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I had honestly not intended to disappear from LJ for a week, but the new job's been something of a bugger to get used to, schedule-wise. At least I don't have to feel guilty about not spending my free time studying for a while, but I'm really not used to this whole "waking up at 6 AM" thing.

That said, the job itself is going well. Processing applications for OAS/CPP is pretty easy office work, I like my colleagues, and I got transferred to Canada Place so my commute doesn't suck nearly as bad as it could have. (As an aside, I really should not be so pleased to have my own cubicle. But it's big! And it has a desk! And a computer! And my own phone extension!) Also, Timothy's World Control.. The staff even still remember me. One day I'll stop being surprised by this sort of thing. Though it can occasionally be very good for my self-esteem, as anyone who's been watching my Facebook recently can probably attest to.

3 of the 5 grades in my last term are in. 2 Bs (Fiction Writing, Political Philosophy) and a C+ (Canadian Foreign Policy). I think I'm only really disappointed by the latter, but it's more "disappointment in myself" than anything, because I really didn't deserve a much better mark in that class given the job I did (failed to do, really) keeping up with the readings. I also suspect that neither of my remaining classes will yield anything better than a B, though the only one I'm actually afraid of is US Foreign Policy - again, because of that fucking paper. I suspect the marks will come in as "average" at least, but with the damn thing worth 70%, if it turns out he doesn't like it, I'm in deep water indeed. Oh, well, nothing to do for it but wait. I sent in my deposit to Ottawa already, so that avenue's already picked.

New employment (and generously paid, at that - I make about $18.50 an hour - though that might be an artifact of the ridiculously inflationary Alberta economy) has inspired some possibly unwise purchases. I got my tickets for Lacuna Coil and Fragapalooza last week (incidentally, vlosk, expect harassment from Tommy over your own attendance at Fraga, and harassment from me: are you coming to LC? Three weeks from yesterday!), and, most importantly, this little black beauty, which should be arriving sometime next week. Maybe now I'll actually be able to play Supreme Commander. :D

Or even Dominions 3, which is a little indie gem that I've been playing a lot of recently after hearing about it on Quarter to Three, a forum populated by a lot of strategy enthusiasts and general industry people. (A demo is available on the site, and ISOs are available in the usual places - though patches after the second check for blacklisted CD keys and screw up at random during the game, and, really, you should buy it anyway if you want the updates. :P) Basically, it's en epic-scale fantasy TBS where you choose a race (there are around 16-18 playable races, with subtle changes over each of three eras, ranging from various humans inspired by Earth cultures, to Lovecraftian horrors), custom-design a god for them to follow (pick a template, choose which kinds of magic you want your god to cast and how much ability you want with them (Paths are Astral, Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Nature, Death, and Blood), choose what effects you want your God's Dominion - basically influence - to have), then go forth and crush up to 20 opponents, either by conquering their provinces or simply overwhelming their Dominion with your own until you're the sole god in the world.

The game, however, largely defies simple description, for all that its graphics and sound effects are relatively simple, and combat isn't controllable (you give orders to your units before the fights, and then you see the results on the next turn). It's got a 300 page manual (apparently spiral-bound just like old times, though I'll see when my copy arrives next week), hundreds of units and spells to use and have used against you, and can take place across huge maps that can be created from any image, and the game itself is eminently moddable. I'll have to illuistrate the depth of the game by example.

My current game is being played on a 400-province map of Faerun. There are 19 players including me. In keeping with my pact with the Devil (ha, ha, Andy), I grabbed a modded Elven race (the closest the stock game has is Tuatha de Danaan/Sidhe from Celtic myth, and they were only introduced in the most recent patch) to use on this map, and modded the map to start them in Evereska. My god, borrowed from my D&D world, is Endari the Star-Queen, Pivot of the Universe (the game comes up with fitting and grandiose-sounding titles for gods based on their powers), a max-level Astral mage with a powerful Dominion effect that chills the weather (reducing income and supplies), but strengthens magic and influences her people to be orderly and productive (increasing income and production resources), and can easily overwhelm the Dominion of most other gods if one of her temples, or her chosen prophet, or she herself (she can't move except by magic, though some other gods can) is nearby.

