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About Arathain

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  1. Episode 460: Looking Ahead to 2019

    Slightly off topic, but Rob was expressing his love of giant spaceships delivering broadsides. I have been surprised and delighted by Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2. The first game was neat, but felt fiddly and opaque. This, while fundamentally the same game, has had some thoughtful system and interface tweaks, and a delightful, rich, and visually spectacular RTS has emerged. It's complex, because those ships are modeled in considerable detail and have a lot of different things they can do, but those options more often than not feel meaningful and powerful. To reference something that the team said about Battletech, it's very much a game of attrition, a slugging match in which your capabilities degrade over time, but careful play ensure the enemies deplete faster. Also, if having your flagship make a short range warp jump across the battlefield, crashing out of the warp in a perfect broadside and burning the engine hard for a fast turn so you can fire the guns on your other side, while boarding parties streak across the void between the two ships while you watch from the perfect angle.... doesn't appeal then I can't help you. Also, props to Tindalos for the faction diversity available on release. When you have all the races present, several of whom have two or three distinct sub-factions, it doesn't feel like anything was held back for DLC.
  2. Duelyst

    No, there are many very powerful and important neutral minions in Hearthstone. Class specific minions tend to be a bit more powerful on average, but it's extremely rare not to have some neutral minions in a deck. Besides, some neutral minions do something so specific there's no substitute class specific minion.
  3. Duelyst

    Thanks, I enjoyed the episode. I've bounced off Duelyst a couple of times now- either I get a bit bored grinding the AI to unlock starter cards, or I get frustrated at one of the puzzles and assume I'm not going to be any good at the game. I'll try to get playing against some people. I've read enough praise of the game that I can be sure it's worth pushing through the initial barriers. To clarify something you were wondering about Hearthstone, rarity works very similarly to how you describe it in Duelyst. Rarer cards are not generally more powerful, but rather tend to do something a bit more exotic. There are plenty of legendary cards that are total trash, and plenty of commons that are staples. However, you correctly identify the way ranked play works- for any given expansion the community rapidly identifies the viable decks for each class, and if you don't have the cards to make those decks ranked is a very frustrating place indeed. You can craft cards in exactly the way you describe for this game, although that's a slow process if you need epics and legends. I prefer Hearthstone's draft mode, Arena, which requires a different set of skills. The menu suggests Duelyst also has a draft mode that I can't access yet- is that correct?
  4. I was born in Northern Ireland in 1980, so I'm British enough to catch a lot of it, although my political awakenings had... a different emphasis, shall we say. Still, I remember the absurdly, deliberately over wrought 2000AD style. There's a strangeness to Warhammer. I agree that an inability to take itself seriously is core, and the only way the grimdark is even palatable. On the other hand, the thing that makes the absurdity so powerful is that, on a deep level, it does take itself seriously, at least in fleshing out the lore to a depth and breadth that is itself absurd. It's a puzzle box, and as you turn it about, you see that every part of it interlocks, and that every part is silly and serious, beautiful and ugly, all at the same time. This paragraph makes no sense because Warhammer makes no sense, but goshdarnit, it works. The humour in DoW2 comes out in full force in the multiplayer, by the way. The Orks are very funny, because that's part of their job, but there's tons of funny moments scattered throughout the voice lines for the other races.
  5. I don't entirely understand what you mean by this, although I think I have the edges of it. There's a dialogue in the first DoW2 campaign that has stuck with me as being very Warhammer indeed. Assault Sergeant Thaddeus, the youngest squad leader of the group, complains of feeling increasingly emotionally drained and deadened after a fight, so that he only feels truly alive in combat. I paraphrase strongly but two other veteran sergeants say something like "Oh, that. Don't worry, that's just the last of your humanity being burned away." This is from Tarkus, a calm, almost robotic tactician, and Avitus, who can only really feel anger and rage. I loved that they took a moment to show just how messed up a Space Marine really is, even as the game exalts you as heroes.
  6. Thanks for the reply! I was being light hearted; I hope that's clear. Your criticisms are accurate. For me, the combat was decent enough to keep me entertained, and I loved the atmosphere and all around stompiness. You should be glad you didn't stick around long enough for the totally unexpected and surprising Chaos invasion, since Chaos Marines were much less fun to fight than Orks. Here's to garbage games we happen to like.
  7. My goodness, Fraser, you're awfully wrong about Space Marine. Who cares if its linear? It's a lovely linear booted ork stomp. The shooting feels perfectly nice and the melee combat is gratuitously entertaining, and just complex enough to be satisfying. It's a not a great game, but it is a good one. I love how weighty Captain Bluepants feels. Stomp stomp stomp stomp. There are two Warhammer games that occupied a considerable chunk of my time in the past. Bloodbowl, in its excellent and free JavaBowl version (how that never got a cease and desist I really don't know), was the first. I love Blood Bowl. You need to be a certain type of person- specifically, the sort of person who doesn't defenestrate their monitor when their best player dies from tripping over their own feet. If you love the stories that tasty spicy dice rolling can give you then you'll find a very deep, varied and skillful game behind it all. I've rabbtited on about Dawn of War 2 multiplayer in this forum a few times. It will likely forever be the foremost object of my affection in multiplayer RTSs, even though I am not likely to ever play it again. I loved the scale, I loved the pace, I loved the escalation, and I loved the unit design to pieces. Valorian is exactly right about the voice work. Similar to Company of Heroes, it's thematic, entertaining, skillfully acted and very informative.
  8. Episode 367: Bite-sized Strategy

