Friday, 31 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: Redcliffe Halloween

For those not actually reading these, I just want to wish you all a Happy Halloween up front! ^_^

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

As we arrive near Redcliffe village Alistair reveals he is actually a royal bastard. As in, the half-brother of the King and probably next in line to the throne. Good to know! I've also taken Leliana in the party instead of Morrigan since Leliana was upset at sitting out of the whole Circle of Magi thing. Besides Morrigan needs her rest after the... extracurricular activities we shared after the tower got cleansed.

Anyway the village is in all sorts of distress as apparently every night, they have been getting attacked by undead forces stemming from the castle, like a more violent version of Halloween where the visitors come knocking for blood instead of sweets!

This is the same castle where I'm supposed to get another ally for the war. We quickly get into quest mode, convincing the smith to get cracking on repairs, hiring hesitant warriors and strong arming stuffy barkeeps into helping out, as well as setting up oil traps, finding missing kids and learning that Arl Eamon (the guy in the castle) might have been poisoned by an agent of Loghain. Sheesh that name keeps cropping up!

I'm in your bases. Manipulating your allies.

Night falls and the defenses are pretty solid, though the barkeep and town mayor are among those that fall. Ban Teagan, the guy in charge and brother to Arl Eamon asks us to infiltrate the castle via secret passage and sort things out. This is right before Isolde, wife of Arl Eamon appears from the castle and desperately asks Teagan to go back with her. While I suspect a trap, he goes anyway trusting that we won't just walk off on him. Tsk. He's right too. Before entering though I swap Leliana out for Morrigan as I think her magic might prove more helpful in the castle itself. I also help fund a few people get the hell out of the village to somewhere safe... which they assume is Denerim. Nothing bad will happen there right?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: Cleansed

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Continuing up the mages tower we ran into some dragonlings that needed to be put down and a few more abominations before reaching the top. There the "boss" blood mage fellow was busy changing other mages into more abominations. Needless to say I had to put an end to that. Niall's magic scroll came in handy as a canceller to the boss's "turn captive into abomination add" technique and eventually we wore him down and killed him.

With the task complete we took the survivors back downstairs to talk to Knight-Commander Greagoir. While all were grateful for the assistance my team provided I couldn't help but suggest that the remaining mages might have been tainted by all the residual evil magic in the tower. The Knight-Commander agreed and invoked the Right of Annulment which "is the right to purge a Circle of Magi that is ruled irredeemable by ordering the templars to kill all the mages within a Circle".

With no more mages left to guard, Knight-Commander Greagoir accepted my proposal of joining the collective army to fight the darkspawn blight and promised his troops for when the time came. Woohoo, one ally acquired! Next stop, Redcliffe - since Alistair keeps whining about it. Well, not as much as being sad whenever someone mentions "Duncan".

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: The Fade

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

I come to, alone, in the Fade - the realm of demons and spirits. The first ones disguised themselves as other Grey Wardens, one taking the form of Duncan himself. After destroying them I find the depressed mage Niall trapped there too. Looks like it's up to me to find a way out and I do so by learning how to shape shift into various forms, unlock secret bonus rooms and defeat mini-bosses. That all sounds very "gamey" but it is all very awesome and a very fun to experience!

Eventually I locate each of my comrades to stir them from their slumber with Quickly being the easiest - I literally just woke him up. Morrigan also knew what was up and was quick to assist in dispeling the demon trapping her. Alistair on the other hand was completely fooled, having a vision of his sister and her children. It wasn't till I destroyed them that he came to - realizing their manipulation and apologizing for his dimwittedness.

Finally it was time for a showdown against the sloth demon (who also had shape shifting abilities) and while he did put up a decent fight, it was he that was ultimately destroyed in the end. Niall then showed up and told us of some scroll he had on his body, and for us to take it to protect us from mind control further up the tower. He had been in the dream too long and could not escape any longer. The rest of us woke up and did as he asked. Before continuing though I did pay my respects to the worldly corpse of the sloth demon, for his realm was super fun and very rewarding. I was a little sad to end him to be honest. :(

But I powered you up!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Turn off the Engine

Just a small post in honor of my grandfather whose funeral was held yesterday. Having held a long, fruitful, and exciting life, Lolo (aka "the Avatar" and "Kantor" in Ultima Online) was a man of good character much loved by family and friends all over the globe.

A good portion of his 95 years was spent out at sea and when he would take people out on his (around 40 ft) sailboat that he built himself, one of his usual expressions would be to "turn off the engine" when the sails had caught the wind.

In his last days as he slipped in and out of the dreamland and in between making funny jokes and funnier faces to still make people laugh, he mentioned this again with a smile on his face. Eventually, his sails caught the wind and he was soon sailing off into the big blue sky.

Farewell Avatar. You will be missed.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: I've got the Magic Magic Magic

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

On the road to Lake Calenhad we come across an abomination, a mage tampering with illegal magics, and destroy it. Seems that was the theme of the day as upon arrival at the lake we learn that something is up with the Circle of Magi who live in the tower in the middle of it. After killing some random cultists we rowed out there and were met with the templar guards in a panic, and learn from Knight-Commander Greagoir that the tower has been infested by abominations thanks to the infiltration of blood mages. I offer to help and load up on supplies before the team is locked in with the rest of the horrors.

