Addiction

There’s a reason why there’s a 4 month gap between my posts, a reason too familiar to me: addiction. I might as well come clean now, this is what I’ve been playing for the past 4 months:

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Yes, my inevitable addiction to Diablo 2 has come back. It was 15 years ago or so when I first played this game, I was in grade 8. I played the heck out of it for a good 3 years and finally stopped in the middle of grade 10 when the game got a bit too boring for me and I really needed to focus on university application (the marks).

I’m not going to say those 3 years went completely to waste. I’ve met many friends during those 3 years whom I’m good friends with. Those 3 years also helped me figure out what I wanted to do in life. Long story short, I joined a gaming group and I volunteered to help with their website and eventually picked up PHP/MySQL and the love for programming.

I stopped playing shortly after the released the biggest change to the game: Patch 1.10, which introduced a wave of new character builds that I’ve never bothered to try because I didn’t want to learn the “new” game.

D2 Again

Fast forward 12 years and I see that Diablo 2 was featured on Awesome Games Done Quick 2016. I watched it a few times and I thought it would be cool to try it out. I’ve only played through the game once and that was not easy and yet this guy did it in under 2 hours. I’ve watched a few more of his videos and decided to give it a go. Obviously I didn’t get anywhere near 2 hours but I did it myself. The character that I played was an Elemental Druid, a build that wasn’t popular before 1.10 because it was rather weak, but 1.10 changed a lot and made them quite powerful and very easy to play through the game.

So, after playing through the game in Normal difficulty, I thought I’d try it in Nightmare and Hell (same game but increased difficulty). Unfortunately, if I did this in single player (not online) I’ll have tendencies to cheat and give my character boosts when I’m struggling — so I decided to start a new Druid on Battle.net.

I had finished my Druid through all 3 difficulties but struggled to get any meaningful equipment on him. I gave up on the Druid and uninstalled the game when I heard there was a new ladder season starting. A ladder season is basically when they move all of the previous ladder characters to join non-ladder characters and everyone has a fresh start. I figured with my new knowledge of the game, I wanted to see how far I can get with a Sorceress.

The Sorceress played quite nicely and I built myself a good amount of currency in game, I looked into other character builds that I never tried before.

My co-op student saw me watching more Diablo 2 speed runs during lunch and asking if I played. I said I play and we would start new characters off and beat the game together — something he had not done either. I decided to rebuild my Druid but with meaningful equipment while he started a Barbarian. Skip a few months and the both characters are done and with the best equipment.

Why am I still playing?

Absolutely no idea. There’s nothing left to do in the game with my roster of characters so I’m just wasting my time playing. I’ve decided that I will stop playing at the end of August 2016. When I was addicted back in 2004, that’s how I stopped myself, just quitting cold turkey.

Snacks?

Fine fine, snacks it is. Obviously I tried the Swedish Fish Oreos as soon as possible and the general consensus of my colleagues is that it’s… not good. It’s not like they couldn’t get the taste of the Swedish Fish properly, it’s just the chocolate cookie completely overwhelms and creates a horrible taste in your mouth. That said, I had to try it with a vanilla cookie.

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Out came the butter knife and the transfer was a success. White cookie + Swedish Fish filling is passable as a cookie, I won’t say it’s my favourite flavour but it’s more palatable compared to the chocolate cookie combination.

Ohio Trip

Long time no post, I’ll have a detailed blog post about the lack of updates. In short, addiction.

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Starting with salt, Lays has their world of flavors contest earlier this year and these were the 4 winners in the states. Memphis BBQ is a new flavour for me so I picked it up. The taco one is an oldie.

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Now to sweets, the big draw for the weekend was the Swedish Fish Oreos. Everything else was picked off the shelf if I haven’t tried it before.

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I’m impressed by the amount of Gatorade I haven’t tried yet. Didn’t go too crazy on the drinks this time around. The Iced Vanilla Java Mio Energy is probably the best out of the bunch.

Much longer post will be out soon with some reviews of the stuff I’ve tried.

Long time no boardgaming

It’s been a whole month since I’ve last attended a boardgames night with the guys at work. I missed one because I was on vacation to State College, and the others were missed because of horrible weather. But I didn’t miss this week’s gaming night and I got to try out 2 new games: Isle of Skye and Evolution.

Isle of Skye

The game has a definite Carcassonne feel to it mixed in with Kingdom Builder. In Isle of Skye, you build your own personal territory stemming off your castle. Tiles get added on in the same way as in Carcassoonne: terrains have to match on the edges, however, roads do not have to.

