Archives for July 2016

Weekend Gaming – Atlas Reactor, System Crash

There’s been low-level chatter amongst the ButtonMashing crew about investigating Atlas Reactor. The game is currently F2P, and will be so for the next six days. So, since Dota and Heroes of the Storm and Rocket League have been on the backburner for quite some time, we figured it is time to try a new team-based PvP game where we get snippy, huffy puffy at each other.

4v4 PvP

Personally, I think Atlas Reactor looks very promising. It is one of those examples of genre merging that yields something fresh and exciting. I like that it is a primarily tactical game and coordination with teammates is essential. Plus, the psychological element, the game theory, the need to get into the heads of your opponents’ will also give an advantage – So cool. And then, when all tactical decisions have been made, the orders are all carried out simultaneously, the potential spectacle value of just this is enough to warrant checking the game out.

On other fronts, we’ve been given a review code for System Crash. It is a cyberpunk CCG with a singleplayer campaign steeped in heady subterfuge and electronica music. I’ve only been able to dip my toes in but I can confidently report: So far, so good! The presentation and setting is convincing. An initial impression is that the AI is a conniving little devil, it doesn’t mess around. And I already despise haste cards – unless, of course, I am the one playing it, in which case: I love haste cards! Expect a full review of System Crash sometime early next week.

What are you playing this weekend?

Weekend Gaming – The Confusion (not a video game)

A thought keeps recurring. This thought goes something like: Take a break from video games for a little bit. If anything, for as long as it takes to finally – FINALLY – finish reading The Confusion. You’ve only got 150 more pages to go. Neal Stephenson is your literary comfort food. Instead of poking around, aimlessly playing stuff from your steam library, return to Mr. Stephenson’s world and dwell happily therein.

Not a Video Game

Not a Video Game

But then I read about new updates made to Thea: The Awakening which perks my curiosity. Or, I get pulled back into the undertow of the twin-stick madness of Waves, of which I crushed my previous high-score of 93mil with a staggering 1.2bil. And then fellow ButtonMashers put a little bug in my ear about Hex: Shards of Fate, and I tinker with that for a little bit. And then I just randomly booted up the Risk-like domination game Lux Delux. And then I wanted to give Prison Architect another shot. And then I found it Bastion is 5 years old today, so I wanted to revisit that…

And then… And then…
And then…

I normally don’t like just skipping along the surface like this. I like to be able to dig into a game. And while every single one of the game mentioned above are totally legit, I haven’t allowed myself to gain any traction with them. This can lead to underwhelming and unsatisfying gametime.

Maybe it is time to heed this recurring thought. This need to tip the scales in favor of the printed word over video games always seems to happen mid-late summer for me. All things considered, perhaps this is the weekend where I make a clean break from the desktop and burrow into the reading chair to finally finish the last fraction of The Confusion.

Play doubly hard for me this weekend, dear reader. I’m sitting this one out.

Writer of Words, Shaver of Heads - Neal Stephenson

Writer of Words, Shaver of Heads – Neal Stephenson

Thea: The Awakening ‘demo’ now available

It is with utmost pleasure and anticipation that I would like to announce that there is now available a demo for MuHa Games’s Thea: The Awakening.

But, this is not just a demo in the traditional sense. This is not just a glop of the first several hours of gameplay which is then abruptly ended by the game sending you to the Steam store page. In a fantastic gesture of confidence MuHa Games has made the entire game available for a trial run, albeit the Early Access version from last fall. But, even in that, even in its nascent stages, Thea was, and continues to be, something really special.


It is a hard game to describe without going into details because it does not conform to any archetype. To say it is a 4x would be wildly misleading, for there is no expanding or exploitation. To say it is a grand strategy would be erroneous because in-game events can suddenly bring your campaign to a bloody, and sometimes unfair, ending. And yet, to call it a Roguelike would only hold true in that any progress made in a campaign – any XP – however piddly in amount, is accumulated to help in unlocking and leveling up new overlords to play as in subsequent playthroughs.

To say it is a tactical game can likewise be misleading because all encounters – whichever of the half dozen types one may be – are not handled in a traditional point-and-click hex arena but rather in an innovative and fun table-top card game setting.


The survival aspect of Thea is my favorite part of the game. The hunting and gathering, the resource management, the personnel management, the crafting – it is an integral part of gameplay and not just utility, another thing you have to handle and worry about. The crafting, especially, is more than just lumber + iron = sword. All the basic resources have several derivatives with values that can have tremendously different effects on the attributes of what is being crafted. These items have very real and functional numbers that can aid in gathering more resources or talking your way out of an encounter or attracting different types of populace to your single village. The choices made in crafting and equipping matter, and…

… And there I’ve done it; I’ve gone into details. #sorrynotsorry

Thea: The Awakening is just one of those games that is best learnt by playing because it is the sum of so many parts. It is a brave endeavor. And the love that MuHa has shown for it – the growth and free DLCs, updates and features – is only making the game that much greater.