Surprisingly the next area is quite clear, with some mages having managed to barricade themselves with magic. I recognize their leader, Wynne, as someone I talked to at Ostagar but she recognizes Morrigan to be an "apostate" - a mage outside the Circle of Magi which is almost like an abomination to them. She refuses to let Morrigan exist and while I was keen to see who had the stronger magic her first attack was on -me-. This led to the slaughter of the Wynne and the remaining mages.

With them out of the way we managed to progress higher fighting the true enemies, the explosive abominations, demons (some sexy ones), undead, mind controlled knights (who I had to kill) and blood mages. One defeated blood mage spilled the beans that Loghain promised to help them in their schemes before I executed her. All is going swimmingly well after I learned Morrigan's cool combo of Cone of Cold followed by Stone Fist to shatter enemies. That is until we run into a Sloth Demon who manages to put the entire party to sleep through cut scene magic!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: Dead Ends

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

At Denerim we are easily recognized by the guards at the market district but the local sergeant knows his newbies which are being hand-picked by Arl Howe are morons and pansies and makes it clear that he's not going to go after me. This inclines me to help him out against various ruffians, thugs and rowdy mercenaries in the lower city area. While I'm at it I also do some side tasks for the Mages Collective, the Blackstone Irregulars and the local thieves guild for extra coin - pretty much all being simple courier work.

One knight, Ser Landry, recognizes me from Ostagar though and challenges me to a duel. Of course I accept and slay the poor soul in the back alley, albeit with much use of healing potions. Later at the local whore house known as The Pearl I meet a charming lady sea captain who I convince to teach me the ways of a duelist to better my skills should a duel come up again in the future. Alas I can't convince her for any other form of "swordplay".

While wandering the streets we also find a peculiar "abandoned house" which turns out to link to a big underground structure hiding a large group of blood mages and their mercenaries. At this point I've already identified Leliana as the weak link it the group and left her to guard the dwarf merchants, but the rest of the team is unable to get past a particular point where the enemies are simply too well prepared with strong AoE spells for folk of our level so I decide to cut our losses and leave. Not just the house, the city entirely. Too many closed gates preventing deeper passage annoy me so it's time to look elsewhere.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: Party +3

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

With almost all the tasks done in Lothering we entered the tavern for a well earned pint of milk but are attacked by a handful of Loghain's troops. A red headed girl named Leliana in chantry robes helps defend us in the melee and after I kill off the last of the surrendering cowards she asks to join the party, having had a vision from the Creator telling her to do so. She might be crazy but she's handy with a knife and sort of cute so I take her along. I do -NOT- take along the psycho in the cage outside though.

But I'm hurt in the feels?

It's pretty clear that the big brute Sten could be another party member but for the crime of killing a bunch of good people who nursed his wounds I don't give a shit how much remorse you have. It's unfortunate there is no option to execute him so I just leave him there as darkspawn food. After killing some desperate refugees who were also after the bounty on my head (Alistair's head too), I rescue a dwarven pair of merchants from darkspawn and convince them to get outta dodge.

Apparently they took this as "please join us on our travels" for some reason and are now part of my camp. It's handy to have a vendor and enchanter traveling with us though. After getting bad dreams which turn out to be "communicating with the darkspawn leader telepathically due to the grey warden joining ritual" I chat with the team for awhile, listening to Leliana's stories, learning Alistair is a funny bastard, and agreeing with Morrigan's suggestion that we go directly to Denerim to face our enemies immediately.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: He's a Dog

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

I awoke in Flemeth's hut, with her hot daughter tending my wounds. Alistair and Quickly are there too, apparently saved by Flemeth's magic somehow. Too bad for Ted, he was left to die. As we might possibly be the last grey wardens in the land we're tasked with using those papers (old treaties) to unite everyone and raise an army against the ever growing darkspawn army. I totally try to worm my way out of it but Alistair is such a whiner so I have to go along. Flemeth's daughter Morrigan is also sent along, much to her dislike but hey, we needed a replacement for Ted.

First stop is the little settlement of Lothering where we almost immediately come across some highwaymen asking for a toll on the bridge (fucking trolls). I tell them that grey wardens should be exempt but this only excites them as apparently Loghain put a bounty out on us and battle ensues. They are soon begging for their lives since they didn't realize Quickly has a stun-lock howl so I take the opportunity to get more info out of them before executing them for the worthless pieces of excrement they are.

They aren't the only bandits nearby and between them and some wild life that needs hunting, Quickly's abilities really shine in getting the team out of dire predicaments! These tasks net us some good coin which I spend on the honest merchant nearby, the one the refugees are complaining is selling things too high. That's just the business of supply and demand folks. Morrigan agrees, while Alistair shoots me a glance of non-approval. This makes Quickly all the more awesome. He doesn't really give a stuff about that. He's a dog. :P

Dogs in game are always awesome. They don't poop!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: All According to Plan

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Upon arrival at Ostagar I am soon tasked with getting the other recruits, Daveth the rogue, Ser Jory and Alistair the templar (technically not a recruit) together for a "joining ritual". Well, that sounds dirty. First up is a fetch quest of blood of darkspawn, which is easy given the number of the things around, and old papers which we find with swamp resident Flemeth and her daughter who hand them over with no issues.

