Crusader Kings 2: a new high! (Part 1)

I recently concluded another campaign in Crusader Kings 2 and this time I did better than my previous best score and my previous campaign with the largest realm.

CK2 25Mar17_1

CK2 25Mar17_2

CK2 25Mar17_3

With a score of 178,253, it easily beat the highest benchmark of 100,000 by the House of Capet. There were 24 rulers, all male (easily explained by choice of succession laws) with King Mernix II the Magnaminous having the longest rule (50 years) and Emperor Somerled the Great having the highest individual score (18,037).

At the end of it, I was Emperor of Alba, Emperor of Hispania, King of Scotland and King of Mauretania. There were many more kingdoms I could have created but chose not to (e.g. Wales, Ireland, Portucale, Arabia, Greece, Anatolia, Cyprus) to avoid adverse consequences emanating from succession laws. I was liege to King of Andalusia, Castille, England, Galacia, Leon, Lithuania, Syria and 20+ dukes!

As soon as I could affect the succession law, I switched to Tanistry. From the outset, I had been grooming all dynasty members in Diplomacy so that it didn't matter much who had the highest number of votes. Of course that meant the rulers' Stewardship was not great and so I tried to get spouses that were great in that trait and sometimes I had to seek divorce to do that. This problem mostly disappeared the moment I became an emperor and much less so when holding 2 emperor titles.

Tanistry works very well as long as there is no secondary title of the same rank as the primary title e.g. the highest rank is King and all other titles are below that rank. This succession law ensures that your dynasty is always in control of your realm and thus greatly increases the chance of the game not ending (unless you are completely swept away by rebellion or foreign powers).

However, once there are titles that are of equal rank to your primary title, then there is a high chance of your realm splitting because, from my experience, the electors tend to nominate different heirs for these titles. So either you then switch to another succession law or make sure your primary title is the only highest ranked title by not creating equally ranked titles or destroying them.

For example, I created Kingdom of Ireland just to vassalise all independent earls within my de jure realm and then destroyed the title immediately after vassalisation so that I was king of only 1 realm i.e. Scotland. Yes, I suffered a penalty of -40 in relationship to all vassals within that de jure realm for 10 years (or until my death. whichever earlier) but this was partially negated by high diplomacy and Noble Custom technology. It also helped that vassals like Tanistry succession law.

Incidentally, in terms of technology, I prioritised Military Organisation, Castle, Improved Keep, Legalism (just enough to get max centralisation) and Noble Custom. The last one was super useful to substantially offset the penalty of high crown authority. In addition, most vassals also liked Tanistry (and Elective Monarchy).

However, once I decided to hold 2 empire titles (Alba and Hispania), I switched to Elective Monarchy to prevent the realm from splitting. One thing that I should had done earlier was to actively seek opportunities to replace my vassals with my kinsman so to increase the chance of a dynasty member elected as heir. "Gifts" were sometimes needed to sway electors to my choice and once a while I created new dukes to increase the votes for my chosen heir. Diplomatic skills of the nominee and my ruler greatly affected the votes.

I usually sent away kinsman without specialisation in diplomacy trait. Initially, I married them off to faraway kingdoms. Later, I married them off with most powerful female rulers available.

Damn OneDrive

OneDrive is a Microsoft software that allows you to backup files to their cloud server. It was pre-installed in my laptop and I left it as it was because I thought it was a good idea to have backup.

However, recently I realised that it had its own Documents folder i.e. it wasn't backing up files from my the user's Documents folder where my important files are.

A quick search on the internet revealed that, stupidly, OneDrive doesn't allow you to select which folders you want it to backup. Then I found a workaround here given by Matthew Broady:

" A Workaround easiest, although it would be a useful feature.
Find the Address of the folder you want to be synced. (ie. C:\Games\). Copy it.

Find the OneDrive location you wish for it to sync to. Hold shift and right click. On the context menu, click open command window here. In it type "mklink /j "YourCustomFolderName" "Address of Location(i.e. C:\Games\)"", without the outer punctuation marks.

