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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Anniversary: From Yoga to Ogre

So, this week marks my blog's second (or is it third?) birthday (Third Birthday!! Name of the PSP game -- yes, yes, the one with that notorious/yet-to-be-unlocked Shower Scene of Aya Brea -- that gave me a pinched nerve in the neck!) ... luckily, maintaining this blog hasn't been that much of a pain in the neck. Over the past year, I continued to record my exploration into the many wonders of yoga, modern (phone) technologies and -- as anyone who'd been following this blog the past couple of months or so will tell you -- a PSP game called Tactics Ogre. In fact, a friend said I should count how many times I've said, on this blog, that I am DONE with the game (okay, I'm not gonna count but I surmise at least half a dozen times) ... only I am STILL playing it (latest: I am trying to create a Divine Knight ... just out of curiosity ... really ...)

I think I'd made some progress on the mat; I don't usually notice that until I practise next to someone new to yoga ... then I remember how it was for me when I first started to learn the asanas: the tightness of the muscles/hamstrings, the lack of focus in balancing, the lack of energy, the shallow breathing, the inability to follow verbal instructions (which still applies today). Now, I am hoping to build on the basics that I'd learnt. Yoga is such a lengthy journey of (self) discovery/realisation and I'm setting some new goals for next year: I shall continue to work on my back bends so, one day, I will be able to do drop backs -- a wonderful asana that combines both physica/mental strength/flexibility. Oh, I can't wait to experience the sensation/ emotions of doing a full seated forward bend/fold. Will also learn to be more flexible not only on the mat but in life in general. It's good to have strong principles but there will come a time -- many times -- in life when we all have to settle for compromises.

Fantastic track!!!

Highlights of the past 12 months include: learning more about Yin, Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga; getting my hands on the now nearly-extinct Nokia N900 (for old time's sake, I must have ONE Nokia NSeries phone, even though it is totally crap when compared with, say, Nexus S the Google Phone); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), which I saw twice; and, what else, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together!!!  


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tactics Ogre (Let Us Cling Together) ~ The End

Yes, all good things must come to an end and I've now beaten this game and obtained the Ambicion sword (ultimate exclusive weapon) from the Dark Knight Lancelot. Sure, there is still part two of the San Bronsa Ruins to tackle and divine knights to create but the grinding for (more) weapons/items has started to get rather tedious. So, it's time to put it down (after some 565 hours) and start playing something else ~ on PSP Vita (!!!) I've already begun playing the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 but cannot quite get into it cos 1) I am not into fight games and 2) it is mostly in Japanese. The other game that came with the handheld is Uncharted -- Golden Abyss, which looks interesting but it's also one of those games that will give me a pinched nerve in the neck...

Hmm, which means I am left with nothing to play at the moment -- even though, quite ironically, I now have TWO PSPs!!!

The Vita does look very interesting though I have yet to fully explore its many functions. The thing is, I think my phones/iPad/EyeTV/PSP/Kindle, despite being on different OS -- iOS, Android, Blackberry, Maemo and what have you -- have started to overlap function-wise ... do I need/want all these gadgets?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Spiritualism & Materialism

Merry Christmas, everyone! Not being a particularly religious person, I spent this morning gaming before heading over to the yoga studio for an Inversion class. The 90-min session with Mister M was challenging. We kicked off with some core exercises to wake the body up before launching straight into various arm balancing poses with options to go upside down. I chose a mat right next to the wall so I could "cheat" a little (esp with handstand). When I was inverted, I tested my "core power/strength" by consciously "tightened up" the tummy area. The action appeared to have some effect on my stability though I was still quite wobbly, just as well I had the wall for support. My back bends also seem to be going well and I was able to get into various poses that required a little bit more flexibility ... and to feel my body responding to the stretches etc. All in all, it was a good/satisfying session. 

Christmas, I guess, is always a good time for reflection. So I was thinking about next year. Isn't 2012 supposed to be the end of the world or something -- a friend said to me the other night: "I'm not afraid because you don't see the end of the world, like, every day, right?" Have to say she has a point, we are all gonna die anyway so might as well die in a spectacular fashion! But today is about hope ... so I'm just hoping ... for the best in the year to come.

After the yoga class I decided to wander over to the Asian Games Show and see if there were any PSP Vitas left ... and, to my surprise, there were still stock and the queue was relatively short. So I pick up one for myself and another one for a friend. Is this the beginning of the end of Tactics Ogre?!? I'm finally climbing the San Bronsa Ruins and it's kinda fun. But I think I should stop obsessing about getting every single item cos that'd mean hours of grinding ... so maybe I will pick up a couple of powerful spells and be done with it. 

Oh, saw this movie called Dream House yesterday ... kinda Sixth Sense meets The Others meets whatever ... Daniel Craig is in it and he is rather good. Don't understand why he always gets his kits off in movies though...

Friday, December 23, 2011

PSP Vita

After my incessant nagging, a friend got me into the preview/launch of the new Sony PlayStation Portable, "Vita", yesterday and after giving it a quick test I couldn't put it down! It is the latest version of the PSP which, among other super duper new features, boosts of a larger (touch) screen. The resolution/colour/graphics are simply stunning. The only down side -- and I'm really nitpicking here -- is the weight. I've no idea how much it weighs but it does feel quite heavy in the hand, definitely heavier than the PSP I have now. It will have 3G/WiFi connection (for social media/networking) but since I already have so many phones, it's not deal breaking for me. So despite the hype etc, I'm in no big hurry to upgrade my machine - yet.


Have just booked my Christmas Day yoga class ... it's for inversion and since the Perfect Human Specimen had left the studio some months ago, I haven't been training my "core" (it's hard to say exactly what the "core" is but we all need it to stand/sit up straight, esp when you are, like, upside down). Core exercises are very challenging not least because the practice can actually be quite painful (sometimes the (good) pain can last for a few days). But that is how you "wake" the core up and gain core awareness. It's both a physical and mental process. While I can do the tripod headstand in the middle of the room, I need the wall to practice the classical headstand and handstand for both physical and psychological support -- the fear of flipping over onto my back/collapsing is just too great.

Over in Tactics Ogre land (am now almost 600 hours into the game), I've been "World-ing" around treasure hunting and levelling up more characters (uniques and generics). The Palace of the Dead is now permanently unlocked for floor-skipping at the beginning of Coda Episode Two (though I doubt I will ever return to that after, like, 6-7 visits); I have got two more exclusive items -- the missable Demonpetal scroll and a Dark Knight weapon (the hammer) -- in my last run of the Hanging Gardens; the Liches (Rudlum and a generic that aptly named Fredrick) are as good as what the strategy guide/forum say they are!! Over the holiday I will level them up some more (maybe get the Rose Whip) before heading up to the San Bronsa Ruins and, finally, re-doing Coda Episodes 3 and 4 -- to get the rest of the Dark Knights' weapons. Will think of something else to do after that -- if I am still into the game by then. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Reboot (2)

OH! This blog "disappeared" from cyberspace for a few mins just now!! Had to key in some extra passwords to access it again ... Maybe it was a security issue (??)

Anyway, a quick followup to my last post re: my new Nokia N900 ... for some strange reasons, the Chinese input is suddenly Working ~ Hurrah!!! So it was a good thing I didn't flash the phone. Basically the only thing that I "messed up" was the English interface, which is not a big issue at all; in fact, I like the Chinese one better. Time to download some apps from the super geeky Maemo OS site ...

A Reboot

So, the Nokia N900 turns out to be a parallel imported phone (i.e. no warranty), the shop told me it wasn't when I bought it... how did I know? Well, after I bought the smartphone, I decided to download this software that enables Chinese character input. However, it didn't work. Alarm bells started to go off by -- cos the software only works for the "official version" of the phone. Anyway, after a few more attempts, decided to just re-install everything ... only after that, the English Language pack just vanished, leaving me with a phone that speaks, err, Dutch, with neither English nor Chinese input  (!!) Did some research over the Internet and the best way to handle the situation, it appeared, was to Flash the phone. Now, phone flashing is a Serious business ... i.e. one mistake and your phone transforms into a brick/paper weight. So, I did more research and downloaded the flasher ... just as well THAT didn't work cos I just felt not so comfortable about phone flashing ... esp having read on various forums that the said flasher actually didn't really work ...

