Tag Archives: game

Stick Smasher

An old favorite recently rediscovered, Stick Smasher is an action game about survival. Can you withstand five levels of knife-wielding red stick men?

Basic Gameplay

Simple mechanics: destroy bad guys, get a few life points, survive a few seconds, rinse, repeat. 🙂 Each level lasts 50 seconds–can you survive that long?


  • Press A to smash the knife-wielding bad guys when they get close enough
  • Hit Spacebar to jump (you can also hold Spacebar to jump continually)
  • Press D when you’ve got a glowy bomb to nuke the whole screen full of baddies
  • Use Left and Right Arrow keys to move around

Items In-Game

Regular Bomb
These bombs roll from right to left across the screen, beginning about 30 seconds after gameplay starts on the first level. When you touch them, these bombs explode, hurting you slightly but also blowing up any enemies next to you. This is the preferred way to get rid of small groups of enemies at once.

Glowy Bomb
These bombs fall from the top of the screen occasionally–you must touch them to “catch” them. Once you have them, you can hit D at any time (even while in the air) to destroy all the baddies on your screen at once. As far as I can tell, this bomb does not hurt you to set it off.

Life Point Heart
These hearts fall from the top of the screen every so often, and like the glowy bombs, you must touch them to collect them. They give you about 10 Life Points back, which can mean all the difference if you’ve been knifed or bombed a few times.

Best Strategies

This screencap from one of my playthroughs is the single best strategy for surviving the game: keep jumping around. (See yellow arrow.) Staying aerial means that the baddies can’t knife you unless you land for too long, but since you can hold the Spacebar to jump continuously, there’s no reason to stay on the ground much at all. I pretty much never use the A key to smash the baddies; using A means you’re locked in place on the ground, which means your health bar is far more endangered.

I usually like to jump all around the screen, keeping the baddies running back and forth. However, you can jump around close to the right side of the screen if you want to camp out and wait for bombs to come rolling through. This way, you can jump on a bomb and wave bye-bye to 5-10 baddies at a time! (However, I have noticed something strange about the rolling bombs: sometimes you land on them and set them off, but they don’t destroy any baddies nearby. Not sure what causes this to happen.)

Besides keeping an eye out for rolling bombs, grab the falling pink hearts and glowy bombs whenever you can. If you have to make a choice between getting a bomb or a heart, go with the bomb; you can set it off across the whole screen, and get a ton more life points that way. (Remember that getting rid of bad guys gives you a few life points apiece! :D)

The End Result

At the end of the fifth level, this screen will appear, with your final life score at bottom right and your game score at top left. For this runthrough, I got a pretty high score–close to 1200. The life score was about the highest I’ve ever gotten it, too. :O

Once you’ve managed to survive through the fifth level, Stick Smasher becomes more about perfecting your skill at avoiding the knives, using rolling bombs effectively and carefully, and getting both your life score and game score as high as possible. See if you can match or beat my score! 🙂

Play Stick Smasher: Stick Smasher @ MaxGames.com

Jelly Jumper

Looking for a Flash game that will test both your reflexes and your skill at solving puzzles? Then give Jelly Jumper a try!

A shot of the first level–deceptively easy!

Basic Gameplay

In Jelly Jumper, you control a cute little guy made of green jelly, and you’re trying to jump him around a virtual, generic black keyboard, in which certain keys are traps, certain keys are helpers, and certain keys are just there to give you fits. The goal is to jump on all the green-highlighted keys, and if you can do it within a certain number of jumps, even better!

These are your targets–jump on all of these in a level to complete it.

You move the little guy around the virtual keyboard with your arrow keys. If you venture too far off the keyboard, your poor little jelly man will die, but any regular black keys (unmarked) are always safe zones.

The Various Types of Keys









  • Bomb Space: instant death if you hit it.
  • High-Jump Space: propels you much higher into the air so you can get across bigger spaces.
  • Opposite Space: you move in the opposite direction from normal. Example: if you hit the Up arrow key, you’ll move down the keyboard instead.
  • Random Teleport Space: will put you on another section of the keyboard when you hit it.
  • Fall-Away Space: falls out from under you once you hit it, kinda like the donut blocks in Super Mario Bros.
  • Protective Space: creates a protective bubble around you when you hit it, so you can touch down on a bomb space without fear of death for the next jump.
  • Matching Teleport Space: always occurs in pairs–when you hit one, you’ll instantly be transferred to the other one.


This takes precision, patience, and a little luck, especially as you level up. The first level (pictured at the beginning of this post) is quite easy, but a little farther into the game you get levels like these:

This is the most irritating level I’ve gotten to so far. The black keys are your only safe zones–no wonder this level is called “Stepping Stones!”

No, wait, I take that back, THIS is the most irritating level I’ve done so far. See all those matching-teleport spaces along the top? You can’t tell which one is linked with which; you just have to jump on them and find out where they each take you! Ah, experimentation…

Playing this game, you will get good at pressing the arrow keys JUST long enough to propel you to the target without overshooting it. Getting a run-and-go can help you on certain levels where your targets are spaced farther apart, but on some levels, it pays to just jump in a safe place for a little while if you need to get your bearings. Don’t worry too much about trying to do the level in a certain number of jumps, especially if you’re just starting out. You don’t get penalized or lose progress for jumping 20 times in a level which usually can be done in 3 or 4…trust me, I tested those limits quite thoroughly. LOL

As the game progresses, you’ll find more and more bomb spaces surrounding your targets, promising instant death at a touch…you just have to keep your cool and not move too rashly. Also, beware of moving spaces–those bomb spaces and teleportation spaces can and do move around in a few of these levels!

