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Tag Archives: games

  • Life and death on a superyacht
    The story of how billionaires have super yachts that may employ hundreds of people (I guess they are floating mansions). Sometimes the workers die, but are the billionaires criminally responsible? Even if they are not , then should be morally responsible?

    By the time Robin, Will’s mother Judith and his sister Rosanna, now 37, arrived in Monaco to join the search, the yacht had left. “The captain said: ‘Don’t worry, we threw some flowers over the side and gave his belongings to the police,’” Rosanna says, fighting back tears as she describes “the worst days of our lives”. “I couldn’t comprehend that the boat had gone before Will was found and before we got there,” she says. “How could they just leave a family to deal with the death of one of their crew, and the police and paperwork and everything? I can’t believe that if something goes wrong – if someone dies – they can just raise the anchor and leave.”

  • The Legend of Nintendo
    A high level look at the philosophy of Nintendo. They’ve been around since 1889!

    In the fall of 2012, the company was in one of its periodic slumps. It had just released the Wii U, the sequel to the phenomenally popular six-year-old Wii. The console featured HD graphics and a touchscreen controller, but from the start it felt off-kilter. The branding, for one thing. Wii U sounded so much like Wii, critics said, that it came across as a minor upgrade rather than an enthralling advance. Compelling games were slow to arrive, and sales were sluggish.

    When things click for Nintendo, a new console triggers a slew of good fortune. The metronomic release of exclusive, tantalizing titles draws gamers to buy the console, which in turn increases sales. Then the console achieves critical mass among hardcore fans, and other companies scramble to adapt their most popular titles for Nintendo’s system. Third-party games from major and independent publishers attract new console buyers. Marketers seeking licenses—for apparel, cereal, children’s toothpaste—rush in, desperate to capitalize on the delirium. The resulting surge of revenue pumps up Nintendo’s profits and replenishes its R&D coffers to start the process anew.

  • How Fortnite Captured Teens’ Hearts and Minds
    Fortnite is really big now, but I haven’t played it yet. So it is useful to see what the game is about, why there is so much hype, and how teens are actually playing it.

    He saw on his find-your-friends bar that a bunch of schoolmates were playing, so he FaceTimed one who goes by ism64. They teamed up and hit Lucky Landing. Gizzard Lizard wore an earbud under a set of earphones, so that he could talk with ism64 while listening for the sound of approaching enemies. From a distance, it appeared that he was talking to himself: “Let’s just build. Watch out, you’re gonna be trapped under my ramp. I’m hitting this John Wick. Oh my God, he just pumped me. Come revive me. Build around me and come revive me. Wait, can I have that chug jug? Thank you.”

    I’d been struck, watching Gizzard Lizard’s games for a few days, by how the spirit of collaboration, amid the urgency of mission and threat, seemed to bring out something approaching gentleness. He and his friends did favors for one another, watched one another’s backs, offered encouragement. This was something that I hadn’t seen much of, say, down at the rink. One could argue that the old arcade, with the ever-present threat of bullying and harassment and the challenge of claiming dibs, exposed a kid to the world—it’s character-building!—but there was something to be said for such a refuge, even if it did involve assault rifles and grenades.

  • The man who has eaten at more than 7,300 Chinese restaurants, but can’t use chopsticks and doesn’t care for food
    Well I’m not one the chastise another for OCD data tracking, but I guess it is a bit weird to visit thousands of Chinese restaurants without knowing Chinese. The actual number of restaurants (maybe 120 a year) and not going to one more than once* is not too crazy.

    “In 1978, people in LA started talking about this great new Hong Kong-style restaurant that had opened up in San Francisco,” Chan says. “It was called Kam Lok. People from LA would fly up there just to eat. My wife and I flew up in the morning, ate there for lunch, ate there for dinner, then flew back in the evening. It was so much better than anything we’d had here.”

    Two years later, Chan made his first trip to Hong Kong.

    “We saw all these restaurants selling seafood. It was something we’d never seen before,” he says. “Then, we came back to LA and, six months later, all of these seafood places started opening up. Within two or three years in LA’s China­town, San Francisco’s Chinatown, New York’s Chinatown, every new Chinese restaurant had seafood, or ocean, or something like that in its name.”

  • A Company Built on a Bluff
    I thought I had read another article about the history of Vice but I can’t find it now. This one gets into more details about how it’s essentially a company of scams, which a lot of reputable companies have invested money into. Unfortunately, they’re not delivering on that optimism.

    According to multiple employees who worked at Vice at the time, Smith went to the architecture firm across the hall from Vice’s Williamsburg office and asked how much it would cost to get them to move out ASAP. Vice’s 50 employees then worked around the clock for several days setting up the new space to look like it had been Vice’s all along. Vice constructed a glass-enclosed conference room to host the Intel meeting, and late one night, an employee answered a buzz at the door to find a plumber who’d come to install a fancy Japanese toilet.

