Edain 4.5 – Gondor Review

After 3 or so years of waiting, Edain Mod 4.4 graduated to 4.5 this last week and the fun has been a-flowing. This patch constitutes a complete overhaul of several of the key gameplay mechanics such as economy and god powers. It adds new units and textures which are both visually pleasing. Importantly though, the patch re-invisions each faction to make them more unique, less exploitable and arguably much more fun overall. Gondor/Arnor being my favorite army, I will start the assessment with them:

Gondor’s Economy:

Previously, individual economy buildings had to be upgraded separately in order to accelerate the flow of resources and/or expand population cap. Now, however, pop cap is an incremental research option in the citadel (so resource buildings lost won’t shrink your cap), and econ upgrades are purchased at a forge or similar research building (in Gondor’s case, the Marketplace has been repurposed to do this). All new econ buildings take the global research level instead of needing to be leveled up once built. Econ buildings don’t deteriorate revenue based on how damaged they are (thank the maker). Upgrades tier at 1200 for level 2 and 2400 for level 3 (on castles, outposts and settlements separately). Pop expansions are 200 cap for 500 resources, all the way up to 1500 – a reduction in cap from v. 4.4 by 300 I’m sad to report.

This new restructuring paces the game significantly slower than it was in the previous iteration. The resource penalties are higher, which draws out the time to collect resources and thus, things in the game take longer to unfold. I do like this change though! Games feel more deliberate, less rush rush hasty.

Gondor’s Army:

There’s a new mechanic for the manor houses that gifts their elite unit cost reduction to regular infantry and archers, which causes a late-game surge when all the pieces fall into place. Once researched at the marketplace. That’s a 60 resource reduction on the cost of all units, if you are at the max number of houses built. It’s stellar. That, in conjunction with the already existing reduction mechanic for cavalry through the farms, waging war with Gondor is fast and furious like I remember it being in the previous version of Edain, but even more so than before.

Signal fires were totally overhauled, which made me sad since one of my favorite strategies was a spam with signal fire units (since they’re free in v. 4.4) after the god power additional battalion upgrade.  Sadly, the timer-spawned units are not happening anymore. Now, the signal fires collect a “resource” every 60 seconds called a “signal rider.” the units can be bought once you have enough currency, 2 is the starting low value and 10 is the largest sum of riders that can be spent at once. 10 brings 8 full level 2 battalions of the standard 4 types of signal fire unit (swordsman, axemen, pikes, archers). This mechanic lets you place the battalions at your discretion near the signal fire building instead of having them spawn automatically. It also is upgraded to 3 total battalions once you buy the god power upgrade. The units are the same quality, but just more deliberate about how and when they are brought to the battlefield. You must have the cap available to summon whatever you pay riders for, or you will lose the units that don’t fit under the cap to the cosmic ether… never to be seen again.

Arnor is largely unchanged with the exception of their spellbook. They still lean on swordsmen instead of the pikes of Gondor. Their allegiance with the elves gives them one of the game’s best elite multipurpose units. The spellbooks are better duplicates of each other then they were before so I really like the fact that they made Arnor just a dusty mirror of Gondor. As it should be, they’re all the same people, just split between the two kingdoms of men.

I don’t use the settlement rangers… regular archers are more than sufficient in appropriate number to thin melee units. Rangers are only an option on castle maps since then there’s a good chance of reducing their cost with the manor house mechanic. I never use Faramir. I use Pipin, Boromir and occasionally Denethor. I sprinkle Gondor knights… they add substance to any real push. Can’t win with infantry alone. Siege comes in to play every game, and trebuchets are as effective as ever.

All told, I’m  pleased! I give the whole update an A. Gameplay has been very good against the hard AI. I have tried several different build orders and am starting to settle on one that keeps me in contention and paces expansion along with the necessary economic hurdles. Edain team really came through with a phenomenal update, meeting 3 years of my pent-up expectations. I continue to play and explore all the unique features they have added to the different factions. Not to mention the fact that the next major update will be coming sooner, and it will have the final faction missing from Edain: Goblins. I believe they will be known as Misty Mountains now since it won’t be just Goblins but an amalgamation of Gundabad, Moria and Mirkwood. W is a Gobs guy from way back in the day, back when vanilla Battle for Middle-Earth II hit the shelves (in 2006). He loved them, and Edain has taken them away for years and years. Now, finally, and perhaps even this spring, they will be welcomed back into the fold.

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.


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. 

Living The “High Life”

Score: +2.5

Commence with the summary! I notched a full day today after missing time due to illness this week. The release of knowing Friday evening has arrived was sweet and savory like so much pulled pork. I relished the drive home, even though it was just to my aunt’s house for computer work. I picked up sushi tonight for dinner, because what is a fun evening without a spider roll? A shit suck beanbag evening, that’s what. 

Today was monotonous, and tiring when you are battling fatigue. I hung in there despite my inclination to flee. I focused my attention on upcoming sojourn in happiness, which would surely be nice. And I was right. Amanda and I  even went out on a limb and drank a cup of coffee after 5:30 pm. Yes, that’s right… I shit you not. Now that’s living the fucking high life. We played Minecraft until our eyeballs exploded, but coffee doesn’t keep me awake anymore. I’m pooped the butt. Here I am in bed at less than 8:00 pm and I’ve all but surrendered my first few hours of freedom to sleepiness. There’s nothing to be done. I was up at 4:30 today and I used my yellow head sponge all day long. At some point, even pumping unleaded gasoline through the fucking thing won’t resuscitate it. If daisies could be pushed out of the top of my head, I’m sure they would have been. 

So I will keep this high-water-mark post of unfathomable glory short and sweet. Things are never better than they are in Friday night. It’s the crust of the cheesecake. 


Score: +2.5

I was out all day yesterday and only worked a half day today. I was in a blurry tired place all day. My head has been pounding, my throat is scratchy and I’ve been sneezing/coughing constantly. I have now run out of sick leave. Sadly. 

But I think I really needed the break. My energy has been in the crapper. I slogged through four hours today and barely held it together. Amanda and I both are fighting something off. She stayed home today too. I intend on an early bedtime, with some much needed battery recharging. 

Other than the illness, things have been fine. Amanda and I are having fun on our mine craft server. Though recently I died and lost everything I had saved up: diamond tools, ender pearls, tons of food and arrows… all because a creeper got through the portal and detonated as soon as I came through, casting me into lava where I perished rapidly. It sucked. The nether is one horrible burning hell dimension with scores of bad things aiming to kill you. I went back shortly after losing all 37 of my levels and died right away to a horde of pig zombies on a futile mining mission. I have not been back there since. I have, instead, expanded my mineshaft to great lengths, so much so that a cart will almost certainly be needed to get in and out of it because the walking distance is insane. 

I’m tired. There’s a football game on tonight, but I probably won’t watch much of it. 

Flaming Death March

Score: +2

Today capped what has been a very difficult week. I did not bring much energy to it and I suffered almost every agonizing minute like it was a minor eternity. Today was the hardest day of the four, as I spent the first full 4 hours of my  shift in a dream-like haze. I drank my coffee, and then another… no measurable change. I pondered escaping yet again but decided that I would push myself through regardless. I was in turmoil, grinding away my energy and polluting the mind with depressed thoughts. Music was impacting be in a largely negative way, which is a sign that I am symptomatic. So today was hard. 

I entertained myself with thoughts of going home, and being with Amanda. I wanted to sit with her and just relax. We got on to our dedicated Minecraft server and traveled two continents over and left the snowy land far behind. We traveled the ocean and found some desert islands but found no food there, so we continued to sail west. We crossed an even larger ocean expanse and found a forested continent with an abundance of food. It was home. This is what I enjoy about Minecraft: the map is never-ending. As limitless as the imagination. Albeit, there are only so many terrain variations and textures…

I’m thinking my mental health has deteriorated over this week. Not sure what the culprit is, but I certainly know it’s happening. I need to hunker-down this next week and get back into a healthy pattern, I’ve been over-eating lately. Part of that is that I’ve been too tired to cook much, and it’s been so hot that turning the oven I was an ill-advised maneuver. But I can do better. I’ve lost so much weight that I’d like to be able to have it stay lost. 

Things could be better in my brain. But this weekend is just what I need. I will sleep in tomorrow and have a relaxing day, aside from taking care of my responsibilities. Sunday is the first full slate of NFL games, which I have been looking forward to immensely. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year. And I mean to have fun, not necessarily for any outcome. Whatever happens, happens. I’m not raising my expectations like I did last year. 

Goodnight blog. 

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. 

Isengard vs Rohan

It took me a dozen tries, but I finally got past the Hard AI on Cair Andros. It was dominating me in 14 – 19 minutes. This game went 29 minutes. 

I have been trying to get past the Hard AI on Ettenmoors and failing miserably. It was consistently overpowering me at about the fifteen minute mark with sheer numbers of infantry and later mixing in siege. I was not able to expand sufficiently to support much economy, so I lost the unit production game. I was having difficulty growing because of the barrow wright creeps in the corners of the map. But I got archers up there and finished those guys off. Then I took the outpost and built a steelworks on it and made my units me lee attack more powerful. Near the end it was several level five berserkers with the forged blades tearing down buildings. They’re just so good. I gained control of both outposts mid way through, and by then I was hammering. Good game. Just had to be aggressive. Lots of pikes against Rohan and you’ll do fine. I started wining the middle once the forged blades were available. And my economy was roaring by then. 

Map: Cair Andros

Gametime: 29:21


Isengard: Egregious

Rohan: Hard


Isengard: 644

Rohan: 838

Units Lost

Isengard: 424

Rohan: 874

Unit Kill / Death Ratio

Isengard: 1.84

Rohan: 0.46

Units Killed

Isengard: 781

Rohan: 407

Maximum Income Rate Per Minute

Isengard: 1926.59

Rohan: 1076.10

Resources Gathered

Isengard: 55871

Rohan: 31207

I totally owned the middle and had a steelworks on the outpost. I just kept sending those lovable Uruk-hai. Eventually they all got forged blades, and then it was over. Wilen axethrowers are cheap and quite effective at tearing down buildings while giving you resources. I had scores of them by the end. Pillage. 

Anyway, great game. 

Isengard vs Rohan

I have been trying to get past the Hard AI on Ettenmoors and failing miserably. It was consistently overpowering me at about the fifteen minute mark with sheer numbers of infantry and later mixing in siege. I was not able to expand sufficiently to support much economy, so I lost the unit production game. I was having difficulty growing because of the barrow wright creeps in the corners of the map. But I got archers up there and finished those guys off. Then I took the outpost and built a steelworks on it and made my units me lee attack more powerful. Near the end it was several level five berserkers with the forged blades tearing down buildings. They’re just so good. I gained control of both outposts mid way through, and by then I was hammering. Good game. Just had to be aggressive. Lots of pikes against Rohan and you’ll do fine. I started wining the middle once the forged blades were available. And my economy was roaring by then. 

Map: Ettenmoors

Gametime 28:06


Isengard: Egregious

Rohan: Hard


Isengard: 555

Rohan: 1097

Units Lost

Isengard: 473

Rohan: 1187

Unit Kill / Death Ratio

Isengard: 2.34

Rohan: 0.49

Units Killed

Isengard: 1107

Rohan: 577

Maximum Income Rate Per Minute

Isengard: 1606.54

Rohan: 1417.86

Resources Gathered

Isengard: 44983

Rohan: 39700

Isengard vs Mordor

Random draw. I’ve yet to play as Gondor or Arnor in any of my wins vs the Hard AI. Unexpected. I’ve done rather well with Rohan and Isengard of late. I can’t seem to finish with Mordor. Anyway, tonight’s matchup occurred on Carnequelle, a lovely 1 vs 1 arena. There were plenty of settlements, and four outposts. By the end I had three of them capped with no need to bother about the fourth. 

I have a decent build order now, I think. I generally stick to improving my economy right away, so that I can dial up a massive income flow to support my war efforts later on. As Isengard, I started two mine shafts right in my base, and one defensive tower. Then I capped two settlements and built a third mineshaft in my base. I had them all up to level 2 in no time, and then built two Uruk pits and set them to rally near the settlements. I had all five up to level three production and then had a pop limit with Uruk scouts. I fed them to creeps and started expanding. 

But the AI did not sit idle. They came after me hard, and the five Ringwraith hero battalion is hard to stop with just Uruk-hai. So shortly after I had both settlements up to level 3, they were  destroyed. I was pushed back into my base. But I rallied, and continued making units. Eventually the towers took care of the units and I was free to expand again. And I did. Rapidly. I filled the void in a hurry and started grabbing settlements. I had six before I was net in opposition again. But this time I had a roaring economy and map control. There was nothing the AI could do. I snuffed out all of his settlements and drove him back into his base, where the battering rams went to work. 

Gametime 36:11


Isengard: Egregious

Mordor: Hard


Isengard: 1197

Mordor: 709

Units Lost

Isengard: 1050

Mordor: 752

Unit Kill / Death Ratio

Isengard: 0.58

Mordor: 1.38

Units Killed

Isengard: 607

Mordor: 1036

Maximum Income Rate Per Minute

Isengard: 2243.67

Mordor: 1141.81

Resources Gathered

Isengard: 80772

Mordor: 41105

As you can see by that miserable units killed to unit death ratio, the spam was on. Most common unit was Uruk-hai by a wide margin. I sprinkled in wargs, pikes and crossbowmen. I had all of my troops upgraded with either steel bolts or forged blades by the final blow. It was overwhelming. I had total map control after repelling the first push from the AI. I marched forward incessantly. It was a good game. 

Bipolar Day

Score: +2

I was all over the place. I attempted to abruptly change my schedule today by waking up at 4:00 am to be at my desk by 5:00 am. I did manage to accomplish this. Why? Because I had a 2:00 psychiatry appointment with my new doctor, and if I started work at 5:00 am I would be done working by 1:30 pm. But my body had something different in mind. I got all the way to work, and took the first call of the day, but I could hardly talk. My speech was slurred like I was drunk. I had a very difficult time concentrating, and my eyes were drifting closed. I could not function, so I drove myself home, and proceeded to sleep for four more hours. Never doing THAT again. 

But while I had the time, I called in about another collections agency that had come asking for money. Money that I indeed owe them, mind you. I spoke to Gregory, and he didn’t mince words: he said my calling in to settle the debt was a “good faith gesture” and he then enrolled me in a total debt consolidation program. They took my entire federal debt and settled it, then set up a payment plan with me over the next 25 years to get the debt paid back (in increments I will be able to afford). That’s good news. 

I met with Dr. Paintal today. She’s an older Indian woman who seems approachable and practical. I explained my history, and stressed the importance of balance. She was attentive and understanding. It was a great meeting. I got my medications refilled and will go pick them up tomorrow, but will have to pay for them for the first time in a while. I think I’m going to get along well with my new doctor. 

I have settled in to understanding the way to victory in my 1 vs 1 skirmishes against the Hard AI. I have won on every map starting with Argonath and ending at Cair Andros. I just recently won with Isengard against Rohan, and that was an Uruk spam if ever there was one. I sprinkled in some crossbowmen with steel bolts to thin the infantry, then the wall of Uruk-hai would get to their archers. It seems the key to any kind of success is establishing a thriving economy. Before and real combat begins, my bases have 3 – 5 resource buildings all at level 3 production. Getting big armies and heroes on the field takes lots of income, and the AI will rapidly overrun you if you can’t get control of at least 50% of the settlements. I’m playing on random now, just trying to get familiar with the different factions. The mod is great fun, and even Tristan is into it. 

Well. Two good things and one bad thing. I’ll take that. 

