Discovering Temecula

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Over the weekend we took the camper back out to another SoCal campground and had some great family time.   As usual, even campgrounds have portals (6) so I went ahead and checked out the Ingress state of the area.

Pretty green area here !

Pretty green area here !

When we left the campsite I took advantage of every portal I ended up near, tried to throw blocks at every spot since the green is so strong (Threw none.   Too much green, too little time for me to play).   You always want to take advantage of every spot with uniques in it.    It’s fun to me that the game tracks how “Traveled” you are.

Menifee and Temecula are bedroom communities in Riverside county, and Temecula has quite the nice little “Old Town” area for tourists like us to wander around.   And we did wander it well.   It started out 100% green when I got there, but I was able to lay waste to the entire place, while licking a huge waffle cone full of ice cream.   One handed Ingress FTW.

Goodbye green, hello Burbank Blue.

Goodbye green, hello Burbank Blue.

I reached out to local agents, didn’t really hear back.  I don’t blame them – they don’t know me.   I was wondering if the area was always green held or what, but as of this writing, I don’t see any attack notifications so maybe not.

And we did the important things.   I got the camper set up and running.    Got my son fishing and we have fishing stories to tell.   My daughter circled the campground many times on her bike.   Grilled burgers, talked nonsense, and remembered why I love my family so much.

The amusing thing was, the best way to navigate the area was by Ingress.   Why use a printed map when you can follow this one, and hunt portals while you’re at it ?

Aha - there's the fountain !   And the good spot to fish....

Aha – there’s the fountain ! And the good spot to fish….

Statistics, April 2016 (Late edition)

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Ingress :

  • 28,765,000 AP earned.   Almost 3.5 million in a month.    If that pace continues, well, yes, I will end up at L16.
  • 3,000 unique hacks.   1,500 unique captures.
  • 8,235 links, once again, over 1k in a month.
  • 5,214 fields.   Over 500 in a month.
  • 1,703,000 MU scored.   That’s 127,000, although, most of that was in a single day.
  • 37,600 Builder and 28,200 Purifier.
  • 5,500 Liberator.    Made gold, need 15,000 for platinum.

Closest badge to completion is Purifier, only need to kill 1,800 enemy resonators for gold.   The one I’m most interested in is the one I’ll probably never complete, Onyx Illuminator – only 4,000,000 MU total need to be scored.

Marvel Heroes

Now with 24 unlocked heroes, Blue Prestige Captain America, and 3500 or so Omega points.    Just a matter of grinding it all out.    Spiderman and Colossus should be at level 60 soon.

AdVenture Capitalist

On the mobile : The moon is complete !   Still working the Earth.   And the desktop has quite a ways to go.   The mobile gets so many more advantages versus the desktop it’s not even funny.

Oxygen Bars !

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There were some important changes yesterday to the silly-and-completely-addicting money game “Adventure Capitalist”.

New Multipliers !

New Multipliers !

#1 – When you have the app open, you’re getting a x5 multiplier.    If you’re really determined, you can leave the game open for a long time and get a fair amount of extra money.   I don’t think I’m that determined but it’s nice to see.

#2 – After you make each of your investments on a planet (Permanently) platinum, you can also add this multiplier for the megabucks.    77.77 x is a pretty nice jump.    Next level is 777.77x.

And then, at 5 am this morning, it happened.   I got over the long mountain climb to reach 2,880 oxygen bars and suddenly things are advancing very quickly.    Of course, part of it was this 77.77 multiplier being added but it was nice to see it finally happen.

I have about 50 more unlocks on the Moon, and a ton of them on the Earth.   Now, however, the Earth is completable depending upon how fast you can accumulate megabucks, the in-game premium currency.

My next reset, to be processed after blogging, will involve 10,000x the number of angels previously held.   It could be the Moon will be finished post haste if that trend continues, similar to the Mars planet.    And then it’s just a matter of finishing up the Earth, and laughing all the way to the bank.    Holding 5 Novemtrigintillion dollars at the moment – go ahead, try and relate that to a real life number, you can’t.

Ah, the thought of having that much money…..