This game is an excellent combination of a puzzle game and an action game–it makes you think, but also makes you work your gamer reflexes.

To Play:

Jelly Jumper at JellyJumper.com

Resident Evil: Nightmare

The most recent expansion for the Resident Evil Deck Building Game is called Nightmare, and for good reason–this time around, the characters, weapons, and even some of the actions are a little more cutthroat, a little more battle-hardened.

Below is a selective list of what I consider to be the best new cards out of the Nightmare expansion–lots of new characters, Actions, Weapons, and even Mansion Items and Events! Check them out; I think you’ll find the Nightmare box to be a worthwhile investment if you’re playing the Resident Evil DBG.

Useful New Characters (And Intriguing New Visions of Old Characters)

The newest Ada rewards you for taking damage at level 1, and sloughs off death at level 2–but good luck getting to 2 if you’ve been taking damage to set off her level 1 ability!

The newest Chris only has one level ability, but it’s fairly good–get a damage boost if the zombie he’s fighting has 40 or more health. Always good for amping up a 50-damage weapon to defeat Nemesis (60 health).

The newest Leon, at level 1, can mimic the Action card “Parting Ways” automatically when he kills a zombie. At level 2, whenever you Gain a card (whenever you Buy it, basically), you can draw a card. Better than you think!

Luis’ level 1 ability is rather opaque and unhelpful, but his level 2 helps you put cards that you’ve Discarded back on the bottom of the deck (and thus, playable much faster). With his level 2 activated, you should never run out of a deck again!

This guy is a beast. You can buy weapons for cheaper right away, and at level 2, you deal more damage when you’re wielding weapons of different types. Even giving him a basic Pistol and a Knife means you’re doing 25 damage!

Best New Weapons

This simple pistol, doing 10 damage, can really help you in early turns by doing more damage for less ammo investment, but the +1 card and +1 action can be helpful even late-game.

Like the Silver Ghost (of which the Punisher is the Special Weapon in the stack), this weapon does just as much damage as its ammo investment, but it also gives you a free Mansion Foyer (+2 cards) and an extra Action. VERY fun–you can easily build chains of Actions to get major card advantage, better weapons, etc.

A good weapon for other-player control as well as for a good bit of damage. 30 damage may seem a little low, but it’s strictly better than the Pump-Action Shotgun, and you also get to make another player discard a card.

Since this is the Special Weapon in the Single-Shot Rifle stack, the Special Ops Rifle does the regular weapon’s effect plus a little more–it makes all other players discard one card from their hands when you explore. Now just choose Albert Wesker as your Character and you have the game under your (diabolical) control.

Paying 30 ammo for 20 damage isn’t fun–until you see that this gun gives you +20 gold for Exploring with it. Save your Buy until after you Explore, and you can get something that’s at least worth 50 gold (the 30 ammo/gold you paid for Exploring plus 20 gold from the weapon itself).

You know what you do with this Special Weapon, right? Buy every Assault Machine Gun, Russian Assault Rifle, and Machine Pistol in sight, and HAVE FUN. Heehee 😀

The Broken Butterfly rewards you for having more cards in your Inventory, just as the Flamethrower rewards you for having more cards in your Discard Pile. Build accordingly, and you could have a 60-damage weapon for only a 40-ammo investment!

Finally, a grenade that’s worth the purchase! It doesn’t damage other Players, and it adds a sweet no-ammo-investment, 20-point damage boost to whatever you’re Exploring with. (And think about using this with the Base Set’s Jill Valentine, a.k.a. “She of Many Explosives.” Mwahaha.)

Fun New Actions

This is an excellent way to boost up one of your weapons, especially if you’re already built your deck for a Flamethrower strategy. (This is the official corrected version of the card, by the way–the actual physical card from the Nightmare box read “+1 ammo”, but it’s really supposed to be “+20 ammo”, which makes a whole lot more sense.)

If you’ve built up a larger Inventory (and especially if you’re already running the Broken Butterfly weapon strategy), this card is hilarious. Suddenly get +50 ammo and gold for just having 10 cards remaining in your deck? OKAY! This is great with Luis Sera’s level 2 ability (and of course, the extra Action is icing on the cake. :D).

I’m sensing a theme of “rewarding those who build bigger Inventories”. Card advantage, especially for larger Inventories, is priceless–and look, you get another Action along with it! Well worth the 70 gold to buy.

To complete your Wesker-esque strategy, pick up this little beauty and have the entire table of players hating you in no time. Being able to choose an Action from someone else’s hand, apply it twice to yourself, and then take it out of their hand for the time being? This is just as annoying (and good) as Master of Unlocking.

Let’s see, +2 Actions, and you can move up to 2 cards back from your Inventory (or anyone else’s) from Discard. They finally made a Reload that’s not just for Weapons! 😀 Also, you can play this offensively against someone who’s running a Flamethrower strategy to reduce their damage output. 🙂

Awesome New Mansion Items and Events

An item you’ll love to run across, even if it does technically waste your firepower. Hidden Treasure is reason enough to save your Buys until after you Explore, just in case–the +30 gold and +1 Buy is like a free trip to the Merchant.

