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Darren Nakamura 's blog
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Darren is a scientist and an educator by day, and a writer and reviewer by night. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. Additionally, he produces the Zero Cool Podcast, and he plays board games quite a bit.

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This is the second part in the epic retelling of Werewolf Game 9 from the Destructoid forums. If you missed it, you can see Part 1 here. Header image by ZombiePlatypus. You can click it for a larger version.



Planning Phase 7 - Thunder Mountain

Another RED structure needed a bit of old fashioned destruction, at the peak of the ominously named Thunder Mountain, where the storm raged nonstop for months on end. Could the BLU team continue its success and destroy the RED asset at Thunder Mountain?

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

The group had learned nothing new from the previous mission. Tarvu still accused Bizarro; Bizarro accused Tarvu. One of them was certain to be a RED Spy, but the others couldn't be sure which it is (or whether it is both). With Tarvu in charge of the Squads, he assigned a fellow Demoman to look after Bizarro.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

If Tarvu was telling the truth, then he had just sent a teammate to spend the mission alone with a traitor. It was either the safest place, or the most dangerous one.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 7

Light flashed, and thunder rumbled over Thunder Mountain. Like Gold Rush and Dust Bowl, there were three stages that the BLU team had to surpass in order to destroy RED's tower at the top of the mountain. Squad Abed would take the first stage, which was literally an uphill battle, with slopes that would push the bomb cart backward if nobody was actively moving it forward. As before, Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man would stick by the cart, laying down sustained fire on any RED mercenaries foolish enough to come close to the cart. Scout Artful-dodgeR would not push with the Heavies; he would stay a few steps ahead, letting the Squad know what was in store for them. Sniper Mighty Hatman and Engineer Muckfoot would move around the left flank, taking up position in the high windows overlooking the final point.

As the mission began, the Artful-dodgeR ran ahead, then came back to report to the Heavies pushing the cart. He had seen a RED Pyro waiting to ambush the cart at the top of the first slope, and a RED Soldier charging toward the BLU base. Artful-dodgeR took over pushing the cart while Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man rode on top of it. "Screamin' eagles!" they heard from the sky, as the RED Soldier bounded down toward them with shovel in hand. The two Heavies sidestepped--djnealb to the left and Mr 3man to the right. The RED Soldier landed directly on top of the bomb cart, and just before he was going to smash Artful-dodgeR with his shovel, he was caught in a fully automatic crossfire between the two Heavies. They hopped back on the cart and stood back to back while Artful-dodgeR pushed them up the hill. Before reaching the top, they both opened fire, and after passing a wall, djnealb was able to surprise their would-be ambusher with a face full of bullets. Meanwhile, Muckfoot and Mighty Hatman were able to sneak to the left and climb to the second floor of the building overlooking their destination. Mighty Hatman took to the windows, placing a bullet into the skull of anybody exiting the RED safe room. A RED Demoman and a RED Soldier exited simultaneously, and while Mighty Hatman was able to pierce the Soldier's helmet, the Demoman had time to charge forward, lobbing a few grenades up at the window, before entering the first floor of the building. He climbed the stairs, expecting to make quick work of the cowardly Sniper, but as he turned a corner, he was met with Muckfoot's sentry guarding Mighty Hatman's back, giving him only a split second to regret his confidence before he exploded into many tiny bits. The cart-pushers arrived at the scene with no more resistance, passing the bomb onto the second stage.

The second stage of Thunder Mountain was less arduous than the first, with a bridge to cross, and tunnel to pass, and finally a downhill section that the cart could ride to its destination. Demoman Tarvu would ride the cart, lobbing an endless supply of grenades toward the REDs, while Pyro Austin_SJ would push the cart and watch for any flankers. Snipers Scroll and usedtabe would push ahead, trying to take up an elevated position near the RED safe house. With medical supplies in the bomb cart, Medic ClownBaby decided to go with the Snipers to make sure they weren't harmed.

The gates opened, and the BLU Squad saw a sentry planted directly on the bridge they needed to cross. Tarvu and Austin_SJ were pinned down near the cart, but usedtabe was able to pop the attending Engineer's head from the far right. Afterward, the Snipers took turns taking potshots at the sentry until it was filled with one too many holes to function properly. Scroll and usedtabe ran forward with ClownBaby in tow while Tarvu and Austin_SJ manned the cart. Austin_SJ sensed a presence nearby, and he throttled his flamethrower at seemingly nothing when the air itself appeared to catch fire. The cloaked RED (NPC) Spy cried out, and was able to dunk himself in the river before the burns ended his life, but Tarvu caught him with a grenade just as he was coming from the river, separating his limbs from his torso in a gruesome explosion. The two Snipers met some resistance on their way to the nest above the cart's destination; apparently the RED mercenaries had learned from last time. In their way stood a pair of Heavies, miniguns spinning in anticipation. The quarters were too close for their rifles, so the two Snipers gazed into each other's eyes, nodded, and ran forward, each brandishing his kukri. ClownBaby activated his ‹bercharge, and expertly kept both Snipers protected from the flurry of bullets while they hacked at the Heavies until the cuts were so deep and the blood loss so severe that they fell to the ground. After that, it was a restful trek for the cart to its destination. With two Snipers covering the battlefield, Austin_SJ and Tarvu easily pushed the cart down the hill and onto the third stage.

The third stage was at the peak of Thunder Mountain, with the RED war asset in the center of the arena. The cart's tracks spiraled around it, ever upward. Once again, the third Squad was paltry compared to the other two, but at least this time Medic Bizarro had the backup of Demoman BlackSunEmpire. Their plan was the only one that made sense: Bizarro would keep BlackSunEmpire healed while they took on whatever was thrown their way. Hopefully the RED forces were thin enough that their survival was still a possibility.

After the gates opened, the duo saw their only opposition: a single RED Demoman brandishing a longsword and a shield rather than the usual grenade launchers. This RED Demoman had taken the heads of many BLU mercenaries in the past, and it made him extremely strong and fast. Immediately out of the gates, he charged them and knocked Bizarro backward with his shield bash. Just before swinging at Bizarro's head, BlackSunEmpire set off a single sticky bomb at the RED Demoman's feet, launching him twenty feet away. Though it may have saved Bizarro's life, it did little damage to the well armored Demoknight, who ran toward the BLUs, furious that he was denied his Medic head. Bizarro activated his ‹bercharge just before the sword contacted BlackSunEmpire's neck, protecting him from the blow. The ‹bercharge lasted long enough for BlackSunEmpire to drop a handful of sticky bombs at his feet, exploding him to the top of the tower in the center of the battlefield, while sending shrapnel at the RED Demoman and leaving Bizarro alone with him. Bizarro unholstered his syringe gun, and planted a few syringes into the RED Demoman's shield as he charged and swung his Eyelander sword. Bizarro dodged out of the way at the last moment, deftly slicing the RED Demoman's left Achilles tendon with his bonesaw. In great pain but not yet beaten, the RED Demoman bashed Bizarro with his shield, knocking him to the groudn with stars in his eyes. As the RED Demoman brought his sword up for the killing blow, he didn't hear BlackSunEmpire swoop down from the tower, broken whiskey bottle in hand. In a flash, BlackSunEmpire landed on the RED Demoman, caught him in a choke hold, and scraped the broken glass across his trachea. Blood oozed out of the wound while the RED Demoman stumbled, choking, to his death. The BLU Medic-Demoman Squad watched the man die, then safely delivered the bomb to its destination. Another RED war asset was destroyed.

Nobody was killed.



Planning Phase 8 - Cold Front

In the frozen northern region of Cold Front, the RED mercenaries had yet another building that would vaguely help the war effort between the two factions. BLU would rather hold this than destroy it, so they sent the mercenaries to take the RED building, after having so many successes in merely destroying them.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Nothing happened.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one!

Action Phase 8

Cold Front is a frozen wasteland, but the battle would be similar to that at the Granary. The first Squad would take the central cabin, the second Squad would move forward to take the garage, and the third Squad would make the final push to the RED control room.

As the central cabin would likely have the most RED resistance, and it was the most open, the BLU Squad would send in Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man to form a wall, while Sniper Mighty Hatman, Scout Artful-dodgeR, and Engineer Muckfoot would follow behind, ready to unleash an attack when more firepower was needed.

The mission began, and the slow-moving wall of metal and meat pushed forward to the cabin. There they met two RED Scouts who had attempted to use their speed to take the cabin before BLU would have a chance. Miniguns whirred into action, and despite their best attempts to dodge, the RED Scouts were cut in half by the spray of lead. A RED Pyro appeared suddenly and set the two BLU Heavies on fire, causing them to panic and break the phalanx. Unfortunately for the RED Pyro, as the wall parted, it gave Mighty Hatman just the opening he was waiting for, firing a single shot from his rifle into the RED Pyro's mask. Muckfoot set up a dispenser on the control point to replenish the Heavies' ammunition and heal their burns, and just in time, as a RED Soldier came bounding toward the cabin, hitting Mr 3man with a rocket square in his chest. Mr 3man grabbed a shot of painkiller while Artful-dodgeR jumped over Mr 3man's head and met the Soldier with a point blank scattergun shot to the face. The cabin belonged to BLU.

The garage offered much more cover than the cabin, which would be a double-edged sword for the BLU team. Not only would they be safer from enemy fire once they entered, but also would the RED team be protected from BLU's advance. Pyro Austin_SJ and Demoman Tarvu would be first to enter, the former to the left and the latter to the right. Snipers Scroll and usedtabe would each follow behind either Austin_SJ or Tarvu, and Medic ClownBaby would be on hand to tend to any wounds.

