Friday 31 May 2024

Pathfinder: Missing in Magnimar

[Part of the Party Time journal

Following the clues, the team heads off to Magnimar to track down Aldern's boss and learn that this city too has been going through a spate of recent murders. Investigating Aldern's house here they are surprised to find both he and his wife alive and well, only for the pair to shapeshift into annoying faceless humanoids with a penchant for grabbing and a damage reduction quality that kind of draws out the fight. Once victorious, Merisiel locates a deed in a hidden place that details a shared purchase and to a local sawmill which the team checks out next.

The worker who answers the door is a bit iffy, but lets the party take a look around until they go upstairs at which point he and his colleagues don evil looking masks and outing themselves as bad guys! They and their boss have negative energy auras which Kyra basically balances out with heals, and while the regular scum are just fodder the boss himself is a bit problematic when he makes the party insane - except Valeros, who by all rights had the worst odds on that save. With Ezren and Merisiel just randomly attacking the closest target and Kyra idling while talking to a wall Valeros and Kyra's summoned eagle keeps everything busy enough until they are about to regain their senses. It's at this point he's hit by a drow poison bolt and falls asleep! At least his companions can take down the boss guy though... but he's not the BIG boss as messenger crows fly out to a distant clock tower.

After resting and picking up a pair of city guards as well as some new magic gear (mainly higher level magic missile wands) they head there next and, after getting hit by a falling bell, beat up a flesh golem on the ground floor, a trio more faceless things near the top and a lamia matriarch on the roof who is a SUPER annoying fight. Not only is she hard to hit, at one point she casts sanctuary which forces a will roll before even a "to-hit" roll while she heals herself. Kyra's eagles can do nothing and really, almost everyone needs a natural 20 to land a hit on her. Lucky Ezren's magic missiles always hit and after a really long and frustrating fight, she is defeated with no casualties for the good guys. The heroes then locate a letter from the lamia's brother nearby saying his method of sacrificial murdering is much better and invites her to see at some distant location.

Before going anywhere else, the heroes first report to the fat governor of the city who was actually mentioned as a target in the letter and after he faints and comes to again he gives the team a sizeable reward. A good portion of this Valeros gives to Morgamer Pug, the local halfling tinker, to create for him a flamethrower. Because screw rolling to hit!

Thursday 30 May 2024

May 2024: War... War never changes.

It's day 827 of Russia's two day special operation to take Ukraine and while they are gaining ground slowly through sheer numbers, a few countries have finally given the green light for Ukraine to use their weapons into Russian territory. That's a strange handicap to have originally been placed on the clear under dog, but lets see if this shifts the momentum into Ukraine's favor.  

Meanwhile in the Middle East, Egypt had warned it might withdraw from its mediator position in the (so far failed) Gaza ceasefire negotiations because of recent doubts that "offend" them. These doubts are mainly center around getting caught red handed mediating in bad faith, secretly changing terms before handing them to Hamas after Israel had already agreed and signed to it. Not sure how the parties involved feel but I for one would say "good riddance" as it's clearly pointless to put your trust in these lying snakes in the first place.

Now Israel is taking out some serious revenge to the tune of around 35K dead Palestinians so far for the instigating October 7 Hamas raid which killed around 1.2K people (for comparisons sake 9/11 killed around 3K with a 3.6M retaliation). It's clear where the loyalties of some folks in Mexico are, burning down the Israeli embassy in Mexico City right as they are being hit by a water shortage.

Worth noting Hamas are now singing their old song (on replay apparently) of "we're willing to negotiate as long as Israel completely stops fighting". Israel would be stupid to accept that and let them regroup, given the Hamas charter  (#4) explicitly states:

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad

Next it's over to China where they've developed some pretty cool gun toting automatons, but somehow they're still not as scary as the drones that can simply drop grenades on you. Then we have North Korea, trying to stay relevant by sending in explosive balloons of literal shit to South Korea. Are they trying to say all their septic tanks are full and are in dire need of help? Or simply that they're just full of shit?

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Firestone: Online Idle RPG

You don't have to do anything.

