On The End of the Party

First things first: It’s the final day of the Job Fiesta. I challenged a bunch of people and only 3 have shown evidence of completion, so I guess I owe $30.

Personally, I turned in two completions of my own.

Without any contributions from people seeing how the results came out, the Fiesta earned $10,385.64 as of this writing. If it keeps growing like this every year, it will become one of the larger events for Child’s Play. I know a large amount of money comes in from Something Awful, so many thanks should be extended to them each year.

It’s also the end of Blaugust, and all of the festivities that entails. It’s been fun, etc., etc. I could say that I hated everything and everyone, but that would be untruthful and my actual thoughts can be found here.

With the ending of things, it’s time to start anew. A new D&D campaign is starting tomorrow, and my Dragonborn Paladin will show up, probably to ruin everything. With the end of the Job Fiesta I can use my PSP to go back to playing Breath of Fire 3 (although I want to beat Azure Striker Gunvolt first.) Destiny’s coming out in just over a week. A friend is starting a new job, and it’s a time of transition for a lot of people. Hopefully the end of things just means new things are getting started, and I’ll be here to chronicle wherever things take me.

Records of the month can be found here
. Thanks for the trip, Bel!

On A Blue Bomber

At some point I need to admit that Mega Man is dead. Other people already have:

Thankfully, other companies are picking up the slack. Inticreates continues to put out action-platformers even though they aren’t tied to Capcom, and the latest project from them is Azure Striker Gunvolt for the 3DS. It’s a bit different from the games you might be used to. Gunvolt does have a dash and a wall jump, but the mechanics of the dash are a bit different than Mega Man X. Also, while GV has a gun, it does very little damage. The primary purpose is tagging things, which can then be zapped with electricity. The “Flashfield” damages things near you a small amount, and anything you’ve locked onto a large amount. To go with this, you have an energy meter that depletes when you use it, or if you get hit while not using it (getting hit while using it decreases your actual health). Depleting it completely will lock you out of things that use it for a few seconds, this includes it taking damage for you.

This causes the game to play somewhat differently in practice, as you can’t really kill things with primary fire. The fact that taking damage is a multi-step process also makes the game a bit easier than the Zero and ZX games that this takes after in looks. It makes up for this with a somewhat complicated score system in which you build a bonus and can “cash in” by either hitting a checkpoint or using a special attack. This bonus is lost if you’re hit, whether you take damage or not. Time is also a factor in the score, and the game grades you on how well you did. Outside of the levels, you can use materials and currency to get abilities in the form of equippable gear.

I’m only about halfway into the game (and much less than halfway done, since there are many challenges for levels I’ve beaten that I haven’t met). I really like what I’ve played, and if the second half maintains the quality of the first I’ll highly recommend this one.

Bonus content: The game comes with an 8-bit demake featuring GV along with Beck from Mighty No. 9. This is kind of like the “Model a” mode in ZX Advent, and I’m guessing it was thrown together after finishing Gunvolt before work starts in full on Mighty No. 9. It’s quite fun, and Beck controls a lot like traditional Mega Man, so it feels really familiar.

One more day of Blaugust, more posts can be found here.

On Fighter Options

I was asked about this, and what was a short email became a blog post. Fighters in D&D 5 have a number of choices to make quite early in their character development, so let’s examine them in a bit more detail.

Fighting Style

The first choice is what fighting style to take. For the sake of this particular discussion, I’m ignoring the fighting styles that don’t boost damage in some way, although they’re certainly worth considering (Protection in particular is rather powerful). We’re going to be examining these using Kodra’s assumption of 15 AC as a decent target, and a 16 in the primary attack stat.

