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Friday Fun Thread for February 2, 2024

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Does anyone know what happened to “The Hock” guy? Did he die or what?

Was there a Deadpool on him? I demand answers.

Before anyone objects that this doesn’t belong in Friday fun, this is certainly fun for me, as ghoulish as it may be.

What's your favorite couch co-op game? I mentioned Outward in another thread which is currently mine, but I've loved a lot like:

  • Children of Morta
  • Overcooked
  • It takes two
  • For the King
  • Divinity Original Sin 2
  • Fort Triumph
  • Enter the Gungeon

I'm sure there are some I'm forgetting. But what would you add to the list?

I don’t play videogames at this point in my life, but when I was younger, my brother and I played the hell out of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. I’m sure these are probably terribly clunky and ancient at this point, but they left a big enough impression on me that I’m currently preparing a homebrew D&D campaign loosely inspired by Gauntlet: Dark Legacy.

I don't know where I came across this (might have been in the motte, in which case apologies to the person who posted it) but this is the best recent-ish traveling story I have ever read: Two Belgians driving in about a month through Congo in 2008.

Anyone else goes on an occasional Google Street View World Tour?

I think the fact that we have the entire external surface of the civilized world mapped out in 3-d is nearly not thought of enough. Most people's reaction to that reminder is "Yeah that's cool, I suppose". But it still boggles my mind that this is a thing that exists, and it's free, and easily accessible, and most of us don't even use it.

My favorite places to "travel" to are:

  • Places I've visited during vacation - I unlock memories about my vacation that I just about would forget if didn't capture photographs or record. A random street sign, or a "familiar" storefront brings all the memories back. I find it especially soothing when dealing with post-travel blues. I've been to Philadelphia recently and liked the city quite a bit (don't hate me). When I "travel" through North American cities, they all just kind of blend into one (except for NYC and LA which tends to stand out), but this time around I could I could "walk" around Rittenhouse square and visit the virtual Wendies there without directions. It's a bit of an unusual feeling, it's hard to describe, so you should try it out, but it feels a lot more visceral if you've been there and know what the air feels and smells like.
  • Childhood neighborhoods - Same deal with the "memory unlocking" but to a much more jarring extent. I've often noticed what I remember as a long ass journey is just a few blocks.
  • Japan - Most of Japan is exceptionally clean, well-maintained, and surrounded by natural beauty. One day, I will be pushed over the edge into visiting for real. The transition between modern, ancient, and nature is almost always clean and tasteful.
  • Anywhere with visibly cool weather - Unfortunately for me, I live in an oven of a country. But I love cold weather (I think 30F to 50F is ideal outdoor weather) and all its accompanying aesthetics. I'm talking snow, heater steam coming out of ducts/vents, cloudy skies, visible smoke from car exhausts, people wearing parkas. It's a nostalgia thing for me because for some odd quirk, almost all of my childhood memories are of winter.

My least favorite places are:

  • Central Asia - Dead, gray, and depressing. Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, (certain parts of China), all the same dreariness.
  • Canadian cities - American cities, but more run-down, gray, more "modern architecture".

When the “Place. Place, Japan.” Memes were roiling I was often tempted to simply say: “This, but unironically.” And chadface it.

I’m decidedly not a weeb; I consume very little Japanese culture, maybe more than the median person in my country but not a lot more. I don’t romanticize the place at all, I have no dog in this fight.

But fuck me do they have some gorgeous, walkable cities. And I would absolutely fight most people who use the phrase “walkable cities” out loud more than thrice per year.

I put walking tours of Japan up on YouTube as idle content while I’m doing housework and it always amazes me how nice they are. Even my kids love them, and my Latino & Latino adjacent clan.

Not a Japanophile amongst us, and yet we love those cities more than the ones available to us.

You know I was going to jokingly say that that's a remarkably autistic hobby, but then I read your comment down thread lol

I'm just glad India has street view at all now, for almost a decade or two it was banned for incredibly questionable national security concerns, at the behest of the military, and I shudder to think of how much economic value was lost (knowing what a place looks like makes it easier to navigate).

I think you mean an awesomely autistic hobby..

