Currently Playing…

…Battle for Wesnoth.
Multiplayer, even. Usually I’m not good at any game played against people, but I’m turning out to be decent at this.

I’ve worked out my best tactic – read, the one I’m best at pulling off, thus far – is to be really annoying with quick units, and temporarily steal villages that I can’t keep, as it still decreases the opponent’s income for their next turn, even if they retake it instantly.
In the best case scenario, they don’t take it back, and I’ve got extra gold each turn.

The Undead, followed by Drakes, are probably best for this, as they have flying units mostly unbothered by terrain. The Knalgan Alliance, though it has a flying unit, is worst out of the ones that can reliably do this, as the unit is much more costly than most others available. The Undead flying unit (Bat) is very cheap at 13 gold, and as it’s still alive, it can pick up traits, unlike most of the other Undead units. Drakes are more expensive, with the cheapest flier (Drake Glider) coming in at 16 or 17 gold, but are much more durable than Bats, so they can sit on villages for longer.
There are a couple of methods to defend against this kind of tactic; leaving your own units on villages so scouts can’t just occupy them – scouts aren’t as capable fighters as others, so they don’t stand much chance of dislodging other units –  but this ties up a fair portion of your units, even if you restrict it to where enemy scouts fly. Keeping a number of high-mobility units around expressly for dislodging scout units is also a decent idea, but depending on what else the enemy is doing, this still ties up units and may prevent them from taking part in the main conflict.

Best-to-Worst Factions, when I’m trying to play them:

Drakes – formerly right at the bottom, as I just couldn’t ever win with them, but something must have clicked with them recently. Brilliant on deserts.
Undead – cheap units with very nice mobility, and handy resistances. Oh, and a glass cannon, too. No healer, though.
Loyalists – well, they’re humans.
Rebels – great in forests, sort of ‘meh’ elsewhere. Saurians get nearly the same bonuses in trees, too.
Northerners – no healer units, and somewhat fragile.
Knalgan Alliance – no healer units, again, and somewhat fragile, again. Plus their scout is horrendously expensive.

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Miniview: Left 4 Dead (PC)

I love:
…the aural cues for specific zombies. As far as my limited experience goes, it’s relatively easy to tell what direction, say, a Witch is lying, but difficult to tell exactly how far away said Witch is, as the music certainly pierces walls, and the sound effects might. Given that about half the time your field of vision is extremely limited, listening to the aural cues is essential. If you don’t get disoriented playing mute, why have sound in the first place?
…limited vision, come to think of it. Too many games nowadays take the cheap route with darkness that is easily defeatable by fiddling with monitor brightness, with the result of most games being easy to see in no matter whether or not I’m carrying a torch, as I keep brightness on my monitors high by default. L4D doesn’t do that; the flashlight is necessary most of the time you’re inside buildings. Additionally, there are reasons not to use the flashlight. One, at least.
…the writing on the walls. I just love that kind of stuff. There are many more ways of telling stories than having people talk at you in cutscenes. Just look at L4D, Portal, Dead Space, and Uplink.

I like:
…that they let you carry multiple pieces of gear – pistol(s), non-default additional weapon, first aid kit, painkillers and an explosive – but limit you to one of each. That is, you can’t tote a shotgun and a hunting rifle at the same time. Fairly realistic, or moreso than any game that lets you carry and choose from umpteen weapons at once, but that’s the way things seem to be going nowadays, I think?
…pistols and a hunting rifle. I just favoured them over the other available weapons. Non-autofire weapons mean I’m likely not to shoot teammates that much. I need to learn to use molotovs at some point, though.
…achievements. Well, I like them in general, and L4D has a large collection of them. Some are sensible – achievements for completing the campaigns, an achievement for completing anything with everyone alive. Some are a bit silly, like the requirement for the Genocidest achievement.

I hate:
…how my mouse kept freezing every ten or twenty seconds. I use an optical mouse and I usually don’t need a mousemat, even for Half-Life 2, but for some odd reason Left 4 Dead just hates that. I don’t know whether it’s the mouse or the lack of a mousemat, but next time I play, I’ll find out. Either way, finding yourself unable to turn whilst anything is running at your backside is not fun.
…the lack of a manual? It’s an odd thing I have against Steam/Valve games. The one occasion they have a ‘user manual’ available directly from Steam’s game list, it’s for Team Fortress 2. Have you read that thing? It’s not helpful. I know L4D is mostly the standard Steam-FPS controlset, but… nowhere thus far has L4D outright explained the controls, and for half of my recent game I had to stay away from Witches as I didn’t know how to turn off the frigging flashlight. For someone like me who only goes into FPS territory on a fluke, for the most part, it’s a rather high barrier to entry when a manual is not easily available.

Verdict:
Well, usually I don’t play this kind of game. I’m bad enough with horror as it is; I prefer my shambling monstrosities to… you know… shamble, rather than leap on me as soon as I’ve spotted them.
Somehow, though, L4D isn’t as frightening as the normal horror games I play; the Ch’zo Mythos games, for example. This is probably due to me playing with one other living person – horror isn’t as horrifying when you know there’s someone else around, helping and… honestly, being better than you in almost every respect other than protecting other characters and avoiding getting hurt.
The only thing that at times prevented this game from being enjoyable was my problems with my mouse. When it wasn’t playing up, L4D was really quite fun. I get the feeling the game would be much worse for my pulse in single-player, honestly.
If you have people to play with, by all means, go for it.