Gondor vs Mordor II

After reading some build order ideas on the Edain forums, I decided to implement an entirely new strategy of my own concoction. I had been, right away, building 2 townhouses in my base and a barracks or archery range depending on the map. This initial build order worked about 40% of the time against the Medium AI. In my new strategy, I have greatly altered my starting sequence. First order of business was to send both free battalions to two unguarded settlements and build farms, then get one townhouse in the castle followed by two defensive towers at the entrance. I had been leaving a battalion of soldiers in my base to defend against the rush, which happens EVERY TIME at about the 1:00 mark. But with the towers there, all the units they sent in were killed, while my two free battalions were off demolishing creeps and capturing more settlements. Soon I had all the settlements on my side built on, and then I moved across the river to grab his. This is when things started to get a little crazy. He came after me with the pack of five Nazgul and a mountain troll, and forced my troops out of his territory, and pushed me back to my nearest farm, which they proceeded to destroy. Luckily, I had not been idle: my economy was blasting ahead, and I had a blob of soldiers, pikes and knights all running to defend against the incursion. I had troops on the opposite side of the map destroying more settlements and suffocating the AI’s resource flow. Eventually, they had lost too many settlements to be viable as an offensive force, and they died swiftly to scores of soldiers with forged blades. Did I mention that THIS WAS A HARD AI, NOT A MEDIUM???

Players (Gametime 14:28, Argonath)

Gondor: Egregious

Mordor: Hard

Units Created

Gondor: 265

Mordor: 293

Units Killed

Gondor: 333

Mordor: 229

Units Lost

Gondor: 125

Mordor: 293

Unit Kill To Death Ratio

Gondor: 2.66

Mordor: 0.78

Maximum Income Rate Per Minute

Gondor: 1484.14

Mordor: 799.86

Total Resources

Gondor: 20778

Mordor: 11198

The numbers tell the story. I had control of the map, and the majority of the settlements. And I kept the AI from holding the perimeter. I attacked from both directions, dividing his forces and leaving one mass of soldiers to destroy two settlements and then assault his fortress uncontested. I killed every single unit he made, and I did in in half the time it used to take me. It was a resounding, undisputed win, from start to finish. 

I am looking forward to gaming with Will, as he must surely have a strategy that varies from what the AI likes to do. It should be a clash of brains. Soon. 

Happy gaming Edain world. 

Mordor vs Gondor

Map: East Rohan

Players (Gametime 28 minutes 15 seconds)

Mordor: Egregious

Gondor: Medium

Units Created

Mordor: 1389

Gondor: 648

Units Lost

Mordor: 1115

Gondor: 688

Units Killed

Mordor: 590

Gondor: 885

Unit Kill / Unit Death Ratio

Mordor: 0.53

Gondor: 1.29

Income Rate Per Minute

Mordor: 1141.04

Gondor: 1197.57

Total Resources

Mordor: 31949

Gondor: 33560

As you can see, this was a war of sheer numbers. I simply had far too many units for my opponent to survive. I sprinkled in attack trolls and orc archers for balance, but easily 85% of my units were orc warriors. I had a base littered with towers, and I was able to defend most perimeter attacks on my settlements. I lost a couple slaughterhouses to raids but eventually thwarted the offensive and pushed the battle line back across the river. I destroyed the AI’s nearest farm to the river and that seemed to finally tip the scales. I had armored mountain trolls with weapons and they (3 of them) gutted the fortress and annihilated buildings swiftly. It became lopsided, but the AI had the economic lead for most of the game. The graph shows my line well below its line, with mine sharply turning up right near the end. It was a great fight, and I really do understand how to use Mordor now. Solid. 

Gondor vs Rohan

Map: Brandywine

Things were not off to a great start, as I was forced to defend my fortress camp from attackers. I was temporarily unable to expand my control by capturing additional settlements. But after that first wave, I dispersed my units effectively to try and capture enough new ground to stay viable. And after not too long, I had constructed two outposts and had a dominating upper hand on map control. I did all of this with no cavalry to speak of. I did unleash a god power which gave me some, but that was towards the end. It was a solid, steady ascent to victory. 

Players (Gametime 32 minutes 30 seconds)

Gondor – Egregious

Rohan – Medium

Units Created

Gondor: 524

Rohan: 1135

Units Killed

Gondor: 1219

Rohan: 470

Units Lost

Gondor: 432

Rohan: 1228

Kill to Death Ratio

Gondor: 2.82

Rohan: 0.38

Income Rate Per Minute

Gondor: 1655.06

Rohan: 1306.22

Resources Gathered

Gondor: 52962

Rohan: 41799

I’m not sure yet if I have a decent build order. I know that I’m able to field a decent sized army and that seems to get me farther than in previous games. My income rate hasn’t dipped below the 1500 per minute mark in all my wins. So things look good. I just hope I can be more efficient in getting troops in play and not running low on them as I have in the past. 

Arnor vs Rohan 

This time, I gave my strategy some thought. If I capture and expand my perimeter first, I can worry about having a massive army later on. The important thing is to build those resource gathering structures. Capture 3-5 of the nodes and make them farms. Then dedicate 3 fortress slots to houses, or at least two on smaller citadels. Economy is everything in this game. So in this skirmish, I tried to ensure that I had a rapidly expanding income, and always stayed at the cusp of available technology so that my troops could be more effective in smaller quantities. I was the first to go forged blades, and I was the first with fire arrows. I had knight shields for my cavalry and took both outposts towards the end. I stayed aggressive, and protected my base with archers. I made sure to regularly level my farms and houses, having most of them to level three by the end. I had 4 houses in the fortress and 5 farms and an additional house at the enemy side outpost, maybe one of them still a level 2.

The game progressed from my initially defensive response, to a swift move to capture my side of the map. Once I had that fully claimed and constructed upon, I started harassing the nearest enemy stronghold, what was the map’s northern outpost. But I found it unclaimed, still with the creep hill troll guarding it. So I built another stronghold and a fifth house. I placed a stables out there to give me a new place to crank on cavalry units. I made sure they all got their three upgrades once they were deployed. I dispatched with the enemy’s army and stuffed them down into their base, and at that time it was over. I had a screen full of Arnor Knights and they were crushing everything in their path. Though the summary said I built more Dunedain Soldiers than anything else. Here’s how the game broke down:

Players (Gametime 30 minutes 51 seconds)

Arnor – Egregious

Rohan – Medium

Units Created

Arnor: 587

Rohan: 1077

Units Killed

Arnor: 1191

Rohan: 517

Units Lost

Arnor: 539

Rohan: 1175

Kill To Death Ratio

Arnor: 2.21

Rohan: 0.44

Income Rate Per Minute

Arnor: 2122.29

Rohan: 1365.39

Resources Gathered

Arnor: 65791

Rohan: 42327

So the game turned right about the time I had my outpost built. I managed to train Glorfindel and got him up to level 8 before the enemy base was destroyed. But it was at that point that things began to change. I had consistent control of my side of the river. I was so busy going on about my income rate that I never bought any Rangers. I just used the Dunedain Archers. They had very view hit points, and trampling them is usually their doom. But once a few of them got fire arrows things really hit the fan. They had no answer for those upgraded Knights. 

All in all, a gratifying win. I hadn’t had a single victory since beating an Easy the day before. Now I will test my luck on other maps and see if I can repeat my success. 

Edain 4.0 – Review

The trailer

I use Gondor/Arnor in this widely anticipated release. It’s been 3 years in the making, and graciously received by a much starved community. 3.8.1 was playable, but imbalanced, and mechanically fractured. 4.0 on the other hand, is a largely polished product. There have been reports of gameplay glitches and one improperly balanced unit (Lindon Archers). In my opinion, skirmish gameplay has been challenging. I’ve discovered that economy is vital in this mod, as the numbers have proved out. My income was averaging 700 per minute, while the AI ripped off 1500 per minute on average. That’s more than twice mine. I clearly don’t have it figured out yet. 

From what I understand, resources are gathered by houses and farms (primarily), then also by special buildings. I can’t figure out how the computer is able to generate such a gaudy income. I grab 2 – 4 farms, build more than 3 houses, and my income in my last game finally broke 1000, but I’m still 500 behind to at least break even, let alone assert my control. The game’s economic demands will lead to rapidly growing armies and huge population totals. I have yet to truly understand the intensity of troop creation required to be successful. The Easy AI gave in to my limited armies at some past dilly-dallying point late game. It was not honorable or well fought. So I changed it to Hard and lost three in a row in miserable fashion. I stepped down to Medium and still died but later in the game than on Hard. Medium still badly out resourced me. I have much to learn. 

Gameplay is awesome, once you understand the mechanics of the unit and building leveling system. Buildings are of two kinds: structures that have a built-in upgrade research option, or level by gaining experience. Buildings that produce units receive experience for doing so, and the more they produce the faster they level. It’s brilliant. The quicker your economy moves, the faster you can build units and buy upgrades, which makes your buildings level up, giving you access to better units. The battle is rapidly escalated. Farms can be upgraded to increase their population cap bonus. So can houses. Victory is achieved through numbers and upgrades. 

Gondor/Arnor has been entertaining. I have yet to comprehend the usefulness of Rangers, until they get those flaming arrows. I have yet to build deep into the unit tree because I die before I can get very far. The outpost options for Gondor/Arnor are pretty cool. As Gondor you can align with Dol Amroth, and with the Elves as Arnor. I imagine they probably are working on a patch right now. 

So the lesson I’ve learned so far has to be that income is everything. And 1500 a minute is a good place to start. I have yet to explore any other faction, even though Mordor and Isengard are two of my favorites. I wonder if Mordor still has free orcs? Probably not. 

Gameplay might seem a bit spammy, but battles in this universe should be on an epic scale. This is Lord of the Rings dude. 

The demo includes 4 factions: Rohan, Gondor/Arnor, Mordor and Isengard. The Gondor/Arnor thing is dependent on the map you chose in skirmish mode. If the map was in the old kingdom of Arnor, then you would play them. I believe they have exactly the same tech tree as Gondor, because they should be considered one faction, and a map should not be able to change the tech tree of a faction. Rohan I am least interested in. They seem fine, but cavalry can bore me at times. I should get over that and give them a skirmish. This mod looks great, and runs smoothly. The mechanics take some practice, but I’m sure I will get it figured out. 

In conclusion, a great mod. Epic and proud of it. Very polished and special. 

**UPDATE 4/1/15**

The question is rapidly becoming how can I get my economy cranking? 1000 a minute hasn’t caused any victories. I’m hearing from the other players that the AI is indeed quite challenging. I’ve not heard anyone boasting about beating a Hard yet. I think I have a good idea about what I need to do. And rapid expansion is also necessary. You must establish ownership of 50% of the nodes or be permanently overtaken. I have endeavored to do this in each of my games, but was largely relegated to defending my base. They then moved in and it was over. So more powerful troops and more of them, faster than before. 


Score: +4

There comes a time of reckoning on weekends when some critical few things need to be accomplished, I’ve found. I need fresh clothes for work, and I require enough food to get me through the week among other issues. I should make the time to clean up my domicile and apply myself to at least one extraordinary task like scrubbing the shower floor or detailing the sink. Once that is done, I can afford myself some time to relax. 

While Sunday was largely about me working on chores, this weekend has been quite good. It started off with a Friday get-together at my parent’s RV. I like to spend some time with them because it nourishes me. Plus I got to hear lots of positive gossip about Amanda. 

All this week I had been going to Amanda’s place and cooking with her after I got off work. Simple meals like chicken, salad and rice. We prepared food and hung out as a little three person unit. I really like that time I get with them, even if we are just sitting around watching Sponge Bob. 

This weekend we did lots of things: we went swimming in the community pool (which we had all to ourselves on Saturday). Later we went to Amanda’s parent’s place and I bought dinner for everyone. Her sister Melissa came too and gave me a hug right off the bat. Things trended steadily up from there. George told me all about the mine he jointly operates. He has a problem with short-term memory, so he says a lot of the same things over again, but it doesn’t bother me. I still have fun talking to him and showing interest in his work. The evening went great. Then Amanda and I put the boy to bed and stayed up until 10 talking to each other. 

But Sunday I had to take care of my stuff. I got up early and scurried around until my shit was done. I tried to come home tonight and play, but my brain can’t handle it. Edain is out and I’ve not logged one skirmish. To be honest, I just wanted to finish XCOM: Enemy Within before getting my head into The Battle for Middle Earth II again. Especially when I’ll be figuring it out as I go along because of the complete overhaul Edain has brought. Right now in XCOM I’m on the temple ship mission, and my squad looks like this: 1 Sniper, 1 Support, 2 MEC Paladins, 1 Assault, 1 Heavy. I had a Major rank sniper through most of the game, but he was killed in action closer to the end of the campaign. I’ve cycled through the assault as well, because they always get hit and have a propensity for being in precarious positions. I had two other MEC troopers, and I killed them both. But then I made two after that and those ones made it all the way through. They have 30 – 40 kills each, and the highest possible rank. That kinetic strike does 18 damage and can be used twice a turn. Sick. Anyway all I have left to do is storm the temple ship and end the game. Then I will start in on Edain. 

It has been a great weekend. And tomorrow is another chance to go out there and get after it. 

Just A Ham Sandwich

Score: +3.5

40 Day Average: +2.95

Hello. I’m doing swell. Life is both interesting and challenging. Some days my neurochemicals are balanced and everything is good. Other times, I must commit a great deal of energy to fending off sadness, and largely fail at doing so. But these off days are few, as indicated by the graph. I seem to be more on top of things than I have been in a very long time. I’m succeeding at work, and striving for a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I want to be here, to see things change with my eyes, to be alive in a meaningful way. I value having a purposeful way of inhabiting the Earth. I try not to judge or generalize, and I’m always willing to give anyone a try. 

It was back to work today, but I really didn’t mind. The work was steady, and the time between start and lunch got there in about 30 minutes. I was able to catch a few words with Amanda, but she was busy. It never really slowed down until around 4:30 pm. I took maybe 2 calls the rest of the way. I’m all alone tomorrow night. The supervisors gave 2 of the 3 closing shift guys the night off. Which means it’s me and Kaiser from 5:30 on. I don’t mind. If anything, I take it as a sign that they trust me enough to hand the wheel over to me for a while. I’m the only guy answering the phone at the DTOC. I sure hope I have a good night. 

Anyway, I’m in love blog. Duh. I’m having fun with a great woman. She inspires my enthusiasm and churns my desire. I’m looking forward to continuing to love her, and her son. I feel very welcomed into her world, as this weekend was total immersion. I feel great about it. There’s still a lot to learn, and understand, but I’m content with the speed at which I learn it. We’re not taking premature action, we are contemplating the next minor step. 

I’m a happy boy, on a roll. 

I have been playing the expansion to XCOM: Enemy Unknown called XCOM: Enemy Within. It is a remake of the original but with a new storyline and some added content. One of the primary differences is meld, a new resource for you to collect. It is to be found on the battleground maps, hidden in the fog of war, but on a self destruct timer that will destroy the meld if it is not found before it expires.  Meld is used to create and upgrade mecs (more new content) or, cybernetic battlesuits with a human body and head but the rest machine. And you can spend meld on biological enhancements for your soldiers, loading them up with special abilities. 

It adds a new storyline with another covert agency called EXALT vying for control (like XCOM would have) after the invasion is thwarted. You spend a good deal of time going on data recovery missions and killing genetically modified EXALT agents. Plus, the aliens attack XCOM headquarters with many units. Soldiers die faster because the AI is more aggressive about standing in the open and taking clear shots on flanked targets. I have turned over many, many soldiers in my current game, and if I haven’t killed them, I’ve injured them severely. My hangars are near having a firestorm in each country, and UFOs getting away is my current major problem. 

I’m maybe 3/4 of the way through the game. It’s fun. I’ll play it to the end and I’m sure it will be good. 