I’m not on the spectrum at all but when my kids were little in leu of giving them tablets I’d just give them my phone and open google earth. It gave me a needed break from my own phone and they absolutely loved it.

Oh I'm not saying it's a bad thing, as niche nerdy interests go, seeing accurate imagery of the entire fucking planet from the ground is probably surprisingly fun and useful. And for kids? Better than watching a cartoon pig.

(Men are probably more autistic as a clade than women are, that just about sums up Men Vs Women)

Very funny court opinion:

  • A telecom company wants to build a 150-foot cellular tower in a municipality of 6,500 people. Three of its permit applications to build a cell tower on govt. land have already been rejected, so now it's trying to build on privately-owned land—in a commercial zone, but adjacent to a residential zone.

  • February 2018: The municipal govt. rejects the application because of the negative impact on the value of nearby residential properties.

  • August 2019: A judge vacates and remands because the govt. did not properly assess the factors underlying its decision.

  • November 2019: The govt.'s expert says that the cell tower would cause the value of nearby residential property to fall by 10 to 20 percent. The govt. accepts this testimony, and on that basis rejects the application.

  • February 2021: The judge vacates and remands because the govt.'s expert did not base his estimate of 10 to 20 percent on any actual data.

  • Unspecified date: The telecom company's expert testifies that, though it's anecdotally true that higher-end house buyers are "more discerning" and less likely to buy houses near cell towers, the data show that any drop in house prices near the cell tower would be less than one percent. The govt. rejects the expert's evidence-based testimony because the dataset is not representative of the site in question, but accepts his non-evidence-based anecdote about higher-end buyers, and on that basis denies the application.

  • June 2022: The judge reverses the govt.'s decision and approves the application outright, with no remand. The govt.'s treatment of the testimony of the plaintiff's expert was arbitrary and capricious.

  • February 2024: The appeals panel affirms the trial judge's decision in all respects.

Six years later, maybe the cellular tower can finally be built!

Court opinions (and arguments) are an underrated source of entertainment. One side is by definition always wrong, and you can hire a fancypants lawyer to argue almost anything. Hilarity ensues.

I know the Supreme Court has lots of available resources. Do you know any other courts that have easily available (searchable) opinions?

GovInfo offers full-text searches of opinions from federal appeals, district, and bankruptcy courts.

The telecom company's expert testifies that, though it's anecdotally true that higher-end house buyers are "more discerning" and less likely to buy houses near cell towers, the data show that any drop in house prices near the cell tower would be less than one percent.

Although they aren't the prettiest, I bet those same high-end house buyers love to complain about the terrible cell reception in their neighborhood.

what i eat in a week at my NONNA's house in ITALY 🌶️

TLDW: Lots of good and fresh food. Family, country side, trees, farmers markets, music, etc. (Also moderately hot girl, but let's ignore that for now)

A significant portion of but not majority of the comments be like:

most people want rich and modern lives, but this is the life i want. being home cozy with people i love, eating homecooked food, living in the forest... this video just gives me warmth (+16K)

I’m American and never lived this kind of life. No close family, no home cooking, no fresh fruits and vegetables, no comfortable house. My eyes tear up watching this. It seems so natural and right. I’m happy people live like this. I think it’s how people are meant to live.

Unbelievable that there are places in the world like this that treat everyday like this. Food is a celebration. Everything is fresh from the market. Time is less important and eating nourishing and full meals throughout the day is normal. And coming together to sit around the table each and every time…unbelievably important. 3rd time watching this because it just gives me so much inspiration as an American who is dying to travel to Italy someday and who also hopes to be able to give my future children more of this type of experience surrounding food, family and connection.

It’s nice to see that some parts of the world haven’t forgotten how to live life and it’s not all about money


I am autistic. My brain is conjuring up a thousand thoughts and conflicting feelings.

I will admit the life portrayed in the video is probably very pleasant, and you would have to achieve a rather high-end version of the "modern" atomized or even DINK lifestyle of International travel, Michelin Starred monthly meals, and Music Festivals to be about just as happy. So on one hand, I do relate to the comments.

HOWEVER. On the other hand. I want to yell at the people making these comments about lacking perspective. If the entire world lived like this, we wouldn't have engines, computers, the Internet, or ChatGPT. And I think all those things are worth a lot.

