Saturday, 20 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #23: Eight Epics - Game #8

Time for another game of Eight Epics, and as with my last game I will be keeping the order of the avatars and the difficulty toggles set as they were in the fourth game.

So with no new decisions to make, I prepared the avatars, created the threat deck; and drew my first card...

Round 1 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

To say that me and this threat have history would be an understatement. To this date, Makano has been a massive thorn in my side every time that I have drawn him.. And I seem to draw him a lot (he's been drawn in six out of seven games I've played so far by my count)! This time however, things went very differently.

Whilst I did take a good few licks on the first challenge; I passed the subsequent three with great ease, meaning the avatars as a whole only lost 12 Life Points. Less than they lost to Narssis in the opening round of the last game; who in my opinion is comparatively a less difficult threat to overcome.

Round 2 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.


Riding high on the success of round one, I was happy to see Uluwash drawn next. True, he had given me a hard time in the last game; but I would say that was the exception as opposed to the the rule. Little did I know at that point, that I was in store for more of the same.

High roll after high roll put a serious dent in the avatars; eliminating one (Jarroth), and leaving five others on half of their starting Life Point totals, or less.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilant Breath.

Last round I needed all low rolls. This round I needed all high rolls, so it was quite ironic and amusing to see all the low rolls come out as I tried to beat Broxix; just as all the high rolls had come out during my battle against Uluwash.

Putting my love of irony aside however, this meant the condition of the avatars went from bad at the end of the last round, to significantly worse by the end of this one; leaving only two of them standing (Leafwind and Ophinia), both with only 1 Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Narssis, Unholy One / Hronthar, Winged Flame.

The last round was pretty short and sweet as the remaining two avatars decided to try their luck with Narssis. However, being as badly depleted as they were they were unable to check off even a single challenge; ending the round and the game.

Final Thoughts

The dice were definitely against me this time, but I still made it to the final round (if only briefly); which I'm going to take as a good sign.

To me it means that I am getting closer to beating this difficulty setting; and I'm doing so more through strategy and critical thinking than I am through blind luck. Quite impressive (even if I do say so myself) when you consider that this is largely a luck driven game.

10 x 10 Challenge #22: Eight Epics - Game #7

Continuing on with my 10 x 10 Challenge, and the related blogging; I set up another game of Eight Epics, using the same toggles and starting line up as I did previously. I may not won a game playing the avatars in this order as of yet, but I am convinced that this is probably one of the best orders to place them in.

So I lined them up, set their Life Points, prepared the threat deck, and drew the first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Based on past experience Narssis can be a tough cookie to crack, but there are far worse threats I could have drawn for the first round (Serrin, Shadow Reaper and Makano, Drill Strider spring to mind). That said, Narssis is far from a walk in the park; and I found myself burning through a lot of resources on the last challenge trying to roll a four, after rolling everything else required with the initial roll.

At the end of the round, the avatars had lost a total of 15 Life Points, with 5 of them being reduced to half of their starting Life Points or less.

Round 2 - Threat: Hronthar, Winged Flame.

I haven't seen Hronthar since my first game of Eight Epics; but by my recollection he was at the tougher end of the scale when it comes to threats, requiring consistently high rolls to defeat. Something that the dice were quite happy to give me in this instance.

The avatars did lose a handful of Life Points this round, but it could have been a lot worse; and the party still had more than enough strength left to drive home a win at this midway point.

Round 3 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

If the previous games of Eight Epics have taught me only one thing, it's that when Makano is drawn you're going to either lose the game, or take serious loses. This time was no exception.

By the end of the round, a total of 31 Life Points had been lost amongst the avatars, with seven of the avatars being reduced to less than half their starting Life Points, and of those seven; six only had one Life Point remaining.

Round 4 - Threats: Uluwash, Devouring Tide / Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

Entering the final round I knew that the chances of winning were slim to none after the pummeling the avatars had taken; but I did see a glimmer of hope when I saw who the final threats were. Uluwash and Pirn are two threats that I consider to be on the easier end of the scale. So despite the pasting that the avatars had taken at the hands of Makano I still felt that there was a chance I might snatch victory from the claws of defeat.