To cut a long story short, I decided to re-install the Chinese input software that, at least, turns the phone interface back to Chinese (though still cannot do character input) and, miraculously, that switches language input back to English ... so, I went from, in just a couple of days, having a phone with Chinese/English interface + English input to one that only has Chinese interface + English input. I'll settle for that. At least I can USE the phone ... and I don't really mind, the phone WAS half the original price!

Tactics Ogre update: Well, I got 99 per cent of the gears that I wanted but I somehow missed the route to the Blackmore battle in the Palace of the Dead (bwah!!) So I've decided to go back to the floor where I can turn Rudlum the Warlock into a Lich (dark mage). THEN I will head back to Level 75 and work my way to Level 100 for the Crest of Fire ... Oh well, that's fine cos I really don't want this game to end, esp now my Azelstan is a kick ass Buccaneer ;o)

24 hours later: Rudlum is now a Lich (!!) and I've beaten Blackmore, twice ... what a horrible battle when there appears to be an endless supply of enemies but the drops are AMAZING. Got my Crest of Fire (finally) but am now obsessing about the Ogre Set (this game keeps getting me obsessed about one thing or another ... I still need to get the Rose Whip for Ozma for instance, oh, and the Abyss II spell for Warren and all the special weapons available in the final battle with the Dark Knights, which I have yet to replay... bwah!) Anyway, now I need the Ogre Blade and Ogre Amour to complete my set. So what's next? Complete the Ogre set? Train up my lower level units? The San Bronsa Ruins?

Some (more) hours later: Done! Have the Ogre Set! Feeling very satisfied ... and relieved. I don't think I wanna go back to the Palace of the Dead EVER again ... enough ... really ...Think will now relax and do some team building. Time to take Rudlum, Gildas, Hobyrim and possibly Folcurt to the Golborza Plain for levelling up. Then San Bronsa Ruins...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some Progress (4)

Phew! Finally beaten Nybeth the Necromancer and have just entered the Hanging Garden ... AND ... I discovered a secret passage that takes me way to the top (skipping some 20 floors) ... think I'll take this shortcut as the Palace of the Death kinda did my head in (for the third time) ... but now that I have the three Palace Guides, I can now skip 30+ floors at a time. Perfect! So I'll quickly finish Chapter 4 and skip back to Coda and head for the PotD again to finish off Blackmore ... the Crest of Fire is now on the horizon! The last PotD run actually wasn't too bad and had got myself more exclusive weapons. My team is now edging towards Level 50 -- the final level (Vyce is already there)... 

In between games I managed to completely mess up the language settings for the new Nokia (NO Chinese input and the English Language Pack also suddenly vanished)  ... oh well, at least it's just a toy so will have it fixed at some point ~ but no big hurry. But Nokia really does make Other brands look SO good! Nexus S is da best!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nokia N900

OMG, I saw this beauty in a local phone shop last night, selling for half its original price (a year ago). It can run on Android so I think I will run down and get it today. It's a Nokia and, in my opinion, everyone should have at least ONE in their collection... (yes, I do have this thing about Nokia phones ... even though they are totally shite compared with most mobile phones today -- slow, bizarre OS, Ovi Store is kinda a joke etc -- we gadget geeks just LOVE them . I can never forget the 7710, what a classic!). This is more a tablet computer than a phone and from what I've read on the Web, it is very fidgety to use -- a complete turn on for me! I doubt I will use it as a phone -- I don't even use my Nexus S as a phone cos it's just too big -- but a perfect toy for Christmas.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips on Seated Forward Bend

Here is a pose that always gets me grunting (in pain and frustration)! 

Just stumbled across this blog (Sensational Yoga Poses):, which has some pretty cool tips for people with tight hamstrings ~ ME!!! My hamstrings (and probably hips) are so tight when I widen my legs when seated, my feet totally go outside of the mat (while rest of the class have their feet on their mat). I mean, look at the photo above; this guy's legs spread out pretty wide to allow his torso to lower. My legs are much closer to the centre (cannot even open @ a 90-degree angle), thus blocking my way to bend forward, i.e. pelvis not able to tilt forward. ALSO because I have a slight rounding in my lower back, I'm like a shrimp in this pose. However, if I bend my legs, then I am able to move forward slightly more. 

Picking up my PSP early this evening. This sounds TOTALLY weird but I actually dreamt playing Tactics Ogre the past two nights.

Time. For. A. Psychiatrist. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Relaxation and Balance

Just came back from a flow class and I feel great. The instructor took us through various simple but effective sequences that target at opening the hips -- an area that gives me both a sensation of satisfaction and dissatisfaction (!) With more "opened" hips, I am hoping to take that slight rounding out of my lower back ... but think I really need to work hard on that, considering I sit down in front of the computer (like, Now!) most of the day. But after a few years practising yoga, at least I am conscious of the need to prop up myself tall (instead of slouching) while sitting down. We also did some balancing, which I think is great both for the body and the mind as you do need to pay attention to both to stay grounded and balanced.

What I like most about my practice is the breathing and relaxation part. I'm a born nervous wreck and often have anxiety attacks (even during playing my PSP); but ever since I learnt to take long and deeper breaths,  my monkey mind has been a lot more calm; it's better than any medication (I guess)...

Talk about PSP (fav subject right now in case you hadn't noticed), I finally did the Cressida side quest, which wasn't as hard as some people had made it out to be. No, I didn't recruit her (I hate the idea of the "death march", i.e. slaughtering my own troop in order to raise her loyalty) and I have enough interesting uniques on my team anyway. But the completion of her side quest means I am now on course to kill the evil Nybeth the Necromancer in the Palace of the Dead. Once I bump him off, I will then finish Chapter 4 (again, but this time with PotD properly completed) in order to battle with Blackmore in Coda Episode 1. This time, I can skip floors with the palace guides. Hopefully I will finally get the Crest of Fire (Mwahahaha) by end of next week. Also after of hours of auto grinding, Denam (Lord) and Ozma are now at Level 47 ...


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Grinding (8)

Wow, I'd unlocked both Ozma the Knight Commander and the Sovereign Mark, which I can use to change Denam (currently a Ninja) into a Lord! But the BAD NEWS is that both at Level 1, which can only mean auto grinding @ Golborza Plain (am really sick of that battle map) for a day or two. That aside, I'm excited by the prospect of training these new recruits up cos I've read they are really amazing. As far as unique characters are concerned, I have unlocked all the ones I want. No more, which is a relief (!)

What I like about this game (even at this late stage) is not so much how to come up with strategies for the battles (no need now that my team is kinda strong) but to have fun to come up with a team with thematic makeups. The next couple of days I will work on building up Denam into a character that I want him to be ... it's almost like playing God.

Then ... it's the TWO final runs on Palace of the Dead before heading to the Ruins. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Grinding (7)

Have come down with a cold so am staying off the mat for a week; rather not pass germs onto others. So, have been auto-grinding Tactics Ogre all weekend (think PSP is on the verge of exploding). Vyce is now at Level 40+, finally catching up with the rest of the team (@ Level 46). Have also successfully "scavenged" skills from one of the generics (archer) for Vyce so at least I won't need to grind on levelling up his bow skill on top of everything else (he is now equipped with the almighty Ji'ygla Set, one-shot-ing everything). So gimme a couple more hours and I should be able to take on the Dark Knights (Vyce will have almost max-ed out his bow skill by then). The final episode of Coda is titled "The Magnificent Twelve", a reference to the 12 characters I'll be taking to the final series of battle. Here is my latest lineup: Denam (Ninja), Catiua (Princess), Vyce (Ranger), Azelstan (Buccaneer), Canopus (Vartan), Arycelle (Archer), Mirdyn (Rune Fencer), Warren (Astromancer), Lansolet (Paladin), Sherri (Shaman), Deneb (Wicce) and Rudlum (Warlock).  