Also, doesn't Italy have a youth/recent-grad unemploymentrate of like 40%? Isn't nonna able to afford all these meals because she bought her house when boomers stole from the future? And is funding it now because they are stealing from the zoomers., Maybe I have some kind of brainrot, but my priors whenever I see a group of people having it too good (from my atomized capitalistic point of view), I think rent seeking.

My wife is from southern europe, she moved to live with me. From observing life there, they do have high quality produce year round, which I envy them for, but we do have comparable produce here too, when it's in season and doesn't have to travel too much. Yes, winter is difficult, but in season I've had superlative local tomatoes I would be unashamed to pit against any other countries' best. Same for most produce we grow here.

Other than that, yes, the lifestyle in this video seems pleasant, but there isn't really much stopping us from having it even in cities, we just... don't. I have a farmer's market 5 minutes walk from me, and a very large one 30 minutes away by bus. No matter how much more expensive that food is than supermarket food, it's still vastly cheaper than ordering/eating out and we do the latter way too often (especially considering the diminishing returns in enjoyment).

Maybe there's something we don't want to admit in city life that makes most people at least bit depressive, and that makes us not want to seek out the things we know would make life better even when they're right at hand.

What's so unusual about this video? To me it didn't look like any kind of cottagecore porn at all. The food wasn't anything extraordinary, just some regular dishes elevated by the high quality of Italian ingredients (although unlike Italian snobs online, grandma doesn't give a fuck and uses Barilla pasta).

Nothing unusual about the video, It's just a run of the mill video of the "comfy" genre, and that too a half decent one, most of them induce the opposite of comfort in me, albeit I'm not exactly the target audience. It's the comments that bothered me.

If my grandmother were still alive a talented vlogger would be documenting chicken and dumplings (complete with slaughtering the chicken and watching the body run around if my uncle was careless, like that one nightmarish time), fried okra, sliced tomatoes, shelling a bunch of black-eyed peas, cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet, and probably some kind of gravy and fried meat dish like country fried steak. Maybe some macaroni and cheese with tons of butter and cheese baked into it. Good memories.

Youth unemployment in Calabria is like 40% and the state is a hopelessly corrupt shithole bankrolled by the north and effectively ruled by the ‘Ndrangheta, the most powerful and most dominant of all the Italian mafias.

Many if not most young Calabrians would trade their left leg for a Green Card and a ticket to the US.

Many if not most young Calabrians would trade their left leg for a Green Card and a ticket to the US

They can take a flixbus to Switzerland or Denmark or Netherlands today and start living in very wealthy non-corrupt democracies with almost full citizenship rights.

The majority of Italians do not live that lifestyle. They live a life of quiet desperation in the gray/black economy if poor, a financially tight lifestyle if middle class with constant fear of sliding down the social-economic ladder if middle class. Many people's vampiric grandmas and grandpas, after having stolen their young's blood future through the virtuous economic policies of our government like "baby-pensions", are now fostering the lifestyle of their endlessly children[1] nieces and nephews using the money they started collecting without working at 35.

[1]The job market (if we can call it that) is abysmal: low salaries, many companies who do not want to pay, extremely short term contracts after which we are promised we will be hired and somehow the job always fails to materialize, technophobic society with anti-entrepreneurial mindset unless we are talking about small retail, food, hospitality and tourism (which I fervently despise). This bring many young people to need the help of their parents/grandparents if they do not want to be homeless while they search a somewhat stable employment. Or they emigrate, generally to Germany.

moderately hot girl


Do Americans really not eat fruits or vegetables? I never really bought into the food desert narrative but perhaps YouTube commenters really are so deprived.

Isn't nonna able to afford all these meals because she bought her house when boomers stole from the future? And is funding it now because they are stealing from the zoomers.

It's not clear to me that there's much to afford here. Italy has 1 euro houses in some areas. Obviously the 1 euro is a fake price but the point is that there isn't an overwhelming demand for housing in many parts of the country. Many Italians are happy to live an unemployed lifestyle with rather little consumption, funded partially by young Italian suckers workers and partially by other Eurozone workers.

It's true that if everyone was an Italian layabout we'd be much worse off though.


