Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 10

Another short game, thanks to the new unlock happening as expected, but I managed to not get left in the dust too badly.  As for the unlock itself, well, it's something special... I remember, back when I first got the game, minutely examining the game box for clues as to what might be coming, and noticed one of those "mandatory safety warnings" about the contents including batteries.  I considered a number of possibilities for what that could mean, but it turns out I didn't come even close.

So, the unlock itself... discovering the next-to-last island with the prerequisite chart brings up an island with a tomb that never closes (rank 12, so it's not a total cakewalk), a colony with a massive temple (rank 10 raid to take it out), more cards, including a lot of milestones, and the Light of Truth.  See, the new island is the home base of a secret society, and the Light (a blacklight diode or similar) lets you see hidden info on some of the cards, including some pre-unlock advisors... they've been working for the Society all along, trying to let you all advance while trying to temper your lust for glory, lest we all meet the same fate as the Ancients from times past.

The biggest game-mechanic change here is the addition of Inquisition to the activation of advisors... if you so choose, you can use the Light on your freshly-activated advisor to see whatever they might be hiding (members show a number that represents their rank, and also shows a Captain's Booke entry to read)... and, if nobody has submitted them to Inquisition yet, doing so is also worth a point of glory on its own.  Given the number of cheap advisors from early-game times that otherwise see little action, this is a fine mechanism to get them into circulation once more, at least briefly (buy the Convict for a gold, and get a glory for it?  Sold!).  Of course, the way you mark somebody as having been submitted to the Inquisition is to put one of your enmity stickers on them, which increases their cost to you by a gold thenceforth, but that didn't stop us from reaping cheap glory from all manner of advisors this game.

Of course, cheap glory is all fine and well, but there's another reason to pursue this... three of the milestones deal with "discovering the secret of the (x) statue", which we're pretty sure has something to do with the secrets the Society is keeping, and possibly with some of the maps/charts floating around in the research stack.  Long story short, when you reach this point, everybody should expect to need to take notes, since there's going to be some entertaining stuff to figure out.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 9

Another short game, thanks to the fourth-place player discovering the next island out with a chart card, triggering the next unlock.  It's the island where the Pirate King lives (for all he supposedly hates that name), called Patmos, with a colony called Ker already established.  It's not all good by any means though... when Patmos is discovered, it gets pre-loaded with permanent enmity stickers from all the players based on things like how many islands they already have enmity with and how many colonies they have.  Not so very bad on its own, but until somebody conquers and claims Ker (yes, rules for taking colonies outright have been added), it has a nasty side-effect of making your interactions with any of the islands depend on the higher enmity total of either that island or Patmos... which, for the remainder of this game and into the next game at least, will be a significant drain on most of the players being able to do anything glory-making.

Apart from that nuisance, there are some new advisors available, but with a twist.  Basically, they're tied to Patmos, so you can only buy them if you have a ship at Patmos (unless you've built the new Tavern building), and their price increases with your enmity at Patmos.  Also, these new advisors only have a gold cost, no reputation buy is available.  In exchange for that, the perks on these new advisors tend to be really good, and the ones I've seen at least are also worth glory just for having them... so, a neat new twist to the advisor game over all.

One more item worth mentioning... there are stickers for some new Arches to add to the board in open waters spaces (with the appropriate card found, of course).  Basically, these act as teleporters (any one arch to any other), but also have fairly hefty dangerous waters ratings.  So, they have the potential to shrink the map significantly with the tradeoff of a bit of risk.

With that, current standings at the end of this game... I've moved back into first, thanks to the combination of my snagging the gold hoarding milestone and the previously-first-place player dropping out mid-game (helping his family with a medical matter, not ragequitting or anything like that... we expect he'll return after the next game).  The player that discovered Patmos moved up into the lead pack at third... but the now-fourth-place player is still in good position points-wise, only has one enmity with Patmos, and (due to a fluke with a tomb this game) already has the chart for the next unlock, so I expect him to walk away with the next game handily.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 8

A surprisingly short game this time (no extra winter), due to the fine exploration work on the third-place player's part.  All the "regular" islands are in play now, with a few explore spots hither and yon.  I did get my second colony (Envy, on the island Emerald), but couldn't stop the player who already had two from snagging a third, and the associated milestone.  Oh well, at least I got to raid his council chamber to get the guy who helped him get as far as he did... and then discarded him at game-end, because, even without the Bosun to back him up, the Grizzled Veteran and his luck token spawning is just too good to let go.

Now that we have enough colonies out there, we're ready for the Strange Chart to bring about the next unlock.  As far as standings go, the top three players are once again within a few points of each other (no rank switches this game).  Next game should be extra fun/interesting.

Friday, August 25, 2017

ISP pricing shenanigans

It's been not quite a year since I last whined about Comcast jacking my rates... so of course, they did it again, this time up four and a half bucks, and again with no prior notice.  It irked me enough that I was all set to switch over to CenturyLink, because I knew that they had enhanced the service in my area, and were offering faster service for a lower price.  Sure, there might be some trash fees on top of the list price, but, from what I recalled, they combined price should still be significantly lower.