Back at camp it's stage two - the drinking phase, from a ludicrously huge cup! Daveth goes first and dies. Yep. It can prove fatal. Jory freaks out and doesn't want to drink so Duncan guts him instead. Lucky last I obviously survive and become a true Grey Warden initiate. Would sure be a quick game otherwise! Anyway it's soon time to battle that dark spawn horde and the plan involves the brash, glory seeking King Cailan (and the other Grey Wardens) to lure the bad dudes into position where General Loghain's forces can then charge down their flank. Fool proof!

Alistair and I (*woof!*) ... and Quickly ... are tasked with lighting the beacon atop the nearby tower to signal when Loghain should charge. Only problem is no one actually checked the tower before the battle and when we get there it is crawling with darkspawn. Fortunately a mage of the circle, who I call "Ted", joins us as we fight our way all the way to the top, defeating a towering ogre guarding the beacon fire. With the bacon lit... mmm bacon... I mean... beacon, Loghain gives the order...

Sound the retreat!

Wait did they change the plan on us? Looks like no one told the King either as we get a good view of him, Duncan, and the rest of the "bait team" getting slaughtered. Before we can contemplate what's going on, more darkspawn show up and knock us out. Damn you uncontrollable cinematic battles.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tales of the Blight: Rail Roaded

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

It's a busy day in my home of Cousland Castle as everyone is preparing to fight the darkspawn (monster things) to the South. There's also a grey warden named Duncan here looking for recruits and asks what I think of that. I shoot him down immediately. Grey Wardens? Please. I'd much prefer to stay in the castle and bed all the visiting ladies and handmaidens, or just maidens in general. After getting my cute but effective war dog (who I name "Quickly") out of the pantry I do just that with an elf lass named Iona but our fun is interrupted when an arrow finds its way into her head.

Why didn't you dodge!?

Our supposed "ally" Arl Howe decided to attack once Ferghus, my elder brother, took the majority of the troops ahead to the battle. With only a handful of defenders it is clear the castle is falling, despite me thoroughly killing all enemy soldiers on the map I can find. Fortunately there's a secret passage to escape the carnage, but only Duncan, Quickly and I make it out alive. Duncan asks again if I can join the Grey Wardens since his other choice sort of died earlier. I strongly tell him again "NO" and then he goes all legal on me enforcing conscription. Way to railroad me dude. I suppose that's still better than the Witcher's Law of Surprise.

And so it's off to Ostagar to fight the dark spawn. Woo? At least Quickly doesn't seem bothered by it.

Tales of the Blight: Dragon Age Origins

Since Origin was offering Dragon Age: Origins for free awhile back, and since I never had played it before - I thought I'd give it a whirl and record my play through here.

For all the "Origins" part was talked up, I only really have one choice for my standard character of human rogue which is the Human Noble origin. This also limits my surname to being "Cousland" but I can understand that part as it is better for the voice actors not to always be vague when addressing someone supposedly well known.

Chapters will be entered below as I publish them. Obviously spoilers abound! *looking at you Simcha since I know you are playing it currently!* :)

Chapter 1:   Rail Roaded 
Chapter 2:   All According to Plan
Chapter 3:   He's a Dog
Chapter 4:   Party +3
Chapter 5:   Dead Ends
Chapter 6:   I've got the Magic Magic Magic 
Chapter 7:   The Fade
Chapter 8:   Cleansed
Chapter 9:   Redcliffe Halloween
Chapter 10: The Solution to Everything
Chapter 11: Assassins
Chapter 12: Stronger! Faster! Harder!
Chapter 13: Sit! Stay! Bad Dog!? 
Chapter 14: Ruined the Game
Chapter 15: Gladiator
Chapter 16: Into the Deep
Chapter 17: Sod the Dwarves
Chapter 18: Drama Camp
Chapter 19: Friend Zoned
Chapter 20: Cult of the Dragon
Chapter 21: Not so Simple
Chapter 22: I'll be Back
Chapter 23: People of Importance
Chapter 24: Break in Bad
Chapter 25: Alien Export
Chapter 26: Matters of Leadership
Chapter 27: Ye Olde Rope-a-dope 
Chapter 28: Beginning of the End 
Chapter 29: The Price of War
Chapter 30: Aftermath 

This story has finished for now. Thank you for reading! :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Today I Smiled: Bragtoberfest

Most of you probably know of the Bragtoberfest event that was going on this month thanks to Izlain and J3w3l. I don't really like the notion of "bragging" so I opted out this time but I figured I'd still give some (kinda late) support, especially as J3w3l keeps finding all these fun flash games just like she did in the previous NBI. Here are my results for Axon and Feed the King, both being fun little games. I doubt the scores are very good in comparison to everyone else though! :P

Axon brain building.

One hungry king!

Well, I suppose I have to brag about -something- but it's something not of my own. My wife plays Candy Crush you see. I started playing it with her but stopped at level 169. Now when I Neverwinter she crushes candies. When I Warframe, she crushes candies. Whenever I'm on the computer, she crushes candies. Sometimes when we watch TV, she crushes candies. Curious, I recently asked her what level she is up to.


