Stealth Mission Log 2: Thoughts in the Flux State

Image24(Youtube Video Embedded below)

An average of height elf walked through the brightly lit streets of the Kreuzbasar. His thoughts were full of recent events. It felt like this day would “never end”, he thought to himself. First Monika, then their betrayal, the mysterious Green Winters, and now the politics of the Flux State. Wherever he looked, he saw eyes watching him. The crazy woman on the corner, trying to preach to someone who offered her a few nuyen. Her gaze darted back and forth from her donator to Stealth. For a minute her eyes fixated on him, then she sheepishly broke eye contact. Just as he rounded the corner, he came face to face with a massive troll, wearing sweatpants and a bulky hoodie, that did nothing to hide his obvious cyberware. The elf just nodded and headed the opposite direction. As he made his way down the new street he could feel even more eyes on him. With delicate hand movements, Stealth yawned loudly. His left and right hand went up quickly, his fingers gently moving through his hair and turning on his control rig. The doberman drone, that had been sticking to the man like a faithful dog, immediately jetted into the nearest alleyway. The move lasted only a few seconds, but Stealth hoped that the yawn was enough to at least conceal his true objective. The doberman ran a parallel course to Stealth as he walked down the main street. Soon enough he came upon a weapons vendor. The bald man was dressed like an old office worker. He wore a knit vest, slacks, and a clean shirt, but the way he held the shotgun within his hands gave away his training and willingness to defend his wares. The elf paused and put his hands into his pockets. His movements got more frantic until he managed to find his credstick in his back pocket, just under the gun he kept concealed under his greasy white shirt.

A slight smile crept on his face, that gave the proprietor of the store a slight shock, but he stood still. Stealth looked into the air thinking while the doberman was looking right at two figures trying to act inconspicuous. One of them was a human. He wore a large coat, wide brimmed hat, and had his face concealed by a data slate. His cybered eyes flitted up every few seconds to regard the Elf pondering his decisions. The other one was a large orc. He was all muscle and not much brains it would seem. He just stood watching. The doberman’s electronic eyes stayed trained on the two as Stealth decided it was best to not buy something today. He moved, while his hunters did not. Apparently, they knew they’d been made. “Where there’s one…”, he thought as he briskly headed down the street, only to disappear down another.

“Damn, Monika. What the hell were you doing out here.” Stealth said, not caring who heard him. The park bench was cold enough that he could feel it through his shirt, but not his cargo pants. It was a nice feeling. It kept his mind racing and his consciousness continually checking his doberman’s sights. If anything came from the left, the right, or behind, it would be able to attack from its shadowy perch. First and foremost there was the conversation that the team had. Could they even be called a team? Glory was cold and emotionless, but not suited to corporate spy work. Her cyber was far too noticeable. The guy in the trench coat was better. Nothing too obvious, except for those glinting orbs. Eiger. That got his blood boiling a bit. At first, her damn anger was bearable, but Stealth couldn’t help but wonder if she could back up her talk without her sniper rifle. Idle thought, but in reality, she was least likely in his opinion. She was angry, loud, and too confident in her training. He chuckled a bit. She was so sure she could save Monika, that she could make the difference, but those words of her’s were evidence of her own issues. She believed that Monika acted as if she were invincible. But, what was Eiger if not overconfident in her own abilities? Paul Amsel was the next to come to mind. Another sound issued forth from his lips. Not a chuckle, this time a full-blown laugh. Eiger was good with a rifle, but not with negotiations. The fixer had shut her down, but also provided the context to Monika’s last word. Feuerschwinge “the Firewing” was a dragon, but not any dragon. A dragon that wasn’t in it for money, or power, but destruction. All she did was kill. The look on the old fixers face proved just how dangerous the wyrm was. A dragon. An in military grade armor. And a secret base. Or was it a lair? The singular thought of running across a dragon’s lair damn near made Stealth hop on the next flight out of the Kreuzbasar. With a heavy sigh, the elf adjusted his stance on the bench, spreading out but not really becoming more comfortable. If he ran, they would find him. If it was a dragon a single piece of treasure would send droves of power hungry runners after him. Right now his best bet was with his “team”. They were all in this together. All of them could probably be ID’d. If they separated, they would all be extinguished like a cigarette but, under the heel of a smoker.

