Dec 122014

I picked up the Netrunner Core Set a few weeks ago, and have played eight games as of last night. I’m really liking it, but have only gotten my roommate and one of my coworkers to play with me so far. There’s a game shop in town where they play on Monday nights, but I chickened out this week. This is my very first attempt at deckbuilding, and I decided to focus on NBN’s tagging specialty. This deck is utter crap, but I want to learn by experience what makes a good deck, rather than only using someone else’s work.

I’ve also reproduced the results and decklist here, in case goes away.

The results? I won against my roommate (who’s as inexperienced at this as I am), using the Core Set Anarch deck, but I shouldn’t have. Here are the problems I’ve identified with the deck already:

Problems with my tactics:

  • The cards started out sorted and grouped. I didn’t shuffle them enough, and only got one piece of ice for quite a few turns.
  • I didn’t use my initial ice to protect HQ and R&D.
  • Instead, I used my first ice (Wall of Static) to protect a remote server with Ghost Branch, which I should have left undefended after putting a couple of advancement tokens on it as a lure.

Mistakes by my opponent:

  • He wasn’t aggressive enough. HQ and R&D went undefended for awhile, and he should have been hitting them every turn.
  • He spent a lot of time and money building up his rig before attacking. He finally started hitting HQ, and got an agenda on the first run, but only assets and operations after that, until I got a Tollbooth installed and rezzed. By then I also had ice on R&D (which I couldn’t rez for lack of money).
  • He made no effort to remove tags, which allowed me to trash his Armitage Codebusting. By his admission, that move cost him the game, but he’s even less experienced at this than I am.

NBN Experiment v0.1 NBN: Making News (Core Set)

  • 15 influence spent (max 15)
  • 21 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
  • 46 cards (min 45)
  • Cards up to Future Proof

Agenda (11)

Asset (5)

Upgrade (2)

Operation (10)

Barrier (3)

Code Gate (4)

Sentry (11)

Deck built on NetrunnerDB.

Jul 162014

The iOS version of Ingress finally the App Store on Monday, and I wasted no time installing it. A quick Facebook poll showed that nearly everyone I know who plays chose the Enlightened side, so that’s what I went with.

On the way home from work I went through downtown, and did a drive-by hacking on every portal that came within range. I had no idea what I was doing, just mashing the hack button, but I got a bunch of items to use later.

As luck would have it, I found a grey (unclaimed) L1 portal on a fountain in the front yard of a house nearby, and used it to do my tutorial missions as well as claim my first portal. I still barely had any idea what I was doing, but I didn’t care. I was also a bit nervous about loitering so close to someone’s house, but I was on a public street staring at my phone, so not really too suspicious-looking. I also discovered a portal in a park very close to my house, so I snagged that too, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the game yet to try linking them. I’ve revisited those portals multiple times, pulling up just long enough to hack them and move on.

That night I got a rude shock in the form of a damage report email saying that my virgin portal had been defiled and claimed by a L8 Resistance player, who reinforced it beyond my ability to take it back. That was annoying, but I learned quickly that that kind of back-and-forth happens all the time.

Yesterday I went out at lunch and went on a portal hunting spree to and around the botanical gardens. My carefully scripted itinerary and portal-linking plan was partially derailed when I found that 1) I’d left the plan sitting on my desk, and 2) I couldn’t make some of my links happen due to distance, crossing link lines, or some other reason I couldn’t fathom. Still, I hacked a whole bunch of unique portals and set up my first three control fields (141 MUs covered as of this writing), one of which covers a pretty large area.

I grabbed another one at another nearby park, only to have a Resistance player take it back minutes later. It was already dark, but I went back out, broke his single L7 resonator, and took it back. I hit L3 doing it, so I was able to install L2/L3 resonators, a shield, and a turret, and so far it’s stayed mine.

There are three portals clustered together where I work, so I’ve been hacking them regularly to get items. They switched from Resistance to Enlightened yesterday, which has made it even easier. I also discovered that one of my immediate coworkers plays Ingress, is on Resistance, and according to the other green players here, he’s a pain. I already suspected all of those things. lol

Mar 272013

Yesterday after work I went to GameStop to pick up a copy of Bioshock Infinite. For various vague reasons, which I considered for all of five seconds, I got it for our roommate Connor’s Xbox 360 instead of my PS3. You can probably guess that this post is about how I learned to regret that decision.