Since there was a promo on on Epic a few weeks back I thought I'd give this a quick try, and quick is an understatement. Upon loading in you immediately get thrown into the endless grind, so this plays less like Dragonheir and a lot more / almost exactly like Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (I call it "Idle champs"), which means there's a direct competitor to compare against. Alas this comparison does not go well for Firestone as it has worse character art, worse options, worse hub, and much less refinement all around. If anything this game might be the "kiddie" version Idle Champs, but I'm not sure why you'd want your kids getting into this anyway. And if you aren't a kid but like Idle games, give this one a miss and go straight for Idle champs from the get go.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Dragonheir: You need an Army

[Part of the Cursed story line.

When I'm not training up heroes, I'm pushing further into the Underdark past the territories of the deep gnomes and their mining issues as well as the thieving rat folk whose leader needs help bringing his son into line, which happens to be a level 130 fight! We finally reach the drow city of Unyielding Silk, where nobles and paupers squabble over the broken "holy river" that no longer cures people of the rot disease.  After arresting many criminals we find that the river is actually plagued from some ruins it passes through inhabited by monsters that look like Zhar'loth - it turns out this is the result of full blown rot transformation on a deep elf.

Fights here now require 3 full teams so I'm adding a bunch of under trained people to the line up that I'm not too familiar with. However there is a stand out: Iola the lightning mage. Now Iola's not a legendary ranked hero, but her AoE stuns are freaking useful! After defeating a death knight boss who we helped be un-transformed from a turtle (damn my goody two shoes nature) the river is restored, the sick can be healed again, and the bridge leading to Terminus is reopened.

Alas this comes too late for the drow queen (150) who succumbs to the rot just in time to give us a boss fight. Note, all the heroes can only go up to level 100. Your choice of gear and strategy has to make up the difference against the ever increasing level of the enemies. It's a challenge sometimes, especially when fights demand multiple teams. 

I've also unlocked deeper levels of the Fey Meander and two similar "endless fight" modes, but all these feature the same thing: less and less choice of characters to field. Sometimes, you can't put legendaries. Sometimes you can't field the full five. Sometimes it asks for specific element types. Ugh. You know what that means? I need at least SIX full teams (one per element - necrosis, radiance, lightning, poison, fire and ice) of max level, fully geared heroes - each with a decent team structure (healer/tank/dps etc). LOL!

There's also this boss plant lady shows up every few levels
to check your gear score...

Monday 27 May 2024

Dragonheir: Elemental 100

[Part of the Cursed story line.

I failed to mention last time that there's a new camp mechanic where you can send up to three heroes for training, and they just gain XP per second which certainly helps in the grinding. You still need to grind for the materials to unlock higher levels though, and since the underground enemies are starting to get really tough I decided its time to farm for those big crystals in the three elemental zones - the level 100 version of them to at least gain 1 of the big elemental crystals per run (but supplementing with little ones at a 10:1 ratio).

Frost Lady Glacia (100) is easily handled by Fire main (100 back) / Heksandra (90 back) / Garius (90 mid) / Horrus (90 front) / and Eli (83 back). The double heals from Heksandra and Garius plus Horrus taunt and damage reduction are pretty good, and ranger Eli is an ok damage dealer but probably needs to be switched out for a better substitute at some point. The Lightning Dragon (100) I can handle with Fire main (100 back) / Voresh (90 back) / Ripekas (90 back) / Horrus (90 front) / Lucien (90 front). Lucien (the legendary elf) is not a strong a tank as Horrus or Garius, but his abilities to start everyone with a shield and freezing flank are pretty handy.

She seems like something that came from Elden Ring.

That just leaves the Lady of Flame (100) and honestly, I didn't have a team that could beat her reliably until I maxed out Garius (100). With him backed by Voresh (90) / Zhar'loth (90) / Ripekas (90) / Lucien (90) I could finally make some headway here. If you are wondering why you'd want to level up more than just your main party, this section of the quest answers that by introducing TEAM battles. Much like the team arena, I now need to send more than one squad into each battle and heroes can't be deployed more than once - and if one team fails their fight, your entire squad fails!

Since this zone is asking for two squads my line ups are Fire main (100)/ Zhar'loth (97) / Voresh (96) / Garius (100)/ Lucien (90) and Horrus (90) / Ripekas (99) / Sutha (95) / Heksandra (90) / Usha (90). Sutha the legendary orc berserker hits decently hard and fast, but she's nowhere as tanky as she looks. However, since I got a duplicate Sutha I wanted to try her out. You see, when you pull duplicate heroes of the lower tiers you just get some item refinement currency instead but for a duplicate legendary hero, they get a boost which seems to improve them by 8% each time (up to five times if you get that many duplicates). Alternatively, you can use dupes to buy legendary rank artifacts from the shop!

