26 June 2020

Thrice

I have finished Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor: Prophecy thrice now. Once with my assassin, once with my crusader and finally with my tech-adept.

Excellent game. High recommended.

21 June 2020

The week had passed fast. I spent a lot of time playing Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor: Martyr and Prophecy. Great game!

11 June 2020

Laptops and what not

A few years ago, I bought a cheap $300  HP laptop. The HP laptop was abysmal. It had 4 GB of RAM and it was inadequate. It had a small bit of solid state memory. With Windows 10 installed, the device had practically no storage space to install anything including Windows 10 updates. The laptop crawled and was useless. Who would design such a piece of trash? HP of course. It was my first laptop in over twenty years. In any case, I bought a real proper laptop this month, an Aftershock. It looks to be a good device.


01 June 2020

Lockdown

Two months of lockdown had mostly come to an end. I had worked at home and have been comfortable at home. I would have to return to the office on a consistent basis from tomorrow.

The lockdown doesn't really end, The lockdown or circuit-breaker as the government calls is still mostly in place but most companies except retail and eateries are restricted. It might take a month, it might take more time, it might take less time before things are less restricted. We shall see.

28 May 2020

I am finally done.

What a nice rainy night!

Book maintenance

The weeks had passed swiftly. I had worked in the day and at night at home. During weekends, I cleaned the study, re-arranged the books on the shelves. There were two decades of grime and dirt. Many books were stained. Time had gone by in an eyeblink. I should have a more regular maintenance programme to look after the books.

The shelves were finally done, now, just a few hundred books to wipe clean.

20 May 2020

I am lethargic. I am trying to do some work.

Trying out games

As I do have a vast backlog of unplayed games, I spent time trying them out lately.

I have tried Master of Orion (remake), Halo: Spartan Strike, Halo: Spartan Assault, Townsmen: A King Rebuilt, Stronghold Crusader 2, Star Control: Origins, Order of Battle: World War II, Payday 2, Railroad Empire.

I have decided to stop trying out games and also playing them for a period of time. I want to read!

Conan Unconquered has been tedious and aggravating. The upkeep for each succeeding building is impossible. It makes it rather not fun to play. I have set it to easy and I had meant to finish it once and uninstall it after.

14 May 2020

A tale within a tale


"Tony & Susan" is a powerful, absorbing psychological novel of anger, repressed feelings and betrayal. The narrative voice entrices, compells and lures one into the tale of murder, anguish and justice in "Nocturnal Animals" while in parallel, examines the thoughts and feelings of the reader, being Susan. The fact that the novel is titled "Tony & Susan" and not "Edward & Susan" is indicative. One of the central themes examined was that of passiveness and letting events and people sweep one by. The powerful character studies within does make this disturbing novel a worthwhile read. Recommended.





Note: This work is not a thriller. This is a literary novel. If one reads it expecting a supermarket thriller, one would be severely disappointed.

The size of things

Drawing on paper of different sizes does force one to think differently. The shape and size of the canvas can dictate the composition for a given piece.

I found an unfinished piece of a space from five years ago on a piece of A3 paper. The very size had expanded my imagination in ways that an A4 canvas could never do. I was astonished at what I had drawn, it would suggest that I was of a different mindset and mentality, perhaps even a different person from five years ago. Of course, I am the same person, yet, the thoughts in my mind and what my mind had conjured then...

Dreams of a city

It is not often that I draw on A3 sheets, I draw mainly on A4 sheets. It has been years since I drew on such a large piece of paper. I took out a A3 pad earlier and looked at a pencil rendition of a city which I drew about five or six years ago. Two of the buildings were in ink while the rest were in pencils, the city was about 90% complete. I will continue at a leisurely pace and complete it. I like what I see.

I have frequently been astonished by what I had imagined in the past.
Time flies. I read in the day and work at night.

I have cut down on gaming in favour of reading. I did give Cliff Empire a try. I can't see much game in that game but the building design is appealing. The artist is to be commended. As for gameplay, I am not sure.

Tonight, I will rush at least 300 entries for work, 300 write-ups. I will also need to do some market research to assist the company.

11 May 2020

Fading Eagle: Politics and Decline of Britain's Post-War Air Force

Fading Eagle: Politics and Decline of Britain's Post-War Air Force by Ian Watson is a chatty and meandering narrative of the decline of the post-war RAF which doesn't really provide any new insight into what is already known, the dwindling budget of a fading empire.

The writer is knowledgeable, but in most of the volume, he is mostly bemoaning the fact of the RAF's decline. 

08 May 2020

Siege of Centauri

I finished Siege of Centauri last night. I bought the game just a few days back. It is a tower defence game. The game is well made and polished. It has a science fiction theme. By its nature, tower defence is a fantastical notion, not really anchored in reality, thus it lends itself well to science fiction, fantasy and horror themes. I came upon the tower defence games late. I have played a handful over the years, the best being Deathtrap, created by the makers of the Van Helsing action RPG games.



The Siege of Centauri is a tower defence games of building turrets. It is straight forward in that sense, one does not get mobile forces to sally forth and engage enemies, one does not have to build prerequisite buildings to get others. In any case, the map designs do not lend itself to that. Instead, one gets the usual turrets or towers, those beginning basic damage dealing ones, the medium damage dealing ones, the ones that slow the enemy, the ones that does long range damage, the ones that does damage affecting and area and more.

The graphics are attractive, the design aspects of the hardware are convincing. As for the story about posthumans and all, and also the narrative arc, I am not too sure. It seems unresolved and contrived.



