This weekend: OMG. Biggest. Comeback. EVAR.

May 27, 2009
EPIC WINNERZ!

EPIC WINNARZ!

Alright folks, I’ve been having an awfully busy few days of work and real-life socializing, so I apologize for the paucity (now there’s an SAT word for ya!) of updates.

That being said, you and all sports fans are in for a major treat this weekend, in the form of the Battle Report of the century. Seldom have I found a replay so exciting, so astoundingly, so utterly unbelievable in the action, as this one. Our grumpy hero, one CharlesDarwin, squares off against Malivos, on the familiar stalking fields of Semois.

This is the first epic comeback of the Tales of Valor era. Both players spam some overpowered 2.502 BS, with the father of evolution favoring the highly evolved infantry-killing T17 and Malivos scorching points like its his job with his Schwimmwagen. There are heroic paratroopers who fall from the heavens and give the ultimate sacrifice, stalwart Panzer Grenadiers who fearlessly siege an Allied base, and as I said earlier, a comeback that will leave your teeth chattering with suspense.

Psyched yet? Well, you oughts to be. Stay tuned!


Battle Report: Sepha (Wehr) vs. Hamilton (US)

May 20, 2009
REPLAYSepha (Terror) vs. Hamilton (Infantry) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay] 

TANK WARZ!

TANK WARZ!

At long last, we have a Battle Report featuring the first new map of retail 2.502: Flooded Plains. On the one hand we have COH legend Sepha, playing as Wehrmacht; on the other, as the Americans, we have one Hamilton, whom I’m unfamiliar with.

Rest assured however, this is an excellent match. There’s a ton of infantry that reach elite status; there’s a King Tiger that goes out in a Bismarck-style blaze of glory; there’s artillery wiping out an entire Knights’ Cross squad in one hit, plus lots of dead Panzer IVs. Flooded Plains is still so new that both players are still sort of figuring it out. It’s an interesting map for two reasons: first, there are two high fuels, just like Angoville, and they’re close enough to each player that teching is quite quick. Second, the terrain and resources are quite evenly distributed.

Both players start by tacking toward their high fuels, which I suspect will pretty much be the default opening move on this map. Sepha moves next to secure what seems like a stronghold position at the top mid-region, but it becomes quickly evident that this area doesn’t favor MGs.

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions...

If you garrison the house, your MG can’t hit either the top Victory Point or the nearby Munitions point.

MGs can't cover either point.

MGs can't cover either point.

If you deploy in the open, it’s tough to cover both discrete routes, which enemy infantry can easily take simultaneously in separate squads. Your best bet is to angle your MG so you cover the top route and much of the bottom.

relic00008Sepha is thwarted by Hamilton for precisely this reason; the Riflemen move in two directions, forcing him to keep shifting his MG. It may be a better idea to go for multiple Volksgrenadiers on this map; then again the high fuel income means BARs can come very quickly, devastating your Volks. It’ll be interesting to see how high-level play develops on this map. Sepha goes for an Axis Sniper instead; this is a common tactic for Wehrmacht on building-heavy maps like Semois, where Rifles frequently garrison buildings to hold ground.

If you can pick off enough Riflemen, you can justify the expense and risk of a Sniper. If you don’t kill enough men before losing your Sniper, you’ll have sacrificed time, manpower and capping power.

Sepha’s Sniper is off to a good start, but unbeknownst to him, Hamilton’s spare Engineer squad spends some time placing a mine.

Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Online casino games (seriously)

May 16, 2009
Sexy womens not included

Sexy womens not included

First off, quick update on the next Battle Report: it’ll come tomorrow, I promise and pinky-swear on it. But first — the titular review!

If you’re ever stuck on a business trip somewhere with just a laptop and wi-fi (though these days you’ve got a slew of other options like smart phones and PSPs), whaddya do to pass the time?

You can’t play COH, or any other serious RTS. You’re left with a wide assortment of Flash, Shockwave or Java-powered games. Here’s my recommendation: get your blood pumping with some online Blackjack or roulette.

