Monday Night Games

This week my friends Joe and Wade came back over for another round of Monday night gaming goodness. As it happens Joe showed up first and we talked about what sort of games we wanted to play last night. The problem is that we have only about 4 and half hours, a bit less if we plan on having some food. In weeks past, we would all get a big pizza and sit around and talk about the next “big” game. For the last several, however, we decided in advance to eat quick and get on to more dedicated playing of a game.

We talked about playing some Civilization IV, with either a mod that I designed such as Multiverse or Extreme II or perhaps one of the many fine other mods out there. Those interested in a bunch of really great stuff, I urge you to go here:

Extreme II can be located here:

And my mod that encapsulates magic, steam punk, and a ton of what if technologies can be found here:

In the end of our conversation, we decided that we would allow Civilization to rest for another week and continue on playing our characters in the MMO (Multi-Massive Online) game City of Heroes. This is a free to play game, that has a very low entry point but delivers up great mounts of fun. So cool and exciting to create a hero or villain of your own design and then play it through scenarios and missions, collecting secret tips and plans. As you play the game, you gain levels with which you can select new powers or increase the strength of old powers.

You can find more reference here:

If you decide to try the game, you will notice that you need to select a server — basically a copy of the game spread over many computers. Your character will be locked to that server until you can transfer him, so make a choice. My friends and I are on Defiant, if you want to join us sometimes.


Wade eventually showed up and he told us he had transferred some of his higher level guys to the Defiant server, which makes missions a bit easier.

In the game, any level character can join up with any other level character through a mentoring program. The leader of the group decides the level cap. So if a low level guy adds high level, those more powerful characters become his level until the group breaks up, alternately a high level guy who adds lower level characters the new additions will be 1 level less than the leader.

Joe played his character Master Jailer throughout the night, while Wade and I switched through a couple of toons. I started out with my super villain called The Butternut Kid, a young cowboy with a fancy set of pistols, but later I moved to my other guy called Doctor Cloudstuff. Cloudstuff is a steampunk character with magical and technological powers to heal and also a crazy gun that is rather powerful.

Our adventures took us all over the map and we completed many missions that night.


Some did not end well and several times our guys had to be rushed to the hospital. Going to the hospital happens when the team is beat up and knocked out — it is a time penalty for not successfully managing the fights in a mission.

With a bit of luck and with some arguing amongst ourselves, we ultimately won the day and succeeded in our missions.


Each of my guys went up a couple of levels and I added some new powers.

It was a great night of camaraderie that I hope will continue next week.


Monday Night Gaming

For the last several years now, my friends and I have gathered on Monday nights to play a rich cornucopia of computer games. Often just one a night, but we made sure to play a number of them over the course of weeks and months.

The games we have selected over the past years have been either some form of a MMO or a turn based strategy games. The first sort of game doesn’t necessarily require playing on a LAN (and in some cases bridged to the web for authentication) but we find it so much more fun to sit in the same room. Many can argue that with headphones and mic, one could get the same camaraderie even if we were scattered around the world. More than likely, but we still find the proximity of friends in the same room to be so gratifying — mostly when one of us takes a head plunge into foolish maneuvers or some other deadly recourse.

So a thought occurred to me that why not document our weekly gathering for others to learn the sorts of fun we are having and also to historically document the games we played and the troubles. In the past I have simply posted a running dialogue of the dates, times, and game events we have had. Rather frequently from now on, I will detail a bit more specifically what sorts of things that are going on and who is at the engagements.

Our group is not particularly large, most often just three of us and sometimes only two. On some rather exciting occasions we do get a few more guys in the group, but then the application of power for the computers and sitting room for their rumps can be a bit daunting. On even some more rare occasions we have actually joined a few friends from the web into our mix of onsite players, which can be interesting too.

This week we started out with arguing which game we were going to play. A friend brought over “Settlers of America: CATAN” but we agreed that until all of us had a chance to read the rules that it would not be a great idea to play. CATAN is also not a computer game but a board game, and there are a few of us here that would rather play something on a screen than on a table (not me, but at least one fool which will remain nameless).

Our second choice of games to play was Drakensang Online a new Diablo II clone with tendrils of MMO style of gaming. You can find the game at:

The game is very easy to play with nothing more than creating an account with a username, password, and a few demographic bits of information. The initial download is also very small at under 30 megabytes — it is somewhat unknown if the game is a browser based game or if it is a more traditional locally installed client game. I suspect it is an amalgamation of the two. Very low overhead and quick entry into the game makes it a jewel to play.