  • Archery: This is a +2 to hit, or a flat 10% increase in your chance to hit (advantage/disadvantage can mess with that a bit). Longbow damage is therefore going to be .6(7.5)+.05(12) = 5.1 DPR at level 1. Fighters don’t get any thing that directly boosts this until their subclass choice, but that’s for later. No other style provides a boost to hit, so this one provides the most consistent damage.
  • Dueling: This would seem to be the default choice, but our DM has ruled that it doesn’t apply to sword and board. Anyway, at +2 to damage modeling this is also pretty straightforward: .5(9.5)+.05(14) = 5.45 DPR. Not bad, and it gives you a free hand to work with (which might be important depending on later choices).
  • Great Weapon Fighting: The important note here is that if you’re in this category, you’re probably planning to use the King of Weapons, the Greatsword, as it’s the objectively most damaging weapon in the book (although the Maul got moved up to match it). As such, this would come out ahead of the Dueling numbers without taking the style (5.85) but the style is another damage boost on top of this. The end result (assuming that you always reroll an initial roll of 1 or 2) is 6.65 DPR.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: This should probably be evaluated differently because hitting with both hands requires your bonus action, but as a low-level fighter you don’t have any other uses for that anyway. This also requires light melee weapons (without a feat), which means you’re down to shortswords (or similar). Final damage is (.5(6.5) + .05(10))*2 = 7.5. This lead decreases when Extra Attack comes into play.

Martial Archetype

The choice between these really depends on what you want to do with your fighter. One thing to keep in mind is that fighters are still mostly supposed to use their weapons on things, and this remains true even if you’re a Battle Master or Eldritch Knight.


This one’s definitely the most straightforward. More criticals, another fighting style, and some bonuses to checks you’re probably not doing a lot (although it’s worth noting Remarkable Athlete does cover stealth checks if you don’t have proficiency). I don’t quite have Kodra’s patience for calculations, so I’ll trust him when he says that the critical bonus isn’t worth that much at low levels. The additional fighting style can be used either for defense or versatility. This archetype gives nothing that uses a bonus action, so TWF works fine with it.

Battle Master

All of the things people liked about the 4e Warlord ended up here, except constrained by a limited pool of superiority dice (which are recovered in a short or long rest). Many of the maneuvers you can pick from allow you to add the superiority die roll to the damage of an attack, making it better for damage than Improved Critical (as long as your dice last). Some of these require you to use a bonus action, making TWF a less attractive option for this archetype. There are other interesting things you can do in this one, like getting an off-turn sneak attack out of a rogue in the party if you have one (requires your bonus action and the target’s reaction). Once you run out of superiority dice, this archetype doesn’t have much to offer, but I know it’s Kodra’s favorite.

Eldritch Knight

This one’s a bit odd. The paragraph at the start of the archetype description hints at where this one is going, and what it gives you. While it does grant cantrips, they’re less likely to hit than weapon attacks unless your INT is abnormally high for a fighter (maybe you rolled for stats; consider Blade Ward if you’re more… typical) and will also do less damage in most cases (especially if you’re using a greatsword). The primary power here is access to one of the better Wizard defensive spells (Shield is very good) and some AOE that other fighters cannot duplicate (look for spells that still deal half-damage on a successful save like Burning Hands, or later, Fireball). At much later levels, you can start taking other wizard buffs, like Haste or Stoneskin. Spell slots are limited, so the primary thing you’ll be doing is still using your weapon. Because casting most spells requires a free hand, and later features do use your bonus action, TWF is a no-go for this archetype. Jury’s still out on if you can cast spells with a two-hander, so check with your DM. (I’d say yes, but it’s not entirely clear.) I personally think this might be the best archetype for “tank” type fighters.


That’s a lot of words to say “different choices work better in different situations”. Unlike Ranger, where I firmly believe one of the archetypes is weaker than the other, the fighter ones are all good in their own way. The Fighting style question is a little easier, as Great Weapon is great unless you have compelling reason not to use it (dex-based fighter, want protection style, etc.). Hope this helps anyone who’s intending to play a fighter in an upcoming game!

You know what this link is by now. Also, you have until the end of the weekend to finish the Four Job Fiesta. I apparently owe another $10 now.

On Blaugust, Redux

Blaugust is almost over, and I have a few thoughts on the whole process. Kodra wrote about the same thing yesterday, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it.


