Runs In Transit

Category: Gaming

Starcraft Story

Dropped on a new planet are six loyal workers and their commander. Life is hard on the land and it is accepted. They arrive to embark on a new journey, and the workers follow the commanders orders dutifully. The first step is to salvage resources. The commander knows that to survive means to plan ahead. A month passes and things are going well. Resources are plenty and a few warehouses are built to hold them. Two workers are expecting, and the colony is planning to grow. Morale is high, and productivity is increasing. Soon even a processing plant is added, and plans are in place to explore the land.

One day a worker was on a stroll when he encountered a foreign species. He reports back with the news and the camp is frightened. It is decided that a barracks is needed to train workers. Soon, a handful of workers find weapons and act as soldiers to defend the base. A feeling of safety passes through the camp. Talks begin of upgrading their lowly weapons and establishing another camp nearby. Debates are fierce over these decisions, as resources are scarce. The camp decides to keep the status quo and keep training soldiers and managing the existing camp.

Life is tough but happy. Increased productivity has allowed workers to take leisure time. Children are beginning to be educated and families are able to move to larger homes. One day a foreigner arrives on the outskirts of the camp. He walks around the perimeter and leaves. The soldiers are cautious not to provoke him in order to not incite a war. The town meetings express worry but not much can be done at the moment. Plans are set on the future, and education and exploring the lands are number one priorities.

One day, a group of children did not return from the school grounds. A group of parents and soldiers go searching for them. Suddenly, out of the dark, a group of six roguish animals appear at lightning speed. They ferociously began mauling the humans. The workers and soldiers tried to put up a resistance, but could not handle the creatures and ran in haste. Everyone rushed to the safety of the camp, but it was in vain. The animals were too quick. They rushed into the homes, ripped apart the bodies of everyone they encountered. Not even the women and children were spared. The weapons that were available stood no chance against the thick skin of the attackers. That night, not one person escaped. The next morning, the camp lay empty and bloody and not one soul was present. Victory Zerg.

Three Life Lessons Learned from Video Games

I’ve always thought I could write a book on what I’ve learned from video games. What it’d be about, I’m not entirely sure, but it’d definitely cover some of the lessons I’ve learned and how they’ve shaped who I am. Here are three you might find interesting:

From League of Legends, I’ve learned that life is a large sample set – you’re going to have good days and bad days. Sometimes the bad days will line up and you will feel like they never end, but it is important to remember that this is a result of variance and that they won’t last forever. In the long run, random things will occur out of your control, and it is far more important how you react to them. You are never hopeless. Instead of dwelling on the bad, be stoic and attempt to change what is in your control. When life gives you lemons, keep a positive attitude and do what you can to better yourself. If that increases your good days by just 1%, then you’re doing a good job.

From Halo, I’ve learned to never chase. Well, chase your dreams, but not head-on and with a lack of awareness. The thing is, success is scarce, and there are many people with the same ambitions as you. The majority will approach them the exact same way, and this becomes predictable and ineffective. Actualize your goals, but think outside the box on how you approach them. Sometimes it may be better to arrive at a position of advantage and wait. Other times, the best approach may appear unlikely and hidden from sight. Chasing can be useful, but understand that each situation is different and the best decision may not always the most obvious.

From Fallout, I’ve learned that the decisions you make are permanent but not lasting. We cannot change the decisions we made in the past, yet they do not make up who we are. Time is separated into the past, present and future, but our identity coexists between each period. When you make a mistake, that mistake may follow you and influence many events in your life, but your ability to feel regret and do something about that mistake are always available. Humans are not a result of their actions, but something more. Just because you burned a bridge yesterday doesn’t mean you can’t repair it today. Don’t become attached to what you’ve done, but focus on the things you can do, and make sure they reflect the type of person you want to be.

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Running a Clan in Clash of Clans

Running a clan in Clash of Clans is harder than it seems. As the number of members increase, difficulties in communications and organization arise. Here are some basic guidelines I’ve learned from running a 20-member clan:

1. First, remember that Clash is a mobile game, so the only goal is to have fun. But of course, emphasize that it’s more enjoyable for everyone when you win as well – especially with lucrative loot bonuses.

1. Participation. Understand that it’s not always possible for everyone to attack for whatever reason (school, vacation, work, etc.), and it’s okay if someone misses a war or two. However, when someone misses a lot in a row, it becomes a liability. Consider kicking temporarily and allowing them to re-join.

2. Attacking. Likewise, everyone messes up attacks. Don’t expect everyone to always do amazing, but if they are clearly ineffective (zero and one stars), help them out. Advise them to try something different.

For example, show them viable strategies that have been tried and tested like mass dragons, hogriders, or giants-wizards-healers, and emphasize avoiding common mistakes such as:

  • Not luring out the clan castle and getting destroyed by the troops inside.
  • Dropping heal spells too early and using rage spells incorrectly.
  • Using wallbreakers without a tank.
  • Mass dropping unts so they clump up and die from a bomb.

