Vintage Game Night 05/02/2018

Super Star Wars

SuperStarWars

Oh boy we began things with this “gem.” There are worse games I guess but the level design of the Super Star Wars games is lacking in my opinion. Case in point, the sandcrawler level above. The enemies in the level aren’t difficult for the most part; they don’t do too much damage and are taken out easily. The issue is the level is filled with jumps between moving platforms. Some of the platform tracks are awkwardly placed where it has to be timed just right. The jump physics aren’t tight in any of the SSW games either which makes it a bit more difficult.

All that said, I’d say we had about a 90% success rate on most jumps and a few that were 50%. So what’s the problem? The level is designed in serpentine fashion, going right to left, up, left to right, up, etc. Even if every jump was at 90% odds chances are eventually you miss an easy jump. And that easy jump happened to be towards the end for us a bunch of times which basically sends you back to the beginning of the level. A bit more checkpoints were needed here.

Super Bomberman 2

SuperBomberman2

This got the most fun game award of the night. We had three of us so it was three humans and a CPU in a free-for-all. The CPU almost won the first match, being the first to get to 2 games (3 wins the match). Then our host took over and won. For his victory he got to spin a wheel and was “rewarded” with moving slower for the next match.

During one match I was able to consistently kill the CPU right away over and over just by charging him and trapping him with bombs. Other than that, I was constantly running into my own bombs and messing up.

Lord of the Rings Volume I

LordoftheRingsVolume1

In case you’re wondering, these wolves are much faster than Frodo

Oh man, back to the gems. You control Frodo starting in the Shire. Around the Shire are a bunch of wolves, bats, and other vicious animals. Frodo’s only defense is a very slow stab forward and otherwise he gets 4-direction top-down movement. Bats were difficult because they move fast and can change direction erratically. As far as we can tell there’s no way to restore HP. We looked it up and there’s supposed to be some HP-restoring items but we never found any. On that note, your HP isn’t even displayed by default! As it turns out, you can turn it on with a button press but it’s the principle of it for me: why wouldn’t you want to see your health!? We didn’t spend too long on this.

Super Mario World

Supermarioworldmap

This one wasn’t played at Vintage Game Night but is a recent re-addition to my own collection. I played a good amount of SMW as a kid. In my younger days I was only able to beat the game using the Star Road which is kind of SMW’s version of warps. I did try a No-Star-Road run once but there was one level I could never get past. I decided to do a playthrough of this where I once again wouldn’t use the Star Road to skip worlds I hadn’t beaten.

One thing that occurs to me is that SMW has my favorite world map in the series. Although it’s still zones into world-like areas the worlds seem to flow together the best. E.g. To go into the cavernous Vanilla Dome you see Mario go from the Donut Plains into a tunnel at the base of a mountain. Also, in others Marios like Super Mario Bros. 3 and New Super Mario Bros. you see paths before you unlock them. Oftentimes in SMW the continent rearranges itself a bit to left Mario pass, such as when islands appear to bridge two landmasses. In one humorous case Mario destroys Castle #4 by rocketing it into a nearby hill, causing the hill to get a band-aid. The hill’s band-aid is then on the World Map from then on.

On that note the after-castle scenes are very amusing too. Mario will destroy the castle in a variety of ways, starting with a standard fuse-lit bomb. My favorites are the afore-mentioned rocket, one where Mario picks up the whole castle and throws it, and another where he grabs a mop and somehow wipes the castle from existence.

Oh, and this was the game that introduced Yoshi. I love Yoshi. He’s a powerful ally in this game as he gives Mario an extra hit, can be recollected after that hit (with some difficulty), and can be given flight.

Instant death always makes me unnecessarily nervous. Anytime I heard the Athletic Theme play I’d mutter an “Oh no…” because most of the levels that theme is played on are platforming over a big pit.

SMW_WendyCastle

When I was a kid and tried a no-Star-Road run I got stuck on Castle #6, Wendy’s Castle. The beginning has a bunch of spiked pillars and saws moving around. It’s a lot to dodge at once. As a kid I don’t think I knew that you could spin jump on the saws. I definitely made use of that this time. Always nice to get past something that had you stuck years ago.

ValleyFortress

I didn’t go directly to Bowser; I went to a few side-paths and levels I didn’t need to. One such level was the Valley of Bowser Fortress. That was like a tougher version of Castle #6. In particular there was one portion with spike pillars and they move very fast. In one spot there’s a spike pillar coming down at the end of your platform and one at the beginning of the next platform. They move so fast that you can only get through by starting your run before your pillar has even lifted yet, timing it so you run underneath it right after it rose high enough for you to not run into it.

After that I went to Bowser’s Castle and without too much trouble cleared it. At long last my no-Star-Road run is complete.

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Dragon Quest V – Hand of the Heavenly Bride – Plot

***** SPOILERS AHEAD *****

Childhood

Pankraz

Madason’s father, Pankraz

Madason is born in a castle to King Pankraz and Queen Madalena. However, something happens to Madalena right after Madason’s birth.

Madason wakes up, 6 years old, to find that was all a dream. He’s been traveling with his father, Pankraz. They return to their home in the village of Whealbrook, where a servant of Pankraz’s, Sancho, waits.

Young_Hero

Madason as a child

Madason begins on going on some adventures. He sneaks out with a friend, Bianca, and together bust some ghosts haunting a nearby castle. Madason is given a gold orb by the grateful spirits that can now rest. Madason and Bianca then rescue a large kitten, named Saber, from some bullies. Saber accompanies Madason. Soon after Madason is approached by a fairy who can only be seen by children. The fairy, Honey, asks Madason to retrieve the Flute of Spring which the fairies use to end Winter and bring in Spring. Madason also has a strange encounter with a man that looks kind of like him who asks to see his gold orb.

After that Pankraz is called to the kingdom of Coburg to guards its prince and heir, a spoiled rotten boy named Harry. Madason goes with. Harry gets away from the two and is then kidnapped. Pankraz and Madason go off in pursuit. They overhear that Harry’s stepmother, Queen Dowager, arranged Harry’s kidnapping so that her son, Wilbur, will ascend to the throne. They rescue Prince Harry but monsters show up. Pankraz holds them off while the kids flee.

However, the kids are cut off by three monsters. The leader, Bishop Ladja, easily defeats them. When Pankraz catches up Ladja sics the other two, Slon the Rook and Kon the Knight, on him. Pankraz defeats them both. Then Ladja holds a scythe to Madason’s neck. Pankraz is forced to let Slon and Kon beat on him. They did a cool and powerful thing here by putting botg fights in the battle system. Pankraz has a ton of HP and defense so it takes a ton of hits by the monsters to whittle him down while all he can do is “stoically take the assault.”

