Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mom Plays Minecraft - Descent to the Core: Things To Know about Level 2

You've descended towards the core and just landed in the new zone.  Brace yourself - things will start happening fast!

You'll be in one of three places: a little cave, a big dark outdoors place, or an "island" (basically your transporter) in the middle of water.  Wherever you land, the first thing to do is get to safety!

If you're on the darkened plane, dig down several blocks and then dig out very fast.  Be prepared to beat off mobs (luckily, most of them show up on the minimap.)   Mobs will come after you, and if you're on level 80 or above, you get different types of explode-y creepers,

If you're on the island, extend the island using your leaves (you can only extend it one block....try for two blocks over the water and you end up in the water).  On harder modes, use the leaves to build a "fortress wall" because everything out there is coming for you right away.  Once you're safe, build a boat to go to the "mainland" (if you die while doing this, it's almost impossible to retrieve your stuff from the bottom of the pitch-black water environment.  Reset and try again.)

If you're in the cave, bring out a cube of dirt, plant one of your saplings on it, and relax.  You're in the clear for now.  Start digging outward and keep looking on your map for a patch of dark blue, indicating open space and water.  You'll want to head there to make your home.


Torches work differently in Descent to the Core than they do in Minecraft.  While they are your friend, they also set things on fire.  Keep them away from trees, vines, coal, netherrack, and small children passing by.

Vines are a good source of oxygen (particularly if you have a limited number of saplings) but you'll need to keep them 5 blocks away from torches.

You can starve to death.  The two easiest foods to get are "rock soup" (probably hard on your teeth) and "Limes" from limestone.  Rock soups do not spoil, but they do use up wood and stone.  Limes are also your best and fastest growing crop.

Don't get too fond of her.  She has a habit of walking into walls and dying if she's penned up, and running into attacking creepers and zombies if she isn't penned up.  I stick her behind stone walls, but that's not a guarantee.  The first quest under "Noah's Ark" gives you another sanity pet, Rhea... but you have to find and kill some spiders, and if Gertrud's dead by this point, it's going to be a challenge.


Keep any marble and limestone you find.  Eventually you'll need two stacks of the stuff. You'll also need two blocks of compressed gravel eventually.

Mine all the aluminum and copper that you see.   Copper can be used for armor and a lot of other things.  You won't be able to mine ferrous ore, iron, or anything else for a very long time.

You will need to find lots of dirt - and that's found in the open areas where all the monsters are.  If you're not in the open area, 9 rotten foods (most of your food goes rotten) will make one dirt.  Fastest way to get spoilable food is to create limes from limestone (it takes 4 days for food to go bad.)

Friendly NPCs
Believe it or not, they (like hay bales and other stuff like enchanting tables) are buried in the rock.


Cheat mode is enabled, but that takes the challenge out of it, I think. The one hack I do use after I get tired of dying is the map teleport (if you type M to get the map and click on one of the X's, you can either eliminate them or you can teleport there.  I save useful locations)


Keep a tree and a block of dirt on you at all times.

One thing I wasn't aware of when I was first playing is that your pickaxe (and other tools) upgrade as you use them... so repair (with one piece of flint) rather than replace.  Use 3 gravel to make one flint to repair pickaxe.  No need for repair table - type E and do it in your 4 box crafting slot (flint on top, broken pickaxe on bottom)

No matter how stupid the "blind" rewards seem, put them in an inventory somewhere.  They'll be something you need for a quest turn-in later on.

If you die and lose your pick (in the deep water, for example) you will have to make another flint pickaxe and level it.  It's not much fun.  Don't take your pickaxe on the water.

Boats are surprisingly fragile.  Running into the shoreline, baling out of the boat, zombies, and perhaps even harsh words will cause it to vanish.

Zombies have pickaxes AND TNT. They will come into your house and will let other mobs in.