Feelin' like Vegas yet?

Feelin' like Vegas yet?

You can find an entire lineup of applet-powered casino games at www.888.com, though my favorite offerings are free roulette and free Blackjack.

888-logoThere’s an awful lot of free, applet-powered casino games, but 888 separates itself from the pack by pretty much the slickest, quickest and most ad-free. There’s an awful lot of smart phones, but none can match Apple’s iPhone in terms design elegance and pure slickness. There’s a whole lot of hack & slash RPGs and overhead RTS games, but Blizzard continues to stand out by having the best-of-class titles in both genres. And the same applies to 888.

And let’s underline the second-best thing. It’s all ad-free. That’s right, ADVERTISEMENT-FREE. No spam, pop-ups or adware or spyware. Just look at that little angelic stick figure!

888_adwarepolicy

I support this movement and so should you!

Having played through these games quite a few times, I can assure you it is indeed true. And this from a guy who has Windows Defender and AVG running 24/7 in the background.

Every game is easy to play and very straight-forward; the graphics are crisp and clean the sound effects are simple and remind you of the casino. All you need is a sexy blond in a slinky dress on your arm, and a martini in your hand, and you’re practically James Bond in Casino Royale.

That could be real money if you were a bettin' man.

That could be real money if you were a bettin' man.

Rest easy: If you don’t have Bond’s skills with the dice, or if you’re totally clueless, 888.com has an entire section dedicated to tutorials for each game. It’s a great way to learn them.


Site Update: This weekend will be hot…

May 11, 2009
Heavyweights test new waters!

Heavyweights test new waters!

There’s a thrilling new Battle Report that awaits you this weekend, featuring the highest-rated replay on GR.org — an epic showdown between Sepha and Hamilton on the new, unproven killing field of Flooded Plains. Presumably the map is meant to capture the low-lying terrain of France, which the Nazis designed to be floodable in order to cripple air-dropped troops and slow enemy advances.

Also shortly up will be a review of some online casino games. Random, you say? Maybe, but a wealthy patron of the arts is providing funding to Rifles Ready! for reviewing www.888.com and I do enjoy a good gamble every now and again.

So stay tuned… great things are just ’round the corner.


Get Mind of a Master early via PayPal

May 8, 2009
Statistics show early adopters do better at life.

Statistics show early adopters do better at life.

As promised, in light of Amazon.com‘s very long approval process, I’m offering Volume I of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master, NOW. I’m afraid the purchase process will be somewhat unwieldy, but there’s no way to avoid it outside of relying on a middleman like Amazon.

Doing it early means you’ll have to buy the entire album (10 separate MP3s) without the option of choosing tracks. You’ll have to pay using PayPal, so obviously you’ll need a PayPal account.

After your payment is received, I’ll manually fulfill your order by emailing you a download link. To download the ZIP file (about 69mb), you will need to enter a unique password that will also be provided by me via email. The download link and password will be in the same email. Depending on many orders I get, it may take a couple hours to send you the email.

If any of this sounds sketchy to you, feel free to wait a week or two for Amazon to get its act together.

For you bold early adopters, you can order now by following these directions:

1. Send an email requesting the item by clicking here.

2. Please write “MOM Volume I order” in the subject line.

3. In the body of the email, write the email address I should send a PayPal invoice to.

4. Within a few hours, you should receive a PayPal invoice for $6.99 at the email address you specified. You can easily follow PayPal instructions from there to send the payment.

5. After I receive the payment, I will email you the download link and password.


Amazon.com delays will be likely

May 6, 2009
When it <i>doesn't</i> make you smile

When it doesn't make you smile

I’ve just learned that Amazon.com will likely require another 10-12 business days to approve Volume I of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master. Most disappointing. But rest assured, sports fans — I’ll continue to tease bits and pieces of this thrilling MP3 album in Battle Reports and other media on the blog. Just see the latest Battle Report for a taste.

