Volume I: The final tracks

June 11, 2009
Rifle NOT ready.

Rifle NOT ready.

As promised, here are the last three tracks from the first volume of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master. This concludes our special D-Day celebration, but fear not sports fans: World War II goes on year-round at Rifles Ready!

That being said, I apologize for the slow updates of late. Suffice it to say June is a really, really tough month at work with a lot of things happening at the same time — all of which I’m personally responsible for.

I am also aware that many of the topics in this last batch of tracks were addressed in the recently released patch 2.600 — my reaction on that in a later post. But there’s also a lot of other insight from Surprise so I think you’ll still get plenty out of these.

Expect that post, plus an interesting balance article from Surprise, in the coming days. There’s also a new Battle Report in the works featuring a really good up-and-coming player whose replays have gotten a lot of attention on GR.org.

Track 8: Controversial balance issues – The Strafing Run


Track 9: Controversial balance issues – Supertanks and British armor


Track 10: Controversial balance issues – MGs firing at multiple targets, Panzer Elite and end credits


More of the good stuff…

June 6, 2009


As promised, the rain of fantastical content continues with three more tracks from the first volume of our Mind of a Master audio strategy series. I’m also planning to release the long-awaited Battle Report sometime today or very early tomorrow.

Just as a reminder, tomorrow I’m flying out to magical Denver, Colorado — the Mile-High City — to run a conference for my company. I’ll be back late Wednesday night. So, here’s hoping Surprise or someone else gets in a post to keep things hopping while I’m gone (hoping — hopping, get it?).

Track 5: American faction overview by Surprise


Track 6: American faction-specific counters


Track 7: Controversial balance issues, Blitzkrieg doctrine


A special gift for a special three days in June…

June 5, 2009
A time for heroes...

A time for heroes...

Folks, it’s that time of year again. Today is June 5, 2009. Tomorrow will be June 6, the 65-year anniversary of D-Day. The day 150,000 Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to end tyranny, free a continent and spawn a thousand film and video game adaptions of a climactic battle. It’s a special day to anyone who loves Company of Heroes or World War II games in general.

You'll like this.

You'll like this.

To commemorate this occasion, I have decided with Surprise‘s support to make ALL 10 tracks of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master: Volume I, available on Rifles Ready! — free of charge.

Starting today and ending Sunday (D-Day +1), I will be posting several tracks daily for you to listen to.

The tracks will be playable via the native WordPress streaming audio applet (see below). Amazon.com is taking FOREVER to approve this MP3 album for download, and it’s a special time of year, so the hell with it. Please enjoy!

Tracks 1 and 2: Introduction to Surprise and his biography/A high-level overview of the state of COH


Track 3: Detailed Tales of Valor unit analysis


Track 4: Psychology and mind games in COH


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!


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.

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.

Mind of a Master coming soon

May 1, 2009
All the cool kids will buy it. Don't you wanna be cool?

All the cool kids will buy it. Don't you wanna be a cool kid?

My humblest apologies, folks — it turns out the Amazon.com MP3 seller process is more complicated and time-consuming than I had assumed. First they have to review the tape, to make sure Surprise and I don’t swear like sailors throughout (hint: we don’t). Then they’ve got to approve our album art, resample and recompress our MP3s and onward, in this vein. But I’m confident all will be done by the end of next week, and in all likelihood, sooner than that. In the meantime I hope the cover art above (click to enlarge) will tide you over. There’s a black & white version available as well.

Stay tuned this weekend for our first 2.502 Battle Report! Really when I started writing them I had no idea they would become our bread & butter. But I’m glad they have… it’s just that they’re time-consuming. First I’ve gotta pick a great replay, then watch it and take notes, then watch it again and take screenshots, then watch it a third time to get video clips for YouTube. Then I’ve gotta manually edit and mark up each screenshot, resize them, and only then do I actually start writing the analysis and commentary online. Then I have to insert all the images, make sure they wrap properly around the text, write up captions for every one, and upload the replay on Mediafire and link to it.

You can see that takes awhile ;-). But I’m grateful for your patience and trust me — the next Battle Report and Volume I of Mind of a Master will be worth every minute of waiting.