Monday, December 7, 2015

X-Wing - Introducing List Building to a 5 year old

We just got Penny's report card back earlier this week and she appears to be doing well.  Her social skills are also meeting expectations which is great as my wife and I were worried because she's an only child and has not had much interaction with peers outside of pre-school and kindergarten.  She can count fairly high in both French and English which is great and her addition skills seem to be on par with everyone else.

As a math teacher I'm ok with that but I'd like her to be better at math than her peers.  Call it pride if you will.  So in that regard I've decided that I'm going to introduce proper X-Wing list building to her soon.  Not sure how far I'll get though but from what I have seen her do and the report card comments she should be able to add tens (so add like 20 + 10) and she can already do ones addition (things like 1 + 4, and 5 + 2).  Shouldn't be too far of a stretch to do something like 12 + 23 (a Bandit Z-95 + Red Squadron X-Wing) or 16 + 5 (HWK-290 with Ion Turret).

My plan is basically to give her the points value for one of her ships and have her add upgrades to it and see what the new total is.  If that goes well, we can move on to adding the costs of ships together and hopefully get to a point where she can pick ships that add up to something close to 100 or whatever points total we decide to play at that day.

So the next game we play will be with a list that Penny makes herself!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

X-Wing - Things are Escalating Rather Quickly

Exciting day today!  A little over a week ago I had asked Game Quest if they did special orders as I was looking for a 10th anniversary edition of Ticket to Ride that didn't cost an arm and a leg (the other game store in town had a few copies of it but they were selling them for $160 + tax!).  I knew I could order it via Amazon for way cheaper but I liked Game Quest and wanted to support a local business.  Turns out they were able to order it for me and at a price comparable to Amazon.

Not content with ordering just the board game I asked if they could order a few X-Wing ships as well so with my board game order came the Millennium Falcon and a pair of TIE Defenders.  Game Quest also got a restock of other ships so I will probably add more things to both Penny's Rebel Alliance and my Imperial Squadron in the near future (as it stands I have 6 ships to her 5 ships and she thinks it's unfair despite her having two large ships).  The influx of reinforcements for both sides coincided perfectly with us having finished our starfield battle mat!

Before we played with the new ships though I took some time to rearrange the ships and pilots so that both sides were roughly even in points and came up with the following squadron lists.  I also added some ordnance because in the last game we played, Penny had asked what the "alphabet tokens" were for.  I explained to her that they were called Target Lock tokens and next time we played I'd show her how to use them.

Penny's Rebel Alliance - 160 points
  • Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon - 47 pts
  • Dash Rendar in the Outrider with a Heavy Laser Cannon - 48 pts
  • Rebel Operative HWK-290 with Ion Cannon Turret - 21 pts (I opted for the ion cannon turret as it doesn't require focus to be used and I can try and introduce ion tokens to our games)
  • Bandit Squadron Z-95 with Concussion Missiles - 16 pts
  • Blue Squadron Novice T-70 X-Wing with Proton Torpedoes - 28 pts
Mr. Arocena's Imperial Squadron - 160 points
  • Gamma Squadron TIE Bomber with Homing Missiles, Proximity Mines - 28 pts
  • Bounty Hunter in a Firespray with Heavy Laser Cannon, Seismic Charge - 42 pts
  • 2x Zeta Squadron TIE/fo - 32 pts
  • 2x Delta Squadron TIE Defenders - 60 pts
So a quick recap of what rules we have played with so far:
  • All the basic rules from the Learn to Play guide except for stress tokens
  • Focus Tokens
  • Evade Tokens
  • Secondary Weapon cards (just Cannons and Turrets so far)
We still don't play with pilot special abilities as her reading comprehension is not at the level necessary to understand the abilities.  I could just tell her what each pilot does and I think she'd remember that but I'll hold off until she can read better.  We also don't play with critical hits for the same reason.  Interestingly enough, Penny tried to make a case for dealing two damage with the big explosion because it's a bigger explosion.

In this game we learned about target locks, how to use ordnance and ion tokens.

