Thursday 31 March 2022

Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries

Great when it works.

This has slowly been edging out GTFO as our main cooperative game night game (at least until the next Rundown Extension), since it is very fun to customize your giant fighting robot and then pilot it against other giant fighting robots, tanks, helicopter planes and infantry. Graphics are good as are the controls. It doesn't matter that there are only around five or six types of missions, there will be enough variance to keep you entertained.

The campaign also follows a timeline so while you can be doing jobs anywhere in the galaxy, things happen without waiting for you. Borders change as the great houses fight for more territory. New mechs or new versions of old mechs are released in later years. It's all very cool, yet I can't actively just recommend it because it does have a few drawbacks.

The biggest being it is a pain in the ass to get working cooperatively. For one, we are using a lot of mods (which I am normally against) to get things to work (listed below) and even then there are some missions where DL and I might just drop out of the game or strong hang. The last two missions of the Kestrel Lancers DLC story line on Sarna are notorious for this and we had to join mid battle more than once. Only Jim, the host, can buy equipment from the shops, use the storage tab and accept missions, basically running the management side of things. He doesn't mind, but it does mean DL and I have a lot of down time while he does that.

There's also no in game chat - good thing steam chat works just fine. This is an ok game if you play it single player, but a great game to play cooperatively... when it works. DL has put up some videos featuring the inside of our drop ship and us in the field, in which we just discover mechs have headlights and night vision after literal years have passed by our game. :P

List of mods we use:
Yet Another Mechlab
Enable Infantry
Yet Another Weapon
Yet Another Weapon Clan
Higher Visibility MiniMap Arrow
Higher Visibility Torso Twist
Unlock Coop Tabs
Custom Dropship Skin

Wednesday 30 March 2022

March 2022: Day 35 of the war

Ukraine (backed by international support, some of whom had the balls to meet in Kyiv) continues with a strong defense thanks to troop training and morale, unlinking their power grid from Russian dependency, capturing tons of Russian hardware, and inspiring many volunteers to their cause, including some that consider virtue signaling more important than tactics resulting in a number of fatalities. Gotta get those upvotes right?

It's clear what would happen to Kyiv if it should actually be surrounded. It's already happening to Mariupol, a city right on the border, whose citizens are beginning to die of starvation. They're in a tough spot, because each time a ceasefire is called and a corridor is opened for civilians to flee, the Russian's either missile it, mine it, or simply make the corridor only go towards Russia (or their ally, Belarus).

This is now an official stamp.

Russia has declared Arnold Schwarzenegger an enemy for his anti-war video to the Russian people around the time journalist Marina Ovsyannikova managed to get an anti-war sign up on State TV. Nationalization of "unfriendly" companies has also begun, capturing hundreds of civil aircraft and McDonald's (which will now be Uncle Vanya's by turning the M to a B?). Despite their heavy losses, it doesn't look like they have any shortage of troops to recklessly throw into battle - regardless if said troops have working vehicles or supplies to get through the Ukrainian mud.

Said vehicles and/or supplies might be on amphibious ships that were spotted by Japan (apparently not all ships are "amphibious"?). In typical reddit fashion this has been summarized as "[Russia] is bringing military equipment to be abandoned in Ukraine. They should put a "Z" on it so Zelensky knows it's another donation for him".

Another of my favorites: "A few months ago Russia said it had 'no plans' to invade Ukraine. I'm starting to think they were telling the truth." 

Apparently China officially asked Russia to wait with invasion until after Olympics claims the New York Times, and since the USA could almost accurately predict the date and time of invasion it certainly was a bold decision on Russia's part to plan a surprise attack where their own men were the only ones not in on it.

Russia has also asked China for aid to which I'm not sure what the reply was as China is busy quietly expanding it's reach in the South Pacific (in some cases not so quietly).

Meanwhile Anonymous is siding with the rest of the world by doing a variety of hacks like putting this Russian Camera Dump online where you can... watch Russians do... Russian things? If you are the more visceral visual sort then r/combatfootage might be the place to go (not just for this war). Be warned, that site is not safe for life.

Lastly, since truth is the first casualty of war, it's up to you what to actually believe. For some, this whole thing is just a hoax and it's not happening at all - it's just a big movie set. I guess I need to watch Wag the Dog at some point.

Most Viewed Posts:
GTFO: R6D2 - Crossways (Main)
Pathfinder Kingmaker - Tournament of Kings
El Cid and World Without End

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Legends of Andor 2 - Legend 9 - Lords of the Sea

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

Weeks have passed since the terrible storm and for some reason the entire party is split up across the islands. Juris the wizard starts on the boat, Mom the archer and Merrik are at the Tauri city, Rose the fisherlady is with the sea shell dwarves, DL the warrior is in the lonely forest where he lumbers some wood far to the South (which turns out is actually the Elven woods of Andor) and Joe the guardian is in the ruined city in the North where he collects a magic compass that once a day, can change the direction of the active wind card.

Juris sails to the Tauri city (and again finds the horny cat) while Joe and DL swim there, meeting up with Mom and Merrik to fight off a few foes. A delegation of Tauri also want to come on board, asking for a taxi service to the sea shell dwarves. They get there super fast, as Juris uses the magical Storm Shield (a two use reward for their actions from the storm) to teleport the ship right to the island.

There they pick up Rose and a delegation of dwarves who want to go to the elven forest, because apparently we really ARE a heroic taxi service now. On the way DL stops by the shipbuilding village to sell his lumber and learns they want iron from the sea shell dwarves so he swims back while everyone else delivers the passengers to the forest.

A vision then beckons Rose to the Northern ruined city so they sail there next and the spirit tells her the troubles of the sea are stemming from an imbalance from a triumvirate of lords where one of them (randomly chosen) has become greedy with power. In our case it is an evil mermaid.

She's a slippery salty siren.

Juris uses the storm shield to warp back to DL, now carrying the metal, and they sail back to the shipbuilding village to hand in that quest which satisfies the first requirement to win the mission: complete all the (random) village tasks. Next up - they have to kill that mermaid. Using the gold they collected from the jobs (because every time we kill we opt for the fame reward instead now) they purchase a ballista upgrade for the boat which lets whoever is using it keep the total of two D6 instead of the usual one.

Makes me wonder why would you buy the prow upgrade which gives one hero a +4 strength when the average of two D6s it 7, but anyway - we then sail South to do battle against the evil mermaid who behaves much like the dragon in that you must beat her three attack cards, each of which do something nasty: one makes a hero force their combat dice result to become one, one adds the strength of the strongest hero to her own, and the hardest one for us was only EVEN numbers count in battle.

We defeat her with very little fame left (if that reaches 0 it's game over) and somehow that restores the balance and opens the path North to the lands of Hadria. Victory!

Monday 28 March 2022

Legends of Andor 2 - Legend 8 - The Storm Begins

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

Once Merrik the cartographer comes to, he thanks his rescuers by requesting they take him around the islands so that he can redraw his maps. At least this time, he and the heroes Juris the wizard, Rose the fisherlady, DL the warrior, Mom the archer, and Joe the guardian are all together to get on the boat.