We had accomplished the goal of Green Winters and were now used up. Prime targets to be crushed by a large overwhelming force before they could start a fire. Reminded him of his time at Ares. Do your job and if you get shot in the line of duty, we’ll just replace you with another poor sod, prepared to continue the cycle.

“The only difference is choice”, Monika’s voice rang out clear in his minds. The only thing that had been able to stop the elf’s mind from racing at the frantic pace that it had kept since her untimely passing.

“I have a choice.”, He spoke out loud again not caring if someone overheard. His fingertips soon found themselves interlocked in front of his face, chin resting between two pointed thumbs. A small smile turned into a wild grin as he focused on the task at hand. Monika was killed in the matrix, by something in a secret installation, that is involved with a dragon, that would make Lofwyr look like a saint. Green Winters is our target and he’ll tell us what we need and if he doesn’t, there were ways to make him talk. The team was most likely not compromised, even though Dietrich seemed to be more inquisitive than a shaman had any need to be. Magic and the matrix, were two things that he didn’t understand, but if the old shaman was powerful and from the looks of the scars that crisscrossed his face, like a checkerboard, he had seen his fair share of battle. The look he had when Monika died, his shock, his sorrow was something. If it was an act, then he deserved to be a trideo star, not a shadowrunner. “I’ll watch him closely,” Stealth thought. “There’s no better ally than someone who was a master of something you couldn’t grasp, but then again there was no greater enemy either.”

With that out of the way, he stood up and began his trek back to Altug. A spymaster that had to lead him into a game of cloak and daggers. There was no way that he had been lead to that phone booth and overheard that conversation by accident. Monika loved the flux state. The constant melting part of Anarchy was appealing to her, but to so many others it was just a passing thought as they went about their business. It was evident now, that Monika kept the Flux alive and very soon some people would be reaching out to him to keep it that way. The Flux state was her dream. The dream that she accepted an unverified job for and what she put her team in jeopardy for, and what she ultimately died for. For Stealth it was just a place to do business and if it could be saved, then maybe…just maybe he would.

     

                                                        (YouTube video Please enjoy)

Indie Darlings: Renowned Explorers: International Society

Hey, people! I know that it’s been a while and I’ve been busy as of late, but I’m back with an Indie Darling! I present to you a fun little strategy game developed by Abbey Games that not only has a surprising level of depth but, a litany of interesting characters. All with their own unique skills and stats that are integral to exploring the world and becoming renowned explorers.

Renowned-Explorers-International-Society

How do you measure the skill of an adventurer? Is it the physical strength that you can use to dominate your foes and take ancient treasures with force. Maybe you’d rather be devious, lying and stealing your way to greatness. Or perhaps, you’d rather make friends with everyone. Here you can do any or all of those options on your way to glory. In fact, I’d recommend a varied approach, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, let’s get into the adventurers that will form your intrepid band of adventurers.

Image1

The screen above is where the tactical depth of the game starts to take shape. Your perspective team members are broken down into four classes scientist, scout, fighter, and speakers. Up above, we have Dolores Garcia in the captain’s role. Here the team gets a bonus from her being a wrestling star. You will gain status tokens from the money tokens you make. So, in later parts of the game where you can increase the worth of certain tokens, or have to chose one over the other you can work towards a goal. Underneath the captain, there is room for two other members. Despite Dolores being a fighter, she also has a devious mindset. Not only do you need to pay attention to the various ways in which a character excels in, you also have to pay attention to their skills. Dolores is an athlete who already comes with a red skill and the quick thinker perk. She can handle physical challenges, but can she fix a steam engine in order to escape a collapsed cave? Not really. Maybe you might need a scientist to take care of that, or a speaker to make nice with those natives.  Once you think you have a good mix for a team, then you can head out into the world.

Image2

You’ll be spending quite a bit of time here on a screen that resembles a board game. Here you can see a number of tokens you have and the two precious resources you need to continue on adventuring. The exclamation is your resolve. You can use it to revive fallen comrades, but when it reaches zero, your team won’t die. They will just give up their adventure.  Across from that is your supplies icon. You really need to focus on this particular resource, due to the fact that for every space you move without food, you will take negative effects which will make it even harder to hold on to your resolve. The good thing is you can see where you need to go, the tokens you will get to moving to a space, and whether or not you’ll face a specific challenge. The bottom right has an encounter. But, there’s gold and campaign tokens. Doesn’t Dolores get a bonus? Off we go then.