On The Grind to the Cosmic Trial

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The grind continues in Marvel Heroes.   The goal of 4,000 omegas is getting closer – I have 3,500 after playing like a madman over the weekend.    Last night unlocked another milestone – Level 69 uniques for all five slots.  I suppose, at this rate, I may manage to unlock the 4,000th Omega sometime in June.   It took an incredible amount of time to get the Protector’s commendations needed for the final 69.

So let’s review.   Captain America.   I have good/decent artifacts.   Level 69 uniques with decent rolls, and all challenge bonuses of +1 Fighting.  Omega plan includes Warpath, Spintech, Melt Face, Frenzy, and Sabertooth.   That probably eats up 4,000 Omega points.   I might take other nanotech items that give bonuses to melee damage and cost a mere 1 point, up to 50.

It seems that the guys who do this “Easy” are full of baloney, or hyper-twitch people, that I get advice from on Social channel.   The Supergroup (read : Guild) I’m a part of says the trial is just really hard and requires tons of Omegas – something I’ve figured out is true for me at a minimum.

Literally, there isn’t much else I can do to prepare for the cosmic trial.    Only thing needed is to reroll my Hyde’s Formula artifact.   Focusing solely on getting Omega points is boring, so instead I’m working on achievements and the eternal accumulation of commendations – possibly necessary to get my second hero through the cosmic trial, someday.

This game is really well put together on the accumulation front – I’m always working on multiple items which is critical for the fun aspect, piling up the tons of the different currencies available, I want to buy things with them all – no crap currencies – and I don’t have enough hours in the day to play all the content I would like to.

The current sale is giving a 50% discount on hero purchases, and this was enough to convince me to buy four more heroes.    After the 15% sale on “G” currency, these guys are pretty inexpensive.    Oh, and I’m now about $80 in to this game.    There are a ton of people who self report $500, $1,000, and even higher figures spent on this game, to which I can only goggle in disbelief.

In the meantime, I have five heroes (Ghost Rider, a splinter purchase, recently acquired) to bring up to 60 and the desire to prestige Cap once again.   Having written all this out, it’s pretty obvious I should just go for it, and acquire not only a prestige level but another costume for the blender.    I’m saving splinters for the only hero I have a costume for but don’t own, pending a final decision.

Squirrel Girl.   I don’t know.   Do I really want to play Squirrel Girl ?

A Manic Monday

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As usual, up at 5 am this morning and ready to take my daughter to school.    And I notice, on the intel map, that a pretty nice field is possible from Sylmar area.

The Pollen Field

The Pollen Field

This field gets me around 8k MU just for driving up to an unfamiliar portal and throwing keys I have in my collection.   Pretty cool.   It even had a bit of layering.

Did the usual in Burbank during the day.   I fielded Downtown.    Greens tore it up.   Then a Res player threw some yolos through the devastation and I knew I had to link them up.   There’s more than one way to field Beautiful Downtown Burbank.

DTB Fielded, just three fields.

DTB Fielded (mostly) with just three fields.

This field nets maybe 1k but it’s more about bluing up the area.

And as I’m packing up to end the workday…….. the Pollen field gets attacked.    I, however, am an idiot and packed the keys to the portal into a capsule.   By the time I got them out, the portal is dead and the field is down.   Rats.

That leads me to looking at the intel map, and realizing I needed to make a bit of a detour before going home.   I can make a fairly large field pretty easy.

The Chors Field

The Chors Field

Added 37k MU with this beast.    It took 5 minutes to figure out once the intel map loaded.   Given that I’m not planning any more big fields, this is a real monster achievement for me.

I set off to go home directly, considering this a successful day.   I’m caught in a sudden thunderstorm – yep, a thunderstorm in So Cal.   Who would have thought ?   There’s an accident in front of me somewhere and I crawl for several miles.   It takes a fairly large amount of time until I’m on the freeway entering Santa Clarita, when suddenly…..

Killed the big part !

Killed the big part !

Unfortunately for him, this agent was premature.    I was approaching Quigley Canyon !    There was no doubt, I had to stop.   The kids homework would have to wait.

Chors Field #2

Chors Field #2

A good day fielding for me is 5k.   A typical day is perhaps 1k of MU.   Today, by the count above, I managed about 64k of MU.   I am a happy man.

The field stood until a few minutes after checkpoint, this time going down via the Tujunga anchor.  I even get a spot on the top agents list :

Top Fielders

Top Fielders

It was a good Ingressing day today.