This is without buying any in game powerups. O_O

Lastly here's a pretty cool music clip of "Me and my broken heart", performed by people driving about in a car. Have a good day everyone! :P

Monday, 20 October 2014

Dracula Untold

Beware: Small spoilers ahead!

This re-imagining of the classic vampire tale tells of how Vlad the Impaler came to be (in the first 5 minutes) and how he turns into the legendary Dracula (the rest of the movie). The plot is pretty straight forward and mostly predictable. Fortunately the special FX, action sequences, and main vampires (remember that Vlad starts as a human) are all above average making it pretty enjoyable to watch.

Beware my poetry. I mean, powers. I'm the original batman!

As Vlad powers up it's pretty fun to see the extent of his powers. A pity then that the vampire of the mountain keeps his hidden for most of the movie, the same for his agendas. He is one loose thread that leaves some room for Dracula 2 or whatever. The main enemy Vlad must contend with are the vast number of Turks invading his home. Not sure how or why so many would journey there but it's like the Sultan brought his entire army with him.

There are stupid parts though like blindfolding said army and trying to march them in formation across uneven terrain. Yep, this works in the movie but in real I suspect more than a few people marching in armor would have tumbled and caused a hilarious domino effect. Also I didn't take the Sultan to have a loud enough voice to adequately command everyone even if he was in the center of them.

Anyway it's a decent enough flick though it suffers from a somewhat silly final scene and the usual unanswered questions. Regardless, I give it 3 silver coins out of 5.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Today I Smiled: First Attempt

A book of ideas and a handful of recycled business cards. That's what my first attempt at making a board game looks like. Well, I guess due to lack of a board that makes it a card game? Designed to be competitive vs other players I gave it a whirl with my wife and on top of losing (lol!) found many problems with some balance mechanics and inclusion. Two player mode is fine but with any more I could see parts where only two people are active while the rest are idling for too long. Oh well, back to the drawing board. It was a good learning experience that definitely made me smile. :P

Friday, 17 October 2014

Tropico 3: Idle Advisor

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

Due to my victories I am next assigned as an advisor to the presidente of Isla de la Rosalita, a small island with lousy geography and while there were a number of harvestable resources half of them were near inaccessible so I ignored them altogether. Seeing the lack of land for housing I built an immigration office first to stem the tide of new comers. Then the presidente does something stupid and enforces a pay rise to all the farmers and puts us so deep in debt that we can't build anything. This is made worse by a world economic crisis that makes our exports more worthless than before. As a first, both US and the USSR have gunships circling our waters. Who says they can't get along?

I say we launch a simultaneous attack in which you go first.

This doesn't stop the presidente from spending more money we don't have, donating funds to his cousin's jet pack research and getting a half price power plant that semi-melts down. Good thing humanitarian aid camps are free. As people begin striking I am forced to begin executions as stopping work or paying off the protesters is not a wise option. Sure, some people become rebels due to this but I had already foreseen it happening and was slowly building up the military presence on the island to deal with those traitorous scum. I believe in the end we killed them all, the highlight being that the rebels occupied the radio station to broadcast their opinions. I simply told the army to setup C4 and collapse the whole thing. There is no negotiation with terrorists and so called "freedom fighters".

Eventually KGB agent Boris Pavlovich asks for help to remove the current presidente through violent means. I refuse but he goes through with it anyway and somehow win the following elections (102/12) as the starving, overworked, and terrified people love me. Or fear me. Whatever. The super powers never invade which is unfortunate, as the rest of the time this is becoming more like an idle game where I am just waiting for stuff to happen. Anyway, with no real opposition left this mission is completed - though I finish with the treasury in a state of staggering debt at -97k!

Welp, I've had enough of governing for awhile so I pack up my bags from Tropico for a vacation elsewhere. Hope you enjoyed reading! =)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tropico 3: The Pirate King

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

Looks like the pirates liked me so much that the more violent military types took me to a nearby island to be their king! It's not a bad place with four easily accessible mines and some oil. Not so much of a logging industry though, and -no- elections. It's a monarchy after all. Turns out it's my job to actually change that with reforms and putting together an advisory cabinet for free speech is just the first step toward that goal. I do question their line of trying to make rum the island's primary export though, given I don't make a single factory for that.

With the eager US pushing forward money to help the island become a democracy it is pretty easy to keep everyone, especially the supposedly monarchist military people happy. The religious folk get a bit upset when I allow Mardi Gras, "Tropicostock" (Woodstock) and other various freedoms (like same sex marriages) to happen but I simply remind them with a visit from the Pope that they should know their place. My aide, Penultimo then manages a stroke of brilliance - getting self proclaimed monarchists to wear the red knight's cross making them easy targets to fall prey to "accidents" for my secret police. I kill most of them before the rest rebel, a number small enough for my army to annihilate without my further intervention.

