Without The Sarcasm http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com Insights. Analysis. Answers. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:29:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Boom Beach Diamonds: What to Use Them On! http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/boom-beach-diamonds-spend/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/boom-beach-diamonds-spend/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:34:05 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4899 Boom Beach, like Clash of Clans before it, has a premium currency. In Boom Beach, this currency is called the “diamond.” You can earn free Boom Beach diamonds slowly, but you might wonder “What should I spend Boom Beach diamonds on?” This has got to be the #1 question I hear asked by new players. There are some things that you really should save them for. In this Boom Beach guide, I’ll tell you what to spend your diamonds on!

Earning Free Boom Beach Diamonds

Boom Beach: Fast Free Diamonds

Diamonds are pretty easy to come by in Boom Beach, but your biggest earners are going to be:

  1. Check your map for treasure chests, you can get 5-10 a day from this easily.
  2. Check your defense log for people attacking you, depending on how frequently they attack you can probably get a few per attack.
  3. Earning achievements also unlocks diamonds frequently.

Of course, you could always buy some :)

What Can I Spend Diamonds on in Boom Beach?

Unlike Clash of Clans, in Boom Beach there aren’t (currently) any things that you can only buy with diamonds. Diamonds thus have two major purposes:

  1. Speeding things up. Almost any timer in the game can be bypassed by the use of diamonds. The less time there is, the fewer diamonds you need.
  2. Partially bypassing resource requirements. Redditor Plus1User pointed out that if you don’t have all the resources you need, but you have some, you can spend diamonds to get the rest. Just tap the upgrade button when you don’t have enough to complete the upgrade and you’ll see this option.
  3. Completely bypassing time and resource requirements. If you use diamonds to instantly upgrade a building in Boom Beach, you do not have to pay the required resources, and you don’t have to wait.

Pro Tip If you’ve got the resources for an upgrade, but you don’t want to wait, it’s actually far cheaper to start the upgrade and then use diamonds to rush it. The cost is much less.

What SHOULD I Spend Diamonds on in Boom Beach?

Now, there are a couple of super important upgrades that you’ll want to save some diamonds for.

Boom Beach: Use your diamonds for HQ upgrades!

  1. Headquarters level 6 to Headquarters level 7. (As of this writing, it costs 176 diamonds to completely skip this upgrade). You’ll need stone to upgrade to level 7, and you can’t build the quarry until you’ve done this upgrade. Thus, you’ll have to raid for stone and your vault will protect very little of it from other raiders.
  2. Headquarters level 9 to Headquarters level 10. Here, like above, you can’t earn Iron until you’ve made it to level 10, but you need iron to make the upgrade. (I don’t currently have the diamond cost of this upgrade, if you know, let me know!)

In general, I’d suggest conserving most of your diamonds for headquarters upgrades anyhow. They unlock a lot of stuff and are generally worth prioritizing. But definitely try to stockpile in the lower levels so that you can hit these two milestones hard.

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Five Fast Tips for Boom Beach Base Building http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/five-fast-tips-boom-beach-base-building/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/five-fast-tips-boom-beach-base-building/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 17:58:01 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4887 Okay, guys. I’ve raided a number of bases recently that just weren’t up to snuff. I came, I saw, and I conquered. In this article, I’ll show you the things I tend to exploit when raiding a base in Boom Beach. That way, when you’re building your Boom Beach base, you can take these into consideration and avoid being an easy target.

#5: Overlap Your Defenses

When attackers target your base, they’re likely to try to hit your base defenses first. Thus, your first line of defense should be supported by your second line. What you want is overlap between defenses. Line up your defenses so that units fighting one are being damaged by another.

The more damage their units are soaking up in the early stages of the invasion, the less likely it is that they’re going to be successful. Especially once you get to the stage where the Gunboat can drop health kits, one tower doing damage simply isn’t enough.

I see too many bases where the defenses are so spread out that I can easily target them one at a time, and heal in between. This makes my life easy as a raider!

#4: Mind the Gap

Although that last tip would have you believe that you should put your Boom Beach defenses right on top of each other, this is actually a bad idea. Then Gunboat’s Artillery ability is free-targeted. Thus, you can hit multiple buildings with a single shot assuming they’re right next to each other.

Boom Beach Base Building Tips: Spacing!

In this example, there are two towers and the HQ that share a corner. A well placed artillery shot will hit all three.

The way to prevent this is simple – don’t put strategically important buildings right next to each other. If you’ve got to put buildings adjacent to one another, make sure they’re not defenses or your HQ. If you want to put these guys next to each other, leave at least a small 1-block gap. That way, it’s way harder to hit both with a single Gunboat Artillery shot.

#3: Protect your HQ!

In Clash of Clans, it’s common to leave your Town Hall outside your walls. This is suicidal to do with your Headquarters in Boom Beach. If you leave your Headquarters undefended, it’s game over, you lose.

Your HQ should generally be as far back as you can get it from the beach. Everything you can get should be between the beach and your HQ. Sometimes it makes sense to have a defensive structure behind the HQ, but by and large most of your buildings should be in front of it.

While it’s true that every building defeated lowers your Headquarters’ health, they can still be useful as defensive structures. Since the troop AI tends to prefer whatever’s closest to it, you can use them to block off or distract units that would be attacking your defenses or your HQ. This will force the enemy commander to use his Gunboat flares more often, which gives him or her less tactical options later in the match.

Boom Beach Base Layout: Protect Your HQ!

In this base, most of the defenses are off to the left. What’s stopping me from attacking on the right side, and flaring down the right side, past half the defensive towers?

#2: Practice Responsible Deforestation

I see a lot of bases where the player has removed a bunch of trees. Sure, chopping down trees is one of the few things you can do while building or upgrading, and it does provide you with wood if you need wood more than gold. However, it can cause issues for your base layout.

Boom Beach Base Layout: Clear Trees Wisely!

In this example base, there’s a clear route to the back of the base owing to the way the trees have been removed. I can bypass most of the defenses and attack the (otherwise well-placed) Headquarters from the rear. Why didn’t they move their HQ back after they cleared the trees?

Do note, though, that troops pass right through trees as if they weren’t even there. So you can’t really depend on trees to keep you safe. If you generally prefer the right hand side of your island, and leave your left flank unguarded, you might be in trouble.

The troop AI prefers buildings, though, so troops generally won’t pass through trees that aren’t between the them and their nearest target. The exception is if a flare has been used. You can expect smart commanders to use flares in this fashion, though.

#1: Learn From Your Mistakes

In Boom Beach, like in Clash of Clans, you can replay attacks against your base. This is extremely important for a number of reasons. One is that going into this menu often yields free diamonds, and who doesn’t like free diamonds?

Boom Beach Base Layout: Free Gems for Battle Review!

The other is that you can see the specific tactics that were used against your base. This lets you take action to plug holes in your defenses. Chances are good that if someone attacked your base and won, some other Boom Beach player is going to use the same tactics on you in the near future.

What’s your best base design? What tips do you have for budding Boom Beach base builders? Share your ideas and feedback in the comments!

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Top 5 Ways Boom Beach is Better Than Clash of Clans http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/top-5-ways-boom-beach-better-clash-clans/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/top-5-ways-boom-beach-better-clash-clans/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 20:27:27 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4876 If you’ve played a lot of Clash of Clans, no doubt you’re looking at Boom Beach and thinking “this is the same game I’ve been playing for months/years!” However, when you compare Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans, there are some significant differences. I’ve singled out my top 5 favorite changes in Boom Beach that I think make Boom Beach better than Clash of Clans.