So, off to the CenturyLink website... and sure enough, there was a glowing promise of monthly service for $29.95 a month at 40Mbps (compared to the $61.45 I'm now paying for 15Mbps through Comcast).  Requires a year's commitment to get, but that's no problem, and sure, I'd have to buy a new modem to avoid a monthly $10 rental fee, but, at that price, that pens out easily enough.  Righto, just give them my address and... now, if I want 40Mbps service, it's a "special" at $45/month, plus a $99 install fee on top of the modem.  No year-long commitment at least, and the price is supposedly "for life", but that just means they'll hide any increases they want in their fees... and that base price, combined with the unknown current fee and tax structure, no longer gives me the same certainty that I would be doing better going that route.  Sure, I would end up with a faster connection, but I haven't really run up against any serious limits with my current connection (benefits of being a bachelor and all).

So, once again, I'll be sticking with Comcast for the time being... not because they're offering superior product or service for the price, but because the gains I might make (if any) are outweighed by the hassle of switching providers.  Good job, CenturyLink!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

No Man's Sky 1.3 - again with the galaxy regeneration?

Roughly a year post-initial-release, there's a new major update for No Man's Sky, so I had to check it out.  Note that I didn't bother posting about the 1.2 patch when it came out... yeah, bases and cars, woohoo, these don't support my space hobo-ing in any meaningful way.  This time though, they added some story and sidequest elements to the game... and apparently due to that, they had to regenerate the galaxy once again.

Mind you, last time they regenerated the galaxy, I wasn't exactly pleased or impressed either... but this time definitely showed why holding off until they're done mucking about with the game would be a good idea.  Finding myself booted to the current system's space station wasn't a terrible thing, but then I checked out my base (which I had to build in order to get the techs necessary to gather "advanced" materials needed to improve/repair my ship).  What once was a lush planet with little if any ill effects was now suffused with radiation... and, whether due to that or due to other factors tied to the latest patch, all the personnel I had brought on were gone.  Now, I could have deconstructed that base, found somewhere else to host it, gone through all the associated hassle... but I decided that a fresh start was in order, especially since I figured the new story bits probably tied in to the early game experience more than anything else.

So, a new start, and thereby a proper introduction to some of the systems that had been added to the game over all the patches (like Signal Boosters to help find things like mineral deposits you had to identify visually previously, and special slots on your ships dedicated to tech improvements), as well as more regrettable changes (like Mining Lasers not being standard kit on ships any longer, making survival in space combat decidedly more tricky).  I even got into some of the story bits, I think (likely leading up to the tech needed for one of the enhancements this go around, the possibility of limited co-exploration with friends).  Frankly, though, a lot of the changes I've seen seem aimed at padding out or slowing down playtime (why just let the player discover a tech from a damaged bit of gear found on the planet's surface, when we can have them do a repair (using minimal goods) to collect nanites to buy techs from traders on the space stations at different cost/faction rank limits?), so I wouldn't be too enthused about pursuing the game seriously at this point, especially if there are more major patches planned.

Except... whether it's due to engine improvements or my getting a beefier graphics card than I had at launch, I can now play this game over my Steam Link on my living room TV.  Grinding away at my PC for hours on end doesn't appeal much any longer, but an hour or three on the couch, as an alternative to other games I can do similarly with, that works for me with the pace of this game.  So, yeah, it's back on my radar for the time being.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

So long, Raptr

Long-time readers might notice that something's missing from the right-hand side of the page... I had a play-time tracker there that tied to info collected by Raptr, which I found to be a fun and informative tool to show what really got my gaming attention.  Lately, however, their servers have been anything but stable, and, for all it was a free service, the annoyance factor just got to be too high.

For future reference then... while I did have multiple RPGs clocking in at over 100 hours each (including Skyrim, twice), the undisputed champion was Mabinogi, a free-to-play MMO with some interesting mechanics (enough so that I actually spent subscription-equivalent money with them while I was playing).  Someday, I'll be up for a proper MMO again... but there's simply too many new shinies out there in this Age of Entertainment to settle on one right now!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 7

I'll keep it brief this time as well, since there weren't any "major" changes to speak of... but we're definitely getting closer to the next unlock.  Here's the rundown:
  • One more island was discovered, so all that's left are the two 12-spots and the 30-spot... and, currently, one more island in stock, I believe.
  • Of the leading trio, one of us had some terrible luck with the dice.  Otherwise, there might have been yet another island, and he might have stayed in close contention.
  • As is, the guy who was two points behind me is now two points ahead of me, thanks to some aggressive exploration of existing, lower-difficulty sites.
  • It could have been worse... the last round, I managed to complete my first colony (Gibraltar, king of the Kidney Stones), setting myself up for easier raids on the home territories and the mysterious Arch, if need be.  Unfortunately, the gent who got the first colony last game also managed to get a second built... so now there's three.  One more, and the path to the next unlock is open, and if he gets it, that'll likely trigger a milestone as well.
  • Finally, in the end, I managed to meet the main goal I set out with on this game... acquiring luck tokens to beat back some of the enmity I had accumulated in earlier games.  Once you get to a multi-winter game, the combination of The Grizzled Veteran and The Bosun is a fine way to pump your luck, and the various "every winter" upgrades and buildings aren't too shabby, either.
Oh, and one parting story... I know the line from Ghostbusters is "If someone asks you if you're a god, say YES!", but that didn't work out so well for one of our players.  Remember kids, gold doesn't make you a god, no matter how much of it you may have, as one of our number found out when he discovered the Temple of Bone (I believe it's called).