Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category.

Some Gaming News

A few random notes on computer games for those who share that interest:

  1. For those Diablo fans who loved Diablo II but were disappointed that Diablo III was not exactly the sequel they'd hoped for, I have a suggestion:  Path of Exile from Grinding Gear Games.  It is set up as an mmrpg (so you have to be online to play) but it plays just fine single player and all the map areas are dedicated instances such that you aren't fighting other players for kills and loot drops.  The skill tree is famously enormous.  A certain group of you will buy the game 2 minutes after clicking on the next link (I did).   Here is the whole tree, it is absurd (the highlighted areas are the selections for one of my characters).  The customization ability is simply staggering.   Choosing a class like fighter or mage (they have different names in this game, but essentially these base classes) just changes your starting point on this map.  But this is not the end of the customization.  There is also an elaborate skill gem system where your attack and defense skills are based on your gem choices, both the main gems and support gems one adds to it.  Seriously, the actual combat is not much more elaborate than the debuff then hack and slash and loot drop of other Diablo style games, but this game has more ability to fine tune and experiment with character design than any I have ever played.
  2. My absolute favorite, by far, board game has finally come out as a PC game -- Twilight Struggle.  It is on Steam and I can't yet fully recommend it because I have not played through all the way online.  I am told the AI needs to be tougher but it should be fine for noobs.  There is also online person to person play.  I love the gameplay and it has also been a platform for my son and I to have a lot of discussions about recent history.  If you are a total noob, here are a few lessons for the Soviet player (which I have the most experience playing)
    • The Soviets have to rush.  The game has three periods, and you have big advantages in period 1 and disadvantages in period 3.  You HAVE to build up a lead early or you are toast later on.  I have seen a 15 point lead evaporate in the last third of the game.  The best outcome is to win the game outright by the smear rule (20 point lead) by turn 7.
    • Your first move is to coup Iran.  Asia is yours in the early game if you succeed.  The only alternative is to first turn coup in Italy, but that is a riskier strategy and can only be justified if your first turn hand is really tuned to that approach.
    • Coup every turn ASAP.  Coups are your most powerful weapon (other than events) and couping first thing every turn denies that ability to the US
    • The space race is for dumping your worst cards, not an end in and of itself (always exceptions, of course).  Twilight Struggle's best dynamic is how you end up with your opponents cards in your hand that you end up having to play for them-- the space race is one way to dump the worst of these cards (e.g. grain sales to the Soviets).  Since the cards you can play become more restricted as you advance in the space race track, there are even some advantages to failing your rolls early on.
    • If you play the China card, it needs to be for a BIG goal - like improving your scoring of Asia right before you play the Asia scoring card.  In many cases, it is better to not play the China card at all than to have it pass to the Allies.
    • Cards that allow you to play influence on any country should be used to get access to places where you have no adjoining influence -- don't use it to add to existing influence or enter countries to which you already are adjacent.   This is the only way in initially to places like South America and much of Africa..  Decolonization is your friend.
    • Learn to love this site.  Not only does it give you a LOT of strategy, but it also answers complex card interaction questions for every card.

OK, Stat Geeks, Here is A Really Nerdy Game For You

Guess the Correlation

That's it.  They plot a distribution, you guess the correlation in the form of R.  If you are close, you keep going.  Too many misses and its game over.  Via Flowing Data.  Played around with it a bit, high score at 52 now.



Poof. There Goes My Free Time

The new installment in the Civilization computer game series is out.  This review dings it a bit for being too like the last installment (Civ 5), but I am sure I will like it because I still evidence addictive behavior whenever I go back to Civ 5.  Just one more turn....  After how badly the Sim City franchise has been trashed in recent installments, I will take a Civ game that is safely similar to the old Civ games.  Though my life, the Civilization game series is probably second only to having children in terms of sucking up my free time.

Missed This When It Came Out, But Very Cool

App Addictions of the Day

My kids are working to waste large swathes of my time by introducing me to addictive games

2048, via my daughter

QuizUp, via my son

Those are the quickies.  For more serious gaming on the iPad, I have been playing a bunch of euro-style board game ports, including Lords of Waterdeep, Agricola, Eclipse, Dominant Species, Small World, Ticket to Ride.    All recommended.  I have heard rumors of iOS apps for Dominion and 7 Wonders, two of my current favorite board games, but I have seen anything appear.  Board Game Geek has an iOS blog (beware, the format is uglier than a geocities page).  I downloaded Pandemic but have not played it.  There are also ports of Carcasonne and Settlers of Catan but neither of those are my favorites.

I have also enjoyed the port of Baldur's Gate II to the iPad.  This is still, perhaps with Neverwinter Nights 2, the best AD&D rules RPG for the computer.  The only problem with Baldurs Gate is the graphics on the PC are dated, but they work fine on the iPad.  I downloaded a Master of Orion port the other day but have not tried it yet.

But for REAL time wasting, I look forward to this fall when there is apparently a new version of Civilization / Alpha Centauri coming out.  Trying to have my desk cleared before then.

+1 For Twilight Struggle

I have written before about how much I enjoy the physical board game Twilight Struggle.  This is not really going out on a limb, since it has occupied the #1 spot at BoardGameGeek for a while.  But over the last 3 months my son and I became totally addicted.  He is at college, but we played online via the terrific Twilight Struggle add-on in the VASSAL gaming engine  (all free).  Very highly recommended.