Monday, November 30, 2015

X-Wing - Playing among the stars

The last two weeks were a little busy so Penny and I didn't get to play much X-Wing together.  She still asked on a daily basis though so I think she's quite interested in the game.  That didn't stop us from doing other X-Wing related things together though.  Like making a starfield battle mat.

I was tired of having the ships slide around so much on the dining room table so spent a few days looking how other people made their DIY starfield battle maps.  Lots of things came up on the internet ranging from felt cloth (decided against this as it would just slide off the table) to yoga mats (lots of pros but relatively expensive compared to other DIY solutions).  So armed with this knowledge of what others had done, I spent an afternoon (while doing other errands) looking for some materials and pricing them out.  I ended up picking up two black anti-slip shelf liners (something like this but 18" wide and shorter) from the dollar store for $6 and taping them together underneath to make a 36" wide field.  The mat looked good, gripped the dining room table well and the ships didn't slide so much when placed on the mat.

To make the mat even better, Penny and I looked up various star fields on the internet as references and spent an evening painting the mat.  She had a lot of fun flicking the toothbrush of white paint on to the mat and adding some large pink gas clouds/planets/stars to one of the quarters.  The following was our end result

We were happy with it, but I might try and find a way to make her pink celestial bodies blend better with the rest of the star field at some point in the future.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

X-Wing - Adapting for a 5 year old

Since picking up the Force Awakens Core Set for X-Wing last Sunday, Penny has asked to play the "Star Wars game with ships"' almost every day this week.  Sadly I could not oblige every day because of work but we did play a few more games.

Having a second ship certainly helped even things out since we weren't playing with Actions or pilot skills.  The game at this level was basically just ships moving and shooting at each other so a lot of our games came down to who could point their ship at the enemy and roll better.  With only 1 ship, Penny had quite a disadvantage despite the added shielding, but with 2 ships she was able to hold her own much better.

My TIE Fighters chasing down a Z-95. Penny's X-Wing coming in fast to help the Z-95.
Earlier today we went back to Game Quest and added a bit to each of our respective forces (pay day!).  Penny wanted the YT-2400 but she didn't have enough money for it.  She was going to settle for just the HWK-290 and another Z-95 but I mentioned to her that we could look through our old video games and trade in any games that we didn't play anymore to see if we could get the extra money to get the freighter.  She was quite happy I suggested it and we ended up getting a fair amount for the games we traded in.
HWK-290 and YT-2400
After pooling all of our money together, we got enough to get the YT-2400 and a HWK-290 for her, and Slave I and a TIE Bomber for me.  I had a hard time deciding between Slave I or the Imperial Aces expansion (both the same price at Game Quest) but finally decided on Slave I as it was the only one they had and I needed a big ship too.
TIE Bomber and Slave I

Anyways, what I really wanted to write about was how to modify the game a little (and it really is just a little) so that someone as young as 5 years old can play.

Monday, November 9, 2015

X-Wing - Getting into the game

Last night I found out that they released a new trailer for The Force Awakens so I decided to watch it before dinner.  While I was doing this, Penny asked what I was watching and jumped into my lap and watched the trailer with me.  Afterwards she asked to watch the other Force Awaken trailers on the playlist so we did.  She's really excited by the new movie and I really want to take her so to help prep her for the new movie I decided to take her to Game Quest after dinner to see what Star Wars X-Wing stuff they had.

We ended up buying the X-Wing Force Awakens box set and proceeded to learn the game as soon as we got home.  The game officially has an age limit of 14+ but ever since Penny was a baby, I've been pushing the envelope so to say with her toys and entertainment.  While taking out all the tokens and templates she ended up choosing the X-Wing as her ship.  So I ended up with the Imperial TIE Fighters (well I guess First Order) as mine.

We played through the tutorial mission easily enough.  She understood how to use the maneuver dial and what dice to roll and what the symbols meant except for the Eye as it's not described in the tutorial mission and took me a while to find out what it actually does.  It took her a few turns to realize she shouldn't tell me her plans as it would allow me to plan my own moves better.  Unfortunately for her, the dice just did not go her way and my TIE fighters finished off the X-Wing at the end.  There was a moment mid-game where she annihilated one of the TIE fighters in one volley though and that made her happy.

