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## Friday, 18 October 2019

### 2019年TS點評：運氣實力、缺一不可

Source: CPBLTV

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G2：尼克斯季中中四日後沒法從疲態中恢復，本場60號引導模式單一以致尼克斯沒法有效取得出局數，再加上陳晨威中外的破守備造成了一局的大屠殺。CF的人選在強攻隊型下沒有太多選擇，倒是配球策略後面經指點後有所改善。

G3：福利熊固有的一局病發作，可算是運氣不佳，除去這局邊他的表現其實不錯。可惜短期賽每次犯錯都有機會造成遺憾。

G4：兩位先發都沒有像G2/G3那樣徹底炸開，不過也只不過是多掙扎了一下而已。投手不夠用的情況下只能一直偷，一直偷意味著被打下場前一定是以失血結束。這種局面就是比偷不成的失血比較大。

LM一直偷：偷boyo的第3局、偷黃子鵬的第2局、偷王41的第2局。每次投都會出事，每次失個一兩分才換別人上來收拾殘局。

G5：紐維拉狀態極差，控球東歪西倒，投進去也是肉包。這是大家對爪爪教練團的第二個質疑：讓一個119球投手中四日是否太冒險了？或者換個問法，讓一個即將中四日的投手119球是否太冒險了？G1打到第八局還落後兩分，這樣燃燒值得嗎？紐維拉可以穩定中四日，也有能力投110-120球。但你讓他120球再中四日，還是在總冠軍賽上。這個調度真的有詳細想過嗎？

Lamigo一方雖然火牛陣是事實，但我在賽前的擔心主要是連四位先發都數不出來而要冒風險去147特攻。幸好在比數領先下LM有餘裕讓多猛先發，加上G2實際上翁承擔了先發等級的局數，這邊其實可以承受被打爆的能力比爪超出了很多。洪最後也沒有機會上來長中繼：G5的七八局誰來投都行，不過全員參與還是很重要的。只要不要像明星G7無安打擋住妹妹那種特殊狀況，讓休息充足的投手上來吃垃圾局數當然沒問題。

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Lamigo在打擊上靠G4 5拉開爪爪一大截，但其實在G4以前爪爪3/4/5的三圍是壓過LM一頭的。G4 5只能算Lamigo打開停不了下來，並沒法證明他們打線比對面高一檔次。

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P.S. 多說兩句。G5開始前投手的狀況有點15年G6前的樣子。隊上有幾位長中繼等級，可是沒有先發。正如當年雙洋將先發一樣，我認為G5也是尼+洪(翁)雙先發的安排。不過尼克斯歪歪倒倒也吃了6局，倒省去了這個麻煩。所以我們也沒機會再看一次那個傳頌萬世的跨欄……

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## Wednesday, 2 October 2019

### On Three Houses (2): Serious gameplay

Maddening accomplished, with NG of course. It took me about 100 hours, and the file shows 85 hours. That means I spent 15 hours retrying the courses. I took a very conservative approach both on the battlefield and in the academy exhausting all resources every step. I know I can go a lot faster but I didn't want to because I do not want to take the risk of retrying the whole game when I get stuck.

This, is my thought about the game from the perspective of maddening playthrough, the true difficulty for Fire Emblem fans.

- Story and plots -

I chose Golden Deer this time as my final route for the game. It really is a "true end" to me -- not only that the story is complete, informative and less painful, the final fight is also a grand one -- that is the only final stage where you do not fight layer by layer but as a whole. You are also pressurized by the frontline enemies at turn one. The collaboration among the distant artillery units are terrifying. The boss is tiny yet hard to deal with. Not to mention the opera styled BGM -- everything is perfectly set to be the final fight.

After playing all four routes the overall plot is pretty clear. Crimson flower route need some further refine on its own, which will probably happen in update 3. The other routes are pretty complete.

Some may look for further information about the distant past...I hoped for the same but you know, these kind of supplement information is never enough. Perhaps they will publish a fanbook in the future?

- Team and formation -

Due to limited resources I only recruited Doro, Sylvain, Mercedes and Ingrid this run. Doro became my dancer, Sylvain is a free recruit as well as a powerful axe wyvern (although everyone went to shoot arrows anyway), and Ingrid should be a dexterous falcon knight...except that her strength growth is horribly low in my run that she never became more than a chipping unit. Mercedes for her fortify, of course.

With the 4 recruits that completes my team of 12+1 for the final fight, where I usually drop Leonie because her dexterity never get to the point where she can steadily kill. For most battles in front where you can only use 10 units, the 3 lowest leveled units will follow the healers as adjuncts and absorb exp points from them.

I tried to exhaust the healing capabilities a bit. Marianne, Lys, Doro, Mercedes and even Lorenz and Byleth are overleveled due to constant healing. That also left the rest of the units enough opponents to kill. At the end, the mages are around level 60+, Lorenz and Byleth are around level 55, and the physical units are about the recommended level (42-44).

- Tactics -

Everyone use bows and curved shots. Fliers may use close range weapons but really they just utilize curved bows and the canto ability to hit back and forth. In maddening you cannot really afford to go deep into the danger radius because everything doubles you, even with weapon breaker disadvantage.

But what hurts the most (other than Lys bomber) is the two 5-range units: Ignatz and Lorenz. Ignatz's hit+20 inherited skill allow us to build him in a super offensive way so that he can crit at will while still having a reliable accuracy even against assassins. Lorenz meanwhile, can fire up to 40-50 spells 5 grids away. This is perfect when you want to take down a particular unit in the opponent formation that will trigger the rest. 5 range attack also penetrates most walls so that allows you to do lots of unintended attacks.

In the Shamblala map, my team got stuck in the left-bottom corner when the 3 or 4 titans were trying to go through the gates. I stopped them by placing Raphael (but he still get critted twice for 15x2 at a crit rate of 15%) and ingrid up front, but these two are not good enough to handle 400 HP+ titans. What I did is to use curved shots to break a barrier on the titans, then Ignatz-Doro combo will produce 200+ damage on their own, every turn.

I did the same for Lorenz and even Marianne (as a holy knight), but Marianne is more like a magical tank - she easily take doubles with the white magic that heals upon damaging the opponent.

Lys and Byleth, can of course kill enemies at will, but I tend not to use them unless it's necessary. I enjoyed defeating the opponent without using these two too much. Although I defeated almost every non-generic characters by Lys (except for Nemesis), including Death Knights of course.

