In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 13

In My Daydreams

“No,” I said, straightening my hand and then thrusting it like a spear through the top of the device, smashing its internal computer and separating the power from the main mechanism.

Lines of electricity surrounded my arm, but I didn’t feel it. The suit’s systems for handling massive amounts of electricity had been in advance of anyone else as far back as the 1950s and had only improved in the versions created since then.

In this case, it wasn’t a booby trap or even targeting me. The device needed a lot of energy to start an earthquake and while severing the connection between that energy and the rest of it, my suit briefly became the connection.

As I pulled my hand out and the glare went away, Jaclyn asked, “Are you okay?”

Even the four-hander straightened and stared at me before hanging limp as Jaclyn held him in the air.

“I think so. I didn’t feel anything and suit isn’t throwing any errors.” I rechecked my HUD as I said to make sure that was still true, noticing the amount of power that had passed across the suit’s skin—a lot. It was enough to kill me hundreds of times over.

The suit wasn’t throwing errors, which was a relief. I’d managed to keep that aspect of the suit despite filling it with nanotech.

I didn’t get to wallow in the glow of technical accomplishment for long. The cavern shook again and this time something big fell over inside the cavern. It reminded me somehow of the sound of cereal—the kind that snaps, crackles, and pops—except deeper in tone and much louder. If the destruction of the cavern were a cereal, the slogan would be “cracks, smashes, and thuds.”

I’m not sure who would buy it either as the market for cereal made of shattered rocks has to be small.

Jaclyn and I stared at each other. She said, “The cavern’s coming down. Go. We should catch up to the colonists.”

She put down the four-hander. It ran away as soon as its lower set of hands touched the ground. She let out a breath, “Unless you think you can stop it, he’s got the right idea.”

“I don’t.”

“Then go.” She kicked the Ascendancy soldier she’d taken out and he groaned. “The cavern’s falling in. Run or die.”

It began to pull itself to its feet and she turned away from it, jogging out the door. I followed her out. She began to gather speed once she hit the street. I activated the rockets and took the air, noticing the source of the noise.

A building along the edge of the cavern had fallen in on itself and into the street in front of it. It hadn’t reached all the way to the top of the cavern, giving it less support to weather the earthquakes. I wondered what had been in it. There had to be a reason that they’d choose to make it one of the few exceptions to the rule with regards to its design.

I didn’t have time to think it all through then. The cavern was large, but not that large. It only took me a few seconds to reach Tunnel Nine. Since I didn’t see Jaclyn, I checked my HUD, saw that she was the only person in our group online and opened a connection.

“Are you alright?”

Her voice came over my helmet’s speakers. “I’m in the tunnels. Where are you?”

I replied, “At the entrance to Tunnel Nine,” but before I reached the end of the sentence, her status button winked out.

It didn’t surprise me. The HUD didn’t show anyone but me online anymore. Stone caverns and tunnels weren’t ideal spots for radio contact. Still, I felt alone and a little worried about her even though I knew that the person I should be worried about was me—I was alone at the edge of a cavern that was in the process of collapsing.

I took one last look at the cavern’s glowing streets and blocky skyline, hoping that no one I cared about was still out there somehow. It didn’t seem likely, but with the implants shut off to prevent Kamia from hacking them, it was possible we’d lost track of somebody.

Ignoring the worry, I stepped inside the tunnel and began to run. According to the implant’s map, there were too many turns in the near future for it to be worth it for me to fly.

I ran all out, heart pumping, legs taking ten feet or more with each step, reaching forty, fifty, sixty miles per hour. Even with the suit’s assistance, I could feel that it wasn’t just the suit doing the work. That wasn’t the first thing on my mind though. The first thing on my mind was that I planned to start flying as soon as I had a tunnel straight enough to make it worth the bother.

At the very least, I didn’t want to get caught alone in a collapsing cavern. Jaclyn might survive that. I doubted that I would.

As if on cue a rumble came from behind me and the earth shook again—not as much as when I was inside the main cavern, but the noise was louder. And besides, it wasn’t just noise and tremors. This time, a cloud of dust blew forward behind me, dispersing before it caught me.

I didn’t know if that meant that that cavern had fallen or only part of it, but I didn’t plan to go back and check.

I kept on running and checking my HUD, failing to see signs of anyone. I was still alone in the dark.

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Semicoop

Table May Die

Semicoop

What is this comic about? Watch this video:

So, Cool Mini Or Not’s new Kickstarter project Cthulhu: Death May Die has gone fully overboard. It has a ‘miniature’ that’s 57 cm/22″ high. Looking at the number of backers, a lot of people seem to be interested though. I do understand the appeal, the figure looks amazingly detailed, but we’re not that big on miniature games and this is simply too much (for us). We could provide at least 24 people of the game The Mind for the price of getting that Cthulhu here. 😉 And since CMON is taking it a little step further with each new game, what will be next?! How much paint do you need to paint this big boy? So many questions!

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jul 15, 2018 at 9:03am PDT

This weekend Heinze played another game of Gaslands and we finally played Odin’s Ravens and Bargain Quest! Odin’s Ravens was gifted to me for my birthday by a friend and it is a simple but clever two-player racing game. As ravens, players try to race around the world, each in the opposite direction to see who returns to Odin first.

Moving is done by playing cards from your hand that matches the image of the next card you need to go to. Players can use their Loki cards to change the route, go forward or force the other player to take a step backward.

It’s a very nice and short game for two players that I think will get even better after playing it a couple of times.

We also got gifted Bargain Quest by the designer Jonathan Ying (thank you so much!). We already loved the art of this game done by Victoria Ying and were even more enthusiastic after the review of Shut Up and Sit Down. We’ve played the ‘simple’ 2-player version yesterday and as far as first impressions go: this is a really fun card drafting game that we would love to try with four players! The next time we’ll play it with just the two of us, we’ll give the advanced rules a go to make it a little bit more challenging.

Tonight’s a big night for us in gaming terms. We’re going to play our maybe final game of Pandemic Legacy Season 2, December! Exciting times! We’ve been doing crazy good the last couple of months and haven’t lost any game since May or June (in-game). It has been a combination of (probably) good luck and an incredible combination of characters. Nonetheless, it has been a blast and we’re ready for the finale. And we’re also looking forward to playing other games after this before we will dedicate to the next campaign game, which will be Charterstone.

What is most ridiculous mini you can think of for CMON’s next project?

The post Table May Die appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 12

In My Daydreams

Tunnel Four wasn’t far away—just two buildings down the same street. We ran at a comfortable pace, thirty miles per hour or so. We didn’t have enough space to go faster. Kals didn’t have any problems keeping up.

Tunnel Four sat between two buildings that weren’t much different than the buildings at Tunnel Three—except that we didn’t see anyone here. Wherever the plant had gone, I hoped he was safe. My bet was that he’d gotten the last people out over here and gone with them when he realized that he’d missed Kamia and the others.

We came to a stop in front of the tunnel.

Jaclyn glanced over at me and then Katuk. “Do either of you sense anyone in there?”

Before I could reply or send out bots, Katuk said, “There are no lifeforms within the buildings.”

Turning to me, Jaclyn said, “Nick?”

“I’m betting he’s got the better sensors, but I don’t see anything so far. To be confident, I’d have to send in bots.”

Katuk looked the buildings up and down. “I’m confident that there are no lifeforms within. I had to recalibrate my sensors after the last building, but I’ve adjusted now. Incidentally, I do not sense any lifeforms in the buildings within my sensors’ effective range.”

Frowning, Jaclyn gave the area around us a look, turning around in a blur. You could argue she’d wasted our time, but not much. Her sensor equipment was the same as mine, but for all I knew, she might have been more thorough in her brief glance than I would be if I’d sent out bots.

In her low, alto voice, she said, “We should join the evacuees. There’s nothing we—“

The whole cavern shook. It was harder this time—much harder. Unprepared for it, I fell over, catching myself on a wall that, to my relief, didn’t fall in.

Crashing noises came from all over the cavern, but from what I could see so far, no buildings had fallen in. Giving a silent thanks to the engineers or architects who designed the place, I checked my HUD, finding that as intended, my suit had been recording the quake.

I added in the new dataset and ran the calculations again, this time with more useful results. The blast came from the other side of the cavern, as I’d known before, but from within Tunnel Eight. I didn’t wait until I felt comfortable. I told everyone even before the last trembles faded.

“I know where the origin point of the last quake is. It’s Tunnel Eight—the one that’s not quite directly across from us.”

Jaclyn’s eyes darted in my direction. “Then here’s what we do. Katuk and Kals go help the colonists. Nick and I take out the earthquake machine. Kals, am I right in assuming they’re taking the same routes our implants downloaded when we got down here minus anything that went through tunnels three or four?”

Kals looked up at Jaclyn. “Yes, but are you sure that the two of you will be enough?”

“Yes,” Jaclyn said, turning, “but we don’t have time to talk about it. Nick?”

She jumped, landing halfway across the cavern. I said, “Good luck,” to Kals and Katuk, fired off the rockets and followed her.

Jaclyn arrived first, but I landed just behind her. Tunnel Eight came out between two more buildings like the ones we’d seen less than ten seconds before—wide stone buildings that reached from the bottom to the top of the cavern with open windows that the people can use to look out onto the underground city.

The tunnel itself was little more than a doorway into the rock that stood between the two buildings on their lowest level.

My HUD showed two figures within the room, a larger humanoid, a smaller one and a waist high rectangle of what I assumed was, for the lack of a better name, the earthquake machine.

Jaclyn didn’t wait. She said, “Going in,” and blurred, running into the tunnel. I followed, but much slower. By the time I’d reached the inside, she’d already taken out the large humanoid (one of the Ascendancy’s clawed and fanged soldiers). All his weapons had been smashed and he lay on the ground.

She’d grabbed the other figure in the room, one of the armored, four-handed humanoid that the Ascendancy used for technical work.

She held him pointed away from the device, upper arms held behind his back and high enough in the air that it couldn’t touch the ground.

I would have been worried that he might try to grab something with his lower arms, but he hung limp in the air.

Still watching him, Jaclyn asked, “Do you need him to turn off the machine?”

I pointed my HUD at the machine, getting a limited view of the insides. My Xiniti implant completed the view, giving an overall picture of how it worked. While machines that caused earthquakes weren’t standard equipment for warfare, they were standard methods for handling underground bunkers—though best practices didn’t include sticking around with the machine after turning it on.

They were either still configuring it or they’d been left to die—not uncommon in the Ascendancy.

Did I need the guy? While it might be dramatic to include a complicated disarming sequence, the Xiniti indicated where the standard device could be punched to safely destroy it.

Unfortunately, from what I was beginning to understand, it was already too late. The quakes it had already started showed that destroying it would only slow the inevitable.

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Crying Grumpies

Usagi Yojimbo Saga 1, Costumbrismo Samurái

Crying Grumpies

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Por si hasta ahora no os habías dado cuenta he de admitir que una de mis ambientaciones favoritas es el Japón feudal, ya sea fantástico o realista. No es la primera vez que os hablo de cómics de esta ambientación. Okko y Samurai se han pasado por estos lares, pero hoy voy  nos ponemos nuestro disfraz de conejo para adentrarnos en Usagi Yojimbo de Stan Sakai. Usagi Yojimbo es posiblemente junto a Lobo Solitario y su cachorro una de las obras que mejor reflejan el periodo.

Usagi Yojimbo-Crying Grumpies-3

Usagi Yojimbo es un cómic del que Stan Sakai, el rotulista de Groo el errante, es propietario y se publica bajo el sello Dark Horse. En la obra acompañaremos a Miyamoto Usagi, un samurái sin señor que deambula por la Isla del Sol Naciente teniendo aventuras y arreglando entuertos. Una de las particularidades de la historia es que todos los personajes son animales antropomórficos aunque al poco de arrancar te das cuenta de que este hecho es completamente irrelevante para la historia que nos narra.

Treinta años de historia y casi ciento setenta números a sus espaldas dan para mucho, pero hoy tan solo nos centraremos en el volumen Usagi Yojimbo Saga 1 que recopila el volumen dos de la edición americana por entero y algunos números del tercer volumen. He empezado a comprar por este tomo porque los dos anteriores tomos recopilatorios, Fantagraphics Integral 1 y 2, me los leí en digital no hace mucho.

Este volumen arranca poniéndonos en situación, quien es Usagi, como es el mundo que le rodea, etc. A partir de ahí viviremos un carrusel de aventuras, algunas cortas, otras largas y en un caso concreto historias cortas que estoy seguro preparan una gran aventura en un próximo tomo. Cuando hablo de historias cortas me refiero a historias de tres o cuatro páginas mientras que en las más largas pueden abarcar diversos capítulos. Con esto el autor demuestra su gran habilidad para narrar utilizando para cada historia la longitud que necesita; sin que nunca digas que faltan o sobran páginas. La mayoría de historias arrancan con situaciones cotidianas del Japón feudal y donde aprendemos cosas como la forja de katanas , la importancia de las mismas en la vida de los samuráis o como se pescaban y trataban las algas para hacer hojas de nori. A mi parecer las mejores historias del tomo son las que tienen que ver con estos dos hechos.

