Mordheim City of the Damned

Looks quite interesting, proceedurally generated maps, custom warbands and a spell system that has a chance of failing to cast. What I really liked is that it mimics the miniature game in that you don’t know if your guys are wounded, dead or OK until after the battle when they get taken out. It’s in pre-order at the moment for eventual early access on steam.

Oh, and this is by the blood bowl guys.

Torchlight ex’s next project: Rebel Galaxy

When Runic broke up I was glad because it meant this set of developers will be putting out TWO good games instead of just one.  While we don’t know what’s going on with Runic these days except rumors of some sort of MMO for Torchlight, the ex-guys have formed Double Damage games and announced Rebel Galaxy.

It looks like an FTL, Space Pirates and Zombies, Elite type of thing and that’s awesome.  I would love a Mount and Blade style game IN SPACE.

Here is the trailer:

TWR 2 Victoly!

Took me (from the point of install) about a year to finish off a full campaign (really only a couple months of play once the emperor edition came out) but there it is, the first Military Victory.

victoly

Some Highlights of the game:

I took out Carthage very quickly, which was good but from that point on, your focus goes from local conflicts with the Cisalpine Gauls and the Etruscan League to you being a Mediterranean power that has to watch EVERYBODY. I was literally at war from turn 1 until the victory video displayed.

Syracuse is the key to the Mediterranean. While playing you can see why Rome and Carthage fought so hard for this island.

Lybia and Egypt were just too succulent of fruits to NOT instantly destroy after Carthage, but being both allied with the Persians (and the entire Achaemenid Empire by extension) I was pulled into an Empire vs Empire war very early on. It was brutal, with the entire Levant constantly swinging back and forth. It didn’t help that Alexandria isn’t exactly a military base…

I left Greece alone for too long and Athens got uppity. I had to divert a lot of forces to conquer Greece from the attacks on Persia, and then immediately got in a fight with some sort of Thracians north of Greece that was annoying. I think Athens was sacked back and forth a few times before I was able to settle them down. While Gauls are pretty easy to beat as the later Romans since they cannot stand up to the heavily armored legionaries, the northern Greeks are pretty fucking tough with crazy good cavalry and, of course, solid walls of pikes.

With armies completely focused on the East, I had to watch the Gauls in the north and what was happening in Spain very closely. I could relate to why Rome pre-emtively attacked everyone! Luckily when I did get into a fight with one of the smaller Gaulish tribes I wiped them before the others joined in and was able to maintain an area of intimidation.

I found the AI to be quite good with diplomacy, some cultures/states just fucking hate Rome and will never surrender or even stop a war. Many that aren’t so hateful that know you are coming to destroy them and feel they have no chance will offer up $$ and become a client state. Client states work fairly well in that they can be a distraction enemy factions and can help clean up your provinces of enemy raiding armies that get through your lines.

I didn’t use my navy all that much, which was a mistake. I should have flooded the Med with ships and locked down everything, but I was so focused on the Persians, which took FOREVER to resolve that by the time I started turning West, my fleets were still shite.

Rome was really fun because of the mercenaries and especially the Auxiliaries. You can get Auxiliary Meade cavalry, Auxiliary horse archers (critical) and all sorts of others, giving you the ability to build some EXTREMELY diverse armies. Let’s face it, the legionaries + vilites are a good combo, but they can be beat by the Parthian/Persian style of combat in the open field.

Tactical note: ALWAYS fight your own defensive siege battles. Many times when the computer’s autoresolve was telling me I had no chance, I was able to slap the shit out of an attacking army during a siege (even of a small town with no walls). Just remember, your llegionnaires are DEAD FUCKING HARD and can bottle up a unit attacking them from the front for a long time.

So I have been hitting Total War for awhile now and will mount it all again when Attila Total War hits, hence it’s time to get on another type of game.  I need to finish off Dark Souls and really need to work through the expansions of Skyrim as well.  And Witcher, and Witcher 2, and Inquisitor, on and on…

 

AMA with Mike Mearls

Lead developer on D&D 5.

Couple of Quotes:

“Probably the only mechanic I’m not crazy about is XP and leveling. If I could, I’d build a system where gaining a new class feature is driven by story-based prereqs. Like, you can’t learn to cast fireball until you’ve defeated a fire elemental and captured its essence, or after slaying the orc king a fighter can master a new battle axe technique.”

“More dice, fewer static modifiers. I’d use a die in place of the proficiency bonus. I like rolling dice and find it easier to teach that way.”

XP itself sort of sucks for STORY games, I loved when Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay came around and the GM just assigned a logical number of points after a session or couple of sessions.  And of course 13th Age where levelling up is completely via GM fiat — which is excellent.

Back to the old school though, I DO enjoy Lamentations/Moldvay style of XP where creature killing gives very minimal XP (fuck all that tracking) and the big haul of XP comes when silver and treasure are safe in some place outside the dungeon. Then you can take a natural break in the action and count out all the XP at the same time players are focused on counting out their silver coins.

