Monthly Archives: June 2016

Vega Conflict – What’s Wrong, and How to Fix it

Five things Kixeye can do to fix the game

  1. Quit playing silly buggers with Core Boxes. I just defeated a Level 45 fleet, and the Tier-4 Core box that it dropped contained a Tier-2 Core. We are sick of hitting powerful fleets and getting pitiful cores. It is bad enough not knowing whether you will be getting a Carrier, Battleship, Destroyer, Frigate, Cruiser or Cutter Core without also having to deal with the frustration of three difference tiers as well.
  2. Add a Refit Bay. Currently, all ship fittings and refits are handled by the Ship Factory, which also builds ships. So once you have started building a carrier you cannot refit any ship for a week, This is ridiculous. Allow users to add a Refit bay that does refits only. Kixeye’s excuse is that this would change the balance of the game. I say BULL — you had no problem rebalancing up the game when it served your purposes. Adjust build and refit times if you can, but do this. Most of us would pay 1000 coins to build and refit separately, do this and consider it a bargain.
  3. Pick on someone your own size. The game was originally designed so that you could only engage fleets whose level is within five fleets within yours, with the gloves coming off at 35. Since then we have seen Carriers, Cutters, Iron Star, Marked-up ships and player fleets approaching level 60. It is no fun watching your Level-35 farming fleet cut to pieces by a vastly superior enemy fleet of Cutters (pun intended). This artificial limitation has resulted in players finding creative ways to keep their fleets under level 35. Simply extending fleet handicapping all the way up will solve this problem at a stroke.
  4. Are you sure? When I asked Kixeye to add a confirmation before a big coin spend, I was sent away with a flea in my ear. Since then, in spite of many promotions and offers, I have not put a penny into this game, even though I would like to. This is the main reason why I will not spend money on this game; it is too easy to waste it accidentally — and no, Kixeye, a “one-time courtesy” along with an exhortation to be cautious is simply not good enough.
  5. What about ship parts? Patterns can be converted into cores in the scrapyard, Cores can be fused into higher cores, Armaments can be used on any ship of that faction, but parts for ships you aren’t interested in building are useless. Give us some way to convert ship parts into something that we can use.

Every one of these changes is easier than the still-ongoing “Great Rebalance” that has caused so much consternation and heartache among the players.

Brexit Day

Why Britain should leave, why they probably won’t, and why it doesn’t matter.

When I were a wee lad, way back in 1973, Britain joined what was then called “The Common Market”. Over the years, it became the European Economic Community (“EEC”) and later the European Union (“EU”)

Today, Britain votes on whether we should leave.

Why Britain should leave.

I no longer live in the UK. I left in 1994, so I will not be voting. But if I was, my vote would be a firm unequivocal “NO”. Here’s why:

  • The EU is no longer an alliance of equals. It was actually founded in 1957. Britain was the 9th nation to join; when Britain joined in 1973, it consisted of France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and Denmark. Twice, in 1963 and again in 1967, Britain tried to join. Both times, the application was vetoed by Charles De Gaulle (now there’s gratitude for you). At this point in time (mid-2016), the European Union (“EU”) is composed of twenty-eight members, including Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Greece. A union of equals results in an equal sharing of blessings and resources. An unequal union results in the net transfer of resources from the richer nations to the poorer ones.
  • It Costs Britain. Britain pays over three hundred million pounds (about half a billion dollars) a week. Other figures say this is 250M a week, due to “rebates” won by Margaret Thatcher. Either way, with or without rebates, it’s bloody huge.
  • Sovereignty? What Sovereignty? In the 1970s, Britain fought to defend her fishing grounds in the North Sea. Europe has taken those from her. British fishermen are told to stay in port while other members overfish those grounds into oblivion.
  • Britain is not Europe: The British are an insular people. They are not “European”. They have more in common with countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the United States.
  • The game is rigged: Britain joined late, and as a result, “…we were entering a club whose rules were set long before we joined, without our involvement, and not necessarily in our favour. The terms of British membership were particularly poor.” (Source)
  • Immigration: Every time a new member joins the EU, its poorest citizens head west. Germany sends them on to France. France sends them on to England — and Britain cannot refuse them entry. And once they arrive, they are quick to maximize the opportunities afforded by a socialist system — at the taxpayer’s expense.
  • We’re already half-way there: In spite of Euro entreaties, Britain has successfully fought to keep their national currency (the pound Sterling) and their admittedly-archaic system of weights and measures (also, ironically, call the pound). And the sky has not fallen in.