They spend the first day simply slaughtering all the monsters they can to get a "fame buffer", taking only a minor break for Juris to stop and pick up a horned cat (which he also found last game). This randomly placed horny cat is one of the three artifacts in this game and can be used once a day to steal one dice from the enemy (final foes are immune) to be used by the hero instead!

Day two is more focused one hitting all the spots Merrik wants to draw, which is pretty quick thanks to some creative gaming to make the most of Rose's free "nudge the ship one space" action which turns out to be really handy. With all the locations mapped, the ship can now sail through the rocky crags that previously blocked it. The team celebrates by spending the night at the (mino)Tauri 14 Willpower town just as a massive storm arrives and floods it, removing the 14 willpower bonus!

For some reason as the storm gets worse, the monsters get stronger.

The heroes are then tasked to ferry three groups of refugees all the way across the map to the Sea-shell dwarves which turns out to be extremely easy. Everyone except Rose simply "sleeps" (can take no more actions that day) which leaves the fisherlady enough time for the 8 hour round trip three times though she does have to burn will power towards the end (an exploit introduced with the black time markers when playing with 5+ characters). Once the last of the refugees is delivered, this legend ends in victory! Must be noted, we got lucky with the wind cards as there were no severe storms that sent the ship flying across the map this time.

Sunday 27 March 2022

In Sound Mind

Not everyone is crazy.

In this psychological horror, you play as a therapist who awakens in a strange, run down motel and while I initially thought this would just be your stock standard "wander around in the dark and find the things to go to the next dark place" I was pleasantly surprised that this was anything but that after the first few minutes. Especially after assembling a pistol.

Yep, it turns out this therapist is very combat savvy and "scary" critters aren't so bad as you can fight and kill them. The hotel serves as a hub to your patients nightmares though and each of those has an excellent boss type creature that chases you around in various degrees. The first one is simply territorial and easy to evade but later ones hunt you down relentlessly which is stressful but fun.

There is also a really cool cat.

The not overly complicated puzzles are good too and while I was questioning the heavy usage of pills in the game as well as the main villain who is almost a cartoon caricature, the well thought story actually covers that. This is one game that I've lost track of time playing as it is super immersive, and I highly recommend it if you like shooters in general. Yeah there are some jump scares, but that's what your gun is for. :P

Saturday 26 March 2022

March 2022 Boardgame Ranking

I stumbled upon Pub Meeple's free ranking program and decided to give it a try on my surprisingly large list of board games in my house and have found it is an excellent tool to bypass my scoring system since really, scores change as times go by. (Note: Games that don't "live" with me or that I've thrown away are excluded from the list.)

As such, I ran this twice. Once for what I thought was best, and once for what I actually want to play or replay right now and averaged the two results which are as follows (with lower numbered ranks being better):

Rank    Item

2    Pandemic: Fall of Rome
2    Horrified
3.5    Black Orchestra
6.5    Pandemic: Iberia
8    Eldritch Horror
8    The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
9.5    Atlantis Rising
10.5    Forbidden Desert
10.5    Lords of Waterdeep
11     The Witching Hour (mod for The Witcher: Adventure Game)
11.5    Last Bastion
13    Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
13.5    Dead Men Tell no Tales
15.5    Forbidden Sky
17.5    Cthulhu: Death May Die
17.5    Pandemic
18    Temple of Elemental Evil
18.5    The Grizzled
19    El Grande - Big Box Edition
20    Tomb of Annihilation
20.5    Shadows Over Camelot
21    Five Minute Dungeon
22.5    Castle Ravenloft
23    Xenoshyft
25    Wrath of Ashardalon
25    Escape from Colditz
26    The Mind
26    Operation Flashpoint: Fire Rescue
26    Regicide
29    Dark Souls: The Card Game
29.5    Zombicide: Black Plague
30.5    Police Precinct
31.5    Waterdeep: The Dungeon of the Mad Mage
31.5    Love Letter
32.5    The Legend of Drizzt
33    Sequence
35    Chess
35.5    Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats
37    House of Danger
39.5    Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak
40    The Witcher: Adventure Game
40.5    London Dread
42    Game of Thrones: Intrigue

This just reinforces my amazement at how a small fan made mod made the lackluster Witcher: Adventure Game gain in standing! Maybe I should hunt down mods for the other games down there, or just make some of my own... 

Friday 25 March 2022

Rogue Company Warface Dead by Daylight

Unfriendly competition.

Dead by Daylight

In this horror themed game, a team of four survivors are thrown into some sort of purgatory arena that is always filled with generators and meat hooks. Their objective is to stealthily power up the exit door and escape without letting the opposing "team", comprised of a single "killer" player, catch and sacrifice them to a hungry malevolent entity. There are many survivors and killers to choose from (especially if you open your wallet), and I'm always amazed at the mix of franchise characters they pull together. You can have Bill from Left for Dead and Leon from Resident Evil trying to flee from Jason Voorhes, Pyramid Head or the girl from the ring (each with their own special abilities once you level up enough)!

Game play wise this has an excellent basic tutorial for both roles, controls are easy, graphics are good and there are nice systems in place like survivors get an over the shoulder cam while the killer only has first person view. My main downside to this is frustration though. As a killer it will feel like those damned survivors can't die fast enough, especially if they are hard to find in the first place while as a survivor if you are caught its basically a "skip your turn" mode once they are meat hooked which not only drains their life but the actual fun from the game. Survivors also can die, so player elimination is a thing - a tell tale sign of a shit game.


A multiplayer shooter that has both PvP and, to my surprise, PvE missions. In it you play as one of five classes of soldier in small scale combats (if PvP) or many foes (if PvE). Gaining experience or using the cash shop helps you advance to unlock things but really, apart from a few nice touches like the assisted climb move, it could just be a nicer looking version of Counterstrike (the old one). Movement is clunky, weapons are weak, and it takes forever to find a match (at least in my region) in either PvP or PvE. Garbage.

Rogue Company

This is a mostly team vs team arena/bomb planting/king of the hill with fantastic graphics, easy controls, a strange amount of dance emotes and again a lot of characters and specials skills to pick from if you open your wallet. You do need to level up a bit for a few things to unlock but as you can do this against bots it's not much of an issue, especially since rounds are generally fast and decisive - where you win either by eliminating all enemy "tickets" (respawn) or holding an objective for a minute. I also like that weapons are deadly. A few bullets can down someone - not half a mag like in Warface.

It has the problem of taking longer to find online matches though, and since every player has the same amount of agency here (unlike Dead by Daylight where you basically have no threat as the killer and are useless if you are a hooked survivor) it really comes down to your team composition. An AFKer in Dead by Daylight might still be ok. An AFKer here will just rack up losses. Still, this is definitely more fun thanks to the very same player agency and once player elimination actually starts, it goes pretty quickly (and not another 10+ minutes of cat and mouse in Dead by Daylight) so in my book, this is easily the best game of this set - but as regular readers know, PvP is not my thing.

