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Topics - qmech

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Hearthstone / What is BM?
« on: February 08, 2016, 03:01:54 pm »
I may have accidentally started a copypasta.

Other Games / Magic Duels
« on: August 01, 2015, 05:04:38 pm »
tl;dr Bad knock off of Hearthstone.

I've somehow got this far in life without playing Magic.  A new client was released last week on a Hearthstone-like free to play model, so I thought I'd give it a go. 

The new player experience is very well designed.  I've played other card games, and there's enough Magic in the background of nerdspace that a certain amount goes in by osmosis.  But the introduction is gentle enough that even a complete newcomer with any interest at all could pick it up fairly quickly.  Magic has enough mechanics that you couldn't possibly take them all in at once; to get around this everything is explained through very short "skill quests" that each explain one particular point of the rules.  You have to play through around 5 of these before you can get started on anything else, but after that the skill quests are offered as and when new rules appear in normal gameplay, so you get to see every rule in action immediately after it is explained.  You can expect to see several of these playing through the five campaigns, each introducing one of the five colours (or types of card).  It's disappointing, if understandable, that the base cards are not enough to recreate any of the tutorial decks.

Compared to Hearthstone, Magic is a thinkier game.  Creatures can either attack or defend, but not both in one round, and targets are chosen by the defender, so attack decisions are more complicated.  You can also play cards during your opponent's turn, which means you have to consider far more possible responses to any one of your plays.  The mana system of Magic is famously swingy and you can run into problem from drawing lands (mana generating cards) and spells (everything else) in the wrong order. 

The business model is very similar to that of Hearthstone.  You either buy gold or earn it by completing daily quests to, for example, win so many games with such and such a colour combination, or by winning games against other players or the AI.  Gold can be used to buy packs, which have 6 cards from some fixed rarity distribution.  There's no dusting or crafting, but there is (will be?) trading, and you won't be able to open duplicates beyond the point where they can be used in a deck.  You can pay a small amount of gold to make your cards holographic.

My main gripes with the game are with the client.  There were times when I thought I was playing Loading Screen Simulator rather than Magic.  Part of this was that the server fell down on release.  A few days in I can reliably connect, but it was frustrating completing parts of the campaign and then being told that progress would not be saved as connection with server had been lost.  Magic cards are very detailed so you would not expect to be able to read everything straight away, but the interface does not make things easier for you.  The playing surface is rendered in perspective, so cards are slanted and also get smaller as they get further away, so it is not always obvious even whether two cards are the same.  At the same time there are vast empty black and grey expanses, and you feel like they could have been put to better use. 

The game plays incredibly slowly, even after disabling all optional animations.  (I wonder if they've been watching Goko as well as Blizzard.)  The slow animations are compounded by the constant need to watch timers go round to make sure that your opponent isn't about to play an instant or use an ability.  (I understand that MTGO is much worse.)  The touch screen interface is not great.  You can't swipe out to other programs on Windows 8, or check battery or network status.  You also have to double tap to register a click, which after seeing this behaviour in several games I think is probably supposed to allow you to simulate hovering, but it's just an annoyance here.  And—I swear I am not making this up—there's a splash screen: after loading the game you are presented with a glowing start button that you have to press before the lengthy process of connecting to the server begins.

One of the curious facts about the existing online Magic was the decision to make it the same price as, or even slightly more expensive than, the physical game, and it's interesting to see Wizards testing the free to play model.  The obvious competitor here is Hearthstone.  Magic might be the deeper game, but it's not as accessible, and combined with the difference in quality of the clients I think Hearthstone will remain more attractive to the majority of new players.

EDIT: There is some particularly nasty adware on recent Lenovo PCs.  See later for more.

I'm having a curious problem with Dominion and at least one other game (Prismata) that I'm hoping one of you lovely people will have some idea about.

On a new Windows 8.1 machine I've tried to play Dominion in Chrome, Firefox, Opera and even IE.  The usual behaviour is that I get a completely black screen.  Occasionally I'll get as far as the login page, but there's no response after I enter email address and password.  Similarly, Prismata will load but not let me login.