There's a display in the middle left of your screen that tells you what "floor" you are on.  You start out around level 50, so you have to go up for copper and up even more for iron.

Watch your inventory display ("E") - you get experience for some crafting actions.  After you've accumulated a certain number of points, you will have the option  to unlock another inventory slot.

Build ledges and pathways as you go, along with "hides" to duck into for those times when you discover that you're being shot by a skeleton (or worse) and need to get out of their sight.  Watch out where you place the torches, though.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mom Plays Minecraft - Descent To The Core Modpack (first level)

I'm a mom (and grandmother, for that matter) and I just started playing Minecraft because one of my granddaughters plays the game and I thought I could learn to interact with her online when I can't drive over to visit.  And having once mastered it (and learned some of the cheat codes and where to find them), I got fairly good at Vanilla Minecraft.  In fact, it got a bit boring.

Someone suggested I try a "modpack" and after a lot of hunting, I installed the Curse client (a different one than I use for my Warcraft gaming mods) and went off to look for a modpack.

"Journey to the Core" looked like a fun Minecraft mod.  So I installed it, tried it (on hard mode), and kept dying.  Then I tried it on 'normal' mode and kept dying in the second part.  I refused to try it on 'peaceful', so I put the modpack on 'easy' (this is a misnomer, folks) and forged ahead.  I tried looking at videos, but most of the dialogue was some young-ish guy making lame jokes and giving a travelogue of what he was seeing - after about an hour of watching, I came away with only two tips and a sense of frustration.  Most of the videos for Journey seemed to stop with the second level, and the one that reached the third level was a team of three people.

I'm playing in standalone mode and it doesn't look like I'm becoming triplets any time soon.   So I'm writing this, my own "tips for survival" for "Journey to the Core."  No lame jokes, no music, no voiceover.  Just ... notes (what a concept.)

Level 1:
This is a totally safe area (even on hard mode), so you can do what you like and not get eaten or killed. My first action is to hit the chest with my hand (breaking it apart so I can take it with me) and put on the backpack.  I do NOT start reading the quest manual at that point.  The manual will put lots of lovely quest rewards in your inventory - but you're starting out with a very short inventory and there's some things you might want later.  I put the jelly sandwiches and root beer (and the chest) in the backpack and then I usually catch Gertrud with the safari net and put her in as well - don't forget the leash and the fencepost.  This keeps her from wandering into your work area later.

Next, I punch the DEAD trees (not the live one.)  Don't stand under them because the leaves fall hard and will hurt you.  Collect leaves and wood and go into the cave and collect a mushroom or two and all the gravel on the top level (don't descend the ladder.) The last block of gravel (a "slope")will also give you a Carpenter's Wedge Slope.  Save these wedges - they burn nicely in furnaces and save your valuable wood for other things.  Once you've started the Journey to the Core, you won't be able to mine coal right away.   Collect the mushrooms because they can be made into a food, and then and go back to the tree.

Beat up on the leaves (don't bother using pickaxes or sword or shovel) - but don't stand under the tree.  Falling branches ("widowmakers") will hurt.  Use the leaf blocks from the dead tree to boost yourself up to harvest all the wood.  Around the tree in a "plus" pattern are six blocks of regular dirt.  Take them.

Caution: when you're harvesting the tree, it may get dark.  DO NOT PUT A TORCH ON THE TREE.  It will burn the tree up and the leaves (and you!)

Next, beat up on the grass and evaluate the seeds.  I only take two that will give "nourishing morsels."  If you can find a soybean seed, take that one.

Finally, sacrifice one of your blocks of wood and make a Wooden Shears.  Go to the vines without flowers and start harvesting them until your shears breaks.  In the next section you'll need oxygen, and these vines will provide it.  Get as many as you can.

Once they break (or you're tired of cutting vines), grab those discarded wood planks, collect all the torches in the area, and head into the cave.  DO NOT WEAR A TORCH ON YOUR HEAD.   That can set things on fire.  Grab wedges, all the mushrooms you find, and all the gravel.  You can beat things up using the torch - if it goes out, click on another item in your inventory and click on the torch again and the light will come back on.

