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Ralph Mazza
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Relentless game-talk murder machine from the future.
Relentless game-talk murder machine from the future.

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So lately I picked up War Robots on the iPad (also available on Android, I believe).

Its pretty sweet. I've dropped about $5 on in app purchases to get a sweet mech to run around in...because that's about what I'd pay for a premium app, so they at least deserve that. I've been playing for about a week and doing well, but so far I haven't hit the level of game where the Freemium "buy your way to excellence" crap might hit.

As the pic suggests...its giant mech fights. You get a hanger you get to buy mechs. I currently have four. The starter light mech they give you at the beginning. the afore mentioned sweet mech I purchases which is fast and equipped with a hellacious Alpha strike (but that's it, its a one trick pony) a medium mech that was my first purchase (with in game currency) before I really understood what I was doing, so its probably not perfectly suited for my play style, and a heavy mech which I'm getting the hang of. You get to try different weapon combos, and new stuff unlocks for purchase when you level. The store has that typical Freemium 3 types of currency crap where you can get good stuff, really good stuff, or really really good stuff depending. But there appears to be ways to regularly earn all 3 in game, so we'll see.

Game play couldn't be more basic. Drop in 6 on 6 battles in one of 6 (ish) maps where you fight to last bot standing or control of beacons. You respawn at death in one of your other mechs, so when your hangars empty...you're done. So having a variety of mechs with different capabilities actually matters.

The control scheme is a typical (I think, I don't play many games like this) two stick system whose one weakness is a lack of Game Pad triggers for weapons fire. Which means its too easy to fire and stick with the same gesture...but thankfully they recognize this and there's no friendly fire. Left stick controls the lower torso (point in the direction of desired travel), right stick controls the upper torso (look around and aim).

The key is the map design, beacon placements, and spawn points are really well done, so lots of interest. Some maps have great sniping positions if you can take and hold them. Some have sweeping wide open spaces that you cross at peril. Other bridges and chasms and assorted chokepoints.

The match making system seems to be pretty well thought out. As you battle your awarded points (4-20 per match) based on some combination of total damage dished and total kills. My heavy bot does a ton of damage but the way I have him built seems to run out of ammo (cool down period) just before getting the kill, while my alpha strike bot is great at turning half dead enemies into all dead enemies in one whoosh of 3x16 rockets.

I'm, at least for the time being, rather hooked...and I don't play real time run and gun games at all.

Apparently there's a play with friends option, but I don't currently have any friends who play. I'm Valamir X: OH81ZD if anyone plays.



Battle Brothers continues to impress. Forests have just taught me the advantage of carrying throwing weapons as back up.

I'd figured out how to use the bags for my rear lines effectively. Start the mission with a shield equipped just in case the enemy has lots of archers...the AI is smart enough to go after shieldless troops (something it took me a few battles to figure out). Then switch to bows if targets present themselves, then have a 2 hex range polearm for those times when the enemy is close, but the bow just isn't getting it done...also against skellies who laugh at arrows. The Quick Hands perk is a must for this strategy.

I'd also begun using the bags for my 2 handed axe (now 2 handed sword) guy. Start off with a shield and javelins so they don't put him down before he can smack people.

Bags for the rest hadn't proven very effective. Initially I had made sure each of my spear guys carried a flail/morningstar for dealing with shield enemies, but without the Quick Hands perk, that's a very expensive undertaking. Plus alternating spears with axes and maces means that I can stun with the mace to break shield wall, splinter with the axe to destroy the shield, and then the spear guys can hit just fine. Takes about as long as swapping weapons.

But forests...forests are a bitch. 12 against 6 and it was one of the hardest battles I've fought because the paths through the woods were 1 hex wide and until I could circle a couple guys way around the flanks I was facing the enemy one on one and that's no kind of good. And thats when it hit me. If the guys jammed up behind had some throwing weapons, they could actually be useful.

Ding...player level up.

So I've started some Battle Bros. It really is Mount and Blade with turn based combat, which is pretty sweet.

I had to swallow my pride and scrap my first game of "I'm a long time expert at turn based tactical games, I can handle Veteran" and drop back to Beginner, because this game does something that most turn based fantasy tactical games do not...and that's use actual tactics.

So after losing a guy on day two even at beginner due to "still don't have the hang of this yet" I began figuring out some basics. So far I've learned a bunch of stuff. Most of this is stuff I already knew from historical table top minis and the Total War series, but was caught by surpris to see it implemented in a tactical grid PC game.

1) Archers are good at forcing the enemy to close with you, because if they don't close, they just get peppered to death. The side with the better archers gets to play defense and force the enemy to come to them. And that totally works in battlebros.

2) If you don't have shields, archers will kill you dead...duh...but again surprising to see in a tactical PC game which usually skew towards fantasy invincible hulking barbarian pincushions. But if you do have shields, a slow advance as a shield wall will let you close mostly intact...but you still have to advance, because you can't maintain a shield wall forever.

