Fantasy Baseball Update Week 18

How frustrating is a last day loss for a team that’s in 11th place? I’m not surprised by it, but to lead for most of the week against the second place team, only to punt on the last day…well, that’s the 2017 Makers for you. The final score was 348 to 413. The team is now 6-12 with three left to play.

The offense did admirably this week, putting up 252 points. The pitching wasn’t quite the non-factor it was in last week’s embarrassment, but 96 points just ain’t enough. My opponent came out respectably on the first day, but then inexplicably faded for the next few days. But as predicted, he came back strong on the weekend, scoring 195 points to my 92. I have no idea how he’ll do in the playoffs. But I can’t find myself rooting for him quite yet.

This week I’m up against the former league champion, who coincidentally is coming off a shellacking from the last place team. (We’re now tied for that dishonor by the way). I have no idea how my team will do, coming off two straight losses. I wouldn’t have guessed at the beginning of the season that I would only be two games behind this team. But this has been a very weird year. Out of pure hope and guessing, I’ll mark the Makers down for a win this week.

The final two games are against my cellar-mate. I’ll have a chance to avenge last week’s loss on him. But if the last two games are an indication, his team is getting hot at the precise moment mine is fading. Cross your fingers for me that I can win at least one of these games to beat last year’s dismal record.

And yes I’ll be deciding at the end of the season if I’m staying in the league for 2018. Thanks for reading.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 17

Another week, another loss for the Makers, who are now 6-11 on the season. I can’t help but feel, after the glimmer of competency last week, that the Loss this match up was preordained. This will be a brief post as I’m currently occupied with a much larger project. The main culprit for the loss this week was the absentee pitching. A week after they fired on all cylinders and delivered five wins, the hurlers returned to their non-factor form, scratching up a measly 30 points. The offense remained decent, delivering 226 points. The Makers lost by about 60 points to the last place team, but we’ll have time to settle the score. I believe I have two or three more matches scheduled against this particular opponent.

This week I’m up against a first place team with the best record in the league. They were my week three opponent, when they decisively crushed me by over 200 points. If the Bad Makers stick around this week, it’ll probably be a repeat performance. Anyhow, I’ll report back next Monday on how they did. Thanks for reading!

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 16

The Makers performed as they should have performed most of the season when I drafted the squad; winning handily over their opponents 398 to 244. This was a rare occasion when the team fired on all cylinders. At 6-10 on the season now with five left to play, it’s unlikely that the squad will be to break 0.500 this year. But for the moment, they have tied their Wins record from last year. They need only go 1-4 the rest of the way to match my goal of doing somewhat better this year. Yes I know, that’s a very low bar, but you have to start somewhere.

As I’m focusing on FFVII and other projects this week, this is an abbreviated entry. So I won’t be breaking things down like I usually do. But overall, I’m pleased by the performance. If they can maintain it until the end of the season, it may just erase the memories of that horrific June.

The offense scored 216 points, with Bradley Zimmer leading the way with 51 points. The pitching was excellent with 182 points, picking up five wins and 3 Holds against a single Loss. Bumgarner finally stepped up to claim his Ace status, though he was robbed of a win Sunday. He contributed 42 points to the cause.
My opponent this week is the last place team (my team is second to last). He’s been doing better lately, but his opponents have been monsters. We’ll spar with each other for least-worst loser a few times over the next few weeks. I wish him the best, but I’m rooting for my team here. If they truly have hit their stride, then I might just get my first win streak of the season.

There will be time at the end of the season for a post mortem. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to return for the 2018 season. How well the Makers do going forward will help me figure it out. If they end up losing five straight and tying last year’s record, I think this will be the swan song. If they get reasonably close to 0.500, I’ll stick around another year. Thanks for reading!

Mortal Kombat II version comp: Genesis and 32X

I haven’t posted about old school Mortal Kombat in a while, so in the waning days of July, why not, right? Here’s a cool video from VCDECIDE, the 32X version of Mortal Kombat II compared with the Genesis port.

As you can see the color scheme is richer on the 32X version. It looks closer to the SNES version in that regard. There are more sound effects, and the GUI is essentially identical to the Arcade. The 32X version also has a ton of the little things that got cut from the Genesis version; like the shadows on the character sprites and complete character animations.

I do have a working 32X believe it or not, and copies of both games. It was very low on my bucket list to do a comp, so I’m glad VCDECIDE took care of this one for me.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 15

As shouldn’t be shocking, the Makers picked up their 10th loss of the season. My opponent crushed me this week by the score of 455-251. Recall that the best I thought they could do would be to keep it relatively close, and believe it or not they were actually in the lead after the first two days. But bad Makers showed on Wednesday, getting smacked around 92 to 27, and followed that up with a truly abysmal performance on Friday – scoring 0 points to 116. Terrible. Anyway, this wasn’t a surprising outcome to me, and here’s the breakdown.