Sunday 26 May 2024

Dragonheir: Season of Darkness

[Part of the Cursed story line.

A new "season" update has showered gifts on players with something like 100+ hero dice which net me a few more legendary ranked heroes who I immediately take my new superstars to the arena and... still get thrashed because obviously I'm not great at team composition LOL. Now also available to me is the "champion arena" which is more PvP that the other arenas where you just face preset teams of other players but don't really interact with them in any way. In the champion arena mode which opens only every few hours, you are head to head in picking your line up for battle. Again, I got thrashed there too. :P

For the new arena, you start at rank 15K+ but most of the opponents are just
NPC squads until around the 200 mark.

At least I make progress against the orc invasion, basically stopping it in its tracks and then defeating the obviously evil high mage who orchestrated everything and turns into a purple dragon (that's new to me)! He's a son of Tiamat so he's kinda strong and my lev 100 fire main actually has to tank while back row Garius (90) / Ripekas (90) / Zhar'loth (90) / and Voresh (90) clinch the win. With his defeat this boss has also turned into another available weekly challenge pinata.

The adventure then leads to what I suppose is the Underdark, where we find the isolated city of Terminus inhabited by rot stricken deep elves and one of their number offers to accompany us back to the main city (breaking quarantine) via the long route - the first section of which is most exciting as it involves an undying spider that continuously pursues you once you reach its territory. You can beat it up, but it gets up after 10 seconds and the chase is on again! Ironically we ultimately escape by sending the spider falling down a deep chasm, because spiders aren't good at falling or climbing? Erm...

Thursday 23 May 2024

Gloomhaven: Voice of the Mountain

[Part of the Party Time journal

After wiping out a Gloom cult gathering (complete with zombies and demons) at their ritual chamber with only DL getting KOed, we visit the Shrine of Strength to try get stronger by standing on pressure plates while being attacked by monsters... an interesting training method for sure! I'm the one that drops in that mission while Juris gets through all the doors to get the final chest. We then go up a mountain to investigate rumors of a dragon and instead get ambushed by Inox and elementals which knock Juris out, but are in turn wiped out by the three brothers. Jim's pretty good with his heals, disintegrating ray and spider bots!

While up there we hear a strange, beckoning voice and follow it into a cave system crawling with enemies, but as the mission this time is simply to open all the doors I use my rat-ninja skills to sneak through them all while the others basically hold the first room. Once all the doors are open the voice booms and disintegrates the remaining enemies, then asks us to free it. Suuuure, before doing that we return to the city to rest up and try learn more about it. Hail suggests the knowledge we seek is in the Shrine of the Depths, so we go there next and retrieve a chest from giant crab monsters and laser shooting eye stalk tentacles. At this point we're all pretty tough now, each having maxed out  at level 9 through the course of these adventures.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Pathfinder: The Haunted Manor

[Part of the Party Time journal

While turning in the Sanitorium owner a ragged farmer arrives at the Sandpoint garrison asking for help at the outlying farms where scarecrows have started attacking the inhabitants. The party turns down the Sheriff's offer of two extra constables and riding quickly reach the farms at night where indeed, the scarecrows (or rather, ghouls dressed up as scarecrows) are hopping off their stands and lurking in the tall maize. They can't ambush the team though, not with Ezren's owl Stolas on recon. Valeros makes good use of his shield here, and while Merisiel's anti-undead rapier and Kyra's channeled energy naturally wreck these things, so does Kyra's warhorse Shadowmist who quickly proves to be the MVP in this outdoor setting.

A pair of not-yet ghouls are rescued and returned to town where they (along with Ezren and Kyra) are cured of ghoul fever disease by local priest, Father Zanthus whom Valeros buys a bunch of cure disease and holy water from, as well as a good number of oil flasks just for kicks. Discussing the evidence found at the farm with the Sheriff next leads them to the Foxglove manor, home of that noble Aldern who was saved during the goblin raid and was crushing hard on Merisiel. Isolated on a distant cliff face, the house is both rotten and haunted with numerous ghostly BS events kicking (mainly Valeros') ass while depicting what happened to the murderous family that lived here. After Kyra holy nukes a bunch of undead crows and Ezren eliminates a joke-boss battle blind, diseased rat in a tub, the next creature they find is a female revenant locked in the attic seeking revenge on Aldern (again good knowledge checks from Ezren and Kyra).

