Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Finding Beryllium'

Hello Sara.
Looking good after your spell in a Mantis space-cage
The preceding story mission was: 'Finding a Way Through'

The following story mission is: 'Dangerous Modifications'

A nice mission, not really dangerous but it provides a pleasantly nostalgic return to Commerce Central (CC).

Tobias Planck has had a little think about the schematics you recovered in 'Finding a Way Through'. His theory is that it's a fusion drive emitting a signature identifying you as friendly in the eyes of the Molikar Mantis Long Range Guns (LRGs). (Molikar Mantis, Molikar Mantis, Molikar Mantis). Tobias doesn't know much about Fusion tech and asks if you know an engineer who does, if so then you should fly to them.

Well there was one obvious candidate, so I made my way to CC in the Gemini system. As soon I reached the surface Tobias went all fan-boy over the prospect of meeting Isaak Handal and begged me to do the introductions. Isaak was in the usual place and he was happy to help. First of all I had to find some Beryllium so he could build me a new fusion drive core.

Isaak and Tobias both came along to help so I was prepared to protect them but needn't have worried. They both have ships tough enough to look after themselves, and the Mantis are strictly local to CC so were no threat. As always I enjoyed returning  in a better ship to a planet that used to pod me regularly and blowing the Mantis apart with one shot.

The mission follows the usual scavenging pattern, go to the marked area and find a canister of Beryllium. There are plenty of Mantis hanging around but they are easy meat. I took my time and kept stopping for energy which didn't upset Isaak or Tobias at all.

The last collection was deep into CC so rather than travel all the way back through the maze I went to orbit. As I did so I thought it might not have been the cleverest thing as Isaak and Tobias might have sat around and waited for me to come back. However it turned out all right once I got back to Sara as she'd done half the work. Isaak completes the job, but the fusion drive still doesn't have the signature required. His only idea is to get a load of Mantis to shoot at the core and transfer their energy signature to it. Natassia promises to think about it and get back to you.

After this you don't travel back to Baumar, stay in orbit and select 'Dangerous Modifications' from there.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

'Spying on Bill'

Stealthy as a Pixie, Serig darted from mushroom to toadstool
The preceding story mission was: 'Deliver Mine Intel'

The following story mission is: 'Traitor Eradication'

This is a poor mission, but at least it does start to wrap up the traitor arc which is becoming a bit stale by this point.

Jake Rattenbury is becoming suspicious of Bill Darius and wants you to find out what he gets up to between smuggling jobs. On the surface on Lyris you are tasked with following Bill, but keeping your range to him between 200 and 1,000. That bit I liked as we haven't had to do that before. This was a little tricky when Bill turns a corner and so got closer as he passed on the other side of a ridge. I suspect the mission is a little tolerant though, because I did go outside of the tolerance once or twice with no ill-effects.

After a little while Bill stopped moving so I stayed at the desired range. However nothing seemed to happen so I eventually crept closer. Bill then went to orbit and I thought I saw another ship orbiting too. Jake then cut in and ranted that Bill was hanging with Major Ivanova who was thought to be destroyed. Bill is obviously working for the Colonials and Jake wants to make him pay.

The fact that I never saw Bill and Ivanova together and had to have Jake tell me what happened is just annoying. It may well be realistic but it does lack drama. It would have been better if you had been given an a rendezvous point by Jake from an intercepted message. Then you could have hidden in a sensor blind spot or powered down ship perhaps.

Not very challenging and not very dramatic. Maybe things are about to hot up though.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Echo Bazaar

In my post a little while back about Steel Legions (SL), I concluded that SL would probably be my 'bit on the side' but not a threat to my long standing relationship with Pirate Galaxy (PG). Since then I haven't played SL, but I have become infatuated with a completely different game, Echo Bazaar.

My latest obsession

Echo Bazaar (EB) is a card based browser Role Playing Game (RPG) and I love it. It's free to play in the same way as PG is, so you can spend money to get advantages or bypass some restrictions. The scenario is that you have moved to Fallen London, a Victorian-esque city deep beneath the earth. You make your way through life in whichever manner you choose, using your four skills of Dangerous, Watchful, Persuasive or Shadowy. You can be a soldier of fortune, a detective, a schmoozer, a thief, or all of them and more.

You move through Fallen London and find opportunities for profit, either fixed for that location or through a random card that you are dealt. As you use your skills they increase, unlocking more opportunites, harder tasks and greater rewards. Every so often story cards appear which, if you choose to play them, open up a mini storyline. You can also select an Ambition, which is personal story arc through your adventures.