One of the most appealing/addictive aspects of this game for me is to work on building a strong team. Am loving the range attackers (Vyce and Azelstan) right now. Despite what  various strategy guides say, I find the Ninja class quite boring (even with the ninjutsu and double attacks skills). So, will have to turn Denam into a Lord when I World back/return to the Law Route. I'd like to include a Knight Commander  on my team is well (Ozma is the only Dark Knight that broke ranks with the rest and can be recruited/unlocked) ... which I should do on the Law Route (after I'd done Episode 4). So, can't wait to put my latest team to the test. Will try to figure out how to further tougher up my magic casters before entering the final battles with the Dark Knights.

PS Okay, I think I finally figured out this "Anchor points" business in this game - and how to proceed post-Episode 4. I will have the final file save (of the entire game, on Chaos Route) resting in the last anchor of the timeline in Warren Report. That is the ultimate anchor point that will not be rewritten (and there will be no need to do so). Simultaneously, I will have another "active" file save (of the Law Route), which I will be on after I World/time travel back to 1) recruit Ozma, 2) change Denam into a Lord, 3) kill Nybeth and 4) kill Blackmore. The beauty of this game mechanism is that, somehow, it makes a connection between my active save file and final save file! So after I've done what I need to do on Law Route, I will be able to move back to the final file save with all the necessary items I gained ~ such as the Crest of Fire and Ogre Set ~ before taking on the final (and the most challenging) side quest: the Floating Ruins in San Bronsa Ruins.

So I think I've cracked it ... and I "only" have TWO more Palace of the Dead visits (one to kill Nybeth and one to kill Blackmore) to look forward to ... *gulp*

PPS these TO: LUCT entries are getting more and more hits by the day so I think other players are checking this blog out for tips... 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Not in real life, sadly, but in my Tactics Ogre game (yeahhhh!) So, after I successfully recruited Vyce (and Xapan the Berserker and Ravness the Valkyrie along the way ~ might as well ~ it wasn't hard at all) on the Law Route, I World-ed/time travelled forward to the Coda section to see whether I could now unlock the 4th and final post-game episode and -- Voila! -- a cool scene of Denam, Catiua and Vyce together again (Vyce dies in Chaos Route). Hurrah. So the next step is to level up Vyce (he is at Level 1 right now) to Level 40 or thereabout so the trio can finish the final quest ... battling for several ultimate/unique weapons. Golborza Plain here I come (again) for some auto-grinding.

I did have to re-do Episode 3 (the rescue Lanselot mission) for the THIRD time but this time round it was SO easy (I forgot my Lanselot is now powered up) he didn't even need my team's help to win. Which was a pleasant surprise.

So, what next after Episode 4? Maybe go back to the Law Route to recruit Ozma the Knight Commander (read she is v good) and kill Catiua in order to turn Denam into a Lord (read that is pretty cool too)? That's easy. But acquiring the Crest of Fire is where things are gonna get tricky because (I just realised) I'll need to OVERWRITE Chaos Route Chapter 4 in order to have the killing of Nybeth the Necromancer (and, therefore, the clearing of Palace of the Dead) registered in the final/ultimate Law-Route game save PLUS  going back to PotD for the nth time to finally take on Blackmore for the Crest of Fire AND Ogre Set and (maybe optional) re-do all four Coda episodes (or just San Bronsa Ruins) ... Is it worth the effort? Can I be bothered? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Progress (3)

So I'm on the Law Route of Tactics Ogre ~ and having a ball. Now that my weapons are way more superior than those of the enemies -- so it WAS worth visiting the Palace of the Dead TWICE -- I can actually have fun fighting those battles. Instead of going straight to the bosses before my team is slaughtered, I can now take the pleasure of picking off the enemies one by one, and getting excellent drops (since everyone is now @ Level 40+). The challenge lies more with trying to understand how the game mechanics work ... I still have no idea on what happens after I recruit Vyce and whether I should enter the PotD for the third time for the final rewards (Crest of Fire and the several items I missed during the last run ... is it even worth going back ...)

Moving on ... read that Galaxy Nexus has now been released in Europe/US ... but no sign of it here in Hongkers. I still have the Nexus S, which I haven't used that much... the phone is simply too big to hold next to face ... just look Ridiculous. Maybe I should trade in three of my phones and have a major overhaul. I actually think the older models are better, at least they were small and you could actually place calls with it without looking like a wally. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Doppelganger

Every now and then, you run into people whom you thought you'd met/known before but, in fact, they are complete strangers. Yet they look kinda the same. Last night, I ran into a doppelganger of this guy I'd a major fallen out with many, many years ago. It kinda made me think, after all this time, "so what was that all about?!" The memory of what happened has all but faded but the feeling of animosity has stayed.

Tactics Ogre (Let Us Cling Together) ~ The Middle

Since the last entry I've managed to acquire more than 20 pieces of unique/rare weapons/items (BIG thanks to Col_Mobius and all the others who contributed to the Loot Spreadsheets on, making my latest run in Palace of the Dead worthwhile. So, despite of the shock of not seeing Blackmore on Floor 100  (and, therefore, no luck with the Crest of Fire *sob*), last week has not been a complete waste of time. But as said, at least this run has been a lot more speedy than the last.

So, the plan now is: 
* finish two more floors in the PotD;
* use the World Tarot to go back to end of Chapter I to embark onto the Law Route (I took the Chaos Route in my first playthrough);
Vyce Bozeck
* recruit Vyce at the end of Chapter III; 
* World Tarot to Coda (Chaos Route) ~ and will probably have to redo Episode III (the Rescue Lanselot mission) AGAIN in order to bring everything up to date;
* train Vyce up to around Level 40 so he will be as powerful as the rest of my team;
* finish Coda Episode IV (assuming the condition to unlock this final mission is to have Vyce on the team but not actually alive in the Warren Report ~ very complicated situation here that I won't even attempt to explain...);
* World Tarot to Law Route Chapter IV to unlock PotD there;
* go into PotD AGAIN to kill Nybeth the Necromancer;
* World Tarot to Coda (which, by now, is fully completed)
* enter PotD one last time (but this time can skip two thirds of the floors using the activated Palace Guides) to kill Blackmore on Floor 100;
* get Crest of Fire and the Ogre Set
* THE END (hopefully) 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

All Four Wind Weapons But ...

... no sign of Blackmore on Floor 100 in the Palace of the Dead *sob*; which can only mean he'll only appear after Nybeth the Necromancer is dead, meaning I will HAVE to cover his story line, which I've thus far avoided. So what does it all mean? 

A face lift that went horribly wrong for
Nybeth the Necromancer
Well,  what's left to do in this latest PotD run is to complete the Ji'ygla Set and get all the exclusives between floors 90-115 and that's it. Blackmore, Crest of Fire and the Ogre Set are all only available when Nybeth is defeated. That, in itself, isn't really an issue (my team is now powerful enough to take on almost anything -- bar the Divine General, I guess -- without much difficulty). What IS an issue is the prospect of spending another 200+ hours on completing bits that I didn't touch during the first run of the game. The way forward, as I see it now, IS to go backwards: World Back and take the Law Route (the alternative to the Chaos Route I took), to get Vyce to join the team and then basically -- and this is the hard part -- re-do the entire Chapter Four (to, of course, kill Nybeth) AND Coda Episode One, Two and Three AND all/most of the side quests inc., oh yes, PotD, like, for the nth time (but don't think I have to do the horrid Cressida side quest in Law). Practically, replaying the game but with a better equipped/high level team. Do I have the energy for that? Much that I love this game (and have been blogging WAY TOO MUCH about it) ... it's one hell of an undertaking ... but will I also be able to resist the temptation of getting that one extra piece of exclusive item (I'm a bit fixated on the Crest of Fire right now ...) and to unlock the fourth and final Coda Episode?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some Progress (2)

I hope I AM making progress ... am now halfway /breezing through Palace of the Dead ... the ultimate rewards for this (final) run will be getting the Ji'ygla's Set (maybe also the Ogre Set) and the Crest of Fire ... I already have two of the three Jiggy items. BUT have read in order to get the Crest of Fire (from Blackmore on Level 100, with all four wind god weapons equipped), I need to have beaten Nybeth. WTH !?!?! I hope that is just misinformation because I'm NOT doing the Nybeth/Cressida quest in order to come back to the PotD for the THIRD time ... no no no no no... So there is just this possibility of me walking away with just the Jiggy set. I don't care much about the cursed weapons ...