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El dibujo en blanco y negro es eléctrico, sencillo, dinámico, perfecto para la obra. Pero en mi opinión a la que Usagi abandona su pose dócil y lo dibuja con músculos y tensión queda algo feote. Aunque el cómic es en blanco y negro al final del tomo aparecen todas las portadas a color y hay dos motivos para sacarse el sombrero. El primero son las coloreadas por Tom Luth que utiliza un estilo de color plano similar al de las pinturas Ukyo-E que son maravillosas y el segundo y para quitarselo dos veces son las portadas a acuarela coloreadas por el propio Sakai.

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No puedo obviar el gran cameo de este primer tomo, las siempre Fabulosas Tortugas Ninja. Tanto Usagi como las TNMT compartieron editorial, Mirage, durante unos años. Esto hizo que tanto Usagi se incorporara al elenco de secundarios de los quelonios llegando a aparecer en una de las películas de imagen real, como al revés. Como el resto del tomo la forma en que se traen estos personajes a la historia es fantástica y no desentona en la serie. Un gran ejemplo de como hacer un crossover.

Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol.1, es un tomo brutal. No nos presenta nada que no hayamos leído o visto en mil series, películas o libros de samuráis pero lo hace con una maestría digna de admiración. Aunque no es el principio de las aventuras del conejo samurái es un gran punto de partida para iniciarse. Y si os apasiona el mundillo  es un Must Have. Aprovecho también para dar un par de no recomendaciones como el tomo Usagi Yojimbo y las Tortugas Ninjas o Usagi Yojimbo Yokai pues no están a la altura de lo visto en este tomo, solo apto para completistas. El primero por malo y reciclaje de conceptos y el segundo si bien es precioso está falto de la profundidad que demuestra la serie regular.

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Y una última postdata, y es que antes de publicar este articulo ya me he leído Usagi Yojimbo Saga 2. Si el primer volumen es una maravilla, el segundo es un regalo de los dioses. Un tercio del tomo está dedicado a Segadora, un arco argumental ganador del premio Eisner, que nos tendrá con la nariz entre páginas durante un rato largo.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 11

In My Daydreams

Katuk turned toward Kals. “Do you know how the colonists are escaping? If we can’t find her, it seems that our first duty would be to attend to their welfare.”

He had a point. I didn’t think that we should leave without telling Jaclyn, and was just about to try to use the comm, but I didn’t have to. Jaclyn jumped out the second floor window and landed next to us.

She glanced at the tunnel and back at us. “Where’s Kamia?”

“No idea,” I said. “I hit her shield with a killbot. It went partially through, exploded, and after that she ducked back into the cave. We haven’t seen her since. What about you?”

Jaclyn pursed her lips. “I didn’t kill anybody, but none of them can walk right now.”

I was about to describe our conversation to her and ask her what she thought about joining the escaping colonists when the cavern shook. It wasn’t the kind of big quake that I imagined happening in California, but it was a short, sharp movement that was strong enough that I felt like I’d been pushed.

I didn’t fall over, but I did have to spread my legs to avoid falling over.

Out in the darkness came creaking noises and the pitter-pat of small objects falling, combined with a few thumps that I thought might be larger objects falling from a height.

Like the rest of us, Jaclyn looked in the direction of the noise once she had herself under control. “What was that?”

“I don’t know.” I used the sonics to try to figure out where where the sound likely originated, but as the suit’s computer crunched numbers, I added, “But if Alanna ever mentioned that the colony had an underground escape plan, maybe the Ascendancy might be prepared with a tool that would allow them to collapse the caverns.”

Jaclyn turned to look into the main area of the cavern with it’s floor to ceiling buildings, dim lights and open streets. “That makes sense, but why come in here? Why not do it from outside?”

I shrugged. “Maybe they could have except that we destroyed the ship, so they had to put together a less powerful version from spare parts or a piece of the machine? Four Hands had a bunch of their genetically engineered engineers in tow for some reason.”

Katuk turned away from the tunnel. “That sounds possible, but it seems like a great deal to assume based on one movement of the earth. Earthquakes are a natural phenomena as well.”

He did have a point. “It might be natural, but it is an awfully strange coincidence.”

At the same time and after considering the data it had, my HUD threw up a picture of the area, showing the potential location of the earthquake’s source. It hadn’t narrowed it down much, indicating a quarter of the cavern opposite this spot. Superimposing the tunnel map in my implant over the HUD’s map in my helmet showed that two tunnels came out opposite this spot and that they came  close enough to the tunnels on this side at one point that a powerful enough person would be able to blast through from one to the other. On the other hand, the same could be said of the other four tunnels on that side.

Tapping her helmet, Jaclyn said, “Quiet everyone, I’m telling Cassie, Marcus, and Tikki to follow the colonists out. They’re closer. We should leave too. I wish I knew where Crawls-Through-Desert went. He needs to leave too.”

I looked down the road, but didn’t see him. “The last I saw him, he was heading toward Tunnel Four. He was out of sight by the time I got here.”

Katuk followed my gaze. “I don’t detect him, but we should try to warn him if he’s still there.”

Kals’ frowned. “Wouldn’t he notice if he’s completely alone and the Guard isn’t there either? I mean, he’s a spy. They’re supposed to notice that sort of thing.”

She had a point too. We could probably count on him to take care of himself—unless the Guard had taken him out.

Another quake hit. This one felt a little stronger than the other one, though it was hard to say for sure. I hadn’t made earthquake measurement a priority for any version of the Rocket suit and so far as I knew, Grandpa hadn’t either.

We heard a few shouts, more thumps and a short rain of unknown small objects hitting the ground from above.

I reran the calculations and included the newest data. It didn’t change much. I needed to move more to get a better sense of where they might be.

“Nick,” Jaclyn said, “Do you have any idea where a device might be if it exists?”

I shook my head. “I’ve narrowed it down to about five tunnels—which isn’t very narrow. I need to get data from another spot in order for it to maybe work.”

Jaclyn sighed. “Then let’s run past where the plant’s supposed to be and then follow the colonists out. If we’re around for another quake, maybe we can track it down. Otherwise, we’d be better off not being here.”

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Semicoop

Things board gamers search for

Semicoop

Weird Things Humans Search For was kindly provided by Big Potato Games for free. We thank them for giving us this game which led to this comic! For more information on how we deal with gifted games, please see our FAQ!

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jun 24, 2018 at 2:58pm PDT

At the UK Games Expo, we were given a copy of Weird Things Humans Search For. We don’t play many party games, but playing the demo was really fun. Since then we’ve played it with four players, which was nice but next time we want to play it with a large group of people in teams and play it pub-quiz like. We believe it could be even more fun if people can discuss possible answers.

The idea of the game is very simple. Players are given the first half of the most (weird) popular searches on the internet and have to guess what people actually search for, the higher their guess is on the list, the more points you score. One thing we learned from playing the game: Humans are indeed very weird.

We still have a bunch of unplayed games we need to play (soon!). Seals of Chtulhu, Odin’s Ravens, Spoils of War, Zombology and the Telly Times expansion for The Networks. I can’t wait for our holiday to begin so we have time to play all of the amazing games.

What other searches would start with ‘What board game…’?

The post Things board gamers search for appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 10

In My Daydreams

Superheroes don’t kill (most of the time). There are reasons for that, ranging from moral to legal to practical. Legally, most of us aren’t empowered to do it (even if we can get away with it). Morally, killing isn’t something you want to do unless you have to. Practically, society would come to regard us as a menace if we did it a lot even if it was justified.

Here almost none of that applied. We weren’t vigilantes. We were the law, empowered by the Alliance as part of the Xiniti Nation to do whatever was required to protect the colony.

All the same, it didn’t come easy for me. While you could argue that was a good thing, you could argue that the colony might be better served by a conscienceless killer.

I say this because I hesitated. It wasn’t the kind of hesitation that was too long and turns the fight into a tragedy. It was long enough to remind myself that if there was any time that it was right to kill, it was now. She was directing people to kill civilians and she was doing it to distract us from what the rest of the group was doing somewhere else.

I pulled the trigger, releasing a killbot, targeting her via the observation bots. It shot out from under my arm, flying low to the ground, picking up speed as it grew closer to her.

In that moment, she must have noticed something or maybe the Abominator devices did. She raised her right arm, firing yellow beams and taking out all three observation bots, but missing the killbot which dodged and weaved in what my design document called an “evasive wobble.”

It only made it halfway through the shield, which meant it didn’t hit her at all—except that killbots exploded. This one exploded partially inside and partially outside the shield, creating a blast of fire on each side.

That meant a lot of different things. First of all, it meant that my killbots almost went through Abominator shields and the Ascendancy shields that imitated them. All they needed was a little more push or maybe more monofilament wires on the head of the bullet or on the body. That was the good news. Secondly, it meant that I was screwed because I didn’t have the equipment here to make the changes, but also because the implant indicated that all Ascendant Guards had those force fields as well as their better solo agents.

The more practical and immediate result? The half-blast still blew Kamia backward in her force bubble. She ducked back into the tunnel.

I ran up to the side of the tunnel but didn’t run in. With an inexperienced fighter, I might have considered it. With someone carrying Abominator devices who had defeated Xiniti, it seemed wiser to assume that dropping back was part of a plan on her part even if it was her emergency backup plan.

I sent out a spybot. In an effort to avoid hinting where I was, I took the minimal precaution of having it enter the tunnel from the top rather than from the same direction I was standing in.

Watching the spybot’s feed as it flew down the tunnel, I didn’t see anyone.

Pulling up the implant’s map of the caverns, I saw openings into the buildings on either side. A little farther back, Tunnel Three passed other tunnels. Bearing in mind that they could create connections between tunnels, that meant that she could be anywhere.

When I took into account how quickly I’d lose a connection to the bot underground, I realized I’d be better off helping Jaclyn and watching for the others to attack in whatever way they were planning to.

That’s the point at which Kals and Katuk joined me.

Katuk stopped next to me. “Where did Kamia go?”

I moved to stand in front of the tunnel and looked in. “I don’t know.”

Even as I said it, I used the suit’s sonic and thermal sensors, hoping that I might get footprints out of the thermal or that the suit’s echolocation or passive sensors might catch something. They didn’t.

“I saw her go down into the tunnels, but she got out of range before I could get a good sense of where she was going.”

Katuk peered down the tunnels next to me, possibly using his own suit’s sensors. “I don’t see her either.”

Without turning away from the tunnel, he added, “This is not good. She’s an extremely effective soldier.”

“I’m more worried about where the others are,” I said.

Off to the side of the tunnel, Kals glanced upward to the buildings. By that point, there were no more flashes coming from above. Jaclyn must have handled that.

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about,” Kals said. “If they managed to catch up to my mom and the colony while we were doing this, they could already be slaughtering them.”

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In My Daydreams

Warriors, Part 9

In My Daydreams

I formed the suit’s helmet and set the suit to triangulate the source of the sound. Then I pulled the cavern’s map out of the implant’s memory. Though it took longer than it would have with the implant’s network connection, I knew where the voice came from and how it happened.

I tapped my palm, going live on the League’s communication system, “They’re coming out of Tunnel Three.”

Only Jaclyn, Marcus, and Cassie could hear me. They’d have to tell Katuk and Tikki.

Tunnel Three crossed under Four. If they had some way to detect it or if Alanna had given them a map, it wouldn’t be hard to break through.

Waving to get Kals’ attention, I pointed toward the source of the noise. “Tunnel Three!”

At the same time, I loosed a few spybots, giving me a better views of the situation.

Tunnel Three came out between two buildings, both of them tall blocks of rock that went from the bottom to the top of the cavern. I couldn’t know how many people they held, but from the size, but they weren’t small and this cavern had to hide a few thousand people.

My guess was hundreds. Each one was at least as large as my dorm at college and I’d heard it held three hundred.

That mattered because as I watched, streaks of red light became visible through the windows of different floors in each building. The light went from one side of the buildings to another.

I didn’t need the suit’s enhanced senses to hear the sound of screams or the crackle of the beams.

I shared the visuals with Marcus, Jaclyn, and Cassie.

As I did, one of the Ascendancy soldiers leaned out of a third-floor window and aimed a thick muzzled gun down at the people on the street, leaving five bodies unmoving on the ground and more screaming and running.

Cassie’s voice echoed in my helmet. “Holy fuck.”

Next to me, Kals asked, “Do you know what’s going on?”

“They’re clearing whole floors of buildings with really big guns.”

She froze. “They’re using burners?”

And that pulled up a multitude of flashing implant memories, giving me visions of the same gun on world after world. The Ascendancy used burners to commit mass murder. They weren’t effective against soldiers. Standard military armor prevented them from doing much damage.

The guns fired off a flammable foam that expanded in a high-speed stream and separated, blending into the air. Then, when the gun heated up the main mass, it triggered all the foam in range, including any that had been breathed into the human body unless the people were lucky enough to become inaccessible.

Still wearing the armor she’s worn to go to the fight, Kals pulled a mask out of the jacket. It spread to cover her face. When she spoke through it, her voice sounded no different, something I wanted to investigate if I ever had time. “It figures that they’d pull those out only after only after I told everyone to turn off their implants. We’d better get over there and try to stop this or at least minimize the damage.”

I ran with her, telling Jaclyn, Marcus and Cassie to check their implants for information on burners. The distance wasn’t far enough to take flight and besides, I didn’t want them to know I was coming until I appeared.

We ran down the street against the flow of people, many running all out. Kals slowed to tell people to be careful, to watch for anyone who had been hurt, and to be as orderly as possible.

