Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order: Tau Empire

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, but I know the others I published years ago are long irrelevant due to many many patches since they were written. The newest version of UA at the time of this post is the one we will be focusing on. THB.

So Tau have long been my favorite faction because I like the units and build order plus the melee to ranged ratio is very nice in my opinion. I have a preference to play them, but against the Hard and Harder AIs I have a little trouble, or, had. I have since implemented a new build order which maximizes the potential for success while limiting the vulnerability to the rush. Orks and IG will hit hard and within the first five minutes so it is important to have a strat that compensates.

The goal of the strat is to balance tech with unit production and timely units as well. Transition to vehicles quickly. Backloads armies with elite ranged.

I still think there’s no defense to an Ork rush, but every other faction can fall victim to this sequence.

Within the first few minutes:

Go barracks (ranged) then as many requisition nodes as possible until 4 – 5 are capped and listening posts are built. Then hit the first two power plants to quickly go tier 2. While all of that is going on. you need a commander and 1 melee or ranged squad (whichever is better). The military units should come out of the barracks not HQ building. These steps are core to any future build order because they enable fast leveling for the commander unit.

As Tau, I choose the ranged commander, the XV22 and a squad of Fire Warriors. Keep them together at some central point so they can act on intrusions. I also get a Kroot Alpha squad out and hold the next front with them. I need to get to tier 2 very fast. I’ll back up a second squad of FW and max out their squad size.

Next is a mad dash to tier 3. Try to build some Hounds out to beef up a unit presence and I will drop a Devilfish or two since the AI will have vehicles at this point as well. I stay away from the Skyrays since they don’t really mature as decent artillery until tier 3. So I do the best I can to hold ground until I get to both types of tier 3 that the Tau have (melee and ranged). I crank on tier 3 units and the new commanders/squads. I The secondary ranged commander and the command squad for ranged are good enough to hold a front by themselves with limited interaction from units and vehicles. They pack quite a punch once the base-level is up above 5.

Also, get that Ethereal out as soon as possible and flip on the create bodyguards function on all the time. Set the Ethereal somewhere where it isn’t in immediate peril and let it keep popping out free Fire Warriors in the backline somewhere. Those three unit squads pack a hefty punch, can capture nodes and are reinforceable if they lose members.

I get the Kroot Commander out on that massive beast and just let him tank the shit out of any melee that is happening on the battlefield. The Kroot Alphas are usually pretty strong by then too, and I do make sure to have them cannibalize as much as possible along the way so they end up with some late game relevance. The final push should be made when the commanders are all at max level. I typically go to production increases when it comes to the passive upgrades.

Barracudas are good at holding the sky and pummeling vehicles which is needed in my infantry-heavy approach. Since Knarloc Riders count as vehicles I’d say 50/50.

All along the way, I buy my technologies once the units I need are in play. I work on making them stronger only after I have secured some ground. I’ll spend up-front money on units and then make them stronger as they are in play, hopefully creating an instantaneous advantage. I think this start works, with the 4 or 5 requisition nodes first thing and then tiering up as fast as possible. The command units can hold ground for the most part, and I’ll combine the Kroot Alphas and the XV22 if I need to in order to hold a point. I value the Tau since they have multiple ways of countering.

ECONOMY UPGRADES YES: As soon as they are available since nodes and generators have limited yields. Get the economy upgrades to power your push and maximize your resources. Decay is based on time.

Try that and see if it works for you. A real hardcoire Ork rusher will still kill you. There’s no stopping an Ork rush. I’ve decided.

The MCU Short List

So phase 1-3 is 23 films… perhaps an excessive amount of content to expect everyone to absorb prior to the release of new phase 4 content. While the extensive knowledge base helps to fully process all the threads that entwine to form multi-film story-arcs, it’s not necessarily required to enjoy the final two films in the Infinity storyline. I submit that:

A) Anyone watching a marvel fim likely knows who The Incredible Hulk is.
B) That a ~2/3 list would be about all a new person would likely enjoy without becoming overwhelmed.

I submit this list, which I believe is a short-list of must watch movies that fill in enough of the story out to fully enjoy the conclusion films.

  1. Iron Man
  2. Thor
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger
  4. Marvel’s The Avengers
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy
  8. Ant Man
  9. Captain America: Civil War
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Black Panther
  12. Thor: Ragnarok
  13. Ant Man and the Wasp
  14. Captain Marvel
  15. Avengers: Infinity War
  16. Avengers: Endgame

This list deprives the viewer of some pretty good moments, but the core of the narrative survives and advances coherently enough to arrive at Infinity War with enough understanding of the references. These films do have the benefit and deficit of having such extensive history in their past films. They raise the plateau to a place where it would be harder to access the fulness of the content. It’s quite the conundrum, and I am curious to see what becomes of the MCU as a result.

Goodnight.

Face Wasted

I’m pulling ahead of FaceWaster, but not after tomorrow… he has his starting pitchers going and that will be the real test. I need to establish enough of a lead to overcome his Verlander, Shcerzer and Greinke. Shcerzer is on paternity leave until Saturday, so no double start possible. I get a double start out of Minor but we will see if he has any mojo left after that 9 inning miracle. Personally, Scherzer is due for a meltdown and Greinke hasn’t been terrible (or fantastic) for months. I don’t know how the future will unfold, but my viability will be clearer as of tomorrow.

I’ts a marginal lead at that. I need some more magic. I did hand my opponent Pittsburgh’s Bell and he promptly raked in 3 HR for my opponent, He’s at moer than 44 FPs on Thursday blog… on fucking Thursday. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, and all I can hope for is a random alligator attack. I find myself looking closely at voodoo curses and other forms of divine intervention.

 

Still a lomg way to go in this round, but I imagine I’ll be screaming illogically at some point tomorrow afternoon.

 

 

Yesterday’s Flapjacks

I keep finding things I regret in my scoring:

.3 per put out is way too much. This makes 1B the most valuable position player in the game

1.25 per batter DPT is too much. Nerfed.

-.6 per K for batters is not harsh enough. Strikeouts are a sin against the Baseball gods.

.75 per IP is not enough. Pitchers don’t compare with position players. Also 1 per APP is not juicy enough either.

These are just some examples. I want balance damnit! No position should be preferable. Just like in my FFL leagues; rosters are based on previewed talent assessments not scoring advantages.

But why batter defensive plays? I do believe they should be rewarded because its incremental accomplishments that plug on both aspects of position player stats. It’s boring to only care when they’re at the plate. However, I needed my numbers to still promote balance despite the events piling up for certain players. So, I diminished some and buffed others.

Batting & Fielding

Runs 0.75

Singles 1.25

Doubles 2.5

Triples 4.5

Home Runs 5

Runs Batted In 1

Stolen Bases 2

Caught Stealing -1.5

Walks 0.5

Strikeouts -1

Put Outs 0.08

Assists 0.12

Errors -3

Outfield Assists 4.25

Double Plays Turned 0.8

Pitching Scoring Categories

Pitching Appearances 2

Outs Recorded ( 1/3 IP) 1

Wins 8

Losses -5

Saves 8

Hits -0.35

Earned Runs -1

Home Runs -2

Walks -0.15

Strikeouts 1

Balks -2

Grounded Into Double Plays 1.5

Holds 4

Pickoffs 4

Blown Saves -6

Still stayed true to my beliefs and edged true offensive achievement over big piles of defensive stats. Now increments break ties and keep my scoreboard popping with green no matter who is on the field. I feel like this configuration sticks in my happy zone.

Welcome to Whammy Slammy Susan III!!

First week saw my landslide victory over hopeless Bangle-Doof. Poor bastard lost by 103. My scoring was an overall nerf compared to WSS2 scoring. I like that.

The standings are a three way tie for first with DerpyDerpDerp leading in points. I climbed up from third to second. This week I get FaceWaster V, which has been bad news for me. His pitchers come through when I’m in the reticle. We shall see if he stays lucky.

In other news, I’m doing alright. Dad has been ailing lately. I remain aloof thinking that I have no clue what to expect but aware trajedeybmay be very near. “A,” who I will henceforth refer to as Critter, and I are doing very well. It’s more than three weeks in and things are still clicking. Discovery is happening and we are enjoying our time together. She’s curious about me which I find totally intoxicating.

The sex is unbelievable. I’ve never been more in tune with anyone before. We are dialing in on our comforts, and finding the ways we fit well together. I do light her up, and feel so very appreciated for the way we are together. She does EVERYTHING Blog. Dang yo.

My dreams have been confusing and I know there is some lingering part of me that remains unreconciled post Cheyenne. I don’t know what to do with that. Maybe it’s safe to be a friend now that I’m in a sexual relationship, but maybe because of my past attraction to her that’s not a good idea. I don’t like the way it all happened, but there has only been uneasy silence when it comes to the beat and not the appetizers. I broke it and now I’m trying to super glue it back together. It’s probably a waste of time, but I never like hurting people and just walking away.

I think about the future. Critter and I are thinking about the road ahead. So many more steps to make before logic agrees with emotion. She’s an investment I’m glad to make though. She tolerates my nonsense like a pro. Keeper status earned.

Have a great week Blogomites!

Some Thoughts

I do wonder where the path of my life is headed quite a bit. In terms of my dad, my independent life, my swirling mental health issues being instigated by circumstance… what is to come if me? I have stated before that the ambiguity helps nothing. Instead, it renders fear and doubt, while creating a hostile place for stability to begin.

Patience. There is no salve that will heal. There is no one question that, when answered, provides absolution from doubts. The predator is chance and time draws out the hunt into painful exchanges. I’m hunted by my fears and I’m feeling like that rabbit that didn’t make it.

Masked in functionality is the sense of frustration for circumstantial things that aren’t correctable. Am I doing enough to help my world prosper? What kind of friend am I to myself and others? Who am I becoming as the universe unfolds a future rife with calamity? How I dodge and swerve determines how long I can stay on the path.

There is no answer to this feeling; only finding a way to live with it. I’m bitterly frustrated at times, but also co tent in this place. It’s polar, which seems like a proper fit considering my diagnosis.

MCU Rankings

Thor: Ragnarok

Avengers: Infinity War

Guardians of the Galaxy

Captain America: Civil War

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2

Marvel’s The Avengers

Dr. Strange

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ant Man and the Wasp

Ironman

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Thor: The Dark World

Black Panther

Thor

Ant Man

Ironman 2

Captain America: The First Avenger

Ironman 3

The Incredible Hulk

Spider Man: Homecoming

The ERA Equation

Fictional Fantasy Baseball – The Studyball Kurmudgeons

Rarely do I freely venture into the land of mathematics, but as that pertains to statistics, one could say there is love, not anger, death and PAIN. I’m not sure my endeavors serves any other purpose other than to fascinate my brain and make it work in a different way to figure out the solution to a problem, but regardless of notoriety, the task is noble. Back in the good ol’ days I was writing equations while manic that Excel couldn’t resolve, because they were written stupidly and abhorrently complex, ah yes, sweet memory… wait, this is a not good memory… however, I was able to do most of what I wanted, but not all. Fortunately I have found a middle ground between epiphany and practicality. The mechanism of my learning has been a logical argument within Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets): IF/AND.

Excel allows one to look at or through data in a variety of ways, and boy is there a lot of data around Baseball. I take real 7-day MLB sums from players across the league and the results tell me something about how my own scoring configuration might balance, or scale in certain areas, as appropriate. The things that are hard to write equations for are those that modify or scale a result, or have an array of possible outcomes but somehow need to all be accounted for. Building a massive array by entering all the possible outcomes is not practical when dealing in hundreds. Equations need to be sleek, quick and able to return a sensible answer under any circumstances.

My task over the last couple of days was to make a logical equation using AND, IF or both, and try to weight the ERA over a game period like ranking the scoring/yardage surrendered by NFL team defenses. ERA becomes a scaling reward for low totals, and becomes a worthless (or a negative total) after 4. I had a similar equation already written for the NFL spreadsheet but all the values and references had to be changed.

=SUM[this is just the mechanism that will total the result as an integer]

(IF([condition/test],[result if Y],[result if N]

IF(AND[condition/test],[result if Y],(IF(AND[nested IF as negative response triggers second criteria in the next argument while building off the previous argument, as long as AND is present]

My initial equation looked like this:

=SUM(IF(D1=0,””,(IF(D1<.001,[value cell 0],(IF(D1=0,[value cell 1](AND(D1<.99,D1>.001,[value cell 2],(IF(AND(D1<1.99,D1…….. so on and so forth, moving the needle higher as the ranges of ERA are graded as they fall between one of the equations areas. But I was acting like there was a value below zero I had to be worried about, which is a product of using the equation from the NFL Fantasy Scorecard where those values are possible in the net yardage equation. After taking notice of the parameter change, I rewrote the beginning. 

There is a little “housekeeping” to settle up front, taking into account all numbers that COULD BE RENDERED on the spreadsheet. The D1, lets just say is the cell where the manual ERA will be entered on the sheet.

This specific line means, if D1 has no value in it, show nothing (represented by a text quote with no text “”) since zero is an ERA value there should be nothing to render if the cell is empty. 

After the above action, the next is to squarely assign a value to 0, since bridging ranges on it is problematic. The, the lowest value in the first range, mathematically expressed in greater-than less-than form. This can be repeated over and over, laying one on top of the other as the N condition until a result is returned.

The whole equation on the spreadsheet itself looks like this:

 

=SUM(IF(C21=“”,0,(IF(AND(C21=0),Rules!B40,(IF(AND(C21>0,C21<1),Rules!B40,(IF(AND(C21>0.99,C21<2),Rules!B41,(IF(AND(C21>1.99,C21<3),Rules!B42,(IF(AND(C21>2.99,C21<4),Rules!B43,(IF(AND(C21>3.99,C21<5),Rules!B44,(IF(AND(C21>4.99,C21<6),Rules!B45,(IF(C21>5.99,Rules!B46))))))))))))))))))

Those values triggered a result dependent on the integer in the cell, and were located on a separate page within the file:

The parallel between the NFL DEF/ST is undeniable because it is pretty much the same fucking thing. Beautiful how those two very different stats have a parallel in that scale, plus the way that can be whittled until bare at times, much like watching one’s team getting tired in the 4th quarter,defending the lead… this should give something additional for my nonexistent owners to fuss about. I wish there was someone who would fuss.

Making the equation and seeing the result it had on the scorecard was very rewarding, adding a boom-or-bust possibility to the pitcher’s slots on the roster. I like potential, and I like unexpected, crushing agony. Both remind me of how nice normal is.

 

 

Now I have a new scaling toy to play with, but another though I had is that pitchers aren’t the only ones with an ERA these days. Position players are now often used as a bullpen if a game is out of reach for example, and the manager wants to save his relief bullets. This could be hell for your average owner, when suddenly your 2B throws 17 pitches and has 4 ER with zero K, HR allowed and a 9.00 ERA!!

The Studyball Kurmudgeons: Fantasy Baseball League?

I know I have said at other times that I was “satisfied” with the tinkering of the scoring. I wanted to do a “past 7 days” filter so I could see what a scoring summary might look like for that interval. I had whole season numbers, but I wanted the Head-to-Head games to be competitive, not boring and incrementally relevant despite the season’s length. I saw what a above average season point output would look like, and there were clearly some areas that needed adjusting.opportunity to scale some things back. The I ran a new set of season numbers with mid level talent and tinkered with the balance some more.

The latest set of numbers came from a pretty high-output names, and some not so much. I think this latest tinkering is the best to date, since I am very concerned with the individual games not being monotonous. I also added a handful of “high level” achievement in the game, like a grand slam, a no hitter… etc.

The overall model is balanced enough to keep things competitive among similarly knowledgeable players, mind you. The bonus FPs from a big play is probably enough to lift someone who is trailing late, or crush your foe into the turf with a massive play that sets you on the path to victory.

Let me first show you the scorecard, which was totally redone as of last time I wrote about it.

 

 

 

 

95% of that is real data from active players over the last week, and it helped me to see where the final adjustments to the scoring were to be made. With the recent live-data scenario, I can say that the current scoring setup promotes intense and interesting games, and that’s the main point. Here are the (maybe) final scoring tweaks.

 

Clearly position players other than pitchers do well in this mode, but the pitchers come out looking like NFL fantasy quarterbacks. When they’re hot, they’re lighting everyone up and things are generally: yay! When they’re not, they become a vast, expanding black hole consuming all nearby fantasy points if they stray too close.

 

Big plays get rewarded, sometimes massively. Emongously. Trabookafred!

 

 

Maybe one day I might run this league… probably not though.

It’s just fun to think about.

Another, differently shaped golden trophy would look nice in my castle.

Revised: Fantasy Baseball Scoring PERFECTED(?)

I was reading over my last post and I didn’t like the way the roster was breaking down into relevant and irrelevant levels of worth/value. Nearly every roster spot should have ways of achieving success based on a focused study of statistical output.

With that in mind, I went after trying to understand how the points were being accumulated, and how my weights were amplifying/deflating some values over others. I decided on a core format style which I feel would make for the best type of gameplay: steady accumulation with rare bursts of point gain interspersed. This likely leads to close games decided decisively (on one scoring event) or juggernauts demolishing their foes as they “go off” for big points. Steady accumulation on events like walks, singles, strikeouts (pitchers), assists, RBI or runs scored keep things close, hopefully, allowing for talented drafters to show how they set their lineups well in anticipation of big games for a given player. Only 7 bench slots means you can’t keep one of every position player on your bench for replacement, you will be FORCED to play the wire, like all good owners should if they expect to do well.

So, after some tweaking, I came up with a scoring set I like. I added Innings Pitched (.1 rounded down, .2 rounded up) as a trickle stat for pitchers that makes them better producers on a consistent basis. I changed the value of some of the offensive stats to neuter the distance between them and pitchers. The result is a dog that won’t impregnate any other dogs ever again.

 

 

So, the output of this needed to be judged somehow with actual data, which I provided the scorecard long before I began tweaking values. I have included my sample line up card here so we can look together and see how the values are expressed as fantasy points. Please note, this data is the ASB benchmark I have mentioned in other posts. The idea here is to highlight a “best case scenario” data-set to judge how high, potentially, the ceiling of exclusivity can go. On a game-to-game basis, this is going to be a more interesting thing to see. Looking towards a high point of 7,000+ fantasy points of season accumulation, and an unknown number of games in which to disperse them. I am THAT unfamiliar with the format that right now, I don’t know how long a MLB fantasy season is, or how frequently “games” occur as daily would be impossible. I can imagine daily maintenance being necessary, but having as many match-ups as there are games is a nauseating thought.

 

In my first post I talked about my points of emphasis in the game itself, and among the values that have endured to arrive at the final cut is Pickoffs. A rare but consequential event, the point value of which is devastating. 12 points for this event is the most heavily weighted event I score in this league template. Why? Because it’s a tease. Like picking a really good punt/kickoff returner in the NFL, you’re hoping your lousy pitcher redeems himself because his Pickoff move is phenomenal. Will he reward you with an unprecedented point total, or will he leave you starved for an event that, at best occurs less than 20 times a year for the league leaders? If he goes off, your cushy seat to victory is more likely than it was a minute ago, but your bet is on the rare event, or the steady churning motion of a consistent, winning pitcher with no rad move to first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have achieved a balance that now seems both competitive and enjoyable. It is the best I have achieved in my limited experimentation with the format, and really brings an element of uncertainty to drafting. I also foresee players making (nearly) irrelevant contributions due to lousy performances being more harsh than in the NFL. A zero is never ever wanted, but expected from time to time, but maybe in this league three days of .25 fantasy points might be just as terrible, if not worse.

Maybe one day I will know.  It’s a fun to think about.

UPDATE: Mid-Afternoon

For the sake of comparisons, I ran a simulation based on an actual head-to-head matchup, which in the regular season collect data over 7 days or so. I wanted to see what a high-output production would look like, which would be an approximation of having a “good week.” See below, though this is an unlikely final lineup, it is a possible one, and definitely a Cubs fan.

Looking over the 7 day output, I can see now that with 18 roster slots, some of those position players are bound to crater, while one or two others rocket up. These scores remind me of the FNFL scale which goes something like this:

0 – 5 = Wretched
6 – 10 = Minimal
11 – 15 = Average
16 – 20 = Above Average
21 + = Exceptional

We had a “200” barrier in my Detail Oriented league a few years ago… whoever gets there first is almost certain to win. That seems accurate as reflected here, but the flexibility of upward expansion for some of the roster slots seems outstanding. I like the way this looks, but also recognize how vital fielding the right players is, and making sure your roster is up to date. The restricted bench makes for a more competitive free-agent market, inciting wire competition.

FF Thoughts: Balanced Scoring Theory

It has been my experience in designing fantasy scoring systems for the NFL that the weight of every statistical category must be appraised in respect to the total items being scored, roster positions available and some form of biased incentive.

It can be said, as a baseline, common events should not be comparable in worth to rare events. It is this weighting that defines the terms of competition, and an aspect I particularly relish. I have beliefs about what aspects of a given sport are more difficult to achieve versus things that should occur and do occur regularly/often. What I cultivate in participants is a similar respect for the remarkable and an interpretive invitation to strategize.

As I develop my thoughts on how to apply my prior FNFL experience to the FMLB format, I intend to be true to my signature preferences and unique interpretation of the sport (s). MLB tends to be more statistically dependent (developed) and maybe even drowning in an excess of interpretations and comparisons. I hope to cut through the bullshit and boil my league rules down to the essential, and the remarkable. The mundane have been exiled!

Scoring: Two Factors

Weighted Scoring Categories

I use a combination of elements to determine what value to assign things: (commonality/frequency + subjective difficulty + game-flow based significance = relative weighted value). Through this, you should begin to see my perturbed view of the sport, and what makes it interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of my preferences become apparent with how harshly things are penalized, or how they are rewarded. Based on an ideal set of player’s 2018 All-Star Break statistics (relative mid-marker), the draft will see offensive players going first, but relief pitchers among the second wave. See below for the impact on how the team should be built in terms of available point scoring potential.

Difficult plays and stats that are hard to earn are weighted, but more heavily towards the remarkable. Outfield Assists for example, as I have stated in previous posts, are pretty fucking awesome. Clearly there are more points to be scored as an offensive player, but that seems to follow logic in terms of actual gameplay. Still, I see that, if there was to be a draft, I could see multiple strategies towards some desired stat-cultivation effort to specifically target a course towards relevance, and the postseason. Plays that cause outs, or kill rallies, or erase runs are dealt with harshly.

 

 

Roster Positions – Team Size

Depending on what is being scored/weighted, the roster needs to reflect a discipline to balance, and an incentive for a diverse live draft by fairly distributing point-earning opportunities across positions. As you can probably tell from the scoring table listed above, there are some positions on the lineup card that are going to be, generally, better contributors than others. The roster below is ordered in terms of fantasy point scoring weight/ideal projected point output potential (Great, High, Average, Low-ish

1B
2B
SS
3B
OF1
OF2
OF3
OF4
RP1
RP2
RP3
SP1
SP2
SP3
SP4
SP5
C1
C2
______
(18)

There would be 7 bench slots, rounding out the active roster at 25. There’s a certain nostalgic symbolism I wish to also encapsulate, (see the 5 man rotation, the 7th, setup and closer slots). I feel like there are 4 starting outfielders on every Major League team as a baseline based on logic, and the nature of the positions. I did not feel it necessary to be specific about the outfield positions as this level of specificity doesn’t add to the fun and makes drafting arduous because of the constraining requirements of the roster slot. In my build, OF gets to be more useful, potentially, based on a freedom to load RF or CF or whatever your preference.

C has become like FNFL TE to me now. Hit or miss, boom or bust, this roster slot looks like the one that will inevitably fuck me somehow. C rates low, even with All-Stars driving the stats, but they seem like to do so in bursts rather than consistently. Plus, this is another roster position that is most-likely to have a savvy backup on real MLB rosters.

I foresee infielders (with the exception of C1/2) being hard to find after some trends have been established. I have often wondered about free-agency and waiver pickups in FMLB. Maybe this will be something I learn about later, or maybe not at all. 

Well, I think this league would be fun, but this will never happen, more than likely. Good things to think about though, and that’s really all I’m trying to do. I just want something to feel good about, and excited I guess. Things have been really hard lately, and my energy is running dangerously low. I’m going to need help soon, and this little exercise has been one of my coping activities to help myself think about something positive and fun while also innocuous. Thank you.

Head-to-Head Format Fantasy Baseball

I have been watching sports for a long time and am also a very data-horny person in general. Fantasy Football was a good fit, but weekly single matchups are very stressful.

Theoretically, Baseball is much less strenuous, though still very inside-knowledge dependent. Also, because of the unusually long season, presents a more gradual advancement towards some final playoff-like confrontation. I’ve had a look at the formats available, and I think I like Head-to-Head the best. Comprehensive approach to stat calculation presents an uncomfortably large swath of statistical accumulation to process and deliberate about, as Rotisserie would seem to indicate. For me, the contest would have to be rooted in the more elegant aspects of the sport, and values achievements of significance, skill or consistency above others. I’d like to discuss a few of these, and why I believe they should be weighted in some way, and specifically tracked in the H2H format:

Defensive

(Outfield) Assists: The outfield assist might be my favorite play in all of Baseball, because it requires perfect body-mechanics to execute effectively. Also, having a runner thrown out at home, or caught trying to leg-out a double or triple is flaming-hot fried action. It doesn’t get much sexier than that. The deep outfield assist is easily the hardest throw to make in all of MLB (in a close second: the throw from third base foul territory to first before the runner is also a cannon-shot).

Double Plays: These coordinated exchanges can be stressful, improbable and miraculous at times. Among my favorites are the Strike-out/Throw-out, a long 6, 4, 3 or the Fly-out/Throw-out DP. When executed, they represent a tight-knit unit of infielders who can turn-two under any number of precarious, low-success probability circumstances.

Strikeouts: Obvious choice, but also a critical stat for determining the “overpoweryness” of a pitcher, which is a thing I like to track. Strikeouts looking, if they could be divided and weighted from strikeouts swinging, should be a tick or two more valuable than the latter. Either hitters get duped into thinking the pitch is junk, or they swing at something appealing that rapidly becomes junk on its way to the plate. Either way, very satisfying as an observer (except when it’s my guy who strikes out).

Pick-Offs: Though relatively uncommon, it should be a requirement of pitchers to have a sneaky pick-off move. It’s a skill thing, because pitchers should also be effective as fielders from the mound. Pick offs are particularly sweet because it’s the pitcher erasing his own mistake, and also requires a player who is not only good at throwing 90 feet from the windup or stretch, but also slinging it fast to first to nab some unsuspecting, or leaning-too-far-to-second individual.

Offensive

2-Out Runs Batted In: This is all about clutch. Hitting when it is most needed, driving in critical runs… its the sort of thing that light a fire under a team. This would up the RBI value in that scenario by a large degree. There is no more important single statistic for a player, in my mind, than this one. This is the stat that wins games.

Doubles: Why doubles? Because they are a lot like home runs, just on a different, more arduous trajectory. A double requires a batter to suddenly take flight around first to ensure the hit is not squandered as a single. Triples are fun, but they’re really mostly just poorly fielded doubles, which isn’t a miraculous thing IMHO. Doubles are also a good judge of power, and almost certainly boost nearly every relevant stat an offensive player can accumulate.

Home Runs: Chicks dig the long ball, and so do I. Though, if possible the Inside-the-Park-Home-Run would be astronomically more valuable than your standard home run. They are also a rating of power, and is often the engine behind RBI. Simply put, home runs are spectacular, and they are a part of the shiny entertainment value of the sport at its core. Players tend to fall into grooves seeing the ball well, and HR tracks that trend as well.

Stolen Bases: A feat of quickness, timing and keen observation skills. They also have a chance to be very effectual in the course of the game, and stealing home would obviously be massively valued over any other base, not just in statisitcal value but in the “feat of skill” aspect. For me, “manufacturing runs,” which is a “small-ball” concept of persistence and timely quickness is entertaining. Teams that don’t have the higher Batting Averages tend to steal more bases, and finding a player that hits well and steals bases is optimal.

Base/Modified Scoring Breakdown

Defensive Scoring Categories

Win = 5.5
Save = 7.75
Hold = 3
Assist = 2.75 (OF = 4)
Double Play =  4.25
Pick-Off = 5.25
Strikeout = 1

Loss = (-2.5)
Blown Save = (-9.5)
Error = (-.75)
Home Run Allowed = (-1.25)

Offensive Scoring Categories

Run Scored – 1
Run Batted In – 1.25
Single – 1.5
Double – 2.75
Triple – 3.25
Home Run – 5
2-Out Runs Batted In = 2.75
Stolen Base = 1.5 (Home = 2.75)

Caught Stealing = (-2)
Strikeout = (-1.25)
Grounded Into Double Play = (-3.75)

Under terms such as these, I think a low-maintenance league might be fun… but the scope of invested time on research is daunting to say the least.

Roster size is of importance as well, and I have that consideration when amplifying the point totals. It’s a scaled-down version of the standard model:

NL Model Roster Positions

1B (1)

2B (1)

3B (1)

C (2)

OF (4)

SP (5)

RP (3)

FLEX (2)

BENCH (6)

Total = 25

That sort of describes what I fancy about MLB… there are many little corners of statistical fascination and rarity that please my brain. The fact that Baseball is so heavily dependent on stats plays a big part in why it smells interesting and so, I just keep sniffing it. I like to sniff the smoodge.

Astronomy Topic: Genesis Here and There

Good day Blog.

 

In this article, we are going to have a detailed discussion on a variety of thoughts pertaining to the developmental potential of life in general, and the chances of a genesis that took place somewhere other than on Earth. The subject matter revealed in the following paragraphs is explored using scientific theory, factual observations and heretical speculation on my part. If you are reading this, then the content below should be absorbed with the intent to stimulate thought, and not conclude or prove. I doubt anyone who reads this blog anymore believes a fucking thing I say anyway.

 

Now, to be clear, the term “genesis” is a tad loaded. One thing both scientific and religious definitions have in common is that the burden of proof does not weigh them down. As of this article, Humans have not been able to duplicate the circumstances in which life first formed. They have even gone down to the level of exploring the interactions between individual proteins and amino acids, yet the actual moment of genesis remains unobserved. So, we have a “before” scene where there is this warm organic goop all hanging out in a tidal pool somewhere on a prehistoric shore, mingling. Then, there’s a gap where something happens to make life possible but no one knows what it is, we will call this section “poof!” Then, the “after” scene is basically the start of the evolutionary process which has led to the diversity we know today. Humans have reverse engineered the shit out of every organism they can find, then they did the same thing to all the dead ones too. Two of three isn’t so bad, right?

 

Therefore, when we talk about life on other planets, we are making a big assumption that the spark of genesis is really there and we just don’t understand it. Because we have this sandwich of knowledge around the missing meat, we can infer what might be possible based on the trajectory of the evidence before and after. Despite the incompleteness of the theory, one can’t fault innovation and imagination simply because of a particularly perplexing missing piece.

 

Having provided that perspective, I’d now like to open your mind to a series of fantastical possibilities. Given what we know for certain, we are able to make very educated inferences about the future based on the facts at hand. That’s why we can have a discussion about genesis and extraterrestrial life, because we are open to understanding the vastness of why and the unexplored reaches of how. To fully immerse oneself in this topic is also to embrace a sense of burgeoning community. If life is more common than simply here on this planet, we will not be alone anymore.

 

Even if we don’t quite understand the exact nature of genesis, we can still open several more theory doors to the chance that the spark of first life might take hold in a variety of chemical mediums, or arise from organic molecular combinations we have not seen in our biology. Maybe even life different in fundamental coded structure from Humans and our (so far) unique DeoxyriboNucleic Acid genetic sequences. That would be quite a scientific revelation indeed, and also joyous in a very relieving way. Think of all the things we could learn from other intelligent life. How that discovery would change humanity is something I’d like to see.

 

Let us now go on a journey through our local solar neighborhood. There are some places, right nearby, where life might be happening or has happened pretty recently. We are investigating most all of these objects with scientific instrumentation. Whether having the right ingredients for life, or being a delivery system of the ingredients for or life itself, there are many places extraterrestrial organisms could already be taking hold.