Another item that boosts you tremendously! When you hit the Map, you can attach it to your character and keep it as long as you want, until you feel the need for +3 cards in your hand and +20 Gold to Buy something with.

I love this thing–it gives the player with the lowest number of Decorations (roughly, zombie kills) a chance to catch back up, by instantly killing whatever Infected zombie is directly below this card in the Mansion. (Since I usually reserve my Exploring/zombie-killing for the second half of the game, due to deck-building, I often lag behind in Decorations till close to the end of the game, so this event is HAPPY FUN TIME for me. :D) You can even instantly kill the boss zombie and end the game with this little event!

For More Info

Resident Evil DBG Official Site
Resident Evil DBG: Nightmare @ BoardGameGeek

Images were mostly obtained from scans of my awesome boyfriend’s Nightmare box set, since I couldn’t find large enough images elsewhere. A few cards, though, came from the BoardGameGeek website, and the corrected Lonewolf card came from the official game page.

David King and Jack Krauser: Brains and Brawn

In the Resident Evil: Deck Building Game world, there are plenty of characters to choose from, and hundreds of ways for you to play them in Partner mode.

Recently, while preparing for a game, I was dealt two random characters…and I stumbled across a combination that is surprisingly awesome (and hilarious) to play. It involves characters you wouldn’t think would be all that great, and they aren’t–by themselves. But together, they have the potential to rock any boss in the Mansion.

The Brawn: Jack Krauser

One of the more basic characters to play comes from the first game box:

This is Jack Krauser, and he’s pretty much just a Knife guy. You get Knives for free once you get 1 Decoration, and at 7 Decorations, you add 5 damage to each Knife you play before you Explore the Mansion.

There aren’t too many frills here. You get a few Knives, you explore the Mansion, you kill a Zombie, you get more Knives, you Explore some more, rinse & repeat till game is over.

It can be hard to ramp up damage with Krauser, because he deals with Knives that are only dealing 5-10 damage each (excepting the Survival Knife, which does more and has the special effect of giving all Knives +5 damage). Thus, why he’s not often used except as a Partner (and only then when you have to).

The Brains: David King

For a while, Krauser was the only character who really specialized in Knives, and Knives remained an unpopular weapon type. Then, from the Outbreak set came David King.

David’s Level 1 ability, gained after 2 Decorations, is interesting–fun to use with a Pump-Action Shotgun to gain 2 Explores without having to actually put down the 40 Ammo needed to use the gun, for instance. (It’s also fun with many of the special weapons, like the Burst-Fire Handgun, the Survival Knife, the Signature Special, etc.)

But it’s his Level 2, gained at 6 Decorations, which is the fun one for this scenario. When you play a Knife, you can get a Knife from your Discard Pile. So, if you play 4 Knives this turn, you can get up to 4 Knives from your Discard Pile…and you can use them again to Explore the Mansion, arming you with up to 8 Knives instead of just 4.

(Images from BandaiCG.com)

The Two Together

Separately, Jack Krauser and David King are passable characters to play, nothing world-rending, but okay. Together? …Mwahaha. 🙂

Jack Krauser’s Knife-gaining ability and damage boost with Knives is great, but both abilities fluctuate too much per turn–one turn you get a handful of Knives, and the next turn…well, you may not. David King’s Level 2 ability lets you get back the Knives you used last turn, effectively Dumpster-diving for extra damage.

David King’s natural affinity for Knives and for putting new text on Weapons is great, but it doesn’t really work well on its own–there’s no damage boost. With Jack Krauser as his partner, King is suddenly a powerhouse, getting back multiple Knives a turn (which have the potential to do 10 damage apiece!).

Maximizing the Knife-Recycling Strategy

  • Incorporate lots of card draw, like Umbrella Corporation, Fierce Battle, and Mansion Foyer.
  • Trash out all Weapons that aren’t Knives and don’t have special effect text.
  • Remember to try to get Special Weapons if you want to be able to use David King’s first ability to its fullest.
  • Once you’re finished buying stuff for your deck, Trash out the Ammo/Gold, preferably using Shattered Memories so that your unnecessary Actions get Trashed out, too.
  • Don’t forget, once Krauser hits Level 1, to Gain a Knife every turn. David King can use that Gained Knife once he hits level 2–he can pull it back from Discard Pile to play!
  • Use Deadly Aim or Desperate Escape for boosting damage to all Knives; Deadly Aim costs less, but Desperate Escape doesn’t take up your Action for the turn.
  • Make sure to get the Survival Knife (the Special Knife weapon). You can Discard the Survival Knife with David King’s level 1 ability, giving another Knife its special ability, and then pull it back into play with his level 2 ability when you play another Knife. You’ll be getting 2 Survival Knives for the price of 1!


Try this strategy out in the Resident Evil DBG the next chance you get. I guarantee you’ll be laughing out loud with how much damage those “little” Knives can do when in the hands of King and Krauser!

Desktop Tower Defense 1.5

As an avid player of tower defense games, I’m pretty selective when it comes to the TD games I return to over and over again. Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 is one of those–the whole series is awesome, but the first version I played was 1.5, so it has a special place in my heart.