I got ahead of her—which was probably for the best. I didn’t know how good her armor was or wasn’t. Also, something bugged me about what was happening. It came into focus as I noticed a picture from the opening of Tunnel Three.

Kamia stood alone in the mouth of the stone doorway, helping me put words to the problem. It felt flashy and distracting, but not real. They didn’t need to do something that drew our attention that well unless they were trying to distract us from something else—like for example, where the other people in the group were?

I stopped one building away from Kamia, able to see her with my own eyes as she shouted and sometimes shot down the street with her weapons.

Someone stopped next to me and I turned to find Jaclyn instead of Kals. “The rest are on their way. I decided to come first because we might be able to stop this between the two of us.”

I thought about it. Jaclyn might be able to stop it by herself. “There’s something you should think about. I think this might be a distraction. I mean, where’s everyone else? We know there are more of them.”

Jaclyn looked Kamia and said, “That makes sense, but I can’t let them keep this up, can you?”

Another reddish blast flashed in the direction of the crowd. “No.”

She nodded. “See if you can think of any way to take out Kamia. I’m going to stop the soldiers.”

She took two steps. The first gave her some speed. She used the second to leap, hitting the fifth floor of the nearest building and going through the wall.

I looked at Kamia and the glowing force field around her. Much as I disliked the idea, I knew what I had to try.

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In My Daydreams

Updating A Day Late

In My Daydreams

Today is July 4, a national holiday in the US. As such I’m spending the day with family and may well go to see fireworks tonight. That puts a wrench in my writing schedule.

Tomorrow night, I will be in a hotel which is more convenient for writing.

Expect it then.

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Semicoop

Keeping the Romance Alive

Semicoop

Fog of Love was kindly provided by Hush Hush Projects for free. We thank them for giving us this game which led to this comic! For more information on how we deal with gifted games, please see our FAQ!

Fog of Love, a game people either seem to love or hate and many people discourage playing it with your spouse. We really enjoy playing this game together and we really don’t mind making our character’s lives a little miserable or face them with some sensitive subjects and situations.

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jun 30, 2018 at 2:12pm PDT

Because players can play three ‘levels’ of scenes from the sweet, serious and drama deck, there can be quite a contrast between what happens. Like in the comic above, one moment you can be having a dramatic scene at an airport and the next… a silly conversation about whom to have a dinner date with. It’s necessary to keep everything light, it is a game after all, but it can feel slightly silly sometimes. 🙂

In contrast to this pastel colored romantic comedy game, Heinze played Gaslands this weekend with a group of friends. Gaslands is a tabletop war-game with cars in a post-apocalyptic wasteland! They started the day by modding their matchbox cars for three hours and then started a game with 12 cars in total… which is not a particularly brilliant idea if you’re playing the game for the first time. I believe the game took them about four hours. But they were raving about it and already discussing tactics and car-modifications for next time, so there’s definitely going to be a next time. 😉

For the modding of the matchbox cars, they used a lot of parts of the tabletop game Mechwarrior. We still had a lot of miniatures laying around here which we haven’t touched in over ten years, so this seemed like a pretty nice use for them.

Do romance and board games go together?

The post Keeping the Romance Alive appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 8

In My Daydreams

“Crap,” I said, “implants? We’re going to have to turn them off or at least the communication part.”

I queried my implant to find out if we could turn them off. We couldn’t, but we could turn off outside communications. While I was at it, I checked what the Xiniti experience of fighting Kamia had been.

It hadn’t been good.

While they were well aware of her device’s ability to attack implants, they weren’t always in a situation where they could drop communications—flying spaceships, for example—and she made her presence a surprise. Plus, and they didn’t know how, she had some way to get around disabled connections. They suspected it required touch, but they only had implants from dead Xiniti to go on.

Whatever the Abominator device was, it didn’t leave much evidence behind and the damaged implants had been boobytrapped more often than not.

We were so screwed.

I heard Kals telling everyone (maybe including me), “We’re evacuating right now.”

Then she turned to the blue haired tech. “Blow every bomb in the tunnel between them and us. Don’t wait for them to get close. Got it?”

“I get it,” the guy said and turned back to the picture.

As that conversation went on, I used my implant to tell our group what I knew about Kamia, including Kals and Tikki. It’s possible that the Xiniti might not want everyone to know how effective Kamia was against them and how, but Katuk had told us. As far as I was concerned, the colony had entered “need-to-know” status, a point I highlighted in Kals’ message.

As I sent it off, Kals turned to me, dropping her jaw. She didn’t wait to discuss it with me or Jadzen, making a general announcement on the channel the colonists used for emergency messages.

Crawls-Through-Desert, meanwhile, had floated back into the corner. I had no idea what he was doing as he floated there, but I supposed he was more dependent on computer systems than any of us. He was probably trying to figure out what he could afford to shut down.

Then Kals voice filled my head.

“Everyone must shut off the network in any implant they may have installed. This is also true of any AI you may be harboring among your possessions. The Ascendancy troops have an Abominator device capable of connecting to your devices and taking control. Turn them off if you can, but if you can’t you have to disable communications if you want to survive.

“Before you shut them off, remember that we’re using the standard evacuation plan and rendezvous point, but code red evacuation. That means now! They’re coming down tunnel four. Good luck.”

From outside came the click of doors shutting, voices talking and shouting, and footsteps. Amid all of that, my Rocket suit’s comm beeped. Since I wasn’t wearing the helmet, I checked my glasses’ mini-HUD. Jaclyn was calling.

I took the call.

“Just when I get used to using the implant, it signs up with the bad guys… Anyway, we’re setting up near tunnel four. We might send people with the evacuees. It depends on how badly this goes.”

Keeping my voice low, I said, “Got it. We’ll be there as soon as possible.”

We ended the call and Kals said, “Now what?”

“We’re meeting near the opening of tunnel four.”

“I’ll go with you.” She stepped away from the techs and walked over to me.

The techs, meanwhile, were grabbing bags that they kept next to their desks and running down to the next level, following Sian and Asan. The standard evacuation plan didn’t leave the techs here to defend the place—not that you’d expect the techs to do it, but someone would have to stay and slow the invaders down in most evacuation plans. I wondered whose lives we were saving.

It wasn’t as if I’d complain. Saving lives, directly or indirectly was pretty much the entire point of what putting on a costume was all about.

I looked at her. “Are you sure? You’re the second in command. It seems like they’ll need you.”

She shook her head. “In the standard evacuation plan, the second stays. It was written assuming the second would be Maru, but I’m the second.”

“Okay,” I didn’t think it was likely that her mother would approve, but we could use her help. So, I didn’t argue and looked toward the stairs. “We’d better get out then.”

Crawls-Through-Desert floated near the stairway in his pot. “I’m going to have to go with the colonists. If I’m in range of whatever Kamia’s got, I’m a danger to the rest of you.”

He floated away at a faster speed than I’d seen him go so far.

We weren’t the only ones in the room or the building, but it was getting that way. There were only two people left on our floor by then, but a few more were crowding the stairs from the floor above us. They stared at my suit as we walked toward the stairway.

It took a minute to get out of the building.

People were running to exits across the cavern as we stepped out the door and tried to get our bearings or as I tried to at least. Kals pointed down the street. “That way.”

Even as we began to move, we heard a voice echo in the cavern. “I’m Kamia of the Human Ascendancy’s Ascendant Guard. Surrender or die!”

I didn’t know, but if I had to guess, Kamia had found some way of crossing into a different tunnel than tunnel four before entering the cavern.

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Announcement Time!

Require Cookie

First Things First – Stormy

On March 24, 2003, I published a Matrix fanfic. It had a hacker character. Now, I’d written this fanfic out of a kind of desperation, something to distract myself from how obsessed I was with Lord of the Rings.

Heh. Wow. That kind of backfired spectacularly, and in the weirdest way.

Fifteen years later, I’m still going. Stef’s a consistent part of my life, as much as a family member, and through her various forms, I’ve known her for longer than any friend I’ve ever had.

I have made a lot of dumb decisions with Cookie, from how I’ve handled releases, to side projects that fizzled and gone nowhere. I’ve lost inspiration, I’ve broken promises, and I’ve retraced my own steps so many times I’ve  dug a trench.

I’ve so often wanted to let go, because I thought I wasn’t good enough, or that the world didn’t need Cookie, and a hundred similar thoughts. And my own mental illness – which is of a different flavour to what Stef deals with, but has as significant impact on my life – tells me I’m right to doubt myself.

But…

But there are a few things that tell me that maybe, just maybe that Cookie is worth keeping and continuing.

Aside from my spouse (Matthew) and my sister (Miranda), every other friend I have is someone who started off as a fan.

Wraith, someone I think of as a brother, someone who crossed the world to come live with me for two months, was a fan.

Frogge, whose bride I just walked down the aisle, was a fan.

Leaky, whose kids I send Christmas presents to, was a fan.

Shade, who came to Wraith with a self-insert fanfic, is now my closest collaborator, and I dread/can’t wait for the day we unleash Vincent on you all.

Cookie has changed my life, giving me friends, family and lols.

And I know it’s not just me.

A number of years ago (I love that phrase, sounds writerly), someone sent me a message, telling me that they were going to go on meds, because they saw Stef trying to improve. That if Stef could take steps, so could they.

I made a change in someone’s life.

Something I wrote helped someone.

And it makes me think of all the media that has impacted me – from the Animorphs I read as a kid, books that were what I had instead of friends; to TV where I looked for the familial relationships and influences that I didn’t have – it’s easy to recognise that part of us is the stories we consume.

And in that miasma, I think Cookie might just have a spot, for all the lost nerds, the people who want to find family, and everyone else who can see a reflection of themselves in someone we put into words.

None of us gets to be who we wanted to be. No one gets that perfect story. But..it might be okay anyway. You might get adopted by an angel. You might have a friend willing to make a dictionary to understand your nerd speak. You might realise you have worth.

The Agency always has space for anyone who wants to be there, and so does family, and if you’re reading this, you’re part of ours.

So the above is my love letter to everyone, to let you know we’re back, and if I can keep my brain awfuls at bay, that we’re continuing on.

First Things First – Shade

Six years ago, I spent a week in Colorado, on vacation, and it changed my life forever.  I met many wonderful people whom I had previously only interacted with online. I stayed with Wraith, who, at the time, was re-reading the entirety of Stormy’s writing.

I got home from my vacation and spent a day and a half doing that myself.  I wasn’t even finished with the first book (are we still calling them books?  Are they arcs now? Seasons? Man, whatever.) and an idea popped into my brain.  I asked Wraith about some of the details about the world Stormy created, and he eventually just said “Okay, there are limits to what I know, here’s Stormy, bug her now.”

And Stormy’s regretted it ever since.

So, I submitted this utterly awful thing about a recruit annoying an Agent, based very, very, very loosely on my short vacation.  And I wrote some more. And even more.

Then I had a stupid idea about “what if this idiot character I wrote interacted with the main cast?”

I wrote a few small interactions with the established cast.  It worked. It worked too well. This idiot I wrote fell into place absolutely too perfectly, and actually filled a number of potential plot holes.

I talked more with Stormy.  I talked more with Wraith. I talked a few of my friends into reading it.  I wrote. Stormy wrote. We collaborated. The first few arcs about Stef are still wholly Stormy’s brainchild, but if you look closely, you can see tiny tweaks here and there where I’ve had a hand in (hopefully) improving.

Here it is, six and a half years later.  We’ve got a plot spanning at least 9 different storylines, and can’t wait to actually have them out for people to see.

I’ve plotted so much for Vincent, and nobody but us has really seen what he’s all about.  I hope to one day see Vincent in some form or other done right by someone who isn’t me.


Ash & Blue

(Stormy Again)

We’re re-launching – and for about six months, I’ve been thinking that that meant a full reboot (and I have about 15,000 words to show for that effort), including such measures even as drastic as writing out the mirror concept altogether.

But as I’ve made peace with various things, I’ve decided against something that drastic. Instead, it’s something much softer, like a final draft of a script before a movie gets filmed.

A couple of plot threads that went nowhere are getting pruned, and I’m adjusting some of the tone (think MS/FAS; limit tests/Russia), I’d like to back away a bit from the darkness, not remove it altogether, just to make it less of miserable slog.

Today, July 2nd, is my birthday (I accept cash, books and Overwatch merch if you want to spoil me). Today is Announcement Day; Launch Day is Stef’s birthday, September 13th.

And as I’m sitting here writing the draft, I realise I’ve buried the lede.

We’re relaunching as a podcast.

We’re hoping this accessible format will draw in a larger audience, as it’s something you can consume on a commute, a run, or even on the loo.

I know for myself, over the last two years pretty much every book I’ve consumed (I honestly think graphic novels are the only exception) has been in the audio format. (Read a book? No time! Consume the entirety of The Adventure Zone? No problem!).

The text chapters will be there for the people who prefer that format (if this is you, would an additional step, such as ePub/Kindle files for each chapter be helpful?).

Chapters/Episodes will be released fortnightly – at least to start with, we don’t want to over-extend as we move into a new format – and see how that goes for six months or so.

[New episodes will be available via the site, Spotify, iTunes, and RSS.]

We’re rebranding as Ash & Blue, for the sake of acknowledging, all the changes, and the new format.

Short list of things that are and aren’t changing due to the rebrand.