Soon enough the citizens are ready to move to a democracy, and though I win the following election against Itzlar Pena (135/3) the lesson is taught and the mission is completed - I am free to let someone else rule once my term is up, and since I know that none of the citizens could handle that I made an alliance with the most qualified faction when it comes to liberty: The USSR!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tropico 3: Stability of Law

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

After personally killing some rebels and winning the next election I was contacted by local crime lord Don Pez with a 8k donation towards the island. He also mentioned something of owing him a favour but I didn't really listen at that point because people were striking, rebel numbers were growing, and the threat of a military coup kept coming up. Fortunately with Don's donation and some development aid from the US, I was able to enact the Social Security and Food for the People edicts which bought enough time to settle down all those factions.

Soon I was building hotels, a casino (where I had to jail cheating intellectual scum), a zoo, a bank, TV and Radio stations and all those other wonderful things we often take for granted. The drain on the power grid was initially too strong so I needed a second power plant constructed mirroring the first as the tourism trade began to take off. Things were going so well that I actually had to start stopping people from coming into the island (250+ population at that point) and had to build extra roads to lessen traffic!

Don Pez tried to blackmail me to kill someone at that point to which I refused so he tried to slander my reputation. Who are the people to believe, a crime lord or the guy that gets the Pope to visit? No, my sway at that point is too powerful and I am too well liked by all to have any further issues, even when pirates began attacking freighters I just challenged their leader and defeated him.

All up it was a victorious campaign and though I only pocketed 14,482 pesos (low) in the Swiss bank account, Carmencita was doing well. As a final act to ensure the criminal elements didn't get out of hand I allied with the US, letting them build a military base and basically take over.

Ameeeeeriiiica! (art by Sharpwriter)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tropico 3: A Generous Thief

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

After my previous success I was asked to help govern the isle of Carmencita, which is basically populated by modern pirates. Before I go further I had to modify El Presidente a little for this mission as it's main goal was to see how much money you can swindle into his Swiss bank account which is an impossibility if you are "incorruptible", so for this map I've swapped that out for "well traveled" which seems to suit this story. Too bad I didn't get to bring that huge wallet I amassed from the last island.

Carmencita has a few minable spots going for it, but with no oil or harvestable trees and very little agriculture spots it is pretty clear early on that I'm going to need tourism to keep this place afloat. From past experience I've learned to build up things for the residents first though including a police station which I often neglected previously as "incorruptible" gave -30% to crime. I also setup a humanitarian aid camp right away for free medicine and food while I setup fisheries, and got a sweet deal on a half price power station from the USSR, because they are awesome at building those things.

Maybe the Marked One will pay me a visit!

My thinking about tourism is verified when I learn that the movie "Pirates of the Tropics" is released and adds +15 to tourism. Alas, I'm nowhere near ready with my airport still half constructed and no other hotels or touristy venues constructed. Unsurprisingly I already have a handful of rebels as well, some of whom I had to personally kill when they attacked one of the mines (always the mines?). No doubt they also are the cause behind various workers striking across the island and as much as I'd like to send the army in I know that's what the rebels want so this time I'm just paying them off. If I'm going to be stealing from their treasury anyway (the main point of this mission) I figured I'd at least share. :P

Monday, 13 October 2014

Tropico 3: Swimming in Money

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

Despite failing the last mission it seems my skills were seen valuable to the nearby island of Isla de Aro which had just celebrated its independence day from British rule, though the Brits still had a 50% tax on all exports. The island itself was awesome, with many resources to mine, oil to drill, good climates for crops, and having very road friendly terrain which I built up first to link everything together and build up the industry side of things. I'm not alone in thinking this as delegations from the US and USSR both visited and offered 10k to assist in development. Even the outbreak of llama flu doesn't hinder progress with the amount of cash coming in, and for the first time I am so far away from being in debt to the World Bank that it is refreshing!

Who knew this screeny would be so useful? :P

Soon edicts for Food for the People, Social Security, a Literacy Program, Modern Militarization, and a Papal visit are issued. We even host a Trade Fair that helps with the export prices, though I do have to side with the US as they were willing to buy exactly what I was producing (oil, tobacco, and furniture). When profiteer Stavros Michaellis asks to own one of the rigs for 1K per year I decline and sure enough later find out he is involved with some sort of bribe scandal in which I blackmail a few parties and then get them killed. Cleanliness is next to godliness afterall.

I also learn that one of the bomb threats on my factories was actually spawned from a neighboring island so I did the only rational thing and declared open war. The US were quick to step in and block that from happening though, paying me 10K while they "changed" the government on the opposing faction. All too soon my term ends with what is so far my best run yet. With the people over 70% in the happiness meter and over 330k pesos in the treasury. All in all an awesome and easy pick me up after El Muerte.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tropico 3: I am Undone

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

Despite the poor conditions on the island I find that I am winning the elections easily (must be getting the knack of speech craft). I soon learn that the terrorist group Joghurta, which I can only assume voodoo shaman Katunga is part of, has other ideas and has planted a WMD that creates natural disasters inside my presidential palace. Instead of taking action that might harm my island, I invite a UN delegate to disarm the weapon which inadvertently destroys cities in both the US and USSR. The angry American president also then demands that I hand the device over, which I do but apparently it goes off again in his home killing a few people. To make matters worse I find the US were actually trying to make clones of me (to take my place) in my private residence (not the palace). To stop their plans I have that location demolished.

Mental note, storing radioactive stuff in your house is a bad idea.