Ladja

Bishop Ladja

Near death, Pankraz tells Madason that his mother is still alive and implores him to find her. His mother is held in Naridia, the underworld, and only the legendary hero will be able to find her. That is who Pankraz has been searching for. Ladja burns Pankraz to ash with Kafrizzle. Ladja then finds Madason’s gold orb and destroys it. He orders Saber to be set loose and the kids to be put into slavery for the Order of Zugzwang…

Escape from Slavery

Madason and Harry are put to work for 10 years with other slaves building a gigantic temple for the Order of Zugzwang on top of Mount Azimut. Many slaves are worked to death. The Order is supposedly meant to save people from the coming darkness and the temple is meant to be a utopia. The Order promises that the slaves will all be freed when the temple is complete but rumors abound that they will actually all be executed.

Madason and Harry help a slave named Maria who used to be a cleric of the Order but rebelled when she found out about the horrible stuff they’d been doing. In return, her brother Joshua, a soldier working for the Order, helps Madason, Harry, and Maria escape at great personal peril. The three drift to Heaven’s Above Abbey, an abbey of nuns. Maria immediately joins the nuns while Madason and Harry set off on a journey to find Madason’s mother.

Liberation of Coburg

As the two journey they soon hear disturbing rumors about Coburg: Harry’s stepmother Queen Dowager is ruling as a tyrant. She is neglecting her people to build up her military for world domination. The two come to Whealbrook and find it destroyed. Apparently, Queen Dowager blamed Pankraz for Harry’s abduction and thus had the village burned down. Another punch to Madason and the player. Nearby Roundbeck, Bianca’s hometown, still stands but Bianca and her family have moved away some time ago.

The news of Coburg weighs on Harry and the two eventually return to Coburg. Harry sneaks them in the castle. They find the real Queen Dowager is held in the dungeon while a fake is on the throne. But they need proof. They read in the castle library of the Mirror of Ra which can dispel illusions, a recurring DQ item. The Mirror is kept in a nearby tower overseen by Heaven’s Above Abbey. They recruit Maria to help them get in and retrieve the Mirror. With the Mirror they confront the fake Queen, revealed to be a monster, and defeat her.

Harry

Harry

Coburg is saved! King Wilbur offers Harry the throne but Harry refuses. Instead, Harry will stay in Coburg to help Wilbur rule. Maria returns to the Abbey. Madason will continue on his adventures. Nothing is done to the real Queen Dowager who, while not a tyrant, still arranged Harry’s kidnapping 10 years ago. I guess she already served a sentence in prison to the fake.

Hand of the Heavenly Bride

It is said that the legendary hero will need to gather the Zenithian Sword, Helm, Shield, and Armor, the same legendary equipment from DQ4. In fact, the Legendary Hero will be of the same bloodline as the hero of DQ4. Thus, to find the Hero Madason must gather those same items and they’re sure to bump into each other. Pankraz had this idea first and had found the Zenithian Sword. Now, being Madason is the MC you’d expect him to equip the Sword. But he can’t. All he can do is take it with him.

Madason hears of a family shield owned by a wealthy man named Rodrigo Briscoletti and its description matches the Zenithian Shield. Briscoletti will bestow the shield to whoever marries his daughter Nera but he wants to ensure potential suitors are worthy of his daughter. Thus, against Nera’s will, Briscoletti tells any young men that want to court his daughter to seek out the Circle of Fire and the Circle of Water. Both are kept in dangerous locations. Left with no other leads, Madason retrieves the rings.

For the Circle of Water he is aided by his childhood friend, Bianca. Bianca and her father moved to a remote village due to his failing health. Bianca helps Madason get the ring and the two catch up. It becomes clear that Bianca has fallen in love with Madason.

Thus sets up perhaps the most famous part of the game. Madason returns to Briscoletti with the rings and is declared fit to marry Nera. However, Nera realizes that Bianca has feelings for Madason too. Therefore, Madason has to choose which to be his bride. In the DS version Nera has a sister, Deborah, who is very rude and verbally abuses everyone. She’s added as a third choice. I took Bianca on this run. She’s arguably the “canon” bride: she’s featured on the game cover.

 

Regardless of who you choose Briscoletti decides he likes Madason. Thus, even if you don’t choose one of his daughters you get the Zenithian Shield. It’s pretty cool at this point to go back to a few places, such as Coburg to visit Harry, and view Party Chat with whichever bride you chose.

The MC’s Origins

The quest for the Legendary Hero takes Madason to Helmunaptra where the Zenithian Helm is. The queen there will only give the Helm to the Legendary Hero, proven by being able to equip the Helm. She does tell Madason that she’s heard of Pankraz and says Pankraz was king of a nearby kingdom called Gotha. She urges Madason to go there.

It is as she says. Madason reunites with Sancho and the two show themselves to King Albert, Pankraz’s younger brother. Albert is only too happy to give the throne to his nephew. However, Chancellor Jeeves insists that Madason must undergo the Initiation Rite, which includes going to a dungeon and getting a royal seal. Meanwhile, Bianca collapses. It seems she’s pregnant! While she rests Madason goes to get the seal.

Tragedy Strikes Anew

Madason returns with the seal. Bianca gives birth to a twin boy and girl soon after. Everything is looking up for Madason. He’s crowned king in short order. The partying goes into the night. Madason wakes up and finds the whole castle asleep. Sensing something is wrong he hastens to his room. He finds Bianca gone, kidnapped by monsters who snuck in. Bianca was able to hide the children with a maid before the kidnapping.

Madason gives chase to a monster-infested tower. He finds Bianca held by Kon the Knight, one of the monsters who beat up Pankraz before his death. At first Madason is unable to harm Kon but a strange power from Bianca breaks Kon’s shield. Kon realizes that the blood of the hero flows through Bianca. Madason defeats Kon. Unfortunately, Bishop Ladja shows up. He reveals the Order of Zugzwang had been kidnapping prominent children as it was said the Legendary Hero would be of high birth. He turns Madason and Bianca to stone to avoid the birth of the hero, not realizing that they already had kids.

Kon

Kon the Knight

Madason and Bianca are sold as statues. Madason is purchased by a wealthy man as a good luck charm. The man brings Madason home where he has his own newborn. Madason is forced to stand as a statue for years. During this time he witnesses his buyor’s son’s growth from a baby to a child. However, then even the man’s child is kidnapped by monsters.

The Legendary Hero

8 years after being turned to stone Sancho and two children happen upon Madason. The girl is able to cure Madason. The children turn out to be Madason’s own children, default names are Parry and Madchen. And it turns out Parry is the Legendary Hero! He can equip the Zenithian equipment and everything. That’s a pretty cool twist. In a series that loves making its MC’s Chosen Ones in this case the Chosen One isn’t the MC but the MC’s son. With that you can return to Helmuptra and get the Zenithian Helm, leaving only the Armor to be found. After that, it’s time to search for Bianca.