The curious part is that I have workarounds for both of these problems.  Prismata is written in Flash, and will work if I load it in Adobe's stand-alone Flash player.  And I'm able to play Dominion in a virtual machine running Ubuntu, although it's so slow that I've never finished a game.

The Prismata team have a troubleshooting guide in which they state that in all known cases this problem has been caused by a firewall.  I've tried disabling the Windows firewall, with no observable effect.  So it looks rather like there's something in the Windows 8.1 software stack that's blocking very specific types of connections, just those from web browsers to authentication servers, and that isn't a part of the main Windows firewall.  Has anybody got any idea what might be going on?

Goko Dominion Online / Yes, automatch is a good idea
« on: December 14, 2014, 07:23:55 am »

Game Reports / Thief over Noble Brigand
« on: September 12, 2014, 07:53:40 pm »

Code: [Select]
Native Village, Advisor, Coppersmith, Mining Village, Noble Brigand, Salvager, Spy, Taxman, Thief, City
This game isn't of such a high standard—I'm not sure what my opponent's Native Village binge was about—but it's quite fun.  I think there's just enough here to go for some sort of Advisor/Coppersmith engine, but keep hitting $5 and take Cities.  My opponent helps run them out, so I have 8 activated Cities by turn 10.  But without levelling Cities further, the only Buy is Salvager, so I grab Thieves as a weak gainer.  I do get round to buying a Coppersmith and some Advisors eventually, but the Thieves' attack is what wins it.

Game Reports / Rebuild+?
« on: February 03, 2014, 03:57:07 am »
I don't deny that pure Rebuild mirrors can be tedious luckfests, but I'm far from convinced that that's what you always get when Rebuild is on the board. 

Code: [Select]
Fool's Gold, Island, Salvager, Haggler, Harvest, Junk Dealer, Laboratory, Market, Minion, Rebuild

Rebuild is fast, but doesn't end the game with all that many points, and struggles if the opponent can get a few Provinces the honest way.  Fool's Gold is good at buying Provinces, but lacks staying power in long games.  With the excellent Fool's Gold enabler, Salvager, this seems like too good an opportunity to miss.

(If you also think that FG/Salvager usually degenerates into a tedious luckfest I don't know what to say, except possibly that two wrongs might make a right?)

Goko Dominion Online / Do you want to quit?
« on: December 08, 2013, 02:54:45 pm »
If you accidentally click to close your Dominion tab in Firefox (25.0.1 on Ubuntu), you get a dialogue like this.

Suppose you aren't a jerk, and want to actually finish playing the game.  What do you press?

Trick question!  OK, Cancel and X all quit the game.

This seems to work correctly in Chrome, so it seems I can't just blame Goko.  Has anyone else had this problem?  If so, have you found a way round it?

(Apologies to dawn_harbor, who was on the receiving end of a quit earlier today.)

Game Reports / Endgame control
« on: November 10, 2013, 10:24:24 am »
Don't give it away.

Code: [Select]
Hamlet, Scrying Pool, Develop, Lookout, Scheme, Monument, Catacombs, Counting House, Upgrade, Farmland
In this game, Stef trashes his Potion for a Duchy when there is one Scrying Pool left in the supply.  Hamlets are out, Monuments are low and I'm ahead and gaining 5 Monument points a turn.  Seeing that Stef cannot pull much money together, I take the Scrying Pool and  Province for a 10 point lead with 3 Monuments to end the game.

I hadn't noticed that Stef had been stocking up on Upgrades.  These let him empty the Monuments and win by a point.

I'd have been far better off leaving the last Scrying Pool.  It's not doing a lot for me, and it gives me more control over when the game ends.  If Stef had needed to gain the Potion then he couldn't have also emptied the Monuments for the win.

I can also recommend not ignoring your opponent's buys.