It goes without saying that US warships are soon patrolling the nearby waters so to placate them somewhat I hand over KGB agent Mina Petrova who was trying to convince me to release Llama Flu upon my populace. My own agents soon discover that Joghurta is trying to bribe my own military to stage a coup, so to increase foreign relations request a joint CIA and KGB operation to take them down. With them out of the way and the rebel numbers at an all time low I can refocus on building up the population so I try my best to make people happy with a visit from the Pope, the construction of a sports center to host Pan-Caribbean games, and sneakily put a ban on contraception to increase numbers. I even splurge the treasury money on recruiting foreign experts to just try boost population numbers much to the annoyance of the nationalist faction.

Alas it is to no avail. With people dying of starvation and my economy going all over the place I simply didn't have enough workers to manage everything. Basically the town grew too fast, and it was evident by the number of unmanned construction sites that I splurged the treasury foolishly. Manipulating the wages of farmers and the like also proved to be a mistake as with so many jobs offering the same pay, people were just chillaxing and job jumping instead of having roles filled by demand or necessity. By the end of my term I only have 150 people on the island with a happiness rating of 54%, very short of my target. Mission failed.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Tropico 3: Voodoo Tech

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

I next found myself governing the isle of El Muerte which while having natural mineral deposits and crude oil for mining was a mess for people to navigate due to its terrible terrain structure. To make matters worse there was a serial killer and terrorist of the "magical" voodoo variety named Katunga who enjoyed demanding tribute lest he unleash his dark magics in the forms of sorcery and curses. Refusing to bargain with terrorists, the island was subjected to bad luck, earthquakes and hurricanes that destroyed buildings and killed people. There were also USSR gun ships ready to attack who I managed to dissuade at the last minute, and a strange microchip doctors discovered inside me that cost 15k to remove, putting the treasury deeper in debt!

Being generally unhappy, some of the populace resorted to rebellion, and attempted to destroy one of the oil refineries. Fortunately I've learned that a well paid military often performs better so they managed to drive them back into the jungle after a short gun fight. A bomb threat on the same refinery saw it still closed as it was swept for explosives though. Meanwhile the US kept offering all sorts of deals to establish various businesses (fronts for the CIA) on the island to secure their interests and despite my constant public rejections the KGB tried to off me by sending agent Mina Petrova to kill me and install their own puppet in my place. I spent a lavish 7k to seduce the woman instead. El Presidente is smooth with the ladies.

Then I had my portrait painted. 

It is soon made clear to me that the two ways to "succeed" here were either to take the capitalist method of earning $500k worth in exports or the communist way of increasing population to 250 people with a happiness rating of 60 or higher. Due to the tryst with Mina, I foolishly chose the latter.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Tropico 3: No Puppet

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

My good friends from USSR offered their help in my little situation. I had the choice of getting free construction or construction bonuses but instead I chose for them to send in KGB agents to hunt down any stupid rebels hiding in the jungle. In an effort to cut their numbers down even more I offered them amnesty, forgiveness so they would return to the fold. Alas only one fool agreed to that (and was never heard from again). Soon it was election time again and somehow, the people loved me so much that I won against Erwin Jefferson by a landslide of 97 - 26. Mothers were even naming babies after me. I must be doing something right!

And then once more, the tide turned. Our little island had to fight off pirates while the gold mines ran out of gold and soon people began dying of starvation! Without enough food to feed the 170 people under my rule I ordered the immigration office to use a "closed door" policy (no one enters) and immediately went into debt with the World Bank by rapid construction of farms and fisheries. During this time, the wife of General Navarro (the guy who thinks I'm his puppet) casually asks me for $10k to buy a fur coat. Obviously I say no. The rebel leader Enrique takes this as a sign that I might be turning to his side and via letter bluntly gives me one last chance to choose my allegiances. I finally reply which side I truly am on: My own.

Storming into General Navarro's camp I put a bullet right into his face and capture his wife to be sold as a slave. My reputation with the military is so high now that it becomes a non-event, but despite their loyalty they are badly outnumbered by the rebels, who I learn are about to try storm my palace. I could make an alliance with the US or USSR to strengthen my numbers here but I decide that it must be a battle settled by the people. I decide to put conscription into effect, allowing uneducated people to be soldiers (poor ones) and swelling the ranks of my army immediately. To boost morale (and because I just wanted to) I also organized a Papal visit so that my soldiers could be blessed by the powers of god (no, the Pope in game doesn't do that - he just makes all factions respect you more).

El Presidente doesn't compensate for anything!

Soon enough Enrique and his main rebel force came into open conflict with me and my soldiers at the Presidential Palace itself. After intense fighting, only I and two of my men remained at the end. As for the assassin at large? I had enough funds the next time his trail was caught to hire a better assassin to kill him. Total victory was mine. Alas, I knew that with the island's major gold resource vein depleted, it would only be a matter of time before the place descended into anarchy so it was time to quietly move again elsewhere.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Tropico 3: The Secret Police

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

After the failed assassination attempt on my life, I decided to build not only a police station but an immigration station to try control the flow of people onto the island. This way there would be less rebels coming in, and certainly less rebels escaping! I also decided to create a secret police force and chose their base as the immigration station, but since that meant it stopped doing it's original function I was forced to build another immigration station right next to it. Hopefully no one noticed...

