Aug 272016
 

If I howl into the void 

Can I be heard above the wind?

If I scream”no more” and the words fall 

like blood on the screen

Will they be seen?

If seen, read? 

If read, acted on?

I want to be un/heard 

So I send my pain down through

the channel unwatched 

The page unread

The screen unseen 

Hoping for a lifeline

Guaranteeing that none will come

So at the end I can say

I cried for help and none heard

Exactly as planned 

And so it ends:

Potential wasted

Promise unfulfilled

Youth and dreams gone to dust

On every horizon:

slow decrepitude

Loss of the loved 

Inevitable death

Forgotten by time

It will be as if I never existed

So why exist at all 

 Posted by at 9:40 pm
Aug 172016
 

This isn’t a full review, just some things that have stood out for me so far, both good and bad.

Installation and startup were smooth, and I only ran into one bug in the beginning, which hasn’t happened again since: when I tried to upload discoveries before saving for the first time, the game screen faded to black. I kept trying different key combos to escape the game or bring up the task manager, to no avail, until eventually my PC just rebooted.

While adjusting graphics settings that required a game restart I discovered that, because I hadn’t saved my game before making the changes (and didn’t yet know how to), every restart put me on a different random planet. I used this feature to restart a few more times until I got a favorable starting planet (temperate, lots of resources, minimal sentries, high flora).

In-game instructions are…sparse. it doesn’t even tell you how to save your game, and there’s no save button. I had to Google it (saves happen each time you exit your ship, or interact with a waypoint’s antenna). An explanation of these kinds of basic gameplay mechanics would be welcome.

The game is visually beautiful. Stunning, in fact. The creatures are fantastic, and obviously alien, yet familiar enough to think that, if evolution had taken some different turns, some of them might have appeared on Earth.

I really like the interaction with the sentient races, although I’ve only encountered the Gek so far. The system for learning alien languages is very cool, although you’d think they could fit more than one word in a knowledge stone.

I began my journey on the quaintly-named Eshimanami-Mando Ruton (it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), in the Ationendamm system of the Silverdob region. It’s practically paradise: perfect temperature, lots of resources and plant life, giant boulders of copper floating serenely in the air (wait, what?), and the sentinel drones aren’t too trigger-happy. I spent most of the first two days on it, meeting the Gek and learning some of their language, gathering resources, and trying to find a better ship and some exosuit upgrades. So far I’ve found two ships (only one with an extra inventory slot), and a single-slot upgrade for my suit.

This brings me to my first major problem with this game: inventory management. I’ve played Minecraft and Space Engineers for years, so I’m practically an expert at it, but even with the inventory increase given at launch, juggling all of your stuff is excruciating. When I found my new ship, it had 16 slots, vs. the 15 on my starter, but many of those slots were filled with upgrades, which I couldn’t dismantle to free up the slot until they were repaired. My current ship and my suit were both nearly full, so I ended up having to trash a bunch of things I’d have preferred to keep or sell, just to do the Inventory Shuffle. I couldn’t leave the new ship to sell stuff off and come back, because I’d never find it again (see problem #2). I actually enjoy inventory management, if it’s not so painful that it detracts from the rest of the game.

Wishlist Item #1: Let us drop things on the ground and pick them back up, or use fixed-position containers to swap things around.

The second problem is the waypoint system. The game fills your HUD with the waypoints of places you’ve discovered using found beacons (the pedestals with the orange beam of light shining up into the sky), which is good. It also puts pulsing lines around the icons of those places you haven’t visited yet, which is even better.

HOWEVER.

  • There’s no way I can find to hide any of them from my view, which is getting increasingly cluttered with waypoint icons.
  • The pulsing lines around the icons of unvisited locations only occasionally appeared when I was in my ship, so I kept having to land, get out, reorient myself, and take off again, wasting plutonium with each launch.
  • When you visit a crashed ship its waypoint icon goes away, unlike the other marked locations, even if you haven’t claimed it yet. Gods help you if you walk away and then forget where it’s parked. Twice I almost lost the new ship because I needed to move the old ship close enough to do the Inventory Shuffle. Panic ensued.
  • You can’t make custom waypoints, and there’s no coordinate system visible to the player, so unless the game marks a location for you, good luck ever finding it again.