Why they probably won’t

  • Fear-mongering: There is a lot of FUD being spread in the news about how the economy will collapse if Britain leaves — and there are plenty of people who are gullible enough to believe it.
  • Entrenched Interests. There are literally thousands of well-paid Government jobs that will disappear if Britain leaves the EU. One can hardly expect those folks to enthusiastically vote to leave – after all, it is impossible to make someone believe something if their paycheck depends on them not believing it.
  • Britain has changed: The British people I left behind more than twenty years ago were a bloody-minded, stubborn, independent bunch. With the large number of immigrant Europeans, “timid” Indians, and an increasingly Socialist younger generation, I’m not sure that the country has a whole has the testicular fortitude to leave.
  • It’s never been done. Even if Britain votes to leave, there is no guarantee as to how they would do it or whether they could. No country has ever successfully left the EU. There is a good chance that both the British and European Governments will do their best to disregard the clearly-stated will of the people.
  • Logistics: The day that Britain leaves the EU, millions of European Citizens living and working in the UK will suddenly be “strangers in a strange land”. And what will happen if they have children who are born in the UK? That mess will take years to fix. When all is said and done, leaving the EU will look more like an amputation than a divorce.

Why it doesn’t matter

  • Brussels marches on: Unless Britain gets mean, the European Government will probably simply ignore Britain’s entreaties to leave, or spin it out for years.
  • Europe won’t listen: Ireland voted against the Nice Treaty in 2001. Europe demanded that they voted again (in 2008) and again (in 2012) before they finally gave the “right” answer.
  • The damage is already done. Even if Britain votes to leave, even if the British Government goes to bat for the country against their own interest (dubious), and even if the European Government allows them to leave (unlikely), they are still bound by too many one-sided treaties and trade agreements for it to make any real difference.

My personal opinion is that they should never have joined in the first place.

Vega Conflict – More Changes

The (build) times, they are a-changin’

Not content with having ruined a beautiful game, The good folks at Kixeye are making more changes; this time to ship build times. In this case, however, the change is both necessary and good.

It is necessary because the recent changes have made some ships (Such as the Taipan cutter and marked-up ISC hulls) more useful and others (Such as the Nexus Destroyer) less, and this usefulness should be reflected in build times. In addition, there is a new Faction – Vega Demon Corps – coming in  to the game, and room must be made for them.

It is good because the vast majority of the build times are coming down. These are shown in green in the table below.

VC New Build Times

Those in red are the ones whose build times will be getting longer. The biggest loser is the Heretic Cruiser, which will take about 55 hours longer to build once this change rolls in. Other losers include Taipan and Python Cutters, Genesis and Exodus Cruisers, and the Hurricane Frigate (whose figure is wrong, but you get the picture).

Note that Fitment installation times are not changing, so my advice is to build as many naked hulls of the ships shown in red as you can. I am building as many Heretics as I can before this change takes effect (probably at the beginning of July).

Imperfect Ten

I have written before about Microsoft pushing the Windows 10 upgrade on users of Windows 7 and 8.1. I also showed how to uninstall and hide the “Security Updates” that try to shoehorn Microsoft’s latest offering on not-always-willing users.

I have nothing personal against Windows 10, I just don’t want it. However, this unwanted upgrade has brought me much additional income as a computer-fixer-person from folks who upgraded (or, more accurately, were upgraded) and then found that peripherals such as printers no longer worked. I do, however, question the need to upgrade an operating system that is still supported and works well. I also find the determination of Microsoft to upgrade users almost against their will quite disturbing.

The Bad News: Microsoft won’t take no for an answer. On at least three occasions I have “hidden” the update that pushes Windows 10 onto the machine, and each time Microsoft “accidentally” un-hides it and includes and selects itself on the next patch Tuesday. These folks won’t take no for an answer.

The Good News: To keep the Corporate and business customers happy, Microsoft has implemented a workaround that disables the upgrade. However, they do not make it easy for the uninformed user to implement this, as it involves changes to the Windows Registry. If you don’t know what that is, you *definitely* don’t want to monkey with it.