#5: Boom Beach Has Shorter Build Times

If you tell a Clash of Clans player that Boom Beach has only one builder, the first thing they’re likely to think is “Well, that means building and upgrading are going to take FOREVER!” However, that’s simply not the case.

Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans: Builders and Build Times

First, all the build times are significantly shorter than in Clash of Clans. Currently, the longest building upgrade (HQ level 20) takes two and a half days rather than the weeks it takes to get some of the later upgrades in Clash of Clans. Building a new level 1 building takes mere seconds in most cases. This is nice for when you upgrade your HQ and unlock a new landing craft or defensive tower.

Second, diamonds (the premium currency) are currently best used to speed things up. In Clash of Clans, you generally had to stockpile gems to buy more builders. In Boom Beach, they can be used to bypass the resource requirements for upgrades, and they can also finish buildings immediately. The game is pretty generous about diamonds as well, so you’re always going to find more even without having to drop a bunch of cash.

#4: Boom Beach Has Better Matchmaking and Single Player

Clash of Clans single player is an exercise in frustration. There’s a fixed amount of resources per level, so if you manage to get most of the resources out of a level but lose, why would you ever play it again?

Boom Beach’s single player is much more dynamic. The missions are win/lose – win and get resources, lose and get none. The single player missions also respawn over time, so if you just feel like playing against the computer, you can!

Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans: Matchmaking

There’s no shield in Boom Beach, as well. The shield kind of encourages turtling for extended periods, even though the real meat of the game is raiding other bases.

In Boom Beach, enemy players start showing up on your world map once you get past the first few HQ and radar levels. You can scout opponents for no cost. If you don’t want to raid another player’s base, that’s fine. After a day, you’ll have the option to skip them. There’s no penalty at all for skipping fights you don’ think you can win.

The flip side is that if you have a well-defended base, you’re unlikely to get attacked. People will look at your base and go “lol, nope!” I’ve gone days without having anyone attack me, even.

Also unlike Clash of Clans, there’s no resources won if you don’t win the fight in Boom Beach. Thus, you won’t find people raiding for your resources, but then not winning so that they lose trophies. In Clash of Clans, this is kind of a double whammy of “you took my stuff and now I’m going to get matched against harder opponents next time.”

#3: Boom Beach Has No Walls

Gah, walls. In Clash of Clans, moving walls around and getting them arranged and upgraded just right is a tedious process. Trying to play the game on a phone is an exercise in frustration. Most “pro” Clash of CLans players I know tend to prefer tablets, as moving the tiny objects around is much easier when they’re far larger.

While base management is still fun in Boom Beach, there’s far less micromanagement. The unit drop zones are very clearly marked and well outside the base area. There’s no chance you’ll arrange your base “wrong” and allow units to spawn deep inside your defenses.

Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans: Ugh, terrible base layout!

Base layout is still important – if your headquarters gets destroyed, you lose, full stop. Every building destroyed by attackers weakens your headquarters as well. There are many strategic options during a fight that can swing the tide as well.

In Boom Beach, you’ve got to plan your base carefully in order to avoid losing major resources due to attacks. It’s just that there’s not as much careful pixel arrangement in the overall strategy. Boom Beach is more focused on bigger targets and higher-order placement.

#2: Boom Beach’s Unit Management is Smarter

In Clash of Clans, you’ve got to manage your Barracks, which produces units for your Army Camps. The Camps have a limit, and each Barracks has a training limit as well. There’s training time to worry about, so keeping your camps properly balanced can be painful and time consuming unless you’ve got a particularly boring unit mix.

In Boom Beach, each landing craft holds an amount of units. They’ve all got to be the same unit, as well. Replacing defeated units is quick and painless. It’s easy to manage your unit mix with this interface.

Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans: Unit Management

In Clash of Clans, dropping a unit during an attack consumes it, whether it survives or not. It can be hard to decide how much of your forces to commit to an attack. You have to keep the training cost and the remaining resources in your mind at all times. This can lead to some raids where you could have won if you’d been bold at the start, but the game encourages you to be overly cautious instead.

In Boom Beach, if a unit survives, you can use it again, immediately. You can even retreat from battles you realize you can’t win and preserve any units that survive. If you’re on a roll against weak opponents or easy single player levels, you don’t have to stop and retrain your whole army. You can just play the game!

#1: Boom Beach’s Gunboat

Probably my favorite thing about Boom Beach is the Gunboat. In Clash of Clans, once you drop a troop you’re at that troop’s mercy. Its AI will prioritize targets and do whatever it wants until it’s dead.

Boom Beach Gunboat

Boom Beach’s Gunboat gives you tactical options once the fighting starts. Arguably the most important is the flare – throwing a flare causes all of your troops to move to a new position, or attack a specific target. With flares, you can target the strongest defenses, bypass troublesome areas, or approach from a strategically significant direction. That’s not to discount Boom Beach’s Gunboat’s other features – being able to damage or destroy defenses, heal your troops, and temporarily disable buildings are also useful.

The Gunboat still manages to provide a level of balance, though. Overusing a particular ability makes it too costly to be effective. Destroying targets gives you more energy to use, so if you go against the harder targets first, you’ll have less Gunboat support.

In short, the Gunboat brings interesting choices to raiding. Upgrading and using it effectively can mean the difference between winning and losing a raid.

What’s your favorite thing about Boom Beach? Do you like it more than Clash of Clans? Why? Tell us in the comments!

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Boom Beach FAQ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/boom-beach-faq/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/boom-beach-faq/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 23:52:17 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4858 Supercell’s newest game is Boom Beach, and no doubt hardcore Clash of Clans players are downloading it in droves to check it out. I took it for a spin, and figured out a few Boom Beach tips and tricks that I’ll share. If you’re just starting out, you’ll no doubt be wondering what the difference is between Clash of Clans. Hopefully this article will shed some light on that as well!

Boom Beach FAQ: How do I get more builders?

You can only build or upgrade one thing at a time. That’s by design. You can’t build more builder huts in Boom Beach like you can in Clash of Clans. Supposedly they adjusted the build times to be faster to adjust for this, but there you go.

You can chop down trees or build things that take no time (like mines) while something is building or upgrading, however.

Boom Beach FAQ: How do I get more diamonds?

The fastest way I’ve found to get more diamonds in Boom Beach is to check the world map. Occasionally you’ll see islands that have treasure chests on them. Tap the chest to get some free diamonds for your Boom Beach island!

Boom Beach: Fast Free Diamonds

These chests respawn over time, so check in on the map every day to get a few more.

Also, just like in Clash of Clans, you can get more free Boom Beach diamonds from completing achievements. Check the “stars” button in the upper left to see what achievements you can earn and how much they’re worth.

Boom Beach FAQ: What do I do with Diamonds?

Currently I’m not aware of any “diamond only” things in the game. Thus, diamonds are currently only good for:

  • Speeding things up. You can pay to finish a timer, whether it’s on units, upgrades, etc.
  • Bypassing the time and resource cost for upgrades. If you pick the diamond option for an upgrade in Boom Beach, you get that upgrade immediately, even if you don’t have the resources to afford it.

