Thursday, December 11, 2014

I've Been Playing Games and Having Fun...Mostly

It's been a while.  Things have been busy in RL.  When they aren't, things have been busy in WoW.  When they aren't, things have been busy in other games.  You get the gist of it.  Things are calming down more and hopefully I will be able to start getting out a post or two per week, at least.

Today's post is really just going to be more of a taste of upcoming stuff that I'll be posting about (and a recap of some of the things I've been doing).  These are listed in no particular order, mind you.

World of Warcraft
You may not have heard, but there was a new expansion released about a month ago called Warlords of Draenor.  Things are generally going well overall right now, guild is 7/7 normal and 6/7 heroic on two nights a week.  We'll be starting Mythic this upcoming Sunday.

First of all, Draenor is beautiful.

And I mean that.

Did I mention it was pretty yet?


All right, nearly done.

Last one incoming!

Suffice to say I really, really do not understand how people complain about WoW's graphics.  Sure, it's not photorealistic...but does that mean that animated movies like Monsters, Inc, Frozen, etc have terrible graphics?  We're in a world of magic and dragons -- sure, it should look GOOD but I don't see why it really needs to look REALISTIC.

On the non-graphical side, some of the stuff near launch was a bit...wonky.  Like this quest:

Uh...yeah...he's totally gone.  Right.  Moving right along... a rather overzealous Postmaster.

Thanks, Postmaster.  You make us proud.

Then I had another fun issue.  Being the lore nut that I am, I did every quest in every zone as I leveled (or tried to, at least, apparently I did miss a few along the way).  This resulted in me hitting level 100 in Spires of Arak and still wearing mostly SoO mythic gear since even an item with a few more ilevels didn't outweigh the enchants and sockets on the SoO gear.

I knew heroic dungeons required 610 ilvl to queue, though obviously you could walk in on foot if needed, so I decided to go and do some normal dungeons for 615 gear.  Slight problem: you apparently needed 600 ilvl to queue for NORMALS.

Well, I remembered that you needed Silver Proving Grounds as well to queue for heroics, so I figured I'd go and see how difficult that was.

That led to this:

Well then.

Needless to say, I was not very happy with the situation (note that while Proving Grounds does scale with your gear (more health with higher ilvl) it does not scale below 615 -- and I was 27 ilvls below that).

What wound up happening is that I manually walked straight into HEROICS with my guild at <590 ilvl.  I'm 650ish ilvl now and have still never done a normal dungeon at max level.  Blizzard has since lowered the required ilvl to 595 to queue and presumably most people would have some gear from Nagrand (or be using the slightly higher ilvl pieces I discarded due to them being worse than mythic SoO gear) so it's less of an issue now...but it was still pretty stupid.

Speaking of dungeons, we were also doing the daily Challenge Mode for 640 gear.  Some of the bosses were a bit crazy, notably the second boss in Skyreach.

Yes, that is 37.5k HPS sustained for the fight.  Fun times.

One of the benefits of doing Challenge Modes early on was getting the Feat of Strength (and thus unique title) for realm best times, sometimes because we WERE the very first group to complete it.

And my favorite one...

Along the way we also picked up all Silvers without too much trouble, leading to...

Those yetis are HUGE!

In total we managed seven realm best times out of the eight dungeons -- some group had gotten a pretty good time in Skyreach and that's the only one we didn't want to dedicate the time to getting quite yet.  And a personal goal of mine is to possess the Lord of Blackrock title again -- it's my favorite of the titles (though most of my group seems to prefer Grimrail Suplexer).

Last but not least on the WoW front, sometimes we see interesting things on Garrison missions.


Civilization V
I've also been playing Civilization V a bit (a lot), though I'm past the initial craze and more interested in playing with friends at this point.  For those not aware, Civ V is what's called a 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate).  You start with a simple settler and some warriors with clubs and try to leverage that into an empire while advancing through human history.  You don't necessarily need to win by fighting and can indeed sometimes avoid fighting at all -- can win through domination, culture, science, or diplomacy.  It's turn based as well which is interesting to adjust to and also makes it more about good strategy than APM -- which means if you struggle with playing SC2, for example, because it seems like there's too much going on at once, you might particularly love Civ V.

I've been playing this with a variety of people including half a dozen people in my guild, Stubborn, and Talarian.  Fun times.  One game I was playing with a RL friend (his first time out of the tutorial) resulted in me deciding to go culture focused.  The results:

I realize that doesn't mean much to people not familiar with Civ V, but believe me when I say that is an INSANE amount of culture/tourism.  I bet Stubborn is feeling rather jealous at the moment.

I am also playing a single player game a bit in an effort to improve my earlier warfare -- I'm quite good once artillery and planes arrive on the scene but am less comfortable with going on the offensive early on.  So I decided to pick up the Mongols and give that a whirl (as you might guess, they have some bonuses towards trying to dominate during the medieval period -- specifically a ranged Knight unit called the Keshik which specializes in hit and run attacks).  My offensive spree went well, conquered half the world during the Keshik's prime period, then I sat back to rebuild my economy and consolidate my holdings.

