What’s been keeping me busy gaming wise of late

October 13, 2015

Slow gaming times for me of late, hence the lack of blogging.

I’m still playing a bit of ARK, though restarting on a server is a bit rough, as you are basically retracing previous steps, and with the rapid pace of updates in ARK, I almost feel like taking a few months off would allow me to return to a vastly different game. This is actually a general problem I have with Early Access games, but that’s a topic for another day.

I do play the occasion Bloodbowl 2 game online, but the rage-quit rate is insane. Soon as I injure a player or someone rolls double-skulls, they rage-quit. My chaos team has 10 or so wins, and I think only 2-3 have been complete games. The upside I guess is my team skills up quickly (double MVP when someone quits), which gets me into higher team value games. I’ll have to look into joining a solid league soon though.

Lastly, I’ve been playing a lot of Age of Wonders 3 multiplayer via the Play-by-Email (PBEM) functionality. Most of the time its with my buddy, but we recently started playing against random players and so far so good. It’s actually amazingly enjoyable to play AoW3 via PBEM, since you don’t feel rushed turn-to-turn. The only downside is all player-vs-player battles are done via auto-battle, but even that has the benefit of stopping cheese tactics.

I did a bit of searching and it seems like AoW3 has a thriving community of PBEM players, with many of them being very skilled. It should be fun to get deeper into things and see what kind of strategy and tactics others employ.

New ARK Server, and the BB2 campaign

October 5, 2015

Two items for today.

I’m playing on a new, unofficial ARK server. Search the unofficial listing for “Narco Heads” to find it. Unlike most unofficial servers this one doesn’t have silly 8x or 10x rules, just 2x from the official with everything else the same, so the work/investment is still there, but tames that would take you 4-5 hours are now a somewhat more manageable 2hr or so. Same goes for base building or XP gains; they aren’t silly, but not as big a grind as on the official servers.

The best part is the admin is very active, and goes around cleaning up abandoned bases regularly. This means that not only is the map not cluttered with random garbage, but the server performance is also excellent, far above what I have experienced on the official servers. Server population is pretty decent, with usually half a dozen or more people on, and more seem to be joining daily. Also if you provide the admin (Exodus on Steam. There is also a Steam group I’m part of so you can find info that way) a screenshot of your old character, he will level boost you back up, so you don’t have to start completely from scratch if you don’t want. Join up and ping me on Steam or in-game when I’m on.

Second item: I finished the Blood Bowl 2 campaign, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. The campaign starts as a general tutorial for the game, which is frustratingly slow for anyone who knows the game already, but then shifts into a series of matches with special events and players, all tied together by a decent story about the team and its coach (you).

The campaign shows off how dumb the AI is, where at one point the enemy team sat with the ball one square out of the end-zone for the rest of the game, while being down two scores. But really the games aren’t about a challenge so much as they are about seeing star players or different events, and completing the side goals per game (have a specific player score, injure 3 players, etc). The whole thing shouldn’t take longer than 8-10 hours, and IMO is worth that time investment.

Feed the troll some poison already

October 1, 2015

I’m not a Star Citizen backer, personally don’t believe the game is going to ‘live up to the hype’ (mostly because at its current hype level, that would basically be impossible), and have in the past taken small shots at either the game itself or the ‘true believers’ heavily backing it. Taking shots is what happens here on occasion.

That said I’ve always believed you only shoot stuff that’s fair game. I’ll make fun of Smed doing Smed things because Smed is a public figure who puts himself out there. I’ll take shots at WoW or LotRO or Trion. I’ll take plenty of shots at other bloggers. The line I have never crossed is pulling something that wasn’t originally in play just to further my cause. I won’t dig up a bloggers real identity just because they made fun of Darkfall, or post the home address of Forumfall idiots who found this blog that one oh-so-special time. What we do here under our blogger names is its own weird little world, and it should stay that way.

Derek Smart is a public figure, and his obsession with SC has long crossed the line of ‘random gaming nerd raging about a game’ and into “you should be in jail or worse” territory. Trying to bring down SC because he himself is a failure of a developer is low, but almost understandable. It must drive him crazy that no matter how hard he tries, he can’t produce anything of value, and here is this huge company with a massive following doing things he can’t even dream of.

Bringing Robert’s daughter into this whole mess is so insane it honestly shouldn’t be legal. Ignoring a troll is IMO only an option until the troll goes so far that you are forced to respond, as Roberts was forced when The Escapist published Smart’s words under the disguise of ‘sources’. Lost respect for The Escapist aside, pulling a stunt like that has to have serious consequences, or the next bitter little Smart-wannabe is going to do it, or take it up a notch further when he/she doesn’t get the attention they so desperately need but can’t get on their own merits.