After the gym, a shower, and some food, I fired up the Xbox and got ready to play. I opened the tray, took out the Dishonored disc, and turned around to grab the Bioshock disc, when the tray closed of its own accord.

And wouldn’t reopen.

This is a Halo 3 edition Xbox, so it’s about 5 years old. It’s already gone through a bad power brick and an in-shop repair job. The tray problem is not new, but the workaround has always been to stand the unit on end, then push the eject button. I stood the unit on end and pushed the eject button.



I pushed the button a few more times. I held it up and turned it through every possible axis of rotation while pushing the button. Yes, I even turned it off and turned it back on again.



I started blistering the air heaping curses upon Redmond, while considering my options. I’d already opened the game, so I probably couldn’t exchange it. I entertained a wild fantasy about buying Connor a new Xbox and setting fire to the old one, but that would mean going to a store, buying a console, transferring our combined profiles and saved game data to the new console, then explaining to my husband why I’d spent nearly $300 on a video game. As one of the greatest minds of our generation has observed, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

I chose a new course of action: beating the stupid thing. While smacking it on the side a few times, I started randomly hitting the eject and power buttons, hoping to confuse it into opening the tray.

Miracle of miracles, it worked! Hooking a finger in the tray to keep it from closing again, I reached back, grabbed the disc, and dropped it in, letting the tray close.

“Take that, bitch!”

Flush with victory, I glanced at the other disc label-side down on the couch and was suddenly seized by a terrible thought. I picked it up and flipped it over.

Bioshock Infinite.

My facepalm nearly broke the sound barrier. In my righteous fury, I’d accidentally put Dishonored right back in the tray.

Fearfully, I reached out and pressed the eject button, hoping against hope.


I grabbed a screwdriver and went to war.

After a brief struggle, the Xbox surrendered its front bezel, and I had to literally haul the tray open. Triumphant at last, it was midnight before I quit playing and went to bed. I sure hope Connor likes Bioshock Infinite, because that disc is never leaving that tray.

By the way, the game itself is great, and if you like FPS games with fantastic story lines, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

For PC or Playstation.

Right before I shut the Xbox off, I discovered I had also forgotten to log myself in, so all of my progress and achievements were saved under Connor’s profile, not mine.


Mar 202013

I was playing some version of Mechwarrior with virtual reality, because it was as if I was inside the mech. I was playing against some friends, but complaining to Aaron that the customization options were crap.

I was trying to add PPCs to my Warhammer’s arms, and the game wouldn’t let me. To demonstrate, I waved my virtual arms at Aaron, which ended in bare struts instead of particle cannons. Instead, the cannons were stacked on top of my shoulder-mounted missile racks.

I want my money back. 😛

Aug 302012

Last night Adam, our Storyteller for Exalted, decided to pull the plug on the campaign, one session into our fifth story arc. His frustration with the patch-job mechanics of the system, the inability to give us suitably scaled challenges because of it, and the difficulty of giving some of the characters proper treatment in the plot, finally overcame his love of running the game.

I can’t blame him, but I’ve been kind of grieving all day. I had a lot of emotional investment in my character, in our entire group, and the ongoing story, and now it’s just over, with no wrap-up or closure. There were still stories left to tell about these characters, and now it’s just left hanging, like someone pressed the Pause button forever.

I don’t often truly look forward to much anymore; I rarely say to myself “I can’t wait to go do x!”

I couldn’t wait to go play Exalted.

If 3rd edition is everything the developers swear it will be (though I have my doubts), and it sparks Adam’s muse, then we’ll probably start from scratch again, but with new characters in a new area of Creation.

In the meantime, I could join them part time for another game, and I may, because it’s the people who make it fun. They’re my friends, and i love playing with them, but right now a different game, or the prospect of a new Exalted game with new characters, is like having a beloved pet die and someone suggests replacing it immediately.

I haven’t felt this awful about Exalted since I read that Carl Bowen novel.

