Monday 31 July 2023

Carnival Zombie (2nd Edition)

Get out or stay forever!

In this 1-6 cooperative board game your team has three days to escape from Venice before the undead leviathan upon which the city was built upon rises from its slumber, and for some reason there are zombies in your way! The components are great and the game itself is pretty simple once you get into it, but the rule book could have used some improvement. Anyway, regardless of the number of players you will almost always have all six characters in the game which takes place in two distinct phases: day and night.

There are no zombies during the day so your team just moves along the city map, hopefully avoiding the areas that sink, towards one of the many ending mini-games (or the "you're doomed, just fight until you die" mini game if you fail to escape). You must balance the time you spend moving with the time you spend resting, building barricades, scavenging items or reviving downed team mates which is not an action you can do at night.

The night phase is the meat of the game, which is simply a tower defense against a veritable army of cubes (representing various regular zombies) and figurines or standees that represent the zombie bosses. The terrain varies based on what part of the city you are in, but generally you want a LOT / ALL of barricades to take the damage as it is easy to be overwhelmed. Range and damage are based on your weapons, but you can never miss so you'll almost always be removing cubes from the board.

The BEST part of the game is the small tombstone cutout which you then have to drop your kills on. It doesn't have to be from a height, but it fills up quickly and should ANY of the cubes fall out, you take minor damage (unless you are near death which means EVERYONE takes minor damage) AND all the cubes that fall respawn on the map! Very fun and very funny with constant tension. Definitely recommended!

Sunday 30 July 2023

Aliens: Fireteam Elite and The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos

Game over man!

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

This three player co-op shooter has temporarily taken the spot of our GTFO game sessions. As colonial marines, you are sent to a derelict space station orbiting a remote planet and much like the title suggests there are aliens, just like in the movies and a few other specials, waiting there for you. Players can choose from around six classes, customize and level up weapons and most interestingly, have adjustable skill boosts in a tetris/backpack style where gaining level makes more of the "backpack" useful. While the normal difficulty is quite manageable, the "authentic experience" mode really puts you on the backfoot (almost as much as GTFO lol). The biggest downside is the small number of missions (4 campaigns broken into 3 missions) which means despite being able to add challenge cards to change the flow a tiny bit, we'll probably return to GTFO in the not too distant future.

The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos

This comedic take of a typical adventuring party questing in a dungeon is quite funny and well voice acted, but the tactical combats can be quite punishing if you aren't familiar with this X-COM like combat. 99% chance to hit from 10 meters away can still miss at crucial times, and critical fumbles can actually see your nameless yet endearing characters literally kill themselves! Still recommended for any D&D fan, but as usual the comedy can be hit or miss depending on the audience. For me, it was great and I completed the entire game.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Sniper Elite: The Board Game

This World War 2 game (which comes from the successful digital game franchise), one player is an allied sniper who is kitted out with cool items and uses a separate board with a dry-erase marker to stealthily move around the map while up to three others control the three squads of defenders (nine soldiers all up) to defend the 10 objectives on the board for 9 or 18 turns (the turn track goes back to 1 if the sniper completes one objective) OR wound the sniper twice. The sniper just has to reach two predetermined objectives (hidden card draw) to win.

Obviously the sniper player has to be honest, remembering not to move through walls or defenders, to inform defenders if some soldiers heard a noise (if they moved quickly) or declaring if a shot resulted in a kill. Shooting is rather interesting as the sniper has to declare how many tokens they are pulling out of a bag. To score a hit, they must pull enough aim tokens equivalent to the distance of their target otherwise its a miss. Conversely if they draw two noise tokens, they must immediately give away their position! Just like when they complete their first objective!

Each squad of defenders also has one leader who has a two use per game special power. Among them are the medic can make sure the soldiers in his squad don't die when shot, the kennel master can put down some barky dogs, and the scout teleport his units across the map!? There's also a German sniper officer who can also use the sniper's shot bag.

When we played two players (one sniper/one had all the defenders), it really felt the sniper had the advantage as they won three out of four times. When we played with four (one sniper/three with one defender squad each), the sniper got TROUNCED three out of three times! I found it quite fun to play both and am confident this is better than my similar Jaws game. That said I'll only recommend it to people who enjoy this sort of thing, because it can feel very lopsided at times.

Friday 28 July 2023

Guacamelee and Grime

GG... or are they?

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and Guacamelee! 2

This Mexican themed action platformer has the player take role of a regular Jose who becomes a mighty luchador to take on the forces of lucha-evil, which are primarily skeletons it seems. I appreciate the good comic style art and a decent sense of humor but the combat is either a bit off, or it didn't gel well with me which is quite possibly because "this game recommends a controller".

Sigh. Why do I bother trying these on my PC? As such the platforming sections (still in the tutorial) were already not do-able for me. Guacamelee 2 humorously starts with what I believe is the final fight of the first game, but this one has some pretty bad stuttering effects where everything freezes for a few seconds a few times a minute. That's just unplayable.


In this side scrolling platform adventure which smells heavily of the Dark Souls influence, you are a humanoid stone creature with a black hole for a head which you can use to parry/consume other predominantly stone based enemies to make yourself better. You also get weapons that are attuned to strength, dexterity or resonance and perform better the better you are in those categories.

While this game seems to play fine without a controller, it is quite hard for me to get into as you are literally dropped into this alien landscape with no clues of what to do, no quest hook outside the tutorial instructions, and very little story (at the start at least). As such it failed not only to retain my attention but to even grab it in the fist place, and is now uninstalled. If you can't get me to invest in what's happening, then it's not a good game. Not recommended.

Thursday 27 July 2023

Solo RPGs

Other than playing chess I've been dabbling again in the uncommon realm of free, pen and paper solo RPG games. Usually these either make use of dice or playing cards for randomness but for this set, it's purely just dice.

Against all Evil

This make your own narrative sees your three stat characters face off against threats by rolling dice to reduce the threat's matching stats and accumulate doom tokens per threat stat higher than their own per turn. Upon reaching 5 doom they die or they can lift their doom once (per character) by creating more story about the threat, which I suppose is a neat way of fleshing out an enemy.

Interesting idea but mathematically poor. Having characters with a range of stats is bad, where as having everyone be carbon copies of each other (and ideally excelling in the same one stat) will let you steam roll most of the time. Not recommended.

The Wizard's Test RPG

This solo only game has you as a young apprentice exploring a mystical tower, but your character is so weak and the odds of making it through the first level are already super low, especially since by design you will be revisiting the same rooms over and over until you get a set of lucky rolls. Not fun.

The Creature of Murky Country RPG

A solo game where you are hunting down a creature around town but you soon realize as you randomly wander around that there is actually very little to do as most results only have a specific character class action tied to it (which is randomly determined for the character at the start). That's fine if you luck into the right spot but most of the time everything is uneventful. Not fun.