Basic Gameplay

You receive a fixed amount of money to start the game off–80 gold–which allows you to buy as few as 2 towers (a Frost and a Dart tower) or as many as 16 Pellet Towers. It all depends on what you want to defend yourself with.

The little green box,
made by your cursor,
shows where you will place
your tower if you click.
The range of the tower
is the orange outline.

If the little box is red,
it means it’s overlapping
another tower, or you don’t
have enough money to build it.

When you’re all set up, hit the “Start” button, and the first group of enemies will appear!

I’m on ur desktop, killin som doodz.

With every group of enemies (collectively called a “creep”), you will receive gold for defeating each enemy within the group. (In the screenshot above, you can see a red “+2” in front of the towers. That’s where an enemy has just fallen, and the game has given me +2 gold.) Then, you use this money to build/upgrade your towers so that they can take down progressively stronger creeps.

Select a tower by clicking it. Its information will appear in the tower selection pane to the right. In this screenshot, I can click the green “Upgrade” button to upgrade my Pellet Tower to a Pellet Tower 2.

This is what it looks like when you’ve chosen to upgrade one of your towers, with the orange progress bar showing you how far along it is. When you’re upgrading a tower, it cannot fire, so it’s best to upgrade between creeps.

Your objective, as noted in the first labeled screenshot, is to keep your enemies from going all the way across the desktop. You can do this by placing towers so that they divert enemies. (A tried-and-true way is to place towers in undulating lines within the desktop space, so that the max number of towers can fire on enemies as long as possible, and the only way enemies can get by is to run along these predetermined paths.)

Also, as the game goes along, the dropped gold from each creep enemy gets slowly bigger (not with every creep, but every few).

Types of Towers

Pellet Squirt Dart Swarm Frost
Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Good

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 5 to place
– Upgrade #1: 5
– Upgrade #2: 10
– Upgrade #3: 20
– Upgrade #4: 40
– Upgrade #5: 120 (final)

Special Effects: None

Final Form: Sniper Tower (-fire rate, +damage, +range)

Fire Rate: Fast

Damage: Fair

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 15 to place
– Upgrade #1: 12
– Upgrade #2: 23
– Upgrade #3: 35
– Upgrade #4: 75
– Upgrade #5: 290 (final)

Special Effects: None

Final Form: Typhoon Tower (+range, +damage, +fire rate)

Fire Rate: Very Slow

Damage: Great

Range: Great

Upgrade Costs:
– 20 to place
– Upgrade #1: 15
– Upgrade #2: 30
– Upgrade #3: 55
– Upgrade #4: 90
– Upgrade #5: 165 (final)

Special Effects: Splashes damage on a group (ground only)

Final Form: ICBM Tower (+range, +damage +splash)

Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Great

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 50 to place
– Upgrade #1: 30
– Upgrade #2: 50
– Upgrade #3: 75
– Upgrade #4: 125
– Upgrade #5: 310 (final)

Special Effects: Only shoots at fliers, fires 4 missiles at a time

Final Form: Storm Tower (+range, +damage, +splash)

Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Good

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 50 to place
– Upgrade #1: 25
– Upgrade #2: 25
– Upgrade #3: 25
– Upgrade #4: 25
– Upgrade #5: 50 (final)

Special Effects: Slows enemies way down, splashes damage on a group

Final Form: Blizzard Tower (+range, +damage)

Enemy Group Types

Normal Group Immune Fast Flying Bosses
Vulnerable to all damage
Move at normal speed
Vulnerable to all damage
Clump together for movement
Invulnerable to frost damage
Move at normal speed
Vulnerable to all damage
Move at fast speed
Invulnerable to dart damage
Fly over towers
Move at normal speed
Each boss takes on one of the five other forms
Moves at slightly slower speed


I generally buy two or three different types of towers at the start of the game. A Frost Tower is almost indispensable for slowing ground and air enemies, and is wonderful for fighting big clumped-up groups. Also, using a Squirt and Pellet Tower in conjunction with each other is a good tactic to start off with–the faster firing rate of the Squirt tower compensates for the slower Pellet Tower, and the Pellet’s higher damage compensates for the Squirt’s lower damage.

You’ll need at least one Swarm tower to fight air enemies, but you shouldn’t need a line of them. Just make sure your Swarm tower is lined up straight with where the enemies come in, and your Pellets and Squirts should make up the difference.

Dart towers are wonderful for splashing damage–they work well alongside Frost towers, which slow enemies enough for the Dart tower to shoot at them multiple times.

Don’t build too many towers early on; focus on upgrading the towers you have at first, and then start building a couple here and there when you need them to direct creep flow or need the extra damage.

Use all the desktop space given you for undulating lines of towers–don’t make it easy to get to the other side.

Last-ditch effort: Install a few towers on the other side of the map, close to the exit, to catch stragglers. Make sure these towers stay upgraded along with your front line, otherwise they won’t be much help.

Play the game: Desktop Tower Defense 1.5


If you’ve ever liked the style of Magic: the Gathering, but never felt like collecting the cards, here’s a free Flash game for you–Mytheria!

Basic Gameplay

Mytheria is basically a Flash version of Magic: the Gathering, with a few teeny-tiny rules changes. For instance, instead of being able to draw and play mana cards (resources to pay for spells) every turn, you choose at the beginning of your turn whether you want to increase your mana pool or draw a card. Also, you don’t have any “mana cards” to play at all–the mana pool is separate from your deck of cards.