4. Emphasize attacking near your rank and the fact that the dropoff between a 3 star and a 2 star is massive, so only attack a base if you know you have a chance of getting a 3 star. Additionally, if you’re low rank, to attack earlier in the war so higher ranks can fill in stars.

5. Lastly, sometimes in close wars it is necessary to remind someone to attack. Since members don’t necessarily know each other, try to have other forms of communcation (texting, twitter, facebook).

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The sweet science.

Not-so-obvious Tips for Settlers of Catan

I’ve been playing a lot of Settlers of Catan recently, and although I progress consistently in most strategy games, with Settlers, I’ve actually been losing more as I play. I think the reason is that Settlers of Catan is as much a game of hard skills (math, logic, statistics) as it is soft skills (communication, negotiation, image monitoring), and that is where I face my biggest obstacle. I can play a game perfectly to my limits, but if I forget the interpersonal side and people start stealing my cards and blocking me, winning becomes almost improbable. Here are some not-so-obvious ways of upping your Settlers game.

1. When in doubt, always choose the less visible path to victory. For instance, building many roads is great. It sets you up for a longest road victory and gives you many areas to settle. However, it is the most visible form of victory and has many social downsides. A person with the most roads will be subject to the most “flak” because they appear to be winning. Most people do not invest as much time analyzing your situation as they do their own. Roads, which represent expansion, give off a stronger signal during a cursory glance than settlements or even cities. Because of this, other paths to victory have a clear advantage. For example, buying development cards is often strategically better. You can hide your knight cards until you want to force a victory with biggest army along with victory point cards. When faced with the prospect of expanding your roads, make sure such a decision will not put you visibly in first, and if it does, think long and hard about whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits.

2. Be conscious of how others perceive you. Are you constantly placing the robber on one player’s tile? If so, there’s a good chance that player has some animosity towards you, and will take vengeful actions later even if those actions are not in their favor. The solution? Spread negative actions and be plentiful with positives. For example, it may be better to steal cards from a different person each time, as to not focus on one. Likewise, it pays to help other players, whether discussing potential moves with them, allowing them an expansion, or even just complimenting their moves. Generally, put yourself in their shoes and be as fair as possible, This will give you an image of a benevolent, fun-seeking player and reduce the antipathy towards you.

3. Play as neutrally as possible. Settlers is interesting because although there isn’t direct combat, there are many sources of conflict. Often in the beginning of the game, two players are scrambling for a good expansion, trying to block each other in the process. This is a high risk, high reward move. If they make it, they will be in great shape economically. If they don’t, they will be crippled for the rest of the game. Either way, they will develop a deep-seated rivalry that may last beyond the current game. Sometimes it is worth engaging in this conflict, but more often than not, it should be avoided altogether. Why not take an early port and let others duke it out? The cost of their conflict can be great, and playing passively put you ahead as a result.

4. Invest in the future. Settlers is a game where you have to time your victory. Early settlements and roads are great, but you cannot win with just those. Eventually you’ll need cities if you want to win. For this reason, starting on mainly wood and brick is a great early game strategy, but is risky in the long run. On the other hand, investing in wheat and ore is a great late game strategy. Wheat is perhaps the most underrated resource because it is required in everything but roads. Ore is also important because you need a large quantity for cities, but is only available on three tiles. Because of this, going heavy on wheat and ore is a great investment that not only deflects attention from you early on, but gives you a lot of strength later when cities become crucial.

5. Be self-sufficient. Do not depend on others to win, and in fact, pretend like they are never there to help you. What do I mean by this? Be able to get every resource without trades, and avoid having one resource able to be completely cut off by robbers. Other players are never consistently dependable. They are watching out for their own interests. Never be in a position where you have to trade with a player to get a resource. Seek out multiple sources of the five resources, and utilize ports effectively to get what you need. By doing this, you will decrease your chances of hitting a wall where you can’t build an essential building, road, or card. Diversify as much as possible, and seek out ports that complement those resources (2:1 for heavy, 3:1 for balance).

I hope these tips helped. Try them out in-game and let me know if they were useful. And remember to learn the hard skills first. Good luck!

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Reflections from Binge Playing Civ 5

Strategy games are the shit. Before I had access to video games (early 2000’s), I would open up Microsoft Paint, zoom in all the way, create a terrain, and act out war-time scenarios for HOURS. I guess I’ve always been a gamer at heart, and a pragmatic one at that.

Growing up, my love for strategy games was satiated by games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, and Sim City. All were immersive, real time, and most importantly, difficult. As my interest in first person shooters developed, strategy games took a backseat in my itinerary.

One game I never touched was Civilization. Then two weeks ago, I had the burning urge to relax and lose my homework strewn mind in a strategy game. Civilization was the first to come to mind. 45 minutes and one torrent later, I was in the world of Civ 5. I started my first game as America because they had cooler sounding abilities than China. I proceeded to do many things I could never fully do in past games – I managed an economy and balanced its population, food, production, and happiness; I created social policies, performed scientific research, developed culture, and started a religion; and of course, I created a sick army and dominated my AI opponents. For someone that loves learning about how the world works, this game was crack. I ended up staying up til 6am that night and binged the game for 8 hours every day that week. I never even finished a game.