The team get out of her way and follow her back downstairs where she smashes open a secret staircase that leads below the basement and into a really foul smelling cave system where the squad beats even more ghouls and a giant ghoul bat (who is "holy eagled"). In a back room they find a badly beaten undead Aldern, finishing off the female revenant before Merisel one shots him with Kaydara (the holy rapier). This time the team are pretty sure they got the murderer, but correspondence found on him indicates that his ritualistic killings were at the behest of someone else at the next city of Magnimar.

Before doing anything else, Valeros douses a patch of evil fungi with holy water to turn "off" the haunts of the mansion then the team return to Sandpoint to update the authorities and borrow a monk priest to take back with them to the mansion for a more permanent cleansing (apparently all the other priests are busy healing wounded from a recent ghoul attack from the ocean).

Monday 20 May 2024

Eurovision 2024: The Code (of War)

It was an interesting Eurovision this year with Sweden acting as the host. Ukraine had a better song this time around and Germany set the stage on fire, or was it one of the more eye-candy type acts? There was also a twisted fairy tale, a demon summoning, and a guy with no pants which I classify under the same theme of "horror" (though purely based on some vocals/songs more entrants could fit into this category). There was also a disqualification, and it ultimately came down to Croatia's Baby Lasagna and Switzerland's Nemo. For a change I managed to pick the winner correctly from the semi-final stage! Congratulations Nemo, not only for winning but for one of the best performances in Eurovision ever. Highly recommended you watch it. :)

Here's Raiven, fully clothed.

Since this seems to be a post about nations competing against each other let's check in on Russia's special 2 day operation to take Ukraine which is now on day... 817? It's been a long time since I posted anything about this (ironically, it was my previous Eurovision post) and in that time Ukraine was actually losing ground due to dwindling reserves of people and supply (due to other countries *cough USA cough* delaying support) and Russia's seemingly endless supply of people to take hits and further tire and disarm their opponent.

That battle continues as does the one of Israel (who actually had a Eurovision contestant this year) vs Hamas, a militant and designated "terrorist" arm of Palestine supported by Iran, who recently lost their president in a helicopter crash. President Bill Clinton tried sorting that out in 2000 but unfortunately was unsuccessful.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Physical: 100 (2 Seasons so far)

Looking for the "perfect" body...

In this Korean series, 100 athletic people from all walks of life are invited to compete to see which body is superior. I'll get my main negative out of the way now, as the first half of the first episode in both seasons is basically people coming in and saying "Oh hello," and getting a quick blurb of how they were a gold medalist / fire fighter / strong man / soldier whatever. They don't do all 100 but they do quiiiite a lot!

It picks up after all the "hello's".

With that out of the way all the cool stuff happens, which this show refers to as quests. It might be hanging from a bar as long as you can or getting the most distance running on a treadmill in x minutes - and those are just the preliminary quests! The demand for feats of physicality and tactics progressively increase with each quest and the sharp editing, constant elimination of around 50% of participants per quest and the segments where they have to team up makes it a very interesting show to watch (where was that sharp editing at the start guys?). Awesome show - highly recommend and am looking forward to watching the next one!

Thursday 16 May 2024

Shardlake and Scavengers Reign

Shows with mystery!


Named after the hunchback protagonist (played by Arthur Hughes) who works as a barrister/investigator in the 16th century, this four episode series has him sent to investigate a murder at a monastery which happens to also be flagged for dissolution by the crown. Thus his job is two fold: close the monastery and find the killer, and it's actually pretty quick how everything is wrapped up by the last episode. Decent acting, story and sets make this an alright watch, though Shardlake does enjoy talking to himself and seeing visions of dead people a bit too often for my liking. Recommended if you like murder mysteries of the English variety, and would probably watch a second season if they ever make it.

Scavengers Reign

This one season animated sci-fi series follows the survivors of a massive space ship, now stranded on a strange and alien planet with both wonderful and horrifying things to behold and experience. The story, artistry, action segments and just general cool ideas are all top notch here - my only complaint might be that the character art is more "simple" than what I'm used to but they are definitely fine. Highly recommended but definitely not one for kids! Again I'd watch a season two of this if ever it came to be.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Dragonheir: Legendary Luck

[Part of the Cursed story line.

