How many more people will we allow Blizzard and WoW to murder?

May 22, 2015

I think its about time someone took up the righteous cause of saving the world from murder/suicide-assisting MMOs and the evil that they bring. Now you might be saying “But SynCaine, surely the developers are setting proper limits here and not encouraging such things?”, but you would be wrong.

When this little angel got tricked by evil Blizzard, did they change the game? Or did they further push the boundary limits of their suicide-assistance machine with more social-engineering grind? Did they step in to stop the evil, or did they add more daily quests? Did they add a whole new method of gameplay (garrisons) that further preyed on the weak-minded? How many have died? And how many more will die, just because evil Blizzard is left unchecked, and their evil supporters have long stood with them and get off on the deaths of others for pageviews, clicks, and maybe a free coffee?

Well not anymore my beautiful internet! It’s time we, the non-evil, stand up, rise together, and say no more! No more assisted-suicide via themepark grinds! Shut them all down (except FFXIV, that game is fine), and let us live in a more peaceful, evil-free world! Where only such virtuous titles like EVE Online exist, where CCP has been so merciful as to allow progression when offline to not commit the evils that Blizzard and their ilk have.

It’s time internet! Good men must not sit idle as these atrocities continue! Join me, and together, we can save the world from this this evil!

#gamerlivesmatter #WoWisEvil #DeathToTheDeathMachines #DeathToTheirSupporters

AoW3 solves the ‘one and done’ problems of most TBS titles

May 22, 2015

Long-game TBS games like Age of Wonders 3 take a long time to fully judge, especially if you are interested in how well the game holds up after a dozen or so multiplayer games, when the players know what they are doing and the ‘new shine’ has worn off.

I’m happy to report AoW3 is holding up very well, and the most recent expansion has only been a major bonus.

For starters, its important to note that AoW3 is overall a very good game. It looks good, sounds good, has lots of content/variety, and is technically solid (no crashing and the multiplayer doesn’t disconnect or throw weird errors). Bonus points for loading quickly, having a UI that doesn’t get in the way, and having units/races that are both traditional (dwarfs with axes/shields, elves with bows) and different (tiger-like race with pounce, lucky halflings).

Beyond that very solid foundation, perhaps the most important improvement AoW3 has going for it over similar games like Heroes of Might and Magic 6 or even Civilization V is that rarely does a multiplayer game ultimately come down to ‘one big fight’. If you have played similar games before, you know that the general pattern of each game is: buildup, fight neutrals, position for major fight, major fight happens, someone wins the fight and basically the game.

In AoW3, because stacks are limited and moving all your units near each other is discouraged (you will fall behind in exploration and clearing neutral camps/treasures), its very common that you will have multiple major battles during a game, and winning any one battle won’t instantly decide the game. This may sounds simple or minor, but it makes a world of difference and the whole experience is far more entertaining because of it.

In many of the games I’ve played, who is winning has shifted multiple times, and even as a game looked to be winding down, a late turnaround is possible if things line up. That is huge, and really keeps the game from feeling like an inevitable slog towards victory after a certain point. I would say this is even more true in play-by-email games, as in those you must use auto-battle when fighting another player, which prevents cheese builds/strategies from being effective and also adds a final bit of randomness to everything.

Highly recommended title for any TBS fan, and both expansions are worth picking up as well, since they just add ‘more’ of everything without the game feeling like it has TOO much going on.

CoC: Supreme Cream! Vs Ganu Bersatu

May 20, 2015

(Stats and writeup by Delpez)

Another close war and another come-from-behind victory! With 90 minutes on the clock we were still 15 stars behind, but a solid clean-up strategy and some impressive attacks sealed the win. We also got the wrong end of the matchmaker, as the following tables show:

Nr. of TH’s

SC! Enemy
Nr of TH10 2 3
Nr of TH9 13 15
Nr of TH8 26 24
Nr of TH7< 4 3
Ave TH level 8.20 8.36