CoC – Supreme Cream vs Bahia

September 29, 2015

(Text and stats by Delpez)

Supreme Cream vs. Bahia

It has been a while since I’ve done a war report, and I thought it might be worthwhile to also discuss a number of clan related topics that’s been popping up in chat and/or in my head! But first, let’s look at some numbers for the latest war, which we won by a whisker. I’ve also included the match-up stats for the war against Bandung Funjava, which we lost (the numbers in brackets are our stats in the Bandung war):

Nr of TH’s




Nr of TH10



3 (2)

Nr of TH9



18 (17)

Nr of TH8



11 (14)

Nr of TH7<



3 (2)

Ave TH level



8.6 (8.5)

Average experience per TH







108.0 (99.8)




82.2 (82.2)




95.7 (89.7)

Firstly, comparing the Bandung numbers with the values in brackets showed that we were badly outmatched in that war. They had more TH10’s and TH9’s, and the experience level of those bases were significantly higher than ours. In fact, I think we did pretty well to get as close as we did. The Bahia numbers were much closer – we had one more TH9, but the experience levels of their top bases were a lot higher than ours, and they also had three more TH8 bases. So let’s look at the actual war stats against Bahia:






Total Attacks Used



Total 3 Star Attacks



Total 3 Star %



3 Stars Against Same Level



3 Star % Against Same Level



3 Stars Against Lower Level



3 Star % Against Lower Level



TH8 3 Stars



TH8 3 Star %



TH8 3 Stars (same level)



TH8 3 Star % (same level)



TH8 Ave Stars / Attack (same level)



TH9&10 3 Stars



TH9&10 3 Star %



TH9&10 3 Stars (same level)



TH9&10 3 Star % (same level)



TH9&10 Ave Stars / Attack (same level)



They did better than us at TH8, but we outperformed them by a decent margin at TH9&10. That is important, as it allows our top bases to hit down against their TH8’s, while their TH8’s can’t really hit up against our TH9’s. This leads nicely into the first topic I’d like to discuss, which is our general war strategy:


One of the strengths of Clash of Clans is how the complexity and difficulty of the game scales with your base. As troops and heroes unlock and level up, more and more strategies become available, which is balanced against more powerful defenses. As a TH7, getting a 3-star against another TH7 is quite easy. At TH8 it becomes a lot more difficult, and at TH9&10 a 3-star is pretty special. This means that war strategy should change as a clan advances. With the majority of clan members at TH7 and TH8, wars are decided by 3-stars. Although this may still be true at TH9, very few clans are good enough to consistently 3-star the majority of TH9 bases. In addition, the most powerful TH9 attacks are also the least consistent. Laloon and Hog variants may have the highest 3-star potential, but also a higher failure rate than solid 2-star strategies such as GoWi variants. So a clan with a significant number of TH9’s needs to decide on whether to go for solid 2-stars or try for inconsistent 3-stars.

Until recently we’ve been following the latter strategy, mimicking the TH8 approach by trying to 3-star TH9 bases. Unfortunately, most of us are not good enough (yet) to consistently pull off Laloon or Hog attacks, which resulted in lots of 1- or 0-star attacks. This meant that almost all our TH9 clean-up attacks were aimed at same level TH9 bases. Recently we’ve been toying with the idea of rather using safer attacks first up, which allows for more freedom with second attacks. If we can 2-star all TH9 bases with our first attacks, it will allow our TH9’s to hit down with high risk-reward attacks later in the war. I realize that GoWi variants are not guaranteed 2-star attacks, but they are also less likely to fail. And don’t forget that it’s always possible to get a 3-star with GoWi. To show our current TH9&10 first attack performance, have a look at the following table:



Average Stars / First Attack



The Bandung bases were stronger, but the numbers reflect that better first attack stats make it easier to win wars. At the moment we should aim for a value of 2, which will allow our TH10’s and strong TH9’s to clean up TH9 bases, and the rest of our TH9’s to attack TH8 bases. So I’m proposing that unless a base is flawed, we use GoWi variants first up. This will allow us to master one tactic as a group – learning from and commenting on each other’s attacks (much like dragons at TH8). If this is successful, we can and should still use high risk-reward tactics for our second attacks.