- Difficulty -

Maddening is for those who carve for a challenge -- the sentence accurately described the difficulty of maddening. It is challenging. It requires you to think and execute carefully every step, as well as hoping for reasonable luck in order to proceed.

Regardless of your endgame plans, the gameplay is similar for everyone at least in the first 6 chapters where you only have 1 battle points and very limited activity points. These chapters are really tricky and every reinforcement will catch you off guard.

I started to get frustrated on the second encounter with death knight. I used to finish the stage nice and slow but we have a 25 turn restriction this time. That forces you do be aggressive against opponents that are far stronger than you. Mages on avo floor is really a pain when your entire team missed hitting them. But this stage is also the time when Ignatz started to shine. His 4-range shots accurately clears the DK room and prevents the bloodleash.

After that everything changed because I know have 2 battle points. I started taking bandits after bandits, and finally I can clear the main quests in an easier way.

But not the reunion at dawn.

I didn't train Byleth seriously before time-skip, so that stage took me forever even with enough speed...It's Claude's gambit saved me, but I would be more pleased if he didn't take me out to do the battle with just 2 units.

In general, the exp mod forces you to really focus on units that barely forms a team. Further exp penalty causes most physical units to be of level similar to the recommened one, and at that level, fighting is really challenging due to hit rate and speed. It's more painful in the beginning because opponents having no specific classes means they are better than you all-roundedly. Later in the game the enemies are diversified meaning that you can kill them with proper tactics.

The two extra skills - pass and poison strike are good additionals to the difficulty. They require some extra thoughts to deal with in a reasonable way. Pass forces you to create compact formation retaining a correct distance from the opponent. It is less of a threat late in the game because you can utilize gambits and fliers to avoid having a solid frontline, so being able to pass do not create any harm. Poison strike on the other hand is still a threat late in the game, because that means you cannot tank infinitely many units by a single armor unit anymore. You will need to be careful when placing your tank by such.

- Mechanics in higher difficulty -

Looking back on what I said after playing normal and hard, it's time to review whether these comments hold anymore in maddening.

1) Weapon triangle: weapon breaker skills is essentially a weak weapon triangle, so weak to the point that does not affect your choice of weapons. Think about how you deal with those endgame physical units:

Sword - thieves and assassins. Due to their pass skills, you are forced to hold your line and kill them using multiple units. Lance units with swordbreaker may increase the accuracy a bit, but at close range mage and archers would work better.

Lance - well, where are all the cavalry units?

Axe - those are simply free kills. With enough dexterity most units are capable of dealing with them.

With everyone using their bows more than any other close range weapons, the discrepancies among the three weapons are weaker than ever.

2) Class meta: The class meta shifted further to distant attackers since you get doubled for every close combat, and dexterous units does not create enough damage (like my poor Ingrid). Ineffective classes remains ineffective, except for mage knights equipped with extra range tools. But for the rest like war master and dark mages...we just can't afford to choose those.

3) Maddening+: so...what should we expect in the fourth difficulty? There is no further news about this difficulty yet. Something looks like that appears in the fourth DLC but it's a side quest. Stat boosts on the enemy as well as the exp penalty is already harsh enough so that it's hard to expect further modification on this part.

Instead, changes should be made on the finest details -- so that players would optimizes themselves to the finest as well. These may include:
- a different AI that takes a mixed strategy between being stationary and aggressive, cares more on formation and harder to be baited
- restriction to physic and fortify uses
- reduce level cap to 50

After playing all 4 routes, I believe 50 is sufficient for everyone. We can modify the exp curve - lift the penalty below the recommended level and increase the penalty above the recommended level. By removing the unpenalized exp gain from dance and healing, the game become less grindy -- we can do less auxiliary battles and fish less (although Flayn would be sad), but you can utilize a team up to a certain level in the main quest without much effort. And that "certain level" is the intended strength of the team in which the developer wants you to clear the stage with.

But well, I am not going to do the highest difficulty if it ever comes out, with New Game. And not even New Game+, because it has taken too much time from me. I would rather play harvest moon in October. If I come back for Three Houses again, it is probably for Sauna, new stories and new characters...

- Elements missed -

I may not write anything further about the game (because it would have to be something related to the plots, but I am not ready to sort out the whole story. So I would like to conclude my review with a list of traditional FE elements that is missed in three houses:

- weapon triangle, of course.
- fixed but more diversified grow path
- advanced class with less movement restriction
- more talk options and ability to talk/recruit enemies
- villages and villagers
- pair up and rescue options
- ...

I know some of them does not fir into this game, but still I am hoping for something similar in the next franchise.

## Friday, 30 August 2019

### Thoughts on Fire Emblem Three Houses (1): core mechanics

I decided to use this picture so as not to post any endgame spoilers. But it seems like this picture is also kind of a spoiler...

Three Houses for FEH fans, of course. Clearly FEH gives great attention as well as financial support to the development of the game. Before even going into the game you can tell that the game is a sincere one. I had no choice but to start playing since July 26 and as a result I almost abandoned FEH, stopped daily bonus streak in neopets...but that's totally worth it. I am satisfied with the game, the first mainline FE franchise I played since the three GBA-era games.

I finished 3 of the 4 routes and that takes me 145 hours -- 60 for the first route, 30 for the second route (that branched from the first halfway through), and 55 for the third route (via new game+). The first route is done in normal casual and that is really, really easy in FE standard. The third route done in hard classic is more of the expected normal difficulty, and is very fun to play.

Fire Emblem has evolved from a pure RPG-battle game into a game with huge amount of character interaction in various forms -- support system, academy, gifts and tea party and so on. The ~20 main quests should take a good FE player no more than 15 hours of gameplay, but the extra auxillary battles and the school exploration time takes a large portion of gameplay as well. If you skip everything and purely focus on numeric battles one can possibly finish the game in 25 hours, but that would be a huge waste because everything is well-designed to enrich the world of Three Houses.

And because of the vast amount of material that I can talk about the game I want to be kind of selective: I want to compare what I used to (old FE, FEH) and Three Houses since this is not covered in mainstream reviews (which is for everyone). Somewhere in the future I may also write something general about the game: plots, arts, characters and so on.