Tindalos RPG

This solo game is set in the Lovecraftian-verse where you are a hapless fool being hunted by a hound of Tindalos. There's a bigger variety of events here but the setup mechanic of assigning various dice to your stats is ridiculous as it basically comes down to hoping you land on activities you are good at (but can still roll and fail). Better than all the above but still not recommended.

Kalia's Cleansing

In this adult RPG you character must reach a magical spring to lift a curse. A simple two-page ruleset, only needing 1d6 and an interesting game design where you can actually make some decisions and not just rely on blind die rolls makes this the best of this set, though the theme itself might be an issue for many.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 41 to 50 (554)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

I somehow scraped through the Bronze league advancements and am now in the Silver league, where only the top 5 per division will advance. As I've never been in the top 5 so far I think I'm going to be here for awhile. Also my lesson after this set is to NOT play distracted, which currently is basically every game I've played against non AIs. I'll need to pick a better time of day to play...

41. rohchess06 (W) - my London open met strong resistance and was defeated since I missed too many opportunities (the after game review is super useful). (571) down to (563).

42. bluefloyd1_j (B) - Caro-Kann but I failed to attack early? Hmm not sure what I goofed as I only have one free review a day but I was certainly out played. (563) down to (554).

43. lickmyjunk (B) - Caro-kann and since he was passive I got into a good position and got him with a knight + queen into his kingside castle. (554) up to (562).

44. gnmwrty141519 (W) - London with midgame queen trade ended with few pieces on the board where I did a rook sacrifice to promote one, and then another. Win (562) up to (571).

45. zenitsu5364 (B) - Pirc defense doesn't go well with making blunders (no opening does really) so this was a loss. (571) down to (563).

46. usainpault (W) - London into midgame rook/queen check mate in my favor. Victory (563) back up to (571).

47. Lachofdez (W) - he used an Englund gambit and after an early blunder I lost badly here. Seems I'm weak against that Englund thing. Easiest fix is always to decline it though... lol (571) down to (564)

48. biOblind (B) - I played terribly here, hanging my queen for free and getting trounced as I deserved. Defeat (564) down to (555).

49. tradennn (B) - Caro-Kann into early game only as opponent resigned when he hung his queen early. (555) up to (563).

50. tjwelsh09 (W) - Tried the Ponziani which got me into a pretty strong position and a good game but I pushed a rook one square too far that led to a checkmate defeat! (563) down to (556).

Tuesday 25 July 2023

The Blacklist (TV Series)

When the FBI's most wanted person, Raymond "the concierge of crime" Reddington (played by James Spader), turns himself in to become a super high value criminal informant - a secret task force is established to hunt down people on his list which both takes criminals off the streets and advances Raymond's agendas.

I wonder if there's an abridged version...

It's a pretty decent setup and Spader is truly the highlight of the show with all his wonderful eloquence and endearing ticks. There's a modicum of action pieces but mostly its a crime thriller with some crazy ideas. With 10 Seasons worth of content (and a failed spin-off to boot) the strength of the plot wanes over time with relatively few pick-me ups and some characters carry the idiot-ball way too much. If you haven't seen it, it's worth trying out anyway. I just can't guarantee you'll stick with it. :P

Monday 24 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 31 to 40 (514)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

After all these games I think I've gotten over the "trauma" of DL beating me when I was younger by eliminating all my pieces and forcing me not to quit. Eliminating all the enemy pieces is actually the cleanest way to victory as even a pawn still poses a threat in promotion, and is actually very common. The not quitting part makes sense too, because a) he either wanted to practice his checkmates or b) wanted me to see that you can sometimes recover from a losing position... though he never said so, so I guess the answer is A. :P

Anyway, I'm getting chess burnout if you can believe it. Not just "tilt" of constantly playing worse, simply too much chess? I might take a break after this next set. Just as well since lichess has stopped working on my phone...

I played (W)hite or (B)lack.

31. cotrinhkhong (B) - tried to use the Pirc defense for the first time but since this opponent was developing on the wings I opted to switch and take the center standard. After he bishop sniped my rook (corner to corner, pretty cool) I think he blundered as I got him on a turn 9 knight and queen checkmate. (514) up to (526).

32. jhunleo (B) - Caro-Kann but I blundered so much! Luckily he didn't notice and also was blundering a fair bit. Eventually he resigned from what I think was a winning position. Either he was being nice or real life got in his way? (526) up to (535).

33. Nagendra4349 (W) - My London opening was met with a strange counter that I'll need to look up but it still took us all the way to end game where it was sort of even until I blundered my queen. Out of pieces and well down on pawns, I resigned. (535) down to (523).

34. mrd51 (B) - Caro-Kann rocket into king side castle really disrupted the enemy. Took 2/3rds of his forces before checkmate via pawn promotion. Win (523) up to (533).

35. Bigzluz (B) - Pirc got me into a lengthy end game where I was on the back foot. Missed an opportunity to take a free queen and eventually an enemy pawn promotion got me. Loss (533) down to (522).

36. Nixpero (B) - Caro-Kann let me pressure opponent constantly but he was very good in defense. We still had most of the pieces on the board at the end and I won on time, which is rare these days. (522) back up to (533).

37. Thirthankardebnath (W) - Used London into long game where his infiltrator queen did a good job, but I outplayed him at the end and he ran out of time. Victory (533) up to (541).

38. Thanos99x (W) - my London was stopped right away with his king's pawn and then I took a phone call, blundered a bishop and knight and let his queen into my back ranks. He didn't notice my rook/queen cannon checkmate though. Victory (541) up to (551).

39. OwenDarne (W) - London standard and he resigned when I caught his queen in a knight fork. Win (551) up to (561).

40. SanTIagoCJ05 (W) - my London was stopped by his Englund Gambit (that's what the king's pawn response thing is apparently). This led to a decent fight for the center but I caught him with a queen/knight checkmate in his kingside castle. (561) up to (571).

Sunday 23 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 21 to 30 (418)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

I'm now in the Bronze league having finished in the top 15 of Stone but to advance again I'll need to be in the top 10 of the week.

I was also lucky to get a lesson game with Josh where he was impressed with my Caro-Kann opening and that I knew he was building a queen/bishop cannon but still needed to guide me on how to actually win towards the end because I simply didn't see the moves. A rook or queen on the 7th row is really strong!

He also recommended I learn more about the Caro-Kann and have at least two openings for both Black and White, suggesting that I learn the London from Gothamchess. I guess I'll go do that next...

Notation is I either played (W)hite or (B)lack.

21. okadarainmaker (W):  d4 e4 open into slow and steady development and then when I attacked their knight it really put them on the backfoot trying to save it and resulting in them losing all their pieces. Ladder checkmate win (418) up to (431).

22. plutofv (B): d4 c6 open into standard central development where we traded 1 bishop and 1 knight. Then I'm guessing he misclicked his queen into a stupid position letting my king slay her and resigned right after that. (431) up to (448).