Image4

This is where you’ll fight. The hexagonal based grid will have certain spaces that offer benefits, but that’s not the most important thing. You see the top red sign that reads “Hostile” that’s the mood. Our team has gone all out physically and now has a bonus to devious abilities. Each encounter will give you benefits based on what type of mood you’ve used. Here we get bonus campaign token for knocking the blocks off of these Scotsman.  Certain abilities can be used to change the moods of not only enemies but teammates. This can cause you enemies to be susceptible to the damage that your team excels in or, the damage that you currently have a buff too. This is probably the most distinct part of the game, calculating what you can do to change either your team or the opponents moods to best win the encounter.

Image6

That’s not all though. Before I talked about athleticism and the perks that you might want on your side. Well in order to gain certain rewards you will have to pass certain challenges. Above a Saxon, the druid has challenged us to pass a test. We have three options. Push the statue of Tyr. pass the trial in the monastery’s basement, or intimidate the man. Since Dolores has a red ability, she might just excel in the physical.

Image7

Wheel, wheel, wheel, turn turn turn please let Dolores not get burned.  With the trial passed, we receive the gift from the druid. Despite having an advantage in this challenge, there is still a chance of getting a skull and failing. This is what makes Renowned Explorers fun game. You could pass a challenge and gain the treasure you need to become the best or fail and need to pull yourself together and attempt to manage your resources adequately. Hopefully, you enjoyed this little spotlight on an indie darling. Renowned Explorers: International Society is available on Steam for twenty dollars.

 

 

Street Fighter V EVO Rundown

maxresdefault

It has been one of the craziest SFV tournaments I’ve ever watched. Over five thousand players entered and that gigantic number was whittled down to just eight. The greatest SFV players came together from all corners of the world, to find out one thing. Who was the best player? It was a bloodbath. On the first day pockets of well-known players could be seen every once in a while. They did battle with unsponsored fans and legendary players, who decided that SFV would be the game to bring them out of retirement. Legendary Super turbo players like Afro Cole, Alex Vale, and Nuki flickered onto the screen. Many players found themselves knocked out of the tournament, but Friday was nothing compared to Saturday!

(Alex Valle, showed his skills the first day of the stacked tournament against a relatively unknown player True MT!)

Dhalsim.jpg

Day two saw many SFV players lose their chance of making it to top eight in SFV. If one moment can be called the start of the massive culling of well-known players being sent to losers bracket it would have to be TS Sabin VS. EG Momochi. Both of these players have had success in Street Fighter. Arturo, a veteran Dhalsim player, who has experience competing against the best of the best. Sadly, his runs in past EVO tournaments have ended in heartbreak. Momochi, the professional. He has won the first Capcom Cup, last years SF4 tournament, and has been sighted as a killer who would make it deep into the SFV brackets. The match between them was full of ups and downs, but the finish was quite possibly the hypest moment of the tournament!

 

It was as if this single match was the catalyst for all the hype that was to come. Another EG member played  his heart out against one of Red Bull’s best. PR Balrog is known for his Balrog play. Ever since the character was released he has been grinding. Figuring out the most optimal ways to play the boxer. Red Bull’s Bonchan, was playing Nash, a character who has been out since the games release. The battle was fierce. PR Balrog’s Boxer chasing down Bonchan’s Nash as he danced around his opponents offense, trying to find holes to exploit in the boxers game.

 

It’s hard to imagine that these matches could be topped, but one match towards the end of the second day of the tournament outshined them all. Diago the Beast Umehara VS. EG Justin Wong. Both of these men have been trading victories and defeats at EVOs for years. Marvel vs Capcom 2, Third strike, and Capcom vs SNK.2 have been previous battlegrounds. With their history, the match doesn’t disappoint.

If you have the chance please check out https://www.twitch.tv/srkevo1 for more great EVO action!