By the time you reach the elevator, you'll hopefully have around 60 stacks of leaves, more than 11 torches, more than 10 Deadpine logs, more than 20 Oak logs, more than 5 saplings, at least one apple, and at least 20 wedges.  Before you start the elevator descent to the core (you can't come back up) make sure that your leaves AND your pick are where you can reach them.  I usually click with pick.

You will end up in one of 3 situations - a nice cavelet (best option), a space in the middle of the water (second best), or a darkened plane (dig downwards VERY very fast!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Warcraft Garrison Pet Battles : Two Pet Strategy for Elekks and Others

Trying to find a good strategy for some of the Garrison pet battles can be frustrating, particularly when you're just starting out and you only have a few pets leveled to 25. If you're trying to work on two-pet strategies so that you can level your pets to complete the Awfully Big Adventure quest with the Elekk, you may find yourself yelling at the screen and pounding on the mouse as that frail little garrison visitor suddenly demolishes your whole team in three blows.

There've been some changes recently, and now most garrison pet battles award only a trivial amount of experience.  However, the tokens you win each day allow you to upgrade several pets, so it's a pretty reasonable tradeoff.

There are differences in individual pets' health, speed, and power-to-hit.  This and the "random number gods" make every pet battle different.  These two pet strategies allow you to field a third pet (I suggest something level 15 and above) to take care of those cases where two pets just aren't going to take down the garrison challenge.

Let's start with some terms:

All pets have two rows of 3 actions that you can pick from.  When web pages talk about pets, they will usually add the setup that they have for that particular battle -- in this case, arcane blast is the first thing you can choose and it's on the second row, as is life exchange.  Moonfire, the third action we want for this pet is on the top row.

So if I'm telling you to use this pet and this setup, I would say "Sprite Darter Hatchling (2,2,1)"  If I'm giving you a specific pet strategy, I will use the slot number instead. So, if I want your Sprite Darter Hatchling (2,2,1) to first do Moonfire, then Life Exchange, then Arcane blast, I would say "strategy: 3,2,1"

NOT ALL PETS ARE CREATED EQUAL.  If you look at your Sprite Darter, you may see that your health or speed is different.  That means your attack effectiveness will be different than mine.  You can either go hunt the specific pet type that you need or use some alternatives -- where I know alternatives, I'll list them.

Got it?  Okay, here, starting from the Quintessence of Light, are the pet strategies I use.  These are two pet strategies, so you can put whatever you like in the third slot.

 Quintessence of Light
* Sprite Darter Hatchling (2,2,1)
*Nether Faerie Dragon (2,2,1)
*Strategy: 3,1,2,1,1,1 rinse, lather, repeat

Blingtron 4999b and friends 
* Singing Sunflower (1,2,1) (slow but reliable fight)
* Nether Faerie Dragon (2,2,1) moonfire, life exchange
* Strategy: start with sunlight, keep up photosynthesis
ALTERNATE: Ruby Droplet(2,2,2) or Blossoming Ancient for first pet  OR Mechanical Frostboar(2,2,1)plus Ikky (1,1,1)  Black claw and flock them to death.

 Stitches JR.

 WARNING:  THIS FIGHT IS VERY RANDOM-NUMBER-GODS (RNG) DEPENDENT - If your pet does less than 500 damage to him, he will ignore that damage.
* Nether Faerie Dragon (2,2,1)
* Water strider/ mirror strider/etc strider (2,2,2)
* Any water with "pump"
* Strategy:  Nether Faerie Dragon (2), swap, Strider (2,3,3) bring out NFD, rinse, repeat
ALTERNATE: Nether Faerie Dragon(2,2,1), Mini Mindslayer,(2,1,2) Zao, calfling of Nunzao (2,2,2) STRATEGY: (3,2,) swap (3.2.1) swap (3)

* Mechanical Pandaren Dragon (1,1,2)
* Winter's Little Helper (2,1,2)
* any third with 800 health (swap in and out when Manos comes in)
Strategy:  (3,2,1,1,1(etc)) Winter's helper (2,1,3,1 etc) -- she really takes them down fast.