For the time being, I suggest either stockpiling them or using them for headquarters upgrades, as they are costly and time consuming.

In Clash of Clans, gems bought new builders, so I figure at some point there will be “diamond only” upgrades or buildings added to the game. It seems to me to be a logical monetization strategy.

Related Guide “What do I do with diamonds?” is such a frequently asked question that I’ve put together a Boom Beach Diamonds guide to help new players out. More details and info about the critical HQ upgrades to prioritize can be found there.

Boom Beach FAQ: How do I get more lumber?

Lumber is produced by the sawmill. You can upgrade your sawmill to produce more lumber per hour.

Alternatively, you can also trade gold for lumber by chopping down trees. Different size trees yield different amounts of lumber. Remember that you can do this while something is being built or upgraded. Trees do not grow back, although you’ll eventually have additional islands to harvest.

Boom Beach: Lumber at a cost of Gold

Lumber’s also available if you win a mission in the campaign or beat another player’s defenses. You’ll loot some of both lumber and gold if you win.

Boom Beach FAQ: How do I get more gold?

Gold is produced by residences. You can upgrade your residences or build more to produce more gold.

Gold is also produced per hour by all the villages you’ve freed in the campaign. You can tap on any freed island to see how much the islanders will bring you per hour. The gold is brought by boat, and you can find the boat at your docks.

Boom Beach Free Village: Gold

Also, gold is one of the campaign mission rewards, like I mentioned in the question about lumber above.

(There’s also Iron and Stone, but you should have gotten the gist of resources by now :P)

Boom Beach FAQ: How does attacking bases work?

Attacking is very similar to Clash of Clans:

  • Troops are stored in your Landing Craft, and upgrading your crafts gives them more space.
  • Troops can be trained for a cost of gold, but they take a while to train.
  • Troops take up different amounts of space in your landing crafts. You can only fit 1 Heavy where 5 Riflemen, for instance.
  • You tap on the beach to deploy your troops.
  • Troops will generally do their own thing and prioritize targets of their own accord.
  • Attacking things costs you some gold, but if you win you’ll generally take home more than you spent!

However, there are some significant differences:

Boom Beach: Critical Headquarters!

  • The Headquarters is critical. If the headquarters is destroyed, it’s an instant win for the attackers. Even if you protect the HQ, every building destroyed does damage to the headquarters. It’s common in Clash of Clans to leave your Town Hall undefended, but this is suicidal in Boom Beach!
  • Troops are not consumed when deployed. If they survive an attack, they’ll be back on your landing craft for another fight immediately. Even if they’re mortally wounded, they’ll be healed and ready to go immediately.
  • Retreating will preserve any troops that are deployed, assuming they survive the trip back to the landing craft.
  • Only one type of troop can be trained per landing craft. You can’t mix and match.

Boom Beach FAQ: How does the Gunboat work?

Boom Beach Gunboat Explained!

The Gunboat is a “support” craft that will follow your troops into battle. It can fire its guns at targets, or shoot flares to direct your attacking troops (if your Headquarters is at least level 3).

The Gunboat consumes energy when it does one of these things, however. It will come into a fight with a fixed amount of energy that can be upgraded if you upgrade the boat. The more actions the Gunboat takes, the more energy it will require for each action.

The Gunboat’s shots don’t auto-aim, so if you’re off by a bit when trying to hit something, you won’t do damage. This also means that you can hit multiple targets if they are right next to each other. Be careful where you tap, and make every shot count!

Energy can be earned by destroying targets during a mission. Sometimes it’s worth it to take out weak targets so that you get additional energy. Destroying alternate targets also weakens the enemy headquarters, so it’s a double whammy.

The Gunboat can be used even if it is being upgraded. It won’t get the benefit of its new level, but it won’t be out of action.

Boom Beach FAQ: What should I build/upgrade first?

With all of these resource management games, I find it useful to build and upgrade your resource buildings early. That way, you’re producing a steady stream of income that you can use to defend yourself and go on the offensive.

One thing you want to build ASAP is a vault. This will protect your resources in case you get raided. Unlike Clash of Clans, it’s possible to lose ALL your resources if you get raided.

Beyond that, it seems like matchmaking is primarily based on your relative experience levels rather than headquarters levels. Upgrading your headquarters is a solid strategy, as it unlocks a lot of other useful buildings and upgrades.

Boom Beach FAQ: How do I fight other human players?

Once you get to around Headquarters level 3 and Radar level 2, you’ll be able to see enemy bases, and enemy bases will see you as well.

Since this opens you up to attack, I suggest saving these upgrades for last lest you end up like me, punked by some high-level commander and all your resources taken. Make sure you at least build a vault prior to upgrading your HQ and radar too far!

You can play against a human base repeatedly if you lose, although you’re giving them experience when you lose. Additionally, you’ll have to train up troops between attacks. Human bases will stay on your world map until you beat them.

If you just don’t think you can beat an opponent, you can skip a human base after a delay, I believe it is a day. There will be a yellow exclamation point on the base, and when you tap the base, you’ll have the option to find another opponent.

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Cult of the Fiver | March 2014 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cult-fiver-march-2014/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cult-fiver-march-2014/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:19:17 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4772 Max Payne 3

Cult of the Fiver: Max Payne 3

Max is back! This time he’s taken his heavy drinking, pill-popping, noir-cliche, bullet-riddled behind to South America. After the bodyguard job he’s been hired to do goes south, Max will risk whatever tiny sliver of sanity he has left to clear his name and dish out some street-wise justice.

Max Payne 3 is worth your $5 because… this series is known for its excellent gunplay, twisty plots, and interesting characters. Max Payne 3 is no exception. There’s a lot of stuff to shoot, a lot of slo-mo bullet time dodging, and some flashy AAA setpiece action sequences. Max’s banter is as witty as ever, and Rockstar’s polished this game to a glimmering shine.

But don’t pay full price for Max Payne 3, since… it’s rather difficult and unfair at times. Despite my shooter history, I still found it very challenging even on normal difficulty. It’s also fairly one-note – you’re going to shoot a lot of bad guys, and you’re going to watch a lot of slow motion kill cams.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Explore everywhere for Golden Gun parts. There are usually at least 2 or 3 guns, in 3 pieces each per level. If you collect all the parts of a Golden Gun, it will upgrade all instances of that gun in the game.
  • Budget your bullet time carefully. You can optimize your use of it by popping out of cover, slowing time while you line up your shot, and then turning it back off as you duck back into cover.
  • Dying repeatedly on the lower difficulties will eventually give you some free painkillers, so if you’re stuck somewhere, know that eventually you’ll get some relief.

Don’t Starve

Cult of the Fiver: Don't Starve

Don’t Starve puts you in the shoes of an unfortunate character, dumped into a weird, unforgiving, and downright hostile world. Resources are scarce, the nights are deadly, and winter is coming. Can you use your knowledge and budget your limited time well enough to survive? Or are you destined to become just another corpse, littering the bleak, nightmarish countryside?

Don’t Starve is worth your $5 because… it’s an interesting take on the survival RPG genre. There’s some Fallout style hoarding you have to do, and the science/base building elements give the game a sense of progression. The art and music are both excellent, they manage to evoke both “cute” and “frightening” at the same time.