In the meantime, you can expect additional Battle Reports and perhaps some tips and balance commentary. Specifically, I’m looking at doing our first report on one of the new Tales of Valor maps. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on patch 2.502 and it’s not clear exactly how seismic a change patch 2.503 will bring.


Battle Report: Quacks (US) vs. NiceSirotaSan (PE)

May 4, 2009
REPLAYQuacks (Infantry) vs. NiceSirotaSan (Luftwaffe) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

It's a regular demo derby!

It's a regular demo derby!

Here we go sports fans, our very first post-Tales of Valor Battle Report! The game is between Quacks — aka Kodachrome — and NiceSirotaSan, who may or may not be some smurf. Highlights include some astoundingly effective Jeep usage in the beginning, epic and sudden turns of fate, perhaps the most massive base attacks mounted post-patch 2.301, and to top it off, a huge comeback. While both players are exemplary, this replay isn’t an example of perfect play. In fact, both Kodachrome and Sirota make major mistakes. What makes it interesting is how they hang on in the face of long odds and react to rapidly shifting fortunes. So, to the match! The map is St. Mere Dumont, doubtless a welcome change from the all-too familiar killing fields of Angoville. St. Mere, or Dumont as some call it, is generally regarded as rather unfair to American players, due largely to the huge number of buildings. Axis MG42s or G43 Panzer Grenadiers can quickly garrison buildings and be extremely difficult for Riflemen to dislodge without incurring significant casualties early on. We open with Koda down south; he begins the match by building a Jeep first, which is nearly unheard of, particularly in U.S. vs. PE matches. Most good players don’t get a Jeep first against PE, especially now that the Kettenrad pathfinding bug has been fixedand you can’t get guaranteed Ketten kills in the first minutes of a game. But Koda goes for a Jeep and sends it screaming into downtown St. Mere Dumont, where it charges into a pack of PGs.

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-47-59-39Right away Koda uses the Jeep to distract them as they go about capping; his Engineers go for the top +10 fuel right above the Cafe Normandy building and barb it up with wire. This is always a good move on Dumont, especially early on against PE, who have no wire cutters and can’t do jack about wire until they get their first Infantry Halftrack. Next up the real Jeep action begins. Using his Jeep, Koda gets in the way of a moving PG squad, forcing the 3-man squad to scatter its members. When individual squad members are separated from their squad, they receive the brunt of any focused fire and die quickly as a result. Fire on a clumped-together squad and the gunfire won’t necessarily target a single individual; rather they’ll lower the entire squad’s health by hitting several squad members.reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-44-50-58 Here the Jeep forcibly separates the men by simply getting in the way. It takes some practice to do this effectively, and you’ll need to watch your Jeep carefully and retreat it when taking focused fire. Keeping the Jeep alive is crucial, because you can’t spare the extra time to build a second Jeep when you need to be massing up to your preferred complement of 3-4 Rifle squads. Always retreat with a margin of error to minimize the chance of suffering engine damageand giving the PGs a free kill. reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-45-12-46When done successfully, studied Jeep movements  can scatter a squad very widely, making it take much longer for all the members to consolidate behind cover. As you can see here, the extra time needed became fatal for one unfortunate Kraut. Koda actually killed that particular PG with a combination of Jeep fire and fire from his first Engy squad; Sirota largely ignores these two “weak” units in favor of capping the crucial middle strategic point (SP), though he pivots afterward to prioritize the +10 north fuel point. You can scroll down and click the link to expand the full post to watch the YouTube video of this amazing, Jeep-centered initial skirmish. But before that, check out our very own Rifles Ready! illustrated analysis of the Willys-Overland Jeep as depicted in COH:

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

thumb_bannerHere’s a little teaser from the Mind of a Master audio strategy series featuring Surprise talking about how he uses the Jeep. Remember to check back later this week for an update when Volume I of the MoM series becomes available on Amazon.com.https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/jeep-usage-teaser.mp3″ Read the rest of this entry »