A screenshot of the tutorial stage–you play with a preconstructed deck and much of the gameplay is explained to you through popup text boxes. Vital info for each player is on the right, play area is on the left.

A sample game, with an Aura (permanent spell) in play on the right side, and a creature or two in play on either side. The half-transparent creature on the opponent’s side was used to attack last turn, so it is unavailable to block with (like tapping a creature to attack in Magic).

Now, normally I would go into all the essential rules and know-how in this section, but someone else has already done it, and done it very well, I might add! Thus, I give you the following Mytheria walkthrough that covers most of the basics of gameplay.

However, there is one part that the above guide and the in-game tutorial both leave out: the philosophies and typical gameplay of each color in the game.

The Color Pie: Each Color’s Abilities

Mytheria, like Magic, works off five basic colors. To play Mytheria well, you need to be versed in how each color plays, as well as what type of gameplay you prefer so that you know how to build your own deck when the time comes. (More about building your own deck in the Game Progression section of this article.)

Each color does have combat capabilities, but each color also has its own spin on what it does besides combat (and what it does with creatures). Each color also has a bit of unblockable combat damage and penetrating combat damage (you block, but if there’s damage left over, it gets through to you).

Major Creature Type: Soldier

  • Gains life
  • Prevents attacking
  • Has lots of small creatures
  • Enhances creatures with Auras and Modifiers
  • Destroys creatures by paying life
  • Destroys Auras
  • Gives creatures back some Strength
  • Can draw extra cards at beginning of turn

Major Creature Types: Myrkin, Soldier, Animal

  • Destroys Auras and creatures
  • Weakens creatures
  • Manipulates opponent’s mana pool
  • Gains a tiny bit of life
  • Trades life points for mana
  • Bounces opponent’s creatures back to hand
  • Draws cards
  • Stops opponents from playing cards

Major Creature Type: Soldier

  • Uses lots of little creatures for combat damage
  • Targets opponent and enemy creatures with burn spells
  • Plays very aggressively
  • Gains a teeny bit of life
  • Boosts creatures with both Auras and Modifiers
  • Destroys Modifiers

Major Creature Type: Robot

  • More focus on “unblockable” damage than other colors
  • Boosts Robots’ strength
  • Sacrifices creatures for life gain
  • Destroys Modifiers
  • Pings creatures
  • Makes opponent ditch cards from hand
  • Brings down opponent’s creature strength

Major Creature Type: Shadow

  • Destroys creatures
  • Damages self in order to damage opponent
  • Effects life loss
  • Trades cards in hand for creature Strength
  • Discards cards
  • Takes away abilities of creatures
  • Trades creature Strength and opponent’s life total for self life total
  • Trades mana for life points

Game Progression

You have to beat each of the prescribed missions first, beginning with the (awesomely detailed) Tutorial and all the way through to the end, to officially “beat” the game. But that doesn’t mean you stop playing!

Deck Builder

After Mission 6 is complete, you unlock the Deck Builder option, which allows you to go in and build your own deck to use on missions. No longer do you have to suffer through playing the all-red decks of the beginning few scenarios; you can build whatever you like to stomp the opponent!

Card Limits

Keep in mind that some cards are limited to how many you can put in your self-built deck. Most have a limit of 5, but some, like Commander J’Ardan and Scythian Elite, can only have 2 or 3 in a deck. With a max of 60 cards allowed in your deck, take time to balance what you’re putting in your deck and remember these limits.


You also unlock the Challenges section after you complete Mission 6. Challenges mainly involve defeating opponents playing super-strong mono-color decks, as well as winning a game when you only began with 10 health (or even 1 health!).

Completing challenges allow you to unlock special locked cards in the Deck Builder, which are quite epic cards…but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. Have fun!

Play the game: Mytheria

Christmas Glassics: Thursday in the Zone

Today’s Christmas Glassics focuses on the gaming posts I’ve done since July 2011, when I compiled my first Glassics post from this category. Browse this list and see what catches your eye–I literally write about ANYTHING gaming-related, even the littlest Flash game.

General Gaming and Strategy Articles

In this category, I covered basic helpful gaming topics like organizing your collection of gaming stuff, why casual gaming is still valuable. I also spoke about various strategies and playstyles, like spider strategy, high-defense playstyles, and one-track-mind gaming.

Internet Games

Some of my favorite Internet games appeared in my Thursday in the Zone category this time around: Kaboom! (quick reflexes required), Swan Lake Dressup (all ballet costumes), Loops of Zen (like curvy Tetris), and Bride Hair Dresser (easily one of the best “hairdressing” games I’ve ever played).

Console & PC Games

City of Heroes
I covered Empowerment Buffs and how to cope with playing a low-level character this fall and winter, delving into deeper issues that CoH players deal with on a regular basis. This sort of article is directed toward both new players and veteran players alike–they are accessible and yet informative.

Console Games
Pikmin and We Love Katamari, as favorite console games of mine, made it onto my blog for a fresh topic change, after all the more theoretical gaming-related posts I did. I couldn’t leave my favorite offline games out of this blog for long!