It's interesting; despite the "Sophia Loren" reputation attached to Italian women, imo most have the much more nuanced attractiveness of the girl in the video. While Eastern European and Scandinavian women have major surface appeal with relatively uninteresting/utilitarian minds, Italians are truly wild... manipulative, creative, unpredictable, and worldly-wise. The tradeoff occurs in their design - rarely gifted with golden-ratio faces and generally ambivalent to cosmetic surgery, with extreme ranges based on their ancestry (north vs. south vs. Sicily/Sardinia). In total, they're extraordinarily interesting but difficult to ever pin down (leading to the Italian society we see today - committed, married couples routinely engaging in "side quests").

Central and Southern Italian men aren’t particularly impressive, usually shorter than average, hairy and with average faces. By Northern and Eastern Mediterranean standards they’re probably the least attractive men, although Greece is a mixed bag I guess. Not as ugly as the Portuguese, but not far off.

To be totally honest with you IMO Scandinavian women are vastly overrated as well. That Finnish prime minister who was doing the rounds for being super hot was, in fact, a garden-variety mid. I'd say Colombian women are generally the most attractive of the places I've visited.

In terms of raw facial structure you see the best examples in the Balkans and occasionally in NW Europeans and East Africans.

I'm deeply unimpressed with the, uh, raw facial structure of British and Irish women. I don't know enough about the rest of the region.

The Irish are quite an ugly people although occasionally their features coalesce into something very beautiful, often in a pretty eerie way. The English vary tremendously ethnically, like the French, so I think blanket pronouncements are tough.

English people are often naturally beautiful - Mormons in Utah (overwhelmingly Anglo) and Australians are often described as at least moderately attractive peoples, the latter before sun damage turns their skin leathery by 35. But the British upper and middle classes don’t look after themselves like their continental or even other Angloid peers (cf terrible teeth, bad aging, dislike for any cosmetic intervention, the British PMC drink and smoke more than their American peers etc), and the working class are deep into an abhorrent and clownish obsession with heavy makeup, fake tan, dyed hair, the ‘jersey shore’ kind of ‘chav’ look, dress terribly and are quite fat for non-Americans, so you can’t usually tell.

There are a few major British phenotypes, but both the squat Celtic and the taller, more nordic Norman and Saxon types all look better skinny. By contrast, other populations like the Balkan and Mediterranean looks cope better with slightly higher body fat percentages, and so look better in modernity. The main thing that Brits can’t change is thin lips, largely out of fashion but once considered quite beautiful.

Do Americans really not eat fruits or vegetables?

We do, but:

  • Fruits and veggies are more expensive than in europe. They are lower quality with greater selection.
  • When we do have them, there's a cultural proclivity to deep fry, cover in mayonnaise, etc. that removes much of their benefit (Side note: southern fried green tomatoes are unbelievably delicious)
  • We also have more exotic synthetic foods to choose from that are cheaper than most "whole" foods
  • People are fucking lazy in terms of cooking, developing their palates, or exercising the self-control to make most of their meal vegetables. Including me.

I would be interested in a more detailed look at point 1 because it seems a bit hard to believe.

A cursory search pulled up this:

The price comparison doesn't include fruits and veg, but the availability table shows that the US is better off than the average EU country and better than most of the rich ones, though not as good as the Mediterranean countries like Greece and Cyprus.

YouTube comments are particularly bad. I am always disappointed when I check them. Far better to enjoy (or not enjoy) the content itself, without tapping into The Discourse.

YouTube's algorithm changed in the past few years to promote the uncontroversial comments much more. It'd fixed the issue YouTube used to have of being renowned for one of the most toxic comments sections of the Internet, but imo it's made the comments much less interesting and mostly people just parroting funny jokes from the video or blandly saying how much they loved the video. There's rarely any interesting build up or push back to the videos in the comments anymore

I get the feel, I really do, but maybe you're just not watching the (potentially NSFW) right videos?

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to pick up playing board games. The primary goal here was to stare at screens less and engage more face-to-face with friends. This is working great, and I recommend it to anyone else with the same general goal! I picked up Wingspan and one of its expansions and my wife and I have been having a great time playing it even when we don't have anyone else to play with. Throw on a Spotify playlist with some bird-centric theming, pour a birb-on, draw some cards, and you have a pleasant evening.