Austin_SJ and Tarvu charged into their respective doors, through the garage in order to flush out any hidden RED mercenaries. When Scroll and usedtabe entered, the first two BLUs were already out of sight, and ClownBaby was still behind them, waiting to be called upon. Scroll caught the sight of a RED Sniper across the way, and assuming his brother in arms would follow suit if he had a target, Scroll fired a shot that pierced the RED Sniper's skull. No shot came from usedtabe's position, so presumably he didn't have a target, or else he had missed Scroll's cue. Or--and Scroll perished the thought--something may have become of his fellow Sniper. Before he had time to wonder, he felt a presence behind him, but not quickly enough, as the man behind him reach around his neck, and opened it with his knife from one side to the other, before redisguising himself in his BLU uniform. Moments later, there were three simultaneous calls for a Medic, one each from Tarvu, Austin_SJ, and usedtabe. They had been ambushed, caught in a melee, and beaten up pretty badly. As ClownBaby rushed to their aid, he was able to heal the three of them, but then realized that Scroll was missing. Upon discovering the body, BLU decided that the attack on the RED control room would have to wait another day, and usedtabe wept a single tear for his fallen brother.

Scroll was killed.



Planning Phase 9 - Cold Front again

The BLU team was getting antsy again. Why wouldn't the REDs just show themselves and fight like men? They threatened Austin_SJ a bit, shook the tree to see what would fall out. In the end, they were just shaking.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

After several days of inaction, something spurred the BLU team all at once to turn their suspicions on Pyro Austin_SJ. After shining the spotlight on him, the team decided that he could live, for at least a little while.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Scout Artful-dodgeR assigned the Squads for this mission, so hopefully they could take Cold Front where they had failed previously.

Misson begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 9

For their second try at taking the control room at Cold Front, Team Leader Artful-dodgeR decided to have the largest force attack up front, leaving smaller strike teams for the second and third areas. Scout Artful-dodgeR would run ahead and begin capturing the central cabin before anybody else could. He would get backup from Demoman BlackSunEmpire and Engineer Muckfoot first, while Sniper Mighty Hatman would perch on the hill to the right of the cabin. Heavies Mr 3man and djnealb would bring up the rear, simply by virtue of being the slowest of the group.

As the mission begin, the first Squad charged forward, demoralized as they were from the previous defeat. Artful-dodgeR was the first to reach the central cabin, but he was met by a RED Scout who had the same idea. The two Scouts eyed each other, then began their dance of scatterguns and double jumps. Each took small wounds, but their speed made it impossible for either to land a good hit on the other. "Kaboom!" they heard, from behind Artful-dodgeR, as BlackSunEmpire launched himself with one of his own explosions, landing directly on top of the RED Scout, pinning him to the ground before stabbing him in the gut with a broken bottle of whiskey. Muckfoot showed up shortly afterward, dropping a mini-sentry and immediately setting up a dispenser to help heal Artful-dodgeR's and BlackSunEmpire's (self-inflicted) wounds. A RED Engineer appeared, and started building his own sentry gun, though his was full-sized. Artful-dodgeR and Muckfoot simultaneously had the same thought; they each unholstered their pistols and destroyed the sentry gun from outside of its range while the RED Engineer ran out of metal to repair it. After it was destroyed, the RED Engineer turned to run back to his base, and he would have made it, had Mighty Hatman not caught him from afar with a high velocity chunk of lead to his back. The RED Engineer flopped over, painting the snow red with his blood, which his teammates used as their own red carpet. A flood of RED mercenaries showed up: Soldiers, Demoman, and even a few Heavies. Luckily, djnealb and Mr 3man were on site, huddled around Muckfoot's dispenser, which kept them well stocked and healthy while they laid down an impenetrable barrage that tore the REDs apart, leaving nothing but meat and blood on the fresh snow. The central cabin was secure.

The second strike team was made up of Pyro Austin_SJ, Medic ClownBaby, and Sniper usedtabe. Austin_SJ would lead the charge with ClownBaby following, keeping him healthy, and usedtabe covering them from any would-be flankers.

The first two BLU mercenaries entered the garage, where they found a host of REDs ripe for the burning. Demomen, Scouts, and Snipers attempted to retreat, but were caught in the flames and succumbed to the pain before they could find their burn medications. A RED (NPC) Spy materialized behind ClownBaby, and as he raised up his hand to plunge the knife into the BLU Medic's back, a shot rang out, tearing a hole through the RED (NPC) Spy's hand, knocking it to the floor. He spun around, pistol raised in his non-dominant hand, just in time to see the glint from usedtabe's scope before a second bullet caught him in the teeth and exited out the back of his head. The garage was secure.

The last team was made of two BLUs who each knew he could not trust the other. Tarvu knew it was Bizarro who had killed ZombiePlatypus, and Bizarro knew it was Tarvu who had done it. Knowing they could not work together, they each took their own path to the RED control room.

Tarvu was met at the left entrance to the control room by a RED Engineer, with a fully upgraded sentry gun in front of him and a dispenser behind. Though he was caught by surprise and was hit by the first volley of rockets from the sentry, the force knocked him back, out of the sentry's line of sight. Tarvu surveyed the room, calculated angles and let a few bouncy grenades fly into the control room. They ricocheted off the weapons locker, then off the near wall, before bouncing on the ground once and landing directly at the RED Engineer's feet. He had enough time to widen his eyes and shout before his sentry, his dispenser, and he were all destroyed at once. Bizarro was luckily met by a RED Medic on the right entrance to the control room. Knowing he would be alone for this mission, Bizarro had traded out the weak syringe gun for a crossbow--though it only held a single round at a time, it would do more damage than the syringes would. His aim was true, hitting the RED Medic square between the eyes, though the enemy Medic still stood. With no time to reload, Bizarro took up his bonesaw, tackling the RED Medic before using it to separate his head from his torso. Tarvu and Bizarro met in the control room, staring each other down. Each had half expected to end this mission with a knife in his back, but upon seeing his known enemy in the RED control room, both realized that the opportunity for that must have passed. They went on to secure the control room, though neither took his eyes off the other while they did it.

Nobody was killed.



Planning Phase 10 - Upward

The RED team was growing weary of losing key locations to the BLU team, and decided to strike back, in the same manner that the BLUs had destroyed Gold Rush and Thunder Mountain. The BLU team had a mountain base of their own at Upward, and the REDs would push a bomb cart to its center to destroy it.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

The BLU team knew that either Tarvu or Bizarro was a dirty RED Spy, and their only way to know for sure would be to kill one. They executed Tarvu at his request, and found Bizarro to be the traitor among them.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

ClownBaby was Team Leader, and he decided to maintain the same Squads as previously, less Tarvu in Squad Child's Play. The first two Squads were actually going to be defending Upward; Bizarro would be locked in the safe room, unable to affect the battle one way or another.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 10

Upward was BLU's mountaintop reconnaissance base, and RED knew that BLU would be crippled if it were destroyed. The rails for the bomb cart started on one side of the mountain, snaked around the outside in a circuit, before entering the base on the other side. With so much ground to cover and only two active Squads remaining, Squad Armageddon would have to spread out over the first few areas, while Squad Back to the Future would hunker down inside the base as the last defense, with Bizarro manning the third "Squad," locked up inside BLU's safe room.

Heavy djnealb would ambush the RED team just as they exited the gates. Engineer Muckfoot would assist with a wrangled sentry from atop the lean-to in the distance. Around the first bend, Demoman BlackSunEmpire would set up a sticky mine trap on the rails as they went underground. Mighty Hatman would perch on the shed overlooking the tunnel exit, ready to pop the heads of any who would bring the cart through. Scout Artful-dodgeR would set up near the cliffside bridge, knocking any REDs off the mountain with his Force-a-Nature. Mr 3man would be the last line of defense before the central base, readying around a corner with minigun spinning.

Before the mission began, everybody went to his place. As Mighty Hatman was adjusting his scopes and setting down his piss jars, he felt the sting of steel separating his fourth and fifth vertebrae. As he slumped to the ground, his last thoughts were of the huge tactical opening in BLU's defenses; there was no way they would hold any sort of RED force without him there to hold his choke point.

As the mission began, a few RED Scouts ran to the bomb cart, eager to push it forward. From their right, djnealb opened fire, laying down a curtain of lead that left the Scouts a bloody mess. Out of nowhere, a RED Pyro turned the corner and airblasted djnealb backward off the mountain. Luckily, he landed on a ledge ten feet down from the top; he was out of the fight, but he was still alive. From a distance, Muckfoot wrangled his sentry into firing a nonstop barrage at the Pyro that knocked djnealb off the mountain. Before long, the Pyro was reduced to nothing, but the gunfire kept Muckfoot from hearing the footsteps of a RED (NPC) Spy behind him, disguised as Muckfoot himself. The RED (NPC) Spy deftly attached a sapper to Muckfoot's sentry and dispenser, but just as he raised the knife, Muckfoot spun around and filled him with a shotgun blast or six. Though his attacker was killed, his sentry was destroyed, and Muckfoot had no choice but to retreat. In the tunnel, BlackSunEmpire nearly detonated his sticky mines upon seeing Muckfoot coming, but he stayed his hand at the last moment. It was a lucky thing he did, because tailing Muckfoot was a group of three RED mercenaries, who pushed the bomb cart right into BlackSunEmpire's trap. As the RED Soldier, Heavy, and Scout exploded, BlackSunEmpire began setting up another round of mines, but before he could, a second RED Scout appeared next to him, smashing him over the head with a baseball bat before chasing down Muckfoot to do the same. The mine cart was pushed out of the tunnel by a pair of RED Heavy-Medic combos. Had Mighty Hatman been there, he could have easily cut the Medics down, but his motionless body did nothing to stop the incoming REDs. As they made their way to the cliffside bridge, Artful-dodgeR was able to ambush one Heavy-Medic pairing and knock them straight off the side of the cliff. The second pair was fortunate enough to be ready, firing in Artful-dodgeR's direction before he could get close enough to them. After taking a few bullets to the gut, he decided to retreat and hope his teammates could finish the job. Unfortunately for BLU, RED saw more reinforcements show up to push the cart. There was one of each class, all helping to move the cart forward. Mr 3man did what he could around the last corner, taking out the Medic, Scout, and Pyro, but there were too many, and he was forced to retreat as well.