Website: New! http://ashandblue.com/
Facebook: New! https://www.facebook.com/AshandBlue/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AshBluePodcast
Contact Email: stormystohelit@gmail.com
Patreon: New! https://www.patreon.com/AshandBlue
Discord: New! https://discord.gg/hz3wKfB
Mailing List: Unchanged

We’ll have patchy updates until Launch Day, but for the optimal experience, do this:

  1. Check out the new site
  2. Join the Discord
  3. Make sure you’re on the mailing list

 

Come to the new site, there’s something special waiting there.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 7

In My Daydreams

The plant’s fronds waved. Through my implant, I heard, “Drop the tunnel on them. You can do that, can’t you?”

The techs concentrated. Some of them closed their eyes. The screens in the air changed from black screens to new sections of the tunnel and not all of them the same section. Each screen was numbered, starting from 927 through to 978, but with a seven screen gap in the middle—the screens that had gone blank.

Screens below 942 through to 933 and above 949 through to 956 showed chunks of rock fall. Some screens went dead. Others showed closeups of rocks and pebbles.

“There,” the first tech said. “We brought a couple tons of rock down on them. We can’t bring down the entire tunnel, but that should be enough to kill them.”

I sighed. This guy, whoever he was, didn’t spend enough time watching whatever their equivalent of action movies was. I didn’t have time to tell him so before screen 962 showed the rockfall begin to move. At first, rocks  were all we saw. They moved up the tunnel, pushed forward by something. From experience, I doubted that it was telekinesis. I couldn’t quite say how it looked wrong for that, but it did.

Then a yellowish-white glow broke through the stones, first in small beams of light and then thickening until the top of a yellowish-white globe broke through the top of the of the pile. Within seconds, we could see Neves’ bulk, followed by the four handed Ascendant Guardsman. For lack of a better idea, I decided to call him Four Hands in my head. What I’d do if his relatives had also survived was a problem for another day.

I wondered what his actual name was. Four Hands sounded like the Ascendancy equivalent of a racist nickname, a thought that didn’t make me feel good about coming up with it on my own. I supposed that I could ask him for his name if we both survived.

For all the technical skill that I assumed Four Hands had, it wasn’t his force field. Kamia stood behind Four Hands, her armor glowing with the same color as the force field. Behind Kamia walked Agent 957, the Ascendancy soldiers, and more of the “handsies” as one of the techs had called them.

It didn’t seem like there were as many as there had been before and the troops’ armor had long scrapes and sometimes blood. I wasn’t sure that the blood was theirs.

“Again! Drop the ceiling on them again and keep it up,” Crawls-Through-Desert told them.

The techs looked over at Asan and Sian. They agreed.

The techs did what they could. The first two times rocks covered them the force shield shed “sparks.” I wasn’t sure what else to call the fragments that fell away from the shield. I knew how my ship’s shields worked, but these personal shields were a different kind of technology and outside of my experience.

My implant identified Kamia’s armor and the shields as Abominator tech. It figured. They’d created the empowered portion of humanity, so they might as well have built us tools.

“As soon as you find that they’re in a section where you can blow up the tunnel, do it. That shield can’t have infinite energy. One of the times that it gets hit, it will fail.” The plant floated closer to the screens, its pot blowing air out of the holes in the back.

The blue haired tech said, “I think I’ve figured out the speed at which they push through the rubble. They should be at the next explosives site in five minutes.”

“Five minutes? You guys didn’t line the whole thing with explosives?” I didn’t really expect that they had, but it seemed worth a question.

The blue haired tech said, “No, we didn’t want to risk damaging the stability of the caverns. There are tunnels all over and some of them are close to other or close to spots in the rock that could have side effects if we blow them up. Besides, we might need the tunnel later even if we want to blow it up now.”

That made sense.

Ignoring me, the tech continued, “We’re going to blow sections 970 to 977 in three minutes. Everyone quiet, please. No distractions.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Kals touching her bracelet. In the next moment, her voice was in my head. “I’m alerting my mom. We’re going to have to evacuate or fight, probably both.”

“You’re right,” I told her. “I don’t think we’re going to stop them before they reach our cavern. We need to prepare an ambush.”

I wished I had a direct line to HAL just now. He’d probably have some useful observations. Unfortunately, tons of rock made an effective communications barrier. On the other hand, if anywhere in the cavern had a connection outside, it was here.

I considered whether or not I could ask anyone about it and decided I couldn’t. At the same time, the screens corresponding to the next sections of the tunnel appeared in the air.

The blue haired guy said. “We’re going to blow the next section. One…”

Then all the screens went blank. After a second, words appeared and the implant translated. It said, “We’re coming.”

Then it went blank again.

The blue haired tech turned to Asan and Sian, “The bombs won’t respond.”

As I considered how the Guard might have done that, my implant vomited the Xiniti’s experiences with these Guard members into my brain. Among the more memorable lines was, “Four Hands and Kamia have a remarkable synergy between his technical expertise and her Abominator device that allows her to attack computer, AIs, and implants.”

While it didn’t explain this, that’s something I would have wanted to know long ago.

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Semicoop

Judging a gift by its cover

Semicoop

It actually was my birthday last Friday! I’ve now joined the cool 30’s gang. 😉

Whenever we go to birthday parties of our (gaming group) friends, there is often something a lot of the gifts have in common: the wrapping paper! Our comic and gaming store Comicasa has had this wrapping paper for as long as I can remember now. At one point we even gift-wrapped an already gift wrapped gift with a different wrapping paper just to make a friend think we didn’t get him a board game or comic-related gift. This wrapping paper deserved to get its own comic. I’m not sure if it is common in other countries that something you buy can be gift wrapped, but here in the Netherlands, it’s a service provided by most stores.

In other really cool news, the amazing Musical Live Show of No Pun Included we were part of is now online! Elaine and Efka did an amazing job and you should totally check out the wonderful performance of Elaine, singing these funny songs about board games:

Does your local game store have a ‘signature’ wrapping paper?

The post Judging a gift by its cover appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 6

In My Daydreams

Sian and Asan looked at each other. Asan said, “We need to go downstairs. It sounds like the Guard just showed up.”

“Showed up?” I kept on talking as they turned toward the stairs and motioned us to follow. “I wasn’t aware they’d gone missing.”

Sian turned to look at me. “We’ve been watching them since they left or we’ve been trying to. The Guard have chameleon tech. It doesn’t make them invisible to the eye if you know what to look for, but they’re invisible to sensors. After they left the tunnels, they disappeared. We’ve got visual sensors on the outside, but the better they are, the bigger they are, and the easier they are to detect. So we’ve got other sensors for longer distances, but chameleon tech can fool those.”

We all walked down the stairs.

Kals talked over my shoulder at them. “Wait, when I called you guys for a report earlier, you didn’t say anything about chameleon tech. You said that you’d seen them heading toward the shuttles.”

“Exactly,” Asan shouted back, “We watched them until they disappeared from visuals.”

Sian added, “Maru knew about the chameleon tech.”

Keeping her voice close to level, Kals told them, “Maru’s dead and he didn’t pass that on. You can’t assume I know everything he did.”

Maybe there would have been more to that conversation if we hadn’t made it to the second floor by then. In the second floor lab, techs crowded in one corner where pictures from different cameras showed Neves (big, dark-skinned man in black armor), and Kamia (a pale woman in red armor with at least three guns). It also showed one of four handed techies, but this one was bigger than any of the others and wore armor.

None of them wore the Human Ascendancy military’s logo—a human outline, head upraised to the sky. All three wore what my implant identified as the Ascendant Guard’s symbol—a human outline with a rifle held across its chest.

Along with them in the tunnel were more of the Ascendancy soldiers with claws and teeth that resembled Haley and Travis. A smaller number of the four-handed techs stood in the hall near them, aiming devices up and down the walls. They were the size I expected them to be.

A fourth person stood near the clawed soldiers. Wearing blue armor that doubled as a space suit, he paced up and down the cavern next to the troops, stood behind the techs as they analyzed their surroundings, and turned his helmet toward the Guard members and watched them, turning away before they looked in his direction.

The symbol on his armor was the Human Ascendancy’s man with his head upraised to the sky, but in this case, a DNA strand had been shaped to fill the human figure’s body. My implant identified it as the symbol of the Human Ascendancy’s Genetic Management Office.

This was Agent 957, the guy who had followed us across space and used Alanna to find the colony.

It was almost disappointing. When someone does something like that, you expect them to be bigger than life and this guy, well, he wasn’t.

From what little I’d seen of him, I got the impression that he was nervous and maybe afraid of the Guard members.

That all passed through my mind in a moment. In the next moment, I knew that we needed to know more.

“Where are they? Is that a tunnel that might lead them here?”

The techs turned around to look at me. One guy shrugged. “Uh… Yeah. That one’s a real way in. It’s defended, but I suppose someone might be capable of getting past it, but we watched these guys try this morning. They didn’t get anywhere. Can’t say I see any reason to believe they’ll do better tonight.”

Another tech, one with blue-tinged hair, shook his head. “I don’t know. This time they’ve got a bunch of handsies to help.”

The first tech said, “I’ve never believed those guys were much better than any other techie. It’s not like hands make you smarter.”

“They don’t,” blue hair said, “but I worked with those guys back when I was on a ship and some of them were far past normal—“

All the screens went black, or at least all the screens that showed Ascendancy troops.

Crawls-Through-Desert spoke, “We need an estimate of the best time they could realistically make it here from the point that they were at. We’ll need to know both the speed if they knew how to disable all the traps and if they don’t.”

The blue haired tech said, “With traps disarmed is easy. It’s about 30 minutes. Assuming that they can disarm the traps and break through the force field, but don’t know how? My guess is about an hour or two. If they’re lucky, 45 minutes.”

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 5

In My Daydreams

I couldn’t know that, of course, but if I thought in terms of the Ascendency’s situation and resources, it seemed reasonable. Our main protection was the caverns’ size in combination with the decoys and traps the colony’s techs created.

If the Ascendancy had genetically modified technical geniuses, they’d be throwing them up against that. That’s what I’d be doing anyway.

I hoped the colony’s techs were as good.

Not long after that I found myself walking across the cavern city to the technical building we’d captured Alanna in before she’d committed suicide. When we walked inside it looked the same as before. Black cylinders as tall as I was while wearing the Rocket suit filled the room. As I remembered from the last time we were there, the cylinders collected ambient energy and stored it.

They’d been collecting energy for years despite being inside a giant rock formation. I hadn’t had the chance to ask for details when we’d been there last time. I might get to this time, but I doubted it. The implant had a selection of technologies that it might be and I suspected I’d have to content myself with going through them later when I had time.

Kals, Crawls-Through-Desert and I followed one of the techs up to the second floor of the building. There weren’t any cylinders there. It looked like a lab. Desks and long tables with dismantled machines and parts of machines filled the room. Tanks with cloudy liquid were scattered throughout the room—next to walls and on top of desks and tables. Though they weren’t easy to see through, the tanks contained hard objects. If I watched, I thought I could see new objects grow.

Neither Kals or the plant showed much interest as we met Asan and Sian at the back of the room and took another flight of stairs up to another floor. This one was a mixture of desks, storage closets, and parts—lots of parts. The implant labeled the ones I gave any thought to and sometimes I recognized parts from my experience with the ship’s alien tech.

Asan and Sian stopped at a desk and pulled out chairs from it’s nearest neighbor for Kals and I. The plant floated next to the desk. Since I was wearing the Rocket suit, I half expected to crush the chair when I sat down, but the most recent version of the suit was lighter than the last. The chair held.

Asan grinned at us. “Jadzen wanted us to talk about what we could do to detect the Ascendancy’s people before they made it down here.”

Sian sat in his own chair. “We’ve been thinking about this for years and we’ve got a system already. It’s not perfect, but it should work. The core problem is that while there are methods we could use to send information through the rock without physical material, they make it easy to triangulate our location.”

In his own chair, Asan tapped on the desk with a stylus. “Not only that, it’s practically an invitation to start decrypting everything we say. So, we went old school. We put in cable—a nearly mono-molecular cable that we used bots to pull through the rock.”

“So,” Sian said, “we have cameras on the other end of the cable that are smaller than pimples. We watched them this morning as they searched the caves. They had no idea.”

Asan grinned. “We’re several steps ahead of where you all think we are. We’ve got people and computers watching the feeds whenever there’s movement.”

Keeping my movements minimal, I asked, “Did Alanna know about the cables?”

“Yes,” Sian frowned, “but she didn’t know where each one of them was. Everybody uses cables like this. They’re practically impossible to find.”

It sounded good. I thought about how I’d counter something like that. If I could detect it with some work, I’d send people in to remove the cameras and then bring in the rest behind them. If I couldn’t detect it, I’d either accept that I’d be making an attack with no chance of surprising anyone, or maybe I’d figure out a way to obscure how many people were going down any given tunnel. Dust, maybe?

My implant called up lists of known ways that Xiniti had defeated similar systems. Depending on the type of camera, it included the use of chameleon suits, sending dust down the tunnel or exploiting the limits of a known type of camera.

“Do we use different types of cameras or all the same kind?”

“The same kind,” Asan nodded. “A good point. They’d have to know the type of camera, but they might be able to get past all of them. It’s not likely.”

“Did Alanna know?”

Sian frowned again. “Yes. I think we could swap out a few cameras, but they didn’t think like that yesterday. Why would they change their approach?”

I thought about it. “I don’t know that they will, but I’m thinking that if they’ve got any techs left, they’ll be assigned to this now.”

From the stairwell came the sound of voices. I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but they’d become louder.