Wishlist Item #2: A waypoint management system, with the ability to create, group, hide, and delete custom waypoints, and by extension, a coordinate system that can be displayed in your suit and ship HUD.

A few other quibbles:

  • In the PC version, there’s no way to free-look around the cockpit while in the ship, and some of the displays have part of their view obscured, at least when you’re on the planet. When your pulse engine is active in space the view pulls back somewhat to give a sense of acceleration, so the displays are fully visible. The console version allows free-look using one of the analog sticks, and I’ve read that using a game controller with the PC version works also. I don’t have one so I can’t test this.
  • When on foot, my view sometimes feels like it’s permanently zoomed in slightly. It seems to come and go, and I can’t figure out how to replicate it on demand, or what makes it go away. Changing my FOV setting to 90 seemed to help a bit.
  • A belly camera on your ship would be nice to help you land more precisely.
  • Why in the world can’t you bring your ship to a complete stop? Maybe I’d accept some rationale for it while on a planet, such as the ship flies like an airplane and has to move forward to generate lift, but in space? You can move forward or backward, but not stop? Nope. Sorry. Not buying it. Give us a brake pedal.

A lot of reviews have said that the gameplay is shallow and becomes repetitive. I can’t disagree, because I can already see the grind starting (gather resources, analyze things, go to new planet, rinse, repeat), but the potential here is huge, Sean Murray has already said they’ll keep updating as long as people are playing, and I’m eager to see how they do the upcoming base-building feature. So rather than being a complete game at launch, I’m thinking of it as a starting framework, with a lot of great things hopefully to come.

I could go on with all kinds of pros and cons, but time spent writing is time not spent playing, and I have an Atlas station to find.

Aug 122016
 

Wednesday night I saw a tweet from Los Feliz Daycare that mentioned a student named Isis. When I saw it, I had a powerful, inexplicable urge to pray to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

I haven’t believed in, or prayed to, any deity in about 15 years, so I have no idea where the hell that came from. Egyptian wasn’t even my pantheon of choice when I was a pagan. 

I went so far as to look up prayers to Isis and recite one in my mind, but fell asleep before finishing. I fully expected to dream about Isis that night, but nothing happened that I recall.

I tried again last night but, again, fell asleep very quickly. The urge isn’t really there anymore, but the strangeness of it happening at all remains.

Mar 222016
 

I took the new Pālanā hotness and a stealth Andy deck to league last night, and scored my very first win against Trevor (using PE) on a lucky HQ run. Trevor rarely makes a mistake, or falls for traps, so it was quite a boost for me, because I had pretty much resigned myself to never winning against him. Which, of course, creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I didn’t do as well with Pālanā vs. Leela. There are so many assets to manage that I kept getting paralyzed by the number of choices. In the deck comments I had said it was a great deck and, while I still think that’s true, it needs some tweaks, just not sure which ones yet. Some suggested changes are swapping Harvester for Inazuma, Psychic Field for Snare!, and a Braintrust for a third Medical Breakthrough, as I never found an opportunity to over-advance Braintrust.

After Trevor left, Max’s friend Josh jumped in. He’s new to the game, and didn’t have cards yet, so we used mine. I definitely earned the “teach a new player” achievement for my league score, because even though he’d discussed the game a lot with Max and his other friend Craig(?), he didn’t know you had to use clicks to install cards. Or advance them. Or nearly anything else.

He learned fast though, and generally improved with each game, but my decks were not great for teaching. Pālanā has too much to manage for a new player, and nothing induces table-flipping rage like getting Account Siphoned over and over again, so I deliberately held back to avoid frustrating him to the point of quitting. I tried to be helpful, as did Max, but I wasn’t watching for teaching moments as closely as I could have been, because I was in more of a mood for some actual competition.

Mar 172016
 

I’ve cooled somewhat on Netrunner lately, after missing three store champs due to travel and illness, then coming in last place at the RIW Hobbies store champ on 3/5. Also, replaying Skyrim on my new gaming PC has consumed a lot of my interest.

Still, I took Whizzard and New Angeles Sol decks to casual play at Fun 4 All last week and last night, with mixed results.