Mars

The planet has deteriorated far beyond the point in which life was likely flourishing and the environment was habitable. Now, however, it’s a piece of overcooked iron toast. The atmosphere is nearly gone, and the surface has been under relentless assault from solar wind and cosmic background radiation for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. There is no powerful magnetic field stopping the bombardment, and no way Mars can even feasibly hang on to the Carbon Dioxide it has now. Radiation alone renders the top several feet of the surface saturated by unhelpful charged particles. Almost every single life form on Earth would die is several ways, within a few moments of being exposed to the surface of Mars. That being said, there is a significant measure of difficulty to overcome in theorizing about how life could still be happening there. Since only a tiny fraction of particularly durable organisms and bacteria (maybe something like a Tardigrade [which can repair its own D.N.A.]) from Earth would stand any sort of chance of survival, we have no model for where or what to look for as far as identifying an environment on Mars that enables life rather than tries to kill it.

Human beings on the surface are likely to be the deciding factor in determining whether the red planet has or had life. I believe it will only be proven or not by direct observation and laboratory-level intense scrutiny… something probes and rovers cannot provide. In this Human colonization of Mars imaginary scenario, there are nearly endless chances to explore, sample and test to see if life had ever come to exist on Mars. Once we determine when it had or if it had life, we might then also compare the mechanics of Martian life to our own. If we share the same genetic code, there would be a strong possibility that life as we know it would have originally had one genesis. That is, if after radiocarbon dating the sample, a determination can be made about who was first. Since we share the same genetic code, we can infer that the “genesis” that took place on Earth might have been an invasion and eventual global takeover.

Four billion years ago, as the Earth was mostly a molten slag-ball, Mars may have been teeming with life. It had oceans, protection from solar radiation, and all the conditions plus time life would have needed to develop in some way, and achieve diversity. Maybe at some point during Mars’ prosperity, a piece of the surface could have been blasted out into space during a meteor impact. Within that Martian crust would have been some trapped microbial life, stowed away and frozen into stasis by the vacuum of space. It must have been an organism small and durable enough to survive the journey through Earth’s atmosphere, but once warm and on the surface, life for the Martian organisms began again. This burning thought-wagon postulates that there was only one genesis… the one that happened on Mars billions of years ago. That would make you, so-called Earthling, a 2nd generation Martian colonist.

Recently, NASA has announced the discovery of complex organic molecules in a few places across Gale Crater (which NASA has been exploring for 6 years), and also, that there are seasonal Methane plumes which increase in the Martian summer, and decrease in the winter. The cause is unknown at this time, but potentially an indicator of organic processes taking place in a subsurface capacity (there is a chance this outgassing might be a geologic mechanism of some kind as well). The Curiosity Rover recovered a sample rich with organic molecules, having only drilled 4 inches into the rock it was testing. 4 inches? The radioactive bombardment upon those 4 inches of exposed rock has been extreme to a degree we could not possibly comprehend behind our magnetic field. Yet, the sample they tested was still loaded with some of the most crucial building blocks of life. The European Space Agency’s ExoMars lander will be equipped with a drill that can penetrate 6 FEET below the surface, free of the influence of the irradiated zone. in 2020, there is a real  chance of identifying subsurface microbial life, bringing the final question of whether life is possible on other planets into focus.

Europa & Enceladus

Once the first images of these worlds came in from the Voyager missions, the questions began mounting as to the nature of the Gas Giants and their moons. They have always been a source of fascination, and we made them a priority in our exploration of the outer solar system. Later missions to the two largest planets in the neighborhood revealed many hopeful signs that environments existed, beyond Earth, that might support life.

There are a few mechanical characteristics at work here that help to make theorizing about life in these remote places possible: both of these icy moons are orbiting planets vastly larger than they are (the Gas Giants Jupiter and Saturn, respectively), and they are affected by the potent gravitational attraction of their planetary parents. Both Europa and Enceladus are tugged on consistently with what are known as tidal forces. Jupiter physically pulls Europa’s surface closer to it while the moon rotates on its axis. That deformation creates tectonic friction deep inside the moon, and the small cores are able to stay warm.

The disproportionately strong gravity of their Gas Giant parents provides a continual source of internally driven convection. That heat subsequently  melts large amounts of frozen water ice that comprises the outermost layers of each. Water is one of those things that has certainly been entwined in our evolution, and may be necessary for genesis to take place elsewhere.

Life can persevere even in the most extreme environments, which is why we think it could be happening in the subsurface oceans of Europa and Enceladus. A great example of how this could be possible so far from the sun and under miles of ice comes from the discovery of volcanic “black smoker” vents in the of the oceans of Earth. These remote outcroppings of volcanic heat and minerals have entire ecosystems developed in close proximity to the warmth, cut off from everything around them on the seafloor. Undersea volcanic vent habitats prove that sunlight is not necessary for life, and energy through heat can provide the spark needed to create diverse organisms. If similar conditions are going on right now in the deep oceans of these frozen moons, there could be a plethora of complex life with a starting point at a fissure releasing volcanic heat and nutrients on the seafloor. In the expansive layer of liquid water, where there is heat and organic molecules are mixing around, life has a promising chance to develop if it hasn’t already.

A potential (thus far unfunded) mission to Enceladus would be a prolonged orbital survey which would collect a sample from an erupting geyser, a phenomena recently observed and a chance to sample some of the liquid water underneath the icy exterior. Chemical analysis through observation, as well as direct sampling for organic compounds might answer a great many questions about the potential (or current) habitability of the water trapped between the crust and the core. The Enceladus Life Finder would do, well, pretty much what it says, if ever the project is embraced.

Carbonaceous Asteroids

This one is more about something I personally suspect, but the scientific community has largely not all that excited about. These objects would present evidence in the transfer theory where life can survive in space and through re-entry.

Asteroids of this type, like 101955 Bennu (may collide with our planet at some point this century), are made of a lot of organic matter unlike most other asteroids comprised of Iron and Nickel. The things we think these types of asteroids are made out of pose a lot of questions about the ability, or even possibility of life being able to hitch a ride, travel through the vacuum of space, and survive re-entry through an atmosphere. If genesis did not take place on Earth, we may want to consider the possibility that life was already started somewhere else, and just happened to land on Earth at the right time. Even if there is no way life could have survived on or in it, asteroids like Bennu may have provided the final ingredient needed for genesis to take place in the sludge pools near Earth’s early oceans.

We are going to pay a visit to Bennu this year with the OSIRIS-REx. mission, which is well on its way to intercept later in the fall. It is a two-component mission: most of the probe’s time will be spent in orbit, photographing and analyzing. One of the eventual mission objectives will be to extend a sample gathering arm to recover surface material, then, In 2023, return the sample to Earth for study.

These tiny little fragments of some larger object in the solar system’s early history are valuable relics that may point to when “first” genesis took place… maybe long before Mars, at the very beginning of our celestial formation. Or, they could prove to be loaded with useful organics that without, life may not have even been possible on our planet.

Titan

Okay, so here’s where the imagination and theoretical factors are going to kick in.

Titan is a very strange place in a lot of statistical ways, but similar in a significant, visual way. Titan has a thick atmosphere of Nitrogen, like Earth, but also is so cold that Methane clouds pass by overhead, condense and rain down on the land, and fill seas of liquid Methane and Ethane that cover parts of the planet, much like Earth’s oceans. There are storms, wind, and features that from above, look strikingly similar to surfaces on a planet where weathering and water erosion pervade. Most of the mountains on Titan are made of hard, frozen water ice, trapped in that state on the surface with a frightening daytime temperature of -291 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, what exactly about this place gives rise to life? Where’s the heat? Where is the primordial sludge?

Given there is still a lot to be learned about astrobiology, it is probable to assume that if life is possible beyond the Earth, that it may come to rise in a variety of circumstances, and possibly, in unique ways we have not yet been able to conceive of. Titan is overloaded with useful organic molecules, which is a good start. Is it possible that because all the pieces might have been there for just as long as the Earth has been around (roughly), that some form of life could be gleaning an existence off the limited energy resources available? Unlikely, yes, but not at all inconceivable.

There is also a chance that the internal friction of Saturn’s gravity on Titan has allowed for there to be active geology (hence the lack of craters). It is clearly not an inert ball of frozen Nitrogen and water. Saturn’s pull on Titan allows for Methane to exist in all three stages of matter, and liquid organic molecules are useful when constructing biologic life (as we know it). Whether the heat-energy exists somewhere in a subsurface cavern or deep ocean trench remains to be seen. One can’t simply ignore that the ideal primordial soup may exist somewhere other than Earth, and be a home to life in a way we can’t yet fully understand.

Coming up in the not too distant future, NASA intends to send the Titan Mare Explorer to Titan which will patrol the liquid Methane oceans with a wide variety of above and below surface instrumentation, in search of life that may be hidden there. The mission may also integrate a submarine functionality to explore the deeper places of Titan’s Methane seas.

Kuiper Belt Objects & Long-Period Comets

This one kinda combines our sense of mystery and limited understanding of the contributions to existence provided by this region of the solar system. One of the unanswered questions that seems to be puzzling scientists is: where did all the liquid water on Earth come from? How did we get so much? Some scientists think Comets carried it in from the outer solar system during the Late Heavy Bombardment, but there also a lot of research debunking that. However, it can undoubtedly be true that that material Comets and K.B.Os. are made out of contain a lot of organic material, and water (even if its the wrong kind). While having Long-Period Comets collide with the planet is a bummer, the things they leave behind could have greatly contributed if not been directly responsible for life on Earth in the cooling that occurred in the millennia thereafter.

But is there life clinging to existence in a frozen stasis in the distant fringes of the sun’s influence? Did life come from this place originally, long ago, and make its way in towards the sun as gravity distorted orbits? Is it out there now, hiding, waiting to be found?

The real trouble here is that the objects we are discussing are unimaginably far from us to do much more than observe. New Horizons is going to photograph and spectrograph a few of them, but they will not be landed on or otherwise extensively studied up close. As I write this now, that novel probe is an additional 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, headed for another object. The likelihood of life in these places though is inconceivably small. From what we know about life, energy plays a big role in it getting going. There’s almost no energy out there, in the deep cold. The sun is far away, and not providing enough pull or warmth to think active geologic processes are somehow happening by those means. Life would need to have formed with an astonishingly low energy requirement, and from our current models, that doesn’t make sense. Some have thought in situations of binary systems, like Pluto and Charon, that the significant tidal forces could be the reason we observed so much new surface geology and vastly different landscapes on Pluto. That fact, at least means there’s warmth somewhere, enough to melt the frozen Nitrogen and give Pluto the aura of an atmosphere (and blue skies overhead). The possibility of life is low, and the sliver of imagination is that, just a little tiny sliver.

Sadly, objects located in the extended fringe of the sun’s influence are particularly hard to study up close. Landing something on them seems unlikely, as the E.S.A. discovered in its failed Rosetta  landing. Now, the interstellar object in question for the Rosetta mission landed on a Short-Period Comet that was not that far from us, in contrast to where most of the Comets’ buddies are hanging out. Nevertheless, the idea of studying something so potentially volatile and with low gravity presents all sorts of challenges for future Astronomers to ponder. We did, however, crash a probe into a Comet many years ago, and we have also collected organic molecules from their gaseous tails. We know they are made of stuff we have on Earth, but it is unclear what sort of impact (no pun intended) they had.

As far as missions go, getting out to the Kuiper Belt requires a lot of time, and an insane amount of speed. New Horizons, the mission NASA/JPL that gave us all the information we have on Pluto, essentially did a super high-speed drive by at 36,373 miles an hour. Going into orbit around a K.B.O. is not possible at that speed without a DRAMATIC slowdown… which means the probe had to carry more fuel so it could burn some to enter orbit… fuel is heavy and adds extra weight… more weight will make it take longer to get the spacecraft going fast… you see where this is gong. These K.B.O. missions are streamlined, because getting out there as quickly as possible still takes 10 years. The mechanics of landing (more likely, crashing) something on the surface of a Kuiper Belt Object are brutal, and the obstacles to success abound. Even if the spacecraft just fired off a little scientific projectile type instrument of a form, it is uncertain if the descending probe and the spacecraft could be oriented for communication long enough to recover the observations before it got too far from the transmitter.

I think this region will remain unexplored and not fully understood for generations to come.

Conclusions?

Sadly, I don’t think we can draw any; that’s not what these conversations are about. We read, think and wonder. The engine of the imagination roars for a time, then is quiet. I love to sit back and think about all the fascinating things we don’t know, but are trying to figure out. The observable universe is still, fundamentally, not comprehended. Mechanically, we can’t explain why, just like we can’t explain how genesis happened. As a male, I do like conclusions and things that could be considered “done.” Awe for the world has a lot to do with an appreciation and respect for the unknown, and is also a challenge to the interpretation of ourselves in this world. I don’t pretend to have the answer, but that’s not going to stop me from thinking about what the answer could be. The exercise is in exploration, and I do hope you come back and read some more as we will be ranging all over the spectrum with discussion topics.

Thanks for reading, come back again soon for another exciting and imagination-provoking topic.

Images credit: Wikipedia

 

The Other Side

Hey there Blog.

I went on a bit of a scouting mission today, to explore the far side of W El Camino Ave. this would be avoided on weekdays due to a substantive increase in traffic. The journey was very enlightening, and the longes single walk to date.

Just across the street, the path follows the Muck Trench and the water becomes vile and stagnant.

The end of the Muck Trench is some form of treatment plant, or regulatory station for adding/subtracting water. There were still plenty of fish/animals blooping around in the murk.

The trail heads East, paralleling construction sites and businesses for a distance. In one area, there was a very peculiar smell. Musty, but in a twingy way.

Much to my surprise, the paved path came to an end, and interpretation suddenly entered the mix. Now there were choices, divergences and uncertainty. The trail I took looped back to the beginning, and I made no forward progress past Natomas Oaks Park.

Once I was deep in the woods, I found this little bench. It seemed like a nice thing to put here. In such a pleasant place, why not stop to relish?

All in all, an eventful and colorful trip. I felt great by the end, very refreshed and vital. I’ll need to push past the park to complete my eastern voyages, which I will continue to investigate as hazard permits. More visuals to come.

Things I Did

Score: +2.5

Great day of exercise today, as I was motivated to post a decent score during the weekend step challenge (that I started). Among the three walks/fishing trips I took today, this one was the big one:

Walks, especially maintained throughout the day, really do help keep up my vital energy and help me feel good. This is great looking at the map. I hammered that out in 43 minutes.

Along the way, Moo and I went fishing, and I saw some wildlife.

There is so much life here, crawling around and making life noises. Ducks, Herons, Squirrels and Turkeys. I am feeling at home here, and recognizing the rarity of the place I find myself. Many positive aspects despite the afore mentioned negatives.

This place has a nourishing quality to it, even if it is a locale where I feel hunted at times. Predators are here, but I am prepared. No one will defile this place while I have a chance to prevent it. I’ve never lived in a place like this, and I doubt I will again when I move out.

I’ve been ruminating on my feelings about my exes. Ultimately, I think I just need to stop with them altogether. None of them, to this point, have done anything with prolonged positivity or true benefit. It’s not mutual, it never has been, and I’m done. My energy will now go someplace where it will be reciprocated, and stored for a future individual worthy of investment.

Tonight I feel pretty solid despite so many unknowns still in play. Resolutions should not be final, but absorbed, and moved past towards the next resolvable goal.

Things in the mood and confidence department will continue to improve as time goes forward. DUCKIES!!!

Bass Diary

Dear Diary,

I ate a worm that I found. It was food. Then I went in the reeds, but some one else was in there.

Birds kept coming over and looking in. I don’t like them. I try not to move until they leave. Nasty birds.

That man came again. This time he had a noisy thing that he kept throwing at us. Many said it was a fish, but I knew it was not. It was making sounds and several others did not like it. We knew it was not a food, and I kept telling them. This man is an idiot, ignore I’m and he will go away.

Later, I went in the reeds again and there was another worm and a mayfly on top. Now I’m full.

We all talked, and decided to splash water on the man next time he comes. He’s stupid. He will never catch us.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to eat some more, and laugh at me man when he comes in the morning. What stupid thing will he try next? Who cares, he’s dumb. Hahahahahaha!

-{===|]

FLEE! FLEE FOR YOUR LIVES!

Calm down Denethor.

I decided to, despite my skepticism about inclement weather, to go out and try my new and improved Muck Trench Bass-assassin fast retrieve bait. That was going pretty good for a few minutes, casts were long, accurate, retrieve felt good, bait had great vibration in the water, yes.

On the southern horizon, it was looking particularly stormy, but I paid this no mind until the flash of lightning caught my attention.

Lightning is no joke. I can strike miles from the storm center, and only needs an adequate bridge to complete the cataclysmic discharge. I became acutely aware of my circumstance: alone in an open field, a good 15 yards from the nearest tree, waving a graphite stick in the air. The “potential danger” alarm went off. WEEE OOOO WEEEE OOOO!!!

I called Mo to tell her I was fleeing with alacrity, and should be home soon. If not, I may be dead, or crispier than before  and that she should come recover my body if 10 minutes go by and I do not come back.

I have never chugged my clunky chug-sticks faster without breaking into a jog. I got home as the thunder and lightning were increasing in frequency just to the south, and as I watch now on the Doppler, I can see that cell about to go right over the field I was standing in.

At first, I was the hunter seeking my prey, but as I did, a much larger predator came onto the savanna and I ran like a frightened gazelle. Run off my spot by a fucking thunderstorm. Bastards.

Anyway, nothing like a brush with being “hunted” by something large and formidable to put the sparkly fear of God right in the pantaloons.

Preperation

Yesterday’s Evening Score: +2.5

 

I was writing a post, but I got too tired and deleted it. Instead, it’s the following morning and I and I’m doing just fine. I did decide after fishing yesterday that I was done with weed for a while. I was smoking and my only thought was: yuck. It didn’t feel good. This happened to me with cigarettes, and occasionally with coffee… my body just starts saying no to it. So, I’m done.

Anyway, this helps my goal of increasing my cardiovascular health. as of this morning, I am down 11.2 pounds from the beginning of the month. I have done this 220 to healthy weight loss before, about around September-November area. I went from 220 to 189 then gained 35 lbs over the holidays. GOD DAMN COOKIES. The first 15 – 20 lbs come off pretty fast, but then it’s hard to burn the rest of my belly fat off. I will be escalating as I get stronger. Elliptical, fast-walks, muscle building, and Yoga if I can make the time with ** to go and do it.

This week is coming to a conclusion in a few days, and I expect within the next 2 my final interview will be set-up and I will be offered a job n Friday. Which I will take. I can figure on saving 800 every 2 weeks and shelling the rest out for rent and expenses. After a few months though, I’m going to be fucking loaded. Plus the settlement from the lawsuit coming in at some point in the future. It’s just security in case my truck explodes or some other expensive thing happens. Wealth, for me, is based entirely on worth of personality. Must rich people got to be rich by fucking someone else in the ass and leaving them in the street to die, which is not a particularly redeeming/trustworthy personality trait IMHO. If I’m going to have wealth, I don’t want it to be something that defines me in any way. Money corrupts, lots of money corrupts lots more. I’m not sure that’s how that quote goes…

Anyway, ***** is back, and I’m glad she’s safe. It was nice to snap a few texts off yesterday. More face-to-face time is an order though… there is something that misses… it’s a really abstract feeling. Allow me to try to put this into words: It’s like being something on the shelf that is out of place and someone going: oh, let me get that straightened out real quick. Now, take that anecdote from the perspective of the thing on the shelf, and you’re starting to understand the feeling I have, loosely. Way too incorporeal to define, but describing it with similar type things seems to be my only effective way to articulate. Its a filter thing. Anyway.

I have a new sing-along playlist which is good since the other one was getting repetitive. “for whom the bell tolls” is still on there though. Classic. People think I’m insane when I’m lip-syncing on my way to the Best Fishing Spot. Joy pays no mind to doubters.

Have a good morning blog, and here’s hoping I get some time to talk to my friend *************************************** today.

Zero G Slug Attack!

I have been infiltrated by an unwanted gastropod, who hitched a ride on me from some point on my fishing journey this morning. Once I put my jacket away, he crawled up the wall, then onto the ceiling. This is when I spotted him, on approach to deliver what I’m sure was to be the killing blow while I was busy blogging (or otherwise not paying attention to the potential of sky slug). “Son of a bitch!” I shouted, and disposed of the unwanted invader. “A watery death for you!” I cackled madly, my face illuminated from underneath and my eyebrows wildly accented. Muahaha!

I have “created” a new fishing lure (see abomination). As I described earlier, I demolished a rooster tail and added all this trout shit to it. It’s basically the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and the probability of catching anything more than an aquatic plant with it seems astonishingly low.

So I got my fucking dad laughing at me, and that’s probably fair, but nevertheless, he insists I should use “live” bait or food. “Just give me 5 minutes and a cheese ball” he keeps telling me. And I suppose if everyone in professional sports did steroids and got super artificially buff that would be cool too right? OH YAH, LOOK AT MAH MUSCLES? Moral equivalence! Food/live bait is cheating. I’m not fishing for food. There is no urgency, therefore I should be able to procure a fishy by NO OTHER MEANS than through skill/deception. I MUST fool the fish… it is the only way to achieve true honor. If the fish (surely) does not like this latest, sad offering to the gods of temptation, I’ll just come back tomorrow and try something new to fail with. Basically, this is a new low point for me as an angler. I’m not going to let another self-respecting fisherman see what I’m walking over to the water with tomorrow, and I will get to the spot under the cover of near darkness to avoid potential shame.

Ugh. Okay, all is not lost despite the troubling events of earlier. For a minute there though, I had to do a quick trip through the Torah. Locusts, frogs, burning hail, no plague of slugs. Phew. Then I was like, OH SHIT, Revelations though? Was one of the four horsemen a gastropod? FUCK! Was there anything about slugs or possibly flaming slugs (there is a lot of fire and brimstone and earth cracks and shit in there)? Again, phew. There  is no religious significance to today’s sky slug. It is not a herald of the Apocalypse, or a sign of God’s wrath upon the Egyptians (or any other -ians). Always double-check your biblical prophecies; don’t get caught flat footed when the seven headed beast shows up.

I’m coasting on a happy, riding this high to Friday, or maybe Thursday. We shall see. My optimism is astonishingly high, despite being defeated 23 – 0 by a fish. “Fuck you fish. You have nothing on me. Come at me bro!” That’s how we’re going to end this one.

The Calculating Predator

I can’t stay cooped up in here all the time blog, even if the environment is less than desirable. I broke with my medically induced resting period and got back out on the water, a little earlier than most other times I’ve been out there. I needed to go, and be outside, smell the morning air, and see the sun come up.

 

It was dark, like 4:45 or something am. I had a hunch the fish would be particularly chompy today and I was right. For once, the fish were actually biting my lure, however, because they are fucking stupid ass trench fish, they can’t even hit the part of the lure where the hook resides. They are hitting the shiny, twirly, silver blades of the spinnerbait, not the tasseled decoy-fish head with the hooks attached to it. I was distinctly nipped 3-4 times on my 50 – 75 retrieves. I specicically targeted the same ridge on 5 or so consecutive casts, and that’s when I noticed the bites. They do not like being pestered, and they will strike if pestered. Now I just need a bait they will hit and get stuck to.

I was thinking of cannibalizing a rooster tail topwater bait and making it into a sort of double bladed spinner-trout setup with two trebles and 4 spinning blade components, two per arm. I want to try it with the rooster on first, then ax it if they pay that no mind. Today, though fishless, was progress. These pestilent, contaminated trench dwellers have revealed the chink in their armor, the proverbial missing scale on the stalwart otherwise impregnable exterior of the dragon. Now I know how I’m going to defeat you, little fishy fishbrains. Your days of peace are dwindling fast.

The wind was with me today, so I got to practice a revised casting motion that allows my left hand to generate the “flick” to send the lure flying, rather than snapping the setup forward with my wrist, and leaving the left hand out of it. I had much better control after a few dozen casts, and was pinpointing boils when they happened (shit bit of good it did me). Muscle memory will take time, but the motion is fluid, effective and natural.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my 10,000+ steps a day. BOY can I tell when I’m not keeping up with my routine. I get lethargic, slow, achy, grumbly… it’s bad. But active, I feel loose, aware/alert, ready and can easily access a great deal of energy. Exercise, sun, breathing big deep breaths… there’s a lot meds can do for you, but they can’t do that. I’ll be back later today I imagine as things unfold.

 

Discovered Land

By that I mean personally; there are no new lands being charted. However, I do tend to start naming things in my environment once I become established. Below you will find a map of my new home and the various places I have marked and named. Explanations provided. The area, in general will be known as the Muck Trench and the surrounding foliage Muck Trench Woods.

 

Welcome to: Muck Trench Proper

 

1. The Sky Bridge: goes over the 80 and is the only way to get to the best fishing spot. Puts the fear of impending death on you every time you cross

2. Best Fishing Spot: where I stand around waving my stick in the air and catching nothing while fish laugh in my face

3. Alternate Fishing Spot: there is good mojo here, but no fish… which leads you to wonder what the fuck said mojo is really doing?

4. Long Road: this is the area where a Grass Bear would be most likely to strike, beware (distant, more aggressive relative of Sand Bear)

5. Far Outpost: possibly radioactive, possibly lost alien hardware, possibly the doom of humankind… 100% mystery

6. Sleepy Spot: never looked very comfortable, and now it’s kinda dead, and scattered about like a lion kill

7. Near Outpost: not too far from the road and the spider union has its lodgings here (SUMT local 888 [we let the Black Widows decide the numbers])

8. Popular Fishing Spot: just as mucky as the rest of the Trench but here you can park a car and take in the smells up close

 

My starting point is always to cut through Barandas Park to get at the paved walking trail. You must “bushwack” a few feet to get from paved road by the sky bridge to Muck Trench service road where the rest of the trail goes. This is the one I need to take *** on and see what she if she thinks it’s as exciting as I do. Lots of fuzzy animals running around, pesticide loaded scuz pit to our left… noice. Some nature better than broken solo cup and homeless guy sleeping for scenery on my walks in El Cajon.

I’m geared up for another fantastic week in my newfound home, starting with my warmline and trip to the NAMI office today. I need to tell David that I am now very actively seeking employment due to my recent acceleration of life-timetables. I want him to have first crack. I know I need to make at least as much as I was at my last job If I want to afford a 1BR around here. I’m doing a budget spreadsheet this morning in preparation for my eventual transition. Without calculation, planning and care, well-intended steps towards progress can sometimes be misplaced. So for now, we are in the stages of the process where everything gets figured out before we execute (by “we” I am referring to myself, my PM and my Architect). A lot like building something with blueprints. Look at them for a good long time and make sure that with the way it’s drawn, that it will all fit together again when they have to go out and build the thing.

I’m tired of not being the Lord of my own castle, with an Iron Throne to perch myself on and hand out edicts to my vassals (which at this point would consist of any insect or rodent that would have wandered onto the premises). I need a pit full of slaves looking sad, and another pit with slaves fighting hundreds of very angry tortoises. Ah yes, my reign will be long and prosperous. “Bring your Lord some more Saltines!”

So blog, I’m going to the office today so I get to fancycate myself and smell less like moldy elephant splatters and more like “fresh” human. Hooray! I’m starting up at 8, then heading over to the office at 10. I have a great deal of optimism for myself about the direction I have decided to go. I am still sad to see my parents self-destructing just beyond my ability to do anything about. I feel less flabbergasted today, but still resolved to seek alternative living arrangements as soon as possible. I just don’t need roommates, not even my parents, though I love them both. I need to be in my own space, by myself, in charge of what happens in the environment and secure in a self-defined kingdom of my own control. I feel this is a healthy step towards better individuation, albeit, sounding a bit like a maniacal overlord planning a takeover rather than a mentally ill person making a healthy life transition. There are more possible future outcomes that lead to happiness for me now if I move out on my own than if I were to stay in this box.

It’s already off to a good start, this week, and I eagerly await the next few days as my foot presses harder onto the gas pedal; racing forward towards the promise of better days. I’ll be checking in here through the day… so bai for now!

 

Nope

Hello again. I’m cancelling today’s trip to the Murky Trench due to injury. I went from not fishing for 2+ years to fishing every day, and needless to say, something broke. I have a sort of flick-and-guide cast motion from my right side, and one of my forearm muscles utilized in this motion is ouch. Positive it’s tendonitis and it will require time to get right, as I have had this sort of thing before for different reasons (word to the wise, don’t jerk off more than 12 times in a day). The motion of turning my forearm over at the elbow as I cast is where the pain happens. Well, fish, it looks like there is a Fish Jesus after all. Lucky little fuckers. I’m coming back. Enjoy the break… while it lasts.

So, I’m going to try to walk a bit further than normal today as, though still fishing is clearly a LEISURE ACTIVITY not a SPORT, it does require stamina to do it for any length of time with a fast-retrieve bait. I cast anywhere from 35 – 65 times a morning depending on how many bugs there are. It does take a particular set of muscles to launch a spinnerbait a few dozen yards, just like it takes wrist and ass strength to drive a NASCAR round and round for hours. Also, not a sport. Golf is on the border… if they did less walking I’d say Leisure Activity but those fuckers do burn the calories.

I’m not one of those anglers who’s all serious and shit. Yeah, like when have I ever been serious about anything other than fucking up my life? I’m the misguided angler, the one too stubborn to adapt and be successful, the one who thinks his attitude of denialism will somehow lead to a fish. Hmmm, this introspective journey has led me to a corner I cannot bullshit my way out of. New paragraph!

So I’m going to need to vent from time to time out here about these Goddamn fish. All this time they’re going to their little cocktail parties and they’re discussing my tiny human brain and stupid head/face over their dry Vodka martinis. FUCK YOU GUYS. Laugh it up Fishies. Enjoy this little peak moment when you feel like you are all safe, secure and not harassed by an annoying angler. These days of quiet are numbered pally. For you and all your little swimmy friends. Soon. The Reckoning!

I feel like I should quote John’s Revelation or something, but chances are, these Bass haven’t read the New Testament and they totally wouldn’t get it. Wait, are the fish reading my blog? How would they see this? HOLY SHIT. Epiphany. Boom.

Hope you have a good morning blog. I need to sit in the shower for a while and loosen up my muscles, while also cleansing myself of all the stuck-on food, poop, pee splatter and fungus off my epidermis. Talk to you later.

Bright and Early

I got up to go pee and couldn’t go back to sleep. There were a barrage of inner-mental distractions as soon as I regained consciousness which I will need to clarify at some point down the road on the secret black curtain blog that none of you know about. Anyway, I’m starting my morning routine of waking up toad frog ass early in the morning and going fishing. I’m will be walking over there about a quarter after five and spend an hour or so on the water, then walk the .85 or .9 miles back. All before 7 am too.

I’ve really changed my Chapter 2 playlist to pretty much strictly contain songs I can sing, or lip sync with astonishing accuracy and pizazz. This is all part of the good. I’m feeling like I have my performing arts fire lit a little bit. This is fabulous timing since I’m interested in being a part of the In Your Own Voice program with NAMI (almost entirely public speaking).

I have also come up with a new and exciting way to torment my parents under the guise of being thoughtful. I came across a pad of sticky notes and my immediate thoughts were how I could abuse the medium to do much more than the meager Post-It was ever thought to be capable. This morning is a prime example of this newfound philosophical approach: I fed the cat early, while my parents were asleep, which yesterday, resulted in the cat being fed twice (it fooled my mom by being absurdly pathetic and cute). I needed a way to convey to the family that the cat food should be left alone, because the cat was already sated from a predawn feast (and is not a Hobbit, therefore, requires no Second Breakfast). I grabbed a sticky and transcribed the following message, and I’d like to see who’s pop-culture whiskers get a tingle with this one. A correct identification of the reference earns you my awe, and a little crown I made just now out of an unused tissue.

The note read:

“All these worlds are yours except:

CAT FOOD

Attempt no landing there. 
Use them together.
Use them in peace.”