After finishing the PotD (maybe in a week), then will finish the second part of the San Bronsa Ruins and I'm, like, done with Tactics Ogre finally. 

I'll be so bored ... have played the demo version of FF Type-0 but it's a bit difficult not being able to read Japanese. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tight Hamstrings, But...

Well, I was going to write on how this particular workshop series on Iyenga Yoga (which I had over the past five days) wasn't as interesting as I'd wished because there were parts that were way too advanced for me but then I remember what one of my teachers said and about having hang-ups. So, instead of writing about how I couldn't do this and that, I decided to focus on how I physically felt (less thinking, more feeling!) and the observations I had about my body.

First of all, I thought I could twist my body until last weekend. To do a full twist, one has to turn not just the shoulders back but the entire torso, which can be extremely challenging. One way of deepening the twist is to suck in the tummy (doing the "bandha"), creating more room for movement and, subsequently, further lengthening the spine. It looks so easy in writing/theory but, in practice/reality, it's, like, omg I cannot turn any more. With help from the assistants, I was able to rotate the body a lot more and my body DID feel the stretch, particularly in the hips and entire back. It also made the body feel SO relaxed afterwards. 

No Sweat!

One interesting observation (but it's not something that I am unaware of ... it just became much more pronounced during the workshop): an imbalance in the left and right side of my body. When I try to get into utthita hasta padangusthasana (above), the right hand side always seems close to impossible. The hamstrings are tight and the hip area rigid. Even with help of the back of a chair to lift up the leg, it still takes me 2-3 minutes to get into the pose. On the other hand/side, despite of my protruding hip bone, this pose feels a lot easier on the left. What IS important though is, when I am in the pose (no matter how long it takes me), I get a nice workout on the hamstrings and sacrum/lower back area and it feels amazing.

So, yes, less hang ups and more enjoyable.

Tactics Ogre progress report: other than one drop that was supposed to drop but never dropped (after almost two hours of trying), have got a few more exclusive items as well as my first Necromancer recruitment! About to hit the first shop in PotD ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Progress

The Palace of the Dead, this time round, turns out to be quite enjoyable (!!!) Have already picked up a number of goodies including part of the almighty Ji'ygla's Set and the Aganista Lightcoat ... and they weren't even that difficult to farm. Maybe cos my team has gotten stronger (as some started to reach Level 40). Am trying to pick up as many treasures as possible in this run cos I ain't returning (this time for real!!)

As the game progresses, I've groomed a small army of kick-ass mages and archers: Mirdyn, Sherri, Deneb, Rudlum and Warren are all powerful spell casters, while Arycelle and Canopus shoot to kill from afar and Iuria, Catiua and Lanselot on the side to buff and debuff. Have to drop Gildas as Lans basically is also a dragoon with his Dragon set and poor Denam is still at, like, Level 36. Azelstan looks cool with his gun but he is just not as powerful as the others (yet). The Golem, Familiar and Lich were all great in the first run but they are now so low level none can be deployed onto the battlefield. 

Anyway, looks like there is still much fun to be had!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Grinding (6)

So we are back on the grinding board ...but either I'm getting used to the tedious process or getting rather good at playing Tactics Ogre (after, uh-hm, 350+ hours), the grinding has gotten a bit easier. Just now I got myself a few exclusive weapons and magic scrolls from the San Bronsa Ruins. It's finally time to revisit the Palace of the Dead for some item hunting. With the Zephyros spear -- one of the four wind weapons -- I will be able to summon an exclusive boss in the PotD for the Crest of Fire (yeahh!)

But before heading back into that horrible dungeon, have to get my team sorted/prepared: 1) lots of mend and magic leaves/gems/exorcism scrolls etc and 2) to further power up my characters. Unfortunately, just found out I cannot scavenge skills from other classes -- boo-hoo -- meaning my rune fencer cannot learn the Ninjutsu skills, which would have been super cool. 

And the quest continues ...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still so many hangups

Am now half way through a five-day long yoga workshop on "alignment and energy in Asana"/ Iyengar Yoga. Despite it not being as intensive as the Ashtanga workshop I took several months ago, it sure is no walk in the park. Peter Scott is the instructor; he's been teaching yoga since 1982 and is a living proof that practising yoga can make you look young! His teaching focuses on the "mid-line" -- that the spine should stay long and stretched in most poses -- so to facilitate energy flow and openness in breathing. Which is interesting ... cos I thought alignment was about anatomical/physical alignment; in Iyengar Yoga, it is more to do with alignment for energy flow. So, for instance, in the class that looks at forward bends, we practised the rotation of the inner/outer arms and inner/outer thighs,the rotation of the hips, the tucking in of the tail bone ... or to ensure of a straight spine, which in turn makes the various asanas more effective. There is CONSTANT engagement of the muscles so am quite tired, physically, after 12.5 hours of practice over the past three days.

Again, there were poses that I couldn't do because of my stiff lower back and hips. A teacher told me I should STOP dwelling on that. He said I should start imagining myself being able to achieve these poses, that I am flexible, and also wishing others the same (don't get jealous of those who can put both their legs behind their head!) Well, I don't think I get jealous but I certainly get frustrated. The teacher (who is very flexible and he is a bloke) also said Ashtanga Yoga can REALLY open up the body ... hmm, not exactly what I wanted to hear but ... ... Oh well, we shall see. 

In the meantime, I really was hoping I could put Tactics Ogre down (at least for awhile) but somehow I'm still playing it. I actually downloaded the demo of the latest Final Fantasy game, "Type-0", but although the graphics is really stunning and it looks like an interesting game, it is in Japanese and it's another hack and slash game that will give me another pitched nerve ... so, def. won't be playing that. So I've decided to returned to TO and do the first half of the San Bronsa Ruins, get one of the four Wind Instruments before, oh yes, returning to the Palace of the Dead for some seriously top-weapon farming ... the second half of the Ruins apparently is, apparently, SO difficult I need to further upgrade my team; it's pretty strong now but not strong enough ...

Just got a rare drop (for the Divine Knight class) so the grinding/farming/obsession/addiction continues ....

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Crafting

Oh boy, that was a tough-ish one ... okay, basically in order to get those "chokers" -- accessories that you can put on the Tactics Ogre characters in order to multiply/amplify their damages, i.e. "Must Haves!" -- I World-ed back (travel back in time to Chapter 4) to re-do the Fire Temple and tackle Ifrit (this temple guardian drops the Codex of Jewelry III but because of a stupid glitch, this particular recipe for choker-crafting wouldn't drop when my team was below Level 33/34) ... anyway, now that I'm edging to the end of Level 30s, I World-ed back to the point where all the temples were still locked (bwah!) so I had to go through the laborious process of unlocking them again (many, many, many tedious, tedious, battles with horrible terrains, so OMG, MORE grinding) ... JUST to get into the Fire Temple (lucky I didn't have to fight through the other five temples).

Anyway, having finally confronted temple guardian Ifrit, it would NOT drop the recipe (scream/grunt/expletives) ... apparently had to try killing it at different angles, using different weapons/magic etc ... so, after, I think, a couple of HOURS attempting that (had to recharge PSP in between ...) I finally GOT the wretched thing to drop ~ PLUS two magic scrolls (yeahhh!). Then I World-ed Forward to the post-game "Coda" section to find ... well, luckily the recipe was still in my inventory (phew! or else I'd have thrown the PSP out of the window) ... yes, to find I have to redo the rescue Lanselot mission (!!) 

Which, actually, I didn't mind because partly the mission consists of just two battles (even though the final battle was a real pain in the backside the first time round they are still more interesting than the battles to unlock the temples and the final cut scenes are beautiful), and partly cos I wanted to test out the new gears. So I crafted three chokers (will have one more in a minute), various wizard hat + 1s and robe + 1s and head for the battles. Haven't noticed THAT big a difference yet but totally breezed through the mission. I was a little disappointed when I didn't get a Paladin class mark, which would have been good.