Squad Back to the Future had minimal defenses set up inside the base, with only Pyro Austin_SJ waiting to ambush the entrance, Sniper usedtabe guarding from atop the catwalk, and Medic ClownBaby running between the two, keeping them healed. When Mr 3man and Artful-dodgeR came back in, ClownBaby went to tend to their wounds, leaving usedtabe and Austin_SJ on their own against a force too great for them to hold back. Though they each racked up a kill or two, they too were forced to retreat into the safe room, letting the REDs push the cart straight into the maw of the mountain. Afterward, the rest of the BLUs went to collect their wounded and incapacitated, and only then did they learn why the REDs were able to break through the tunnel so easily. Mighty Hatman lay on the ground, blood slowly trickling out of the wound in his back...

Mighty Hatman was killed.



Planning Phase 11 - Harvest

Tensions were running high among BLU team. They knew Bizarro was a RED Spy, and they knew one of his teammates was among ClownBaby, usedtabe, and Austin_SJ. Action had to be taken, and soon. For the second time, BLU team put Austin on trial. He pleaded the same as last time, asserting that his death would bring them no closer to the truth than they were. It was not convincing enough. BLU team stripped him of his fireproof suit, leaving only his mask and heart boxers, before they took ProlificDream's old flamethrower and roasted him with it.

As the BLU Pyro burned, he was transformed before their eyes, showing his true nature as a RED Spy.

Austin_SJ was killed. He was a RED Spy.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

Tensions were running high, and the BLU team really had to take out a RED Spy soon, or else they would be reduced to nothing. Austin_SJ was put on trial for a second time, but the votes were no longer in his favor. The BLU team condemned him to die, and he was discovered to be a RED Spy.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Artful-dodgeR decided that their numbers were getting to be too few, and formed two strike teams for the upcoming mission. Hopefully it would be a successful one.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 11

In the middle of Harvest was a small barn that housed controls for an orbital strike, and on either side of the barn was a ranch house, one for RED and one for BLU. If BLU could hold the central barn for enough time, they could call down the orbital strike and destroy REDs stronghold at Harvest. Squad Boy would hang back in their house to provide cover fire, while Squad Astro would storm the barn and attempt to hold it.

Squad Boy had the known traitor Medic Bizarro along with the known loyalists Medic ClownBaby and Sniper usedtabe. Given their statuses, ClownBaby and usedtabe would hang back in the house, keeping an eye on the prisoner Bizarro so he could do no harm. That left Engineer Muckfoot to set up a defense turret and Demoman BlackSunEmpire to rain grenades on the incoming REDs, both from the roof of the house.

When the sirens rang out, the five mercenaries made their way to the second floor of the house. ClownBaby and usedtabe held Bizarro down and stuffed an ammo box in his mouth, while Muckfoot and BlackSunEmpire hopped out the nearby windows to set up on the roof. Muckfoot quickly put up a sentry and began to upgrade it, while BlackSunEmpire haphazardly lobbed grenades over the central barn to the REDs' side. With equal parts luck and skill, he caught an enemy Scout directly in the chest, exploding him to dozens of moist RED pieces. Muckfoot's sentry was fully upgraded by this time, and he wrangled it to shoot across the map at a RED Sniper who was just about to take a shot at BlackSunEmpire. Squad Astro was running beneath Squad Boy at this point, about to meet a RED Heavy-Medic combo in the middle. Muckfoot riddled the Heavy with sentry fire, but his Medic was hiding behind the barn and keeping the Heavy healthy. BlackSunEmpire lobbed a sticky grenade or four over the barn, detonated them, and left the Heavy defenseless against Muckfoot's sentry.

Squad Astro charged into the barn, with Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man each guarding one of the doors and Scout Artful-dodgeR capturing the point as quickly as he could. What seemed like a dozen RED mercenaries came charging into the barn only to be riddled with bullets from the Heavies' miniguns before the REDs wised up. From out of nowhere, two RED Demomen fell in through the gaping hole in the ceiling, after having sticky jumped from their base all the way to the center. Both Heavies turned inward, but held their fire, not wanting to catch Artful-dodgeR or each other in the crossfire. Seeing that he'd have to deal with the RED Demomen, Artful-dodgeR beaned one with his baseball to stun him, then beat the other to death with his bat. When the second Demoman finally came to his senses again, he was staring down the barrel of Artful-dodgeR's scattergun, with just enough time to close his good eye before the blast took off his head. The barn was secured, and the orbital strike came down fiercely on the RED base.

Nobody was killed at Harvest.



Planning Phase 12 - Nucleus

The infighting among BLU team was reaching a peak. Even though they successfully caught a RED the day before, they were still out for blood. Engineer Muckfoot was put on trial for the crime of consorting with Austin_SJ, a known RED Spy. Despite his words on the chopping block, literally every other person wanted to see him bleed. They tied him up in front of his own level 3 sentry, stole his Wrangler, and pointed it at his hardhat. With the press of a button, a flurry of bullets and rockets flew toward Muckfoot, reducing him to a puddle on the sand.

Muckfoot was killed.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

The BLU team was caught unawares by the announcement; in the commotion from Muckfoot's execution, they must have missed that the mission was starting soon. Without any time to form Squads or strategy, the BLU team got ready to rush onto the field, all as one.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 12

This was it. Nucleus was the final RED stronghold for BLU to take. Over a seemingly bottomless pit was the one capture point to rule them all. If BLU could take this point, they would be able to turn the last of REDs defenses against them, wiping them off the face of the planet. With their prisoner Medic Bizarro in tow, the remaining BLU mercenaries all made a charge at the point together.

Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man led with a nonstop barrage of bullets, each kept overhealed by Medic ClownBaby. Sniper usedtabe and Scout Artful-dodgeR ran in with a jar of piss and a can of soda--and usedtabe deftly switched the two without Artful-dodgeR noticing just for kicks. Demoman BlackSunEmpire brought up the rear with "Medic" Bizarro in cuffs. When they all arrived at the nucleus, they found... nothing. No RED opposition. Nobody left to fight. They had killed all of the REDs. Well, all but one.

Realizing that they may have just stumbled into a trap, they all turned to Bizarro, to try and divine what they had been led into. Just then, the Medic disappear from sight, as the handcuffs dropped to the floor with a clatter. Reappearing on the bridge in front of them was a man with a RED pinstripe suit and a mask. "I'm sorry brothers," he said to nobody and everybody. "I have failed you."

And with that, he pulled a pocketknife out of his coat. Just as the BLU mercenaries were about to open fire on Bizarro, he took the knife to his own throat, opening a grim smile from ear to ear. As the blood spilled from his neck, he threw himself down the pit below the nucleus, never to be seen again.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Weeks later, a RED child was crying. They had come in the night, and murdered his family. His father, his mother, and even his baby sister had been bloodied until they were unrecognizable. He had only survived because he was "playing Spy" as children are wont to do, dressing up as their evil oppressers. When the BLUs found him sleeping in BLU clothing, they spared him, although the fire in his heart burned RED. The BLUs had taken over their homeland and enslaved and/or raped and/or murdered his people. Some day, he would exact his revenge. But that day was not today.

Game over, BLU wins!

Muckfoot and Bizarro were both RED Spies.
Photo Photo Photo










The following is a retelling of the recent game of Werewolf on the Destructoid forums. It was Team Fortress 2 themed, where thirteen of the sixteen players were BLU mercenaries, and the other three were RED Spies, bent on destroying the BLU team through stealth and subterfuge. If you're interested in joining us, then head over to the Werewolf thread on our forums and throw your name in the ring. If you just want to read some (read: a lot of) Team Fortress 2 fanfiction starring some of our own community members, then just read on.



Planning Phase 1 - Gravel Pit - Attacking

The BLU mercenaries gathered in the safe room, each looking over the BLUeprints of the embattled area. The evil RED team was guarding a key defense tower, which kept airborne support from reaching further on down the war front. Before BLU could take the tower, they needed to control the two buildings in front of it. One of the buildings was marked A and the other B; it only seemed natural to mark the defense tower C.

The team would split up into three Squads. Squad Alpha would assault building A, Squad Bravo would assault building B, while Squad Charlie would have to infiltrate behind and make sure that the defenses at tower C were kept weak so that the entire team could regroup and make a final push once A and B fell. It was a solid plan. One that could only be thwarted by an unhealthy dose of treachery...

"Mission begins in sixty seconds!"

After the lead Pyro ProlificDream set the Squads, there was some dissent from the rest of the BLU team. "Two Heavies on one Squad with no Medics? Are you crazy?" Some said they should change the Squads on the next mission; some said they should keep the Squads the same. Some accused others of being RED Spies. Some accused the Team Leader herself of being a RED Spy. They discussed how terrible it would be for a RED Spy to choose the Squads for the mission.