Nor Cal Regionals: The Height of SFV

Capcom-Pro-Tour

Hey people, I’ve just recovered from Nor Cal Regionals and the strange mix of rage and salt I have from not seeing an Alex trailer. Thankfully, the internet has quenched my thirst for pictures and even video of my favorite Hulk Hulgan esque video game character. The matches were crazy and we learned a lot about how fluid the tier list for SFV is. I’m not going to get into that now, but let’s just say that it’s not the game it’s the player. I know right? A character being only as good as the person who is playing them? We are not eight years in yet, but I think it is a good precedent so far for the future of SFV as a competitive tournament game. I mean we can just start with the man whose reactions warranted a video on ESPN. MARN! http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=15082099 (It’s slightly funny and kinda scary…)

18_howtor

Marn is well….Marn, no one else has as reckless of a play style as he does. That’s kind of the only way someone could make it out of the “Hell Bracket”. So, for all the people who were late to register for the tournament the NCR staff did something a little different. There is no reason to redraw the brackets the night before the tournament to make sure everyone is in a pool and everything is balanced. No! Not redrawing everything for all the people who couldn’t pre register. They took all of those players and put them into a new pool that was tacked on to the brackets. Great idea that no doubt saved the officials and staff at the tournament from a terrible headache. The reason as to why this was called “the hell” bracket had nothing to do with the amount of late entrees, but the people who entered. Marn a former professional fighting game player,  KBrad someone who is currently sponsored, Filipino Champ who is one of the top  Dhalsim players within the United States, Poongko who has been destroying people with his incredible Street Fighter play for years, and Mago one of the three players sponsored by Madcatz. The other Two players are Diago Umehara arguable the most well known Street Fighter Player and Tokido who took second place at Final round. It was a knock down drag out slug fest that could have been the finals of any tournament, it was beautiful.

This is the winners finals of that insane pool of players. Marn VS. Mago. You could guess who won, but please watch the video and then continue reading. *Spoilers* Despite the weird touching (Only in Fighting Game tournaments people!) it was a really amazing match. I’ve always thought you had to be a fully certified nut to actually play Mika properly and Mar proved it. At 1:33 you can see how little he cares about Mago on his wake up. Jab jab int a combo, then a dropkick. That’s basically the story of this match. If you think Marn will respect your play or do something a conventional player would do then you might as well put the controller down. This kind of bit him later on when he faced off against Infiltration.

Right off the bat at around 0:54 Marn went in and kept going. However, all it took was for Infiltration to counter Marn once and the round slipped through his fingers. Like Ultra David said, “Marn does not learn” and it became apparent that Infiltration just had a bit of a leg up on his opponent during the match. EX Sonic Scythe was the bane of every important jump in that Marn went for. Rainbow Mika is a character that is all about momentum, pressure, and mix ups.  If you can’t get the momentum to swing in your favor by jump in you can’t get pressure on the opponent. If you can’t get the pressure then you can not mix up your opponent and use the characters wonderful assortment of command grabs that can insidiously be thrown in after any of the jabs that Marn threw out. He went for some shenanigans, but Infiltration was just one inch ahead of Marn. This was one of the matches that shaped the tournament. Maybe if Marn had won Infiltration would have lost in losers, but since he didn’t we should hail our two time champion Infiltration! Another tournament shaping match was none other than Justin Wong VS one of the greatest Japanese players Haitani!

No secret that Haitani gets my respect. He is an older player who isn’t sponsored and is still one of the scariest players in the world. He is know for being one of the greatest Third Strike players ever, but his Makoto play in Street Fighter Four wasn’t bad either. Thanks to him Makoto was popular and by proxy he is responsible for about fifteen percent of my anger as I tried to climb the ranked ladder. I salute you sir! He took a character that took rigid execution and relentless aggression into Capcom cup and defeated Bonchan, who has placed second at the biggest fighting game tournament in the world and is sponsored by Red Bull. Justin who is sponsored by Evil Geniuses has a storied carrier as well. As much as Justin would probably like to forget he is one half of moment thirty-seven.( If you haven’t seen it here you go. No one thought it was possible…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS7hkwbKmBM) He was also one of the best Rufus players in Street Fighter Four and a player in the Capcom Cup. What’s interesting about this match is the adaptation that the two players make. Marn just took a battering ram to the castle walls hoping he could batter them down while Infiltration just sniped from the ramparts. This match was an exercise in adaptation and precise movement. Well, at least until the end. Everyone cracks at some point OK? If you want to check out some other matches look down below!