 

I eagerly await some form of response from them, or possibly, likely, a burst of insane laughter. This is only the beginning though blog. I have dozens of these Post-Its. They are soon to be appearing in “seemingly” random places, bearing a message of some relevance in a highly cryptic or possibly indecipherable fashion. I’m not sure yet if this is all going to be part of a larger, comprehensive propaganda campaign or possibly just something that torments with answers that cannot be unpacked from the insane cookie jar they came from. Frankly though, we need all the help we can get, legit or not. WEB’s numbers are sagging in the polls and the fucking midterms are nearly upon us! We have to do something drastic.

 

Bassholes

I’m deep with stubbornness, determination and grit. These fish have lived their cushy little lives in this obscenely foul trench for long enough. Now they are dealing with a REAL foe. An enemy of incalculable persistence.

Here’s the plan:

Lucky gold/silver 1oz spinnerbait all day all the time until their willpower crumbles.

Oh, so you think that’s funny do you? I’m telling you, as an angler, I have a strategy. There are two things that determine whether or not you are going to catch a fish with an artificial lure:

A) You can deceive the fish into thinking whatever you have is food and food worth pursuing and eating at that (this takes actual skill and psychic powers)

or

B) Irritate the fish into destroying your annoying lure with its mouth (any buffoon can do this, if determined)

 

It doesn’t have to want to eat my spinnerbait, it just has to be tired enough of either seeing it or hearing it to give it reason to attack. Especially since Bass will be spawning, and big mama Bass will be feverishly protecting her eggs.

 

Not such a terrible plan after all? Right. I know at this point the lot of you have your doubts. I have been at it for multiple days with nigh a sniff of interest. You all have good reason to also think I’m destined for failure. One thing you may not know about me, is that I can be pretty annoying when I want to be, and tomorrow, I’m feeling rather keen to annoy some Bass, and not just for a few minutes either. So Blog, I’m resolved to punish these stubborn fishes with my super shiny and ultra noisy bait until some member of fishy trench society takes umbrage.

One of these days blog, there will be a picture up here of me with my thumb on a big fat Bass lip. Then we’ll see who’s laughing then, Chubs.

Damn These Fucking Fish

Today they mocked me openly, even 4 of them boiling AROUND MY LURE, not biting it, just ignoring it, avoiding it even. Those saucy fucks. I’m pissed now.

There are big bass in there, because one came right out of the water in front of me. Hi there HOOMAN, just try to catch this!

Okay, so I’m determined now. I see the direction I need to go, and I think I can catch a fish TODAY. Yeah, that’s right, TODAY. I’m done playing marshmallow fun softball. Time to catch a fucking fish.

I’m INVENTING a new rig to try and appeal to the needs of my constituents. They are micro small feeding off tiny gnats and mosquitos, so I need to get light and small. I’m going topwater plastics. All you anglers out there are like: Um, what did you just say? No seriously, I need something that is going to float or nearly float, is small, light, colorful and capable of being giggled and vibrated. I need to become a bug. I’m in the bug’s head right now, flying around, thinking about bug things, and then WHAMO, dead. See people, this is some serious shit. I’m not fucking the monkey squirrel in the ass anymore, I’m all dressed up and going to prom.

I hope today is the day I conquer the trench of unspeakable stubbornness. I need a victory after 6 -8 uneventful visits to the muck pit.

A Decision Made

I had been living in a world of ambiguity, unsure as to what direction I would be headed. I didn’t know if I should continue to be true to my workplace or to march ahead with my life helping the mentally ill. I needed clarity and things were coming to a head.

As of this moment, my independent life is over. I am living in my parent’s living room for the next 7 months. We are all, as I have stated in previous posts, moving north in July 2018. I had hoped to be working and saving money during that time, but instead I have sued my workplace for discrimination. That process has moved forward to the point of a formal demand letter. I did not know what my future was going to be and perhaps I still don’t. However, I do have some clarity that I want to spend my time helping people and getting back in touch with my peers. I have been a cog in the corporate machine before, and I reject that as a meaningful contribution. I want meaning. I NEED to be doing something that has an impact. I’ve solved problems for customers, yes. It is not the same as picking someone up off the floor and helping them walk again.

I do believe the lawsuit will be settled out of court. The money I receive should be comparable to what I would have made if I still worked most of next year. I hope that I can be kept occupied by my new direction. I need a formal, professional, helpful relationship to engage with. Life has been a scramble with me moving out, and the dust is beginning to settle. I feel like I am headed in the right direction, but there is still quite a bit to be done. Today I have my interview with NAMI at 4. I am very excited to meet them and express my enthusiasm for the opportunity.

I am definitely in a fiction place rather than non fiction. I am rebooting The Realm for my friends and running a d20 game. First one I’ve run in maybe 10 years. I’ve always been down to run games, I just never had the spark. I seem to have found that now, at least, which has spurned a beautiful creative process. I have written a great deal of fiction, none of which is in any sort of final state. I will however post my most polished turd for you to gawk at. Creative input requested!

As the days go on, the future resolves itself further. I’m encouraged by the progress I’ve made and glad to have something fun to ponder about. The story  have in mind for them is QUITE compelling. Dramatic. Inspiring. Own horn. Tooted.

Eve

It’s football eve, and I’m doing fine. I spent some time throwing the Frisbee with Tristan today in Santee. It was refreshing the three of us being there together having fun. He was happy to see me. All in all, very positive. I even invited them over to my house tomorrow during the games. I know that time with him is limited now that Amanda only has occasional custody. We are going to play chess and have fun. Good times will be had.

It’s another night alone here in the apartment and I seem to be doing fine. I had a good session with Margaret today. We talked for more than a therapeutic hour and delved into my solitude issues. I was telling her how hyper-vigilant I am against feeling sad or overly bored. I continue to find ways to distract myself and keep my mind occupied to avoid this, but she suggested that I actually, deliberately concentrate on happy things. She wants me to think about the progress I have made to get here, and the long relationship I have with Amanda, and how I have a steady job and have been stable on my meds for an extended period of time. It’s literally occupying the mind with something good instead of letting it drift to think about something bad by default. I have to force these thoughts into my head to crush the others that come in. It was an innovation I had not come up with on my own. So I’m going to give it a try next time I get to feeling solitary or sad. I think it will totally work.

Well blog, things are going pretty good. It’s a mildly important week in FFL, a week that I am pretty 50 – 50 about. I really am leaning on having some below average performances since the match ups aren’t pointed my way this week. Only a couple have a solid forecast of going off, so who knows. I’m looking for Tyerell Williams, C.J. Fedorowicz and Steffon Diggs to have big days despite being an outside shot to do much in the way of scoring. I expect Gordon to be worth something, and Le’Veon Bell has a tough match up this week. He could easily be stymied all day and I wouldn’t be shocked. I’m hoping a couple of my fliers go off and save the below average output of my powerhouse players. I decided to go 2 QBs in my work league… since it seems everyone else was. So I’m starting Newton and Prescott, who I intent to generate some rushing yardage as well as having stellar days through the air. Both have a sot at a rushing TD as well which would greatly help my cause. My roster in the work league is better then the one I have in the family league. But I’m 6-3 in both leagues right now, but like I said, I could very easily 6-4 in both leagues by this time tomorrow. I’d say 60%/40% I lose both games.

So I don’t have much hope. It would really put the dagger in my cousin if I win and I’m not particularly interested in being the one to do it. I like a competitive race and in her division, she would have a difficult time staying relevant if she loses, with only 4 games left to play. I could afford a loss, but she probably can’t She’d have to win out to stay relevant and even then, 7-6 is no certainty of a playoff berth with a team 2 games up on her in 2nd. So in reality, I’d like it to be competitive to show me if my guesses were correct about certain players, but do I mind losing? Not at all. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Expectations at a record low.

Things

Score: +3

9.5 hours is best spent busy, so that minutes do not agonize forward at an insufficient speed. I’m much better off that way. Boredom is frustrating. 

I think things are going well. I have no complaints about the way my life is going. My energy has been ok. I avoid smoking after 4:00 pm or so on weekdays. I’ve found that it’s significantly harder to get up and go the next morning. I need allies during those first few moments of awareness, not enemies. If I get to sleep in I say fuck it and smoke till I pass out. This is a gross exaggeration of the facts. 

I’ve gotten back into Edain now that a couple new factions have been patched (Dwarves and Lothlorien). I really like the elves. Getting to silverthorn arrows quickly is key to victory. They have no cavalry, which I am pleased with, and three different types of archer. The top tier one is gross. They knockback cavalry before they can be trampled. It’s fun to watch. Dwarves I’m still figuring out. I don’t like MMing battlewagons. It’s irritating.

I worked my way through the entire 1 v 1 map list with the AI set on hard, and I’m starting from the top with it set for brutal. I have won five games, but I’m stuck on Brandywine. Brutal gets after you pretty fast. They just dial up the flow and hope they can smother you in bottom tier units. I’ve found victory in holing off my destruction long enough to get elite units out in devastating quantities. I won most with Gondor/Arnor. 

I have been trying to keep myself entertained so that I don’t slide. I’m afraid of my mood dipping because of my circumstances and depreciating energy levels. I’m doing the best I can to stay proactive. Games help. They allow me to develop a plan and fund its creation. RTS is truly my genre for this reason. And to have one so deeply entrenched in a fantasy universe that I adore? Perfection. And the game is only getting better as time goes on, with Angmar waiting in the wings to be released soon. 

Will is just now getting back into WoW. I’m kinda over it for the time being. I did a lot of work in that game. I leveled my professions to max, and then dropped one, and leveled the new one to max. I’m not in to never ending RPG right now. Not the right kind of thinking involved. I need something more encompassing and grandiose. 

Well, anyway. I have to work tomorrow. But I get the rest of the month off. I get an extra hour of sleep. At least. 

#1001

Score: +3

I’d say that’s a good score for a busy Monday. I handled my work today, dealing with some big issues that floated my way. This has become a big part of what I do now, I talk with my manager and resolve upper-level requests. I think my coworkers just assume I do nothing all day, because I don’t take many incoming calls when the tickets flood in. Then again, I don’t give two cooked shits what they think. 

The boy was out of control this weekend. He was grumpy that we had to leave the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center once we had done every activity on both floors. He pouted that he didn’t get a toy, which we was denied because he refused to take direction on multiple occasions. Amanda and I gave up on walking with him because all he could do was brood and stomp. We put him in the stroller and went over to the San Diego gem and mineral society. They had some outstanding samples there, including a huge blue Topaz. 

The boy went to his dad’s today, and we have heard that he got in trouble at school for talking during class. His dad is very machismo, which is funny considering he’s a pasty emotionless goth. But his dad spanks him, and doesn’t positively reinforce good behavior, just administers punishment. I think that will build resentment over time. 

Today marked the conclusion of week one in the National Football League. Both my fantasy teams won, which is a treat considering week one is quite possibly the hardest of the 17. Why? No trends, no data, just guessing. I guessed good. 

Time is zooming by. Tomorrow marks the 9th month of being in a relationship with Amanda. Has it really been 9 months? Things still feel very new. Maybe because we are still learning about each other. This relationship is a promising partnership. We have been growing together, and enjoying some fantastic memories. I feel like there are many more things we have yet to do with each other. 

Overall, this was a good Monday. It could have been much worse. 

Welcome Back, Slappy

Score: +2.5

Some kinda day I had. All the turmoil seemed to have accumulated over the long weekend, making today an arduous nightmare. There was a crisis at work, which was not of my doing, but involved me on multiple levels of scrutiny and with much questioning from my superiors. It was acutely stressful, to the point of inflicting me with a severe headache by the end of the day. I pushed through the obstacles as they became apparent, but the work I had to do today was impossible to resolve by myself. I got no help from my colleagues, and never got caught up. I must have done 20 or more tickets, and there were 20 more left to do. Sigh. I don’t like having lots of loose ends.

So stressful… yes. But now I’m home and relaxing. We have the boy, and he’s been getting into trouble lately. His dad wants to discipline him with spanking, but we don’t do that when we have him. I don’t think violence teaches anything but fear. His dad insists on coming over to spank him if we won’t do it. I think that’s weird. But it’s his kid, and if he wants to lay the groundwork for resentment that’s up to him. 

Mentally I’m doing ok. I had my opportunity to relax over the weekend. I feel recharged, even if today was just crazy. I survived, and I feel like I was able to let go of my stress. I didn’t bring anything home with me. 

It’s going to get hot again here in the desert southwest this week. It’s 94 in the apartment at 7:00 pm. Bummer. 

In other news, Amanda and I are continuing to play Minecraft, and I am having fun with it. The current objective is to find pockets of rare ore for the building of advanced objects. I have a mine that goes all the way down to bedrock, and I’m sniffing around down there for Redstone, Gold and Diamond. I have found a ton of Redstone but very little of the other two. I have also collected some Obsidian, which I made by dumping a bucket of water onto some lava. It can be mined without incident as long as there is fresh water flowing over it. However, I learned this the hard way by falling into said lava for my first death on our server. I had lots of good shit in my inventory, and it all burned up. 23 levels, gone. But it’s to be expected. 

Tristan us curious about what we are doing, because he plays in “creative” mode, which disables monsters, day/night, health and gives you everything you could want in the game right from the start. He gets frustrated in “survival” mode because he’s used to being invincible and not having to deal with mobs. He was watching us wanting to play on our server, until we told him that he would be mortal. 

I’m attempting to relax here in bed while the temperature is peaking. It’s going to be beat 100 tomorrow. 

Goodnight. I feel quite tranquil, and ready for another day tomorrow. 

Escape From Certain Doom

Scire: +3.5

The final chapter of our glorious three day respite was one to be remembered. We had to go get food and household essentials at some point, but morning was difficult to escape from. I got the Geodon drowsies after I ate some eggs 1.5 hours after taking my meds, and Amanda said she wasn’t ready to get up after she emerged from sleep. So we were both up for a bit, but then right back to bed. Just to give you an idea, I got a large black coffee with THREE shots of espresso in it, and when the med-induced fog hit me, I went straight to sleep no more than an hour after my last sip. No caffeine buzz can defeat this enemy. The only thing I have seen that works is marijuana, but morning is not a good time to do that (unless you have your mind set on doing nothing all day and going to bed early). 

So we accomplished our all important shopping trip by 11 or so and had the rest of the day to have fun. Amanda has recently exposed me to a new game (to me) called Minecraft. In it, you are able to build or destroy any part of the world, which is infinite in all directions. You can build a castle, and plunder the secrets of the earth underfoot at one’s discretion. Amanda is more a builder, where I am a digger. I launched a private server and we got to work, from scratch, building a house and exploring the deeps. As good fortune would have it, there was already an extensive network of caves under the place we chose to build a house. In it, we found riches beyond reckoning. However, we delved deeper and deeper, and eventually we were trapped in the darkest of caverns attempting to follow our torches back to safety (which was the fail safe plan). But there was no road that led out. Everywhere was a dead-end. I couldn’t figure out how we got down there with no way out… I was baffled. And a sense of urgency began to set in, as in Minecraft your avatar will starve to death if you don’t eat food regularly. And I was reaching that point. Why is this bad? Because all the great shit I had found down in the cave would be trapped right where I died, never to be seen again. In death, all possessions and experience are lost. It’s like starting over. I could not let that be our fate. So we dug up, and up, and eventually came back out of the cave into a field. I wandered up to a high point and scoured the horizon for our house. Just as I was sure we were too far from it to get back in time, I saw it. Our precious safety structure guiding us back to home. It was an awesome, terrifying adventure. 

It’s back to work tomorrow, and I think it will be just fine. Only a four day week. 

Pile-Diggers

Score: +4

Amanda and I made the trek up to the Oceanview Mine here in San Diego county and boy was it worth it. The mine features Tourmaline primarily, with some Beryl (Aquamarine and Morganite), Kunzite and Quartz. The deal is: you pay an entry fee and they provide you with a workstation which is composed of two sifting screens and a water trough. You are then to gather your dirt from a massive pile of mining tailings in the center with all the workstations positioned around it. You bring the dirt back to your station and pour it through the strainers, first catching the larger rocks, cleaning them, and inspecting them, and then moving on to the second screen, with all the little pieces.

It’s a labor-intensive process, and it takes many buckets before anything is found. But find we did! First, Amanda pulled this Quartz crystal right off the big screen. She was one of the only ones to find an intact crystal.


While you are digging, it’s hard to tell what you got. I picked up this sample, but it wasn’t until I got home that I was able to identify it as a rare clear Toutmaline called Achrodite.


Towards the end of the dig, I found an Aquamarine in my small strainer… I was jazzed, because the guy next to me had done twice as many buckets and he hadn’t found shit.


Amanda and I both picked a sample of Morganite, hers the larger one.


So we made off with some precious gems to put in the tumblers. We were pretty tired after a while, and didn’t stay the whole time. But we got our fair share of loot. It was a very successful and fun trip. I am glad we did it.

However, my body is very sore and tomorrow might be tough. Price paid for fun.

Ultimate Apocalypse – The Hunt Begins

The February news is out, and the word is encouraging. It looks like they are trying to have it ready before the end of the month, which would be sick. We are hoping to receive a fully polished skirmish mode, with an advanced AI capable of multiple strategies and build orders. And not to mention all the new shiny content they are giving us. I’m really excited. The Hunt Begins has been in development for a long time, and has now arrived at the end of the road. Soon we will all have command of the deadly Chaos Daemons and the mighty Inquisition Daemonhunters, and my favorite factions will all have been reworked and had new units added to them. Right on. They have no changelog yet, but I imagine it would be immense when compared to the last release.

I have been waiting patiently for one of my three mods to emerge, and so far, UA is taking the reigns. Edain has a public release planned for the the first quarter 2015, but there’s still a month and a half of that left. The Improvement Mod is currently broken as the modder scrambles to get the wild animals bug fixed. Right now, shrines don’t attract herds, which basically makes the Japanese useless. But I haven’t felt like I wanted to play AOE 3 lately. I’ve been thinking THB would be my first chance to try out a new mod, and now that looks to be the case. The mod team has said there will be some waiting to do yet, but SOON.

Some Assorted Samples

 

IMG_0242 IMG_0244 IMG_0245

These were some of the colorful jaspers we found (yellow, green and red) with brown chalcedony and jadeite of varying colors, notably blue and green. They represent an amalgamation of various rockhounding trips we have been on over the years around California. Some remarkable specimens, very unique, you would be hard-pressed to see another one like it, ever.  They are unique snapshots into geologic history, and represent the sometimes mixed state of minerals coalescing at formation points deep in a pegmatite or similar place. We take them in a raw state and reduce them in size over the course of a month of rolling them around in a rock tumbler, with changing grits to perfect the rounding and polishing components of the procedure. We have more waiting in the wings, and some of the quartz and red aventurine from this most recent batch did not polish all the way, and will need at least 5 days more in the tumblers with some ceramic pellets to help them shine up nice. I will be photographing those once they are done, and once the next two barrels next week. For now, some great pieces, more soon to come.

Contrasts

I just spent the last couple of hours playing Diablo II with Amanda, and we had a great time. She’s really funny, and we were laughing our asses off the whole way through.

It bring into focus the last time I tried to play this game with someone. I’m still the same me, but change the partners and a huge transformation of results takes place. Not to get too into it or anything, but this new experience was a dramatic reversal from my last good-intended attempt. Amanda is open to suggestion, and understands that the Tank (me) leads and the DPS (her) follows where I go. The DPS doesn’t run off alone and get into a fight. That’s not how it works. Jax didn’t want anyone telling her what to do, ever, so she resented me for leading. She said I was too controlling.

Tonight’s highly entertaining and reasonable session was more on par with what I had hoped gaming with someone would be like. Everyone knows their rolls, we share and split gear, we designate who is picking up what, and it represents a coordinated effort of two experienced gamers having fun. It’s not a personal attack designed to make one person dominant over the other. Self-consciousness has no place on the innocuous world of video games. Diablo II should be about having a good time with a friend. And that we did; rendering a great deal of laughter and tomfoolery. That’s the way it SHOULD be. And I haven’t changed how I play Diablo II, I just changed the players involved and got a massively different outcome.

Amanda is really funny. Of Blood Raven she said: I need me some more mana potions so I can kill dis bitch. And had a squeal of joy for every loose stone we turned over that had gems hiding underneath it. She’s a pleasure to game with, and we had a great time knocking out the first two quests of act 1.

But now it is my bed time. I’m in a great mood. I have finally found an intelligent, confident and experienced gamer to roam the virtual countryside with. And that’s an awesome feeling. It’s not because I’m just a big controlling asshole, it’s just s matter of finding the right partner.

Tau Empire vs Chaos Space Marines (Ultimate Apocalypse – Game Notes)

I didn’t think I still had moves, but I do. I was in some doubt as to the potency of the Tau ranged offense. But not any more. I had a timely 22 minute victory over the AI, left right in the mode at which I last fought competitively with the AI. So I figured, I’d wear my best, and play Tau against a random, and of ALL the options, it drew Chaos Space Marines. You know, the only one I faced when I played duels with Will? Yeah, ironic. So it was like a backyard scrap, a sentimental showdown, and battle at full speed when my rig is just starting to have the dust shaken off of it. Time to go!

 

Map: Frostbite River
AI Difficulty: Harder

00:00 – 05:25
At this point I’ve managed to get a cluster of drones down to the north end (my side of the river) slag deposit and will rapidly have a generator up. I’m quick to notice he’s already kiting my stealthsuits off their posts at either critical location on my side. I build a kroot barracks on my side near the power generator, and at that moment we began to trade posession of each other’s critical locations. He rapidly filled in to the south, clustering some ranged infantry and cultists down near the entrance down there, and my two listening posts (with the first level turret improvement purchased) could not hold them off alone. They may have been able to push past them, but I kept feeding them squads of gun drones, which their melee things ate pretty rapidly, but it kept hem distracted, and my turrets laid down suppressing fire, uninhibited or threatened. That wore them out. I sent a squad of fully upgraded fire warriors down there to investigate, but they ran into trouble rapidly in the form a mechanized dreadnought which ate them (mostly) for lunch. As this sad thing was happening near my relic (with a tier 2 cannon upgrade purchased), a command squad of battlesuits was on it’s way down there. It never got out of hand from that moment on.

05:25 – 10:35
We’ve gone back and forth in the north. My kroot barracks unleashed the alphas on the infidels hiding in the south. They ran screaming before the carnage. Order restored to my perimeter, I moved my command units back to the north, where I had taken the enemy’s critical location on that side of the map with the help of the kroot hounds I had stationed there. Followed swiftly by that useful battalion of surviving fire warriors from their encounter with the dreadnought. Since having been reenforced and upgraded with all the finery, are ready for action on the front. I have moved north, and have pinned them back behind the perimeter of their base, with their tier 1 turreted listening posts firing back at me. In the south a new situation has come to light, that is, the arrival of the tipping point in the game: skyray missile gunships.

10:35 – 22:33
It was a merciless, costly push. I took the relic on his side, and the other critical location, and had him back behind the perimeter, and no where else. Or so I thought… after capturing the southern most critical location, the line of sight it provided revealed an enemy power generator built on the slag pit. It was precarious, because I could not divert any units away from the front to go over there and destroy it. But fortune favors the patient. The skyrays (3 of them) I had queued up from earlier were deploying, and once their long range missiles were upgraded, hammered that power generator until it moved no more. Then they turned their weapons loose on the front. My units, indifferent to the heavy bombardment, proceeded to annihilate all remaining standing units as they were bounced and pummeled by missile artillery. It was rapid disingtigration from there. They mustered more units, even a big shambling walker thing, but my commanders had long since been upgraded and reenforced, and were deadly effective killing machines. They were followed with sunfire battlesuits, once the home base slammed tier 4. It was over before they even got there.

 

Game Time: 22:33

MILITARY

Units KIlled: 121
Units Lost: 55
Buildings Razed: 17
Buildings Lost: 0

ECONOMY

Egregious (Tau Empire)
Requisition: 21380
Power: 15962

AI Harder (Chaos Space Marines)
Requisition: 13252
Power: 9081

TECHNOLOGY

Research Count: 29
Enemy Research Count: 10
Captured Strategic Points: 4
Enemy Captured Strategic Points: 4Captured Critical Locations: 6
Enemy Captured Critical Locations: 3
Captured Relics: 2
Enemy Captured Relics: 2

The Edain Mod 4.0 NEWS

In a stunning turn of events, a content release is in the works. Turns out, they can create a demo version of the mod, with 4 races perfected (Gondor, Rohan, Isengard and Mordor) and ready for play. SWEET DUDE! Two of my favorites are already done and playable, I rather like that. So that will be happening sometime in the next three months, but probably sooner rather than later, as the gameplay videos so far have looked really polished. I don’t understand all the rallying and retreating they do in the gameplay videos, but maybe this is a mechanics thing that will become apparent to me as I play. I will be trying my hand with Gondor / Arnor (if they still switch to Arnor on northern maps), but I imagine I have a lot to learn about the new capture and hold expansion and node-based construction. But the game itself looks amazing. The units are highly detailed and well textured. The new maps they’ve built are all just eye-candy. They’ve 100% changed the core game, and created something new, epic, diverse and challenging. I’ve watched the livestream, and I’m genuinely excited. It will be like learning a whole new game over agian, but it’s a challenge I look forward to immensely. And with Mordor as a surefire backup, I should be set for countless hours of entertainment.

 

I just had a game on patch 2.01, and it’s like I remember it being before the first Edain mod came out, very fast-paced and unit heavy right from the get-go, expand the colony or die. And games were pretty fast too, like 18 minutes or less, depending on how far into upgrading buildings I got. But that way of gaming is going out the window, because the new Edain 4.0 will have bases and capture points nestled all over the map, garrisoned by creeps to start, but soon taken over by one side or the other, and used to create new buildings and units. It’s an innovative idea, like Dawn of War’s node capture and hold idea, but taken to a new level, where once the node is captured, it can produce units or research technology (which seems like a way cooler use of the node than JUST to gather resources). I don’t even know how the new resource system works, but it surely must, because they’re already having competitive games. I just can’t wait to try it out.

Soon we will have access to this phenomenal game, the lore and history built into it. They have a heroes sub mod which adds in the minor players back into the playable units pool. Like the two blue wizards, and many other second age characters. I’m quite ecstatic over this breaking news.

The Americans on Large California (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

This one started off on shaky ground, but with a little help from a standing army protecting the perimeter, I was able to stomp the AI into the mud. The computer tends to send many attacks as a native civ, and early, which is where I was caught off guard. I had enemies in my base at the 8 minute mark and they foolishly ran right to my town center and were devoured by the structure then garrisoned with all my frightened villagers. I had very few standing troops at that time, and resolved to change that in case new attacks were on the horizon. I used a home city shipment to get myself some outlaw pistoleros, and had the barracks working double-time on marines and colonial militia. Once I was protected to some extent, I built my command post and proceeded to ship (over the course of the game) 11 armies of 6 redcoats. With a ranged attack of 25 at age 2, they were one of the more powerful units I had at my disposal. By the time they had mustered and were ready to march (in age 5) their ranged attack had gone up to 48, with a hefty siege attack as well. Riflemen at the same age had a ranged attack of 25, just to put things in perspective. I believe there are 2-3 home city cards which boos all ranged unit’s attacks in the American deck, and possibly more to come once the export cards are removed.

 

Victory was well in hand when I made the turn at age 4, and I was soon to sent 3 battalions of (mostly) ranged infantry into enemy territory to finish the job. Even though I made it to age 5, I did not buy any unit upgrades. I was managing my offensive and figured I had the thing won, with or without the unit improvements. I had two factories cranking coin and food, so my unit supply was always peaking. I had 3 total town centers, all with an envoy gathering fame, so those precious redcoats were easy to amass. They went in and annihilated standing units in the enemy base, killing a great deal of villagers who were trying to flee the fighting, but ran into my western approach army first. Rapidly, the two town centers the AI had constructed were down. I had two gatling guns but they were hardly used. In all, I believe I could have marched late age 3 and met just as little resistance as I did when I sat back and gave the AI time. They continued to attack with less than a full battalion of melee cavalry and archers, which were all met with death and removed quickly from my side of the battle-line. I don’t understand the AI moving in on my town center with only 3-5 cavalry. There’s no way a force that small will even survive the defensive capabilities of my town center, let alone destroy it. It was a foolish gesture, in what was a resounding victory. Seeing all hope lost very early into the demolition, the AI surrendered after losing only 7 buildings, 2 of which were town centers. I am starting to long for a human opponent, because the AI is disappointing, and on Expert difficulty, it must surely cheat and attacks very, very early and goes into “rapidly kill all villagers” style gameplay, which I hate.

 

There are some more games that will be coming out here in the next couple of months. The Edain mod will soon release Edain 4.0 which is a complete overhaul of The Battle For Middle Earth II: The Rise Of The Witch King. It completely changes the resource system, building mechanics, and units. Total conversion, and a lot based off the heroes and legends of the J.R.R. Tolkien lore in the appendices of The Return Of The King, and other historical publications. I just got the game reinstalled on my PC, a fresh install, so when he mod comes out, I can just patch-up and play.

 

I will, no doubt, have many a tale to tell once that adventure gets started.

 

FINAL SCORE (42:37 gametime)

Egregious (Americans) = 1011

AI Hard (Sioux) = 145

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 38170
Wood: 25812
Coin: 30206

AI
Food: 24045
Wood: 11780
Coin: 11323

MILITARY

Units: 252 (66 Redcoats)
Units Killed: 312
Units Lost: 107
Buildings Razed: 7
Buildings Lost: 0

The Portuguese On Large Deccan (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

The Portuguese are deadly efficient for a European faction, and I say that because I believe Europeans to be much slower than Native or Asian civs. They are helped by several valuable home city cards, and having four town centers by late in the game. Their military is in its artillery and infantry, at least, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t use any cavalry units at all and don’t even build them if the native settlements offer them. I keep it simple, and with a certain ratio of melee and ranged in my armies, and it never fails. Tonight was no exception.

By the time I started research on age 2, the score was my 41 to AI’s 21 which makes it about as high a score during that span than I ever had before. I have started being way more fluid with my villagers. I get them moving around the map and switching resources all the time. If I’m at age, I can grab the majority of my food villagers and put them on wood, because in the next age I will need wood in order to erect the new buildings I have access to, as well as houses. I have started micro managing my villagers in order to have more control of my growth as a colony early on.

But the computer was quick to attack, and the first cluster came from the north around the perimeter of the plateau. I had amassed some musketeers near the native trading posts in the center, and they had to scramble over there. I tried ringing the town bell, but I still lost some villagers on the way in. After that incursion was halted, I sent all my units to the north, thinking the AI had chosen the shortest distance between our bases and would use that way again. I set my command post units to the center despite that though. The beautiful thing about the Portuguese in the Improvement Mod is the way they accrue fame. A town center at every age means by age 2 the game trickle has doubled and then tripled by age 3. I was able to buy the level 3 armies from the command post, which were comprised of 12 cassadors and two culverin. I hit that one at least three times before I made my first push.

I rallied another cluster of units to the south, for fear of simply leaving an avenue of approach into my base undefended. So I put maybe 25 units down there. And I had crossbowmen and cassadors to the north, and tiger claws from the Bhakti native settlements in the center. The tiger claws were largely ineffective and the longbowmen ate them for lunch. But once I established a perimeter defense I was set. I grabbed two trading posts and both native settlements. I had control of more than 50% of the map, and had driven off all attempts by the AI to gather resources in the center. They were smart and did build a fort up there on the plateau but I turned my three armies loose on it and it was razed to the ground. I just parked the remaining units in the center and rebuilt units on the northern and southern fronts as well. But that 65% takeover of the map happened towards the end. My ranged infantry were being kited back into the enemy base one by one, so I just swarmed in. I had five or six culverin which works wonders on opposing artillery and villagers. My army cleared out the standing units in a hurry. It was the strangle hold. They couldn’t collect any resources because I was killing all villagers in sight, and razing all the town centers they had constructed. Surrender came earlier than expected.