But before discussing any game mechanism, I want to stress that the importance of a certain mechanism is not absolute -- it depends on the difficulty of the game. The easier the game is, the larger flexibility players are given to not optimize things. In higher difficulties some mechanism may become crucial or even become the meta because if you do not do a certain action the rest of the game would be much more difficult. One example is having the glass cannon Lysithea in the game -- her unique set of black magic plus monster-effective white magic is such a nuke weapon in the game.

Similar argument simply applies to FEH as well. In arena we care about merges because it's the one or two points difference that determines the winner. I do not believe that -- I always believe that wise movements are more important except that characters with higher stats actually yield a higher score. Another example is the Legendary Hero Battles: in lower difficulty you can bring in your favourite team but for abyssal difficulty you have to either bring a well discussed meta team, an extremely specifically designed team on walkthrough, or something really spectacular to pass the stage. The over-inflated stats and skills leave basically no space for someone to experiment with.

The term flexibility sometimes does not only apply to strategical flexibility, but also flexibility in terms of space. The maps in three houses are in general very big comparing to the past. Not only that allows greater leniency for players to give commands, but that also lowers the difficulty quite a lot. (Think about the 2x3 hidden rooms in the final fights in blazing blade!) That accounts partially to why three houses is easy in FE standard.

But enough talking. Let's start with mechanism that are changed in three houses.

- Weapon triangle and class system -

The removal of the triangle is certainly a big change -- it lowers the complexity of matchup consideration so that the game is more accessible to new gamers. And of course, it allows characters to yield their favourite weapons, which is cool after all.

But for hardcore FE players, decision making became straightforward and less interesting because of the changes. The most significant change is that, the choice of weapon is now heavily dependent on the choice of the moving type.

Unlike 2-steps class system in the past, there are now 5 steps: "class-less" (commoner and noble), beginner (lv 5), intermediate (lv 10), advanced (lv 20) and master (lv 30). Since master classes the highest stat growth bonuses we shall assume characters are trained for at least one master class.

But that's where the problem is: the choice of weapon is then heavily relying on the moving type.

With the removal of the weapon triangle the melee weapons became more or less the same. We train a particular kind of melee weapon just because it suits the career path that we planned.

Just think about how we characterize the three weapons:

Sword: high crit, speed, pegasus or mortal servant
Lance: balanced, knight and fliers
Axe: high atk, armored or wyvern

But...without the triangle but with the master class restrictions, specializing in the right weapon seemed to be more important than what they are actually good at, because that is not going to make a great difference.

The only consideration is crit rate because the crit rate for swordmasters and snipers are terribly high so I have a tendency to push everyone to use sword, and those who are not compatible with sword will go into the lance path -- fliers or knights. And for axe? We don't need warriors and war masters thank you. There are a few characters that go well with armored knights, but they ended up using lances anyway because they received knight training anyway...

On the melee side weapons can be freely used given the proficiency rank, but this is another story on the magic side. There are only a few classes who can use magic even if units already learned such magic -- this is so weird. Are there anything stopping them from casting magic while wearing as a non-magician?

With such restriction naturally magicians really focus on magic and melee units should not bother about magic at all. Unfortunately master classes force you to do a mixed training. Just...why? Such requirement raises the difficulty of breeding a unit into master class and that seemed to contradict with the overall idea to make the game more accessible, or are they treat master classes as something not to be reached by new players? It's already hard enough to train a magical unit into holy/dark knight, but it's even harder to train a sword unit into mortal servant because their magic are of limited use even at the later stage. 8/8 fire plus 4/4 thoron means you can only train your reason rank 12 times before you have to go back to melee weapons.

I should also mention that the anima-holy-dark triangle is also gone. Given that dark and anima are merged into reason class anyway the removal is not very surprising. It's not even impactful because it is much less often that we have magical duels in three houses anyway. Just a small observation to put here.

- Non-infantry units -

There are three non-infantry movement types: armored, fliers and cavalries. There aren't many master classes available:

Cavalry: Bow/holy/dark knight, (great knight)
Armored: Great knight
Flier: Pegasus, Wyvern

Despite the the lack of magical classes for fliers, these master classes are quite strong and provides great tactical flexibility. Fliers (both pegasus and wyvern) are already the best classes around. The three ranged cavalry classes, in particular bow knights, are really good at producing damages without getting hit. Great knights meanwhile, well, are really strong in close combat.

In three houses we can no longer rescue other units but cavalry and flier units can now unmount to mock as infantry units, but that provides little or no tactical variety after all.

In practice we almost never unmount fliers because fliers receive no movement penalties, but at the same time they do not receive tile bonuses which is alright -- they can avoid lethal damages by canto skill anyway.

Calvary movement is seriously affected by desert and forest tiles. Most main battles happened in cities so that cavalries are not affected anyway. There are desert and forest based maps for auxiliary battles but since these are of lower difficulty it won't cause much problem especially with the help of divine pulses.

Perhaps the only reason for me to unmount is to cooperate with auto-battle, where cavalry and flier units often advance too far ahead and get defeated. By unmounting them we can make sure units are moving at a similar pace, so that they can fight effectively as a pack.

If they are to develop more on auto-battle strategies, they should really add another option where units advance and attack in a way they are still united. This is even less aggressive than 'focus' but still an attacking one.

- Divine Pulse and difficulty-

That's of course a quality of life improvement - it saves you from resetting the game that you already spent 45 minutes just ruined by an unexpected crit or AI movement beyond the static danger area. It allows players to experiment to slightly more aggressive tactics without having to push towards the limit bit by bit.

We all know from FEH that auto battle is unreliable at times, this is even more of a problem in three houses due to the difference in range of movement. Even with the 'focus' auto battle option, we often found our cavalry healer rushing onto the front line...and pathetically defeated. With divine pulse we can always go back and manually fix the decision made by these headless units then proceed to auto battle again. That compresses the time required for auxiliary battles to just a few minutes.

We have so many distinctive features for players to explore in the game, and spending time repeating the same fight is not the most interesting one -- going through battles at maximum speed really hurts your thumb (the second most tedious thing in the game, next to fishing). So allowing players to skip that part of the game is not bad after all. The game alone is already a 200+ hours masterpiece already -- we don't need something excessive to buff the time needed to clear the game further.