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Semicoop

Warming up

Semicoop

At the UK Games Expo, we discovered we were one of the few who had not played the game The Mind yet! We were looked at in disbelieve and we really needed to play it according to multiple people. Vic brought a copy of the game along with him and together with Sam we finally played The Mind. We only just met them both and it turned out that Vic and Sam are incredible The Mind players. We won the first game we ever played, which apparently is not a very common thing. 😉

It’s all about subtle nonverbal communication. Each player is dealt a hand of cards with numbers ranging from zero to one hundred. Players cannot speak to each other and need to lay down cards on the table one by one, trying to lay them down in chronological order from low to high! But you don’t know what cards other players have in their hands. It could be that you have a 7, which is a low-value card, but does somebody else have an even lower card that? Do you need to put it down on the table immediately or will you slide it to the center of the table slowly, giving other players a chance to put a card on the table first? The game starts off relatively easy with players having only a few cards in their hands and it slowly progresses each level with players having more cards in their hands.

There is not much to share about our board gaming life right now, because it’s been on hold due to work-related projects on my side and Heinze’s master thesis on the other. We will be playing Gloomhaven again tonight after three weeks, that’s a start! … we’re going to play so many games this summer to make up for June. 😛

What’s your favorite nonverbal communication game?

The post Warming up appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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Crying Grumpies

Mis olvidados CCG, Netrunner

Crying Grumpies

Cryin Grumpies - Surfing - Surfeando - Net - Red - The Grumpy Shop 2

Esta semana me a tocado viaje de trabajo y en la soledad de la noche me ha asaltado la pena. La pena por la segunda despedida de un juego al que los últimos años le he dado mucho. Fantasy Flight Games ha anunciado que las negociaciones con Wizards of the Coast no han llegado a buen puerto y cancelan Android Netrunner. Así que hoy aprovecharemos para hablar un poco de Netrunner y darle un sentido homenaje.

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Netrunner es uno de esos juegos que han tenido una segunda oportunidad. En el año 1996 en medio de la locura de los CCG Richard Garfield creó Netrunner, su obra maestra junto a Roborally y Vampire the Eternal Struggle. Wizards of the Coast solamente llego a publicar una expansión y se han conseguido los archivos de la segunda. El juego estuvo vivo algo más de seis meses, tiempo más que suficiente para ganarse un lugar en el corazoncito de los aficionados gracias a sus mecánicas innovadoras. La segunda oportunidad le llego en 2012 cuando FFG anunció que había licenciado el motor del juego y iba a implementarlo en Android, su propio universo cyberpunk. Esta vez Netrunner ha aguantado un poco más; dos juegos básicos, ocho ciclos de seis miniexpansiones, cinco expansiones deluxe y una campaña narrativa. Netrunner es un raro ejemplo de como un juego puede resucitar de sus cenizas. Los compases iniciales de su vida como LCG fueron superalentadores, todo sonrisas y un crecimiento continuo que hizo replantearse junto a X-Wing la forma de acercarse al juego organizado. Por desgracia el problema inherente del formato LCG conocido como coste de entrada y un par de ciclos de diseño cuestionable alejaron a buena parte de la comunidad. Y cuando ya se le veían las orejas al lobo llego un nuevo diseñador jefe que gracias a ajustes en las legalidades, la rotación planteada para reducir el coste de entrada al juego y un muy buen ciclo de expansiones  parecía que iba a enderezar el rumbo. Por desgracia esa ilusión a durado poco y cuando en breve salga a la venta la nueva expansión deluxe el juego volverá a morir.

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Netrunner es un juego de cartas coleccionables en cualquiera de sus dos encarnaciones con un juego asimétrico. Uno de los jugadores encarna a una “malvada” corporación que deberá salvaguardar sus planes de dominación mundial del otro jugador que se encargará de jugar como runner. Un hacker cuyo cometido será hacerse con dichos planes.  En las partidas se jugarán dos vueltas cambiando los roles.

El juego de la corporación es el del engaño. Todas las cartas que juegue la corporación se juegan boca abajo y a menos que la corporación decida darles la vuelta y ponerlas en juego el runner no sabrá a que se enfrenta hasta que sea demasiado tarde. Para ganar la corporación deberá puntuar siete puntos de Agenda. Para ello deberá crear servidores o columnas de cartas en los que en la base habrá Planes, recursos o trampas. Para proteger estos servidores de las incursiones del runner deberá jugar Hielos con los que intentar parar el avance. Pero no solo deberá proteger estos servidores, la baraja, la mano y el descarte también son objetivos potenciales para realizar incursiones y robar planes.

Por su parte el Runner juega con todo al descubierto. Ya sean programas para enfrentarse a los Hielos del rival durante las incursiones, recursos o hardware para mejorar su estrategia de cara a robar siete puntos dde Plan y ganar la partida. La única información a salvo del rival será el contenido de su mano.

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A diferencia de otros juegos donde cada turno hay la posibilidad de robar una carta del tipo recurso, ¿os suenan los manas?, el principal recurso del juego es el click o acción. Tanto la corporación como el runner pueden invertir estos clicks de formas similares, ganar dinero, cartas, jugar cartas y en el caso del runner realizar incursiones. Esto transforma el juego en un juego sobre economía, por regla general quien mejor consiga optimizar la utilización de sus acciones tendrá la mano ganadora. La cororación solamente podrá utilizar tres click cada turno pero robará una carta al principio del turno, mientras que el runner dispondrá de cuatro de estos clicks.

Netrunner es posiblemente uno de los juegos de cartas más cerebrales que he visto. Los inicios y finales de partida suelen favorecer al runner mientras que el midgame suele ir a favor de los intereses de la corporación. Como conseguir alargar o acortar las fases iniciales del juego, como quedarse en el midgame o como pasar del early game al late game saltándose la parte intermedia de la partida es uno de los puzzles más interesantes que tiene Netrunner.

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Netrunner es uno de los mejores juegos, de cartas, muñecos o lo que sea, que me he encontrado en mi vida. Es cierto que en un momento el juego me hecho, pero tiene más que ver con mi preferencia de juego amistoso antes el competitivo plagado de las mismas barajas una ronda tras otra y algunas decisiones en diseño que favorecieron las barajas de tipo cerrojo contra las que no me divertía jugando con o contra ellas. Así que solo me queda recomendaros una cosa, comprad Netrunner y tendréis un fantástico juego cerrado de por vida al que jugar con vuestros amigos y ahora seguro que encontráis buenos tratos en grupos de segunda mano de gente que se deshaga del juego al no haber soporte competitivo.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 4

In My Daydreams

Jadzen waited as everyone sat at the table. “As we’re all too well aware, Maru died while fighting Ascendancy forces today. While I find a new assistant, I’m going to have Kals take over Maru’s role. She might not want to continue in it for the long term, but right now she’s familiar with everything I need her to know.”

“Meaning,” Kals sent to me via her bracelet, “she knows that everyone in the colony knows me and she knows that the group of you like me and don’t like her.”

I sent back a feeling of amusement via implant.

Meanwhile, the council members congratulated her and she thanked them.

“You love me now,” she told them, “but wait until I ask for your next resource report.”

That led to laughter and groans from the group. I was about to message her and ask what she was talking about when she sent to the group of us that Maru had people report on their used supplies to get a sense of what they needed to order from off-planet or needed to learn how to make here.

“Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody likes it,” she told us.

Aloud, she addressed the Council. “As you’ve heard, the plan worked. We drove a herd of megafauna into them. I don’t know how many died but from what I saw, most of them died or were too hurt to fight. Between the destruction of the ship and all the shuttles, they can’t have working medical chambers, so their forces are reduced to 200 or 300 people at most, and it might be less than that.”

She looked around the table at the group. “There’s one problem. The surviving members are part of the Ascendant Guard. We know that Neves and Kamia are among them and there might be more. Agent 957 might be among the dead, but he might not. We don’t know. Either way, they probably have experienced motivators, so we can’t let our people get near them.”

One of the council members asked, “Do we know what they’re doing next?”

Kals shook her head. “We don’t. We have people watching outside and they haven’t seen anyone try to enter the tunnels that lead to us. Cameras near our traps and decoy entrances show Neves, Kamia, and a few others trying to find us. What we don’t know is whether they’ve given up after what happened to the rest of their group—“

Another council member, a big man with dark skin and faintly glowing eyes, interrupted her. “They’ll never give up. They hate us. The Guard killed more of us than anyone else. I served in the First Citizen’s mansion. He wants us all dead!”

Kals blinked and then frowned as he talked over her, but then said, “I know. That’s the problem. I’ve talked to our techs and they don’t know what the Guard members are doing. All anyone knows is that they saw them heading back to the shuttles. Since then, we haven’t seen anyone heading back here.”

From there it turned into a discussion of whether or not the Guard would bother when they hadn’t made it past the decoys, had far too much area to search and needed to consider issues like surviving on the planet.

Iolan pointed out, “While I agree that the Guard are fanatics, even they have to see that they’ll never be able to capture us and bring us home now.”

Glowing eye guy shook his head. “They’re fanatics. Killing us and then dying at the Xiniti’s hands would be a success in their minds. We’ve got to find them and kill them first.”

It went on until Crawls-Through-Desert interrupted. “I’ve fought the Guard. We have to assume they’ll come after you. Casone,” he must have caught glowing eye guy’s name, “is correct. They’re fanatics. They won’t give up and if they think they’re going to die, they’ll probably kill us all to preserve their reputation. Imagine the Xiniti ships arriving to find that the only living humans were the Ascendant Guard—who would then commit suicide if they didn’t think they could steal a Xiniti ship. Before they died though, they’d send recordings of them killing Jadzen and all of the Xiniti assembled here to the media through the ansible.

“No, you can be confident that they’ll play their best hand every step of the way.”

Casone nodded. “The murderous bastards.”

Crawls-Through-Desert floated above the table. “The Xiniti group needs to rest up and be ready to go tomorrow morning. We can’t be sure the Guard won’t attack tonight, but we’ll do better with rested people than tired people. It the meantime, if Jadzen allows it, I’d like to talk to the techs. We need to work out a system for finding them before they find us. I’ll also need Nick for this. Is that alright with everyone?”

Jadzen glanced over at Kals and then said, “Do it and take Kals along as well. She needs to know this.”

Thinking back to when Marcus and I destroyed the battleship, I’d seen four armed and four-handed people in the engine rooms. I wasn’t sure but I might have seen them on the ground as well. The implant identified them as a geneline designed to be good with technology. I wondered how many survived and what they might be doing.

If any survived, they’d be working on the traps and decoys right now.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 3

In My Daydreams

The Caverns, Hideaway

Maru didn’t make it. Even as Jaclyn carried him away, I didn’t think he would. Despite having advanced alien tech, it’s not realistic to expect that they’d have the ability to handle disembowelment combined with massive blood loss in a colony’s medical center.

“If we’d been at home,” Iolan began, “I think I could have saved him.”

We were on the second floor of Jadzen’s cavern home in the open area where the council met and we’d made battle plans. As before, we were looking out on the lights of the hidden settlement. Unlike before, Maru’s body lay in storage elsewhere in the cavern.

He hadn’t been the only one who’d died. One of the colonists had died too, done in by a punch that hadn’t killed him outright, but had done more damage to his internal organs than I could see.

Jadzen had said a few words over the bodies and now we were back here looking out into the caverns and deciding what to do next.

Jaclyn turned to look at Iolan. “You could have saved him.” The flatness of her tone made it a statement, but it hung in the air like a question.

Iolan nodded. “He was still warm. He hadn’t lost anything we couldn’t bring back. We have large tanks that we can use to repair the body.”

I thought about the Abominator birthing chambers that I’d seen in the research facility in New York during the Hrrnna invasion and the similar chambers that Rook had been running. It was all probably variations on the same tech.

Marcus turned away from Tikki. “It sounds like the medical tech in Star Wars.”

Iolan said, “Star Wars?”

Marcus glanced over at me and then back at Iolan where he sat next to the table. “It’s an entertainment franchise set in another galaxy in the past. It’s about a rebellion against an evil empire… You guys would probably just see it as normal life.”

Kals and Jadzen walked into the room next. They both had reddish eyes and glistening cheeks. Jadzen gave Kals’ hand a squeeze. They looked at each other and let go. Jadzen stepped up to a crowd of council members and Kals walked up to Marcus, TIkki, Jaclyn and I.

As she did, Iolan stood up from the table, pushing his way out of his chair. He put his hand on Kals’ shoulder, carefully avoiding any skin and said, “I’m sorry about Maru. I did everything I could.”

“I know,” she said.

Iolan walked toward the Jadzen and the other council members. Kals looked over the group of us, atypically quiet. Then she sighed. “How are all of you doing?”

Jaclyn met her eyes. “I feel like we should be asking you, but while I can’t speak for anyone else, I’m doing alright.”

Kals smiled. “I’m doing better. Mom understood. She’d been worried since he left. I told you about that. She was worried that he might take terrible chances in order to redeem himself or even commit suicide.”

I shook my head. “He didn’t do that. He tried to protect you, but it wasn’t like he jumped in front of a blow meant for you. You two were working together and he happened to get unlucky.”

“I know. It’s not good that he died, but at least he didn’t throw away his life out of despair.” She gave a twisted smile. “It’s not much of a consolation, but it’s better than nothing.”

Tikki stepped closer. “I feel like I haven’t done enough. I was close. I don’t know if I could have saved him, but I feel like I should have tried.”