FINAL SCORE (35:05 gametime)

Egregious (Portuguese) = 696

AI Hard (French) = 201

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 25383
Wood: 21208
Coin: 20205

AI
Food: 16477
Wood: 12989
Coin: 11826

MILITARY

Units: 287 (69 Cassadors)
Units Killed: 203
Units Lost: 169
Buildings Razed: 21
Buildings Lost: 1

**UPDATE 12/29/14 8:15 am**

I have been thinking back on this game. I’ve been building armies around cassadors, but in reality musketeers have a better ranged attack at 41 when upgraded. Cassadors from the same age and upgrades bought only do 30 ranged damage. Obviously mercenaries are really nice, and can have just amazing DPS outputs. The mercenaries (I believe) are map driven, not standard per faction. I like having the flexibility of summoning new mercenary units from the command post as well as the fame armies. It makes for a diverse military front, which is a cornerstone of establishing map dominance. You’re never going to hold much land with all the same units. It’s a well known fact. When the AI or human opponent discovers what unit you’ve built, it will counter and destroy you. Ranged infantry and melee infantry can’t stand long in front of artillery. Cavalry have a hard time with other cavalry and melee infantry. The list of counters goes on.

Point being: I have noticed that for the sake of diversity and power I’ve been employing the help of more and more mercenaries. They do disproportionate amounts of damage, and with the Portuguese getting several upgrades to their ranged infantry attack, those mercenaries only get better with time. Highlanders and fusiliers are among two of my favorites, because the ranged damage they inflict is off the charts. Highlanders a bit weaker, but still better than a cassador. But subsequently, the mercenaries are hard to get in blocks because of the high coin price for every unit. Sometimes I plan for this and get 30 villagers on plantations by mid game. But this can be interrupted. Factories help when you get them producing coin, but that is often towards the end anyway and the game is usually over.

Mercenaries aren’t just a novelty. They are integral to the DPS yield of your fighting front. Standing on their own they will be wiped out, but as part of a much larger force, they add essential damage to the equation and make your army solid and potent. There are so many new mercenaries introduced by the mod as well. It seems foolish to pass them by like I may have in previous iterations of this game. I all but ignored them in the unmodded game. Seriously.

Settle Down There Turbo

I just had to vomit that out there. Disappointed: yes. But all things in perspective. So my fun hobby that I was doing is now over. Moving on. I’ve got to find something new to do with the time I won’t be pouring over player data and matchup ratings. I’ve had an itch to play an old favorite: Katamari Damacy. A sensationally Japanese game. The Katamari is a sphere that when rolled on the ground, will pick up anything smaller than it and stick it to the outside. And keep rolling and picking up new things, and increasing in size as more things stick to you. Eventually you roll up little mice and dogs and cows then people and eventually elephants. And they flail about hopelessly in a futile effort to escape the unshakable grasp of the Katamari. So I had some other playstation 1 & 2 memory cards with all my saves on them and they seem to now be gone. So I bought two more, but I now have to go in there and beat all my games again. Because I have no saved data. So I’m starting over in Katamari Damacy and I only play a few minutes a day. I really should sit down and grind out a few challenges. Get my groove back. It’s very fun, ridiculous and always entertaining.

I’m keeping it real with you. I prefer it that way. I’d rather not hide the acute emotional reactions I go through. Because I am coping with them too. And I have only you internets to share my sorrow with. Or joy, or whatever tepid state I find myself.

Work is going to be fine. I haven’t done anything wrong, and that error report has been strangely absent this week. Why I do not know. I would love to see my name stricken from the ledger once more. At least I still have my hobbies and pastimes. Speaking of: I have a feeling the 5.5 release of The Improvement Mod will be coming out soon. I think that’s why Mandosrex has been concentrating on other parts of the mod and not just the United States faction. The details surrounding the patch are murky at best. I’m not sure if new content is going to be added, possibly new maps?

Thanks for hearing me vent.

It’s Saturday

It feels nice to have a day off. I didn’t really do more than my appointed responsibilities, and that’s fine. I had a couple of games of Age Of Empires III. On that subject: I actually engaged The Improvement Mod’s developer in a cool conversation. I told him about the Americans not having plantations or any way to spend the fame they collect. You can build a command post, but it doesn’t have any fame units in it. So I thought that was kind of dumb, and makes the Americans somehow broken when compared to other civs. They also have a consulate but no place to track export on their HUD. So I registered these two issues on the mod’s page on ModDB. and he was quick to reply saying that he would add plantations back into the build list and remove the consulate. He also said he would add fame units to the command post, which I thought was all well and good. He took my feedback and will release a new patch updating the American civ with my changes implemented. I think that’s pretty awesome. I’ve had a lot of fun playing this mod, and the litany of bug fixes, retextures, animation updates, new units and technologies that come along with it. It has fully restructured the core game into a pure state, which I can imagine is a blast in multiplayer. The AI can’t keep pace with me, and on expert it’s not beatable. I’ve tried. They attack at somewhere around 6 minutes and by then I have nothing to defend myself with. This is Age Of Empires, after all. Game length should be between 30 – 45 minutes. Not 6. At six minutes I’m just starting to develop an economy and raise my villager population to something respectable. Not the time to be going to war.

My fantasy football fate will be largely decided tomorrow, as the bulk of my players will be going. Philip has already thrown two interceptions, one a pick-six. Sigh. No playoffs for the Chargers this year. Gack city.

Anyway. I’m doing fine. Had a bit of an early start today. Did my laundry and wend shopping. I am cleaning my floors and then my bbq. It needs a good scrub apparently. I am planning on depositing my last DoR check next weekend and taking out the cashier’s check I make out to Jan every month for rent. I like paying my rent, it makes me feel responsible. Because I have my shit together. I can handle that.

I’m glad to be enjoying a day of (primarily) rest. I’m having fun and taking some time off work and other work related thoughts. My battery is recharging.

**UPDATE 7:15 pm**

The mod developer just wrote back to me saying he went ahead and implemented the changes we were discussing. He also gave better access to the revolt function and technologies. He added fame armies to the command post, while removing the consulate and the export resource. He also gave the Americans access to plantations (which seems historically accurate as well). I am truly happy to have been responded to so respectfully and rapidly. I made a pretty cogent comment, and that got something done. I look forward to trying out the Americans tomorrow.

**UPDATE 12/21/14 @ 9:00 am**

Remember how I said I was going to try out the American civ? I did, but didn’t complete a game before I noticed something more that could be changed. Since removing the consulate, the home city deck still had 3 cards that gave export or made consulate improvements cheaper/faster. So there was no need for these 3 cards and I pointed that out to the developer. He quickly replied that I had “saved the American civ” and was glad I had said something. Now the U.S. Will be a useful and effective civilization choice going forward. I’m just so pleased that my comments became gameplay changes. That’s fucking awesome. I love this mid, and will continue to play it for the foreseeable future.

12/12 And Bonus Nerd Content!

Hello! It’s my night off! Hooray!

I went over to see my mom and dad, and we watched A Christmas Story (1983) and it’s by far the best version of that film. Truly intelligent satire on a time of our evolving American family. So it was my request and I just had to see it. I had Scott Farkus stuck in my head for some reason.

Anyway, I’m listening to The Nutcracker (composed by Andre Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and relaxing. I just had a splendid game against the AI, but I will get to that shortly. We had salmon for dinner and a salad, and boy was it yummy. Then my mom brought out the peanut-butter fudge, and holy shit, is that some goodness. Made with peanut butter, but still rich and chocolatey like fudge should be. I was not silly and had a mere two chunks, but I could have had more blog, there was a whole jar of it sitting right there. Sigh. It just doesn’t even sound good to scarf on it, it’s like liquid nitrogen that shit. Only in small doses can I handle thee, for the sake of this sadly out of shape body I must. And my mom was suckering me in to indulging by eating a shitload of cookies this weekend. I’m going to have to seriously bust my ass if I’m ever going to gain any ground this winter. I feel like it’s appropriate to insulate the body against harmfully cold weather, but I live in Southern California, so I have no reason to be bulky. Maybe in some colder climate it would be acceptable… winter here is almost always a laughably mild event, with perhaps 3 inches of total precipitation, more in the mountains. It might be more, I haven’t fact checked, and I just gave it a google and nothing conclusive came up. But whatever, my point is, I need to continue to push myself every morning to be active until I become exhausted and my muscles are “done.” I intend to increase the amount of this as I progress through the slow trudge out of the pit of obesity. And Christmas could easily equal my doom if I am not SUPER CAUTIOUS. Remember, I take lithium, and I will grab on to every single carbohydrate that comes into my body and somehow turn it into fat. I live a primarily sedentary life, spending 8 hours a day in a small office chair sitting answering the phone. So I’ve got to! Right?

 

Mood wise I’m doing great. I have a day of catching up on my chores and watching football sporadically. Hopefully the Chargers don’t get annihilated tomorrow night. I don’t know how that one is going to go down. But the Niners have nothing to play for. Thanks for all of your positive comments lately, they have been super helpful and complementary as well. I pride myself in my coherency, despite huge handicaps. I appreciate you guys.

 

**NERDS ONLY EXTRA**

The Aztecs on Large Carolina (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

Tonight, I was hell bent on slaughtering someone. So I blasted the French away with my trump card, the shiny, beautiful, deadly, Aztecs. I Had the lead right from the get go, as I got a fire pit and warrior priest on production speed immediately. It never let up. There were three trade posts, two native settlements (One Cherokee, the other Seminole), and lots and lots of trees. I had the center early with just a few coyote runners and puma spearmen. Nothing major. But About half way into age 3 I lost my entire standing army in the center, and my trading post there was destroyed. I quickly switched my fire pit from xp back to unit production rate and had a standing army again in no time.

 

I ended up with a ton of villagers, had 30 on coin for most of the second half of the game (plantations). I saw their army sneak around behind my houses, where they began razing buildings. They tried, anyway. I didn’t lose another building the rest of the game after surrendering that trading post in the center. I rallied, took it back, and then began sending units there in waves. By age 4 I had farms and plantations-a-plenty. I had 25 just hacking trees because the unit upgrade requirements for the units are all wood, and lots of it. I had just WAY too many good units by the time I marched. I had the fire pit with 20 dancers producing just skill nights every 12 seconds or so. I had a sum of them ready at hand when it came to burning down the perimeter defenses. They had a fort, which I demolished rapidly with the first wave (which I was not at all expecting, thinking that I had WAY too few units to bring down a fort…). Next I brought the jaguar prowl knights, and they obliterated artillery and standing units. They leaned on falconets early, but those fast jaguar prowl knights just burn those units down, and their fire rate is every few seconds, whereas the knight has hit you three or more times already. It’s not reasonable to expect the artillery to survive in those conditions, and they did not. This was their downfall, because they had completely run out of standing infantry, and were down to the structures with me keeping them from gathering resources to fend off the attackers. Skull nights have an area attack, which damages multiple units with one swing, and I just think they might be the best infantry unit in this game. They’re really ahrd to stop, like and AOE cavalry unit that doesn’t move as fast as a cavalry unit. Just thinking out loud here. I had gobs of units sacking the ciy, but ended up with more prowl knights than anything else. He was down to the last few coureur des bois as they emptied from the down center in the fall of the capital. They had no chance… death ensued. Victory.

FINAL SCORE 2 (34:50 gametime)

Egregious (Aztecs) = 912

French = 171

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 33466
Wood: 25853
Coin: 23970

French
Food: 11194
Wood: 24724
Coin: 18302

MILITARY

Units: 315 (79 Jaguar Prowl Knights)Enemy Units: 172
Units Killed: 231
Units Lost: 192
FINAL SCORE (39:49 gametime)

Egregious (Aztecs) = 846

Ottomans = 240

 

RESOURCES GATHERED

Egregious
Food: 29495
Wood: 23436
Coin: 19714

Ottomans
Food: 7050
Wood: 28947
Coin: 13916

MILITARY

Units: 327 (64 Jaguar Prowl Knights)
Enemy Units: 143
Units Killed: 206
Units Lost: 99

My Alternate Factions (Age Of Empires III -Game Notes)

The Americans: They are hard to use for games that go over 30 minutes. They don’t have plantations, so once the map coin is gone, you need both factories and the trading posts on coin or your economy will dry up. I’ve won by doing it this way, so it is possible. Plus The Americans get troops by fame (from the command post) and by export (through the consulate). So the need to lean on coin to make most decent units is limited. I typically pair The Americans with The French at the consulate, giving me access to skirmishers and cuirassiers, which help to balance the theme of ranged infantry and melee cavalry to provide the upfront distraction. I use a mix of maybe 20% cavalry, 30% melee and ranged mercenaries, and 50% ranged infantry. The DPS is key to winning, and firing off at villagers that wander by is a great way to shut down your enemy while they are reeling from the attack. Games with The Americans are closer than they should be, but still fun.

The Ottomans: So not having to ever build s villager is nice. But you end up with more of them than you need. I had 25 on wood, and that’s too many. I didn’t need all the wood I ended up with. But they have janissaries and abus guns which are easily two of my favorite infantry units of all time. Plus they have spahis which can tank the front lines and do gobs of damage while the ranged infantry and light artillery do the heavy lifting. This combo is more effective than trying to do the same thing with The Americans because The Ottomans have better DPS units. I also get grenadiers which add a little spice to the front. Cavalry archers do the cleanup for the spahis. This combo is not as fast as The Americans, but is generally harder to stop because of how much damage abus guns do to buildings also.

The Japanese: This faction is so very different from the others. You don’t hunt food, you build shrines and animals are attracted to them. The more animals at the shrine the better resource gather rate they have. Shrines also raise the polar ion cap by 10, so they gather a resource of your choosing AND are a house. The Japanese level by building mini-wonders which are just big buildings with a unique benefit for whichever one you chose to build. They also can level and still produce villagers which is fucking awesome. Samurai are very good in substantial numbers. They work well when given some ranged infantry in the form of ashigaru musketeers and a few yumi archers. There are multiple home city cards which make the musketeers better, and I typically pair them with America at the consulate, because I can ship rifleman and gatling guns. They have rice paddies, which can produce either food or coin, and I’ll typically get four for free from shipments, and just have to assign the villagers to go work them. Those shipments also increase gather rates at the rice paddies, and having 50 or so villagers tasked to them is an easy way to have a rocking economy.

The Portuguese: I like the cassador as an effective DPS ranged unit. I also like how many upgrades they have to ranged damage and to halberdiers. An army of 40% melee 60% ranged is hard to stop. They get a town center at every age, so the fame income is always high. But the lowest cost command post unit bunch is all crossbowmen, which I don’t like. Then the second one is culverins and more crossbowmen. So that’s unfortunate, because they only effectively counter infantry. Musketeers and cassadors comprise my ranged attack, with pikemen and halberdiers dicing people up at melee range. Another all infantry approach, and just as deadly as my other strategies. They have one shipment which improves villager build time, but the multiple town centers helps to increase production rates for your economy. The more villagers the better, since European civs are kinda locked in to slowly making them. I find I’ve been spoiled by this faction; having multiple town centers is awesome. So is not having to pay 600 wood for them.

The French: The cuirassier is an amazing cavalry unit, and when paired with hussars and others, create an unbeatable front of heavy troops. Coureur des bois are quite awesome as well, as they harvest resources faster, and survive longer when pestered. Though at 120 food, is is unwise to risk them far from your town center. They are too valuable to lose them like villagers might be in excursions far from center. But with such formidable cavalry, this faction is slow to get going, and nearly impossible to stop once peaking. Their shipments tend to lean on cavalry improvements and economic benefits, though there are also lots of improvements to native warriors (which is a gamble, because one never really knows if they will get decent ones, per map). But if you can crank food and gold, these guys are tough to beat. Cavalry units just have SO MANY hit points.

The Aztecs On Large Siberia (Age Of Empires III – Game Notes)

I concluded a game this morning where I faced The British. It’s nice that Aztecs start with a warrior priest on this map, because I can task him to the fire pit and have an instant 20% increased villager production rate. In the first age, I had 10 villagers on food, 5 on wood. When I got to age 2, I had enough resources on hand to build a market and two more houses. The population cap increase is vital, because I make the fire pit produce more warrior priests and they will stop if the population hits the max.

I typically expand villager population from the 15 I started with to around 30, doing resource gathering. I use all the map resources I can before switching to farms and plantations, as the gather rate on these is much slower. I send 10 villager clusters out to the fringes of my control and mine all the silver/gold I can. Usually two groups of 10 doing that and two groups of 10 hunting. I kill every wild animal within striking distance, and towards the end of age 2 I get a standing army on the field, comprised of (typically) macehualtins and puma spearmen with just a few coyote runners. The enemy brings a mix of melee infantry, cavalry and ranged infantry. I don’t have a good counter for melee infantry at this stage. Coyote runners are somewhat effective, but only in large numbers. They die quickly and can’t DPS for long enough to take down many units.

In the game I played this morning, they came at me from the north side of my base, dodging my standing army and they got into my wood gatherers and killed 4 or 5 of them before I could ring the bell and get anyone over there. I used the fire pit to call out free archers (who lose hit points every second until they get down to 1) and managed to destroy their army, after losing a couple houses. I did not hesitate to rebuild, and raised my cap by 50 or more and started mustering more troops, stationed on the northern and western fronts. I aged after my villager population was over 50, and built two noble’s huts on the fronts. I had the fire pit produce skull knights, and got 25 gatherers dancing around the fire pit (10 of which were warrior priests). They were making a new skull night every 10 seconds. And increasing attack damage by an alarming 43%. I had my cap raised to 260 after I built a second town center to produce additional wood gatherers. After my population capped out, and I had thwarted several attacks, I moved in with two battalions comprised of jaguar prowl knights, puma spearmen and others in smaller quantities. I ran into their fort, switched the fire pit to increase attack damage, and let them loose. They demolished the fort rapidly, and then we’re on attack-move into the enemy base.

They go for units first on attack-move and kill all villagers they can find. When there are no more standing units, they switch and start destroying buildings. At the point in which I had two full battalions in their base, surrender was inevitable. My units were doing an insane amount of damage to everything and I quickly razed all troop production buildings to prevent any possibility of countering my attack. In the end, The British offered surrender with 50% of their base destroyed.

I had more puma spearmen than anything else (57), but I imagine jaguar prowl knights were a close second. There was no need to hit the big buttons, as two battalions was more than enough to get the win. I could have produced nearly 250 standing units but this would have been overkill. It’s is fun to push all those buttons though, and see the units come pouring out of the town center.

Aztecs are hard to stop. If you let them get too far along, they have an amazing amount of power. I have my best economies with the Aztecs. By far. And biggest armies. There are plenty of chances to derail my dominance in the early stages, but the AI never brings enough things. My home city deck is mostly troop shipments. Specifically, the shipments that cost gold, deliver troops AND provide a universal benefit to all units of that type. I have troop shipments in the 2nd age and a ton in 3rd and 4th. Age four has the jaguar prowl knight and the skull knight shipments which cost a lot of coin but are totally worth it. They complete the circle of domination that encompasses the Aztec empire.

Age Of Empires III: The Improvement Mod v. 5.4

The Improvement Mod doesn’t fundamentally overhaul the game. It adds some bug fixes, tweaks, and some new features to the landscape. They also introduce an entirely new faction: America. But it’s, at its core, based off the European civ model, with a similar stack of home city cards. The new additions to the game are largely represented by a few new buildings, some new technologies, and some new units and mercenaries added to the core game. The AI was modded, so that is uses the new content, cards and started building walls again.

Age Of Empires III games are classically long-term engagements, lasting upwards of 45:00 per round. The game is geared for this, not the rush, which is a horribly annoying strategy to take, in my opinion. Most of the time, gameplay breaks into a few identifiable segments (roughly 3): Building Phase, Defense Phase and Attack Phase. In the Building Phase, your goal should be to create upwards of 30 villagers, a market and a barracks. It helps in this phase to grab a few trading posts too, because the experience income is useful in getting several home city shipments sent, which if you are thinking ahead, may bolster your economy. The Building Phase should focus your concentration on developing a fast-moving economy, and depending on what faction you chose, you might be below or above the recommended villager count. But by the end of it, at about 10:00 in to the game, you should have enough resource income to start dispensing troops, and get a standing army of 15 – 30 units of varying functions. If you have the AI set on Hard, they will be attacking at 12:30 nearly every time, and with maybe 20 units, some cavalry, mostly infantry. You must be ready to defend your colony and start the Defense Phase. Usually, this phase lasts the bulk of the game, and goes from 12:00 or so until the 35:00 mark. During this time, your economy should be growing still, reaching a villager cap of over 60 (depending on your civ). Your standing army should reach a full battalion, possibly two, and you should build every house you can, and at least one additional town center. The enemy will attack you at regular intervals, and usually from a different angle every time, to try and avoid marching directly into your standing units. I typically have my villagers who are still gathering raw resources (like trees) on the fringes of my control, because I have enough standing units to come rescue them, or have an army stationed near them in case things go down. I might divide my army into two distinct fronts, holding ground at any sort of choke point I can find. In the final phase of the game, the Attack Phase, I’m moving my 2 – 4 full battalions up the field into enemy territory. The AI is pretty good about building walls, but they usually leave a hole in them somewhere because of terrain problems. My units go in on attack-move, and stop to kill units they find, and start in on destroying the structures after that. With 4 full battalions, there’s not a whole lot they can do to stop that. It’s just an overwhelming number of troops to contend with. Fixed structures and spare units can make 1 battalion go away in just a few minutes, but not 3 – 4. For each faction, there are slightly different procedures for getting through the phases.

I typically use Aztecs, Portuguese or Americans. The American civ is a lot of fun, because they get going pretty fast in the building phase of the game with an early boon of 400 wood to get some houses and a market built right away. You can infinitely ship pilgrims from your home city, and at a clip of 4 at a time, but usually in these games I don’t get to using that card often. By the time you gain access to it your villager population might be already capped. The map gets explored very fast because the explorer unit is mounted and has great line of sight, but he’s just about useless for capturing treasures.

Aztecs are insane: once they get past the 2nd age, they move rapidly, using the fire pit and warrior priests to create units ridiculously fast. I typically spend the first part of age 2 getting 10 warrior priests built and dancing around the fire pit, sending 3 with a shipment and building the rest right out of the fire pit. After I have them, I switch them over to the productivity dance, and units are cranked forth from structures at a furious pace. I can accelerate the process of gathering resources dramatically, getting my 60 villagers and then some in only a couple of minutes. I will have more than the afore mentioned villager cap, because I usually need 10 – 15 more of them to add to the fire pit to get it really blazing. Then when the Attack Phase rolls around, I switch the fire pit over to increased attack, and get another 30% – 40% amplification to damage on all my units, which is difficult to deal with when you consider just how many units I make with the Aztecs. The skull knight might be the single most amazing unit in the game altogether.

The Portuguese are a separate story. They tend to be slower, and cost more to get going. The skirmishers and musketeers all cost a chunk of gold, and that’s almost always the constraining factor. If my gold income is awesome, which can usually be managed by 25 or more gold gathering villagers, I can get a good deal of ranged units built, which is where the Portuguese excel. They have several home city cards which amplify gunpowder infantry, and some which help their cavalry and artillery. Organ guns are the unique artillery for the faction, and they abuse standing units, much like the gatling gun for the American faction.

All told, I get some different looks from the three factions I play, but not too dramatic a swing. Aztecs I prefer the most because of how fast they are. They can be into the Defense Phase pretty early, maybe even 8:00 or so with my first standing army. I can also have an amazing economy, especially when villagers come out every 5 – 9 seconds or so. And the unit selections for Aztecs I really like. You know me: infantry is the way to go. I vastly prefer it to any other troop type. Portuguese are all ranged infantry, so that fits. America is a mix of both. You can’t be successful with just infantry from them, even if they do have two kinds of decent ranged units. This combination has kept me fairly entertained through more than 10 separate matchups. I have yet to lose one that I actually got started right and didn’t accidentally forget to pause. I highly endorse installing the Improvement Mod if you have a chance, it really makes the game so much nicer, cleaner, better.

Assassin’s Journal v. 3 (Diablo II Game Notes)

I just demolished act 5 nightmare, but not without several truly insane groups of trash in the Worldstone keep and Baal’s throne room. The trash he summons before he goes through the portal gave me fits. The act 3 council summoned a giant mass of hydras which pounded me with fire, even after the summonses were dead. Then the act 4 venom lords were all extra fast and were constantly breathing fire on me. I was nearly out of full rejuvenation potions by the time I had to go in there and fight Baal. But at that point, I was all done fucking around with the sword-and-board and clawed the monkey shit out of him.

As it stands now, she’s a level 80, and at the peak of her power. Her resistances will go down for hell mode, but that’s to be expected. And in hell mode, all the trash is immune to one form of damage: fire, cold, lightning, poison, magic (just dreadful when they have this one) and physical. Things that are immune to magic damage, usually ghosts, are very hard to kill. Nearly all my ability damage counts as magic. But I have yet to kill a single trash mob in hell mode yet. But I will be soon.

Champion Venom
Class: Assassin
Level: 80 (Hell Act 1)

(All stat totals modified by equipment)

~~Sword-and-board configuration~~

Strength: 205
Dexterity: 200
Vitality: 180
Energy: 37

Resistances:

Fire: 40
Cold: 75
Lightning: 75
Poison: 68

Life: 821
Defense: 2102
Base Attack Rating: 1764
Base Damage 443 – 921 enhanced by cold damage

Left click
Zeal
Level 13
5 Hits
Increases Attack Rating 130%
Increases Damage 54a%
Attack Rating: 3038
Melee: 495 – 980 enhanced by cold damage

Right Click
Berserk
Level 13
Increases Attack Rating 280%
Adds Magic Damage 330%
Attack Rating: 4508
Melee: 760 – 1281 enhanced by cold damage

Special Ability (Aura)
Burst Of Speed
Level 34
Increases Attack Speed 56%
Duration: 515 seconds

~~Claw configuration~~

Strength: 225
Dexterity: 200
Vitality: 158
Energy: 37

Resistances:

Fire: 40
Cold: 50
Lightning: 42
Poison: 33

Life: 755
Defense: 1932
Base Attack Rating: 4312
Base Damage: 1429 – 2378 enhanced by cold damage

Left click
Phoenix Strike
Level 30
Increases Attack Rating 218%
First Charge: Meteor 809 – 910 fire damage (1014 – 1080 per second for 5 seconds, area of effect, fire damage)
Second Charge: Chain Lightning 1 – 1740 lightning damage
Third Charge: Chaos Ice Bolt 391 – 424 cold damage, chance to freeze target
Attack Rating: 6711
Melee: 1425 – 2373 enhanced by cold damage

Right Click
Dragon Claw
Level 30
Finishing Move (releases charges)
Increases Damage 275%
Increases Attack Rating 765%
Attack Rating: 12291
Melee: 1763 – 2812 enhanced by cold damage

Special Attack (Area of Effect)
Whirlwind
Level 12
Increases Damage 38%
Increases Attack Rating 55%
Attack Rating: 5049
Damage: 1492 – 2459 enhanced by cold damage

Passive Skill
Claw Mastery
Level 32
Increases Base Attack Rating 340%
Increases Base Damage 159%
Critical Strike Chance 23%

So having those out of class skills up to 12 is all I’ve ever hoped and dreamed for. Just looking at the numbers, you must be going: how can he be so excited about those low damage totals when compared to her claws? Claws are fantastic, yes, and Assassins have the best class-specific item by far. However, all claw attacks are single target, which can lead to an excessive amount of clicking. And mis-clicking. And clicking on items not enemies. There’s a lot less of that with Zeal, because it hits 5 adjacent targets, and depending on the quality of foe, can render more damage than claws. Berserk is a single target attack, but it tends to be my mop-up skill when the bulk of the trash is dead and just a few stragglers are left running around. But the days of this methodology are likely passed, because now we’re in hell mode, and the claws will have to be back out or I’m going to die a lot. This is my expectation. I will keep you appraised once I get to fighting the initial trash of act 1. So far I’ve managed to play the game through twice and not be sick of it. In fact, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment, act 1. Hell mode. The very best mode, and clearly the most fun of any. The mobs are harder, and they are always a challenge. They are all immune to something, which causes one to alter their strategy or perish. And they have more named mobs, with unruly clusters around them. I fucking love hell mode. Can’t wait to go get after it. But it’s my bedtime now. Toodles.

**UPDATE 11/12/14 @ 7:30 pm**

A couple of things: first, Sheer Cold’s Perfect Drop Mod makes this game 700% more enjoyable, second, ladder runewords is a stupid concept done away with by PDM. I just built a four socketed ward with the “Spirit” runeword which was previously only available in ladder play. I think ladder is silly, and to keep some of the best runewords in the game for only ladder players is asinine. Thankfully, that worry is no more, and now I can build truly outstanding runewords whenever I please. The shield now brings those out-of-class skills up to 13, which I approve of. And after running amok through the den of evil, I was able to reskill her for maximum possible stat points dumped into vitality. Which will come in handy for hell mode. But so far, the trash I find is not automatically immune to a variety of elemental magic. They’re still tough to kill with my sword, but not unreasonably so. I have made adjustments to all stats accordingly. I also show the stark difference between her claws (DPS) and shield (tank). I think I will be tanking through most of hell mode because of the increased defense of carrying a shield. Her damage might not be stellar, but it should be enough to get me through without dying in big clusters. I also have the Andariel’s Visage mask to wear, at 83, replacing my Delirium runeword helm. I’m getting tired of being turned into a bone fetish. It takes away my Zeal. I had to kill Baal as a bone fetish and it nearly cost me my life.

Assassin’s Journal v. 2 (Diablo II Game Notes)

I died in the maggot layer cursed by amplify damage and got hit with a shitload of scarab charged bolts. As you can see, my lightning resistance is garbage. I am not sure if re-rolling my charms is going to bring that out of the gutter, but act 2 is punishing me with things that do lightning damage. I’m fine with fire, and archers are bothersome but not deadly like a group of scarabs can be. I’ve landed on a couple experience shrines in some well populated areas, and advanced pretty rapidly through the levels. I’m only on the claw viper portion of the horadric staff quest, and I’ve leveled twice since clearing the maggot layer. Big groups of baddies are quite common in the mod, and they can have 1 to 3 named trash mobs in there too. I’m wearing the Delirium runeword helmet for the skill boost (+2), but wouldn’t mind being turned into a bone fetish if it were to happen. I don’t think I can use any special charge-up attacks in that mode, but we’ll have to see. It’s only fun if being transformed does not suddenly lead to my death. My dragon claw skill is just gross. I do so much damage, and my attack rating is dynamite with it. The only thing that puts up much of a fight versus that skill is a stationary fire tower, which has some insane level of resistance to physical attacks. I also traded my Rogue scout for the battle mage you can hire in act 3. I like his damage better, and he gets off more shots than the archer does. I watched her wander around periodically and never get set to shoot anything until I had already cleared the room. I’d rather have the guaranteed freeze effect of the mage’s icebolt, than an arrow that happens to do cold damage also.

 

**UPDATE 12:40 pm**

 

Right after I posted about being turned into a bone fetish it happened. Turns out you can’t use any special attacks, but the base attack (which is to poke the enemy with a spear that the bone fetish holds) does extreme damage. It only lasts for a minute or so, maybe less, and only happens on being hit 1% of the time. But it still kills anything, including named trash, with one hit. Not bad I say.

2

**UPDATE 2:30 pm**

 

I gave her a secondary build by integrating a 1H sword and shield build with the Passion runeword, which grants out of class Zeal and Berserk, which I adore. I gave her a skill/mana shield runeword to keep her standing upright in dense fights. I’m getting kinda tired of having to click on every single mob in order to kill it. So Zeal packs 5 hits to all adjacent targets, and Berserk is a great right-click attack shattering foes with amplified damage totals (by straight magic). Very soon, I will be using Mara’s Kaleidoscope, which offers +2 to all skills, among several other neat things. That will bring the base out-of-class skill up to 11. Yeah buddy. I have gone ahead and updated the profile to reflect this secondary build. She’s got +8 to all skills, so this is quite rad to have those out of class skills up so high. They make it all worthwhile. The runeword helm Delirium, when combined with the absurd attack rate of a Burst of Speed Zeal, procs the 11% chance to cast level 18 Confuse nearly every time I get into a large group. This has some outstanding benefits: first, those obnoxious little Flayers are illuminated by the curse, so I can see easily where they are and how many of them there are, but second, causes them to fight each other, taking the heat off me. I can largely sit back and kill the nearest clusters, and watch as my mage freezes the outlying Flayers who are STILL busy fighting each other. And just so you know, level 18 confuse will curse everything on the screen. And many things that are off the screen. I have no idea what the radius is on it, but it’s generous. and 11% happens nearly every time I get into a fight. Just sick. These out-of-class skills are just ridiculously awesome. I was actually thinking of going back and leveling a Paladin because I love Zeal so much. NO NEED NOW BUB.