Some say that three houses is easier just because of divine pulse, but this is not entirely true. We can easily list a few difference between three houses and the old FE games showing that the game was made easier:

- extra auxiliary battles to grind the levels
- fewer opponent with a commander' level stat, in particular those generic commander enemies
- fewer forced time constraints
- flexible mount/unmount option
- charges for physics and fortify resets every battle
- less compact maps
- ineffective level cap
- higher weapons easily accessible at unlimited quantity
- legendary weapons made in mass, and the crests...

Level cap is perhaps one of the biggest concern in the past. You have to breed your characters properly before level 40 (20+20) so that the stat growth will not go to waste.

In three houses the level cap is 99...which is totally out of my surprise. When I completed my first lap with Ed (which is the shortest route), I was expecting the level cap to be 40...but no. I was allowed to keep leveling. When I then proceed to Dimitri route I was expecting the level cap to be 50, but that's again not the case.

Level cap is playing a vital role in FE because it prevents overpowered units by pouring most resources onto one or a few units. It forces you to think about growth rate and skill combos, which is the deepest FE theory in some sense. Without the level cap one may just tank everything by creating an over-leveled unit, and this is not interesting.

But well, since we admitted that their normal is actually the FE easy' and their hard is FE hard', shall we expect a more cruel ruleset in Maddening(lunatic+)? There is no need to give distant counter to every unit and make disgusting skill combos like FEH legendary hero battles...just cap the level at 40 and I am sure players will be crying at later stages.

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At the end I should again stress that comments on the mechanism might change vastly against different difficulties. I look forward to the updates for lunatic and maddening difficulties, so that I can complete Claude route as well, before Harvest Moon comes out...

## Wednesday, 14 August 2019

### Yoshi's crafted world: not for 100% run players

A late review on the Yoshi's crafted world as one of the iconic Nintendo game made for switch. I am so obsessed with Yoshi's island 1 and 2 so is no way that I would miss that.

First, why Yoshi and what's my expectation?

Yoshi became popular due to the great success of the Super Mario World so it gets a spinoff game that is also a 2D platformer but with some twist.

Yoshi's island encourages exploration by introducing non-linear stages and collectibles - flowers and red coins. Exploration can be done by either Yoshi itself or the eggs. Yoshi has a slightly more Jiggling physics comparing with Mario who is designed to run. This is the core mechanics of the Yoshi series.

Yoshi's Island is heavily praised for its vast variety of enemy (and enemy physics). The enemy showroom in Yoshi's island is such a fantastic idea especially when you can interact with them.

As for someone who loved Yoshi's islands, I am expecting a sequel that preserves the standing-out designs from the past while entertaining modern players at the same time. So, am I satisfied of the game?

Well, yes and no.

From the artistic point of view this is another success -- from wool to cardboard based Yoshi you can clearly feel the Nintendo style behind. Every single stage is unique in its enemy and even game mechanism. By advancing in the stage you gradually understand how things work and solve the incoming puzzles.

This is however, not a strictly positive comment. Just as IGN said, "but it's a bummer that even the best ideas are rarely ever revisited later". Since every stage is unique on its own, that means we are not going to see integrated stages featuring multiple mechanics. I can understand the situation in a sense that the themes of even neighboring stages differ too much to be integrated, but this should not be a hard thing to amend.

The integration of multiple mechanism is one of my favourite in Yoshi's island -- we have 3 ordinary stages, then 1 castle (x-4 and x-8) stage where we have mechanics from the last 3 stages but also something new. The castle itself is already fun with the maze design, and even more interesting with these integration. And that brings us to the next point.

Game stages are largely linear. This is of course not a rare thing  among 2D platformers, but Yoshi's crated world is particularly linear  due to the flippable design. By such we have an obvious direction to clear the stage, and also a clear hint to collect hidden items -- just look for the opposite direction.

While individual stages are too linear, the stage sequence is non-linear. One may somehow divide the game into 5 worlds, where you have access to world 2, 3 and 4 simultaneously. But that also means world 2, 3 and 4 are of similar difficulty -- which are all far too easy. Even world 5 is unbelievably easy. But then you suddenly get 3 unforgiving extra stages -- the big difficulty gap is kind of annoying. Why would you introduce instant death rules in the extra stages while the players are not well-equipped for them by clearing the game? If you look at extra stages in Yoshi's island the first 5 extra stages are a bit harder than their respective main boss stage (x-8), while 6-E is pure hell. With proper difficulty progression from x-1 to x-8 in each world, the corresponding extra stage gives a reasonable challenge for those who mastered the previous contents. But in Yoshi's crafted world we only get thse after clearing the whole game, and they are notoriously hard comparing to the rest.

Finishing the 3 extra stages is just the easiest part for those who aim to collect all flowers...I say the easiest not because it's technically the easiest, but this is kind of a new content that you are happy to clear it.

And there are contents that you are not happy to clear.

Flip-side. Oh yes, flip side. Great artistic concept but has a down side on gameplay, Finding puppies is a nice idea (and the pups are fun to play with), but this is technically easy throughout (especially with the sound turned on) hence less attractive for experienced players.

Then you have the find items quest...which is the worse thing in the game. Extremely boring and forces you to play the stage multiple times and wasting so much time looking at every corner. I appreciate the game art, but it is not necessary for me to check every detail. Right? You cannot even access to those quest before clearing the stage, and you can only do one quest at a time, meaning that you have to play stages multiple times even if you managed to find all quest items on the first run. Staged are played like at least 4-5 times in order for one to find all items, and this is pure redundant.

Boss stages...very fun bosses, but I would rather have a complete boss stage, or just a themed castle before the boss. Boss fight is of moderate difficulty but the boss challenges are really hard. That brings us back to the point where the difficulty gap is huge. Of course this is less of a problm because players shoud have already cleared the game for at least once. The time limit gives zero-tolerance to any error that delays the cycle, but it makes the battles a lot more interesting. To meet the time requirement you need to push back even further, so that you have rooms for minor mistakes when you misses some other parts of the challenge.

Costumes. I take it as a quality of life improvement from the 30 seconds count where you do not need to restart the whole stage after making mistakes. Most super rare costumes are very cool -- that's a plus for the game. My favourite is the raven one, probably because raven appeared Yoshi's island too. (Yoshi's island 5-8 is one of the best stages ever made...)

One last thing that I must say -- most score-based stages is uniquely fun, EXCEPT for one, the go-go Yoshi. While being cute and fun, that thing is surprisingly hard to control precisely (I found using the left d-pad gives more accurate control), and the score requirement is damn high -- and that is in the middle of world 1! It also comes back to haunt you in the Kamek boss -- pretty sure many of you failed to clear the stage within time limit just because you missed a single punch in the final Kamek form...