Most of our new TH9’s are using the TH8.5 upgrade strategy, but I’m not sure if we’re getting the full benefit of it. Irrespective of any bias in the matchmaker towards TH8.5 bases, this strategy aims to pair maxed TH9 offences against low to mid TH9 defenses, with the aim of 3-starring those bases. If we move towards GoWi strategies first up, the benefit of TH8.5 will become diluted. We are deliberately reducing our 3-star chances for more consistent 2-stars, which negates TH8.5 to some extent. However, there will still be some benefit in the matchmaker and second attacks. Also, I believe it’s more fun to get access to powerful attacks before strong defenses.

Growing the clan

Up to now this clan has grown almost exclusively from blog readers and their friends. However, I think we’ve almost reached the limit of that particular pool of players. In any game there will be attrition as players get bored and/or find something else to occupy their spare time. Lately it is clear that our attrition rate is higher than our new intake, and numbers are slowly dwindling. To get some new blood in I propose that we have a look at some of the randoms that apply from time to time, but with strict rules:

Should have dragons

No rushed bases


No new players once a war has started

No obvious idiots – you’ve seen some of the applications!

After accepting a random, we evaluate his performance and behavior for a trial period. No missed war attacks, no requests for promotion, should donate reasonably and should behave decently. I think in this way we can start getting new blood into the clan again.

TH6’s in wars

Is there any benefit in adding players without dragons to wars? I don’t think it has much bearing on the matchmaker, since we never seem to get opponents with low level bases anymore. And it can’t be much fun for our low level players to be punching bags all war long. It also means that we are basically a player or two short in every war, and sometimes this can be significant. In the war against Bahia we flung five attacks at their lowest player (#35), a decent TH8, while they smashed our lowest two bases in two attacks (TH6 & TH7). I realize that we may not have enough players to start cutting, but if the previous suggestion regarding randoms is successful this might not be an issue anymore.

Thoughts, comments?

Dungeon Boss – Grind the game, not the UI

September 28, 2015

Dungeon Boss continues to impress and entertain me, so if you haven’t already, pick it up and lets be ‘friends’.

I mentioned before about the honesty of the games ‘grind’ (air quote because for many grind is a bad word, for me what a lot of people call grind is just gameplay you repeat but still enjoy. If you didn’t enjoy it you wouldn’t ‘grind’ it, you’d quit). Today I want to talk about how DB makes the grind more enjoyable.

It’s mostly little things, like when you complete a dungeon the UI already has a ‘run that dungeon again’ button, recognizing the fact that you are very likely to want to run that again if you didn’t get the drop you wanted. The grind part is the RNG with getting hero tokens or upgrade pieces, but the grind part would be more annoying without that ‘repeat’ button.

Another nice/smart UI piece is that in the hero info screen, you can find out which dungeon drops that heroes tokens or upgrade pieces, and then go directly into any of those dungeons. That makes farming specific pieces to upgrade a specific hero much easier, which is a big deal when your hero roster goes to 20+ heroes. Your daily quest log also has this functionality; with a button to take you to the areas you need to farm to finish those quests.

Likely a post for another day, but the games depth is starting to take shape for me. Initially you will just use whatever heroes you get, and ‘team composition’ won’t really be a factor, but I think once you have a fuller roster and more evolutions, combos will come into play and some additional min/maxing will happen. Looking forward to that.

Programming note: We have spots open in our Boom Beach group (Hardcore Casual) and the Clash of Clans… clan (Supreme Cream!). Mention the blog when you apply so I don’t confuse you with some rando.

Dungeon Boss: A good and honest way to waste some time

September 23, 2015

I appreciate honesty in game design. If you are creating a casual ‘time waster’ game that doesn’t do much else, I appreciate when the devs are honest about that. Same goes for ‘hardcore’ games, with Darksouls being one of the better examples recently. Brutally hard is a feature for those looking for it, but can also be something that drives people away, so it’s nice when the devs are upfront and honest, even when it might cost them a sale (which I think they more than recover via goodwill from honesty).

Dungeon Boss, a new mobile game many of us (Clash people) are playing, is pretty honest about its grind, and I appreciate that. First a quick overview of Dungeon Boss (DB).

DB is a game about collect and level characters, use those characters in very short PvE ‘dungeons’ that feature rather simple turn-based combat, and getting a large variety of tokens and such to upgrade your characters, as well as collecting new ones. The core gameplay, running dungeons, is very simple. Each character has at most three special abilities in addition to their standard attack, and you can bring a max of 4 characters on most runs. A run takes no longer than 5 minutes, and often can be done in 1-2 minutes.