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You receive 3 tiles at the start of each round, which you reduce down to two by discarding one. You then put a price on the other two. That piece is available to all players at that price or available to you at that price if nobody is interested. After the buying phase is over, money is paid to the bank for whichever remaining pieces you have and you get to place your tiles.

Scoring for this game is based off certain rules chosen at the start of the game. There are 6 rounds with different scoring rules, the rules we were governed by were:

  • Each sheep is worth 1 VP.
  • Completed terrains of at least 3 are worth 3 VP each.
  • Each square of 4 pieces are worth 2 VP (squares can be counted more than once).
  • Each vertical column of at least 3 are worth 3 VP each.

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Knowing this, I optimized my territory to score a lot of points.

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I’d probably recommend playing this game again with friends, it’s not too difficult to explain and didn’t take too long to play.

Evolution

The goal of evolution is to see who can eat the most food. You start off with 1 blank creature and you place trait cards to give the create new abilities. Trait cards can be abilities like climbing (cannot be attacked unless attacking creature has climbing) or burrowing (cannot be attacked if you have enough food to feed your population), traits like carnivore (cannot eat plants), scavenger (gain a food whenever a carnivore attacks), etc.

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You have the option to discard cards to increase your creature’s body size or population. Body size is needed to fend of carnivores while population is needed to increase your food intake per round.

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Plant food is plentiful to start the game but as more and more creatures are around, plants become scarce and carnivores thrive.

The game probably needs another play through another night. We were able to get the gist of the game but didn’t catch onto strategy until it was too late.

Foods….

Foods from the last trip to State College are being eaten and will be posted in some capacity soon.

USA Visit 2016 #1

I made a visit to State College during the middle of March for my annual card game tournament. It’s also more than half a year since I last crossed the border for personal shopping and hunting weird American flavours.

Here’s a picture of the top half of our combined haul in the trunk coming back.

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I haven’t formally calculated how much I spent, but my estimate is about $200 USD.

Here are the salty snacks:

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In no order:

  • Doritos Mix Taco Explosion
  • Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs
  • Utz Chesapeake Bay Crab Chips
  • Utz Bacon Horseradish Chips
  • Lays Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Lays Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs
  • Lays Smoked Gouda
  • Lays Korean Barbecue
  • Pringles Bacon
  • Pringles French Onion Dip
  • Lays Lime (Limon)
  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Lattice Kettle Chips
  • Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn
  • Herr’s Crabfries
  • Popcorn Indiana Dark Fudge Sea Salt Caramel Drizzlecorn
  • Tops Jalapeno
  • Tops Cheddar and Horseradish
  • Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Dill Pickle
  • Cinnamon Apple Snack Sticks

My sweet foods:

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  • Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookies
  • Cinnamon Bun Oreos
  • Oreo Megastuff
  • Red Velvet Oreos
  • Cinnabon Cereal
  • Lindt Citrus
  • Crunch Snoopy Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter Oreos
  • Twix Egg
  • Herr’s Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
  • M&M Peanut Butter Eggs
  • Lindt Cookies & Creme Chocolate Sticks
  • Lindt Caramel Chocolate Sticks
  • Crunch Eggs
  • Chip Ahoy! Soft Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Big Sour Patch Kids
  • Mega M&M’s Peanut
  • Mega M&M’s Chocolate
  • Twix Eggs
  • Butterfinger Heart
  • Twix Heart
  • Snickers Heart
  • Trader Joe’s:
    • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles
    • Fleur De Sel Caramels
    • Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter
    • Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Cookie Butter
    • Milk Chocolate Truffle
    • Dark Chocolate Truffle
    • Cookie Butter Bar
    • PB&J Bar
    • Caramel Cookie Bar
    • Cookie Butter Cookies
    • Fireworks Bar
    • Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

And the sodas:

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  • Dr Pepper (cane sugar)
  • Diet Coke
  • Trader Joe’s Brewed Ginger Beer
  • Maple Cream Craft Brewed Soda
  • Ryan’s Delicious Ginger Ale
  • Reed’s Ginger Ale
  • Vanilla Creme Soda
  • Mexican Orange Crush
  • Virgil’s Real Cola
  • Virgil’s Cream Soda
  • Sprecifer Root Beer
  • Ginger Beer/Peach Pear Soda/Root Beer/Pluot Soda/Cream Soda
  • Seagram’s Ginger Ale

Pretty decent haul, many thanks to my friends Marcel and Amanda for graciously driving me back home with the mountain of goodies. I will review them as I share them with the guys at work.