That One Day Off Thing

Score: +3

It was a busy day today blog. I got started early, heading down to storage around 9 and getting a single load of rocks going in the tumbler. These were the stones my uncle had picked up on the beaches in Carlsbad (quartz, agate and chalcedony). 

From there I went home and started my laundry, which absorbs 2 hours because the dryer takes forever. So I completed some downloads of TV shows for my parents and put them on the backup drive to be transported  to their place later. After the file copy was done, I was on the move again. 

I headed for Amanda’s house. Together, we were going to go shopping for food to prepare during the week. I will be coming over after work and preparing food with her to help us manage a healthy lifestyle. I’ve been eating shitty food, and I do believe it has only hurt me to do so. My energy is (on average) low, and my body is just getting heavier. It’s not as much fun to move around when you weigh a lot. It hurts. So eating better will lead to natural weight loss and better energy levels. So we bought some chicken and rice and salad to have for a few days. Productive and reasonable. 

From shopping, I zoomed over to my parent’s RV and dropped of 60+ gb of TV shows for them to watch. I took a hit or two but then I had to be on my way. I was expecting a call from my uncle to arrange a purchase of marijuana. I’m buying a 1/4 ounce for mine and Amanda’s use during the week. It’s great for unwinding after a stressful day. And it will make cooking that much more exciting. 

I came home and took my newly bought duster out of the box and put it to work removing the accumulating soot from the flat surfaces of my apartment. I haven’t dusted since I moved in, and that was back in October. I used up like 5 of those disposable dust catchers with my new Swiffer. Then I cleaned my bathroom and scrubbed out the floor of my shower (to little avail, the floor of it is stained brown). I had some time in the afternoon to finish up the single player mode of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Well, nearly finished. I’m on the last mission in the game. As soon as I complete it, the game will be over. Here’s what I was able to accomplish in the single player mode:

Scientists: 82

All items except alloy cannon were researched. 

Engineers: 136

Satellites: 16 (one for every member nation)

Monthly revenue: 1482

2 interceptors and 1 firebird per hangar, all upgraded with plasma cannons. 

My squad is elite: all majors, with all their abilities unlocked. Two snipers, two assault, one heavy and one support, and a hover S.H.I.V. with the plasma weapon upgrade. All soldiers carry plasma primaries and sidearms. Most have nano-fiber vests except the snipers who have scopes. It’s good. 

One of my assault class is the psyonic warrior, who’s true potential I have yet to uncork. But soon I will be on to the expansion pack, to learn what new content has been added to the core game. 

Well, here I am in limbo with my uncle still not calling me. The evening is wearing on and soon it will be dinner then bed. I may not get the hookup today after all. Drat. My list of accomplishments for the day remains incomplete. 

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday, and your weekend for that matter. This next week should be a lot of fun. My energy level stayed pretty solid today. I had a lot to do, and I got the important bits taken care of. I feel good about that. I’m ready for another week at work, and I anticipate having sucess and stability all the while. Wish me luck!

**UPDATE 9:15 pm**

So the final mission was the invasion of a big alien ship that lands off the coast of Brazil. The fighting is narrated by the alien leader, who tells you things about the various species of alien these overlords have incorporated into their control. So naturally they throw all of them at you in the course of storming the bridge. I lost one of my snipers towards the end, to a muton elite. I had 5 soldiers in the final room. The ethereal leader had 25 hit points, and he summons two more ethereals with 20 hp and two muton elites on the lower level. 

The first time I tried it I failed. I lost three soldiers in the first alien activity, so I started over. I split my squad, taking two up the left and three up the right elevated platforms. It’s on these that the two extra ethereals materialize. My goal was to try and take out the two ethereals and then the mutons. But it all went to hell. I took out the ethereal on the left, but two of my soldiers on the right were killed and the third was mind controlled away from me. In desperation, I turned my sniper lose on the main dude, and instead of deflecting my shot he took a 17 point critical (after having sustained a shot from volunteer’s plasma rifle earlier) and died, taking the last ethereal and two mutons with him. End of game. 

I have started in on the expansion. There is a new resource to collect: meld, which has some higher-level applications. I am still just starting out, and have a ways to go before I can make use of the stuff. Anyway. Good shit. Tough final room, lost 4 soldiers killing that one ethereal. But I brought the hurt. Boom. 

Busiest Saturday Evar

Score: +3

It was non stop at work today. I set my all time high record with 39 calls, and it was grueling. I was so tired. I had fun with Amanda last night and early this morning, but it left me in a bad way come the beginning of my shift. I had two huge coffees and many other stimulants to get myself out of the murk, and I was only partially sucessful. The morning was tough, and it never let up, even down to my last 20 seconds, my phone rang. I was there late, and I cut my breaks short to try and stay after it. The calls were just piling up in the queues at times. Very stressful. 

But in the end, I got through another day. And I came home and helped one of the people who I live around move a couch into a garage. And then I proceeded to play a few hours of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. 

After trying to manage the single player campaign several times, and failing, I have at last expressed total dominance. I have a satellite in every member country except Argentina. I have everything bought in the officer training school except the ability that promotes rookies to squaddies right away (which I view as useless, as my squad members never die). I have two assault and one support all with plasma rifles, two snipers with laser rifles and a heavy with a laser minigun. If there’s one place I’m dangerously weak it’s in the hanger, where I have two interceptors per country (one avalanche missile and one laser cannon). If a big UFO came along I probably wouldn’t be able to stop it from destroying my satellites. But only Mexico has any panic, and they’re at 3/5. I have invaded the alien base and researched the homing beacon to further advance the plot. But I’m in total control. I run missions with 14 kills and no serious injuries to my squad (nothing a medkit can’t fix, anyway). I make nearly 2000 a month in credits, and hopefully I get enough UFO landing or crash missions to get enough parts to make more advanced aircraft. I will soon have all my squads in titan armor with plasma primaries and sidearms. My sniper has more than 30 kills. He’s hard to stop. And he doesn’t miss often. So I’ve been finally kicking ass at this game. And there’s still an expansion to go through as well. 

I’m pretty tired. Think I’ll go to bed now. 

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.


Meeting and playing with Tristan was a huge step forward for me. I care about Amanda, and I really want to get to know her son. He and I clicked over his toys, which loosely resembled Lego people. I think one of them may have been. But they were Minecraft themed. Anyway, forks and spoons were also involved in the games. I had fun with him, I hope one day of many to come. I like them both very much.

I hope I’m guiding my life in a productive direction. I told my parents the other night that I was just trying to make the most I had with my available resources, and to try my hardest to impress myself. I figure that’s a good way to get ahead.

Today is a sleepy day. I am quite exhausted, it turns out. I actually napped for a couple of hours, which is so very strange for me to do. I’m going to prepare a light lunch and that should have me back on track. I would have been very hard-pressed to turn in any good effort today at work if I had gone.

I’m downloading some music. Turns out I was missing an entire Jethro Tull album from my collection (The Broadsword and the Beast). So I’m trying to grab a copy of it. But it has like 1 seed. So it may take me a while. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my little Acer EE PC power cord do I can turn it into a Diablo II machine for when I go over to Amanda’s house. That will be fun. I already downloaded the game clients to my thumb drive for install. Radness. So many things are coming together. I did my shopping and am now officially restocked on the 3 things I eat normally. And I did my dishes again.

On a rest day like this one, I can feel a little lost. I think it might just be my neurochemistry being a bit off, as sometimes happens to me on a Monday after an abbreviated weekend. I really will be glad to get two days off in a row this week. I’m going to introduce Amanda to my mom at least as they look at the new stones together (two barrels will be done on Saturday).

I think I’m going to have another coffee and relax.

**UPDATE 8:00 pm**

I spent the evening with Amanda, and we had fun. We watched the first half hour of The Battle of the Five Armies, just to the point where the dwarves seal up the entrance to Erebor just as the survivors from Laketown enter Dale. Amanda guessed (correctly) that Bilbo had the Arkenstone the whole time, even though they never actually show him picking it up until a flashback during this movie. But just like in the book, he pockets the Arkenstone because in his heart he believes Smaug was right – it would only drive Thorin insane to have it. My favorite part is still when Bard nails Smaug with that black arrow. Eat that dragon!

We played some Diablo II and got a couple of waypoints in act 2. We completed Atma’s quest and got a new skill. I leveled twice. I’m now a 22. We decided to wait until tomorrow night to do the maggot lair. It’s 3 levels deep with no waypoints and is a long and brutal affair. But we need the staff of kings, so here we go.

I’m home now about ready to shut it down. I have had a good day, not productive, albeit. But I’m ready to tackle tomorrow head on.


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


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


Egregious (Tau Empire)
Requisition: 21380
Power: 15962

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


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

On Holiday

I got today off, and that was nice. I went over to my parent’s RV and had a tasty breakfast and then went to go see the third Hobbit film. It was very entertaining. I especially liked the scene with Bard and the black arrow. I’m not giving anything away that isn’t already common knowledge for anyone who has read the book. When we last left the movie, Smaug was on his way into Laketown to punish someone, anyone. They really handled that whole sequence really well. The special effects were outstanding, and so devastating. The movie was full of emotional moments, as the story played out in almost the same fashion as it did in the book. Bilbo is the driving force behind waking Thorin from the sickness of gold he becomes infected with upon retaking Erebor. And they did a good job of portraying Thiron’s mental collapse, and his redemption. The two orcs that they set in opposition to the dwarves were quite nasty. Azog the Defiler was truly deplorable and Bolg was not much better. Very realistic and grotesque. Overall I thought it was well done. It needed to be dramatic and heartbreaking and it was. The end of the story is always a little sad. But the conclusion of the Hobbit takes us right up to the point that The Lord Of the Rings begins, with Gandalf’s arrival at Bag End for Bilbo’s 111th birthday. Still some gratuitous action scenes, but the battle itself was amazing.


An Unexpected Journey = B+
The Desolation of Smaug = B-
The Battle of the Five Armies = A-

Today I had a couple of good games of Age Of Empires III. I had the Japanese on Large California first, and that one was a hoot. The AI was the Dutch, and they were rapidly up in my business harassing me from early on. They killed the small number of troops I had milling about in age 2 and marched on my town, destroying two or three houses before I could get enough units to rally to my defense. It was dicey there for a bit. I built up about 5 -10 ashigaru musketeer and I think I had two samurai go in there and force them out. Then I noticed the entry point: a gap between to plateaus where the conduit from their base to mine was shortest and easiest to traverse. They ignored my northern trading post even though I left it undefended. It should have been destroyed, because my hold on those two posts (that, and having my shrines all producing xp instead of resources) enabled me to dump nearly all of my home city cards, save the hill fort card and the extra rice paddy shipmen, which I had decided I didn’t need. My economy be game a juggernaut around age 3, and I managed to get into age 5 by the time I had made my offensive push. I built nearly all infantry: melee with samurai and ranged with ashigaru musketeers, American riflemen and culverins. It was effective. But the enemy was not foolish, they came back at me with artillery, primarily field guns, and they smacked me around for a bit. But like I was saying, once I had all my home city shipments bought, I was left with the infinity 6 samurai card. I bought it several times, and had 15 – 20 samurai all on artillery destruction duty at the front of my gathering point. And they ripped up those field guns with ease when they came back, and sealed the advance of my units. I marched in with several culverins from the third tier export armies which also include a number of riflemen. I had two dojos producing musketeers so I imagine that by the end I had more of those than anything else. The AI surrendered after I had razed the second town center and the third of four banks. In the final score, I had been out paced on coin, but had a substantial lead on the other two. I had the military advantage, but it was only 65 – 85 units difference. I can’t remember the exact numbers. 36 minutes of gametime and the computer had accumulated 32000 coin. But they didn’t spend it on mercenaries, as I would have. All in all, a fun game.

Tomorrow I’m back to work, and I feel good about that. I like having a day of rest here and there. It doesn’t need to always be two in a row. I can do the things I like to do in just one day. Fuck, one afternoon even. I got in a game of ROTWK today and tested the program fully to see if it would crash (like it had in the past, since the last time I used the crack). It did not shut down prematurely with the new hacked .exe file I got. And I played at least three games of AOE 3 as well. My brain is happy. I had a different strategy for each match. I like that I have to invent a new way to win depending upon the opponent or map. The more the primary variables change, the more interesting I find the battle. I get to a point in some games where I know when I have to switch over to farms/mills and plantations (or rice paddies). I call this the internal economic shift, because primary resource gathering goes from hunting/mining to gathering at a slower pace at a building with infinite resources. Some maps enable a coin shift before the food shift, because there were more herds and less mines. Or some such situation. And I don’t often take the water, if there is any. I only really consider it with the European civs because their navies are so much more developed. But for the most part, if I can avoid the water, I do.

Well, I suppose that’s enough rambling for tonight. Be safe.

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



Food: 38170
Wood: 25812
Coin: 30206

Food: 24045
Wood: 11780
Coin: 11323


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



Food: 25383
Wood: 21208
Coin: 20205

Food: 16477
Wood: 12989
Coin: 11826


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.

Sunday Sunday Sunday!!

I had my second consecutive day off today, and boy did that feel nice. I went down to the rock tumblers early with Moo and saw the stones in stage 2 of 4. They look glassy (because they were all wet), translucent and highly colorful. I have never seen so many good jasper and jadeite samples in one place before. The mineral inclusions and overall clarity of the stones are really something special. She scored on this most recent rockhounding trip up the coast. Those coastal ranges have some cool stones locked away in them, only sending a sample down the river to the sea. What makes it down that far in the alluvial plain is largely a mystery though in reference to actual origin. I couldn’t tell you for sure where a lot of those stones came from, but I know what areas they may have been eroded out of, given time and the right conditions. So they will remain somewhat unexplained, but nevertheless beautiful. Today they got the 500 grit aluminum oxide to effectively pre-polish the stones ahead of next week’s changeover. I’m super excited to see how they finish up. They are just so amazing, and only getting better.

I hung with my parents for a little while after that. I watched my numbers come in. All told, this was a bad week for big performances, but I had a couple on my family league roster, boosting me to a 9 point lead with 1 player to go and he still has one. We have the wide receivers in tomorrow night’s football game, I with AJ Green and he with Demaryus Thomas. It’s going to be a close finish, which is all I’m asking for ahead of the final week of the NFL. I want to be close do that if I make a move there will be only one outcome: a victory. Right now in the family league I’m guaranteed at least my entry fee plus $20, but to have a shot at the big kahuna ($100) for the title, and that is truly extraordinary. I never thought in a dozen years that at the end of week 12 when I was in third place looking up at Kevin and Jessica that I would not only leapfrog them both for the division crown and #2 seed the very next week, but then string together three more wins after that was like out of the question and beyond possible. I hadn’t won two games in a row all year, and suddenly I’m on fire winning 4 in a row with the final to be decided Monday. But holy shit what a ride it’s been. In the league I run at work, I have a 10 point lead with AJ Green going tomorrow, while Tony has Seattle’s DEF/ST going tonight. I will likely need to crawl out of a 10 – 15 point hole on Monday in order to advance to the championship. The probability of that happening are unknown. I’ve never had both teams in my two leagues go to the championship game before. If I can get past Tony for the fourth time this year, it will happen. Even if AJ Green lets me down and I do not advance in either league, I still will have completed two of my most successful campaigns as a fantasy football manager. I guided my personal league team to a nearly unbeaten record at 14-1, and got hot when it counted must in the family league and have an edge in the championship game. Hell to the yes.

