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Archive for the ‘Gamer Genes’ Category

Dungeons, Dragons & Level Up

Posted by Q on December 28, 2009

There’s a bunch of turn-based strategy games which are very close to my black gaming heart. You know, apart from Civ IV. ‘Cuz that’s …(splutters); It’s not all has speed, will kill (in StarCraft). It’s the one with the grey cells. And time. And…anyway, this is not a post on Civ IV. It’s on this bunch of AD&D clones masquerading as gaming nirvana.

Right, onwards then! King’s Bounty: Armored Princess vs Heroes of Might & Magic V

(Also featuring a guest appearance by Jeane D’arc)

Hero Level 1. Check. Slugfest. Check

Okie, so the plot is fundamentally this. There is an <insert Old Kingly Dude> who is in <insert trouble in fantasy land> and only this <insert chick> can save him. So you get the ginormously entertaining task of leveling up your hero from level 1 to level XX till the time she can play the endgame Boss.

You can make her a Warrior or a Paladin/Mage specialist.

Plus you get to play with cool characters, which are of three types:

  1. Le Big Mac (The ones with the highest HP)
  2. Le Mage (Magic Attack ++)
  3. Le Shock Troops (die, f*cker)

Both Games are so nearly identical that it is not funny. Monsters are the same. Levels are the same. Ditto Abilities, spells, dragons and the lot. With one special difference – King’s Bounty has a real-time adventure map, while Heroes has a turn-based adventure map. What’s the difference you ask?

Umm, adjusted for gameplay, about 40 hours, give or take

Seriously, the turn-based adventure map turns me off so much that I haven’t even looked at my hero recently (I am at a shiny level 30 in Heroes V, King’s bounty is at a more sobre 23)

Other than that, ’tis pretty much a le AD&D affair. Which is fun. For people who like it anyway.

Speaking of D&D type games, isn’t it time Lveel-5 released a PC port of Jeanne D’arc. Or any other game for the PSP/PC. Pretty please? For my money, it’s one of the best in JRPG’s out there and (more importantly) it’s on a platform that I own 😉

 

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The incredible time sink known as Armored Princess

Posted by Q on December 26, 2009

King’s Bounty: Armored Princess (henceforth KB:AP) is the kind of game that gamers (RPGers esp.) liken to Farmville on roids. Not that we’re discussing that 32-bit monstrosity here (just so that we’re clear, I do not condone playing farmville, fafville, fishville… whatever. Anyone Caught doing that shall be banished to the legions of snickety kids dual-tapping their way through Petmaster XVII on their Nintendo DSi’s). Anyway, back to our topic.

I’ve been playing KB:AP for about close to 15 hours now. Here’s what hardcore gamers would do if I showed them a screenshot like this

 

 

 

 

I will still persevere. Maybe cause I am a sucker for wasting away my time. Or maybe ’cause games need not be all about me all alone, a box of ammo shells by my side and plenty of cover.

Posted in Gamer Genes, Marginal Benefits | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Top 5: 20/20 in WASD

Posted by Q on December 23, 2009

Everybody has a college gaming story to tell…days spent unkempt & unwashed in front of a 14″ color CRT. You Single Person Shooter chaps, you! Squirreling away those ammo & medi packs. And reloading. Fuck! Sniper!! Duck!! OR those classic RTS tactics, more wood = more Eagle warrirors = Monetuzma is a happy camper. And those (groan!) technology trees.

Ah! Happy times. And all without PixelShader 5.0 or whatever. But Beer, Pizza, grubby keyboard & grubbier system specs are still on!

However, we must speak of the evil still to come. The decade is upon us. Have-blog, must-do-lists. Click-whoring traffic and all that. So without further ado, ta-da (okie, wait for it…)

Top 5: 20/20 in WASD*

aka Top 5 Games which made Q the gamer he is (pretty sucky, akshually)

1. Project IGI

 

And, as the Eagles sing, here’s where it all started. The gaming i.e.. Honestly. Yeah yeah, I know…it’s supposed to be Quake or Doom or Diablo or whatever. But this is my story and I am sticking with it

But anyway, on 20/20 vision, it’s a pretty generic shooter. With the out-of-control Russians as the enemies, (Yes, I know, ve should let Boriss know!!). A voice in the ear guide. Fairly difficult (Edit.-then!) and an insanely tough boss fight (Enya/Anya, I forget the name)

The tricky bit was that there was no way to save game. Yes, no save game. On a final boss mission which was nearly 1 hour long. The only freakin’ way to beat the boss was to modify the .cfg file of other NPC’s so that they won’t bleed your ass so bad. Alternatively, you could sit at your computer for a really long time. Either way, your call

Would I still play it™ = Fuck! No!!