Boardgames took a 2 week break but I should be able to do a double post after this Thursday’s gaming session.

Gatorade Summit Storm

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I stopped by my local 7-11 yesterday just before board games to check out their latest selection of junk foods. The first thing I see walking into the store was a new flavour of Gatorade: Summit Storm.

After sampling it with my lunch, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like. It has a bit of berry in it for sure, hint of citrus maybe.

Board Games (Feb 25)

I still haven’t received my shipment of Oreos so the review will be delayed. I did, however, learn two new boardgames this week. We were also joined by Amanda who works in an adjacent office enclave.

The evening started off with Roll For It, which is turning out to be a very fun intro game and something to play while we wait for the group to arrive. Camel Up and Ca$h ‘n Guns followed after.

Killer Bunnies

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The first new game was Killer Bunnies, suggested by both Amanda and Chris. The goal of the game is to obtain the carrot card that matches the predetermined carrot card at the bottom of a similar stack that is hidden to all players. It’s effectively a game of mostly chance since you only need 1 carrot to possibly win the game.

The rules weren’t properly explained to me, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was legal for me to do during my turn. It started making more sense toward the end of the game but it was too late. I did, however, manage to be the biggest jerk possible. There was a weapon card which I play that wiped out a lot of bunnies and I immediately played another card I had which was to use the weapon again, which I did. I massacred all of the bunnies on the table during that turn.

Dixit

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The last game of the evening was Dixit. You have to try and find a clever way to describe one of your cards without blatantly giving it away. There’s a straight forward points system based on how the guesses worked out. The game involves a lot of imagination and creativity, both of which I don’t have. I didn’t do too bad, I ended up 1 point away from the eventual winner.

Just Craft Soda Review

Just Craft Soda

From their website, they made a soda with balanced flavour combinations with natural ingredients and 60% fruit juice. I really only care about the balanced flavours.

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I picked up 4 of the 5 flavours at my local Sobeys and found the last flavour at Brock Sandwich in Toronto. I’m going to list them in the order I sampled them with my colleagues.

Peach and Habanero

I was most intrigued by this flavour, not sure what to expect with habanero peppers as a complement to peach. It worked out quite nicely with the peach flavour completely dominating the soda at the beginning with the spiciness of the habanero lingering long after the peach dissipates.

Apple and Ginger

I’m a huge fan of ginger ales and I love apple juice and cider. Mixing the two together should be the best thing to drink right? A bit of yes, a bit of no. The ginger was closer to a beer and overpowered the apple taste.

Pear and Vanilla

The vanilla complemented the pear flavouring quite well and it was the smoothest soda out of the 5.

Cherry and Cinnamon

At the office, we drink out of plastic disposable shot glasses, and this soda reminded me of drinking cough medicine. That’s not a bad thing. The combination of cherry and cinnamon worked out quite well and it was pretty well balanced.

Lemon and Lemongrass

I was expecting a full blast of sourness to this drink but it was actually a little bitter to the taste. It was very similar to mountain dew in terms of overall flavour.

 

If I were to rank them, I’d probably put Pear/Vanilla at the top, followed by Apple/Ginger and Cherry/Cinnamon in 2nd and 3rd place. For fourth place, it would have to go to Peach/Habanero. Last place would be Lemon/Lemongrass, mostly based on my expectations of the drink.

Next post should be a board games and Oreos post. I’m finally getting my hands on Cinnamon Bun Oreos and expect to try them at the end of the week.

Board Games (Feb 11 + 18)

Been a bit busy with personal things, but here’s a double post about board games. I’ll have another post about a five new sodas I saw at my grocery store.

Lords of Waterdeep

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I’ve played this game (and its expansion) at my friend’s house before and I liked how simple the game seemed. It’s a basic worker placement game where you have to earn points by completing certain quests and various other things like establishing buildings. The buildings are where a worker can be placed, you recruit a fixed number of agents in these buildings (or not, sometimes you can do other things) to complete quests with. That’s the gist of the game without digging into too much detail. I think it’s about a medium on the learning curve, there are a lot of things to set up before you can start the game.