On the way they come to Lofty Peaks, the birthplace of Madason’s mother, Madalena. Madalena was gifted with special powers including the ability to befriend monsters, a power Madason has inherited, and the power to open the gate to Nadiria, the underworld. There was a human that used the Secret of Evolution (from DQ4) to turn into such a powerful form he was sealed in Nadiria. That person is Grandmaster Nimzo. Nimzo has been the cause of all the bad things that have happened as he works towards coming into the world. It was by his orders that Madalena was taken so she could open the gate. The Order of Zugzwang has been attempting to bring him into the world.

Zenithia

Throughout the game you hear people talk and wonder what happened to the castle in the sky, Zenithia. Madason finds Zenithia at the bottom of a lake, ruined and abandoned. Along the way he meets a strange man named Dr. Agon. Dr. Agon claims to be a Zenithian and identifies why Zenithia fell: it’s missing one of the orbs it needs to fly. Madason and Dr. Agon then realize the gold orb is the same Madason found that was then destroyed by Bishop Ladja. All hope seems lost but Dr. Agon says to seek out the fairies as they were the ones that made the orb.

The fairies are unable to create a new orb but direct Madason to a painting that may be able to help him. The painting takes him into the past, when he was a kid. That stranger from the beginning of the game was future-now-present-Madason. The fairies gave you a gold bauble that looks like the orb so you need to talk to you kid-self and switch the two. Thus, the object Ladja destroyed is a fake and you go back to the present with the real one. A cool thing about this part is you can visit Pankraz and try to get him not to go to Coburg. He won’t change his course of action, of course, but he does note there’s something familiar about you.

With the gold orb Zenithia is restored and the Zenithians return. Riding the castle Madason is able to find Talon Tower. Inside he finds two of his nemeses: Slon the Rook but more importantly Bishop Ladja. Finally you get to fight Ladja, the cause of so much of Madason’s suffering. In the original SNES version Madason kills both in Talon Tower. In the DS version Ladja escapes after defeat.

Slon

Slon the Rook

Inside Talon Tower is a Dragon Orb. The Dragon Orb reveals the true form of Dr. Agon: the Zenith Dragon who watches over the world, leader of Zenithia. With the Zenith Dragon’s help Madason finally returns to the temple on Mt. Azimuth. After all this time the temple has finally been completed.

Taking the Fight to the Enemy

Madason disrupts a ceremony meant to sacrifice the surviving slaves. The ceremony is apparently led by his own mother, Madalena, and Bianca’s statue is on the stage. Madalena is actually a monster, Queen Ferz, is disguise, who is defeated. Madason goes into the tunnels underneath the temple, the tunnels he worked in as a slave. Hauntingly, you find the corpse of Joshua who had helped you escape. In his hand is a farewell to his sister Maria.

Madason finds and confronts the leader of the Order of Zugzwang, King Korol. Korol is defeated but calls on Nimzo with his final breaths to banish Madason. Instead, Bishop Ladja appears and declares Korol was only a figurehead and finishes Korol off before disappearing. Korol drops the Circle of Life upon his death.

Madason hears the voice of his mother on his way out. Madalena is overjoyed to finally be able to talk with her son. However, she urges Madason to stay away from Nadiria, saying that not even the legendary hero could stand up to Nimzo now.

On the bright side, Bianca is finally revived! Madason and Bianca reunite at last and Bianca gets to meet her children. The family returns to Gotha. Sancho and Albert try to get the family to remain in Gotha rather than run off to Nadiria. It’s a subtle but nice touch; they’ve been pretty supportive of all Madason’s adventures so far but at this point the danger is so high that they think the risk is too great.

The Final Battle

The Circles of Fire, Water, and Life unlock the path to Nadiria. Madason and his party proceed to Nimzo’s home on Mt. Zugzwang. Inside Madason finally meets his mother face-to-face. Madalena is trying to use her power to weaken Nimzo but Bishop Ladja comes forward and wounds Madalena. Madason fights Ladja once again and this time finally kills the bastard. However, Madalena is then finished off by lightning from Nimzo himself. Pankraz’s spirit appears, telling Madalena it’s time for them to go, and their spirits, reunited, go to the afterlife.

Madason proceeds to the heart of the mountain and comes face to face with Grandmaster Nimzo himself. In a cool touch Nimzo speaks with an altered font that contributes to the feeling that he’s otherworldly. Nimzo declares that he has more power than even the Goddess.

In an intense battle Madason and his family are victorious. Grandmaster Nimzo is destroyed and finally the nightmare is over. Madason and his family tour the world to celebrate the newfound peace. Finally, they return to Gotha where a grand party is held. During the party the spirits of Pankraz and Madalena look down with joy on their child and grandchildren.

Chess Theme

The villains have a chess theme in this game. Many of the key members of the order of Zugzwang have titles that follow chess pieces. Kon the Knight, Slon the Rook, Bishop Ladja, Queen Kern, King Korol. The main villain is Grandmaster Nimzo, named after real-life unofficial grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch. Zugzwang is a chess term meaning, “a situation in which the obligation to make a move in one’s turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage.” Interesting enough, the villains’ names are Russian and also translate to chess pieces though there is one mismatch. Kern means Queen, Korol means King, and Kon means Knight. However, Ladja actually means Rook and Slon means Bishop.

Dragon Quest V – Hand of the Heavenly Bride – Gameplay

Box Art

Introduction

Dragon Quest V was first released in 1992 on the Super Famicom. After the first 4 DQs eventually came west as Dragon Warriors this was the first not to make it, an ill omen. The series hadn’t taken off in the west as Enix had hoped and I’ve heard Enix’s USA branch was pretty bad at the time. There was a PS2 remake made in 2004 but that didn’t leave Japan. For a long time my only experience with the game was seeing bits and pieces of fan-made trnslation patches.

Finally, DQ5 had an official release in the west on the DS in 2009, soon after DQ4 DS was released here. I scooped it up quickly and have enjoyed it as I do most DQs.

DQ5 more than any other DQ is a personal story about the main character. All DQs heap attention on their mains but DQ5 takes you through his coming of age, from a boy to a man to a husband to a father. And he has to earn his happy ending.

Gotta Catch ’em All?

DQ5 introduced recruiting defeated monsters to your party. Only certain monsters can be recruited. Each monster gets its own equipment and spell/skill list. In the middle of the game the main character will be your only human and the rest of your party will be monsters.

For what it’s worth, DQ5 came out about four years before Pokémon.

Version Differences

Besides the updated graphics the biggest change in the DS version is you now get 4 active party members instead of the 3 you get on the SNES. While Final Fantasy bounces between 3 and 4 Dragon Quest has decided to stick with 4 in its main series games so they made the DQ5 remake follow that pattern. To compensate, enemy parties are also larger. There’s also an extra character and additional monsters that can be recruited.

Characters

Main Character (Madason) – The MC is called Madason in a few references in other DQs so I named him that for this playthrough. Fairly standard DQ MC: high, balanced stats, heavy equips, healing spells, some attack and support spells. But Madason differs from other DQ MCs: he doesn’t get the Zap spells, Omniheal, nor does he get to equip this game’s legendary equipment. Curious… He does get his own unique set of endgame equipment including the Dragon Staff which he can use to turn into a dragon and breathe fire.