Thursday 24 March 2022

Forgotten Waters: Nature's Splendor

[A board game session from Forgotten Waters]

Having failed to win the race to Ghost Island, Captain Stroopwafel took a job from a trio of wealthy scientists from the Royal College of Natural Philosophy to locate and capture new and fascinating creatures from beyond the Ocean's Edge. Among her crew was Jane Doe, Bassam, Edward Darkdawn and the chef Roberta Foodie.

Since Jane was smitten by the time a merfolk saved her, she has a keen sense to navigate the ship right to the isle they nest upon. The mer quickly attempt to defend their home though, and it is only thanks to Edward's martial skill that they prevail - as he slaughters all but one of them. The surviving baby is then taken to appease the scientists.

Just off the coast they find a leviathan nesting ground and Bassam manages to steal one of their hatchlings. One of the great sea serpents gives chase but is cut down by cannon fire. On the next volcanic isle Roberta tries to steal an egg of a giant bird but fumbles and drops it from the cliff face. Luckily Jane locates a lava lizard in the caves below that is easily lured to the ship with treasure.

With the three beasts in the hold the scientists offer to double the pay if they are taken to visit one more island said to be the home of magnificent and deadly beasts. Captain Stroopwafel lets her greed get the better of her and agrees, and upon landing the three scientists begin sacrificing the captured animals in a scientific black magic ritual to summon their quarry... a forest titan!?

The ship is torn apart and the crew are put into a furious battle against the powerful giant on land, but no matter what damage they do it constantly regenerates and gets angrier. Eventually it bellows in rage which summons more creatures just like it! Panic sets in as the giants begin feasting on the crew, the captain and the scientists... there are no survivors. 

Pretty much felt like Attack on Titan in that last fight. :P

Yep, that was a game over as it is a really tough fight but also I thought it was a fitting end for this scummy crew of kidnappers! This is also the last adventure available for Forgotten Waters without the DLC.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Metro 2033 Redux

If it's hostile, you kill it.

Since I was sad that Stalker 2 got cancelled, I decided to play this retelling of Metro 2033 - a first person stealth shooter that mostly takes place in the claustrophobic underground of the titular Metro, which is where humans now try to coexist along with the horrors in the dark to escape the nuclear wasteland on the surface.

Russians love exploding things.

While it's mainly a railroaded experience (it is the Metro after all) there are opportunities to explore in many levels and this really sets the bar in world building as you travel from station to station. Unless you pick the "action mode", you will also likely be low on ammo for most of it - especially since the military grade bullets are what is used as currency, a system I really enjoyed. Obviously stealth is my jam, so I also loved trying to sneak around everything.

That said, fighting works just fine though your guns will feel weak towards the end if you aren't using the "good" currency ammo. Also I really appreciate that they took the time to make monsters actually behave differently. Big things charge and pounce, little bastards nip and run, spider bugs can be fended off with light, and the gorilla type librarians can actually just be stared down to convince them to leave (aim at their face). All excellent design decisions which make for an excellent game. It is no wonder that it was followed up by Metro: Last Light and Metro Exodus. Highly recommended!

Tuesday 22 March 2022

The Adam Project and Rescued by Ruby

A pair of movies on Netflix.

The Adam Project

Time travel is not only real, it's already being abused which leads time traveling hero (Ryan Reynolds) on his quest to set it right but first he crash lands into his younger self (Walker Scobell, who does an excellent job). The special effects are excellent here, and while the flick is entertaining the story has more than a few bits that are super convenient - like person X saves the day out of nowhere and no one but the hero has the super useful "not a light saber" that ruins it a little. Still ok if you like Ryan Reynolds but otherwise, stay away. Not one I'd watch again.

Rescued by Ruby

Better than expected!

A determined state trooper (Grant Gustin) eager to join the K9 unit opts to adopt and train a hyperactive half border collie named Ruby to try make it into the squad. While I'm not fond of purely drama films, which this is, I have to say I really enjoyed it. It's got a good story based on real life, good acting and a lot of good doggies! Best of all, it did hit in the feels / created an emotional response which is an excellent sign of a successful film. Recommended, and if you like dogs, highly recommended! I would happily watch this one again.

Monday 21 March 2022

Dauntless Windbound ARK

Three games on lost lands.

ARK Survival Evolved

In this multiplayer game players must first find or create a server to play on which can either be PvE or PvP. Once you create some degree of horrible looking character you spawn on an island teeming with decent looking dinosaurs who you can later click bash to hunt (good luck). As a survival game you will be focused primarily on gathering, hunting and crafting. Unfortunately there interface is terrible and there's no real tutorial that even tells you that you need to punch trees to get wood to make an axe (to again, get wood). And somehow pterodactyl things like stealing your pants. What? It definitely lost my interest at that point.

Dinos are pretty big.


This survival game is far better in the crafting and collecting side than Ark. In it, you play as a woman stuck in a strange ocean dotted with islands that you need to explore to unlock the gateway to the next set of islands. Building is very intuitive and easy as components are labelled appropriately. Want a gorehorn crest? Kill a gorehorn. Combat is still a bit clunky but it's better than ARK, and building and sailing a boat is great. Now is a good time to mention that this is single player only though, and if you don't like sailing or the idea of having to tack against the wind it's best to avoid this.


This PvE focused MMO takes place in a broken world where everyone lives on flying islands which gives the nice excuse of making everything instanced. Because some big monster once threatened a village everyone now goes and hunts them as the national past time using a variety of traditional hunting weapons including swords, chained sickles, and brass knuckles - then once you harvest your kill you use its guts to make better gear to hunt bigger monsters and so on.

This is the first game I've played that has no gender selection in the character creator which was new and it also has an interesting take on quest grinding using its bounty system. While there are some NPCs that do give you quests most of your progress will be from these bounties that you yourself design from simple multiple choice. Be rewarded for killing 3 things with an axe? Or killing 6 things with anything? You can customize three of these to be active at any one time.

The best part of the game is its naturally cooperative especially on harder islands where beasties (or events with beasties) really need hunt teams and in an example of excellent design - you don't need to bring one yourself. In my experience somehow people just naturally show up where they are needed as rewards are mostly shared. Definitely my favorite of this bunch, because of the cooperative aspect AND because it's not a survival game (no food meter). It is severely lacking in story though, but that doesn't stop people from just going out and killing things.

Sunday 20 March 2022

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea and Regicide

A pair of card games requiring some brain power!

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

This very affordable and excellent cooperative trick taking game is super simple on the surface and will be easy to understand if you play other trick taking games like Hearts. The deck of 40 cards contains numbers 1-9 in four colors and black submarine cards numbered 1-4. Whoever gets the 4 submarine is the leader and gets to start by playing one card. Players must then in turn play a card of a similar color/suite or anything if they don't have a matching one.

Other than flavor text, it has nothing really to do with diving or the ocean.