Unfortunately, Austria decided they weren't happy with my taking their capital earlier and declared war on me.  They brought hordes of Calvary, Riflemen, Cannons, and Gatling Guns.  And my half dozen Keshiks were half the globe away.

Yes, that's 15 military units plus a Great General while my army of half a dozen Keshiks were down in the south middle of the map.  I guess they figured they could take their time and try to surround my capital to try to avoid unneeded losses by zerging it immediately.  That was a bad idea on their part.

Four turns later, my Keshik's arrive (hurry for having 2.5 times the movement of most units due to being mounted and a Mongol special ability -- and then having a good road system to improve their movement even further).

Yes, I am going against Riflemen, Calvary (with rifles), Gatling Guns, and Cannons with archers on horseback.  It's hardly fair...TO AUSTRIA.

The result five turns later.  Never bring a rifle to a bow fight, sheesh.

To be clear, I was able to do these for three main reasons.  One, Keshiks.  Two, Keshiks have a special ability that makes them earn experience 50% faster, and gaining experience lets you gain promotions to improve the unit (such as attacking twice in one turn, 15% bonus for fighting on a certain terrain type, gaining an extra range, etc) -- which meant my Keshiks had something like the following:
  • 45% more damage to targets in rough terrain
  • 45% more damage to targets in open terrain
  • Attack twice
  • +1 range
  • Heal every turn even while attacking
  • 66% more defense versus ranged attacks

That's a total of 11 promotions right there -- which takes a very, very long time to rack up (3 experience per bow shot, need 10 XP for first promotion, another 20 for second promotion, a further 30 for third promotion, etc).  Good thing I used those Keshiks to conquer the world with their experience bonuses so they had all those bonuses.  If I trained a new Keshik with experience providing training buildings it would start with like...

  • 30% more damage to targets in rough terrain

So you can see there's a *slight* difference there.

Also, the third reason?  Keshiks.

(In all fairness, the Khan (Mongol special great general) also helped a lot -- Great Generals give combat bonuses to nearby units and Khans are mounted and can thus keep up with the Keshiks, unlike a standard Great General).

I do want to point out that at the next tier of units the Keshiks would simply not be strong enough -- they'll get slaughtered by Great War Infantry, Landships, and Great War Bombers (think WWI stuff).  But during the Mongols heydey, they wreck.  And thus the idea of the Mongols is to use those units to get a massive advantage while Keshiks are relevant in order to win long term.  Other civilizations, such as Korea, get large science bonuses.  Others, like Egypt, get bonuses to building world wonders.  Etc.  While a few civilizations are just flat out weaker and a few are basically god tier, most of them are pretty balanced in their own unique way -- if you take advantage of their bonuses at the appropriate time.

Final thing -- I picked up some extra copies of Civ V Complete at 75% off during the Steam Thanksgiving sale.  If anyone is seriously interested in playing it (as in will actually play it and not "Oh, I'll fiddle around with it for fifteen minutes or maybe just let it sit in my Steam library and never actually touch it") then I'd be happy to send you one of the copies.  Can play single player or multiplayer, I just want you to actually play it!  Can email me about that.

Neverwinter Nights
I've also been playing NWN a little bit, shocking news.  It's also on sale again right now, so if you email me while it remains on sale I'll get you a copy to promote the game -- I WANT more people to be playing it!  I'd sing its praises more but you have that link if you want to read about it.

Mainly been working my way through the Darkness Over Daggerford custom campaign: "To many, the town of Daggerford is of little consequence. To others, however, it is of immeasurable value. The nearby great cities of Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate would do well to look over their shoulders at what is brewing in this once sleepy town. Prepare to delve into the dark mysteries surrounding Daggerford..."

You start as a somewhat experienced adventurer (level 8) and work to unravel the dark plots surrounding the town and threatening the region.

While the game is certainly older at this point, it still looks more than good enough for me to enjoy it.

I also played the custom module "Small Village Woes," which was a lot of fun and I hope to make a post proper about it in the near future.  Note that there are dozens of custom campaigns which are quite good (in addition to the three official campaigns which range from decent to good) and at least half a dozen campaigns which are much BETTER than the official campaigns (and better than Dragon Age, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect, or Mass Effect 3).

Starcraft 2
I also usually play SC2 once every week or two with a friend -- we play with him having an AI ally two levels of difficulty above an AI ally of my own and we see how it goes.  I usually win anyway but he's managed to pull off some wins and is getting better.  Happy to play some games with people if they so feel inclined.


I'm pretty sure this is longer than War and Peace at this point, but that's what I've been up to lately.  Hope it was at least interesting reading about it and cross your fingers for more regular posts going forward.

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