While we were cleaning up all the tokens she declared that she needed another ship.  I did not dispute this because the two TIE fighters had a slightly higher point value than the lone X-Wing.  Using just the basic ships with no actions or pilot abilities heavily favours the side with more ships I think.  As we play more games I might introduce actions but I don't want to overload her as she just turned 5.

So today, after her skating lessons, we went back to Game Quest and picked up a Z-95 Headhunter for her.  That should even the playing field against my two TIE fighters.  Haven't had a chance to play another game but we will no doubt get a few games in on Remembrance Day which we, with me being a teacher and her just starting school, both have off.

I don't think my wife has seen this comic yet, but I think I'll send it to her soon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Video Games - Fantasy eSports and Alpha Draft

While watching some League of Legends videos on YouTube an ad popped up for the fantasy esports site Alpha Draft.  The ad basically said, if you like esports come make a fantasy team and see if you can win money.  I clicked on it to check it out thinking I'm a fan of esports (League mostly) and maybe I can generate some free money out of this much like I did with Diablo 3 a few years back.

I've been playing on Alpha Draft for about 2 weeks now and so far after an initial investment of $15, have been making money each week.  Not an appreciable amount mind you as I messed up the first week and used the second week to make back what I had lost and initially invested.  However, much like selling stuff on Diablo 3, small gains eventually lead to larger gains and as long as I am growing my funds each week, I'll be happy.

So far the experiment is working and I'm curious to see just how much I can make by the end of the summer.  Might post my thoughts on how I pick a team later as I get more experienced with each game.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Travel - Visiting Japan is Bad for the Wallet

Spring break this year was way different than previous years.  In previous years all I really did was stay at home and watch Penny while my wife works.  This year though we went to Japan for my brother's wedding.

We were there for 10 days and spent it split between Tokyo and where my brother lives in Kofu.  We also managed to get to Kyoto for a day trip and see the bamboo groves and the Tenryuji temple in Arashiyama.   Didn't get around to visiting Himeji castle (too far for a day trip) so couldn't cross that off the list (see World Wonder Tour). Just means that I'll have to go back in the future.  Japan will be a lot more fun when Penny is older I think.

Anyways, while in Tokyo we visited the Akihabara district which in the past was known as a big electronics shopping area but now is kind of a hotbed for otaku culture.  Lots of shops catering to fans of video games, anime and manga.  So many arcades and toy shops.  We visited a few shops over 3 days and I ended up walking away with 3 Gundam plastic (aka Gunpla) model kits; a high grade Wing Gundam Zero Honoo, a Master Grade Deathscythe and a Master Grade RX-78.

I like mecha anime and although I have yet to watch the original Gundam series, I am a fan of a few of the other Gundam series (namely Gundam Wing and recently Gundam Build Fighters).  Buying the model kits also helped sate my model building appetite.  With Games Workshop being out of my price range I figured getting back into Gunpla would be just fine.

Once we got home I decided to start with the Wing Gundam kit.  The last time I built a Gundam model was back in high school and it had been a while since I last put any kind of model together.  It was only a high grade kit therefore easier to put together than the master grade kits.

I spent more time than I usually do being a lot more careful about cutting the pieces out and filing pieces down to make them smooth.  After the break are some WiP shots as well as the finished product.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Northern Fancon 2015!

The weekend of May 8th-10th saw the first ever Comic Con style event near my home, Northern Fancon 2015!

I was a pretty excited about the event and my parents ended up buying me a ticket for Christmas.  The event itself didn't seem to have that much for the first few months as it took forever for them to post a schedule for events and things (their guest line up kept growing as time went on as well).  I think it was about a month or so before the event took place that they started scheduling panels and about 2 weeks before the event that they had a schedule for the guest panel/interview and some workshops.