As grinding sucks I've also tried sneak in some exploration into the new lands which has revealed some rather adult themes. Let's just say I know how to make drugs now and I'm peddling them to the populace? WHAT? Yeah, that's a thing. Anyway, thanks to an unplanned maintenance I was gifted 100 hero dice by the system and managed to roll up Usha the knight (permanent this time) and Zhar'loth a fear inducing monster caster who replaces the under performing Gitouna.

I've also only now realized some heroes have a captain skill that you can pick from at the start of battle! By default it's always been Garius' +% defense but Zhar'loth brings a +%damage which is now my go to. Alas there's no avoiding the grinding and getting to level 100 is really a pain, but my main gets there while the other regulars are on 90. This helps me find and assist a missing princess (and her army) smash back the orc invaders and also unlocks the TEAM arena.

Team arena is almost exactly like regular arena except you put forward three teams to fight each other consecutively and characters can't be re-deployed between them. Again, finding people lower level to fight seems to be the way to go but its much harder to field three teams of heroes fully equipped with fully upgraded gear! And, once again this lets people with multiple legendary heroes absolutely trounce their opposition. Just to give you an idea, some of these guys have abilities to resurrect fallen team mates and/or self revive.

Good news though, using the camp horn feature (a free hero summon 4x daily or something) which has so far done nothing for me has today given me the Legendary Ghost Troll Ripekas who will be taking Usha's position in the rotation as he is a beast of a DPS. I just have to level him up first. Of course all new heroes start at level 1.

There's a server wide message every time someone pulls this off.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Dragonheir: Fey Dragon

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

What's there to do when you run out of "stamina" to grind you might ask? Well, you can try your hand at Fey Meander which is basically fight 6 groups of this level bad guys, go to next level and do it again with a tough poison boss maiden every 5 levels - or you can challenge NPCs in town to fight which is pretty neat (and recommended). Lastly you can try do the main quest which this time saw me beating a green dragon! Woo! And you can repeat this fight every week. Typical. 

Gitouna, Garius and Usha doing some dragon hunting!

Of course you can also try the arena, which gives you a choice of three other player parties to fight and up to 5 rerolls if none of them are to your liking. My best strategy here is the usual D&D one: only pick on people lower level than you for the best chance of success, but even then the parties with legendary heroes (whom I have none of currently) or parties with better composition will kick your ass. In particular Horrus the dwarf tank (who I did get but never used) is a menace if paired with Heksandra and/or Sigrid the blonde short bow archer girl (she prevents your from healing). Basically if I see her and Horrus I skip unless I've many levels higher! :P

Also note your ranking will drop naturally as other people beat your party too and you won't find out about it until you return to the arena. Anyway, with the dragon dead it seems I've finished another chapter and now can go to the adjoining land which is under an orc invasion... or not because the orcs are super high level which means its back to grinding for me!

Monday 13 May 2024

Dragonheir: Mt. Trollabar

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

I too am surprised that I'm still here, as the story has had some interesting turns wherein I've been betrayed by hot Countess Catherine (who is a OK healer if she's in the party) but also gotten lucky with some hero dice to get Gitouna the dwarf crafter knifer who hits fast and Voresh the ice lich who has a wicked AoE, though it takes time to load up. I've also been loaned the female dual wielding knight Usha to get through a particular place and those three along with Garius and my fire main are my current party.

While smashing through some trolls I've come across the "second" daily type mission which involves fighting a Poseidon type ocean giant and is pretty cool. The "first" daily is harder to find, fighting some sort of death knight through a portal. You also get two garbage tasks daily which are easy and help get you more hero dice and there's also a ranked arena to fight other players parties which is just kicking my rear at the moment so I'm leaving that alone.

Voresh taking on Poseidon Malinus.

Oh, remember how we need specific elemental crystals to level up heroes? It gets worse when you hit the next tiers as the place that drops them makes it much worse for heroes of that element to be there. For example, if I send my fire themed heroes into the fire realm, they do 30% less damage and take 60% more damage meaning you shouldn't send your fire heroes in there. But but but... yep. That means you have to level up AT LEAST THREE TEAMS to be able to farm through each of the three elemental zones! Drow archer Adrie who slows down the bosses from using their ultimates is pretty handy here, but in the case that you can't or don't want to fight the high level variants you can just grind the easier ones and fuse the 2-3 low level crystals you get per run into a higher tier at the ratio of 10 lessers:1 greater. Waaaaaah!