Scoring Summary

Offense

The offense scored 199 points which is an absurd 197 point decrease from the last week. I realize that match had three additional days, but that’s still not a convincing reason for the gap. The best batter this week was Ian Kinsler with 37 points, and Chris Owings takes home the worst prize with -5 points.

Pitching

The pitching contributed 52 points to the cause, an 8 point decrease from the previous week. German Marquez was the best pitcher with 47 points while his teammate Jeff Hoffman was the worst, who got blown out of the water for -28 points. At any given time during the season I have only had one, or maybe two pitchers who manage to pitch well during their games.

Roster changes

On Monday I gamely added German Marquez, looking at his favorable match ups and the fact that he was a two start pitcher this week. He paid dividends for me (a rarity this season). I dropped nobody and made no further alterations to the roster, besides shuffling a few people from the bench here and there.

Week Ahead

I’m finally back in my division again, and this week I’m up against the former league champion. He has three more wins than I do this season, but he’s coming off a bad loss too (110 point deficit). Looking at the board it would appear that most people’s squads underperformed this past week, so I’m going to chalk up the pathetic performances to the flukey nature of Baseball. Still, I’m going to estimate that I need to clear at least 400 points to have a chance at winning this week.

Season outlook

With six games left to go, I have to win all six to end with a winning record. I highly doubt this is possible, so we’re crossing our fingers to end the season with one better win than last year. That’s 2-4 the rest of the way, and it shouldn’t be – shouldn’t be – impossible to hit that very low bar. But you don’t know with this team. While I can cry about bad luck (and I have a lot this year), it’s still pretty impressive that almost all of my moves have not panned out.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 14

Victory. Now that’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. A long time. Despite themselves, the Farmington Makers managed to beat their foe during the weird All Star Break week. The match up goes the regular seven days, but then skips the break week and tacks on the remaining three days. At the end of the normal seven days (July 9) they were leading 308 to 226. My opponent stormed back in the final three days, picking up 204 points and leading me by 59. But the damage had been done already, and thanks to the timely resurgence of Jose Quintana, the Makers won the match, 453 to 430. Hats off to my opponent who turned this one is a tense game. I feel his pain, for sure. They’ve now improved to 5-9 this season.

Scoring Summary

Offense

The Offense scored 396 points. Max Kepler and Ender Inciarte tied for best player, with 44 points each. Chris Owings took Worst Player dishonors with a paltry 2 points scored. On the whole, the offense took 68 points for Rs, 32 points for Hrs, 45 points for XBH, 215 points for TB, 67 points for RBIs, 14 points for GWRBIs, 33 points for Walks, 9 for Sac Flies and 8 points for stolen bases. They struck out a lot this week (-95 points!), but I can’t complain about nearly 400 points worth of offense.

Pitching

The Pitching contributed 57 points which is pretty bad, but as we know, the Makers have seen worse this season. The best pitcher was Mr. Quintana, newly traded to the Chicago Cubs. He put up 49 points. The worst pitcher was his new teammate Mike Montgomery, who cost the Makers 24 points. On the whole, the hurlers managed to win four games and got three holds against seven losses and one blown save. Another fairly awful week for my pitchers.

Roster changes

During the long match up I added Nick Pivetta and Mike Napoli, having space from some transactions during the previous week. So far Napoli has been a respectable addition to my line up, but Pivetta was awful. I offloaded him and Mike Montgomery over the weekend.

In a small roster move, Madison Bumgarner is finally off the DL. He pitched Saturday against the Padres and put up 9 points. Not great for his first game back, considering his opposition. But I’ll take it. The Giants are terrible this year, so I’m not expecting much from him. His mediocre teammate Johnny Cueto promptly took his place on the DL with blisters. Considering he was one of my worst pitchers lately, I’ll consider this a net positive.

Week Ahead

My opponent this week is currently 5th in the league, tied for first place in his division and an all-around tough nut for the Makers to crack. They scored 583 points last match up in a Loss to the former league champion, which is still a 130 point deficit from my team. His offense is better than mine, and his pitching is light years ahead of the Makers. I’m going to enjoy my Win this week because unless many of my hitters play above their heads, and my Pitchers suddenly start earning their Major League salaries on a regular basis, I don’t foresee a win. I’ll be content with a 50 point loss this week and not a blowout.