Whoever played the highest number whose color matches the first card or played the highest submarine card wins the trick. They then get to start the next one. The interesting part comes from the "cooperative" section of the game where people get assigned missions, pulled from a secondary deck of scaling difficulty. Maybe this round I cannot win any tricks while you must win using a blue 5 or something. Should anyone fail their mission everyone fails, and the fact that you mainly can't show your cards to each other (apart from one card ONCE per mission and indicate if its your highest/lowest/or only of that color/suite) makes it that much more challenging and really gets the brain working.

It can be tough if you aren't used to trick taking so expect to "be that guy that lost the game" (usually me) but at the same time also have an open mind and ask questions to improve your game. I'm at the point now where I know where I go wrong, and follow up by asking after the game what from my options I should have done so I'll know better next time. I'm also practicing card counting in that on the last trick (everyone has one card), I try get everyone to predict what cards remain.

It also sets up and plays really fast which is fantastic. If you like cards, trick taking and cooperative games, you should definitely check this one out.


Because this card game uses the standard deck of 52 cards, you can freely play it with the rules found here. In it, you must cooperatively defeat a castle of 4 Jacks, 4 Queens and 4 Kings using the rest of the cards as your troops and suites indicate special powers/troop types (which are nullified when facing enemies of the same suite). Clubs do double damage, Spades block damage, Hearts heal by returning discarded cards to the available tavern deck and Diamonds hand out said cards from the tavern deck to you and your allies. Except if  

If a player fails to kill an enemy by playing their card (or a set if they have one), they then must suffer the damage from the enemy in return. Jacks do 10 damage for example, and so you must discard 10 worth of numbers to survive (a 5, 3 and 2 would cover it). If you survive, great! It's the next players turn. If not, then all the players have lost. This gets tough to mitigate as Queens do 15 and Kings do 20 damage per hit!

While you probably need a decent amount of luck to win, this game is easily accessible but expect to do a fair bit of maths as you play. The Queen who starts with 15 ATK and 30 HP has taken 6 spades + 4 clubs of damage so... what's her HP and current damage? Expect to be doing calculations like that every turn. Given that this game is so easily accessible, I do recommend trying it out at least once.

Epic Trash

Games from the Epic Game store I just don't get into.

In Train Sim World 2 you take the role of an engineer (driver) in first person to drive some trains! The graphics are pretty great and you have exterior cameras to lovingly gaze down the entirety of the train as you run on tracks based on real life! I can see how this would appeal to train enthusiasts as the driver seat is pretty technical too - but there are two aspects where this loses me:

First, its a train. For all the convoluted controls you can basically only stop or go so if you aren't changing state or speed you are just sitting there waiting to get somewhere. Secondly, THERE IS NO COLLISION!? You can literally drive right through other trains. That absolutely kills the whole simulation for me.

Another simulator that holds some merit is PC Building Simulator where you run a small PC hardware shop dealing with various problems like viruses, dirt or replacing PC internals and getting paid for it. The decent graphics are coupled with an interface that isn't very intuitive which is either poorly designed or excellently designed as I think most PC internals are not intuitive to start with. This does mean that the entire game is like dealing with a blue screen of death. For fun. Multiple times. This leaves me wondering who is this marketed to? People that already do this job?

Last in this category is Ghostwire: Tokyo - Prelude by Bethesdea... because Bethesda now produce Interactive Novels? WTF? The art is ok and the narrative about mysterious supernatural disappearances is.... zzzzz. Oh what? I was looking for the [skip] option because I want to play a game instead of read a book. There are minor choices in the parts I got up to but unlikely anything that widely branches out, other than the few instant "game over" options which are a tell tale mark of a lousy game. Especially when said options are as stupid as (take the case) or (ignore the case). Can you guess which one is the game over? Why is that even a choice?

Friday 18 March 2022

The Last Kingdom

"Destiny is all."

This 5 season historical fiction stars Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred who is born a Saxon but raised as a Dane, which is both well used as an internal and external conflict in the story as Uhtred becomes a very accomplished warrior and tactician... and quite quickly falls into the service of an English King.

Checking which people are actually favored by the gods...

Excellent writing helps characters grow into people the audience loves or hates, then the reverse, and back again with the best lines seemingly reserved for kings and priests. If anything my only complaint is some characters seem immune to aging, which is a standard one in any story that spans so many years.

Apparently just like Wu Assassins and  Ray Donovan there are plans to cap this off with a movie finale which I am excited about. However, even if that doesn't appear or doesn't deliver, the series is a complete package having a great ending in its own right. Very entertaining and highly recommended!

Thursday 17 March 2022

Epic Aged Like Milk

Games from the Epic games store that are just too old.

Nostalgia is a great thing, but not so great is discovering just how bad some older games are. Sonic Mania is a great example as I'm told people love this blue hedgehog. This old platformer with huge, timed and multipathed levels that relies more on map memory than skill does not scream good game or even passable game to me though. It's just bad.

Multiply this by 100 and you get the Antstream Arcade which hosts hundreds of old games which to their credit, they run tournaments for their community. What do you win you may ask? Crystals that let you play the old games. Yep, there is currency to play their arcade! Odd design but in truth how many times do you want to play old games like Mortal Combat, Metal Slug, Pac-Man, Galaga, Joe and Mac or Gods (just as a few examples) vs your current MMO / Elden Ring / etc?

Next up is Wargame: Red Dragon, a tactical RTS hybrid that does both of those poorly thanks to a terrible user interface. On the war map screen you can push little figurines of tanks, planes and boats around into regions to feel like a real war general - only to find that the tank you pushed into enemy territory is actually just 1 APC and that 1 jeep of the enemy is around 50 fighting vehicles. Yes, those details are available somewhere but that's just shit. The RTS segment is the part where you can then control your troops on the field which plays like a bad and more bland version of Red Alert without the building component.

As bad as those are, nothing beats Magic Legends which is simply not available anymore - meaning regardless of whatever merits it once had the launcher is quite literally just garbage now.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Illang: The Wolf Brigade

Live action Jin-Roh.

Set in future Korea, the Public Security Department enact machinations to try and disband an elite and merciless police task force. On the surface, this film has a lot going for it: It's based on a moderately popular anime (Jin-Roh), it has good action scenes, nice sets and costumes, and is quite violent (even if it's not as gory as Jin-Roh). Unfortunately outside of these it is an absolute snooze fest as they lean heavily into the political drama side of things (which to be fair is a criticism I also level at Jin-Roh).

Needs more of these guys in action!

There are many characters you don't end up caring about and long scenes that don't really add anything but running time to the movie, especially traversal scenes near the end. Yes we know where everyone is going, we don't need ten minutes of speechless film showing them get there. This is another case where less is more and unfortunately, this falls into my not worth watching category.