But don’t pay full price for Don’t Starve, since… it’s absolutely punishing. You’re going to die and have to restart often. Much of the time, death is permanent and kills your progress. Every time you start out, you’ll spend some amount of time doing the exact same things you did last time. You can adjust the difficulty to an extent, but there’s still a lot of lost progress and repetition involved.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Fire is your friend. You will die in the dark without some source of light.
  • In addition to food, you also need to worry about your sanity – early in the game you can pick flowers and craft them into a hat that will keep your sanity going.

Driver: San Francisco

Cult of the Fiver: Driver San Francisco

Driver: San Francisco tells the story of John Tanner, a cop who recently put away mega-criminal Jericho. However, during a routine prisoner transfer, Jericho breaks out of prison and critically wounds Tanner. Will Tanner pull through and use his expert driving skills put a stop to Jericho’s evil schemes? Probably, I mean, this is a video game, after all.

Driver: San Francisco is worth your $5 because… it’s a novel take on the “driving game” formula. At any point, you can jump from being in a car to an overhead “world map” style view, which allows you to take control of almost any car in San Francisco. There’s a wide variety of activities to take part in. Even during the activities, you can hop into other cars and use them to your advantage. Losing a race? Why not hop into oncoming traffic and cause a pile-up to slow everyone down! Or, y’know, just smash their cars up to the point they can’t race anymore. It’s still winning when you’re the only car in the race, right?

But don’t pay full price for Driver: San Francisco, since… it’s got some cheesy bits and some rough edges. Some of the game mechanics aren’t explained well. The voice acting, plot, and dialog are so over the top it’s hilarious. Cars you buy can’t be used in most of the plot missions, which is sad. Some of the activities are a lot of fun, but others are just plain frustrating.

The $5 Deal: Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Prioritize the “ability bar” upgrades, as they will make your life considerably easier.
  • The “Income Multiplier” upgrades only effect the income you gain passively every 20 minutes or so. They don’t effect activity payouts or anything else. It’s kind of sort of worth it late in the game, as you can buy all the garages, buy the multipliers, and then just let the game sit to accumulate wealth.
  • Activities can be done over and over again for easy cash. They pay out exactly the same on repeated playthroughs.
  • Don’t bother scouring the map and taking care of every activity early in the game. As the game progresses, it becomes easier and easier to get around town.

Fallout 3: Game of the Year

Cult of the Fiver: Fallout 3

War. War Never Changes. Only, it did in the transition from Fallout 1&2 to Fallout 3. Fallout 3 is the first full-blown 3D “first person RPG” game in the series. When the vault you’ve called home your entire life is suddenly a war zone, and your father has disappeared and branded a traitor, you’ll be forced into the hostile ruins of the Washington, DC area. Finding dear ol’ dad is a secondary concern to survival in this irradiated wasteland.

Fallout 3: Game of the Year is worth your $5 because… well, it was Game of the Year. It’s hard to argue with that title, either. It pays homage to the setting from the first two Fallout games while taking the concept in all-new directions. There’s tons of stuff to explore, mysteries to unravel, and a billion things to kill and/or loot. The GOTY edition tosses in all 5 expansions, which are worth starting the game from scratch to experience again.

But don’t pay full price for Fallout 3: Game of the Year, since… there are a lot of bugs and odd bits here and there. It’s a game that is quite old by video gaming standards, and it shows. Some of the DLC is pretty meh – Operation: Anchorage in particular feels very out of place against the rest of the game. That said, a lot of this can be skipped over or fixed via modding on the PC, which is a godsend in these Bethesda games.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Broken Steel adds an extra set of levels and one perk that makes all your SPECIAL stats 9. One “optimal” build for the game is to start with Intelligence at 9 (for skill points), and the rest of your stats at 5, with one at 6 to use the last point. Rush to Rivet City to get the Intelligence bobblehead to get 10 overall, but leave the rest until you hit level 30. This way, you can be the ultimate wasteland warrior. Not like you’ll need it, given the number of mindblowingly-powerful items in the DLCs…
  • “Good” characters can get a house in Megaton, the first city you’re likely to encounter. Help out around town (hint: defusing the bomb counts for a lot) and you’ll get a place to store gear you don’t want to lug around DC.
  • Play Operation: Anchorage early on. It’s mostly a first person shooter, and it doesn’t require a lot of points sunk into your skills. The gear you get from clearing it is very high-level.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Cult of the Fiver: Splinter Cell Conviction

After the disastrous events of Double Agent, Sam is on the run. But a familiar voice promises him a lead on the death of his daughter. As he’s drawn back into the web of the spy organization he helped build, the full extent of the corruption that has grown there is revealed. Who can Sam trust, and how far will he go to save a country that lied to him and abandoned him?

Splinter Cell: Conviction is worth your $5 because… it’s a strong, groundbreaking title in a well-established stealth franchise. The “Mark and Execute” system brings a fresh, fluid experience to a genre that is generally slow moving and overly meticulous. The plot is interesting, and the stealth is still challenging despite the sophistication of Sam’s methods and tools.

But don’t pay full price for Splinter Cell: Conviction, since… it’s somewhat short, although it’s probably on par with many single player franchises. There’s also a lot of brutality. Sam’s gloves are off, and he’s not afraid to use violently interrogation methods to get what he wants. If that sort of thing makes you squeamish, it might be enough to put you off the game altogether.

The $5 Deal: Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Upgrade your pistol with a laser sight, and the game’s auto-aim will give you headshots on nearby enemies. This can be super useful in combat situations.
  • There are many environmental objects that can be marked, which will take out several guards at once when hit.
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Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Quickstart Guide http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/splinter-cell-blacklist-quickstart-guide/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/splinter-cell-blacklist-quickstart-guide/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:05:06 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4843 Awwww yeah, Splinter Cell. I love Splinter Cell. I finally picked up Blacklist after a few months of waiting for a price drop, and now I’m playing through the single player campaign and experimenting a bit in multiplayer.

It’s an excellent game, but your enjoyment of it can be enhanced somewhat if you know a few things going in. My overall goal for the game is 100% of the achievements, so with that in mind, let me share my tips.

Before You Begin

Grab the Spider Bot companion app for iOS or Android. There is a set of stuff that is unlocked via this app. At a minimum, log into your uPlay account using this app, which unlocks probably 80% of the stuff you can get from it. The rest isn’t nearly as interesting.

If you want to grind for the other items anyhow, I suggest replaying the second level of Stealth Bot over and over again. The other modes you’ll need to sink way more time into before you can get anywhere close to the amount of points you can get in roughly 30 seconds on that level. Just play it through without getting caught, using your cloak, or taking too long, and you’re more or less guaranteed a ton of points for minimal effort. The app is buggy, though, and I had issues redeeming my points. The gear isn’t essential, so don’t waste too much time here.

Also, log into uPlay and redeem the rewards right off the bat if you’ve got uPlay points saved up. One of them unlocks a bonus armor set, and another gives you a chunk of change you can use to upgrade your Sam right from the get-go.

Notes for Single Player

Earning Cash

By default, Sam’s loadout is a little underpowered. The tips in the previous section will get you some somewhat-better-than-default gear, and you can get even more gear via DLC. Besides that, you’re going to need lots and lots of cash.

Your score at the end of a level and your score multiplier determine how much cash you make from running a mission. Different styles earn different scores. Also, the speed at which you finish a mission can be a large factor in your overall score.