SO ... now I'm updated with my game and, perhaps, finally ready for the San Bronsa Ruins (?) Have to say I find this game incredible in that the system allows you to, like, time travel ... yes, by World-ing backward and forward (between what they call anchor points) might mean you have to re-do certain missions BUT the amazing thing is you get to keep or even gain characters and, more importantly, items in your inventory in the process. 

And I think that is why this overwriting-some-data-but-not-other system causes a lot of  confusion among players: On the gamefaqs forums, it is explained that different scenarios (between anchor points) within the four chapters and four Coda episodes act like saved files, so in order to SAVE any progress you've made between two anchor points (which could be recruiting a new character or getting an exclusive weapon/item), you need to complete the scenario in its entirety or else the system will not register the changes you've made ... but that is quite true; yes, you will lose the progress you've made if you don't save between two anchor points but you WON'T lose the items that you've gained. Strange yet utterly brilliant!!! With that, this game really takes equipment farming (and, unfortunately, grinding) to a whole new level/dimension.  

It's a shame the rescue Vyce mission involves World-ing back and do a completely different story line/route, which might result in some of my team members leaving/deserting (!!) Just don't want to risk that (Arycelle simply is too good an archer to lose) but it always means I will never "complete" the entire game (Coda Episode 4 is now just sitting there ...) But I still think Vyce deserves to die and I don't wanna deal with the necromancers side quest. Which means, of course, if I want more powerful equipment (like those terrifying cursed weapons), I may have to return to the Palace of the Dead (again ... yes, 100 levels this time) ... hmm ... dare I ... to even think about that ... 

PS just downloaded the game's OST ~ SO GOOD !!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Afterthought

I know, I know, having TO withdrawal syndrome already ... but I'm very intrigued cos just now ... I Worlded back (travelled back in time in the game timeline) ... the strangest thing is I go back in time but with all my team (+ their level and equipments) remaining intact, which suggests my team data operate completely separately from the storyline data. So, I'm trying to see if I can get the item from Ifrit from "the past" (in Chapter 4), and which is not available in "the present" (Coda Section 3), then travel back to "the present" (Coda Section 3) and still get to keep the item in my inventory + not losing any progress ... if it works, whoever invents this game is a genius ... 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Glitch

I was fighting this temple "guardian" (Ifrit) and it just wouldn't drop the recipe book that I need to craft some much-needed items. So, I'm literally grinding to a halt in Tactics Ogre. Other than the San Bronsa Ruins, which I don't feel I'm ready to tackle yet, there is really nowhere else to advance ... other than to World Back to an earlier chapter to resurrect Vyce (and unlocking more characters on the way). Okay, think I am done with this game for now (329 hours is a LONG time to spend on one single game...)

Besides, my next yoga workshop is fast approaching and I'm quite excited by the prospect of spending a week on the mat (have taken a week off work, yeahh!) The workshop is five days long and will cover alignment (and energy flow) in: standing poses, inversions, twists, forward/backward bends among other things. Lately I've been working on deepening my backward bending ... I'm looking forward to this workshop, which I hope, will show me how to stretch this pose further without breaking my back/injuring myself.    

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A New Team

So it's time to shakeup/update my Tactics Ogre/Firescale team lineup (playing the same characters started to get a little tedious). So now that they've performed their duties (in the main game and trawling through the wretched Palace of the Dead), it's time to say goodbye to a few friends including the Golem and Familiar. I'm also ditching Denam ... despite being a damage powerhouse, the ninja class lacks character and range when compared with the mages (all he does is hack and slash). Arycelle the Archer manages to scrape through, with her astonishing bow + arrow skills. So, now on my team of 12, I have seven Xenobians -- have been levelling up Rudlum the Warlock + new gears (had to farm for fire wand, intellect + 1 ring etc.) what a pain -- and the rest are all uniques: Arycelle, Deneb, Sherri, Azelstan and Catiua.

Strategically, imho, this is a very well-balanced team with male/female, melees/casters, offensive/defensive. For the mages, Sherri is has the Earth element (Earthquake is such a kickass move); Warren Lightning and Divine/Dark; Rudlum Fire and Divine/Dark/Draconic; Deneb Fire and Lightning; and Catiua Divine and Draconic. Mirdyn and Lanselot being half mages, both learnt Divine magic and can heal. These elements are basically ability/stat boosters. So am leaving out the less useful wind, water and ice elements. Sherri, Warren and Catiua are on the offensive while Rudlum buffs; Deneb is a bit of both. Weapon-wise, all the hard hitters have maxed out their main weapon skills (took a bit of auto grinding to max out Canopus's crossbow's skill but he has all four wicked finishing moves ~ yeah!!!) PSP battery ran out (again!) so after second recharge (in a day!) will fiddle more with the setup. After close to 300 hours of playing, am finally getting the hang of customising/accessorising my characters.

So what next? Have gone wandering around the World Map with my team of Magnificent Twelve (re-did most of the Phorampa Wildwood, not much left there to do) and it looks like it's time to re-visit the Temples to find some more weapon recipes and items. Then, yes, the final major side quest (which I've been saving up for when my team is stronger) the v challenging San Bronsa Ruins.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Beginning

And so the Tactics Ogre saga continues ...

Thank God for auto-grinding ...yes, after unlocking both Warren and Lanselot, it's time to put them to the test (I really hope they are worth the pain and hassle that I'd gone through the past week!!!) ~ but not whne they are at Level 1! So have been taking them + Iuria (Songstress), Lindl (Fusilier) and Frederick (Lich) to The Golborza Plain for some serious/hardcore level-up grinding (best place to grind cos the enemies are easier to kill, they are all humans, and there are SO many Blessing Stones to be had). And yes, why do the grinding myself when the AI is quite capable in doing that in twice the speed? So after a hard day's work, these characters have gone from, like, Level 10 to Level 26, with lots of coins/weapons/items won/earned along the way. They are, of course, not as good as my kickass team -- yet -- but that is part of the fun! What's the point if I could just KO everyone with one hit.

Scenes of when the Xenobians first met Denam, Catiua and Vyce

So, I have now got a new team of six in place, all from the Kingdom of New Xenobia: Gildas (Dragoon), Mirdyn (Rune Fencer), Canopus (Vartan), his sister Iuria, Warren and Lanselot, and I'm taking them to the PhorampaWildwood to farm some more weapons (no, the mere mention of Palace of the Dead still induces scream of agony)... Have just done four maps -- they are pretty easy but my new team is just scraping through.

The problem is, I've switched Canopus' main weapon from bow to crossbow, which seems to make him a less aggressive attacker (he hasn't even learnt his Finishing Moves yet), while Iuria is pretty useless right now (she is, like, bashing enemies with a guitar ~ what damages is THAT gonna make?) and am still trying to figure Warren out with all his magical abilities. Lanselot seems to be coping quite well cos, like Gildas and Mirdyn, they have very good base stats as Holy Knights. And the fact Gildas can one hit finish dragons and beasts helps. 

I will be leaving the Lich and Fusilier behind for now ~ later, I shall have another team made up of all the second-tier characters, of which I have many!!!

I love this game ... so many possibilities ... just hope I won't have to grind anymore (which I thought I wouldn't have to do, like, a couple of weeks ago!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Finally! Managed to complete those horrible, horrible Palace of the Dead floors + rescue Warren this morning and just changed the fate of Lanselot is well. Phew! All post-game missions (bar two, one major, another optional) are now completed. I have also received the "palace guidebooks", which I can use in the future to skip chunks of floors in the PotD ~ something, ahem, I am not in a big hurry to do ...

Holy Knight of the New Kingdom of New Xenobia
Lanselot Hamilton 

I quite like the way they give us a chance to alter the outcome for one character. In the main game storyline, Lanselot the Holy Knight was captured by the enemies and then tortured to madness ... but in the Coda side quest (Episode 3), the one I just finished tonight, the Resistance, led by Denam (me!), time-travels back to the battle in which Lanselot was originally captured and helps him defeat the enemies (boy, it was a tough battle and I had to reset, like, four times). In fact, in the episode closing scene, Lanselot tells Denam that, years ago, a mysterious man also came to his aid, suggesting that might be the future Denam (time travels again).