Defense in Ingress

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I have complained about imbalanced defense in Ingress before, but I wanted to lay out just *how difficult* defense is in the game.

THINGS WHICH CAN’T BE SOLVED

The Attacker dictates the time

The defender has to wait for the attacker.    Sure, you can put shields and mods on your portal and link it up to make it defend better; but other than that, you must wait for the attacker to go after your portal.     Often this happens like so – Portal #1 gets killed, then portal #2 gets killed.   You feel pretty confident he’s going to kill portal #3 next.    But you need to wait with fingers poised and XM charged for the attacker to go after your portal before you can recharge.

This is less of a complaint – you can’t change the game to make this better – than to set the stage for why it’s difficult to defend.

THINGS WHICH ARE UNDER NIANTIC’S CONTROL

Server Priority

From observing the game behavior it’s clear that attacking gets the priority.   What do I mean by this ?   You have any number of screens that “access” a portal, and it makes sense that some will have a higher priority (attacker screen) and some a lower priority (Intel map) in terms of how often updates get pushed/pulled.

Often you are sitting looking at the screen, waiting for the attack, and then the portal is dead.   One second it’s at 100%, the next second it’s at zero.   Did the enemy ADA/Jarvis ?   Nope, the screen you were looking at did not update in time for you to defend.    There is nothing more rage-inducing than watching your important portal die without being given any chance to defend.

Delayed Notifications

What use is the COMMS notification that your portal is under attack, if it’s only received at the same instant that you get the portal neutralized message ?   Most attacks seem to happen this way, especially any competent set of enemies or multiple attackers on one portal.

Speed Lock

Got the scanner running while you cruise down the freeway and suddenly you hear “Portal under attack!” ?    You don’t get to recharge until you can safely stop.    That’s frustrating beyond belief, especially if you happen to be stopped in traffic but have still triggered Speed Lock due to previously cruising along at 60 MPH.

CAGEY PLAYERS

If I’m being recharged against while I attack a portal, I can use all of this defensive knowledge to make myself unbeatable on the offense.   The typical attack goes like this :

  1. Blow off shields with ultrastrikes.
  2. Reduce resonators, hoping to kill one or more.
  3. Pause to allow defensive “Zap” to dissipate, if desired.
  4. Repeat #2 as needed.
  5. Eat XM cubes if low on power.
  6. Kill last resonator.

Recharging is not effective for keeping shields up, so you ignore the other players until that point.   And if they are recharging on me ?    Just do something else.    Admire the view on the top of the mountain.    Sit back and stare into space.   Check email.    And then restart the attack, knowing your enemy won’t be able to sustain their defense.

Even if they can sustain the defense – just stand on one particular resonator.    Fire and fire away, chances are, despite recharging, you’ll kill this one.    Let them recharge to 100%, wait, and try again.

THE DEFENSE’S ADVANTAGES

Long press recharge

Press and hold the recharge button to either 1) Fill up all the resonators, or 2) Give every last bit of your XM to the portal being charged.    This has recently become much more useful in conjunction with the Lawson, because previously, you had to fumble between screens in order to use your cubes, losing precious seconds while the attacker just fires and fires away.   Or even worse, you would conclude incorrectly they quit attacking.

The Lawson Cube

If you pop one of these babies, you can recharge over and over for quite some time without fumbling between screens to refill your XM reservoir.    With this and the defensive ZAP, you’ve got a real advantage at last.   It’s not enough, but it certainly can stop a non-determined or not 100% competent attacker.

CONCLUSION

Any competent attacker cannot be successfully defended against, all things being equal.   Attackers low on gear, specific excellent defensive configurations, these can lead to success even against an awesome player, but otherwise defense is pretty danged hard.

It’s probably an attack-favored game for the simple reason that without churning the portals, players probably get bored and quit the game.    Me, I think they’ve gone overboard and I’m happy to see Lawsons added to improve the defensive game.

The XM drought – finished (?)

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It’s been a few days now of having Ingress increase the cube drop rate, and my impression is that effects of the drought are drastically diminished.   The trick now is, instead of XM laying on the ground, it’s taking some of your inventory slots instead.

Not quite rain, more like cubes though.

Not quite rain, more like cubes though.