Aug 252012

I went to the funeral service of Matt R.’s dad today, followed by the first session of our fifth Exalted story. Both Matt and Matt’s mom gave eulogies that made me (and everyone else) teary, mostly because I kept imagining having to give Aaron’s or Connor’s, or someone else giving my own. It doesn’t help that think about aging, death, loss, and grief way too much to begin with.

It left me in a weird mood for the rest of the day, and I wasn’t as into the Exalted game as I normally would be, other than some role-playing early on. I gave up on trying for any 3-die stunts; usually the only way to pull those off with Adam is to be over-the-top and comical, and my character isn’t built that way, unlike Jason’s sexpot Lunar or Garret’s monstrously egotistical version of Gilgamesh.

Not only do I not have any ideas for my adventure log writeup (typical), I also don’t have much interest in doing it at all (not typical). Rönas didn’t even really do anything noteworthy, except get Boundless White Eye to sex up a stuffy bureaucrat so he’d cut loose funds for Kepu’s orphange. Ninazu had a more interesting time, but didn’t get to see any combat with the Demon Wolf before Telchines bound it up in the belt.

Meh, maybe I’ll feel better about it next session, in two weeks.

Feb 132012

Since Mom had to work this weekend, and her birthday was Sunday, had her over Friday after work. Took her to a nice dinner at Cafe Felix downtown. They had just started their new menu that very night, so we got to be the guinea pigs. All lab animals should have it that good. I had the poached salmon with herb mashed potatoes, and she had panko-crusted chicken hiding under a bed of greens (the proverbial “bird in the bush”?).

Afterward, we wandered down Main St. and into a couple of shops she thought looked interesting. There are so many cool little stores on Main, that I’ve just never considered going into unless I needed something specific. I’m going to have to make a point of checking out more of them. I found a gift for Aaron for V. Day that I hadn’t thought of until I actually saw it in a case at Peaceable Kingdom.

Then we had to stop at the Cupcake Station for birthday cupcakes before heading home. The snow had really picked up and we were ready to put our feet up and digest. Connor and I played on our laptop and iPad, respectively, while Mom watched Say No to the Mess Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Despite my determination to ignore it (and my previous post bitching about it), I got drawn in enough to make snarky comments. The parade of train wrecks were kind of entertaining. Hmm…bridal gown…train…train wreck…does that work as a pun, or is it too obscure?

The roads and weather were a mess, so Mom stayed overnight on the sofa bed and left for work the next morning. The rest of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent on Minecraft and tending to some things around the house. Aaron hinted strongly that I should take a stab at making dinner, so I opened the Book of Rachel (Ray) and chose a menu of stuffed pork chops, cream cheese mashed potatoes, and sautéed sugar snap peas.

One trip to Kroger and a couple hours of intermittent panic resulted in a pretty good dinner, considering I’ve only cooked a full meal like that about four times in the ten years(!) since I met Aaron. Everyone seemed really happy with it, though the snap peas were slightly overcooked, and the stuffing didn’t bind together very well for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t chop the apples fine enough, or used packaged mini corn breads instead of corn muffins (Kroger had none). I managed to cook the pork chops near perfectly, though: white all the way through, but still very juicy. The hardest part was the timing; starting all the various dishes so everything finished at roughly the same time. I started the snap peas too late, and probably turned them up a little too high to compensate, hence the overcooking.

For his part, other than showing me proper chopping technique, Aaron stayed completely out of the way, for which I was grateful. Had he been there, I would have constantly second-guessed everything I did, expecting him to correct me, and I might have given up in frustrated anger.

I did learn new appreciation for why Aaron wants everyone out of the kitchen when he cooks. Connor started to get underfoot at first, and I was on the verge of laying down a smiting. LOL

Oct 102011

On Friday, Aaron told me that Connor and I would be on our own for dinner and Fringe, as he’d just been invited to the Red Wings home opener at Joe Louis Arena. Hyundai had rented the two suites owned by Budweiser, and was throwing a party related to their new Veloster.

I pouted briefly, but wasn’t terribly upset. A few minutes later I got the message, “I got you a ticket!”. After work, a shower, and a costume change, Chris Nelson from Automobile picked me up and drove me to Joe DeMatio’s to get him. After a stop on the west side to grab Tom & Adrienne, the five of us shared a “cozy” ride to the Joe in a car too small to be comfortable. I don’t even remember what it was, except small and car-shaped.