"Mission begins in ten seconds!"

They couldn't bicker any longer. It was time to steel themselves for the upcoming mission. A latecoming Demoman shouted, "Ach, we can't star' blowin' each other up just yet, mates! No trial today!" The others realized he was right. For now, there was a job to do, and they were going to go out there and do the best they could.

"Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one..."

Action Phase 1

"Attaaaaaaack!" Control Point A was in an elevated position, with ramps up toward it on either flank. Alpha Squad's make up was well suited to the symmetry. Artful-dodgeR ran ahead, then returned with the situation. The control point was being guarded by a few RED Snipers, an Engineer, and a Heavy sitting on an endless supply of bullets. Making a sloppy push would put them out in the open, so usedtabe and Scroll slowly inched out from behind the shacks dotting the landscape, one on either side. "On my mark," said usedtabe to his teammate, "Mark!" A single round was fired from either rifle, and across the battlefield, two RED Snipers fell to the ground, a mess of flesh and bone where their heads were just seconds before. Mr 3man and djnealb charged forward, one on either side of the point, miniguns spinning in anticipation. The RED Heavy saw Mr 3man coming, and spewed hundreds of rounds in his direction. With his attention on pinning Mr 3man down, he had his back to djnealb, who closed in enough to press the hot metal against the RED Heavy's back before opening fire and tearing him to pieces. With both BLU Heavies converging on the point, they made quick work of the sentry gun and its frantic Engineer. Control Point A fell shortly. "Success. We have been awarded additional time." Now the team would just have to move to the tower at C and hope things went well with the other Squads.

Control Point B is a more defensible building, with small entrances at the front and back that were almost certainly being watched and trapped. ClownBaby overhealed BlackSunEmpire, who used his additional protection to detonate a sticky grenade and launch himself to the top of the building, where the was a hidden entrance, and a weakness in the building's defenses. Unfortunately, a RED Soldier saw BlackSunEmpire, and he rocket jumped to meet for a duel on top of the building. With his bazooka trained on the BLU Demoman, the RED Soldier was about to squeeze the trigger when a shot was fired from faraway, penetrating his chest and exploding his heart. "Thanks for standin' still, wanker!" was all that Mighty Hatman had to say. With the roof clear, BlackSunEmpire was able to drop a dozen or so grenades into the building, destroying a the building's sentry gun and dispenser in the process. "I am fully charged!" shouted ClownBaby with his medigun was now trained on Austin_SJ. The duo ran into the front door of the building, immune to the bullets and explosives being thrown their direction. Austin_SJ set the defenders on fire, sending them into a panic, fleeing out the back door. Waiting for them there was Muckfoot and his fully upgraded sentry, which cut down each burning RED within seconds from fleeing the building. Control Point B belonged to BLU now. Bravo team pushed onward to meet up at C.

There appeared to be a dozen Engineers and a handful of Pyros guarding Control Point C. ZombiePlatypus disguised himself as a RED Pyro and used his technological expertise to destroy the teleporters that were transporting RED mercenaries up to the defense tower. Though they were cut off from backup, they had enough dispensers to sustain themselves, so FromTheRiver and Tarvu maintained a sustained volley of grenades into the tower, weakening their defenses. However, the RED Engineers were diligent, and although they were pinned down, they were able to repair their sentries and dispensers despite the carpet bombing from the BLU Demomen. ByronicMan took a more direct approach; he charged forward, aimed his rocket launcher at the ground under his feet, and let the force of the explosion carry him to the top of the tower, where he fired off a few rockets before running out and jumping back down. Badly hurt from the explosion and the subsequent fall, ByronicMan limped over to Bizarro, who fixed his wounds, and said, "Let's go get it!" Bizarro activated his ‹bercharge, and ByronicMan rocket jumped back up the tower. Knowing he had the upper hand, he proceeded to bash each Engineer's skull in with his shovel, one at a time. Soon enough, his protection was gone, but not before he had laid waste to every RED Engineer in sight. However, there were two RED Pyros guarding the capture point, ready to set him on fire if he stepped any closer. The first shouted "Mmmmph!" and began to charge, and the second followed shortly after. Just as Byronic Man was ready to risk broken legs and jump back down the tower, the first Pyro stopped in his tracks and fell over forward, with a butterfly knife planted in his back. ZombiePlatypus pulled it out, wiped it clean, and merely said, "Gentlemen," while giving a nod to the BLU Soldier he just saved.

The plan went off without a hitch. The defense tower was shortly in BLU control. But the REDs were sure to counterattack. A new plan would have to be formed in order to hold the asset they so recently acquired.

Nobody was killed.



Planning Phase 2 - Gravel Pit - Defending

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

Despite the fact that the previous mission went flawlessly, there has been some infighting among the BLU mercenaries. Pyro ProlificDream and Chinese Sniper usedtabe were at each other's throats, each accusing the other of secretly working for the REDs. Once again, a BLU team member had to intervene to prevent anybody from killing each other, but this time it was the Heavy djnealb. "No fighting!" he exclaimed.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

In the haste to prepare, Team Leader Bizarro decided to keep the same Squads that worked so well in taking the three capture points. This time they would be defending those very points, but hopefully that wouldn't make too much of a difference...

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 2

It made sense to send the same squads to defend the same locations that they just recently grabbed from the REDs. These Squads have already worked together, and they already knew the lay of the land.

Squad Apple set up at point A, with Heavy djnealb covering the right choke point and Heavy Mr 3man covering the left one. Further back, Sniper Scroll was watching djnealb's back and Sniper usedtabe was covering Mr 3man, each sweeping his gaze across the battlefield through the high powered scope on top of his rifle. Scout Artful-dodgeR was set to run circles around the control point, making sure nobody hit Squad Apple's flanks.

The siren blared, and the battle began. Mr 3man and djnealb opened fire at the incoming REDs, tearing the initial Scouts and Pyros to shreds with a seemingly endless supply of hot metal. A dreadful sound emanated from the attackers' position: a distinctly German accent proclaiming, "I am fully charged!" The two BLU Heavies caught a glimpse of a RED Heavy on his way, being trailed by a RED Medic. "Now, doctor!" shouted the RED Heavy as he charged into the fray, minigun spinning up. But just as the RED Medic was about to deploy his ‹bercharge, his head exploded into a fine red mist. "Say goodbye to your head, wanker!" taunted Mr 3man. Before the RED Heavy could realize he had no protection, his head flew apart from the single shot from usedtabe. As usedtabe was carving another notch into his rifle, Artful-dodgeR saw a BLU Demoman materialize behind usedtabe. With no time to warn usedtabe, Artful-dodgeR smacked a baseball directly at the supposed Demoman's head while sprinting toward the two. usedtabe knew what it meant when he heard the baseball make contact with a human skull behind him. He quickly turned around, doused the Demoman with a jar of urine and then ducked as Artful-dodgeR double-jumped over his head and beat the disguised RED Spy to death with his baseball bat. Point A was successfully defended.

Squad Banana was set up at Point B, ready to stop any REDs from retaking control. Engineer Muckfoot and Demoman BlackSunEmpire were busy constructing defenses inside the main building, while Sniper Mighty Hatman set up camp behind a large boulder overlooking a long hallway that the REDs would have to pass through in order to assault Point B. Pyro Austin_SJ and Medic ClownBaby would camp at the other entrance to the battlefield, waiting to burn any RED mercenaries to death.

The siren rang out, and a wave of Pyros rushed out of the very entrance that ClownBaby and Austin_SJ were guarding. Knowing that Austin_SJ's flamethrower would have little effect on the enemy Pyros, Austin_SJ pulled out his fire axe, and ClownBaby dropped his Medigun in favor of his bonesaw. With the element of surprise on their side, they closed in on the Pyros charging toward the point and each hacked one to pieces with his chosen blade. When the leader of the RED Pyros realized what had happened, he turned around and readied his flamethrower, just in time to have his head scissored off--from the left by Austin_SJ's axe, and from the right by ClownBaby's bonesaw. On the other side of the battlefield, Mighty Hatman had the long hall way locked down. A RED Soldier peeked his head out. BAM! Soldier down. A RED Demoman followed suit. BAM! Demoman down. It seemed nobody would make it through Mighty Hatman's gauntlet, until a RED Scout sprinted around the corner, so quickly that he seemed a blur. Mighty Hatman couldn't get a bead on the Scout, and in the confusion he missed seeing the RED Sniper setting up at the far end of the hall. The RED Sniper missed his shot by a few inches, knocking Mighty Hatman's mighty hat off, and pinning him down behind the boulder. The last wave of RED mercenaries flooded down the hallway. The troop of RED Soldiers headed toward the building housing Point B. Two ran in headfirst only to be met by Muckfoot's fully upgraded sentry gun, which easily cut them down. The third RED Soldier was a bit smarter, launching himself to the top of the building to wreak havoc through the hole in the roof. After launching a couple of rockets at Muckfoot's sentry and reducing it to a pile of scrap metal, he dropped through the hole in the roof, expecting to make quick work of the Engineer inside. Before his feet even touched the ground, the last RED Soldier was reduced to a sloppy pile of flesh by BlackSunEmpire's sticky bomb trap. Knowing about the weakness in the building's structure, he had lined the ceiling with grenades, ready to destroy anybody who dropped in. Point B was defended.

Point C was in little danger of being taken with forward Points A and B defended so well, but Squad Cherry had to set up to make sure no infiltrators would steal Point C from under their noses. Demomen FromTheRiver and Tarvu both decided to set sticky grenades on the defense tower as a last resort; if BLU couldn't hold the tower, then at least they would destroy it before RED could retake it. Spy ZombiePlatypus disguised himself as a RED Scout and disappeared from sight. Soldier Byronic Man and Pyro ProlificDream would patrol the perimeter, with Medic Bizarro keeping them healthy in case of attack.