Tuesday 15 March 2022

GTFO: R6B2 - Contaminant (Secondary)

We've come back upstairs to do the Secondary goal of this map, to do two terminal uplinks, which thankfully is a lot easier than the previous hell we were in. Archer was available for this run so our loadouts were as follows:

Jim: Hel Revolver/Choke Mod Shotgun/C-Foam/Hammer
Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Bat
Me: Assault Rifle/Shotgun/Burst Sentry/Spear

For those not familiar with GTFO, doing Secondary or Extreme goals are optional - but if you do them or not you must always also complete the main objective to win the mission! This means you can just follow my previous write up, up until the point where you get the bulkhead key and plug it into the controller (second last paragraph). Instead of picking MAIN this time you will need to all stand on the SECONDARY scan which unlocks the bulkhead to the North which is a checkpoint scan (yay) so gear up before triggering it.

Explore inside keeping in mind you need to save doors. You will soon come across a large hallway with a blood door to the West and a blood door to the East. We did West first and only used one mine and sentry while firing from the open little door. Clear the zone past it to find your first terminal right beside a large door. Jim perma-iced this while both sentries waited outside while Archer and DL covered the smaller Northern door, which was also closed and mined.

Note that for terminal scans, enemies will spawn one ROOM away (instead of one ZONE like most alarm scans) so they will attack from both doors. One person (me in our case) is stuck on the terminal, after entering UPLINK_CONNECT [ip address] begins the enemy spawn. In this mission each terminal will need 4 verification keys. Terminal person must type UPLINK_VERIFY xxxx (where xxxx is a code that matches on the HUD - it will be among a number available). So if it says Verify X04 and your HUD says X04-TOOL then you would type UPLINK_VERIFY TOOL.

There is a delay while the machine verifies each of these so expect to hold for a minute or two (especially if like me, you make typos). Once all four codes are done, the waves stop and you can regroup and resupply. Then head over to the East blood door and this time we used both sentries and mines AND mined an extra door to get through. In this zone the terminal room has three doors. We mined all and had sentries inside pointing to the ones further from the door (iced too), and stationed one person per door with me on the terminal.

This time the enemies came from those doors with the turrets and the team held while the codes were typed. Note the team can also help verbally since they can see the codes on the HUD so terminal person should call out the required code. Once that is done, congratulations - that's the end of the secondary objective. You'll find a bulkhead key while doing these terminals, so use that to unlock the main bulkhead door to complete the rest of the mission.

As a reminder, this one is an alarm scan and will send circles into the fog below. Now that the enemies have multiple paths into this room because the secondary bulkhead is open, we stationed Jim and Archer as mobile guards to fight the waves while DL and I did circles. Once unlocked, just follow my previous guide from the second last paragraph to find the HSU and GTFO. :)

Criminal and Spine of the Night

Two mental movies.

Criminal (2016)

Jericho (Kevin Costner) is a bad man with mental issues, but these same mental issues make him a prime candidate for the memory transference of a secret agent who has a mission to save the world. Dubious science aside, this is a decent action thriller with some good actors but it would have been better if the cops didn't make so many stupid mistakes and hasty judgement calls. Still worth a watch, and this is one I'd watch again.

Spine of the Night

Some interesting fashion choices.
This animated fantasy is all about a flower that both gives you power and makes you trip balls, but the story spans across centuries and is told by literally having one character tell another what happened. Ugh! It also doesn't help that the story isn't that strong and that there are filler scenes/stories that didn't need to be there. Art wise the back grounds are great despite clashing with the fantastic frame by frame but shadowless style of the characters. I do have to say its like they were too proud of their art and made all the combat slow though. Anyway, only attempt watching this if you want something really out there.

Monday 14 March 2022

Forgotten Waters: Spoils of the Damned

[A board game session from Forgotten Waters]

The destruction of the Grand Pirate Council led to the surviving pirates ransacking of their stuff and discovering a map pointing to the ghost island of Captain Lees, which was rumored to be full of treasure! And undead! As usual, greed got the best of the raiders who tore up the map in the scuffle and left with only portions of the map.

One of these map pieces makes its way to the perpetually angry and thirsty Captain Swift, who is intent on finding ghost island for personal reasons. Among her crew are Charles Vane who looks like a magically animated skeleton, Bonnie Lass the thespian, safety inspector Astrahan and One Eye Crochet - an adoptive mother looking for her lost son.

With three good leads on other map parts they set sail for a nearby pair but are quickly ambushed by Tortualos! That is, Pirate Ninja Turtles, who are unstoppable in their lightning raid which depletes the ship of a lot of supplies! Fighting another vessel right after is a risky affair but they succeed and claim a second map piece followed by Bonnie Lass getting another and the diary of Captain Lees from a cave on the island the second ship is patrolling.

The TMNT crew actually did do that.

Storms and Astrahan's cautious driving slow progress to a crawl as they make their way back to the starting port to resupply so Captain Swift takes matters into her own hands and uses the crews treasure to simply buy another map fragment from a rival captain. Now with enough information to pin point the location of ghost island, Charles Vane takes the wheel and powers the ship there in short order.

Captain Lees and his zombie crew welcomes them and reward them with treasure, but as yet another storm forces them to stay on the island it becomes clear all of them are also turning into zombies! "Zombies soon to be under my command!" laughs Captain Lees. "But the curse will be undone if you die," Captain Swift retorts - quickly leading her crew against him in an epic fight where Charles Vane resists numerous mind control attempts while fighting in melee while the rest man the cannons (Lees focuses on increasing discontent rather than doing direct damage).

Eventually Lees is defeated and all his zombie crew drop dead - their spirits rising freely. It turns out Captain Swift was an undead too, and having broken his curse also has her spirit freed with the others leaving her crew to decide what to do with themselves. Vane, Bonnie and Crochet all retire from the pirate life, with Vane finding a cure for his see through skin condition.  

Crochet never does find her missing boy, instead becoming a go-go dancer while Bonnie Lass returns to being an actress who then, in a play where she portrays a pirate, is arrested for piracy! Astrahan is eventually abandoned at port by the remaining crew, too annoyed at his safe measures. Just as well since soon after the ship sinks, because they had no safety inspector on board.

Saturday 12 March 2022

Strike Back

The mission comes first.

This 8 season action series is a strange beast, but it always focuses on the members of Section 20 a British military intelligence unit that's often deployed against an array of terrorist threats. Without fail some of those threats are usually in Section 20 itself and there's a rotating door for cast members as they get killed off quite regularly.

There are plenty of action scenes which seem to improve per season, and its nice to see little things like bullet holes and weapon knowledge from the cast. From season two there is also loads of soft porn injected in between all the action segments which slowly reduces as the seasons go by, but hey - I'm all for violence and eye candy so that gets a tick from me.

Our favorite character in the last few seasons.

Story wise - well, it's fine. Nothing overly mind blowing, and in fact it is somewhat repetitive (stop the terrorist), but that's not why you'd be watching this anyway. For those who share my taste of bullets, bombs and boobs you should definitely put this on your radar. Recommended!

Friday 11 March 2022

Europa Universalis IV Among Us

Both aren't for me.

Europa Universalis IV

Everything is shinier in this iteration of Europa Universalis - better graphics, better music, and better controls... wait, nope - definitely not better controls! For all the additions this is still as user unfriendly as the last one I tried and you will still bombarded by popups while trying to figure out just what it is you are meant to be doing. Sorry, Europa Universalis. A polished turd is still a turd.