Squirt - one of the few garrison battles where you can level a pet!
*Scourged Whelpling (2,2,1)
*macabre marionette(2,2,2)
*any third with 800 health.  Swap when Puzzle (3rd pet) enters and immediately swap back to Marionette.
*Strategy:  Whelpling - spam 3,2,1,1,1 until whelpling dies.  Bring out Marionette, spam 3, 1,1,3. 

* Lil' Bling
* Darkmoon Zeppelin
* any mechanical over 700 health

Monday, December 29, 2014

Draenor Horde Garrisons: Strangers in a strange land

Welcome to Draenor, fellow Hordie!   What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Well, friends, I'll tell you that it all boils down to one single, simple fact: Archmaage Khadgar NEVER asks for directions.

We see him blasting the Iron Horde into the air en masse, destroying bridges with a twitch of a finger, and even disintegrating a dam.  But as it turns out, the Omniscient One is secretly direction challenged and possibly time-challenged as well.

He does NOT manage to sail the boat to a nice warm place in Nagrand with sunny beaches where we can plan strategy over a nice microbrew.  Instead, Wrong Way Khadgar runs off to help the Frostwolves after they've hunkered down in the Great Icebox Of Durotar.  In lieu of cabana boys with frou-frou drinks, lush scenery, wooded dells, and uppity (but tasty) wildlife, Frostridge has rocks.  It also has glaciers, rocks, ice, rocks, and snow (and rocks) livened up by the occasional volcano.  And ogres.  And ugly hogs.  And demons.  And iceworms.  And rock ledges with a 200 foot drop. 

The Invaders from Argus (Dranei, who managed to crash land on Draenor before crash landing on Azeroth) ended up in lovely Shadowmoon Valley.  And yet with the rest of a lovely warm world on which to live, Our Hero's Father Durotan opts for settling down to live in the World's Biggest Refrigerator.

Apparently he gets epic hot flashes or something.

Welcome to Draenor.


Your garrison is visually more confusing than the Alliance garrison.  Gazlowe has a thing for Hides With Holes (as walls -- I think he gets them pre-ganwed on, wholesale) and your basic brick red and gray-ish tan scheme.  Your (white) position marker doesn't stand out well against the (white) snow and (gray) buildings.  Zoom in close to avoid changes.

If you're basing your gameplay strategy on what you did on the Alliance side, you're gonna be in a world of hurt.  That's what I did when I decided that my first resource building was going to be the Lumber Mill.

I ended up running across two zones (death run, really, and an 80 gold repair bill) just to find two doggone "small timber" trees to cut down for the lumber mill's approval, because there seems to be a rule that "Horde Doesn't Do Trees" -- except, perhaps for those flouncy Blood Elves, who seem to be closet tree-huggers when they're not sniffing illegal magic items.

And then I decided I'd build a barn and a leatherworking store -- only to discover that the animals you can get leather from live in Alliance areas (cue headdesk-ing.)  A few of them actually live in the Frozen North, but let me tell you, I feel guilty hunting wolves with Durotan and Thrall sitting around in my garrison.

Therefore, a better option is to build the Trading Post and simply trade for garrison resources.

As with Alliance side, build your tradeskill buildings first and then consider the recipes.  Remember that you can change out the buildings in your garrison if you want to pick up a different item.  For example, my priest (who has alchemy) traded in the alchemy building after getting all the recipes for an Enchanter's studio and enchants.