    Excellent discussion. I enjoyed it. It's very relevant to my life and my experiences. My own personal game for a quick, satisfying experience is Hearthstone. Short matches, decision rich, card collecting adds a progression element. I don't think I could recommend it to a new player, though. Just too expensive or time consuming to get a half-way decent card collection. For a chunky snack of a game in the RTS mold, I'd like to suggest Infested Planet. It's exciting and tense, with plenty of ebb and flow, and lots of scope for trying out different tactics and experimentation. A game probably won't last longer than 20 minutes or so. I hear Invisible Inc., but as I've found with it and XCOM it's hard to finish a whole campaign. Sure, you can do a mission in a reasonable space of time, but I might not be able to get back to it for a while, and I quickly lose the momentum I need to keep the campaign rolling. I'd like to throw in Abbey Game's Renowned Explorers. An expedition provides a nice amount of game, and a campaign is 4 or 5 expeditions, so you have a reasonable expectation of playing it through. It's a fantastic, clever game, which helps. I think this is very insightful. I think I'm seeing some common elements in games that work, at least for me. Looking at Hearthstone, FTL, Atom Zombie Smasher, Flotilla, Infested Planet and Renowned Explorers: - Medium intensity level- engaging without being exhausting, but requiring thoughtfulness. - Colourful, and pleasant to look at, clear and easy to read. - Use of random elements to provide variety. This one stands out to me. FTL has random encounters and equipment. Atom Zombie Smasher chooses your squads for you. Infested Planet procedurally generates maps and aliens mutate randomly. All the above titles have random elements that go beyond rolling to succeed at a task (like Tharsis). These games can be more engaging when we don't quite know what we're going to encounter, and have to adapt to what we find. Our short play session contains surprise, and our decisions become important. Any other common features?
  9. Speaking as someone who hasn't seen lots of core cultural touchstones, and who can trend toward the badge of honour attitude, Alien is one of those movies you should make an exception for. It's amazing, and there's nothing like it. I'd watch it secretly and just not tell anyone.
  10. I find Invisible Inc. quite hard to play because of this. Since everything is deterministic, and the situations your agents find themselves in are complex, your play needs to be very carefully considered. Plus, if you screw up, there's no random numbers to blame- it's all on you. The ever increasing alarm level means conservative play is eventually heavily punished, so don't think you can just take it easy. I sometimes end up staring at a tough room for a while then just save and walk away. Too much pressure to be perfect. Whereas in XCOM, another turn based game with complex situations and hefty consequences for failure I don't have nearly as much problem. Eventually I have to roll the dice and take the shot, and leaving part of the outcome to the digital dice means I don't feel as bad when things go wrong.
  11. I'm glad you mentioned Civilisation during the talk about gaming addictions- that was the game that was in my head before you mentioned it. Addiction is a loaded word, and perhaps misused here. My point of view is that there are two reasons you might be engaging in extended play sessions, or playing a game to the exclusion of other games or activities. The positive reason is that it is compelling, the negative that it is compulsive. A compelling experience holds you because you are excited about what comes next. Perhaps a story beat, or another vista to explore. Maybe you want the satisfaction of completing a difficult challenge, or you are driving yourself to improve your ability to compete online. A compulsive experience taps into the lizard brain that likes to see numbers go up. Grinding to an arbitrary level cap, so that you can improve your ability to grind some more. Gambling elements, like loot crates. This is all very personal, of course. What's compulsive for you might be compelling for me. Compulsive gaming can be its own treat if it doesn't squeeze out important things- I love me some Diablo 3 once in a while. Still, we know from the mobile market that developers willing to forgo compelling experiences for purely compulsive ones can go to pretty dark places, such as developing titles to milk whales. Civ is such a good example of the complexity. Why are you hitting next turn at 1 AM? Is it because you're three turns away from getting knights onto the field to crush Montezuma and firm up your relationship with Catherine the Great? Or is it because you're comfortably playing out a familiar victory track? When you start playing, Barracks or Granary can seem like a fascinating decision, but 50 hours later you know what the right answer is for this and 90 % of the choices you'll make.
  12. Episode 355: Stellaris