Bianca – One of the heavenly brides. She’s pretty much a mage. Low physical stats but high magic, equips robes and light armor. She gets the Frizz series (high single target fireballs), Sizz (fire hits a group), but most importantly Oomph (double attack power). Her biggest problems are availability as she’s gone for a large portion of the game and when she returns she’s underleveled and would have low HP even if she wasn’t.

Nera and Deborah – The other brides who I didn’t choose this playthrough. Nera gets more magic while Deborah is a good physical fighter. All brides have the availability problem and Nera has an HP problem if I remember correctly.

Saber (Great Sabrecat)

Saber

Basically a martial artist: equips claws, little armor, high attack and agility. Great in the mid game and his Fire Claw was amazing for being one of the few things in the whole DQ series to do bonus elemental damage. Got benched as more durable options became available.

Goodian (Slime Knight)

Slime_Knight

Goodian’s my boy. Available early and is like a second MC. Gets the Heal series and very similar equips to Madason. He even has some innate resistances. This time he started to lag a bit at the endgame but this was in part because I gave some endgame equipment to other units. He was a starter most of the game and a key rotational piece at the end.

Ward (Orc King) – Ward started rough. At recruitment it takes him forever to level up and while his levels are good they’re not good enough to compensate. By endgame he was one of the fastest levelers and his levels were still great. Became my main healer. He gets the very important Multiheal and Zing (ressurection) series. Decent physicals too with hammers, axes, bows, and decent armor.

Mason (Golem)

Golem

He’s big. Big HP, big defense, big attack. Heavy equipment. Slow. I mean look at him, how could he not be a tank?

Smaugan (Great Dragon)

Great_Dragon

Got lucky with this recruit: 1/64 chance. High HP and attack plus fire breath. Immune to breath weapons and many spells which is amazing. Equips claws. Despite what you’d think, low defense! His base defense is high but you still need armor and he could equip like no armor. But his immunities, attack, and speed made up for it.

Parry

Parry

I usually use him but not this playthrough. Parry gets the Zenithian Equipment so he gets good attack and defenses. He gets good healing spells including Multiheal and he gets the Zap (lightning) series. His HP is a bit low though.

Madchen

Madchen

Another character I normally use but not this time. She’s a lot like Bianca and Nera: a mage. She gets Oomph which is always huge. She also gets useful mage spells like Snooze, Kasap (lower enemies’ defense), and powerful AoE attack spells.

A Different Approach

As alluded to above I used a different party this time than I usually do. Early game party is set for you, mid-game is Madason and monsters, and for late game I’d always go Madason, Goodian, Parry, and Madchen. This playthrough I intended to make a “minimal child endangerment run” and not use Parry and Madchen. I also wanted to use Bianca in the late game but her low level and awful HP made her just a rotational piece. Meanwhile, I used monsters like Ward, Mason, and Smaugan for the first time.

Speaking of rotations, that was another change in the endgame. I generally would pick my four starters and never swap them. In the endgame the wagon is available the whole time. This means you have 8 units with you, though only 4 participate in battle. However, you can swap them out at the beginning of every turn. I’d swap in the best for the current situation or give wounded units a rest. All-healing spells like Multiheal and the Sage’s Stone also heal those on the bench though you can’t target them with single target healing.

Equipment

Edged Boomerang

Edged_Boomerang

I had this handy for over half the game. Boomerangs in DQ hit all enemies with the left most taking full damage and each one after taking a bit less. This boomerang came in the first third and was my most powerful weapon for a while. Even when its power was eclipsed its all-hitting made it useful for groups. You can re-equip weapons as a free action so I’d use it when I saw a big group. It lasted me to the late game.

Fire Claw

Fire_Claw

Unlike Final Fantasy DQ generally doesn’t do bonus elemental damage; DQ follows a model where the default is full damage and there are resistances but not weaknesses. The Fire Claw is a rare exception. It does bonus damage as long as the target has no fire resistance. This is most enemies. And it doesn’t take a penalty if the target does have resistance unlike FF.

Dream Blade and Siren Sword – Useful status ailment weapons for a while. The Dream Blade inflicts sleep and the Siren Sword confusion. They both had a decent success rate such that I had both equipped on someone and if both attacked at least one status would be inflicted. Against groups of dangerous and durable enemies these weapons were very useful at incapacitating at least one.

Dragon Staff, Pallium Regale, Sun Crown

Endgame equipment for Madason; equipment fit for a king. The Dragon Staff has high attack power and casts Puff!, allowing the user to turn into a dragon. As a dragon Madason gets the tier-3 flame breath which does good damage to all enemies, though he becomes uncontrollable. The Pallium Regale reduces breath and magic damage which is key in the late and endgame. The Sun Crown is a helmet that protects against status spells which is nice since most helmets don’t have extra effects.

Dungeons and Bosses

Dungeon: Winter Palace – This dungeon is frustrating due to your party at the time. You’re locked on Madason, Saber, and a fairy named Honey. Honey has some useful spells including Heal and Sizz. Problem is she acts on her own. You go through two dungeons with her and this playthrough she never once cast Sizz on a group. She was fine to burn MP hitting one enemy with Sizz but she never used the spell for its intended purpose. Meanwhile, Saber has less than 20 Wisdom and monsters that have less than 20 Wisdom will often (about half the time) ignore you and defend. Thus, I’d often go against a group of dangerous enemies wanting Saber to attack and Honey to Sizz only for Saber not to attack and Honey to use her weak physical attack.

Bosses: Magmen x3 – Behold the power of statuses and cute bat monsters. My party at this point was Madason, Saber, Goodian, and a Dracky named Vlad. This fight is usually tough because each Magmen can breathe fire for a bunch of damage. Get unlucky and have all three breathe and you’re pretty much done. And they have a lot of HP so eventually you’re going to get blasted…unless you use Snooze. The Magmen are very susceptible to sleep. With Vlad on duty they barely got any turns in and the few they did were physical attacks.

Dungeon: Diggery Pokery

Diggery Pokery

Just a fun dungeon. It’s the minecart dungeon complete with jumps over underground creeks and everything. It’s pretty long but there is a full-heal checkpoint midway through. It ends with you going down a waterfall which looks sweet and then you find a sunken Zenithia Castle.

Dungeon: Talon Tower – Another long dungeon and the monsters are tough here. Spells that give free spell uses were great here, like the Staff of Antimagic (seal magic on an enemy group) and the Staff of Salvation (free Midheal, still good healing). You start by climbing up to the top of the tower on the outside, repel down inside, climb down, and then explore the underground passages beneath the tower. There are also two story-significant bosses.

Boss: Bishop Ladja – One of the bosses of Talon Tower. This fight let me know that while my team was pretty good against non-bosses their offense was lacking for bosses. Problem is they (Madason, Goodian, Mason, and Ward) had almost no buffs or debuffs. Thus, with no Oomph this battle became and endurance test, one I barely had enough MP for. For his part Ladja had high defense, high attack, and a variety of group-hitting attacks. Multiheal costs a lot of MP so the trick is to only use it if you have to, though Ladja makes it necessary a lot.