As with Alliance side, your better bet is handing over the raw materials to workers to process.  It takes my blacksmith character 24 hours, 20 true iron ores, and 10 Blackrock ores to produce one Truesteel Ingot.  Alternatively, I can turn over batches of Blackrock ore to my forge worker and get out 4-6 Truesteel ingots each day (and more possibly, depending on the worker.) The maximum item level equipment that these buildings produce is level 640 (and it takes around 2 weeks to make something, unless you get lucky), so you may want to change them for something else once you've gotten the gear you like.

Although you get a daily quest (with various rewards, mostly gold) from sticking with your own tradeskills and leveling the trade building to level 3, you may find that having an alternate building is more useful.  It is very expensive to make some items (and many things are "bind on pick up"), so I often include buildings that will produce armor for me.


One of the perks you do get is the blessing of the Shamanstones.  The main one is in Wol'Gar, but there's another one way out on the hind end ofnowhere (65,79 Frostfire Ridge).  They offer the "Spirit of the Wolf", "Blessing of the Wolf", and "Buffeting Galefury".  As best I can figure it out, the last one means a wind spirit comes in and dines on various things.  It promises some sort of levitation, but I haven't figured out who or what gets levitated.

My personal favorite is "Blessing of the Wolf," which calls a ghostly Frostwolf rushing to your aid when you get into combat (if you don't get into combat too often.)  So far, the frostwolf hasn't rushed in with a keg of brandy, but I have hopes...

So put some thought into your garrison early on if you're playing Horde.  While you can reverse the changes easily enough (gold and garrison resources are all that is needed), you can save yourself a bit of frustration by a little careful planning.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

World of Warcraft - Bodyguards for your Body in Draenor

Felinos in his DPS Discipline spec -- and Defender Illona.  He needs a lot of defending.|

You And Your Bodyguard

I couldn't wait to upgrade my barracks and get a bodyguard for Draenor, because my main toon, Felinos, is a holy priest.  While he isn't that easy to kill, it does take him longer to kill things, and questing gets tedious.   I upgraded, grabbed Illona as my bodyguard but she seemed to die too easily, so I took on Delvar. 

...and regretted it about ten minutes later. 

It wasn't that he was bad at anything, but he talked constantly, bragged, and got drunk.  He seemed the hypercritical sort -- as though following a (male) priest in a robe (dress) around was beneath him.  Two bodyguards later, I figured out what I was doing wrong.

As with dungeons and raids, bodyguards have one of three roles:  DPS, Tank, or Healer-damage.  Illona was a tank, but I hadn't been treating her as a tank.  Delvar was pure DPS, which meant that a lot of the time the mobs decided a live Night Elf priest looked a lot tastier than a plate-wearing undead Dwarf.  Leorajh is a shammy who heals and does ranged DPS.  And once I got THAT sorted out, things began to make sense.

So consider your role before you pick a follower

Falcos, my druid tank, ended up with Leorajh as a follower.  He needs heals but he does NOT need someone for Competition Tanking (which was what happened when teaming up with Illona.  Felinos, my priest, ended up with Illona because he needs someone to charge in and entertain the mobs while he heals and does ranged damage.

My hunters did better with tanks and melee DPS, and my warlocks seemed to do much better with melee DPS and the Voidwalker as a tank.  I went with ranged DPS for my death knight.

Delvar Ironfist: - melee (Blood) Death Knight
Defender Illona - tanking (Protection) Paladin

Vivianne: - Mage
Aeda Brightdawn: - Warlock

Talonpriest Ishaal: Shadow Priest
Tormmok:  (Arms) Warrior tank
Leorajh: Ranged (Restoration) shaman DPS

You'll notice that you get reputation at 10 points per kill with your bodyguard.  It takes a LOT of kills to get to the next stage.  With the second level of honor, your bodyguard gets a new damage ability.  With the THIRD leve, the bodyguard gets an ability that is useful to you...