 

Holy crap

Monster Brains posted a HUGE collection of Ghanian and Nigerian movie posters.  I just can’t get enough of this stuff.  What’s awesome is that you’ll see some newish hollywood releases mixed in with 70-90’s stuff as well as HK and Bollywood movies in one god awful mash of amateur art.  Friggin amazing.

afrokrull

Rome Total War 2 is now what it should have been

And it is now in the realm of pretty fucking awesome.  Last year, if you bought Rome: Total War 2 it was a bit of a mistake for everyone involved, players, developers, fans, families of all involved.  I’m a long time fan of the series, having started with Medieval Total War back when it was sprites on a 3D map (looots of spriiites!!!) and it was a great game,  though the fact that it was one single fight per territory (you didn’t move your armies around inside territories in the older games) made it a bit small.  Reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan 2 by KOEI, it was still totally awesome.   Rome 1 brought the jump to 3d and was, along with Warcraft 3, the best game of the decade. While the newer games were amazing in their own right, especially Medieval 2 and Napoleon Total War, something happened during the second run of the Shogun Series to sour me on the battles– and while the strategic part of the game is important as a framework– it’s all about the fucking battles. Suddenly, they felt cartoony and too fast and too arcade like, which is silly to say since the graphic details went through the roof in quality.  When I first saw the asymmetric uniform designs of the units in Medieval 2, I got a huge claymore-sized boner for real.  Yet the battle gameplay in Shogun 2 was not good despite the game’s overall polish, I just could not get into it.  Rome 2, at first, followed suit much to many player’s disappointment.

With a series that has so much going for it, and has such pedigree it was shocking to me to suddenly get a Roman Shower from the company with the 2013 release.  I  played for about 20 hours (a SLIVER of the amount that I would normally play a big TW release)  and uninstalled the fucker until a couple months ago, when I noticed that some of the guys that make TW battle videos had switched back from Medieval 2 to Rome 2 after apparently giving up on the game.  I checked out some battles and noticed that formations worked much better, phalanxes actually PHALANXED and the archery didn’t look so shitty like it did in Shogun and Early TW.   Added to this, the Emperor Edition upgrade was free to all previous purchasers which included a massive campaign detailing the Roman Civil War.

Now I’m merely 85 hours into the grand campaign and I can say I won’t be going back to any of the other Total War games for a long while.  Over the year since release, they shined the hell out of this game.  Performance is much better, the battle AI, the battle mechanics and the flow of the game has been completely tweaked.  While battles are the most important core part of the game, the campaign play is actually where you spend most of your time and it’s far superior to the launch version.  The AI especially is now quite brutal and with suprising frequency will cause you all sorts of problems– including sea borne invasions which were impossible for the AI to pull off before Napoleon Total War (just a few versions ago!).  So you could sit as England or Italy and just send out armies to conquer everything around you on the ocean, with no chance or reprisal. Not so anymore.  I had a really tough time as Rome early on. What’s brilliant about the AI now is that if they percieve you are strong, they won’t mess with you, but if you are seen as weak, like losing a bunch of battles in a row, they will join in and try to take a piece of you before someone else does.

Later in the campaign game it becomes less about gobbling up small kingdoms and more about HUGE wars that take decades and decades to finish up (if ever) with massive empires.  Since coalitions of factions normally stick together, and factions will become client states of you (unlike other TW games where the option was there but they never would actually do it), sometimes taking out a small kingdom on your border leads to war against EVERYONE on the side of a map.  I found it out the hard way when I accidentally went to war with the entire Achemedian empire (Persia and the like).  I was able to eventually take the war to them, but not before many legions were swallowed in the desert and mountains of Asia Minor…

So here are a bunch of pictures.  This is a long post about a really great game that finally came into it’s own.  I think the developers have done right by the series after a really fucking huge misstep last year.

 

So the new Aphex…

$_57

It’s Musak for the space ports she would show up in.

It’s very complex.  I wanted to give it a few listens (many listens for certain tracks) to give my complete layman’s take on it.  For starters, it’s not the best Aphex Twin record ever, but I would slap it squarely in the Analord/Tuss paradigm of his work– if you liked The Tuss stuff especially, this will be an excellent listen for you.  And I do mean excellent.

What’s best about SYRO is that similar to much of Aphex Twin’s later work, it rewards careful and repeated listens.  There are things going on that you will absolutely not catch the first time through, and many of the changes are incredibly subtle.  It’s challenging, and I love that about it.  That said, this means the album is not easy to get into, and defies casual listening a bit.  Who gets an Aphex record for casual listening anyway?

Favorite tracks?  At first my favorite track on the record was the Japanese ONLY track called  MARCHROMT30A edit 2b 96 [104.98].  Get this for sure if you can.    Other than that, PAPAT4 is excellent and the middle of the album is just fantastic throughout.  However, the first two tracks are probably my favorites (minipops and XMAS_EVE10).  XMAS is an absolute MONSTER electronic track at over 10 minutes.   Like Druqks’ Mt Saint michel mix+st micha, XMAS has many complicated and layered changes leading to a point where you think the track is over after culminating it’s core melody, but it keeps going into places beyond.  It’s one you will listen to over and over and over and keep finding new stuff going on.   Minipops is probably the poster-child for this record, if there was one track that captures the essence of the entire album, this one is it.

That said, there is one stinker on the record– that Aphex Twin likely slapped on their to troll the fans.  I won’t spoil it, but you can likely guess (it’s not the last track!).    The final track is a song that I heard first played from a piano swinging in the air last year on some video on youtube.  It’s very pretty and Druqksesque but quite a contrast from the rest of the album.  The second to last track (let’s just call it WASR10 for short) is just OK.  The rest of it is pretty awesome and rewards careful attention.  Still, not his absolute best record (which is Come to Daddy IMO), but highly recommended.