The suites were stocked with lots of food and booze, souvenir hockey pucks, light-up beer glasses, and coasters. Most of the beer was Bud Light and MGD Light, but one of the suites had good beer: Heineken (Hey, we’re grading on a curve here).

I haven’t followed hockey with any regularity since the late ‘90s, so most of the Wings were complete unknowns to me, and it was a bit depressing to see how old Chris Osgood looks now. Regardless, the Wings made the Senators their bitches until the third period and, unlike most games I’ve watched, I happened to be staring directly at the net for two(!) of the night’s goals. The Wings still won, as they should.

I was also unofficially endorsed by the Wall Street Journal. I was introduced to this (straight, married) reporter by Aaron. We chatted for a few minutes, then I went to the other suite to swipe the last Heineken. After I left, this guy (whose name eludes me) says to Aaron, “So, Aaron, you scored yourself a hottie.”

Aaron, thinking he’s referring to a car: “Buh…wha?”
Reporter: “Ryan; he’s a good looking guy!”
Aaron: “Oh! Uh, thanks! I think so.”
Reporter, laughing: “Probably the last thing you expected to hear out of my mouth, right?”
Aaron: “Yes!”
(All of this was paraphrased, of course)

So that was one of the highlights of my evening.

We’ve been blessed with warm weather for the last week, so I’ve been riding the Raven at every opportunity. Since Connor has built up his gear collection, lacking only a jacket, on Saturday he borrowed mine so I could take him for a ride at long last (I wore my suit). It was my first time taking a passenger, and only his second time on a bike, so we were both fairly nervous.

Once we were both clear about expectations, we took off, riding west all the way to Chelsea and back. The weather was perfect, traffic was light, the scenery was autumnally glorious, and he was a fine passenger.

Yesterday we went for a longer ride: south almost to Milan; west past Tecumseh (which was having some kind of street festival); then north through Manchester up to Chelsea and back home, for a round trip of 72 miles. The day was even more perfect than Saturday, and the northern stretch up M-52 was a route I’d never taken before.

When we got back, we had to shower and dress fast to get to Joe DeMatio’s for his birthday dinner, which was a great time. The food and wine were fantastic (thanks to Joe and Aaron) and the company was entertaining, as always.

Later that night and this morning, I noticed that my abs were very sore, as if I’d been doing a hard ab workout. I realized that it was from having a passenger on the Raven. Every time I accelerated, his weight would pull me slightly backward, and I’d unconsciously tense my stomach to compensate. Three hours of that ends up being a lot of crunches.

The best kind of workout is the one you don’t even realize you’re getting until after the fact.

Saturday was the start of our latest Exalted story arc, and it’s getting crowded around the gaming table. Besides me, Adam, Liz, Jason, and Robert, Mary & Brando were both there, and a kid named Max, who I swear can’t be more than fourteen or fifteen. Seems nice enough, and his characterization managed to slightly creep me out at one point. He’s playing an Abyssal (the Eternal Conqueror of Oblivion), and in one session is already better than our last Abyssal (whom Adam booted because he wasn’t fitting in well).

Mary has a new Zenith caste Solar to replace her ill-fated Eclipse, and is already off to a better start. Silver Seraphim is a real zealot, and if the Unconquered Sun had a Bible, Silver would be thumping it. I keep getting caught off guard by the razor-sharp wit that occasionally comes out of Mary’s mouth, and I think she has some great roleplaying potential once she’s more comfortable with the game system.

I managed to score not one, but two 3-die stunts that night. The first for my creative disassembly of a buck ogre that was stupid enough to attack Max and me, and the second for how I handled a raptor cat that jumped us right afterward. One of the best ways to get a 3-die stunt out of Adam is to make him laugh hard, and spinning a vicious predator around by its tail before hurling it off a cliff while screaming “BAD KITTY!” is a pretty sure way to do that. Now that he has some better Charms, Rönas is getting a lot more effective in combat.

I rode the Raven to Adam & Liz’s, and damn, that’s a long uncomfortable ride. The suit was too warm on the way there, and too cold on the way back, because I didn’t check the weather and bring a warmer under layer for the trip home. I also nearly ran out of gas before I could find an open station at 8 Mile and I-275. Luckily, Meijer is 24/7. On the plus side, my new HID headlights make a huge difference in visibility, otherwise I wouldn’t have made that trip.