To conclude, Yoshi's crafted world is an amazing game who gives great art and good first-time experience. But it lacks the design to serve experienced players properly. Even worse it frustrates completionists in many way.

Verdict: 7.1/10
Game time: 20 hours for any%, 40-60 hours for 100%

## Thursday, 25 July 2019

### MSN minesweeper revisited (in 2019)

I have expressed numerous time my love on the MSN minesweeper...and now it is back online. It is a pity the mienfield was down without any support...but hopefully this is going to last longer.

So here this is a question related to the grid efficiency in MSN minesweeper.

$\begin{matrix} \square & \square & B_1 & B_2 & B_3 & \square & \square\\ \cdots & 1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & \cdots \\ \cdots & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & \cdots \end{matrix}$

Suppose that you have a line of 1s along a long enough edge (basically you do not get any information from the two endpoints of the edge), then at any of the 1s, the chance of a mine appearing on a random grid should be 1/3...or is it?

Assume that the universal distribution is uniform. I.e. that is an equal chance of getting any of the $C^n_r$ many combinations (ignoring the corner rule since it is less relevant). Similarly without further hints, if we have n remaining unrevealed grids and r remaining mines, then the number of possible combinations is again $C^n_r$.

Out of the formula there is one single variable that varies with actual config - the number of remaining mines depends on the length of the edge modulo 3. Let $r_i$ be the remaining mines count after revealing the row given the configuration $B_i$. Then

$P(B_i) = \frac{C^n_{r_i}}{\sum C^n _{r_k}}$

If the number of mines to be revealed is independent of the configuration then we can conclude that the chance are equal. Otherwise we can compare the binomial terms:

$C^n_{r+1} = C^n_r \frac{n-r-1}{r+1}$

The usual ratio between grids and mines is 5:1 -- but that varies greatly depending on the given situation. In particular there are loads of 1s and 0s in our example, which boosts the ratio greatly. At the ratio of 2:1 the increase of mines would not increase the likelihood of the evisceration, but of course such ratio is unrealistic in a minesweeper setup, so we can say that the configuration that the configuration that leads to less mines on the row, is more likely.

One may raise the question: shouldn't the equilibrium happens at 3:1 instead of 2:1, from a likelihood perspective? We can visualize the likelihood approach by the following problem.

In a box there are $n$ balls, in which $r\approx n/x$ are white, and the rest are black. (i.e., the ratio between balls and white balls is $x:1$). Suppose we draw $\alpha$ balls out of it and we want to compare the chance of having $\beta \approx \alpha /3$ or $\beta +1$ white balls in the draw. If we want the chance between the two events to be comparable:

$\frac{C^{n-\alpha}_{r-\beta}C^{\alpha}_{\beta}}{C^{n-\alpha}_{r-\beta-1}C^{\alpha}_{\beta +1}} = \frac{(n-\alpha-(r-\beta))(\beta +1)}{(r-\beta)(\alpha -\beta-1)} \approx \frac{1}{2} \frac{n-\alpha - (r-\beta)}{r-\beta} = 1$

That gives $n-\alpha \approx 3(r-\beta)$, or $n \approx 3r$.

In our problem however, the term $C^{\alpha}_{\beta}$ does not exist, because we do not take the full combination within the balls drawn. In other words, we do not allow orders like

BBBWWWWWW
BBWWBWWWW
BWWWWWWBB...

The three only allowed scenarios are

BWWBWWBWW
WBWWBWWBW
WWBWWBWWB

Once we fixed that in our formula, similar calculations yield $n\approx 2r$, instead of $3r$.

*

Of course there is no such 'infinite edge' in minesweeper. The endpoints is definitely giving extra information unless it looks like the following:

$\begin{matrix} \square & \square & \square & \square & \square & \square & \square & \square & \square\\ \square & 1 & 1 & 1 & \cdots & 1 & 1 & 1 & \square\\ \square & 1 & 0 & 0 & \cdots & 0 & 0 & 1 & \square\\ \square & 1 & 0 & 0 & \cdots & 0 & 0 & 1 & \square\\ \square & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \square \end{matrix}$

Any extra information would impose extra difficulty on these kind of analyses, but I am here to give some primary idea on what's happening.

To give an application, consider the following example. I said on my twitter that red made a bad move:

The reason behind is simple. There is only [something between 1/4 and 1/2] chance that the grid contains a mine. On the other hand if it does not the opponent gets a free flag immediately with everything else remains the same.

But...is it possible to calculate the exact chance? Yes, and this is not hard at all: this is a 16x16 board with 51 mines. The shown area is the only revealed portion. To calculate the probability we list the few only scenarios then the chance follows by the binomial coefficients.

## Tuesday, 23 July 2019

### Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Rokkr Sieges

Back to something casual...Fire Emblem. Surely quite a lot happened since last time I wrote about FE and now it is a good time to talk about that again, since Three Houses is coming soon.

Well what should I expect? Unfortunately it's very hard for me to make a fair comment because I have not played the main franchise since the GBA era, a time where skills did not exist and information was sacrce because you didn't know Japanese back in the days...But FEH players should beware of the vast difference between playing FEH and the main franchise.

In FEH the key word is competitiveness. We keep facing stronger and stronger metas and we need to use the same team to work around it (unless you spend heavily). When you use more or less the same team against the opponent, what brings you victories is either the tiny bit of stat difference, or a well-desgined tactic which after all tricks the AI.

In the main franchise it is a totally different story. You are not really fighting in the fair setup -- instead of a 4v4 battle you are doing a 15v50 battle in a well designed stage where you are expected to solve the puzzle bit by bit. Restrictions are kind of loosened but you often ended up putting soft restirctions on yourself: units can be "killed" without failing the stage, but you want to unlock all stories. Time limit is less of a problem but you want to get all secret items and recruit hidden characters...the flexibility is much higher but the difficulty can be no less than what we have met in FEH. The most important bit is, you need to know how to work with a complete army, instread of your precious 4 units.

But yeah I can't wait further for the game. And I am going for Edgelord. Based on the official tease and FEH unit intro she's gotta have an interesting story behind.

*

Back to FEH we now have two more game modes which I also want to talk about.

