Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quick Hits and LTTP: Bastion

Bastion is a game that most people played when it came out waaaaaay back in July 2011. The game was pretty much universally praised for a variety of reasons: vibrant art style, excellent soundtrack, solid gameplay, and interesting narrator implementation.

For whatever reason, I didn't get around to playing Bastion until a week or so ago. And, just to add one more lump of praises onto the pile: this game is exactly as good as everyone says it is. Which is saying a lot considering how glowing a lot of the praise is.

Part of the reason I never picked the game up was because I thought it would be too simple or easy. I have attention span issues with games, and one of the best ways a game can keep me hooked it to have a compelling difficulty curve; if I feel challenged, I'll keep coming back. Most "action RPG" style games don't do a great job of maintaining that difficulty curve; once the novelty of the systems and setting wear off, the game usually becomes kind of rote.

Bastion circumvents this problem very cleverly by allowing the player to custom tune their difficulty. There are in-game settings (which are much more integrated and "fluffy" than I'm making it sound) that one can toggle to up the game's difficulty in different ways. For every toggle enabled, you get more EXP and "money" (I think in this game it's shards,) but more importantly you can set the difficulty of the game almost exactly where you want it.

So right about when I found myself at the point where I'd have gotten over the initial shock and awe phase of playing a new game, I was able to re-tune the difficulty, and pull myself right back in. Since I can change those setting almost on the fly, I can make sure the difficulty doesn't get too frustrating (so I won't rage quit or stall out,) or too easy. Combine that with a relatively short length (estimates put completing the main game at around 6.5 hours, which is appropriate for a game like this,) and Bastion will probably make it onto the increasingly short list of games I've actually played and completed.

Now that I'm playing the game, I also need to add my own gushing for the art, narrator, and the music. Other people have said plenty about these facets of the game, and I'm sure they're better equipped than I am to describe why they work so well. I'll just add that games usually don't impress me with visuals, narration, or music, and Bastion has absolutely wowed me with all three.

The soundtrack in particular is stunning. It's so fresh, interesting, and listenable, all while capturing the feel of the game and setting. I've had it downloaded since shortly after starting the game, and I can't stop listening to it. Video game soundtracks rarely have this much personality and quality (but I blame that more on the AAA nature of the current industry than any failings on music folks.)

So, if you haven't played Bastion yet, do it. It's one of the most remarkable games released in the past generation, and you can get it on just about anything. The only thing I don't like about Bastion is that it reminds me that Transistor is PS4/PC only (at least for now) and I only own an Xbone.

Also: pick up a copy of the soundtrack. Even if you don't play the game. If "Setting Sail, Coming Home" doesn't do at least a little something to/for you, get your ass to a doctor ASAP. Something is broken inside you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Steamroller Theory - Harkevich

It's been about a month or so since I've written anything about Harkevich. No, I don't know how I've been able to keep that up either. But today the streak breaks, because I've been kicking around some thoughts regarding Harkevich and Steamroller play that I want to share/vent before my head explodes.

Chasing the dragon, after the break.
"How many of these can I fit into one case?"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kaelyssa vs. Durgen - Spikes and Clocks

So apparently those winds of Malifaux that I thought were blowing have at least temporarily changed course. I'm sure I'll be getting some games in with that soon but for now Warmachine is still the order of the day. To try and keep my Retribution painting momentum up (painting units wounds my soul,) I broke out my one (1) Retribution list against a friend of mine running Durgen.

I wonder what's in his battlegroup? Lets all discover the shocking truth together, after the break.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LTTP - Warmachine: High Command

In lieu of our usual gaming last week, a friend of mine picked up the original starter set for Warmachine: High Command. The thinking was that it'd be a nice change of pace for the weeks where we have an odd number of players (WM/H are almost impossible to play multiplayer unless you're doing teams,) and it'd be a different game to possibly squeak into the rotation for when folks aren't in the mood for the tabletop game.

As it turned out, we ended up with just two players (myself and the friend that purchased the game,) so we played a few games of 1v1 High Command. Impressions of the game after the break, including my theorycraft about playing the game multiplayer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

E3 2014

E3 2014 is done, and as is the case every year it's left us all with a lot to digest. This year was an interesting one: Sony and Microsoft are battling against one another to win gamers over to their newest console while Nintendo struggles to find it's footing in the wake of Wii U's serious under performance.

Thoughts on each company's showing, as well as stand out games, after the break.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vlad2 - End of Season Review

Similar to Harkevich, I'm not done with Vlad2. I really enjoy using him, and there are many more things I want to try with his lists (more on this in a bit.) However, the winds of Malifaux are blowing, so I'll probably be playing that a bit more here in the future. That's going to cut down on the WM time I get in and as a result Vlad2 may end up taking a break for a bit (I'm hoping to focus a bit more on Retribution, but that's also contingent on painting.)

So, also similar to Harkevich, I wanted to take a look back at my series of Vlad2 games and compile my thoughts. This post should serve as a good summary of my thoughts on Vlad2 up to this point, as well as hopefully giving some jumping off points when I get back to him (and/or give others ideas of things to try when they put him on the table.)

Review begins after the break.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Rise, Fall, and Future Relevancy of Kayazy

Kayazy (most specifically Assassins, but this discussion applies generally to Eliminators as well) are a very interesting unit to study the trend of. Here is a unit type that was beyond popular at one point (ubiquitous may be more accurate,) then due to meta changes has becomes so scarce that I've seen new players asking if they're "worth it" anymore.

Sometimes I forget this unit exits, and I own two of them!
This shift has been interesting to me for a few reasons:
  1. Although this has happened many times in the course of the Warmachine meta shifting (it's the nature of the beast, really,) few factions if any have felt a shift as hard as Khador did this one. When Kayazy were "it" they were the backbone of many lists and the inability to rely on that option (combined with other factors that forced further list revision/innovation) threw the Khador meta into a crisis of confidence it is only now recovering from.
  2. The change wasn't a "silver bullet" moment; no one release came out that caused the shift and it didn't seem like PP was specifically trying to address the issue of Iron Fleshed Kayazy running rampant. More that a series of releases did a lot to lessen the strength of light infantry, and the culmination of those releases is a meta where you cannot rely on light infantry to carry the day anymore (which likewise sounded the death knell of some formerly extremely potent list builds.)
  3. The shift led to less of a reduction and more of an outright abandonment of using the unit. This, to me, is the most surprising (and sometimes baffling moment.) While I understand not including Kayazy with high frequency, it's rare that you find them in Khador lists anymore. Even Eliminators, which are cheaper and less of an investment, haven't really been used much. A podcast I listened to recently (the inaugural episode of "C.R.A.") made an offhand comment that Kayazy are "a Merc unit now" and while I don't agree with the sentiment, I definitely see the trends supporting it.
So, what's the deal with Kayazy? How'd they'd go from meta skewing juggernauts to unwanted prom dates? And, possibly most importantly, is there any hope for future relevancy for them?

Join me after the break as I walk through the history and present of Kayazy (in relative brief) and attempt to answer those questions.