 

2. Max Payne

 

To the game which introduced bullet-time to the world, you don’t just say Yeah! I liked it, you might too. You say which rock were you freakin’ plodding under, to have never heard of Max Payne.

Would I still play it™ = Hell! Yeah!!

(What? Waiting for a review??)

 

 

 

3. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

 

Move over sneaky kids. (sounds of sneaky kids moving)

The grand (clone) dad of all stealth shooters is here!! Yes, I am looking at you Thief (n), Splinter Cell (m), Solid Snake (k). With this concept of ratings after a kill and multiple ways to make that kill happen…mark me for the AAAaaaAAAaaaAAArrrghhh category (yes, I know it’s the name of a new parkour game n all, sue me).

I mean, I got Ninja as a rating. How cool is that 😀

Would I still play it™ = Maybe! Blood Money’s on the money too!!

 

 

4. Serious Sam

 

Sorry, but I need to borrow that AAAaaaAAAaaaAAaaaAAA from before. (Yeah, I know, scraping the sad barrel of borrowed creativity)

But hey! This is Serious Sam guys. The one with THE B-F-G**. Serving Plutonium cannon balls on a platter since 2001©

And those enemies, from the skeletal dogs which don’t seem to get hit by bullets (only ‘cuz their bodies were only skeleton and no tissue and NOT because I am a crap shot), to those massive bulls massing their massiveness in Luxor and the final boss battle (which was pretty tame, or maybe I had toned down the difficulty a bit. Memory fails me at this point)

Would I still play it™ = Dude! I bought Serious Sam (freakin’) HD!! How much more gaming manliness can I exude!!!

 

5. Call of Duty

 

Russian or No Russian, CoD set THE benchmark for smarter AI’s and WWII shooters. Which takes cojones. And game design. And something else also+. I have no idea what, but it is still awesome++

Squad-based shooters have been around for some time (Operation Flashpoint, I am looking at you), but making it into a cohesive single player experience was where CoD made its bucks.

On a related note, wtf was the difference between CoD & Medal of Honor? Don’t ask me

Would I still play it™ = I got no reason to, right? There’s practically no difference between CoD 1/2/3. Unless we get to modern warfare and start killing civies in airports and all that

 

And Cut. It’s a wrap!!

Okie, so we’re all done with the nasties for FPS. We still have to do the best of decade list, which looks at, you know, the actual game, rather than what I remember from the game. And also, that very short retrospective on RTG/TBS (preview – there are just 3 games there). Till then, keep sniveling for medipacks!

 

*WASD is the default movement control keyset of any FPS, but you already knew that, din’t you? Alas for the fleeting moments of artistic cleverness 😦

** B-F-G = Big Fuckin’ Gun

+ If I knew that, i would be running Infinity Ward, wouldn’t i?

++Hey! Did you realize that you almost made through an entire retrospective review without reading the word “awesome” anywhere. Don’t get your panties in a bunch, I am that good 😀

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Blues…

Posted by Q on December 14, 2009

Legend has it that playin’ the Blues  needs some serious satanist mojo!

that being so, where do i sign up? 😀

On a related note, time to get these much-neglected bunch of blogs off the deadpool. Thinking of doing some decade retrospectives. the SFF ones will be over at the PhotonsWithCharacter blog.Keeping my fingers crossed for that

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Warmonger’s Walkthrough for Civilization IV (v2.0) – All Levels

Posted by Q on October 31, 2007

Civ IV victory

In a previous post i had outlined how to get a big brash victory over AI forces Noble and above but Monarch and below modes. After a few more victories in the higher modes, i have a slightly different war plan to share.

first up, this is still a very war-specific approach to CIV, so diplomacy, culture, space and (god-forbid) time-based victory options do not find any mention here. So, let the pillaging begin. Second, i think i have underestimated the power of navies in this

Now, setting up the game

Custom Game:

Map : Ring/Pangea/Team_Battleground/Islands/Lakes/Pangea

Size : Duel/Tiny/Small

Climate : Temperate

Sea-level : High (this means less available land)

