Friday, October 06, 2006

Byte: Frying chickens in the barnyard!

Now that my Battlefield 2142 review is safely out of the way (no sneak previews, sorry), I can get back to the serious business of mutually assured destruction in Defcon.

I'm seriously loving Defcon at the moment. I tried out a six player Diplomacy game on Wednesday night and had a fantastic time. Despite the minimalist presentation and the abstract, almost soulless manner in which the game reports casualties, the game really has a ruthless human element to it.

The experience of playing other people beats the pants off playing the AI, as the CPU players tend to be a little predictable. Diplomacy games are probably the game's highlight, as everyone starts off on the same side, shares radar information and knowledge of silo locations, etc, before things inevitably degenerate into a worldwide thermonuclear conflict. The action started in my game on Wednesday when one of the players dropped from the server to be replaced by an AI. So we kicked the AI out of the alliance and beat the hell out of it. Then we steadily identified the remaining human players that had the weakest defenses (or had committed most of their nukes already), kicked them out of the alliance as well, leaving a three versus three: Europe, Russia (me) and Asia, versus Africa plus North and South America.

Then the player for Asia dropped from the server, leaving 2 vs 2, with one CPU player out on a limb and the other assisting my alliance. I consulted with my European counterpart and suggested "Let's let the AI do our dirty work for a while", to which he readily agreed. Once the Asian CPU committed all its nukes, Europe and I kicked it from our alliance, and we began the process of cleaning up; after about two, two and a half hours into the game. Europe and I were way out in front, having only lost about 6 million people each, having kept our silos on air defence mode for the entire game up until that point, and having gotten all of our kills using bombers and our submarines. I made my move when I saw Europe switching its silos to launch mode to execute an all out attack on Africa and South America. I quickly switched all my silos to attack mode, quit my alliance and jumped on my former ally. His response in the chat channel was succinct: "Bastard"

Unfortunately for me, I jumped too quickly and didn't jump high enough. None of my nukes made it through to London or Paris, meaning that my callous betrayal was mostly in vain. Europe quickly counter-attacked with the couple of dozen nukes he had left in reserve, levelling Moscow and half of my other cities, dumping me from 1st to 4th place in the final five minutes of the game. Still, it was fun, and I definitely think it's still a valid (if cruel) tactic. I call it the Late Endgame Betrayal, and will be trying out the tactic again, certainly, along with another tactic I've come up with called the Super-Betrayal: this is where you wait until your allies are launching nukes, and then quickly switch to the other alliance to give them vital intelligence as to silo placement and which cities they should counter-attack. There's even scope for a Double Super-Betrayal, where you switch alliances twice very quickly to gain the maximum amount of intelligence, but that might be a little too Machiavellian to try out on most servers.

I've just been idly playing a 3 player/6 nation Genocide match (no alliances) in Office Mode (6 hour limit real-time) against the CPU while I work, and I've gotten the victory timer to kick in after less than two hours. It's pretty fair to say that I'm winning pretty comprehensively. I've only lost two silos from my inital ground-based assets, and nearly half of my fleet is still intact. My score is one and a half times that of the player in second place and almost double that of the two AI players put together. So watch out if you play me on a Genocide match. I think I might be getting a little bit good at this...

Final Stats:

Me - Kills: 252.2m, Deaths: 65.5m, Collateral: 0.6m, Survivors: 134.4m, Score: 251
CPU 1 - Kills: 99.8m, Deaths: 157.4m, Collateral: 0.6m, Survivors: 42.6m, Score: 99
CPU 2 - Kills: 37.2m, Deaths: 167.7m, Collateral: 0.2m, Survivors: 32.3m, Score: 36

And I still had 28 nukes left...
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