It didn't feel like there was a whole lot this first year.  I felt like I was in a trade show with lots of booths for vendors, artists and even some other events coming up later in the year.  Maybe that's what these things are like?  I was hoping for a few more gaming related events like tournaments or demos or what not.  The venue has a lot of space and closed rooms so I could see doing a wargaming tournament or card game tournament or something.  There was a (seemingly hastily put together) Settler's of Catan tournament as well as a Smash Bros. tournament but that was only for one day and I think they could have easily done something like a Warhammer tournament or Magic: The Gathering draft or what not.  I mean Northern BC has a large community of wargamers and Magic players they could have easily tapped in to (no pun intended) for either logistical support or participants.

There were some cool guests though; most notably William Shatner, Jewel Staite and Tia Carrere.  My family was totally stoked that John de Lancie was there as he appears in one of my favourite fandoms (Star Trek) and also one of my daughter's favourite shows (My Little Pony).

Speaking of Mr. de Lancie, when we went to get his autograph he noticed Penny and asked her if she was a fan of My Little Pony, to which she replied yes.  He then continued to talk with her and told her that he suspected daddy (me) actually wanted his signature on one of the prints featuring Q and proceeded to pick one and sign it for me.  Mr. de Lancie then told Penny that he would give her one too as a present and signed a print of Discord (his character in My Little Pony) to which she said thank you.  He made the event quite worth it for both Penny and I.  Kind of regretting not getting a photo with him, but c'est la vie.

My father in law also got something out of it as we shelled out the money to get him an autograph and photo with William Shatner.  He grew up watching the original Star Trek and is a big fan.  He also had a great time perusing the comic book vendors looking at old comics he used to read as a kid.

One of our favourite parts about Fancon was all the cosplay going on.  Penny decided to participate when we told her she could dress up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MTG - Constructed Pauper and UR Fiend

For the first time in a long time I participated in a paper constructed event.  I usually participate in pre-release tournaments and maybe a draft once in a blue moon but not constructed.  Playing competitive constructed Magic just takes too much time and effort, at least in the Standard format.  I could try an eternal format like Modern but the meta-game is rather large and would require a large initial investment (both time and money) to be competitive.

Thankfully, the friendly local game store (Great White Entertainment) hosted a legacy Pauper tournament.  And fortunately for me I had built a legacy Pauper deck a while back to mirror one I played a lot on MTGO.  It's a ridiculously fun deck and can win out of nowhere while also rewarding skillful play as some match-ups require it.  I wasn't running the most optimal version but I had no idea what the competition would be so didn't think a fully optimized version was necessary.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  Still had fun and now I know what to expect for next time.

The deck I played is as follows and the event only ran 3 rounds due to time constraints and having only 10 people participating.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

MTG - Dragons of Tarkir Pre-Release

New set out for Magic meaning another pre-release!

I was really excited to play in this pre-release because of all the dragons that were going to be in the set.  And my pool did not disappoint (more about my pool later).  Penny had to come with me for the first bit though as my wife had to work and the in-laws couldn't babysit for her right away due to church commitments.  Penny did a good job helping me sort the cards into their colours and even picked out the sleeves she thought I should use.  The selection turned some heads and I'm not sure whether my opponents thought I was a scrub or not because of it.

The great and powerful Trixie will help smite my opponents!

I picked Atarka because I liked the Red and Green pool in the set.  Lots of big power creatures who gained additional abilities for being big (thanks to the new rule Formidable).  Sealed deck in my experience comes down to whoever has the biggest creatures or the most evasive creatures.  Rarely do you encounter a deck with a ton of answers to all your big creatures so eventually you can just run your opponent over.