Seeing no real difference between the two, I opted to take on Uluwash first.. And it did not go well. I needed low rolls, but continually rolled high; losing three avatars before overcoming the threat. So in the final showdown I found myself facing Pirn with only three avatars (the other two were exhausted), who were all on half life or less.

At first it did look as if I might just pull this off, taking down the first challenge without too much difficulty; but as the dice scaled, my chances of winning dwindled dramatically. This left me facing the final challenge with only one avatar; which just wasn't enough, and the game was lost a couple of rolls later.

Final Thoughts

Another close game, and another game were Makano proved just too much to deal with. Makano aside however, it does feel good to be consistently making it through to the final round (and in this case the final threat) on this level of difficulty.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Meeple Arcade #4: Tapularity

Tapularity - Screenshot
In my last Meeple Arcade post, I talked about how I felt that escape games were just lazy point and click games, generally made by even lazier developers.

Not to out do myself, but today's offering is even lazier! Belong as it does to the genre of lazy games (otherwise known as clicker or incremental games).

For those of you not familiar with the genre, lazy games require little to no input on the part of the player; typically requiring only one button to play.

In this style of game, the player will find that they have to click on a button or an object (in the case of Tapularity, anywhere on the main screen) a few times when they begin the game, but that these clicks can then be converted into some kind of auto-clicker that will then do the job for them.. And that's all there really is to a lazy game!

Even with such a simple recipe though, there are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of poor quality clicker games out there; and whilst I knew that I wanted to cover the genre after my last post, I was determined to find a good example to share with you all.. And boy did that take time!

I found games that were good, but only loaded half of the time (now that's lazy!). Games that with poor interfaces (lazy). Games that were overly complicated (hey! I'm trying to be lazy here).. And then I found Tapularity.

A game that does the genre just right. It's simple, the interface is good; and you can get going with just a few clicks. Exactly what you want from a lazy game. There's also something wonderfully ironic about posting a game on social media in the lazy genre, to social media after a delay of a month and a half!

Want to try Tapularity for yourself?

Links

Play Tapularity at Crazy Games
Play Tapularity at Kongregate
Play Tapularity at Silvergames

Sunday, 14 May 2017

LCHF: Eat Bacon, Lose Weight.

Image created using Pokémon Battle Scene Creator - Pokémon And All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2017
It may sound too good to be true, but I swear to you that you can genuinely stuff your face with bacon and lose weight. Not just bacon, but butter, chicken, eggs, cheese, beef, pork.. Basically anything that is high in fat, but low in carbohydrates (or low carb, high fat - LCHF).

But how does it work?

Image created using Pokémon Battle Scene Creator - Pokémon And All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2017The science behind the diet is that by reducing your carbohydrate intake, you also reduce your insulin levels. This has the effect of making it much easier for your body to burn fat.. And you'd be surprised just how much fat you can burn in a relatively short period of time using this method.

I'm living testament to the effectivness of LCHF.  I only returned to my ketogenic diet on Monday (after having to break it for a couple of months due to a low income), and since then (today being Sunday); I have lost a total of 8lbs (or just over 3.5kg for those of you using metric).

 Ketogenic?

A ketogenic diet is the next step with LCHF; but like a LCHF diet it's not going to be for everyone. With a ketogenic diet you are going to further reduce your carbohydrate, to less than 20g per day. To put that into perspective, a slice of brown bread (something generally considered healthy); contains on average 14g of carbs. So two slices of brown bread and, you'd break the ketogenic state (or ketogenesis to give it it's proper name).

That doesn't mean you can't still eat great food though.

As I opened with you can eat bacon, eggs, cheese, pork, and plenty more besides. You just have to be very careful to fully read the labels on the food you are buying when you do your weekly grocery shop; as you may think that one piece of chicken is much the same as the next, but that's rarely the case.

Different methods of production lead to wildly different products, that whilst looking similar have grossly different nutritional values. Even with something as simple as a chicken drumstick I have seen ranges of <0.5g (which is very good), to 2.1g per 100g.

Which brings me on nicely to my next piece of advice when it comes to adopting a LCHF / Ketogenic diet; when you read the labels, always do it by the 100g. Typically (at least in the UK) there are two pieces of nutritional information recorded on the back of food products. One is per portion, and the other (the one we want) is per 100g.