Collectible/Tabletop Games

Magic: the Gathering
Articles on building the right mana base, poison counters, and “porting” in a strategy type from another card game appeared this fall and winter. In my example, I switched an old Yu-Gi-Oh! strategy into Magic, in a three-part blog series: figuring out what parts of your strategy can be imported, searching for matching cards, and proxying cards to test strategies. (I still need to actually BUILD this deck, but that will come in time. IRL stuff gets in the way too much.)

My new take on the old Green Lantern Tank strategy was the only HeroClix article I wrote this time around. Methinks I should fix that in the new year. 🙂

Resident Evil: Deck Building Game
I wrote a bit more about the Resident Evil deck building game this fall and winter, since my boyfriend and I spend a good amount of time playing it these days. Item Management was a target for thought-provoking argument, and I also reviewed the Outbreak expansion.

Philosophies/Opinions on Gaming

Turning my insight on my own gaming and my own habits, I wrote more thoughtful pieces on why humans game, what gaming teaches us, and when gaming becomes less fun than it used to be.

Power On

I hope reading these articles will help you get inspired to get back to your own gaming this holiday season, if you have the time to devote to it. It’s fun to feel like a kid again, even if it’s only for 5 minutes…or 90… 😉

The Lowbie’s Survival Kit

For anyone who’s ever made a new City of Heroes character after weeks of playing a high-level character, you know what I’m talking about when I say “the lowbie blues.” Suddenly, you’re playing a character who can’t just zip across a zone in no time, and who can’t just charge into any battle and come out alive on the other side. Lowbies are so named because they are low in levels…and low in just about everything.

I’ve built a lot of characters, and every time I build a new one, I have to remember that I’m not quite as kick-butt as usual. Lowbie characters, especially those under level 10, suffer from the following:

  • Lack of quicker travel powers; Sprint is pretty much it
  • Inventory size restrictions (not being able to carry as many items with you)
  • Not being able to travel everywhere as safely–sometimes parts of Atlas Park are too dangerous to travel alone
  • Fewer attack/defense powers
  • Less hit points/strength

To offset your lowbie’s limitations, I have assembled a Lowbie Survival Kit full of helpful hints (and links to help you learn more).

Use a Booster Pack Travel Power

To help you travel through zones faster (and get to usually-unreachable areas) without having to wait for your typical travel power pools, booster-pack travel powers like Ninja Run, Beast Run, and Steam Jump can help you get around. Ninja and Beast Run both provide extra ground speed; Steam Jump provides 30 seconds of almost-flight time with every usage.

Each of the Booster Packs associated with these powers cost real money, but since they give you the travel power on every character you have (and will ever build), it benefits you in the long-term to buy the packs. You can get Ninja Run by buying the Super Booster IV: Martial Arts pack; Beast Run is available through the Animal Pack, and you can get the Steam Jump power through the Steampunk pack.

Lastly, the free Temporary Power Jet Pack can help you fly if you can’t get hold of the Steampunk Booster Pack.

Enhance All Your Powers with Training Enhancements

Lest you think that Training Enhancements are a waste of your hard-earned influence, let me tell you that at low levels (especially under 10), TEs are great for boosting your powers just enough to get you through. I notice a real difference in gameplay strength when I don’t enhance my lowbies at all, or don’t upgrade their enhancements when they level up.

Be sure to put an enhancement in every power slot you get–it will help your character out so much in the beginning. You can always replace the TEs with real Enhancements later, but they will help you live more successfully through the tough first levels.

And if the prices of TEs are a little rich for your blood, you can search on Wentworth’s to see if anyone’s selling them for a little cheaper, as well as using AE Tickets to purchase them (or selling off items at Wentworth’s so you can afford them).

Shop the Paragon Market for Extra Storage Space

As of issue 21, the Paragon Market is officially open, and is useful for spending your Paragon Points to gain access to game extras.

You can get lots of goodies like extra Character Slots and Respec Tokens, but what will be most helpful for lowbies is to increase your item storage space on your character. Upping the number of Enhancements, Recipes, Salvage, and Vault storage spaces on all characters will help your lowbie out more than you think–suddenly, you have ROOM in those expandable pockets again!

And don’t forget the XP Booster…gives you +25% XP for an hour. Not bad for a lowbie trying to level quickly!

Find and Use Temporary Powers for Attacks, Buffs/Debuffs, and Healing

Craftable Temporary Powers often drop off defeated enemies, as well as being sold through Wentworth’s–check your Recipes section (alongside your Salvage, Inspiration, and Enhancement storage windows) to see if you’ve gotten any Temporary Power recipes.

Temp Powers can be attacks, diversionary tactics, healing/rezzing aids, and even debuffs. The better the power’s effect, the less charges you get, generally. See the full list of buildable Temp Powers, below:


St. Louis Slammer (close-combat, 30 uses)

Gabriel’s Hammer (close-combat, 30 uses)

Revolver (ranged, 30 uses)

Envenomed Dagger (ranged, 30 uses)

Hand Grenades (ranged, 18 uses)

Plasmatic Taser (ranged, 24 uses)

Divert Enemy

Ethereal Shift (make yourself un-targetable for 30 seconds, 5 uses)

Backup Radio (call in a special pet to help you fight, 5 uses)

Smoke Flash (distract and Placate foes for a little bit, 10 uses)

Stun Grenades (disorient foes for a little while, 20 uses)


Med-Pack (heals 1/4 of your max hit points, 10 uses)

Recovery Serum (boosts recovery rate for a short time, 5 uses)

Resuscitator(rezzes an ally, 10 uses)

Buffs & Debuffs

Kinetic Dampener (increases your defense against Smashing and Lethal damage, and improves Energy resistance; # of charges unknown)

Jet Pack (lets you fly for 30 seconds; # of charges unknown)

Power Analyzer Mk III (view Foe Combat Attributes to know what kind of damage they’re weak to; 20 uses)

Use Available In-Game Storage Besides Your Own

If you’re not in a supergroup and don’t have access to salvage racks, enhancement tables, and inspiration holders, then the Vault Reserve and Wentworth’s are going to be invaluable to you.