Season outlook

Incredibly I just need to win one more game to match last year’s Win record. That’s how bad the 2016 Makers were. The brutal four loss streak of June was tough to stomach, considering how close two of those losses were. I still maintain that in an alternate universe the Makers are 8-6 right now, but the overall stat lines don’t lie: they’ve scored only 4714 points while allowing 5091 points. To put that in perspective, the other four teams with 8-6 records have scored 5654, 5484, 5721, and 5425. In other words, while the coin could have come up W for me several times, keeping all other things equal I’m still anywhere from 700 to 1000 points behind that tier of teams. Luck cuts both ways, in life as in baseball. I’d prefer to have a solid team instead of relying on Fortune for a winning record.

Thanks for reading this week!

Minigaming: The Return

Over the course of a decade, a good friend of mine lobbied me to give minigaming a try with the group. All of them were committed to Warhammer at the time. Finally, I relented and showed up to a game night, with two games in session. My only experience with wargaming to that point had been a few historical recreations of Napoleonic and Civil War battles with an older friend. If we followed some system for that, I was largely ignorant of it. While as a kid I enjoyed building models (not painting them…) up to then I hadn’t simulated a battle before. I remember the first game was a sort of skirmish recreation of Quatre Bras. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn I didn’t win that encounter or any that followed.

Anyway, back to the nearer past. I showed up for a game night to get a demo of minigaming. I was amazed that set up took as long as it did – several hours, felt like – and then the games weren’t even completed. A lot of complex maneuvering and micromanaging. They consulted rulebooks constantly, and I couldn’t tell if this was wargaming or D&D (I was ignorant of that game’s origins back then). At the end of it all, he asked me if was willing to sign up for that. I gave him a hard pass.

Give credit to my friend for persisting after that anyway. Maybe six months after that the guys decided to try a new game called Warmachines. At a demo at the local game store, I was instantly intrigued by the big mechs, the metal models, and the easy (compared to Warhammer) gameplay. This game felt more like Magic to me than D&D, and the best part: you could play with just a $50 investment. I chose the Cygnar faction, with Captain Haley as my caster.

We didn’t get too much of “Warmahordes” gaming in over the next year or so, but certainly more than Warhammer or any other system. I ended up trading the majority of my models to the same friend who lobbied me to join, for all of his Magic cards. Probably an uneven trade at the end of the day but as we both had recently married and were trying to create floor space in our respective homes.

Which brings me to the present day. I have a new battlebox of Cygnar guys, and there’s interest in the group brewing again for minigaming. This summer there’s going to be a big showdown between all of the former generals, and to prepare for it, I’m going to be blogging on this space one day a week. I don’t have a cute title for the series yet, but it’ll debut next week.

Thanks again for reading.

Liberty or Death Gameplay

I’ve talked about Liberty or Death before. Recall that it’s a game in the Koei “strategic simulation series” from the early 90s; you may have heard of the more famous entries. I read about Liberty or Death in EGM and got hooked on the concept, and was one of the few games I managed to get the day it came out. Preorders were harder in the pre-Internet era. Anyway, I’m learning how to make my own gameplay videos and figured this was a good a place as any to start. I’ve linked to it below. There’s no commentary and very little processing done to it, the actual “battle of Boston” begins around the 12-minute mark if you want to skip ahead to it. Oh yeah, and please like and subscribe my channel.

Liberty or Death Gameplay

Even though I didn’t speak during the game, I had some thoughts. First, the basics: it’s a hybrid turn-based strategy game, resource and map management make up one part, and turn-based combat on a hex grid make up the other. You can play as the Americans or the British, and while the win conditions are the same for both teams (occupy all the districts), the strategy is somewhat asymmetrical. The Americans should expand quickly, whereas the British should hit hard and consolidate as soon as possible. Yes, you can also win by default as the American player if the game reaches the year 1820 and you’re at a stalemate. It’s unlikely that this has ever happened to anybody unintentionally.

I read an article that for the US release, Koei implemented various tweaks to make it more palatable for the masses. This included dumbing down the enemy AI and making the Americans OP. If I remember right, the game manual even told you to play as the Americans since it’s much easier. The quality of the officers determines how good your units are on the board (referred to as Regiments in game). The American officers are far superior to their British counterparts. The only disadvantages on the American side are no navy, little money, and are poorly equipped. This only lasts about a year in game time (24 turns per year), and by that time if you’ve expanded and played the PR game competently you should easily be at parity with the British side.

Resource management consists of arming and feeding your troops. This includes buying them gunpowder, guns, and food (naturally). Each military district provides to your game economy, which is gold. The more popular your cause is in the district (on a 1-100 scale), the cheaper goods will be and the more money the locals will give you. Troops stationed in wealthy districts (i.e., Philadelphia, Long Island, Boston) will get equipped by the local women groups. So as you gain popular support, you won’t even have to worry about spending Gold for your troops.