I had some great feedback from the developer of The Improvement Mod (Mandosrex): he thanked me for my comments, and proclaimed that I had “saved the American” civ. well gee, thanks! Speaking of the Americans, I used them today and Mandosrex did two things I like: he added a block of 5 redcoats for 200 fame at the command center, and gave the Americans falconets, which came in handy for the push to victory. The redcoats had to have been the backbone of my standing army, with riflemen and halberdiers filling in the gaps. They swarmed and crushed, especially when I brought in the five falconets I had been sitting on. They dismantled the Dutch who I was facing at the time. But the Americans are working again, and Mandosrex has promised to take the broken home city cards out that were for export or consulate improvements. Once that is done and he adds in some new troop shipments in age 3 or 4, I will be satisfied that his comments are true. I do want to be the guy who saves the civ. it’s too cool and too well done so far to throw it out. They are historically appropriate as well, as this game is set in the 1400s through the late 1800s as far as I can figure. That would make the United States a historically relevant option.

FACTION USAGE (Games Played)
1. Aztecs (30%)
2. Portuguese (20%)
3. Americans (15%)
4. Japanese (10%)
5. Ottomans (10%)
6. Dutch (5%)
7. Sioux (5%)
8. French (5%)
9. British (0%)
10. Chinese (0%)
11. Germans (0%)
12. Indians (0%)
13. Russians (0%)
14. Iroquois (0%)
15. Spanish (0%)

It’s been a restful and relaxing weekend. I again feel like I am ready to get back to work, and do my job effectively. I am really looking forward to that error report coming out and seeing if I made more than one mistake so far. I’ve been pretty good about double checking my work, but there’s always a chance something slipped through the cracks. I’m fine with it. I’m clearly not the target of that report and it’s really geared to correct the guys who are just fucking in up more often then not like Steven, Ryan and Theo. those guys don’t really care if they do the orders right or not, as long as someone else is there to clean up their mess. It’s all very silly, and largely not my issue.

I am feeling good. My fantasy football has gone about as unexpectedly as it could go, but I’m still in it! I just have to pray to the football gods that AJ Green has a decent night, and seals me in for the win. It would be, truly amazing. Have a great night, and wish me luck!

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.



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



Food: 33466
Wood: 25853
Coin: 23970

Food: 11194
Wood: 24724
Coin: 18302


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



Food: 29495
Wood: 23436
Coin: 19714

Food: 7050
Wood: 28947
Coin: 13916


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

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

I decided to play a game tonight and I’m glad I did. It was a basic tutorial on effective countering. The AI made armies comprised of units that I had a response to. Every time. Allow me to elaborate…

The AI was the Chinese and for army composition they amassed chu-ko-nu archers and mortars and that firework rocket artillery thing. They had a mix of those units, and just dialed up the quantity. I had only to build units which put a stop to those three.

I was not the initiator, my troops were holding ground when they were engaged. The attacks started late age 2 and continued in regular six minute intervals. They brought some cavalry later (maybe 20:00 in), but not with any support; about six in a single grouping.

I had an ever increasing sum of units at the choke point, coming out of two barracks, a command post, and a siege building. Nothing ever got through them. I divided my infantry into two groups, melee and ranged, and had a ratio of 1:3 respectively. The ranged were musketeers and cassadors. The melee was halberdiers and crossbowmen (who, in truth, I was using as meat-shields for the ranged units). This worked surprisingly well on everything they ran into. I began adding culverins and upgraded grenadiers later on, and that was the frosting on the cake.

When I went on the offensive, I was surprised that The AI had villagers gathering wood on the forest nearest to the battle line. I can’t think of an easier way to lose a bunch of villagers. Why he should not have been gathering out there that late in the game is clearly something only a human would understand. You can’t teach the computer to gather on the fringes from the start and work your way in as the ages go by. By the 4th age, he should have been down to farms and plantations, or rice paddies in his case. Whatever.

That example is a microcosm of the mistakes the AI made. I flanked his villagers and 6 buildings in to demolishing his base, he surrendered. I’ve had a European AI go down to the last few unit producing buildings and four villagers before giving up. But I guess he knew what was coming. I had six or more culverins making short work of opposing artillery and standing infantry units (who, as it turns out, don’t like being hit by a cannonball).

The final score:
The Portuguese (Egregious) = 825
The Chinese (AI) = 209

My collected resources in 38:37 of game time:
Food = 26064 (beat AI by about 10000)
Wood = 24191 (beat AI by only 1000)
Coin = 21949 (beat AI by about 7000)

My military stats:
Unit count = 221 (68 cassadors)
Units killed = 236
Units lost = 90

That map eliminates any sort of northern approach because of the body of water between the bases. I set up at the trough of the lake and started mustering units there. I grabbed the southern second trading post between the bases and he never challenged me down there. I had 7 halberdiers garrisoned; he would have crushed them. But like I said.

So a good game because I managed to hold the score 90% of the game. He had me momentarily between age 1 and 2. But once I had it I never let go until 825. So the Portuguese are just phenomenal at range. They have a full set of special armory improvements and three easily available ranged units, which includes a mercenary. They combined to kill most any unit with four or five of them in individual targets. Their DPS was fantastic. I wish the game kept track of that kinda shit.

I’ll try this faction again and hopefully draw a European civ.

Nattering Notations On Nothing

Tomorrow I need to be up at 5 because my shift starts at 6. It’s pretty much just me and Oscar, because (apparently) Theo doesn’t do shit. I will be half way through my shift before the morning games come on. Then I will watch the bulk of my fantasy football fate be decided. Will I win a third consecutive week in the family league and advance to the championship? That’s at least a 2nd place finish, because it would take a miracle to get past the 1 seed. Even if I do advance, I’m doomed in two weeks., I reckon. But however it shakes out, I’ve had a great year. 20-8 combined both teams. And 7 of the 8 were one team. And I won first place in the division WITH A LOSING RECORD! I’m like the 2014 Atlanta Falcons in first place with a 5-8 record (my mark was one better, I finished 6-7) Just crazy this NFL season.

I’ve been thinking about my situation and I can’t help but be grateful. I have a stable job that I enjoy, plenty of opportunity for advancement, and a well balanced neurochemestry. I’m doing a good job keeping myself afloat. I was over at the RV hanging with my parents after we changed the grit in the tumblers. The stones are really shaping up nicely. Some of the colors of those agates and jaspers were quite breathtaking. The jasper has quartz inclusions and they look very striking. And of the yellow and green variety. Truly remarkable specimens. Anyway, my mom accidentally got the tumbler wet and it wouldn’t start at the storage unit so we took it to the RV to do surgery on. Turns out the tumbler is fine. So I left special instructions with my mom on how to set them back up and get them going tomorrow. Then we will have to check back in a week and see how they did finishing the shaping process under the 120/220 grit. Then all that’s really left to do is polish them for two weeks. They come out glassy, and flamboyant with colors, unique with inclusions. They represent combinations of minerals, and are a truly diverse set of original samples. No one can reproduce them; they are as random as chaos itself. And these ones had already been rounded to cabochons before we ever had a chance to polish them. What nature started, we finished, by peeling back the outmost layer of the stones and shining up a brand new surface revealed for the first time, and preserved in all its luster and clarity. So this most recent batch looked just awesome. A great collection of fire agate, moonstone, pink chalcedony, agate, brown, yellow and green jasper. I could go on. The jadeite she found is clear and green. Some of the moss agates in there are amazing, and not just white but orange and pink ones too. So I called over there just now and verified my instructions and confirmed that they will be fired up tomorrow. So then one week Sunday I’ll be checking in on them again and admiring their newest transformation.

You can tell I really like rocks, right? And not just rocks, but the minerals that comprise them.


Anyway. I had some more soup. I hope I beat this bug soon. I’d like my diet to be something a tad more interesting. Other than that, I’m in great spirits. I’m looking forward to double time tomorrow, making for one nice fat paycheck in a couple of weeks. I’m thinking that one will set a new high water mark. With a whole bunch of overtime this pay period, I’m thinking yeah. Oscar offered me his shift today, which is why I was in there for five hours. It’s all fine by me. Besides, I have nothing to lose. My weekends are usually spent waiting until kickoff during the winter. And playing Age Of Empires III.

Speaking of: I just had a sensational game as the Ottomans. On Large Carolina: I started off with the early lead, but maybe only because I used 200 of my starting 400 wood on houses. The rest on a market. I figured: I’m making villagers whether I want to or not, so I might as well have a hefty supply of them on hand come age 2 and the next chance to raise the population ceiling. Soon after age 2 I had a second town center closer to the gold supply on the map. I actually kept the population pretty low. For whatever reason, I was moving along well enough to get through to age 4 before really making a push. I had a 260 population cap, and just cranked on abus guns and janissaries. They were surely the bulk of my army. Next I sprinkled in some spahi and native troops (Cherokee Rifleman and Seminole Sharktooth Bowmen) to put the icing on the cake. I took them in several waves, sending the infantry first which did quite a number on the villagers. In the post game I saw their population reduced by 85% as the first troops entered their base. They surrendered shortly after I had decimated the main base, having then located a second town center and started in with the artillery. I out resourced him, even though he collected about 2000 more wood than I did. I believe my final resource line was around 19000 food, 17000 coin and 13000 wood for a 38 minute game. I razed 49 buildings to his 3. I killed over 250 units and lost under 150. I was out villagered, but I guess that’s ok. I also lost a lot of fame because I failed to recruit a second envoy as I built that extra town center. Eventually I figured it out, but I could have had so much more. the post game summary doesn’t keep track of fame. Only export. If you have it. But I don’t know why you would want to keep track of it. I collects at the same rate no matter what faction you play and only ever changes if you build another town center and task an envoy to it. Then it’s just x2 instead of X1 trickle. It’s fun though, and brings more units into play. I like it. Anyway, that was a one-sided affair from early on. I took 2 of 4 trading posts right from the get go and had him under duress on the 3rd. I destroyed it more than once while just massing troops in the area. From there I just sent clusters to the south and northeast to guard agains edge rushers and to protect the native settlement trading posts. But ultimately there was no need for this. Their small army snuck between my troops and managed to destroy 3 houses before 5 jaeger mercenaries took out the halberdiers and culverins that were causing the problem, and I didn’t lose one of them, even though they were hit repeatedly with cannon fire. I was never threatened again after that. The score must have been over 800 to under 300 by the time it was over.

Goodnight blog. Pleasant dreams.

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


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

Right Click
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


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)
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.


**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.




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


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

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

Right Click
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


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)
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)
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.

Hour Of Resolve

I’m meeting new people right and left. Sure is fun too, seeing all the mechanics of interaction unfolding. I’ve been chatting with Angie for the past few days, and we’ve been trading video game stories. She’s console inclined, and I grew up on a PC. Though I have no objection to a console , mind you. Just some of my favorite games are usually a mod of some form and therefore locked to a PC based platform. Everything is better when you have the ability to improve an existing product or otherwise utterly recode the game. Like Ultimate Apocalypse. The core game is Dawn of War: Soulstorm and you need all the preceding expansion packs to make all the races unlock. It’s only then that the mod changes everything. But the core game is garbage. I’ve played it. It’s limited and dumb. It’s nothing like Ultimate Apocalypse. The time and energy they have devoted to that mod is outstanding. I really should throw some money their way now that I have some. I’ve been a supporter of theirs for a long time. Anyway…

So it’s been fun and Angie is also quite adorable. Things should progress at a friendly speed and meander if possible. I’m in no hurry to get anywhere. But talking about video games has been fun. Truly. And I hope things get farther than they did with Megan, who shut me out for no good reason at all. Not like I texted her a Shlong. Who does that? Apparently Brett Favre.

Things are nice. It’s Friday night and I draft in the Bailey (Ideus) league in the morning. And then my work league at 7 on Sunday. Two. Draft. Weekend. Boom to the hell yes.

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.


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.

It Clearly Cheats

I’ve had back to back victories with the Tau Empire against the Insane AI. I had them first as Space Marines on Frostbite River. I got myself off to a fast start but to be honest, leaving the AI setting on Insane was a mistake. I had no intention of fighting the Insane AI. I wanted to win, not struggle hard then die. But by the time I figured something was different, the game had already been won. I was marching in tier 3 and there was no stopping me. I capped and defended both slag deposits. I was not harassed in any meaningful way. They uncapped my critical location, but I took it right back, then marched across the river and uncapped both of theirs and started mashing their relic with missile artillery. Skyrays can’t take much punishment, but they can sure dish it out. I usually make 5 to 8 of them and trail them behind the battle line and let them unmercifully pound things into mush.

I did the exact same thing against Imperial Guard on Fallen City and they put up a bit more fight. But it came down to one Baneblade vs like 60 Sunfire Battlesuits and yeah. Then I had Hammerheads with the Fusion Blaster upgrade and they decimated any and eventually all structures. I had them knocking Valkyries out of the sky in a few hits. Like I said. Really nothing they did worked out. I had an answer, and I had it first.

I’m not sure what to make of all this. I’ve had runs if good luck against the Insane AI before, but never anything so disproportionately mine. I owned 60% of the battlefield from the get go, and only INCREASED control of the map. Yet I was SOUNDLY beaten in the resource department an average of my 26,500 to their 38,000 or more. That’s total resources, and in one game I HAD BOTH SLAG DEPOSITS aaaaaand I still got out gained in Power. How can this be?

I’ve come to the realization that the Insane AI cheats. It can’t win on its own fucking merits so it massively out gains regardless of actual points captured. I think that’s a tad silly. If you gave the AI a decent build order, maybe they wouldn’t have to cheat to be competitive. And I can’t even fathom what Dark Eldar will be like. They’re enough if a problem on Harder… sure, give them a great early economy and see how they spend it. I’ll give you one guess, and if the answer isn’t “Hellions” then we can’t be friends anymore.

It’s WAY past my bedtime. Goodnight.

Apocalyptic Thoughts

It’s a gaming and real life post. I’ve adapted my strategy yet again in the ongoing fray between Will and I. Recently the move has been towards plateauing around tier 2 and at least posing an offensive threat long before thinking about tier 3. It takes me a little longer to get into tier 2 and I don’t know why. I play poorly on the weekends when I get stoned all day. But even then, Will has some adjusting to do in order to compensate for my tier 2 push. I’ll scrap over middle ground, and only really intend to push when I sense he’s out of troops. Bases are easy to eat with Kroot Hounds.

Also, a new week is starting and I am hopeful that some change is going to be enacted as it pertains to my cohort of the largely indifferent. I choose to believe that good behavior is rewarded in this world, not bad. But I’m prepared for the alternatives. Whatever that looks like. I’m at the whims of chance, as are we all. I tend not to struggle too profoundly against my spot in the societal machine. I rather enjoy the privilege of having a spot in the first place. So here we are, at the end of one week and starting a fresh new one. I’m just pickled.

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.


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).


Little Wrinkles My Brain Has Made

It’s going to be a long yet surprisingly active week for me. I’m learning the company’s software platform and it’s arduous, as all proprietary software is just that. It’s slow, cripplingly slow going for some of my coworkers, who are really starting to get the reality check I for so long had anticipated they would. Laurel, our instructor, is not like my supervisor at all. He’s a laid back kinda dude guy bro buddy pal. She’s here on the company dime to teach us a skill in 10 days and it is imperative we learn it. Some of us are already on that path, some are not. This process ends in a test, so it’s not like half-assing it is going to cut it this time. My teaching tools are useless here, where everything is scripted and the curriculum lasts only as long as there is material to dispense. I admire Laurel for having the right attitude. That room does not agree with her though, and that makes me sad. She’s going to have enemies, if she doesn’t already. And who knows if these employees are even going to stick with the company. They seem like a lot of freeloaders looking to cash some checks and get away with doing as little as possible. If they don’t have the “run in with the law” now, it will just happen at some point down the road. Justice is survival, frankly. I’ve already seen my coworkers looking for ridiculous ways to spend the money they make, on Alienware brand computers and other nonsensical horeseshit. I don’t understand you people. You squander your greatest resource, your mind, just like you do your money. I truly feel sorry for you, because I’M YOUR COMPETITION, not your friend. I’m going to set the curve on that exam, you’d better believe it. And no I don’t care about the most recent Transformers movie, or it’s motifs. Wait… you wanted to talk about motifs? Get the fuck out.