All this time travelling is all very well but I ain't gonna do that for Episode 4, which involves me going back to an earlier chapter and embark on a different story option (the Law Route, I took the Chaos Route) in order to recruit Vyce (who dies in the Chaos Route because of the choices I made). For this last quest, Denam, Catiua and Vyce have to be "alive" in my Warren Report. I read in forums that this time-travelling may overwrite my process ~ and I simply cannot risk losing my PotD progress! I will NOT re-do those 115 floors ever again! Besides, I am not that obsessed in getting lots and lots and lots of exclusive weapons ~ the only reason why anyone wants to complete Coda Episode 4.

So, I think I'm going to put down the game for a(little)while ... before I tackle the remaining major side quest, The San Bronsa Ruins, where I can transform a phantom/skeleton into a super rare unlockable character ~ a Divine Knight.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Grinding (5)

So my quest for the unique character The Star Seer Warren Omon continues but am getting very close now. I've finally completed 99 per cent of Palace of the Dead (thank god) and now am on the "extra floors" for the save Warren quest. The battles are extremely challenging (takes at least an hour each!) but that is what makes Tactics Ogre so addictive (as well as all these exclusive characters to unlock ... I even recruited a Lich despite intentionally ignoring the "undead" classes/storylines). After rescuing Warren I will go onto Episode Three of Coda to get Lanselot (who has gone mad after being tortured ~ so sad). And then I will have to time travel to get Vyce join my team then I will be (finally) done with the game. OR, since I read after the Warren battle I will be granted three guides (by the boss/pantom King Roderick) that help me skip massive numbers of floors (25 each) in the PotD, I might even go back there, this time just to farm exclusive drops/weapons ... but I will do that later ... the pain of truding through floor after floor of posionous mold tiles is still fresh in the mind ...

Yesterday, in between trudging through those mold tiles I gave another yin yoga class and the slow, long, deep breathing really helped clear the mind. Everyone should try it ~ it's completely free!  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Island Atlas

Here is, in my opinion, the best soundtrack from the Tactics Ogre (PSP) game ...


Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Grinding (4)

This post in one of the games forums about PotD is Hilarious ... but SO TRUE:

Posted 6/28/2011 11:04:31 PM

Here's what you have to look forward to;

Around floor 50-60 you will start to get tired of the drudgery. You might glance out your window, my it's a nice day isn't? Sun and all! I think I'll go enjoy it.

Sadly the sun goes down, night is falling, and you have naught else to do. Guess I'll play some Tactics Ogre, you say, even if it's starting to get a little tedious. The rewards and nice and hey! I've already made it at least halfway through. It's all downhill from here!

By floor 70-75 your patience has more or less hit its limit. How can they make one dungeon so long, you ask yourself. Why would all the best equips be so difficult to just chance upon? Why do I have to read a spreadsheet just to know how to get them? You'll glance out your window, and hey, it's a nice day again! You now hate the sun. Go away sun! No one asked for you! You'll sit down and play Tactics Ogre, knowing now why people caught in abusive relationships tend to stay in them.

By floor 80 you cry yourself to bed at night. Your parents, or roommate, or significant other, notice this and try to calm you down. What you mutter is incomprehensible. Just one more cursed weapon, really, then I can end this battle and almost be done with the place!

You're on floor 90 now. By god, you might actually do this! I applaud you for getting this far. Your party is rockin' some pretty awesome gear too! You've also stopped crying yourself to sleep at night. In fact, you don't sleep at all anymore. Or bathe. You rock yourself back and forth hoping no one has the courage to commit you to a hospital.

By 95 you're starting to feel kind of happy again. Life seems worth living! You're almost there now champ, don't give up!

By 96 you feel as if you are in a desert, on your knees, without water, at high noon, crawling to the nearest oasis. But you've come this far, you can do it!

On 97 you discover there's no notable gear to obtain. You can actually fight a battle for fun again! You remember when you fought battles in Tactics Ogre for fun, don't you? It was so long ago... Before the days when everything became about chariot-ing and hoping for some luck to end a floor quickly.

On floor 99 you to yourself, man, I don't know what the big deal about this Palace of the Dead thing is. It's not so bad. I made it all this way. Just one more floor, and I can go back to everything I love about this game.

Congrats, you've cleared floor 100! You did it! You conquered the Palace of the Dead! You stuck to it, things feel great. Your crew has some of the best gear available. You are an unstoppable force of destruction. Ogres? Pfft, let them come back. The war wouldn't even last a minute. You decide to flock to your favorite message board to declare your success!

The responses are pretty encouraging! Yay! They all went through this too, they know what it's like. What a swell board. On a whim someone (I'll let you guys decide who) mentions that they hope you did it in Law, or else you'll have to do the entire thing over again. They also add in that in order to complete the CODA, you'll need to recruit Warren, whom is 15 levels further than the other 100 levels.

Detroit Red Wings: 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
Posted 6/28/2011 11:01:43 PM
And the exciting conclusion...

Your eye begins to twitch. What! You declare, that's impossible. I suffered blood, sweat, and tears grinding my way through that place. And I have to go back into it?

Yeah, but you should also have guide books that you can craft (from rare hard to find materials), that let you skip some floors! Really, you'll only have to do 30-40 more floors! Oh, also, did you want a puffed up Divine Knight with skills it normally can't learn? You'll have to fight back to the 22nd floor, and use a specific item you get earliest on the 37th floor, on one of your zombified units (done so by use of a Necromancy spell that you get on the 25th floor) to turn them into a skeleton. Then leave the place, and go to San Bronsa, itself a multi-floored dungeon!

By the way, did you get a Lich on 41st floor?

Your eye begins to twitch. You stare at the screen in disbelief. That seems like an awful lot of work for one game. But you can't deny it. It's a part of you now. You turn your head back to your PSP screen. Your sanity may be gone, but you love Tactics Ogre. It's all you have left.
Detroit Red Wings: 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
Posted 6/29/2011 1:17:22 AM
I'm doing it now on floor 50... on chaos. *stabs self*
Posted 6/29/2011 1:52:51 AM
Chirotera, that is a hyperbole free recount of what every person who does the Palace of the Dead goes through.

Here's something great Amazingwilly, when you hit floor 50, the floor format resets. Floor 51 has the exact same format as floor 1, and you have 48 more floors to go, all repeated, until you reach B100.

You claim the books, you get out and experience the world map for the first time in 10+ or 20+ hours, ahh yes! =D

Then you must delve into the deeps again...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Grinding (3)

Actually, I'm just stuck in Hell, quite literally. I've now reached Level 40 in the Palace of the Dead and am not having much luck/fun with the item drops (and I could not be bothered to keep doing different moves to just get one little stupid piece of item ~ though having said that, I did spend a couple of hours trying to get those Sidhe Shoes but they are kinda cool as they enable my archer to teleport...) Anyway, I'm truly thankful I've been playing Tactics Ogre in the right order. Apparently I've read in forums that if you did the side quests in the wrong order, then you'd lock yourself out of battles that unlock the unique characters. Hence, I saw this one entry in GameFaqs website from a certain Col_Mobius:

"GAH. Really? On my current playthrough, Catiua is "dead" and I'm about 2/3 through PotD. I am not - not! - going back through this thing, so does that mean I'm going to have to go get Warren, then World back, make Catiua alive, and go all the way through everything again to get Lanselot?

I. Will. Kill. Everyone."

I'd kill everyone too if I had to go through PotD TWICE. Luckily, I'd kept Catiua alive in my (Chaos Route) playthrough so I'll be able to unlock both Warren (the Wizard) and Lanselot (the Holy Knight), the final two unique characters. Though I'd probably have to World back to recruit Vyce at some point to unlock the final (fantasy) episode of Coda (in post end game) ... but that is no hassle. The thing is, not being a completionist, I don't wanna unlock everything anyway; hence I've completely left out the Cressida/Nybeth story line (I am SO NOT slaughtering my own troupe just to get my "Chaos Frame"/loyalty up in order to recruit her!) That means, I won't get those Palace Guides that enable me to skip floors in the 115-level PotD. Actually, I don't wanna go back in there again once I am done with the Warren mission. It also means I won't get the Crest of Fire cos I don't have all four of the Wind God weapons in my current run to unlock Blackmore who drops this exclusive item (see, this game is so totally complicated!) 