King of New York

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King of New York is a sequel to King of Tokyo and it’s a bit more complex than the original game. The basic rules are still the game, either be the last monster standing or be the first monster with 20 victory points. I can’t remember too much about the game, there are the 5 boroughs of New York, with Manhattan being similar to Tokyo City in the other game. Each borough has buildings for you to destroy for victory points or health, but defeating them will cause tanks or airplanes to attack you. I liked the simplicity of King of Tokyo, but this game was a bit too chaotic for me.

Codenames

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Bonus content, this game wasn’t played at Games on Tap but I’ll make a mention of it here. We played Codenames, a very popular game that came out last year.

There are 2 teams, each with a spymaster, and they have to contact undercover agents on their team. The spymasters have a grid that shows which agents on the 5×5 board belong to which team, including innocent people and the assassin. They take turns giving clues to their team, trying to contact as many agents as possible each turn. Agent names may or may not be directly related to each other or it could possibly be related to an agent on the other team.

I find it hard, conceptually, to play this game with less than 6 people. It’s possible with 4 people but it really benefits with the discussion between 2 people to decipher clues from spymasters. It’s also fun to see how compatible you are with other people, at least on an intellectual level. When I played with my cousins, I was thinking too complex for some of them and was able to find unwanted hidden meanings in some terms — which cost us the game.

Manilla

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A favourite of mine and becoming a favourite for the gaming group. It’s a mix of gambling, worker placement, speculation into one very intense game. You’re essentially trying to get the most coins at the end of the game and you earn them by being risky with your worker placement. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. There are certain safe bets that can sometimes earn decent payouts, but to earn those spots, you pretty much have to win an auction at the beginning of each round which can get costly.

Sheriff of Nottingham

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My cousin mentioned this game to me and I liked the idea behind it. It’s a pure bluffing game. You’re trying to smuggle goods into town but the sheriff stops you. You can choose to bribe the sheriff and hopefully make it into town with contraband. Everyone takes turns being the sheriff twice and it’s fun to see the game evolve. Our game was mostly honest players, everyone trying to get into town with properly declared goods. I was probably the only one trying to stir the pot too often.

Sodas

I just discovered Just Craft Soda, a local brewery that makes sodas with interesting flavours. I have 4/5 of the flavours sampled around work and I have one left to send around before I make a post.

Board Games February 04

We added a 5th member to our board gaming group! Our colleague Daniel finally had time to join us last Thursday and we decided to start off slowly with relatively easy games to teach/play.

Camel Up

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This is one of the games I had purchased over the Winter holiday. The game involves betting on 5 camels over the duration of the race. You can bet on which camel will finish ahead of the others after all 5 dice are rolled, you can also bet on the overall winning/losing camels. Extremely fun game, very simple to explain. I was playing it a bit wrong with my cousins.

King of Tokyo

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My family also owns this game, it’s a dice rolling game which you become a monster and either try to score victory points or try to kill off all the other monsters. You earn points by rolling certain dice, by entering/staying in Tokyo, or other effects from cards. You lose health if monsters attack you while you’re in Tokyo or if the monster currently inside Tokyo attacks you. Another very easy to explain game.

Tsuro

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Tsuro is a game where you place tiles on the board and your character piece moves along the paths the tiles make. That’s pretty much 90% of the rules. Your piece continues moving if a new tile is placed in front of it even when it’s not your turn. And you die when your character reaches an edge of the playing space or collides with another piece. Another very easy to explain game.

And we ended the night with Fluxx.

Food……..

I should be getting the Cinnamon Bun Oreos soon, as well as the Filled Cupcake ones that just came out today. There’s really not much I have to review but I will have Batman/Superman cereal sometime this week and it should be quite delicious.

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New KitKats and Cadbury Eggs

KitKats

Two new flavours of KitKats came out at the beginning of the year: Cookies and Cream, and Mint.

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I, um, purchased some. I love both the new flavours but Mint is probably the better of the two, it reminds me of some delicious mint chocolates from my childhood.

They also claim that there is a higher chocolate to wafer ratio on these KitKats. There is a Original KitKat flavour sold along side these two and I am tempted to see if I can notice the new ratio.

Oreo Cadbury Egg

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These came as a surprise to me since I was ignoring most of the Easter confectioneries because Valentines chocolates still aren’t on clearance yet.

My take on these is that there is too much frosting. I’m okay with the regular Oreo but there just isn’t enough cookie to make up for the cream inside.

At $1.49 per egg, I’d have to pass on these until Easter clearance.