LotR: The Third Age 21 June 2013

So I just beat Lord of the Rings: The Third Age for GBA. I actually first played this when it was relatively new, and I was a young kid. It was very difficult for me back then, I couldn’t get past the third or fourth level, but now I was able to breeze through it all very easily. I did enjoy the game very much; I really couldn’t put it down from start to finish.

Strategy games have always been my absolute favorites, and the turn based tactics is always a good one. What makes this one different from most I’ve played is that you don’t move all of your units per turn; there are three flanks with units on them, and depending on your heroes on each flank, you get a certain amount of command points, each one lets you move a single unit. This definitely made for an interesting game dynamic, and it really took out a lot of the pressure of having so many different move possibilities. Instead of having to go through every possible move each of your units can make to maximize combat effectiveness, you usually want to choose the few units with the most attack power to spend your command points on, which makes making decisions a lot easier.

The way the gameplay is structured uncomplicates things greatly as well. Each unit has a melee attack, and then a range. Units deal less damage the farther they are away from your target, so the best choice is usually to get as close as possible before attacking. This takes out the fuss over how much range you have vs. your enemy, and how far away you should stay to out-shoot them.

One thing that took some getting used to was the fact that the game is on a square grid, but it considers diagonal movement as one move. In games like Advance Wars, a unit’s movement and range possibilities will be in a diamond shape, but in here, they are completely square. If you’re trying to escape the reach of a unit diagonally, you may look like you’re extremely far away, but in reality, they can actually catch you easily.

Not many units have special features or abilities either, which simplifies the game even more. All mounted units are able to move after attacking, and some units have marksmanship, which negates damage loss with range, but other than that, there’s not a terrible lot to calculate. Terrain is very simple, spaces can give either one or two shield defense, or take an extra one or two moves to cross.

Even so, there is possibility for some clever strategy to win disadvantaged battles. Hero targeting is a very viable strategy, especially when you’re smacking other units along the way to the enemy hero. Taking out enemy heroes will reduce their command points per turn and therefore reduce the total damage their army can do. After that you’re going to want to target enemy units with the greatest damage. Why? Because with limited command points, regardless of which units you attacked, the enemy would always attack with their greatest damage dealing units, thus maximizing their damage per turn. In this sense, it’s always worth it to take down a large enemy troll even if takes a long time, rather than picking off a bunch of little goblins first.

If you kill something on the same flank that your hero is on, you get exp, which can be used to get up to three specific equipment pieces per character, or up to four skills. The skills don’t take up command points to use, and can affect either the hero, or the entire flank. One thing I didn’t like is that when you’re choosing a hero, you don’t get to see their equipment and skill purchase options, so I chose the Witch King because he’s my favorite character, but he didn’t necessarily have the skills I liked.

The game follows the story of all three movies/books, and it lets you play battles that the movies only hint at.

I have to say, I know this is a little late, but I wish they made a sequel to this game, it was awesome.

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Calculus – 16 June 2013

So calculus is pretty interesting. The first thing I noticed when I got to school is that my teacher had sent everyone an email basically threatening us. “You’re worst fear this summer-” he said, “will be time. I strongly recommend that you don’t try to take any other classes at the same time as this one, not even PE, because you won’t have time. I also recommend that you don’t try to peruse any employment or new personal relationships, because you’re going to have to get used to saying ‘I can’t go out this weekend, I have to study’ a whole lot.”

 

I saw Nick this morning before class too. He bought me a cinnamon cheese Danish thing. Get this, he saw a baby flamingo once at his little animal hospital. He also said that he was pulling down on something and a needle with some solution accidentally fell onto, and pierced, his hand. What an intense dude.

 

It was even more interesting once I got into the class itself. The instructor was this guy with a shaved head in shorts. “Sorry I’m late guys, my wife decided I needed a haircut this morning…” he explained. He then saw a guy with bushy hair in the front row and said “well, let’s make sure my wife doesn’t see you, haha!” There are about 60 people sitting with me in this big lecture hall normally used for chem classes, only half of us are actually in the class, there’s about 5 on the waitlist, and the rest are just trying to crash the class. Apparently, the teacher only gets so many add codes because they have to pay him extra when he goes over the 60 student threshold. The people that make up this class are interesting in their own regard as well. There are about twice of every usually rare niche in the class. For example, there are twice as many Asian youngsters with bowl cuts who think they’re human calculators, twice as many weird white kids with dusters and ponytails, and twice as many community-college-cool-kids with leather jackets and sunglasses. However, like normal classes, this one was filled by a majority of your standard Mexican. The teacher was testing out a purple marker on the board when he randomly asked “how do you say purple in Spanish?” to which the whole class answered “morado!”

 

In the snack room later that day I walked in on a guy in the bathroom. It’s a one-person bathroom with a lock, which I guess this guy didn’t know how to use. As I opened the door I heard “EY! EY! EY!” so I closed it again. There was a black guy behind me also heading to the bathroom who commented “oh, shit.” I took my slice of pizza, put it back in my backpack, and left the whole area. I wasn’t going to stick around and make awkward eye contact when the guy comes out of the bathroom, I was out of there.

 

I had to get the textbook the very first day because there is already homework assigned. During the day we apparently reviewed stuff that people were have supposed to have learned in precalc (which I didn’t take). The teacher was like “yeah, you remember this, the equation of a parabola, and a hyperbola, and an ellipse, and this is how you shift them, all old stuff, right?” I was like “…no.” So hopefully the book can catch me up.  It was like $150, but it’s good for calc A, B, and C, so that’s like $50 a class.