This is like a shortcut that tells any programs that look there to look at another directory.
This will sync anything inside the address you tell it to the folder created in a onedrive directory. "

It worked well but I was a little perturbed that the user's Documents folder was no longer (visibly) shown in Desktop/Username directory. It still existed in the C:\Users\Username directory. I thought I would just give it a try and adjust around it.

However, things came to a head when I discovered that there was simply not enough space to backup all files in Documents folder. Oh well.

Since I do manually backup a select few personal files to Dropbox and all work files to Google Drive, I decided to make do without One Drive. Problem is that, unlike normal programme, it's not straightforward to uninstall One Drive. In the end, I followed this set of instructions from this website and removed One Drive (and its remnants, as it was still trying to back up files even though it couldn't).

Next problem was to make the user's Document visible again in Desktop/Username directory. I know it was there because when I attempted to create a new folder named Documents, a message popped up telling me there was already a folder there.

Again, I searched (thank you internet!) and found this website. I tried the "restore default location" method but didn't work. So I used BAT file downloaded from the website to help me. It worked! I repeated the process for the Pictures folder too.


Food trucks in KL

This is my first time seeing so many food trucks in one place:

Food truck 1

Food truck 2

Food truck 3

Know which is truck was the most popular? The one that sold chips.

I've always though that food trucks are a foreign concept but then again we all along have those in Malaysia that sell chendol, rojak and burgers, right? I know they started off as stalls decades ago but more and more have switched to trucks.

Atlas Reactor: all frontliners

Someone in my group wanted to play Phaedra to complete a mission. I wanted to play Rampart (also a frontliner) for the same reason. So I asked the group whether they are ok with that or they prefer me playing another role.

Someone told me to play what I wanted but immediately followed by someone else's suggestion for all members to player frontliners. That got spontaneous approval from the other 2 who promptly changed to that role, leaving me still trying to lock in my choice lol. At their urging, I did choose Rampart and here's the resulting crazy match:

I don't usually play Rampart. In fact, I believed he is my least played freelancer.

The current set of mods I'm using are (loadout points in bracket):

(1) Radamantium flurry: Battle rush (1)

Because of the mods I chose for ability 2, 4 and 5, it's either this mod or Area Suppression (simply due to leftover loadout point). I don't like the latter. Decently skilled enemies wouldn't be surrounding a Rampart and so this mod is almost useless (but bear in mind I'm not a Rampart player haha). Battle Rush is my first choice because it gives me more energy to gain the ultimate ability, which is the only dash ability that Rampart has.

(2) Bullwark: Bunker (2)

It's a toss-up between this and Defensive Posture. On one hand, Bunker gives you actual healing but only if enemies hit the shield. On the other hand, Defensive Posture gives 25 shield unconditionally and useful against attack that bypasses the shield e.g. Gremolitions' mine, Zuki's Big One. So I'm not sure which one gives more "effective healing".

(3) Fusion lance: Radamantium tipped blade (3)

The idea behind this mod is to combo with Bullwark: pull 2 targets towards me and then next turn use Bullwark to protect myself, hopefully gain some heals and to attack plus slow these targets. Sounds good on paper but so far, multiple targets don't appear often. Rocket Lance may be a better mod because of its range but I loathe not utilising all loadout points. So I'll monitor this further.

(4) Unstoppable force: Invincible (2)

15 shield is too good to pass over because of sustain.

(5) Aegis protocol: Rocket boosters (2)

Since it's Rampart's only dash ability, it's good to have the option to dash further to either get away, attack enemies who are further away or to protect allies. Engine Of War is another possibility if Rocket Lance mod is used for Fusion lance (thereby freeing 1 loadout point).

Rare treat

My mum rarely cooked these years because of chronic illnesses. So it's always a treat when she feels up to it.

During the recent CNY celebration at my sister's place, my mum cooked this:

Mum's nasi lemak 1

Mum's nasi lemak 2

It is nasi lemak with yellow curry chicken. She even made the sambal. The banana leaves were obtained from neighbour.