So, the plan is to complete PotD within the next fortnight, unlock Warren, unlock Lanselot before entering the San Bronsa Ruins. Then I am done and ready to move onto a new game. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Game Breaks

Seriously, even though I'd completed the main story, the real game of Tactics Ogre seems to have just begun (in the so-called Coda section). Only now are my characters reasonably well-equipped (of course, they can do better with more upgraded equipment, but that's why I'm now trudging through the dreaded floors of Palace of the Dead ~ to farm for more special items). In fact, this morning I decided to re-do three floors cos I missed an important armor that'd help my characters teleport (those elusive Sidhe Shoes on Level 25) ~ the terrains of the battlefields are getting more and more tricky as I descend deeper and deeper into Hell and I will need as much special items as I can get to get around.

Found this on a discussion forum,
rather dark sense of humour ....
In the meantime, have been reading various discussion forums on this game and it's quite funny how the endgame (including a feature that allows "time travel") is confusing everyone. In fact, I'm still not sure how I'm going to unlock one final unique character but I think I'll give that one a miss since meeting a certain condition (of unlocking) means I might risk losing a good chunk of my game and I sure don't want to do that (not after spending 200+ hours on playing it!) Anyway, now I have a mainly mage team (magical powers appear to be more potent than melee attacks ... even the archers are no match for my powerful Shaman Sherri whose special summon power simply destroys -- okay, it was worth going through all that hassle to recruit her). And the Golem and Faerie just, as they say on games forums, "own".

I still find time to yoga, of course, and yesterday was a particular good day as, in the morning, I took a class with Anri, one of my favourite yoga instructors (a former professional ballet dancer), and she came over and adjusted me in this quite challenging pose (see below as illustrated by Anusara Guru Patrick Creelman). 

Very intense pose but one that really
opens up the hips

I was feeling quite stiff especially in the right leg (just very tight around the hip/knee areas) so when I did the pose on the right hand side, I could not bring my body down and my left hand barely touched my right foot. Over on the left hand side it was a completely different story; as my left hip has always been more "open" (something to do with the shape of my left hip socket perhaps), I was able to reach my right hand over, grabbing onto my left foot with ease. Anri then came over and helped me turn my torso more skywards and when she did that, I could REALLY FEEL the effects of this pose (all the stretching and twisting). I didn't turn as far up as the full pose (above) but certainly far enough for me to look up (albeit a little!) and I would never have done that by myself. 

After that I shared another yin practice with some friends and that was fun. One, in particular, has really stiff shoulders so will have to read up on asanas that might help her loosen them up a little ...  


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A New Beginning

Don't know what I did right (or wrong) but the final boss battle of Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together was VERY EASY. When I finally reached the Hanging Gardens, the enemies were all at Levels 21-22 while my team was already edging Levels 30-31; and I thought they scale to the same level as my team (according to the game forums) ... maybe because I have members that were still in their Level 20s? Anyway, I took out the final boss in taxi ride!!! (When Kliana cast the Charm/Bewitched spell, it was awesome as the enemies just started killing themselves *chortle*) Only Deneb was knocked out briefly in the final battle ...

Anyway, I'm now in post-game mode and, apparently, I can time travel back and re-do some of the missions that will lead to different outcomes ... BUT there is this risk that I might ERASE some of the (more challenging) battle victories I already had so I'm approaching this part of the game ~ also know as CODA ~ with caution. Wow, what a game though!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Post on Tactics Ogre

Oh yes, my obsession with this game continues today ... after yesterday's revelation that I'd have to save Cressida if I was to complete the 100-level Palace of the Dead side quest, I basically had three choices: a) to complete PotD with Cressida saved, b) to complete PotD without Cressida, and c) to skip PotD altogether.

So today I've been weighing out my options. Option a) means I will have to grind MORE (yikes) but have the quest completed 100 per cent and get more exclusive items; b) means I take the gamble of grinding up to Level 22 or so, THEN to see whether at least I could have at least 80 per cent of PotD completed and c) just end the game without the risk of over-levelling but forgoing the Cressida quest forever. I actually would have gone for option a) (being a slight completionist) had it not been the fact this HORRIBLE grinding process actually involves massacring my own army again and again (yes, one of the conditions of recruiting Cressida ... how perverted! How Japanese!). Option b) is neither here nor there. What happens if I reach Level 22 only to realise it's the wrong thing to do? So I've now settled for the last option, which is basically finishing the game. Besides, the PotD side quest is for those who want to recruit a Necromancer character, which doesn't appeal to me At All. And I already have Deneb the Wicce (yeah!!) and Sherri the Shaman (yeah, yeah!!). Not to mention Azelstan too. They are good enough for me. AND I spare the nasty process of slaughtering my own army.

SO, just completed the first floor of the Hanging Gardens (there are around 20) and am having fun ~ so far. Hope things don't go too crazy as I get closer to the garden roof ....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Realisation ...

... that I might have over-levelled my Tactics Ogre team *screamm* Some of the members are already at Level 30 so by the time I'm done with the Palace of the Dead side quest, they might well be edging towards the mid-30s, which is bad news cos while my equipment/skills will remain more or less the same, the enemies -- which scale up with the player's team -- will be much better equipped/skilled. Oh well, I cannot scale back down and will have to take my chances. Also, the end game "World" system (in which players can go back in time to re-do quests in order to obtain certain unique characters, in my case, Vyce) looks really confusing. This game apparently has several endings: a) all the three protagonists, Denam, Catiua and Vyce, die, b) Denam and Catiua live, Vyce dies, c) Denam and Vyce live, Catiua dies and d) all of them live. At the moment, I am going for ending b) (frankly Vyce deserves to die) but at some point I might wanna try for the "all live" ending; but that may involve seriously-confusing time travelling and I don't wanna mess up the game ... so will see how that goes...

Meanwhile, just came out of a hot flow yoga class that was very challenging, esp when my body is (feeling) very stiff after yesterday's class ... will take a couple of days off.


Nth Hours later ...

OMG! Am on Level 5 of PotD and an event that's supposed to be triggering off has FAILED to happen ... have read I have to finish the Cressida side quest first ... WHAT?!?! ANOTHER Side Quest ... Feel like murdering Japanese game designer right now ~ but at least I discover this @ Level 4 and not Level 100 when Nybeth doesn't show up with those precious Palace Guides ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Grinding (2)

So according to my Tactics Ogre game meter, I'm now clocking in @ over 200 hours ... which is a bit crazy; even Final Fantasy Dissidia and The 3rd Birthday aren't THIS addictive. I'm now levelling up another six characters whom I want to add to my existing army ... I'm another step closer towards invincibility ... Mmwahahaha

I've now unlocked not only Deneb, the Wicce with a real attitude and fluctuating loyalty, but also the "Shaman", a spectacularly powerful magic class. I've also turned Princess Catiua (one of the game's protagonists) into a Priestess (in order to get the useful Holy Water skill to kill those nasty Undeads) before switching her back to a Princess. Azelstan, the pirate, is now more powerful, more loyal and less grumpy; though his execution-style killing I do find a tad disturbing. Irae (what a name) the Golem is now over Level 25, meaning he has acquired this devastating special skill called Heaven's Tear (after a week's grinding!!) Sherri the Shaman, also levelling above 25, can use one of the "forbidden magic spells" ... Wow, maybe I am finally ready to enter the 100-level Palace of the Dead ... though, realistically, I think I will still have to grind a little more to bring everyone up to Level 30 (where my existing team is at). Actually, I'm grinding as I'm typing this entry as I've set the battles to AI ... why do that tedious task myself while the computer can do it (better) ... haha

Here is my dream team: Denam (Ninja), Arycelle (Archer), Deneb (Wicce), Canopus (Vartan), Olivya (Cleric), Mirdyn (Rune Fencer), Sherri (Shaman), Catiua (Princess), Azelstan (Buccaneer), Irae (Iron Golem), Hobyrim (Swordmaster) and Folcurt (Rogue). Reserves: Sara (Archer), Bayin (Warlock), Donnalto (Cleric) and a generic Kliana (Familiar).