So not to natter on about troubling signs at work, but I just had to get all that off my chest. I’ve been in there for three weeks, and I try not to be a part of the conversation too much. No one really wants to talk to me anyway. I have interests that go above and beyond the average hooligan’s aspirations. I think about time, astronomy, the patterns of weather, the pacific tectonic plate, and so on. No one gives a shit about my abstract thoughts. Frankly, every time I do manage to talk about something relevant, like PC games, I’m still not playing a game anyone has ever played, nor would even want to play. To them, RTS isn’t fun, it’s stressful, and stupid. Somehow. Actually I find the more an intellectual you are, the more likely you are to play a game like Dawn of War: Soulstorm. I come from a small percentile… I’m keenly aware of this. I go through the day learning things, absorbing as is my job, and keeping all these secret little message thoughts tucked away for the evening when I can come home and rant!

Well, regardless. I’m writing out my thoughts that on one in my whole day gets to hear, save YOU GUYS.

I’m doing great though. I can’t abide the absenteeism of the mind that goes on during my day. I have to vent somewhere. I have to have a safe place where I can go and have big intellectual thoughts and ponder all sorts of things. Fuck, I was curious why the Salton Sea stays full in the Imperial County desert… turns out, it was created on accident by people, and is so far below sea level that it taps natural groundwater and stays solvent. Even with no run off and hardly enough rainfall, it maintains as California’s largest lake. Bet you didn’t know that 10 seconds ago.



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.

The Human Element

I’ve had the desire to coordinate playing a multiplayer game of Ultimate Apocalypse with Will, since he recently downloaded and installed it. We gave it a test run on Hamachi, in which Eldar (me) lost to Chaos Space Marines. In a most displeasing fashion as well. I had nothing that could stop his daemons.

Tonight, we squared off as Tau Empire (me) met Chaos Space Marines. The speed of our engagement was significantly faster than yesterday, and we began quarreling near the 6 minute mark over a middle relic. He defended the hell out of it and left me with few options but to expand and unseat his position. I accomplished this with Barracudas and Kroot Hounds with a few Krootox at the end. Being unable to stop the Barracudas, defeat was inevitable.

For a change of pace, I set myself as Tyranids vs the tried and true Chaos Space Marines. Tyranids lack a substantive counter to most anything ranged in tier 0 and tier 1. Hormagaunts were shelled with mortars. Termegaunts as well. Lictors killed infantry, but then he brought in some aircraft… which Tyranids appeared incapable of destroying. They have no counter to aircraft. This is exactly why I took to Facebook’s UA page and asked the developers to give them a tier 1 flying unit or an equivalent. Anyway, he annihilated me.

We played two more games, both Tau Empire vs Chaos Space Marines, both victories for me. Tau Empire has vehicles which are hard to reckon with. Barracudas hover above melee range and punish vehicles and buildings. Skyray Missile Gunships have tier 2 artillery missile upgrades and can fire off a full payload deployment every few minutes. They hammer infantry and buildings. I used each in the two games, hitting back hard after his initial offensive. I backed up the vehicles with Kroot Hounds and Krootox. They took care of most anything on the ground. The final blow was dealt by persistent vehicles on an auto build.

It’s amazing to face a human foe. I remember that Eldar game, the first one, I was actually nervous and antsy. It did terrible things to my game, as I had my hat handed to me.

So far, I have yet to lose with Tau Empire. They have ambitious intentions if used wisely. I’ve found a way to balance the two races (Tau and Kroot) and achieve great speed and deadly efficiency. I can make the Tau Empire go fast dude. I dilly dally in tier 2, building hounds to fuel the 12:00 mark offensive. Our games are short, sometimes only 14:00. To me, there must be a damn good reason to go to battle so soon. I’d rather coil back and wait for my technologies to be ready, then execute a militaristic strike. I can manage about 4 commander level upgrades before the game is over, or he dies.

Humans make unpredictable decisions. Like the aircraft move. Or the ranged artillery move. I get you. But for me, humans never do the same thing twice. They’re always adapting, modifying.

I can already tell, we’re in for some fun.

Ultimate Apocalypse Strategy Tips For Savvy Gamers

In the (mostly) balanced Ultimate Apocalypse 1 vs 1 match, seconds mean the difference between victory and defeat. You’re thinking: pish. Whatever. My strategy is just fine the way it is.

Well, if that were the case, you’d be the exception. Most of you UA gamers out there have tight multiplayer sequences that ensure victory somewhere in tier 2. Not fun. I prefer we get into tier 3 before all hell breaks loose. And against the Harder AI, that’s usually the case. Games last 16 – 21 minutes, and, lastly, go longer and you’re probably fucked anyway. In Dawn of War: Soulstorm, both buildings which harvest the two economic resources available begin to deteriorate as the game drags on. Eventually, their output is but a fraction of its original state. Be done killing your foe before that happens.

Also, always start two power generators and a barracks. Three or two builders, one or two focus on tier 1 in the first 90 seconds of the game. No matter what army you choose, you will need to execute some near-perfect permutation of what I said. Outcome of survival largely dependent upping hitting those marks at 90 and 180 seconds.

Once you lay the groundwork, the rest is just about surviving while having little or no standing army for most of the game. Crazy? Possibly…

But in actual practice, this approach consistently baffles the AI. They seem like they’re ready to fight right about when I’m half way to being ready. And, typically, I find a quick and powerful way to drive them off, after they’ve gnawed on my base a bit. It buys you the time you need to GET to that next tier unit to repel the insurgents. And it almost feels like the AI gets all bummed and they huddle back in their base and sulk. I’m always looking to take the ground YOU are so willing to vacate. Sure why not?

So don’t leave your best horse in the stable. Build ONLY your best units. Don’t fuck around with the flim-flam. Get to the good shit and then CRANK ON IT.

If you DON’T win with 17 of the same unit all piled up in your opponents base, you have failed to grasp the concept. If it’s good… why change it? Here’s a good reason: they build a counter to my first choice. So, have a second. Or a third if necessary. But winning strategies are a lot more fun than losing ones. I mean, I still lose a handful of games a session. Maybe 1 in 6. It happens. Almost always because of a bad unit matchup in their favor.

Moral of the story is: keep doing multiple things and stay alive. Remember that the computer will not forget to reenforce, or research technologies. They expand and learn at the same voracious speed all the time, and so to must you. If you PLAN to be around in the end (more often than not), respect the strat.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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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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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.

relic00084 relic00091 relic00094 relic00099 relic00104


relic00125 relic00130 relic00131 relic00122

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.

7barry 9hound 11krootox 8alpha

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.



The “Boink” Of Reality

Remember how I said that I played 4 skirmishes and won all?

How quickly things change… because now I’ve lost 2 to Orks and Eldar. In the Eldar game, they had tier 3 infantry out before I had even started the research. Maybe I was really stoned and tired so therefore not at my best? I’m desperate for a reason to explain this anomaly of defeat. I am intent on continuing at this difficulty level, mind you. I will be challenging myself as best I can with no human opponents to lean on for variance.

Well then. It’s a new week this morning. I have my life skills class today, which I am excited about. I’m going to try to get back to that DBSA meeting, but I’m not really clicking with the lack of a coordinator. I read the lyrics to The Heart Of The Matter, and cried my eyes out. Just really bonked me yesterday. I don’t really have much to say. I’m doing fine, all things considered.


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.


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


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)



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)


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.


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.



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

More Panic-Stricken Scribbles From The Front

I’m sitting here listening to some music and thinking about the last few skirmishes I’ve had with the computer. For me, gaming is about originality. I get tired of doing the same strategy over and over again. Even if I were to, let’s say, find a build order that is hard to beat, I’m going to monkey with it every time I do a round. Why? Because I keep the variables of the equation changing so I don’t get bored. I don’t want to associate boredom with my relaxing gaming time, and to some extent, it has become something of a stigmatized concept. I have no job or anything, so why should I be gaming? Why should I be enjoying the ample free time I have at my disposal, in lieu of filling it with responsibilities?

In large part, my worries and fears are appeased knowing that I am doing things, but factors are largely out of my control. I can contribute to the equation, but I don’t control the parameters. I know this in my head and don’t often suffer unduly at it’s hands. Really, these gaming articles I write are my menial gesture to attach meaning and worth to my recreational activities. I try to make as much of it as I can. I have no one to discuss game theory with. I have no human being to play with, or share any of these interesting thoughts and anecdotes. I’m pretty much just talking to myself here, but I guess I’m ok with that. I am getting something out of it.

Coming at last to the point of my article today: conformity of gameplay. I’m stuck here, because if I want to make the most use of the AI, I will need to dramatically adjust my comfortable build sequence I have already. I mentioned in a previous article that I had moved the Harder AI to Hard, because it was rushing at 4 minutes and giving me a hard time. Now I don’t know if the AI cheats to have units out on the field faster, but regardless, I usually never have anything around to purge the 4 minute threat with, so I surrender as tech 1 stuff peck my buildings to death.

I know there is an online community of gamers who play this mod. I have yet to set up a game because I know I will just get obliterated. I’m soft, because my style isn’t focused on victory as soon as possible. I will be ripped apart in a multiplayer match, as I have the wrong strategy for public play. I can change that though, and make a 4 minute rush prevention strategy of some form. I just really need to hammer it out in my head, and on the field.

I think I’ll have more scribbles when I try implementing this new approach. My hope would be to get the AI back to HR and still have fun.


Ultimate Apocalypse: Tau Empire Commanders, Part 2

I neglected to include some very useful fellows in my previous assessments of the Tau Empire commanders. It’s true these commanders on the ranged side are intended to be the primaries, but these secondary units are wholly awesome.

First off, the best most quickly available unit for early game Tau is the Kroot Alphas secondary commander battalion.

Kroot Alphas (Command Squad). Level 8. +72. 5651 HP. Squad size = 6. Melee 47 – 65 / Ranged 29 – 37  damage. Cost: 240R/0P

So, +72? Mine had cannibalized two squads of stealth suits before I screenpcapped them. Obvious effects intended.


Nom nom nom. Anyway, They get a bit sparse here, relying on a sortof “great Bambino” reference to get them out of a tight spot. It’s down to one big ass mondo honkin major fucking unit.

Kroot Alpha Knarloc Rider (Secondary Commander). Level 8. 19634 HP. Squad size = single. Melee 600 – 800  / Ranged 400 – 500  damage. Cost: 1400R/0P


Obviously not a strong buy at any point before he becomes available, in tier 3. So be prepared to wait around for a suitable upgrade. It’s better to use these guys in conjunction with the ranged commanders, so you get a pretty diverse set of battle fronts.


Damn, right? Let’s not forget the ultimate master of melee here:

Great Ethereal (Commander). Level 8. 1415 HP. Squad size = single. Melee 208 – 282  damage. Cost: 305R/100P

Damn straight, and why not let him make a few punches, given that you are probably out front in the battle line somewhere with much bigger units, handling the big shit. Can’t leave the Ethereal alone for long, he’ll get obliterated. And no one wants that.


Sexy? No?


I think not. But he does get down and smack shit with his staff, which is kinda Gandalf and I dig that.

So ultimately, I see the functionality of Tau’s melee restrained only by the necessity for a ranged game. They have to have it, hanging over, in order to win by melee. It has to be joint, with a big melee directed assault. But in the end, you’ll see. I’ve tried melee alone, and when the vehicles come, it’s not fun to watch Vespids get annihilated by heavy duty shit. I hardly count the Vespids, but they have a purpose now and again.


I’ll keep you posted as the crucible continues. Getting these two leveled takes a good hunk of time, and how to distract my foe during this build up time is the next great mystery I have to solve.


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.

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.



Level 8 XV22 Commander




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





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

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.

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.

Victory At Sea!

Today’s theory is: Navy. Some RTS games have it, some do not. What does it accomplish? What is the theory of it’s use? How do you do Navy?

Naval units, if available, represent a very unique factor in some maps. If you map is landlocked, then no, you have no reason to worry. If you play a mix, and do allow for the presence of water, navies are powerful weapons and command a new approach to achieving victory. If a strategy game was like a jigsaw puzzle, water would be all one big giant important piece. Like owning all of Asia in Risk. It’s almost totally essential to give water your utmost attention. Water, like I said, is all one big piece. It has no battle-line, and things roam about on it freely. Willy-nilly, you might say. It is therefore, essential to bring ORDER to this fragmented land. YOU MUST OWN THE WATER.

Let’s just be super dooper clear: own the water. To win on a water map, OWN THE WATER. The water is one connected piece of property. To own it is to also possess a firing line into everything that water touches. Secure the edges of the water, keep a dock or some such from being built, and wa la! Victory! To top it off, navy units are often OP (overpowered). They have like 6 guns that do different (yet bad) things to anything that happens to be dumb enough to wander by aimlessly. Navy units DISH OUT punishment. And are beefy. Considering all these factors, and the power that owning the “water piece” of the puzzle unlocks, it seems foolish to disregard the water.

So, games that allow water are great. Games that do not, of have neutered navies (See Battle for Middle Earth II) should probably be considered on a different plateau of sub-genre of RTS games. They narrow this potion probably because of a gimmick of some kind that would make navy units unfeasible.

Anecdote: Today I was playing Age of Mythology: The Titans. Because it’s cute and fun. Anyway, I was on an islands map (implying that two lad masses are permanently separated/surrounded by water), and had 3 docks all slamming the fishing nodes all around my island, but I had pinched the spaces between the islands; having two big globs of navy units on either side. There was no way to get into the water between our bases, as a result, and I then piled up ranged siege ships along the inmost coast separating our two islands. I pounded AI’s base flatter than hammered shit. Surrender came BEFORE I even mounted the ground assault. I had 50+ units boarding transports and preparing to disembark when he called it quits. OWN THE WATER.

It’s pretty much the key. Some games do hover units. Yeah. Still, own the water. Navies represent some of the most ridiculous units spanning multiple games as examples. They crush regular units by the handfuls. Even in lamafied versions of navy, they are rare, and worth getting because they then allow you to control a piece of the map that is unlike anything else. One big piece to rule them all.

Control the water, and reinforce your economy to handle carrying the added burden of a navy. If it’s available (even if it restricts the type and variety of ground unit you can make), add water to your battlefield.

For you, this only means one thing: if there is water, you must fucking own it.

Chicken Pizza!!!!!!!!

I had another random draw against Space Marines, and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they didn’t do the same shit they did before: leading commander early on victory condition: assassinate.

Not the brightest maneuver, but entertaining! I got him this time with a blob of Gun Drones standing near a relic which had been upgraded with defenses. So it may have been a combination of both, or perhaps he was trying to get away from something, and stumbled on to the Gun Drones accidentally? Whatever the reason, I was not even watching when it happened, so, speculative based on the map at the end of the game. But still dead, and early. We were at 9:45 when he died. I was still working on Tier III. So, moral of the story is UA wasn’t coded to handle that victory condition, and should only really be used against human foes.


Speaking of which, I have no one to game with, and no real way to game with anyone on this limited use data plan. My internet is my iPhone’s hotspot, and up to 5GBs of usage. I can’t stream game content, and I can’t multiplay, so, RTS has been a lifesaver, because it’s been an adequate source of entertainment whist not being able to play with anyone else. I should like to get back into competitive gaming. It was tons of fun when I was healthy enough to manage it. I wanted to play UA all the time with Will but I was so damn tired from working that we rarely got in a game. And we still have never, together, played 1.73. I was looking forward to that so much, and we never even talk about it anymore. My life and his have gone different directions, and he’s not as lonely, and I’m harder to get a hold of. I guess things come and go. Maybe we will line up again soon, and I’ll be in a place where we could all have big multiplayer dates with our cyber-friends who all play 1.73. It’s a dream of mine, to some day be back in my own place, with fast internet, and be able to have my own bubble, and do with it what I pleased. I could call people up and have LAN parties. I could buy us all pizza and we could drink PUB and have a good time. Or something. Anyway.