What are you playing these days? What should be my next purchase to add to a very thin game library? My current inclination is towards Ark Nova, which BoardGameGeek users score highly and recommend specifically for two players.

For a weighty game, I love power grid. It's nearly pure decision making about marginal benefits and marginal costs.

For a light game ticket to ride and splendor are easy to learn and quite fun.

Castles of Burgundy or Vinticulture are fun engine builders that are a bit less competitive, if you want a change of pace.

Blockus is a fun quick game.

Small World is an excellent board game I recommend heartily to everyone.

I will second this. I've taught at least 40 people SmallWorld. All of them have loved it. I have a collection of expansions and laminated single-page rules for each player and race/power combo. Low skill floor, high skill ceiling.

Second this. It's accessible enough that players who shy away from complex games can have fun, but has enough depth to keep it interesting. It's really a top tier game.

Pax Pamir, Here I Stand, Candyland, Twilight Struggle

I've been boardgaming monthly for some time now with friends who own a lot of board games. They like to switch around the game(s) to play a lot, but I've liked Scythe and Barrage, at least.

I’ve been playing Wingspan with my family. It’s a lot of fun, and just the right weight to get non-board-gamers in. Other successful plays from the last year, in rough order of weight:

  • Dixit is a fun party word game. Only played it once; my sister swears by it, so it will definitely see some more play this year.
  • Azul is an elegant set collection game with great, delicious-looking pieces. Very easy to learn. I don’t know how well it plays with only 2 players.
  • Pandemic is a cooperative game where you try to eradicate diseases. I love how the spreading epidemics arise from simple mechanics. Good intro to its genre.
  • 7 Wonders Duel is a great 2-player engine builder.
  • Dominion basically launched the deck building genre. Might be my favorite board game. Definitely has the most plays.
  • Kemet is a really cool area-control battle game. My brother and I like it, but it’s rare to get other family members invested enough.
  • Hansa Teutonica went over pretty well. It’s a mercantile game where you improve your position by influencing the map. I plan to try and get it some more action.
  • I coaxed two family members into Axis and Allies after I found an original, used copy at work. It was kind of insane, kind of fiddly, but a really cool experience. We were willing to give it shot because of…
  • Twilight Imperium 4e. This is a space opera. It takes ages to play, so we tend to split it out into several shorter sessions. But it’s a sprawling, thematic, unique game where you send fleets to conquer your friends and mine their worlds for artifacts, only to be foiled in the galactic senate. Amazing. We come back to it every so often when the table in the spare room is free.

Make of this what you will.

Fun list, I wish I knew someone with Kemet, its been on my "to play list" forever

I also wish I could just regularly get people to play Twilight Imperium 4e. I manage to wrangle a group of 6 together for a session this weekend. Hopefully I can turn it into a monthly or bi-monthly occurrence.

I coaxed two family members into Axis and Allies after I found an original, used copy at work. It was kind of insane, kind of fiddly, but a really cool experience. We were willing to give it shot because of…

Amusingly, this is the one other tabletop classic that I do have and have had for a long time. I think it's pretty much the only one I ever played with friends back when we could just hop on an XBox and play Halo instead.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm debating about setting up a room that we currently use for a mishmash of fitness stuff and beer/liquor storage as game room, which would provide a nice space for keeping something like Twilight in place even if it takes a week to get around to knocking out.

What sort of metrics are you looking for when adding to your collection? Great at Two-player? Strategic Depth? Complexity? I ask because Ark Nova is a pretty big jump from Wingspan. It's a much more complex, strategic game, much closer to it's spiritual predecessor Terraforming Mars.

It does play great at two player. My stats tell me out of the 12 games I've played of it, 80% was at 2p and average game time was ~2.5/3 hours If you want something closer to the Wingspan level of complexity I'd recommend:

  • 7-Wonders Duel
  • Splendor Duel (much better than the original)
  • Azul (also scales well for when you want to play with others)
  • Everdell (Another worker placement like Wingspan)

If you want to scale in complexity, I can personally vouch that these are all amazing plays at both 2 and greater play counts

  • Ark Nova
  • Brass Birmingham
  • Spirit Island (Cooperative)
  • Frosthaven (Cooperative campaign)
  • Inis

Good recommendations. I also appreciate your username, Schoolman.