    On the morning of the Intel meeting, Vice employees were instructed to get to the office early, to bring friends with laptops to circulate in and out of the new space, and to “be yourselves, but 40 percent less yourselves,” which meant looking like the hip 20-somethings they were but in a way that wouldn’t scare off a marketing executive. A few employees put on a photo shoot in a ground-floor studio as the Intel executives walked by. “Shane’s strategy was, ‘I’m not gonna tell them we own the studio, but I’m not gonna tell them we don’t,’ ” one former employee says. That night, Smith took the marketers to dinner, then to a bar where Vice employees had been told to assemble for a party. When Smith arrived, just ahead of the Intel employees, he walked up behind multiple Vice employees and whispered into their ears, “Dance.”


And with that, summer was over. The boys were in the same camp for most of the month, so routine was pretty static. Now it’s back to school, with Jovian starting junior kindergarten. August started out hot (continuation of July) so we didn’t spend too much time outdoors, but we did do some biking on the bike paths (they’ve graduated from the front of the house). Also because of the heat; this summer, we only went fruit picking once (for peaches). Maybe we’ll go more in September.

I had planned to go to NYC for work in the last week of August, but plans changed and I ended up in Korea instead. Luckily, it was not as hot as when I went in July, but I also didn’t have time for my own adventures (plus it was rainy every day I was there).

Last month, I had been putting more emphasis on Disney Heroes, but I found myself keeping a more steady diet of that and Timelines. This is partially because the honeymoon phase of Disney Heroes is done, and I’ve realized that it is an endless hamster wheel (even worse than Star Trek). I have already a big investment in Timelines and I’m not at a stage that I want to give that up yet. So I rebalanced a bit and made sure I’m still successful in STT. Hearthstone also released an expansion this month. I bought a few packs, but it’s more of the same, and not that fun still (first player puzzles don’t appeal to me that much).


Ready Player One happens in 2045, which is a near enough future to be interesting. While not a focus of the film, I did like seeing glimpses of how things will look like then. This movie felt like a movie I saw when I was younger, where a kid enters a video game tournament and has to play Super Mario Bros in the championship game.

Ready Player One is an adult version of that film, with themes that resonant with now and recent history. You could imagine that in an alternate history, Second Life kept going and became OASIS. Although, I don’t think users would actually zero out – no matter how tied to our daily lives and finances an online account is (e.g. Google account), if there is a chance you will die and lose everything, you would just use a second account for any death-defying stuff (like raid against major corporations).

The story itself is kid-friendly, although with plenty of fan-service cameos to make the Otaku happy. It has a polished story, although I am not sure how believable it actually is that an Easter egg didn’t get solved after 5 years. Given the Spielberg connection, I could see this movie being this generation’s ET. Although I am not sure how old you should be to see this movie (I saw ET when I was young and remember being scared of it – not of the alien but his behaviour). Ready Player One is a solid 4 out of 5 for its portrayal of future society.


Disney Heroes is almost exactly the same game as Star Trek Timelines except it’s featuring Disney heroes. I didn’t pick the game because I liked Disney, but because I had heard good things about the game and it seemed time to try something new (I always knew that Star Wars: Galaxy Of Heroes was a similar game, but that universe never appealed to me enough to try it).

The game has only been out 2 months (another factor in starting it) but surprisingly, it is already a more full-featured and polished game than STT is after 2.5 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if STT is just poorly designed, but it looks like Battle Mode has put thought into the IAP, ramping and balance (or they copied other successful games in this genre).

Like most of these games, the first couple of days is intense with a lot of gameplay. I expect that to level out as I get into a rhythm of what needs to be done at what time. However, the fact that it is a lot more fun than STT (even at the beginning) is promising.

While I will continue to play STT (e.g., keep up my collection); my goal is to play Battle Mode as a pure F2P and slowly build up my hero roster here. Let’s see if that plan continues!


I’ve been playing Star Trek Timelines for almost 2 and a half years now, and spent about $200 on the game (sunk cost). I still enjoy it from a collection/completist POV, and play through it every day because of that. The game itself isn’t very fun, but it strikes a balance between the collection and other aspects that other games couldn’t achieve for me (looking at Pokemon Go).

Because I’ve been playing for so long, I am at a point where progress is minimal. I don’t have a complete collection, but I have a large collection that one could reasonable achieve without being a whale on the game. The gameplay every day is more maintenance than anything else, continuing to climb really tall mountains.

In a way, it’s a lot like Hearthstone, where there is a continual maintenance to complete quests -> farm gold -> save for expansions. Farming is easy, especially because you can complete quests by playing “friends”. However, it ends up being a drag because the rewards are minimal compared to the effort required.

I actually pulled back on Hearthstone this month. I stopped trying to maximize my quest/gold farming and maybe I will just focus on getting the season card back for the next little while (I did the same thing when the Goblin vs Gnomes expansion came out). I’m also trying to compress my STT gameplay into shorter bursts because I picked up a new game to play now – Disney Heroes: Battle Mode.