It’s a F2P game, with a very strong Pay4Power component. If you spend, you can get stronger characters and upgrade them faster. I would call this Pay2Skip, but there is also a part of the game were you can attack another player for some gold (the gold stolen is only for unclaimed chest gold, so it’s nothing like attacks in CoC/BB where you can lose a lot of resources/progress), so it technically qualifies as P4P. I also believe, but I’m not 100% sure, that there are ‘pay-only’ characters. I do know there are ‘shop only’ characters, but I’ve already got two of those without paying (collected the different shop currencies from just playing the game).

Overall it’s a fun game without the need to spend any money, and if you are looking for another mobile time waster, DB is certainly worth looking into. Right now the only multiplayer is raiding others for their chest gold and trophies (reward ladder system that resets frequently) and being friends with people, which allows you to call their strongest hero into battle for one attack in a dungeon run (I’m SynCaine, send a friend invite if you start playing).

To return to the honesty part, DB is a ‘long grind’ type of game. Collecting all of the characters is going to take a LONG time, as will fully leveling them up. You can figure this out very early, and the game doesn’t really ‘trick’ you into the pace. You don’t speed level/boost early only to have the pace slow down suddenly and push you into the cash shop. The time/numbers DO ramp up as you go, but again you can see this coming almost from the beginning, and can determine if the pace of time wasting will work for you or not.

This ties into the F2P model they use as well. It’s honest. The cash shop is very clear about what is for sale and the impact purchases will have on your game. You don’t need an excel sheet loaded with macros to figure out if one purchase is ‘worth it’ over another, and it even goes so far as having straight dollar prices for things, rather than a ‘buy gems, use gems to buy stuff’ double currency system (you can buy gold and gems, which buy you things, but those currencies are frequently earned in-game as well).

I hope games using this style of F2P do well, because it will show that you don’t need to trick people into giving you money by preying on the lowest common denominator, but instead you can make a good game that gives the option (a real option, not an ‘convenience option’) of spending. More of that please, and fewer hotbar salesmen.

Crowfall: Game design that has also grown up

September 17, 2015

Crowfall is the MMO I’ve pinned my future hopes on (and a decent chunk of change is backing that up), but since it is still fairly far away, and I know I can ‘catch up’ when I get access to the alpha/beta, I’ve not really kept up with all of the info tidbits released.

ARK is the game I’m playing most right now (a recent move has heavily cut into my gaming time, but that is mostly over for now), and while it’s not an MMO technically, in a lot of ways it sorta is. What I find interesting right now is what ‘first post on this blog me’ would think of ARK, especially in terms of “is it an MMO”, vs what ‘current me’ thinks of it.

I think ‘first post me’ would certainly say ARK isn’t an MMO, and possibly be a lot less interested in it. Back then I think I placed a much higher emphasis on massive, but also far rarer ‘epic moments’ in an MMO. One such moment would justify days or even weeks of less-than-awesome gameplay. Basically, my tolerance for long valleys was higher because the high peaks justified them, and I would experience enough of those peaks often enough to keep me going.

Current me still loved the idea of that peak, and still believes it’s the pinnacle of gaming experiences, but also recognizes that the level of effort to reach that peak isn’t always doable anymore, or even something I want to chase after. I think in a lot of ways this explains why I’m not currently playing EVE; I know as far as MMOs go, it’s still a gem amount a sea of trash, but I also know I can’t reasonably obsess over it the way I would need to hit the peaks I’d want to. I’ve been down the EVE rabbit hole far enough that simply playing it casually wouldn’t work for me like it does for others.

Getting back to Crowfall, I think one of the big reasons I’m high on it is because, on paper, it should allow for a mix of peaks and valleys. I think it will cater to those who obsess over it and give them truly epic moments. I also think it will allow those who don’t obsess as much to still see a peak, but either less often or not to the same scale. The different ‘world’ rules, the continued progression outside of those worlds, and the fact that you can decide to go ‘hardcore’ on one world and then take a more casual approach to the next, all leads me to believe that Crowfall, more than previous MMOs, will more flexibly give you back what you put in.

For someone who, if we are being honest, is still a pretty hardcore gamer, though can’t 100% commit to a ‘raiding schedule’ life anymore, Crowfall sounds like the natural evolution of the genre. ‘Growing up’ doesn’t mean I only have 15 minute chunks of time. It doesn’t mean I expect everything handed to me for an hour’s worth of effort. I am still willing to set that alarm clock if needed. I’m just not going to set the alarm on a regular schedule, or commit to 5 hour chunks 3 days a week, every week, for a year. With Crowfall, I don’t think I’ll need to, but I do also believe the option will exist. So long as both options ‘balance out’, it should be a great experience.


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