Notable cards in my pool were

Dragonlord Kolaghan
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Kolaghan's Command

Twin Bolt
Tail Lash
Roast x2
Atarka Pummeler
Atarka Efreet
Dragon Fodder x2
Lose Calm
Dragonlord's Servant
Sarkahn's Triumph
Volcanic Vision
Tormenting Voice x2
Mardu Warmark
Sprinting Warbrute
Summit Prowler x2
Qal Sisma Behemoth

Pinion Feast
Stampeding Elk Herd x2
Atarka Beastbreaker
Glade Watcher
Ainok Survivalist x2
Sheltered Aerie
Salt Road Ambushers
Aerie Bowmasters
Whisperer of the Wilds
Dragon-Scarred Bear x2
Ruthless Instincts
Tread Upon
Ambush Krotiq
Revealing Wind
Inspiring Call
Segmented Krotiq

Deathbringer Regent
Virulent Plague
Foul-Tongue Invocation
Self-Inflicted Wound
Silumgar Butcher
Sibsig Host
Mind Rot x2
Reckless Imp
Qarsi Sadist
Hand of Silumgar

There wasn't anything super exciting in White or Blue that would have made me want to switch.  Especially after opening those Red and Black cards.  It's a shame I didn't get enough good black to run straight RB.  Would have made the mana base way more stable.

My final deck ended up being
Dragonlord Kolaghan
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Kolaghan's Command
Twin Bolt
Tail Lash
Roast x2
Atarka Pummeler
Atarka Efreet
Dragon Fodder x2
Sarkahn's Triumph (though this was often sided out for Pinion Feast)
Stampeding Elk Herd x2
Atarka Beastbreaker
Ainok Survivalist
Sheltered Aerie
Salt Road Ambushers
Aerie Bowmasters
Whisperer of the Wilds
Dragon-Scarred Bear x2
Jungle Hollow
Swamp x2
Forest x8
Mountain x7

Match breakdowns after the break.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV - Mini-Games!

The Golden Saucer was recently added to the game and boy is it ever fun.

For those unfamiliar with the original Golden Saucer, it was introduced way back in Final Fantasy 7 (and to my knowledge was never re-introduced in any other Final Fantasy game).  It was a giant amusement park and acted like one in the game with all manner of mini-games.  It also had some interesting rewards like Cloud's final limit break, Omnislash, in the Battle Square mini-game (fun fact, my brother managed to obtain Omnislash on the first disc of the game by grinding out 50+ levels in random encounters and then taking his super powered Cloud to the Battle Square to win the Omnislash manual).

Many of the mini-games recreated some of the sequences in the game like the bike battle (my favourite) or the submarine battle (also a favourite of mine) while others were more traditional carnival/amusement park games like basketball toss or strong man games.  And don't get me started on Chocobo Racing and breeding.

In FF14 the Saucer pretty much does the same thing.  It has lots of mini-games, a bunch of random events, chocobo racing and Triple Triad!  I never played Final Fantasy 8 so I had no idea what Triple Triad was other than it was a game within FF8,  It's fun and you get to collect cards and use your cards to win more Golden Saucer points (the currency within the Golden Saucer).

At the moment the rewards at the Golden Saucer are cosmetic items, chocobo racing items or Triple Triad cards.  I got lucky and managed to win 10,000 golden saucer points from a mini-lottery and bought a new hair style (only available at the golden saucer).

Then I spent the leftover points on racing feed (though I still have to actually race my chocobo).  I won another mini-lottery and will probably save the points for some of the cosmetic weapons for my other classes when/if I get them to 50.

Little things like this definitely make this game nicer than other MMOs I've played.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

League of Legends - Awesome Plays vol. 1

Despite what my previous posts might suggest, I do still play other games aside from Final Fantasy 14.  And to prove it I'm going to start by showcasing some nice plays from a recent League of Legends night I had with some friends.

I still play a lot of League but mostly with friends in recent weeks.  Haven't played much ranked despite season 5 starting a few weeks ago.  I'm only 2 placement matches in.  So far 0-2 because I am out of practice and I really should play a bunch of normal games to get the hang of the new patch.  I probably won't though and at some point in the future i'm going to just dive right into my remaining 8 placement matches.