Delvar can set up a "death gate" portal to your garrison
Vivianne can open a portal to your garrison.
Illona can use "guiding light" to summon party members to your location
Aeda can set up a summoning stone so you can summon party members

Ishall can bring a raven (mailbox) to your location
Leorajh can set up a garrison mission table for you
Tormmok can repair your armor in the field.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

World of Warcraft Garrisons (Alliance)

Ah yes... SilverGeek is also a Warcraft junkie.  I've been enjoying the new expansion, though learning what to do with the garrisons has been a bit of a head-scratcher.  Although I play-tested both the alpha and beta releases, I was more interested in the quests and storylines and details than I was in playtesting the garrisons.

Still, they're a lot of fun, and it's been interesting to work them.  This set of notes is a general "guide to starting a garrison" as learned (the hard way) by me.

The best bit of advice I got was to keep your old hearthstone along with the new garrison hearthstone. Yes, you can use the portals on Ashran (the PVP island) but those are useful only if you want to go to Stormwind or Ironforge.  If you want to go to (say) Shattrath or Darnassus, you have to take the long way around.  Setting your old hearthstone to the main shrine in Pandaria is a much easier solution.

One of the features you'll notice with garrisons is that you do (ugh) get the old "city chat channels" by default.  One of the NEW things you'll notice is that they've limited how frequently you can post something to the chat.  There's less stupid "impress the world" chat and a bit more useful information on it.

The first building you will learn for your garrison is your barracks, which teaches you how to put buildings in the garrison.  Once it is finished, a reward announcement shows up along with a button that you can drag to your action bar.  You will want to keep this on your action bar -- if you get in trouble or you're trying to take down an elite, clicking on this button gives you reinforcements.

When you go into new areas, you will be able to build a "garrison outpost."
I built the Guardian Orb at Ft. Wrynn because the damage from this lasts longer.
I built the Shredder at Highpass because it gave me a mobile "tank"
I built the Trading Post in Spires of Arak
I built the Tank in Nagrand because it gives you a nice solid fighting vehicle for ten minutes.

 I'm not wimpy, but I don't like dying and I don't like repair bills.

 Shortly after you garrison is in place, other building plans will drop for your professions (though there's no 'kitchen' for cooking.)  You will find that your professions act in very different ways now.  You will eventually get a mine where you can mine ore, and a fishing shack.   At level 95 you can build a lumber mill, at 96 you get a herb garden.

These three professions give you a unit of currency called "garrison resources" (and later, apexis shards).  Gold is not that hard to collect in Draenor, but other things like the apexis shards and garrison resources can be a hard grind. 

Build this rather than the other choices.  Lumber mill generates Garrison Resources.  The other buildings don't.

If you are undergeared or don't like wasting time (or are a caster with low DPS), get one of the people in your garrison to follow you around as you collect herbs from your herb garden or mine or do other collection tasks.  Occasionally you get jumped by mobs, and your follower will help you kill them quickly.  Anytime there's a quest inside your garrison (the "seismic" one, for example), get a follower to help.

Be choosy about which missions you send them on.  Each mission costs (usually 5-10 garrison resources) and you can choose ones that give YOU (yes, you) experience or the occasional epic object or gold (most often) or garrison resources.  My first time through I sent them off on every available mission.  When I hit level 100, I found myself resource-short for garrison upgrades.

At level 95 (or near there) you will get the quest that gives you blueprints for a level 2 barracks.  When you do this, you can go to your "architect board" and assign yourself a bodyguard that follows you all over Draenor and helps you kill things.  This is a great timesaver, because things die faster with help.

Not everyone in your garrison is honest.  As you prowl around, you will find pilfered supplies (the guy in your fishing pond, the pug... and so forth.)  These are "one time" resources but still pretty handy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Diablo 3 -- Side Game Fun

There are extra "instances" which may (or may not) appear in any one section of the game.  I check the whole map before actually going to the "goal" for this area just in case one of these shows up.  It's a great chance for extra experience and goodies -- and in some of them you will "rescue" a person who turns out to be a specialized gear vendor.  You can buy rare quality items from these vendors.  Each of these mini-dungeons will have a stone at the end that teleports you back to where you entered.