Among Us

Don't be fooled by the cartoony graphics of this very popular social deduction game. In it, around 7-15 players are on board a space ship and must do mundane tasks to fill up the "goal" bar - should that happen, they win! Except 1-3 of them are actually traitors who are both sabotaging the ship AND murdering crew. Whenever someone sounds the alarm upon finding a body or simply pressing the emergency meeting button the "game" is paused and so begins the discussions and voting to decide who among you is a traitor.

Expect to die a lot!

While nothing happens with a tie, if you get the most votes you get booted out the airlock. Don't worry though, as a ghost you can still try do tasks to win the game for the good guys (most people just quit on death though) but you can no longer talk or vote. Not that you could talk much anyway. All conversations are chosen from a dialogue wheel and while there are a number options to pick from, most of the time it'll just be something like "Who?", "[Player 1]", "No [Player 2]".

Strangely, the stupid tasks are the fun part of the game for me but they are always interrupted by the voting which seems to be what most servers I've tried really lean into. Unless you have the unlikely event of peaceful traitors, the good crew will never win by completing tasks and instead it will always come down to booting the correct folks out of the airlock. That part is not really my thing but for those who enjoy it, this game is for you as it happens regularly.

Thursday 10 March 2022

Cursed Dragon's Dogma (Netflix)

Two Fantasy Series on Netflix.


A tale set in the Arthurian age, this focuses on a young woman named Nimue (Katherine Langford) who is shunned by her village for being "cursed". She also quickly gains a legendary sword and soon becomes a leader to those who oppose murderous zealots trying to eradicate their kind. Weak acting and a weak plot that manages to butcher a few other Arthurian characters is a good reason why this only lasted one season. Not really worth watching.

The action scenes aren't very strong either.

Dragon's Dogma

A dark fantasy animated adventure loosely based on the game of the same name, this seven episode series follows a man seeking revenge on a dragon (also a main plot point in the game). Decent animation and action, but don't expect the same story as the game at all here. While the accents were a bit odd at first I ended up enjoying it and do recommend it for fans of this genre. Just don't expect any overly complicated story arcs.

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Centipede, Black Widow and Death Coming

Three silly pixel games.

Black Widow: Recharged and Centipede: Recharged

These two top down arcade shooters could almost be the same game. In Black Widow you play a spider on a web that shoots a machine gun against incoming mosquitoes and bees to get points, while in Centipede you play just as a gun that fires at a variety of bugs, but mostly decapitation resistant centipedes who moves akin to the space invaders, only this time they have cover - not you. Not great games by any means. I suppose they might be more fun in co-op but with so many better games to co-op the question remains... why?

Death Coming

Does it pay well?

As death's apprentice, you must kill as many people as you can in the time allotted using the many death traps lying around each isometric map - and you get a bonus for killing three specific people too. "Death traps" is used loosely, because these could be anything from changing traffic lights when they shouldn't to summoning alien invaders. It's morbidly fun but quickly repetitive and is only made worse when angels show up to make your job more difficult. Not a bad game, but there are certainly better ones.

Ray Donovan (the movie) and Fistful of Vengeance

Two movies that cap off their series?

Ray Donovan (the movie)

Basically a movie length episode which ties up the story of titular character, the "fixer" Ray Donovan (Liev Shrieber) and takes place immediately after season 7. It contains a surprising amount of flash backs, but this is fine in that it is both important to the story as it echoes current events AND explains more about the dynamic between Ray and his father Mickey (Jon Voight). It's also nice to get to see most of the other cast members one more time, but ultimately that is what will temper any recommendation from me. This movie is definitely only for people who have watched all of Ray Donovan the series, otherwise it's probably best you steer clear.

Fistful of Vengeance

If only the enemies were better with guns...

Unlike the above, Fistful of Vengeance doesn't need you to know anything about its little supernatural / martial arts series called Wu Assassins. It's not even in the title! Instead a quick intro catches people up and we get to see Wu Assassin Kai (Iko Uwais) and company wreak vengeance against... demigods and their minions or something? Story was never going to be the strong point here, but this is actually worse than what was in the series. Also worse is the actual fight scenes which is a bummer. I don't mind the wire work, but having pumped up techno music to seemingly slow combat only highlights the slowness? Again better in the series, which leaves me to say don't bother watching this one unless you really liked Wu Assassins.

Tuesday 8 March 2022


"This is... despicable..."

It is 1918 and a new epidemic is spreading in London. As a doctor recently turned vampire it is up to you to save the city, or hurry it along to meet its demise. It's an interesting setup and exploring the map is great especially once you can unlock shortcut gates ala Dark Souls.

As to be expected the map is also peppered with enemies: other denizens of the night and a literal army of vampire hunters. Most importantly, if you play as a "good" doctor, they will constantly out level you. This is because combat nets you around 5xp per kill and doing little side quests gives you a few hundred while drinking a civilian can give you anywhere from 2000 to 6000 XP.  

Let me inspect your cold in that dark alley madam. Trust me, I'm a doctor.

Being out leveled is mainly a problem just at the start though, when you are a weak little vamp. Once you start improving your stamina (expect to dodge a lot) and get the blood shield skill (tip: improve stamina and get blood shield anyway) you can last longer in fights. Improve your weapons and you can start winning quicker.

Combat is a bit clunky and you probably never want to use the lock on feature but it is serviceable. You also will probably forget to use guns as I did, up until almost the end where they are super handy ("C" to toggle off hand) but  ultimately even finishing the game at level 26, I felt like an unstoppable powered up super vamp without killing a single innocent. Erm I mean civilian.

One of my favorite parts about the game is it goes out of the way to show you all the good and bad parts of many of the civilians. Do you actually slay the serial killer? The gang boss? The mother who abuses her daughter? The guy trying to kill himself?

Not killing any means you are "good" somehow which suffers a severe disconnect to the number of armed hunters and monsters I actually killed in the course of the game. I wasn't a fan of the violin music either and while the story is decent there are problems with it too. Still a fun game though and one I'd recommend to those interested in the subject matter of vampires.

Sunday 6 March 2022

GTFO: R6D2 - Crossways (Main)

It's been awhile since our last GTFO victory and since our fourth player was off in Elden Ring, we decided to bring a [BOT] instead which is a new feature in this rundown - you can bring up to three in place of people and if a live player hops in they just take that slot. If they jump out, a [BOT] AI can replace them with the load out the player had. While they are pretty good, immune to infection, undetectable in stealth and awesome on bio tracker they are clumsy when it comes to using c-foam, mines and shotgun type weapons - friendly fire WILL happen. They will also not stealth kill anything so that will all be up to you. Our winning load out ended up being:

DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Bat
Jim: Hel Revolver/Choke Mod Shotgun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
Me: Assault Rifle/Choke Mod Shotgun/C-Foam/Spear
[BOT]: DMR/Heavy Assault Rifle/Burst Sentry/Hammer

This level is also almost exclusively Charger territory. These spikey sleepers have no bonus head damage so make sure you melee them from behind while they nap. Once awake its almost always better to go loud as they can outrun you and are very dangerous up close. Against the giant versions (also present here) you'll want to go for limb destruction which forces them to stagger to buy you time. Lastly there are also lots of Charger scouts here that have the same behavior as a regular scout, except you can no longer one hit melee them to the face.