Even some of the older machines handled the game rather well, but we had to scale back a few graphical choices. It did get laggy at times, but overall a pleasant experience.

The game presently has three classes to choose from and can be played either as a man or woman, though the choice of model has no bearing on the game play. There is no non-human races to play, such as elves or dwarves. There is also an indication that a fourth class would soon be released — I suspect a full scale cleric. The other classes are a warrior, mage, and a archer type (called a ranger).

Game play is very similar to Diablo II with your fingers quickly becoming sore from the clicking. It achieves nearly the same goals as the earlier mega popular game of Diablo, but just falls a bit short on some graphical and gaming aspects.

The largest problem my friends and I have with it is that it is again another cash shop game where everything is up for sale. You can gain some of the in game cash on mobs, but very miniscule. Most of this money, which is called armadent (or something close to that) is purchased with real money. All sorts of weapons, armors, and upgrades can be purchased with this cash, which for me cheapens the overall experience.

We played to level 6 in the game which took us a bit over an hour. We were grouped for most of the time and did not interact with the other online players we saw. There was a wide range of interesting character names and styles, and just like other online free to play games hundred of idiots with uncreative and just stupid names running around begging and pleading for assistance.

After flailing around in Darkensang for a bit over an hour, the real gaming started when another friend showed up and we all agreed to play some City of Heroes. At this time, this is our main stable game — each of us having a slew of different characters in play.

Most of my friends have 20 and 30th level characters, but mine are much lower levels often in the teens. I have been playing EVE online for the last two months and wasn’t playing City of Heroes like the others. I also find I cannot play long sessions of this game by myself because without friends to heckle and cajole it isn’t an attention getter for me.

We started out the night with my character named Rocket Ranger, a small diminutive fugitive of the law that can fly and has augmented fists of power, another player had a character named Jailbreaker with powers of modified guns and mechanical tricks, a third guy rounded out the group with a name of RUTO which he claimed stood for something. Most everyone there agreed it stood for stupid! He was supposed to be our healer but he was a clutz and failed miserably. Finally we had a guy called Super Nova which flew and had fireball super powers.

We ran through several missions with these guys and generally made out well. I went up three levels and added several new powers to my line up of capabilities — I got a new hand to hand attack and also augmented several super powers with slots.

Next we got some new guys out. I selected a super villain that I called IQ-9 that had robotic pets and he could wield a large phaser. Another friend had a cute but essentially ineffective Leprechaun, and another played a multi-tentacled tank that could effectively hold the line with NPC monsters

[in this picture, poor IQ-9 is laying face down in a evil secret base after being knocked out. The healer failed again]

Having leveled IQ-9 a couple of levels and adding an additional power of another robotic ally to his abilities, we switched again to another set of guys.

My final guy for the night was Doctor CloudStuff, a super villain of steampunk motif and the super powers of healing. Others in the group was a guy named Toxic Joe which was a brawler with caustic and poison powers. We also had some miserable little female cricket character that could summon weather and controlled pets.

Doctor Cloudstuff again gained three levels and augmented his powers by adding a classic steampunk cannon to his arsenal.

At the end of the night, everyone agreed we had a great time and we all went home smiling. Next week I am sure we will continue our battles in City of Heroes.

Revisiting City Of Heroes

About the same time I left Everquest II in search of new games to play, I decided to return to an MMO that I started playing back in 2004:  City of Heroes, the massive multiplayer online game of super heroes and villains went free to play. It had been almost six years since I last walked the streets of Paragon City and was looking forward to seeing if any of the jazz of the game remained.

Even better for me than returning, I also talked a number of friends into trying the game as well. Since it was free, the other guys had really nothing to lose. Of course, I did have to set up their accounts and even create a few temporary characters to play, but in the end it was well worth it.

The game is very straight forward and easy to play. The graphics have been tweaked over the years, but they still show the age of the engine. What is good about that is any computer even those that are five years old can play the game on near maximum settings.

One of the great jobs of the game is creating a super hero, or if you wish, a super villain. There is also a tertiary subset of characters outlined in an expansion from several years ago called Rogue which softens the edge on good and evil and replaces it with generic good and bad guys called Vigilante and Rogues. Based on a soft alignment system, characters flow between these polar opposites as they do missions.