In terms of TCG/CCGs, I’m a Johnny-type. So I play Hearthstone for two reasons:

  1. To finish quests, get gold, and collect the cards
  2. Johnny-mode – to win in weird circumstances

That’s why for me, I like playing the Heroic mode and the Dungeon mode. However, one thing that is holding me back is that it takes a long time to play Heroic (lots of deck tweaking).

It would be great if the Hearthstone single player modes can be played offline. I’m happy to spend my time on a plane clicking and playing by myself. But it’s too bad that it still requires a network connection to play (I understand why they would want a network connection…)


I’m about four months too late (The Witchwood is about to be released), but I’m nearing the completion of the “single player mode” for Kobolds and Catacombs. Unlike past adventures and expansions, you don’t have to play any heroic bosses, but rather there is a unique single player mode in KnC. In this mode, you have a rogue-like experience where you start with a few cards in your deck, then build up your deck as you beat the bosses. You also get special treasures until finally you face off on boss #8. The goal is to beat the (random) bosses with all 9 classes.

I’m not there yet, but I only have 2 more classes left (Druid & Priest, although not tackling them in any specific order). I enjoy this mode and actually played a lot of it when this expansion came out. It took awhile before I mastered the mechanic and started clearing the classes, and there is still no perfect/repeatable solution (hence no blogs on each individual class). There’s a lot of RNG involved in getting the right treasures to build a deck that has OP combos – and then some more RNG to pull it off against the final boss.

Overall though, I find it much more fun than fighting heroic bosses. One reason is because the challenge is in piloting the deck, not in creating the deck. There’s a lot of back and forth that you have to do to tweak a deck to fight the heroic bosses and that takes away from gameplay. With this dungeon mode, you just keep making choices and playing!


  • What Came Before the Big Bang?
    The two things that I’m always curious about space/time is whether we live in a simulation, and what happened before the Big Bang. Here are 3 ideas on the latter.

    A second major hypothesis is that the universe, and time, did not exist before the Big Bang. The universe materialized literally out of nothing, at a tiny but finite size, and expanded thereafter. There were no moments before the moment of smallest size because there was no “before.” Likewise, there was no “creation” of the universe, since that concept implies action in time. Even to say that the universe “materialized” is somewhat misleading. As Hawking describes it, the universe “would be neither created nor destroyed. It would just BE.” Such notions as existence and being in the absence of time are not fathomable within our limited human experience. We don’t even have language to describe them. Nearly every sentence we utter has some notion of “before” and “after.”

  • How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food
    Junk food is not all bad. If it wasn’t for junk food, a lot of people in Brazil would be starving as they would not be able to buy enough food to sustain themselves. Yet is surviving on junk food any better?

    Ms. de Vasconcellos has diabetes and high blood pressure. Her 17-year-old daughter, who weighs more than 250 pounds, has hypertension and polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder strongly linked to obesity. Many other relatives have one or more ailments often associated with poor diets: her mother and two sisters (diabetes and hypertension), and her husband (hypertension.) Her father died three years ago after losing his feet to gangrene, a complication of diabetes.

    “Every time I go to the public health clinic, the line for diabetics is out the door,” she said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a family here that doesn’t have it.”

  • The Untold Story of Kim Jong-nam’s Assassination
    The real life assassination of a North Korean leader is almost unbelievable (as with many things North Korea), but someone has done a lot of leg work to try and get a detailed story of what happened.

    The liquid that Siti rubbed on Jong-nam’s face was likely not true VX. Experts have suggested that a modified version of normal VX—VX2—was employed instead. As Vipin Narang, a professor of political science at MIT who holds two degrees in chemical engineering, explained to me, “VX2 is made by dividing VX into two nonreactive compounds. What the women were likely doing was creating active VX on Jong-nam’s face by each delivering their ingredient.”

    This complicated method of poisoning Jong-nam would have had several advantages. First, the toxin would have been safe until activated. Even then, VX2 is not very volatile compared with other chemical weapons, meaning it was less likely to affect bystanders or first responders. If VX2 was employed, it’s unlikely Siti would have been affected, as striking first she never would have been exposed to the second reactant.

  • Valve is not your friend, and Steam is not healthy for gaming
    I never liked Steam as a store or a service. The software just seemed clunky and unnecessary and I’m not even a gamer so I can imagine what people who use it every day would think. This story is biased as the author has a big beef with it, but it also lists out a bunch of things wrong with the service

    Valve themselves eagerly trumpeted that they had paid more than $57 million to Steam Workshop creators over four years — an enormously impressive figure until you realize that it’s only 25 percent of the sale price, which means Valve just made $171 million profit from … setting up an online form where you can submit finished 3D models.