- Alligence battle -

Interesting concept, but competitiveness forces the highest difficulty and hence very tense and allows very limited unit choices. It's also very luck based when you are not using a DC/CC based team, then you will have to play multiple times to get a high enough score.

But the reward is kind of reasonable - taking 900 as the threshold, the effort required to climb above 900 is hard but not very rewarding, while scoring a 860 is of moderate difficulty. I believe a large portion of the players are settled to the casually playing state on this mode.

- Rokkr Siege -

The opposite of the alligence battle. Fun, promotes casual play and allows huge flexibility. The three difficulty means you can score quite a lot without getting into trouble, and the score cap means you do not need to strike for the optimal. For sure the reward is not the most attractive but 10k feather is still 10k feather and I will take it.

In the discord channel we have seen many different setups, but today I want to talk about my setup.

Three features about the dynamax (taking a lesson from the shitty pokemon sword&shield -- that's another story for another day) boss:
1) Swaps upon special proc
2) AOE damage upon special proc
3) Always counterattack creating non-zero damage

If you are taking lower difficulties, damage is not a problem and you can deploy simple means of recovery to overcome the damage like recover 3, or breath of life. In advanced however, you will either need to stop special from processing, or use a strong means of healing, like using a staff or heal based moves.

Swapping means your defense tiles will then be occupied by the boss, or that the boss will escape from your lineup. In lower difficulty, it is hard to hit the score cap just because the multiplier is too low, so stragety that adapts swapping is essential if we want to hit the score cap, especially if we are fighting cavalries.

With that being said, to tackle lower difficulties steadily you would like to:
- mobility to tackle swapping
- minimum healing power

And to tackle the advanced difficulty you would like to:
- much stronger healing
- ability to take down generic enemies
- not necessary to keep a full team to the end; in fact it would be easier to finish the battle within 5 or 6 turns with some units defeated

Some like to use tank units with guard and healing special to lock down the boss, but without enough merging it is hard to hit the score cap. Don't forget that special fighter and guard are both premium skills and quite costly to inherit (if you do not use to do that).

Another problem with guard is the 70% HP requirement which is hard to maintain during enemy phase. My brave sword guard DC Ayra strategy failed miserably -- not to mention that such build is so impractical in PVP battles.

So with my newly merged +10 Catria, I had an idea. A lesson taken from my Cherche.

The setup is basically dancer + flying healer (witchy hand) + 2 fliers

Dancer - Partial tank, need to tank attacks with triangle disadvantage

Olivia in my case
A - Atk/Def Bond 3
B - Wings of Mercy 3
C - Hone Atk 4 [flexible C-skill or depends on your flier performance]
S - Atk/Def Bond 3

L!Azura is of course a perfect choice for fliers, but she cannot tank physical attacks and you may not have enough Iote shields.

Flying healer - putting guard effect on enemy

HS!Sakura [with H!Mia inherited]
A - Iote shield [use something else if you have it on the S-slot]
B - Live to serve 3
C - Hone fliers [spur buffs are also preferred, since the units may move around]
S - Breath of life 3

Fliers - to block boss on one quadrant and DPS
Units depends on the color of enemy but they should be brave based with galeforce. Without galeforce we can steadily hit the cap in 5 turns. It is suggested to bring at least one galeforce flier. If you do not have galeforce, sol is a temporary solution.

Standard builds:
Weapon - Brave weapon [or amiti / whitewing weapons]
Special - Galeforce / Sol
A - Iote shield / Swift sparrow / Death blow / Life and death
B - Seal atk / seal def
C - Ward fliers
S - Iote shield / defensive based seals

We start by blocking the boss on one of the quadrant - attacking is of second priority because we have enough time. It is important to keep the right formation to keep things predictable.
(1): Cherche to destory the wall
(2): Sakura to attack so as to reset the special cooldown
(3): Catria attacks [quad attack due to whitewing effect] 3 times [galeforce + dancing]

If we are fighting close attack bosses then it's not going to move but otherwise the boss may move by a grid, then we have to reform. We first move the unit to facilitate Sakura - remember that when you are using Brave weapons, a second attack would trigger boss' special so we must use Sakura before the second attack.

Here Sonya moved up a grid.
(1): Cherche moved up and attack [galeforce activated so that she looks active again]
(2): Sakura goes up to attack
(3): Catria and Olivia go up accordingly

It is important to deal with other generic enemies. That's the advantage of using galeforce -- we wait until they approach the fliers and attack, within the attack range the two fliers can kill the enemy then going back to the original position without further dancing. The dancer is also expected to be capable to kill most non-armor enemy by floating around.

It is relatively easy to lock the boss using this strategy, unless it's cavalry distant boss -- then we will need to carefully corner her.

The theoretical limit is 6.5 mil points. I somehow used 2 crests in the first round, so this is a pretty good score. It's definitely not a very rewarding act, yet this is a fun mode to play.

*

Oh and the Three Houses banner is out. Bitybroken by Chrom I spent 400 orbs to get Edgelord and Byleth. Now I am not prepared for Ayra revival...

## Monday, 22 July 2019

### 夢．十夜 (3) The Arena Mode

「美麗動人的小姐，很榮幸可以再次見到您。今天需要我來介紹嗎？」一把熟悉的聲音從後傳來。我扭頭向後望，遊戲「愛麗絲與魔法之國」的男主雷伊就在身後。

「抱歉……你能不能被我俘獲？」

「！！」

「聽說你這個月一直在玩喔，上次活動也衝進7000位了，每天不玩個八小時基本上摸不到這個排名吧？」少年依舊「微笑」著，慢慢把臉湊過來：「我想，應該不會只為了拿到登入獎勵就這麼拼吧？」比起少年的問句，我開始感受到後面「愛麗絲」們兇狠的目光……應該是在想一會到底怎樣才能拿到這樣的殺必死吧。嗯，一定是這樣沒錯。

「我才沒有玩……喂你湊太近了啦！」我連忙抗議道：「玩這麼一個月甚麼鳥蛋六星都沒有抽到，我都快要放棄了……這種超弱玩家還是找來打活動只會拖後腿吧？還有你……過來是打工的還是來泡妹的？你看後面的太太們都快要暴動了哦。」