Instead it requires two full charged hammer or spear strikes to the back, or a single shot from a shotgun (all pellets must hit) or sniper rifle to the back  and by back I mean "your feet must be pointing in the same direction as its feet when you hit". If you aim at it's graphical back while its turned at a 45 degree angle away from you, you will not get the bonus damage / will not kill it / and it will summon chargers. If you are carrying a scatter gun, then you can just blow it away from any angle if you are close enough - just follow the tentacles in.

This level's main task of finding 9 terminals is harder than it first appears. Unfortunately I didn't get a good screen cap of the map, so I've made a very rough one instead (not to scale and it doesn't show the room separators for areas C - F) and will explain it like in a D&D manual. :P

Zones we visited in alphabetical order. Except for Z. That place sucks!

A - Entry Zone with one terminal and a few sleeping chargers. Door East (to H) is a regular team scan. Door West (to B) is also a regular scan, but the enemies inside will wake up after a few seconds to make your life hell. Door North (C) requires a power cell (from b1) and is a moving scan which goes in an ascending counter clockwise motion around the central structure. Once you finish the scan you'll be at the top most dark floor. I suggest jumping from the big opening in the South of it onto the second floor landing to the right then retreating downstairs back towards your starting position where you first deployed to finish off the wave.

B - contains babies AND a mother who will wake up after the door from A is opened. The method that worked for us is everyone hide just up the ladder right beside the entry door (in room A) and blast initial babies as they come up - then I'd show my face, mother would birth, repeat baby killing procedure and then everyone charge. We'd put both turrets pointing in prior to opening the door.

b1 - Blood door with babies and regular sleepers. Both turrets pointing at the door from the entryway and a low mine make this easy. Inside is a lot of supplies, the key to b2 and a cell for the Northern door of A. Another mission terminal is in here.

b2 - Blood door that spawns mostly giants and some regulars. Hybrids also come if they hear the mine at the door, otherwise they'll still be asleep inside. We setup at the SE corner of room B, giving a lot of space to shoot giants. There's a terminal down in the poison fog. If you don't crouch you don't need a fog repeller.

C - Sleeping chargers and supplies. The door to D is a checkpoint scan. The door to E is an error alarm that can only be turned off from g1. Don't let this error alarm scare you, it only summons 3 chargers every 1-2 minutes or so which makes it easy for 1 or 2 people to just hold off the wave while the others advance and loot.  

D - Right behind the checkpoint door is a charger scout, probably so you can get used to dealing with them. Lots of sleeping chargers in the rooms thereafter, especially the bulkhead control room. Follow the left door to get to the terminal here and ping the bulkhead key which moves around. Ideally you don't need to mess with the second charger scout near the end of the zone (the room right beside the terminal, but it also contains the bulkhead door for the Secondary task). Door to D1 requires the main bulkhead unlocked. Door to Z is a regular team scan BUT DON'T GO IN THERE. :P

d1 - This is the extraction zone and contains one charger scout and a bunch of supply cabinets. If you are lucky, you might get c-foam grenades. It's worth killing this one anyway and if you goof (which I did), hold inside this room against the wave of chargers.

E - Contains sleeping chargers you need to kill loudly thanks to the error alarm. Make sure you save the first regular door after the error alarm door. Once you have killed the sleepers AND the error wave, shut/mine/ice that door and go North to start the big cluster alarm door to F. There are LOTS of circles here, so after the initial team scan is done C-foam person must go on duty to hold the door for as long as possible. Highly likely enemies will break through before you finish the scan so fight well. Once you are back down to the error alarm spawn of 3, leave two people to continue to hold there while the others advance north.

e1 - Located in the South West corner of room E, this chamber has more sleeping chargers, possibly more gear and one mission terminal. Only visit this one after you've turned off the error alarm.

F - sleeping chargers, gear and one mission terminal (again leave it till error alarm is off).  This zone ends in a blood door to G that should be mined. Time it so that after an error alarm wave someone opens it and runs back. We also used the next regular door (close it as the blood door opener runs through) as a second mine spot.

G - four giant chargers sleep in this room. Someone needs to sneak past them and into the next chamber (g1) to turn off the alarm. Lots of gear in this zone too but be careful. If you don't feel like sneaking, one person should fire and run back to the big room in F where the others can wait to smash the four giant chargers down.

g1 - Has one charger scout. If you snuck past the giant chargers you'll need to close the door behind you before dealing with it. There is a terminal upstairs and to the left of the door when you enter. This is both a mission terminal and the terminal to deactivate alarms. Once the alarms are off, be sure to get codes from this terminal and the ones in F and e1 as you backtrack and look for any extra gear.

H - Contains poison fog which you need repellers for, as well as giant sleeping chargers. Shoot from outside (in zone A) to lure and kill the ones in H. Hopefully the fog turbine is in here. If not, its in h1. It is essential you find it. Now there are two doors to h1 - upstairs and downstairs. Leave the upstairs one closed and always enter from downstairs.

h1 - A few more giant sleepers, possibly more gear and lots of annoying screaming cancers on the walls. Again, fire from zone H into h1 to lure and kill the giants then enter the downstairs door, shut it, mine it, c-foam it and we placed both turrets from the door facing inwards (so things that broke the door and ran past would get shot in the back with the backstab bonus). It's worth looking for more supplies in here, just go slow and shine those damnable cancers. DL also put two mines on the tall staircase from the alarm door (to I) to the upstairs door between h1 and H.

Once ready, start the alarm door to I. As long as the upstairs door to H is closed, the charger army will only attempt to get through the downstairs door. Should a circle take you to the upstairs section (as ours did) let the mines do their work and then you can hop down onto some boxes to save some time getting to the last circle. Fog turbine person, be sure to drop it and provide cover fire to help the team. You have enough time to empty a clip or two before needing to pick it up again.

I - Important! If you've already done the other terminals (your quest goal is 7/9) then I advise sending someone back to d1 to wait for the extraction circle - and not C-foam carrier (give all remaining tools to him). This big room contains the final two terminals you need, one in the center of the room and one along the right wall hiding between some boxes. Among the towering pillars also walk 5+ charger scouts! I ended up C-foaming and spearing 3 to death so that DL and I could get the terminals, but Jim and [BOT] were ready to extract in case we goofed.

If you goof - rush the terminals and type in the code. You have just enough time to do this as the charger scouts scream. Getting 9/9 turns on the extraction circle to let you win the mission if someone is already waiting at d1... though whoever is in room I is probably screwed. :P

Turns out we didn't goof and could all GTFO! Huzzah!