For the first few minutes after hearing the siren, things were quiet around Point C. The others must have done their jobs well. Suddenly, a couple of RED Scouts showed themselves, after having evaded the defenses at the other two points. Byronic Man spotted the first, and sent a rocket straight at his chest. The RED Scout jumped out of the way, letting it hit the wall behind him, propelling him toward Byronic. The RED Scout emptied a handful of shotgun shells into Byronic's stomach, but Bizarro was there to patch him up and keep him from bleeding out. ProlificDream airblasted the Scout backwards, where he hit a wall and became dazed. The injured RED Scout shouted to his teammate, "Let's go, chucklehead!" His teammate nodded, and then put a revolver to the injured Scout's head, blasting a hole in one ear canal and out the other. ZombiePlatypus looked pleased with himself. The celebration didn't last too long, when a single RED Demoman showed up, quickly grenade jumping to the top of the tower where the two BLU Demomen waited. The RED Demoman launched a few grenades at the sticky bombs set up, sending them showering off the tower, and destroying the trap that was set. Intent on destroying the RED Demoman who threatened to take the control point, Tarvu and FromTheRiver unsheathed their swords and closed in. FromTheRiver got the first strike in; it was a flesh wound that disabled the RED Demoman's left arm. A well-placed grenade from the RED Demoman sent FromTheRiver flying off the tower. His legs would have been broken had it not been for Bizarro waiting to heal him immediately upon landing. The other BLU team members raced up the tower to aid Tarvu, but when they got there, they found that their help wasn't needed. Tarvu's sword was planted directly into the RED Demoman's (formerly) good eye, with the blade emerging a good six inches out the back of his skull. Point C was defended.

There were no deaths, again.



Planning Phase 3 - Dust Bowl - Attacking

The RED mercenaries guard a highly destructive ICBM at Dust Bowl. There are three stages to get through in order to take the missile launch site. Each Squad will be assigned to one of the stages. If all three Squads are successful, the BLU team will take the ICBM.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

Riding high on their victory at Gravel Pit, the BLU team decided to stick with the Squads that proved so successful taking the defense tower. Now, to take the ICBM.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

The growing dissent over Pyro ProlificDream's loyalty came nearly to a head, despite her help in beating back the REDs at Gravel Pit. Some were ready to string her up, but a deadlocked vote made the BLU team reconsider, heading to Dust Bowl with slight doubts.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

ProlificDream was not hanged.

The BLU team readied themselves for the upcoming fight. The tried and true Squads from the first two missions would assault the missile launch site. Squad Aufbau would push from the BLU team's cave to the RED team's safe house where Squad BrÝnsted would set up. They would then push to the next RED base of operations to allow Squad Curie to group up and make the final assault on the launch site.

Action Phase 3

The first stage of the attack was pretty straightforward. There were two heavily defended buildings between Squad Aufbau and the RED safe house. Scout Artful-dodgeR would run ahead to let the team know what they were up against. Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man would brute force their ways into the buildings, while Snipers Scroll and usedtabe would watch their backs for any RED Spies.

The siren rang out and the gates opened. Artful-dodgeR sprinted toward the first building to find an RED Engineer working on a fully upgraded sentry gun, a RED Pyro protecting him from BLU Spies, and a RED Soldier watching the two entrances. Artful-dodgeR shouted to the Heavies about what they were up against before taking off toward the next building. Mr 3man and djnealb charged into the first building, miniguns spinning up in anticipation. The RED Engineer and Pyro were no match for the hail of bullets, but the RED Soldier fired a rocket directly at the BLU Heavies' feet, knocking them twenty feet backward, out the door they came in. As the RED Soldier exited in pursuit, his head vaporized, thanks to a well placed shot from usedtabe. With no living REDs defending the first building, the only thing left was the automated sentry gun to deal with. Scroll made his way up the battlefield, catching glimpse of the sentry through an open window. With one shot, he disabled the gun's targeting, and with a second, he detonated its rocket supply, destroying it from the inside out. Ahead, Artful-dodgeR found the second building to be completely undefended, though some REDs were on their way from the safe house toward it. With his quickness, Artful-dodgeR captured the second building, and put its heavy weaponry to use against the charging REDs, mopping them up with ease. The first stage was a success.

With the first safe house secured, Squad BrÝnsted set up to take the next one, while Squad Aufbau rested after a job well done. The second stage features a single defensive building, then a maze of tunnels leading to the second safe house. Medic ClownBaby and Demoman BlackSunEmpire would assault the building while Pyro Austin_SJ would watch the tunnel exits and burn any RED reinforcements that passed through. Sniper Mighty Hatman would survey the battle from afar while Engineer Muckfoot would set up an automated sentry gun near Hatman to keep him safe from a sneak attack.

After the gates opened, BlackSunEmpire charged toward the building with ClownBaby following. Inside, they were met by several RED Engineers and their sentries. ClownBaby instinctively activated his ‹bercharge, and as the bullets and rockets bounced harmlessly off the BLU mercenaries' bodies, BlackSunEmpire launched a volley of grenades at the Engineer setup, reducing it all to rubble and sending shrapnel into most of the attending RED Engineers. With one Engineer left, BlackSunEmpire took a swig of whiskey and promptly smashed the bottle over the RED Engineer's head. A few RED Scouts came rushing out of the tunnels toward the building, but were barbecued by Austin_SJ's flamethrower before they could make three steps out of the tunnels. After the building fell, the Squad regrouped with Austin_SJ, where Muckfoot set up a dispenser to replenish everybody's health and ammunition. Mighty Hatman was assigned to the long, straight hallway, where he easily popped a few RED heads without breaking a sweat. BlackSunEmpire and ClownBaby entered the opposite tunnel, which led them to a single Heavy guarding the RED safe house, with his minigun trained on the intruders. The RED Heavy beat the duo back, but while he was watching them retreat to the dispenser, he missed the lone Sniper on his far right flank, at least until his brains were painting the wall to his left. The second stage was successful.

The third stage was much more defensible than the first two, so Squad Curie was brought in while Squad BrÝnsted healed up from the previous encounter. Several long gauntlets met the BLU team before they could take the launch site, so teamwork would be required for this stage of the mission. Soldier Byronic Man and Demomen Tarvu and FromTheRiver would lead the charge with more concentrated explosives than the REDs have seen, while Medic Bizarro would follow the three and make sure they didn't lose any more eyes. Pyro ProlificDream would bring up the rear to set fire to any would-be flankers, and Spy ZombiePlatypus would try to take the underground route to weaken their defenses for the final onslaught.

When the gates opened, Squad Curie rushed forward as one cohesive unit. To their chagrin, they were met by a team of RED Scouts. Though they would go down easily enough when hit, the BLU Soldier's and Demomen's explosives were too slow and cumbersome to land a single hit. The RED Scouts peppered the BLUs with scattergun shot before diving out of the way of errant rockets and grenades. As a quick change of plans, ProlificDream took point and laid down a wall of flame that ignited the RED Scouts, who retreated in a panic before the pain was too much to bear and they collapsed to die. Squad Curie reformed with the explosives experts up front, pushing forward while ZombiePlatypus cloaked and slipped down the underground tunnel. At the end of a long, straight corridor, several RED Engineers had a phalanx of sentry guns set up, trained on the other end of the hallway. While the Tarvu and FromTheRiver could lob a few grenades toward the sentries, the RED Engineers were able to keep them running effectively enough to pin down Squad Curie. Bizarro activated his ‹bercharge and pressed forward, absorbing hundreds of bullets and dozens of rockets, allowing Byronic Man and the Demomen to launch a sustained assault of explosives on the Engineers' bunker. Bizarro's ‹bercharge ran out with a single sentry gun still standing, and three RED Engineers working to keep it operational. Just before it launched four rockets at Bizarro's face, one of the RED Engineers exclaimed, "Spy sappin' my sentry!" ZombiePlatypus revealed himself to the other two Engineers with two quick backstabs, while his sapper slowly drained the sentry's energy. Byronic Man, Tarvu, and FromTheRiver all showed their appreciation by firing a single explosive each at the crippled sentry, mangling it into a pile of scrap heap.

After passing down the corridor together, the launch site was in view, with a single RED Medic typing furiously while a robotic voice counted down the seconds until launch. Squad Curie rushed forward together to stop the launch, and in their haste they didn't see the sticky bomb trap on the bridge leading to the launch site. When the hidden RED Demoman set off the remote mines, Squad Curie was blasted in different directions. Some were blasted backward, some fell down the small crevasse under the bridge, but one lucky BLU was propelled forward, directly into the RED Medic. The momentum pushed the Medic into the giant "Abort Launch" button behind him, breaking his neck. The launch was averted, but as Squad Curie was getting their heads on straight and regrouping, they realized that they were short a teammate. After a quick search, they found him. Sitting in a pool of his own blood in a small alcove near the launch site was a BLU Soldier with a knife stuck directly in his forehead. Pinned there by the knife was a small note, written in red, that simply said, "DEATH TO BLU".

Byronic Man was killed.