Last week I did pretty well with Whizzard, but against Nick and Iain’s Creepy Sleepover, it was a long slog I ended up losing, because I couldn’t manage to land a tag long enough to trash any resources. Against Austin’s MaxX deck, I just got slaughtered. Too many Fall Guys, that he just kept recurring, along with Wireless Net Pavilion and Data Leak Reversal. Once he gained an extra click from Joshua B., he just kept milling five cards off R&D into archives and floating a bunch of tags I couldn’t do a thing with, until he finally ran archives and ended my pain.

Last night, I played Tim S. in four games, going 2-2. I won pretty quickly with Sol vs. his Geist deck, then barely squeaked out a win with Whizzard vs. a killer Pālanā Foods deck. By the time I finally scored The Future Perfect he’d foolishly (his words, not mine) installed, he’d taken 3/4 of my heap out of the game by scoring Chronos Project, after keeping everything locked in it for most of the game with a well-protected Blacklist.

For the third game I broke out the current version of the PE Yomi deck I used in store champs, against his Valencia. He made the wise decision to almost never run any of my advanced remotes (of which all but two were traps), and just kept Keyholing R&D until he was able to run archives and beat The Future Perfect psi game for the win. I need to find an answer for the Keyhole/Eater combo. More ice on archives is an obvious choice, but I need to force remote runs if possible. I also hit all three of his I’ve Had Worse when doing net damage, which kept him alive. Mostly just bad luck on my part, I guess.

For the last game we tried Whizzard vs. Pālanā again and, despite a long slog, he managed to win it. I stole the Chronos Project, keeping my heap in the game, but it was quite awhile before I could take out his Blacklist, then I face-checked a Komainu with my only Levy in hand. Despite final Medium digs of four and five cards, I couldn’t score enough agendas before running out of cards for Faust and money for Mimic. Also, no matter how many times I trashed Museum of History, Jackson, and Team Sponsorship, he managed to get them out again, because any one of them can bring the others back into play. I’d have to add Scrubbers and more econ to the deck, and focus almost completely on asset denial.

Afterward, he told me that the Pālanā deck was specifically teched against Whizzard, since there’ll probably be a lot of it at Regionals. Well shit, no wonder I had such a rough time. I’m amazed I managed to win the first game, if only barely.

I’m probably going to go to Regionals, but I have no idea what I want to bring and, to be honest about it, the thought of going just kind of depresses me. I feel like I should go, but I’m not eager to go.

Feb 022016
 

Saturday I played in that thing in the subject line of this post, at Eternal Games in Warren, MI. I carpooled with Max and Tim from my meta, arriving about 10 minutes before they opened. Once they did, I picked up what turned out to be the only copy of Kala Ghoda left in the store. Lucky me. I loaned a few of them to Ryan S. since I hadn’t planned on slotting any of them in my current decks.

The decks I brought were Jinteki PE and Keyhole MaxX. I’ve really been enjoying learning to pilot the PE deck. I wasn’t sold on MaxX, but I just couldn’t come up with a post-MWL runner deck that really grabbed my interest.

For round 1 I got matched with Bryce from my meta. I last played against him in a GNK in September, where we took turns flatlining each other in about 10 minutes. This time he rolled right over me with Noise and pre-MWL EtF Foodcoatshop. Against Noise, I would have killed him by scoring out Philotic on my next turn, but he managed to steal it for the win. Against EtF he just outscored me. I managed 4 points, and should have run HQ harder.

Getting swept in the first round tilted me right away, despite my determination not to be, because it was clear that he had improved a lot since the GNK, and I hadn’t. After that round, I listened to Steve J. talk about how “being college students, they (Steve, Bryce, etc.) just sat around and tested decks against each other all day.” There’s no way I could get that kind of practice, so that took some of the self-pressure off. I hadn’t practiced nearly as much as I could have, so it wasn’t reasonable to expect to do all that well. That, plus getting past the “first tournament jitters”, helped un-tilt me. I also reminded myself that I was here because I loved playing the game, not because I had to prove something to anyone. My only goal was to not finish dead last.

Score: 0-2

My round 2 games against Ed F. were pretty straightforward. His Sunny ran face first into a loaded Project Junebug for the kill, and his pre-MWL Spark Agency ran me over with the Astrotrain. Nothing memorable there.