Characters are broken down into Origins. Origins are Natural, Magic, Science, Mutation, and Technology. As one can tell by the names, the origin simply suggests where the powers of the character originates from. Later in game play, players can find Enhancements devoted to a particular Origin that is better than generic power-ups. That is, if I created a Magic Origin super hero I could only use Magic Enhancements and the others such as Natural, Science, Mutations, and Technology I would need to sell.

A character must also select an Archetype which is similar to a class in generic RPG systems. Just as fantasy games have clerics, warriors, magic users, and thieves, City of Heroes have tanks, blasters, controllers, and defenders. There are subsequent evil names for the same archetypes. Archetypes create a class in which specific powers are granted. Thus, a character is created as a blaster he would not gain the powers of healing, though he could select a third and very weak tier of powers that allows some healing capabilities.

After the Archetype is decided, along with the Origins, the player needs to select a primary  and secondary powers. There are innumerable powers for each archetype and the combinations seem rather open ended. After 4th level the character gains a third and subsequently every 2 levels another chance of selecting a tertiary power set.

Most players will select a super movement power at 4th level, though the longer one plays the game, and subsequent characters are developed one realizes that it is better not to select a super movement power until later. Super Movement can be flying, teleportation, super speed, super jump, or even invisibility.

Tertiary powers also allow the character other sorts of super abilities, such as healing, leadership, and hand to hand fighting.

After the powers are selected is where the real fun of the pregame begins. My friends who decided to play the game after some arm twisting found this portion of character generation the most fun and rewarding. In this portion of the game the player determines how the character looks from sheer size and mass to the minutia of a hundred selection of helmets, capes, gloves, pants, belts, and boots. The combination seems utterly endless and my friends could sit for hours swapping one model for another. In addition, you can change the color of each piece. One can build a unique super hero motif or sadly create a kaleidoscopic nightmare like my friend has done:

After one is completely finishing the looks of the character, adding additional special effects completely tinting in a variation of colors, you start the game.

There are 50 levels to the game, with beginning players start at either first level or 4th level if they complete a minor but aggravating tutorial. Every even level up to 30 gains an additional super power. Odd levels gain additional slots in which players can augment the power with enhancements. Enhancements generally add an additional benefit to the power including such things as a bonus to strike, more damage, less fatigue in using the power, and so forth.

Although the game is more than six years old there is a deep and thriving community of players. Having the game free to play allows for easy access to the core features but long term players will want to get a subscription to the game at a cost of $12 a month. One can play for free easily and never get a subscription, but you are limited to two slots for characters and the inability to trade with other players, or buy or sell things on the market. Not essential, the VIP service as it is called is probably worth the twelve dollars a month.

There is also a cash shop, similar to other games of this sort, where instead of becoming a VIP you can add services and abilities ala carte. Meaning that you can buy the ability to trade for a limited time or open up additional slots for characters for a one time charge. I am going to try this after a couple of months of play because I generally only play two to four characters and have not really used the trading system all that much.

One can group up with other super heroes/villains and go on large missions gaining bonus experience and rare enhancements that are not generally found simply beating up the NPC monsters. Missions are fun and quick, allowing players to avoid the great time sinks that exist in other games.

Aside from that, one can create a super hero/villain organization and construct a special base that can hold innumerable items to help others in the league.

I am thoroughly enjoying myself as a returning player. My friends also enjoy the game too from character generation to playing hours on end. All of us have moved to a VIP status and are constantly making new variations of archetypes with origins.

I have too many characters to list here, but recently I have been playing on the Defiant server with several villains.  I have a 14th level villain called The Butternut Kid, a 10th level defender called Doctor Cloudstuff, a 10th level robotic controller called IQ-9, and a 11th level blaster named the Dinosaur Hunter.  I also have several heroes, with a 38th level Brute called Meganaut and a 28th level blaster called The Wild Wild West.  Names can generally be whatever you want, but of course there are rules against insulting and vulgar names.  Names have to be unique as well, so some of the more popular names have long ago been taken.  With creativity, one can still invent interesting names!

I think you will enjoy the game too, as I have come to a strong conclusion that there is still a ton of JAZZ in this game. Go crack some heads and join the leagues of new super characters searching for fame and glory.