How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Rhapsodies on games, gaming, and why we play.

Category: Session Report


by berv

I had been having a particularly difficult time keeping my troops alive for more than a mission or two, and by mid-April I still didn’t have a sergeant. Things were looking especially bleak when the first terror mission hit and I had only rookies to field. Fortunately for me, the eggheads in the lab had just finished developing lasers and, with the help of the grey market, I had just enough cash to equip each of the rookies with a laser rifle and a scope. Here’s hoping.

With one of two chrysalids being killed the moment it entered the map by four-way reaction fire and the other being handily dispatched on the following turn, my rookie squad leisurely made their way across the map, knocking out floaters and thin men as quickly as they could arrive. 14/18 civilians saved, promotions all around, and not a scratch on them. Mission complete.

Again, I say: lasers.


Today’s Lesson in XCOM:

by berv

Never fail.

By early April, I had 5 satellites in the air, covering the whole of Africa for the +30% income bonus. My estimated end-of-month income was over $500 and I had just finished outfitting my troops with the latest in laser rifles and carapace armour. A very strong start.

Then that first terror mission hit. It was only rated “difficult,” and set in Nigeria, where panic was only at 2 out of 5, so I had high hopes going in. Still, one can never be too careful, so I sent in my lieutenant sniper, lieutenant heavy, a corporal support, and a squaddie support. My sniper couldn’t get the high ground he was looking for, but still provided good covering fire from across the map as my supports sussed out the enemy positions. My heavy was midway up, laying down the hurt with two shots per turn and the option of double reaction fire. This is when I learned of the hidden dangers of two-storey buildings. My heavy was just gearing up to launch some rockets on a cluster of three when a chrysalid, unseen because of the height, dropped down and eviscerated him. Then a zombie (also unseen) flopped down from the second floor terrace and mauled the better of my two supports.  This was the turning of the tide. In the absence of an extraction point, my sniper and squaddie support ran and ran until they were grossly outnumbered by the growing wave of enemies and overwhelmed.

As a consequence, Nigeria withdrew from the project, costing me not only their income and the satellite I had deployed there, but the 30% Africa bonus. Forever.

Never fail.

Winslave’s Paradise

by anbrewk

Another one of my lil’ minecraft dudes died today – just now, actually.  He carelessly fell down a hole and died from fall damage. It was a really deep hole.  He was wearing a full set of diamond armor with an enchanted sword that he put 37 levels into. Because he had just dug that hole, his falling down it could have been avoided if he’d only shown the appropriate due care around such a dangerous thing.  Because he died and because he was hardcore, his world died with him.

His world was called “Winslave’s Paradise” and it was made with a seed of the same name.  It was named after another hardcore guy who died in a different game, Terraria, before ever getting to enjoy his existence. He, Winslave, spawned in a world in Terraria with no idea how to play.  It was a dark night and he was beside hungry zombies that ate him alive. Where Winslave died, a tombstone was left.  Because he died right beside the spawn, his tombstone was the first thing every subsequent character saw – a reminder of an event none of them knew enough to care about.  It was the tombstone that marked the death of someone who never really lived.  In Winslave’s memory, a paradise was built for him in minecraft.  All of the useless blocks collected in deep dark dangerous caves- gold, extra iron, pumpkins, TNT, lapus lazuli dye, whatever, were built into the walls of a great cave in Winslave’s memory. Despite Winslave dying in another world, he would be remembered here.  It started with gold and blue dye but then it was everything: sheeps’ wool and the dyes needed to color them with every color, every different kind of leaf, grass, wood, vines, flowers: everything.
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Another one bites the dust.

by anbrewk

Today, I died in my hardcore game of minecraft. Today’s death was an important death as it marked the end of a two week run at trying to reach The End. In order to reach The End, I had to find a stronghold, place 12 Eyes of Ender in the end portal and then beat an enderdragon. In my two weeks of playing, I didn’t get to do any of those things because I never managed to find a stronghold.  I built an entire suit of diamond armor, multiple enchanted diamond swords, built pillars of gold, found multiple records, cocoa beans, pig saddles, and all the rest but never a stronghold. I searched through huge underworld caverns, I followed the paths of a dozen Eyes of Ender but never did I find a stronghold. I traveled to the Nether world, killing blazes for their blaze rods but never did I find a stronghold.

The experience of hardcore minecraft is much like many experiences in hardcore mode games – that of a hard life followed by a sudden, meaningless and final death. But looking back on that run, I don’t consider it a defeat.  My lil’ guy died with a diamond helmet of underwater breathing on his head that let him swim down to the bottom of the ocean where he happened to accidentally fall into a lava filled chasm that, combined with fall damage, burnt his health down to one little half heart. If it wasn’t for my quick thinking and preparedness with that bucket of water, he would have died right there but he put out the fire and lay standing on the hard rock floor of that chasm for a good full second before that creeper showed up and blew his little half heart body apart.  He was an adventurous lil’ guy with much to show for.  He lived a long and prosperous life in search of an elusive stronghold that he never did find.  He died like he lived, uselessly searching for something seemingly impossible to find. R.I.P. lil’ minecraft dude.