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Everything posted by Arathain

  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.
  16. Idle Weekend May 6, 2016: Top This

    On Dawn of War 3: I know the increase in scope and scale over DoW2 is what a lot of folk want, but I'm a little sad. DoW2 was a fascinating project, and was really three games in one. There was the single player, which was a real time tactical RPG in RTS clothes. There was the co-op, which was a three player hero based horde mode with neat progression. Then there was the competitive multiplayer, a more standard RTS- Company of Heroes in space. I loved the multiplayer. I loved it because it had a reduced scope and scale; you would field a small number of squads, each beautifully designed and realised, stuffed full of character. The battles were full of action and spectacle, but at a managable scale, where quick reflexes might be a help, but thoughtful positioning and use of abilities would grant the advantage. I worry so much of that delicious nuance is lost when you go for bigger and more. On Overwatch as a teacher: For a rather unforgiving game, I think Overwatch goes out of its way to teach. Seeing your opponent's point of view when they kill you is useful, as is the play of the game show that concludes a match- you can see successful play demonstrated, and get a sense of where you went wrong. I love that you get character specific tips when you die, and I've learned some nuance from those tips. Even the notes that pop up when you're building a team 'No support' 'Too many snipers' 'Low team damage' are fantastic- most teams I play with are actually well balanced.
  17. Since Ruse is to all intents and purposes no more, I'll remember it here. Ruse was the first online multiplayer RTS I ever got into, having been a fan of the genre for years. The game was one of the first to do an open multiplayer beta, and I was sufficiently curious about the game to overcome my trepidation. I was expecting to lose every game, but to my delight I found myself winning from the get-go. I found a game whose units behaved in intuitively understandable ways, and whose pace was not so fast as to require high APM while remaining exciting. Thoughtful play and prediction was rewarded with success. I didn't actually buy Ruse, getting drawn instead into Company of Heroes Online, and eventually finding my way to Dawn of War 2, a delightful RTS that I played happily for some time. I did buy a couple of entries in the Wargame series, though. Airland Battle is a remarkable work, although I never found the courage to play that online. Sometimes trying something you're wary of pays off in a big way. Thanks, Ruse. I didn't realise X-Wing: Alliance didn't sell. That's a shame. It was a fine game. The sequences where you fly your family weren't always the best, since the Falcon-lite you flew wasn't as fun as a Rebel fighter, but the variety was solid. I loved starting off in the bay of a cruiser seeing the battle raging outside, and launching out to take part. Did X-WIng vs TIE Fighter do that well? That one had a multiplayer focus in a time where most of us used 56k modems. Rather before it's time, I always though.
  18. Episode 343: XCOM 2

    I think we can agree that XCOM 2 is going be confusing for a first time player. There are quite a number of different resources and rewards. A given resource can be used for different things; Intel to expand or visit the Black Market; engineers to clear, build or man stations; supply for a million different things. You mostly find out what everything does by clicking around menus and trying things. On the other hand, all your choices are meaningful, and not necessarily wrong, since there are multiple routes to get to the same place. Chose the engineer but not the supply? You'll make supply back by clearing rooms. Chose the intel over the scientist? The black market can speed up your research. I think the game is more cleverly designed than a lot of people are realising. I believe, at least at the medium skill level, any choice made with purpose (rather, even, than experience) can be made to work fine, and provides multiple paths through the game. Perhaps some of it is anxiety from the previous game, where there were a great many wrong choices. And the game deliberately works at creating anxiety- resources always feel scarce and the clock keeps ticking.+
  19. Episode 343: XCOM 2

    I agree, as does just about everyone, that the strategic layer does not explain itself well. However, I do get confused when a bunch of folk I know to be smart and knowledgeable miss a major mechanic of a game they are playing. There should have been a pop up explaining Intel. There should be a UFOpedia telling you how you get it and what you spend it on. But look, whenever you contacted a region there was a pop up telling you the Intel cost. Things at the Black Market are priced in Intel. You are told when a mission will give it to you. You're told radio towers decrease the Intel cost of contacting cells. It's one of the resources displayed at all times in the top right of the strategic layer. If running out of it caught you off guard, trying to spend it not knowing you needed it that has to be because you didn't read a whole bunch of stuff that was presented to you. Not in the most friendly, digestible way, sure. But it was always there. This is one of those times we miss manuals. There would have been a big section on Intel. I mean it about the UFOpedia. The mechanics are not all that complex, and could be broken down concisely.
  20. Great podcast. Always nice to hear from Tom Chick. On spectating fighting games: I am a perennial incompetent at FGs. They are typically aggressively unwilling to teach you how to play them properly, so they really have to be taught, I feel. I have spent some time trying, and I cannot master the timing of even simple combos in Street Fighter 4. All respect to those who can manage the execution required under the pressure of competitive play. I love watching high level play, though. I may never understand all the nuance at play, a grasp of the fundamental principles is all I need to appreciate the spectacle and the genius that good players display. FGs have the intricate positioning elements of chess, the gambling and mind-reading of poker, all at the speed of fencing. Each character has a certain position they want to be in versus that of their opponent, and certain options from each position (with better positions having more, stronger options). Each player has to predict the option their opponent will pick to be able to execute a correct response in time. Safe pokes and pressure are used to manipulate the position of your opponent, and the state of their mind. I thoroughly recommend watching some SFIV games from the Evo tournament. SFIV is a clean, easy to read game devoid of huge combo strings (like Marvel vs Capcom, say). You'll quickly pick up the flow of the game, even if you miss the specifics. I don't think it takes that long to reach a point where you can be entertained, and dig a little deeper and you can see some of gaming's great artists at work.
  21. Episode 342: Satellite Reign