Choice of Civ: For a change, it is not Aggressive 😉 Especially, if we have taken up a sea map, water tiles become a good place for generating gold. Also, since the game would extend for a bit, you fill find that you have a big empire which needs to have its maintenance costs low enough to sustain research. And finally, health and happiness will play critical roles, as we shall see in the guide next. So, my choice of leadership qualities, in order of importance is:

  1. Financial (+1 commerce from +2 commerce sites – sea, river plains)
  2. Organized (Civic Upkeep -50%)
  3. Expansive (+2 Health/City)
  4. Aggressive (free Combat I promotion- +3 exp points for Melee & G-powder units)

Now, leader combos can be err..4C2= 6, whose esteemed selves are:

  1. F&O: George Washington (American)
  2. F&E: Queen Victoria (England)
  3. F&A: Huayna Capac (Inca)
  4. O&E: Julius Caesar (Roman)
  5. O&A: Tokugawa (Japan)
  6. E&A: Genghis Khan (Mongols)

A comparison of the Civ Unique Units & Leader special Civ’s

Leader

Special Civ

Diplomatic Ally

Unique Unit

Starting Tech

George Washington Universal Suffrage Frederick, Gandhi, Ashoka Navy SEAL (Marine) Fishing & Agriculture
Queen Victoria Representation Napoleon, Bismark, Cyrus, Ceaser Redcoat
(Rifleman)
Fishing & Mining
Huayna Capac Hereditary Rule Louis XIV, Alexander, Kublai Khan, Catherine, Hatshepsut Quechua
(Warrior)
Agriculture & Mysticism
Julius Caesar Representation Napoleon, Bismark, Cyrus, Ceaser Praetorian
(Swordsman)
Fishing & Mining
Tokugawa Mercantilism ~none~ Samurai
(Maceman)
Fishing & The Wheel
Genghis Khan Police State Peter, Isabella, Montezuma,
Qin Shi Huang
Keshik
(Horse Archer)
Hunting & The Wheel

 

A comparison of the most powerful Unique Units would also be helpful. Eventually, most of your wars in any era would be won by using these units only.

Unique Unit

Replaces

Strength

 

Advantage

Navy SEAL Marine 24 (24) 1 first strike; 1-2 First Strikes
Redcoat Rifleman 16(14) 25% vs Gunpowder Units
Quechua Warrior 2(2) 100% vs Archery Units
Praetorian Swordsman 8(6)  
Samurai Maceman 8(8) 2 First Strikes
Keshik Horse Archer 6(6) 1 first strike

 

The Most powerful unit of its era still remains the Praetorian – for a puny 40 hammers,Praetorian Redcoatyou get one kick arse unit 😉 but yes, the Redcoat is a smiliar unit which can give significant gains. And, it has a similar +2 point heads up over it’s comparative unit (the Rifleman). But, of late, my preference has shifted to the Redcoat. As map sizes become bigger, games take more time to end; consequently Redcoats appear at the right time of conquest for me. The choice of map will eventually dictate whether it’s the Redcoat or the Praetorian that is you battle arms. I’d certainly recommend the Redcoat.

Now, the Technology Tree:

The tech tree will be decided by which Units & Buildings do you want in your Civ. The following are must-haves, IMO:

  1. Oracle (1 free tech)
  2. Pyramids (unlocks all Gov civics)
  3. Parthenon (+50% GP rate in all cities)
  4. National Epic (+100% GP rate in one city)
  5. Heroic Epic (+100% Military Unit prod.)
  6. Great Library (2 free scientists)
  7. West Point (new Mil Units get +4 Exp Points)
  8. Oxford University (+100% research)

On higher difficulty levels, it’d be difficult to get both Pyramids and the Oracle, so i usually concentrate on getting the Oracle, because my end term use for the Pyramid is the same as the Oracle (getting Bureaucracy up and running). Rest, Heroic epic and west point are obvious to any lame-ass duck shooter.

Now, my tech-tree looks something like this:

  1. For chop rushing
    • Mining > Bronze Working
  2. For building the Oracle
    • Mysticism > Polytheism > Priesthood
  3. For building Cottages/Villages/Towns
    • The Wheel > Pottery
  4. For getting to Civil Service using the Oracle
    • Hunting > Animal Husbandry > Writing > Code of Laws > Civil Service (from Oracle)
  5. For Building the Heroic Epic
    • Alphabet > Literature
  6. For building Catapults (for successful sieges)
    • Mathematics > Contruction

This is the time to destroy atleast one Civilization. The idea is to get a Level 4 unit (3 promotions). and 3 successful promotions would also mean more than just killing rampaging barbarians.