Planning Phase 4 - Dust Bowl - Defending

As the BLU team took the missile launch site, the RED mercenaries were planning a huge counteroffensive. Intelligence suggests that it would be more RED mercenaries than the BLUs had fought before. The BLUs would not be able to hold the REDs at either of the first two stages, but the best they could hope to do is weaken the attackers enough that they could keep control of the launch site.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

The distrust for ProlificDream had not waned since the BLU team had last regrouped for planning. The fact that Byronic Man was in her squad when he was killed was only further evidence that she may be a traitor. The BLU team voted almost unanimously to have her killed.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Although she pleaded to be innocent until the end, the sentence was passed, and she would be executed. The team stripped her of her flamethrower, shotgun, and fire axe, and as she stood unarmed, usedtabe gave one quick slice with her own axe, lopping off her head with little effort. As the BLU team watched, they expected to see her transform into a RED Spy, but were disgusted to discover that they had just murdered one of their own teammates.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

ProlificDream was hanged. She was a BLU Pyro.

Action Phase 4

Squad Anteater set up to slow down the RED mercenaries as much as they could at the first stage of Dust Bowl. There were three entrances to the battlefield; Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man set up outside the left and the right entrances, respectively, while Snipers usedtabe and Scroll hung back with their eyes on the middle. Scout Artful-dodgeR was set to run ammunition to the Heavies to make sure they could sustain fire on the entrances as long as possible.

When the mission began, djnealb and Mr 3man opened fire at the choke points and didn't let up, even when it seemed clear. Floods of unsuspecting REDs came running, only to be torn to shreds by dozens of rounds from the miniguns. A few more savvy RED mercenaries decided to sneak through the middle, only to be met with tandem rifle shots from usedtabe and Scroll. Most of the REDs who exited from the center ended up with two bullets deeply embedded in their brains, one entering through each eye. Artful-dodgeR was a blur, collecting ammo and bringing it to the four shooters, taunting the REDs the entire time. Clearly disturbed by the taunts, two Heavies with Medics in tow met djnealb and Mr 3man at their respective entrances. After a split second of ineffectual fire, djnealb called for BLU to retreat. It was not a moment too soon, because the two RED Medics activated their ‹bercharges simultaneously, but with the BLU Squad retreating, the RED Heavies couldn't decide whether to follow in pursuit or hold still to fire at the running enemies. Before they could decide, Squad Anteater had found safety, and the RED mercenaries pressed on.

At the second stage, Squad Beaver decided that the tunnels would be the best place to ambush the incoming REDs. Sniper Mighty Hatman took the far right tunnel since it was long and straight, while Pyro Austin_SJ decided to cover the central tunnels, which offered enough corners for him to catch the REDs by surprise. Demoman BlackSunEmpire and Medic ClownBaby set up grenades in the far left tunnel, which left Engineer Muckfoot set up a sentry overlooking the exits of the tunnels.

The REDs rushed toward the first building, expecting resistance but finding none. Thinking the second stage may be abandoned, they charged into the tunnels. Mighty Hatman spied one of the Heavy-Medic teams that cleared out the first stage, and with an expertly placed shot, he fired over the RED Heavy's shoulder, catching the RED Medic directly up his left nostril. Enraged, the Heavy opened fire on Mighty Hatman, but at such a distance, he was easily put down before many of his bullets caught Mighty Hatman's body. The other Heavy-Medic team had gone through the left tunnel, where they noticed the sticky bombs a moment too late, before decorating the walls of the tunnel with their entrails. A few RED Scouts made their way through the central tunnels, only to be caught off guard and burned by Austin_SJ. One RED Scout ran back in the direction he came from, while the other tried to push further, despite his on-fire status. The first collapsed just a few steps from a life saving health pack, while the second was met with a rocket to the gut from Muckfoot's sentry. A RED (NPC) Spy materialized behind Muckfoot, placing a sapper on the sentry and raising his arm up, ready to stab Muckfoot. Thinking quickly, Muckfoot parried the attack and smashed his wrench over the RED (NPC) Spy's nose, caving it in and causing him to bleed to death. After the struggle, he didn't have enough time to knock the sapper off of his sentry before it was destroyed. A wave of RED Soldier's was on its way, and the first entered BlackSunEmpire's tunnel. Grenades were fired one direction, while a glowing rocket flew the other direction. An instant before the rocket impacted BlackSunEmpire's chest, ClownBaby activated his ‹bercharge. Though it saved BlackSunEmpire's life, the duo was knocked back and out of the tunnel. Beaten back and missing their backup sentry, Squad Beaver was forced to retreat. They could only hope that the remaining RED mercenaries numbered few enough that Squad Caribou could handle them.

Squad Caribou was assigned to be the last defense at the missile site. Only four remained on Squad Caribou, so they decided to spread out to make it seem like their force was greater than it actually was. Spy ZombiePlatypus would take the most forward position to try and blend in with the RED team and take a few out before they could get far. Demomen Tarvu and FromTheRiver would each cover one leg of the gauntlet toward the missile, setting up traps along the way. Medic Bizarro would be the last defense at the missile, making sure it was sent to the RED headquarters before it could be retaken. The four went to their posts and waited for the mission to begin.

While the four waited, isolated from one another, FromTheRiver set up a wall of grenades that would stop an elephant. He heard footsteps behind him, and felt a sharp sting in his back, then nothing. The blade severed his spine, cutting off the connection from his brain to the rest of his body. As he fell over, he was able to catch a glimpse of his killer, standing directly on his sticky bombs. If only he could will his hand to set them off, he could destroy this traitor. The most he could do is let out an accusatory "You..." before his life ended.

The RED Soldiers that overran Squad Beaver were first out of the gates, followed by a sword-wielding Demoman and an Engineer carrying a minisentry. Quickly evaluating the situation, ZombiePlatypus materialized and stabbed the two RED Soldiers with lightning speed and a surgeon's precision. Seeing that the RED Engineer deployed his minisentry, ZombiePlatypus had no choice but to cloak and hope that his teammates could stop the remaining two RED mercenaries. The Demoknight pressed on, meeting Tarvu head on. The RED Demoman charged with his sword held high and his shield squarely in front of him. As the two collided, Tarvu was knocked backward, detonating the remote bombs he had set at his feet, just before being knocked unconscious. The RED Demoman was reduced to giblets, and the lone RED Engineer was able to mosey past both BLU Demomen, one knocked out and one dead. Bizarro had begun the countdown, and went to meet the Engineer on the bridge leading to the launch site. Bonesaw met wrench in a splended display of melee combat. Bizarro managed to disarm the Engineer, who still wore a suspicious smile. With his wrench gone, the Engineer pulled the shotgun off of his back and let a blast go, grazing Bizarro's arm. Outmatched, Bizarro retreated, giving the RED Engineer just enough time to reprogram the ICBM launch coordinates to their original settings: aimed directly at the BLU capital.

The missile launched, and the BLU team could only watch as it headed toward their base of operations.

FromTheRiver was killed.



Planning Phase 5 - Granary

With the missile launched at the BLU homeland, their only chance at salvation would be to utilize the missile defense system disguised as a granary. However, across from BLU's missile defense were RED's countermeasures (also disguised as a granary), which would neutralize BLU's missile defense. BLU had to take RED's granary and hold it long enough to shoot the ICBM out of the sky.

The BLU team gathered in the safe room to discuss the failure at Dust Bowl and to plan their next move. Squad Chimpanzee should have been able to stop the last of the RED team from making it through to the launch site, and they would have, if Demoman FromTheRiver hadn't been viciously betrayed and murdered by a traitor among them. Bizarro was called out as one of the three remaining in his squad, but in the end, the BLU team didn't have enough evidence to convict him. They had an important mission to plan, to stop the nuke from hitting their homeland.

Bizarro was saved.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

The BLU team knew that one of either Bizarro, Tarvu, or ZombiePlatypus was a dirty RED Spy. The problem was that they didn't know which it was. It was decided that to be safe, they would keep the trio together so no others could be harmed.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Between the two military buildings disguised as granaries, there were two areas to control. Squad Ascorbic Acid would take the centrally located loading dock, Squad Beta Carotene would assault RED's front building, and the ever-trustworthy Squad Cholecalciferol had the honor of making the final push to disable RED's missile defense countermeasures.

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 5

The sirens signaled the start of the mission, and the Squads rushed forward to their posts. Scout Artful-dodgeR was first to reach the loading dock by far, and he immediately started setting up defenses. He met the first wave of the RED mercenaries, a couple of Engineers hoping to set up defenses before the BLUs could get a foothold. Each of the two Engineers dropped a minisentry in hopes that it would chase Artful-dodgeR away, but he quickly dispatched the contraptions with his scattergun. "I broke your stupid crap, moron!" he shouted at them before turning his scattergun to the Engineers themselves, shooting one in the chest, then jumping high into the air before kicking the second square in the jaw. By that point, a RED Pyro and Demoman showed up, and just as they were about to fire on Artful-dodgeR, they flew backward, arrows lodged in each of their skulls. Snipers usedtabe and Scroll brought their bows along this mission, expecting to require quick shooting in relatively close quarters. A RED Sniper showed himself across the gap, taking a shot with his rifle and narrowly missing usedtabe. The two BLU Snipers ducked into cover just in time for Heavies Mr 3man and djnealb to show up and start laying down sustained fire. The RED Sniper was torn to shreds, and there was no way BLU would lose this position now.