My Ambition is to find and take revenge on my wife's murderer, which I use to guide my play. For example I now need to gain access to the University to continue my vendetta, which requires that I either bribe my way in with jade and Moonpearls, or become a scholar of the Correspondance which is a whispered rumour of a myth. Now I am taking up any opportunity to earn jade or pearls and ignoring more profitable options.

So far in my adventures I have gone insane twice, died once but wrested back my life, seduced an artists model, an heiress and a vicar's sister, had my home invaded by sentient rats, become marked by the Eater-of-Chains and am growing a sinister looking plant in my lodgings.

EB is played through either your Twitter or Facebook account which is used to attarct more players and spread the word. Having friends help you is one way to gain an advantage in the game so if you can convince a friend to join you then you should do so. Your number of moves per day is limited which makes it even more addictive.

Echo Bazaar is an excellent game in which you can guide your own destiny and write your own legend. It takes little more than 15 minutes a day to play but rewards careful thought and a love of story. Give it a go and you won't regret it, you'll still have time for PG.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

'Finding a Way Through'

The preceding story mission was: 'Possible Weakness'

The following Story Mission is: 'Finding Beryllium'

This is the opening episode in a multi-mission story. Be prepared to leave Mizar once again and revisit past haunts, in order to gain the keys to a new playground.

Natassia is still worried about that drip Rosebud. She suspects that Vicius has him prisoner on Molikar. This is a problem as you can't get to the surface of Molikar without being blown out of the sky by the Mantis' suspected Long Range Guns (LRGs). Ethan Copernicus believes that there may be a way to get some information that gives you access to Molikar. Natassia sends you down to the surface to meet with him.

Once you find Ethan at his usual place in Jogan he fills you in on his theory. Although all human ships get wasted as soon as they approach the surface of Molikar, the Mantis can come and go. The Harvesters in particular are always back and forth as they deliver the Cryonite collected on Baumar. If you can bring down a Harvester then you may be able to find some clues amongst the wreckage.

So off you go to kill a Harvester or two. From here on this mission is just a version of the 'Loot Standard Collector' white missions. You attack a Harvester and deal with the Interceptor escort plus other meddling Mantis who join in the fun. When I did this mission the first Harvester I destroyed dropped Intel, but you may have to wreck more than one.

Once you've collected a piece of Intel you are given the order to go to orbit for analysis. Natassia then tells you that the Intel is schematics for a modified fusion drive. Tobias Planck is going to have a think about how he can take advantage of this knowledge. Come back later and she's sure he'll have a plan.

Like I said a white mission with a bit of story built in, but challenging enough to keep you focused.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

'Deliver Mine Intel'

The Anarchy - Cool name, ugly pilot

The preceding story mission was: ‘To Lyris’

The following story mission is: ‘Spying on Bill’

Time for a quick recap I think. Jake Rattenbury, the head of the smugglers, has been selling intelligence on Colonial mining operations to a mysterious pilot. The buyer has refused to pay until more is forthcoming. You recently escorted Bill Darius on Kalabesh, as he collected more intel and then took it to the orbit of Lyris. This is where we rejoin the story.

You have to meet Bill on the surface of Lyris and protect him as he leads you to the new location of the smuggler HQ. As you travel Bill confides that he is feeling uncomfortable about these missions and becoming suspicious. Well you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to come to that conclusion but at least it suggests that Uncle Bill is one of the good guys.

You may have a little trouble with the delinquent Mantis hanging about on the street corners, but there’s no ambush. You’ll soon meet up with Jake who takes the intel and comments that one more piece should make the buyer pay up. He also tells you to get to orbit and take the next mission as it needs your urgent attention. 

Blogging the story missions separately like this does make them sound a bit inconsequential but they are meant to be played more in sequence. For example you would probably play the four missions from ‘To Kalabesh’ to ‘Deliver Mine Intel’ in one go, which would take you to a new planet and move the story along a fair bit.

This might be a good place in the story to take a break from the yellow missions and score a few whites. Lyris is your oyster.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Killing Bunnies

So what do you think of the Pirate Galaxy Easter/Birthday event? Did it leave you cold or drain your gold? 

It was certainly a big one and has generated a lot of noise. The forum has lots of posts for and against. Of course there are those who complained that it's too hard. There are players who bleat about putting in the least effort to gain any benefit. Presumably they want to be handed a super-armoured, fully rare-d up kill machine with a unique paint job for just being logged on for over an hour. That is as long as nobody else gets one that is. Others complain it's just a scheme to entice players to buy boosters, earning Splitscreen some cash. Hello! Commercial enterprise, people. I've already had my say on that here so I won't repeat myself.

Lool's Antares Tank

There has been many others who have posted on the best tactics to beat the bunnies. Squadding up is of course a good idea but, like me, lots of players want to do it solo. There's been descriptions of strafing techniques, what boosters and ships to use etc. When players have a lively debate and show off pictures of their new trophy ships then you've got to call it a success. Lool is just one of those exhibitionists and sent me a few pictures of the rare ships won through the missions.

