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.

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days

GTFO: R4D1 - Nucleus (Normal - Part II)
GTFO: R4D1 - Nucleus (Normal - Part III)
Pillars of Eternity: Dulf Demented

I'm surprised my early game over in Pillars of Eternity made it to the top three here. As for the other two, it looks like some people were trying to finish off one more mission in GTFO prior to Rundown 5 - I really hope those posts helped! :)

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
Chapter 7: Ritual Heist (Season 2)
Chapter 8: The Burning Woods
Chapter 9: Holy Murder
Chapter 10: Dig Deep
Chapter 11: Know when to Fold em
Chapter 12: The King in Yellow

That's it for now - thank you for reading!

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.

Sunday 4 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Kana is Killed

[Part of the Cursed story line]

On the road to the city the party meets a short ranger named Sagani and her pet fox Itumaak who are looking for someone. Dulf offers to help so she comes along as the team makes a detour to scour the nearby areas first. This turns out to be a mistake as the next area is a drake breeding ground and one of the beasts has Kana for a snack!

Enraged, the team go on to hunt all the drakes including their big leader in the nearby flaming cave. Despite clearing everything in there and all the way to the ocean, there is no sign of the person Sagani is looking for so the team returns to the original plan of visiting Defiance Bay, stopping at the weapon vendors stall to purchase rifles and pistols all around.

No doorway? No problem! Narrow terrain works just fine even against "flying" creatures.

A local adventurer's guild called "The Dozens" isn't very helpful in giving out jobs so Dulf and company end up freelancing again, eliminating some drug dealers and cleaning the catacombs of monsters and scum. It turns out beneath the catacombs is the hideout of the Leaden Key! Not willing to spook them, Dulf uses an ingenious disguise to bluff his way in alone and collect intel on the shady group - leaving them none the wiser.

Insight: Firearms are slow to reload but using them as an opening salvo is a great alpha strike before switching out to your usual weapons.

Saturday 3 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Durance's Death

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Outside the ruins of Caed Nua the party meets the bard (chanter), Kana, who is interested in the relics below the keep. Knowing people are stronger together Dulf lets him join the party as they rid the courtyard of spirits and the basement of vermin.

They also find a mad man down there who and recognizes Dulf as a "watcher" like he himself is. Alas, this ends in a one sided fight in which the mad man is slain but at least he left a hint regarding a group known as the "Leaden Key" somewhere in the city of Defiance Bay. Since the path there is blocked, Dulf decided to make Caed Nua their new base of operations, calling in Gezzthemin and Gerrod to oversee the reconstruction of the road and the stronghold itself.

Meanwhile, the team explores the vast dungeon underneath the basement finding all sorts of creatures down here such as kobold-kin, ogres and a drake. At level seven Kana finds the tablet he is looking for but is disheartened to find it in tiny pieces. Worse still, a powerful lightning bolt from a wandering elemental hits Durance right in the nuts - killing the pyromaniac.

Doorway combat, a mainstay of RPGs.

A friendly ghost warns Dulf not to proceed further ("because you are too low level dawg") so the team retreats back to the surface just in time for the road to open to allow travel to Defiance Bay.

Insight: When outnumbered (which is almost always), doorways are a great place to setup for battle. Position everyone well then just send one person (usually the tank) to lure baddies back.

Friday 2 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Raederic's Removal

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having found old allies Hort, Gerrod and Symm Haximus - Gezzthemin's party finds great success in helping out the people of the Gilded Vale, to the point where they ask them to deal with the cruel Lord Raederic. His castle is pretty easy to infiltrate with Hort's athleticism getting the team up the parapet walls, but the wall guards are no joke - forcing the squad to sneak around them.

Luckily the temple priests in the upper floor are less well armored and are easy to murder. Even their high priest contact who has a key to open a shortcut to the throne room is killed when he attempts to make bargains for it.

The priests are no problem, but the temple knights are a different story...

In no time at all, the team stands before Lord Raederic's throne and in a brief but intense battle they slay the lord and his cronies, allowing the rebel forces control of the keep. They return to the Gilded Vale as heroes, where the townsfolk are already taking down the corpses that had been strung up to the central tree.

Having been injured in the fight, Gezzthemin and Gerrod opt to stay behind to recuperate, leaving the team's leadership to Dulf. A crazed, ugly pyromaniac monk named Durance in the tavern recognizes Dulf's new "condition" and speaks of a man who has a similar aura in the ruins of Caed Nua. Without anything better to do, the team decides to head there next with Durance leading the way.

Insight: The fighter's knockdown ability is very handy. Eventually ranger pets get a version of this too!

Thursday 1 April 2021

Pillars of Eternity: Eder's End

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Dulf leant heavily on his staff as he approached the small town of Gilded Vale, whose main landmark was a great dead tree at its center and upon whose branches were hung human corpses. "Folk Lord Raederic didn't like," explained a pipe smoking man who later introduced himself as Eder.

Corpses as ornaments always makes an impression.

Dulf was greatful that the warrior helped him to the tavern to recover with some hot soup. He was only half way through when a pair of elven mages approached his table, one of whom he recognized from his time at the Thayan arena! "Dulf Ebonbeard, I am glad to see you also escaped that mad man," said Gezzthemin with a sly grin.  

It turns out most of the arena group escaped from Baeloth after the warp and now Gezzthemin and his new wizard friend Aloth were doing adventuring work at the local abandoned temple for some coin and invited Dulf and Eder along. "Come on old man, you'll feel better once you've cast a few spells."

Gezzthemin was a poor liar, but Dulf knew that meant the place was dangerous and thus he and Eder agreed to join the task. Sure enough the place was haunted by malevolent spirits and man sized bats which killed Eder. The three wizard party manages to clear the place out though, and gets a lot of coin in the process.

Insight: Arcane Assault is a cheap, fast and semi-spamable (2 per fight * number of wizards) AoE ability that's useful against clusters of weak enemies.