「嘛，我是特約過來cosplay的。這種事情我又不管，誰叫我長得這麼帥呢。」少年還是掛著「微笑」表情，他的帥氣笑容自信到要溢出來了：「與其看到我跟你玩會吃醋，不如說愛麗絲們下次光臨也有機會這樣互動呢……好啦，在我去應付其他太太們之前，可以請你點些甚麼嗎？今天點這幾個特調飲品的話可以抽遊戲精品回去喔。」他忽然湊到我耳邊說話，射我身上的殺氣變得更重了：「Alex他們又想找你一起打活動，在群組裡沒看到你回應只好讓我來問你了。今晚八點以後可以回來這邊等我嗎？正好這裡附近有家不錯的餐廳值得一試喔。」

「好、好啦！我叫點東西就是了！別來煩我，你去處理其他客人啦！我要這個！」我隨手拿起菜單一指，剛好是「雷伊小貓屋熱朱古力」。

「好哦～來一杯雷伊熱朱古力～」他居然直接對廚房喊了起來。等等只有拉麵屋才會這樣叫吧？！？

*

「都錯了，」對對對，我就是想看你的CG「警訝」表情。我禁不住揚起的嘴角應道：「我打jubeat打到手痛，剛好發現時間差不多才回來等你的。」

「至少你真的回來等我，這樣我就不用在西餐廳裡獨自用餐啊。我們先走過去吧？再晚一點的話可能沒有位子了哦。」

*

「別小看這裡生意一般，做出來的菜品可是十分正宗，只是跟一堆廉價快餐排在一起身價被拉低不少。」他很快點了幾道菜又把菜單還了回去：「先試試這幾個吧。不夠的話等下加點或者下去掃小吃就好了。」

「誰要跟你增進感情……」「我說是作為同一陣線的玩家情誼啦。當然你另有所指也可以……」

PVP這邊比較有趣。所有人都是固定每十分鐘可以挑戰一次，對手全是PVP排名附近的玩家。匹配相近玩家的用意就是將玩家按本身的硬實力進行排名，底子不夠強的玩家早期衝上去也只會因為不敵上級玩家而漸漸滑落，而老手玩家再怎樣休閒打也可以慢慢爬上去。

「基本上是這樣。不過有一群非重課玩家會在PVP從頭衝到尾然後互相匹配以避免被土豪隊屠殺。這個方法雖然不一定成功，但也算是不課金的最優解了。不過要跟上他們的話從一開始就要全力打，晚了的就會被他們拉開沒辦法抱大腿了。他們基本上都要24小時待命，只要失手個一兩次就掉下去了。實際上能待到最後的人都是少之又少，這就是所謂的『次元之壁』喔。」

「既然如此，我們自己製造可以互抱大腿的區間就好了嗎？」

「誒？」

「把我們公會的人聚集起來，讓大家的分數保持在同一個區間裡。每次大家要互刷時才把防守隊換成弱隊，這樣就不難刷勝場數了。分數區間最好比次元之壁低一截，這樣可以減低被頂尖玩家發現的風險。不過這樣勝場數可能不夠拿最高的排名賞呢，這方面可能要用過去的分數線去預測一下。不過這個活動不能回體也不耗時間，分數線相當穩定呢。要估算分數線的話大概在活動前半就能有個底了。」

「嗯……不清楚呢，視乎匹配到自己人的難度吧。如果是我們公會出人的話四五個人試試看？那邊應該也有人想刷活動的吧，人太多的話自然掉隊就好了呢。」

「好，我現在就叫他們。」卡羅放下半塊曲奇浮在上面的熱咖啡，然後拿出手機放在餐桌上。晚飯過後的群組裡相當熱鬧，大家都在討論接下來的活動。裡面有我已經認識的Alex、阿飛跟小雨，更多的是我從沒聽過的玩家。

Lampbear：「是新人玩家嗎？快點拉進群裡吧(ﾟ∀ﾟ)」是沒看過的玩家呢，先叫她熊熊好了。

Sora：「這張要PVP前一百才能拿到喔，相當的不容易呢。」

Sora：「好像很有趣的樣子，我也來幫忙吧。」

「都那麼晚了，一個女生去機廳還是很危險的。讓我陪你去吧。」

*

「搜查官」戴娜

「案件，處理完畢。」

*

「按照計劃，我們團隊的人也順利進到前一百名裡面。我們三個的排名是86、89和90名。門檻比上次高了不少。」

「嗯，很正常，這遊戲還在高速發展期吧。」

「六星排名那張我們叫價250瓶水還沒賣出去。不過市場上的賣家不多，這張卡又萌又好用，我覺得賣出去是遲早的事。」

「沒關係，這張賣不出給兄弟們掛在首頁也可以，錢我補貼就好了。」

「比較有趣的是，我們似乎注意到有其他成功刷勝場數的玩家。」

「嗯？」肥宅第一次停下手遊操作望向屏幕。

Skype的另一端是一位銀髮少女，寬鬆的T恤並沒法掩飾她玲瓏有致的身材。似乎是料到對面會對這個消息感興趣一般，她微微一笑，放慢將接下來的情報道出：「我們在匹配不到自己人時打過不少其他附近的玩家，其中有兩次對到送分的防守配置。」

「那你有調查過這兩個玩家的背景嗎？」

「有，」少女笑得更燦爛了：「他們才剛在遊戲內的留言版互打招呼呢。」

----

## Wednesday, 19 June 2019

### 19/06/19 - 反送中

Source: Apple Daily

*

## Tuesday, 7 May 2019

### 夢．十夜 (X3) MMORPG

「以為是網咖見面，來到我這個私人空間一定很意外吧，我的婆－－不對，我應該稱呼你小紅才對？」

「呃……你就是殺殘無情？」

「嘿嘿，沒想到你公和遊戲裡長得一樣帥吧。話說回來，這套情侶睡衣紙娃娃用起來怎樣啊？」

－－棒極了。

「嗯～還算可以加減用啦。推王的確有變快，不過練等速度還是差不多。月卡好像還有五六天就完了，不知道能不能在這之前先升到120等呢。好想快點開新劇情啊……」

「月卡這點小事我幫你付就好啦。你看我都請人來幫刷道具了，月卡這點小事實在不足掛齒呢。」

「不過我沒想到整個計劃居然如此順利呢。整個伺服器有三個大型市集，靠近原料來源的地圖還有兩個小市集，我們四個人根本沒法全方位進行監控。」

「嘛～跟我預料的一樣，只要間中去進貨就行了。太常去的話除了會被別人認出來以外，其他玩家透過交易將價格訊息傳遞出去的效果也會打折扣呢。」一說到整個計劃的細節我就會莫名地興奮起來，畢竟以前自己想再多也沒法執行。保持匿名與否其實不太重要，在有限的時間內大手進出頂多就被當成活動的投機炒家，但將人力空出來轉到地圖上打怪收集原料才是重點。畢竟地圖就放在那邊，當地圖過度擁擠時玩家只能搶到自己身邊一定半徑內重生的小怪，這點跟玩家等級高低無關：等級30的來是一刀一隻，等級100的來也是一刀一隻。所以對高階玩家來說，在意識到套裝的價值前來這種單一無聊但回報極低的新人地圖刷怪是划不來的。少年的團隊因而撿了個大便宜，四個人刷單一地圖就能吃下接近三到四成的理論產出，這樣市場操作起來才能事半功倍。