Average experience per TH

SC! Enemy
TH10 107 115
TH9 94 94
TH8 78 75
TH7 60 60
Overall 81 82

Not a complete mismatch, but certainly not in our favour. The 0.16 difference in TH level is significant, and they had three more high level bases. Their TH10’s were also more advanced, but our TH8’s compensated somewhat – both in numbers and experience level. The attack stats and stars left per base are shown next:

Attack stats

SC! Enemy
Score 112 109
Total Attacks Used 85 81
Total 3 Star Attacks 28 22
Total 3 Star % 32.9 27.2
3 Stars Against Same Level 21 14
3 Star % Against Same Level 30.4 21.2
3 Stars Against Lower Level 7 6
3 Star % Against Lower Level 63.6 50.0
TH8 3 Stars 14 13
TH8 3 Star % 29.2 28.9
TH8 3 Stars (same level) 13 9
TH8 3 Star % (same level) 29.5 22.5
TH8 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 2.0 1.7
TH9&10 3 Stars 12 6
TH9&10 3 Star % 40.0 18.8
TH9&10 3 Stars (same level) 6 5
TH9&10 3 Star % (same level) 28.6 20.0
TH9&10 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 1.62 1.72

Stars left

SC! Enemy
TH10 3 5
TH9 9 12
TH8 14 6

In isolation, the 3-stars numbers suggest an easy victory. However, we left a lot of 1-stars against their TH9&10 bases. This was a deliberate move towards the end of the war to clean up TH8 bases, and the strategy worked out well. However, it also shows that we can improve quite a bit by getting 2- or 3-stars against high level bases on a more consistent basis. The performance and attacking strategies per TH level are discussed next.

We have a couple of new TH5’s, and wars are difficult at that level. Your only real option is a giant/healer army, backed up by archers/wizards. Giants or a high level healer in the clan castle can go a long way in ensuring a successful attack. The strategy is to first take out the clan castle troops, then take out the air defence with your giants before dropping the healers. Once the giants have most of the aggro, deploy your ranged troops. This strategy is also viable at TH6, and some of the skills you’ll learn are also applicable for higher level attacks (such as GoWiPe), so this is an ideal opportunity to practice. Just keep in mind that you are not expected to make much of a contribution until TH7, so just have fun and learn!

At TH7 dragons are still the only effective attacking option, and even the new air blower is not enough to prevent an easy 3-star against another TH7. However, at TH8 the blower has changed things quite a bit. During this war it appeared as though our TH8’s were struggling, but looking at the numbers they actually smashed the opposition pretty hard. TH8 3-star percentages have certainly dropped – in the past it ranged from the high 30% upwards. These days 30% 3-stars against other TH8’s seems like a good number, and that includes TH8 GoWiPe attacks. This presents an opportunity – previously TH8’s pretty much cancelled each other out in wars, since the attacks were easier. Since that is no longer the case, one can now build up a substantial advantage at this level. This means that GoWiPe and Hog attacks are becoming more important at TH8, as their 3-star percentages have not changed with the blower, while dragons have taken a hit.

At TH9&10 we scored more 3-stars at a higher percentage, but left a lot of stars behind as well. As discussed earlier, this was partly due to the fact that they had more high level bases, but also because we decided to clean up TH8 bases towards the end of the war, leaving a number of 1-star bases behind. Attacking options really opens up at this level (I can only talk about TH9 – not sure how this changes at TH10). GoWipe and Hog variants are strong against the right bases, and Lavaloon seems very powerful against some low-mid TH9’s. There’s also a lot of scope to improvise, like using Hogs in a GoWiWi attack to clear a cluster of defences (see Syn’s attack against #15). I guess matching the base to an attacking strategy is key, and one of the most important skills at higher levels. This link (provide by Jonneh) is still pretty valid, even though it was posted before the air blower. It shows how to attack the popular bases, and how to execute most TH9 attacks:

A final comment – the air blower has made dragon attacks at TH9 much harder. Dragons used to have a decent chance to 2-star a TH9 base, and although still possible, that percentage have certainly decreased. Even more reason to max everything at TH8, since you really need GoWiPe and Hogs to contribute as a new TH9.