Would I take those hours back? Probably not. Video games hardly seem productive, and in many senses, they’re not. I’ve tried to cut them out of my life, but the older I get, the more I realize the beneficial aspects of games. Games are an escape. I might not be able to control everything in real life, but in a video game, I have full control over how everything goes. There are a defined set of rules and goals. Reaching those goals is just a matter of improving your skills and developing a strategy, two things I love.

I might not have anything tangible to show for the two days I spent on Civ these past two weeks. I don’t even have much to show for the 100+ days I’ve spent on video games in my life. What do I have are strong critical thinking skills, the ability to adapt to different situations, fast decision making, and a sense for the bigger picture, not to mention quick reflexes, hand eye coordination, and fast paced communication skills. I also have a hobby that I can count on when I want to relax, a way of socializing with friends I might not be able to see otherwise, and something I’m passionate about.

I don’t think, even in my 20’s, that video games are a waste of time. I don’t think the gaming regimen I’ve been on recently is sustainable as a lifestyle, but in moderation, gaming is definitely a healthy hobby. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be gaming hardcore when I’m 80 years old. Here’s to many years gaming!

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Here’s a screenshot of the game. Complicated, eh?

Clash of Clans Best Army Composition

I was inspired to write this by this blog on clash of clans troop efficiency. It does a good job of comparing troops individually, but not by combination, which is crucial to creating an efficient army. I think I can contribute something here.

I’ve been playing clash of clans for 8 months now, and I believe I have a good grasp of the game. My clan, StrongSide, is 50-3, and we’ve gotten to this point off one solid attacking strategy, the Healer, Wizard, Giant, Wallbreaker combo.

Here are my exact numbers (this varies by player): 4 Healers, 17 Wizards, 14 Giants, 3 Wallbreakers, and 3 Heal spells.

This combo was found through experimentation and has a high success rate at a relatively low cost. Judging by our opponents attacks, it is not typically known.

Of course, you also have to know how to use it. In keeping our competitive advantage, I’ll let you figure that out 🙂Tournament_Raid_Deebo919

Master Chief Collection, Why You Gotta Do Me Like That?

The Master Chief Collection comes out November 11 and I couldn’t be more excited… and sad… and nostalgic all at the same time. It’s got me feeling a weird, indescribable kind of way.

If you don’t know, The Master Chief Collection is a remastered compilation of the Halo series, including Halo CE, 2, 3, and 4, all in one game and for the Xbox One.

If you also didn’t know, I’ve spent more time playing Halo, and specifically, Halo 3, than any other activity besides sleeping and eating (and maybe sitting in class). I could go in detail about the effect Halo has had on my life – I could even write a full length book on it, but today I’ll just share a synopsis.

It all started in 8th grade when my friend Pud introduced me to the world of competitive gaming. He showed me how kids our age had six figure contracts with Major League Gaming, and how he himself, was poised to make a breakthrough, as evidenced by his ranking on the first page of the 4v4 H3 Gamebattles ladder.

I have a slightly addictive personality. When I get into something, I dedicate everything towards that goal. It took me a whole 2 seconds to realize I wanted to be a professional gamer, and for the next 3 years I would spend some hundreds of hours improving my skills. Catching up to my peers was my immediate motivation, and winning tournaments and backing up my trash talk was my carrot-on-a-stick. In short, a lot of memories were spent in Halo, and for better or worse, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Except maybe chasing girls.

So back to the modern age. Bungie and 343 release a couple of unspectacular Halo games, which shall not be named, and the competitive community for Halo is all but dead, along with my hopes and aspirations of being a pro. Then all of a sudden, The Master Chief Collection is announced at E3. At this point I am used to disappointment after hearing anything labeled Halo, but this time is different. This game has all the features that made Halo great. It isn’t changing anything or trying to be game-changing, it’s just Halo, and I get slightly chub from that.

So now I have something to look forward to. Not just the game, but also my hopes of going to an MLG event, something high on my bucket list, and just in general kicking ass in a game. Why am I sad? Well first, I have to buy an Xbox One to play MCC, which I will pretty much use just to play Halo 3. This would set me back about $460, and that’s not including Xbox Live (damn you Microsoft). But finances I can manage. What I can’t manage is putting time into gaming again. I’m too busy in the real world trying to be productive, meaning my dreams of placing top 64 at a tournament are more like pipe dreams. So I’m sad because I passed my prime, both in terms of skill and leisure time, but also because I feel old and nostalgic. I wish I could go back in time and relive some of those nights in friends basements, playing video games until the sun came up, and sleeping in til 2pm or when parents would kick you out. Those were the days when it was perfectly okay to not have aspirations. Now, doing that is another word for unemployed.

Master Chief Collection coming out will give me something to do and bring back some great memories, but it also reminds me that I’ve left one stage of my life and went on to another. Some call it childhood to adulthood, but whatever you may, for those realizing it, it’s a bittersweet time, because even if you want to experience childhood again, it’s too late.

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It’s okay Master Chief, I’m sad too.