WITCH DOCTOR - At level 5 you get flaming bats.  Later on, you get a pack of undead dog-kinda thingamabobs.

Certain areas trigger a random event.  Some areas (cellars, etc) have merchants there (usually offering a rare item for sale in exchange for having saved them from monsters.)

Southern Highlands:  Cave of the Moon Clan (2 levels)
* Abandoned Servant House -
Northern Highlands: Watch Tower
Black Canyon Mines:
* Deserted Cellar may have a rare level boss.  Once defeated, this allows you access to the Tunnels of the Rockworm, which is a single level dungeon
* The Breeched Keep:
Mehtan the Necromancer - one of the good guys.  Help him defeat the bad guys (often with a side order of whatever's wandering around the place at the time.)
* Hadi's Claim Mines:  One room.  One monster.  You know what to do with it.

* Free Queen Asylla's servants

Dark Cellar - monsters.  You know what to do.

Equipping the Rogue:
He'll need two-handed crossbows or regular bows.  After level 18, special "relic" items (they look like a pair of dice) drop for him.  Pick the ones with dexterity.  Gem his weapons with RED (strength) gems, but gem his rings with GREEN (dexterity) gems.

The Cave Under The Well - monsters.  Have fun.

Make sure you're well geared for the "approach the Kharza barricade" section.  There will be wave after wave of the goat men.

* The Lyceum - if this appears, you'll have a quest to explore it.  The same architect who worked on the crypts, etc, was apparently responsible for this structure.


The number of monsters increases dramatically.  Be prepared and be geared for it.  This is where you'll want to use a lot of "AOE" attacks that damage lots of enemies at once.
* Guard of the Keep -- a guard decides to join you.  He's almost impossible to keep alive.
* The Forward Barracks -- a side excursion with gold.
* Colonel Severyn -- help them fend off an attack

Treasure Pygmy/Treasure Bandit -always tries to escape, leaving a trail of gold to tempt you.  If killed, drops magic items and gold.

Your follower's icon will glow and flash when they can add a new talent point.

Shrines are a "one use" item.  Healing Wells will refill after a minute or two.

Monster talents change from level to level.  In "Normal" mode, there are very few special attacks.
Snares - your character and followers are encased in a reddish cylinder and can't move until the spell/effect wears off
Elite (purple) mobs in Nightmare can come in groups of three.
Laser beams -- Some of the elites throw points of light on the ground that become rotating laser beams.  Try to stay out of them.
Lava pools -- Some of the mobs create lava pools.  Try to stay out of them
Green goo -- not good for your health.  Stay out of that, too.
Stone walls -- restrict your movement
Frost traps - freeze you for a short period of time, during which you lose any generated talents (like rage for the Barbarian)

Each level drops its own unique things
No pages drop for Normal level
Nightmare level: pages drop

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Waze To Go

Like many other folks, I do a lot of driving to get to science fiction conventions.  While I don't mind driving, I do mind running into traffic jams and other complications that make the trip more wearisome than it should be.  When I was in San Jose to visit with the Other Daughter for her surgery, she had me use an app called Waze to navigate around the city instead of using a GPS.  I didn't download it then since I don't drive much at home, but when we started planning our Florida trip, I thought it would be a good time to check it out.  It turned out to be a real timesaver.

Since we ran both our GPS and Waze at the same time, I could directly compare the two.  As far as map accuracy, Waze was more accurate -- my GPS was two years old and the maps weren't current.  Both showed the same position for our car, so the tracking was good.

