coming from the direction of a remote monastery, so Dulf leads his squad there next with the help of barbarian pilgrim Maneha.

Insight: Concelhaut's skull is the best mini-pet in game, as it allows you to summon the lich to help you in battle!

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Lea Levelled

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After the war the dive team finally reaches and clears out the last floor (15th) beneath Caed Nua, only losing Crazy Lea on the way as she was crushed by a boulder thrown by a deep spriggan. At the base was a powerful dragon who simply wanted to be free but had grown too heavy to fly so they helped it in another way: by beating down a random woman and holding her still while forcing the dragons essence inside her (that is literally in the game). The dragon was most thankful for this gift and the heroes made a powerful ally.

That's a scary looking beast.

Elsewhere, Dulf's squad headed back to the White March to continue chasing the trail of the Leaden Key into a long abandoned and haunted dwarven fortress guarded now only by spirits and automatons. One such machination, the Devil of Carroc, is friendly and self aware enough to join them - helping to disarm the more difficult dangers in the place which had pretty much wiped out their quarry's exploratory team.

At the deepest part of the fortress Dulf finds a legendary forge and decides to reignite it. Unfortunately, this also awakens a new threat in the region.

Insight: Building up Caed Nua offers some good stat boons when you rest there. Said stats (in combination with crafted food and magic gear) let you access those conversation options you wouldn't normally be able to.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Pallegina Pummelled

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Following the trails of the Leaden Key leads Dulf's team to the icy North of the White March where they are set upon by a wandering group of evil monks who beat Pallegina into a pulp and breaking all her bones! The paladin does not survive these injuries.

Fortunately a friendlier monk named Zahua comes to their aid to defeat these attackers, and in thanks Dulf takes him back to the stronghold so that Arzang can undo the curse on a sword bound to Zahua's hand. In doing so he learns that a neighboring lord is raising an army to claim Caed Nua for himself!

I'm just going to skip over a few other cool encounters in the White March. :P

In response, Dulf attempts to raise his own army by aiding the Crucible Knights at Defiance Bay complete their forge-knight automatons. Alas, these go crazy and slay all the knights at the base. The other two alliance options don't work out either, with the Dozens still refusing to help and the criminal House Doemenel begin wiped out due to an argument during negotiations.

And so Dulf faces the invading army with his small group of allies where he, Aloth, Arzang, and Gerrod spend most of the battle transforming enemies into piglets and then roasting them with fireballs while the others keep the enemy swarm at bay. It is an easy victory, and they celebrate with plenty of bacon afterwards.

Insight: Don't immediately shapeshift with your druids. They have some handy spells they can throw first before getting stuck into melee. Any summoning spells / items are especially good.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Gezzthemin Gutted

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Back at the Caed Nua stronghold, Gezzthemin has hired new guards to aid in its defense and among them are the familiar faces of Mercy, Crazy Lea, Alias and Arzang. Together with Gerrod they forge into the depths underneath the fortress once more and reach level eight and find a crazed, adra addicted fampyr looking to become king of the level by getting Gezzthemin's team to kill the rest of his kin and in exchange he will let them descend further.

Arzang's suggestion of simply killing this fampyr is outvoted and the squad ends up fighting a handful instead. They turn out to be deadly enemies due to their charms, an effect fully felt when Crazy Lea stabs Gezzthemin in the belly and carves out his insides - killing him. The team eventually slays all the other fampyrs and surprisingly the new "king" keeps his word - offering free passage downwards.

The team instead returns to the surface to rest and resupply, sending a messenger to Dulf's squad with news of their expedition. Upon hearing the news, Symm and Hort return to the stronghold to assist the dive teams while Dulf replenishes his own troop with the paladin Pallegina, werewolf druid Hiravias, and cipher (psychic) known only as the Grieving Mother.

Werewolf form is cool!

Insight: Fampyrs are faster than the other undead. This means if you have enough space to run, you can isolate them from their pawns.