The multiplier is determined

Upgrades to Prioritize

Without upgrading your suit, you make noise when moving full speed, even when crouched. This is a good one to invest in early. Upgrading your armor down the stealth track also unlocks more slots for gadgets, and more clips for your secondary weapons (ie, crossbow/stun gun).

The crossbow is way overpowered. Unlock it early, and buy all the bolts ASAP.

Single Player Strategies

Don’t worry too much about overusing your gadgets. At any difficulty except Perfectionist, there are ample restock points. The only time gadget ammo really matters is Non-Lethal/Ghost/Perfectionist. Thus, I don’t suggest playing Non-Lethal/Ghost/Perfectionist as your first playthrough. On Perfectionist, you’ll have far fewer charges per gadget, and you can’t restock at all. However, with a fully-upgraded stealth suit, you’ll still have enough lethal ammo to clear practically any mission.

There are a set of side missions for each of your three major “helpers.” Early on, go after the Grim missions – she will unlock the maximum performance stealth armor.

Achievements and Styles

None of the achievements are missable or annoying if you miss something on the first pass. The game is open to being replayed easily and quickly.

There is an achievement for a non-lethal completion of the single player. You can replay missions, and it tracks non-lethal on a mission-by-mission basis. There are a few “you must kill” sequences in the game, but always check what you’ve been given to see if you can win non-lethally. Sometimes, even though they take your gear, they still give you a non-lethal option.

For each mission, there are three “styles” – Ghost, Panther, and Assault. There is an achievement for mastering each one of these 7 times. You can replay missions to master a different style. The achievement does not require mastering the style on every level. The side missions count towards this achievement.

Ghost Style

For Ghost, I suggest that you evade enemies as much as possible, as that’s worth more points than a single takedown. However, getting multiple takedowns (ie, mark and execute, or sleeping gas, or really fast takedowns in succession) grants bonus points per-takedown.

Plan on evading or comboing more than half the guards in a level to meet the Ghost style score goal.

In most situations, a careful survey of the surroundings will turn up alternate paths that avoid the guards or keep you out of the way or out of sight. Noisemaker bolts and the Sticky Noisemaker are your friend – they make great distractions and can clear your path without causing point loss.

You have several seconds before you lose your “stealth” if discovered. The detection bar has to fill completely, and then they will go into a state where they know you are there. Finally, the bar will turn red and they will shoot or call for help. If you take them down at any time before this point, you get credit for a stealth knockout.

Moving on to a new area despawns all the guards immediately. If you made it through without arousing suspicion (ie, body discovered, you were spotted but hid again, etc) then you’ll get a heap of bonus points for every guard left oblivious.

Panther Style

Panther style is a bit easier to work with than Ghost style. The only thing you have to do is not kill during open combat. If you get fully detected, hide and run away until the music dies back down and the guards go back on patrol. Otherwise, your kills will count as “combat kills” towards assault style instead.

Bring a fully upgraded (laser sight, silencer, etc) pistol, and you can headshot normal goons for a one-hit kill. When the heavy infantry goes in to investigate, sneak around above or behind and take them down. If they detect you, run like hell and hide for a bit, then return to prowl again.

Panther on Perfectionist was easier than Ghost on Normal, to be honest.

Assault Style

Assault style is all about noise. Bring an assault rifle without a silencer, plus mines and grenades. Get detected, and fight it out.

The best upgrade for Assault is the extended mags. Reloading takes time, and sometimes you’re going to be up against a big group of guys with no breaks. Pick the best unslienced AR you can, buy all the upgrades, and you should be good to go!

As far as gadgets go, take the proximity mines, incendiary grenades, and frags. Incendiary grenades are awesome against heavy infantry and groups. Killing a bunch of goons in a row earns bonuses, which you’ll need to get the mastery score. Sam really hucks the proximity mines, so you can stay in a corner and mine the door against enemy intruders.

Assault style gives the fewest points, so mastering it earns you the least cash. However, you can move so damn fast through the levels that you will probably score very well anyhow.

Heavy Infantry

The game starts throwing “heavy infantry” at you from the second or third mission onward. You can tell you’re up against one of these guys by the way they breathe. If they sound like Darth Vader, it’s a heavy infantry. These guys are immune to shock. They are immune to gas as long as their helmets are on. They can’t be taken down from the front, which means it’s tricky to lure them close to you for a hand-to-hand takedown.

You can take them down from above, or from behind if you sneak up on them. Just watch out for puddles or other loud flooring, and make sure your gear is upgraded for stealth.

There is a cheap method to get them, though. You can knock off their helmets with a headshot or mark and execute, although this makes them suspicious. A one-two punch delivered by a crossbow sleeping gas bolt is super effective! If you headshot or mark and execute a gasmask guy with a sleeping gas bolt, it’s a one-hit knockout. It even takes out any nearby non-gasmask guards, even if you don’t mark them!


Heavy Infantry wear helmets, but they’re not the only ones who do. Enemies wearing night vision goggles and drone operators also wear helmets.

A helmet will deflect at least the first headshot. Sometimes on Perfectionist it has taken me 3 headshots total to down a helmeted enemy, though.

Mark and execute will always hit with a headshot, so it’s ineffective against these guys. Except for the heavy infantry, these guys can be taken down with gas or a body shot from a shock weapon.

Achievement Hunting: Multiplayer

Yeah, this game has multiplayer achievements. However, they’re doable. The only thing I’ve run into thus far is that server population is really low, and it’s mostly pros.

There are achievements for:

  • Winning one round in every game mode
  • Completing one major objective (intel capture, uplink hack, etc) in every game type
  • Getting to level 10 (of 50, doesn’t take that long)
  • Unlocking certain gear
  • Getting 10 major objective assists (ie, be near the intel when it is captured, be in the zone for a hack, etc)
  • Completing a weekly challenge – these reset every Sunday at midnight, so start on Monday and you’ll have all week and the weekend.

Most of these can be achieved in a private match by yourself or with one other player. All the major objective ones, the win in every game mode, etc. On some platforms, you can do the “assist” ones with 2 people on the same console. You can even get to rank 10 in private matches. Weekly challenges count private matches as well.

If you actually want to play multiplayer, here is what I’ve learned.

I found it easiest to learn the ropes in either Team Deathmatch or SvM Classic.

You’ll get money and unlock tokens to unlock class slots and gear. Unlock all the default classes first. It’s expensive to make a custom class, and in the meantime you will want the premade default options available to you.

It’s slow to earn cash in multiplayer, so consider playing single player to make money instead. Unlock tokens are only available from ranking up in multiplayer, however. You’ll need one token per custom class slot, plus one token for each thing you want to unlock to go into that class. There are a lot of things to choose from…

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Brave Frontier Guide: Combat http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-combat/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-combat/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:46:54 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4786 Welcome back to our Brave Frontier guide! After exploring the basics in our Basics Guide, and digging into units in the Units Guide, we’re moving on up to Brave Frontier combat. The combat in this game is deceptively simple, but with our Brave Frontier combat tips, you’ll be Brave Bursting like a pro in no time flat.

Brave Frontier Combat Guide: Combat UI

Brave Frontier Guide: Combat Loot

At the top of the screen are the loot stats for the current quest. From left to right, these counters track your Zel, Karma, and Units Captured. If you need a review of what Zel and Karma are good for, jump back to the basics guide!

