Game diaries

Vietnam 1965-1975: rediscovering a wargaming masterpiece

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Vietnam 1965-1975 is a board wargame that I bought when I was 15 and then never played until I was 45. I purchased it the first time at a Comics and Game Store in Miami, Florida in 1986. That copy was destroyed by a hurricane in 1992. I promptly bought another copy. That copy was lost in a move in 1999. I bought another copy that year. That copy was misplaced. I bought another, and then a backup. Last year I found the misplaced copy. By my count, I have purchased this game six times. However, I played the game (my definition: against another opponent; solitaire play and pushing cardboard around does not count) for the first time in the spring of 2016. I currently have two games ongoing. I am about to begin a third with Bruce Geryk, which will be documented in a series of entries to be posted occasionally over the next several months.

After the jump, what’s so special about this game? Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: my get-up-and-go got up and Gwent

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Now that I’m playing The Witcher 3 in earnest, I’ve decided I’m going to ignore Gwent, the ingame collectible card game that Geralt can play to fritter away time and orens. As an erstwhile Pazzak player, Caravan player, SkyStones player, and GamePig owner, I know firsthand how much you can fritter away in an ingame game. So my Geralt will decide he has better things to do than play some Hearthstone clone. Besides, isn’t a standalone version of Gwent in the works? Wouldn’t playing Gwent in The Witcher 3 be like playing early access Gwent? I want no part of it. Which means I’ll have that much more money for things that actually matter! Like finally getting a haircut (pictured).

After the jump, here’s me not faffing about with cards. Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: Siri, find Ciri

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I’ll get around to finding my lost baby in Fallout 4 when I get around to it. Right now, I’m helping Cate kick her drug habit. I couldn’t care less about rescuing some captured rebel leader in Homefront: The Revolution — what was his name again? — which frees up plenty of time to liberate patches of territory. In Dying Light, uh, something about secret files. Who can be bothered to care when there are safehouses to be cleared, parkour races to run, and skills to level up? Name a game by Ubisoft that isn’t called Far Cry 2. I probably can’t tell you the first thing about the main storyline. All the better for all the Ubistuff that needs doing. There’s hardly a game with as rich a setting for side quests as Watch Dogs. One of the best things you can do for the side quests in an open-world game is a lousy main quest.

After the jump, ciriously cidetracked Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: consumer friendly

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In Dying Light, another game I’m catching up on these days, I can make five fire shurikens with a blade, some gauze, and a can of aerosol. So far, the blade and gauze are easy enough to find. But I also need the gauze for medkits, so tough choices must be made. The real bottleneck is the aerosol. I’m constantly on the lookout for aerosol. I’ll even buy it from merchants if they’re selling it. Every time I find an aerosol, I think, hey, now I’ve got five fire shurikens! Conversely, every time I throw a fire shuriken, I think, well, I’m going to need to find more aerosol. This fits well enough with a post-apocalypse. When the world ends, I expect to scavenge. I accept non-renewable resources as a facet of any apocalypse.

After the jump, you gotta spend to earn? Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: modern family

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Since this game diary will progress alongside my playing time with The Witcher 3, I should warn you there will be spoilers. Never before the jump. I’d hate to ruin anything for the casual skimmer of Quarter to Three who hasn’t played The Witcher 3 yet. But anything after the jump is fair game. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’ve made progress in the game yourself.

After the jump, Ciri has two daddies Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: words, words, words

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I have to really like a game to read its books. Actually, that’s true of pretty much any flavor text. But it’s especially true of ingame books. I suspect game developers think they’re tricking me by putting backstory into ingame books. They think I’ll read every single ingame book just in case it teaches me a spell or gives me experience points. They’re right. Finding a book and not opening it to see if anything happens is like finding a chest and not opening it. You just don’t do it.

After the jump, Nilfgaardian best sellers Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: My Geralt. Let me show you him.

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Stories are weaker when they have a blank slot where a protagonist should be. MMOs are a worst case example of this, because the developers — the storytellers — have no way of knowing what race, class, sex, or morality you’re playing. What sort of story would Star Wars be if George Lucas asked you, “Hey, should Luke give the droids to the Imperials or should he fly them to Alderaan?”

After the jump, how many paragon points are we talking about here? Continue reading →

The Witcher 3: Can you be late to a party that never ends?

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The tricky thing about top ten lists for videogames during any given year is that it’s difficult to play every game that comes out on any given year. It’s even more difficult to spend the time it takes to really get to know a game. And by difficult, I’m pretty sure I mean physically impossible. If I calculated how many hours it takes to suss out every game released in a year compared to how many hours are actually in a year, the math wouldn’t add up. Let’s see, 365 times 24 is, uh, six thousand something, which will get you through about one MMO, one Paradox game, four shooters, and about a hundred crappy iPad games. Congratulations, you’ve played 5% of the games that came out that year.

So while I did play The Witcher 3 last year, I didn’t get very far before moving on. I had other things to do. And besides, Nick Diamon did a fine job writing a review, so what did it matter if I played it? Hence its absence from my top ten list. I don’t doubt it was great. I played The Witcher 2 so I’m well aware of what CD Projekt Red can do. But it just wasn’t part of my 2015.

