Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hauling illegal liquor in Elite: Dangerous

Been playing this a lot lately, mostly on the PS4 now since I have the Commander Edition there and on the PC I have the vanilla game.

I managed to do enough explore turn ins and trade turns in to amass almost half a million credits. The mission that really put me over the top was one to shut the shields down at a rebel base. Granted I almost died but I managed to take out the defense turrets and shut down the generator and somehow get off the planet while under attack. Upon turning it in I got almost 500,000 credits so promptly bought a new Cobra ship outfitted with a mining laser and some gathering limpets. I also upgraded my cargo hold and had to buy a buggy container and the actual buggy again.

I tried the same type of mission later and I guess the security had been bumped up because I was killed while planet side in my rover. I got some great screenshots though.

One interesting mission I decided to try was to go to a planet and search some wreckage for some liquor containers that they wanted me to bring back. I traveled to the system in question and scanned the nav beacon to update my quest. It told me the planet it would be located on and off I went.

Upon landing I moved toward the site of the crash and found two pirate drones protecting it. I took them out with my buggy's laser turret and used my cargo scoop to grab the crate of liquor.

I drove like a bat out of hell back to my ship and re-boarded the vessel. I was not attacked during lift off and made it back in one piece, although it said I was carrying illicit cargo. Luckily I did not need to refuel during the journey. I was paid well and had completed my first multi step mission which took me about half an hour and was quite stressful but pretty damn fun.

Despite the salt on the message boards and some lame YouTube comments on their newest patch notes I do find a lot of fun in Frontier Software's baby even though I hope they keep expanding it.

I will add some other screenshots onto this post so you can see my ship while leaving a station and while docked. Next up I really need to work on my combat level as I am still harmless and only at 8% after killing those two drones. No ship to ship combat as of yet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Elite Dangerous: Near Death Incident and Mini Review

Spending the past few nights relaxing in Elite Dangerous. I had played a lot of Eve Online and just found the mechanics really slow and boring. I wanted more of a engaged space flight sim and not so much an MMO with a hotbar button.

Elite is an odd character. I feel like so much more could be added but its still being worked on after all this time. For example that sham of a game No Man's Sky has base building now but it is largely worthless and just a place to store things. I feel like Elite should be at some sort of space station level by now but there are no signs its moving that way.

Elite, although appearing slow and boring, is to its credit dripping with atmosphere. Factions and rumors abound yet I have not gotten that deep into it yet with just 36 hours or so under my belt. 

So far I have watched all the tutorial videos ( ) and done some missions and within a day I had docking and space travel down. However there is a lot more beneath that engine from politics to war efforts to bounty hunting to exploring. I know that in most open ended games (sandbox titles) you will be hard pressed to find things to do unless you set goals. Right now my goal is to make money, explore and learn the game. To that end I am taking spaceport missions and just hauling cargo. The funds are there to buy another ship already but I am ok at this point. YouTube has helped a lot. I finally learned the external camera commands as well and this really gives you a good look at your character and ship. The Elite store offers upgrades and add ons to the ships of a cosmetic fashion which is fun and inexpensive. 

Thus far my take has been do not get too excited but I do think about what I want to do later that night after work when I log in and before I know it 3 hours have gone by. 

One interesting thing happened to me last night. The game has added planet exploration via the use of a rover once you land and pilot the vehicle out. What I did not know is you do not get this free. You must buy a cargo hold to hold the rover, then buy the rover. So I landed on a planet called Plotis 3 (I think) for heck of it. The game simulates entering orbit and entering "glide" mode which is sub orbital flight. I sat down my ship and then realized I didn't have a rover. While Googling this I suddenly saw my cockpit light up and I was under attack from some jerk that decided to strafe me while I was parked on the planet surface. This was of course AI controlled since I am in solo mode (open play is online with others) and I was shocked. Panicking I strove to restart my ship. I am using an XBox One controller plugged in with a micro USB cable to my Windows 10 gaming machine. Holding down R3 I fired up my engines and realized I had shields down due to enemy fire and my ship was sparking and taking a lot of damage. My craft lurched off the surface of the planet and I kicked the thrusters in. Suddenly the fire stopped. Looking to my right I pulled up the Holo Console and checked my ships systems. Hull is at 13%. Holy crap. I looked around and the Feds had pulled in at the right time. My assailant was under attack by my protectors and they had literally saved my life. I never saw who saved me or what attacked me but I hit orbit and got off that planet as fast as I could. 

After that moment I fell in love with Elite Dangerous. Its hard, tricky and deep but its really cool. The world goes on around you and I haven't even tapped into that yet. Heck I really do not know what I am doing. Instances like my sudden near death experience though give me hope that the game will continue to grow and provide more moments like that.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Libery or Death Playthrough: the French Strike!