Because all of these people are totally under the radar. (Photo by baketsuki)

The construction of a foreign embassy also fixed matters with USSR as their warships departed, leaving me to deal with the constant nuisance that was the rebel threat. I again had to close the jewellery factory due to bomb threats and fought off another group attacking a gold mine (got injured this time to a grenade). My secret police actually managed to capture the rebel bomber which was great as it gave me someone to execute. They also had a hot lead on the assassin but during the chase it was they who got killed, leaving me to hire more experts from abroad to fill their now empty and bloodied shoes.

At the same time I'm trying to meet the demands of the populace, giving them churches, cathedrals, cabarets, schools, markets, restaurants and newspapers which somehow increase liberty. I also gain the favour of the military, building a second base and armory. Increasing the respect of the general public for me just angers rebel leader Enrique as that assassin again comes after me. With a lack of funds and forces to counteract this I tell the secret police to get my double ready. Soon enough my look alike is dead and the killer is again in the wind. I'm going to have to do something about that.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tropico 3: An Island with No Name

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

On this island with no name, I have been installed as Governor in the stead of General Luis Navarro who realized that while he is a good fighter - he's a crappy leader. I learn early on that this isle has not one but two gold deposits and immediately set to work making the most of that for export, putting up a jewelry crafting factory soon after. It is the most expensive start to a term ever and I find myself so deep in debt with the World Bank that there are times I cannot actually purchase anything. Luckily there are quick pesos to be made here and there, like exporting Fool's Gold to our neighbors for quick profit.

The other problem is the ever growing number of rebels led by someone named Enrique. They manage to incite a dock strike, one that I cannot afford to be violent in so I just pay off the people striking. More painful is when I am forced to temporarily shut down the Jewel Factory to disarm the bombs they planted there. With their very strong presence it isn't long before I increase the soldiers wages, bases, and technology. It pays off too when my soldiers, led by me personally, destroyed a rebel group attacking one of the mines.

Are you a rebel?

With all my focus on the military the people again were forgotten and when an election was called I faced a steep defeat once more especially as my speech was not so effective this time. Fortunately my old tricks of Food for the People, Social Security and Tax Cuts led me to victory against Barrut Ramirez to the tune of 43 to 29. His reaction was to send an assassin after me, most likely an agent from one of those USSR warships circling the island. The attempt failed, but with the assassin in the wind and no proof to throw around I simply made an announcement to calm the people. Finally, things are getting interesting!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tropico 3: I Hate Tourists

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

By the horrible machinations of fate, I found myself assigned next to the small island of St. Pata which was famous for being poor and having no natural resources. The only way to make a thriving community here was to embrace... tourism. Shit. With no time to spare I immediately set to task constructing tourist docks, hotels, souvenir shops, tour guides, beach resorts and the like often putting the finances into debt with the World Bank and hanging on barely with support funds from the US and USSR.

However, having totally ignored the needs of the actual residents at St. Pata I found myself on the losing (and losing badly) end of a sudden election and only through splurging money to put Social Security, Food for the People, and Tax Cuts edicts out did I win against Colleen Flores, 55 to 31.

Despite that strikes at the dock and construction sites forced my hand to kill more people until they obeyed my command. Somehow, more people end up joining the rebels and they succeed in destroying a corn farm, making everyone else hungry with their lack of foresight. They also capture and execute some tourists (way to go stupid rescue team) which hurts the treasury even more.

It's ok guys, I brought the +2 hammer of letting kidnappers know we are here!

The tourists themselves also bring problems with one douchebag crashing the presidential limo into the house of the local religious leader. I graciously sentenced him to forced labor, becoming the man slave to some backwater locals. It turns out he is the son of a US diplomat who wants to pay $5k to see him freed. What sort of message does that send your son, and indeed - the rest of the world? I tell the diplomat to fuck off and that his son is a bitch for life. Soon after I am told US Warships are circling the island. Pfft. They just like to act tough.

All it takes is for me to modernize the military and hire mercenaries from overseas then poof, the ships mysteriously leave. Hah! Cowards. Sure, it might have had something to do with Typhoon Dahlia which came a few days after they left and killed 10 people and destroyed 2 buildings but I like to think I scared them off. Fortunately I reached my quota of 150 tourists soon after and heroically abdicated my position to travel elsewhere before people came back to look for me. Yes, I bravely ran away! :P

Monday, 6 October 2014

Tropico 3: Fist of Iron

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

My next office was at the isle of El Acantilado, where I had to govern refugees from some nearby conflict and ship out 5000 units of iron. I immediately got the mining operations, roads and housing started as I had the benefit of a foreign aid corporation helping out with medicine and food. Another set of foreigners, a group of explorers, also arrived and requested permission to go on an expedition into the deep jungle. I simply made them pay a $2000 dollar expedition tax and sent them on their merry way. They would never be found again, believed to have been eaten by El Chupacabra.

Back in the city I increased the wages for the miners to encourage a better performance from them, paying out big time with each export freighter that left our shores. Most of the money I had to spend on importing educated experts to run a lot of the facilities though - I completely forgot to put a High School up. Along with a few, other mistakes... like not connecting the garage to the road, so no one had cars. Despite me enacting the Food for the People and Social Security edicts again some people were leaving the island, and some were becoming rebels!