The gameplay is just right without being overly difficult which is a pleasure to play. There is a tendency for games these days to be overly hard and tedious, with the Darkest Dungeon, XCOM1 and XCOM2 being the worst, shameful offenders. I finished all the scenarios in normal with the exception of three. This doesn't count as a normal finish as I didn't get the "achievement". Some scenarios did require a few tries. As for difficulty levels, it is flexible, it has a gauge allowing one to tweak the difficulty level as to what one is comfortable with. The game requires positioning, careful thought and planning based on the composition of the coming enemies and the direction of their approach, and lastly, the turrets chosen and what to upgrade.



All in all, it is a good game, I enjoyed Siege of Centauri. I would recommend it.

I will return to Conan Unconquered in time to come. The Conan tower defence game has a lot of tension and the upkeep aspect, the command point aspect and the population aspect are tedious. I will also be looking at They are Billions.




04 May 2020

Monsoon season

The weather has fluctuated a fair bit lately. The last three weeks has seen Singapore visited by thunderstorms and scorching hot weather. Even as I typed, I can hear rumbling thunder.

03 May 2020

Warframe



I was telling Kun Rong earlier about trying out Warframe for the first time last night. I installed Warframe a few years ago. It was a 2013 release. I only played it for the first time last night. Warframe is about warframes, another word for powersuits. It has been constantly updated. When I looked at the graphics, I was blown away from first impressions. I gather this would be rather commonplace these days. In any case, environmental design has come a long way. I played it once last night and finished the introduction and one mission. I find that I can play this without getting nauseous which is great. However, the third person shooter perspective is exhausting. It feels like Guild Wars 2 and Dauntless in that aspect. I think I will stop at this point.

It is a good game from first impressions, no doubt about that. However, it is exhausting. I don't like leaping off walls like parkour or something to that effect and trying to get up higher levels. I had seen that in Titanfall. It is a good game but just not for me.

30 April 2020

Tank on Tank Digital: A Dice Rolling Festival

I bought Tank on Tank Digital: West Front and East Front (DLC) yesterday. I loaded it up last night and tried a few battles.

The proposition is attractive. A fast moving wargame on World War II low level combat, akin to the old Squad Leader. The units are single vehicles, single anti-tank guns and also squads or sections. At least I think they are because the vehicles and units have facing. In other words, their frontal aspect would be the strongest while their flanks and rear would give a small modifier to enemies attacking from that direction. Each units would have a range, defence value (soft or hard), a movement factor. Strangely enough there is no attack value. In other words, your Puma would roll the same two dice as your Tiger I in an attack. Your M26 would roll the same two dice as your M4. With the exception of infantry having a -1 when attacking into woods, town or improved positions, this is rather puzzling. With larger units, one could claim that this would be an aggregate of the unit and more. In this rather low level depiction, it seems odd.

The wargame attempts to depict the issues of limited command with a small amount of command points available each turn and also the usage of the HQ units. However this restraint can mean that for a unit to reach a victory point across the map, the expenditure of command points would be prodigous, leaving very little room for anything else. This could be an issue of scenario design, this could be that of the system as well.

I tried several scenarios. The scenarios are tight, leaving little room for error. They often degenerate onto a dice rolling festival as it is difficult to launch a combined attack without the expenditure of several turns of command points thus increasing the odds for success in an attack. It usually boils down to a dice rolling contest. A lucky shot or two will change the complexion of the scenario.



In one game, the AI knocked out six or seven of my units with its artillery with its first attack on those units. Well, that's luck. In another, the enemy anti-tank gun successively killed two of my infantry squads which were hidden in urban spaces. The AI seems to have consistently significantly better dice rolls too. I have not managed to win a single scenario yet.



I read that the AI has incredible dice rolls in many of the reviews. In my five or six games, it seems to bear that out.

I managed a victory tonight after six or so attempts.


Panzer Corps: A Game of War and Indeterminate Units


I finally got down to playing Panzer Corps. It was reminiscent of the old Panzer General series which I had purchased but not played much due to its appearance during a stage in my life when I was very busy.

I went through all the tutorials, after which, I loaded the Kursk scenario and played the German forces attempting to force a decision at Kursk. The objective of the scenario was Kursk and several more urban spaces, presumably towns. There were quite a bit of them including some at the edges of the salient. 

The first observation made of the Panzer Corps game system is that the units are indeterminate in scale, identity and composition. One can see Nashorn units, Ferdinand units, anti-tank units, Tiger tank units. What on earth are those? Surely, they can't be corps given the namesake of this game? A Tiger tank corps? An anti-tank gun corps? A Nashorn corps? It absolutely does not make sense. It does not model reality. If one were to define them as armoured corps, then, why would a Nashorn corps have strong anti-tank values and weak defence values? In other words, the units are arbitrary, much like the units in Axis & Allies, a game with a war theme but not a conflict simulation (consim).

Secondly, there is no scale on the map. It is merely a map with units and geographical locations that seem to reflect what was there in 1943.

I will not then speak of supply nor command. It would be pointless.

Having established that this is like Axis & Allies, a game with a war theme but not technically a wargame, Panzer Corps is not like those early SPI or Avalon Hill beer and pretzel game which at least try to model reality in some form.

What are the strengths then of Panzer Corps? Based on the Kursk scenario which I completed and won on the last turn, yes, there were that many objectives. I had to dispatch units all over the map just to hold them. It does have a flavour of what you read of Operational Zitadelle. The Germans were drastically short of infantry, which did reflect reality. The Russians had a lot of anti-tank guns, infantry and tanks, most of which were easily dispatched, much like in real life. The Russians had more fighters and were able to establish local air superiority at various junctures. In that, it does reflect history. It does have a certain flavour about it.  It is full of game and it is fast-paced.

It would really depends on what one is looking for in a game or if one is looking for a wargame (consim).