Pyro Austin_SJ led the charge to the forward defensive building, with Medic ClownBaby in tow. Upon entering the garage door to the second control point, ClownBaby activated his ‹bercharge, and it was a good thing. Two RED Heavies stood guard inside the building and their barrage of bullets had no effect on Austin_SJ as he closed the distance between them and charred them to pure carbon. A RED Pyro got in close, knowing he had protection from fire, and he airblasted Austin_SJ and ClownBaby apart, making them vulnerable. As the RED Pyro descended upon ClownBaby, Demoman BlackSunEmpire launched an expertly aimed grenade that arced over ClownBaby and detonated on contact with the RED Pyro's gas mask. Though he was protected from fire, he was no so lucky against explosives. Celebrating his kill, BlackSunEmpire did not notice the RED (NPC) Spy materialize behind him with knife in hand. Mighty Hatman did, but was too close for a rifle shot, so he unsheathed his kukri and sliced the RED (NPC) Spy's head clean off. Engineer Muckfoot set up a dispenser to replenish and heal the team, then a fully loaded sentry gun to ensure that this position would not be lost.

The final Squad of three made their way to the RED granary, to disable their electronic countermeasures and save the BLU capital from a missile strike. With each Squad member no longer trusting the other two, they decided to each take separate routes into the control room. Spy ZombiePlatypus disappeared from sight, Demoman Tarvu went left, and Medic Bizarro went right. The control center was surprisingly undefended, and as Tarvu and Bizarro both raced to the console from either side, and upon seeing each other, they simultaneously realized it might be a trap. Each flipping around so they would be standing back to back, they expected to see ZombiePlatypus materialize in the room with them, ready to assassinate one.

He never showed himself.

Finally realizing what had happened to their teammate, the two turned to face one another, bonesaw in Bizarro's hand and broken whiskey bottle in Tarvu's. The two swung at each other in a strange dance. One would lunge while the other would parry, and then counter with his own swing. As the two battled on, they heard a familiar voice counting down. "Five, four, three, two, one! YOU FAIL." In their haste to kill the other, they had neglected the mission. RED's countermeasures were still online, disabling BLU's missile defense system. Neither Tarvu nor Bizarro was able to kill the other, but the BLU team was delayed long enough for the ICBM to hit the BLU capital, flattening it with the strength of a million tons of conventional explosives.

When the rest of the BLU mercenaries caught up to Squad Cholecalciferol, they found ZombiePlatypus, dressed in his best suit, with a trickle of blood running down the back. Whoever did this was the same man who murdered FromTheRiver earlier, but it wasn't clear which of the two was the traitor. All that was left to do was to gather the body and return to base, planning the next move.

ZombiePlatypus was killed.



Planning Phase 6 - Gold Rush

The BLU team decided to retaliate by delivering an explosive of their own to key RED strongholds. The first would be at Gold Rush. Unfortunately, BLU lacked missiles, so they would go the old fashioned route: strap some bombs to a mine cart and physically push it to where it needs to go.

Mission begins in sixty seconds!

[i]With ZombiePlatypus killed, the BLU team determined that either Tarvu or Bizarro must have been the killer. Each argued that the other was the culprit, but rather than calling for the death of the other, both suggested that the traitor was worth more to the BLU team alive than dead.

Mission begins in ten seconds!

Uneasy about keeping the two together, the BLU team quarantined Bizarro by himself, and kept a close watch on Tarvu...

Mission begins in five, four, three, two, one...

Action Phase 6

Gold Rush was an area similar to Dust Bowl. With three legs of the journey, it only made sense to send each Squad along one leg, delivering the bomb further into the RED base.

Since things had been going so badly for the BLU team, Team Leader usedtabe decided to mix the Squads up. For the first leg, Squad Asshole would push the bomb cart from the BLU base to the first RED stronghold, against heavy opposition. Heavies djnealb and Mr 3man would do a lot of the legwork, staying with the cart at all times, keeping any REDs from getting too near. Scout Artful-dodgeR would be with the Heavies as well; despite his size, he could push a cart twice as quickly as any of the others. Sniper Mighty Hatman would take the high road and perch near a window on the far left of the battlefield, while Engineer Muckfoot would set up a sentry on the far right, overlooking the RED base. Demoman BlackSunEmpire had the task of keeping a few steps ahead of the cart, blowing up any RED mercenaries who would try to stop the bomb from making its way down the track.

The gates opened and a huge force of RED mercenaries bore down on the BLU squad right away. Two RED Heavies met the two BLU Heavies head on, and with a flurry of bullets flying in either direction, it was only the medical supplies kept on the bomb cart that gave djnealb and Mr 3man the upper hand, cutting the two REDs down just moments before the BLUs would have fallen themselves. A third RED Heavy appeared, and just as he was about to open fire on the wounded BLU Heavies, Artful-dodgeR jumped from behind the cart and beaned the RED Heavy over the head with a baseball. Stunned and confused, the third RED Heavy could only look on stupidly while the two BLU Heavies riddled his torso with bullets. As the group pushed forward, BlackSunEmpire rained grenades forward, setting up a minefield that vaporized any REDs who dared cross it. Upon reaching the tunnel that divided the battlefield in two, the cart pushers took a break, while Muckfoot and Mighty Hatman set up to see what was in store in the second area. A couple of RED Engineers had set up a formidable defense of turrets that would stop the cart dead in its tracks. Muckfoot set up a nest of his own, overlooking the battlefield, and his sentry made quick work of a small team of RED Scouts and Pyros running to head off the cart. BlackSunEmpire attempted to destroy the RED sentries from below, out of their sight, but the team of RED Engineers was too diligent with repairs for him to make a dent. From across the way, Mighty Hatman relieved the RED Engineers of their faces, giving BlackSunEmpire the opening he needed to reduce the sentries to scrap. Once that was done, the BLU Squad converged to push the cart to its destination.

The second stage was similar to the first, in that it was divided into two areas separated by a small tunnel. The first area had a short bridge to cross and the second had a defensive structure to breach before moving the bomb to the third stage. Snipers Scroll and usedtabe decided to be the ones to push the cart, taking out enemies from afar in the meanwhile. Medic ClownBaby would aid Demoman Tarvu and Pyro Austin_SJ in scouting ahead and keeping any REDs from closing in on the Snipers.

The siren sounded the beginning of the battle, and there were surprisingly few REDs defending this leg. With no resistance, the forward trio was able to move to the tunnel before meeting any REDs. Meeting may not be the right term, as it was truly a Pyro ambush from behind a low wall. As the RED Pyros moved in to char ClownBaby from behind, two shots were fired from the cart, and the RED bodies hit the dirt before ClownBaby could turn around and realize what had happened. Scroll and usedtabe were accustomed to assassinating two targets simultaneously after all of the missions they had spent at each other's side. Through the tunnel, there were more RED Mercenaries to contend with. A RED Soldier met them at the tunnel exit with a barrage of rockets directed their way. Thinking quickly, Austin_SJ used his air blast to deflect the first few rockets, and then forth reflected straight back, destroying the RED Soldier with his own rocket. Tarvu let loose some explosives of his own, catching an errant RED Medic-Pyro combo in the blast. As they pushed forward, there seemed to be no more REDs to contend with, and just as Austin_SJ and Tarvu were about to let their guards down, ClownBaby caught the glint of light reflecting off glass out of the corner of his eye. Instinctively, he activated his ‹bercharge and switched between his Demoman and Pyro teammates quickly enough to protect them both from the rifle shots that came from a RED Sniper far behind the [color]red]RED[/color] base. Furious that they had almost lost their heads, Austin_SJ and Tarvu charged at the RED Sniper, igniting him just before exploding him into a million tiny pieces. With no more REDs in sight, the Squad pushed the bomb cart to its final leg.

Medic Bizarro was assigned to the last leg of the mission alone, and he cursed Team Leader usedtabe for that. How could he complete the mission alone, armed only with a weak syringe gun and his bonesaw?

When the gates opened, he saw no RED mercenaries at all, and his nervousness waned a bit, but he still remained alert to a trap. Carefully, methodically pushing the bomb cart, he checked his corners and watched his back, snaking through the battlefield until the final destination was in sight. The journey was uneventful, but that was preferable to the alternative, Bizarro thought. With a final push, he nudged the bomb into a pit, then ran for cover as it detonated. The RED asset was destroyed.

Nobody died at Gold Rush.

Read on for Part 2!
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Two years ago today, I asked a special woman to spend the rest of her life with me. This is the story of it all. I've told it before to people who have asked, but never written it down.

It started more than five years ago. I worked in a laboratory in college, and so did she. Our desks were near each other, and in between experiments, we would help each other out with online crossword puzzles, mahjongg solitaire, and ShyGypsy's Funny Farm puzzle. She was cute, and I felt comfortable talking to her.

One day I invited her over to my apartment to hang out and play videogames. My roommates and I were cheap, and we lived in an old house in upstate New York, so we kept the thermostat at a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't the most welcoming environment, but I was able to use it as an excuse to snuggle up on the couch and play Clubhouse Games with my soon-to-be girlfriend. She seemed to enjoy it, and particularly liked my Nintendo DS.

I don't remember what exactly spurred her to get one of her own, but soon enough, she had a DS Lite, along with her own copy of Clubhouse Games and New York Times Crosswords. Meanwhile, I had taken her to see opera excerpts, taken her out to dinner for her birthday, and finally worked up the nerve to give her a kiss.


Image courtesy of Wispilia

Things went well for the next few months, but then we had to face an unfortunate truth: I was graduating and returning to the southwest; she was finished with her work and moving back to Mississippi. Our first summer apart was difficult, though we talked daily. I sent her a gift of a game I thought she may enjoy: Animal Crossing: Wild World. With each of us on our DSes, we were able to run around town together, catching fish, gifting items, and making hearts appear above our heads. It wasn't quite the same as snuggling together, but it was better than just talking on the phone.

We spent a year apart, though we saw each other about once a month. Sometimes she visited me, sometimes I visited her, and other times we both met in an entirely different location. Every time we met we talked about when we'd be together again. After that first year, she quit her job in Mississippi and moved out to California to join me.