    Sword of the Stars has some wonderfully diverse alien species. There's a lot of good sci-fi writing and conceptualisation that went into each of them, and it informs how each of them plays. While they're not as inhuman as they might be, they all have societies with very distinct character, without removing the role of individuality within them. I like the ant-like insect hive race- there's no hive mind or non-sentient drones. Even the lowliest worker is a sentient individual, albeit one tending towards fierce loyalty. They make art. They get drunk on human cheese. The telepathic whale species go through a social ritual viewed as being like death when they become spacefaring. They're pacifistic until they decide someone else lacks compassion, at which point they'll use any means to wipe them out. There are strange leftovers from earlier times. These range from annoying obstacles to monstrous entities that threaten all the races. Those tend to have very obscure past and motivations. The Peacekeeper, for example, is a huge, massively powerful ship that can zip just about anywhere in a turn. It shows up for fights and destroys both participants, when it's not tracking down the biggest fleet and destroying that. It's stay for a good few turns, then leave, and you don't know when it'll show up again.
  13. The thing about Diablo 2 is that it's not about building a character at all. It's about filling out a build; about constructing a machine for killing monsters out of a limited set of parts. That's fine, and satisfying when it's going well, but without looking up optimised builds online it's easy to build yourself into a dead end, and be unable to effectively progress up the difficulty levels. Of course, if you're looking it up, it's not really yours anymore, and so isn't as satisfying to create. Diablo 3's solution was bold and brilliant. You can change your skills at any time, and this goes further than fixing the issue above. It encourages tinkering. You can change any time- and you do! Leveled up? Try out the new skills you just unlocked. Having a tough time? Maybe swap out a couple of skills, or throw out your build and start again. The way items play into this is great. You find a cool armour piece that gives you a 15% bonus to fire skills, so you go looking through your skills to see which ones do fire damage, and then you fit your other skills around those. You do lose that sense of permanence and progression, but what you get instead is a great big toy box you can rummage around in whenever you want. And funnily enough, my oldest character has grow into a build that is mostly stable, based on a few powerful items that I've never found an upgrade for, that gives me a playstyle that I like.
  14. Every campaign turn you get to undertake two missions. If there's a story mission available you have to do that one first. Otherwise you get to see the map of the sector, and any planet with a mission will be flagged with the faction you'll oppose. That could be any of the four, since Imperial sedition is something you have to deal with. Fail the mission or don't take it and you lose the planet. For each planet you lose you take a small penalty, depending on what sort of world it it, meaning your task becomes harder as the sector starts to slip away from you. The story involves trying to stop a Chaos lord from getting sufficient MacGuffins to Make A Bad Thing Happen. You can fail these and continue on, with Chaos closer to their goal. There's definitely a large premium on reliability, as far as I can see. I tried an Imperial fleet themed around lances, big beams that always hit and treat all armour as light. That fleet did great, easily winning fights without major losses. I then went the other way, relying on torpedos and strike craft. That fleet got wrecked without feeling like it did a whole lot in return. Would it be different if I was better at aiming my torps? Maybe, but I'm not sure I want to make all that effort.
  15. I agree with the panel's view on the game. It is a fun spectacle, I just wish I understood what was going on. I really want that post battle breakdown. Example: the first light cruiser the Imperial get is the Dauntless Mk. 1. It has broadside cannons and a forward facing beam weapon. Is it worth telling the ship to fight facing forward to maximise the beam damage, or are the cannons putting out the damage? No idea. There's a Dauntless Mk. 2. It replaces the beam with a torpedo launcher that has to be carefully microed. Is it worth the attention and maneuvering required? That's fleet maneuvers, since torps do friendly fire. Don't know.