I think since 1.73 really balanced things out nicely, assassinate is GOING to be a lot of fun once I can get settled somewhere where I can game again. Freely.


I appreciate time spent playing games when I’m BREAKING FROM SOMETHING. Going from “idle” to “play” is not any fun, because it has no reward. No fun, because it didn’t take anything at all to earn it. I didn’t EARN this down time! I’m stuck in it as procedural events take place in my docile life. I’m largely bored, looking for things to do to light me up inside, and I’ve taken to writing more (clearly) and also exploring game theory. It’s not been work, and it’s not been UTTERLY wasted time, but I am unhappy with the way things are and determined to change. I want games to be a rewarding break from the monotony of labor. And they will be again some day.


For now, I’m just making the best sense of what I have to work with. I’m so limited right now, still growing outwards, but getting better and more proactive all the time. It’s been hard to do, but good work is being done, and I’m glad.


My video game multiplayer dreams are not dead. Not by a long shot. I look forward to when they will be coming true.


Finally, make it 7 RTS titles installed, adding Age of Mythology: The Titans to the arsenal today. Silly.

Assassinate THIS!

There was an unprecedented change in the pattern today: leaving me stunned, truly.

I should preface by saying I have a great 6 game selection to chose from right now, and below I have them ranked in order of preference:

  1. Ultimate Apocalypse 1.73.4 for Dawn of War: Soulstorm (UA)

  2. Edain 3.8.1 for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King (BfME2)

  3. Total Mayhem 1.2 for Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

  4. Improvement Mod for Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties

  5. Units Compilation Pack for Total Annihilation

  6. Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten

I’m in the top 3 pretty much exclusively right now. Mostly the top 2. I have been hungering for a decent gameplay experience. I also like Battle for Middle Earth II (BfME2), because I can still drink coffee and play. I never use the alt-key for waypointing in BfME2. Never use it, never found a need other than in great emergencies. It’s half-useful, because there’s no way to waypoint a build command, and virtually no need to do so. It’s fast enough to be played without a waypointing system, because units are easily selectable across the map, and given large-scale orders as this game is combat driven. It stands alone.

So, back to the meat of the topic at hand here. A pattern is a good thing, until it’s not. I have been spending some time getting ready for Jacqueline’s visit, and playing some UA. I have left the Victory Condition: Assassinate enabled, because this is how I’m going to start teaching the genre to her. It’s going to break down into a lesson-plan, which I will detail below the anecdotal area here in this article.

Anyway, With assassinate enabled, I’ve had shorter games. Overall, about the same competitive nature, but with a little less dilly-dallying and kiting. They just attack, full boar, or they fail and retreat for long periods of time. The commander is a no show until the twilight of the game. At which point his surfacing has no impact and is the last thing to happen before the AI is defeated. Boo to that.

I put the AI on random, you know, to keep it real. Sometimes I go LONG stretches without being dealt a certain civilization to face. In this case, I had gone several dozen full games against the random AI with victory condition: assassinate, and never once faced the Space Marines army. Never once. And when I did, something UNREAL happened; they defied the convention and LEAD WITH THEIR COMMANDER. I found him wandering out in the open, firing on my early capping squads, without support units backing him up and probably not far along the road to upgrade-ville. But her was out there, and I was having to deal with him, which is like… woah, what the fuck is this? What are they doing?

Sadly, my skeptical side was proven correct here as the SM commander ate it on my first real offensive push into their ground. He ran into my “secondary commander” battlesuit squad unit and was toast. 3 against 1.

So that game ended oddly. And early, like 8 minutes or some garbage. It was not my intent to end the game, but the AI was just whipping it out there, la dee da. Something had to be done. We don’t stand for that kind of behavior.

As far as a lesson plan goes, I am using UA as the platform game, because the universe can be disregarded entirely, leaving you with a core-game that has features and methods of gameplay that can be taught and consistently applied across races, leaving plenty of room for individual expansion on the stylistic front. To me, the teaching is only about HOW to do the first few steps to get you to a position to make bigger, more exciting decisions. Like: where are these battalions going to go? Or, what are my point defenses firing at? Consistency is being able to get to the place of fun, action and deciding shit, BY having a sound foundation. I build quickly, concisely and make sure to strengthen my economy constantly, as it provides the backbone to my flexibility of choice. There are only a few fundamentals that need to be taught:

      1. Alacrity. Make decisions about what to do and don’t waste time doing them. Time is the final opponent.

      2. Balance. Achieve equilibrium of resource gain and protective growth. Your survival is dependent on how you spend the resources you acquire.

      3. Cunning. To be fast in reacting to what is played against you, and ability to react to a unique environment.

If you can handle doing that, you should be fine. More than fine is, in this genre, developing a “method to the madness.” You’re ultimate goal is to decide how you’d like to impart doom on your foe. With flair? From over there?

I prefer range, but that’s just my cup of tea. You may decide everything tastes better when you set it on fire. Who am I to judge.

For the time being, I continue my diligent research into the twisted behavior of the pattern-breaking AI and have yet to fully determine if I’ve narrowed the anomaly to just SM, or if others may be affected as well. Time being the culprit of my truth. Put that in your peace-pipe and smoke it.

Victory Condition: Assassinate (Part III)

Finally, this saga comes to a close. I’m satisfied with the evidence I’ve gathered.

It looks like, for as long as I skirmish against the AI, I will not enable victory condition: assassinate. Yes truly, I’m sad to see it go, but there’s a sum of good reasoning behind this action. Namely, the AI’s reaction to this gameplay policy change is alarming and uninteresting. There was never a moment where I caught the AI with their commander out somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and greased him. NEVER. That’s not ok. That only means the AI is opting to let the commander sit in their base collecting dust. Not putting him to any use… that’s not a solution either. It just means he’s hopelessly outgunned when it gets down to my army encroaching on his “circle of safety.”. If he’s the last line of defense, it’s not a good strategy to begin with. Even upgraded, he doesn’t stand alone as a powerful unit. He will still eat shit and die at the hands of any number of moderately powerful squads. It’s sad, BUT THAT’S THE WAY IT AUGHT TO BE.

He can make a difference, if used in combat situations. Why not have him cutting down units as a support unit, versus just not using him at all. My way seems better.

Alas, the AI does not agree. And games are DONE by the time I’m punishing their commander. Hiding behind the power generators at the back of the last stand. Sad way to go, as I mentioned.

But this is not my desire. So, AI. I’m letting you off the hook. Go frivolously use your commander as a primary combat unit, like you do when the victory conditions are only: annihilate. It’s much more interesting to have the AI using it’s fullest potential to beat me, but “assassinate” only made the AI weaker in my opinion.

For the purposes of training, I may keep the AI in the bind it finds itself in every time we launch a game. Because it will be useful to TEACH the skill of careful commander management, and not let that skill lapse because of lax victory conditions.

For now, this is Miracle Max, signing off.

“Have fun storming the castle!”

ANECDOTE: Tyranids. I swear, you can’t turn your back on them. XV22 was out front at FbR watching my relic point, but a big swarm of genestealers came up from somewhere, and while I got distracted by the carnifex they brought along, those fucking genestealers DEVOURED my XV22 like he was dog kibbles (and that’s not a L1 but more likely a L4-5 with all the nifty items purchased). Literally had 2 seconds to myself, checked the strategic icon to find it had disappeared from my HUD (A very very bad sign) followed promptly by a popup message informing me my commander was found to be “tasty.” As well as “dead.” I lose. =(

Victory Condition: Assassinate (Part II)

So, I’ve had about 3-4 games and already I’m laughing my ass off.

The AI holds on to the commander in a zero-risk policy of complete base-isolation lock-down. BRUNG.  I’m dying, because it’s a totally useful unit, when upgraded with patience. But the AI doesn’t get that. It has no way to compute the risk involved of sending a commander out into ANY SORT of combat at all. It thinks minor risk is far too great, so their commander stays home until the bitter end. When it’s basically down to the last few structures, their economy is crippled, the commander is usually the last freestanding unit to die. Which seems right… by my understanding of the game.

I just don’t quite understand why it keeps him home all the time. Do they still upgrade the commander, but just sit on him? They have no problem moving secondary commanders at me, but they keep the primary back somewhere where nothing could ever happen to him. Until, aforementioned calamitous death sequence is scheduled to transpire.

It’s nice to not have to raze an entire base. NOTED.

Hey, I get the real life implications of using my commander in game combat. I get it. Think me not irresponsible. I’ve had a few tries at it and I haven’t killed him yet. Haven’t even been close to the best of my knowledge. On that note, I’m continuing to use Tau, WHICH IS A RISK IN AND OF ITSELF HOME SLICE. Primary commander is my ranged commander, who has shit for hit-points and does nothing but die really really fast at melee range. So I have him to either use carefully, or be destroyed while trying to use him to some end.

I believe that this game’s AI might be a bit wacko about this victory condition, though, I’ve not had enough practice yet to officially diagnose anything. I’ll keep trying.

Few notes for experiment parameters:

Using maps Moonbase (A straight up fight) Frostbite River (A rush of power and requisition) or Meeting of the Minds (A crafty fight with a rush of power if done right). Facing a HARDER random foe with standard resources and game-speed. I would tell you if there was something truly off the beaten default setting. Ultimate Apocalypse allows you to also enable a heroes xp gain “mod” routine for units to get better as they live longer and gather combat experience. It’s fantastic, because it brings scrutiny to the task of keeping the things you build alive, and make them worth your while by keeping squads reinforced and upgraded with heavy weapons.

I tried to grab some screen-caps, but it failed.

I’ll probably have a resounding conclusion to this chain of articles, but consider a 3rd portion utterly necessary, as I have yet to see the AI beyond these few maps and have a very limited number of “games played,” recorded as usable data. Time will have better stories, as is often the case with the RTS genre.

Victory Condition: Assassinate (Part I)

This is a complicated theory, because it exercises a new set of criteria for victory that would not be normally available. These additional conditions and their corresponding strategic exploits are the subject of great fascination on my part. Namely, it seems like this mode of gameplay was SPECIFICALLY CONCEIVED with the intent that one was to come up with newer, cleverer ways to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s a lot like billiards. The commander is the 8 ball. Don’t miss the 8 ball. Take good care of the 8 ball.

This gameplay adjustment works on unit-based RTS games, not tech-based. In a tech-based (see Age of Empires) game, you can’t put THAT high a price on a single unit. Your civilization has endured time and trial not because of extensive resources spent on combat-ready units, but spent on technology and other required items for advancing the civilization. These games focus on combat as a crescendo, whereas, in unit-based RTS games, building combat-ready units happens fast, and becomes parallel to survival and success. Techs are around, but they’re not focal to the advancement of the game. Dawn of War is different in that it can maintain a healthy and diverse unit population while also weighing in a good amount of techs to research to improve units and one’s economy. In a tech-based game, great stretches of time pass before the first real engagement of any worth takes place, but in a unit-based game, confrontation is immediate and fully necessary for territory control and resources (gained, see economy). So, I draw a line here: Dawn of War will be the relative middle-ground between these two opposing forces. It seems logical enough to classify it this way, considering there are still tech tiers to be researched through, but they are not at the absolute center of activity and gameplay.

There are multiple reasons for Dawn of War’s success as an RTS, but mostly because of the correct initial equation = keeping balance between these two distinguished classes of RTS yet having enough to differentiate. Running the Ultimate Apocalypse Mod v. 1.73, the equation is only improved; adding deeper levels of unit-specific customizations, and much more involved conditions for achieving victory. The AI was also dramatically changed, and performs very well in skirmishes. All of that should be said, clearly, the game is at the top of a short list of sensational RTS games. Dawn of War (henceforth UA) is classic fun with the right configuration settings popped on (or off). All my skirmishes are 2 victory conditions: annihilate (destroy all structures capable of unit production = win) or assassinate (Kill enemy commander = win).

Which brings us back home: the assassinate victory condition. Truly, a ton of fun fort players. It’s a lot like the great ancestor to all these games, chess, in that you’ve got just 1 piece that can’t be put in danger, EVER. He just can’t die. If he dies, you lose.

I have actually never tested the AI’s ability to manage their commander on the assassinate victory condition.

I’ve played a zillion matches with annihilate, and killed commanders all the while. But this next time will be different. Because the AI is going to get a pre-built commander right from the get-go, and I wonder what it’s programmed to do with that. Will it use the commander to snag territory from me early? Will it cripple its own economy in order to cache in on the upgrades first-thing?

I will have an articulate post about how that goes, as soon as I’ve collected enough data to be satisfied of its eventual integrity.

For now, I offer some game theory and conjecture: since my commander can’t help my economy, he really has very little use in UA. He’s going to sit around for a while not getting into trouble, while my economy gets going, and then once I have a few hundred requisition laying around, I’ll buy some upgrades for him. That could EASILY take the first 10 minutes of the game to get him up to level 4 with all items upgraded. AI is in my base at the 5 minute mark almost every single time EXCEPT when they play Necrons. Then I don’t see them until it’s already too late.

I’ll be developing a build order much the same way I have it down now. But it’s the actual combat gameplay that worries me. Sure the commander has a HUD icon that will tell me if he’s in trouble, but it’s the having him out and about that worries me. He has no build function, so I can’t use him to help me in any other way than to have him go out and fight shit. Which he can be good at, but if he gets mobbed or runs into something of consequence, we’re going to have a big problem.

Commanders are hard to kill, but easily within the realm of possibility on your average game. I lose my primary commander at least once a game, which now, I can’t do. Can’t just build him again if he houses the central consciousness behind my entire civilization…

Well folks… I’m going to go try my hand at UA again after a long respite with Forged Alliance. Mainly, I need to get refocused on this core game, because it so clearly illustrates the RTS genre, and is a great tool for teaching. Jacqueline is going to come over Saturday night, and we’re going head-first into UA. If she’s going to learn, it had better be with the best.

Like I said, here ends part 1. Stay tuned for more.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (Total Mayhem 1.20) GAME NOTES

So, I’ve been exclusively playing Forged Alliance with the Total Mayhem 1.20 mod: and there have been some pretty awesome games, and some unexpectedly bad endings. Let me clarify a few changes the mod has implemented, for anyone who has played an unmodified version of FA and happens to wonder why this outdated RTS is so damn captivating NOW. First off, each faction has 1-3 new units per tech level, usually a heavy ground unit or even additional aircraft or (rarely) a naval unit. These new units are factory produced, so you have to build and tech-up a factory to get access to them. NURP. Next, in addition to these factory-bound units, each faction has 4-7 freestanding individual units they can build PER TECH LEVEL. Your commander and all subsequent engineers you build will all have the ability to do this, producing some of the game’s best units, like devastating battle mechs, very very large and well armed tanks, and behemoth aircraft that obliterate everything in their way. These units take some time to construct and usually require several people to come help in order to have them done in a timely fashion. Well worth the price, mind you. These units are hard to stop, or at least, some of the larger ones are. There are smaller, less powerful options as well; allowing the possibility of making lots of units versus just one big fucking-chonga-huge game-ender. So, it expands the strategy options, either way you look at it. More units = more like TA which is the greatest RTS ever. Duh.