Only question: how is 80% possible? 12 games isn’t divisible by 5.

how is 80% possible? 12 games isn’t divisible by 5

technically 83% 10/12. I find it easier to just round.

I also appreciate your username, Schoolman.

Thanks, I suppose Bakker fans would be more common among this forum's participants

It's a much more complex, strategic game, much closer to it's spiritual predecessor Terraforming Mars.

Yep, that's the goal. We're enjoying Wingspan, but I'd love something to dig into that has substantially higher weight and complexity, particularly if it's two-player friendly. I think my wife will enjoy the same (she says she would!), but we'll see.

Thanks for the recommendations!

Wingspan was an absolutely fantastic first choice of game, you really knocked it out of the park from the outset. The wife and I just got Ark Nova as a Christmas present, we haven't played it yet as the back of the box conveys a staggering amount of complexity. We're not tabletop newbies by any means, but we're a bit intimidated.

For my money, it would not be possible to make a better addition to your thin game library than Everdell. The gameplay, presentation, theming, art direction, and mechanics are at the top end of anything we've ever seen achieved in a board game. It also has very little "screwing over your opponent"-type gameplay, which I think makes it a very pleasant 2-player experience compared to many other games. I would highly suggest grabbing the Collector's Edition of the base game, if you can swing it. That should provide many evenings of entertainment on its own, and then any time the game starts feeling a little stale you can pick up an Expansion (there are ~5, each of which adds enough to make the game feel VERY fresh all over again). I would not recommend picking up all the expansions right away, there's no really need to binge them and you may become overwhelmed with the complexity. My wife and I have steadily explored the expansions over a series of years and it's been a magnificent experience. We're maybe 3 years into Everdell being the default board game at our regular Board Game Nights with friends, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I give it the strongest possible recommendation.

I recently taught my girlfriend to play backgammon. It's great because you can play a game in five minutes for low stakes (we start at 10 cents).

These are some of my favourites:

  • Dead of Winter (2+ players, better with more)
  • Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space (4+)
  • Mysterium (it's like Cluedo + Dixit) (3+)
  • Pandemic (2+)
  • Codenames (4+, best with at least 6)

Personally I cannot bear dead of winter. It's incredibly slow and tedious. Expect even a "quick" game to take over an hour with 4+ people and you'll be begging for the zombies to just kill you by the end of it. The crossroads cards are a cool mechanic though.

I do second the last three (never played escape from aliens).

I also like the "Sherlock Holmes: consulting detective" series. Be warned, lots of reading, the first entry in the series has some insanely dubious French translation and typographical choices. Unfortunately nobody I know shares my enthusiasm for these games (anymore) so I have several unsolved cases.

I think I played Consulting Detective once. I was playing it with a group of non-native English speakers of vastly varying levels of spoken English, which made it rather confusing.

Update on James Nestor's Breath: It's largely bullshit. There seems to be a kernel of scientific truth in there but it's largely buried under a large pile of junk science, just-so stories, and claims about how breathing correctly can cure $BIOLOGICALDISORDER delivered with the breathless (heh) fervor of an evangelist. I say "seems" because the citing is so bad that it's laborious to figure out which study he's citing to support which claim but there are some statements that at least seem plausible of their face. It quickly veers out of intriguing scientific possibility into wild claims on the order of those books about eating right for your blood type or a Gavin Menzies pseudohistory. 1 of 5 stars, read if you're bored.

Ty for doing the work! I heard it recommended a ton from various people in the chronic pain/TMJ community. I tried listening to the audiobook and found it unbearable.

Then I listened to him/saw him on the Joe Rogan podcast and found him to be completely insufferable. I know it's petty but I updated quite a bit downward from that. Glad to hear confirmation.

General video game thread time once again.

Has anyone here played Outward? Holy shit it's so fun. I've been playing with my fiance and I've got to say, I haven't been this excited about a game in a looooooong while.