23. Jagitry13 (B): Caro-Kann vs variation of Queen's early attack which led to an early exchange of queens. However, since my army was developed at that stage and his wasn't, he got murdered pretty badly afterwards. (448) up to (461).

24. Djeyyk (W): My first attempt using the London system and it smashed his king side castle. (461) up to (473).

25. nitrotastic123 (B): Caro-Kann standard, enemy resigned in mid-game losing position. (473) up to (487).

26. RaviRaj11_R (B): Caro-Kann against early queen attack again, but this time he retreated into long development but too late, I had control of most of the board by then. Eventually got all his pieces and promoted a few pawns to ladder mate. (487) up to (501).

27. El_Don_Devil (W): London open led into very long game where both sides were almost wiped out. I still had a rook and more pawns though, and with queen promotion got ladder mate with 30ish seconds to go. (501) up to (516).

28. onlygoodmove (B): Caro-Kann led to an early 10 move win after sacrificing my white bishop for his knight. Queen/Bishop cannoned into his king side castle for checkmate. (516) up to (527)

29. hamza_therifai (B): Caro-Kann long game and LOST as he played a different counter variation I wasn't prepared for. He was thrashing my forces and got my queen in a king fork, so I congratulated him on chat with a "well played" and he graciously offered a draw which I accepted. We both know he won that one. (527) down to (526).

30. Vreymont (B): Caro-Kann and he used the fantasy counter. I felt I was doing well but took too long to think, then I just started making blunders all over the place. Resigned in a losing position. (526) down to (514).

Saturday 22 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 11 to 20 (364)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

I think my lesson this time is not to play consecutive games (like these first six are) as it just makes me more and more impatient! Apparently this is called "Tilt"? Gothamchess suggests a things to fix this. One: cap the game count. Play 5 a day then win or lose, just stop. Two: Draw arrows from enemy pieces to help visualize what they can see. Apparently right clicking on allows that! This also helps stop gut reaction/emotion moves. Third: If you're playing for fun, your chess rating doesn't matter. That's last one is a good one to remember for me... but I'm still going to keep track of it. :P

Notation is I either played (W)hite or (B)lack.

11. Heni0622 (B): e4 e5 open but then I got slaughtered on one side of the board and couldn't stop the rampaging queen that followed. Resigned as I ran out of pieces and was badly outnumbered by pawns (504) down to (468).

12. omar1969omar (W): d4 e5 opening and both sides played stupidly according to the review, but I still managed to play worse and was defeated (468) down to (432)!

13. 17or99 (W): e4 e5 open, and was winning until I foolishly gave my queen away to a pawn! It just went downhill from there. Defeat (432) down to (401).

14. artsinasanat (B): he used an early queen attack and got me quick (in 10 moves)! Yikes (401) down to (374). While that's not a good result it is a learning opportunity for me so off I go to study how to counter that. :P

15. chuckygaywagon (W): I managed to control the center early and goofed with my queen AGAIN. He definitely had me on the back foot at the end game but didn't see a bishop/queen pin with my rook to capture his queen. Then all his other pieces. He offered a draw when he realized he couldn't stop my pawn promotion which I declined, then probably rage quit as he just let his clock run out from 3 minutes instead of resigning. Naturally I flagged him as a bad sport and blocked him. Finally a win (374) up to (397)!

16. gracielle19 (W): I think this was her first game on the site, and while I got control of the center she played really well (like, no mistakes or blunders according to the review) which earned her win. Loss (397) down to (381).

17. horse_battle (W): had me on defense the whole time which was nuts since I was white! That's because I goofed on my second move and didn't take the free pawn which would eventually paralyze my back line. The blinders I have when I get an idea are ridiculous. Comfortable win for him, finishing with a bishop backed queen for checkmate. (381) down to (364).

18. newyorkrangers94 (B): both sides built defenses (he used KID) and then I attacked the center where I'm pretty sure my foe just had a counting error (a big battle took place and he thought he'd come out with more material, but he missed an extra attack frome me). With his forces exhausted I just got him with a rook checkmate on the back row. (364) up to (382).

19. jillwoops (B): used the same early queen attack as artsinasanat (#14 above) but this time I stopped it using the Caro-Kann (both tactics can only be used with that white king's pawn opening). Nice sounding defense and the only one I know basic principles of other than the Albin counter. Feels like this person just uses the trick for fast wins (based on their play history anyway), and resigned on turn 4 seeing they had a fight on their hands. Win (382) up to (401).

20. chicukak (B): from the same country as jillwoops and did the exact same early queen attack opening, which again I stopped using the Caro-Kann. It kinda felt like a continuation of the previous game actually, but once she started losing pieces and saw her worsening position she resigned. Win (401) up to (418).

Friday 21 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Starting Rapid 1 to 10 (400)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

Ok, so I'm trying Rapid (10 minutes per side) games for the first time and once again I'm starting with a "gifted" (400) rating as it turns out the ratings aren't shared between the chess modes. So no, I didn't suddenly get better - my Blitz rating remains at (347) while I'm doing these. Interesting how big these rating jumps are too, but I guess it's just narrowing down where I actually am. The 10 minute clock also means I doubt I'll win using it via my blitz "pushing wood" tactic now. Lastly to save some typing (and reading), games with (W) mean I played white and games with (B) mean I played black.

After watching Gothamchess lessons on Youtube I've decided to stop trying to use fancy openings (after the first game here) and go back to the basics of control the center of the board. This backpedal is mainly to help force my brain to think a bit more rather than, "I'm going to try use Queen's Gambit (in every situation) because that's what I know."

1. Kruseher (W): QGA and standard development then started slowly but surely losing the battle. Not sure why he resigned midway, because it didn't look great for me (well, it didn't look great for him either). Still counts as a win! (400) up to (560).

2. fena2804 (B): d4 e5 / dxe5 start, followed by standard development until she foolishly sent her queen to die? Had her on the ropes afterwards until checkmate (my second checkmate win LOL). (560) up to (692). Look at me, using chess notation haha.

3. hritikmehta (B): d4 e5 / dxe5 start, followed by standard development until silly error put me into a losing position. With very few pieces left it was a race to promote a pawn and he won. (692) down to (602).

4. Filip2304 (B): attempted the Scandinavian defense but clearly failed (should have developed more first I think) as he managed to infiltrate his queen into my back ranks and eventually win via checkmate. (602) down to (528)

5. engnidal67 (B): while a misclick really undid me, he managed to get TWO rampaging knights into my ranks. I really liked his first rampager though, as it had bishop cover and started from a standard development position. I've done this before accidentally in Blitz, but I'm going to study it better now to see if I can use it intentionally. This defeat brings me from (528) down to (458).