The Great News: Steve Gibson has written a tiny little program called “Never10” that makes the task trivial. Get it here.

Vega Conflict: Flying in Formation

Every fleet has a variety of formations that can be employed. These formations can make the difference between victory and defeat in battle. Three are available at the start of the game:

BoxWedgeLine

  • Box – Useful in situations where you are protecting three “heavy hitters” (usually destroyers or battleships).
  • Wedge – This is the original, and for some years, the only – formation available. Best used when doing a straight-in charge at a specific objective, such as a carrier. For best results, put your heaviest-shielded – and most expendable – ship in front.
  • Line – Used when basing using destroyers, anti-carrier assaults using cutters, and also when using battleships may then be turned to form a wall.

In addition, there are three additional formations that can be unlocked by obtaining blueprints:

ChicaneConvoyPentagon

  • Chicane – This formation is unlocked with blueprints gained from Vega 27, 30 and 33 fleets. It is comprised of one ship (#1) front and center with a line of five ships behind. This is useful mainly against AI-controlled fleets. The #1 ship acts as a decoy, drawing enemy fire. Its forward position will attract the attention (“aggro”) of all enemies. The others are lined up in a wall to engage the enemy simultaneously, to draw fire. This formation is particularly useful with Cutter fleets; when engaging a Carrier, the cutters in the back will protect the front-runner, which absorbs the vast majority of the Carrier’s drone firepower; the #1 ship will take most of the damage, while the rest will arrive at the carrier largely unscathed.
  • Convoy – This formation, which is unlocked by getting blueprints from Vega 20, 23 and 25 fleets, effectively divides your fleet into two squads of three each.
  • Pentagon – This formation is unlocked by farming VSec 30, 33 and 35 fleets, and places your most important asset – usually a Flagship – in a protective circle. This is most useful if you have one high-value ship that must be protected from attack from any direction. So far, it has proved to be of limited usefulness.

Finally, there are a few additional formations that can be purchased from Larus in the Black Market using Blood Amber or coins.

Double EchelonIron BlockadeEnclavePrism

  • Loyal Battalion – This formation is an inversion of Chicane, with a line of five ships in front, with one ship – usually a Flagship – In the back, safely out of harm’s way.
  • Double Echelon – This V-shaped formation is used mainly by battleships, to bring maximum firepower with the potential for flanking maneuvers.
  • Iron Blockade – This inverted wedge formation is incredibly useful with Carrier/Battleship fleets. Put the Carrier in the #6 position and arrange the Battleships in front. At the beginning of the battle, move the #4 battleship forward so it is between #1 and #2, and move #5 forward between #2 and #3. The result is a closely-clustered line of Battleships that can lay down some seriously concentrated fire. Recommended for farming high-level VEGA and VSec fleets, but not recommended when going up with enemies equipped with ECHO Rays, as the proximity of your ships will then become a liability.Enclave – Similar to Double Echelon, but with a wider stance.
  • Prism – This is a new formation that has not been extensively battle-tested.

This article is an excerpt from my Game Guide, over a hundred pages of hints, tips, tricks and tactics that will help you get to grips with the finer points of the game, all for a paltry $2.99. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $1 off. Make me smile – buy my book!

 

Why Trump Will Win

Politics

Having lived in this country for over twenty years, I have had ample opportunities to observe the political process. I have called the last four presidential elections correctly, on the very sensible grounds that elections are not won, they are lost.

  • Romney lost in 2012 because he was not offering anything new, while Obama was promising all that hopey-changey stuff.
  • McCain lost in 2008 because he could not prove that he wasn’t George W. Bush — and the country was sick of George W. Bush.
  • Kerry lost in 2004 because there was sufficient doubt about his ability to lead.
  • Gore lost in 2000 because… well… Clinton.

If you had asked me three months ago whom I was supporting, I would told you that my head was Rooting for Rand (Paul), my heart was Backing Ben (Carson) and my goolies (as they call them in England) were Deciding for Donald (Trump). Now that the other two are no longer in the running, all three are unanimous; Donald J Trump will be the next president of the USA. There are only three things that will prevent this happening:

  1. The Republican Party
  2. An Assassin’s bullet
  3. Both of the above

The Conservative establishment hates Donald Trump, because he is a force that they cannot control, threaten, bribe or browbeat. But if they use bureaucratic chicanery to disqualify him as they did to Ron Paul in the last election cycle, not only will they lose the election to Hillary Clinton, but it will be, to all intents and purposes, the end of the Republican Party. As for the assassin’s bullet, it is even money that his own party would be behind it, should such a thing happen. Conspicuously absent from the list is one Hillary Rodham Clinton. If it comes down to a Trump vs Clinton battle, Trump will win. I have spoken.