**UPDATE 9:45 pm**

I’ve had a good run through the first of the Khalim’s body parts quest. Made mincemeat of the contents of the spider cavern. Then had a run through the Flayer jungle. Yep, just as annoying as I remember. With Confused Flayer blow gunners scattering in all conceivable directions. And maybe 5-15 melee ones all coming in with a shaman behind them. Or a group of elite trash shamans all taking their sweet time dying. All the while I take fire damage. But the clever use of Zeal and Berserk have kept it competitive. I could just as easily switch back to claws and start killing everything in 1 hit again. But that’s not as much fun as an Assassin with Zeal. I can’t wait till 67. We just rounded 61 a short while ago. Nice.

 

1

 

Slayer Venom
Class: Assassin
Level: 71 (Nightmare Act 5)

(All stat totals modified by equipment)

Strength: 196
Dexterity: 195
Vitality: 139
Energy: 50

Life: 682
Defense: 2147
Base Attack Rating: 1719
Base Damage 498 – 1111 enhanced by cold damage

Resistances:

Fire: 75
Cold: 75
Lightning: 75
Poison: 75

Left click
Zeal
Level 11
5 Hits
Increases Attack Rating 110%
Increases Damage 42%
Attack Rating: 2769
Melee: 546 – 1180 enhanced by cold damage

Right Click
Berserk
Level 11
Increases Attack Rating 260%
Adds Magic Damage 300%
Attack Rating: 4106
Melee: 840 – 1606 enhanced by cold damage

Special Ability (Aura)
Burst Of Speed
Level 31
Increases Attack Speed 55%
Duration: 480 seconds

 

**UPDATE 3:00 pm 11/8/14**

So I went on a campaign and blazed my way through act 4. I got to Diablo and made short work of him, along with all his pesky minions. I used the Zeal build to get through the trash, then switched to claws for the boss. I figured it would be appropriate to see the truly stark contrast between the “correct” Assassin build, and the out-of-class build which I have been using to keep things interesting. I will probably be going back to claws for act 5, as the trash doesn’t pile up quite like it does in acts 3 or 4. Zeal will, subsequently, be less effective. But her claw build is truly gross:

**UPDATE 7:30 pm 11/8/14**

I took her points out of weapon block and put them into claw mastery. She’s now wearing the Shadow Dancer myrmidon greaves, which are unlocked by the mod and not restricted to the ladder. Those greaves give an additional +2 to Shadow Disciplines, of which Burst of Speed and Claw Mastery are found. Hence the cap going up to 31, with only a partial fill on the Claw Mastery. But my base cold damage finally took over as the dominant elemental modifier, which I am very very happy about. Poison is useless in my builds. I need up-front damage not damage over time (DOT). Poison takes forever to kill anyone and I have only to click and I can instantly do oodles of cold damage. And now even regular melee attacks have a good chance to freeze my targets. This is easily the best claw build assassin for DPS (damage per second) that I have ever constructed. Her ability to take damage is shit, but whatever, we’re going to make it!!!

Slayer Venom
Class: Assassin
Level: 71 (Nightmare Act 5)

(All stat totals modified by equipment)

Strength: 216
Dexterity: 195
Vitality: 139
Energy: 40

Life: 682
Defense: 1851
Base Attack Rating: 3342
Base Damage 1348 – 2274 enhanced by cold damage

Resistances:

Fire: 75
Cold: 75
Lightning: 75
Poison: 80 (absorb)

Left click
Phoenix Strike
Level 29
Increases Attack Rating 211%
First Charge: Meteor 759 – 855 fire damage (939 – 1000 per second for 5 seconds, area of effect, fire damage)
Second Charge: Chain Lightning 1 – 1627 lightning damage
Third Charge: Chaos Ice Bolt 360 – 392 cold damage, chance to freeze target
Attack Rating: 5357
Melee: 1348 – 2274 enhanced by cold damage

Right Click
Dragon Claw
Level 29
Finishing Move (releases charges)
Increases Damage 222%
Increases Attack Rating 740%
Attack Rating: 10409
Melee: 1682 – 2702 enhanced by cold damage

Special Ability (Aura)
Burst Of Speed
Level 31
Increases Attack Speed 55%
Duration: 480 seconds

Special Attack (Area Of Effect)
Whirlwind
Level 11
Increases Damage 30%
Increases Attack Rating 50%
Attack Rating: 3820
Melee (3 second duration): 1400 – 2342 enhanced by cold damage

Passive Skill
Claw Mastery
Level 23
Increases Base Attack Rating 250%
Increases Base Damage 123%
Critical Strike Chance 21%

Venom’s Diary

Entry 104, Act I: The Rogue’s Encampment, Sanctuary

Is there no end to this madness? I recall that but a few short days ago, I vanquished the demon lord Baal on the floor of the Worldstone chamber, only to find myself here, back where it all began, with Andariel. She who I mercilessly slaughtered in what seems like a lifetime ago. Now, I’m returned unceremoniously to the Rogue’s Encampment with Akara acting as though she had never met me. And Warriv saying “greetings stranger” to me as I walked near the bonfire. Is this some form of new devilry? My first thought was that this was a trick of time, and that I had been cast backward in history… but I have come to find that lands I crossed as a fledgling hero are now full with evil, and on par with my evolved strength. These minions would have destroyed me if I had met them before, but now they fight anew with enhanced vigor and fortitude. I can’t explain how all the days and weeks of labor I poured into cleansing this land of the shadow of the three can suddenly be undone. I am back. And Andariel is my foe once more, and THAT is my reality; some form of living nightmare to which I am bound.

Regardless, evil stands before me once more. I can rise to fight, or I can die, along with everyone who calls Sanctuary their home. I can’t let that happen. If I must do it again, I will.

My companion Tylena, a Rogue archer, has come with me into this madness, and somehow all the world has forgotten us. Yet she still wears the runeword armor I crafted for her, and still carries The Breath Of The Dying, which I inscribed on her longbow for her, just before we were to face Baal. She and I will stand beside the archangel Tyriel once more, but we must earn our way there… all over again.

I am unsure what new challenges we may face, but upon coming here, I felt my strength lessen, as I am hurt quickly my magic and elemental attacks, much as I was when my hero’s quest began. It would seem there is no end to this punishment, and evil is strong in Sanctuary once more. But not for long. Even as I write, Deckard Cain sits by the fire, having been freed (again) from Tristram. When I try to explain that this has happened before, he becomes cross with me and demands I focus on Andariel. I had hoped he, in his wisdom, would have an answer.

I must go on. There is no return to Horaggath for celebration. No Mala to cheer for the demise of Baal. Nothing but a world once more replete with evil. And Tylena and I must face it together, again.

Assassin’s Journal (Diablo II Game Notes)

Tonight I went storming through the rest of act 5, which I had paused at arriving outside Nielethak’s Temple earlier in the day. On a tangential note: I found out that charm + scroll of identify + full moonstone does not always equal a decent rare like the recipe guide says it will. It manages to roll something, but not worth burning a whole moonstone over. Considering how many of them I’ve used so far (maybe 5), I’m thinking I’ll just save them for something else. Though this is a minor issue. The real point here is I’m finally really settling in to leveling my Assassin; a class I’ve traditionally favored. I had a build similar to this one back over 15 years ago when I would go do LAN parties with our intrepid band of heroes (Will, Scooter, Schwacky and I). We all got through normal mode together one of those nights on one multiplayer game. Took it right to Baal and beat him down, a few casualties as well, naturally. I remember the drop was crap. But that original build, an Assassin named Venom, lives on in this new manifestation:

Slayer Venom
Class: Assassin
Level: 52 (Nightmare Act 1)
(All stat totals modified by equipment)
Strength: 171
Dexterity: 163
Vitality: 79
Energy: 47

Life: 441
Defense: 978
Attack Rating: 1601

Left click
Phoenix Strike
Level 26
Increases Attack Rating 190%
First Charge: Meteor 624 – 708 fire damage (757 – 801 per second for 5 seconds, area of effect, fire damage)
Second Charge: Chain Lightning 1 – 1333 lightning damage
Third Charge: Chaos Ice Bolt 286 – 314 cold damage, hit freezes target
Attack Rating: 3203
Melee: 738 – 1952 enhanced by poison damage

Right Click
Dragon Claw
Level 14
Finishing Move (releases charges)
Increases Damage 124%
Increases Attack Rating 390%
Attack Rating: 4889
Melee: 836 – 2162 enhanced by poison damage

Special Ability (Aura)
Burst Of Speed
Level 26
Increases Attack Speed 55%
Duration: 420 Seconds

Special Attack (Area Of Effect)
Whirlwind
Level 8
Increases Damage 6%
Increases Attack Rating 35%
Attack Rating: 1896
Melee (3 second duration): 743 – 1963 enhanced by poison damage

As you can see, most of her skill points have gone into increasing her movement speed (run/walk) and attack speed, and ensuring I have a powerful spell which can freeze trash mobs. I don’t waste time on them, if possible. I hit hard and fast. She’s holding a triple-socketed scissors quahb in each hand, each with the Chaos runeword. That runeword has a chance to procure a level 9 Charged Bolt (11% chance on striking) or level 11 Frozen Orb (9% chance on striking) spell, therefore, damage was never her problem. I focused on making her zippy, and capable of dispensing carnage quickly, and since charge 3 is the only way I roll, I prefer to shatter lots and lots of frozen enemies. Did I mention she’s wearing a Raven Frost ring? Just in case it wasn’t clear – shattering frozen trash mobs is my favorite. They can’t be resurrected, corpse-exploded, or otherwise used by the enemy for some ill-gotten gain. Shattered frozen trash mobs dissolve into a puddle of water and are cleanly, efficiently, disposed of. And now your going: well if he loves cold damage so much, why the poison damage enhancement on base damage? It’s my charms, which do contribute to the elemental damage modifier of my total melee damage (and Dragon Claw), but since there tends to be more poison damage than cold, the largest modifier wins out. Poison damage totals always run high because they do damage over time, usually 5-6 seconds. This is the core of the mechanics behind the crazy numbers I put up there for modified melee damage. Like I said earlier, I can do lots of damage. Not a problem. But can I do it quickly as well? Why yes, we can indeed. Plus headed into nightmare mode I felt it appropriate to give her the Chains Of Honor runeword armor (an exceptional gothic plate), which adds 2 to all skills (including out of class whirlwind). It’s nice having whirlwind in case things get dense. And at level 8, the damage modifier is a bonus, not a reduction.

So things are rolling along well. I whirlwinded all of the summoned trash right before you get into Baal’s chamber. I nearly died to the final wave of them because of that knock back thing they do. But I’m full rejuvenation potioned up. Baal himself only had one or two spells which caused me any harm. Then I just potioned and let the meteor fire damage stack up on him. He was shortly thereafter, dead.

Now to go back through and do it all again, sure. And act 1 is my favorite anyway. I’ll be having fun regardless. I hope you have played this lovely game, and have similar nostalgic thoughts on it. But I doubt you’d ever go back to it, considering how far graphics have come. But I still enjoy it regardless. It’s the gameplay that pleases me most of all. Keeps me coming back for more.

**UPDATE 11/3/14 @ 6:45 pm**

I have myself down to the “kill Andariel” quest in act 1. I’m sad to see it go. Act 1 is easily my favorite, then 5, followed by 4, 2 and lastly 3. Act 3 is misery. Those Flayers are the worst trash mobs in the game. They combine small size, retreating, and speed all in one box. They are truly horrible. And the stack of Flayers with the fire-breather (shaman) on top will melt hit points off in seconds. Now that my resistances are back in the shitter, I am not looking forward to my next run-in with them.

I have a feeling my rampage through this game will be coming to an end in act 2. Skeleton archers have always given me fits. There will also be skeleton mages, who’s damage I can’t block or absorb with reduced resistances. Even though my Chains Of Honor embossed plate grants 65% to all resistances, I’m still looking like this:

Fire: 42
Cold: 50
Lightning: 75 (absorb, capped)
Poison: 65

So you see now why I’m dreading those act 3 Flayer shamans? I’m going to have problems in act 2 though, as nearly all skeleton archers have fire damage on their arrows. And the most common elemental skeleton mage is fire. Some named trash have an extra invigorating corpse explosion on death, which makes quite a mess (and unpleasant sound), but is also (sadly) fire damage. A named crush beast decided to lower my health by a full 75% with one nasty corpse explosion. And it didn’t help that I had been cursed with amplify damage by another named trash mob. Outer cloister, gotta love it.

Rerolled my resistance bonus from my two large, two small rare charms and now look like this:

Fire: 64
Cold: 57
Lightning: 72
Poison: 65

I’d rather be balanced than have one glaringly weak point. All that thinking about those damned undead archers forced me into action.

Down To It

So I’m kinda bored. I get 2 billing calls an hour, and that’s no fun. This has been a silly day. Kids came by asking for candy, the music on the overhead speakers has been nothing but Halloween music today. 100%. I’ve heard the Ghostbusters theme and Thriller at least 4 times each. This has been a very odd day, with a low volume of calls and most everyone has left for the day. It’s me and Gabriel and Jason the whole rest of the way. And believe me, I’m counting down the seconds until I can blow this joint.

I look forward to going home and making another round of coffee and having an actual night of fun. I intend to try out the newest release of Ultimate Apocalypse 1.73.7 which was released a couple days ago. Not sure what kinds of changes they’ve implemented in this third pre-patch before the big 2 race expansion. They are not going to call it 1.74 either. They’ve got some Daemon type name that they plan to use to designate it as the big one. But they’re whetting our appetites with these little gameplay tweak type mods releases. I’m not complaining at all. Just curious about what they’ve done so far. But I think I will be giving some of my attention to Act 4 of Diablo II as well. I managed to utterly pummel Mephisto in my last run, along with the High Council, who stood no chance against my mighty assassin. I’ve dumped most of my skill points into her Burst Of Speed ability, which has a huge payout in insane attack rate, and being able to zoom through stages at 150% base movement speed or whatever it is. It’s nuts though, and I have it skilled beyond 20 with charms and a Stone Of Jordan ring which I made by harvesting fragments until I had a full moonstone. Nice. I’m wishing I was there now, instead of trapped in work purgatory. Sad but very true. Still 45 minutes to go.

Cat Napper

I’ve never really tried just having a sleep in the middle of the day, because I have had a hard time doing much afterward. Considering my responsibilities are all done for today, I can pretty much just relax and do whatever I want. Sounds good?

I was right about just needing to go to bed yesterday to get the badness out of my brain. It’s gone now, and I’m thoroughly enjoying this football eve. My day has been uneventful. I finished act 2 and am about a third of the way through act 3 in Diablo II. The last thing I did was to give Ormus the Gidbinn and receive a substandard rare magic ring. I am still looking for the Flayer Jungle waypoint and my character is about to be level 30. But I find I’m being abused by the ranged (blowgun) flayers and have to full rejuvenation potion myself a couple times when I get into a swarm of them. I’m also keeping my rogue scout archer (ranged) and I keep her gear updated. I’m an Assassin (melee) and do not like chasing after stupid flayers when they run away like they do. And the fire breathing shaman flayer stack hurts me bad. But in PDM, I get access to Phoenix Strike and the third charge releases a big blast of cold which will stop those pesky flayers dead in their tracks. Ah, good times.

But besides all that tomfoolery, I’m having a great day. I have been in bed writing this blog post, but now that it comes to it I may not nap after all. I need to be up by 6:00 am tomorrow to find out if Megatron will suit up for the Detroit Lions, as they meet the Atlanta Falcons in Wembly Stadium, London. That’s a 6:30 am pacific time kickoff, for a back to back to back to back Sunday of NFL games. Yeah buddy.

So it’s going good. I’m still drinking coffee, and I kinda feel like I might have to keep doing it. The only thing that cuts down the terrible morning Geodon drowsiness is coffee, and when used in moderation, still has an awakening effect. My problem was that I was drinking a truly excessive amount of it daily, including the rancid sludge they are so quick to procure at work. Barf. But if I time it right and make my coffee after I’ve taken the Geodon, I get into a normal offset of symptoms. So I know I said I was going to stop with the coffee, and I don’t mean to go back on what I said, but you see my predicament. Not taking the Geodon with food lowers its effectiveness by 90%. I can’t have that. And I wasn’t getting drowsy because the medication was not being processed at all. I will still not be drinking alcohol at all, as there is no benefit whatsoever to it. And pot I will never do on my own or have any on hand in my house. It’s not practical and not needed.

I hope your Saturday is going well. See you later.

**UPDATE 4:30 pm**

No nap after all. I just watched some tv and played a little more Diablo II. I think I’m doing great. I reached out to my friend Jacqueline (not my ex), and we’re going to have a dinner at my place sometime next week (when she’s done being sick). She just came back from a vacation in South America, which has a face value of being exciting. I don’t think travel really “does it” for me. I tend to stick to traveling to places where I know the rock collecting is good.

Believe it or not though, I crawled back into bed and am now in a sort of limbo: impossibly early for bed, too late to cat nap. I’d fall asleep and wake up at about 1:00 am and be wondering why I did this to myself. Tomorrow at 12:00 pm I’m going to my cousin’s daughter’s birthday, her first. My parents gave me a present to bring to them, so I am going just right over the hill to La Mesa (on the way to where I used to work) for an afternoon of fun. Football will be on, and my fantasy team better put up a decent amount of points this week. My playoff chances in the family league are dwindling with unimpressive performances for the last 3 Sundays. Boo.

So hi. I’m having a good time not doing much. I think I am looking forward to getting back to work a little bit. To be honest, the time off is a bit uneventful because I don’t really have plans to do much. I’m not out rock collecting my myself. That could be a disaster if I were to get hurt out there and have no one to help me. I had invited Joseph over but he kinda ignored me, so I won’t be asking him again. My family is always available for stuff, but at least for the time being, I kinda like not having anyone else around. I can patrol the house in my underwear, I can pee with the door open, I can decide to lay down at any time and no one will judge me for it. I don’t have anyone’s standards to meet but my own.

So happy Saturday to you, in doing what brings you respite.

The Art Of Spin

I could be miserable, but I’m not going to let myself feel that way. I have some say in the matter when last I checked. And I have been struggling with feelings for the last day, but it happens and that’s ok. I have a choice, and I can decide to take it easy on myself, or, find a way to make my situation somehow unbearable. I may be lonely, but it’s not a sensation that will command my actions or determine much of anything. I’m choosing to rest because my body is asking for it. My feet are tired and my boring disposition does not have to reflect a declining mood. I had fun today, got to go walk around outside, take in the air, and do one of my favorite activities. One that I took advantage of while my rockhounding buddy is still in town. Eventually they’ll be on the road and I will have to inspire my own adventures.

And I am playing Diablo II again with the perfect drop mod, which is not as lame as it sounds. Rares drop infrequently and you might only expect a unique item off a named mob, sometimes an elite mob or ghostly or whatever nomenclature that distinguishes it from the trash. It grants experience at a rate comparable to the level cap as the end result of beating the game in hell mode, so there’s actually a decent chance of successfully leveling up into the high 80s, thereby granting use of some of the game’s finest equipment. I always hated how the game would become impossibly hard and there was no chance EVER of completing a set off the weak-ass boss drops. Sets are just so rad, and to actually play a version of the game where picking up the elements on the drop becomes a reality is the best ever (slight exaggeration). I love that. I’m not going to, but if I wanted some pre expansion set, all is have to do is grind. This game keeps the fundamentals intact, and makes item drops exciting again. Hooray for that.

Blog, I also find writing to you to be helpful. I get all these words piled up in my head and sometimes I just don’t know what to do with them all. I can get lost interpreting them negatively, and that can lead to a rapid decline in mood. But today I did a fun, and I just now called my mom to thank her for taking me rock collecting. I wanted her to know that I had a good time. Which is all try and should be reiterated as often as possible. I really do think I just needed that one extra day to not have to go grind my face off at work, to be able to sit back for a bit and let myself refill with energy. Blog, I feel fine, and even now, I’m excited to get back to work. I’m starting out my first day as a real employee now, not just a temp. I’m certified. I feel just so awesome about that.

So I’m in bed a bit early, but I’ve already eaten dinner and taken my nighttime meds. I know all my body is asking for is tranquility and rest, which I am only too happy to oblige. I want you to know that I’m going to be fine, and my spirit is lifting, and the rain clouds are passing by. I’ve got a ton to look forward to out here. My life is in the best way it’s been in years. I have a loving family, a solid support structure to catch me if I were to fall, and a sense of worth I haven’t had for years. I took the broken bits of my life, gathered them up, and glued my leg statue lamp back together again. It’s a major award you know?

Have a fantastic Saturday night doing whatever makes you smile. It’s a little early for A Christmas Story jokes, but I couldn’t resist.

The McCain Valley Rockhounding Trip

We woke up and got this thing rolling. We were on the I-8 East by 7:00 am and the morning marine layer had just started to lift up and away as we rapidly gained elevation outside of El Cajon. Then we were cruising through the mountains, with the yellow sun beating us head on over the ridge-tops. Then the oddest thing happened… the temperature plummeted to 43 degrees and this insane mountain fog showed up, thick, wet and freezing. I had to document:

IMG_0190-001

So we drove through that, and got out to McCain Valle Road, which is miles of dirt road all pretty well maintained, to my surprise. And there were lots of open use campgrounds with no rangers but pay boxes for your $6 per night fee. Pretty cool. We saw some people camping in the freezing cold and I remembered my recent trip to the so-called Lake Morena. Ah, memories.

 

We went out to the spot I picked, and did our best collecting at that first site. I knew the back of the valley would have the highest chance of yielding collectable samples, and I was mostly right. The terrain was far more bushy than I had thought it would be, and my uncovered legs got pretty scratched up as we hiked through narrow granite riverbeds and low brush. Eventually we had walked out into another campsite, and just took the road back. Actually, we collected some nice samples right out of the gravel road, which had been seeded with local till as well as gravel. I picked a very nice rose Quartz while we went on our way back. On the way out of the valley, we stopped at a lookout and I used my pitiful iPhone camera to capture the Carizzo overlook, and the desert floor below.

IMG_0198-001

With Moo up to her usual antics

IMG_0200-001

 

After that, we drove down into the Jucumba flats area, and hit two more collecting sites, a dirt turnout near old highway 80, and a long river-wash near some hilly outcroppings. The last site yielded some fine Feldspar samples, mostly white, but with remarkable features.

Once home, we washed the samples and laid them out for a picture, which didn’t come out very well. But hey, I’m not expecting much from my phone after all.

IMG_0204-001

So, a successful, and fun trip. I should not have forgotten my sunglasses, as the white granite and sand was utterly blinding me. But you can see the rose Quartz I picked up, as well as a nice Amatrine my mom found, and the Feldspar is the white stuff.

 

Great adventure, fun day, phew, I’m tired. Good show. See you later.

Uncle Schmuncle

I’m officially 2-0 after a truly nail-biting finish in the Family league, squeaking by with a 1.8 point margin of victory, moving me to 3-3 on the season, and in sole possession of first place in the western division. I’m 5-1 at work, and have just catapulted myself into first place riding a 3 game wining streak. The REAL test is this week though, because 2-0 weeks like the one I just had don’t mean much if you follow it up going 0-2. Week 7 is a pivotal matchup with the derelict team in the work league (a must win) and a matchup with my languishing cousin David in the family league, as his team holds down last place in the west. He even had the first pick overall, but lost it to Adrian Peterson, who is indefinitely suspended for beating (disciplining) his son with a stick.  Talk about rough luck. But his team is not very good, and certainly beatable, so I will be counting on two big wins to keep this hot-streak going.

But more to the point: I don’t need my stupid uncle’s fantasy football league, nor would I want any part of it if offered. I despised the attitude of those people the first time around, and their complaining, whining and otherwise bitching until they got their way. Yeah, sounds like a blast Uncle Phil, boy I’m sure glad I missed all of that excitement…

He had the audacity to think his league would just be too good to resist, and I would come crawling back and submit my surrender and forget about all the nasty bullshit things he did. Right. On second thought, maybe I’ll just ignore your future emails and consider you a not important source of information moving forward. I wonder which road I’m going to choose?

So ta ta uncle Phil. Good fucking riddance to you and your pompous, narcissistic, oblivious self. I’m having a grand-ole-time out here running my own league (in which there has not been a single complaint that wasn’t respected and treated with seriousness), and have been enjoying fantasy football without your guru-like insights. He even had the arrogance to call himself “Rozelle” as though he had earned the respect and dignity of a real professional sports commissioner and we should all just listen to him and his amazing, super-insightful points of view. How preposterous. What an ass. I’m so glad to be done with him. I had long since considered this well to be poisoned, and I’m glad to see I was right all along.\

 

Sorry, I had just been brewing these thoughts on my own for a while, and have really no place else to go with them. People who just act and treat me like I’m (first) not an adult, and second, with no respect, don’t deserve much of my attention. It’s pretty damn early, but this is my everyday schedule eh? I go to bed around 9 as well, and I hardly ever stay up past my bed time. I’m kinda boring, but also stable and happy, which I wouldn’t trade for anything. Not even DeMarco Murray.

Any Contact

I’ve been going out and doing things blog. Angi my dear friend from high school is visiting California (from Italy) for 2 months. Holy shit right? I have to take advantage of that, because Angi is awesome, fun and a great person. We have lots of hilarious memories together, way back when things were easier, different. Well whatever it was, we were in drama class together room 262. And we did that for two years I think, possibly 3. I get a little fuzzed out over time, but that’s fine. So that news is exciting.

And to top that, I am going on a sorta date Saturday with a new friend I met through OkCupid. I may have mentioned my correspondence friend Sara. I have had several, a Saskia who stopped writing me back, a Julia who did the same, but Sara has always kept me engaged, and I her, and we make each other laugh quite a bit, and both like football and have been gabbing about that. So things are getting good in my social life, which is a really huge part of my recovery. If I’m ever going to be a functional human again, I need friends, interests, activities, hobbies, and whatnot. I need these things to be a full human being, and I want them desperately, to be understood and to share something with someone. I’m not prepared to go making a relationship out of this, because how could I? I don’t even have my own place. Fuck I have not even revealed to Sara that I’m Bipolar. And I should, if things were to get really serious, but for now we can be friends who have a lot of things in common and enjoy talking. She works in management in the medical research field. Holy shit, right? So she’s super engaging and fun to talk with. And we’ve had an ongoing conversation for a few weeks it feels like. 11 days, to be exact.

Well I’m growing a social life blog, and I’m sure happy about it. I got myself moved across the room near to mike and next to some really cool guys: Oscar sits behind me, on the same bench as I am. Across from me is Reggie B, who I don’t know very well, but seems to be pretty cool. Ryan is across from me, and I know him from billing training. I’m good with people’s names and whatnot. There’s another Reggie (A) on the other side of the divider from me, but he handles Mbox calls all day and I would have no reason to ask me (or I him) a question. But we might end up chatting anyway, eventually. I feel like I really need to go in there, in to the fucking lions den of experience, and prove myself. I am the rookie, the newb, the sheep among the wolves. And yet, when Ryan gets stuck in billing, he asks ME what to do, and I know the answer and help him. Oscar is a drive thru vet, and nothing slips by him. He caught one of my orders that had a bad part number (though I had no idea we didn’t use that part number anymore, it was on my sheet and that sheet is my legit source of part numbers). But that’s like the only thing I’ve fucked up lately. I got in a bad way over something that got said to a rep from Ikea US West. I told them they were delinquent (which they were), and I was supposed to keep that a secret from them, which I did not know. And they took what I said and spun it hyper-insane-explosion of bad. Big company meeting. Fucked story. So I learned never to tell a premier client that they haven’t paid their balance in a long, long time. Because that’s corporate’s job, not mine.

So it’s Friday blog, with an eventful day tomorrow. After I meet Sara, I’m going to see an apartment in Spring Valley, which seems like a really nice place and I’ve already made friends with the property manager Ken. $775 is in my range, for sure. And I should really push for something soon since I found out the Uncle Mike roommate thing is officially dead. He wants to be alone for his divorce, which I get. But it’s a shame, because that would have been a rock solid chance at stability. He could have looked out for me too, but now I will have to harden myself and do that for myself. I like having a security blanket, but I MUST learn to stand on my own, and be my own safety net. If need be. I MUST prove this to myself, as it is the imperative of my recovery project. So I shall, and rise to the occasion I will, and be proud as well. I’m having a happy, reflective, eventful time in my life blog. Thanks for being here through the really rough times, as well as the soft cushy times like these. Things are looking good. Happy Friday.

 

 

Chippy

I’ve been on an “emotional roll” lately. I have had plenty of chances to feel sad or despairing over this or that, but I have taken none of it in, and have just gone about my life regardless. It’s hard recovering from such a catastrophic meltdown, but I have and I’m doing well. I’m interacting with new people all the time and sharing my interesting story. I find that the more chances I present myself to “get over it” the more of those chances I take, and make progress. I have been working with Margaret very closely, and she had some awesome conclusions for me to make at my last session. Truth is, I don’t have love for Jax in my heart anymore, or concern, or care. I just don’t want anything to do with her anymore, which was a hard thing to admit, given my morbid fascination with her life and it’s new direction. I’m through with occupying my time with Jax-thoughts. For good.

 

The “very exciting” NFL season starts tomorrow. A day I have awaited with much anticipation since the Fantasy Football leagues opened May 30. So I’ve had 80 some days to sit here and think about what I wanted to do, and when it finally came time to draft, I threw that plan right out the window and responded as the draft went a direction I could not have anticipated. Instead of doubling up on talented QBs in my jumbo-flex roster, I took 4 talented RBs and intend to steamroll my opponents with more ground game than they can handle. I run Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Tate out there and see what I can get. I like having the reigns of an offense that focuses on the run, like Kansas City will have to considering their only wide-out is suspended. The guys I got will get 15-25 carries a game, and those are numbers you can build off to achieve success. You have seen my rosters, so you know what I did. The Ideus (Bailey) league is a bit murky. I’m not putting much stock in ESPN’s initial prediction that I will be swallowed by 20 points or more. Says I have a 20 point victory margin in the other league. Don’t put much stock in point-forecasting. If anything, it’s fun to compare how they project and how they perform when it’s said and done.

 

So I don’t have much for you this morning. I’m writing less because I’m not struggling with my feelings like I have been in the past. I’m doing well, and scooting along happily.

After The Draft Is Done

I’ve had both drafts in my two leagues, and they went very well. I have a wide-receiver heavy team in the Ideus (Bailey) league and a balanced attack in the work league. I won the best draft award in the work league with a B+. And I’ve already had to put down some silly trades. Ian is right back at it trying to get me to trade week 1. He’s so funny.

Anyway, in the Ideus League my roster looks like this:

QB – Drew Brees
WR – Calvin Johnson / A.J. Green
RB – Alfred Morris / Frank Gore
FLEX – Antonio Brown / Roddy White
TE – Kyle Rudolph / Heath Miller
DEF/ST – Cincinnati
K – Steven Gostkowski

And In the Detail Oriented league:

QB – Phillip Rivers / Andy Dalton
WR – A.J. Green / Brandon Marshall
RB – Jamaal Charles / Le’Veon Bell
FLEX – Arian Foster / Andre Johnson
TE – Jason Witten
DEF/ST – Cincinnati
K – Matt Bryant

Stale Flavorings

I’m not the kind to complain, really. I’m only ever alarmed when things are disproportionately wrong, like today at work when Kevin just ignored 2 calls and let someone else deal with the customer, because he was busy talking about headshots. It’s a known fact that retarded behavior is not tolerated. And this looks like a turd smudge on the face of the company. These are the sort that are directly interfacing with customers, which is good, if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, there will be problems. I’m certain of that.