6. Msm9909 (B): I just did basic central development while they opened with each rook's pawn and also push forward weak undefended pawns. Once they ran out of pawns and got their queen sniped, they offered a draw which I refused so they resigned instead. Victory (458) up to (492).

7. MrGhsty (W): after basic central he was winning in attacking my King side castle, but then made silly errors that let me take his queen and the rest of his pieces. Then I goofed because even though I had two queens on the board and he only had a king, I managed to put it into stalemate. LOL. (492) down to (488).

8. proofjj (B): I think this was his first game on the site, and after a e4 e5 open he offered an early queen trade which I accepted as I had more material at that point. Castled on opposite ends and eventually got to promote two more queens to ladder checkmate him with 42 seconds to go. Win (488) up to (514).

9. Chayo1255 (B): e4 e5 and he had me on the backfoot early but charged my line with a bishop instead of a knight with an awesome fork (same one as game 5 here vs engnidal67) . This let me recover and get my queen into his own lines but then on chat he was :scared face: "juega rapido" (I take my time thinking if I have 10 minutes lol) so I traded queens and we cleared most of the board. I offered a draw (which would have lost ranking for me) in case he was in a hurry IRL which he refused so I advanced my pawns to promotion which he desparately tried to stop, but was caught by a rook / pawn promotion queen in his face. Win (514) up to (548).

10. nabilyy (B): he used an odd opening advancing all pawns down one side which I'd not seen before. Felt I was doing ok defense wise until I castled that way and fell into a Queen / Rook checkmate. Well played, I need to remember that one! Loss (548) down to (504).

Thursday 20 July 2023

John Wick: Chapter 4

The master of revenge returns.

After recovering from the previous movie, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back to bring the pain to more of his assassin acquaintances though this time they are equally arm(ored) which leads to longer and more violent exchanges which are choreographed and filmed beautifully as this franchise has become known for. John does seem to be slowing down a bit, but story wise it still makes sense given what he's been through.

John making more art work.

Speaking of the story, it also is an improvement over the last movie especially with the inclusion of the blind Caine (Donnie Yen) who is more than just someone to fight against. If you liked the previous movies, you will enjoy this one. Just leave your expectations of realism at the door as some people (Mr Wick included) just have a LOT of HP. Highly recommended!

Wednesday 19 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Blitz 31 to 40 (319)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

Thirty games down and while my number of victories are growing, the number of my wins by checkmate is very low. LOL. Guess I'm officially a clock warrior? Just goes to show if I play in a different setting (or just standard friendlies) I will most likely still be trounced as I have no end game. Who am I kidding, I'm still getting trounced regularly right now. :P

That's pretty cool actually.

31. RaronXD: had me on the ropes from his bishop's opening (I played black), but resigned after losing his queen to an unforced error. Victory - (319) up to (335).

32. johncdavid: I played white and used Queen's Gambit with a metric ton of errors, losing many of my pieces right away. LOL. Still "won" off the clock though! Victory - (336) up to (346).

33. ahmdkatab: I was white and screwed up the Queen's Gambit opening!? Yep. Anyway, I lost even more pieces right away to the point where I just messaged him "You might as well practice your checkmate". He got me with 8 seconds to spare. Loss (346) down to (335). Also my first friend request! Accepted!

34. Arunag_kundu: Used Queen's Gambit as white and he retired on move 5 after an early error let me take his queen. Win (335) up to (347).

35. Justin-jrp: Played black and lost to a queen/rook checkmate after his King's pawn opening. I really need to learn what to do with that. (347) down to (336).

36. Danjsho: I was white and Queen's Gambit Declined (QGD) let us both develop our armies well for a pretty standard battle which I won. He ran out of time before I could checkmate him. (336) up to (347).

37. gbuty: I played white with my usual QGD opening and got outplayed. While I definitely lost on the field, he lost to time. Victory for me (347) up to (354).

38. johnmegerwadea: Played white and QGA (Queen's Gambit Accepted) which should have given me the upper hand, except it didn't. Apparently these slightly stronger guys know how to counter it. I got wiped out! (354) down to (347)

39. Fyrex45: Just to drive the point home, I played white and QGA again - but I got smashed. Hrm, maybe I should learn a new opening? (347) down to (337).

40. adrianacosta5: Played white and before I could Queen's anything she tried to be cute with an early check that cost her queen. We then went through a battle of attrition until she realized she didn't have the time left to keep fighting and resigned. (337) up to (347).

According to the forums Blitz games aren't really the way to get better at chess if you're a beginner, but rather to play the 10 minute Rapid or even longer Classical. As I don't have all day to play chess, Rapid is probably where I should actually be at the moment. Maybe I'll give that a try next.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Blitz 21 to 30 (221)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

Apparently there are weekly player "leagues" on and I've graduated from the first one, the Wood League, by being one of the top 20 players in my division! That's not really a feat though as many other players in my division simply didn't play during the week giving them a score of 0, which is pretty easy to beat. Up next is the Stone League where the top 15 players of the week will advance. 

Also, for those more knowledgeable about chess, it occurs to me that some of my terms aren't so accurate because when I say "Queen's Gambit", it's not actually always the actual Queen's Gambit - I just do the same moves as white regardless because I'm silly. :D

21. yannmz: I was black and apparently played an "Italian" game? Whatever that is. An early misclick (mouse + finger fail LOL) led to my easy downfall. (245) down to (227).

22. Bot9687: I was black and goofed up by using an Albin counter to a non existent Queen's Gambit (he didn't use it). Obviously this did not go well for me as I proceeded to get slaughtered down to a single pawn and my king. However, using tactics that worked against me previously, I opted to be spry and just dodged his towers, bishop and knight (killing the last two) and still won using the clock. Sometimes you don't have to be smart, you just have to be FAST! (227) up to (239).

23. Theclown9: I was black and haven't played for a few days, but did that down time really lead to me making so many silly errors? Maybe. I lost easily. (239) down to (221)

24. scoottl_eo: I was white and he used an odd defense, all stacking up in one corner... I'm assuming it was the KID (King's Indian Defense) but haven't studied that one too much as there's too many variations of it. It was effective, but since he was also a thinker I just went for steady development and defense and won on time. If he had a few more minutes I'm sure he would have got me. Victory (221) up to (234).

25. bofisal: I was white and used Queen's Gambit which he declined, but then brought his queen out early and was on the backfoot trying to keep her safe. Fast but certain moves are really good when there's time clock pressure. Victory (234) up to (254).

26. miguelcorrales12: I was white and used Queen's Gambit for the win (on time). I'm still impressed by how quickly it sets up my pieces for attack and buys precious seconds against the opponent. I really need to find one of these for when I play black. (254) up to (267).

27. ElTiol: I was black and lost my queen in the first three moves from his kings's pawn opening. Taking a call while playing is a bad idea! LOL. I think I still did ok despite that, and while I certainly wasn't winning the board I could stave off the attackers until they ran out of time. (267) up to (279).

