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17th March 2016: Rome: Total Bore

A while back I looked at the games I had finished in the last year or so, and saw that none of them were games that I had originally played years ago. Sure, there were a couple in the same series as games I played years ago, but when I went through them last year they were new to me.
In fact, the last such game I completed was Space Crusade in October 2014.

That has changed now with the completion of a game that I played a hell of a lot of around a decade ago, in the form of Rome: Total War. Like a lot of RTS games of the late 90s and early 2000s, I had only ever played the multiplayer and skirmishes rather than bother with the campaign.

I never expected it would take this long at all. Wow what a drag.

I played a short campaign at first, as I read you had to play as a Roman faction to unlock the other factions. As I wanted to use Pontus, who were my fave faction back in the day, this was something I needed to do. Problem was, when I finished that campaign, I found out Pontus weren't even a faction that got unlocked anyway, so I had to go ahead and edit some of the game's files so that I could use them.
Sigh.
But nevermind. I finally got into a long campaign as Pontus.

I quite liked it at first, going through some political wranglings with the Seleucids, Armenians and Egyptians, as alliances were formed and broken, with both the Seleucids and Egyptians stabbing me in the back. It fairly quickly got to a point where I immediately assassinated any diplomat that came my way, and went into full ass-kicking mode.
Once my immediate neighbours were defeated, I started the very, very, very long grind towards Rome.

This is where my problems truly started.
Because it takes so long to build up a city, and so long to train a full army, it took forever to get through this thing. I felt pretty much done with the game after taking about 20 towns, but I'd got to claim a total of 50 to be victorious in the entire campaign. How I managed to stick with it I will never know.

The long push across the map was not helped by all the rebellions I had to deal with, which was the one area of the game I think I hated most. Every few turns, one of my previously taken settlements would start rioting and giving me trouble, inevitably turning rebellious which meant I would have to go and take the town all over again. This constant struggle to keep order within my borders when all I wanted to do was expand really slowed me down and pissed me off no end.

The best bits of the game, which are the battles themselves, were also spoiled by the stupidly bad A.I. opponents. Unless they outnumbered me by a large amount, it seemed there was nothing they could do threaten me. Only early in the campaign, where I came up against elephants with nothing yet to fight them with, did I really have to try.

With the campaign map section spoiled by the very long time needed to build armies plus the rebellions, and the battles being spoiled by the bad A.I., I have really not enjoyed completing this game as much as I should have, as it was a staple multiplayer game for me at times in the past.

Taking a Carthaginian town in the short campaign

Taking a Carthaginian town in the short campaign

Marching against the Seleucids

Marching against the Seleucids

As the first faction to betray me, I gave the Seleucids no mercy

As the first faction to betray me, I gave the Seleucids no mercy

Pouring into a Seleucid town

Pouring into a Seleucid town

Spearing me a wild Parthian

Spearing me a wild Parthian

Lots of people in pajamas try and stab each other

Lots of people in pajamas try and stab each other

These fools think they are getting across my bridge

These fools think they are getting across my bridge

That's a lot of Romans guarding that city

That's a lot of Romans guarding that city

My first big battle against the Romans

My first big battle against the Romans

Three Pontic armies fight six Roman armies...

Three Pontic armies fight six Roman armies...

...and emerge victorious

...and emerge victorious

Attacking the walls of Rome

Attacking the walls of Rome

The S.P.Q.R. fail to stop my advance

The S.P.Q.R. fail to stop my advance

Seriously? Is this screen all we get at the end?

Seriously? Is this screen all we get at the end?

10th March 2016: Can We Stomp Yet?

A few years back we were really into playing Blood Bowl, enough so that I even made my own board to play on called The Stompin' Ground. All these years have passed and that board has never even been used, as I was always really unhappy with it.

After three years away from the game, new interest has been forming, and preparations are now complete for the continuation of season 6. So that we do not have to use my old original Blood Bowl board, I have finally gone back to the Stompin' Ground to make it usable at last.

Firstly, I had to do something about the crappy and almost sandpaper-esque grass mat that I had used previously. Slapping a nice thick coat of static grass over the top of it has taken away its roughness. I'm not so scared about using painted minis on it any more.

After that, the grid needed re-painting, as it was really hard to see. I think I found the exact locations of most of the crosses, but I guessed for some of the more hidden ones, and they are probably slightly out of place. But never mind. It's still a lot better than it was.

I also had to remake the scoreboard areas, as a lot of the paint and glue had peeled off, making it look very untidy. I've contructed the new ones in a different way to minimize that problem in the future.

It's not that great, but I'm happy to use it at last. Hopefully, the little 6-team league we've arranged will begin soon, and some stompin' will finally happen on the Stompin' Ground.

Painting the new grid

Painting the new grid

The new scoreboard

The new scoreboard

Let the games begin

Let the games begin

30th December 2015: Most Definitely Didn't Make It

After getting my 100th ARAM win in League Of Legends a while back after a decent run of form, I set myself a new goal of hitting 200 wins before 150 losses. I figured it was well within the realms of possibility, especially if we could keep playing like we were, with 29 wins out of the previous 38 games.