Other Games / Ticket to Ride iPad on sale Halloween 2013
« on: November 02, 2013, 05:30:33 am »
I'm a bit late with posting this, but the offer's still on.  Ticket to Ride for the iPad is on sale at $2.99/€2.69 for a "limited time".  I don't know when they'll pull it, but it's still available at the moment.

This was the weekend 26-28 April 2013.

Just got this in an email from Days of Wonder.  Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket for iPhone is free this weekend.

Quote from: Days of Wonder
Take a Ride to Europe
for Free this weekend

How does a free weekend in Europe sound? Okay, so Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket for iPhone isn't really a trip, but it might just be the next best thing. To celebrate Spring, we're making Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket FREE for the next 3 days!

Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket keeps the elegance and simplicity of the original Ticket to Ride game, but adds some major twists that will keep you and your friends riding the rails for many months to come. You'll travel across the expanse of the European map, testing your mettle against friends and bots alike and all you need is your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket includes:

    Map of Ticket to Ride Europe with Tunnels, Ferries and Stations
    A new AI bot, PoirBot, specifically designed for Europe map
    SOLO, PASS-and-PLAY, LOCAL network and MULTI mode
    Ticket to Ride Switzerland map with its own specific EscherBot available as an in-app purchase
    20 SOLO Game Achievements including 5 new European-specific achievements
    Hall of Fame Leaderboards to compare how you are doing against your friends

So if you've been missing out on a pocketful of train fun for your iPhone, there is no better time than today to pick up Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket – after all it doesn't get any better than FREE! But hurry, this free offer ends Sunday night, April 28th at midnight. Isn't it time for you to take a ride through Europe this weekend?

Game Reports / Spotlight on...
« on: April 24, 2013, 05:49:14 pm »
Since I've been playing on Goko I've been noticing obvious combos more often.  I don't know if this is something to do with their method of selecting the random sets (did we ever get a good idea what this is?) or that there's less risk of fancy play syndrome costing you a game against the weaker opponents.

So I thought I'd have somewhere to put these kinds of games that might not be interesting in themselves but just illustrate some of these dream combos.

I'll start things off with this example featuring both Counting House and Coppersmith.  Scrying Pool, Inn, Warehouse and Cellar draw a lot of cards and discard a lot of Copper.  With careful management of the reshuffle, Counting House can suck this back up and Coppersmith (with a little help from Baron) can take you to double Province hands.

I previously posted the perfect Graverobber set (complete with Watchtower trashing Spoils).  None of the cards here are particularly weak, but everything comes together in a perfect combination.

Who has that one game where Scout carried them to victory?

Game Reports / Horn of Plenty highs and lows
« on: April 10, 2013, 04:56:06 pm »
Horn of Plenty megaturn anyone?

Hamlet, Native Village, Oasis, Steward, Bureaucrat, Pirate Ship, Spice Merchant, Counterfeit, Horn of Plenty, Pillage

Trashing, Native Village, and plenty of Actions to play everything.  Perfect megaturn material, no?

qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Horn of Plenty
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Horn of Plenty
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Horn of Plenty
qmech buys Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Horn of Plenty

Right, that should do it.

Okay, what's my hand?

Horn of Plenty, Copper, Native Village, Gold, Horn of Plenty

And the mat?

Steward, Copper, Silver, Horn of Plenty, Horn of Plenty, Horn of Plenty, Steward, Native Village

I have 5 Horns of Plenty and 6 uniques.  My deck has 10 cards, of which I need to see two of Oasis, Hamlet or Spice Merchant.  Steward will draw 4, and then I can draw more with the Native Villages.  Yes, this should work.

qmech plays Native Village
qmech takes set aside cards
qmech plays Steward
qmech draws Native Village
qmech shuffles deck
qmech draws Hamlet
qmech plays Steward
qmech draws Native Village, Oasis

Alright!  Now to play the Hamlet and Oasis then hit the Provinces.  Okay, play the actions.  Play the actions.  Play the ... actions?







qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Steward
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Steward
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Steward
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Steward
qmech plays Horn of Plenty
qmech gains Steward
qmech buys Duchy
qmech gains Duchy
Horn of Plenty, Native Village and Steward piles are empty!
qmech total victory points: 3
1st place qmech

My opponent agreed that this was the best Horn of Plenty megaturn ever.