Marcus put his hand on Tikki’s shoulder. “You couldn’t do much. I mean, seriously. Your power doesn’t do much offensively.”

Tikki didn’t say anything at first, but then she added, “I’ve been thinking there are ways that I could have used it.”

To the back of our group, Cassie spoke up. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. I don’t know what you’re thinking of, but it probably wouldn’t have worked. If it’s a new thing, it almost never works the first time and that’s even less likely in the middle of a fight. Now if you’ve been practicing something day after day, that’s the move that’ll work.”

Tikki sighed and lowered her head. “I don’t know. I’ve never practiced it, but it didn’t seem hard…”

“Take it from me,” Cassie told her. “Everything I do is supposedly simple but it never works out that way.”

Tikki took in a breath, possibly ready to argue the point. She didn’t get to. Jadzen rapped her had on the table a couple times.

“We should begin the meeting now. Everyone please sit down at the table. We need to plan our next steps.” Jadzen looked us over.

I was inclined to listen. I had a nagging feeling that what was left of the Ascendancy’s force would try something soon.

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Semicoop

Crystal Heart: Exotic Ingredients

Semicoop

Ok, this is probably the ‘biggest’ Semi Co-op comic I’ve ever made (and please don’t get used to it, haha) but I just NEEDED to include a map of the island.

During the UK Games Expo, we played a Crystal Heart role playing session, lead by Eran from the webcomic Up To Four Players! We’ve mentioned it last week in the blog post, but we wanted to give this awesome experience some extra love. I could just turn the whole crazy fun session into a comic book, but since I’m not going to, I’m going to leave it at this little snippet for you to enjoy. And if you like it, you should really go and check out Up To Four Players’ their Crystal Heart comic on www.uptofourplayers.com to learn about from their Crystal Heart setting using the Savage Worlds system.

We’ve played this session together with the fantastic people of Behind the Box and Chris and Lindsey have also shared their thoughts on the Crystal Heart session in their UK Games Expo Overview video. For me, this probably also was the highlight of the weekend. Eran is a brilliant GM and I would love to join another session one day. And Chris, Lindsey and Mike were fantastic players, it was lovely meeting you and making this awesome gumbo with you all. 😉

Switching from fantasy to sci-fi, we were baffled to hear that Fantasy Flight Games have announced that they’re pulling the plug from Netrunner! Even though we aren’t really active players anymore, we’re always up to date on the game and events due to the amazing active Netrunner community in our city. Hopefully, it’s not really the end, the timing of it all seems just wrong.

It’s almost time for Gen Con! Or, in our case: Gen Can’t because we’re not going to be there. Nonetheless, we’d like to wish everyone that is going a very good time!

What was your most unfortunate event during an RPG session?

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 2

In My Daydreams

Castle Rock Compound, Colorado, Earth

Rachel woke.

She’d been dreaming of flying through space, the stars blurring and stretching she flew. She’d dreamt of this before but this time it felt real. The cold of space didn’t hurt her while intangible, but she knew it was out there waiting for her or anyone else who made the mistake of phasing into reality.

That was one of the other differences from past dreams. In the past, she’d suspected that others were there too and even thought she’d heard voices but this time she knew it for sure. The voices were as clear as anyone’s she’d ever spoken to.

“Come with us,” they told her, their sound as empty as the dark space they flew through. She knew they weren’t talking. They were in her head.

“We need you. All of your people need you—the hidden Artificer needs you, your brother and your friends need you, and the other humans too.”

She’d said, “I don’t know you and I’m not going anywhere until I know more. If you want to talk, talk. I don’t want you in my head until I’ve got a solid reason to allow you in.”

That was when she’d woken up alone in her dark dorm room, her chest heaving. Grateful that she had her own room this year because it meant that she only woke herself up, wishing she had someone else to talk to at the same time, she considered texting Tara. Then she shook her head. It wasn’t worth waking her up for a dream. Tara deserved to sleep and so did the other upperclassmen she knew best—Travis, Rod, and Samita.

She turned on the light, realizing that she was not alone in the room.

A being of hazy light, it had a woman’s shape and a hint of her grandmother’s face as well as her own. Its whiteness against the red stone walls made her think it ought to be in a Patrick Nagel painting.

All she said was, “Whoa. You’re real.”

The being of light met her eyes. Its eyes had no white. They were black but sprinkled with stars. “We are real. Come with us. You are one of our descendants. Come with us and save your brother and your friends.”

She looked it up and down. “You already said that. How can I trust you?”

It held up its hands. “You know us already.”

She considered that and the dreams she’d been having practically since Nick left, all of which featured glowing figures in space. If she were honest with herself, she had to admit that this made a degree of sense and that she didn’t have much choice but trust it. Given his track record, she found the idea that he’d found trouble out there in the stars entirely too believable.

“What do you want me to bring?”

It did nothing, appearing to consider the idea. “Yourself. Nothing more is needed. Phase out and we will show you the way.”

“Nothing?” She barely thought about that before throwing off her pajamas and putting on her utility belt, feeling her costume spread out and cover her body. Grabbing her gunbelt—which included two guns and magazines of ammunition—she added, “No clothes? What about a toothbrush? Shampoo?”

“All will be provided.” It paused. Then, “Are you ready?”

“I’m ready,” she said and phased out, grateful it hadn’t somehow forced the issue before she put on her costume. There’s no way she was going to perform a rescue wearing Snoopy pajamas.

The Fringe of the Issakass Alliance

Lee stood on the surface of the small moon, grey dust sticking to his claws—all of them. He wondered if he’d lost his pursuer and doubted it, but if that were so, he had things he needed to do. If not, well, he had other things he needed to do.

Halas appeared in front of him, looking worse for the wear even though he, like Lee, could repair his body as needed. He wore the form he’d used when they were traveling across the multiverses when they were young, an inchoate cloud of dust.

To Lee’s eye, the dust seemed tired. It had always moved and swirled, almost ready to take form, but here it was just a cloud.

Lee wore a form he called the “multi-dimensional dragon,” a form that to creatures capable of seeing only three dimensions appeared to be stretched and wrong with too many limbs and bodies or not nearly enough.

“Well,” Lee said, “it appears that you’ve caught me again,”  and waited for the next part. He knew what was coming.

“Caught you,” Halas said. “No, I’ve killed you. Remember our mutual friend Bakanan?”

Lee did. Bakanan had never been as good at fighting, but made up for it with his strength. Even as Halas finished his sentence, Bakanan materialized above them, all claws, teeth and scales in his own version of the multi-dimensional dragon.

Their struggles broke the moon.

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In My Daydreams

Warriors: Part 1

In My Daydreams

Agent 957, Hideaway, Landing Starport

It had been an utter disaster. Agent 957 couldn’t see it any other way.

The sun beat down as he stood at the edge of the field, outwardly supervising the marines and the few spacers who’d survived as they ransacked the ships, trying his best not to let anything show.

If the marines had lost respect for him, he didn’t see it, but helmets covered their heads so it wasn’t as if he could read their facial expressions. Besides that, Ascendancy policy was to keep soldiers as compliant with authority as possible. They could be screaming inside and he’d only know it if he deliberately asked.

The spacers were allowed a little more agency, but not much.

The spacers never looked him in the eye. He wasn’t sure whether that was due to hatred or fear.

He kicked a can of… something—water or food, maybe. That got a few looks. He saw them out of the corner of his eye, but the spacers turned their attention back to unloading and organizing the supplies before he had time to glance their way.

It was all his fault. Between the destruction of their battleship and the death of its commander, the Ascendancy forces had been in such disarray that they hadn’t seen the herd coming toward them or realized that the force shields were down until the creatures were pouring into the camp.

If he failed to capture Jadzen Akri and the council after all this, he’d need to go into hiding—and maybe even if he succeeded. He’d lost a battleship and then most of its crew.

He took a series of slow breaths. No, he told himself, the commander lost the battleship. I lost the crew and even then it’s not all my fault. They’re supposed to be trained to handle this. They knew about the megafauna on this hellhole. They should have been watching.

As he began to feel better, he thought again about how the resistance had damaged the ships—all of them. Whoever had done it had used something to poke holes in the shuttles’ engines and control mechanisms, consistently targeting the exact same spots on all of  the shuttles with an eye toward making sure there were no spare parts.

Whoever they were (and he had ideas), the attack showed the same techniques as half a dozen incidents across Human Ascendancy space. His implant had the details.

He could give up any ideas he had about going into hiding. Whoever had done this had destroyed not only the shuttles’ engines but those of his own fighter, making it impossible for anyone to get off the planet and signing his death warrant at the same time.

Footfalls came from behind him. He knew whose they had to be and if they were upset, he’d die.

He turned, seeing them, all of them current or former members of the Ascendant Guard. Neves, the biggest of them—tall, dark-skinned and with massive muscles. Neves had some connection with the Abominator servants still on Earth.

“Well,” Neves said, “that was a massive fuck up. We were too far away to even hear about it before it was too late.”

“I know. You were the only ones I could trust. Did you find them?”

Kamia, pale skinned with hair so blonde it was nearly white, laughed. “No. You sent us to the caverns, but they’ve had years to hide and we had more than fifty miles of caverns to search. Their people were clever. We lost men to their traps and tracked their signs through caves without once ever catching them.”

Agent 957 frowned. “What about Abominator technology?”

She shook her head. “I couldn’t sense any in the caverns. I caught a hint of Abominator out here while I was in inside, but I assumed that was a mistake.”

Neves shook his head. “No mistake. The survivors reported that one of the ‘Xiniti’ carried what sounded like an Abominator gun.”

Kamia’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t say anything at first, but added, “I’ll watch for it. I could use another.”

Agent 957 glanced at her waist where three oddly shaped guns hung in their holsters (not to mention the other items in their pouches). They couldn’t all be sentient weapons.

Next to Kamia, Four Hands shook his head. “Don’t even think about acquiring another. You know what the masters’ weapons were like. That way lies madness.”

One of the few of the Abominators’ genetically bred zero-g repairmen to make into the Guard, Four Hands stood a foot higher than the average member of his people. Wearing powered armor that protected his body from the planet’s gravity, Four Hands had hands instead of feet and a mind designed to understand technology.

Turning away from Kamia, Four Hands addressed the agent. “I received an ansible communication that reinforcements are on their way. It’s anyone’s guess as to when they’ll be here, but they’re coming. That means that when they get here, they’ll find out about this.”

He waved a hand toward the rows of damaged shuttles. “We’d like to offer you a chance to save your career and life. We don’t believe in capturing members of the resistance. We believe that all of them, from the youngest child to Jadzen Akri, need to die. We need you to help us control what’s left of the troops. In return, we’ll vouch for you to our supervisors. You’ll be a hero and better yet, you won’t be executed. What do you say?”

Agent 957 let out a breath. “Yes.”

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Crying Grumpies

Challenger Decks, Y Magic volvió a mi vida.

Crying Grumpies

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Después de la fantástica tarde que pasamos con Mailman jugando a Pokemon me quede con ganas de buscar otros juegos con barajas preconstruidas a los que hincarles el diente. Y una noche mientras se subía uno de nuestros videos al Youtube me puse a perder el tiempo en la red social de videos. Uno de los videos que encontré era un revview sobre el último producto que Wizards of the Coast ha puesto a la venta, las Challanger Decks. Barajas preconstruidas completamente legales y muy similares a las que utilizan los profesionales para jugar en Standard. A pesar de mis experiencias pasadas con el juego me dije vas a comprar una de cada.

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En mi vida he intentado jugar al decano de los CCG tres veces. Con doce años cuando pise una tienda de juegos por primera vez. Me compré un mazo de cuarta edición y un habitual de la tienda se dispuso a enseñarme. Dos turnos después estaba muerto por culpa del infame combo Channel-Fireball, inmediatamente me agencie un mazo de SATM. La segunda unos años más tarde y ya en el instituto fue cuando un compañero me monto un mazo con proxies lleno de moxes, lotus timewalks, forks y demás cartas del estilo. Pasamos grandes ratos en el recreo hasta que un día me dio por mirar cuanto me costaría jugar de verdad con esa baraja, completamente descartado. La última ocasión en la que lo intentamos fue cuando Mailman se compro un par de barajas de inicio y una caja de creación de mazos. Por desgracia lo que salió de ahí fueron mazos de mierda y partidas más bien aburridas que no estaban a la altura de la diversión que nos aportaba Warhammer Invasion, el juego al que jugábamos en ese momento, lo dejamos correr. Como veis mi vida y el Magic nunca se han llevado muy bien pero siempre le he reconocido sus méritos como un reglamento accesible y bastante sólido, juego rápido y una gran comunidad de jugadores.

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Las Challenger Decks han cambiado estas experiencias pasadas que os cuento. Estas barajas, por el momento hay cuatro pero con el éxito que han tenido estoy seguro que cuando cambie el entorno habrá nuevas, son barajas listas para jugar de sesenta cartas con sideboard de 15 cartas. O lo que es lo mismo una baraja completamente legal con tan solo abrirla de su cajita y pensada para adentrarte en Standard, uno de los formatos más demandantes a nivel económico que existe. Pero no es solamente una baraja legal sino que es un mazo moderadamente competitivo que adapta alguno de los mazos con los que se han ganado los últimos protour. Si hacemos caso a los comentarios de muchos videos sobre ellas han ganado recién abiertas más de uno y dos torneos semanales en tiendas.