First, I believe the event was absolutely worth it for me personally. I’m a lot more comfortable writing things on relatively short timelines. I feel like I know a bit more about what sort of posts people actually click on (and while it might help, I’m still not going to change how I title my posts). Some of my habits while playing games have changed a bit. I’m always looking for ways to take screenshots now, and taking note of things that work and things that don’t, so I can say things about the games I play other than “It was fun” or “It sucked”.

More importantly, it’s been a good way for me to see what other people are writing about. I’ve taken the opportunity to see a lot of content from people who weren’t part of NBI (and some people that were, but I wasn’t following that closely). Special mentions in particular to Isey and Murf, who’ve given me plenty of ideas about things to write about, whether they know it or not. Both Rae and Kodra (fellow Aggrochat participants) used the opportunity to start posting more. Because this is as good a place as any to mention it, Tam has also started a blog this month (although if he manages to write 31 posts before the end of the month I’ll be both shocked and impressed).


However, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to posting 2-3 times a week in September, probably starting the second week of September. It’s had the desired effect on me, and I’m going to finish out the month, but daily posting is not something I’m willing to do long-term. It’s a bit easier during the week, especially if I can get a draft up (or sometimes a post, if it doesn’t need actual screenshots) during lunch. It suffers a lot on the weekends, when I’d rather be playing games than writing about them using that time. There have also been a few days where I worked on a post, and then decided that it needed more work than I had time for and posted something else instead. (This is what happened yesterday, I’m sure the original idea will surface eventually).

A journey of self-discovery is worth it even if we fall a bit short of the end goal, so this one satisfies. You should really check out the Blaugust Initiative for more posts on a variety of topics by other people. Did I mention that Tam wrote an introductory post?

On Upcoming Games

Now is a good time to be a gamer, I think. There are a variety of upcoming titles this year that look interesting, and they aren’t all coming out in October. (In fact, the three I’m going to mention are all pre-October.) Let’s take a look.

Azure Striker Gunvolt

Inticreates is the company actually behind the Megaman ZX games as well as Megaman 9 and 10. As such, I have a lot of interest in their 2d platformers involving guns. (They’re also working on Mighty No. 9.) Azure Striker Gunvolt involves a hero with a gun of sorts used to lock on his actual weapon, witch seems to be electricity wielded in a variety of different ways. This hits the 3DS on Friday, and I’m looking forward to picking it up.



Halo 2 was the last “big” shooter I enjoyed, before everything became Call of Duty and things like it. I was iffy on this one until I got to play the Alpha and Beta with other people, and now I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time in it. It releases on September 9, so I hope I have enough time to beat Gunvolt before this happens.



Red Warrior needs food badly. I know someone else is also interested in this, and I’d hoped to play it soon, but it was recently delayed to September 23. I like arcade-style games like this (I’m apparently the only person who likes Sacred 3, for example) and this looks like an interesting and varied take on the formula. It’s also made by the people who made Magicka, so the deaths should be entertaining.


For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative.

On Crimzon Clover

I mentioned it a bit when I was talking about other shooters, but I feel like I should give Crimzon Clover a good writeup. It’s made me interested in the Japanese indie scene again, when previously I ignored every part of it that wasn’t Touhou.

The Basics

If there’s a story, I don’t know it. You fly through 5 levels firing massive amounts of bullets at things that fire almost as many back at you. In this context there are 4 modes and two difficulty levels, although two of the modes are only available on “arcade” difficulty. (One of the modes, Unlimited, is just standard with everything turned up to 11, with a few special rules that allow you to theoretically survive everything being turned up to 11.) You have your choice of three ships at the start, with a 4th unlockable. The Type-I is the balanced ship, with a wide spread primary attack and homing lasers for a lock-on attack, The Type-III (my personal favorite) is much faster but has a narrower primary fire and a slower-charging lock-on attack. The Type-II is somewhere in the middle, with the fire spread being determined by how you position the Gradius-style options. The final ship, the Type-Z, is better than the others in almost every way, and you can consider it your reward for playing the game for long enough to unlock it.

Seriously, this ship is broken.
Seriously, this ship is broken.

