Thursday, April 22, 2010

D&D Encounters Session 6

Last night was the 6th session of D&D: Encounters. It was short, very short. Why you ask? Because we managed to eradicate the monsters in very short order.

We were a man short for the evening, so the DM removed one of the monsters from the fight. What was left were 3 artillery demons and 2 others demons. Didn't really get to find out what the other two were as they died very quickly. The flying artillery monsters opened up combat with some recharge encounter powers which let them fire off 3 shots. The combine 9 attacks put three of us seriously low on hitpoints, thus on the cleric's turn he fired off a daily power to give us all resistance 5, healed me back up to full, and gave the monk a much needed save (he blew an action point to do all this). The monk then charged in and let loose a daily targeting the two non-artillery demons. He rolled two 20s, and the double crit removed both from the map. I ran up two one of the remaining three and missed, but our Psion at the back opened up on one of the last three, which were apparently vulnerable to his psychic attack and was bloodied. Action point and repeat. They fired again, but only one was able to recharge the triple-shot power. The cleric then healed the monk, who delayed until after the Psion went again, scoring a crit and killing one demon. Then the monk went a finished the others off. It was all over and I only got one action, but what a fight to witness.

Oh, and to plug once more, the monk in our party has a (more detailed) post on the encounter on

Thursday, April 15, 2010

D&D: Encounters

I've been playing in a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game at my local gaming store. This is an initiative run by Wizards of the Coast called D&D: Encounters. The program is an adventure, broken into 12 encounter sessions run once a week, and it's pretty cool. The encounters are run by DMs at local gaming stores and are targeted at 1-2 hour sessions (usually closer to 1). The program is scheduled to have several series (turnout has been great), but the first is called Encounters: Undermountain, with an adventure set in the Forgotten Realms called Halaster's Lost Apprentice.

I am really enjoying this. First off, my own DM is still running us through D&D 3rd edition (3.5 actually), as he is not a fan of 4th Ed. This is fine for me, as I love 3.5 and would not want to give it up for 4th. D&D 3.5 has a lot going for it that 4th isn't is good at. However, the opposite is also very true, and I equally wouldn't want to refrain from the joy of 4th edition D&D in favour of 3.5 either. So encounters gives me a nice way of having my cake and eating it too.

But beyond all of that, the Encounters program has been very awesome. The people I've played with have all been great, the two DMs I've sat with have been really solid, and the adventure itself is fun and nicely written for an event like this, with a fair bit of variety and some really interesting encounters.

I've mostly been at the same table with one DM and a slightly changing week to week, but mostly constant, group of players. They've been fun and funny (our Paladin's dry sense of humour constantly cracks me up) and our DM puts on an excellent show, so here I'm just going to plug a few things for them.

One of our players, playing a monk, is one of the writers of, and has had a and has had a few posts on our sessions.

Our DM has a blog on his regular campaign and has also posted about Encounters. Further still, he podcasts his gaming sessions (including our encounters nights) which are available on iTunes. It's really fun to here yourself playing in a live-play podcast. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Opera Mini

Opera Mini was release for the iPhone/iPod Touch today!

I've been fairly excited to see this since it was announced two months ago and received some good reviews. While I've been fairly happy with my touch, I don't mind seeing improvements to web browsing, particularly anything that might improve those long, image heavy, blog-like sites that take two minutes to load on Mobile Safari.

So, I downloaded Opera Mini today and I'm pretty happy with it. It's fast, very fast, which of course is because of everything actually being processed on Opera's servers and sent to me compressed (here's Lifehacker's speed test post). I also really love the tabbed browsing, which Safari doesn't really do right. These tabs are speedier and have a nice screen preview without having to navigate away from your page and have Safari reload everything. Very nice. The speed dial home page is also a plus; it just makes bookmarks a tad easier. Oh, and the ability to 'find in page' is, well, basic, and should have been in Safari for a long time now.

There are some problems though. First, I did notice the occasional page rendering incorrectly, with either things not quite loading, or the css messing up. I mostly noticed this with blogs heavy on images, which unfortunately was where I was hoping Opera to shine for me. Hopefully they can work a few of the kinks out of their rendering. Regular Opera is a seriously solid browser, so I know they can do this (that being said, regular Safari is no slouch either). There's also the fact that since all of your traffic is rendered on Opera's servers and then sent to you, there's really no such thing as end-to-end encryption and everything your send is really sent through Opera. I'm not particularly paranoid, but I probably won't do online banking on Opera or anything.

Am I replacing Safari with this? No (actually, I can't as Safari is still the default), but I'm definitely going to use them in tandem and we'll see how it goes.

EDIT: Two things I've noticed.
First, Opera wasn't working at my office until I changed the connection option in Advanced settings to 'http' from 'socket' (firewall of course).
Second, locationally targeted ads all think I'm in San Jose (assuming that's where Opera's North American servers are).

Starcraft Cheating Woes

Gaming news from Korea.

I've posted a bit about the Korean Starcraft obsession a few times in the past. Well, there's a bit of commotion going on in the Korean "e-sport" world with a scandal involving some of the top players, coaches, and organizers. There has apparently been an illegal gambling ring going on with players throwing matches and leaking team information. Better yet, it's been known about for a while by organizers who tried to quietly take care of it.

This nicely illustrates how serious a thing Starcraft is in Korea.

In other Korean gaming news, the government is planning to impose a nightly ban on online games to fight the, "rising problem of video game addiction", and have students actually get some sleep. The plan is to ban 19 MMORPGs from 12am-6am each night as well as throttle games for for users online for a lengthy period of time.

I haven't yet found much on how these two things will be done technologically, or better still, how they're going to be able to tell the difference between teenagers and adults, but I'm thinking it's unlikely this will put any serious dampener on things.

Besides all of that, there's also the usual debate on whether "gaming addiction" actually exists, and if so, what should be done, but I'm not getting into that here and now.