The Indian faction is due up and they assist the British by playing the event and destroy a supply depot by attacking Danbury. The Patriot side is now broke...their war resources running out. The Indian faction almost did not play the event but a die roll changed that! The bold raid sets the Patriot war coffers on it heels and they need to raise more money to fund their war!

The French strike...deciding by Flow Chart to attack in Connecticut / Rhode Island as their regulars there, led by Rochambeau, outnumber the British tories. It should be an easy victory but the tories prove to be persistent and strongly dug in.

In the first major battle of 1778...the French regulars wipe out the British tories but suffer a loss of two regulars. Meanwhile the French fleet off the coast blockades New York City.

News of the victory by the French spreads fast and this emboldens the Patriots. Coming forth now are new musters of Militiamen and they rise up in Maryland...forming a new unit and seizing control of the province!

Sadly on the frontier all is not well. The Indians are looking to slaughter settlers on the edge of the colonies as reprisal for the earlier eradication of a Indian war party. What will happen next as the Patriots and Indians are the next eligible factions? Can the Patriots stop the Indian attacks...or will they choose another option?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection playthrough as Patriots & French

After another game of Fire in the Lake on Saturday with a friend it was time to switch gears and try the American Revolution side of things with GMT Games Liberty or Death. I had explored Fire in the Lake quite deeply and wanted to see the mechanics of another COIN game before Distant Plain arrived.

The year is 1778.

In this play through it is the short game setup with the decks organized historically. I am playing the Patriots and the French to the best of my abilities and using the bots for the Brits and the Indians.

The decks were setup and the board was ready!

The first card flips sets the British as the first active faction and they event is one that is a no brainer so I make the Brit Bot (as I like to call it) take the event. This places the Queens Rangers in two separate colonies (not cities) on the map. I have to take them from available or unavailable. Since it is the start of the game I take them from available. They go into New York Colony and New Hampshire. The rule in the event states it must be British controlled. I played the event because the British flowchart states in the Event or Command box: Event places Torries in Colony with British Regulars (go ahead and play it).

The Patriots are next and that is me. I decide to march and move a militia from Charlestown and one from North Carolina into South Carolina for one resource. Rumors of an Indian War party and village persist. I do not expose my militia because there are no British in S.C. The Rebels take control of South Carolina!

I then use Partisans special activity to send the militia to root out the Indian War Party. My Militia is activated and I remove one Royalist piece...the Indian War Party. The war is indeed now in full swing!

After the first two factions go South Carolina looks as follows:

The rest of the play through will be posted as the next week goes by.

Fire in the Lake Tutorial 2: VC activities and Ops

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

1967: Year of Devastation and end game

Late 1967 starts poorly for the ARVN and US Armed Forces. Starting with setbacks in Pleiku Highlands and Kien Phong province the RVN sees itself invaded and under constant VC subversion.

The NVA launch an invasion into Binh Dinh and a showdown is set against the strongest concentration of ARVN Forces. 

Meanwhile outside Saigon the VC launch land reforms and promise more to the people if they openly revolt.

The VC subvert Kien Hoa and Binh Tuy as well as foster new guerilla units. The US loses control of Binh Tuy. The VC victory point total climbs to 32. It's a tight race now with ARVN falling to 38 and the USA to 42. 

Outside the US Armed Forces base in Binh Dinh the ARVN launch an attack against the mass of NVA stationed there.

Using the Assault operation they drain their resources and find ousting the NVA troops out of the Highlands to be difficult. The NVA lose almost 1000 men though and the ARVN losses are light.

The good card luck continues for the Communists. Light at the End of the Tunnel sees reduced American involvement in the war. The NVA play the event and stay eligible. The US withdrawals 4 units from the war and the opposition across South Vietnam stiffen. The NVA musters more troops in Laos and Cambodia.

The US is forced to commit it's Saigon reserves to take out the VC threat in Binh Tuy. They sweep out 2 units and discover VC activity. The US then launches massive air strikes in Kien Hoa, Binh Tuy and Pleiku. The VC are wiped out of Binh Tuy and the NVA lose many exposed men in Pleiku. COIN forces regain Binh Tuy. 

The ARVN take initiative and assault again in Binh Dinh after moving a division out of Qui Nhon. The attack is swift and determined and the Communists are beaten back to leave little or no presence there. 

VC presence appears in Saigon as they dish out terror in the city streets. They were directly funneled in through Tay Ninh. 

THE GAME NEARS THE END. The final push for the control of South Vietnam has begun. The NVA plays the event on Phan Quang Dan and gain oppositionist support in the RVN govt. assembly. The US trains and focuses on Armed Forces advisor support. They work to pacify Khanh Hoa and remove terror there. Support there goes neutral and the terror marker is removed. The VC lose 2 VP's. The US Air Force strikes Quang Duc eliminating exposed VC units and a base there. Control goes back to COIN. 