Hasta ahora este tipo de mazo preconstruido, los de otros juegos también, venían con un par o tres de cartas buenas y el resto eran morralla. La diferencia aquí es que nos encontramos barajas con playsets de cartas míticas o raras. Esto viene con un coste adicional, el precio de este producto ronda los 30€ por baraja en contra de los 15€ habituales. Eso sí el valor de las cartas compradas en el mercado secundario se mueve entre los 70-90€. Esto ha hecho que muchísima gente se compre estas barajas para revender las cartas. Si hay que encontrar un problema es que los mazos solamente están en ingles.

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En mi caso lo que hemos hecho con Mailman ha sido tener una fantástica cajita con las cuatro barajas para que cualquier día que quedemos para tomar un café por la tarde podamos pasar un buen rato con barajas entretenidas de jugar. ¿Nos volveremos locos y nos pondremos a comprar sobres? Lo dudo ¿Nos compraremos futuras barajas del estilo si salen a la venta? Muy probable, porque así Magic es DIVERTIDO.

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Semicoop

UK Games Expo 2018

Semicoop

We are utterly spent, but very content. THE UK GAMES EXPO IS OVER! We had a wonderful time and were super impressed with the atmosphere and everybody demoing games and running events. The main two halls were big enough to never be bored for three days, plus it had a lovely open gaming area, but if you felt like a change of scenery the nearby Hilton was like a tiny convention on its own.

We’ve played a lot of games, ranging from unpublished prototypes to games that have been out for a while. Of the unreleased games, we really liked Holding On: The Troubles Life of Billy Kerr by Hub games, Ruthless by AlleyCat games and Heroes of Tenefyr by Broken Mill games, which all will have Kickstarters or be released this year so keep an eye out. We’ve also played The Captain Is Dead, which is a fun co-op Star Trek parody, and Rising 5, which is a cool co-op game in which you’re trying to solve a Mastermind-like puzzle. We also bought and were gifted some games by publishers so the coming weeks will, deadlines allowing, be filled with trying them all and see if they’ll be nice comic material. 🤓

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jun 4, 2018 at 5:06am PDT

But enough about games, the best part is meeting new people and friends at cons. Last year at Essen was our first con experience which led to a lot of new friends so the UKGE was like a great big reunion! We hung around with Actualol a lot and had a great time playing and chatting with readers, content creators and the Netrunner crew out of Enschede who had come out in force to the UK!

Next, to these general short encounters, we also did two big things with awesome people. We took part in an epic Crystal Heart roleplaying session DM’ed by Eran of UptoFourPlayers about a party of Syn agents, played by Behind The Box, Mike and us, trying to win in a Gumbo cooking contest! It has probably been 10 years since we played a proper pen and paper RPG, but everybody had a great time and Eran always made sure you would know what to do and what the options were. Aviv joined us near the end and quickly drew this amaaaazing sketch of the final battle.

No Pun Included invited us to join there musical panel show which was a ton of fun too! Tom Vasel, Jon who Gets Games and Rachel squared of against Rahdo, Actualol and Heinze to see who would be the best at guessing which games were the subject of ten songs written by Elaine of No Pun Included. We had a great time and as far as we heard everybody had and hopefully the video will be online soon (don’t worry, we’ll let you know) so you can see Rachel’s epic winning move!

Have you ever been to a convention? If so, what is your best memory?

The post UK Games Expo 2018 appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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Crying Grumpies

Firefly: no pueden quitarnos el cielo

Crying Grumpies

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Es muy, muy, muy difícil que una serie me llegue a emocionar. Es casi imposible que eso me ocurra con una serie de ciencia ficción. Porque, en cuanto a ciencia ficción, hay series malas, series que me encantan (Farscape, Almacén 13), series que me flipan (The Expanse)… y luego está Firefly.

Aprovechando que Netflix vuelve a incluir en su oferta tanto la serie entera como su apoteósico final, Serenity, quiero escribir unas pocas líneas acerca de la que aún considero la cumbre nunca superada de la ciencia ficción televisiva.

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Malcolm Reynolds, capitán de la Serenity, rebelde, fugitivo y un tipo bastante decente.

Firefly es una serie absolutamente arrebatadora. Sobre todo, porque nunca pretendió serlo. Se trata de uno de esos raros momentos en que el arte, la suerte la inspiración y el amor por la historia que se narra superaron de lejos a la vertiente industrial. Lo es porque contó con un Joss Whedon inspirado, tanto en la producción como en el guión, la dirección… y, obviamente, la creación. Lo es porque el reparto era sencillamente perfecto, con unos actores que, literalmente, eran sus personajes.

Pero también lo es porque Firefly nunca pretendió ser ciencia ficción: y es que, si nos pusiéramos muy tiquismiquis, podríamos clasificarla de western espacial.

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La Serenity, carguero ligero clase Firefly.

También reconozco que me identifico totalmente con Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, ex combatiente del bando perdedor de una guerra civil de su sistema solar, las Guerras de Unificación, rebelde antisistema que no se conforma con haber perdido frente a una Alianza tecnócrata y fascistoide y se lanza a los mundos fronterizos para proseguir con una vida tan alejada como sea posible de normas, reglas y estados.

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La tripulación en la cabina: Wash, Zoe, Jewel, Mal y Simon

Pero ¿qué decir de Inara, de Wash, de River, de Zoe, Jayne, Simon, Jewel, Derrial…? Personajes redondos que poco a poco se nos van revelando conforme sus motivaciones y personalidades cobran más y más dimensiones. Whedon, con la inestimable ayuda de sus actores, los va convirtiendo en personas con las que empatizamos y cuyos triunfos y derrotas sentimos como nuestros. Es este componente emocional el que atrapa al espectador.

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Homenaje a Firefly en Community, otra serie de culto.

Podríamos hablar mucho, también, de la tremenda influencia de Firefly en posteriores series de ciencia ficción e incluso en todo tipo de shows televisivos que no han dudado en apelar a su calidad y su condición de serie de culto, incorporándola en chistes y episodios enteros.

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Firefly ha sido homenajeada numerosas veces en The Big Bang Theory.

Que nada, que en realidad solo quería revivir un poco los gratos recuerdos que me deparó Firefly y la tristeza infinita que sentí al acabar Serenity, con vosotros. Y deciros que aprovechéis para volver a verlas, que serán minutos muy bien invertidos de vuestro ocio. Y a los que nunca la habéis visto, deciros que os envidio: no hay como ver Firefly “virgen”. Por eso apenas he mencionado nada de la trama: disfrutadla.

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Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin y Nathan Fillion: esta foto nos hizo soñar a muchos con una reedición de la serie.

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In My Daydreams

Release the Hounds: Part 12

In My Daydreams

Moments like that cause you to rethink what you’ve been doing. I’d left 60 bots out of my calculations. In addition to the others, I had 20 observation bots, 20 spybots and 20 EMP bots. I’d left out the observation bots and spybots because they weren’t much use in a fight and the EMP bots because I’d been assuming Ascendancy soldiers would be using equipment hardened against EMP bots at my tech level.

When I considered the question in that moment, the implant gave me the Ascendancy equipment’s known specs and I compared them to my bots.

Instants later, I fired off ten of the 20 EMP bots, targeting all the nearest soldiers. On Earth, I might have used one, but now I knew what would work here.

The bots set off a simultaneous blast of static that filled all the channels my suit and implant were monitoring. Both devices worked well enough to filter it out, but reports scrolled down my readouts. Over my implant, I flashed Kals what I’d done, making clear the important detail that their helmets shouldn’t be able to filter her voice out anymore.

She probably could have guessed. The moment the EMP bots exploded, the soldiers ripped at their helmets, claws out, tearing chunks away.

She shouted, “Surrender!”

When they held their hands up in the air, she told them, “Watch to see if anyone attacks us. If they do, attack them!”

With that, I finally had time to look around again both literally and figuratively. Above us, the spybots showed the few Ascendancy soldiers retreating, jumping away from us. It looked to me that they were going in the direction of the starport, the last place I’d seen the main group heading.

We’d won. Paying attention to the ground gave me a sense of the price. Four of the houses around us were burning. I wasn’t sure what it said that I could only remember two of them exploding.

Beyond the houses, the bodies of soldiers littered the ground, a few of them covered with goobot goo, not all of them hit by me. Jaclyn and I had been working on options for her beyond punching people. We’d come up with a sling and several types of ammunition (one of which included depleted uranium) that she could fling at people (and vehicles) from a distance.

Many of the soldiers had broken legs, smashed arms, large burns and were sometimes missing sizable chunks of their bodies.

Jaclyn stood next to Kals, bending over Maru’s body. Behind losing his intestines, his lower body appeared to be covered in blood. “He’s dead. See there? That’s his descending aorta. The soldier ripped it open. My guess is that he’s lost almost all his blood. I’ll bring him to Iolan, but he’s got no pulse.”

Jaclyn picked him up and disappeared in a blur.

“Over there,” Crawls-Through-Desert’s pot flew down the street and we all followed, escorted by our squad of mind-controlled soldiers, stopping at one of the eggs. After removing a floating platform from the garage, we all climbed aboard and flew toward the caverns. We left the soldiers on the ground, commanding them to stay there—which they would—until the end of time or until someone noticed they were there.

No one followed us or attacked us which surprised me. I’d expected an attack on the way back, but on the other hand, they didn’t have many people and we’d found a way to get around their ear protection.

We rode across the near-empty plain between the caverns and Landing, floating over the green grass with Cassie, Tiger, and Katuk ready in case any of the local megafauna decided to take a piece out of us—Cassie and Katuk to shoot them, Tiger to bark at them.

Kals didn’t say much during the first half of the ride. When she did, she began with, “You know, I never even liked him. He was a friend of my dad, sure, but after my dad died, I thought that his devotion to my mom bordered on creepy. That’s true of a lot of people. The resistance is just short of worshipping her half the time. Maru though, he was around all the time and made it visible to me in the way that the others didn’t. Also? Maru was good at his job. Mom thinks in the big picture. Maru thought in the small details. He made things work.

“I don’t know where we’ll find another person like him. Mom needed him a lot.”

She stared out at the grass. “I don’t know how I’m going to tell her that he died for me.”

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Pre-Announcement

Require Cookie

On July 2nd (my birthday), we’re going to be dropping a pretty big announcement, so this is just a quick note to prime the pump and make sure everyone is still seeing some form of address from us (newsletter, Facebook or site updates).

Stand by, this is going to be pretty fun.

And yes, it means we’re coming back from hiatus. 🙂

-Stormy

And it is “we” although it is mostly Stormy at present.

-Shade

 

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In My Daydreams

Release The Hounds: Part 11

In My Daydreams

Then I let go of his other leg and stood up, leaving him stuck to the ground.

I checked my HUD for threats, seeing more Ascendancy soldiers dropping in from above. One dropped off to my right, clearly expecting that I wouldn’t be ready to fight yet. I didn’t hesitate. As he turned to rake me with his claws, I punched him in the chest—hard. The armor gave and he flew backward, tumbling a few times and not getting up off the street.

I turned my attention back to our group, finding that the townspeople had retreated into Tikki’s globe—which had expanded a good ten feet in diameter.

Kals and Maru fought Ascendancy soldiers but didn’t use their voices to do it. That would have been a mystery, but the implant cleared it up. The Ascendancy regularly fought other Abominator influenced human civilizations. Their troops’ helmets filtered out external motivators and allowed Ascendancy motivators to command them through the helmet while allowing environmental noises.

That left Kals and Maru to fight using their fists or guns. They were good at it. They used pistols to keep the Ascendancy soldiers at a distance and then when soldiers closed, they were both fast enough to dodge while the other one fired a pistol.

They took care of two of them that way that I saw—possibly more.

That’s to say that they worked as a team. They had to. They were better than a normal person, but not fast enough to face an Ascendancy soldier alone. While they weren’t without armor (their jacket and pants seemed stiffer than clothes), they weren’t as armored as the soldiers. I suspected a solid hit could kill either of them.

I checked my ammunition levels. I had five killbots and I knew I had to save them. If I didn’t, I’d encounter something big and they’d be gone. Beyond that, I had 100 standard bots, 50 boombots, and 32 goobots.

Once I ran out, I’d have to depend on my sonics or my laser. In the meantime, I decided to do what I could to make their lives easier.

I shot one that was coming straight for me with a goobot, making him immobile and fired off a series of standard bots at one of the two soldiers that had landed near Kals and Maru. As expected, the bots didn’t pierce the soldier’s armor, but the series of five hits to his helmet and chest knocked him sideways and put me higher on his kill list.

He leaped at me, reaching out with his claws and leaning sideways to avoid my shot even as I aimed my arms in his direction—except that I used the sonics. I expected that his equipment would filter out an attack on his ears, but I attacked his technology, hoping maybe I’d hit a frequency that damaged his filters.

It didn’t happen soon enough.

He landed off to my left, flanking me, striking my ribcage. Protected by my suit, I didn’t take any real damage, but it knocked me backward. I didn’t fall over, but I did stumble and he took advantage of it, reaching out with both his arms to grab at me, probably with the intent of ripping my armor apart.

Before that happened, his helmet made an audible cracking noise and he froze for a second. I fired the laser under my left arm, burning a hole through his right leg.

The soldier fell over and I stepped backward to avoid being hit by him.

