Pirates!

A few months back, we hosted a party for Aaron’s cousins. Having a theme was by no means necessary, but we chose Pirates all the same. The flag and statue are from Assassin’s Creed IV, and I just happened to see a gift set of Captain Morgan that came with cannonball cups. We made a pirate Spotify list (turns out there are a lot of pirate songs out there) found a bunch of rum drink recipes, and decorated the mantle. That was in march… and I’ve since added a pirate book and a bottle of rum to the mantle. I’m not sure what it says about who I am as a person that this still delights me greatly. Even better, Aaron has said nothing about taking it down, which is either a sign of his love or his indifference. I recently realized that whenever delivery people come to our door, their first glimpse in into the house reveals a gigantic black pirate flag…

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Gamenight

Way back in 2009, before the advent of Tabletop, we attempted to start a Friday night bible study with a couple friends that quickly devolved into Gamenight. We eat, drink, and play board games: usually pensive, Germanic, dominate-everyone type things. I might get it together enough to have a reoccuring post about these nights, but for now here are pictures from a few of our favorite games.

This is the stack we took for a weekend away with our Gamenight friends: Carcassone, Fluxx, Bananagrams, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, Bezzerwizzer, Munchkin, Dixit, 7 Wonders, and Smallworld.

A Gamenight favorite that wasn’t mentioned above is being played here: Ticket to Ride. Everyone gets a certain color of trains and tickets for city to city routes. Everyone tries to connect the cities on their route, earning points as you fill the outlined paths with your trains. At the end of the game, you add or subtract points from your tickets, depending on whether you completed the route or not.

Settlers of Catan was our introduction to next-level board games. It’s tricky to explain, so I will do a mediocre job: You are trying to settle the lands of Catan. There’s trade, development cards, settlements, cities, roads, a soldier… many things. It’s fun, though my husband often angrily declares at the beginning of the game that someone has destroyed his chances to win. Of course, he jsut wins anyways.

7 Wonders requires a fair bit of space, as it comes with many cards that need to stay visible throughout the game. Everyone gets a large card with one of the seven wonders of the world. The game has three eras, during which your civilization advances and attempts to complete construction. You have money, resources, military, etc. It’s a little like Settlers of Catan, but you don’t have to worry about a map. Because the scoring at the end of the game can be tricky, I recommend using a 7 Wonders scoring app instead of tallying it up by hand.

Small World is another frequent choice at Gamenight. The map is similar to Catan, but you play with different races instead of roads and buildings. Each of the races has a special power which gives them a certain advantage. On your turn you try to conquer as many adjacent lands as possible, collecting points at the end of each turn. The person with the most points at the end wins!

Oh yeah, and the drinking! The beer flight glasses first used for Dovahfest have made subsequent appearances at Gamenight. We used to buy a sampler pack and just drink out of each other’s beers… so this is a definite step up.

My Candy Crush Saga

I kept hearing about this game, and after a two month gaming drought I decided to give it a try.

I was skeptical upon downloading the game. Everyone kept saying that if I valued my time, I should not download it. I thought these people to be amateurs. I have been playing puzzle games – real puzzle games on real gaming systems – for quite some time. I wasn’t scared by another Bejeweled imitator.

This is the story of my Candy Crush Saga, as told through screen shots.
. I breezed through the early levels with no trouble.

I was feeling pretty good. I had no trouble with the first set of mystery quests either. As the screenshot says, I didn’t need money or friends. I had SKILLS. Then I did a little bit of rough math.

 I looked up at how many levels there were, how fast I had done these levels, and how often I would need to complete mystery quests. It would take me no less than 72 days to beat this game.
Early on, I knew it was important to keep something in mind: they make this free game in order to make money. I vowed that they would not see a penny from me, no matter what. I had a senseless vendetta to steal money from them: to play this game successfully without even giving them free promotion on Facebook. I felt that I could do it. I continued on quickly.

I met new challenges with enthusiasm, feeling that my previous gaming experiences allowed me to better understand the unique challenges presented in higher levels. 
As if portals could slow me down! I wasn’t phased by their attempts to deter my progress.

But alas, my progress soon began to slow. New obstacles were introduced, and I was wise enough to be suspicious.

I was right.

Undeterred, I soldiered on with resolve. There were fewer screenshots because I had a lot less to say. Rarely, I would be motivated to capture my progress (or lack thereof).

 I was still advancing at a decent pace. I had surpassed the progress of all those who warned me to never start playing. Some of them abandoned the game once they surpassed triple digits, but I soldiered on. The challenges grew more fierce.

For the uninitiated, those brown squares are chocolate. If you do not crush candies adjacent to the chocolate, the chocolate expands one square at a time. Earlier in the game, once you broke all the chocolate pieces, it was gone. It would not return again during the same puzzle attempt. On the level shown above, those brown circles are chocolate generators. Those generators will create new chocolate blocks spontaneously. My Candy Crush Saga was getting out of hand.