Score: 1-3

Things got more interesting in round 3 vs. Chris V., also from the Ann Arbor meta, where I had my first of two epic (for me) moments. Our first game was MaxX vs. his Chronos Protocol, and neither of us could make much headway. With ten minutes left in the round, each of us only had two points. He had Wraparounds in front of both R&D and his scoring remote, and he’d scored a Chronos Project a few turns before, removing half my deck from the game and taking my only Corroder with it. Eater could get me in, but I couldn’t steal anything. My Faust was nowhere in sight. Earlier I had Keyholed a Medical Breakthrough into Archives and let it sit there, so there were two points just waiting for me to take them. After another useless turn I decided, “Fuck this. If I’m playing MaxX, I’m going to PLAY MAXX.”

I popped my last DDoS, Amped Up, and ran screaming into HQ for some Wanton Destruction. I blew four cards out of his hand, saving my last click for the Archives run. +6 points for the win! However, we finished with three minutes remaining, so the second game didn’t get played.

Score: 2-3-1

We stopped for a 40-minute food break, but by the time Boston Market finally made my sandwich I only had time to eat half of it before the next round.

Ordering food was…strange. For the past three hours, I had been utterly consumed by hyperfocus, and coming out of it was like rising slowly up from the depths. Something as mundane as ordering a sandwich felt slightly unreal, and I almost had trouble speaking. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely noticeable.

Getting back into it for round 4 was just as difficult, and for the first couple of turns I just stared at Wade’s cards thinking, “I have no idea what to do. I can’t remember how to play my deck.”

Fortunately, it all came back to me pretty quickly, but not quickly enough. He was playing a MaxX deck that was, card-for-card except for Faust, identical to mine, and he played it much better. Almost immediately my inside voice screamed, “SCORE OUT!”, but I second-guessed it, thinking maybe I could get the kill. I should have listened to it, because he ended up Keyholing all the points into Archives, then running it for the win.

My turn with MaxX against his EtF wasn’t nearly as decisive: we were 0-0 until time ran out. With my very last turn, I loaded up my hand with Faust fuel and ran his triple-iced remote, breaking through with my very last card to score two points. A timed win is still a win.

Score: 3-4-1

The last round of Swiss was against Andrew W. and his pre-MWL NEH. All aboard the Astrotrain!

I hate that deck…SO…MUCH…it-it- the f – it – flam – flames. Flames, on the side of my face…

Then I went up against his Pre-MWL Prepaid Kate. After a lot of effort, two brain damage, more Snares than I can count, and a badly-timed Chairman Hiro rez, I finally set up a Punitive CounterstrikeNeural EMP x2 kill. I could have done it two turns sooner by scoring out my Philotic Entanglement against his three agendas, but by then my brain was so fried I completely forgot about the extra damage from my ID ability.

Final score for the day: 4-5-1
Strength of Schedule: 1.76
Extended Strength of Schedule: 2.00133

I finished 26th out of 34, accomplishing my goal of not finishing last, got an alt art Jackson, and, despite the initial tilt, had a great time. Despite a problem with the tournament software at first, Eternal Games ran a great event. The Ann Arbor meta had 5 players in the top 8, with Ryan S. taking 2nd place.

It must have been my Kala Ghoda cards.

Nov 022015
 

I got my hands on Data & Destiny on Thursday, so of course I had to use it to make four decks for tonight’s League night. Since we get bonus points for using different Identities for both matches every week, I’ll probably be scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end of the league, playing crap like Exile, Nasir, and Custom Biotics. Howard help me.

Also, since I’m terrible at building decks, I’ve shamelessly pulled decks off of NetrunnerDB.com to use, although I do occasionally tweak them. On the Runner side, I’m using:

Praise the Sun! 2.5

Sunny Lebeau: Security Specialist (Data and Destiny)

Event (12)
Hardware (8)
Resource (18)
Icebreaker (6)
Program (6)

25 influence spent (max 25)
50 cards (min 50)
Cards up to Data and Destiny


Always Be Hungry (modified according to some of the comments)

Apex: Invasive Predator (Data and Destiny)

Event (16)
Hardware (13)
Resource (8)
Icebreaker (5)
Program (3)

25 influence spent (max 25)
45 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Data and Destiny

There doesn’t seem to be a truly great Apex deck out there yet. It’s a difficult ID to build around, but that means there are a lot of possible builds that could work. I’m hoping to tweak this one to really make it my own, so I plan on taking notes on its performance tonight.