What I like to do, is when I get on the phone with a drive thru troubleshooting call, I like to imagine myself in a greasy fast food kitchen, looking for this absurd piece of vital equipment, where to find it, what size, shape and color it is, what it might also look like… you get the picture. I then tell them exactly what to do with it, and how to make a malfunctioning electronic device work again, in mere moments. It’s a satisfactory turnaround, with immediate payoffs in satisfied people who are (now) not wondering why they have a monthly subscription. Now they’re saying: hey, I’m sure glad we have that service. They just fixed my problem!

Sweet. So I get that when you do this job right, it can be totally rewarding, not frustrating, but simple. And it’s repetitive, as the same types of equipment fall victim to the same EXACT problem, because they’re all exposed to identical conditions. It’s easy to save the day when you know what you’re doing. Right? This should all make some sense, I’m not the exception.

I, rather, fall in a range with some good, hard working folk who have a mutual respect for what I do. To date, I have not had any kickback, no reprimand or castigation, rather, they prefer to point out procedural mistakes and imply that they be avoided. At least, I presume to learn something from these “coaching” emails. Of the 2 I’ve ever seen in my time at the company. Meanwhile, everyone around me is eating the poop and dying. I hear horror stories about kickabck from other departments, or orders gone wrong, resulting in a failure of service. If we promise that we’re going to do something, we sure as hell should do that thing we said. I hope this isn’t like, shocking. Everyone aught have enough moral presence to observe some essential behaviors. Application of effort, comprehension and learning, adaptability and progressive thinking. Aren’t these kind of important if you want to go far in the world? The exception to this rule are people who violate morality, like criminals, degenerates or other lesser beings. If you want to exploit your way to a living I do not endorse you. I would condone no such action.

I’ve been thinking a lot, because I find that we don’t really need all the people we have. There are too many, too much dead time, where not a single call is coming in, and everyone thinks it’s super great to meander around and barf about this and that. I have had the good fortune to get a chance to talk NFL with Joseph, who knows a lot about fantasy football as well. It’s been nice to be able to drop names like Bernard Pierce, John Kitna, Harry Douglas… we have a deeper than average understanding of the National Football League. Is John Kitna even in the NFL anymore?

There was no real point to any of that, other than to say that dead time means people come flock over to my desk and check out what I’m doing, or strike up conversation with me, or SIT on my desk and hang out. I mean really, I don’t ever have to go anywhere, the party comes to me every day. It’s TGIF at Westin’s desk! Bitches!

So I was tossing back song lyrics on Google Chat with Mike today, and I stumped him twice, once with The Moody Blues’ The Voice and then later with Gerry Rafferty’s Waiting For The Day. I’m a music stud. Seriously. Get the fuck out the way, I got you.

Well blog, I’m going to toodle around the internet for a while and then call it a night. It’s been fun catching up with you after a very stimulating day. I really appreciate you always being here for me, whether it’s good or bad, you always listen. And I’m thankful for that.

 

Ultimate Apocalypse 1.74 August News

I just got through reading the news brief from the Ultimate Apocalypse team, and I’m very disappointed. When last Lord Cylarne graced us with a progress update, It seemed they were down to the beta testing the bugs portion of the process. I was mistaken, as there are several huge problems with the mod still, and in the alpha state, unplayable. Though, it’s good to hear about the races being nearly done, but frankly, there are still problems with the GUI, the AI, the modeling… the list goes on. The mod’s progress considered: “decent.” For whatever that’s worth.

Tau are still being worked on, which makes me wonder what the fuck they are doing to my precious Tau Empire. I have no idea what they need, they peak tier 3, they are still deadly in tier 2, and most games are ending around there somewhere, right?

Well, I’m shocked that the mod is actually much farther behind schedule (and they admit as much), than I was originally lead to believe. I’ll be patiently awaiting the end result, of course, like every other mook who desperately wants a look at the changelog for 1.74. It would be nice to see one, even in the event that the mod is still being worked on. New units, new abilities, new game concepts implemented with the Necrons, probably making them a dominant force, as they were back in the days before 1.72. Necrons SHOULD be ferocious. The fact that they are retarded right now is the modder’s fault. They deserve some love, and I hear they are getting it, with a litany of new units and buildings. I think building defensive structures will not be limited to turrets, but include a whole set of new and varying defensive buildings with an array of weapon customization options. Tau turrets are pretty good as they are, and upgrading them does make them have a gargantuan range… how does it get better?

I won’t question the leadership, but I am disappointed by the news. I thought we were going to have 1.74 this summer, but it’s looking more like a Christmas wish. I am not complaining, mind you… 1.73 is rad, and well balanced, and fun to play. With the exception of Necrons. Tau are a boat-load of fun. I can’t wait to try out Chaos Daemons though. Or have William play Inquisition Daemonhunters against me. Which I remember their commander very well, in that I could not kill him, at all, ever. His shield would recharge faster than I could take it down. He literally killed everything he faced, and I begged will not to use him, or spawn a never-ending stream of Bodyguard class units from the command unit itself. Thankfully, we’ve long since left the days of Bodyguard units spawning off the commander behind. That strat makes the game exclusively about building as many of those Bodyguards as possible. Maybe I’ll try my hand with ID?

But whenever it happens, it’s fine. I’m willing to play around with 1.73 for as long as it takes until we get that final release. Fingers crossed, hoping for soon.

UA_Duels

It’s the name of my Hamachi network where Will and I have many a warlike adventure. Lately, it’s been Imperial Guard (Will) and I went back to playing Tau Empire. They’re just so much fun. In our most recent bout, I had Krootox aplenty and then the Knarloc Alpha Rider came out and it was demolishville. That’s 1400R. So I move on his position at 9:30, which is kinda early, but then, was I going to go melee and then wait around for his tanks to come out? I go melee, I get in your face a lot sooner than if I was waiting around for tier 3 ranged. Just to clarify:

Tier 2 Melee = 270R/270P

Tier 2 Ranged = 340R/340P

Tier 3 Melee = 380R/380P

Tier 3 Ranged = 510R/510P

I save 200R/200P and those melee totals just get there faster than the ranged ones do. In other words, I end up waiting for longer periods before I can build the ranged tier. I know the difference is only 200, but it’s A LOT faster to go melee. I am in tier 3 sooner, which is nice because I can buy up the economic upgrades pretty fast, and in succession. By deeply funding my economy, I can afford to dispense a Greater Knarloc AND A Knarloc Alpha Rider in the same game, having queued the Greater Knarlocs. It’s kinda silly to make them run, but I like seeing them do it. And they lumber around so ponderously slow if you don’t. It’s like repairing buildings. You have to stay on top of run and repair, otherwise, they’re useless.

I’ve been skirmishing with a Harder Dark Eldar… and I’m losing more than I’m winning. If I leave them alone, they overpower me with great sums of very annoying skimmers. I must have built 25 Barracudas trying to keep up with their never ending stream of vehicles, and really really buff Mandrakes. Lots and lost of Mandrakes. It got to the point that on Faceoff, they were just, entrenched in my base, killing every infantry unit or ground unit of any kind, ever time I got one built. It was HOPELESS… because they were destroying my shit by the 4:00 mark and I was economically crippled for the entirety of the match. Like I said, 25 or more Barracudas couldn’t get it done… and I can’t get anything that moves on the ground to survive for more than a few seconds… I sure hope Barracudas will get me there. Dark Eldar have a vicious AI which strikes first things first with a fully reenforced squad of Hellions. And there goes my unupgraded outmost listening post. Fuck.

So I’m not sure why I’ve subjected myself to endless rounds with the Dark Eldar. I’ve proven on several separate occasions now, that I can’t win on Faceoff. And I’m struggling most other places. On Fallen CIty, I won, but BOY did I give it the full swing of the bat. I had like 8 Krootox all down there, and the fucking AI built 2.5 bases for fuck’s sake! I destroyed 48 buildings that game. 48!!!

I’m game for a challenge. The only other AI that gives me any sort of hard time is Chaos Space Marines, and they have eaten shit more often than not. They just don’t get going fast enough, IMHO.

Though, Will is pretty damn fast with them, and very good. I have a feeling we are competitive on a wide-scale level. How could we not be? We don’t play the game as viciously as some, but those aren’t the people we want to be playing with anyway, right? People obsessed with winning, or hellbent on it, are frustrating themselves with a lot of unnecessary anguish. I’m good, and I lose all the time. But I play a ton of games. Maybe thousands. Will and I trade wins and losses, and I honestly think that the time I spent unemployed and playing this game a ton gave me a huge advantage over everyone. I have spent TIME making my sequence as good as it can be, as fast as I can get it to be, as deadly, as decisive. I find that I win at least twice as much as I lose, so I’m not doing it wrong, I’m getting it. I might even pose a 3:1 ratio, and think myself perhaps somewhere between the two.

Tau Empire have two distinct sides, and choosing either, or both, can make each new game a totally original challenge, posed by an exponentially increasing sum of possibilities, multiplying rapidly. I’ve never played the same game, and been all like: dude, I JUST did that. WTF?

Honestly, I don’t decide what direction I’m going until the first 5 minutes or so. I mean, I have to pick either a melee barracks or a ranged one at the start, but I can just build the other one if I decide to go the other way. It’s not rocket science.  It’s paying for both tier buildings that gets to be a chore. And to have your tech tiers destroyed is no fun either. Really, don’t let that happen with Tau. Just don’t.

“Return Fire, RETURN FIRE!”

My Fire Warriors usually have something to say, but I have all the voice audio muted so I don’t have to hear them speak. Most strategy gamers count on unit speech to help them be alerted when something is done or what not. I just decided to keep track of it all in my head, and not rely on the game to tell me what to do. A dedicated gamer move, I’ll say,  and also making the RTS genre a lot more difficult. I much prefer a challenge though. Suits me well.

Anyway, Will has been trying out Imperial Guard, who I believe to be quite possibly the best “vehicles” army out there. And “vehicles” as it applies to Ultimate Apocalypse, is any unit that counts against your Vehicle Cap. For IG, you can count on vehicles all looking like tanks, of varying equipments and weapon systems. I contend that IG have a decent counter for everything with building that JUST makes L.Russ variants.

I’ve slowed down my strategy, as opposed to an all out dash to tier 3, I tend to peak late tier 2. SO my getting to the tiers is only slow on the back end, as upgrading my economy has become of increasing priority.

Tier 1 = 2:05

Tier 2 = 7:05

Tier 3: = +9:00

 

It’s not all about tier 3 anymore. It’s become about MMing the middle, crippling the outskirts of your enemy’s economy, cleverly placing turrets, and LOTS MORE MMing the middle. I’ve been caught kiting troops to my turrets, which was quickly foiled by a stance change, I’m assuming. I’ve had my Skyrays individually targeted by air strikes, I’ve built 6 squads of Fire Dragons, created a diversion, and sneaked them into Will’s base and triggered the Annihilate victory condition without even facing his army. It’s become clever, devious play that gets it done. Though there is still some dispute over when is an OK time to build a turret, and when is not. Turrets can be bothersome with their extensive range and usually 2 levels of upgrades.

Anyway, I’m back to trying a twin tier 2 approach to Tau Empire. I had one game as Tau vs IG and it went my way, then his, then cinched for my victory in tier 3. I brought my usual front of Sunfires and when equipped to demolish vehicles, IG gets real unhappy with that. I also made sure to buy both Tau-wide weapon damage techs. Tech line for that game was 24 to 9… which is like, woah, why didn’t you research anything? Techs only make your diverse front become stronger, and a diverse front is as it should be, as well. Spamming one unit is asking to be countered.

 

That’s really all for now. Pack to practice.

Timing Is Key – Ultimate Apocalypse Game Theory

I’ve been working exclusively with the Tau Empire, and I believe I have a set order that takes me through the first 9 minutes (or more) of the game. I get through tiers 1 – 3 as fast as I can manage, which makes the first economic moments of each game all the more important. I level my economy each time I graduate into a tier, that way, By the time my tier 3 economic upgrades hit, I’m able to MASSIVELY produce units by auto queuing them. I auto build Hammerhead Gunships, Swordfish Gunships, and XV8 Sunfire Battlesuits and flood the battlefield with them. There’s not a whole lot of unit combinations out there that can effectively stop that attack, along with nearly level 8 commanders. My strategy breaks down to a few essential timing points:

At 2:30 you should be in tier 1

At 6:30 you should be in tier 2

At 9:30 you should be in tier 3

Game will end somewhere after you make tier 3, because all the best stuff is finally available. It makes sense to plateau here, because at this point, your economy can support huge troop production and STILL level its commanders. I’ve had them at level 8 in several matches, and depending on the map, things will unfurl differently.

The last few matches with Will, I’ve noticed that I have more production capacity than he does, because I can hit the field with WAY more units than he can handle. That’s the tipping point. Being in tier 3 is non negotiable. Be there or be dead when I get there. I know our two distinct builds are showing their merits and flaws. Mine, clearly flawed to expose myself early. If will attacked earlier, he might succeed in stopping my economy from getting going or some such. I don’t favor a strategy change that takes us closer to rush and farther from progression, but I do believe some concepts of the game can’t be ignored. If I’m able to go, unperturbed, into tier 3 and attack on MY schedule, I’m going to win. You have to make ME change my priority to dealing with YOU, and I don’t entirely know how to achieve that, but it deserves some thought. It might take just claiming 60% of everything. That’s SURE to create a fight.

Anyway. Game concepts. If you’re not being adequately stimulated by your game, get a new game.

 

A Flaw In The Apocalypse?

So I’ve been competitively gaming with Will now for 16 matches, in which I have won 14 and lost 2 (87.5%). It’s been an evolving strategy, but the most recent permutation, in which XV8 Sunfire Battlesuits are my primary unit, I’ve run the board against every single opposing unit, every time. The lynchpin of this entire transaction is the XV89 Bodyguard command squad. As I have detailed in the past, That squad is beefy, and clearly the best tier 2 thing the Tau Empire can build. They get stronger at tier 3, once I buy the ranged Tau weapon tech. Tau weapons get 2 upgrades, one at tier 1, the other at tier 3. It makes most rapid fire plasma units hard to stop. Anyway, the XV89s are essential, and behind them I bring the XV22 and XV89 commanders. They have a shield, and can sit in fire and take immense amounts of damage, and return heavy DPS. Once they level past 4, they usually have all their special weapons and armor improvements, which makes them even insaner. The XV89 commander has a grenade launcher which knocks down clusters of infantry at a time, and it has a 2 second reload time. He makes mayhem. But more to the point, I can usually count on the XV89 Bodyguards to handle damn near anything attacking me as I’m quietly leveling to tier 3. With 5 command units total comprising my ENTIRE offensive force, I can drive off any form of assault and not lose anyone, and then reinforce them with Sunfire Battlesuits and Hammerhead Gunships. It’s really, really hard to stop that.

The real question I have here is that: are the XV89 Bodyguard command squad OP? If I don’t turn their shield off, they can sit there with no shield and still take a beating and not die. If you don’t have poison, or fire, they’re not at all easy to destroy. Will has put 6 full, outfitted infantry battalions against my  1 (3 unit) command squad and been soundly defeated. He says that those infantry units were specifically upgraded and equipped to deal with heavy infantry and vehicles, of which battlesuits both count, I think, and even that was no go. I, at the moment, have no real logical answer for his predicament. I suggested using poison, which he tried with an area of affect thingie, which was also ineffective. I have yet to have him try fire or plasma, which may incur success. I’ll keep you posted as the next time we are likely to get together tomorrow.

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In the mean time, I’ve been cruising at +14:30 minute victories, peaking around the +10:00 minute mark in tier 3. I can get through the tiers pretty fast, and faster depending on the map, and how quickly I can get to the resources, and how much walk-time there is between points, and so on. Hammerheads are deadly good, fire a ton of rounds, and have a multifunction upgradable main gun with 4 customization options beyond the default. XV8 Sunfire Battlesuits have anti-infantry or anti-armored vehicle weapon customization options per squad of 3. I can adapt on the fly, and mix the weapon upgrades on my XV8s in order to get the most effective use of them, cutting down specific classes of units in targeted, coordinated strikes. I make good micromanaging decisions with what little actual standing infantry I will allow to enter the mix. Usually my barracks is in use making battlesuits, but I wills stop and make a squad of Fire Warriors… but mostly because battlesuits can’t cap points. Fuckers. They think of everything. Make me build 1 pathetically outclassed infantry squad and run them around the battlefield capping points surrendered as my army destroys any and all unfriendly listening posts en route to domination.

I wish I knew the Chaos Space Marines better, but frankly, I’ve grown so nostalgic over them that it only ever reminds me of Will to face them. I’d never play them, given how little interest I have in destroying that perfectly good situation I have now. My relationship with Chaos is exclusively adversarial.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’m going to have a few more rounds with the HR (who I seem to be able to dominate and only fret if facing Dark Eldar).

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Notes From Mplayer Battle

I’ve had a few more bouts with good Sir Will, and Tau have lost one, but remain in firm control of 3 others. Once ineffective Barracudas were done away with, I graduated to Hammerhead Gunships, XV89 Bodyguards and similar battlesuit class squadrons. I have him puzzled, at the moment, as most of my late game pulse weapons get outstandingly good later on through the tech tiers. By the time the XV8 Sunfire Battlesuits are out, the thing is leaning heavily to my direction. Recent bouts have belong to Will early in the game, as some of his tier 1 and tier 0 stuff is better than mine. But recently, lack of continued offensive pressure and riding one good wave of troops into my base does not always cinch the deal. I was able to repel him from the center of my base, as I was losing production buildings, and forced him back into his base, and beat him there. Battlesuits carried my last two victories, easily. I haven’t even built the really nasty ones yet.

But either way, this clearly presents a challenge which must have a solution of some form. Those battlesuits have a weakness, and I’m willing to bet an equivalent tier melee unit would go to work on them. Even in this last round, I continued to build units deep into tier 3, and only really cranked production on Hammerheads and XV8s. These recent campaigns have left him with no answer to the Sunfire Battlesuit, and my army has largely consisted of them with the various anti-infantry or anti-structure upgrades. They dispense a good deal of firepower and last a really long time in heated battle. They are uncompromisingly rad. And Hammerheads have 4 upgrade options for the main gun, all of which can work to eliminate vehicles, structures or infantry. I could tell he was feeling frustrated in the end, but that’s the way it goes when you’re beating your head against a strategy that won’t work in the execution stage. The planning stage might be done with, but something is not translating from conceptualization to actualization. I imagine he will figure out how to stop those XV8s soon enough. I may have to lean on the Swordfish Gunship more than I already do as the lynchpin of my army.

All in all, I’ve been able to come back from NEAR the brink of destruction, and win. My record with Tau Empire at 6-1 (85.7%). I find I’ve been adapting my existing build order quite a bit to fit the nature and peculiarity of my foe’s choices. I don’t know if Chaos can keep up with Tau in tier 3, so far, he’s put some tier 3 things against my Hammerheads and lost them all. I have heard complaints as to their ineffectiveness. But everything in this game is about those little unit on unit matchups, and what kinds of damage they do, and so on. Sometimes an otherwise useless unit might be the perfect counter to early aircraft, or some other strategy.

Conclusion: things are going to change day to day, as we get more of these matchups under our belts. For the longest time, I have gone on periods of having no answer for some of Will’s tactics. Whereas, sometimes he has gone on for periods not knowing how to get the better of mine. I will need to keep my actions and objectives fluid in order to stay at that impressive 7 game average.

Breaking NEWS: Ultimate Apocalypse 1.74

Through Cylarne’s broken english we have an update from the UA team. 1.74 is well underway and could even be released within the month. They are calling out for bugfixes and error reports desperately, so when they do release, it’s as complete as it can be. 1.74 will completely reset the Chaos Space Marines, yes bro, that’s right: overhaul. Just as he was getting used to playing them. Hehe. The 1.74 overhaul will primarily affect Necrons, Tyranids, Sisters, Chaos and Imperial Guard. These factions are all getting balance issues addressed as well as unit additions and whatnot. I think EVERY faction will be rebalanced or tweaked as needed, and we may even all get at least one new unit out of the deal. Got my fingers crossed for that new battlesuit!

So the call came out to report bugs, and I have only really noticed one bug in the Kroot Alpha tooltip. It reads for Imperial Guard units, of which the Kroots are not. I reported this bug just now. Other than that, I think I’m just sitting back excitedly awaiting the arrival of two new factions, a slew of balance issues, and new units. I’m going to have fun discovering the mechanical tweaks all over again, and probably sooner rather than later. The way this is sounding, they’re close to the end on production and just hammering out the bugs.

I am hopeful, at least.

53 Days To Go…

I’ve DONE IT!

My fantasy football league has finally filled with managers. Since I got this job, I’ve been exposed to a whole new set of individuals who may or may not be into that sort of thing. I threw an email out to the agents today, and one of them came back and wanted in. The field is full! 8 teams, diverse, 11 roster spots, individual defensive player, PPR/PPA/PPC. A flex (W/R/T) spot, and a HUGE flex spot (Q/W/R/T). See what I mean? I’ve been planning this for a long time, and even had a FULL season test run with the first Detail Oriented league. This year, no mechanical issues, just clean good fuck yeah fun.

I’ve been asleep, waiting for the NFL to come. All this World Cup horeshit gets me laughing. What a retarded sport. It’s a sport decided by a MINIMUM of action, often resulting in scoreless ties, which then are resolved with this fucking penalty kick type thing. It’s insane. And they fake injury, and the refs go right along with it. Their sport is corrupt, slow, boring and idiotic. The NFL is in a class all its own. With STUNNING athletics, talented position players, and unique, chess-like roles, maneuvers, plays, scripts and movements all calculated, pondered and second guessed by hundreds of staff. Players strive, dive, leap and hurl themselves in amazing, heart-pounding ways, every single season. I can’t tell you how authentically amazing the NFL is. And by no means do I condone the violence and thuggery that goes on in the NFL, and the devious lying and tactics and arrests and all of that. I’m aware of it. No one’s perfect. I don’t hold the sport responsible for it’s players, and the NFL has integrity in areas where most other sports don’t compare. It’s not an argument, but a statement of fact.

Peace be with you travelers. My league being full will no doubt render me capable of mocking until my head blows up. In fact, I’m about to go do that right fucking now. See ya. Oh, and by the way, I draft 3rd.

For Tau!

After enough time conducting various experiments with my build order, I’ve gleaned a few important pointers as it pertains to playing Ultimate Apocalypse. First, there is no reason to pick a shitty map to have your war on. Pick a decent map, and I’ve done the legwork for you and given you a short list of the best dueling maps to play on in the game, bar none.

Emerald River          [513] (ER)
Faceoff                       [257] (Fo)
Fallen City                 [257] (FC)
Frostbite River         [257] (FbR)
Haine’s Demise [257] (HD)
Meeting of Minds    [257] (MoM)
Moonbase                 [257] (Mb)
Titan’s Fall                [257] (TF)
Volatile Ground       [257] (VG)

Use one of these maps, only. The other maps lack those nifty slag deposits (save Moonbase) and are generally not very fun to play on. I’ve used only these maps and I get an entertaining game on each one except Volatile Ground, where I always win. I can go to any of these battlefields and not lose with Tau any time I want. I think I’m going to win a lot of my multiplayer games at first, until someone in my friend circle gets a respectable build order together. If I can beat the Harder AI every time, on each one of these maps, then I think human players will have a similarly difficult time in unseating me. I mean, anyone can beat me, if you’re faster than I am. And I’m pretty fast. I’m teching to tier 1 within the first minute of the game, and tier 2 under 5 minutes in. Dark Eldar and Orks pose the largest threat to me, because their tier 0 and tier 1 stuff is buff and hard to stop early on. When rushed at 4 minutes by either of these AIs, I let them destroy nearly a quarter of my stuff before I can dispense of the invaders with a Barracuda or two. They have no answer at tier 1 to the Barracuda. It just makes them die, and then they leave my base and I can continue on the righteous path towards total map domination.

Tau are slow, compared to some of the other races. I know they’re slow because both Dark Eldar and Orks have a sizable force in my base moments after the 4 minute mark rolls by. They can get me with Hellions, my whole base, actually, and little else but Jetbikes and Mandrakes. It’s a sad way to die, but I will get my shit handed to me by either of those opponents if I’m playing ANYONE ELSE but Tau. I will survive with Tau. I can’t survive as Tyranids, because they have no counter at all to Hellions. Even Hormagaunts at level 3 have no chance. Mandrakes feast on them.

I’ve left commentary on Tyranids’ lack of an effective counter for rush units, and hopefully I get an intelligible reply. I don’t have my hopes up, but nevertheless, I’d like to see Tyranids  with a bit more power so they can actually get to the point of deploying powerful units. They die too soon because Spore Chimneys are not defensible after upgrades and their fixed turrets are crap. Noted.

Cribbage

I’ve been doing Hoyle Card Games in my boredom, and I’ve had the most interesting cribbage games. I’ve never had a hand above 21 points, until today, when I was dealt this:

1And then I turned this:

2For a grand total of:

324! Holy crap that’s the best hand I’ve ever been dealt in all my years of playing cribbage. And in the game in which I was dealt this hand, I’m still losing by 5. Coming into the home stretch as well…

Anyway, happy fathers day.

 

Bucket Plunkers

The apparatus of my strategy game brain is somewhat tired. I’ve been out teched by Chaos and swarmed under by Orks and Dark Eldar. I can’t handle any of them with Tyranids… I’m just not fucking fast enough to get enough things out there to meet their things at the fucking 4 minute mark EVERY TIME! Goddamnit I’m never going to play that way! I can’t do 4 minutes. I need more fucking time dude. You HAVE to give me enough time to get going, otherwise, what the fuck are we doing? I’m not having fun, that’s for sure. I think this comes down to a balance issue. There’s no intermediate unit worth building before tier 3 that has a slight chance of survival. Warriors, once upgraded, are fast and have good dps. But they last for about 1 minute and then they’re all dead. All 12 or however many of them there are. Same story with fully upgraded Genestealers. They get annihilated by ANYTHING they try to fight. I think this is not good. I’ve had to RUSH to get to Zoeanthropes and full Carnifexes with all their technologies researched. But if I’m being harassed at 4 minutes, I have to divert my economy’s resources to defending off the attackers, who will run willy-nilly through my base, stop, and grind on my resource building s until they are destroyed. This is fucking stupid. I’ve tried holding them off with Hormagaunts, and they just use a ton of resources reenforcing up to 20 members. It is crippling my economy, which maybe I can resolve by somehow ignoring my base slowly being consumed and boost my economy upgrades regardless. Seems like a really dumb way to win. I’m hoping YOU guys have a better idea. I’m stuck.

New Content for UA 1.74

I have been closely monitoring ModDB’s UA page in hopes of gobbling up any news they had to offer. So far, the ongoing saga is an open-ended feedback commentary as the UA team develops a new Tau Empire battlesuit. I believe it’s going to be called the XV-104. I know the mod team is striving for a more canonical Warhammer 40k feel, but making no difference to me, I see them addressing the upper tier units for different races across the board. This is a pretty good indicator of the gameplay changes we can expect. Looks like longer, more developed games are the way we would need to go in order to use any of the stuff the UA team is modeling right now.

It’s important to note that 1.74 being actively worked-on will reduce the amount of time I spend pondering what the new release will bring. I’m pretty cozy with Eldar, Tau and Tyranids, and would notice if anything changed for those factions. Necrons and Chaos Space Marines were on the block as of the release of 1.73, still needing some adjustments for gameplay reasons.  The Tau battlesuit they are designing looks pretty amazing. I’m getting EXCITED now about this damn release. And who knows how long I will be hung in limbo for THIS time.

ZERG THEM?

I’ve decided not. Rather, the Tyranids change directions after this initial “rush / zerg” phase is over. Mainly, Hormagaunts can win you the early part of the game, but will never destroy a base. I’ve tried. What works, is revving up technological advances to achieve some of the highest tier units the Tyranids can recruit. Like my buddy Trygon down there. Flying in to deliver the final blow is a fully upgraded Hive Tyrant as well.

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This was the final screen for Imperial Guard, who had been utterly shut down by the Zoanthropes, losing all their advanced tanks and infantry to them. Which were built in large number, clearly by the screencap with all 600 of them waiting in the background. Biovores came in handy for culling the first few infantry outbursts from IG while I was getting the technology for tier 3 upgraded. Once the Zoanthropes got out there, and the Carnifexes were piling up, I had things wrapped up. Those are not Screamer-Killers down there, those are real full Carnifexes. And they’re set to destroy structures, which IG was not happy about. But it was over fast once the purge had wiped out all their perimeter defenses.

Trygon or two come to be useful meats, because they take a ton of punishment (of all forms) and seem to do well in absorbing most of it. They die, but it sure does take a while. And if you’ve built a Tunnel Warrens then you are deep into Tyranids and don’t have much more upward expansion left before hiutting the top. You need to have victory with the tier 3 and 4 stuff, if at all. If outgunned here, which I have been before by Dark Eldar, then you’re fucking doomed.

I timed this game just under 1/2 an hour. Yikes. What happened to Zerg? What happened to “the hive must grow?” These are myths when such Hydraliskian brethren like the Zoanthrope hang around waiting to be teched up to. I will run more games this way, not putting a killing blow until tier 3. We’ll see how that goes.

 

Shape Of My Spade

I’ve had an itch to play Bridge again, which has to be my all time favorite card game. I think it’s oodles of fun. The sneakatude and absolute attention to which cards have been played. I just love it. I have 2 iPhone apps called Spades+ and Hearts+ which I have been really happy with. I’ve been playing at night before bed. I hooked Tony’s wife Dawna into playing with me as well. I’m really shitty at Hearts for some reason. I always get stuck with the lead in a suit no one else has. It’s fucked. I was playing this afternoon for the “beat your opponents by 50 or more,” and I had the thing locked up… then back to back rounds of 25 and 24. Ouch.

I now have Hoyle Cards 2011 on my computer, and just finished setting up my avatar. ProfileRight?

 

So I can play Bridge now, and I gave myself all the neato players to play with. Marvin is a Tyrannosaurus. Roswell is an alien. and there’s a bear as well. It’s all good fun.

Mainly, I want to get back to figuring out a decent bidding language, like the kind needed to do well at Bridge at all. My partner is usually Roswell, so I’m not positive about how that personality bids. I am going to go hunt down a Bridge tutorial on bidding as well, just to have the information handy, and to see if the computer follows that sort of language as well. It would be nice to give the computer partner information based on my initial bid. If any.

I’m going to be able to fire up a game of Cribbage, Hearts or Spades at any time. And since I have the self-installing .iso, theoretically anyone could multiplay with me. I should install it on my Dad’s laptop, just in case I get someone over there who wants to play cards.

Did I mention I fucking love cards? I do. Is it obvious?

 

Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order (Tyranids) [REVISED]

I went back to 1.73 and things with the Tyranids have become unclear again. I’m back to a sort of temporary mediocrity and misuse of the army altogether. I never have enough Reclamation Pools to get much Hivemind abilities out. I get mired in tier 2 and can’t win there consistently. The Hormagaunt and Genestealer swarm that worked in the fan patch does not work here at all. It is countered, FAST, before any real damage is done. I’ve been able to use that swarm to kill off all the infantry, and then lose the swarm to fixed defenses. Especially rockets. This might just be a universal truth. When it comes to the Tyranids, explosions are effective against bare flesh. Makes sense to me.