Below that is an area that shows the enemy units on the left and your own units on the right.

Below that, you’ll find the currently selected enemy unit’s health bar.

Brave Frontier Guide: Combat Units

Next is all of your units and their current status. In order to attack, you must tap each of your units. Holding down on a unit brings up a small swipe menu, where you can swipe down to defend, or up and to the right to use your Brave Boost if it has charged.

Hitting monsters will drop Zel, Karma, Brave Crystals, and Heart Crystals. Sometimes you’ll also see items.

When a monster is defeated, there is a chance that it will become captured. If this happens, it will turn into a white blob and fly up to the “Units Captured” counter at the top. If you manage to win the quest, any items and units you found will be added to your inventory.

Brave Frontier Combat Guide: Items

While in combat, you can use items. The items you’ve chosen to bring along on the quest are shown at the bottom of the screen. Items are synthesized in your town, and you can carry a limited number of them into battle.

Brave Frontier Guide: Combat Items

Having a stack of healing items can be a lifesaver, especially if your squad doesn’t contain a healer! Make sure you restock between quests if you’re running low. Most items are cheap to manufacture in massive quantities.

Brave Frontier Tip You can only use items on units that have not yet moved this turn. If your units have taken an action, they’ll be grayed out! If you need to use an item, do it early in your turn!

Brave Frontier Combat Guide: Combat Strategy and Spark

All you really have to do in order to take part in combat in Brave Frontier is tap your units. They will do an attack animation, (hopefully) injure the enemy, and consume their turn.

Brave Frontier Tip If left alone, your units will prioritize their own targets, and will attack new enemies when the last enemy has been killed. If you tap an enemy, your units will attack whatever enemy monster you tapped last. In some fights, there are clearly more dangerous monsters than others. In Boss Fights, tap these tougher monsters in order to prioritize them! You can leave the weaklings for later. Alternative Strategy – Redditor whatevrmn suggests that you should kill off the weaklings first to reduce the number of attacks you take. I think either way we can agree that targeting your units in a boss fight is a smart move.

Brave Frontier Guide: Spark

If your units attack at the same exact moment, there’s a chance they will cause a Spark to occur. Sparks boost the amount of loot that drops, and they’re worth trying for. You’ll have to time your taps on each unit so that their attacks connect as close to the same time as possible. As you practice with a squad of units, you’ll get better at predicting exactly how long the combat animation will take, and this will help you master Brave Frontier’s Spark mechanic.

Brave Frontier Tip The first time you play with a new unit, let it attack by itself so that you can get an idea as to what its attack looks like and how long it takes to complete. This will help you determine what order you need to attack in, and where you should insert delays between tapping of units.

Brave Frontier Combat Guide: Brave Burst

Most units have a “Brave Burst” that charges during a quest as that unit gathers Brave Crystals. When fully charged, you can launch the Brave Burst by holding your finger on the unit and then swiping upwards and to the right.

Brave Bursts fall into three categories:

  • Attack Bursts deal damage to enemy units, and they can also cause status effects.
  • Healing Bursts heal your units, and sometimes also grant positive status effects.
  • Support Bursts give your team positive status effects.

There’s some strategy as far as when you use your Brave Bursts – ideally, you want to use them on the final fight in the quest, which is usually against a powerful boss. However, your Brave Bursts will probably charge earlier in the quest, so you might as well make use of the excess Brave Crystals if you’re feeling confident they’ll recharge in time.

If you want to level up the power of your Brave Bursts, you can do so via Fusion – check out our Units Guide for all the details.

Brave Frontier Combat Guide: Elements

Each unit has an element – we covered that in the Units Guide. Each element is strong against other elements. When a monster is selected, your units will have an icon if their element and the enemy element interact in some way:

Brave Frontier Guide: Combat Element Boosts

The elemental affinities in Brave Frontier are as follows:

ElementStrong vsWeak vs

Brave Frontier Tip Many quest chains also have specific elements that they feature heavily. It’s a good idea to put together at least a couple of squads that feature particular elements while leaving others out so that you can take advantage of this knowledge. For instance, if you’re in a “forest” area, chances are a squad of Fire units is going to really clean up.

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Brave Frontier Guide: Units http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-units/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-units/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:46:36 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4785 Basics Guide, let's dig in deep and explore the world of Brave Frontier units.]]> Now that we’ve covered the basics in our aptly-named Basics Guide, let’s dig in deep and explore the world of Brave Frontier units.

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Getting Units

Brave Frontier Guide: Honor Summon

There are several ways to get new units:

  • You can use Honor Points to summon new units, at a rate of 200 points per new unit.
  • You can use Gems to summon new units, five Gems (not one, that’s PAD, thanks thenlar!) gives you one chance for a new unit. There are many rare units that can only be earned this way, but wait around for summon events to happen – these will increase the chance of getting certain rare units!
  • You can also capture monsters while in combat. We’ll go over that in more detail in the Combat Guide.

Your units are stored in your inventory, and there is a maximum number of units that can be stored there. If you go to the “Shop” menu, you can spend Gems to unlock additional unit slots.

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Unit Attributes

Each unit in Brave Frontier has a set of stats that determine how effective they are in combat:

Brave Frontier Guide: Unit Stats Explained

First up is the Element. Each element is strong against certain elements, and weak against others. We’ll go into detail about what elements are strong against which other elements in the Combat Guide.

After that is the Level, which is increased by Fusion. We’ll cover Fusion later.

Next is the Type. The Type determines how the unit’s stats scale as they level. The types are:

TypeBoosted StatHindered Stat

Brave Frontier FAQ What’s the best Type? The best type is going to vary based on what your priorities are for a unit. If you’re raising a powerful attack unit, you might want to further boost its attack via the Breaker type, or you might want to make it survive longer with the Guardian type. The Oracle type seems particularly weak to me – better health recovery at the expense of maximum HP seems like a recipe for disaster.

Each unit also has a Rarity which is expressed as a number of stars. (A shout out to Redditor weaseldude for pointing out I neglected to cover this topic!) Rarity has a number of effects:

  • Level-for-level, higher rarity monsters are more powerful.
  • Higher rarity monsters tend to have a higher level cap.
  • Higher rarity monsters tend to have more useful or powerful Brave Bursts

When units Evolve, they tend to move up to the next tier of Rarity. Most units can only evolve a few times, though, and the highest Rarity monsters are only available if you Summon them with Gems.

Finally, there are the numeric stats:

  • HP – Obviously, this is how much damage the unit can take before it falls in battle.
  • ATK – The amount of damage a unit can cause when attacking.
  • DEF – How resistant the unit is to taking damage.
  • REC – How much healing the unit gets from Potions, Healing Brave Bursts, etc. This also effects how fast the Brave Burst meter charges. (Thanks MistaBaux!)
  • Cost – How much the unit costs when put into a Squad. We’ll cover Squads here shortly.

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Squads

Squads are groups of units that you use for quests. You can have up to 10 squads of 5 units each. As you can only use one squad at a time, a unit can be in multiple squads at once.

Each unit has a “cost” attribute, which is a way of limiting the overall power level of your squads. As you complete quests, you will level up. One of the side effects of leveling up is the maximum cost of your squads will increase.

There is one special slot in a squad, and that’s the Leader. The squad leader gets to use their (usually passive) Leader Skill to assist the entire squad in battle. Pick your leaders carefully, so that you can get the most out of these benefits!