28. demian2305: I was white and Queen's Gambit worked well, to the point where he forfieted by disconnection. Pity since on his next move he could have got my queen for free (i left it hanging, sigh). Victory (279) up to (293).

29. salome_ramirez18: My fastest game so far, I was black and she resigned after 5 moves when my bishop caught her queen from a knight pin. (293) up to (303).

30. igoralmeidam: Another fast game where I was black, he was very aggressive and had me on the back foot but resigned on move 12 when my rampager knight got a nice king / queen fork. (303) up to (319).

Monday 17 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Blitz 11 to 20 (118)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

This is rather addictive. so just for the hell of it I've decided to learn one open: the Queen's Gambit, because it's easy to remember, gains a decent central position on the board, is fast to do so there's less thinking time and has that pretty good Netflix show named after it. Downsides are I can only use it if I'm white and... well, I'll only have one opening.

11. castlevape: I was black and he blindsided me with a queen + knight checkmate in my castle position. I lost pretty quick! Good lesson for me here: aim for the king. That should be obvious right? But instead I always fixate on the enemy queen first.. (184) down to (145).

12. huahaiM: I played black and was doing ok until the time pressure got the better of me, causing mistakes to be made. In the end he didn't need a checkmate to win, it was the clock that got me (145) down to (118).

13. wjllfvet: I was assigned black again and this time my opponent played like the old me, moving lots of pawns, leaving pieces undeveloped and not controlling the center. As such I made him bleed time on the defense and for a change won using the clock (118) up to (147).

14. KevinJeffrey: I was white and used Queen's Gambit, but it didn't take. He was winning until I got his queen in a surprise discovered attack fork afterwhich he resigned. Shit, I'm learning chess terms now? Anyway, I won this one (147) up to (169).

15. RiaSatoni: I was white, used Queen's Gambit, and was accepted which led to a really quick check of my king! LOL! I could still fight that off though and eventually chased after her queen HARD. She couldn't escape and resigned right after she realized she moved it into a deathtrap. Victory for me (169) up to (194).

16. sxnch1t: I was white and got to use Queen's Gambit again, though against air so it's not really a Queen's Gambit... still, he made some early blunders which led to the loss of many pieces including his queen. Got him in a checkmate just before his time expired (194) up to (212).

17. oidualcacul: I was white and Queen's Gambit wins again. I felt like I controlled the board well here, and then the time pressure on my opponent got the better of him. (212 up to 229).

18. ADIxTYA: I was black and he used Queen's Gambit on me! I responded with that Albin counter, or a variation thereof because its my first attempt at it, and did pretty good. Got lots of his pieces but ate too much time thinking while doing so, which then resulted in blunders and him getting a pawn promotion. Lost to time, though he would have gotten me in checkmate pretty soon after. (229) down to (212).

19. youssefbenkhalifa1: I was black and again Queen's Gambit was used on me. This time my Albin counter was better - surprising what that lone central pawn can do! After annihilating most of the enemy he either disconnected by accident or rage quit. Either way, that's still a win for me. (212) back up to (229).

20. MittensnettiMittens: I was white and Queen's Gambit coupled with rampaging knight (that they could have easily killed but missed the opening) put them on the backfoot very early on, so much so that two draws were offered! I let my opponents time burn a little while deciding to decline that. Ultimately they resigned, and I won without losing a single piece! (229) up to (245).

Yeah, that's not going to happen too often.

Sunday 16 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Starting Blitz 1 to 10 (126)

[Part of the Chess Campaign] has a few types of game options to pick when finding an opponent, and most have to do with time controls. "Daily" is just, whenever you can make a move I think so that's too slow. "Rapid" goes for about 10 minutes, "Blitz" 5 minutes and "Bullet" under 3 minutes. I decided to try Blitz and found the 5 minute thing is how much time (in total) you have to make moves for the entire game, and certainly not 5 minutes per move, meaning its time to (try) think fast!

Here's how I went for my first ten games of Blitz, keeping track of my own rating that default starts on (400).

1. vini0413: I got trounced by an infiltrating queen who killed my back line (hmm, same way Larry Jr. usually gets me) and resigned as my opponent still had most of his pieces in play. (400) down to (233)

2. mirellaoo: Managed to assassinate the enemy queen early with a bishop after pinning it to their king. Won with only 4.1 seconds to spare! (233) up to (313)

Bishop sniper, or BS for short if you don't see it coming. :P

3. mapleorca: I blundered my way to another loss / missed an opportunity to turn the tide (I really need to look at the reviews more, but I only get one free one a day)! (313) down to (224)

4. Sameh_O: This guy was playing as a black mimic, copying everything I did! It took me too long to get his king into check which shattered the "mirror" as by then I was hurting for time and he still had minutes to spare. Another loss for me through clock pressure at the end: (224) down to (126).

5. DasBloerk: was kicking my ass, until an unforced error let me take the enemy queen. My foe resigned right after that which is strange, as I felt he still would have won if he kept playing. (126 up to 211)

6. Alexsilva_27: I won the battle, leaving my opponent with only a bishop, king and pawn but as I couldn't checkmate the spry enemy king he still won using the clock! (211) down to (161).

7. lenl4: Again I won the board here, but was unable to checkmate to finish! Rather than run out of time I settled for a stalemate. (161) down to (152).

8. Maan_Jaskrat: Finally, I won via checkmate after actually playing well for the most part! I still could have lost my queen early as I'm still blundering but he missed that opening. (152) up to (198).

9. Christine1105: I played as white, opened with King's pawn and she dominated me right from the start and thanks to silly errors had a quick win after I resigned (198) down to (157).

10. KSW97: I played as white, opened with Queens pawn and dominated right from the start managing to bishop snipe his queen early then wreck half his army with a rampaging knight, causing my foe to resign soon after (157) up to (184).

That went about as well as I expected! I'm keeping the 126 in the post title as it was my lowest ranking in this set.

Saturday 15 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Coach Mae (800)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

Instead of sleeping all the time I thought I'd occasionally practice on my daily commute but since relies on an app for phone games and doesn't load on the browser (and I hate downloading apps), I've instead found this other chess site that still lets me play on the browser. Lichess!

There are no AI "people" on this site, just a cold hard level number between one and eight for something called Stockfish. I beat Stockfish level 1, 2 and 3 (got massacred by level 4) then back at a PC I decided to challenge Martin's "tougher" alter-ego Mighty Martin (500) and won! YESSSSSS! Then just for good measure I beat AI Coach Mae (800) as well! Then I tried playing against the new(?) AI dog bots and lost easily. Woof woof.