Anyways on to some highlights of a recent game!  Two warnings though: one of my friends uses some colorful language.  Also I think I need to adjust my mic settings to tone down some of the higher pitches/volume from my voice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV - End-Game grinding

I don't believe it but I'm actually playing the end-game game in Final Fantasy XIV.  All other MMORPGs I've played where I reached end-game I kind of stopped playing.  For example in WoW when I hit 70 in the Burning Crusade expansion I kind of just stopped.  I think I grinded out enough reputation and gold to be the first in my guild to get a dragon mount but I never did anything else of note (i.e. I did not go dungeon raiding).  Mostly because the raids and dungeons took so much time (at least 2 hours for a single dungeon and days for raids).  End-game WoW was geared towards hardcore raiders back then compared to now.

Similarly when I hit end-game in SWTOR I kind of just stopped too.  My friend and I attempted some of the end-game flashpoints with our NPC companions but some were too difficult to do and I didn't bother with any other end-game content even after the group finder was implemented.  I did pick up the expansion and finished the expansion stories but again I did not attempt any of the end-game flashpoints, operations or daily grind missions.  I think I might have tried grinding out some tokens for entry level raid gear but not enough to be too proud of anything.

However, in FF14 I've discovered that the end-game activities do not seem as much of a grind as the others.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV - Mialee's Look Complete!

Recently I've replaced my morning LoL game with an equivalent amount of time playing Final Fantasy XIV.  No real agenda in the morning so sometimes I craft or level another class or run a daily duty roulette for additional tomestones or whatever.  This morning I decided to see how many Ifrit Hard Mode trials I could accomplish before getting ready for work.

I'm glad I did as I got some stuff that I wanted.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV - Glamour System

I tweeted this when I saw the #GamingConfessions hashtag earlier this week and boy is it ever true.

It all started on SWTOR and when I got enough Social points to get the first set of social armour.  I liked the top and since I could swap out the Armour piece, modification piece and enhancement piece I stuck with the same top for most of my leveling experience.

Once I hit end-game I had accumulated a huge number of social points and my social rank was fairly high so I had access to a lot of the social armour sets.  I bought a bunch of them and started mixing and matching to find a look that I liked (thankfully the social armour is cheap).  There were other pieces of customizable armour as well so I spent a great deal of money on the Galactic Market looking for interesting pieces.  This was made even more expensive by the fact that I could customize the appearance of my companions so I had 5 other people to customize.  Took a while and a lot of credits to give my main character and his main companion a look that I liked.

This extended to a lot of other games that have vanity systems like League where I've spent a large amount of money picking up skins that make my character look cool (or skins that are limited edition).  The skins have absolutely no practical purpose but they look cool.

So this brings me to Final Fantasy XIV.  A game with a really robust vanity system known as their Glamour system.  In some ways not as restrictive as SWTOR but in some ways more restrictive.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV - Reborn Enjoyment of the MMORPG

So as I mentioned in my 2014 Year in Review, a friend had bought me Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn (FF14 for short) while it was on sale at Steam a few weeks (or maybe months now?) back.  Surprised me as I was going to buy it the same day he bought it for me.  Anyways, I didn't really play much of it for the first couple of days of my subscription because of school work and I think I was focusing on improving my League of Legends play as the season ended.

That changed once Christmas hit though.  I had no incentive to improve my League play until the next season started so I picked up Final Fantasy again.  At first I wasn't too impressed as the combat was identical to every other MMORPG I had played and there was no voice over in the cut-scenes.  SWTOR I think really set the bar for general questing as the voices added character to the quest givers makes the game that much more immersive.  Mind you there are some cut-scenes in FF14 that have voice-overs but they are kind of random and seem forced at times (not as good as the voice work in SWTOR in my opinion).  I stuck with it though as another friend picked up the game as well and we sort of leveled together, him a healer and me a tank (just as we did in SWTOR).

A couple of things stood out as I leveled.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014 Year in Review

2014 was an interesting year.
  • Taught in a distance educating school
  • went on strike for 4 weeks and a bit,
  • went to London and Paris with the family
  • and played a lot of games (both digital and non-digital).
Overall a good year even with the loss of a months salary and stress caused by my work strike.  Now on to some more specific accounts on various gaming fronts.