Standard Mode

A key feature of the game is the Break Gauge in the upper right. If this meter is over the small line, you can use a bomb (although using one will cause the bomb line to move further to the right, making it take longer to earn the next one). Using a bomb destroys all shots and most small enemies on-screen and gives you temporary invincibility, so it’s a good way to get out of trouble. If the gauge is full, using the bomb button instead enters break mode, causing your firepower and max number of lock-ons to go up, as well as doubling the score multiplier (This still clears the screen of bullets and grants temporary invincibility). This lasts for a certain duration or until you use a bomb. If you manage to fill the gauge again while in break mode, you can enter double break mode for screen-filling ridiculousness in your firepower and doubling the score multiplier again. The downside to this is that your break gauge completely empties when this ends and you can’t use a bomb during it.

Other than this upgrade to the bomb button, this mode is fairly standard. The difficulty ramps up as you move through the stages and beat the bosses, with an EX-boss available if you can beat the normal boss of Stage 5 without using a continue. (Despite calling the easier difficulty “novice”, this is not any easy task in any sense.) Beat the EX boss to see the credits and beat the game (and join about 11% of the players on Steam).


Boost Mode

Boost mode works a little differently. Instead of being able to activate break mode, it activates automatically when the gauge is full and lasts until you either use a bomb or die. Instead, the UI element that normally counts down break duration has a timer that counts up, and enemies and bullets speed up based on how high it gets. Many attack patterns are slightly (or in some cases significantly) easier in boost mode to compensate for this. Dropping out of boost mode will reduce things to a normal speed, but it will go back up to full speed when you fill the gauge again, something that’s certainly going to happen eventually.

If you’re not playing for score, I think Boost Mode is easier, as you can bomb to slow things down and if you don’t need to do that, you have the increased firepower of Break Mode all of the time. I like it better, but that might just be because I’m better at it. If you have any interest in shmups at all, you should give Crimzon Clover a shot. It’s on Steam and is supposedly coimg to GoG soon, so it’s much easier to get than many other games in the genre out of Japan.

For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative.

On an Ash NPC

I think this is the first time I’m resorting to one of the prompts for this event, but here goes.

If you were an NPC in a video game, what type of NPC would you be?

First, this is cheating. Random ESO NPC aside, I’d probably be an inconveniently located trainer. I’ve got a bit of a reputation for knowing things, and I frequently like being away from people. I’m not sure I’d go to a place like Uldaman, because there are reasonable limits to this sort of thing. (Seriously, that was bullshit.) I could see myself as a druid trainer, living in the wilderness, forcing people to come find me if they want to know my secrets.

On the other hand, I might be a random mob, zone-sweeper style (think Fel Reavers or Morladim). I could also see myself as a big bear, chasing after low-level players for no good reason. Maybe if the game was sophisticated enough, chasing after the person with the most food in their inventory or something. FF14 had Phecda, but now that B-rank hunt mobs are non-hostile, the effect of a giant bear running after you is lost.

I guess it’ll just be a short one today. For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative.

On Decision Paralysis

I was originally going to write about the Pillars of Eternity Beta today, but that would require me to get past the character creation screen. Also, it doesn’t have graphical settings other than resolution and isn’t optimized, so it barely runs on my laptop.


The Problems With Character Creation

A problem this game has (that’s shared with a lot of other games including the vast majority of computer D&D games and Divinity: Original Sin) is that it’s impossible to know your first time through how useful your character creation decisions are. Pillars of Eternity (PoE from now on) had 6 races, and 11 classes. It also asks you to make decisions distributing stat points (in a way that resembles but isn’t actually identical to D&D point-buy), where you character is from (which also impacts stats somewhat). Depending on your class, you may also have to make some decisions regarding spells or abilities (Druids have to determine their animal form and the damage type used by their Wildstrike feature.)

When all you have to go on is a character creation screen, it’s very difficult to know how useful any of this is. To take Divinity as an example, it asks you to fight a lot of undead around levels 5-8, which is difficult if your party happens to have a rogue or archer type, since they’re resistant to piercing damage. I don’t know if PoE is going to ask me to fight things that are going to absorb fire, so how useful is Wildstrike: Fire over the course of the game? It’s also unclear how useful “talky” abilities are, until you’ve played a bit of the game. Some games (specifically Obsidian ones, to be fair) make these skills extremely useful and let you talk your way out of (or into, if that’s your thing) anything. In some others it’s better described as a waste of stat points that could be serving you better in a combat-related skill.