I went directly to Andy’s place for his birthday party, and stayed for almost two hours with the 15 or so people that were still there at 1 a.m. Kai was there, since he was in the area that day for a family reunion, and when he saw me in my moto gear he nearly raped me on the spot, so that was gratifying. LOL

May 182011

I’m an idiot pilot.

Ok, maybe “idiot” is too strong a word. “Inattentive” and “complacent” would be more accurate.

I was running level 2 missions in Melmaniel, and swapping my Myrmidon‘s mission fitting for salvaging gear to round up the loot before turning in (yes, I know Myrmidons are overkill for level 2, but it’s all that was nearby). Missions had been in random complexes so I felt fairly safe: Mel was nearly empty to begin with, and I’d run about five prior without incident.

During a run to Costolle I was briefly chased by Misaniovent, of Invicta, while coming out of a station. I warped away before he got a lock on me, but I saw him popping in and out of the system for awhile. While looting the last mission, I noticed he’d been in the system for a long time, and it briefly crossed my mind he might be hunting for me. In true ADD fashion, that thought came and went too quickly to “stick” and act on, and I paid for it.

Suddenly, he appeared in the mission area and started targeting. I returned targeting, flipped on my armor reppers, and tried to warp to my safe spot.

Too late.

He got a lock, warp-scrambled me, and started shooting. My reppers held out briefly, but I’d replaced two of my energized plating modules for cargo expanders (unnecessarily, as it turned out), and I had no weapons; just three each of tractor beams and salvagers.

He got through shields, armor, and into structure before hailing me, paraphrased below.

Misaniovent: “Pay me 40 million and you can keep your Myrmidon.”

Me (quickly adding up the replacement cost): “Deal.”

Mis: “Pay now.”

(The corp wallet is quickly robbed, and far too much money changes hands)

Mis: “You have 15 seconds before I continue firing.”

I warped away, tail between my legs (and on fire).

Mis: “Fly safe.”

I kept the channel open.

Me: “You spent all that time hunting for me?”

Mis: “Not all of it. I had nothing else to do. I thought I was too late, because it looked like you were done there.”

Me: “Almost. I thought I’d put a warp stabilizer on this thing. If so, I might have escaped.”

Mis: “Stabs are bad! You’re better off staying aware of your surroundings, and watching your scanner for probes.”

I didn’t know why stabs were bad, because I had only ever used them on industrials while hauling cargo. Imagine my surprise at the -50% targeting range penalty, per stabilizer. :-O

Now, I have scan probes set to be displayed in my overview, but I never saw them listed before he jumped me. I’m not sure if the number of wrecks pushed them off the visible portion of the list, or if I needed to manually scan for them, or what. Guess I have some research to do.

Also, and I have no idea what this means, the symbol for the Gallente Major Stronghold complex, 8 AU away, also strobed red while Misaniovent was attacking me. Was the complex hostile toward me as well, or was it hostile to him because I have good standing with the Gallente? *headscratch*


So, what lessons did I learn from this?

1. Pay attention to your surroundings and any changes in local behavior.

Misaniovent had not been hanging out in Melmaniel until after he made his first attempt to nail me, then appeared in local and stayed there a long time before attacking. This should have been the first clue, but I ignored the alarm bell in the back of my mind.

2. Mission-generated dungeons are NOT safe spots.

Being inside one doesn’t hide you from scanner probes, and since you’re not moving around much within a “room”, it makes it easer to scan you down.

3. Add scan probes to your overview, if they’re not already.

And make sure you can see them in your list. Also, if there’s another method for knowing you’re being scanned for, I’d love someone to tell it to me.

4. Don’t use an expensive, unarmed combat vessel for salvaging.

Get a cheap cargo cruiser, like an Exequror, and fit it with the minimum Tech 1 gear needed for salvaging: two tractors, two salvagers, afterburner or MWD.

5. Keep a cheat sheet of the replacement cost of your ships and fittings.

This will help you decide quickly whether paying the ransom is worth it, although most professional pirates will know what a reasonable ransom is for a given ship.

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