The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Archive for the ‘Artificial Opponents’ Category

The reason for no gaming content….

I finally beat Slay the Spire on Ascension 20 (Ironclad). (I’m only around 7-10 for the other characters).

Written by taogaming

January 28, 2020 at 8:07 pm

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Slay the Spire

During the Steam Winter Sale I picked this up for $12 ish. This is another rogue-like (similar to Dicey Dungeons), except that your character is basically:

  • A Dominion deck, plus
  • A Collection of power-ups, plus
  • a few stats (HP, max HP, $$, etc)

And as you “Climb the Spire” you gain new cards, trash a few old ones, and get the power ups.

Like FTL, the game isn’t impossible to beat, but it definitely takes some finesse. And while there’s no “Easy/Normal/Hard” once you finally beat the game with each character you can start trying to be the “Ascension” game with increasing levels of difficulty. I thought after 20 hours it was getting some what samey, but even Ascension Level 1 adds a fair amount.

And — you know — $12.

Rating — Suggest

Written by taogaming

December 24, 2019 at 10:36 pm

Stepping on the borderline between ‘clever’ and ‘justifiable homicide’

Ladies and Gentlemen, I never knew that Wei-Hwa Huang created a maze where the participants did not initially realize they were in on. Fascinating stuff/ (H/T to Futility Closet).

(Here’s a description of the maze).

Written by taogaming

November 26, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Tiny Islands

A little browser based “Roll and Write” (but with cards!). Enjoy.

Written by taogaming

November 20, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Brief Thoughts on FTL

FTL is a … not new … computer game that made the best of decade list . I bought it cheaply (although apparently you can get it for free if you buy their new game, Into the Breach, which I didn’t notice until later. Ah well. It’s similar to Nethack: instead of a dungeon you are flying your space ship around a galaxy (8 sectors, each with perhaps two dozen systems you can explore). FTL has a real-time element but you can pause it whenever you like and place your orders.

Another similarity is that after fifteen odd plays (some by myself and some by the TaoLing), we haven’t beaten the game on ‘easy’ mode.

As for theme, the obvious similarity is Star Fleet Battles, but I think this bears a stronger relationship to Battlestations!, in that you move your crew around your ship to give bonuses, repair damage, fight fires, repel boarders, etc. (If you get a teleported you can also beam them over to wreck havoc on the enemy ships). So — on the ‘macro’ level you have a Tales of the Arabian Nights flavor. You hop into a system and may be given a choice: fight the pirates attacking a civilian ship or let yourself be bribed to ignore it. If you fight, then you go to the micro game.

There’s a hefty dose of resource management. You have to deal with scrap (money), fuel (1 per jump), energy, crew members (you start with three humans, decidedly not enough). Some weapons require missiles or drone parts (in short supply), you only have three slots for augmentations, you can upgrade many systems but those take scrap and energy (itself an upgrade). Spend it all now or save it in case you get to a lucky place to trade?

The story is vaguely — err, blatantly — reminiscent of A New Hope where a small group needs to get the plans to defeat the enemy back to your base and then fight a last stand battle. So you also have a time element. You can’t linger in the easy sectors (they get harder as you go) because the enemy fleet is approaching … in one game I went slightly out of the way to buy from a trader and then had to deal with the fleet on the beacon to exit the system. Despite being armed to the teeth with one of the best ships I’ve built, I managed to lose.

One nice detail, you are the fighting off the evil rebels as the Federation, so maybe it’s more not-quite-infringing on Star Trek. (At least one of the achievements is a great nod to DS9.)

As I said, on easy mode the first few games were quick losses, and then with some experience I could make it a few sectors, and then finally to the final sector. But never winning. On easy. This lacks Nethack’s “The devs thought of everything” depth where there are hundreds of subsystems that interact in hyper-obscure but reasonable ways, but there’s still plenty going on. (I don’t have the ‘advanced edition’ mods turned on, but they come with the game. Baby steps….)

One big improvement — the game probably takes 1-2 hours tops. (Once I started getting OK at Nethack, it turned into a real grind). I think in another dozen or so games we may crack the final sector (called, “The Last Stand”), but there are still many ship designs to unlock and then “normal” and “hard” mode. (Vhodjha Moi!) The reviewer of Polygon’s list stated it well:

I’ve played FTL: Faster Than Light hundreds of times and still never won the damned thing. But I don’t care, because dying in this pausable puzzle game is always a joy.

Joy may be an overbid, but its a mild one. Delicious Frustration, perhaps.

Rating — Enthusiastic

Update — OK, did win on easy (with the basic ship), which took about 3h.

2nd Update — 3h for a win seems typical. I’ve now won with ~5 ships on Easy.

VGG Link is to FTL.

Written by taogaming

November 10, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Reviews

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Dicey Dungeons, again

Great investment … I defeated the game at fifty hours in and I can easily see playing it for quite a bit longer. The final dungeon crawl actually wasn’t too hard (but it may be that some of the lucky finds we got wouldn’t be replicated). Great writing, lots of little laugh-out-loud moments, and the idea that the achievements unlock the enemies backstories is a nice little reward. Only regret, I probably should have sprung for the soundtrack, assuming that it makes the music less repetitive. But a great little game, highly recommended. I did have one battle freeze up (possibly due to overwhelming decisions) and in the final battle the game looked like it might lock again, but after 20-30 seconds it made a (bad) decision.

Written by taogaming

September 15, 2019 at 5:37 pm

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Dicey Dungeons

Dicey Dungeons looks like it could have easily been a clever little dice battle/board game that kickstarted for $60 (with a bunch of higher levels) but is a $15 game on Steam. A nice minimal art style, some clever ‘dialogue’ and world building, but at heart this is yahtzee. You roll your dice and start with one special power and likely a weapon. The warrior gets three (individual) re-rolls and a sword (one use, do the dice value in damage). You have six slots for stuff, and a sword takes two slots. But as you level up you’ll get more items and can swap out what you are currently using. Level up and get more dice. Lots of equipment has a special power — like “Do damage and then burn/freeze/lock/curse/blind a die” and while this would make an excellent board game the nice thing is that the computer automatically imposes all these rules and special conditions. The only downside is that sometimes it isn’t instantly obvious what the conditions are. (I didn’t realize that Freezing a die lowers the highest die on the opponents next roll to a ‘1’ until I paid a bit more attention to the animation).

Only played the warrior (first character) but I’d have been pleased with this as a $40+ board game. As a solitaire $15 computer-based game, I’m tickled with this purchase.

Update — While this could be a board game, some of the more advanced attacks/combos/characters do make full use of the computer. (For example, an attack that “Blinds” a die. You can use it, but you don’t know its value until afterwards, unless the move is illegal, in which case it is rejected. Nice.

Rating — Suggest.

PS — I just got a board game with the same initials and one of the words is the same, but I haven’t read the rules yet. Stay tuned!

Written by taogaming

August 30, 2019 at 2:51 pm

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