Why by the 100g?

Personally I do it because I find that the portion sizes listed on the backs of food products often distorts how good (or bad) a particular item is for you. Doing it by the 100g though, you know where you are.

As an example let's return to our chicken drumsticks. Let's say there are four of them in a 500g pack, listed as containing 2g of carbs per 100g. Comparing the contents to the weight, I know that each drumstick is approximately 125g; which according to the "per 100g" values listed, is 2.5g of carbs per drumstick. Quite high for chicken in my opinion, and no doubt a result of either the production methods used or additional seasoning (BBQ style chicken for example, which has a marinade that is often loaded with sugars).

The Catch

So far it's all been good, but there is as you might have well guessed a few catches. In no particular order they are:

Cost: LCHF isn't cheap (which is why I had to drop the diet when I became unemployed); as you often can't buy budget products. That's not saying that you have to buy the most expensive products on the market; but you are looking at least mid-range.

No Vegetarian Option: This diet isn't really suitable for vegans or vegetarians as most fruits and vegetables are heavily restricted by the diet; being rich in natural sugars.

Induction Flu: This is what often causes folks to quit their LCHF / Ketogenic diet within the first couple of days; and I won't lie to you, it is rather unpleasant. Despite it's name, Induction Flu isn't viral; but rather your body adapting to its new diet, and getting used to its new energy source (fat).

In short, it's a part of the process, whereby individual may experience flu like symptoms for 3-5 days on average. Emphasis here being on the may, and there are things that you can do to offset; even completely negate any unpleasantness as you pass through this barrier.

Personally I recommend lots of water, preferably low carb squash (of which there are many on the market going by the backs of packages) to ease you through it. Not only will this keep you hydrated (which really helps with Induction Flu), but the majority of fat is lost through excreted water (urine / sweat), so by increasing the amount of water you take in; you'll increase the amount of water you pass. Effectively killing two birds with one stone.

In Conclusion

So there you have it. The eat bacon, lose weight diet as I like to think of it; or LCHF to give it it's proper name. It's not going to be for everyone, but for those of us that could use to lose a few stone it's an absolute godsend.

By all means though, don't just take my word for it.

Do your own research as I did before giving it a go, and see if LCHF is the diet for you.

10 x 10 Challenge #21: Eight Epics - Game #6

Undeterred by my last short and frustrating game, I re-shuffled the threat deck and setup another game of Eight Epics; leaving the toggles and avatar order unchanged from game four.

I then drew my first threat card; which was..

Round 1 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

Urgh! Of all the threats to draw first after what happened in my last game. Unlike my last game however, the avatars did come out the other end of the round victorious; but it was a push. I ran through six of my eight avatars during this encounter; with four of them being reduced to half of their starting Life Points or less.

Round 2 - Threat: Durge, World Breaker.

I think of Durge as one of the easier threats to overcome. True, there are eight challenges to overcome on his card; but as six of these only require that you roll one dice (with a 1 in 6 chance of success), lucky rolls can take you a long way. Caroosh and Khantos can also cut through the challenges with ease using their abilities. So there are plenty of options when you encounter Durge; and the odds are certainly in your favor.

That said, I took some heavy losses during this encounter; as for love nor money I couldn't roll the 1's that I needed to clear the last few challenges. The extra effort expended to clear these took the total Life points lost by the party from 13 to 30; and left six of the avatars with half of their starting Life Points or less, with three of them being reduced to just one.

Round 3 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.


Uluwash is another threat that I consider to be fairly easy to overcome, but once again I found myself taking some considerable losses during the encounter; with two avatars being eliminated during the conflict, and the remaining five avatars all being reduced to 1 Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Broxix, Pestilent Breath / Narssis, Unholy One.

From previous experience, I know that both of these threats can be quite difficult to overcome; but when weighing them against one another, I am of the opinion that Narssis is probably the more challenging of the two. He makes you roll more dice, and the results that those dice have to show is more specific. So perceiving him to be the more difficult opponent I chose to go after him first, as I reasoned he would require more resources to defeat; resources I may not have after tackling Broxix.