Boss: Bjørn the Behemoose

Bjorn

I covered this fight in a post a few years ago: Memorable RPG Boss Fights. This was a good fight as always. Bjørn has massive attack, lightning attacks that only Goodian resists, and can cast Kasap to lower your defenses. He can also raise his defense with Buff. My offense was okay pre-Buff but Buff made the battle unfeasible. However, the Zenithian Sword shoots Disruptive Ray (remove all buffs and debuffs from all enemies) and you don’t need to equip it to use it. With that the fight may have gone better than most fights I’ve had against him. Still didn’t have Oomph but in other fights I forgot about Disruptive Wave and just tried to Sap his defense down which doesn’t work as well. Further, my monster party had more HP than Parry and Madchen who I usually have in the fight.

Final Dungeon: Mt. Zugzwang

Zugzwang

This is where I began switching my party a lot, sometimes every round. You get the wagon for the whole dungeon. As you’d expect it’s a long dungeon with a variety of foes. If facing foes with breath weapons or spells I’d put in Smaugen who took no damage from most of those. If facing foes with high attack power, like the Killing Machines, I’d use my highest defense party. You also get the Sage’s Stone, free team healing in combat, for the whole trek which helps a bunch in conserving MP.

The atmosphere of the dungeon itself is pretty good too. It has a mix of dark palace tunnels and an evil mountain.

Final Boss: Grandmaster Nimzo

Nimzo_1

Nimzo’s First Form

Two forms in what is common for DQ final bosses: an old wizard first form and a monstrous second form. The second form features a very powerful attack, Kasap, and the most powerful breath weapons. To keep up I’d have to be constantly spamming Multiheal and I didn’t have the MP for that. I also had to try and work Bianca in for Oomph when I had to. Nimzo, like most DQ final bosses, has Disruptive Wave to wipe out Oomph.

Nimzo_2

Nimzo’s Final Form

I had several streaks of switching members every round. It really helped cut down on needed Multiheals: I could put wounded members in the wagon and use the Sage’s Stone to gradually build them up. I did need Madason and Goodian to provide supplemental healing at times. But with the constant switching I was able to keep the team relatively healthy and still keep up a good offense. Mason, with his high strength, the Metal King Sword, and Focus Strength (focus one round to do extra damage the next), was especially impressive on offense.

Music

Boss Battle – Not as good as DQ4’s boss theme but still good. It’s a pretty intense theme.

Tower of Death – I continue to enjoy DQ tower themes. This one conveys a sense of mystery and I find it fits with how in several towers Madason is currently searching for and/or without a loved one.

Civilization V – Alefgard Civ Game

Overall Strategy

Using Alefgard I planned on making full us of their Unique Ability and making friends with City-States. I tend to ignore City-States more than I should and this time I’d try completing their quests if at all feasible. I also decided I’d try a few other things. I’d try to explore more early on, for one. I’d also pay attention to my cities’ We Love the King Day. Cities will start demanding a certain luxury resource and if you get it they go to WLtKD, boosting their Food and helping them grow faster. I never paid attention to it but recently saw a post saying it’s very handy. I also was going to start a religion. I’ve done that before but not for the last few games. Finally, while I wouldn’t be hyper-aggressive I wouldn’t shy away from conflict as much as other games.

Other Civs

My Neighbors (Egypt and France) – Only two neighbors on the continent this time. This ended up being similar to the last game in that we started with Declarations of Friendship all around. As soon as spies became available my spies in France found out that they were plotting against me and Egypt. I stole a technology from Egypt which they didn’t take too kindly to. The alliance was already cracking.

Both were strong contendors. France had the strongest military in the world for much of the game. Egypt, with its Unique Ability that boosts Production when building Wonders, built a ton of World Wonders, including a few I had been trying to get. Both were among the science leaders in the world with Egypt being the leader for several turns.

My Friends (Greece and Brazil) – Good fences make good neighbors, huh? Since I never settled right next to either of these two they didn’t get mad at me (at least for a while). Greece has a Unique Ability that helps it retain Influence with City-States so they’d be my biggest rivals for a Diplomatic Victory. Brazil was solid but didn’t really excel at anything.

And the Rest (Japan, the Zulus, Russia) – These three didn’t really factor in a whole lot. The Zulus declared war on a few Civs but I don’t think they conquered any cities or had any of their own conquered. Japan got picked on by Greece and myself and even before then were in last for Science. And poor Russia got the shaft for the second straight game. They lost their capital before I met them. They even lost a city to a City-State! That’s pretty rare. They got wiped out by Greece shortly after I met them.

Early Game

I found myself in a hole early on. In general there’s tons to do in the early game. But I feel like this portion has been a weakness of mine the last couple games. Egypt and France were quickly gobbling up land on the continent and getting their third and (for France) fourth cities while I was stuck at two. I had money and happiness troubles early on. I did explore the continent and got quite a few ancient ruins and met some City-States. I even made early allies with one City-State, a maritime one (gives you extra Food when friends or allies).

One mistake I made early on was the Great Lighthouse. My capital, Tantegel, wasn’t on the coast and so couldn’t build it. So my fledgling second city, Brecconaly, went to work on it. The Great Lighthouse gives a free Lighthouse, which is good for coastal cities, and gives all naval units +1 sight and movement. Further, a City-State was asking for it so I’d get a bunch of influence with them. Problem is it took about 20 turns to build since Brecconaly wasn’t well set up yet. This was with me having the city focus on Production instead of Food. So it didn’t grow much in those turns. The City-State bonus didn’t make a huge difference.

I made a mistake with the Founder Bonus on my religion too. The point of a Founder Bonus is to give the religion’s founder a bonus usually based on number of followers or cities following the religion. I picked Papal Primacy which raises the Influence resting point for City-States following the religion. This was very underwhelming. By the end of the game what mattered was all my bonuses to Influence and continuing to do stuff for City-States; the resting point didn’t really matter. I didn’t even care about spreading my religion by the end. And the whole game having other Civs following my religion did nothing. By comparison there’s stuff like Tithe where you get more money per round based on followers that can stack very well.

Finally, I didn’t build my military soon enough and got a Worker captured by Barbarians. That set me back a few turns as I chased down the Barbarians and rescued my Worker. All in all, all these mistakes contributed to my slow start.

Eventually I founded a third and a fourth city and Alefgard started to roll.

Mid-Game

I feel like mid-game is my strong suit. My cities were set up and producing. All of them had Monuments and Imperial Scrolls so I had a bunch of Culture and was getting a lot of policies to give me further boosts. Once I began taking some Patronage policies (boost Influence with City-States) I began making more City-State allies and got their boosts. There were a lot of Maritime City-States in this game and quite a few Cultural ones as well, further boosting my Culture. My spies told me France wanted to attack me so I made sure to build some military and put it on the French border to deter them.