Against Coach Mae I think I needed 2-3 pawn promotions to queens (because I still keep losing my queens) before I can checkmate which is not a great statistic. Also, I'm getting to 51 moves now against Larry Jr. (1250) but I feel that I am still nowhere close to winning and interestingly, each level of Stockfish is equivalent to +300 on which means Stockfish level 4 which also is regularly beating me might just be Larry Jr. in disguise or vice versa!? All my reading on chess for novices didn't give any clues, but just reinforced that chess is all about mating. :P

Interestingly the 400 rating generously gave me as a "new to chess" account hasn't moved at all. I guess it just doesn't get affected by any games against AI. According to the forums, the technique to beating the AI is to practice against people which is super counter intuitive but OK, I guess I'll just have to play against real people instead.

Friday 14 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Martin (250)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

After that thrashing I decided to play Martin (250), the lowest AI on (at least the lowest for free to play members) and proceeded to LOSE FOUR MORE TIMES. Sigh. And these were not close games. He won decisively. Clearly I have to learn more but since I don't really want to read books or memorize grand master matches (really? people do that? wtf?) I decided to see what googling would get me.

Two main points are:
1 - Don't rush. Yeah, that's a big part of why I suck at this - I have little patience.
2 - Don't eat pieces just because you can / "Tension" is good.
3 - "Count". Count? Count what? Points! Turns out each piece has an arbitrary point value that is meaningless in the game, but helps decide if an exchange or set of exchanges is worth it.

Pawns are worth 1, Bishops and Knights 3, Rooks 5 and the Queen is 9.

And just like that they added fricking maths to something I already dislike! This really helps in decision making though as my next game against Martin was a long one, filled with tension, and no pieces were eaten for a long time! Then my queen died (first piece to die too)! Haha... still, I managed to get another queen (pawn promotion) and eventually slew all his pieces apart from the king, but somehow - even with a queen, rook, (dark) bishop, four pawns and a knight I couldn't get a checkmate against a single king: the match ending in a draw/stalemate. LOL :D

Like that time Jon Snow faced an army alone and they decided to call it a draw...

That's ok, its an improvement and I'll take it!

Thursday 13 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Ground Zero

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

For those wondering why I'm even doing this, my cousin's son Josh is really into chess and is pretty good as is his grandpa Rick. While I know how the pieces move I have zero in context of planning or anything and historically have lost to pretty much everyone I play, unless they let me win, have a brain-fart, or are less patient than I am. I'm particularly scarred by playing against DL who enjoys ignoring my king and slaying every other piece on the board first before going for a checkmate (no surrendering allowed).

Anyway, thanks to Josh and Rick I learned a few things (because they decided to teach a little instead of just kicking my butt)!

1 - Don't bring out the queen early. I love bringing out my queen early! She also dies early, like after killing one pawn. LOL.
2 - "Develop" the bishops and knights - get them off the back line. I move pawns too much.
3 - Control the center of the board. That's a thing?
4 - En passant. I had a true WTF moment when Josh used this against me. If your pawn takes two steps (first move) and ends up BESIDE an enemy pawn it can immediately be eaten as if it was diagonally in front of it. I had to look up this term as I kept remembering it as "Ovaltine". :P

Armed with this new intel I decided to try play against some online chess AI on, and by default went against "Larry Fitzgerald Jr. (1250)". I didn't realize that number is their skill level, and got immediately thrashed as his queen broke through my front lines and went on a massacre. I lost in around 10 moves!

It's like this scene from Kill Bill, and my pieces were the ones wearing black!

Ok, time to look for the lowest ranked AI there... Martin (250).

The Chess Campaign

Regular readers would know that I'm terrible at many things, one of them being chess. I figured I'd keep a log while I try change that so that at least I move from "absolute crap" to "not very good". Yes, no aspirations of any form of mastery here as my lack of patience will see to that! Let's see how I go!

Ground Zero
Martin (250)
Coach Mae (800)
Starting Blitz 1 to 10 (126)
Blitz 11 to 20 (118)
Blitz 21 to 30 (221)
Blitz 31 to 40 (319)
Starting Rapid 1 to 10 (400)
Rapid 10 to 20 (364)
Rapid 21 to 30 (418)
Rapid 31 to 40 (514)
Rapid 41 to 50 (554)

Wednesday 12 July 2023

GTFO: ALT R2B4 - Septic

The final B level for ALT rundown 2 really brings in the infection rate with many areas of wall cancers and farty fog so its fitting the mission is to find a SPECIFIC fog turbine and bring it to the forward extraction point. Again we brought our scouting load out:

Me: Pistol/Revolver/Cfoam/Spear
DL: DMR/Sniper Rifle/Mines/Hammer
Jim: Rifle/Machine Gun/Sniper Sentry/Hammer
[Bot]: DMR/Heavy AR/Biotracker/Hammer

It's mostly a one way level as the door to the Northern alarm needs an access key so you'll first need to head West to a non-alarm door while clearing the little sleepers in the starting zone. Beyond this begins the wall cancers with giants. Yuck. The key to that previous door is in here somewhere though and the fog turbine deeper in. There are also alarm doors to the North and South, be sure to check which way you need to  go and keep your lights on those wall things.

Ours was to the Class V door to the North which was an easy to hold ice one since there's only one entry. Beyond is a most horrible room of wall cancers and little scum. We just opted to make noise, kill them all, and carefully proceed here to light up the things to make them temporarily "sleep" and found TWO fog turbines. We foolishly just grabbed the first one, and only at the end did we realize it was specifically the second one we needed for... reasons, so if you want to save a trek back here - pick up the correct one now!

With the objective in hand back track to the first door and unlock the Northern class IV alarm. Ice and mine what you can but expect scum to get through. There's a downstairs poison fog area where some scans will fall into, so Jim with the turbine and guarded by the bot handled those while DL and I ran interference.

The next zone is FULL of fog, so make good use of that turbine but hold onto any little fog repellers you come across. We just kept intentionally making noise here and fighting at open doors if we found giants, then at the very North is a class V alarm door IN THE FOG. After closing and mining as many doors towards the start as we could, I split the remaining cfoam between the two doors where we'd be holding. This is where the little fog repellers come in handy, and yes they will come in while you are still scanning. For us, the waves were almost exclusively from the looping Eastern hall.

Once you're done go in and up the stairs then kill those stupid sleeping giant shooters. One on one you can literally dance around them in a circle and keep power striking to win, but hey - shooting is good too. Just setup for a long extraction alarm before getting in that circle (drop the fog turbine in there) because yes, your pursuers WILL make it up to your position. Shoot well for just a minute more and GTFO.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

GTFO: ALT R2B3 - Pathfinder

Been awhile since the last drop so we just went with our "standard scouting loadout" which we've used a fair bit now as it's pretty effective in winning on the first go:

Me: Pistol/Revolver/Cfoam/Spear
DL: DMR/Sniper Rifle/Mines/Hammer
Jim: Rifle/Machine Gun/Sniper Sentry/Hammer
[Bot]: DMR/Heavy AR/Biotracker/Hammer

The main objective here is a terminal hack (using uplink commands), but the main puzzle aspect is the very first zone which contains an interesting mix of doorways that you'll need to use for two separate defenses - clear out the little guys without wrecking any of them. To the West and East are Class V security doors needing a security key card which is hidden behind the Northern Class IV alarm door. Little c-foam, many mines. 