Sunday 12 May 2024

Dragonheir: Elf-landia

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

I made it out of the death lands and into a forest of elves (and am still playing the game surprisingly)! While I've rolled up a fair number of heroes the standouts are Vasska who summons skelies, Isitarian who summons a baby dracolich, and tank/healer Garius who I'm pretty sure is also a skele underneath that armor. As you can only deploy 5 heroes max that means everyone else (other than Heksandra who is an awesome cleric) is benched while dealing with the "ghost elf" threat. That is, elves aren't ascending/being reborn and instead are just hanging around as angry ghosts. Awesome!

Yes, I'm surprised that there's actually a story in here too. Also, there's multiple game modes. Some fights are tower defense things where ranged area folk do better than say Garius. Others like the goblin camp just require super high DPS for your team to clear the waves of goblins in under a specific time to unlock better rewards and a harder mode so that you can do it all again! I found the grind! Lol. Seriously though, EXP which is used to level up your heroes is found in potions which is by design I suppose so that you can better direct which heroes you want to level. The rewards of the goblin camp are almost exclusively EXP potions so you'll need to go in there. Each run consumes "stamina" which is recovered every day or by eating special food items.

Vasska and Garius grinding up some fire crystals.
The fire boss lady is too lazy to stand up!

At particular levels though, EXP potions aren't enough. You need to go into one of three elemental realms to farm up the correct crystal for your heroes element. This also costs stamina, and sure the elemental realms drop crystals but they don't drop EXP potions. Oh! And there are grave sites which you can raid (again costs stamina) for gear. Each grave site drops one particular set of gear which you wear for a matching bonus. These ONLY drop gear and no EXP potions or crystals. I see a trend forming here...

Saturday 11 May 2024

Attack on Titan and Megalobox 2: Nomad

Start with despair and go from there.

Attack on Titan

I've mentioned this anime in passing many times through the years and now that its finally done I can review it properly! Featuring excellent art, awesome music and some pretty nice action scenes this show focuses on people who live in a walled city, trapped but safe(ish) from the ever hungry giants lurking outside who they refer to as Titans. It has one of the strongest openings of any story, and this momentum carries forward through the first few seasons but alas - peters out as the stranger events are given not-so-strong explanations and titans seemingly become less and less dangerous (because the protagonists are improving right? Like in the Walking Dead, season 1 a single zombie is like OMG, season 11 its "oh another zombie horde, whatever"). While I do still recommend it, I don't like the way the story went at the end so no perfect score from me here.

Megalobox 2: Nomad

We catch up with our protagonist Joe, five years after the events of Megalobox and he is not in a good place. The questions of "why?" and "what happened?" are what kept us around, despite the first part of the season having him serve only as a side character (which is weird but makes sense if you stick to it). While the first Megalobox was all about an underdog trying to clinch every win, this season is all about loss and is framed very differently. I made a comment about the original where everyone but Joe gets character development - well here he develops in spades. Recommended only if you liked the first season. If you can put up with the episodes at the start where he doesn't do much, it does improve and finishes pretty strong.

Friday 10 May 2024

Dragonheir: What the heck is this?

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

This D&D 'somewhat' idle gacha game (less idle than Idle champs though) starts off with a fight against Tiamat, and then you wake up in some death lands where your character is 5 times the size of the map POI's like villages and fortresses. I'm guessing this is because they designed the people at "combat size" and then just went - meh - and kept them that size for world exploration while everything else is shrunk down. It takes a bit of getting used to but you get used to it after awhile.

Combat is clearly the focus of this and while you start with Olaf the skeleton to support your Ice/Fire/Lightning Mage (you must be a mage) he'll soon be joined the dark elf Noteera, troll Gulal, dwarf Forbit and healer Heksandra. Again, its obvious that devs went "meh" at one point as Noteera and Gulal have mini-cutscenes when activating their ultimate abilities while everyone else does not. Outside of setting up your initial battle position there only thing you actively control in battle are those ultimate abilities, and these greatly vary between characters - which is where the "gacha" comes in. Earn dice to roll for heroes! And spoilers: a lot of them suck!