  • Where are all the aliens?
    This article talks about the Fermi paradox (if there are so many stars, why can’t we find other intelligent species?) and lists a bunch of reasons why it may exist. It’s a primer article on the paradox and I felt I’ve read it somewhere else before, but it’s still interesting.

    Possibility 5) There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—who is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level. This would suck. The way it might work is that it’s an inefficient use of resources to exterminate all emerging intelligences, maybe because most die out on their own. But past a certain point, the super beings make their move—because to them, an emerging intelligent species becomes like a virus as it starts to grow and spread. This theory suggests that whoever was the first in the galaxy to reach intelligence won, and now no one else has a chance. This would explain the lack of activity out there because it would keep the number of super-intelligent civilizations to just one.


Card Thief is the “sequel” to Card Crawl. It’s a sequel in the sense that the art style is almost completely the same, but the gameplay is similar, but the story is a bit different. In this one, you play a thief and you have to solve consecutive 9×9 puzzles to get as much loot as possible (i.e., solitaire game). Again you have to play through an entire deck of cards, and ultimately the game is about optimizing the order of the cards in your deck and on the play field for the most points. In isolation, this game and its story makes it more interesting than your generic puzzle game, but it’s not compelling enough for repeat playback.

I bought Mini Metro on a whim as it was on sale ($1.29). This puzzle game is pretty abstract and really they could have made it about anything. They chose to make it about linking a city via subway lines. I like the design as it is minimalistic and the gameplay is pretty fun in the short time that I’ve played. The touch controls are pretty finicky once the play area gets complicated (it’s easy to move the wrong line, so I need to pause before making changes) and the difficulty seems to ramp up pretty quickly. Decent investment for the price.


After a few easy battles, Chromaggus took awhile longer. He has a solid dragon-based deck, but that in itself is not OP. He also starts with 60 health, which is a bit unfair, but there seems to be a bug where he always plays Alexstrasza when you are below 15 and actually heals you! What’s unfair is that every turn he adds a card into your hand that benefits him, either his spells/minions cost 3 less, or heals him for 6, or deals you 3 damage, or gives him double of each card he draws. These cards take 3 mana to get rid of so in essence you are always 3 mana behind against a strong deck.

It took me many battles (~50) but I finally beat him with a mill deck. It is by no means better than Chromaggus so it requires some luck to play into the right conditions to win. Here’s the decklist:

  • Earthen Scales
  • Jade Idol
  • 2x Mistress of Mixtures
  • 2x Naturalize
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Stubborn Gastropod
  • 2x Youthful Brewmaster
  • Brann Bronzebeard
  • 2x Coldlight Oracle
  • 2x Dancing Swords
  • 2x Deathlord
  • 2x Emperor Cobra
  • 2x Feral Rage
  • 2x Goblin Sapper
  • 2x Grove Tender
  • 2x Poison Seeds
  • Deathwing

In the early game, play the Zombie Chows, Mistresses, and Gastropods to take out the low level minions. Then start milling. Earthen Scales (with Goblin Sapper) and the Feral Rages are to heal 25 (plus whatever you get from Alex). Poison Seeds and Deathwing are the only board clears, and I found I needed all of them because I couldn’t catch up to the strong dragon board. The timing of Deathwing is also important as it allows you to get rid of all of his hero power cards in one go. In my winning game, I got it at the end (he was in fatigue) and I had been holding several double/healing cards since his hand was stuck at 10 cards – it ended up killing Alex and Ysera (Onyxia was done in by poison seeds). Finally, the one Jade Idol is to help you grow your deck and prevent milling yourself.

If you can survive his deck, then it’s an easy win!


This was another fun matchup that I beat without much difficulty. In this battle, you’re basically fighting against a super-mill deck, except the boss has an advantage where his mana ramps up at double your pace. He makes you draw 4 cards per round, so you need to dump as many cards out of your hand as possible. This made combo Rogue a natural opponent. Here’s my deck:

  • 2x Backstab
  • 2x Counterfeit Coin
  • 2x Shadowstep
  • 2x Target Dummy
  • 2x Arcane Anomaly
  • 2x Pit Snake
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Defias Ringleader
  • 2x Gang Up
  • 2x Jade Shuriken
  • 2x Jade Swarmer
  • 2x Sap
  • Beneath the Grounds
  • 2x Assassinate
  • 2x Vanish
  • Clockwork Giant

I beat him in my first or second attempt, so the deck is not optimized at all!


This boss was fun and not like the previous one that took me many months. Razorgore the Untamed has a bunch of 0/3 eggs and a free hero power that gives every egg one more health while spawning a new egg. If any egg reaches 5 health, it’ll turn into a 7/7 minion. The key to this match is not let those egg hatch!