We bungled our hold and lost some doors!

In the Northern area you must get past giants and a scout to get the keys to the East and West doors, but you'll only need one of them! Check on a terminal to determine which way your objective lies - ours was to the East! A regular team scan (no alarm) door leads to a further zone North that is an extra "supply" zone guarded by giants. Back in the first zone we then setup as best we could for the East, cfoaming and mining the open doors and putting the sniper sentry to assist (always at a door pointing at us so that it shoots things in the back).

Our terminal was at the very Eastern section here which only has one door leading into it. Regardless, we cleared everything and shut everything and use the last of the supplies to cfoam hold the door followed by good fighting. Since I was holding the cfoam Jim was doing terminal duty. After the last code is entered there is an extraction alarm so things won't stop coming. Instead push forward right after killing a wave and get back to the drop point and then hold with whatever you have left. I was down to just my spear when we finally GTFO. :D

Monday 10 July 2023

Extraction 2 and Trepang²

Bullets of fun!

Extraction 2

Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), who barely survived the last movie, is asked to go rescue a family from a prison and battle a small army in process. The simple story lets the cinematography and action really shine with some very cool fight scenes and long single-take shots. Violent and entertaining the whole way through, we really liked it. Recommended!

This FPS (which has "2 squared" in the title instead of 2) feels much like the FEAR franchise, down to the weapons, melee maneuvers and bullet time ability of the protagonist. While there is a scary / supernatural / horror back end to most missions, most of your enemies will be soldiers who will be working together to out flank you or force you into the open with grenades with their clever AI (again much like FEAR). Again very violent but also very fun. Some of the bosses are freaking difficult though!

Sunday 9 July 2023

Creative TV Shows

Shows about creating stuff that is!

Lego Masters Australia (Season 5): Grandmasters

I've posted about Lego Masters Australia before, and for season 5 they've invited teams of past winners and finalists which makes for some even more fantastic displays and even more difficult challenges. It is just that good that it earned another blog post from me, and if you are only planning on watching one season of this show - this is it. You can start out this season here. Note: I know there are other Lego Master shows out there but I've only watched the Australian version so I can't compare them.

Making It

Creators of all types are invited to a large barn where they compete in challenges in making stuff, from tiny toys to big sheds. It helps that the hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are very charismatic and funny to watch too, and again its has a feel good thing going where the contestants are more excited to see what they and their peers make, often even helping each other, rather than actually aiming to win. The US version has three seasons and there's an Australian version with one season and more contestants - the trade off being the skill ranges are way more varied. Both fun things to watch. You can start watching these here.

The Joy of Painting

I can't believe I'm only getting into this old 31 season show now, where painter Bob Ross teaches how to create amazing landscape paintings in thirty minutes using a wet-on-wet style. It is enthralling to watch, and is actually inspiring me to look into buying art supplies to try it out myself! If that's not a good sign, I don't know what is. You too can enjoy every single episode for free on youtube.

Saturday 8 July 2023

Blue Lock (Season 1)

An anime about... death match soccer!?

Anime can be just about anything these days, so when it focuses on something mundane (for me at least) like sports I normally opt to skip it. This one is all about soccer, and how the titular experimental Blue Lock facility is trying to generate the best striker out of 300 participants in a series of pseudo death match / knockout trials.

It is fantastic!

Good art, decent story, excellent characters who elicit viewer emotion and almost each episode ends with you wanting to watch the next one. I'm not a sports guy, but I got totally hooked on this and am now waiting for season two! Highly recommended, I even prefer it over Chainsaw Man. You can watch episode 1 here (and probably find the rest too, if you search for it).

Eurovision 2023 - The Winner Takes it All

I was late to watch this years Eurovision, hosted by runners up the UK for their awesome entry last year and because Ukraine, last year's actual winners, are still fighting against Russia. That recent almost revolt could have changed the battlefield but as usual, the easiest way to deal with mercs is with money so that's no longer happening which is an underwhelming result.

Underwhelming is also the word I'd use to describe this years Eurovision. There were the mandatory anti-war entries and sexy eye candy, a random pirate shanty, a flute dwarf, some German heavy metal, and a hard core cha cha song about getting drunk. My pick didn't even get close to beating the winner who intentionally made her song sound like one from Abba. Indeed the best performances were ones not even competing, my favorite being this one from the first semi final.

Unlike other years where there were songs DL or myself would actually be tempted to learn, this years batch has no such song.

Thursday 6 July 2023

Pathfinder: The Ruins of Raven's Watch II

[Part of the Party Time journal

We find Thelsikar in an unholy chamber beyond the magically sealed door next to the large statues. Juris had previously examined (and fondled *snicker*) these but other than knowing they are magical we couldn't work out how they worked, until our conversation with the dying cleric in the cells. Doing a fantasy version of the macarena opens the door, and puts us into battle against Thelsikar himself! As I used all my dice rolling luck earlier I am hopeless in this battle but at least can tank some hits from this dagger wielding madman.

Mom eventually backstabs him to death with her new magic rapier but a large stone gargoyle then comes to life and carries Thelsikar's corpse off, ignoring my attempts at pissing it off by burning an important looking book (indeed, I think I only angered our wizard Juris who was keen on book collection). We give chase but can't catch up, especially as we run into a lone skeletal champion who blocks the way.

My dice rolling continues to suck, and mom's opening strike with her undead slaying weapon misses. The skeleton doesn't miss and mom goes down. Out of spells Juris comes in with his quarterstaff while Rose revives mom with her wand of cure light wounds and mom's next attack on the skelebum is massive, but not enough. The champion downs Juris next and with things looking grim I suggest Rose uses the healing wand on the skeleton (I remembered in Pathfinder: Kingmaker this was a thing so DL allows it, for now at least). It's a touch based attack which is much easier and she tags it on her second attempt, healing for the maximum value and destroying the scum bag with plenty of time to stabilize our wizard and get him back to his feet.

Alas the gargoyle and Thelsikar are long gone so we just loot the dungeon for all its worth, finding a handy bag of holding to help carry it all, and Juris finds proof the Lamashtu cultists were doing something to harden black dragon scale. He couldn't retrieve all the intel though as the pyromaniac warrior (me) was setting many things alight in an attempt to stop their research. Oops.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Pathfinder: The Ruins of Raven's Watch

[Part of the Party Time journal

Two weeks after kicking Black Fang out of his lair, the dragon was spotted again flying around the old ruins of Raven's Watch prison so the party is sent to investigate and find the place to be less abandoned than initially hoped. While there's not much on the surface, stairs down lead to a well lit complex guarded by easily defeated goblins and their pet dire rats, and much tougher priests of Lamashtu whose aura of negative energy is annoying to deal with. Rose, our cleric, does a good job keeping everyone upright in those fights (and we need a rest in between)!