Vaults are located in Atlas Park, Kings Row, Steel Canyon, Talos Island, and Pocket D. You only start out with 3 spaces in your Vault at level 1, which is why I suggested earlier that you may want to spend Paragon Points to get more storage space early on. But even if you don’t amp up your storage space prematurely, it’s a great way to hold just those few extra items you don’t want to sell yet but don’t have room to keep. (And Vaults are only for Salvage items, not Enhancements or Inspirations, fyi.)

And if your Vault is absolutely slam full of Salvage, or if you have a bunch of Enhancements and Inspirations you need to hold on to, you can actually use your Wentworth Auction Inventory to hold items temporarily. All you have to do is drag and drop the item from your storage space into the Wentworth window to store it, and then don’t put a listing price.

Wentworth buildings are located in Atlas Park, Kings Row, Steel Canyon, and Talos Island–incidentally, almost everywhere there are Vault Reserves. Like the Vaults, you only have a few auction inventory spaces in lowbie levels, but even 1 or 2 spaces can help you hold that Inspiration or Enhancement you don’t have room for.

Play AE Missions and Shop the AE Building

In the Architect Entertainment building, you can play user-created arcs, win tickets (just like at old-school arcades!), and turn those tickets in for in-game prizes. For lowbies, those prizes constitute pretty much a one-stop shop.

With enough tickets, you can buy Salvage to sell at Wentworth’s (or use to build your Temporary Powers), medium and large Inspirations, and even Training and Origin Enhancements, which you likely wouldn’t be able to get at other Stores because it wouldn’t be safe for a lowbie to travel there yet. (Not to mention that money/influence is usually at an all-time low for lowbies.)

These three categories of items are great buys for lowbies, because you can largely pick and choose what you want (except for common Salvage–your choice is randomized). You can also skirt the higher fees for these items at Wentworth’s doing it this way.

(You can also buy all kinds of Recipes at the AE Building, but you’re likely better off trying to buy them on Wentworth’s for influence rather than using AE tickets.)

Empower Your Lowbie Self with Long-Lasting Buffs

Empowerment Buffs are available only to those lowbies who are lucky enough to be in a supergroup with an Empowerment Station. But if you fall into that category, remember the Empowerment Station as a fast and relatively cheap way to get a long-lasting buff.

You only need 1 or 2 pieces of specific salvage to get any of the buffs, whose requirements differ depending on if you’re using an Arcane Station or a Tech Station. Each buff lasts much longer than an Inspiration–more along the lines of Mystic Fortune or Secondary Mutation. You can get buffs that help you with everything from your Run Speed to your Fire Resistance, from your Hold Resistance to your Knockback Increase. Very helpful for little heroes, who could use the extra help!


These tips on surviving your first few levels, from your gameplay to your in-game amenities, should help you get a good start in City of Heroes. Take it from one who’s been in the “lowbie zone” many, many times–it is a little inconvenient at first, but tips like this make it much easier.

Item Management, Item Schmanagement!

Picture credit: Resident Evil Wikia
For players of the Resident Evil deck building game, Item Management is generally considered an “oldie but goodie,” since it was part of the original Core Set.

Item Management lets you Trash out one Ammo card from your hand and get an upgraded one in your Discard pile to replace it. You can upgrade from a 10-Ammo card to a 20, from a 20 to a Treasure card (provides only 30 gold), or from a 20 to a 30, or from a Treasure to a 30.

It’s one of the only cards that deals specifically with upgrading your Ammo/Gold supply, which is the primary concern for players–once you get your Ammo/Gold in place, you are set up well enough to buy the Actions and Weapons you need to Explore the Mansion safely.

However, there is more to using this card in your strategy than would be apparent at first read. Here are the pros and cons of Item Management:


  • Does a fair job of automating the upgrading-Ammo process
  • Doesn’t Trash out of your deck upon use, so you use it as often as you need it


  • Uses up your one default Action per turn
  • Does not interact well with Buying Ammo at the same time you’re Upgrading–you can end up flooding your Inventory with Ammo, like giving an engine too much gas
  • Slows down other Buying action because you have to Trash out Ammo from your hand to use it, leaving you poorer the turn you use it

Item Management Op-Ed: It’s Not as Effective as Other Methods

I have never been able to get Item Management to work well for me. It does not upgrade Ammo as fast as, say, using your regular one-Buy-a-turn and Shattered Memories or Quirk of Fate together; with those cards, you can buy one upgraded Ammo while Trashing out one or two lower-Ammo cards. This thins your Inventory and gets you better Ammo totals per card.