My Strategy

As I said above, it’s a lot easier to play as the Americans than the British. For that reason whenever I fire up Liberty or Death I always play as the British. But, since this is the Fourth of July (cheap pop) and I haven’t played as old George Washington in ages, I figured I would give the Americans a try again. You get very little money compared to the British, but you do have a better position on the map. You start with at least double the number of regiments, occupying a central position, as you can see in the video. The thirteen British regiments are holed up in Canada and Boston.

Seven regiments, under the command of Thomas Gage, are garrisoning Boston (District 5). They’re surrounded by George Washington’s huge army in Springfield and some others in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut. A dirty trick: if you battle an army commanded by that side’s Commander in Chief, just capture that unit and the battle is over. It just so happens that the board is set up ideally for the Americans to take advantage of this. Now, Gage (and other units) can escape via the fleet, which is also stationed in Boston but if you bottle him up, you should have little trouble capturing him. This is what I do in the gameplay video.

Taking Boston early, on the first turn nets you a couple of thousand Gold to use for your army. You also eliminate over half the strength of the British forces in the North. If you imprison people instead of ransoming them, you also remove many of the high-quality British commanders from the game.

I stopped after getting Gage, but in part two I’ll continue the mop up operation. It’s not over until it’s over. But I give the British very little chance of defeating me after this knockout blow.

Analysis and Legacy

Upon its release, Liberty or Death got mediocre reviews. I would be surprised if most people have even heard of this game. But it has a special place in my heart. It was one of the first games I discovered on my own in my crowd and followed closely until it came out. It’s not the greatest game in the world, I’ve played a lot of better strategy games for sure. But it has character that a lot of others are lacking. I wish they had expanded on the loyalty system and the political system a bit more. The micromanaging is tedious. I doubt a modern audience would want to give orders to each district each turn and then move all the pieces individually during the battle sequences. That said, I would welcome a modern take on this game, in the Koei-style.

A word about the video: I’m still learning how to capture footage and process the video. I used Adobe Premiere since I have the subscription, but acknowledge it may not be the best tool for the job. If anybody reading this has suggestions, please comment below or the channel. Thanks for reading and watching, and have a good Fourth.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 13

The Makers closed out June with yet another loss, their fourth straight, 282 to 331. While my opponent wasn’t exactly a world beater, he made enough roster moves and averaged enough points to seal up his win by the weekend. I made a last ditch effort on Sunday to try to steal it back from him, but to no avail. Here’s the breakdown of what happened.

Scoring Summary

As I noted above the Makers scored 282 points, a 26 point decrease from the previous week. The offense scored 227 points while the pitching slogged through with 55 points. I knew going into this week that the weird schedules right before the ASB, but I am a little disappointed by the how poorly the pitching did.

Offense

The offense dropped off 51 points versus the previous week. The top offensive player was Chris Owings this week with 45 points. What a pick up this guy has been: at 271 points this season, he’s just 12 points shy of his projection and we’re at the midyear point. The second best player on the team so far. The worst was a tie between Bradley Zimmer and Matt Adams. Zimmer might be dead weight at this point, but I’m reluctant to part with Adams who has been a solid contributor.

Pitching

The pitching line fell 30 points from week 12. Chris Devenski, Astros long man, was the best pitcher with 26 points. The worst was Junior Guerra, who coughed up negative 40 points. The pitching overall cost the Makers -52 points. Simply benching these guys would have given me the win. I can’t remember a prior season where my team has been so thoroughly beaten by itself. If only we could see into the future, right? The Makers absorbed another loss on the strength(…) of 2 wins, 5 losses, and 1 Save. Awful.

Roster changes

On the last day I was about 40 points down but had two pitchers going. I decided to make one last push for the elusive fifth win by adding two more guys: Rafael Montero and Trevor Williams. To make space, I dropped Jose Iglesias, not that he’s been bad, but I didn’t have a place for him. I also cut Randall Delgado, a spare parts pitcher from last week who just didn’t deliver as promised. With four starters going I was crossing my fingers that somebody – anybody – would pull out a win. This being the 2017 Makers, they all lost. Guerra imploded once more against the lowly Marlins. I dropped him before the day was even over. Not that it makes any difference, but it felt good to fire the guy. Yes that’s the point I’m at with this season.

Week Ahead

My opponent this week is another solid team, who had the distinction of laying low the former League Champion by one point. I can relate to the champion’s feelings right about now. As my confidence is at an all time low in my squad and the weird schedule from the ASB, I don’t think they’ll win. I’ll try to come up with some match ups later in the week if the team isn’t in deep water, but seriously. I need some pitcher to deliver at some point. Bumgarner when?

Season outlook

We’re still looking for win number five here. Let’s end all the talk of, can the Makers end up a game over five hundred this year. Now I’m more worried that they won’t do better than last season. We need exactly three more wins to get there this year. This shouldn’t be too difficult, but after losing 4 games in a row…