The Mizar Rare Rabbit Evildoer

Lool seems to have a taste for loud paint jobs. Take a look at the new Phoenix starter ship, decked out in lovely hearts.

How sweet

As for me, I did fly back to Gemini and have a crack at the Bunny Bashing mission on Commerce Central (CC) but got podded in record time. The posts on the forum suggested that if I wanted to beat this mission it would take hours, and at the end I'd get just one part of the required Blueprint (BP). Having a tasty new Rare Gemini ship would be nice, but I'm in Mizar now and I'd still have to pay for the blinking thing anyway. I did get offers of help in getting the BPs but I wasn't tempted. 
The Easter event must have worked for either the players, Splitscreen, or both because SS extended it by 48 hours. Though not to my taste, I think a pat on the back for this event is warranted. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

'Possible Weakness'

$mineral.type1.nam? I'll just call it antimantisite.
The preceding Story Mission was: 'Energy Depletion'

The following Story Mission is: 'Finding a Way Through'

The arms race with the Mantis takes a new turn in this mission. Tobias Planck has made an interesting discovery about Mantis behaviour. You must fly down to Baumar and meet him in Jogan. When you get there you discover that Tobias is still wearing daft glasses. More importantly he's got a lead on a rare mineral found on Baumar that may affect Mantis technology and act as a repellant. If you can find some of this mineral and bring it to him then he may be able to create an anti-Mantis device. Cool. 

Although...hang on...aren't all of our ships equipped with technology stolen from Mantis victims? Okay the ship Blueprints (BPs) are definitely human made, as the descriptions of the ships are explicit in this. But all of my Blasters, Shields etc. are built from looted Mantis technology. How come this new antimantisite doesn't affect our ships? Explain that one then Splitscreen. Maybe humans pinch the design from the BPs but use their own materials and manufacturing techniques that make them immune to antimantisite. Maybe it's just the Mantis core ship systems that are affected. Maybe, once again, I'm sounding like a nerd. Okay let's just move on shall we?

Tobias fits your ship with an antimantisite detector and you have to fly around and find some. Now these are scattered far and wide across the surface of Baumar so expect to be frustrated. You'll need a reasonably long time slot to complete this one. I started it once but had to stop as life got in the way and I had to log off after 40% complete.

You will cruise around for a while, and then Tobias will pop up to tell you that there must be some of the mineral nearby. Check your map and you will see that you are now on the edge of a marked area. The antimantisite will be somewhere near the centre. Engage shields (if you have them), find and collect the mineral while being pounded by the Mantis, then Afterburn out of there. You can go back to Jogan where Tobias will take the mineral off you or you can keep searching. You are told that if you get podded while carrying the mineral it may be destroyed. The first time I tried this mission I was blown up carrying the first piece of antimantisite but the mineral survived. I simply flew back to Baumar and carried on.

You have to collect 5 pieces of mineral before Tobias says that's enough and knocks up the Mantis repellers. One is installed at Jogan and you have to deliver the other four to the remaining outposts. You can collect and deliver one at a time, or do as I did and collect them all together and tour the outposts.

After I collected and delivered the first mineral which took me to 10% completed I was worried that I'd have to find 10 and I was was already planning a moaning post about this particular story mission. However 5 is a reasonable task, plus the delivery which is quite easy. Not a bad mission at all as long as you have the time. A Tank is definitely the best ship for this mission as you take heavy fire while finding and collecting the mineral.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'To Lyris'

The orbital views get better and better
The preceding story mission was: 'Secondary Intel'

The following story mission is: 'Deliver Mine Intel'

Another simple travelling mission, though this one does reveal more than most. In orbit around Kalabesh Bill Darius, referring to the previous story mission 'Secondary Intel', says that you are not done yet and that there is more intelligence to be collected on Lyris. He tells you to explore the route to Colossus first, and then to Lyris. Colossus costs 30 crystals and takes a couple of minutes. When you get there you'll find that you won't be able to enter the atmosphere. The planet has high pressures in its atmosphere so you can only land when conditions allow, in other words when Splitscreen arranges a special tournament or other event. There is however a star base here, unlike at Lyris.

Exploring the route from here to Lyris costs 10 crystals and takes twenty seconds or so. Now, you don't have to explore to Colossus and can go straight to Lyris, but the hangar around Colossus is the nearest from there so it's worth having access to it.

As soon as you reach Lyris the mission is done. This gives you access to a whole new list of white missions and once you enter the atmosphere the Sentinel Slayer achievement is unlocked. Get in there and fill your boots.