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Spheres

Spheres are equippable items that you can build in the “Spheres” hut of your Town. We covered the town in the Basics Guide, so feel free to drop back if you’re feeling confused or jumped into the middle!

Each unit can equip a single Sphere at a time. The higher the level of your Sphere hut, the more powerful Spheres you can create.

Brave Frontier Tip Many top-tier Spheres require “Honor” items that can only be gained as gifts from friends – make friends and share often as early as you can to build up a stockpile!

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Fusing Units

In order to make your units more powerful, you’ve got to fuse other monsters with them to give them experience and help them gain levels. To perform Fusion, tap the “Units” button and then the “Fuse Units” button. When you get to the Fusion screen, you’ll have to select the unit which will gain experience, and then select up to 5 units that will be transformed into experience for the first unit. Do note here that these units “fed” to the base unit are gone forever!

Brave Frontier Guide: Unit Fusion

Fusion costs Zel, and the formula is pretty straightforward:

Fusion cost = (Starting Base Monster Level + 1) * Number of Monsters to Fuse * 100

Thus, the higher the level of the base unit, the higher the Zel cost. This means you should generally fuse as many monsters as possible at once. If you fuse several times in a row, and the unit gains levels between each fusion, you’ll end up paying more for each fuse.

The experience gained is related to the level and rarity of the unit fed, but the experience gain formula is not well understood.

Brave Frontier Tip If you fuse with monsters of the same element, there is an additional multiplier to experience gained. Whenever possible, match up your elements when fusing!

There’s a chance that any given fusion will grant bonus experience. This is random, however, and is impossible to predict.

There’s also a chance that the base monster’s Brave Burst will level up if they’re fused with monsters that have the same type of Brave Burst. There are three types of Brave Bursts – Damage, Healing, and Support (ie, Defense Up). Leveled up Brave Bursts are more powerful than their unleveled versions.

Even if a unit is at their maxed level, you can still fuse monsters to level their Brave Bursts, to a maximum of level 10. (Thanks again, MistaBaux!) Apparently, fusing at max level doesn’t follow the “standard” fusion formula, and is significantly cheaper by comparison. (Thanks trauminus!) Do note that if you plan to evolve them, evolution resets this level back to 1, so it’s best to max out evolution first before Brave Burst level.

Brave Frontier Tip “Metal” monsters are prime fusion food. They grant a ton of XP. They are also not useful in any particular capacity outside of giving XP. (Thanks to thenlar for correcting my statement regarding evolution!)

Brave Frontier Unit Guide: Evolving Units

Many units can evolve into a stronger form once they reach the maximum level. In order to do this, you’ll need a specific set of monsters to fuse with.

Brave Frontier Guide: Evolution

When viewing the evolution screen, you’ll see how many of what type of units are required for an evolution. If you’ve never caught a monster, that monster’s portrait on this screen will be marked with a “?”

Brave Frontier Tip Evolved monsters reset to level 1, and remember that they have any Brave Burst upgrades removed. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to level up your Brave Bursts!

Once a unit evolves, it will morph into a more powerful version of that unit, but its experience will reset to level 1. Usually when evolving, the unit will gain a level of Rarity. For instance, a 1-star creature will tend to evolve into a 2-star creature, and so forth.

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Brave Frontier Guide: Basics http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-basics/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brave-frontier-guide-basics/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:43:40 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4783 Welcome to part one of our Brave Frontier guide! Brave Frontier is a new Eastern-style free-to-play RPG game, cut from the same cloth as Puzzle and Dragons. Just like Puzzle and Dragons, Brave Frontier can be daunting to newcomers. It’s not as complex as it first seems, though, and in part one of our Brave Frontier guide, I’ll give you all the things you need to know to get started!

Brave Frontier Guide: Currencies – Gems, Zel, Honor Points, and Karma

Brave Frontier Guide: Gems, Zel, and Karma

Gems are the premium currency in Brave Frontier. Gems in Brave Frontier can also be spent to upgrade the size of your monster box, which is a smart move near the start. Chances are you’re going to need some space in your Monster Box to store rare evolution monsters. We’ll cover evolution monsters in the Units Guide.

Brave Frontier FAQ How do I get free gems in Brave Frontier? You get 1 gem for each complete set of quests that you clear. You also get free Brave Frontier gems for logging in on consecutive days, and frequently they’re given out as Gifts. Gems can be used to summon rare monsters, but I’d suggest waiting for a good event before you do so.

Brave Frontier FAQ What should I spend my gems on in Brave Frontier? Redditor whatevrmn suggests (and I concur) that the best thing you can do with Gems is save them for Rare summons. They’re also useful in the early game for upgrading the maximum number of units you can hold. But whatever you do, don’t spend them to continue a quest you’ve lost or to refill your energy. Both of these are just gem-sinks for the impatient.

Zel is the standard “cash” of Brave Frontier. You’ll earn a lot of this from playing quests, and you’ll primarily spend it to fuse and evolve units, which we’ll cover in the Units Guide.

Honor Points are earned by doing things with the people on your Friends List. We’ll cover the Friends List and social elements of Brave Frontier later in the guide. You can spend it in the “Summon” menu – 200 Honor Points will give you one chance to summon a new monster. Do note, though, Honor points aren’t shown on the main UI, they’re only shown in the Summon menu.

Finally, Karma. Karma is earned, like Zel, by fighting enemies in quests. It can be spent to upgrade your Town, and also to create Spheres. Spheres will be explained in detail later in this guide, and also in the Units Guide.

Brave Frontier Guide: Energy

Brave Frontier Guide: Energy

Energy is the “limiting factor” in Brave Frontier. Without energy, you can’t take on quests. Each quest takes an amount of energy, with higher level quests requiring more energy than lower level ones. Energy recharges slowly in real-time. It can also be restored by spending Gems, or by leveling up.

Brave Frontier Guide: Gifts

You can get to the Gifts menu from the main menu by tapping the “treasure box” icon. Usually there will be a little number indicating the number of Gifts you have waiting. It’s always a good idea to grab your gifts!

Brave Frontier Guide: Gifts

Gifts are how the game gives you bonuses, usually for logging in or for compensation for game downtime. Gifts are a good way to get free Gems in Brave Frontier – just check in with the game once a day and you’re likely to start piling up the gems!

Brave Frontier Guide: The Town

Tapping the Town icon will take you into the Town view. There are several buildings here that are of great utility to Brave Frontier Summoners.

Brave Frontier Guide: Town

Some important ones to note for the early game are:

  • The Synthesis hut allows you to create new consumable items from the items you find while questing. These consumable items can be used in battle to great effect, so it always makes sense to check in here and stock up before you go monster hunting!
  • At the Items hut, you can review the items in your inventory, and select items to take with you on quests. You can take a maximum of 5 types of item, and 10 of each item with you on a quest.
  • The Spheres hut allows you to use Karma and the items you’ve collected to create stat boosting equippable items for your monsters. At first, the bonuses are pretty paltry, but the cost is also pretty low.
  • Finally, the Upgrades hut lets you spend Karma to “level up” each of the other parts of the town. This unlocks new items, spheres, and other neat goodies for the town.