SynCaine edit: To add to what Delpez wrote, at TH8+, especially once you have multiple attack types maxed (hogs, gowipe, lavaloonion), it becomes very important to carefully review the base you are attacking and build the correct mix of troops. To do this successfully you have to learn how many troops it will take to get something done.

For example, if there is a cannon or tower on the outside of the base without air defense coverage, a loon or two to take it out might make sense, but you need to learn and correctly estimate how many loons you will need to get the job done. If that attack can also pull the CC, that is a major bonus, and is again something to factor in to your overall attack plan/build.

In addition to bringing the correct troops, you should also actually plan out the attack how you expect it to go, as you often will have to drop certain troops at a certain time, rather than just dumping everything at the start like at lower TH levels. This takes a lot of practice, as predicting the AI in CoC is very difficult, and traps/teslas will also change things up for you. You will screw attacks up often, so don’t get discouraged.

On the other side of things, designing your base correctly is the reverse of attack planning. You want your base to be as difficult to predict as possible, and to ‘trick’ someone into thinking something will work against you. This is why taking a base off the internet isn’t recommended; while it might work well vs the average player who doesn’t do his research, against a skilled clan you are easy stars.

The best way to make a great base is to understand the basics of CoC AI, the basics of base design, and then refine your base design anytime someone around your level has a successful attack against it (if your are a TH8 and a TH10 gets 3-stars, not much you can do in terms of design).

Question for the clan: Would people be interested in the occasional trophy push? One weekend every month or so we all try to go as high as possible in trophies, just to see how high we can get our total as a clan. Just a ‘go for big numbers’ thing, but perhaps something fun to do as a clan? Drop a comment for yes/no and why.

Fallout 3 is good, still

May 18, 2015

I’ve been playing Fallout 3 recently, in part because Fallout 4 is very likely to be announced ‘soon’, but also because while I’ve played New Vegas a few times, I’ve only played Fallout 3 itself once. For a while now I’ve considered NV the better game, but I’m not so sure anymore. Breaking news: Fallout 3 is really freaking good.

The biggest thing F3 has over NV is its more open. In NV the map is basically a circle you follow, while in F3 you start in the dead middle and really can go almost anywhere at any time. That’s a huge feature, and it’s nicely done in F3. I mention this anytime I talk about Fallout, but for someone who isn’t huge on Sci-Fi, I love the setting. I love all the little details, the big arcs that span games, and just the general tone of it all. It’s a wasteland, and most people aren’t happy or having a good life, but it never beats you down with doom and gloom until you just feel outright sad. That’s a tough balance to strike, and when it works it’s pretty great.

I think Fallout 4 is going to be set in/around Boston MA, which will be awesome considering that’s where I live, so I can ‘visit’ what historic sites would look like if nukes flew in the 50s. The F3 quest of the missing android, where an NPC from the Commonwealth (Boston) comes to DC, has extra meaning now, which again is just the Fallout lore being awesome.

I’m playing with a lot of graphic mods, the unofficial patch, and some minor gameplay stuff like weapon mods. Someone really should come up with a system to allow me to pay someone like $5-$10 to ensure all the mods work well together, get updated, and are easy/quick to grab. Such a system would be neat, because as decent as the Nexus mod manager is, it’s not on the level of the Steam workshop. Hopefully by the time F4 hits, that is a reality.

BB: Some solid advice

May 13, 2015

Text below is a copy/paste job from this Reddit thread. Credit to Manburpigg and cjlacz.


Never attack player bases until you need them. Save them all for an important upgrade day.

Always clear NPC bases every chance you get.

Whenever you can re roll a player base that has low resources, do it and save the ones that have decent loot.

Don’t keep upgrading stuff just for the sake of upgrading stuff. Defenses are pretty useless until late game so don’t dump extra resources into them just because your builder is idle. (Edit: I’d invest in defense once you unlock the Hammerman attacking your base event, though you could also ignore that event and your defenses.)