I guess someone makes weapons and armor of that size...?

Fortunately for this early bit that doesn't seem to matter as you'll be smashing through baddies with no problem. In fact it might get to the point where you just press that "auto" button during combat so that the AI handles your ultimate for you. You know it's going to get bad when they provide an "auto" button for combat...

Thursday 9 May 2024

Helldivers 2

The battle to spread managed democracy continues in this four player co-op that has stayed true to the old original while making the game better! You still have grenade-like stratagems to call down to deal with aliens, still have to find resources planet side and still have your super destroyer double as a game lobby to spend research and unlock gear. And there is also still some really epic music backing everything up!

The biggest improvement is the change of view in mission. Where previously it was a top-down affair where you were limited by the screen where your squad was and couldn't wander off on your own, now it is an over the shoulder camera with optional first person view when you aim down the sights of some weapons. This means you can definitely split up to tackle more objectives but death still comes as hard, fast, and usually with a mix of hilarity and annoyance. It's easily taken over our Friday game night sessions and is a real blast to play especially if you have a dedicated squad to play with. You can join other random Helldivers but your milage may vary - that's not something I've tried. Highly, highly recommended, even if Sony is doing BS things to try ruin it for everyone. Greed much?

Whatever Sony ass-hat tried to get that decision through needs to be fired, captured, and fed to aliens. FOR LIBERTY!

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Pathfinder: Smells like Murder!

[Part of the Party Time journal

Kyra (Rose), Merisiel (mom), Ezren (Juris) and Valeros (me) attend a celebratory dinner at the Scarnetti manor along side other town council members who are subjected to the insults of the asshat and patriarch Titus who takes credit for hiring the adventurers (despite storming off and calling us useless prior to Thistletop). When he and his family retire for the night the remainder discuss their plans to build a mill to at least compete with the Scarnetti mill - the only one in town as all the other mills have mysteriously burned down. Maybe they weren't paying their fire insurance? :P

The next day Sherriff dour comes to deputize the heroes again as he's short on man power and there's a murderer on the lose leaving love letters for Merisiel at his crime scenes.  At the scene of the latest murder Ezren and Kyra determine that the killer is some sort of undead ghast (acing their knowledge checks) and leaving a tell-tale stink. The man who found the scene is shook up and suspects Titus as one of the victims was cooking the books, but that is dismissed right away as that wouldn't make sense for Titus to do a ritualistic style murder. Nor did he have that stink.

Instead a similar MO is found on three corpses in the Garrison morgue days before, with the Sherriff stating that the suspected killer of these ones had been taken to a Sanitorium outside of town due to being a crazy person. He also has his child double agent drop hints that a gem Merisiel had stolen from her was spotted at the Fatman's Feedbag where the now dead trio had won it in a gambling game with a thief who possibly was lung cancer, due to all the black spit he leaves lying around. The party heads there next and confronts the thief with Ezren easily winning his dice game for info, but it soon becomes clear this guy also has nothing to do with the murders, and with no solid proof that he was the thief they prepare to depart but are ambushed by mercs in the tavern out for their blood for helping the "murderer" Orik. Wait till they find out about Fat Mouth!  

Two of the bruisers are particularly tough and down Merisiel but the team pulls through and kills the quartet in the feedbag before resting up and heading to the Sanitorium to check out this killer mad man who just keeps repeating something about "razors" and "he's coming". Kyra's attempt to cure him by giving him a restoration potion just makes him go mad and with the help of some tiefling orderlies he is restrained once more and gives Merisiel a message (which I don't remember, just that it was stalkery) before going back to his usual mumbling. Understandably the team is then kicked out but run into a necromancer and his zombies en route to the exit!? These are easily dealt with and the Sanitorium owner explains that the necromancer that had setup shop in the basement was just helping him pay rent (in exchange for having bodies to experiment with). Valeros arrests the guy, leaving the tiefling orderlies to care for the remaining crazies while the team brings him in. Unfortunately, it is clear none of the parties involved were the murderer they were looking for.

Tuesday 7 May 2024


It's time for a random bits containing all the miscellaneous stuff I found just never got around to posting over the past few months!