Item Management also does not work as well as using Ominous Battle, which Trashes out one card from your hand after it draws you 3 cards and gives you 10 Gold, nor does it work better than Parting Ways, which Trashes out one card from your hand and Gains you another that costs up to 20 Gold more. Parting Ways, however, is best used for Weapons, since Ammo cards exceed the cost limitations (most Ammo cards upgrade by increments of 30 rather than 20).

From what I can tell, Item Management requires two things to work: one, you must keep a consistently small Inventory, and two, you actually do have to Buy a bit of upgraded Ammo here and there. If you keep trying to change out 10s for 20s instead of 20s for Treasure or 20s for 30s, you’ll be stuck at low Ammo and Gold totals long after the other players are set up. (Trust me, I’ve played plenty a game like that! Frustrating–you’re basically stuck in Neutral for half the game.)

I don’t like the card much because it makes me play on a tightrope of buying JUST ENOUGH Ammo without buying too much. I never know when to stop, and it really screws with my gameplay. But my boyfriend loves Item Management and wouldn’t be without it–somehow, he makes it work. I think it’s the small Inventory size and careful Buys that do it for him.

Why Use It?

This is what I’ve been wondering–with Shattered Memories, Quirk of Fate, Ominous Battle, and Parting Ways available, why bother with Item Management at all?

Possible Ways to Make it Work

All I can see that’s good about Item Management is that you automatically upgrade your Ammo with one Action, rather than doing an Action to Trash out a card and then Buying another one. But it must be handled very carefully, as I noted earlier.

It also works better if you can Buy two Item Managements for your Inventory–having only one in your Inventory simply does not come up often enough to be solely responsible for your Ammo upgrading.

The way I see it, use Item Management if you have a way to do an Action-replenishing Action first (like Reload, Umbrella Corporation, or even Parting Ways/Quirk of Fate if you have to). Then, you aren’t shortchanging yourself on Actions, and you can help yourself out a little bit with card draw, weapon replacement, and/or Inventory-thinning.


Item Management is not my favorite card, personally, but there are ways you can still use it in the game–players can and do make effective strategies with it. Try it and see if you can master this more difficult of Actions in your next Resident Evil DBG session!

Bride Hair Dresser Game

As one of the only good, true hairdressing games I’ve ever played, Bride Hair Dresser stands out. I was so distressed when the site I had been playing it on apparently closed down, taking this game with it–so I was very happy to find a mirror copy on another site.

Let me take you through it and show you all the imaginative fun you can have with this great Flash game. (Also, it doubles as a way to plan and play with your own wedding hairstyle without having to set foot in a salon first. Woot!)

Basic Gameplay

You start out with a virtual model with long hair, which you can style in thousands of different ways.

Off to the right is your hairstyling stand, with all the tools of the trade at your disposal.

The scissors cut one lock at a time at predetermined lengths; the curlers create spiraled ringlet curls on each lock. The pink bobby pins create a neat topknot-style bun (click multiple times to get more of the hair included into the bun), while the multicolored clips create a messier bun look (again, click multiple times to include more hair in the bun).

The sparkle spray gives a swirling array of glitter all around the model’s head; the dryer blasts the sparkle spray away if you don’t like it. The brush is a complete “Undo” button, taking you back to the default look, and the flatiron gets rid of curls, pins, and clips (but not sparkles, or the cuts you made to the hair).

Lastly, the bottles of color at the bottom of your hairstyling stand lend your model totally different looks–from vampy dark to cotton-candy pink! (By the way, the orange bottle on far right is the default color.)

Simple Styling

You can curl all her hair (including the bangs) with the curlers…

Or you can put it all up into a topknot bun with the bobby pins…

…or even style it all into a messy bun with the clips.

And yes, you can even cut most of her hair off into this pixie-ish ‘do if you like!

Combining Two or More Styling Tools

You can put the four outermost locks into a bun, cut the two remaining locks shorter, and then curl them, for a tidy and perfect look…

…or you can go crazy and curl that short pixie style into this mess of curls…(this look is so much fun!)

…and even combine clips and curls for this more organic look.

Examples of Color

Deep brown, a little shorter, curled and darkly sparkly! (The sparkles come out as different colors depending on the color of the hair.)

Bright green with teal sparkles sets off a neat bobby-pin bun and tiny ringlets curled just behind the ears.

Cutesy purple (sparkly) hair and messy bun, with long curls at the front added for an extra touch of glam.

And Don’t Forget Accessories!

This white/yellow flower veil works well for most “down” hairstyles, but not topknots or messy buns ’cause it gets in the way.

This veil doesn’t get in the way of the higher hairstyles, and it seems to work well for just about every type of style you can create (though it won’t go with every hair color…)

Truly an accessory that works with all the various heights and colors of hair you can get.

This works best with “down” styles as well…and something that isn’t bright green or neon yellow. LOL!

Pretty silverish pearls… ^_^

Silver drop-style jewelry…very delicate!

And to echo the bouquet, flower earrings and a necklace. 🙂

A Mini-Lookbook

Pretty in cotton-candy pink ringlet curls and matching pink veil.

Multi-level teal curls with a tidy bun and white-flowered veil.

Messy red bun with short choppy layers below, and only a bit of flowery jewelry.

Play the Game:

Bride Hair Dresser

(P.S. Happy birthday to me! ^_^)