This match was easy due to the poisonous mechanic, which meant that I could kill any egg with a single hit. The swap health/attack mechanic is also useful. I made two different decks for this, both with poisonous minions. The first was a Paladin deck with silver hand synergy, and the second was a Mill Rogue. I ended up playing the Mill Rogue because I never really play that hero. Here’s my deck:

  • 2x Shadowstep
  • 2x Pit Snake
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Crazed Alchemist
  • 2x Gang Up
  • 2x Sap
  • 2x Stubborn Gastropod
  • 2x Coldlight Oracle
  • 2x Emperor Cobra
  • 2x Giant Wasp
  • 2x Kooky Chemist
  • 2x Assassinate
  • 2x Dark Iron Skulker
  • 2x Shadowcaster
  • 2x Vanish

I beat the boss with this deck on the first couple of tries. I didn’t really have to hit face much, and even used some of the poisonous minions on the larger enemy minions. I didn’t mill Razorgore to death, but he did use up his entire deck by the end of the match. I hope more bosses are like this – strong, but beatable without luck.


I was stuck on this heroic battle for many months before finally beating him recently. It took so long, that Blizzard released three expansions during that time (OiNK, MSG, JtU)! I found this challenging because the opponent deck was well balanced. He had a hero power that pumped out several decent (2 or 3 2/2) or one strong (5/4 or 8/8) minion per turn. He played a dragon deck that had strong synergies, utilizing dragon cards from multiple classes. And he also had strong direct damage spells.

I tried a variety of approaches – control warrior, mill rogue, beast/taunt druid, patron – but didn’t make any headway. I had the modest success with a modified freeze mage that could last 10+ turns through AOE board clears (spells, exploding sheep, abominations). The win condition in that deck was Alexstrasza, but unfortunately Rend has a kill legendary card. I tried to counter that with the Duplicate mage secret, but I never got to a point where I pulled off the combo successfully.

Finally I got fed up and looked on the Internet to see how others were approaching this battle. There seemed to be 2 approaches. The first was to use Hunter’s exploding trap to clear the early board, and then go face. I didn’t see how this deck would be successful since Rend would just through up more taunts and strong minions. The second was to use Deathlord and then double his health. I thought this might be easier, so tried the deck out.

After about 20 tries, I finally got into the right sequence to win the battle. Here’s my decklist:

  • 2x Binding Heal
  • 2x Inner Fire
  • 2x Light of the Naaru
  • 2x Mistress of Mixtures
  • 2x Northshire Cleric
  • 2x Power Word: Glory
  • 2x Power Word: Shield
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Divine Spirit
  • 2x Lightwell
  • 2x Deathlord
  • 2x Shadow Word: Death
  • Velen’s Chosen
  • Cyclopian Horror
  • 2x Excavated Evil
  • 2x Holy Nova
  • Entomb

The key to this deck is to play the taunts around turn 5 or 6 so that you can play at least one Divine Spirit (and hopefully Power Word: Shield or Inner Fire). In order to be successful, you have to clear/trade the first wave so Zombie Chow, Mistress of Mixtures and Cleric are very important.

In my winning game, I ended up beefing up my Cyclopian Horror with 2x Divine Spirit, Velen’s Chosen and an Inner Fire – so he was around a 10/40. At the same time, I had a Light of the Naaru going so it was an easy win once I was able to snowball the Horror.

I think I was lucky and the battle is still severely weighted towards the boss. But at least now I can move on to the next challenge!


Super Mario Run was much hyped release that I tried out after its exclusive on iOS finished. I didn’t like it very much and I don’t think the hype was deserved. It is kind of like Mario mixed with Angry Birds mixed with Miitomo. You play a Mario level (and it auto runs so you only need one hand) repeatedly so you can get a high(er) score and get all the special coins. You can then use your total coin total to outfit your little town. There’s a PvP part as well where you race another player’s ghost to see if you can get the most coins. I didn’t enjoy the game because 1) I don’t enjoy the repetitive nature and frustration of completing a level perfectly in order to “3 star” a level, 2) the PvP doesn’t interest me, 3) I’m too old for town personalization and showing it off to friends. I also don’t like the general UI design (I guess that is DeNA’s style). The game doesn’t get the $10 from me to unlock it (the free part is really just a trial).

Mechcom was a thrown-in in a Humble Bundle that I bought, but it excels as a bare-bones RTS game. The game is straightforward, but the controls are pretty tight, and it is well suited for play even on mobile phone. I haven’t played it much but it seems to satisfy any RTS itch I might have. There’s a sequel to this game, which I also received. I’m not sure I will like that as much though because it adds more bells and whistles. This isn’t a game that I want to be heavily invested into.