Starting off with an unposted [Chess Campaign] post (remember those?) where I actually beat Stockfish 4 (as White) using a London vs its Pirc and got its queen early with a pawn push, then had two games against Rose, the first one I was White and sed a London but found myself constantly on the backfoot, staving off checkmates from Queen + Rook and Queen + Bishop but Queen + pawn finally got me and in the second game I played Black. Caro Kann won early pawns for me then we went into a LONG game where both sides were attacking and I lost pieces for her pawns. Eventually got a slayer queen to constantly check her king to clean the board and she resigned when it was just her king left against five of my pawns. I also discovered Josh's ELO is 1300, and then promptly stopped playing Chess entirely because I got sucked into Elden Ring (then forgot to go back).

I had also tried out a solo card based RPG called Deathship where you are a slave aboard an alien ship you must do your best to ... get a high score? What? Yep, your escape will only end in your death - but you might be able to make some friends and kill some guards on your way there. Not recommended. I can't even find the link to this anymore.

Speaking of RPGs, do you need to generate a city map really quickly? This free online Medieval Fantasy City Generator might be just what you need. Other things I found interesting was this method of watering plants using a fog condensation net, weapons testing against a Prince Rupert's drop glass and the Sphere Stadium in LA. That exterior just looks amazing and can be lit up to look like almost anything!

As I usually spruik a musician in these types of posts, for this one I'll highlight the young Aimee Carty who has some good composition and performance skills. Also if you just want some free music, check out NEFFEX. Props to Heartlessgamer for that bit of info! Switching into something funnier, here's an AI's attempt at close captioning the German National Anthem. Might as well follow that with more funnies from Yoleendadong, ISMO, and this old but amazing clip of how to win a cotton candy eating race while maintaining composure. :P

Monday 6 May 2024

3 Body Problem (Season 1) and Fallout (Season 1)

Sci-Fi gets weird(er).

3 Body Problem (Season 1)

Half of this series focuses on a poorly treated woman in China during the 1960's while the other half focuses on a group of friends who all happen to be super smart science types in the modern age right when the Earth's leading scientists start going crazy and either start killing themselves or stop working. I do like that as the mystery reveals itself there are more problems to solve, but this was all up quite high on the level of strangeness for me - and my tolerance for strange is pretty high! With few exceptions the general level of special effects seem "cheap" and I also felt that hopping between the 1960's segment and modern age was freaking annoying and would have much rather they just mostly focused on one or the other per episode. That didn't stop us from finishing the season though, and will probably watch Season 2 whenever it rolls out.

Fallout (Season 1)

Based on the excellent game series this currently single season show focuses on a vault dweller (played by Ella Purnell) who makes her way out into the wasteland and encounters a lot of the terrible and funny stuff all the players have to deal with. Ok that's not entirely true, there are actually three people the story follows but the vault dweller is the centrifical force that ties the narrative together. Excellent props and set design (though some reused places) and a good deal of gory violence get the thumbs up from me, but the story is... let's just say its like the game plots where things just happen right? "Thou shalt get sidetracked by bullshit every damned time" rings very true. :P

Thursday 2 May 2024

Deliver Us Mars and Invincible Presents: Atom Eve (PC Game)

Girls getting it done.

Deliver Us Mars

This puzzle and platforming game has you playing as a young woman who dreams of going to space and jumps at the opportunity to do so when it arises. Of course, its not all space unicorns and star dust out there as many things go wrong and after playing this you'll be wondering why more astronauts don't carry a pair of climbing axes by default. Good voice acting and decent graphics, controls and story make this an enjoyable experience - though one caveat with that is that I hated all the flash backs that kept interrupting (even though that's where you learn a lot of the basic puzzle solving stuff). The puzzle solving itself is of a medium difficulty at max (for me that is, so that probably means easy for everyone else), with very few harder exceptions but not enough for me to stop / not finish the game. Recommended!

Invincible Presents: Atom Eve

Definitely for fans of the "Invincible" TV show / comics, this game lets you play as one the titular high-school super hero Atom Eve as she faces her many problems despite possibly being one of the most OP superheroes to exist. The comic art is sharp and your choices can branch the narrative, though combat wise I think as long as you remember to level up it doesn't matter how you expand your skill tree - you'll always have something to tackle the ever more dangerous enemies you fight in turn based mode. The fighting system is decent and will make you think on how to win, but it's actually the weakest part of the game for me. However it's important to note that this covers a lot of the events in the show and comic so be warned. As good a story telling medium this game is, you're still better off watching the first season of the series if you've not yet seen it.