The dice however were firmly against me on this one, and despite my best efforts to manipulate the results using the abilities of my remaining avatars; the game was lost at the first challenge, with three of the remaining avatars being outright eliminated and the other two being exhausted.

Final Thoughts

This is my third successive loss at this difficulty level, but I'm not complaining. I've made it to the final round twice, and to the final threat once. This tells me both that the level of difficulty is about right for my ability at this point, and that I am close to surpassing it.

So I may be losing at the moment, but these defeats are not without a sense of progress and achievement; which keep me coming back to this fun, challenging, and sometimes frustrating game.

10 x 10 Challenge #20: Eight Epics - Game #5

This was without a shadow of a doubt the shortest game that I have played all year. Possibly even the shortest game that I have played in the last decade; lasting as it did little more than 5 minutes!

So given the brevity of the game, I'm sure that it'll come as no surprise when I tell you that I didn't win. I also imagine that most of you that have been following my recent Eight Epics postings can guess what spanner in the works brought such an abrupt end to the game.. That's right; Makano.

Makano is such a pain to encounter, and incredibly frustrating to play against. So much so that on more than one occasion I have considered removing him from the game completely.

This isn't something that would normally cross my mind (as it's cheating really), but Makano seems broken. Broken to the point of breaking any game where he is drawn as a threat. Something which I feel this attempted play through illustrates nicely.

He was the first threat I drew, I had a full compliment of fully powered avatars; and I still lost.

That just doesn't seem right. It could be me though. Maybe I'm missing something.

So, I'm throwing the question out there (before I throw the card out of the game); is Makano in your considered opinion broken, or just extremely difficult to beat?

10 x 10 Challenge #19: Eight Epics - Game #4

Continuing with my 10 x 10 Challenge I set a few hours aside yesterday for gaming; and following my comfortable victory last time, I decided it was time to turn up the heat a little. This could have been done in a number of ways (imposing a time limit on the game, or increasing the number of threats); but I instead opted to preset the order of the avatars.

I would now have to work through them in a sequence determined by myself, which after some thought I decided would be..

1st - Caroosh, Stone Fist.
2nd - Gron, Furnace of Justice.
3rd - Sylliph, Moon Diver.
4th - Jarroth, The Cogsmith.
5th - Auriel, Harbringer of Healing.
6th - Khantos, Arcane Master.
7th - Leafwind, The Wildling.
8th - Ophinia, Envoy of the Dead.


The reasoning behind this order being that I would lead with my less flexible avatars, and reserve those capable of buying me more time (Leafwind and Ophinia) to last; where their abilities would be the most useful.

Plan set, I drew my first threat; which was..

Round 1 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Uluwash fell rather easily, aided by having Caroosh in prime position; and some favorable rolls. All told avatars only lost a total of 8 Life Points dealing with this encounter, but Caroosh and Sylliph had bore the brunt of this; being reduced to 3 Life Points and 1 Life Point receptively.

Round 2 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Next up was Narssis, who was incredibly hard work. I cycled through most of my avatars in the process of taking him down; and increased the total Life Points lost amongst the avatars from 8 to 18!

Five of the avatars has also now been reduced to half of their initial Life Points, or less.

Round 3 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

The avatars took a real pummeling overcoming this threat; increasing the total Life Points lost amongst the party from 18 to 29 by the time the last challenge had been resolved. All but one of the avatars was now on less than half of their starting Life Points, with four of barely clinging on by their last Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth / Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

When faced with these two threats, I opted to tackle Broxix first. I figured that of the two, he was going to be the most difficult to defeat; so that's where I wanted to direct the bulk of resources, using whatever remained to overcome the much easier (in my opinion) Pirn.

Narssis did indeed take up a lot of my resources, and by the time I came around to facing Pirn I had only two avatars at my disposal; with the rest of the party either exhausted or eliminated. Unsurprisingly this was not enough to win the game, but I did come close; making it to the second of three challenges on the final threat.

Final Thoughts

Electing what order your avatars will act in throughout the game at setup has really added a new dimension of challenge to the game. It's also changed the strategy that I employ as I play; as no longer can I rely on having the optimal avatar for the task at hand at my disposal. I may have already used them, or they may be several activations along.

The already tight margin of error just got a lot tighter with flipping that one toggle; but I think that's a good thing.