Two games I received from a Humble Bundle this time – the first is Galaxy Trucker which is a board game where you compete with other players to make money trucking things around the galaxy. The game is in two phases – first you compete with other players to construct a truck from a communal pile of random parts, then you use the truck you created on a route to earn money. The route has random mishaps and events that affect your ship and your cashflow depending on how you’ve constructed your truck. The concept is neat and I only have a few games under my belt so I don’t fully understand the mechanics yet, however I think there is a potential for fun here. One criticism is that the second phase (using your ship) seems pretty short given that you spent so much effort constructing your truck – it takes 10 mins to construct your ship, and 5 minutes for it to travel your route. Although, the AI I’ve been playing against is pretty forgiving in letting you spend your time to build an optimal truck. Another aspect of the game I like is that there is a single player campaign mode, so you can advance at your own leisure. I’m not sure it’s worth $6, but I paid $5 and received a number of other board games as well in my bundle.

Hero Generations is a game that also has an interesting mechanic. You get a hero, but it is expected that your hero will die (probably from old age). Instead, a main and necessary goal is to find a mate, and then your child will continue the game. It’s like an evolutionary process where each generation is supposed to get stronger until at the end…well I don’t know because I never played it that far. While the concept is interesting, it requires a lot of comprehension of the mechanics (there are a lot of things that can be upgraded over generations) and planning to be successful. It’s just too complex to play for 5 minutes so I got rid of it.


I’ve been playing a game called The Trail that is a lot like Oregon Trail. You play a settler (no family here) and you set off along a trail to eventually settle in Eden Falls. The trail itself is actually rather short, and you reach Eden Falls fairly quickly (no fording required, and no dysentery); in fact the game ends up being more of a collecting & crafting game rather than settling, but I don’t mind – it’s the crafting and levelling that I enjoy (I learn that these are called “incremental game”s). When you arrive at Eden Falls, you get a house which you can also improve via collecting and crafting. There is also a social aspect as you work together with the other inhabitants of your farm towards communal (and competitive) goals.

What actually attracted my attention to this game was that it is by Peter Molyneux, the creator of Fable. It is not as flexible a world as Fable, but there are some nicely designed aspects (who knows if there was direct Molyneux influence though). One feature that I think is great is the trading that you can do at trail camps. It’s useful because it provides an avenue for you to get rid of all the supplies and items that you’ve accumulated. It’s social because you are trading with other players at your camp, and finally it’s a game because there is a finite time limit for trading, and you compete to get the highest trading score to win an additional prize. This is just one aspect of the game that just works and is win-win-win.

Another part of the game that I like is trying to re-arrange everything in your backpack. The backpack is a limiting mechanism so you can’t carry everything at once, but instead of using slots like a normal game would, you actually have to try and arrange things in your backpack so they will fit. Often times you end up with an overflowing backpack while you try and balance that last item that you picked up on the very top!

As I played the game more, I realize that a lot of the social interaction (along the trail and in the camps) is done by NPCs and not genuine. It’s not completely NPCs, but most of it is. Once I saw through that illusion, I was a bit disappointed; although I understand why they chose that route for performance and design reasons. It’s not a game that I have to play everyday, but it’s good if you have an extended stretch of time.


While perusing the store, I noticed Postknight. TBH, what attracted to me to this game was that it was “Unreleased”. What does that mean? I still don’t know but the game is decent enough that I play it every once in awhile. You basically do bite-sized auto-runner type quests to gain XP and items. You can trade items for better gear or use them to gain favor with the ladies (i.e., dating in Harvest Moon style). I just play it for the RPG elements because the dating aspect requires you to play too often. It’s a quick enough time killer and you can slowly improve your character so that’s why it’s staying on my phone.

There are a lot of DC and Marvel games around, but I downloaded Justice League Action Run because the art is reminiscent of the animated series. I actually think this game might be for younger kids based on the art and the simplicity. It’s an infinite runner with a couple of modes – collect items, break targets, fight the boss, etc; but the draw is the theme and the art. Unfortunately, the game seems to be recently released, and not polished yet. The interface and gameplay is laggy on my phone, and there are only 5 heroes to choose from! Hopefully it will get better in time, but by then, I think I will have moved on to something else.


Cardstone is a deck building and dungeon game, where you start with a basic deck and a hero (Warrior, Mage, Paladin or Vampire) and then build and improve your deck as you go through the dungeon. After each battle, you have the opportunity to swap one card in your deck with 4 random cards in your card pool. Through this you’ll strengthen your deck to fight stronger dungeon dwellers, but there gameplay is deep because the RNG prevents you from building the same deck every time (although you can make them thematically the same). It is a good premise and I played it daily for awhile. The problem is that the IAP scales really quick – the cost to buy new cards for your card pool with in-game currency grows exponentially. You’ll get a bunch of rare and legendary cards, and a few is better than 0, but the chances you’ll build a deck of strong cards is rare without spending.

The Battle of Polytopia is free and has distilled Civilization down to its core elements, so it’s great if you’re looking to play Civ (assuming you’re OK with isomorphic graphics). The problem for me is that after playing it for a little while, I remembered why I don’t like Civ (troop management and battles). Plus, in this age of mobile games, playing Civ is just too long.