Even if the ‘demo’ is the entire game in its Early Access state, it is still but a tantalizing taste to what MuHa has done to it since official release, and, no doubt, what they have in store.

The demo is available on the game’s Steam page.


Guy’s Weekend 2015

Last August, a group of us got together for what is becoming an annual event — the “Guys Weekend”, a time when we get some time away from the family to hang out and do what we love best — eat greasy food and play games. Lots and lots of games.2015-08-21

We decided this year to kick things off with lunch at the Columbus greasy spoon Icon Thurman’s Cafe, home of the world famous Thurman Burger. After stuffing our face with burgers and wings, we headed back to Buttonmasher HQ for some serious board gaming.

The king of Board Games (Mr. Board Gaming Deals Himself) decided that in addition to the games being played, we’d hold a sort of meta-contest with a traveling trophy. He kept track of wins and losses for each game played and compiled ranking that changed as games were won and lost.IMG_1453

What follows are the games that were played and who ended up in possession of the traveling trophy (spoiler alert: The Guys’ Weekend Champion is devastatingly handsome.)

The Game Champion

The Game Champion Trophy

King of Tokyo has become a family favorite in the Buttonmashing household. You play as one of six Monsters, vying to be the King of Tokyo. You can do this by defeating the other monsters in a fight to the death or peacefully achieve victory by way of victory points. You increase your monster’s powers by buying cards. There are numerous expansions, and we brought in the King of Tokyo: Power Up! expansion, which gives each of the monsters a set of unique powers as the game goes on. KoT has the potential to be over quickly or drag on far too long, but it’s an enjoyable game that balances luck with good planning and strategy.

Dixit was probably my favorite game of the weekend. Each player is dealt a number of cards corresponding to the number of players. Each card is a beautiful piece of artwork, depicting a scene or a portrait or something evocative. The player chooses a word or phrase to describe his card, and everyone else chooses a card from their stack that best matches the description. Then all cards are shuffled and revealed, and players choose which card they think the player’s card is. The card is revealed and points are dealt out according to the outcome. What makes Dixit so enjoyable is the ambiguity that is needed to describe your card enough to obfuscate it within the other cards but not distinguish it.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game was another game that got some attention, similar to Ascension, and if you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know my relationship with Ascension. It also led to a few early disagreements over who were truly your friends and who were dirty rascals out to ruin your fun and your life.

2015-08-25Relic is a variation of the classic game Talisman, set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Relic probably had the biggest turn around of any of the game played. Jason and I seemed to be more or less headed for a showdown while James and Nick struggled to get a foothold. But as my chances started dwindling, Nick made a push through the final tier of challenges and his assassin’s perk, an extra die roll on explosions (rolling two sixes), gave him the extra oomph to claim victory. It was an unbelievable string of dice rolls, capping off a hard fought game of Relic.

This is just a sampling of games we’ve played. Other games included Forbidden Desert, Sushi Go, Family Business, and Formula D. (Others played, but I did not, Great Heartland Hauling Co and Lords of Waterdeep). I really liked the co-op nature of Forbidden Desert and I loved the cutthroat Family Business and the accompanying threats that flowed freely. Family Business should be called Friends and Family Relationship Ruiner. The less said about the things that were said during Family Business, the better.

Computers were set up for some PC gaming and of course there was Dota 2 to be played. While computer gaming usually takes a backseat to tabletop, there’s always time for Dota 2.

In the end, the results were tallied and a champion was crowned:


This bad boy looks beautiful displayed on the top of my new gaming PC.


In My Hand (Literally)


Decided it was time to up my mouse game for the Gaming PC Workhorse (even though it’s been in service for over a year). For the longest time, I’ve been running a vanilla Logitech M510. While a perfectly serviceable mouse, it is wireless and I never could find an optimal place to plug in the little USB wireless nub. It might be totally psychosomatic, but I blamed any hiccup I noticed on the placement of the dongle. It’s been nagging me even more acutely lately when the mouse seems to lag slightly or outright not react to my movements. When you’re as bad as I am at games, every mis-click and mis-movement is amplified by my initial lack of skill.

So after some research at my favorite Recommendation Engine (The Wirecutter) and some PC Gaming reading, I decided on the Razer Deathadder. It’s not the “Chroma” version the Wirecutter recommends, but it’s just a minor stepdown from it. I had also considered the Cooler Master Mizar but my local PC Mecca (Microcenter) was out of stock, so Razer it is!

So far, so good. This mouse is definitely a +1 to movement smoothness and a 25% increase in point-and-click efficiency.