At about the same time, another Ascendancy soldier slashed at Kals with his claws. Kals stepped back, avoiding it, but slashed at the soldier with a knife. He avoided it by jumping sideways, landing to her right, flanking her.

Maru and she had been fighting with Tikki’s bubble of time distortion at their backs, making it impossible for anyone to approach them from behind. It also meant that they couldn’t back up because the moment they touched the bubble, they’d find themselves moving slower, allowing themselves to be attacked while they were halfway in and halfway out.

Kals couldn’t back up to avoid her attacker because she’d be vulnerable to more attacks, couldn’t go left because she’d bump Maru and couldn’t go forward without opening up her back to the soldier flanking her or becoming the target of another soldier.

Maru stepped sideways, moving in front of her and aiming his pistol at the soldier. When he pulled the trigger though, it didn’t fire.

The Ascendancy soldier leaped at him, grabbing Maru’s pistol hand and then ripped right through Maru’s armor, tearing out his intestines with the other hand.

Kals drove her knife into the soldier’s neck, cutting most of the way through. The soldier fell.

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Semicoop

Century of the Golem

Semicoop

 

Century Golem Edition is one of those games we enjoy every time we play it! The art just simply makes us very happy and the game is a nice little puzzle in which players try to build an efficient gem economy. We’ve only played it with two players and I’m curious how it plays with three or four people. Thank you again Fred for gifting us this game!

Last week was crazy and both of us have been working non-stop on deadlines, so we actually played zero games. None! That’s quite rare for us. We’re flying to the UGKE on Thursday and we’ll only play a game of Pandemic Legacy before that, luckily we’ll probably play a ton of games in Birmingham next weekend! We’re bringing a limited edition Apollo sticker for everyone that comes and says hi! So don’t be shy we love to talk to as many people as possible!

After UKGE hopefully, things will slow down a bit but it seems we’ll be busy until summer, so we might need an assistant golem, or a dishwasher golem or maybe a board game golem that makes sure we keep playing enough games!

 

What golem do you need in your life?

The post Century of the Golem appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Release the Hounds: Part 10

In My Daydreams

I sent everyone a picture of the troops jumping from one eggshell to another along with the thought, “Are we upwind or downwind of them?”

It wasn’t as if I could feel that inside the suit.

“No wind,” Cassie sent back, pointing her gun upward and shouting, “Incoming!”

My bots showed the Ascendancy troops two rows off from us, but that didn’t matter. They knew where we were and they were leaping between the houses in the nearest row to get at us.

The first one to jump died before he landed, hit by a bright beam from Cassie’s gun that burned through his chest and out his back. As for myself, I fired off goobots. Some people might see that as taking the situation insufficiently seriously but I saw it differently. I only had so many killbots along and didn’t know if my standard bulletbots or boombots would pierce their armor.

The goobots, on the other hand, stuck to armor.

I hit the guy right behind Cassie’s hit with a goobot that covered the guy in goo with strands of goo flying far enough behind him that they stuck to the nearest house. He never reached the ground. His momentum carried him in front of the house, sticking him to it fifteen feet above the ground.

Claws didn’t help him get away. His arms stuck in the goo as it hardened.

Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw the rest of the fight even though I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved—Katuk firing beam from his arms and then the middle of his chest, Jaclyn jumping to meet one of the soldiers in the air, Marcus stretching upward to grab someone in the air, and the townspeople’s marksmen firing constantly.

It would have gone perfectly if they were less agile or stupider, but instead of continuing to come in from the direction we expected to see them, they changed course, splitting up, landing on the street to the right or the left of the group.

I wheeled around to help. While I don’t know exactly how close the Ascendancy’s troops were to Haley or Travis in performance, my estimate is that they were close enough.

I couldn’t hit either one easily when they were close enough for hand to hand combat and I couldn’t hit these guys either. According to Haley, it was agility, but that understated their better than human senses. The combination of both was hard to deal with though.

I fired a goobot at one after he landed on the street in a crouch, but he smacked the bot into the street and jumped away before it expanded onto him.

With a jump and a slash of his hand, he made a long gash across the stomach of one of the townspeople. He would have gone for the person’s belly again except that Maru leaned in to kick the soldier in the chest, knocking him backward into a roll. He jumped forward toward Maru except that Maru had pulled out a pistol and shot the soldier in the faceplate of his helmet.

The soldier fell backward and lay on the street.

Meanwhile, Tikki had pulled the injured townsperson into the darkened sphere of time manipulation that she’d called up. I barely had time to speculate that she might be able to accelerate healing when I noticed another soldier leaping toward the road from an eggshell house.

I tagged him with a goobot, which, like the last one, expanded to stick to the nearest house. Only this time the house was two houses down the street from where we were, something we were grateful for because the house exploded.

Pieces of the house fell into the street, all of them covered with black scorch marks, and still burning. The same could be said of the guy I’d covered with goo.

I didn’t have time to wonder who would rig their home to be that easy to explode or think too hard about the guy who’d just died. More Ascendancy soldiers were landing on the street than I’d seen with my bots, meaning that they were coming from another direction as well or that I’d been wrong about there being ten of them earlier. It also meant we were in a real danger of being overwhelmed.

One landed on top of me as I checked my HUD to see if anyone needed my help.

The Ascendancy fighter hit the base of my neck with enough force to leave me paralyzed or dead if I hadn’t been wearing armor. Since I was armored, I fell forward. I didn’t have a clever countermove for handling this, but my reaction time was good enough that I grabbed the man’s legs. So even though I fell forward, so did he, hitting the street.

It didn’t damage either of us much, but I had the presence of mind to let go of one leg and fire a goobot up his body as we hit the ground, gluing his entire right leg, left thigh and right arm into one position.

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Crying Grumpies

Una tarde de Pokemon, Algo ha cambiado en mí

Crying Grumpies

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La entrada de hoy no es una entrada de review, opinión, baraja, ni nada por el estilo, es una reflexión a partir de la fantástica tarde que pasamos Mailman y yo hace unos días. Para poneros en situación hace unos meses para el proyecto Ares compré un par de barajas preconstruidas de Pokemon. La tarde de la que os hablo quedamos con Mailman para tomar un café. El no llevaba encima su baraja de Leyenda de los Cinco Anillos así que cogí de la estantería las barajas del juego de coleccionar bichos  y me dirigí al bar.

Y la magia ocurrió.

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Una hora más tarde con el café ya en el estómago y cada uno cogiendo el camino a su casa habíamos jugado un par de partidas y pasado una maravillosa tarde. Hacia años que no me lo pasaba tan bien jugado a un juego de cartas y después de un buen rato meditando creo que he llegado a algunas conclusiones de los motivos para que esto ocurriera.

El primer motivo que me viene a la cabeza es que son barajas bien construidas y con un nivel de poder similar. La mayoría de veces cuando afrontamos sentarnos en una mesa para jugar un juego en el que se construye mazo nuestra baraja refleja nuestra idea de juego. Si no es una baraja descargada de internet no suele tener el playtesting necesario para que todas las cartas funcionen de forma cohesionada. Muchas veces esto lleva a que la balanza se incline de una forma clara hacia una de las barajas que haya en la mesa. Aquí sin embargo tenemos unas barajas pensadas para introducirnos al juego. Con un nivel de poder relativamente bajo, dudo que pueda presentarme a un torneo y hacer un buen papel, pero al contrario que otros sets de inicio a los que hemos jugado las barajas son consistentes, divertidas y viendo algún video de torneos de alto nivel enseña un estilo de juego similar.

Cryin Grumpies - Leyenda cinco anillo - Legend of the Five Rings - AEG - FFG - The Grumpy Shop

Otro de los factores que me ha tenido que ver es el tiempo. Los juegos de cartas a los que Mailman y yo solemos jugar las partidas suelen ser largas. Ya sea Leyenda o Netrunner es fácil que las partidas se alarguen hasta la hora y por desgracia ya no tenemos el tiempo que teníamos antes para jugar cuatro o cinco partidas en una tarde. Ahora tenemos una hora y media o dos como mucho para jugar cuando nos vemos. Si a uno de los dos le sale una partida rana estar una hora siendo humillado no es divertido. Aquí una partida rana es media hora perdida. Las partidas que jugamos fueron partidas que se decidieron en un último turno superajustado. Con esto me refiero a que es sencillo meter cuatro partidas entretenidas y con tensión cuando jugando a nuestros juegos más habituales hablamos de una partida y nada nos garantiza una partida emocionante.

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Ganas de jugarlo

Quiere esto decir que vaya a lanzarme a comprar cajas de sobres de Pokemon como un loco o que vaya a abandonar por entero los juegos largos o el formato construido. Ni por asomo a ninguna de las dos. Si bien Pokemon me ha dejado un grandioso sabor de boca la inversión que requiere un TCG para disfrutarlo en modo construido me sigue pareciendo una locura. Pero os puedo decir que tengo visto un kiosko con unas veinte cajas de colecciones antiguas donde algún día me acercaré a ver si me las saldan y es muy posible que vaya comprando las dos barajas preconstruidas que sale con cada nueva expansión.  Dejar el formato construido, el de montar barajas, ni se me pasa por la cabeza. Jugar con barajas preconstruidas no da lugar a jugar mazos bizarros con formas diferentes de alzarse con la victoria una de cada cien partidas y los que me conocéis sabéis que eso es mi salsa. Sobre buscar juegos más cortos tampoco creo que lo haga, pero posiblemente cuando tenga poco tiempo es más posible que me decante por jugar unas partidas de Pokemon o Magic, atentos a mi próximo articulo, mientras que los días que tenga una tarde entera por delante me decante por jugar varias partidas de Netrunner o L5R.

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In My Daydreams

Release the Hounds: Part 9

In My Daydreams

“Do it.” The turret popped out of the bottom of Crawls-Through-Desert’s pot.

Asan and Sian ran toward the nearest force field pole and the nearest section of wall stopped glowing. We all ran inside and the blue glow appeared behind us.

The plant waved a branch toward the hill. “Run into town. Once we get out of sight we’ll decide where we want to come out. Don’t go into any buildings without my permission.”

That left us running up the same path we’d taken when we’d landed on Hideaway even if it wasn’t the same place. Right next to the starport, the force fields only protected a path up the hill. Here, near the lower edge of town, the force fields protected an area almost as wide as the town.

On the far side of the force field, the Ascendancy troops would have to go entirely down to the starport and possibly around it in order to catch up to us, assuming we stayed on this side of the town. We’d probably have to, considering that the caverns were also on this side of town.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad plan. If we started running from where we’d been, it was mostly open fields between here and the caverns, meaning they’d be able to take potshots at us from a distance the entire way. This way, it would be hard to guess where we’d come out of the force field, and even if they had people who could take down or fly over the walls, we knew the streets of Landing better.

With any luck, we wouldn’t have to find out either how effective their armor was or how effective their weapons were on us. Thinking back to how much time Hal had spent running me through space combat simulations, I felt all too aware that I hadn’t done as many first person shooters set in space, meaning I didn’t know the Ascendancy’s hand to hand combat tools and techniques anywhere near as well.

Also, the soldiers’ body shapes and sure movements reminded me of Haley and Travis. That worried me.

It didn’t take long before we’d reached the first full block of houses. We jogged down the dirt road, moving down the cross street and out the view of anyone who might be watching.

Thinking about that, I released a couple spybots so that if anyone did fly down from the sky I’d see it.

Kals caught up with me as we ran, sending a message directly to my implant. “How did it go? I know that it worked because you made it here, but how many more do we have to worry about?”

I told her. “This is about half of the uninjured survivors. The other half is searching the camp for anyone they can still save.”

She stared at me for a moment. “That’s a lot more dead at once than I expected. How was Maru?”

I checked the spybots feed in my HUD. Nothing. So I answered her, “He did fine. He helped get the herd moving. He didn’t try to betray us.”

She grinned. “I didn’t think he would. My mom was worried about him. She didn’t think he should go so soon after everything Alanna made him do. She was worried he might take crazy chances to prove himself.”

“Maru?” He didn’t seem like a crazy chances kind of guy.

She checked over her shoulder. “I didn’t think so either. Hey… I need to go back and push some of our people to keep up. Talk to you later.”

I checked behind us in my HUD. She was right. Three of the rifle-carrying townspeople were lagging behind. Kals turned and ran back to join them, running and talking alongside them, keeping her voice low.

The most interesting thing to me was that my anti-voice defenses never buzzed, meaning that she wasn’t using her power to get them moving. It was something to respect at least.

I glanced over at Maru. He ran next to a few of the other townspeople without saying anything. For all I knew, he could be having a long and drawn out conversation via implant with one of them. On the other hand, in his place, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to use my implant. So it might be that he was just running next to them, but didn’t want to talk because he didn’t know what they would say.

Crawls-Through-Desert whirled around, stopping in front of a block of eggshell shaped houses. “We’re close to leaving Landing. If we follow this street out, we’ll have some cover from trees and there’s a ridge that we can follow. It should give us cover at least part of the way there and we’ve got a floating platform hidden nearby. Follow me.”

Near me, Jaclyn said, “It’s nice not to be in charge.”

At the same time, I saw a flash of light, but not in front of me—in my HUD. I found it after searching frantically through the pictures. It wasn’t the flash I found though. It was the flash’s creator.

The spybots were high enough that their pictures showed only the upper part of row after row of egg-shaped buildings, some larger than others. At least ten of the Ascendancy’s troops hung by their claws on the sloping walls, leaping toward us.

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