>> After getting to CS, enters a consolidation phase in the game. Usually, now i am playing Victoria, so i want to get to my UU Rifleman (Redcoat) asap. so, i set the tech Tree to Rifling. In the meanwhile, i use the Alphabet to get a few tech trades going. This is also the time to start building up a naval capability, so, i make sure that i get Sailing, Optics et al in the kitty too. Basically for the time between 200AD to 800 AD, i am relatively quiet and consolidating for the final 500 year intermittent war period 😀

Choice of Civic

  1. Legal – Bureaucracy – will get +50% hammers & +50% commerce in capital
    • Military Unit Capital (with Heroic Epic & Barracks): +4Exp Points, +150% prod. rate
    • Science Capital (with Parthenon, GL, Oxford Univ): +150% research
  2. Government – Representation – 3 research/sp. & +3 happiness points
    • Should switch to Universal Suffrage as soon as available
  3. Labor – Slavery
    • Nothing much to explain here. Pop Whipping is always great for emergency situations
  4. Economy – Nothing special in here. Choose whichever suits your taste.
  5. ReligionFree Religion
    • Most guides recommend a Theology & Vassalage. I for one, have never found them to provide any significant benefit vis-a-vis the aggressor thing. With a Heroic Epic, you could probably double the number of units and get the same result, without the high upkeep. Not worth it, in my experience.

GP Farm:

Unlike walkthrough v1.0, i am willing to concede that at higher difficulty levels, having a GP farm becomes almost critical for success. To what end you use the GP is totally upto you, i usually prefer settling them in the city and getting their production/gold/research bonuses. For a GP farm, we definitely need the Parthenon & the National Epic. Since the National Epic is a national wonder, you don’t have to worry about anyone beating you to the punch for it…but yes, build one GP farm asap.

City Happiness & Health

Happiness & Health Management is another topic which i didn’t quite dwell on in the last walkthrough. The idea is to have the following buildings in each city

  1. Library
  2. Courthouse
  3. Granary
  4. Barracks (i prefer it, though it is not necessary)
  5. Stupa/Cathedral/Temple (religious buildings giving a happiness boost)

With usual resources available within a city, the default happiness level is 5. After this, religion can add +1, while religious buildings can add +1 more bringing it up to +7.

Fur, Gems, Gold, Ivory – +4 (ancient age)

Incense, Silk, Sugar – +3 (with Calendar)

So effectively, special resources can add up the Happiness Level to 14 . Adding the representation Civic can enhance this to 17. But then, that’s the best case scenario, More often than not, you’ll be stuck at 9 health or somewhere near and will have no option but to whip population to keep your cities under proper production levels.

Health is almost congruent with Happiness, so there is very little difference, just one more PITA before you get on your conquest.

Capital City Blues

The most important City-build question is what to do with your Capital – make it a GP farm, a Mil Unit generator, a commerce/production centre et al. In my experience, the Capital should always be a first choice Mil. Unit Generator. Build the Heroic Epic and choose bureaucracy, and build away to glory! Because this is primarily a Conquest guide, which preferably ends latest by 1800 AD. i have never been in a game after that period. The battles just become tougher and it’s difficult (and more expensive) to maintain a current & relevant stack o’ doom. So, keep it a Mil City and we shall be fine. Also, it never hurts to build a few science/research generating buildings – Library & Observatory etc here, since the +50% bureaucracy boost goes both for production AND research.

That should be all, rest is simple. build up your invincible stack o’ doom and get sieging those pitifully under-defended cities. Carpe Diem!!

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A Conquest Walkthrough for Civilization IV

Posted by Q on October 2, 2007

Civ IVOkie this post clarifies two three things –

a) Civilization IV (Civ IV) is the greatest PC strategy game ever…or, till Civ Revolutions hits the stores 😉

b) Civ IV fanatics forum is better than my weight in gold for info on strategy to play this game

c) (Edit) This guide works till Monarch level, eagerly awaiting to try on Immortal & Deity levels

Now this walkthrough assumes that you are sick and tired of being rated as Dan Quayle, Ethelred the Unready or Warren Harding in most of your peacenik tech-leadership based games (max level would be Noble, if you are lucky) and want to smash a few mental and game-imposed barriers!