Tynemouth Hill ... Best place to level up and grind ...

Also just read on an online discussion forum that there is a "Coda" after finishing the fourth and "final" chapter (The Hanging Gardens) of TO... meaning there are MORE side quests ... does/will this game ever end? The problem is now even after completing the main story I will probably need to re-do some of the previous missions in order to "resurrect" some characters (Vyce!) to get the "full ending" of the game ... wonder if that means I will have to spend another 200+ hours on this?

Meanwhile, life on the mat (welcome relief away from the PSP) is great ... have signed up for an one-week Iyengar workshop next month... this particular style is all about alignment, which is another yoga topic that really intrigues/fascinates me (the other, of course, being anatomy). More on that later ... 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Deneb Rove

Hours of pathetic, tedious grinding/farming (+ 27 dragons, 405,000 Goth and 30 Glass bloody Pumpkins) later, I've finally unlocked this Wicce ... she better be Good.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Grinding

In game speak, that means levelling up (nothing sexual about it!!) I've now completed all four chapters of Tactics Ogre LUCT as well as the Phorampa Wildwood side quest (got some nice weapon/ingredient drops and my characters levelled up to 25+); but before I attempt the 100-level Palace of the Dead (and Deneb the Wicce quest), I found out today that there is (yet) another side quest that I must complete: The Ancient Temples. Apparently by the end of this (which I aim to complete this weekend!), I will get the "Shaman" class, which is Even Better than the Wicce class. Which is great news cos I am not sure I want to unlock Deneb ~ yet ... THEN I will attempt the PotD before finishing The Hanging Garden/the main story of this game. As said before, I think I will give the Pirate's Graveyard and the Rescue Cressida quests a miss (for now), as neither yields any great rewards.

So, onward and upwards!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


So, I've progressed as much as I could with Tactics Ogre LUCT, story-wise, and am advised by the strategy guide (yes, I'm a sissy ...) to complete my other side quests before returning to the main story. So, my next destination appears to be the Palace of the Dead with, wait for this, 100 levels. Yes, you've read right, ONE HUNDRED! That's going to take me forever to complete. But it's something that I cannot skip (unlike the Pirate's Graveyard or the Cressida rescue or even Phorampa Wildwood side quests) because I need to go there to recruit my three Hydra dragons in order to get Deneb the Wicce (and I already have all my elemental dragons). That is not to mention I still have attempt the Hanging Gardens and The Ancient Temples quests before actually finishing the entire game (and nevermind about trying the other TWO alternative storylines...)

Seriously, for three hundred Hong Kong bucks, I'm really getting my money's worth!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Couple of Guinea Pigs

... who happen to be two very good friends of mine. Having talked about it for weeks, if not months, I finally got my act together and held my first (Yin) yoga class, with me as an instructor. Having not done anything like this before, it was a little nerve-wracking. And under such a circumstance, I think the golden rule is to be prepared. So, based on my own experience/studio practice, I came up with my own sequence -- just have to ensure for almost every pose there is a counter pose to keep everything balanced -- and went though that with a friend, who is a trained teacher. I'm glad most of what I came up with was fine, though my friend did made some excellent suggestions regarding the warming-up exercises at the beginning of the class.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of yoga instructing is to remember which side you have just done so to not repeat the same side twice (or else students would end up with imbalanced energy) ... and it is also quite difficult to practise and instruct at the same time, especially during the breathing exercise but I much prefer to practise with the rest of the class because that generates greater energy in the room, I think. Having candles around and soft music in the background also enhances the entire experience.

So, other than a minor cramp in the calf (mental note: maybe more warming up next time!) from one friend, all went well and I was quite exhausted yet satisfied when the class was over. My friends (and maybe more will join) are already planning for our second gathering and I hope we can keep this up on a regular basis.    

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A bit of Crafting

SO ... I'm now edging towards the end of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and the past two nights (until way past midnight) I'd made some really cool progress. *Fan Talk begins* The rescue-Catiua- (but why? Why? Why? She has been such a b****!) and-turn-her-into-a-princess mission has been accomplished and so has the Diego/Azelstan (and Sean Connery lookalike character) rescue assignment. Now I just need to get Azelstan to join my team (which, for me, more or less, completes this game). The problem is there are still three more battles to fight before I get there so, apparently, I will now need to upgrade my weapons through a process called Crafting. The enemies are getting really tough. But this truly is a laborious process. In order to get the weapon(s) I want, I need to craft/make with all these ingredients; but the ingredients ALSO need to be crafted. So say, I want a new bow for my chief archer Arycelle, I need to look for a combination of ingredients A + B, but in order to get A or B, I would need ingredients C+D, and to get C or D, I need E+F and so on. How bloody confusing. Also, the crafting process could actually FAIL at the end so after all that faffing around you might just end up with nothing. That's kinda naff. 

Anyway, the game is actually quite fun and requires a lot of strategic thinking. And I have now played the supposedly top three games this year: Tactics Ogre, FF Duodecim and The 3rd Birthday, all created by Square Enix. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Some After Thoughts

Phew! So my talk on yoga went pretty well; it was a shame both my instructors couldn't make it to the event at the end (one is still at large and another one got sick) ~ it would've been great to get their perspectives on yoga teaching/learning. Some of my friends (to my surprise) showed up though and their presence kinda made me feel more relaxed ... I brought Mr Flexible (as featured in this blog) along to the talk to give demonstration and I really should have tested his flexibility at home first; it turned out though he can get into Lotus, he cannot even do a proper forward bend (shock, horror)!!!

Spanking Mr (In)Flexible

Though I've now developed this Ashtanga-phobia after the workshop a couple of weeks ago (am sure that wasn't the intention!) my hamstrings appeared to be less tight and I can now enjoy the stretch in a  Prasarita Padottanasana (below)... 

Something else that I'm enjoying right now is the Tactics Ogre game(!!!) I'm now way into the fourth and final chapter and I'm unlocking a lot of side missions and exclusive characters. The only thing is the strategy guide that I've been using (which I ordered from the US) isn't that great; for instance, it has been dishing out the wrong advice on how to "trigger" the Diego scenarios (instead of going to The Pirate's Graveyard to read the Warren Report (The Dread Pirate), as instructed, just go straight to Port Omish for that Report and trigger the scenario there). It also took me a bit of time to recruit Sherri but it's worth the (zillions of) attempts. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Few Thoughts

The weekend Ashtanga Workshop just finished and my first thought was that I am not quite ready for this style of yoga yet. I am SO incredibly SORE right now (it feels like, as they say, I've been beaten up by a gang), which means 1) I practised hard and 2) the Primary Series is extremely physically demanding. I can totally see how, if you practise this series regularly, Ashtanga yoga can, and will, prepare you for hours of meditation because your body will be SO flexible and strong that you can sit down cross-legged in lotus (see below) for hours on end.

Double Pigeon is totally hip-splitting for me


Despite being totally exhausted (trust me, sitting on a chair is a real luxury), I'm glad I joined the workshop, which was led by American yoga instructor Clayton Horton, not least because I learnt more about yoga in general. Here is a no-nonsense kinda guy (I can imagine him being a former hippie -- in fact, he resembled this spaced-out cowboy I met years ago when I was hitch hiking across Utah, but I shall leave that story for another time) that just got on with the teaching and, in two short days (but 12 hours no less) went through the entire Primary Serious and more ... We did the sun salutation (no problem), standing asanas/poses (no problem), backbending (no problem) ...but any asana that requires getting into the lotus or even half lotus or double pigeon I just cannot do. As I learnt from the previous Anatomy Workshop with Paul Grilley, it's the way I am built. Also, any pose that requires core strength (and there are quite a few) I also cannot do. Do I feel frustrated, of course (though I really shouldn't cos this IS yoga after all and I should be feeling calm and at peace with self during practice) ... but I am happy that I am benefiting from some of these asanas. I feel my body has opened up a lot and compared to, say, the "me" three years ago, I am a completely different person(!) 

There was also a philosophical aspect of the workshop and topics of life and death were discussed. I enjoyed that.

So what's next? I'd already booked my next yoga class. Yoga has become something that I don't think I can stop practising ~ for now.