Friday Diary: Fight for the Octopus!

Welcome to the final Friday Diary of 2013. In this, its inaugural year, I have been surprised by how I’ve managed to keep regular updates and actually find something to talk about. It leads me to a few interesting observations about our 5punky habits, but more on that later. We also played games last night to varying effect.

He can't surrender because it takes too long to lay down his arms.

He can’t surrender because it takes too long to lay down his arms.

By the time I joined in the gaming (delayed because I was watching Rock Paper Shotgun’s favourite intros) there was  a healthy turnout for Planetside 2, which seems to be making something of a resurgence. Maybe it’s the Christmas snowmen who have been turning up all over the continent, but Esamir (my favourite stomping grounds) has been an uphill struggle for days now as Vanu, seemingly perpetually outnumbered by the bad guys. Not that I mind, it means I have to walk less to find the enemy, but when there’s a group of you it can become a bit of a grind.

I find it easy to shoot anything wearing a hat like that.

I find it easy to shoot anything wearing a hat like that.

We bounced between outposts for a while, firefighting as we’d push one place only to start losing the others. One such place was The Octagon, once a remote outpost but now after several iterative patches a stronghold containing claustrophobic alleys and tightly grouped buildings. Or, as we quickly dubbed it, the octopus. That particular attack fell pretty flat, mostly due to a stiff NC defence, at least in small part from my parking our Sunderer next to their vehicle spawn. We became a little more focussed in our objective once we realised we were actually winning the current alert – a server-wide objective which awards huge amounts of XP to whichever side wins – which was to capture as many biolabs as possible.

Biolabs are designed to be infantry combat zones, large domes inaccessible to vehicles. They become meat grinders very quickly, and bottlenecks are deadly grounds constantly barraged by fire and explosions. I don’t particularly enjoy them. We persevered though, and the VS won the alert despite us capturing none of the three on Esamir. By that point we’d all had enough of taking a pasting on Esamir so we relocated to the desert continent of Indar. The situation wasn’t much better there, we’d pushed out further but we found ourselves fighting off a large TR counterattack on an installation which guards a steep pass. We put up a good fight, but couldn’t hold back the red tide. Again, we found ourselves firefighting as the other sides closed in on our warpgate.

We capped the shit out of this place.

We capped the shit out of this place.

Sometime around this stage, while we were dispersed and trying to relocate on another objective, I remember we were singing ‘Ladies Night’ but with the word ‘ladies’ replaced with ‘anus.’ I can’t remember why, if anyone else can please speak up in the comments. I’m pretty sure there was something about a Bhangra version of Lord of the Rings, and Manga grass. I dunno. Anyway, we ended the game with a big battle across open ground, slowly pushing back the NC. It’s these spectacles that really make Planetside 2 stand out among shooters because you just can’t get that kind of spectacle, with hundreds of people on either side, in Battlefield or Call of Duty. The flip side is you can only die so often to distant tanks lobbing shells or swooping fighters rocketing you before you get tired of it. That’s not unique to PS2 though.

It didn’t take long to decide on what we would be playing next, although we lost a few players. While we were waiting for everyone to get drinks and whatnot, and were discussing something puerile which included the name Matt, I was struck with the realisation that on Teamspeak we had a Will and a Leigh, both AFK, whose combined names sounded like the word ‘willy.’ This revelation struck up an inter-game discussion of the fictional TV show “Willy Brothers,” which is like Chuckle Brothers but with more cocks. Needless to say, when they returned both were thrilled by their newfound partnership.

We played two games of Dota 2, one against bots and one against people. The first, against easy bots, went pretty well. I took Ogre Magi, an unusual pick for me but one I enjoy. We won without any real trouble, and Roman dominated as the new hero Legion Commander.Pbut contributed by coaching, which for us means drawing cocks on the map while we play.

Pnut's tactical insights in action.

Pnut’s tactical insights in action.

Bolstered by our victory we decided to take on human opponents, which ended up being a single draft game. We didn’t end up with a bad team – Riki and Clinkz (Fab and I) could have been fine harrassers, Lion and Pugna (Bits and Johnson) as good nuker support, Roman as Phantom Assassin is a bit of a mystery to me, but he seemed comfortable. I think the problem we had is that there’s not much push there and no initiators. The other team took a fine combination of hard hitting creep-killers with Legion Commander and Huscar, with Death Prophet a fine pusher, Viper for single target ranged support, and finally Pudge (again, never played him so I’m not sure of his strength). Legion Commanded dominated this game too, utterly, and by the time we lost their lowest level character was the same as our highest. Still, the other team were friendly and magnanimous in victory.

It’s a well documented fact about Dota 2 that knowing the intricacies of the many characters is instrumental in playing the game competitively (by which I mean ‘able to win occasionally’), and we fell down on that last night as a group. Still, each defeat allows us to play better, and make the victories all the sweeter. Also, since the game is notoriously hard, I don’t really mind losing.

Did I say I had an overarching conclusion? I believe I did. I’ve noticed from writing these that our comedy wit and banter depends largely on the concentration required for the games we’re playing. When playing Dota 2 it decreases dramatically as we try to keep up with the pace, communicate tactics, and decry our individual defeats. It’s a nice balance we have I think. Earlier in the night we have silly fun, joke around, interfere with randoms. Later we satisfy the urge to play well, sate that lust for a well played game. Saturdays aren’t discussed in this diary, but they are for slower paced games, a more relaxed pace which lends well to more serious play while retaining the silly chatter. Course we usually end up playing Dota 2 again, but I suspect it’s because it’s the only hit of a solid 5punky team game most of us get all week.

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