Nine years (so about a hundred turns) into the game, I've expanded westward from Evereska towards Baldur's Gate and the Sword Coast, wiping out a pair of other Gods along the way. I directly rule basically everything between the Sword Coast (north of BG) and Anauroch, and my Dominion stretches east across Anauroch and south all the way into Amn. I have a circle of loremasters in Evereska researching spells for me to use, and a circle of sorceresses in a seized enemy fortress in the Serpent Hills casting spells to seek out power sites for five different types of magic. Once discovered, these sites supply me with gems of magic power that I can use to increase the power of my mages, make magical items, or power my spells. I already have two global enchantments up, one that lets me see the whole world (though much more clearly in provinces under my Dominion), and one that hits my enemies with lightning every turn (again, much more powerful in provinces under my Dominion). I make more money than I really bother to use, and my two or three main fortresses can pump out armies with ridiculous speed - though the High Forest and Silverymoon ones will be much better off once the land around them recovers from their previous holders.

Those previous holders would be my longtime enemies the Ashen Empire of Ermor (think Rome, if Rome had been overthrown by a necromantic cult), ruled by the Goddess Thymlore, whose Dominion is as strong as mine. Though I can mostly keep it out of my territory, it makes invading hers a bitch - her Dominion effect kills population and raises them as zombies, which makes her provinces near-useless for supply, which means my troops got nasty starvation and disease penalties until I wised up and started bringing along Elven Sorceress heroes with their bonus supplies. It also, combined with her mages, gives her a basically limitless supply of troops to throw at me.

She's heavily entrenched between Waterdeep, Neverwinter (holding both those cities - their populations have basically been wiped out by now) and Icewind Dale - I've taken her capital in Lurkwood, but she wasn't around at the time. Not that it would have mattered - killing other Gods in this game just banishes them - as long as they rule a province or have Dominion over a province, they're still in the game, missing only the god's physical avatar (usually a powerful mage or warrior, so a significant loss) until it returns.

Worse, since her troops don't need to breathe, she's expanded underwater, where I _probably_ won't be able to remove her. On the other hand, the Sea of Swords is infested with Starspawn from Rl'yeh - _their_ god's (sadly named Deathgrip instead of Cthulhu, but that's AI for you...) dominion only drives people insane and summons creatures from the Void, and it's weaker than Thymlore's. If I can wipe out Ermor on land, I can hope for Rl'yeh to wipe them out at sea, and then invade the islands to put up my temples and overwhelm Deathgrip's dominion, killing him that way since I can't easily take underwater provinces. The other underwater civ, Atlantis, has already been destroyed, so the rest will just be a matter of good old fashioned land war.

10 of the 19 players have already been wiped out, and two more are on their last legs. I have two powerful and hostile nations on my eastern and southern borders, Pangaea (forestal beastmen of various kinds) who hold Araunoch and a lot east of there and Arcocephale (adapted Greeks), who hold Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, but my militias and that handy Wrath of God enchantment (it wounds/kills about 300 enemy troops a turn, but I have no idea which ones they are. :D) seem to be handling their attacks for now - either that or they're busy with other enemies. I can see that Rl'yeh has made inroads on land in Tethyr, while Norse-inspred Midgrd and Celtic/English Man have established themselves in points further south and east. Once the last two weaklings are knocked out, things will get ugly for somebody. But I'm looking forward to it.

Still, this is not a quick game, especially on large maps - I sincerely doubt I'll ever finish the game I'm in, for example, though it's probably one of the largest games I could possibly set up. Also, like seemingly every TBS ever invented, it can turn into micromanagement hell at times - though there've been improvements over the previous version, apparently. And one thing that annoys me about the single-player is that there's no AI diplomacy - everyone's at war, the differences are merely in who's getting focused on. (On the other hand, that problem is quite handily corrected by multiplayer, which I can't wait to try - though of course that will be an even longer-term sort of deal. ) But if the above, plus the info from the page appeals, and you've been looking for a successor to MoM or its ilk, the demo at the very least is worth a try.

And now, to bed. I want to clean up around here tomorrow.


( Walk among 2 shadows — Cast a shadow )
May. 6th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
Supreme Commander does not run that well, in any case... I haven't been able to get it stable.
May. 6th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough, I never had crashing problems on my current system, it just ran like a pig. :D
( Walk among 2 shadows — Cast a shadow )