ARVN remains ineligible due to Phan Quang Dan and we flip out last card as monsoon season rolls in.

The VC are the only eligible faction as the game winds down. They are not close VP wise either the US or ARVN so they look to cause havoc. Due to the MONSOON the VC cannot march. Through propaganda the VC rally in Binh Dinh, Kontum and ever contested Khanh Hoa. Even though guerrillas appear the VC are not able to shift the provinces from COIN control but they try one last Subversion. With subversion Khan Hoa once again is lost to the COIN factions. The game ends and we go to the final Coup! phase.

The final Coup card is a doozy: Failed Attempt. Quite true to the status of how the war is going many ARVN troops see no hope of ousting the VC presence in their country and flee or change aides. This devastates ARVN presence in South Vietnam and really thins the game board out. We enter the Coup round with no one having a straight up victory. 

After redeployment, earnings and pacification and agitation the point totals are as follows: 

NVA 15
USA 44
VC 34

Victory margins are: 1 for VC, 3 for NVA, 10 for ARVN, 6 for the United States. Due to victory margin the VC are declared the winners! The countryside has surrounded the cities and public order crumbles as the South Vietnam government collapses. 


I started off pretty skeptical about COIN games. But now with the depth and the multitude of choices and ways too win...I do understand the hype. Overall it was a great gaming experience even playing single player and I am sure I did some of the BOT stuff wrong. The outcome was still a nail biter though and as I got into the game I started to see the ways to win and what I did wrong.

1967 rolls in and new leadership: Fire in the Lake

With the most recent COUP! turn in my playthrough of Fire in the Lake...the Republic of South Vietnam sees a new leader in Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.

His new policy is to spend the US supplied injection of his economy on a new Hearts and Minds program in the outlying provinces of South Vietnam. Using this they spend a considerable amount of money to pacify Khanh Hoa, Binh Tuy and Quang Tri...provinces that were once troublesome.
He also sets up regular police patrols on Route 1 a previously unpatrolled major stretch of highway. ARVN police take over Phu Bon province as the United States folds up its base in Can Tho and exits the area along with 2 divisions of US Troops that are sent back to the United States.

Meanwhile the Communists are not idle. The NVA work hard to shift their forces into southern Cambodia quietly threatening the provinces of South Vietnam to which they lay adjacent.

The monsoon rains lift and we see the score in the game thus far as:

ARVN= 46
USA= 46
VC= 25
NVA = 10

Seems rather lopsided thus far but I could be playing this game really really badly.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fire in the Lake: Events leading to the next COUP! round

Picking up after video 3 the game started to get rather violent. A lot of combat action and activity all over Vietnam in the south. ARVN forces finally force the VC guerillas out of Phu Yen. The space is now COIN controlled as they learn well from American advisors.


Next the United States Armed Forces go on patrol and spread out along routes 14,13 and 20. This makes all roads into and out of Saigon (except route 1 along the coast) safe and protected from NVA or VC sabotage.

Exposed VC are hit again in Quang Nam removing Insurgent presence there and flipping the province to COIN control. ARVN rangers are exposed but get the job done. This is pictured below:

The NVA strike back next phase, launching assaults on the ARVN troops outside Hue in Quang Tri wiping out 2 of them and then bombarding American troops in two separate provinces (white pawns in second pic below), killing many GI's before they even knew what hit them.Outraged MACV begins an all out search and destroy ideology to contain the NVA.

NVA 130mm Artillery
The war is really heating up now with losses all over the country. The VC play up the My Lai massacre and use it to control the populace. Aid drops significantly and the populace is outraged both in Vietnam and abroad in the United States.

The next card flipped is not played but it triggers a COUP! round and a MONSOON rolls in. This limits American air power but they perform air strikes in 2 separate provinces, blowing VC bases and some exposed guerillas off the face of the earth. At the same time the Ho Chi Minh trail is bombed and degraded to a 1 value. The SECOND COUP! round will begin and there is only one left somewhere in there in the stack. The final positions of the board before the COUP! round are shown below:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fire in the Lake US Forces Playthrough Part 1

Well here we go. Let us give the COIN series a fair shot here and try out a playthrough of Fire in the Lake

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fire in the Lake short game setup

Decided to go with a short game playing as the United States and using all bots on the other participants. That will be bot AI for ARVN, VC and NVA.

I have shuffled ALL the event cards together mixing up the 1965, 1968 and the 1964 cards. The game will not be a certain time period or historical in the least as I wanted to make it as random as possible. After shuffling all the cards I pulled out 3 stacks of 8 as described on page 23 in the Rules of Play.

I also removed the needed coup cards as described and set the RVN leader as "Young Turks".

I then took my 3 stacks and piled them on each other and I was ready to setup the starting forces and the victory point track. I will not be using any of the difficulty options on 20 and 21. Next post I will start the game and flip the two event cards and discuss what is available.