One effect I hadn’t considered includes the effect on newbies.   They have a lot of trouble getting into this game, despite the often expressed help that experienced players try to give – there’s serious trust issues to overcome, along with a drastically different game model than ever played before.    Phone games do not involve meeting strangers usually.    And with having no XM laying on the ground, they find themselves without any XM to do anything.   Whoops.   Cutting out new players is never a good idea.

So at this point I expect the drought is considered rebalanced, and is now either

  1. A permanent game feature.   I hope not !
  2. A temporary feature until the next anomaly series, or some future date.

I may get a chance to find out what guiding a newbie feels like.    I have my buddy interested enough in the game to want to try it out.    Now, the trick is, he needs to get a job, which will allow him to get a smartphone, and thus be able to play.   He’s never been able to before since he couldn’t talk his office into buying him a smartphone, but this time he should get one.    Believe me once I get talking about this game I’m an evangelist, and I think I’ve talked him into it.

Ingress is literally a sea change in gaming, and I expect to see my grandkids wandering around the city playing the Farmville of 2036 which involves location-based gaming somehow.    Yet I’m playing the first iteration.    This is the wild west and it’s exciting to be a part of it, and to share it with your friends.

And then there’s Pokemon Go.   Apparently being tested in both Japan and Australia, we’ll see how much fun it ends up being.   If it ends up literally sharing the same portals as Ingress there’s not much stopping everyone from playing both.

Being an Asshole

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I take the new Resistance players I encounter (Smurflings) and try to help them.   Most of the time it’s about encouragement, the occasional gift of gear, putting them in touch with the rest of the community.    This makes sense and is encouraged in the spirit of the game of Ingress.

Then there’s the Enlightened newbie players (Toadlings).   Anyone I meet in person I am a normal nice person to.   At least, I try to be.   But Toadlings in game……. yes, I am going to try and crush their little spirits.

Last week I saw some noob try to take a portal in Downtown Burbank.   I drove by and took out all of his resonators.   I haven’t seen him again.    Mission, accomplished, I hope.

There’s another guy who continues to persist in fighting over the Downtown area, mostly by grabbing anything that ends up gray.   He’s killed a few of my portals, damaged ones or one-resonator-holds.   He makes occasional links.   He hasn’t given up yet, but I’m only taking a little notice of him.   The main DT Burbank battle is Me Versus The Energizer Bunny.

Then there’s the guy I ran into today.   While fighting off the Energizer Bunny, this guy comes in and starts capturing portals.   He’s clearly gear poor and is hacking the nearby level 1 portals for keys and gear to keep going.    Patiently he built up a little web of fields based off of six close portals, and I watched him do it as I worked my way down the familiar streets of Downtown Burbank.

Overcast day with the Flappers portal on our right.

Overcast day with the Flappers portal on our right.

And I walked my route, and got right up to his green portals.    Level 1 and 2 reso’s nicely linked with green shields.    A couple of bursters at each portal wrecked them.    It was exhilarating, and yet made me feel guilty.   Only in Ingress can you smash an enemy’s work and feel a twinge of guilt – that’s another guy a lot like I was at low level.    I shook it off and headed back to work.    Did not see an obvious Ingress player in the area, but that’s expected in a warren of old buildings like San Fernando Road.

And then…….. he decided to take back the portals I had just captured.   Not giving up, he is.    I charged what I could and saved two of them, but the other four all eventually fell to the noob.    I watched him do it again – he rebuilt all the same fields with these four portals and must have felt very satisfied, as he approached lunchtime.

Lunchtime in Ingress is a time of massive activity, at least in an urban area with white collar workers.   And I was no different today, even though I didn’t head out for a bite to eat.   I walked right back over to his fields and with vicious satisfaction wrecked them again for the cost of about 10 bursters – two glyph hacks on a decent-level portal.

I didn’t see the noob again.   His efforts weren’t completely in vain – I didn’t get to make many fields today, but I won the playing field.    Like a veteran soldier beating up on an 98 lb weakling, but I did win.

And I hold the ruins.  For the moment.

And I hold the ruins. For the moment.

The dynamic of this game is so weird.   My personal goal is always to be courteous, kind, helpful, and friendly.    But you literally can’t do that and play a war game like Ingress.    So instead I attempted to beat this guy down and maybe, just maybe, he’ll not bother me again.