It's a standard medieval fantasy RPG, but more 'realistic' so to speak. You have to carefully prep your food, water, and really read all the tips and plan your routes to get places. In the beginning you will get your ass beat by hyenas if you aren't careful and strategic about fighting. It's also built for co-op, so there's online and couch co-op right out of the gate.

Good God I wish more RPGs had couch co-op!

There's no fast travel, no detailed quest log, you can't even see where you are when you open the map. You have to plan for the weather or slowly get diseases and die of cold and/or heat stroke; then again you could just get a disease from a hyena bite that will kill you as well.

The game has magic, but it's locked behind a tough dungeon in the beginning, and you have to sacrifice health and stamina to get it. You don't just get to pick mage at the beginning and get some cool magic missile or whatever.

But what's most impressive about the game is that the world feels alive. The characters have realistic motivations, there are serious, major consequences for bad decisions right off the bat. There are very few elements of the world that are just taken for granted. I think the difficulty and all the planning/weather/food stuff adds to this as well, by having to take care of survival needs you really get into the mindset of "Okay I'm here, I'm planning a trip here, what exactly do I need?" instead of just clicking a button and porting to another city.

I haven't played too far into it so please don't spoil anything, but damn I love this game. If anyone else has played it and liked it, I'm curious! And if you haven't, well it frequently goes on sale for $6 or so, so I'd recommend checking it out.

Victoria 3 has received a lot of criticism for betraying the ideals of Victoria 2. I don't have a strong opinion on that controversy. I'm just having fun with modding the game and watching the AIs duke it out in the modified copy.

  • By default, the game makes only five autosaves before overwriting the oldest one. But you can correct this behavior by editing a single line in a plaintext file.

  • By default, the game uses several different fonts—some nice, some ugly. But you can correct this behavior by editing a few lines in a single plaintext file.

  • By default, the game allows countries to build only the Suez and Panama Canals, and they cost exactly the same quantity of resources to construct. But you can correct this behavior (to add, e. g., the Kiel, Nicaragua, Tehuantepec, Atrato, and Kra Canals, and to make the Panama Canal more expensive than the Suez Canal) by editing a few plaintext files.

  • By default, the game's map is divided into several hundred "state regions", of which each (1) can be split between multiple different countries and (2) can contain both rural and urban buildings. This results in many weird situations. For example, (1) a great power that is rebuffed by Colombia in its efforts to build the Panama Canal will get a claim on the entire state region of Panama rather than on the single province where the canal can be built, and (2) a revolution of the "rural folk" interest group will also rally major cities to its banner. But you can correct this behavior by editing a few dozen plaintext files (plus one PNG file) to split all the state regions into separate rural and urban portions.

Et cetera.

I am thinking of buying Rogue Trader, as I bounced off of BG3 and wouldn't mind playing a good CRPG, but I have no time for a proper session when I still have unread emails after a 54-hour work week.

Looking for recommendations: I don't really play video games. The last one I played seriously was WoW circa WotLK. I'm looking for an engaging but not overly complex strategy game for an Android tablet or MacBook air.

Antiyoy is a fun, simple empire builder.


I saw your comment and thought what low effort ironic bullshit is this? Then saw the context.

I’ve played outward!

The first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I was going to eschew magic and put together a greatsword paladin. I trekked across the great swamp and joined the crusade, learning recipes, scraping together cash, and trying to stay alive. This led me to giant anthills and a lich’s tower. I spent a lot of time being thrashed by dogs and constructs. It was very cool.

I certainly remember, after gathering gear and a couple skills, planning a triumphant trip back to Cierzo. I’m sure you know what I found.

Much more recently, I started a new run to co-op with my girlfriend. We struggled even in the tutorial, but started to collect gear and money. Once we got to the forest city, though, things got out of hand. Even scripted story missions spawned overwhelming enemies. We left town to do normal missions and ran into a terrifying bandit chief. Apparently, this was the next step in a poorly explained mission, but we’d followed his road by accident. I wasn’t sure if it was worse to get respawned next to him (with a good chance to be put back under before even drinking water), or in a “neighboring” cave (adding a five minute walk, followed by the same trip to dreamland). It was vicious.