It was delicious, as usual with all her cooking, but in truth I would prefer spicier chicken dish. I do understand though the chicken was cooked this way so that my young nephew and niece could have them too and, yes, they enjoyed it too :)

It was a resounding success since the young and old loved it :)

Thanks mum!

Undisclosed information

Due to logistic issue, I suggested to my parents come over to KL to have an early lunch celebration of my dad's birthday. After going through a few options, we settled on Fish & Co. The last time they dined at an outlet was decades ago in Singapore with one of my close friends (the first friend I made there :) ). In any case, my parents had long forgotten the food there and in fact, my dad couldn't even recall dining there at all hehehe.

So we met Ban (I drove my parents) at the restaurant's outlet at Paradigm Mall. I guessed, and turned out to be correct, that my dad would enjoy sharing with me a seafood platter because of its variety of food. My mum chose creamy mushroom and chicken pasta (she's allergic to seafood...currently) while Ban had grilled fish with coriander. We shared a garden salad. The order consisted of 2 lunch sets and 2 ala carte food. Bear in mind that the cost of the ala carte food was about twice of that of the lunch sets. This is quite relevant later.

As Ban and I dined there before, before entering the restaurant, I checked and confirmed that the CIMB credit card promotion was still on i.e. 10% on ala carte food. It is quite common for promotion to exclude lunch sets or any other food that's already subjected to other ongoing promotion.

The food was delicious and more importantly my dad enjoyed it very much.

However, when we were presented with the bill and we wanted to use a CIMB credit card for the discount, we were told that it was not possible because all items were in one bill. So I requested 2 separate bills i.e. ala carte food that qualified for the discount and the lunch sets. Astoundingly, the waiter said it wasn't possible to void the current bill. I stood my ground.

While the waiter went off to check with (presumably) his senior colleague, I checked the board advertising the promotion. There was no such requirement as "applies to bill with only ala carte food" or anything similiar to that.

The senior staff approached and basically repeated the same message the waiter said. I pointed that there was no such requirement in the advertisement board and asked, "Is it our fault that you didn't put it in?" I didn't allow him to say anything else until he answered my question, which was "No, of course it isn't your fault." No worries, no voices were raised :)

Upon my insistence, he went back to the cashier to "fix it". Boy, it took him, and one other staff quite a long time to go about it. Ban and I were surprised that they couldn't void the current bill and issue new ones. Surely such action is needed to, say, correct mistakes (e.g. wrong order was keyed in) or to compensate irate customers by not charging them for certain food that they ordered?

In the end, they did this: they charged the card the original bill; then reversed it; and then charged the 2 new bills (one for ala carte food, one for the lunch sets). Weird, isn't it?

I told the senior staff that I liked the food and service at that outlet and I wanted them to succeed. Hence they needed to do something about this as I was sure I wouldn't be the last customer to complain about this. Either they insert another criterion on the board or have their waiters informing customers upon seating. He thanked me and explained that they were short of staff and things were hectic. In my mind, I was thinking, "Yes, that's bad but it's no excuse for this." but I merely acknowledged his predicament and advised them to fix this soon. I wished them good luck before we left.


About a year after I straightened out, I came back to America and wound up writing a couple of books with a novelist named Peter Straub. These were called Koko and Mystery, and maybe you read them. It's okay if you didn't.

- "The Throat" by Peter Straub.

N.B: Peter is the author of Koko and Mystery haha.

Atlas Reactor: first 5 again

I am the first 5 players to level up Grey to 20. I tried to do the same for Gremolition and Orion but couldn't make it.

Subsequently, I wasn't interested in playing much of the new freelancers until Khita came along. She's the latest support freelancer and after trying her out in vs AI bots and PvP, I decided that I liked her enough (and still do) for me to try being the first 5 players to level her up to 20.