Phase 1 – Establish The Colony (0:00 – 2:00)

Builder set to reenforce to full squad size, and build either barracks (it reenforces for free, so why not?)
HQ: recruit another builder to build whichever barracks didn’t get built in the previous step
Hivemind: 2x Genestealers, each set to cap 1/2 the forward portion of the map, nearest first

Once the builders get done doing their thing, you will have some dead-time here where your Rippers are waiting for the Genestealers to cap the points so they can build Spore Chimneys on them. Do this until you have 5 or so points captured and SC’s built

HQ: research tier 1 as soon as either Brood Hive or Gaunt Hive are built

Phase 2 – Preparing The Swarm (2:30 – 4:00)

I will typically be capping and building Spore Chimneys into this phase. Once tier 1 is done, you can go find a slag pit if you have one, and harvest the huge requisition bonus they give. I make these a priority if they happen to be around. If not, start into upgrading every Chimney one time
Once all the upgrades are done, recruit both command units, and build 2x Warrior squads, fully reenforce, buy claws for all
Buy the first increased economic intake technology
Build Carnifex barracks
Upgrade Gaunts and Genestealers as much as can be done at this tier. Don’t bother with the Litcors.

Build all 6 Reclamation Pools.
Upgrade to tier 2 (680 Requisition)

As a note: by the time this is happening, you can hit 680R in a few seconds because you’re intake will be pretty insane. Like over +200 by the time you’re headed to tier 2. That might be less if you didn’t get a slag pit on your map.

 

Phase 3 – Control The Middle (5:00 – 11:00)

Here is where it gets murky. Basing armies of Hormagaunts is a mistake, because they are obliterated by any form of stationary defense. They have HUGE 20 unit squads, and you’d be surprised how fast they go. They are good at handling early infantry, but don’t ever get Hormagaunts in a base until all the defenses are down. You can use the Hivemind to drop them in as needed. Base your armies on Warriors, in full reenforced state, can be devastating. They do well with most anything, but don’t have a lot of resilience, and will, again, go bye bye to the fixed defenses or ranged units. I don’t really have a ranged angle with Tyranids right now. I’m trying to win in tier 2, and not have to go any farther, because I will die if we go deep into games. My best stuff can’t hold up against tier 3. No way, and I’ve seen them die. Chaos out teched me, and overloaded my base with tier 3 stuff I couldn’t kill. I was attempting to get my economy rolling, and start cranking on Screamer-Killers and get the command units up to level 8. But it seems you have to choose one or the other. My best economy can’t handle both of those things. The primary goal here is that you stay alive, and keep your (few) structures and Spore Chimneys from being destroyed. If your economy stabilizes after leveling the command units, you can get researching tier 3.

 

Phase 4 – Push Them Back (11:00 – 25:00)

To have control of the middle is key to establishing a fighting-front of your army. I typically meatshield Spinegaunts and Hormagaunts, and back them up with command units, Zoeanthropes and Biovores. These “heavy weapons” can turn the tides of the engagement. Biovores are SUPER inaccurate, but with 4 -5 squads of 3, they pepper the land with artillery shot and pulverize infantry. The Zoeanthropes will help you cut down on things eating your Biovores and preventing your forward advance. The heavy units will win you the engagement, and keep the battlefield soundly within your ownership. Push them back to their base, and make your priority anything that fires an explosive projectile. Kill those fast.

I leave this area up to your experimentation, and would be only to happy to take a suggestion on how to run the Tyranids for longer. I’m doomed by this time, or, I won. It’s never a gray area. I live or die by the knife-edge of chance. Not a very compelling build order, I know. But it’s what I’ve got since returning to nerfed 1.73 Tyranids. Whatever they did in the fan patch is fucked. They ruined Tyranids for me. Just not the same…

Back To The Future

I’ve gone back to the regular 1.73 instead of the fan patch. I find things with the Tyranids to be somewhat different then I remember. Genesteslers are not as strong once upgraded. They’re smaller and get more per squad. So do Hormagaunts, with a cap at 20 per squad. That’s a fucking ton. They swarm much more than in the patch. Much more.

But now it’s a toss up. Win some. Lose some. I’ve lost to Dark Eldar, and beat Sisters of Battle. I had a ton of fully upgraded Lictors by the time I got to assault mode. I was rolling. But I got harassed very early with DE. They had their tier 1 shit mauling my resource buildings right at the 4 minute mark. And the Genestealers couldn’t do shit. Well, that’s not entirely true. They successfully died. So they got THAT going for them.

I guess I need to “tighten the screws” on this build order. I know I lose time toggling between buildings and the Hivemind. Which units in the Hivemind cost power now, which makes those Spawning Pools super important. As important as the first economy upgrade for requisition. I think the UA team managed resources very well with the Tyranids. Fan patch kinda fucks that all up. No matter. 1.74 is not a figment from a far distant future. New content is morherfucking on the way. And soonish will be the hour of rejoicing. And the people did cheer and they feasted on the lambs, and carps, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and THATS QUITE ENOUGH FATHER GREGORY.

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4 By 20

Not what you think. Seriously.

Now, it’s just math. 20 4 minute tracks make 1 perfect 80 minute CD. So I figured, “how many could there be?” and then I had 50 of them to sort through. Needless to say, this is pretty oddball. And no storyline here, just broken, fractured references and beats all mish-mashed together in a trianwerck mess. It’s butcheringly bad to listen to. It is so bad, I made up that word “butcheringly” to describe it. Damn. I’ll give it credit for having so much modern flair. Bravo.

  1. Moon Over Bourbon Street – Sting
  2. Carolina In My Mind – James Taylor
  3. Your Song – Elton John
  4. Skating Away (On The Thin Ice Of A New Day) – Jethro Tull
  5. Trouble Child – Joni Mitchell
  6. I’m Losing You – John Lennon
  7. I’m So Glad – Cream
  8. Follow You Follow Me – Genesis
  9. Borderline – Madonna
  10. Turn To Stone – Joe Walsh
  11. Got Me Under Pressure – ZZ Top
  12. Stone Blue – Foghat
  13. All Over You – Live
  14. Don’t Tread On Me – Metallica
  15. Time Bomb – Godsmack
  16. Starlight – Muse
  17. Driven Out – The Fixx
  18. Bathwater – No Doubt
  19. You Learn – Alanis Morissette
  20. Caribbean Blue – Enya

Playlist: The Imprefect “80”

In my quest to find the most arbitrary conglomeration of songs in the history of ever, I’ve come up with a nerdy way to ensure a truly random assortment. I did some math, and if you want 18 tracks to equal exactly 80 minutes, they need to be 4 minutes and 26 seconds long each. It’s close, but not perfect. This is easily the WORST collection of tracks I’ve ever seen assembled. The music makes no sense. There is no flow whatsoever. These songs couldn’t be any more off-base. But I did it, I’m listening to it as my laundry dries. I’m wholly disappointed, and I’m only 3 tracks in. Sigh. Why do I do this?

  1. Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull
  2. House Made Of Dawn Light – Douglas Spotted Eagle
  3. Signs Of Life – Pink Floyd
  4. Amazing – George Michael
  5. Sweet Love – Anita Baker
  6. Forever – Kenny Loggins
  7. World Turning – Fleetwood Mac
  8. Orinoco Flow – Enya
  9. Shakedown – Spyro Gyra
  10. Only ‘Cause I Don’t Have You – Harry Connick, Jr.
  11. If You Were Me – Elton John and Chris Rea
  12. Shameless – Billy Joel
  13. Roll Yer Own – Jethro Tull
  14. The Reflex – Duran Duran
  15. True To Life – Roxy Music
  16. Hope For The Runaway – Kenny Loggins
  17. Would I Lie To You – Eurythmics
  18. Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight – Night Ranger

I only know about 3 of these songs. Who the hell is Night Ranger? Douglas Spotted Eagle? Really? Can’t color code emotions to any of this crap either. Just don’t know what I was thinking. SIGNS OF LIFE IS NOISE. NOT MUSIC. The whole point of this playlist has been defeated.

Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order (Tyranids)

It pains me to say it, but the Tyranids have helped me tremendously in my Micro-Managing abilities with the Hivemind. It’s like having an invisible Farseer at my disposal who can never die. The Hivemind is eternal, and since it uses it’s own special resource (power), is largely independent of the build order, but nevertheless important. It’s key to understanding how nasty the Tyranids can be.

Phase 1 – Establish The Hive (0:00 – 2:00)

Builder set to reenforce to full squad size, and build either barracks
HQ: recruit another builder to build whichever barracks didn’t get built in the previous step
Hivemind: 2x Genestealers, each set to cap 1/2 the forward portion of the map, nearest first

Once the builders get done doing their thing, you will have some dead-time here where your Rippers are waiting for the Genestealers to cap the points so they can build Spore Chimneys on them. Do this until you have 5 or so points captured and posts built

HQ: research tier 1, and grab the first Genestealer adaptation tech

Phase 2 – Preparing The Swarm (2:30 – 4:00)

I will typically be capping and building Spore Chimneys into this phase. Once tier 1 is done, you can go find a slag pit if you have one, and harvest the huge requisition bonus they give. I make these a priority if they happen to be around. If not, start into upgrading every Chimney one time
Once all the upgrades are done, recruit both command units, and build 2x Warrior squads, fully reenforce
Buy the first increased economic intake technology
Build Carnifex barracks
Upgrade Gaunts, Lictors and Genestealers as much as can be done at this tier
Upgrade to tier 2 (680 Requisition)

As a note: by the time this is happening, you can hit 680R in a few seconds because you’re intake will be pretty insane. Like over +200 by the time you’re headed to tier 2. That might be less if you didn’t get a slag pit on your map.

 

Phase 3 – All Out Assault (5:00 – 11:00)

Hivemind: Drop those Hormagaunts once the 3rd of 3 techs is researched for all Gaunts. They are worth using as “filler” for your army and do hurt things when upgraded.
Attack: Upgrade all warriors with melee, set to assault, and march them in
Bloodlord: Once at level 8, build the 8 Genstealer command squad and set Lictors to autobuild
Hive Tyrant: Once at level 8, turn on his shield and build the 3 Hive Guards and send him in.

It’s important to only build the command squads once they are done with the command unit techs, because the tech menu will disappear as soon as his squad size is more than one.

If you get a chance, before you launch the full-out-attack, I’d use some of your resources to build Pools (the power generating structure for Tyranids) around the first 3 -4 posts that you have nearest to your base, build maybe 4 or 6 of them, to make your power intake go up, so you can use and recharge Hivemind abilities once the battle starts.

If you can’t kill them with THIS assault, go back to your base and reenforce this attack with more Warriors and Carnifex. Once the Carnifex get there, it’s usually over. Use the Hivemind in the assault to poison your foes or restrict their production of units and intake of resources. You can also, once into tier 3, rain meteors down on your foe’s base. Nice.

If you don’t win with this build I’d be surprised. Though, I JUST lost to Dark Eldar for the first time in seven games. Rather, I surrendered, seeing things getting out of hand rapidly. Make sure you research ALL technologies that make your Hormagaunts, Warriors, Lictors and Carnifex more powerful. It’s imperative that you make these little meats as strong as they can be when you march them off to war. They will die at logarithmic rates if you don’t do this, and that’s a great way to burn up your resources and get nothing for it.  You have to play Tyranids fast and smart. If you use what they give you, they can be mercilessly hard to stop. If you treat them like any other race, you will lose. They are special, deadly and disgusting. A great combination for my new 3rd favorite army in all of Ultimate Apocalypse.

 

7 – 0

Seven wins, no losses. The Tyranids are not a deep tactical army, but rather, a very fast car with not much gas in it. We seem to be able to win with game times running under 15 minutes. Over that time, and most races will out tech Tyranids with some of the more dominant units in the game. But I haven’t had a game go over 15 minutes, and I’ve recorded seven straight wins: defeating Tyranids, Eldar, Sisters of Battle, Dark Eldar, Necrons, Space Marines, and Necrons again. I’ve got no doubts I can beat Tau or Chaos, as the AI tends to meander a bit with these two, and rarely do they put up a fierce enough showing to grab a win. I’ve not lost to either of those armies in some time. Don’t know what it is exactly, they’re just slow. I am most concerned with Necrons (because their sheer toughness is a bad matchup for fleshy Tyranids), and Dark Eldar (who seem to just MAUL everyone they play). And I beat both of them in a serious, bloody, sloppy, mess of victory.

My build order s pretty simple, and my armies are usually comprised of the same stuff no matter who I’m facing. Genestealers, fully upgraded, do nice melee damage, and are worth pursuing them fully to get their squad size up and damage increased. They do base 51 – 80 melee with 9 in a squad. Nice, and cheap! And they can be spammed from the Hivemind, which is how I will use them, with lots of targeted deep-strikes popping new battalions into the battle immediately. Warriors, with the melee claws weapons upgrade, comprise the fighting front of the first wave. With the Genestealers, and both command units built, the Tyranid army is a hard thing to stop. In fact, once I have these pieces in place, there are not very many things that they can do. The commanders are piece of cake to upgrade. 4 Serious. With no power requirements, no second resource to juggle, I can CRANK the upgrades through after reaching economic bliss as the tier 2 resource-gain upgrade finishes. I level listening posts once. They have no defenses on them, so going the full 400 requisition to get them fully fortified seems extreme. And a waste.

The turrets and stationary defenses have the same model, just one is bigger than the other. I think that’s kind of silly. I wish we could change that. But whatever, this is all temporary, as soon a whole new UA will be around to mess with, most likely merging these small changes as part of the overall overhaul. At least, I hope SOME of these models stay. The HQ I could do without. The old one was better. I like the new Carnifex (screamer-killer). I like his older full Carnifex brother as well. The Hive Tyrant is a nasty looking model. The Bloodlord is a fantastic model, bar none my favorite of the lot. Simple, sweet, horrifying. Like a Genestealer with a flesh-beard. Lictors look nice as well, in that tentacled sort of way.

I have been spending some time getting a handle on the build order, but it’s so simple it hurts. It has no real merit at the moment as I have yet to truly, convincingly say I have a sequence with the Tyranids. At the moment, my options are still somewhat open, depending on the map. A real build order leaves no question as to its dominance, and therefore, solidarity.

A simple mind is easily filled, with faith.

NEWS: Ultimate Apocalypse 1.74

Yes, I read the news release from the UA team today and my little mammal ears perked right up. I figured 1.74, the next major release for the Ultimate Apocalypse mod was not going to be due for close to a year. But it seems like funding has caused the mod to move quite rapidly in completing the work they began with the revamp in 1.73. I thought the races in 1.73 were very well balanced, nearly perfect even. But they did away with two races, one that I liked in particular, Inquisition Daemonhunters. They also subtracted the Chaos Daemons from the list of choices, as the race had not been balanced as the others had when 1.73 came out. Fuck. It was nearly released without Dark Eldar in it.

Anyway, the single-player campaign is of no use to me. I don’t care much for the scenario based RTS approach. I like games to be balanced. No strange objectives to accomplish, other than kill your foe. The plot-based scenarios don’t inspire me. Frankly, I could care less about the Warhammer 40K universe these things come from. Their fictional back stories are irrelevant. It makes them no less than what they are when I build them, able to do what I want them to do. But I’m glad that they will be making some sweeping changes to the game soon. Frankly, mixing it up every once and a while can’t be a bad thing. They released a damn near perfect product in 1.73, but now they might even incorporate the fan patch changes into the overall re-tune of the skirmish mode. I know that battles against Daemonhunters are extreme. Will used them in addition to Chaos Space Marines,  and I grew rapidly to hate the Inquisition’s commander unit. In the unbalanced pre 1.73 era, he was not destroyable. At all. His shield never went down and he killed everything I set near him. But that’s going to be different this time around. Now they will fully balance and embellish the two races left homeless after 1.73 was released. 1.74. I never thought I would have to be talking about it so soon. I remember waiting for 1.73. In December I was telling Will how they were going to release it soon, And then April showed up and we still had no mod. But thankfully, an April fool’s premier was just what we were hoping for. And we got the mod and it was good.

1.74 might end up being one of the last major overhauls of the mod altogether. I can’t see them tinkering with it much beyond adding back the lost races, balancing them, and then completing the single player campaign. That’s the whole game folks. There’s not much more to it, and honestly, skirmish balance is the hardest part of all of this work. It takes skill to make the races somewhat even, so that individual style and build order can be developed. I can’t wait to see what minor changes will be done to the other races. They are adding new units to Tau Empire as well, already started on a new battlesuit to debut in 1.74. Obviously, we’re all out here getting excited about the mod and the continued work being done to perfect it.

You guys just keep doing what you’re doing. I have zero complaints. I’ve noticed a few minor bugs in the help text, but that’s got to be about it. I’ll be on the lookout for news relating to this wonderful mod that just keeps getting better.

 

The Hive Must Grow

They kinda remind me of the Borg. Same mentality, kill, conquer, assimilate. They are driven to do one thing, and they do it well. The Tyranid army is fast, as I have been saying. The thing that primarily enables this rapid pace is the Hivemind, the Tyranid’s unique feature. It appears in your permanent command unit icon area, but when selected, reveals it is not a unit at all, rather, just a new build menu and some special abilities that all use Power, not requisition as the activating resource. Abilities vary from random spore strikes on visible areas of the map, to production inhibiting area of effect stuff. They can also slam huge flaming meteors into your base, once leveled. The Hivemind also allows you to build a unit, and deep-strike it to anywhere on the map where the fog of war has been lifted. Which is fucking sick to just drop whole squads of Hormagaunts or Genestealers right into the fray, without having them need to march out from a production structure. They just pop right in to the battle, ready to slaughter. I love this.

Also, they have a need for one to act quickly. Lingering around for economic upgrades will rapidly defeat the purpose of the Tyranid army: to take the field quickly owning all melee combat on the board, and recapping strategic points for economic suffocation. Because it’s damn near impossible to win on units, unless you happen to have a massive sum of them. I’ve been in skirmishes lateley, the last 3, where victory was achieved by placing power units in critical areas and restricting unit access beyond a slowly decreasing circle. Carnifex (Screamer-Killers) come in handy towards the end, when you need some serious firepower to combat the upper-tier stuff they brought out to counter the Warriors and Genestealers.

Victory comes at the hands of having all the unit-side power / toughness upgrades done before the tipping point occurs on the battlefield. My focal point, as it were, has been the arrival of fully upgraded Lictors which I have set to autobuild from the Bloodlord, once he’s been adequately upgraded. Then, with his infiltration turned on, he just sits there on enemy ground and cranks out a Lictor every few seconds. With 8 – 13 of them running around, structures tend to go down pretty fast. Commander units are toast, as Lictors eat them for lunch. Lictors represent the backbone of the army, with squads of Warriors upgraded for melee combat in there as well. Sometimes the first few squads of capping Genestealers are left over, so I buy them all the upgrades and turn them loose on the front lines. This has worked miraculously well, I must say. 3 tough opponents, all collapsed under this strategy.

I’ll be going through more testing today before my family has a big gathering this afternoon. I’ll be schmoozing with my fam, which I love, because they’re good people. Though, I don’t have anyone around to talk Ultimate Apocalypse with in that circle. As you may have noticed, I posted my letters back and forth with Will on the blog. I will continue to do so, as they accumulate. Anyway, hope you have a good Sunday. RTS on brothers.

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Battle Journal: The Tyranid Army

With the graphics facelift, they sure are icky to look at. In a kinda good way. Regardless, I’ve been practicing against the Harder AI with them, with poor results indeed. I’ve gone 0-5 against the AI in it’s current configuration, most recently losing to the also revamped Necrons. I lost to Dark Eldar before that, whose tier 1 shit dissected my Hive Tyrant before anything got started. I need him to be alive, and have all his upgrades bought for melee combat, so he can git in there and slaughter. But he never even gets close to it, because something kills him somewhere 1/8 of the way through his upgrades. Crappy way to lose, considering the fucking Tyranids are the fastest army. It’s true though, and they can be really really fast, but only if marched down a narrow path between success and failure. I find myself losing mostly because I haven’t acted fast enough to obliterate my foe like I should have from the start of the game. I think Tyranids are designed to be the ultimate rush army because they can immediately reenforce and drop new squads out of the sky with the Hivemind. It’s got it’s own bar of special abilities and shit you can do to anything you can see, or even do stuff where you have no line of sight, but think they might be in there. It’s kinda awesome.

I digress, the real point here is that even though you pretty much only have to manage requisition intake, it’s critical you tech really really fast, and almost death if you spend any time on economic peripheral techs or whatever. I’ve focused on early economy every time so far, and not won. So I guess I’m at least learning a thing or two. Maybe I’ll just blitz them with early Genestealers and Hormagaunts and see how they handle being crippled within the first few minutes of the game. What a shitty thing to do… even to a computer. There HAS to be another way to win with these guys. Anyway, I’ll keep you appraised if my luck or strategy, or both, changes.

Ultimate Apocalypse: The Tyranid Leadership

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First off, let me just say that these guys got a huge makeover. Things looked, well, shabby, until now. These buildings are the core objects that the typical Tyranid base will inevitably contain. It’s ambiance, folks.

Hive Tyrant (Commander). Level 8. 11276 HP. Squad Size = 1 + 3 Hive Guard. Melee 113 – 135 Ranged 145 – 170 damage. Upgraded with Scything Talons + Crushing Claws. Cost: 280R/0P

I adore this commander unit. I mean, how do you stop him exactly? The AI has no idea how to use him, or when to have him hold ground or flee. He can fly, also. Though the new model didn’t grow any wings when I researched the technology. I bet he still flies but has no animation for it. Or some such. Anyway, with those two upgrades, he’s clearly the centerpiece of the entire Tyranid army. Without him rallying the swarm, they have no hope. He seals the deal though, in a big way. He’s surrounded by a new honor guard of sorts, and he spews a cloud of pestilence all the time.

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The Crushing Claws looked nice in this model’s rendering. The talons are huge. So, he’s beefcake, needless to say. Complimentary to him is the secondary commander, the Bloodlord. He’s smaller, faster, and not really intended to be the vanguard of any army, but a tactician, summoning troops and dispatching fast waves of Tyranids with little difficulty. He is a flesh wizard, summoning and upgrading himself with a series of extremity armaments and other useful things.  Like I said, he’;s not to be the front line guy, rather, somewhere in the back negotiating new troop assignments and rallying more of the swarm to the battle line.

Bloodlord (Commander). Level 8. 2430 HP. Squad size = 1 + 8 Genestealers. Melee 138 – 161 damage. Cost: 220R/0P

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Together they account for the fastest army in all of Ultimate Apocalypse. I’ve found the Tyranids to be boring, because they have no tech selections and are driven only to make more Tyranids appear on the battlefield and make them stronger. It’s great if you like to Zerg your opponents with a great sum of meats. I’m not a big fan of winning by digestion. They are single-resource driven, with Power serving as a “special” resource for executing Hive-Mind commands and deploying special abilities, not for making buildings or units. This can get a little, um, tiring. It’s not as much fun to balance just 1, 2 is exciting. 1 is boring. Mostly 1 anyway.

It should be noted that since the Fan Patch, the Tyranid army has a relic commander unit that has no upgrade capacity. It’s rather like a, Avitar of Khaine, but fleshier. And also very big and buff. It does nasty things to units, demolishes structures in a few swipes.

Well there you have it. I took a stab at briefly summarizing and providing some commander flavored insights. The melee damage numbers on these guys has got to be off by a mile. I don’t think it computes a new figure when you chose upper and lower extremities on the Hive Tyrant. Which is why I listed them, so you have some idea about his likely damage output.

 

Fan Patch Continued…

I’ve had a look at the changelog. Primarily the Necrons’ infantry and some resource costs were tweaked to make Necrons go faster. No argument from me, they’re already the slowest of all the armies. Easily. And the Tyranids got a cosmetic change in all the neat-o models got updated or optimized or something. Anyway, they were a bit cartoonish, and now they look “wretched.” In a good way. They horrify, and are clearly a huge improvement over the old models. Tyranids just look rad now, seriously rad. I might have to make a post on them in not too long here, since screencaps are going to be a load of fun! Tyranids would be #4 on my preferred races list in my strategy game preferences page. If it had a 4th entry anyway. I like them, even if they are a bit rudimentary.

 

In short, I’ve not used the Necrons so who’s to know what has changed or has stayed the same? I think this was all done as a result of no new update from the core mod team until 1.74, when the single player campaign and Inquisition Daemonhunters will be back. With more balance tweaks obviously, because most of you are playing Chaos Space Marines, which I hate. I’m never doing a post on them, forget it. I have to face them every time I play with will, and I’ve grown quite resentful of them. I won’t go there, as I’m perfectly satisfied with Tau. I’ll beat the shit spittoons out of you with Tau. No doubt.

 

But nevertheless, I vow to have a Tyranids post up here in no time at all, I’ll take my oath on it.

Ultimate Apocalypse Fan Patch?

I didn’t know the team was down with doing this, but they posted a new download on ModDB which constitutes some gameplay tweaks for some of the factions, and other minor changes. Apparently my beef with the Necrons is legit, because across the board, people have been calling for change. It seems the Necrons get going too slow, or don’t have anything worthwhile/useful until much later down the tech tree. Which to me, explains why the Necrons leave me alone for well over the noted 4 minute rush threshold. I usually never see them until I go looking to start a fight with them, and at that point, I’m well on the way to winning. If I got to do my whole build-up without any interruption then I probably win. It’s sorta important to make your foes aware of one’s presence on the battlefield, otherwise, you’re stuck in the waiting realm, not knowing when or where the hammer is going to fall.

I have downloaded and installed the fan patch, so let’s see what that does. Maybe Necrons will get going a little bit faster, or have something more formidable when I do come marching into their area.

Insane Once More!

I’ve got this build order down for Eldar that I’m pretty stoked about. It’s fast, and very hard to stop. I start with the bare essentials, economic upgrades only after tier 2 is researched, and no units until tier 2. Minimum. If you haul-ass up to tier 2, and then hit them with a serious fast-moving threat, there’s no way to beat that. I’ve seen them try upwards of 4 times now. But this most recent victory came against the Insane AI, which I throttled the same way I did the Harders. Those Fire Dragons might be OP or something, because they gutted Space Marines’ base in less than 1 minute. They just walked right through it, smashing everything in their way. They even reeled and built a second HQ farther down the map, but it was no use, by then the Warp Spiders has closed in and there were no more units of any kind, on the map. Down to a HQ and then dead.

The I attacked first, but they couldn’t handle the first group of Wraithlords. They managed to kill 1 of 3. But by then, ranged infantry was getting out, and the Dark Reapers all died because I needed them to buy me some time. It worked, because then I had Fire Dragons, and all their big Dreadnaught things died fucking boom. And vehicles tried to run away, but died attempting to flee. Then I gained a bunch of ground that they were vacating, realizing the tier 1 stuff they had was not going to cut it against me. They ran for cover, and I chased them right back to the HQ and killed them.

I had a strange therapy session, where my therapist actually got intimidated by me, and the way I was talking. I think I may have overwhelmed her with eagerness to explain my peculiar self-rhetoric. I was attempting to explain that I have to be overly-selective in making any kind of relationship right now, because I am trying to rebuild myself, alone. I need to do this rehabilitation for myself, and without the need of another person or for another reason other than, me. I deserve to live a full life, for my own sake, because I am unique, special, and worth defending. Even if the fucking armies are closing in on me, I still have to be ok with myself, in order to know that I can survive for my own sake. That has to be enough to inspire me to my ultimate heights, where the ceiling of what I can achieve with my life is within reach. I truly hope that this goal of mine is not too lofty, but crafted out of an understanding of the gradual arc of slowly, correctly, built success. I tried to explain my ideas about what friendships should be about, but she called me “idealistic.” I think maybe you’re “pessimistic.” How about that? How rude.

Anyway. I tend to think that If I want to life my life for myself, I had better follow a pretty solid set of rules. I need the structure, to hold me to my moral compass. To guide me in a crisis. I need to be able to do these things alone, and in the event that a new person was to me added to the equation, it better be because of some fucking good reason. I’m not going to be your friend just to say that I am, If you don’t have anything useful to add to my life, then I probably don’t want to talk to you. Is that idealistic? Or just picky? I mean seriously, that’s not even as extreme as I can be. this is moderation folks. You get what you get.

I don’t know how today’s run in with my morality will play out over the course of our next meetings, but I get the feeling we won’t be going back to that area, for her sake I guess.

Ultimate Apocalypse Game Theory: The Ranged Eldar

I’ve been experimenting with much faster build orders lately, trying to apply my success with the Tau to my other favorite factions. At the moment, I’m concerning myself with a mastery of speed Eldar, which is fun because they’re sure fucking built for it. Listening posts at 80 requisition, for example. Yeah, money. So, not to distract myself to much here, but the point is, some units are useful with the Eldar much earlier than others. Like the Dark Reapers, which have 2 upgrades available at tier 2, and Third once you hit tier 3. All to weapon damage. Sick, right? And also a clue, pointing me towards a build order focused on getting nasty ranged units on the field with only a handful of vehicles as backup. And those vehicles are usually a Wraithlord (or six) in melee mode hammering structures or making short-work of infantry. Then, hopefully, the picture is becoming clear. With ranged units at tier 2 that immediately counter other larger units, like big vehicles or aircraft or reenforced structures. Fire Dragons kill everything that’s not an infantry unit. Easily, once upgraded. And Warp Spiders do wicked things to units, but have little affect on buildings or other armored things.

My battles have gone like this: I am largely left alone for 6 minutes or so before I am forced to address the military issue. Or build a counter unit, or some such. But by then, I can build Wraithlords, which take over on melee immediately, and then build Warp Spiders, Fire Dragons or bring my left over Dark Reapers along to finish off stragglers. This has not failed me yet. There seems to be no stooping a pissed-off Wraithlord. It can maul damn near anything that could try and harm it, or put a stop to it. They struggle against aircraft, but that’s what the Fire Dragons are for! They annihilate armored vehicles and anything even vehicle flavored, and on top of that, they punish structures. They can raze an entire fortified position in moments… which is the fastest of any counter-unit I have yet seen. Mixed ranged squads control the true battle-line, as they march, slowly tightening the noose. Typically leave them in the hold ground stance, so they don’t get kited off anywhere (which the AI will try to do mercilessly, and trick them into running through mine fields and such, very MM). Then, as the Wraithlords work the threats to a minimum, the ranged units just walk forward, purging the land of anything enemy as they go. It all works rather seamlessly, even at the cost of a few Wrathlords losing it somewhere along the way. They have weaknesses, namely, rockets. But they serve a function of engaging the AI’s melee units and keeping them busy while the ranged units work the real power, and demolish things that the Wraithlords are being attacked by, or happen to be near. Their Line Of Sight (LOS) is critical to establishing ranged dominance. They can shoot farther than they can see, but with a greatly expanded LOS, they kill, mercilessly.

I think this strat has a cogent build order, but right now I don’t think listing it out is worthwhile. I’m still in flux, myself, over it’s sequence. I’ve been working with the first few establishing moves Eldar has to make in order to go win later. I still am murky on the very first military, and what unit works the best to pair with the Dark Reapers to keep them safe. Reapers have no melee attack whatsoever. Like a much better beefier Fire Warrior squad. Anyway.

I’m going to have that build order figured out soon enough, and when I do, you’ll no doubt be the first to know about it.

Whackazoid Virus On The Loose

I should have you trained by now, to be expecting some form of playlist every few days. This is no exception, being born of a desire to hear more professional caterwauling and other forms of noise that you may or may not find amusing. I had a smile on my face the whole way through the album. No room for woe on this party train!

 

  1. Take On Me – a-Ha
  2. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
  3. Easy Lover – Phil Collins & Philip Bailey
  4. Africa – Toto
  5. Gemini Dream – The Moody Blues
  6. Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears
  7. Castles In The Sand – Seals & Crofts
  8. Flesh ‘n Blood – Oingo Boingo
  9. Love Shack – B-52’s
  10. Sonnet – The Verve
  11. Killer Queen – Queen
  12. Stealin’ Time – Gerry Rafferty
  13. Jet – Paul McCartney & Wings
  14. Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan
  15. Back In The High Life Again – Steve Winwood
  16. Don’t Answer Me – The Alan Parsons Project
  17. I Know You’re Out There Somewhere – The Moody Blues

4 Minutes, 44 Seconds

Hard job making a playlist out of the 60 or so songs of that exact length.Why? WHY NOT I SAY! I came to the number due in large part to a math fail. There you have it.