Big Hunter is a game where you have to throw spears at a big animals within constraints (resources or time). I downloaded this because I liked the simplicity of the art. The game doesn’t do a lot so the art fits in. Basically this is a skill game where you have to angle your spear and time your release, while making sure you stay out of range of the rampaging animal. It has various IAP components but you’ll probably only play this as a little time waster.

I don’t know what this game (うさぎと牛乳瓶) is or why I downloaded it anymore. The premise is that you have to pull rabbits out of milk bottles within a certain amount of time. There are also other characters that show up, which I think extend your time or give you more points. To be honest, I don’t understand how to play this either because it’s in Japanese. It’s not as good as the first game above if you’re just looking for some time killers.


Drakkisath’s hero power is to make every card cost 1 mana, and to cap your mana at 1 and his at 2. That means, he can play 2 cards every turn, and you can play one. I experimented with a variety of ways to increase my mana or decrease the cost of cards past 1, but they don’t work. Basically, you just try and throw down the most and biggest (legendary) minions you have. Here’s my Druid deck (for the taunts):

  • Poison Seeds
  • Big Game Hunter x 2
  • Psych-o-Tron x 2
  • Sludge Belcher x 2
  • Cairne Bloodhoof
  • Dark Arakkoa x 2
  • Illidan Stormrage
  • Moonglade Portal x 2
  • Reno Jackson
  • Sylvanas Windrunner
  • Chromaggus
  • Ironbark Protector x 2
  • Kel’Thuzad
  • Ragnaros the Firelord
  • Sneed’s Old Shredder
  • Alexstrasza
  • Arch-Tief Rafaam
  • North Sea Kraken x 2
  • Volcanic Lumberer x 2
  • C’Thun
  • Deathwing
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I don’t think there is another way to win this match, it’s a bit of sheer luck. In my winning game:

  • He used Twisting Nether on a single minion on turn one (I forgot who it was, but it wasn’t a useful one)
  • He returned my Deathwing to my hand so I was able to cast it twice
  • I got a Sylvanas from my Moonglade Portal near the beginning of the game
  • He had a couple of turns where he only played a single card (spell). I guess he had multiple flame strikes or something?
  • Was able to keep my health up so I didn’t have to deal with the 9/9s

I think this boss is really about how many Legendaries you have.


Omokk’s hero power is the ability to destroy one of your minions for 0 mana each turn. The effect is random so I thought there were a couple of ways to win:

  • Summon many minions every turn – this is difficult to do
  • Play with no minions – this is doable, but there isn’t enough damage to kill minions and knock off 45 health (plus he gains a bunch of armor through his cards
  • Gain a lot of value through Deathrattles

I tried building a deck using deathrattles but couldn’t find enough minions that had enough value. Instead, I relied on a combined strategy: Warlock damage to destroy minions, health gain, and Rivendare+N’Zoth+Dreadsteed win condition. Basically, stall long enough so that I could amass a board of Dreadsteeds. Here’s the deck list:

  • Forbidden Ritual
  • Sacrificial Pact
  • Bloodsail Corsair x 2
  • Corruption x 2
  • Power Overwhelming x 2
  • Curse of Rafaam x 2
  • Darkbomb x 2
  • Nerubian Egg x 2
  • Demonwrath
  • Drain Life x 2
  • Shadow Bolt x 2
  • Baron Rivendare
  • Dreadsteed x 2
  • Hellfire x 2
  • Antique Healbot x 2
  • Doomguard
  • Siphon Soul
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I defeated Omokk on my second try with this deck. It was close, and I didn’t get my win condition out until Omokk had very few cards in his deck. I was holding onto Rivendare and 1 Dreadsteed for a long time, but couldn’t find the right time to multiply them. Once I did, I was able to play N’Zoth to fill my board. I didn’t draw my second Dreadsteed until the second last card (every card in the deck ended up being useful), but by then Omokk was out of cards and was clearly going to succumb to fatigue.


Back from a hiatus of more than half a year, I faced off against Ragnaros again. I stopped previously because I couldn’t think of a good strategy to defeat this boss as he had 2 forms. The first form (Majordomo) summoned a 3/3 each turn (along with some fire-themed minions and spells) – which was manageable. The second form (Ragnaros) played the remainder of the deck/board but his hero power did 8 damage to two targets each turn! I couldn’t figure out how to handle his hero power.