When the 3rd player was announced, I went "Nooooooooooooooooooooo" in the chat hahaha. I believed my Khita was level 16 or 17 then. The problem is that the list I used to refer to is no longer updated and so it was hard to know who had done so already. The "3rd player" announcement was the latest indication. The first one was someone on Atlas Reactor's Discord complaining about not being able to unlock a Mastery skin despite leveling up Khita to 20 (and it is still a bug currently).

Finally, just past 3am on Friday, 3 March, I made it :)

Khita level 20_1

(Incorrect grammar. It should be "is the fourth player" because that is still true at that point and forever into the future)

Khita level 20_2

Khita level 20_3

Atlas Reactor: Grey

Grey is the first freelancer I leveled to 20 after launch and I am the 4th person to do so :) It is still my highest level freelancer (level 23) at present.

I'm still using the same build today, unchanged since pre-launch (loadout points in bracket):
(Please refer to Atlas Reactor official website for description and video of the abilities)

(1) Tracer bolt: Hunt them down (2)
(2) Hawk drone: Infrared enhancement (2)
(3) Tranquilizer dart: Overdose (2)
(4) Slip away: Agile escape (2)
(5) Voltaic cage: Zapper (2)

As stated before, I generally aim for consistency and survivability.

So first off, I addressed her greatest weakness i.e. her dash (4). By default and with all mods except for one, she can only dash to a 3x3 area within her drone and thus making her susceptible to area effect attack such as Aurora's Ion Cloud. Agile Escape increases this area by 1 i.e. 4x4. With some judicious positioning of the drone, you have more choices of safe spot to dash to.

Next is Infrared Enhancement mod: it allows drone to attack invisible enemies. Great for consistency as it will target enemies in camouflage tiles and those using invisibility abilities or catalyst.

Overdose mod slows the target too and so can be used defensively (weakens and slows pursuer while trying to shake him off) or aggressively (causing target to move halfway to the next cover and therefore out in the open).

Hunt Them Down mod increases damage to tracked target. This is chosen after a process of elimination:
(a) Energy gain is not good because her ultimate ability is underwhelming
(b) Cooldown reduction for the drone is bad because the cooldown is naturally a short duration of 2
(c) I never like piercing because it's situational (and hence much less consistent) and the mod doesn't even do damage to second target but merely track both targets. To get mileage out of this, the secondary target must be within drone range the next turn, which again is situational.

Lastly, Voltaic Cage mod increases damage of the ultimate ability. Problem with the ultimate ability is that it requires enemies to move through its cage to trigger the damage. The other mod I considered was the extra range mod but it increases range by only 1. If it's by 2, I would likely take that instead.

Below is a video of the last ranked match I played. It was quite stressful at the start because I was at around 12hp by turn 4! Yet, I did the highest damage (thanks to Helio for keeping me alive!) right up to turn 10 before I needed to take a breather to heal up. At the end of the match, our Elle did the highest damage followed by me.

Incidentally, although the video shows "Defeat" at the end, my team won. For whatever reason, the replay videos always put my team in the Red team and the outcome of the match is always from the point of view of the Blue team. So "Defeat" means the Red team (my team) wins.

If We Hold On Together

Don't lose your way
with each passing day
You've come so far
Don't throw it away
Live believing
Dreams are for weaving
Wonders are waiting to start
Live your story
Faith, hope and glory
Hold to the truth in your heart

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by, for you and I

Souls in the wind
Must learn how to bend
Seek out a star
Hold on to the end

There is a fountain
Washes our tears all away
Words are swaying
Someone is praying
Please let us come home to stay

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by
For you and I

When we are out there in the dark
We'll dream about the sun
In the dark we'll feel the light
Warm our hearts...everyone

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
As high as souls can fly
The clouds roll by
For you and I

Sparkles once again

Haven't played these for ages...

CNY17 sparkles 1

CNY17 sparkles 2

...until the recent CNY celebration at my sister's place :)

I remember when I was young, I played this with my cousins at my grandfather's shophouse (upstairs was the living quarters), in the middle section of the building. I have fond memories of these. Been decades. Faded but fond :)