Another way to look at it is he got all that AP from fielding this area twice, and in that sense I helped him.   But that was just a side effect of me being an in-game asshole, not really a role I relish, but I suppose you gotta do what you gotta do.

Striving for the Cosmic Trial

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I have gotten tons of conflicting advice on the Cosmic Trial.

“You should be able to do it with a few hundred Omega points”

“I tell people don’t try until at 3000 Omega points”

So I realized it was time to be much more methodical about passing this trial.

Currently, when I try it with Captain America, my best performances are killing Elektra eventually, and reaching Red Skull.   The trial goes something like this :

Elektra Wave – Weak Hydras, followed by Power Brawlers, followed by Mechs, followed by Hulkbusters and finally Elektra and her bodyguard.

Elektra’s defeat moves you forward.    Every so many seconds, Elektra puts a shield on herself and you have to defeat the bodyguard to bring it down.

Red Skull Wave is similar, except instead of a bodyguard per se, he has some huge Sentinel that protects him.

So how to defeat this ?   Some information below.   I appreciate any opinions :

  • A roughly correct list of my character sheet.
  • Use the Ultimate power to defeat Red Skull.   You will not have the time to use it twice so save it for him.   Cap has it at level 8.
  • Failure is no longer from dying, but from running out of time.   This suggests I need better offense.
  • Omega powers help.    Maxed out, in order, Warpath, Spin Tech, Melt Face.   Future points into Frenzy, Sabertooth, and Dazzler, all on the Mutation tree.
  • The best possible gear that I can attain given my playstyle is a question too.   Pelt of the Sacred White Gorilla, and Fragment of Twilight, have not dropped for me.    I don’t own a Industy City Signet, I think I sold them.   All my uniques are “Cap Uniques”.
  • I own two “Best In Slot” artifacts (GOTK, AINP), one “Good Alternative”, and Hyde’s Formula which is BIS if it has good rolls.   Mine has absolutely awful rolls.    I need to reroll it.   Maybe I could buy the A.R.M.O.R. Supercharged Power Cell.
  • All artifacts equipped have a blessing of Hela, which helped immensely.
  • I probably should get a better costume core.   +1000 to defense is very helpful though, I’m sure.
  • Critical Hit Rating is 51.6%.
  • Critical Damage Rating is 271%.
  • Brutal Strike Rating is 49.7%.
  • Brutal Damage Rating is 471%.

Currently at 3300 omegas, planning to try again at 4000 which would permit either maxing Frenzy, or getting Dazzler and Sabertooth.

Day 3, The Drought

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Getting more settled into the changed Ingress gameplay.

drought

I’ve abandoned a few portals to die a death of decay, and instead of my usual “Oh My God !   It’s not at 100% charge.   Get out the cubes” I’ve been more strategically charging portals.    And with those adjustments, I’ve not run out of cubes.

You do need to break out the cubes now during your Ingress walk, if you’re resonating a portal or upgrading etc.   In fact, I’ve consciously stopped upgrading resonators that are at 100% charge.  Why waste all that perfectly good XM ?

Then I attacked the enemy farm yesterday.    With a nice hour available I figured I could probably burn half of it to the ground.    Boy was I wrong.   Without the portal XM available to let me wander the area and recharge after attacks, I had to rely either on cubes or recycling to keep going.  I was able to kill 7 portals and break up a small fraction of the farm area, given the time I had.   Not the result I wanted – I wanted to beat up the enemy gear farm, but I don’t play Ingress 24/7.    With enough time, everything still falls.

Portal dense areas attack pretty hard even for the first hit – I was getting some 15% attacks slurping up my precious XM.    No way was I going to quickly fire additional bursters – this used to work OK since the portal XM would keep you going if you drove through an area.

It’s clear that attackers are being highly disadvantaged now.   This sounded encouraging for me in Downtown Burbank – they’ll be slowed down and therefore do less Ingressing.    And what do you know, it appears to have worked.   Drive through attacks got defended against by recharging and left the area partly intact; then heavily damaged but not destroyed on the 2nd try; and after rebuilding, again damaged but not destroyed after the third pass.

There’s no doubt that determined ENL still take any portal they want – just like determined RES.   But it’s slowed down.    It’s not a defensive bonus, it’s more of an attacker penalty, which is close to the same thing.

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