    Transistor captures lots of different elements. One of its triumphs is weaving together so many thematic strands seamlessly. We get the noir you often see in cyberpunk, the world as a system to be subverted with intelligence and technology, the total integration of tech into daily life, utopia made dystopia by greed... Ultimately citing influences is more useful than seeing if a label fits. Great episode, by the way.
  22. Ahh, you're talking about the Last Stand . That's a three player horde mode. It's heaps of fun. Not what I was talking about, though- there's a somewhat more traditional multiplayer mode based on Company of Heroes multiplayer- capture points to get resources to build and upgrade squads and vehicles, hold victory locations to win.
  23. Rowan, dear fellow, you owe it to yourself to give Company of Heroes or Dawn of War 2 another try. CoH in particular, merely masquerades as a base building RTS- the base building part is nicely stripped down such that'll it'll never trip you up once you know where to get your units from. The game is firmly focused on making meaningful tactical decisions out on the field, with skirmishes happening from minute one onwards. Units are rich in character and tactical possibility, and the game rewards good positioning, unit preservation and creative use of abilities. It even has that slower pace of combat you liked so much about H:DoK. Dawn of War 2 removes the base building all together, and it's no loss at all. I'd be a little slower to recommend it because the single player and the multiplayer are such different games, what with the single player being an RTS inspired action RPG and all. The multiplayer is my favourite RTS ever, hands down, but you need real people to play with- the skirmish AI is not just bad, but actively not fun to play against.* Anyway, if you can find someone to play with you get 6 very diverse races stuffed with the best units ever created for an RTS. Oh, and each of those races can be played in very different ways. What? Topic? Oh. I will say that this podcast knocked the game up on my radar considerably. I'm not sure it's going to displace XCOM 2 but it went right on my wishlist. *It doesn't know how to fight at all, so it mostly doesn't. It does know where you can see and where you can't, so it avoids your line of sight and sneaks around uncapping all your points. Do you like playing capture point whack a mole against a coward? Because I don't.
  24. Episode 337: 2015 Wrap-up

    Fun episode, thanks. Nice to hear a shout out for Heroes of the Storm, which has been heaps of fun all year for me. It's strange for me to hear it described as a simple, pick-up-and-play game, though. I mean, it only looks simple next to Dota and LoL, which are massively arcane and complex games. It's still 5 on 5 hugely varied characters (each of whom can be talented in different ways) on a complex map with multiple objectives, involving fast action and tons of tricky decision making. That such a beast of a game can be comfortably played a but more casually is a strong testament to Blizzard's excellent design. If you're seeing grief about it from the community (excepting the official Blizzard forums, which are a permanent scarred wasteland) the only thing I can think about is a bit more of the usual grumble about matchmaking, and some concern about the meta being too focused on stuns and bursts. Generally, though, balance is great at the moment, and Blizzard have clearly indicated that they're working on some of the weaker characters. For the first part of the year new characters tended to be a bit overpowered and had to be tuned back a bit. More recently, though, new characters have been coming in with lower win rates. It's a testament to the design to see the win rates go up over multiple weeks as the nuances of each character is worked out. See Morales (the Starcraft medic)- she's had a very minor buff since release, and from being considered not usable she's moving herself into a valuable support pick. Cho'Gall was not obvious how to play correctly, but is creeping up the charts as players get it down. Rowan's comments about aesthetics struck me as true. I've been really enjoying Massive Chalice, despite it being merely competent at strategy and tactics. Nevertheless, there's something about the combination of the oddness of the world, the great character models, and the warmth of the voice acting that makes playing it very pleasant. In general, despite the systems being a little light, I think it succeeds very well as an overall experience. If there's a game I feel got a bit overlooked it's Abbey Games Renowned Explorers: International Society. Tom Chick is very hot on it, and I think he's on to something. It's a game with a great aesthetic, fantastic pacing, and good variety. The tactical encounter system is largely focused on managing the moods of your party and the enemies, and that turns out to be way more interesting than it sounds. It's also hit a nice sweet spot with the variety and depth of systems in the game- enough to keep things varied and to allow for multiple ways to approach the game, without ever getting bogged down and losing that pace.
  25. XCOM Enemy Unknown

    I really like the base AoE that MECs get. Shredding cover is very powerful, and being able to do it every fight is great. Get the flamethrowers and you have a mobile siege engine. While gene mods may be where it's at in the late game MECs are effective and reliable in the early game, so they can help you coddle those weaker early soldiers.