It took my science some time to get going but once I got around to Universities that helped. Stealing techs from Egypt and France also helped. I then made sure to take a path to get Astronomy early which gives Caravels, the first naval units that can cross ocean. This was crucial because the person to found the World Congress starts as host, getting additional Delegates. To found the Congress you need to meet every other Civ, making exploration key, and get the Printing Press tech. I did those and the World Congress began. Between my Unique Ability and hosting I already had control of the Congress.

I immediately put in for World Religion on my own religion. Civs that have most of their cities in the World Religion get additional Delegates. Of course, this pissed off every Civ that had their own religion. Egypt went from being Friendly to denouncing me just like that. That was a surprise. As part of my being more aggressive thing I denounced them back and started gearing for war on the Egyptian front. Then Greece warned me France was building for a sneak attack against me and sure enough, they had a bunch of units coming up on my border. Despite also plotting against Egypt France decided to take their side so it was 2-on-1 on our continent. I had to do military research at that point and build my army a bit more to keep those two at bay.

This is also when I made a couple colonies. I made one on the southeastern tip of the other continent. This pissed off Japan nearby, which made sense. It also pissed off France which made no sense since France was across the whole damn ocean. Egypt was closer and didn’t care. France was just more entitled. My other colony was on the north tip of the continent and ticked off the Zulus.

My Happiness skyrocketed during this point. I’m used to thinking that 20’s and 30’s are high for Happiness. My Happiness went to the 80’s, 90’s, and even over 100 in the late game. I was making allies of City-States and getting their luxury resources, getting Happiness outright from mercantile City-States, trading for more luxuries, and with all my social policies some were Happiness boosters.

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Pictured: Over double the Happiness I’ve ever had in Civ5

Double War

One technique I picked up from a recent LP I read on Civ5 was to wait for a Civ to war with someone else and then join a side. France eventually attacked Egypt and Greece attacked Japan. So I joined against France and Japan. Japan was pretty weak and had a city nearby I thought I’d take easily. France had a city with a resource I wanted and I thought it’d help me get back in Egypt’s good graces.

Welp, it didn’t go as planned. It took me some time to prepare and by the time I joined in Greece and Egypt both warred for two or three more turns and then signed peace treaties. Then I, having not warred in Civ5 for a while, severely underestimated that “weak” Japanese city, with its ranged land and naval units nearby, and had to retreat before even hitting the city. For France, I clogged up a mountain pass between our cities and moved my units by sea around to its west side to attack a relatively weak city there. Then they pulled a whole bunch of land units over. On both fronts it looked like I’d have to retreat and fight to a stalemate until I could get reasonable peace treaties with both.

The AI did some very stupid things for both. France was the worst. They had no naval units but also no cities on the coast. So they began dumping all their land units onto naval transports where my small navy was waiting. My Ironclad could OHKO every transport with minimal damage in return. I don’t understand why they did this. If they kept their units on land they easily could have beat back my assault. Were they trying to sneak into the sea and catch me off guard and attack my cities? Their land force was decimated by these repeated stupid actions. I was then able to surround and take one of their cities. After that, we signed a peace treaty where they gave me another city.

Japan also signed a peace treaty where they gave me a city. Considering that front was a stalemate and across the ocean so I had only one nearby city that could produce units that was very generous of them. My guess is the AI saw my overall military rating as much higher than Japan’s and didn’t take the situation into account.

Late Game – Taking Control

That war gave me a huge boost and made me the runaway favorite to win. Before the war I was pretty sure I was set up to win but couldn’t slip up. I had to worry about France invading and keeping up with Egypt and science to win before they got a Science Victory. I puppetted the cities I got instead of annexing them. This meant I couldn’t decide what they built but I’d get their output. Also, they didn’t count against my number of cities to raise the costs of techs and social policies. Once their resistances stopped I had a ton of output in everything.

And I mean everything. I took the lead in Science. I was getting a ton of Culture and social policies. With France’s military decimated by their stupidity and me getting the military techs I took a commanding lead for military. Remember when I talked about how Venice got a ton of gold per turn last game? I was getting more per turn by the end of this one and without their Unique Ability which gives a ton more gold. And I began making allies with all City-States. World Congress began inviting City-States and I continued to control the Congress. Everything I wanted passed and nothing I opposed passed. I passed the World Fair and World’s Games and then outproduced everyone on those to get their first place prizes (even more Culture and social policies).

I soon after beelined deep into the tech tree to get techs good for Diplomatic Victory like Globalization (represents new techniques and strategies to join regional cultures and economies globally, gets more Delegates). Alefgard had stuff like Globalization and Telecommunication before Computers or Radar.

This also put the World Congress in a further era, the era where World Leader could be voted on. I had all City-States, plenty of money to keep other Civs from stealing City-States, and a bunch of extra Delegates from my Unique Ability, social policies, and wonders. I took the World Leader on the first vote and won the game.

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But thou must.

With how dominant Alefgard was in so many aspects and how early I achieved victory (Turn 386, 1966 AD) this became easily the most dominant victory I’ve ever had.

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Also ironic: every Civ except Greece disliked or hated me by the end. I don’t know why Brazil suddenly got mad at me. So with most of the major civilizations hating me of course I won a Diplomatic Victory.

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Pictured: Diplomacy!

Civilization V Mod – New Civ: Alefgard

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Introduction

Browsing through some Civ 5 mods I’ve found video game series well represented. There are maps and civs for Final Fantasy, Zelda, Fire Emblem, etc. I previously mentioned a game where I played as Dr. Wily from Mega Man. But Dragon Quest is not very well represented. As far as I could see there was only a map of Alefgard from DQ1.

On a whim I looked into how difficult it would be to make a mod. There’s a tool for making maps and tools and documentation for making civs. Civs didn’t seem too difficult so I gave it a shot. Of course, difficulty depends on how much you piggy back from the base game and I didn’t deviate much. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience that had some challenges. Below is the result.

Here’s a link to the mod on Steam: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1357487392

Leader: Princess Gwaelin

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The princess from DQ1. I considered the kings from DQs 1 and 3 but landed on Gwaelin when I realized she had a trait that fit well in Civ 5 (see below). Besides, she’s arguably more significant than the kings anyway in that they just say, “Evil is threatening the land, save us!” Gwaelin, meanwhile, is the subject of an important quest, gives you a vital item for another quest, is the love interest, and ends up being the grandmother of the heroes of DQ2.

Unique Ability: But Thou Must

Named after Gwaelin’s most famous line. In one of the first examples of a conversation loop on a console Gwaelin will ask if you love her after being rescued. Answering, “No,” causes her to reply, “But thou must!” and restate her question. She will repeat this until you say, “Yes.” This phrase has become a meme within the DQ fandom and has fame among old RPG fans in general. I’ve heard it referenced on streams and TV Tropes even has a trope for it.

