James R. Dunson (jdunson) wrote,
James R. Dunson
jdunson

Game updates

Things have been pretty busy over the last several months (Technicon is looming, increased responsibility at work, family medical challenges, etc.), but I've managed to make some time for games.

Civ IV: I strongly recommend the Pirates! mod for Civ IV + Warlords.
It's a well crafted mod with great visuals, great gameplay, and what looks to be above-average replayability. You're on a familiar map of the Carribean, and can play as the English, French, Spanish, Dutch, or "Brethren of the Coast", ie pirates. (There are also three non-player native civilizations.) The modders have redone the units and tech tree to be specific to the time period, area, and differing civs (Redcoats for the English, the pirates unable to build large ships and forced to capture them, etc.). They've also added some interesting new ideas; for instance, only the Spanish can create a Treasure Fleet, and only in certain historically appropriate cities. For each one they can get across the map to the "Gulf Stream" exit area (presumably safely on their way to the Spanish court in Europe), they are rewarded with a huge sum of gold. If any other civ can successfully defeat a Treasure Fleet along the way, they get the huge sum of gold instead! Yarr.

The Age of Discovery mod for Civ IV is fairly interesting, but a bit buggy.
This is a favorite period for me, and I enjoyed playing this mod, but it has problems; save games would occasionally fail to load on the first try (or at all, keep more than one save in case), something eventually makes it difficult to cycle to the next active unit, and some of the resource icons don't match up in the report screens. Additionally, I don't belive it was done by a native English speaker, so some of the wording isn't as smooth as it could be (e.g. "You have discovered Protestant!"). It's also somewhat of a hassle to dig out the original Civ IV CD for the start check, as it doesn't seem to be compatible with loading from the Warlords mod screen with the usual Warlords CD. The writing and ideas are top-notch, but the excecution is a bit flaky; I'd love to see someone clean this up.

Suikoden Tactics: I ended up pulling this out of my "never completed" pile and have actually been enjoying it a lot more on the second go.
(I think my first take on it was too soon after I got frustrated with certain aspects of La Pucelle Tactics.) Part of the problem is also that you have to play a fair while before actually getting to the meat of the game. I'm currently on Chapter 13 of 26 (plot battle 15 of 26 is next); while that's a bit over halfway on the plot, there's a lot of quest guild stuff to do still (finished almost all of the desierable E and D quests, and many of the C ones; B, A, and S left to go). As is typical for me, I'm finding I used the ranged characters a lot (Seneca, Flare, Sigurd); Kika has probably been my favorite front-line character, but I'm starting to use Millay a lot more for the combination of superior mobility and respectable hitting power. Usually I'm heavily into magic, but I've been underwhelmed so far; I think that will change when I get Level 3 spells and some better orbs. I've been favoring Maxine, because the single-target fire attack seems to be useful more often than Andarc's larger area but weak lighting attack. (I've been careful to keep all the unkillable story characters levelled, though, if for no other use than swappable cannon fodder :)

Roguelikes: Due to an earlier competition (which I never really progressed in), I tried out UnAngband, and while it's not a completed variant by any means, I'm finding a lot to like.
I'm playing UnAngband 0.62wip4a, and I like the themed rooms and the option to go on either the Hobbit-themed series of dungeons/areas or the Lord of the Rings-themed set. Unfortunatly, they're a bit buggy; I had to wizard-mode myself out of the Trollshaw Forest dungeon levels because I killed Bill, Tom & Bert what turned out to be too early and screwed up the quest advancement. There are also some balance implications; my best character so far is a bow-specialized Ranger, but since you're frequently in places you can't Word of Recall back to a shop for long periods due to the "plot", I'm having real problems finding enough ammunition, and food is occasionally problematic. I'll probably try a more self-sufficent mage class next; since I'm not shooting for low turn count at this stage, the resting shouldn't be a problem. Something that also blindsided me a bit is that unlike most roguelikes (particularly Angband variants), each class has three spell stats instead of one; one determines number of spells you can learn at any point, another determines how much mana you have for casting them, and yet a third determines success/failure rate when casting. This is interesting, and has a lot of potential, but *it's not documented*... a traditional Ranger uses INT for all three of those, but in UnAngband, it's INT for spell learning, WIS for spell points to cast, and DEX for fail rate.

FF-XI: What with meetings running later on Thursdays, and more Monday commitments, I've not even been making one Dynamis every week. I'm also getting pretty disenchanted about the whole process, but still feel I need to stick with it and both actually defeat Dynamis Lord once and get the rest of my Relic Armor. I'm not happy with the rules of the Dynamis LS I'm in, but I've got a few friends there, they're fairly good at actually doing the job, and I'd hate to have to restart accumulating points / attendance. Aside from the finishing what I started aspect, if I'm going to be spending 1-2 evenings a week on organized raids, I'd rather be doing Salvage.

Salvage looked to be a really good idea, and I rather enjoy it; due to some folks taking a break from FF-XI, I ended up organizing it for my main LS. Unfortunatly, even with bringing in some folks from other groups that we know, we don't seem to have the critical mass necessary to reliably get a group; and some people seem unhappy with having to think outside the box. (You start out with *amazingly severe* restrictions on your abilities and a hard time limit, and have to carefully defeat various monsters while gimped to gradually regain your normal powers; it requires pretty careful tactical planning, not all jobs are useful at all points in the process, and many jobs have to operate in unusual ways.)

The new "infinite random dungeon" of Nyzul Isle Assaults is also pretty interesting; again, we've had some difficulty getting the right folks together often enough. I'm not happy with S-E's design decision to let only one character per run "lock in" the floors, as it makes it even harder to get a group together as you progress. I'm hoping they'll change this at some point. It's kind of fun getting to fight (adjusted) versions of famous Notorious Monsters that I'd probably never get to face under normal conditions; we've not got any of the "special" drops yet, though.

I've been playing the relatively new Chocobo Hot & Cold game daily with both Miuramir and Totaru, and have recently qualified the first of the new area chocographs (Coastal, for Buburimu) for each of them. So far, the new area is harder, but not more rewarding, so I'm wondering how that will shape up. Miuramir's ForestPrincess (Green F) has Treasure Hunter, Burrow, and Impressive Discernment; Totaru's DreamDancer (Blue F) has Treasure Hunter, Bore, and just recently hit First-Class Discernment. Both of these are probably hitting diminishing returns in terms of further training, but I want to squeeze out anything else I can, since these will probably be my "digger" chocobos for a long time to come. Given the upcoming chocobo racing, I'm loosely planning on raising physical chocobos next, although there's some intriguing indications that chocobo racing isn't actually all about speed.

I've finally picked Corsair back up for Miu; the very early levels are a bit frustrating as you miss a *lot* (you're an odd mix of a low-moderate support character and a weak damage dealer early on), but things are starting to come together after a few solid sessions. Totaru has started working on Red Mage, largely to be an available sub-job for Black Mage, but it's useful in its own right. Miu continues to occasionally accumulate merits on her 75 Ranger, and Totaru is up to 68 Black Mage (Black Cloak for affordable Refresh, finally!) and slowly advancing.

Miu finally hit Sergeant Major (Aht Urgan Mercenary rank 7, with a really annoying set of "recruit training" mini-games to beat in addition to the usual Assaults); of course, they've just added Chief Sergeant (rank 8), so no rest for the weary. Totaru is still stuck at Private First Class (rank 2). Miu and Totaru both need the newly added ToAU mission fights (29+) still; at least Totaru is now caught up with the fights from the previous update.
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