There are so many things I liked about Outward. Temporary health damage. The role of consumables. Mages as devastating casters if and only if they have the time and resources to set up. Building your own class out of skills. Backpacks. More games could use things like these!

On the other hand, I found a lot of things that were just dated. Big, empty levels with impassable terrain and packs of idle enemies. Illegible animations. Lifeless NPCs. Clumsy stealth and melee and archery and—you get the idea. It was 2019, and lots of games had done one or another of these things better.

It’s an obvious pipe dream. I want the beautiful, traversable terrain of Breath of the Wild populated by dynamic, threatening enemies. I want it as lively as an Elder Scrolls game, but of course, without giving up the real time consequences. I want diegetic user interfaces that keep me immersed. I want to move through a dungeon with stealth mechanics worthy of MGSV, and when that fails, resort to brutal melee combat that’s as tightly controlled as Dark Souls.

Outward gestures at a surprising number of these wants! There are just too many places where it falls back on outdated mechanics. The overall effect was asking me “what could have been?”

Lately I’ve been playing STALKER: Anomaly, a fanmade entry in a Chernobyl survival series. It does remarkably well on the lively world, on the general combat, and on atmosphere. Map design is evocative and foreboding. You’ll equip yourself with clean water and radioactive food, and you’ll get excited when you find medical supplies or a repair kit, let alone some undaunted gear. A trip to the next camp is a tense and foreboding affair.

The game also has quicksave, and console commands, and lots of ways to cheese enemies. In a polished and curated product, I’d say these are unnecessary, or even distract from the experience. But STALKER is neither of these. Quest NPCs are going to die to random dogs. You’re going to walk into nigh-invisible hazards and end up burning on the floor. Tools that make the game easier also mitigate the frustrations that come from this chaos.

Give it a try, I guess. You might get something out of it.

Lately I’ve been playing STALKER: Anomaly, a fanmade entry in a Chernobyl survival series. It does remarkably well on the lively world, on the general combat, and on atmosphere. Map design is evocative and foreboding. You’ll equip yourself with clean water and radioactive food, and you’ll get excited when you find medical supplies or a repair kit, let alone some undaunted gear. A trip to the next camp is a tense and foreboding affair.

And then you spend half an hour cleaning your guns part by part.

And then it's all set in the grimy, depressing zone.

And then your character is hungry again for the tenth time within one hour and he has a 36 hour sleep cycle so you can't even sleep at night.

Anomaly is my favorite STALKER game and the modders have done an excellent job, but I'd still rather just not play it.

I still have mixed feelings on the weapon repair/cleaning. Why does it cost a repair kit use to swap in an undamaged part? I might as well have the smith do it for me, since I’ve got to pay him to even use the vice.

Crafting is more trouble than it’s worth, too. Found a recipe? Hope you’ve got enough scrap metal. But also held on to the two specific items you need for the recipe. And paid for the vice.

And don’t get me started on cooking. Worst value for money, let alone carry weight.

When I complete the main story I may start another run using GAMMA and see if it gives any reason to deal with that nonsense. Until then, I’m going to stick with high reliability gear and paying techs for their services, lol.

I might look into STALKER! I've heard a lot of good things about it. I just bought Kingdom Come: Deliverance on sale though so that's going to be the one I play first.

As to your complaints on Outward, totally get it. I can see how that would frustrate people. For me, especially playing with my fiance, I just don't mind. The planning of the route, the difficulty of the combat, the fun of slowly grinding up money/resources/backpacks has been a blast.

If STALKER or other games had local co-op then I'd probably enjoy them as much, if not more, but alas. It's just never as fun exploring an open world on your own.

Agreed on all points. I wasn’t even frustrated so much as…I wish it was just a little different, lol. I went on and on about my gripes but it was a very cool game and there were just as many “wow” moments.

And yeah. Maybe STALKER 2 will have it. Not holding my breath.

Yeah dude! The purple grass swaying in the sunlight. Incredible.

And it really is a shame how couch co-op has fallen out of favor. When I was first gaming that was the best thing I ever did. I still love it. Nowadays couch co-op games are kind of a niche market unto themselves.

Sounds intriguing, tbh.

I'll keep an eye on it. Atm it's selling for €40. I don't like the aesthetics too much, so..