I didn’t have a fresh idea on how to tackle the boss, but just wanted to play some PvE. I took one of my existing decks, which turned out to be the “Shields Up!” recipe, and tried it. It actually worked really well and I got to Ragnaros on my first try. I tweaked it a bit for the boss and won with it on my 3rd or 4th try. Here’s the deck list:

  • Argent Squire x 2
  • Hand of Protection
  • Selfless Hero x 2
  • Argent Protector x 2
  • Equality x 2
  • Huge Toad x 2
  • Loot Hoarder x 2
  • Twisted Worgen x 2
  • Argent Horserider
  • Scarlet Crusader x 2
  • Seal of Champions x 2
  • Steward of Darkshire
  • Blessing of Kings x 2
  • Consecration
  • Dragonkin Sorcerer
  • Blessed Champion
  • Stand Against Darkness
  • Ivory Knight
  • Ragnaros the Firelord (fighting himself)
  • Tirion Fordring

There is a single win condition in this deck – buff up Tirion so that he can kill Ragnaros in one or two turns. In the game I won, I had a 32/5 Tirion. I tried adding a second win condition in Dragonkin Sorcerer in the event that Tirion died, but he wasn’t effective (and in hindsight, it’s not worth it to split resources across two minions).

Divine Shields are also useful in the early game to kill the 3/3 minions and to protect Tirion against larger minions and Ragnaros. Silver Knight recruits are useful in absorbing damage; and Stand Against Darkness was added specifically for this purpose.

In my final game, I was a bit lucky (as always). I finally gained control of the board, had Tirion out, and got Majordomo down to 1HP. On the boss’ turn, he threw out 5 8/8 Molten Giants!

I had Equality in hand and luckily top decked Consecration. That saved the game for me!


Coup is a quick game where you need to bluff your way to victory. You have 2 cards in your hand that you can use to backup your bluff(s), and those cards don’t replenish. Once you have no cards in your hand, you are eliminated so you need to bluff carefully. I think this game would be great if the UI was simpler and the rounds were faster, but there’s just too much graphic detail in the game to make it enjoyable. Oh and the ads. They make the game too annoying to outweigh the marginal enjoyment I get out of playing this, so unfortunately it is an uninstall.

I bought Sentinels of the Multiverse on sale (99¢ I think?) based on what I read from the listing. It seemed interesting as it is a board/card game (later discovered that it originated on Kickstarter) where you play cooperatively as a superhero team to defeat a villain. Or in my case, you play 4 heroes by yourself. I liked the style as it is done as if it were a comic book (the universe was created just for this game, but the heroes fit DC stereotypes). The game itself is very complex. There are a lot of mechanics, and even after several plays, I spend most of the game reading and understanding the cards (which is difficult on phone resolution). That is both a benefit and a curse. It’s good in that in makes the game more of a puzzle than a board game, but it’s bad in that it is not something you can play on automatic. You have to devote concentration and 30-60mins for a game. I’m still on the fence as to whether this is a game I will revisit or not.


This week’s Hearthstone Tavern Brawl is “Miniature Warfare” which means that all minions are 1/1 and cost only 1 mana. This isn’t the first time this brawl has occurred, but I put together a deck to satisfy some quests and it turned out to be pretty fun (and decently successful). Here’s the Shaman deck list:

  • Runic Egg
  • Spirit Claws
  • Tentacle of N’Zoth
  • Loot Hoarder
  • Maelstrom Portal x 2
  • Unstable Ghoul x 2
  • Hex
  • Ironbeak Owl
  • Lightning Storm x 2
  • Mana Tide Totem
  • Cult Master
  • Elise Starseeker
  • Bloodlust
  • Loatheb
  • Prince Malchezaar
  • Psych-o-Tron
  • Sludge Belcher
  • Stormpike Commando x 2
  • Illidan Stormrage
  • Sylvanas Windrunner
  • Stormwind Champion
  • Chromaggus
  • Kel’Thuzad
  • Ragnaros the Firelord
  • Alexstrasza
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I think this deck works because it has a little bit of everything. Card draw, defense (AOE, Loatheb, taunts, removals like Hex and Ironbeak, and one-offs like Stormpike Commando and Sylvanas), snowballing win conditions (Illidan, Bloodlust), and lots of high value cards (legendaries + Prince Malchezaar).

Too bad I have to get rid of this deck and build a Warrior+Battlecry deck for some new quests.


I’ve had my eye on Layton Brothers Mystery Room for a long time because I enjoyed playing Professor Layton in the past. However, I stayed away from this game for a couple of reasons: 1) It was more of a detective game á la Phoenix Wright then a puzzle game and 2) It was a IAP game. I ended up trying it now because it was a game that didn’t require internet connection so I could play it on the plane. I played it on one of my flights the last few months and it basically lived up to what I thought. The gameplay was in Japanese (with requisite English errors), linear and not fun. In order to pass the mission, you have to do things in a certain order, or find some specific thing, which I find limiting and infuriating. Not surprisingly, I didn’t buy any of the IAP to unlock missions after the first 3 (one of which was a tutorial).

I came across Card Crawl while browsing Google Play and it is surprisingly good! It’s a solitaire card game where you attempt to exhaust the deck of your opponent. The rules are pretty straightforward but it involves some thinking to complete the game. If you’re good, you can get a high(er) score and compete against others on the leaderboard. The free part of the game seems to be good enough for casual play and the only criticism I have is that the UI is slow/laggy (too many loading screens).