Over on the Corp side, I’m trying…

Syncromodernism

SYNC: Everything, Everywhere (Data and Destiny)

Agenda (10)
Asset (10)
Upgrade (3)
Operation (8)
Barrier (3)
Code Gate (5)
Sentry (5)

15 influence spent (max 15)
18 agenda points (between 18 and 19)
44 cards (min 40)
Cards up to Data and Destiny


Xanatos Gambit

Cybernetics Division: Humanity Upgraded (Chrome City)

Agenda (9)
Asset (9)
Upgrade (3)
Operation (10)
Barrier (6)
Code Gate (5)
Sentry (2)

15 influence spent (max 15)
18 agenda points (between 18 and 19)
44 cards (min 40)
Cards up to Data and Destiny

Oct 192015
 

Played two against new guy Trevor, who didn’t join the league, but is really good. I played Stealth Hayley vs his NBN Making News, which I never see played anymore.  He eventually Midseasoned me out of the game. 

Second game was his Noise vs my Harmony Medtech. It was a slog, but despite a 4-point lead, he kept milling me and finally ran Archives to score out, after having buried my two remaining Jacksons.

Decided not to have his two games be my league games.

Against Max: my Hayley vs his Blue Sun, I scored out in about 4 turns. One of them was a Government Takeover. 

As Harmony Medtech vs his Edward Kim, he ran through Komainu and was finished off by Swordsman. 

Last match was Max’s Blue Sun vs my Noise. He blew me out. 

2nd game of that match was against Ryan S. (Greyfield on OCTGN and Netrunnerdb) and his Kate Faust deck. He scored out because I STUPIDLY rezzed Excalibur with 2 of my last three creds, suddenly blanking on the fact he could use Faust against it. If I’d saved the creds for the Swordsman in front of my scoring server, I’d have kept him out and scored The Future Perfect. Why do I make such stupid fucking mistakes? I KNEW better. FML. 

Sep 152015
 

Last night we ran the Summer 2015 Game Night Kit, which was paid for by the great folks at Get Your Game On. We had 13 players show up from around the area, which is a typical turnout. I fully expected to do terribly, and I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, I was disappointed, but I wasn’t disappointed about being disappointed, I just…where was I going with this?

Anyway, my flimsy excuses for placing 12th are as follows: I was out of town the four days prior, had no time to practice, no one to practice against, decided on and put my decks together the night before, had never run either of those IDs before, and my first round matchup was against one of the two best players in our local meta. I think that covers everything.

Oh wait, there’s the most important excuse: I’m still terrible at this game. Still, I scored a sweet card box and alt art Swordsman.

I was running this Tennin Institute FA/Kill, and a Reina Siphon with a few tweaks because I only have one core set (-1 Account Siphon and Deja Vu, +1 Same Old Thing and Net-Ready Eyes).

Against Tim’s Hayley, I got completely steamrolled. I still can’t remember how it actually went down; it’s mostly just a blur of vanishing agendas and tears. At the end, I had Philotic Entanglement double-advanced, then his run through the Matrix Analyzer in front of HQ added the third token. However, his last run was against the remote itself, I couldn’t keep him out, and it was over.

I held out a little longer against PE, quickly scoring 3 points out of unprotected remotes. He installed a Ronin using Mushin No Shin, which I trashed, then did it again a few turns later. I decided that the second Mushin install was probably a bluff, and chose to ignore it. I chose…poorly. He flatlined me with it the next turn.

The second round, versus Luke’s self-described “janky Silhouette“, was a back and forth slog. On the last turn before the timer ran out, with 6 points scored, I made him An Offer You Can’t Refuse. Either he gave me the winning point, or made a run that would flatline him. Because time was up, he just gave me the point. It also meant our second game was an unplayed draw. I liked playing against him, though; we both like to use self-deprecating humor about our game skill.

The third round, against Bryce, was a complete WTF. He was running what I suspect was, almost card-for-card, the exact same two decks I’d been using in the last few casual nights: Noise-Faust-Peddler, and this Butcher Shop, but with added Biotic Labor.