Like I was saying; the unmodified version is limited by comparison to Total Mayhem. I love having diverse armies, especially with Aeon’s options: two heavy one assault tank at tech 1, and the same at tech 2. Plus more medium and light options. If desired. Heavy/assault units tend to have spectacular weapons. Aeon weapons are all charged particle emitters and high energy lasers. PERSONAL FAVORITES! Especially Tech 2 fixed defenses. They have a sexy high-energy particle emitting laser and it damn near kills anything of consequence with a single shot. And from… over there, as well.

So, the game is diverse. You have a lot more to think about than in most any other game. It’s not a clear-cut BO every time. My Build Order changes rapidly based on circumstance and the AI type I’m playing. I do rather well against Rush AI in its various permutations. Sorian Rush dies nearly every time because of an over-stretched commander wandering WAY too fucking far out there doing no good at all. I NEVER LEAD WITH A COMMANDER. It seems pretty obvious to me that if we’re going to have a knife fight, I better not shield myself with my testicles.

My commander is always at home somewhere, or in the kitchen absorbing map-bound resources. Or if I’m feeling zippity-doo-da daring, I’ll run him out there and absorb front-line corpses and wreckage that is usually found in areas of contention. I’ve recently been testing whether it’s prudent to upgrade the commander’s independent systems (an innovation from it’s counterpart TA), like making the commander capable of building tech 2 stuff, or maximizing the range of his primary weapon, or making his overcharge (see, nerfed d-gun) more effective. I’ve been giving him the ability to go tech 2 once my factories make it there and my economy is doing well. His engineering suite, I assume, is the best, so there’s no reason not to have him help build or independently construct T2 shit. If needed, mind you.

I’ve never made him more offensively useful, though I can only imagine that someone out there uses the commander that way. Fuck, if the game allows you to do it, someone has “that way” of winning all figured out. And someone is already figured the best way to win with an upgraded offensive commander as the lead dog in the vanguard. Why the hell not I say? Isn’t that what a good RTS is all about?

So, I’ve had some practice against Sorian Rush AI, classic Rush AI, and Sorian Adaptive AI all on either 10km or 5km maps. 20, 40 and 80+ are insane. I don’t even understand how you can just “well, OK then” play on such a giant ass map. You’d be to T2 before you even bumped faces with your foe. Which is boring, and managing so much BASE. MAH BASE IS HUUUUUUUUUGGGGE. I’m not really a fan of that, so 10km is plenty of wiggle room, and 5km is a heated scrap. No game-timers running past 25 minutes. UNTZ *FLEX*.That’s how we DO IT.

So, these previously mentioned AI settings all lead commander, which as you know, I think is silly. So, therefore: I tend to win via stupid neglectful over-maneuver by said AI. My T2 gunships get commanders almost every time I play on 10km maps, because the middle is JUST TOO FAR from safety at the 20 minute mark. No AI builds decent stationary defenses, with the exception of the Sorian Turtle, which I have yet to defeat. Either way you look at it, it is more often than not a bad way to die by losing your commander as part of your front line defenses. Losing him to a nuke or powerful unit is another matter entirely. Acceptable, yes, not IDEAL to die, but it happens.

This is my pickle: I can’t beat the Turtle AI. Its got a better build order than I do. Now, if you’ve come this far, maybe you’ll go a bit farther and review my Build Order variant to check it for strategic flaws.


1x land factory

1-2x adjacent mass extractor

3-5x adjacent power generator

Land Factory:

5x T1 Engineer


1x T1 Assault Tank

2x T1 Heavy Tank

Commander repeats w/ Air Factory instead of Land Factory

Air factory IMMIDIATLEY goes T2

4 T2 Engineers

5x T1 Engineers fan out capping mass and building AA turrets all over the place. Hydrocarbon if it’s around, surrounding with power storage and surrounding mass with mass storage.

At this point, I’ll send commander to make a second Land Factory and have it go T2 as well. Economy permitting. I’m usually in the red on mass for some stretch of this tactic, but having a few engineers break off and reclaim trees, rocks (whatever happens to have mass and be reclaimable) and just do that for a while until I can get some stuff built. Once a mass extractor with 4 mass storage goes T2, I flatten out and go green in mass.

I don’t start building T2 independent units until after my factories are producing T2 tanks consistently. Then when I do go, I start in on the Aeon’s T2 Advanced Battle Mech. It’s sturdy, and kills damn near everything it bumps into. Commanders included.

I’ve either won if I kept my mass out of the redline long enough to get to T2 extractors, or I died from any number of foul-ups along the way. Like not absorbing enough mass to get through the T2 transition, or popping off to many auto-builds at one time, or having 5 engineers cranking on various long-term projects simultaneously. My economy being crippled by early agitators is also another way to lose, and lose quickly. I’ve surrendered 1 commander kill, due in large part to aggressive gameplay, and straight-up neglect. I forgot about WHERE he was patrolling, and he got wiped out by some T2 tanks in a bushel. Bah. Not my fault. I was focused on my blob of units making it’s way through his outer defenses. And I got gut punched in the guts and now my guts hurt. Narm.

Anyway, this is certainly an arbitrary review and gameplay theory rant.

I’ll conclude by stating that the better the RTS game is, the more free one is to individually craft a gameplay style from the available resources of the game’s interface and capabilities. To have an RTS which captures the essence of Total Annihilation by preserving a diverse array of units and build orders, while also innovating enough new game features to captivate us all over again, is truly a great thing. Forged Alliance might be a bit outdated, but honestly, I couldn’t ask for a more unique and unrivaled gameplay experience. It is truly designed with an RTS gamer in mind. The absence of the minimap is terrifying, UNLESS you can zoom out and see every single thing on the game-field with the scroll wheel on your mouse. NO NEED for a minimap now. And strategic icons, because units get too small to see individually. INNOVATIVE I say. So far, I have run up against a firm challenge in the Turtle Sorian AI, so I shall surely have something new to write about soon.

Farewell gamers, and long live your commander.

As Gandalf would say:

“Keep it secret. Keep it safe!”

Game Theory: Forged Alliance

I’m using the Total Mayhem Mod version 1.2.


First, let me say that no game will ever usurp Total Annihilation as the greatest RTS of all time. It’s just not going to ever be like that again. TA was free-form RTS, with the action largely dictated by personal style rather than the obvious path to victory. Never has the influence of the chaos principle been so relevant. Every match, especially against a human opponent, had any number of random things happen during the course of a game. And I mean RANDOM. One time, no shit, I sent a nuke to Eric Madigan’s base indiscriminately targeting an industrial complex, but before the missile hit it’s target is smashed into a scout aircraft and exploded in the air doing no damage. Games could last 2 hours, because TA made it really hard to put the kibosh on your foe until finding their commander hiding in a pool of water somewhere. Fucker.

Anyway, TA with the Units Compilation Pack is deadly fun. However. The AI on medium made me look like a retard humping a doorknob. Worse, so did the easy. So I surrendered attempting to play that game for a time. I’ve since moved on to the spiritual successor to TA, in the Supreme Commander Series. Specifically, Forged Alliance, a stand-alone expansion to the first Supreme Commander game. It introduced a 4th race, the Seraphim. So, using a heavily altered  version of that core game, with the Total Mayhem 1.2 mod integrated, I’ve been having a go at this innovative and tactically marvelous RTS game. I’ve stuck with Aeon, as they have the juiciest particle weapons and high energy lasers. And they do it from… over there (see, ranged units). I go into thinking about how just a few automatons made this game such a smash hit. It kept the raw input style like TA had, but gave you some neat options that were before TA’s time. Like Re-positionable waypoints, waypoint ETAs, refueling aircraft, upgradable commander units, adjacency bonuses… the list goes on. But it makes a few things clear: some thought went into how to make this 4 faction game as successful as the 2 faction “legend” of TA. It has the right pieces, and looks pretty, so it has enough going for it to serve as a unique bridge-game between fixed-position resource RTS games like Dawn of War, and free-form games like TA, where user input dictated nearly all aspects of unit production and base construction. So, Forged Alliance, running the TM Mod, turns out to be distinct and brilliant. Let me share a few poignant moments as I have run through a half dozen full games or so and have anecdotes:

MEMO TO RUSH AI: All those years of TA taught me how to manage a commander. If he’s killed, the game ends, so really don’t let THAT be the way you die. Inevitably, it is though. And since there is no obliterate-ingly powerful d-gun to dispose of your foes with, you have a durable and upgradeable warrior who can take and dish out punishment to manage all the same. So, I treat mine very well. I don’t run my commander out in the front of the fucking offensive to prove a point. If he goes there, it’s for a damn good reason and there most likely is not one handy, so he stays in the kitchen cooking a pie where he fucking belongs. I’ve had T2 gunships (3) ace a commander who got WAY too far from his home base. Another time, I finished building one of TM’s freestanding advanced units, and their commander waltzed right into him and ate a fat turd. I’ve gone commanders fighting commanders, and then I gave up and built a stationary defense to chase the other commander away. I’ve even torpedoed a commander who was trying to get the hell away from an aircraft. HA HA.

Anyway. Games are hard, but fun when they end in a strange way. Especially with these types of games, where the outcomes are never the same. Where the fights are different, every time. The disputed territory is always somewhere new. The strategy may feel the same, but is different every time it gets executed. That’s the brilliance of it: you decide your fate. Winning strategy results in, duh. Everything else is just a bad try or simply, a flawed strategy. I will get good with Forged Alliance and then try my hand with the UCP turned on. There are literally 4 pages of units per factory. 4 pages of kbots, and 4 pages of vehicles. I might even be underestimating. That’s just tier I. Tier II is twice as big. It’s gotta be like 250 units a side, counting buildings. FUCK.

Peace brothers. Game on.


EXPANDED REVIEW CONTENT: Ultimate Apocalypse 1.73.4

I’ve found peace at last. The game is, as advertised, exceptionally well balanced across the board. I’ve played 4 different races: they all peak the same way, and at roughly the same time. Tech up to tier 1 has been in 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes even every time. Regardless of necessity. IG Techs internally through the HQ, but Tau require you to construct a Path to Enlightenment. It’s balanced, because it doesn’t compromise the game to have diversity of race. If everyone takes approximately the same time to get to tier 3, then chances are, the game will be more interesting. Wouldn’t it be better to have it out with a fair-fight? I get no thrill from running into your tier 2 base with my tier 4 units. Seriously not why I get off.

I have been winning against H with Tau. Switched it up to a HR and can’t win with them at all now. Finding MASSIVE success and speed with Imperial Guard. They upgrade FAST. And I’m good sticking with the infantry doctrine. Things don’t go well for me when I try to hang my hat on IG vehicles. But hey. I’m open to the possibility of changing. Had to win a long game with a Baneblade OR 2 just yesterday. Sidetracking! So, IG rebuild I’m really enjoying. Tau are spectacularly more powerful on foot. And thought the Skyray got nerfed down to 2 long range missile racks vs 4, It’s still terrific. It does damage now at much closer ranges than I remember it being willing to engage in before. It uses the long range missiles at shit that’s right in front of it sometimes. It’s a bit odd.

Like any good article worth it’s weight ins scratch: I’ve got to drop some meaningless header words in here to divide this boring block of text into something picante!


So far, I can’t say I’m happy with the STILL far too high level of bouncing singly-targeted units receive when being smacked by explosive projectiles. They can still be bounced until they die, which sucks, because literally, there are fleeting spasms of moments that would allow one to control the commander’s independent retreat function long enough to escape. But you have to be laser-kung-fu with the fingers and thinking to do it. Bullshit. THOUGH: still not as much a problem as it was. And commanders are imminently destroyable. As I’ve noted. But I’d be hard-pressed to find another good LAME.

I will have a third post later that will include a full BO for Tau and Eldar (if I can get good with both of them to feel confident dispensing advice). Feel free to ask specific inquiries if they arise. I’ve played many a game with HR at this point, so I know a few moves.

Ultimate Apocalypse (1.73) RELEASED

Dawn of War: Soulstorm’s Ultimate Apocalypse Mod has posted a major release… really? based on what information sailor? It’s actually been out since the beginning on the month. Current permutation 1.73.4 (the .4 is no more then a basic tweak of Tyranid AI and some other stuff). The core of the Mod, 1.73, hit newsstands on the 1st. And it was no joke. YAR?

I usually play Tau Empire. I have a “thing” for ranged infantry. Tau have always been my go to, with Eldar as a faint second and Tyranids somewhere on the fringes of rarely. This Mod cropped-out Inquisition Deamonhuunt. For now. I have no idea if a rework is planned, but their commander is insane and needed a nerf very badly. But he and his faction didn’t make the cut. And neither (for now) did UA Team’s baby Chaos Deamons. Only extra race is Tyranids, which got the full overhaul, and are now a fuck-ton of fun to play and a formidable AI challenge as well. Solidly third. A few observations: I can’t seem to win with Eldar. Tau gets to 3 commanders on the battlefield = win. And commanders are imminently destroyable. DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN. Cause you’ll be all dooo dee doo dee doo, ohnoholyshitmycommanderjustfuckingdied!!!!

Games go like this: dead silence for 5 minutes on the nipple. Then early pestering at furthest captured points, then a direct assault on the home front. Right to the HQ. Failed, usually. But unnerving, and an unwanted distraction. Comes in waves. Time between averages 2 – 5 minutes. It’s a struggle to get much going. Tau have enough firepower early to keep annoying squad in-out maneuvers from breaking unit positions on the battlefield. I post units to stay their ground, and wait for the ranged to become potent enough to just keep shooting everything at arm’s length. Radius of no passage established; begin reinforcing, and teching. Pushing early at 10 minutes or somewhere between tier 2 and 3. Then Tau have some nice units which ably hold ground and walk slow, grinding everything they see with plasma. An incessant barrage of waddling mechs. That’s how it’s done.

But, I forget. Key components of the Mod’s success so far:

  1. AI stays sharp and competitive regardless of race, and plays to racial strengths. Custom build.

  2. Races have classy interface menus and tool-tips for everything. Game looks polished and integrated.

  3. Races are balanced, with unique strengths and weaknesses, contrasting stylistic preferences or applications.

  4. Hard (H) AI is adequate competition with 2 difficulty increments still unused.

  5. Units have new options, diverse customization functionality, and unprecedented relevance for game-play.

It’s a few core examples such as this that lead me to commend the team for a job well thought out and realized. The UA Team set out to make this mod stand up as a distinct and complex re-vitalization of the original game. It has done so, and opened the door for hardcore RTS gamers such as myself to enjoy thoroughly.

Over 50 matches played

75% Win on Hard AI

15% Loss to H or HR

10% Surrendered before winner could be projected

I enjoy every game. I’ve been more surprised than underwhelmed. Hardly have any issues with it, interface and in game play. I’m STILL LEARNING the new trier systems for my 3 races of interest. Tau are the simplest, Tyranids the most. Still haven’t figured out why a thermal vent power structure generates requisition for them and not power. Meh. I LIKE IT, mind you. Not complaining. Tyranids are pretty sick. Trying to figure out how to end game them, and failing so far. If I strike under 25 minutes, it’s usually with a fully upgraded Hive Tyrant and BOOM. Not a whole lot can stop him, a reinforcing Broodlord a making Lictors every few seconds. RUN AWAY.

I will have more thoughts on this as I dive deeper. I’ve not been into tier 4 yet with anyone. Closest with Tau. But they get SO GOOD before then. Why not kill them now? Why we wait, master?

For de dark gooooods.

Gasping For Fumes

I’m awake running on less than 3 hours of (total) sleep. Plus, we just lost an hour here on the United States west coast. Good ‘ol nonsensical DST.

I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel utterly blasted to useless chunks… and then, aware that I am still here, still alive.

I just vomited on a nearly empty stomach. Symptoms of existence made manifest. Lost amidst rampant thoughts. How did it get here? HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

Slowly moving towards something forbiddingly unknown. I don’t much like not having a single reasonable idea where my life is now headed.