At first it was just amusing -- watching out for stopped vehicles and confirming them or reporting them "not there."  But Waze showed its real worth when I spotted a notice of a big wreck on the interstate ahead and figured out from the messages and reports that the mess stretched for about six miles and average speed on that part of the road was around 4 miles/hour.  A quick view of the maps showed that we could avoid it all with a pretty simple detour.

The interface is pretty simple -- just a map and two buttons.  The one on the left allows you to customize your account; the one on the right allows you to report on-road issues to other drivers.  The app alerts you (if you wish) when you're within a half mile of cops, stalled cars, and various road conditions including roadkill and weather.   

The maps are all real-time maps and are generally more current than your GPS, since Waze gives you points for making edits to correct road conditions -- places where other maps might not be updated (recent construction that's closing the roads, for instance.)   It was better at identifying accidents than my GPS (which only reports based on the state's Department of Transportation status reports), and some of the features (tires in road, bad weather conditions) were alerts that turned out to be very useful.  Also included is a "gas prices" feature -- Waze gives you points for reporting updated gas prices, but because it can only be done when you're actually stopped at the gas station (the software has a method of checking), it isn't quite as useful as GasBuddy.

 Waze shows your position on the map with a custom icon that also indicates your activity if you're in the top 10% of active users for your state.  While this is fun, it also leads to some false reporting, which is a problem in some cities.

If you're the only person in the car, it can be a  very distracting app, since you will be tempted to respond to alerts.  This is especially true if you're driving in a city, since the number of alert messages can be pretty high.  But it's THE perfect app to hand to your passengers, and it's a real timesaver (and sanity saver) for long trips.

Waze is available as an Iphone app and an Android app.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


It's rare, but every once in awhile you get a really badly behaved app for your Android-- one that just won't work for you or isn't right for you or even locks up your device.  But a misbehaving or inappropriate app can become more aggravating if the thing simply won't uninstall.  It sits there, taking up space on your phone or tablet, and attempts to get rid of the thing end with your system hanging up and nothing being done.

I ran into this situation myself after trying out the highly rated Nun Attack and its successor.  After a few attempts at the program (and at turning OFF the sound), I decided that these games just weren't for me.  So I tried uninstalling them... only to find that the built-in uninstall program for these games just didn't work on my Samsung Galaxy 5 phone.  Annoyed, I went into the settings for my Samsung phone and tried using the file system to uninstall, but they didn't go away.

And that's about the time that the whole situation got on my last little nerve.  So I did what any good geek does -- went out and started hunting down an application to get rid of it.  After a few tries, I came across a little app called "Uninstall" by Diya.

This is a little freeware gem for your android phone software problems.  It doesn't need fancy permissions, it doesn't throw ads at you.  It brings up a display of your apps (in alphabetical order) and you tap on the one that you want gone for good.

And it uninstalls it.  Just like that.

I gave it 5 stars.  You can find it here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

HabitRPG -- a good habit to get into!

My least favorite part of the day is doing ordinary tasks.  I like novelty, I like excitement, and I've been a gamer girl for decades, so when I saw that there was an app to "RPG your habits" I went over to check it out -- with just a tiny bit of skepticism.  How could you possibly have a web and smartphone app for tracking your habits that's been turned into a game?

After two months of trying it, I'm wondering why nobody ever thought of this before!

The application is lean (no memory hogging here!) and its simple interface and will remind you of your favorite 8-bit game graphics. You are given a character and you set your own tasks and decide whether you want them done daily, weekly, or on whatever schedule you like.  If you're a habitual procrastinator (that would be me, folks) then there's also a column for the "get this done or else" list.  Delay your tasks too long and your health bar goes down.  Quit doing them for a day or two, and you're dead.

Or at least your character is.  There's scary stuff out there!

Luckily there's a "vacation mode" (if only we could get life itself to install a "vacation mode.")

After two weeks, I don't know that I've developed any habits, but it IS an excellent reminder system for me to keep up with certain tasks... like writing new posts for The Silver Geek.