So first, take a proper world to showcase your first battle and earn your spurs – Tiny Pangea with Sea Level at High. (the high sea-level makes less land available for all and sundry and hence a much tenser fight)

Second, choice of Civ – Any Aggressive Civ would do, as long as you remember that this game is not about commerce, religion or diplomacy. Whoever would bring a sword to a gunfight would hear appropriate music, obviously 😉 (Though most of the times, it’s actually bringing an archer to a swordfight) Even in aggressive Civs, I favor Julius Caeser ’cause of just one reason – That Praetorian is good for like…forever – till beginning of game to its end-by time (unless you play like a d00fus and end up fighting Riflemen with it)

Third, choice of enemy Civs – If you wanna have a relatively easy time, get Gandhi, Washington & other peace-loving expansive/industrious morons from outer space. These guys would be so far ahead of you in tech, but would have an Axeman & an Archer to fight your mean Praetorian Dirty Dozen. If you want to spice things up, get Isabella (ah! The prettiest woman in Civ IV) or Alexander – totally unreliable aggressive Civs who will try to stab you in the back even though you are their Blood brothers who share their faith.

Fourth – what? Lets get started on our pwnage 😀

Now in-game strategy – Game Speed (normal)

#1 Establish Rome. See, if there is a 3F tile near 1 movement of Settler. If you settle on that tile, worker gets created on the 12th turn rather than on the 15th.

#2 Tech Tree research – Bronze Working>The Wheel |(16 turns)| >

Agriculture (for building up cities)>Metal Casting >

Masonry (in the off-chance that you have Stone/Marble nearby)>Animal Husbandry>Pottery

Now, we get a choice, if the scores indicate that you’re still on top, go for Mysticism(6)>Polytheism(12)>Priesthood(12) to get Oracle and free tech (Code of Laws/Metal Casting). But even otherwise, it’s easy to win, so never worry. Go for Writing>Alphabet and start your technology trade to fill up your non-researched techs.

#3 Production Order (Rome) – W>S>W>B>P>P>P>P>P>P

#4 New Cities – Chop forests. Without discrimination, chop/steal-chop everything you can. Each forest chop would yield 25-30 hammers (pre-mathematics era). Chop Worker 2, chop settler & chop barracks. Wait for Praetorians though. Let the city grow. Also initially, cities need more food to grow rather than hammers from nearby hills. Around Rome, create a forest of farms in the fat cross, till the population increases every 4 turns. New cities can be located on top of special resources, but location also probably depends more on map than any flat rule of thumb. Create road between cities ASAP.

#5 Production Order (Antium et al) – B>W>A>A>A>A (Axemen for a change 😉 they make good defensive units)

#6 Automate workers around 800 BC; keep a couple of them free for chopping requirements.

#7 Create your first army of Praetorians and attack nearest City(s), preferably the aggressive Civs rather than Civs up in the points ladder make more sense to attack. Raze towns, unless you seem to be getting some strategic advantage from it

#8 Try to destroy your first enemy Civilization before 1 AD. Gives a better psychological boost and more importantly, paves way for atleast a triple-promoted (10+ Exp points) unit (which is important for a heroic epic)

#9 Tech Tree Research – Mathematics (trade)>Construction (for War Elephants & Catapults)

Alphabet>Literature (Heroic Epic, +100% prod rate for Mil Units)

Code of Laws>Civil Service (For Macemen which are for your final enemies, circa 1000 AD)

Machinery>Guilds>Gunpowder (for an unlikely endgame where you have to use riflemen to clean up your mess)

#10 Make your stack o’ doom and go killing. Destroy a Civ in phases – Kill 2 cities – hold – recover – Peace – Kill again (repeat till Civ rolls over its back). ‘Course, always keep a lookout for game maths and chances of success. In all your battles, the game probability score might be wrong about 4 % of the time (if the difference is less than 1 between the attacker & defender and less than once in a while if the difference is greater than 1)

And you should be done! Any halfway decent AI can never make you sweat over this esp on smaller maps. On larger maps, you just have to hold out till you’ve built the West Point and/r built/conquered the Pyramid/Pyramid-making Civ. The important thing to realize here is that this game is really short, you haven’t really made a GP-farm (great person) and you haven’t divided your cities into Commerce/Science cities, but it would still hold good for Domination/Conquest victories. And as any halfway enthusiastic Civ player knows, winning in style in CIv IV beats anything else.

The author wishes all budding CIv IV players a happy ending 😉 with Augustus Caesar for company 😉 😉

 

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