These cultists also have a torture chamber full of ghouls who Juris is lucky to dodge while they are being cleared out, and some shambling zombies (who have that annoying -5 damage resistance like skeletons) wandering the jail area. A dying (but super talkative) cleric here says the Lamashtu scum have been experimenting on them and soon he too would be turning into a zombie. He also gives a hint about a magically sealed door near some gigantic statues and then accepts the sword (death) instead of accepting the healing potion I offer him.

The only other prisoner here is Doomhauld Troomph, a large orange ogre (ogre zombie?) with a book full of crimes that he claims are lies in between demanding to be set free to build a wall to make the swamps great again for big wins. We leave DL's comedic relief character locked there and will let the authorities decide what to do with him later. Instead we focus on a large central pit in the prison whose lid I remove. Dropping a torch down indicates a long drop right into a grey ooze. On a ledge half way down is a sparkly magical item, but before I can deploy my rope Juris uses mage hand to simply nab the thing: a +1 rapier of undead slaying which goes to our rogue (mom). We reseal the pit and then move on to try locate the boss of this place... some dude named Thelsikar.

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Gloomhaven: The Ruinous Toxic Well

[Part of the Party Time journal

We decide to investigate rumors about a magical wishing well not too far from the city but can only verify it is guarded by a small army of vermlings, fairies and stone golems that have laser arms. We well and truly get our butts kicked and limp over to a moor where there's supposed to be a sacred healing tree. As luck would have it, the tree is also in danger of burning down thanks to a fire drake orgy. *Sigh* So we defeat the horny drakes, save the tree, heal up and get back to investigating this Gloom cult (the bandits raising the dead) by attacking their next ritual site.

This time they have night demons (you are always disadvantaged to strike them), ice demons (like earth demons but slightly faster/slightly less HP) and fire demons (glass cannons like wind demons but straight upgrades with more damage and more shields). I slaughter the night ones because my mod deck is very much more balanced now so their disadvantage perk does little to save them, DL's boulders smash the ice ones as they lumber across difficult terrain and Jim almost kills all but one fire ones in a piercing bow strike, but as that's one use, the last (elite) fire demon basically duels Juris for majority of the mission until he can finally get his piercing card to hit!

While victory is claimed there is still a gateway to the void realm (where the demons live) that lingers here. While its tempting to just hop in we decide it's more prudent to head back to town and find an expert who knows how to close this thing.

Monday 3 July 2023

Gloomhaven: Inox Warehouse of the Damned

[Part of the Party Time journal]  

I love how every starting room immediately puts you in the sh*t.

Jekserah's next job was basically the massacre of an Inox encampment which wasn't so bad physically, but felt somewhat wrong when I found the tent they were protecting their young in. No slaying of younglings was required though, as we had to flee before their returning war parties could get us. A guard lady back at Gloomhaven then confirmed our suspicions that Jekserah might not be such a good employer so we decided to snoop on her warehouse to find that she's summoning undead in TOWN! Luckily her zombies are fat, slow, and tend to hurt themselves but her two huge bodyguards with their AoE attacks do a good job of covering her escape. I make good use of jump abilities to deal decent damage but it is Jim and DL that take down the first one and Juris beheads the second.

We try track Jekserah down to a crypt where more undead have been reported but it turns out to be the bandit cult again and they've progressed to summoning earth and wind demons! Random note: opening multiple doors works better in this game as your cards/stamina impose a pretty tough time limit. The earth demons are lumbering and slow and are dealt with using Jim's cunning and Juris' steel while the glass cannon wind demons are tremendously difficult to hit (or rather, to hit through their shield). Jim actually has to come over and help take care of the last one with his piercing bow to cinch the victory here, as DL and I were just taking too long.

Once cleared we find a map made by the cultists indicating another of their ritual sites, and a mark on a different crypt where it seems they've lost control of their summoned dead. We opt to go to neither and return to town to rest!

Sunday 2 July 2023

FUBAR and Gotham Knights (TV)

Season 1 reviews of a pair of weak shows.

FUBAR (Season 1)

In this action comedy (with a heavier weight on comedy) a father / daughter pair of CIA agents (played by Arnold Schawrznenegger / Monica Barbaro) just learns that they each work for the same company, and unload their baggage of disapproving each others life choices at the worst possible times (on the job) now that they don't have to pretend to be something else. Weak acting and weak jokes make it hard to like the series but at least it improves as the characters gain a modicum of depth (but not a lot). Hopefully it gets better in the already confirmed Season 2.

Gotham Knights

This one season superhero show begins with a bunch of random minor criminal teens framed for the death of Bruce Wayne aka Batman. Also framed is Wayne's adopted son Turner, who decides to join forces with said teens to clear their names, and maybe do some good on the side while they're at it. While the character development arcs are pretty decent, the main plot is not great and the action scenes while for the most part are OK its strange to see said teens be able to take down more experienced (and in some cases super powered) enemies in hand to hand. I would have liked a Season 2 for this one, but it couldn't dodge the cancellation axe.

Saturday 1 July 2023

Gloomhaven: Black Barrow Lair

[Part of the Party Time journal

A mercenary team composed of an Inox brute warrior (Juris), a cragheart (DL), vermling mindthief (me), and tinkerer (Jim) were hired to collect a magic tome from some bandits based in a crypt that possibly once was the home of a baby black dragon... Apparently the bandits had some warning since they had six guards ready in the first room! With Juris and DL tanking and Jim healing, I had the opening to not just backstab a few fools but also to open the door to the next hall, introducing three archers into the fight... but just them, because I was "gaming" it knowing that there's a limit of "figurines" even in the digital version which means the additional 3 bandits that would otherwise be here as well were missing.

My summoned rat swarm could tank some arrows as DL and I cleared out the archers while Juris and Jim finished off the initial guards. Juris then opened the last chamber and got pelted by the numerous archers sitting behind some multi-armed skeletons, downing our horned warrior and giving Juris an aversion to doors. Luckily we could manipulate the skeletons into the already set traps and smashed the remaining archers at close range where they have disadvantage at attacking.

With Juris revived the team proceeded downstairs where the bandit boss was busy summoning more skeletons, and I goofed by overestimating my rat swarm and ending in a bad forward position (while not being invisible). As such, I got wounded significantly early and just piled on as much hurt on the boss before collapsing in exhaustion. Luckily Juris sword and DL's hurled boulders took care of the other bandits while Jim got the finishing shot off on the boss, clearing this level. Since we couldn't open the five mystery doors, it was back to the city of Gloomhaven to get paid by our patron, the merchant Jekserah, who was happy to take the accursed tome off our hands for some coin.