I am likely done with San Diego again, and heading up to Silicon Valley in search of a Tech/IT career position. Market is wide open up there.

I like NorCal. It’s not a blissful desert paradise. Which is mind-numbing and placid… never changing, and no rain. Boo.

I’d like to be farther from the Southern Section of the San Andreas Fault as well. There is going to be a huge fucking earthquake down here soon, and I want no part of it.

Some PC Gaming topics before I go (because it takes my mind off of things):



When will the Edain MOD team release 4.0? Like never?

On that note, Where is UA 1.73? MIA? I’m like exploding having to wait 2 months beyond scheduled release.

What’s a good B.O. for AOE2 first 5 – 15 minutes? I go like dis:

Buildings: 2x Home, 1x Lumber, 1x Mill, Barracks if there is time (or during age)

Villagers (3): 1 on choppy choppy from the get-go, 1 builds 1x house and 1x mill then goes to hunted food, 1 goes hunted food until out of things to eat, all additionals are split hunters, choppers.

Scout: Returns an average of 400 food in capture-ables. Locate 2 relics minimum.

Age to Feudal (500 F)



Diablo True!

Blizzard Entertainment’s version aside (which was decent, but needed patches before it had any hope of endgame potential), the core of the game has remained the same, roughly, until 1.13 was released. It stopped there for some, but I was determined to see this game back to its grief-enduing, ridiculous, potion-slamming 1234-fests such LAN matches used to be. In my recent memory, you used to be able to die horribly in Hell mode, and thus was done so, many a time, and with glad hearts all the while.  Back then, nostalgically speaking, in the glory days of PUB NIGHT, we used to game for a long time, like, 10 hours straight or more, and into the morning. We’d just go from one to the next. BAM. BAM. With high-fructose corn syrup intakes enough to kill a partially already dead donkey. This digression serves the function of recalling that happy, yet, vulnerable feeling of walking into Diablo’s Throne-room, around 3 am, and slowly coming to realize that the things AROUND him are like six hundred times gooder then you… Aaaaannd I’m dead. Need better portals next time, farther from the fighting. I CAN’T HELP IT, THEY WAS RANGED SORCERERS AND SHIT. I TRIED. No, Morgan, you failed. Thanks Scooter, we wipe. WHAT GOOD ARE YOU MEATHEAD IF YOU CAN’T KILL 600 SORCERERS ON YOUR OWN!!??!! eat it. barbarians rule.

With no portal, so now we have to run naked all the way back and get killed again, and have to run back and then WHICH BODY? GUESS RAPIDLY! Aaaand I’m dead again. FML.

So it would go on, with appropriate levels of free-radical humor and voracious judgment and finally, blame. Ah, good times. In the end, these good times stopped, mostly because we were so elite and well- geared, that even when combined and placed under duress, we prevailed. We dominated, In fact. The game faded from interest, and entered a long dormancy falling prey to graphic irrelevancy.

I had a Diablo II Lord of Destruction Assassin named Venom during these times of plenty. I used the claws, and they ruled. I obliterated everything because of attack speed, and chance to hit procs like +5 Freezes Target, and Hit Blinds Target. They just stood there, and could do nothing as I shattered them, one by one, hurling Phoenix Strike and finishing it with Dragon Claw. Slam, 1, 2, 3, SLAM, 1, ,2, SLAM (Chain Lightning [2] shatters all the things frozen by Sphere of Ice [3]).

That character ceased to be. The original file, the sacred copy, was lost to an A: floppy disk malfunction. Gone forever.


The newest permutation is that, I wanted to see what class I could exploit to render an insidious flow of damage while still hanging tough with skills that help carnage-reign supreme. I came up with a couple ideas: Paladin, with shields and slamming people. Meh. Lot of talent tree points get wasted on stupid shit. Assassin, yes, fast. Druid, yes, very fast, and gross 2h damage when Fury and Lycenthropy are maxed. But Assassin, ah, your sweet sweet 1h sword speed kept calling out to me: make me a 4 socketed runeword weapon. I Indulged.


And Venarex was born:


BOOM. Now working her through SHEER COLD’S Perfect Drop Mod (with several other fantastic changes). Namely, Hell mode is AGAIN FUN AND RELEVANT. Even with the best gear possible, best uniques, best runewords, you better bring your fucking A game, and be ready to scramble, and for god sakes, the portals as backups… never… forget…




Buffed with in-class skills only and gear. Where is her attack? It’s gifted by a runeword Passion, and provides both +1 Zeal and +1 Berserk. When combined with skill bonuses from gear, she has level 13 Zeal and level 13 Berserk. You do the math. Let me know what you think. SWORD-AND-BOARD Assassin you say!?! Why yes sir. Thank you may I have another!?!? And we’re going to need that sort of school spirit where we’re going. Because Hell mode Act 2 (with PDM  installed, mind you) is basically impossible. Bugs win. They truly, truly win. KILL EVERY EGG QUICKLY. And hope you like being poisoned. Get used to everything being tinted green. Woot. Anyway, I look forward to having a substantive challenge again, as this modded Hell mode is really fucking hard to solo. Halp meh. I’m good, but I get OWNED on my own. OK. OWNED. Wid dis setup: 4srs.


Dawn of War – Soulstorm (Ultimate Apocalypse MOD)

Of all the community-based mods I have tried for the multitude of PC Real-Time Strategy games I’ve played, NONE compare to this one.

The fantastic mod group over at MOD DB/Relicnews forums have been working on this total conversion for years, and are constantly endeavoring to change the mod, it’s gameplay, and innovating new elements, modes and ultimately, strategies for this complex and superb RTS. I can’t tell you enough how fantastic this game is, thanks to their hard work.

In light of this, I’d like to present a few game theories that I have come to develop as a result of playing my talented and constantly adapting foe: Will (Rotz). Because we are always challenging each other, and looking for the advantage, we’ve developed tremendously fun and interesting new strategies for this modded PC game.

-Early Build Order-
To ~1:45

Clearly, the most important phase of the game occurs within the first 3.5 minutes of the game. If your not executing some form of this build order, you’re probably doomed. A solid, consistent plan is key, as future development and progression through the technology tiers is dependent on your ability to execute these initial procedures.

Your going to get 1 builder, and an HQ building which produces 2 units of immediate use: more builders, and an offensive unit (usually a really weak unit, later, completely expendable). Starting sequence looks something like this:

1st builder = 2x to 3x power generators
HQ = 2x offensive unit, 2x builder

1st offensive unit = captures nearby requisition points, which can have listening posts built on them.
2nd offensive unit = goes out to the “middle” somewhere and grabs a strategic point, for line-of-sight and to get some early requisition gain, then works it’s way back grabbing additional points.
Schedule both of these units to cap every requisition point between the middle, and your start location.
Builders = help build the power plants, split 1 off when a post can be built, or split one off if you need a barracks (or pre tier-up building) to advance to tier 1.

-Developmental Build Order-
~2:00 through ~4:30

You should have every point capped, a post on each, and IMMEDIATELY begin upgrading those posts. Just the first upgrade, then stop.
2 offensive units = standing around near the middle providing LOS. They will die. You don’t really care if this happens.
Go to tier 1 right as it’s available. Do not build any additional offensive units yet.
Buy both economic upgrades.
Go to tier 2, still not building any units (they’re going to get dead if built now, and will represent a waste of resources as the game develops).
By the end of this phase, you’re in tier 2, and ready to buy the second set of economic upgrades.

-Combat Readiness and Developing a “Battle-Line”-
From ~5:00 until the end

Part of my game theory is the Battle-Line, or, the point at which your “claimed territory” collides with your opponent’s. For clarification, your ground represents area on the map you believe you can hold if challenged by opposing troops. THis makes the Battle-Line the place where combat, albeit, on several fronts even,  is taking place to contend for said ground. It’s pivotal to success to push this area of contention towards your opponent’s base. Doing so usually results in a win, until you get down to last-minute desperation maneuvers (like scrambling to some secret area to build a new HQ or production building to keep from being eliminated outright), keeping oneself alive at all costs. THis is a good attitude to have. As Commander Peter Quincy Taggart would say: “never give up, never surrender!”

Back to the BO: You’re into tier 3, and rapidly heading to 4 after all available economic upgrades are taken (pending +3). Now, it’s time to queue some powerful units and pummel your opponent’s offensive front. It is at this point that a BL will develop on the map, and collisions of armies will begin taking place. Hopefully, you’ve planned for a solid balance of ranged and melee offensive units. Right? Important to strike a fair-proportion here, because up front units can be considered expendable (in my mind), or, in place with the sole purpose of giving your ranged units some LOS and firepower advantage over whatever your opponent has brought to the battlefield. YOur stuff may die, but so will theirs, and by that time, you’re ranged have control of the BL and can push. Melee-type units should be tough enough to hang in there a while, until the ranged units have done the bulk of the damage, according to this player’s theory, anyway. =)

Now, do upgrading of troop-based technology in instances where it poses some tactical advantage to the units you are mass-producing. Make ONLY the troops you need to have buffed receive technology upgrades. no wasting resources on useless techs.

There is no Build-Order beyond this point, really. It’s up to your own personal strategy to win or lose the fray.


1. Keep squads reinforced and eqq\uipped with relevant bonus weapons for whatever situational challenge you’re dealing with.  Do this only for squads that are tough enough to hang in while the BL fighting is going on. Do not waste time upgrading low-level units that will perish at the hands of much bigger things. 2. Manage your economy until you get queues rolling, then go all out and build powerful units and basically forget about your economy. If you have to worry about it again, it’s because you’ve lost, and the BL is being pushed your direction.
3. Cap your opponent’s listening posts and strategic locations as they are destroyed/surrendered due to the BL crossing over them. This will damage their economy and make your romp more success than brutal, unwelcome collision.
4. Micro manage your units as you push the BL around. Don’t let anything sit there firing for long. Your opponent will strike down (or should) idle units with targeted attacks, so make sure to scramble things up with lots of MM-ing.

This is the strategy and theory I’ve developed. It’s working so far in my matchups of late. It should vastly differ from yours, which is what makes this game great, am I right? These are suggestions and ideas for debate, not the WAY that if adjusted or digressed from will result in failure. Not at all. GO out there and wing-it! Complex, adaptive and competitive gameplay are all necessary to have a good time challenging your mind and wits in the Ultimate Apocalypse.



Birdy and I are playing Unreal Tournament (the first one). And BOY DO I REGRET IT. I am now REGULARLY PWNED by her, as she has become rediculously accurate with the Flak Cannon. Not much to do there but get my shit handed to me, consistently, regardless of my weapon selection.


Far and away the leader with that weapon, and leader overall with a weapon, period.

I USED to be good, and my numbers reflect SOME of that goodness. I guess I need to figure out a way to own her without getting anywhere near the constant death that is my fiance.


I guess this is good… but I was able to do this PRIMARILY while she was getting better. Before the rise of JaxMaster, I used to have some STELLAR games. Just, crazy.

Settings on our server look like this: 75 frags and you WIN OUTRIGHT, but leader after 10 minutes is automatically champion.

NO Redeemer, No Relic of Vengance (but all the others), Chainsaw Melee (fuck the Impact Hammer), Translocator, 12 players total (10 – 11 bots).

Particularly proud of this line:


I had 11 deaths, and at least 2 of those were self-inflicted. Nice.

I’ll let you know IF I can put a stop to her rampages. Not counting on it though.

Help Me Defeat the Rush

I hate the rush. I fucking hate it. There, I said it. And I find it utterly inexcusable to rush in a game like Age of Empires III, or any other LONG-TERM AGE PROGRESSION type game. Why HAVE the fucking age-up process if you rush in the first age and barley make it to the second one before your foe is economically crippled? Sorry, allow me to illuminate the cause-effect problem here:

Rush implies that you must pester, harass and otherwise micro-manage one to two troops and try and keep your opponent from ever getting started. Kill their resource gathering units. Kill the structures that generate resources, or disable them, or whatever. Keep them from ever getting stated. Win as soon as possible. Hmmm…

It’s like the nerds have all tried to keep their game times as short and similar in form and progression as their sexual encounters. BANG BANG BANG SPLURF. Dead noodle barf. I fucking hate this trend. I hate it. Hate it. HATE IT.

So, I treaty for up to 40 minutes to keep the fucking AI away, and when I can’t, I find out how to trick the AI into leaving me alone through a sneaky exploit. I don’t mm well, I have having to lean on moving and countering (known as “dancing”). It’s not why I play an RTS of the slow-progression genre.

So, if I’m playing Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King, I would be in a game that emphasizes early attacking. But it has no aging. It’s, build a shitty little base, and pound quickly with units. Hold ground with real live units, not towers, turrets and walls. Fight with mming and hero abilities and shit. All battle-line movement and contention, no technological emphasis. Some, but not an EMPHASIS. Why are you playing AOE III if your plan is to wipe out your opponent in under 4 minutes. WHY PLAY THAT GAME? GO PLAY SOMETHING ELSE LOSER. STOP FUCKING WITH MY GENRE.

I contend, that we should lean on the game’s design for how to best maximize the usefulness of the, uh… GAMEPLAY, and of the style that one can express through time and development of unique civilizations. Style is impossible when the objective is “kill them as fast as possible.” Style develops with tech tree choices, civilizational advantages and other factors that make MY style different from YOURS.

I want to FULLY meet you in the field of battle, when we are both cocked back and ready to pull the big fucking trigger. BAAAA BOOOOM! Right? Let’s have a fucking BATTLE Sanchita, I don’t want to kill your fucking villagers and leave you frustrated and bored. What’s the point of PLAYING if it isn’t FUN? Sweaty palm orgasm loser, go back to your basement and stop ruining my fun.

Fuck. I can’t believe I have to even bring this up. But just GO to AOE III Heaven and SEE what the strategies section is all about. Fucking insane. I learned nothing at all. I UNLEARNED useful ideas I already had. Sigh.

This doctrine applies most universally to RTS. Don’t rush. Just don’t. Go learn your game instead.

My Real Time Strategy (RTS) Preferences

Unlike most “games” where the object is more often, point, shoot, medpack, run, lever, door, shoot… I prefer a style of game-play that FULLY ENGAGES me on multiple levels, with keen multitasking requirements as well as options that allow for stylistic expression. These are the requirements for any “up to snuff” Real Time Strategy game.

PC RTS has a great and very well-established history. For me, it begins with perhaps one of the greatest RTS games ever released: Total Annihilation. 1996 was a good year for the RTS genre, and it grew pretty exponentially from that point forward. Once in the mainstream, however, complexity and intricacy began to rapidly drop off, because most people are actually too fucking dumb to handle the mental requirements of an RTS. A real RTS, one that has lots of buttons and clicky things, will enable a much more capable person to task SEVERAL different projects at once. From building, unit production and then fully upgrading economic and military technology. THEN you actually have to go out there, fight, counter, MM your units, and of course, win.

It’s not for an idiot, clearly. You think and act fast, or you die and don’t have any fun, as I’m sure the initial customer complaints back at Cavedog Entertainment read…

RTS games make you think, and in a world of “if I click the mouse this dude will explode into bloody chunks” sort of games  (while these have their place, even in my world, they are NOT mentally constructive, so use at your own risk), it’s no wonder NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE FUCK I’M TALKING ABOUT.

I rotate between 3 – 4 RTS games a year. Usually the same 4 cycling through, sometimes another one pops in there. I’m fucking picky, ok? When I get tired of one, I install the other and play that until my eyeballs bleed out. I usually mod said game with the latest greatest end-user fan patch, which typically adds some “fuck yeah dude!” to an older game.

Current Rankings

1. Dawn of War: Soulstorm

2. Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties

3. Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King

4. Total Annihilation (CC and BT)

5. Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

6. Star Craft: Brood War

I’m so small a market, I might actually be the only person in it.