What I find amazing and amusing is the reasons that people come up with to oppose Trump.

  • He said mean things about women“. True. In 1993, when he was going through one of the messiest divorces in history, he said mean things about women. Hardly surprising — men who are being publicly divorce-raped in court are understandably bitter. How many of us can say that we have said nothing main in the last twenty-three years?
  • He came from money“. True, but irrelevant. Yes, his family lent him millions of dollars to get started, and he turned those millions into billions. That is no mean feat.
  • He said that Rosie O’Donell has a face like a dog“. She does. Next question?
  • He said that Megyn Kelly got her job because of her looks“. Sounds about right. When you are a female media figure, smart and pretty beats smart hands-down every time. Oh the irony — tell one women she succeeded because of her looks, women get mad. Tell another one that she succeeded in spite of them, women get mad. Some folks are never happy,
  • He’s a failure; he went bankrupt X times“. No, his businesses went bankrupt. He has never been personally bankrupt. And he has bounced back, which is the true mark of a winner. If he is a failure, he is in good company — so are Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison. If anything, this is a searing indictment of corporate bankruptcy laws, but one can hardly fault Trump for taking advantage of them.
  • “He’s not a true conservative! He’s a joke!” They said that before about one Ronald Reagan. He turned out OK.

I often hear people say “I heard that Trump said so-and-so”, but when you ask them if they saw him say those words… No. Hearsay. Remember, this one has lies circulated by his own party, so eager are the republican party to discredit him.

So… what do we know about Donald J. Trump?

  • He has been married three times: 12 years (Ivana) 6 years (Marla) and 11 years-and-counting (Melania). Two of these women were foreigners. Guess which one was the American?. No wonder so many American women hate Trump; he is living proof that there are men out there who are out of their league — and women never like to hear that.
  • He has never been accused of being unfaithful to any of his wives, nor has he fathered any children outside of marriage.
  • His children have turned out to be normal and well-adjusted. Did someone say “family values“?
  • He employs thousands of people in a global business empire. Not one current or former employee has ever come forward to say anything bad about him.
  • If elected, he will be the first president in twenty-four years to have sons. Obama had two daughters, so did GWB, Clinton had one daughter. The last president with sons was Bush41. Ironically, one of those sons would go on to become Bush43.
  • Trump used to be a Democrat, now he is (nominally) a Republican. This is no big deal. As the old joke goes: “What’s the difference between a Progressive and a Conservative? About twenty years“. I too was a progressive in my younger years. Then I found out how the world actually worked, and now I think that liberalism/socialism/regressive-ism is just the same old socialist “wouldn’t-it-be-wonderful-if” lie wearing new clothes.
  • He has made only two election promises: fix immigration — not the president’s job, but neither side of Congress wants to grasp that nettle — and sort out trade — which *is* the president’s job.

Whether  you love him or loathe him, Trump has shown himself to be a man of high moral standards and principles; a man acquainted with the use and wielding of power without becoming compromised or corrupted. that takes character and integrity. The real question that we should be asking ourselves is not “Do I like him?” but “Is he the best man for the job“. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his greatness.

What do I like about Trump?

  • He never backs down, never apologizes, never surrenders. That is a positively Churchillian quality which apparently engenders admiration in many men and hatred in many women.
  • He doesn’t care what others think.
  • He is not afraid of being wrong.
  • He is respected by a generation of men who have been browbeaten and feminized by a generation of “strong, independent wimminz”.
  • He is not, contrary to popular opinion, stupid. You don’t become a billionaire by accident.

There is a huge “silent majority” who haven’t voted in ages, they are afraid to confess to admiring him, but will enthusiastically vote for him on election day. I will be one of them.

Personally, I think that he is the most-qualified candidate for the job in living memory. And I think he will won by a landslide.

And the media, yet again, won’t see it coming.