The chocolate generators were the main antagonist in my most recent victory, which took nearly a week. Some feel that this game is mostly about luck. I disagree, but there is a small amount of luck involved. I had none. The board was divided into four quadrants, and the goal was to combine two special candies two times. Wrapped candies are created when you crush two intersecting lines of candies, and the striped candies are created when you crush four candies at once. It goes without saying that getting these events to happen twice  in a segmented board can be hard. Getting it to happen close enough that the special candies can be combined is quite difficult. Adding chocolate generators made it nearly impossible. I almost broke down.I almost logged into Facebook. I almost considered paying money for a few extra moves. But then…

Dovahfest

The best gaming thing that I’ve done this year, by far, is Dovahfest: a weekend long Skyrim playing party. The idea spawned because our non-gamer friend from Gamenight started playing Skyrim (to our amazement). I invited a friend who lived out of town, who admitted upon arrival that he didn’t really know what to expect for something called “Dovahfest”. He thought perhaps we were playing and taking turns, or doing other dragon related activities like watching movies with dragons. He said he thought to himself, “Well, there’s no way they are just putting up a wall of TVs and each playing Skyrim.”

But that’s exactly what we did.

We already had two TVs and had planned to buy a third anyway, so Dovahfest was our excuse to get it. Our friends brought their TV and Xbox. We borrowed a fourth Xbox from my cousin, bought one extra copy of Skyrim and rented another from Redbox. As you can tell by the wall of TVs, we re-arranged our furniture on the other wall, blocking the back door to create a wall of couches.

We were ready to kill some dragons.

Of course, we had lots of food for the weekend. Most of it was something you could hypothetically find in Skyrim. Among our spread was jerky, shepard’s pie, fruit, cheese, and sweetrolls. We also had a couple mead and beer flights. I sorta drank mine before I could be bothered to take a picture.

The mead glasses were also used for our potions flights.From left to right, the potions were poison, health, stamina, and magic.

All the potions were made with jello, following the sparkling ice recipe. The poison one also contained vodka and blended berries, which gave it a perfectly poisonous color. I think the health potions were strawberry, the stamina potions were melon, and the magic potions were mixed berry.

There would be more pictures from Dovahfest, but we were rather busy playing. It was surprisingly helpful to have other people playing in the same room. We compared finished missions, words of power, and our gear. Honestly, If I had the space and the money, I would set up a gamer den with multiple TVs so that hosting such parties would be possible anytime.

I’ve got some secret plans to have an Assassin’s Creed weekend in the future…

Edit: I forgot! Here’s the chalkboard on the side of our kitchen cabinet, onto which I wrote out the Song of the Dragonborn. The title is in dragon script, the top half has the song in dragon language and the bottom is the same song translated into English. Writing all this took longer than it should have, and for that reason it is still on the chalkboard today. Good times!

Moving Xbox 360 Saves

I’ve been busy with everything but gaming for the last few months, but lately I’ve found some time to play. In part, this was sparked by a long time non-gamer friend picking up Skyrim and becoming engrossed. We planned a Skyrim weekend because everyone at Gamenight now had an interest in Skyrim (I’ll post more about Gamenight some other time).

In preparation for Dovahfest*, I was trying to take his save file and move it to a new account so we could play simultaneously. I set everything up (took over his gamertag since I earned most of the 16,000 gamerscore, got his old gamertag on a new live account, etc.) before learning that saves are owned by accounts, and I couldn’t play the old save on the new account.

I went looking for an answer on Youtube, and it told me that it could be done with a program called Modio, a USB flash drive 1gb or bigger, and a spare save file. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Copied the save I wanted to move from the old account “x100tacks” to a 1gb flash drive. (the 360 will prompt you to format the drive before you use it.)
  2. Created a new save for Skyrim on the new account “Northsided” on the same 1gb flash drive.
  3. Used Modio to do the following:
    1. Open both saves in two separate tabs
    2. Paste the profile ID from the new account save to the old account save
    3. Save the old account save to the new account save folder
  4. Re-insert the flash drive in the Xbox and check that the old save now shows the new account name
  5. Copy the file I modified to the hard drive and loaded the game.
  6. Celebrated my victory.

There’s a lot of other shenanigans you can do with Modio, but I stuck to what i needed to get done. Of course, messing about with save file means you can corrupt it. I copied files instead of moving them for this reason, in case something went horribly wrong. Modio makes it pretty simple, but stay sharp!

     

*speculative title for our weekend

Year of Fantasy: April and FFIV



It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Luckily, I jumped into Final Fantasy IV while still sick last month. It seems to be moving along a lot quicker than FFIII. Perhaps that’s just because the story and gameplay is more engaging. I don’t think I’ll have much trouble finishing it before May, but I also haven’t played for the last few days.

I started playing on DS before I remembered I also had this game on PSP. Though the PSP version looked much better, I didn’t like the translation as much and missed having two screens. My favorite feature while playing on DS is seeing an overhead view of the map on the bottom screen as you explore.

Though the job system in FFIII offered flexibility, I prefer the predetermined jobs in FFIV. I also like how your party is dynamic, changing as the story progresses. Currently I am making my way back down Mt. Ordeals, which I’m guessing is about 1/3 of the way through the game. I’ve put in around 15 hours so far.

I’m hoping to get done with this one in the next two weeks, if not sooner. I played at least a third of FFIII while on the go, and I’ve heard the console games get pretty long. If I don’t try to keep ahead of the months, I’ll fall hopelessly behind when I get to the console-only games.