The number of decisions you’re asked to make with almost no knowledge of the coming game is rather high, and it leads to paralysis about what to pick. It’s also impossible to know who your future party members are, and many other things that might influence your decisions. It would be awkward to have a tutorial before character creation, but that might help in some ways. I’m ok with the freedom to make bad decisions, but I’d prefer games were better about not allowing them to be made unknowingly.

For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative.

On Peer Pressure, Part 3

And now for the rest of the list:

14. Most memorable moment in a game:

My memory is terrible. I do remember facing Magus in Chrono Trigger for the first time, with all of the torches and lines of speech leading up to the fight. Interestingly, I don’t remember much about the actual fight.

15. Scariest moment in a game:

I don’t play many scary games, so this one’s from The Secret World. The Templar quest between Egypt and Transylvania (Virgula Divina) is the creepiest thing I’ve experienced in any game I’ve played at all, much less in an MMO.

16. Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

If Mass Effect 3 had ended 20 minutes earlier, it would have been a proper tragic ending and not the stupid thing that actually happened. That game had a bunch of moments that I’d consider heart-wrenching, the most notable of which is probably the one Bel mentioned, which I won’t spoil here.

17. What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?

This list would be incomplete if I didn’t mention Tales of the Aggronaut, because Bel got me into this in the first place. I also frequent NeoGAF, because I find it a better source for gaming news than most of the websites intended to deliver this sort of information.

18. What’s the last game you finished?

The last game I “finished” as in “saw the end credits” is Shovel Knight. It has New Game+ and I haven’t finished that.

19. What future releases are you most excited about?

Pillars of Eternity is a game I’m quite looking forward to, but also Destiny, Azure Striker Gunvolt, and probably a few things I’m forgetting.

20. Do you identify as a gamer?

I play games, therefore I’m a gamer. I feel like that’s a simple question.

21. Why do you play video games?

I play video games for entertainment, and also to socialize. At this point I’ve met quite a few people through the games I play, and I’d like this to continue.

For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative. It’s still Saturday in Bel’s time zone, so hopefully he’ll take this as the post for the 23rd.

On Peer Pressure, Part 2

Who am I to throw away another pair of potential blog posts? More of the list!

7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

In an effort to not talk bad about Guild Wars 2 yet again (although it certainly qualifies), I’ll mention Call of Duty here. I played a Lot of Halo and Halo 2, but I just never got into the Call of Duty series. I guess I like more fantasy in my shooters.

8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

Shining Soul 2 has a 74 on Metacritic, but it’s one of my favorite GBA games. For those unfamiliar, it’s a diablo-like where you play as one of a bunch of interesting classes and beat up monsters to collect random loot to beat up more monsters. Another game I could mention is Scaler, a mascot platformer for the PS2. (Mascot platformers were pretty much dead at this point, with only Ratchet & Clank left.)

9. What are your favorite game genres?

If it involves the letters R, P, and G, you can apply all sorts of modifiers and I’ll probably like it. Special mention to tactical RPGs in the spirit of final Fantasy Tactics, and MMOs.

10. Who is your favorite game protagonist?

In an effort to not use the cop-out answer of myself, I’ll say I really like Ratchet. After his character development in the first game in his series, he’s been a cool protagonist. Shame about the games after a Crack in Time, though.

11. Describe your perfect video game.

Something with solid gameplay, good sound design, and advancement of some sort.

12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?

Let’s go with Liara from the Mass Effect series. The fact that she becomes a badass in 2 and 3 helps a lot.

13. What game has the best music?

Taken as a whole, I’m pretty sure Bastion has the best soundtrack. Transistor has better vocal tracks. FF14 has some really awesome tracks as well, but I think Bastion still wins.

This is good for one more, which will be up tomorrow. For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust Initiative.