Brave Frontier Tip In addition to the huts, there are also areas of the Brave Frontier town that you can tap to get free resources, like items and Karma. These spots only drop so much, but they will restock over time. It pays to check in on your town from time to time to max out these drops!

Brave Frontier Guide: Social and Friends

When you go on quests, you’ll have the option to take the leader of another party with you. These “guest” leaders are chosen from your friends list. If you don’t have enough friends, you’ll be given the option to meet someone new!

Brave Frontier FAQ Why should I make friends and use their units? Taking a friend rather than a stranger has two benefits. One, you’ll earn way more Honor Points, which means you’ll be getting Honor Summons faster. Two, you’ll get the benefit of their leader’s “leader skill.” This can make a big difference, if you have the right friends!

At the end of the quest, if you picked one of the people on the list who wasn’t already your friend, you’ll have the chance to send them a friend request.

Brave Frontier Guide: Social Gifts

From the Social menu, you can also send and receive gifts to and from your friends. You can choose from a set of purple Honor items, which can only be earned by sharing with your friends. It doesn’t cost you anything to gift stuff to your friends, so don’t be stingy!

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5 Quick Tips for Winning Marvel Puzzle Quest http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/5-quick-tips-winning-marvel-puzzle-quest/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/5-quick-tips-winning-marvel-puzzle-quest/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:53:28 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=4770 I’m still crazy addicted to Marvel Puzzle Quest! I’ve played it for countless hours at this point. In that time, I’ve come up with some Marvel Puzzle Quest strategies. In this guide, I’ll go over my top 5 quick Marvel Puzzle Quest tips for players trying to get an edge on this game!

#5: Getting the drop on your opponent

Once you get enough into Marvel Puzzle Quest that you have a set of heroes with their abilities unlocked and powered up, the game shifts away from being solely about matching tiles to do damage. Past this early stage of the game, most fights boil down into a rush to see who can charge their abilities first. My #5 quick tip for Marvel Puzzle Quest is about maximizing each and every move to generate the most AP.

With some hero teams, the game is over (or at least very nearly so) once certain abilities charge. Thus, the first half dozen turns or so are absolutely critical. How much AP you generate (and of what kinds) can make you win or lose. Boosts help here, by giving you an edge right from the start. However, you also always get the first turn to yourself, which is a major advantage in and of itself.

When the level first loads, check out the balance of the tiles on the board. Try to figure out which of your team’s abilities you’re charging first. Then, look for matches that give you as much of that AP as possible.

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dropping for Fun and Profit

It also helps to look at the board and see what tiles will move when you make your match. When you get the hang of the “physics” of the game, you’ll start to see patterns. For instance, matching a horizontal three-in-a-row is an easy way to “drop” tiles that can cascade into further matches.

Whenever you see a three in a row match that can be “dropped” to clear it, try to find a match lower on the board that will drop it into the correct position. That way, you’re getting at least double AP out of your turn.

#4: Bring balance to your force

Marvel Puzzle Quest (and, well the Puzzle Quest series in general) introduces incentives to match particular colors of gems together. My #4 top Marvel Puzzle Quest tip is about managing your roster to balance your AP utilization and power use.

Since the starting tiles are random, chances are that sometimes you’re not going to be able to charge your favorite hero abilities easily. Thus, it helps to have a backup plan. The best thing you can do is have several ways you can earn early power-moves.

This is going to require that you can make use of most, if not all, colors of AP. As heroes can have at most 3 of the 6 colors of AP for their abilities (and many have only 2 active abilities, if that…) it pays to carefully balance your roster so that you can field teams that can use every color.

This has the secondary benefit of consistent damage when matching – this makes less and less of a difference as you move into 2- and 3- star teams, where the HP counts are high enough that base tile damage isn’t super significant. Still, it’s a welcome benefit.

#3 Aim for their squishy bits, and protect your own!

In Marvel Puzzle Quest, some heroes are just naturally squishier than others. Managing targets for both teams is an important part of Marvel Puzzle Quest strategy. There isn’t a “defense” stat, really (aside from protection tiles, but you get my drift). Each hero has a different amount of hit points per level. A lot of the more powerful heroes in Marvel Puzzle Quest are glass cannons – they can dish out very helpful or powerful skills, but can’t take direct punishment for very long.

Nuke these guys first, and in the meantime try to play defensively to deny their abilities. Since these guys tend to have low HP, they go down fast and deny the enemy team the chance to use their most powerful abilities. I tend to define these “squishy” heroes as:

  • Having less than average HP
  • Having at least one fast-charging skill that:
    • can one-hit KO one of my team members
    • stuns, especially the whole team or for an extended duration
    • hits everyone on my team

The specific hero to target depends on the context. Sometimes I’ll pick a normally non-threatening hero because of the environment. For example, heroes with powerful Green moves are deadly in the Desert.

#2: Stockpiling for fun and profit

Marvel Puzzle Quest tip #2 deals with how you should spend your ISO-8, Hero Points, and what to do with Covers. When it comes to several resources that the game doles out, there’s significant advantages to leaving this stuff lying around, unused.

  • Hero Points are good to stockpile, either for slots (you can almost always use another slot) or to save for cover packs that give you an increased chance of getting a cover you need.
  • ISO-8 is good to stockpile. I wouldn’t suggest leveling up heroes you don’t plan to use soon. In some events you’ll want to dump some ISO-8 into cheap levels for new and/or temporarily buffed characters.

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Stockpiling Covers

  • Covers are good to stockpile. A cover in your queue will stay there a week, and selling it is worth a tiny, tiny amount of ISO-8. In the meantime, though, an event might start that will require a hero you don’t have in your roster. If you’ve got them in your queue, you can sell some other “flavor of the month” hero and fill that slot with the guy you need temporarily.

#1: Pick your battles

One thing that isn’t really clear to people about Marvel Puzzle Quest is that the game gets harder the more you win. Thus, my #1 Marvel Puzzle Quest tip is a guide to managing this difficulty and getting the most out of it.

Most of the events are divided into brackets. If you win a lot in a player-vs-player event, chances are you’re going to be moved up to a harder bracket the next time an event rolls around. Similarly, in the player-vs-CPU events, the more you win, the higher the levels of the enemies you have to fight against.

However, not all fights are created equal. It pays to pick your battles. I mean this in several ways:

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Max PvE Score

  • In PvE events, fight for the most points you can. Often you’ll want to grind on a PvE event to earn points towards the Progression Rewards or to bump up in tiers. The point value of missions increases over time, while the difficulty increases the more you win. Don’t bother grinding unless you’re actually making decent points!
  • In PvE events, start with the hard fights first. Sometimes you have several choices when it comes to levels to play. Since they’re only going to get harder as you win, start with the hardest ones first, and then work your way back. That way, you’re missing out on the early missions (with lower points per win) rather than the later ones if the difficulty jumps up.

Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Skipping + Victory Bonus

  • In PvP events, choose the subset of events that are worth winning, and sit towards the bottom on other events. If you grind and max out every event, when an event you really want to win comes along, you’ll be stuck in a top tier bracket and have a tough time winning. Look at the rewards for an event, and if you’re not interested, play with a weak team enough to get the cheap rewards and then move on.
  • In PvP events, don’t fight every battle. Some opponents are just too tough and not worth the measly ISO cost/bonus lost for skipping them. Don’t get squeamish about “losing” your bonus or spending a few points to get an advantage in these events. It’s a small price to pay!
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