I figured this could fit into Civ5’s diplomacy. Thus, it gives 33% bonus influence when you give or do stuff for city-states and 2 extra delegates in the World Congress. I like to think Gwaelin just says, “But thou must,” until the others cave and give her more votes.

Unique Building: Imperial Scrolls of Honor

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The Imperial Scrolls of Honor were the early DQ’s explanation of saving your game. You saved by going to a king or a priest and having them record your deeds on the scrolls.

Given that these scrolls have the deeds of warriors and adventurers I figured it’d fit as a Barracks upgrade. It still gives EXP to units made in the city and also gives +2 Culture per turn. Admittedly, it might thematically fit better as an upgrade to the Heroic Epic. But that’s a National Wonder which means you need the requirement building in every city. NW’s are thus much easier if you build tall (fewer cities but make them bigger). I didn’t want to restrict Alefgard like that and I didn’t see many other examples of National Wonder upgrades so I made it a Barracks upgrade instead.

Unique Unit: Dragon Warrior

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Dragon Warrior was the name given to DQ games before they got the rights to the name in the west. For this mod the Dragon Warrior unit would be inspired by the main characters of the DQ’s: powerful, armored units with some healing.

This made them a perfect upgrade to the Longswordsman, the most powerful Medievel Era unit. There is a Medic promotion that gives healing to adjacent allies so the Dragon Warrior starts with that promotion. Looking at other Civs’ Longswordsman upgrades one problem is the Longswordsman quickly becomes obsolete; the tech upgrade, the Musketman, is available right after the tech that unlocks the Longswordsman. Thus, I made it so the Dragon Warrior was unlocked a tech earlier.

Finally, Longswordsmen usually require an Iron to make. I made it so DW’s require no resources. Besides making them easier to make this is also a reference to how the heroes in DQ games are sent to fight great evil by the king but given very little to do this with.

General Strategy

With But Thou Must a Diplomatic Victory is the most obvious goal. Get the CS’s to like you and rake in the votes. The Imperial Scrolls could be useful for Culture or Domination. Either build them for extra Culture or build them because you were going to power up your units with Barracks anyway and now you get some Culture for Social Policies to go with it. The Dragon Warrior is probably the most lackluster piece. Nevertheless, once you get them that could be a good time to pick some fights while you have the advantage.

Resources

Modder’s Guide to Civilization V – This is what got me started. It does a very good job of giving a high level view of what you’ll need to do. That said, it was made back in 2010 before the two expansions came out and thus is obsolete in quite a few places. I came to consult this for general ideas of what needed to be done but not trust it for any details.

Civ Fanatics – Civ5 Modding Tutorials & Reference – The Civ Fanatics forum came up quite a few times in Google searches. This spot was good for finding the solutions to a number of problems.

Dr. Wily’s Robot Empire – This is the same mod I used when I played as Dr. Wily. It’s a very well put together Civ and so I references the code here very often.

Common Issues

First of all, I suck at anything graphical. I gained some familiarity with a free image editing app called GIMP. It was good enough to work with the files used for Civ5 images and apply some effects to make them not look completely awful. That said, there were tons of gotchas along the way and I spent a lot of time learning how to get the images to show up correctly. Stuff like having to use certain settings in the ModBuddy program, how to convert the files, etc.

In general debugging was a bit frustrating. I found out how to turn on the logs but rarely did the logs have anything useful in them. Sometimes a picture would fail to load or something else would go wrong and often there wasn’t even a mention in the log. I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out why the mod was crashing at one point. Turns out, it was because I was testing in the Renaissance Era (when spies first are available) and hadn’t put in any spy names. You’d think the logs would have something like “NullPointerException: spy names not found” but nope, nothing.

Next Time

Next post we’ll take our new Alefgard Civ for a test drive in a full game. Will Gwaelin and her kingdom survive?

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A Link to the Past Randomizer – Rude Seed Rant (RSR)

ALttP - VT_no-glitches-29_normal-open_randomized-ganon_114712595000

Poor little soldier didn’t even stand a chance

Another Lost Seed

I recently played an ALttP seed and quit before finishing. Now this was at least partially my fault but when I looked ahead on the spoiler it may have been merciful I stopped when I did.

The part I goofed on was forgetting to check the catfish. It’s a little out of the way and not near other items but I should’ve remembered it. That said, it was almost the only place left after I scoured Light and Dark World.

Checking the spoiler here is some rudeness in the rest of the seed.

Required Agahnim

Required Agahnim is generally considered bad. Hyrule Tower takes a few minutes to climb and has no treasure. You only get a gate to the DW and normally you can find other ways through. In this case I was in the DW but stuck on the west side. You need the Hammer or Flippers to cross over.

I’d say that’s even worse than most Agahnim requireds. General strategy is to put off Agahnim until it’s all you can do. If you can’t reach the DW that’s much fewer wild goose chases.

Required Spike Cave

Spike Cave is a cave. Full of spikes. Requires a bunch of mana and/or health. Out of the way and not a group of items. Not the worst placement but generally another place that’s left until you have to do it. Extra jerkishness in that I could access the cave entrance but you need the Hammer inside and Agahnim was required for Hammer.

The Turtle-Swamp Loop

The end of the seed is where the true rudeness waited. First I would’ve needed to dip into Turtle Rock, a required dungeon, without the Fire and Ice Rods needed to beat its boss. Inside were the Flippers needed for the Swamp Palace. Thus, leave TR and go across the whole world to Swamp. Clear Swamp and get the Fire Rod inside.

Then go all the way back to TR. Still no Ice Rod, it’s found in TR itself in one of the last rooms. This room does have 5 treasures and the Ice Rod isn’t required for anything else so it’s not unheard of for it to be there. But it’s still a risk to go into a required dungeon without everything you need.

Seriously, this seed just was not meant to be done in any reasonable time.

Civilization V – 03/29/2018 Update – The Shoshone

Introduction

It’s been a surprisingly long time since I played a game of Civ5 so it was time to rectify that. I picked a random civ on a mid sized, 8 player, Continents map (maps are kind of like real Earth). I didn’t plan on doing my usual pacifist science victory but was going to fall back on my old habits given half the chance.

Pocatello and the Shoshone

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I ended up with the Shoshone. Let’s meet this game’s PC civ.

Unique Ability (Great Expanse) – Founded cities start with extra territory and units get a combat bonus when fighting inside own territory. The extra territory bonus was very helpful. My continent got crowded quickly and I wasn’t a Culture leader so the extra land was great and also helped me grab some resources. Didn’t do much combat to use the combat bonus but I was lax on military for a while while my neighbors had strong militaries and were starting to eye invasion. I don’t know if the AI took my combat bonus into account as a deterrent.

Unique Unit (Pathfinder) – An upgrade to Scout. Has the combat ability of a Warrior but its true upside is that when he finds Ancient Ruins he gets to pick the bonus instead of it just being random. Thus, in the first turns I worked towards science as I’d pick new techs from Ruins and increased population, giving me a good start. I always suck at early exploration for some reason so I didn’t utilize this as much as I should’ve but it still gave a good boost.