Made a pretty remarkable set, once I trimmed the list and organized the tracks. BEHOLD:

4:44

 

  1. Mercy Street – Peter Gabriel
  2. Hard Habit To Break – Chicago
  3. How Much I Feel – Ambrosia
  4. Praying For Time – George Michael
  5. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John
  6. Only You – Harry Connick, Jr.
  7. Escapade – Janet Jackson
  8. Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
  9. Island World – Hiroshima
  10. Head – Prince
  11. Jack-A-Lynn – Jethro Tull
  12. Let Me Take You Home Tonight – Boston
  13. Heartbeat – Wham!
  14. Little Tin God – Don Henley
  15. Meadows – Joe Walsh
  16. My Life – Billy Joel

 

Harder

I didn’t mean that to sound foul. It’s the current skirmish AI difficulty setting in Ultimate Apocalypse that I am using. I was trying Insane for a while, but then I couldn’t do anything to stop them from getting to tier 3 ahead of me, or getting some relic unit out and fucking me up the ass with it. Back on Harder, the AI rushes at 4 minutes in every time, I’ve just compensated by having a few nasties of my own out there. It’s been working, I must say, especially when I play the Tau Empire. Using them is funny, because they are clearly two distinct races working together, representing the division between melee and ranged. Since they are technically separate, it is possible to research both up to tier 3 (with tier 4 being universal to path chosen). It takes more time to do this, naturally… but the payoff is to have the full force of your army established, with Krootox fighting beside the XV89 Bodyguards. It’s supposed to be balanced, but it’s really only possible to get both trees up to tier 3 if you stall your foe for a while, somehow. Keep them busy eating something you let them chew on, then reenforce with a new wave of both melee and ranged, Kroot Alphas charging as Barracudas inundate the enemy with burning plasma and exploding missile pods. I played a game on the Moonbase map (which is a bit of a snag, because there’s no slag pit to build a big power generator on, so it’s really up to your 6 in base generators, and the economy techs), and I had swapped control of the middle a few times. When I directed the final assault, There was no point where the AI was able to stop me. I marched, uninterrupted into Dark Eldar’s base and mauled them grizzly bear style. In other words, I went in their base, and killed all their dudes. Pwned.

Really, it’s a great afternoon where anything is possible. I have the evening to myself, and I intend to fill it with entertainment and orange juice.

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There’s No “I” In Dead

It’s true that since those 4 skirmishes I haven’t won a single round of Ultimate Apocalypse, since changing the AI setting to Insane. I think I’ve lost more than 4 now, to Eldar most recently… they didn’t rush at 4 minutes, which was a relief of sorts. I had time to build my economy. But holy shit did that not matter. About 2 minutes after what I expected to be the rush, a great silence fell on the field. I had next to nothing, so I cranked Barracudas, Hounds and the Alphas. Now, I didn’t lose right away… I held them at bay until I had both ranged and melee tier 2 buildings out. I built the ranged commanders, but by then it was too late. They had an Avatar of Khaine and he walked all over me. Killed 4 Krootox in a matter of moments, and then did the same to my XV89 Bodyguards. EEEEP.

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I know, right? So, I’m at an impasse. Maybe I’ll reduce the AI setting and see if my build order will work or not. If it can kill a Harder I’s be ok with that. I asked the Ultimate Apocalypse Facebook group about what AI settings they use, and most are on HR. Whatever.

 

 

HR To I

I’ve got some confidence in my current build order. So much so, that I cranked the skirmish AI up to the highest setting (Insane) I. I just said: “well, what the fuck do I have to lose?” I guess it’s the optimist in me, but I figured I could do it.

Result of 4 skirmishes against the I: 4 wins.

Why the fuck is this happening? I thought the sequence was good… maybe not competitive against a human, but this? I won against Space Marines, Chaos, Tyranids and Necrons. All with no problem whatsoever. I don’t really know if it’s because of the changes I made to the sequence… or if somehow the skirmish Insane AI is fucked up and doesn’t work right. But I was challenged in each game at some point. Necrons I had to go after because they weren’t moving fast enough. I obliterated them with 7 Barracudas and 2 squads of Hounds.

It takes me less than 17 minutes; every game has been close to 15. Things escalate quickly and I gain economic superiority fast, and then I crank the same unit until I can’t build any more of them (cap out).  I usually only ever need to grab 1 slag pit and upgrade intake twice, sometimes just once. Shit yo.

So, is this a strat I can go public with or what? I want to try it out on a human, but I have no peers to do so with. I am going to really lay it all out and name it something clever; eventually becoming a new post at some future date. I think I will keep smashing the monkey-shit out of the AI, because this is fucking fun. Really.

I have never played at THIS LEVEL before. I think I’m really getting something useful out of this, given the human implications. Hopefully, this prevails. More testing is needed though.

So bai.

 

Playlist: The Rhetoric Of Flowers

Going through emotions, I find the best way to express how I am feeling, in all it’s various facets, is to use a medium that can support an eclectic expression of ideas. I often turn to music to help me get things processed. I like that, because it seems to generate a very fulfilled sensation, as though I know my thoughts got responded to.

Typically, I’ll generate one of these playlists over a period of hours. I literally go through the alphabetical list of artists until I have around 80 songs or so selected that match my feelings. From that point, I crop the tracks until the playlist runs somewhere under 1 hour 20 minutes. That is pretty much the only criteria for this thing. It’s just so much fun, and answers a need to be seen from myself. After having constructed the sequence below, I feel uplifted, acknowledged and expressed.

This one goes out to all the broken hearts out there, aching in silence. The ebb and flow of the emotional sea is ever-churning. Be prepared to feel.

  1. Expecting To Fly – Buffalo Springfield
  2. Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  3. Cool Change – Little River Band
  4. Wild World – Cat Stevens
  5. Spinning The Wheel – George Michael
  6. Shape Of My Heart – Sting
  7. Down To The Waterline – Dire Straits
  8. Your Song – Elton John
  9. Check It Out – John Cougar Mellencamp
  10. September – Earth, Wind & Fire
  11. Sanctuary – Ian Anderson
  12. I’m A Loser – The Beatles
  13. Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
  14. Shoot To Thrill – AC/DC
  15. I Get Around – The Beach Boys
  16. Animal – Def Leppard
  17. Untitled – Live
  18. Smooth – Santana & Rob Thomas

A Morning Dance

I’ve had my head in the world of new music lately. I discovered the brilliance of Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, then had a grand time learning The Who’s Tommy. I just found out about how awesome Gerry Rafferty is, for example.

I haven’t grown up in a sheltered musical environment by any stretch. My parent’s music collection is what I grew up with, so, there are bound to be a few dated oddities in there… like Steeleye Span or Renaissance. You see… this has been a stumbling block of sorts in my life. No one I have ever been with jived with my musical preferences. I listen to what I was brought up with, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Frankly, I find most modern music to be abhorrent. Rap and most thing R&B I will pass on. To me, music is about the quality of the sound, the instruments, the beats, the lyrics and how they’re composed. All that said, Lady GaGa is this generation’s Madonna.

Every genre has it’s good and it’s bad, obviously. I don’t just blanket love everything antiquated. I’m still picky.

But who to share this excellent collection with? Ah, the greatest mystery of all. And not one that needs an answer anytime soon, hehe.

Speaking of mystery… I read a poignant and sharply worded reply from Jax to one of my earlier posts (on her blog, in reply to me, I suppose). I really wish she would have posted the rant as a comment so you all could see it. I don’t like judging things like this, because it takes away from an understanding of content/message. I’m not really sure what the hope is in retaliating, or getting all worked up about something anyone with eyes can see. I don’t get flabbergasted because I live in a tent, as though I’m somehow surprised by a truth I’ve known all along. I have selected my lot and am intent on sticking with it until “better” rolls around. That’s just me (which I guess is a destructive way of thinking, according to objectors). And frankly, this whole topic was never really open for discussion. You decided to respond in your own limited, dimensionless, usual capacity, and in such a way that seeks no resolution, but responds as a defense-mechanism (driven by rage) does; by lashing back and objecting to the points that are (quite) indisputable. I don’t argue when it comes to things that just happened one way and not another.

But she’s right that for a time, I would not help myself. This is true. I was so strung out on work, that I had pushed all my “self-worth” chips into the center and bet it all to win. Trouble there, is when I started to break down under the stress, I lost my identity as I lost a place to function at work. I let work be the column that held up my sky.  Even in your somewhat deluded state, I know you can see how that job was my world, and it consumed me. And why is your reaction to my situation to abandon me? If I can’t hold myself up… hmmm… fuck him, we’re out of here! Right? Did it go another way that I’m not aware of? I was there too, IN CASE YOU FORGOT.  I saw that when things were at their worst, you wanted out, and took the first solid exit opportunity you could. That happened. I don’t know how you make that turd smell better, but I applaud you for your efforts in trying.

 

Dr. Kower agrees. She said to me that she tried to stop the collapse by going with my med changes that I was recommending… but even she knew, based on what I was telling her every few weeks, that it was doomed to fail. That was hard, being effectively “squeezed-out” of my job and my disability’s symptoms were already charging back into my life.

So what does any of that matter?

I know some new things now that I didn’t know about myself. And I’m improving. To me, this all seems like I’m headed in a positive direction and whatnot. I’m not sprinting towards glory or anything, but who is really?

Your words, Jax, don’t carry the load of truth with them. Instead, they are eased with lies, misconstrued facts and bitterness of some form. I’ll not participate in the rhetorical exchange. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.

 

What’s really going on here is that the end of our arrangement has come, and now it’s time for a cool change.

Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order (Tau Empire)

I have been hammering out a build order in order to have competitive matches against the computer. I have now set the AI on Harder, and have begun really hunkering down on a tight sequence in order to do well. So, without further delay, the build order, such as it is:

 

Phase 1: Required Steps (0:00 through 2:30)

Builder set to automatically reenforce, builds 1x barracks (choose melee or ranged), 2x power generator

HQ set to build 2x squads of Stealthsuits, 1x additional builder

step1

1st squad of Stealthsuits: Cap left half of map

2nd squad of Stealthsuits: Cap right half of map

1st additional builder: Wait for first strategic point capture, and build listening post, then second

Once 1st builder is done, build Path to Enlightenment (Tier I)

step2

 

Phase 2: Choose A Path (2:30 – 4:00)

Once T1 is done being built, go the the HQ and recruit the Heavy Builder

At this point, you should run into opposition while attempting to cap points on the edges of your control. You may lose one or both squads of Stealthsuits. Whatever happens here is fine.

You should have 5 or more strategic points / relics capped and listening posts built on each

Build the Kroot Alphas, and reenforce them (feed your Stealthsuits to them if they are still alive)

step3

Task all but 1 builder to build the geothermal/slag pit power generator. If you don’t have one on your map, build 2x additional power generators (for a total of 4)

Build either a vehicle / aircraft beacon.

step4

Be prepared to crank out a few Vespids if the need arises.

At this juncture, you are being attacked, and the build order gets murky. I highly recommend going tier 2 with melee, as it’s cheaper, and getting 2-4 squads of Kroot Hounds out on the board. With the Path To Enlightenment upgrades to HP and attack power, they are really hard to stop. They reenforce up to 8 hounds and 1 alpha, and do nearly 300 damage per attack.

step5

ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE:

I’ve won 2 in a row with ease against the HR computer. Typically what happens is my Stealthsuits run into opposition, and die fast, below the 4-6 threshold for capped points. So, the Alphas come in handy, because they can cap and hold ground AND beat on things hand-to-hand. Which I like. By the time I get into Phase 2, I have at least the Alphas out there eating anything they can find in the middle of the board. I’ve had them die to Tyranids in the early stages, but then again, I had also neglected to build a ranged commander to have the Alphas benefit from the communal power / toughness upgrades.

-Early commander Kroot Alphas
-Build 2x Vespids for cannon fodder, backup the Alphas
-Get some Barracudas or Skyrays out before more infantry (though you may have to spend more time MMing the Skyrays for them to be useful)
-Build 2x Kroot Hounds, set Krootox to autobuild, keep building a vehicle of some form as well
-Build / upgrade at least the ranged commander, so the other melee commanders will share the benefits.

These two games have had at least those things in common. I’ve noticed that Tau’s once upgraded melee infantry is fairly formidable. I can take down large tier 3 bases with 2 – 3 squads of Hounds and a Krootox or two to help out. The Alphas are still pretty weak, even after you fully upgrade them. So use them wisely. They make mincemeat of buildings and infantry but have difficulty with vehicles, which is why the Krootox are handy to have around.

 

I hope this abbreviated BO will help you with your faction, because the same basic principles can be applied to any single / double / triple resource army. I will be applying and modifying this original skeleton sequence and I’ll report any major developments, of course. Be well. Gladiators, I salute you.

step6 step7

Playlist Mayhem: The Truth Be Told

I have given my confessional in music today. I present to you, the tribulations and constant upheaval that are a regular part of operations here. I give you, expression incarnate:

  1. A Thousand Years – Sting
  2. Constant Craving – k.d. lang
  3. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John
  4. Seven Years – Norah Jones
  5. Sweet Love – Anita Baker
  6. Save A Prayer – Duran Duran
  7. Borderline – Madonna
  8. Crazy – Seal
  9. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
  10. Gimmie All Your Lovin’ – ZZ Top
  11. Waiting For The Day – Gerry Rafferty
  12. Saucy Sailor – Steeleye Span
  13. While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood
  14. Third Time Lucky – Basia
  15. Invisible Touch – Genesis
  16. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
  17. Shower The People – James Taylor
  18. I Have The Touch – Peter Gabriel

Ultimate Apocalypse “Scribbles From The Battle”

I’ve had the AI on H lately. This usually spares me the 4 minute rush which cripples my economy. Instead, we engage later, once some units have started to pile up on the field. That would be my hope.

Tau Empire is interesting, because their melee component (which I so far have been neglectful to detail as I have the ranged tree) is largely misunderstood. With the right timing and applications, the Kroot can be the heroes in many a successful showdown with the AI. I win with Hounds mostly, making the backbone. They are a battalion of 9 including one Kroot Alpha to be their guide. Their damage is well over two hundred unmodified. I like their chances of feasting on anything you put in their way. With the leaping upgrade bought, they can close distance on ranged units nearly instantaneously. Then chew the living shit out of them.

I want to get a army paint-set together that flatters the special command units we get as a result of researching the melee tech tree with the Tau Empire.

I haven’t built the Alphas enough times to say I’ve used them well. I typically let them feed on the first few waves of things to roam by. Then it gets harder to keep them alive when vehicles show up. They are eager little shitheads aren’t they?

So, I’m working several strats where I build both melee and ranged tech structures, and level both tech trees through to tier 4. Just to see if the XV89 Bodyguards and Kroot Alphas will play nice together. I think they will.

The Cutting Edge Of Reason: A Musical Odyssey

I’ve composed a musical through a fantastic playlist. The inspiration for this one just comes from a sense of awareness of where I am in my life and how I feel about the world. I’m spinning this as best a fledgling optimist can, so be prepared for a transition or two. To memories their respect, eh?

Coded by their moods and tempos.

THE EPIDEMIC OF INEVITABILITY

  1. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
  2. Time – The Alan Parsons Project
  3. These Dreams – Heart
  4. Where The Streets Have No Name – U2
  5. Thinking Of You – Loggins & Messina
  6. No One In The World – Anita Baker
  7. Tonight, Tonight – Genesis
  8. Walk This Way – Aerosmith
  9. Cruel Summer – Bananarama
  10. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  11. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
  12. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
  13. It Keeps You Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
  14. You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates
  15. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin
  16. Renegade – Styx
  17. Someone To Lay Down Beside Me – Linda Rondstadt
  18. Off The Wall – Michael Jackson
  19. Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney & Wings

Selfie(s): The Tau Commanders

If only they brought their phones with them when they left to go purge the world of scum and villainy. Some suits in the background.

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Level 8 XV22 Commander

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Level 8 XV89 Commander. Pointing the Airburst Fragmentation Cannon right at us.

 

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The XV89 Bodyguards with some fire nearby, because they probably just razed something. And fully upgraded w/ shield Drone.

A Rare Event

Saturday, May 24th at 12:00 am, something will happen to our planet that has never happened before. The Earth, moving at over 100,000 miles an hour around the Sun, will collide with a debris field left behind by comet 209P/LINEAR over 200 years ago. This is all happening largely because of Jupiter’s gravity having moved the debris into our path. The comet’s debris field would normally not be on our orbital plane otherwise. But it is now, and we’re all set to collide with it bearing the brunt of the action in the northern hemisphere, with radiant meteors coming down from the pole star (Ploaris). Ideal viewing for 2 hours starting at midnight.

For an astronomy nerd such as I am, these interstellar oddities tend to grab my attention. This is a rare event, and has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This “stuff” that the comet left behind on it’s course towards the sun has been sitting totally undisturbed in space for 200 years, and now it’s going to slam right into us. There is a chance for bright, possibly large meteors entering the atmosphere. I will be there watching it live, needless to say.

Meteor showers are usually not a big deal, as they are regular, occurring at fixed times in our year as we travel around the Sun. But this stuff we usually run in to has been in our orbital plane for a long time already, and survived several revolutions already, likely more. This new Camelopardalid meteor shower might easily be the best show in hundreds of years.

I’ve got my fingers crossed anyway. I’ll be watching live, and have a report no doubt, one way or the other.

 

Ultimate Apocalypse Game Notes (Eldar Commanders / Relic Units)

I’ve been hitting it off with them lately. In the last 4 skirmishes, I’ve managed to climb my way up to tier 4 and roll the relic commander (Avatar of Khaine) on them. He crushes things with a calibrated fierceness. He has a special technology research upgrade only available once you hit tier 4, and even then, it’s 800R\800P. Yikes. But it literally doubles the HP of the Avatar of Khaine, and gives him some new nifties to play with.

Avatar Of Khaine (Relic Commander / Daemon). Level 8. 27000 HP. Squad size = single. Melee 1222 – 1421 damage. Cost: 1200R/0P (0R/0P After Upgrade)

So, at tier 4 he’s pretty much a game-ender. He smashes things to ruin quickly, with abilities that do devastating damage to EVERYTHING. He costs a lot to have around at tier 3, and he’s not nearly as useful as he becomes later on. Point being, if you get to use this guy, keep him alive until the tech is done researching, making him free to recruit again if he dies. But he’s probably not going to die. I had Tau fixed defenses and twice-upgraded listening posts to contend with, and in tier 3, he made mincemeat of everything in his way. He could not be stopped. What about the rest of the Eldar military? I have begun implementing a new strategy based on my success with the Tau. I started building and upgrading the Eldar core commander units, expanding into relic units. This has yielded several successful military campaigns, including a battle-line hold with the Farseer and Autarch only. The Avatar of Khaine is pretty handy if your economy is fucking awesome.

I held off 2 squads of Stealth Suits, 2 squads of Kroot Carnivores and a battalion of Fire Warriors. Just those two. How?

Farseer (Secondary Commander). Level 8. 4737 HP. Squad size = single. Melee 81 – 110 / Ranged 42 – 52 damage. Cost: 300R\60P

Autarch (Primary Commander). Level 8. 5928 HP. Squad size = single. Melee 69 – 106 / Ranged 42 – 52 damage. Cost: 280R\50P

The Farseer is an MM (micro-managed) unit, with a full toolbar of special abilities, that (when upgraded) deal huge amounts of damage in single shots or area of effect spells. She is devastating to vehicles (with abilities), and does well in melee combat, save a lower then usual hitpoint total. She’s not nearly as combat effective as the Autarch (who was clearly designed to kill things in melee combat).  BUT WAIT! There’s a whole lot more.

Seer Council (Command Squad). Level 8. 7440 HP. Squad size = 12. Melee 77 – 96 damage. Cost: 195R\105P

A diverse collection of commander-class units. The Council can cap points, which is useful towards endgame. I et down to crippling the AI’s economy be destroying their posts and using the Seer Council to turn the points over to me. This will suffocate the AI with too few resources to match those fully upgraded command units.

Eldar are a thinking man’s army, because you need to pay keen attention to the Farseer if you’re using her in combat. Letting her die is not a good idea. She’s probably comparable to the Imperial Guard’s Psykers… but massively expanded in usefulness. I’m still making good of these command units, and probably misusing their true intended functionality. I have a feeling the UA camp would be unhappy with my playing style and whatnot. They are more competitive and victory-driven than I will ever be.

So, maybe I’ll do a command unit post for every race, or better, the ones I actually know how to use. These guys are vastly different from the Tau Empire army, but a fuck-ton of fun to play. Especially having a tier 3 ranged infantry unit (with D-gun upgrades for all 4 squad members). That’s just sick.

Preemptive Strike II: Shock & Awe

I’ve been in music heaven of late. Tirelessly burning several hundred compact disks to my computer. A lifetime’s worth of music. I’m roughly half way done, and my library has 15 days of music in it. HALF WAY MIND YOU.

So, my nation has decided to attack that other playlist before they attack us. Again.

Therefor, we have this bastard child of my imagination and my estranged musical palate. It’s a monkey in the wrench. It leads you one way, and then goes somewhere entirely different. It’s a barf-roller-coaster-from-hell ride of joy, laughter and misery.

  1. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash
  2. Bitterblue – Cat Stevens
  3. Highway To Hell – AC/DC
  4. Rage – Quake II (Sonic Mayhem)
  5. Alone – Heart
  6. Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson
  7. If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
  8. Why Should I Cry For You – Sting
  9. Betterman – Pearl Jam
  10. Dust – Fleetwood Mac
  11. Lady – Little River Band
  12. The One – Elton John
  13. All Over You – Live
  14. In Thee – Blue Oyster Cult
  15. We Built This City – Starship
  16. Zanzibar – Billy Joel
  17. Valarie – Steve Winwood
  18. Rosanna – Toto

 

I sincerely hope you make this playlist and hear it all the way. I made it knida hard on you all with that track from the Quake 2 pc game soundtrack. Fucked story that one is.

I’m on Highway To Hell, and cruising along. See you on the flip side of today.

Got A Project! Yipee!

I’ve been going through all the music my family owns, in compact disk format. It’s about 5 small moving boxes full to the top with CDs. Probably over 500 titles. Going through and burning every CD to my hard drive is a daunting task, needless to say; that’s exactly what I’ve been up to the last couple of days.  I found the J through S box, and just came home with the C through J box to work on today. I know there’s a A through C box that has a bunch of stuff that I pulled out of the collection in it. All out of alphabetical order, but eh. We’re just storing them for now. All 12 bazillion CDs normally go on a six foot tall rotating spindle, which is sitting in our storage unit with no disks on it. Getting the picture here?

The CD boxes are under the mattress, which makes getting the next box after this one a chore. We’re going to have to pull everything out, grab the boxes we want, and then reassemble it as best we can, given the arbitrary nature of balancing half full boxes of previous lives against each other.

I’m calculating a total volume of +500 gigabytes. That’s including the 65 gigs I already had on my computer. So, big, right? It’s an insane amount of music, spanning a 20 year history of collecting CDs through mail order catalogs and music clubs. It’s the most extensive and diverse collection of albums I’ve ever been shown, and now it will be entirely captured in my computer; able to be summoned or dismissed at my the crux of my whims.

Some real rare gems in here. I’ve heard maybe 1/3 of the whole collection in all the years we had it. It’s deep, for sure.

I intend to craft some truly unique and memorable playlists before this deal is done. Be warned of music-related posts coming in the near future.

Peace friends, and listen well.

 

 

Ultimate Apocalypse Game Notes (Tau Empire Commanders)

It seems I’ve been lucky in my skirmishes. Maybe I’m actually not lucky at all, but have been secretly snoozing on the secret. I have a tendency, when playing Tau Empire, to build the ALL the available commander units and lean on them as the backbone of the military. This is a great idea, because that backbone is hard to break. Take your tier II command squad:

XV89 Bodyguards. Level 8. 10847 HP. Squad size = 3 + 1 (Shield Drone). Ranged 150-200 damage. Cost: 450R\150P

Why am I bringing this up? I’ve been winning a lot. I want to know why, so, I found myself maxing-out the commanders’ research options, and then flipping on their shields; to have them go squat somewhere and obliterate every single thing around them. It worked. I could roll them up to a relic or other defensive position, and they would then proceed to hammer every single structure until it was rubble. Then scorch any unit that wandered by. I’m baffled by the 150-200 damage. I think that after both ranged Tau weapons upgrades, they would be hitting a bit harder than the damage indicator would say. They smash structures when given 3 Fusion Blaster upgrades. Smash. Recall their price, being quite high. The requisition alone is equal to the tech I transition. Times two.

Ok, we get it. They’re good. But why? They are beatable. They can’t take an immense amount of punishment. They will drop off, one by one, to concussive rockets and similar such immobilizing weapons. In a cluster with his buddies, the XV89 Bodyguard squad does well. Wonder why?

XV89 Commander. Level 8. 5812 HP. Squad size = 1. Ranged 130-160 damage. Cost: 335R\80P

Right. He’s slow as fuck. Jumping him around is, like, the only option. I give him the Plasma Rifle / Airburst Fragmentation on each arm. Every time. Cutting infantry is what these commander units are made to do, and they do it well when properly equipped. The primary commander is frail, but has a dps like nothing else. I try to compare him to other commanders, and he’s much easier to lose, but a lot of fun if you can have him, tearing through structures and vehicles. Once fully upgraded, he’s hard to stop.

XV22 Commander. Level 8. 3674 HP. Squad size = 1. Ranged 130-160 damage. Cost: 280R\50P

He’s not an early-game option, because he can’t hold any ground while not upgraded. He has a pathetic intolerance to taking damage, and dies rapidly under stress. Dark Eldar usually get him once or twice if I’m not being careful. Tyranids as well. He can move FAST without jumping. He’s deadly when given all his accoutrements. Place him well, with delicate fingers. Speaking of delicate:

Great Ethereal. Level 8. 1415 HP. Squad size = 1. Melee 208-282 damage. Cost: 305R\100P

If you let him go hit stuff, there’s a good chance he’s gonna die. And it’s probably to a fixed defense somewhere too far away for him to get to before being shot to pieces. This is bad, because his death is marked by some sort of morale reducing debuf that affects all units and buildings. Bummer. They don’t fight as hard when you let their “God” go run out into the fray and get pulverized. Not a sound plan. But building a sound foundation is precisely key to success. Having a faster way to get between tiers with Tau would be a start. The Heavy Builder is the fucking answer. And it cranks Tau up a notch. I’m happy to confess, I have yet to lose a game with them since I started using the unit.

XV30 Heavy Builder. Level 8? 1779 HP. Squad size = 1. Melee 75-92 damage. Cost: 170R\60P

Perhaps not your cup of tea. I love that unit. It can lob grenades, in a pinch. I have found that to be useful on more than one occasion. I enjoy using these units. They are tremendous, in combination, and I’ve found them to be nearly impossible to stop. I can supplement the core of commander units with Skyrays, Barracudas, or waiting for Hammerheads and Sunfire Suits. It’s over at that point.

I don’t know if I’ve addressed the question. I can literally crush anything with the XV89 Bodyguards. It’s hard as fuck to stop. I wonder if this will be true in the event that I play a human opponent? I tend to believe the computer to be, fundamentally, a more acute challenge than a human player. Humans forget to do things, computers do not.

I continue forward, carving successes from the great pine of glory. I just figured you’d like to hear about how I’ve been soullessly crushing my artificial foes to putty. It’s just another day in recovery-town.

8 Minutes In Heaven

I’ve found a way to have fun fighting with the computer and not be driven crazy every 4 minutes. With the AI on Hard, I have an easy 8 minutes to get my shit together before dealing with any major offensive. By 8 minutes, I’m going tier 3 and probably have some units in play already. I’m finding I peak at tier 3, with 2/4 economy upgrades purchased for both power and requisition. I’m rolling along if that’s the case, and can afford to repeat-build a preferred unit or two. With Eldar, I go Warp Spiders and Fire Dragons from two separate barracks. Tau Empire sees XV8 Crisis/Sunfire Suits and Hammerhead Gunships. Imperial Guard gets Kasrskins and (INSERT TANK-OF-THE-WEEK HERE). Fire dragons take care of structures much more effectively than a Nightspinner, so I go with them. For my success, the approach has been to solidify the economic standing of my colony, then begin peaking with units around tier 3 so I’m not wasting resources on units that are going to die quickly. Even upgraded and reenforced, It’s sad to see tier 1 stuff going against my Wraithlords. It goes poorly for them.

It’s not as clear cut as that. Orks tend to get into my perimeter by the 5-6 minute area, which can be problematic unless dealt with. I’ve found myself leaning on fixed defenses for some early-game cushion. I set listening posts on perimeter requisition points and then build a cluster of fixed defenses right on top of it. i will do this usually to two posts with a map-edge to protect flanking approaches. With two points fortified, I can spend resources on upgrades and technology. I get my requisition and power gains both leveled twice, so my economy can take a repeating build queue from at least two structures and afford me some leftover resources to buy more upgrades. I find that it takes time to get to this point, at least 7-10 minutes. Usually it happens that about the time my tier 2 opponent has started causing me worry, I’m in a place where I can draw back, coil, and strike. I hit the ground with leveled and deadly units usually built to a counter of some sort, so I can address what the enemy has already shown me, and act appropriately.

I these games, which run from 16 – 22 minutes, I’m able to do all the things I want in the RTS gameplay experience. It’s a fragile balance often upset by being dealt a slightly more aggressive or passive AI personality. I fins Orks, Tyranids and Chaos Space Marines are all pretty aggressive (respectively). Nercons, Sisters of Battle and Tau Empire are all a bit slow on the ground game. They tend to be slow when measured to when I end up peaking, which is usually a win if I make it farther along than they do come scrapping time.

I’m lacking a significant anecdote which relays this point effectively. I have only a few skirmishes to make my new-found assessments. I am curious if there are different approaches to handling the skirmish AI? Though, I am weary from the thought of playing new human opponents… I know the transition is shocking and vastly different from the AI (see, predictable).

The great quandary of these games comes from two human minds competing on these arena floors. Every game then truly being the result of a collision of two chaos-driven engines or creative inspiration. There are surely more reasons to record games when you have human foes: the games requiring explanation are often because they’re hilarious.

 

 

 

HR to H (Ultimate Apocalypse Game Notes)

I’m going to switch away from the Harder (HR) AI and go back to Hard (H). Why? Largely because the AI on HR has managed to really piss me off.

Elaborations: I’ve been testing my wits against the computer for some time now, and for the most part, I’m pleased. On HR, the AI makes a really annoying decision to rush every single game at he 4 minute mark. I call this approach, a rush because it’s all Tier I stuff, and it usually accomplishes the goal of forcing me into a surrender. 4 minutes in? You are killing me with T1 shit and we’re 4 minutes in? Really?

I don’t like this. What’s the point of having 4 tiers of technology and units if YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO GET TO USE ANY OF IT? If your whole big plan is to harass my economic buildings in the first 5 minutes of the game, you will certainly win, but have we played a game at all… or did you just get off on killing me? Victory being the goal which surpasses enjoyment.

I find this approach retarded. Why not actually play the game? The rush strategy annoys, and cripples your foe quickly, taking them out of the game entirely and leaving you to play-sturbate all day long through the ruins of their base. When I play, I avoid the rush altogether. There’s no way I’m determined on “winning” enough to compromise my methods. I will get there in my own sweet time, probably having a lot of fun doing it, while allowing the precious seconds to tick tock by. I’ll see you in 20 minutes.

The AI wins 75% of my games now because I am to stubborn to counter the rush. I want to play MY FUCKING WAY. And then I get killed and I get all flabbergasted.

On H, the AI does not rush, or if they do (often times with the Orks), they run away just as fast to any fixed defenses you lay down. Or even upgraded listening posts. AND THAT’S THE WAY IT FUCKING SHOULD BE. Who wants to sit down, get comfy and then get massacred in 3 minutes and be forced to go do something else. I don’t suck at RTS games, but the AI certainly makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I have to change that. Even if it means longer, less interesting games, I’ll just play on bigger maps and give the H AI a chance to expand and get into the tech tiers.

I’ll let you know how that goes as soon as I have a data set later today. Probably after my NAMI meeting.