Z - Much bigger than the tiny black box on my map, it is your "optional" path if you don't want to do the alarm scan and/or have no ammo. In this darkness there are three terminals hidden behind silent stealth scans. Each room also contains regular sleepers, charger scouts AND sleeping mothers! It's a horrible, horrible area that is much worse than the error alarm. If you are going to attempt it, bring loads of glow sticks.

Saturday 5 March 2022

What's in your Favorites?

Or what would you put there?

This question stems from my last free Steam games post, where I made a passing mention of my favorites which is actually a sub section available to all Steam users that I've only started using recently. I thought I'd share the 15 games that made it in there, my main criteria being "games I would play again". Obviously this doesn't cover any games outside of my steam library so maybe I'll do a bigger list later down the track.

It's currently a pretty short list.

Going over them really quickly in no particular order: Black Desert is a beautiful and interesting MMORPG, but it stopped letting me play (startup error) so I'm not sure if that's staying in here for much longer. I love the stealth mechanics in Thief, both Dishonored games which also have multiple ways to play, Skyrim which has tons of mods to enjoy (it also stole my name, arrrrgh *shakes fist*), and GTFO - my current regular multiplayer stealth horror.

Sleeping Dogs is just fun in a chaotic way while To the Moon and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice are both excellent game wise and in hitting me in the feels. The remaining six are all free games: A Raven Monologue and When the Past was Around: Prologue are more feels hitters, Dead Horizon is an excellent lesson in short story telling, and High Entropy Challenges, Gravitas and Liquidators are all good first person puzzlers featuring in the same order: stealth, humor, and Chernobyl. :P

But what of these do I consider the best you ask? That's not so hard to answer. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice wins easily.

What games do you have flagged as your favorites?

Legends of Andor 2 - Legend 7 - Find the Cartographer

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

This huge expansion to the base game sees heroes DL the warrior, Mom the archer, Rose the tracker, and Joe the guardian meet new hero Juris the -fisherman- sea warden who happens to have a vessel they can use to begin their journey across a new ocean map! The sea warden's ability is that he is able to push the ship one tile for free. For those wondering "what happened to Legend 6? Was that the Star Shield?" the answer to that is no, Legend 6 is some downloadable adventure we didn't do (because really, just include it in the box next time?) that tells the story of why the dwarf hero is no longer around at this point. *shrugs* Who cares!? We're on a boat!

Alas, the "Journey to the North" (title on the box) is not complete without a cartographer so we must find one (because no one else knows how to steer North apparently). We arrive at the sea of four islands at around midday (because the game is scum and makes you lose half a day) and set out to visit each isle to find a suitable candidate and kill a trio of gors that show up to ruin our reputation. You heard that right! The narrator/time limit is not as bad on this board as it only moves for every two enemies slain now but a new "doom" track takes the form of "fame" tracked by a bard who sings about us. Fame takes a big hit per monster on land and should that fame ever reach zero we instantly lose... because ... we get sad and ... stuff? It's very stupid.

We quickly split up to discover the islands: "ship builder land" where we can upgrade the ship and sell logs, "the city of will" which boosts you to 14 will power if you end there and the third is home to sea shell purchasing dwarves and their traveling merchant Garz (and in another example of bad game design, of the four shell tokens one is valued ZERO. That's just a big middle finger from the designers I think). On the last island which is just a ruin, a ghostly specter points us to a nearby shipwreck where Joe finds a barely alive cartographer named Merrik! If we save him, we can guilt trip him into slavery! Huzzah! But wait - that's not the end of the mission. Looming nearby is a giant that looks a lot like Thanos, and for some reason we need to survive long enough until we can track him down? What!

Thanos on a boat!

With mermen, sea trolls, and giant fish horrors called arrogs all marching (swimming?) onto the islands we quickly gather up on the boat and kill all the weak ones as a team - taking their fame which then gets taken away by the bigger horrors making it onto land. Sounds a lot like GRINDING!? BECAUSE IT IS! STUPID DESIGN! Fighting from the boat is almost like everyone having a bow, and best of all it can move pretty fast depending on the wind. It can also screw you up as we found out when Juris positioned the ship nicely at the end of the day for a planned slaughter of fish dudes only for a storm to put us on the opposite end of the board. WTF.

Finally we kill/survive long enough for the giant to appear and, after ditching the comatose cartographer with the sea shell dwarves, we go to ask it some questions with our boat-bows and pointy arrows. It's very difficult to even land a hit on this guy, but when we finally do the mission ends as the giant simply smiles at us and dives beneath the waves.

Not a great start to this expansion. The hole filled story combined with bad mechanics that seem over tuned to the point of "if you do not kill all those gors in the round they appear, sorry you've lost the game" leaves us hoping the next few missions will be better.

Thursday 3 March 2022

El Cid and World Without End

Two series set in medieval times.

El Cid

This Spanish series follows Ruy (Jaime Lorente, who you might better know as Denver on La Casa de Papel/Money Heist), who despite losing his father to King Ferdinand, works to become the very skilled squire of Prince Sanchio, Ferdinand's son. Mixed with sword fighting, back stabbing and politics is a healthy dose of drama where Ruy must often chose between what he wants and what is right. Good and entertaining story. There are two seasons of this thus far and I'm hoping there are more to come.

Just because he talks to birds doesn't make him crazy.

World Without End

This mini series is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set mostly in Kingsbridge once more, but don't worry if you haven't seen Pillars yet (though you should, it's very good) because this takes place 157 years later. In it the town is made to suffer by royalty and resident scum bags who are happy to be irredeemable "black hat" wearing villains and make the good characters, the people you root for, suffer ever episode. Excellent story telling, though my the same "people don't age" criticism I leveled at Pillars is the same here as principal characters don't change much appearance wise despite this story spanning several years. Still worth a watch though!

Wednesday 2 March 2022

Pathfinder Kingmaker - Fairy Tale

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Aldori troops led by Lady Jamandi supported by Kesten's guardsmen and Jhod's faith push through the wild hunt forces giving an opening for Siegfried, Jaethal, Valerie, Bouquet, Arkemyr and Garret to reach the Lantern King (multi phased boss fight). Fortunately Nyrissa is here too and has enough strength to break her bonds and assist the heroes to defeat the annoying fireball who is banished like the weakling he is. Only the unimportant nameless extras and Jhod die in this final phase which is a resounding victory for the King.

Keeping his promise, Siegfried takes Nyrissa as his queen but also has a friends with benefits status with a young hot elf that looks like a younger version of her mother Jaethal. In fact Jaethal now wears her daughter as a living skin suit thanks to the ritual she learned earlier - making her both not-quite undead and also more evil than when she started. With a strong alliance to house Aldori, the untouchable ace Valerie remains as regent and lawman Kesten marries ex-bandit Bouquet while Archmage Arkemyr and thief Garrett return to their own lands wealthier than before.

Then Siegfried got more advisors through the cash shop?

That's it for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Pretty cool game but also very long. The later periods of kingdom management are pretty tough with those super high difficulty checks, but not as tough/unfair as the later combats. Especially against swarms. I hate those things.