Offense offense offense, always keep offenses going. The better you can attack the players around your VP level, the easier gathering loot will be.

Focus on one attacking strategy and always upgrade stuff in the armory that caters to that strategy. For me, it was tanks and medics and I leveled shock, flare and smoke just to help out because I use them from with TMed. Also, of course, barrage and artillery, those are an absolute must and should be maxed whenever possible.

Make sure your vault is maxed. That protects the maximum number of resources meaning you start off your raiding day better. It protects more resources above that allowing you even a stronger base. It also means you lose less when you are defeated allowing you to lose VP but keep quite a few resources above your limit.

Occasionally I’ll get so much extra resources from a combination of lack of getting attacked and lots of NPC base respawns I’ll do a cheap upgrade if my builder is idle, but you should always end up with your resources well above your vaults limit even after you start it.

One more point, make sure your storage buildings are well above what you need to upgrade if possible. You are always likely to end up with extra wood, sometimes stone and especially gold later in the game. If you don’t have head room in your storage you lose out on a lot of these resources as you attack to fill up on iron/stone. Having the extra left over serves two purposes: to provide loot to get people to attack you to lower your VP and two, to provide a strong base for your next upgrade push.

Sometimes you need to push back your upgrade for a day or two just because reward boats or the sub don’t cooperate with you. Upgrading something cheaper is always an option, but do storage, residences, production or anything non-defense related before defenses.

BB: New event fills in some gameplay gaps

May 12, 2015

I was able to experience one of the new events in Boom Beach recently, and I must say it really is a game-changer for me. Some background first.

Prior to this update, upgrading defensive buildings, especially over offensive options, wasn’t a great move. The general strategy for the game was to let your map build up by not doing much of anything, and then on the two days of the week that Dr. Terror landed, boost your reward statue(s), clear as much of your map as needed, start a big expensive upgrade, and wait for the cycle to repeat. If you get attacked by other players you aren’t holding a lot of resources so it doesn’t matter, which meant your defensive levels didn’t matter.

The above is no longer the case, for two reasons.

The first and major is that now each day brings a different event, and each event isn’t worth as much as the old Dr. Terror, countering the ‘let stuff build up’ inactivity phase and then resource rush. This means that it is much harder to horde a huge amount of resources, and also that your defenses are more important to deter other players since you will be building them up and leaving yourself open to attack.

The other factor is that one of the new events is an NPC attack on your base, which is really, really fun. You are attacked by a large swarm of enemies, far larger than what a player could bring, but the NPC force doesn’t have a gunboat or use energy, which is a large change compared to defending against another player. Designing a base to counter this NPC attack is a lot like playing tower defense, which I’m a huge fan of in general.

Watching and countering this attack really lets you see the value in upgrading defenses, including mines, and so serves as great motivation to do so. Defenses such as flame throwers, which against most players aren’t very helpful, suddenly become critical, which is nice from a “make everything useful” standpoint. Also being defeated by this NPC attack also pushes you towards defensive upgrades and building a better base, which again fills in a previous gap in the BB gameplay formula.

This has however exposed one big flaw with Boom Beach; you currently can’t go into a base edit mode like you can in CoC, and you also can’t save multiple layouts and switch between them easily. This needs to be added shortly, as right now redesigning your entire base in BB is rather frustrating.

FFXIV: Might need to move up that “bigger than WoW now” timetable

May 11, 2015

FFXIV isn’t out in South Korea? That was news to me, and has a huge impact on when FFXIV will eventually overtake WoW as the biggest real MMO out. Serious one-two punch coming up, with the expansion and now hitting a major market like South Korea. Suggesting that FFXIV will be bigger than WoW by 2016 is actually looking really conservative now, damn.

Also you gotta love Square keeping the sub model even in F2P mega-land huh? Not only do they not have to waste effort on the usual F2P garbage like flooding the shop with the One Ring and coming up with new and creative ways to spam you about it, but unlike somebody (WoW) every account globally for FFXIV will be a real account, not 5m people dying in some internet cafe and paying two cents an hour to do so.


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