Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Halo 3 ARG is up and at 'em

Fresh from Penny Arcade today, the Halo 3 alternate reality game is beginning its nefarious crawl through the web-o-sphere.

I have to say that I remain a devout fan of Perplex City, even though there is literally no chance in heck that I'm going to be able to complete it. If only there was one that you could get into on the ground floor - and I mean literally, like as in "build it yourself and make a mint." I have great respect for whoever puts together the Halo games - good stuff.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Back to the unabated ramblings about Etrian Odyssey. It really is a joy to use the mapping feature, but at level 14 (and not to give too much of a spoiler) I ran out of memo tags. My guess is maximum 20 per level, though it may be a bit more.

The reason I needed so many darn tags was that it was not immediately apparent how to map the level. However, you'll discover when you get there that the big picture makes all things clear as a lily. So to speak. Just get to the level, all right?

Huge boss on 15, therefore level 13 must (hopefully) contain the closure of the mission from the Radha. Otherwise it's another two nights of slog 'n' blog. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Morons in the news!

We're gonna build a gigantic missile shield in Europe! Wheedly do! Despite persistent reports to the contrary, our esteemed leaders are pushing forward with the porkiest project ever.

This is a demand-side nonproliferation advocate's worst nightmare. "Heh, what do we care? We can shoot the missiles out of the sky!! Except you can't. The most recent test involved no countermeasures, and resulted in General Obering thinking there was a "good chance" that we could hit a missile launched from North Korea or some other hotspot. This would be laughable if it wasn't so insanely expensive, both in monetary terms and in diplomatic ones (alas, ABM Treaty, we hardly knew ye).

Anyway, this is old news at this point. It's depressing that the same rhetoric not only carries force but is gaining momentum now that they can, y'know, kinda intercept something. I'd also like to see our fancy missile shield stop, say, an airplane. Or a suitcase bomb. Or all of the things resentful and creative people dream up in lieu of purchasing a missile at the local weapons mart.

Les Poissons

So I've been fiddling with a UW aggro deck in standard that has led to a great deal of trading and re-assorting of my collection to get the requisite lands, etc. It is relatively quick, taking advantage of Infiltrator il-Kor and Glorious Anthems. It's a "fish" deck only in the sense that it has inexpensive disruption tricks and wants to beat down as quickly as possible. In this context it does its job pretty well. Don't know if it does it well enough to deal with Dragonstorm though.

The card that inspired the deck - Delay - seems a natural and useful answer to D-Storm (hit them in the middle of the mana ramping and give them RRRRR in their mana pool in some random upkeep). It's become apparent, however, that Grand Arbiter Augustin IV might actually do more in the storm matchups than counterspells in the traditional sense. The only problem is the speed with which I can get him down - I'm running a slim 22 lands and no Karoos. So, Trickbind stops the worst part of the Storm spells. I'm running two and two, maindeck sideboard.

Two more spots main/side deal with the other very problematic deck, dredge. There are currently two Jotun Grunts main with two buddies in the sideboard. I'm of the opinion that this is not enough, but with Trickbind countering activations (and Azorius Guildmage potentially doing so as well), I think the initial matchup is not so horrible. Alas, this is completely untested, as I don't have any clannies who are interested in playing dredge.

Anyhoo, I think it's a pretty fun deck and it can certainly race control. The combo matchups are not abysmal thanks to the available tools, and generally I think there's hope. I'm going to do a bit more tuning and then march it into some queues to see if I'm even close to right...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Off Topic: Dude, where's my President?

I'm required to note that this post has zero to do with the land of Etria, or my travels therein. Sorry, I know that has been awesome for all of us.

It has come time to address the looming presidential hootenanny in some way that is more engaged than "meh." I mention this because, believe it or not, the primaries are (in electoral terms) mere minutes away. I don't know where the time went, but I have gone from smirking at the earliness of it all to thinking that I ought to make a valid choice, and quick like.

So, my top five. Have answers to these and you get my vote:

1) Weapons Proliferation. I mean small arms, chemical, nukes, domestic (i.e. Brady Bill) and foreign (e.g. NPT, CTBT, the continued absurd discussion about missile defense). I mean tools of violence getting into the hands of millions. It's gotta stop, and we must lead by example if we have any hope of it stopping.

2) Retirement Boom. This is purely an "our backyard" issue, but man there are a lot of old/aging people out there. They all need health care, most will need long-term care, and many of them plan to tap the gummit for retirement money. Sort it out.

3) Kyoto/sustainability. This has become so much the buzz word that it almost makes me throw up a little. Nevertheless, it remains true that the deadline is now for articulate, inclusive, policy on the environment.

4) France. Seriously, they're going to create a giant sucking sound where once there was a European Union. Sort that nonsense out.

5) China. Okay, perhaps France was a joke. China is not. Taiwan is an issue, globalization is a bigger issue, and human rights/impoverishment of body and spirit are colossal issues. Engage.

I'll report back. Y'know, between trips into the Labyrinth.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Stratum 2 Boss Handled

So the good news - I took out the demon. The bad news, only my back line survived - so the Alchemist and the Medic got a juicy 4000 XP. Counter is a gnarly, gnarly ability, and might be a reason to have a Protector (assuming it can gain that ability via mad Shield skillz).

Anyway. I'm a big dork.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Etrian Actuarial Services

Odds of getting trampled by a big red elephant: high. The only way you survive these encounters is willpower - I will not, after all I have done, die at the feet of a big dumb cartoony elephant. That and Disable will get you a long way (ditto Moas, although they're obviously far less scary).

It's obvious (or at least heavily foreshadowed) that there will come a time that the Labyrinth will be populated by sentient creatures, instead of merely big dumb beasts. There are, for example, curses to be avoided, and I can't even create two of the character classes, indicating at least more NPCs and likely whole concertos involving human or sub-human foes. I alternate between thinking that I'm ready for these showdowns (especially after the "Explorer's Guild" quest - five days on level 8. Pff. Was that supposed to be difficult? I got so bored running into random monsters that I spent the last two days just pacing by the fountain. Clearly I was too high powered, at that point?) and remembering with deadly clarity the first run-in with aforementioned elephants. This is not a game where small britches are helpful. It will get you killed.

Anyhoo, I have some cleanup to do on the white crystal walk of death in Stratum 1. Now that I know that it's only extremely likely that I'll die to a big dumb elephant (as opposed to, you know, inevitable), I will probably go mop up there before taking on Stratum 2's boss. He's named after a god! Ooooh...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Etrian Odyssey - are you sick of this yet?

So I have to share the essential truth:


Yes, it's a little bit cheaty. But imagine you're unlocking crystal key areas and you accidentally get stuck in the Land of Endless Bosses. Wouldn't you feel silly if 6+ levels and a ton of loot was wiped out in one stroke? And all because you've been eschewing the Warp Wire? And wouldn't you feel even worse if you leveled your Alchemist, gave him Warp, and then needed to mise one lousy TP from anywhere to use it? Whilst being pursued by a big red elephant?

I'm just saying. Warp wire. Your little 100 en. friend.

I was beginning to think that all the "OMG, so hard" talk was just people failing to pay their dues at the outset. It's now apparent that every time there's a significant power creep in favor of characters, the game is just about ready to open a serious can of whup-ass.