Fortunately, there’s no law that says you have to play a game the year it comes out. So as of today, I’m beginning my official playthrough of The Witcher 3, and I intend to go all the way to the end. Wait, does The Witcher 3 even end? How far did CD Projekt Red go with the new open-world conceit? I intend to find out at least once a day for the foreseeable future. In case you’ve already played it and you’re interested in following along someone experiencing the joy of discovery, I’ll be chronicling that discovery — and hopefully joy — here. Besides, I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this year’s E3 by ignoring it in favor of playing an old game.

Tomorrow: My Geralt. Let me show you him.

Metal Gear Solid V: let’s talk about the pair of heaving tits in the room

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I haven’t read anything about Metal Gear Solid V. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m almost done — well, “done”, if things play out like I think they’re going to play out — I still haven’t read anything about it. I prefer to just play it for the same reason that I prefer to see movies without having watched the trailer.

That was almost a mistake.

After the jump, saved by the patch notes. Continue reading →

Metal Gear Solid V: an important message

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TO: All Mother Base staff

FROM: Moist Caterpillar, chief of operations, Seychelles

CC: Quarter to Three

DATE: September 17, 2015…no, wait, I think it’s the 80s

SUBJECT: When the helicopter lands

When you hear the helicopter coming in, please congregate at the landing pad so Tom doesn’t have to run around a godawful labyrinthine tangle of catwalks and ladders to find you so you can salute him. If your morale isn’t improved by hearing Kajagoogoo’s Too Shy playing as the helicopter approaches, and if the only way you’re going to be happy is if you can salute him, then make your own way to meet him. He’s got better things to do. Like some hoo-ha about metal gears and I think nukes or something and also flipping around on his iDroid to set up dispatch missions and such. Anyway, all that other stuff is supposedly more important than learning the layout of an oil rig.

Also, please don’t stand at attention right at the shower entrance while he’s taking a shower. It’s kind of creepy.

Also, quit making such a big deal about the dog and the animals that have been saved, which are mostly gerbils.

Finally, he’d like to apologize for all the men he’s accidently judo thrown to the ground. The icon for hand-to-hand combat is exactly what an icon for returning a salute would look like.

Massive Chalice: the game diary entry three centuries in the making

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It’s been 300 years. I started with ten territories, but I’m down to five. One of them has the Standard where my kingdom trains children. The other four have keeps for my noble houses, including the caberjacks of House Wayne, the hunters of House Gaffney, and the alchemists of House Flink. The Flinks actually have two keeps. They’re just that good. Everyone else, everyplace else, has crumbled into the sea, devoured by the Cadence.

While my land holdings might seem dire, the more accurate picture of how I’m doing is my list of available heroes. I’ve got over thirty and most of them are level eight or nine without ever having seen battle. That’s just how powerful their parents and teachers have been.

So one of the hardest things about fighting the final battle is deciding which five heroes to bring. Actually, it’s not that hard. Three of my heroes have relics as weapons. A relic is incredibly powerful once it’s leveled up, and these relics are well and truly leveled up. You can bet they’re going into battle. Etlanta Flink with a thrower called Gatekeeper, Matt Gaffney with a crossbow called Division, and Margaret Gaffney with a crossbow called Honor. That’s an alchemist and two hunter classes. I round out the team with another alchemist named Mako Flink and my best caberjack, Yuloria Wayne, for tanking.

After the jump, I’ll spoil the finale of Massive Chalice, which you should play for yourself instead. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: where do I get these wonderful toys?

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On year 271, less than 30 years before the final battle, a random event arises. Someone calling herself the Commoner Queen has been riling up the people. I can meet with her, refuse to meet with her, or send one of my heroes to disappear her.

Although the results can vary for each choice, I feel like I’m hip to this trick by now. The good choice, the bad choice, and the choice that risks a hero. But Doublefine gets really, uh, playful with these random events. You should see what they do when you start throwing things into the chalice! They’re more than happy to allow bad results for good choices and good results for bad choices, so I’m going to risk a hero. Hopefully, this will avoid one of my territories being put one point of corruption closer to slipping into the sea. Besides, I have heroes to spare. I’m awash in Gaffney girls! So I chose the third option and send a Gaffney girl to deal with this Commoner Queen.

After the jump, yet another Sagewrights Guild sinks into the sea. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: the breathless caberjack

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As my game moves into its third and final century, I’ve suffered a couple of serious setbacks. I’ve lost two of my five keeps. When a keep is overrun and its territory falls into the sea, it takes with it the regent who presides there, his or her spouse, and all of their children. But you don’t just lose the territory and the heroes. You lose all the heroes they would have brought forth in later years. It is, quite literally, the end of the line for that family.

After the jump, let us tell sad stories of the deaths of keeps. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: it’s all in the numbers

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One of the things I love most about Massive Chalice is how the game mechanics are straightforward, above board, and logical. This could be a boardgame or a tabletop RPG combat system. With one boggling exception that was cleared up easily enough, Massive Chalice is a game that makes perfect sense.

After the jump, to hit chances for dummies Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: the fabulous Gaffney girls

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Ainfean Gaffney, a hunter in Massive Chalice, has never been in a battle. She would have been good at it. Being nimble, she has a dexterity bonus that’s extremely valuable to hunters. But when it comes time to found a noble house of hunters, I choose her as its regent, hoping she will pass down to her children the nimble trait. I marry her to Daniel Flink from my house of alchemists because Daniel is bountiful. Bountiful is a trait that increases the likelihood of having kids. They will provide me with a line of trickshots, which is the hunter subclass that results from marrying a hunter to an alchemist.

After the jump, Daniel’s trickshots hit their target, if you know what I mean. Continue reading →