「妳知道嗎？我帶妳進來這個公會，妳卻為我在遊戲裡開啟了一個新的世界。能遇見妳實在太好了。」

「更重要的是遇見妳以後，我有了個更大膽的想法－－」少年突然上前抓住她的雙手，深邃的漆黑瞳孔直直地注視著少女的可愛臉龐。

「我可以把這個理解成告白嗎？這個還恕人家拒絕哦，我們雖然在遊戲裡認識了一段時間，但在現實還是第一次見面呢。」

「不，那是再之後的事情，」毫不退縮的少年認真對她道：「我心裡有一個遊戲裡的大計劃－－」

「商會」，這是少年第一次向少女提出建議(propose)。

「這個想法很有趣，不過如果做出來只是一個燒錢換取爽度的計劃的話那就沒有意思了。所以無論如何請以自負盈虧為目標出發喔。」

「嗯……其實不少裝備也用實體貨幣賣出就是了。像被我們炒起來的全套睡衣用虛擬金幣根本收不到，同時實體貨幣的賣價也快沖到三四千塊了。如果多一些這種活動的話我們真的有機會倒賣回本呢。」

「神裝多了不就沒意義了嗎？營運看到大家這次的反應，相信短期內再推這種活動會很謹慎吧。然後套裝一套三四千的話賣光也不夠你付這四位的工資呢。」少女望向仍在打副本的大學生們，正如與其中一個聽到我們提起而轉頭看過來的某大學生。他笑道：「小紅啊～我們好歹是公會要員，阿殘免費讓我們在這邊打已經很不錯了啦。有好玩的事情當然要一起玩，工資這種東西夠用就好了啦。」

「萬事屋」，是最終他們得出的結論。

*

---

## Friday, 26 April 2019

### 音遊運動科學化

「才不是刷熱量呢。今天是絕好調，連Blew my mind和Over the period都隨手過了，這樣不試一下這首鬼19實在說不過去，所以我現在只是要熟悉一下BPM 180抓一下腳感而已啦。」

……才怪。古典音樂界快到不得了的BPM 180在音遊界是最標準的速度，隨手一抓就是一大堆：隅田川夏恋歌、夜騎、Healing D Vision、西班牙雪舞等等，想抓BPM 180的感覺才不用刷同一首，何況是18/19兩個譜面思路完全相反的Paranoia Revolution。

「倒是你，一直刷14要到甚麼時候？這首剛好夠到你目標的平均45卡路里，可這樣你就沒法練上去了喔。一道裡頂多打一首15 16，好調時勉強摸一下17這樣就滿足了嗎？有人在你旁邊一直17起跳時一下就吧你比下去了喔。」

「哼哼，終於下決心了呢。不過這邊快關門了，明天一早吃完すごい煮干ラーメン凪就來加練吧，正好早上一堆音遊減價。」

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DDR、太鼓這種講求體能的音遊，用運動科學的方法去探討也是理所當然的。其中棒球跟音遊尤其接近。

DDR機台會告訴你每一首歌能消耗多少卡路里，在體重設定固定的前提下這個數字只和你的選曲和成績有關。到底顯示的熱量消耗準確與否還有待查證，但在比例上正確的話我們便可以將他看為一個歌曲強度指標。

DDR的熱量消耗統計我個人覺得蠻準確的，除了一點，那就是逆足組合並不會算在熱量消耗裡面。誠然有沒有逆足箭頭數還是一樣多，不過有了逆足玩家不扭腰也要快速在兩隻腳之間轉換，說不會特別累也是騙人的。女武神(Valkyrie Dimension)18後半段譜面極複雜，但結算下來的熱量消耗還不如直來直往的Go for the Top。這樣有心刷熱量消耗的話可能讓自己的技能樹點歪－－所以隨心打就好，太在意數據的話它就會失準了。

## Monday, 1 April 2019

### 2019冬番感想

JC社毀人不倦，JC社表示我下季做14套你來打我啊。

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[閒聊] 9S給JC動畫化會怎樣?

9S他媽的連載再開啦！
9S他媽的連載再開啦！
9S他媽的連載再開啦！

9S他媽的連載再開啦！

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12集中斷的位置只能說讓人欲罷不能，Netflix的這幾集算是在二期前堵住了觀眾的胃口。一如既往的彩蛋滿滿，不過更重要的是高中時代的他們終於是我深入了解的遊戲世代了啊啊啊啊！

revision是Netflix作品，在圈外基本上沒甚麼人氣，要不是我看過冬番列表再去netflix找一下估計我也沒機會看這一部。一看下去不得了又是日本最愛的機人題材：整個涉谷被移到未來然後主角們要駕駛機甲與未來勢力戰鬥。有性格缺憾的男主、似人非人的對手、安穩起來就會想做反的小頭目、以生存為前提身機甲戰鬥……聽上去是否很接近DitF呢？

P5：7.2/10
revision：7/10

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## Monday, 11 March 2019

### 拉麵日誌2019： 粋な一生、銀座 篝、Due Italian、鶏そば十番156

「你是小泉嗎！才下午三點你已經吃第三碗了吧！」本來漫步在中央通的她好像突然想起了甚麼一般，緊緊地拽著我在六丁目拐了個彎向日比谷方面走去。

「嘛～再晚一點大概就要排隊了，冬天晚上在街上排隊可不好受呢。」今天的她依舊可愛。活潑風的黑色外衣下是條紋上衣配百褶短裙，毛袖下小手傳來的溫度告訴我女生才不會因為穿著配搭而冷病的問題。

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