Game Reports / Reveals a Watchtower, trashing a Spoils
« on: April 09, 2013, 03:41:19 pm »
Still relatively new to Dark Ages, so some of the basic combos are still coming up for the first time.  Here we have the perfect Graverobber set.

Chapel, University, Fortune Teller, Loan, Watchtower, Bandit Camp, Cartographer, Explorer, Graverobber, Rogue

This didn't affect the game, but it's quite fun. Halfway through I realise I'd like more villages, but no longer have any Treasure.  Okay, we can University for Bandit Camp, but what about all these Spoils?  Watchtower!

Other Games / What's this racing game?
« on: March 24, 2013, 07:46:21 am »
Many years ago I played a board game in which players raced along an endless desert road: there were three (?) board sections, and when the leader reached the edge of the track the last segment was moved to the front and any cars left on it were removed from the game.  There were different vehicle types: fast and light, or slower but able to attack other players.  The winner was the last player to have a car in the race.  If I had to guess at the name, it would be something like "Desert Rally".  I've looked through the BGG search results for "racing" and "desert" with no success.

Any ideas?

Game Reports / The longest game
« on: January 20, 2013, 02:51:41 pm »
This is definitely the longest game I've ever played. 

Code: [Select]
qmech wins!
All Provinces are gone.

cards in supply: Black Market, Bureaucrat, Colony, Militia, Minion, Mountebank, Outpost, Pirate Ship, Platinum, Royal Seal, Torturer, and Wharf
Default card selection was used.

#1 qmech: 74 points (6 Colonies, 2 Provinces, a Duchy, 3 Estates, and 4 Curses); 43 turns
       opening: Silver / Militia
       [62 cards] 5 Militias, 3 Wharves, 2 Minions, 2 Mountebanks, 11 Coppers, 7 Silvers, 8 Golds, 8 Platinums, 3 Estates, 1 Duchy, 2 Provinces, 6 Colonies, 4 Curses

#2 hirotashi: 69 points (6 Provinces, 6 Duchies, 11 Estates, a Colony, and 6 Curses); 42 turns
           opening: Silver / Militia
           [62 cards] 3 Militias, 2 Mountebanks, 1 Minion, 13 Coppers, 8 Silvers, 5 Golds, 11 Estates, 6 Duchies, 6 Provinces, 1 Colony, 6 Curses

I must have had a tremendous run of luck towards with the end with my opponent's draws.

It became clear pretty early that I needed to focus on Colonies to have a chance of winning.  This leads to what is surely the most over-developed Treasure selection I've ever had.

What sort of long games have you had?

Game Reports / Duchy/Copper
« on: June 22, 2012, 03:58:06 pm »
Is not an opening I ever thought I'd make.
cards in supply: Cartographer, Duke, Feast, Fortune Teller, Lookout, Navigator, Oracle, Remodel, Smugglers, and Talisman

#1 qmech: 36 points (4 Dukes, 4 Duchies, and 8 Estates); 20 turns
       opening: Copper / Duchy
       [35 cards] 4 Dukes, 2 Smugglers, 1 Feast, 1 Fortune Teller, 12 Coppers, 3 Silvers, 8 Estates, 4 Duchies

#1 paddyodoors: 36 points (3 Dukes, 4 Duchies, a Province, and 6 Estates); 20 turns
             opening: nothing / Cartographer
             [29 cards] 3 Dukes, 2 Cartographers, 1 Fortune Teller, 7 Coppers, 4 Silvers, 1 Gold, 6 Estates, 4 Duchies, 1 Province
This Kingdom screams Duke about as loudly as it is possible to do.  With the Feast and Smugglers each offering the prospect of cheap Duchies and Dukes, I take the plunge, with (mutually) happy results.

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