This came to a head when a gang of them decided to attack the police station. I went with my handful of soldiers but they were so untrained (oops, forgot to tick that option) that they all got killed. I managed to take down some rebels too but was wounded in the encounter and had to withdraw, letting the remaining two destroy that building. Fortunately my heroism must have shone through because in the next election I easily won 63 to 29 against Veronica Martinez, who I assume was a rebel. In no time at all, I had again met my quota and finished my task here so I left my subjects to the tender cares of the real Chupacabra, which I was keeping in a cage all this time. And boy was it hungry.

It can smell fear.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tropico 3: Planting the Wrong Seeds

[This is part of my Tropico 3 Journal!]

After a crash course in presidency with the supposed toucan worshipper named Penultimo, I have been sent to the "fruitful" island St. Helena and have been tasked to oversee the exports of 8000 units worth of agricultural goods as a test of my abilities. Being isolated, these islands have no other form of income other than exported goods so it was good to see that they already had a shipping port up and running upon my arrival. Using my superior skills I quickly decided to build more farms to get this task out of the way so I could move on to the more lucrative islands. And I mean personally. These builders are bloody slow!

Alas, while enjoying the salsa music from the radio it seems I overlooked the small matter of actually having enough housing and food for my subjects. I foolishly set all the farms to plant tobacco which, while being a profitable export, doesn't actually feed anyone so I was forced to switch a number over to be corn and banana plantations instead. This wasn't an instantaneous as I would have liked, and with falling popularity I quickly decided to setup a church and army base (for paladins! lol) to deal with any trouble makers.

Like this, with the figure in the back being El Presidente!

Just in time too as some plantation workers went on strike due to their poor wages and terrible hours. They quickly changed their tune when I sent the army in to shoot a few of them dead. They didn't ever strike again after that incident, but instead called for elections! Though my opponent Kiril Kikitin started off with the majority vote, a well constructed speech (yes the game lets you construct speeches) and my sudden "generous" edicts of Social Security and Food for the People (where they get two meals a day instead of one) was enough to swing the votes to my favour, 58 to 32.

I'm not sure if I would have survived a second election but it didn't matter because I soon reached the quota I had and finished the mission, leaving someone else to govern the remaining dissidents.

Tropico 3: Revista De La Presidenta

Thanks to guildie Wrothak, I was gifted the game of Tropico 3 which in short is a city building and management game set on a handful of remote tropical islands. Since I haven't done a game journal thing for awhile I thought I'd start one up for this game. I cannot guarantee how long I'll stick with it though as strategy games and I don't really get along! One of the highlights for me is that the game lets you create your own "El Presidente", complete with background story, traits and flaws so let me introduce you to him now.

As a famous war hero (+bonus in combat), El Presidente claims his calling to rule comes from a heavenly dream where the Pope himself anointed him as savior of the people (+rep to religious folk). He is a good Administrator (cheaper to construct buildings) and an Incorruptible spirit (reduces crime) but is Short Tempered (-rep from intellectuals, -rep from military) and is considered a bit of a Cheap Skate (-rep to communists and maximum salary people can earn is -50% less than from a non cheap skate leader). He also dresses up like a pirate for some reason. Let's see just how well he does when given the chance to rule...

Planting the Wrong Seeds
Fist of Iron
I Hate Tourists
An Island with No Name 
The Secret Police
No Puppet
Voodoo Tech
I am Undone
Swimming in Money
A Generous Thief
Stability of Law
The Pirate King
Idle Advisor

This story has ended! Hope you enjoyed reading! :)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Warframe: Trinity's "Secret" Combo

Despite being a "healer" Warframe with all four powers geared to restoring the Health and Shields of her allies, the Trinity has one nasty combo that makes her a very efficient boss hunting machine (against some bosses anyway). It all has to do with the math of her first and second of her abilities, which is conveniently the sequence you need to remember to use her secret "attack".

Step 1: Cast Well of Life on Target.
Effect: Target will GAIN a health multiplier (x10).
Effect: Anyone that hits it will regain health.

Step 2: Wait for Well of Life timer to reach near 1 second.

Step 3: Cast Energy Vampire on same Target (that should still have Well of Life)
Effect: Deals pulse damage based on enemy's remaining amount of health and shields.
Effect: Anyone that hits it will regain Energy.

Step 4: Well of Life expires.
Effect: Target will lose the health multiplier, returning to original values.
Effect: Energy Vampire will still do damage based on the original, boosted values.

Result: Target very owned.

Using this I soloed Ambulas, the Corpus MOA boss on Pluto to farm up some Excaliber parts even though my Trinity was still under leveled. Alas, the bosses that require soft spots to be shot will probably be immune to this and on the many normal mobs it's generally faster to kill them with your weapons.

On a side note, that's an interesting design decision Digital Extremes made there. If you didn't pick Excaliber as your "starting" frame the only way to get it later on is to fight your way from Mercury outwards, beating all the bosses to unlock more planets and satellites until you reach Pluto which is home to some pretty high level Corpus.

I can't think of any other game off hand where something you are offered right at the start can be so difficult to get later on. :P