He went corp for the first game and retaliated against my almost immediate agenda grab with a Midseason, followed by a double Scorch. I was flatlined in about two minutes. As the runner, he ran into an early Snare, then took the bait on a double-advanced Project Junebug. He was flatlined in about two minutes.

Five minutes. Our round was over in five minutes.

We looked at the table, then looked at each other, then looked at the table again.

Me: “…”

Him: “…”

Me: “Uh huh.”

Him: “Well, that was fun.”

We decided to play two casual games while we waited for everyone else to finish. We flatlined each other again.

I have to mention one guy that was there, who I played against a couple weeks ago at a casual night. He borrowed his decks from Tim both then and last night, and I don’t think he’s ever actually read the rulebook. He was sitting next to me during the first round and, I swear to Jackson, he actually asked, “What’s an Event?”

He took fourth place.

FML.

Jul 212015
 

Last night Get Your Game On sponsored its first seasonal Organized Play event, with a GNK (Game Night Kit) provided by Fun4All. 14 people showed up to play, the most we’ve ever had there. We also had the first female Netrunner player I’ve seen at any game night, which was great; I wish more women played.

The occasion was Rapha’s send-off to L.A. Now that he’s finished his dissertation he’s leaving us, though he says he’ll be back in April for a visit. He was the first person I met and played against when I first started attending the Monday Netrunner night at GYGO, and he was my opponent in the first match-up of the night. Predictably, he whipped my ass in both games but, in my defense, he did take 2nd place in the Michigan Regionals recently, was a Detroit Great Lakes Circuit top qualifier, and won last night’s event overall. I can only dream of being that good.

I was running Stealth Hayley and Butcher Shop, while he was running Tennin Institute and Valencia. He scored a Medical Breakthrough early on, then I got lucky and was able to beat up HQ for awhile with my Corroder vs. his lone Himitsu-Bako, snagging two Nisei Mk IIs in a row. Along the way I also trashed two Caprices, which was very satisfying. Unfortunately for me, he managed to recover, scoring out the last Nisei and using its counter to end my last big run against R&D, before scoring The Future Perfect for the win.

I didn’t do even that well vs. Valencia. About halfway into the game, I drew all three Project Beales within two turns, with nowhere to put them, no Jesus Howard in sight, and only a Pop-up Window in front of HQ. He’d already scored an NAPD Contract, which I couldn’t protect thanks to Blackmail. Three runs on HQ and it was over.

In the second match, Joshua was running Chaos Theory and EtF. Long story short, at one point he’d run HQ, saw one of my Traffic Accidents, and figured he could deal with it. What he didn’t see was the Midseason Replacements and the second Traffic Accident. He ran my scoring remote, grabbed the agenda, and ended the turn with three cards in hand and not enough money to beat the trace. BOOM! He literally never saw it coming.

Running Hayley against his EtF was a struggle. I had trouble putting my rig together, even with two SMCs coming out to help. His ice on R&D was three deep by the time I got an R&D Interface out, and he had Architect as the innermost. Without a second Cloak or Silencer, I had to rely on stealth credits from Ghost Runner to hit R&D more than once per turn and still keep Architect from firing. I ran into two Lab Dogs, then he landed a tag on me which I either forgot or couldn’t afford to clear (I can’t remember which), blowing away Kati Jones, Daily Casts, and my last Ghost Runner in the following turn. I still managed to eke out two Accelerated Beta Tests from him, but our match timer ran out with him in the lead 6-4.

For the third and final match, Chris was using…uhh…something…and Cybernetics Division, which I hadn’t played against before. At the moment I don’t remember who he was using as his runner, but it doesn’t really matter, because in less than 10 minutes I dropped the Midseason Replacements-Traffic Accident-Traffic Accident combo on him, and it was over. My only runner win of the night was against him, and the reduced hand size from Cybernetics Division was never a hindrance. Hayley’s ability kept my hand pretty empty, and nothing he played ever really slowed me down.

I finished 6th of 14, only one place behind Max, who usually ranks up with Raphael, so I was really happy about that. I’ve reached the point where I’m looking forward to playing in tournaments rather than being intimidated away from them.

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