How wrong I was.

Humbling is not a strong enough word to describe the journey we've been on during the last 190 games. Whereas I thought we would see our number of wins steadily increase at a faster pace compared to our losses, we've been frustrated time and time again. Other than a good run during the first half of December, where we went 22 wins to 6 losses, the entire rest of the run saw our total losses slowly catching up to the number of wins.

And today I hit the 200 win mark, with 181 losses on the board. Nowhere near as comfortable as I hoped it would be. Yes, we've stretched our margin by a further 10 wins, but it could have been a great deal more if not for silly players disconnecting or playing like idiots. Yet again, barring maybe two or three times in the entire run, the idiots and AFKers always seemed to be on our team.
If there's a player in the game who constantly snowballs into the entire enemy team with no backup, nine times out of ten that player is on our team. If there's a player that just stands there while Nidalee spear after Nidalee spear hits them in the face, nine times out of ten that player is on our team. Well you get the picture.
It's just very frustrating. As I'm not a great player, I just try not to do anything stupid, and play the team game. So to have reached the goal I had set myself, I'd have needed more reliable players than that.
Oh well.

Here's some sad pointless stats about the last 190 games:

I know the stats don't tell the whole story, as team comps and how the players behave has a great deal to do with it, but the above info shows some surprising twists compared to last time. The game continues to love giving me Soraka to take to the Abyss, but whereas before she was my angel of ARAM, recently she's been a bit of a curse. I picked up her dryad skin, and I'm guessing she doesn't like wearing green, as since that day I've been really struggling to find wins with her. A 1/4 win ratio on Amumu is also very bad, especially considering how well Scoob can use him.
Though it was not all bad. Unlocking Sona, Sejuani and Galio have all brought me some good wins, and I've turned it around with Miss Fortune for the most part, though I think her recent update definitely helped. I even got some wins with Nidalee at long last, going 2 for 2 in her 4 games.

One thing I've learned over these last few months is that it's a bit stupid setting targets that rely on total strangers, so I'm not going to do it again.

Getting explodified as Warwick

Getting explodified as Warwick

My allies can't prevent Zac from grabbing that Soraka booty

My allies can't prevent Zac from grabbing that Soraka booty

Our enemies defend their tower with sneakily placed Rek'Sai tunnels

Our enemies defend their tower with sneakily placed Rek'Sai tunnels

Elise and Miss Fortune get a rocket up their asses

Elise and Miss Fortune get a rocket up their asses

Stretching my spider legs to leap into the chaos

Stretching my spider legs to leap into the chaos

Taking a Miss Fortune ult right to the face

Taking a Miss Fortune ult right to the face

Warwick strutting his funky stuff

Warwick strutting his funky stuff

My 200th win happens while I'm dead. Typical.

My 200th win happens while I'm dead. Typical.

18th November 2015: Oooo, You Are Eeevil

Mmmmmotion blurrr

Mmmmmotion blurrr

Over the last couple of weeks I've been bashing my head against a wall, and laughing my ass off, as I've been going through Resident Evil Code: Veronica X for the PS2. This was the last of the old style Resident Evil games I could possibly play, as I don't do Nintendo, so have no access to Resident Evil Zero. It seemed wrong not to at least experience it at least once.

Wow, I gotta say this thing was a drag. All the old Evil games had plenty of going back and forth collecting weird items to solve weird puzzles, but they were mostly all in one big building. In this game, there were several fairly large areas, and not only was I running around within those areas, but running back and forth to other areas. Over, and over, and over again.
Add in all the re-spawning enemies, and I had myself the longest, most frustrating Resident Evil experience I've ever had.

Still there were some fun moments mixed in with the frustrating ones, mostly provided by the awful writing and voice acting. I couldn't help but smile and shake my head at most of it. And I was so glad with what happened to Steve. Damn it that guy was annoying. I definitely think they should have put a bit more focus on Alexia as the big bad, but her character got very little exposure compared to her brother Alfred, who you have to deal with throughout most of the game.

By far the worst aspect of the game, even over the running around and bad characters, was the graphics. It seems it's a PS2 problem, but it was so dark and misty in places that it was hard to see things. And in many places there was a weird motion blur that made it difficult to even move around at times.

Like for the first two games in the series, I decided I would make some decent maps for this game after skipping Resident Evil 3. After all, the maps seemed quite popular early this year so I must have done something right.

Key To Symbols

Key To Symbols

Prison Map

Prison Map

Bridge & Passage Map

Bridge & Passage Map

Palace Map

Palace Map

Military Training Facility Map

Military Training Facility Map

Airport Map

Airport Map

Private Residence Map

Private Residence Map

Antarctic Transport Terminal Map

Antarctic Transport Terminal Map

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