Unique Unit (Comanche Riders) – Upgrade of Calvary. They cost less to produce and have one extra Movement. But by the time I unlocked them I was in a long period of peace so they didn’t do anything but sit around and deter my neighbors.

The Other Civs

India – I never even met these poor guys. They unfortunately started next to the warlike Aztecs and tend not to build much military. The Aztecs took their capital. I found out after the game’s end that it was actually England that finished them off.

Russia – The first Civ I made contact with. They shared a continent with me and two others that were legit powers for most of the game and they fell behind early. I’d warn them whenever my spies found someone plotting against them to keep someone from eating them and becoming powerful. At the end China finally declared war and pushed Russia to just one tiny new city in the arctic.

The Aztecs – Some Civs get early unique units and bonuses so they can war early on. The Aztecs are one. Problem is the AI doesn’t push the advantage so Civs like the Aztecs start fast but cool off. The Aztecs took India’s capital before I met them but they had the fewest techs for the whole game. Their primitive military would later get roasted by England though they survived with three cities left.

England – Ended up being my closest rival in science at the end, though they were still far behind. Still, Research Agreements are based on the lower-science Civ so by the end England was the only ones that RAs weren’t a waste on. They were the first to finish the Manhattan Project which prompted the World Congress to immediately ban nukes. Curiously, the Aztecs opposed the nuke ban even though they were at war with England and nowhere close to getting their own nukes.

China – Another one on my continent. Leaders have their own personalities and tactics. Past experience with Wu Zetian is that she is treacherous. She’ll launch sneak attacks from Friendly status and then after peace go right back to Friendly. Sure enough, I parked my first spy in her capital and all game long got intel she was plotting against everyone else on the continent. She was most powerful on the continent for a long time so I warned everyone else about her plans. She trailed off towards the end even after conquering most of Russia. In fact, she eventually warred with Morocco and Morocco pulled off an upset and almost took Beijing before they made peace.

Morocco – Oh Morocco. When we met we very quickly made a Declaration of Friendship. Long centuries of being bros ensued. Admittedly, I might have ruined it. I put a colony near their territory and they understandably didn’t like that. I told them it wouldn’t happen again. Then China warns me is plotting against me! Come on, Morocco, I did one jerk move and you want war!? I parked a spy there and they spent the rest of the game plotting against me, though our so-called friendship got renewed over and over. They had the strongest military by the end and even gave China a loss. I kept mine close so they would be deterred from invading me.

Venice – These guys specialize in money and allying with city-states which goes towards Diplomatic Victory. They didn’t factor much for most of the game. I voted against one of their proposals once and they got mad and made incredibly lopsided trade offers for a while after that. I recognized them as a small threat and helped Morocco host the World Congress to keep delegates from Venice. At the end, Venice almost stole victory from me with the Power of Money.

Game Flow

There is always one AI that beelines for the first science wonder, the Great Library. I beelined for it and got some help from the Pathfinders. I got it in 2400 BC, Turn 40.

I met all my neighbors around the same time. Despite my Great Library China and Morocco were right with me in science. Problem was I foolishly forgot how important population is to science and the other two spent their production growing their cities. When I did have better production I neglected Wonders, allowing China to scoop up many of them. Things were pretty quiet for a while as everyone peacefully found new cities and formed 3-4 city empires.

My empire got going around 875 AD, Turn 154. I built Chichen Itza and Notre Dame to boost my happiness, got a science boost from building Universities and later Oxford, and began sea exploration at 1230 AD, Turn 183. I was the first to make an overseas colony at 1470 AD, Turn 207. Around this time I was making quite a few Research Agreements and built the Porcelain Tower to boost RAs. My science lead really began to take off around this time.

Something funny happened at 1680 AD. Usually the Pyramids get built in the Ancient Era. You need the Liberty policy tree to do so and I didn’t have it. Well, nobody else bothered with the Pyramids until 1680 when England finally made them.

Things coasted for a while. I got another science boost from Public Schools at 1725 AD, the First World Congress began at 1745 AD with me as host for a little while, I discovered and built Railroads, hosted the World’s Fair at 1874 AD, and discovered Flight at 1911 AD.

Something curious happened in the 1920’s: everyone else started denouncing each other. This likely happened due to everyone getting Ideologies around this time. Once a Civ is far enough in the Industrial Era they can pick one of three Ideologies: Freedom, Order, or Autocracy. Each one has its own perks. Picking one makes other Civs of the same Ideology like you but Civs with different Ideologies dislike you. Thus, apparently many of the Civs already didn’t like each other and then picking different Ideologies pushed them into denouncement mode. Wars starting breaking out in the late 1930’s. It wasn’t a true world war with two sides but there was plenty of conflict. This is when China finally took Moscow.

I stayed separate from all the fighting and reached to space. I got Satellites in 1944, the Apollo Program in 1947, and the Hubble Space Telescope in 1956. These all were necessary or useful for building the spaceship for the science victory. As I made my final push Venice made a push of their own. It was at this point they started snatching up City-State allegiances.

The Final Stretch

I realized the danger too late. When you have a lot of CS allegiances they vote for you to be World Leader when the vote comes up every 20 turns. When I realized Venice had all the CS’s I tried to snatch some back with money. But then they’d get them back on their next turn. I checked Venice’s screen and found why: they had about 10 times my money and over double my income per turn. They had enough money to keep all the CS’s forever!

The vote came up and they were just one short of winning but they got two permanent delegates from leading the vote meaning they’d win in 20 turns. In my hubris I forgot about a spaceship part and didn’t take the optimal path to getting it. I wasn’t going to win the race.

Then I noticed I had a lot of faith saved up. I didn’t start my own religion this game but all my cities followed another Civ’s. That religion had the perk of buying great people with faith. I got a Great Scientist to get the last tech I needed and a Great Engineer to rush production of the last spaceship part. I thus sniped victory from Venice with three turns to spare.

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Bonus Coverage: ALttP Randomizer

I also played some Randomizer seeds. Either I got some unlucky seeds or I’ve gotten worse at it (or both). To be fair, I had a couple seeds where I gave up because I did something dumb like run out of arrows in Ganon’s Tower during the gauntlet where there are enemies you have to kill and can only be harmed by arrows. But I maintain the seeds were at least partially at fault too.

I played about five seeds and only finished one, all on Open mode. Every seed had me double or even triple dipping into a couple dungeons. The seed I actually finished had the Cane of Somaria, which was required, on the pedastal, making it an all-dungeon run. In every seed I collected damn near every item and was struggling to remember the one chest out in the middle of nowhere that I missed. Other seeds had items in their base-game location which you never want to have to bank on. One seed in particular I scoured the whole world for the Hookshot only to later find it in its vanilla spot, which I left for last not wanting to go into Swamp Palace without being able to finish it.