3) Hedges of Spears are badass. Once I figured out the "Spear Wall" command I finally started winning battles without taking many losses. Enemy charges in, hits spear wall, gets repulsed with damage. They half kill themselves on their own turn, then I can finish them on mine. Noice. But see again about shield walls. Shield walls can largely smash into Spear walls and come out ok, and since (in the game anyway) shield walls cause less fatigue, that largely balances the fatigue from advancing so your line winds up pretty much toe to toe, and spears tend to plink harmlessly at shields.

4) After having built up a front rank of spear guys backed by 3 archers, I'm now experimenting with making every other guy something different. My big axe guy was always good at putting the hurting down. But he doesn't get a shield. Nor do the long pole arm guys. But one-hand axes are also good at chopping shields and flails can go around them, and maces don't mind them so much. So now I'm experimenting with different combinations of weapons to see which combo shreds enemy shieldwalls most effectively.

I'm grooving on this game

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This has potential...

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I really enjoyed Expeditions Conquestador. What it lacked in polish it made up for in ambition and heart with full bonus points for tackling a historical topic without adding magic or zombies or Cthulhu.

So this is what I'll be playing in May (release date 4/27)

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Ok +Bret Gillan tell me how much I need to own this game...

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I own both of these. I haven't read Edge yet, but it's a survey of Rome in the low countries, from their initial expansion through getting driven out by migrating Germans.

Henchmen of Ares I have read and highly recommend if you're interested in Greek warfare. It's a very readable 3 pronged look at the evolution of the Greek Fighting Man from the heroic period to the Hellenistic. It looks at text evidence and descriptions of equipment in poems and epics, depictions of the warriors in art, particularly vase painting, and archaeological evidence.

Touches on equipment, organizations, and some logistics and doctrine.

So I finished up XCOM2. Have some thoughts but they may be spoilers, so I'll save them.

Then I went and played a couple games of Civ VI. The new Vikings scenario is pretty fun, and then just another straight game. They still haven't dialed in the AI and game difficulty yet. There's a hurdle. Before that hurdle it's a struggle just to survive. If you get attacked it's all you can do to to survive and fight off the attacking waves, and if you go to war, if you're lucky you can take a city, maybe two before weariness stops you. But after the hurdle...You're just unstoppable. To the point where the challenge becomes "how many turns will it take me to take all 10 of this guy's cities...5? Can I do it in 3?

Seriously. First war...Fight fight fight fight, beg for peace, whew, I'm still in it. Second war...I'm taking that city and this brand new undefended one you planted in my rear...But that's all I can manage. Third war...I just eliminated the third most powerful player from the game. It took awhile and exhausted me, but I did it. Fourth war, bye Hammurabi, the jungle terrain slowed me down more than your armies did, and now that you're gone I might as well roll right through Cleo too. Sorry, sorry, you were in the way, and I needed your oil.

It's a little frustrating how quickly it switches from one to the other.

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Karwansaray, a publisher of history with a rather eclectic collection of titles and a couple fantastic ancient and medieval magazines just updated their site and are having a sale.

I already own a bunch of these books, but if you enter the code Newsite between now and Sunday you'll get 15℅ off.

Wow. So the "Stop Advent" mission that my C-Squad of 3 rookies, 1 rookie who'd been trained in the GTC but hadn't gone on any missions and 2 B-team members (one of whom was a slightly damaged Spark), was "Very Difficult". Great, just great.

The first part of the mission went swimmingly. We had to close on a house to take out a relay station. Initial opposition was a squad of 3! Codexes, a Squad of elite troopers, and a gun emplacement. Careful positioning (which burned a couple of turns on the timer which would haunt me later) meant that the Codex squad sauntered into an overwatch ambush. All three of them were killed by overwatch fire before even getting to clone. Sweet. Meanwhile the Hunter Spark ability triggered 3 times and wounded 2 of the Troopers. On my turn an exploding propane tank and some well placed shots put down the other troopers, my sparks shred ability tore up the armor of the gun and we took that out too. 7 dead enemies, none of them had even fired. I was feeling pretty smug.

Then we got sight of the target relay with only 3 turns left. That meant my placement was a little rushed. I used 1 Rookie, Lily Douglas (wearing a borrowed serpent suit) to grapple to the roof of the garage and enter the second story, moving to the stairs down to get a bead on the relay in the living room. Oh Fuck. There's a squad of 4! yes 4 Archons, one of them the tough one with a ton of HPs. There's another squad of troopers...an there's that mother fucking Alpha Ruler, back again. This time mostly dead, but still.

Lily took a 70% shot through the upstairs window and smacked him for half his remaining hit points. His reaction was to move in the garage where I had another rookie in a borrowed Rage Suit waiting to enter the house that way. He missed his melee attack and got put down by a Rook. Ha!.

I was able to get some grenade and rocket fire to blow the back out of the house and spread some damage around 7 active defenders, and I worked a B-team grenadier around the opposite side to take out a trooper. But I was too far out of position to do anything else. Three Archons descended on poor Lilly and took her out. My first dead trooper. She'd made 2 attacks, killed 2 enemies, inflicted 29 points of damage, and survived 3 attacks before going down to an Archon lance.

The next turn I mopped all but one of them up, froze that one with a freeze grenade and finally took out the relay on the last possible turn.

With one additional soldier wounded, I'm literally down to a squad of 4 if I have to go into battle before the rest of my troops heal up.
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