Two years passed, and over that time, I played Animal Crossing less and less. As a hardcore gamer, I always wanted to play the latest releases, and I tried getting her into other games, but nothing ever really stuck. She was content to play Animal Crossing, visiting her town and digging up fossils on a daily basis.

It was then that I started planning how I would ask her to marry me. Being a gamer, I wanted it to be something I am passionate about, but I also wanted something she would remember. The decision was obvious: I would ask her through Animal Crossing. But I couldn't just do something small; it needed to be great.

My first idea was to bury letters, sending her on a scavenger hunt, finding each letter one by one, until the last one had the question. To my chagrin, I realized that it's impossible to bury letters, so that idea was mostly scrapped. I still wanted to do a scavenger hunt, but I had to be creative with it.

For weeks I bought red roses whenever I saw them on sale in Nookington's. They would be instrumental to the plan. I created an alternate character on my copy of Animal Crossing named Mysterio, who strangely looked a lot more like I do than my main character did. With Mysterio, I bought a bottle mail, filled it out, chucked it into the ocean, and then went to her town. While I was there, I wrote her a letter and left it with Pelly to deliver later. I had Mysterio return to my town, then go back to hers. I searched the beaches to find my bottle mail, then I got to work gardening, and posted a message on her bulletin board. Everything was set.

Oh yeah, I also bought a ring. Then everything was set.



At the time, I was working a job that let me stay up late and sleep in until noon, so we only occasionally fell asleep together. That night, after she went off to bed, I turned off the TV and followed her in. She still played every night, to the point that she has actually conditioned herself such that the 9 P.M. music causes her to fall asleep. She was facing away from me when she started playing, and I watched over her shoulder.

Immediately after she exited her house, she heard the whirr of a UFO and saw Gulliver flying overhead. She ran to try and catch him, but her aim was off and she missed her chance at knocking him out of the sky. Flustered, she saved her game and closed her DS Lite. My engagement plans were about to be ruined by an anthropomorphic seagull. "Hang on," I said, "I think you had mail to check," hoping I wasn't being completely obvious.

She seemed a little confused that I was interested in her reading her mail, but she opened her DS back up and restarted the game. She looked in her mailbox and saw a letter from Mysterio, telling her that something important had washed up on the shore of Dogtown. Intrigued, she set off south to the beach, and combed it, until she found an arrow of red roses pointing to the bottle mail. I had to cut down one of her coconut trees to plant that arrow. Inside the bottle mail, the message instructed her to go read the town's bulletin board.

She trekked back north, toward City Hall, where she found the following message on the bulletin board. Meanwhile, I had stealthily grabbed the ring from inside my nightstand and waited.



She rolled over with excitement in her eyes. Two years ago today, I asked a special woman to spend the rest of her life with me. She said yes.
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Finally, a worthwhile WiiWare game that doesn't start with the word(s) "Bit.Trip." Liight debuted way back in September of 2009 as one of the PAX 10 finalists, and it seemed interesting enough for me to call it second best among the group. After not hearing about it for a year and a half, one couldn't be blamed for assuming it had been quietly killed.

Fortunately for puzzle fans, that isn't the case. Liight tasks players with lighting up several targets, using only red, green, and blue spotlights, along with additive color theory. With hundreds of built in levels and a level editor to create your own, Liight seems like a worthwhile purchase at 500 Wii Points ($5) for most puzzle fans. Liight is out now, but no demo is currently available. Anybody else plan on picking this up?
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This is the header image, because it's okay to use misogynistic images to drive hits as long as you condemn the image. Bad image! Bad!

Game journalist journalist: n - And individual who writes (professionally?) about computer and videogame journalists, although may not adhere to a professional work ethic. May hypocritically condemn hyperbole while posting an article titled "Gamer Limit hates women," after reading an article written by one person. May criticize journalists for being unprofessional and offensive while posting an article with "Herp Derp" in the title. May start calling a person "Jeff," without fact checking whether the name is actually "Jeff." May not be particularly forthcoming about his own identity, in order to avoid any reprisal for his professional writing. May be incapable of recognizing blatantly obvious satire. May be unable to handle criticism. May claim that "gamers deserve better," which is absolutely true. See also: pompous hypocrite

Some guy of Game Journos a few days ago posted a rebuttal to a list of "Top Five Female Role Models," and by "rebuttal" he presumably means "I have no idea what the hell I'm writing about" or, at least, "I can't detect satire laid on as thick as molasses."

For those following along, "as thick as molasses" is a simile. I don't actually mean that satire share characteristics with the viscous syrup. This paragraph is necessary because unless the writer tells the reader precisely what he means when he writes something, there's no possible way to divine the actual intention.

(By the way, that last sentence was an example of sarcasm.)

But I digress. Let's take a look, shall we?

"Kyle tells us exactly how he feels about Aya - she's a piece of meat, and he gets an erection. Boy, what a role model!"

Wait, being a piece of meat and giving guys erections isn't the sign of a strong female role model. Why would the author say "what a role model!"? That doesn't make any sense! Wait a minute! Sarcasm? That's STRICTLY FORBIDDEN from professional writing.

"Wow. That first sentence aside, there is not a single part of that paragraph that doesnít come across as misogynistic, demeaning, degrading, objectifying and offensive. Way to be, Kyle. Really, are you actively setting out to prove my claim that feminism is relevant to the industry and to game journalism? Because honestly, I donít know whether to thank you or to stick a grenade up your sphincter and pull the pin."

It's true, there is not a single part of that paragraph that doesn't come across as misogynistic, demeaning, degrading, objectifying, and offensive. It's almost as if the author of the original article were trying to write something so extreme that it's not even fathomable for a reasonable person to believe that the author is genuine. Of course, Kyle didn't anticipate that writing something 100% ridiculous could be taken seriously by anybody.

"Itís just occurred to me that none of the female characters in their header image... are actually featured in the article. Well-rounded, fleshed out characters such as Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2, the Tetra incarnation of Princess Zelda as seen in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and Sarah Kerrigan as seen in StarCraft: Brood War are seemingly to be featured in this article, but arenít mentioned anywhere at all. Not only is this misleading, but the omission of Alyx from a list that is supposedly about female role models is appalling."

Yet another red flag that should have tipped off anybody with an iota of reading comprehension, the "misleading" header image clearly lets (most) readers know that the characters in the header are actually strong female role models, and their absence from the text in the article illustrates that the women featured in the countdown are truly the opposite. So, rather than being "misleading," the header exists as even more evidence that the article is satire.

Kyle later issued a statement, spelling it out for the slow people in the audience. "If you didn't understand the article was satire, for that I am sorry." Others have pointed out that the statement "isn't an apology."

Damn right it isn't! He doesn't have to apologize to you, because he did nothing wrong. If I were required to issue a statement, I wouldn't have even been as accommodating. Mine would have gone something like, "I am sorry that you are actually so stupid that you couldn't recognize the article as satire."

And that's what it comes down to. If you got offended by Kyle's article, then you are one of two types of people. You either are scouring the Internet looking for reasons to be artificially offended, or you are just plain dumb. And I honestly couldn't tell you which is the better of the two.
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I mentioned in my PAX blog that a post on the PAX 10 would be coming. Here it is. In its third year now, the PAX 10 is a tradition at the Penny Arcade Expo, in which ten independently developed games are showcased as some of the best examples of low budget videogame titles. They are typically released as downloadable games on a variety of platforms. However, not all of the PAX 10 games were created equally, and like I did last year, this countdown list intends to zero in on the indie games to look out for.


10. Plane Weaver
Platform: PC
Release date: available now
Price: free

Plane Weaver is a 3D puzzle-platformer developed by a team of students out of Denmark. As a result, the game is free to download from the link above. It details the journal of a girl named Silke who is trying to return her brother's soul from a race of machines who feed on human energy. She has the ability to assume three different forms: an agile human form that lets her run and jump, a massive demon form that allows her to push items and destroy machinery, and an ethereal soul form that can pass through certain objects, but restricts movement from player control to only being able to ride on steam jets.

The idea is an interesting one, but there are a couple of hangups in the control department. As a PC game, movement is controlled with the mouse, but with no means of camera control, some of the platform locations are difficult to judge. The checkpoints are relatively frequent, but there is still a pretty substantial amount of frustration involved in missing a jump and having to redo an entire difficult section. Another issue with control is that the three forms are mapped to the same button. Pressing the C key toggles between Silke's human and demon forms, and holding it puts her into soul form. The problem is that after holding C, the game interprets it as a long button press, so going into soul form from human form returns the player into demon form, and another quick button press is required to revert to human form.

Aside from the missteps with the controls, the game itself is impressive in that it was built from the ground up by a relatively small team in only a single month. It also pushes into relatively uncharted territory, as puzzle platformers are typically relegated to two dimensions, so many of the issues the game has are probably a result of being pioneers of sorts.


9. Hegemony: Philip of Macedon
Platform: PC
Release date: available now
Price: $29.99

Hegemony: Philip of Macedon is probably the one game in the PAX 10 that seemed most out of place. Despite being independently developed, it initially appears to be a big budget release, with impressive 3D graphics, and extremely deep real-time strategy gameplay. It follows the real historical events around Philip II of Macedon's life, and it covers the entire area of ancient Greece.

One cool bit in Hegemony is that the map has several levels of zoom, each with different representations of the occurrences in a particular area, and transition between the levels is smooth. The really interesting part of the game is that it is not focused entirely on combat, but puts an emphasis on managing supply lines; the player can cut an enemy's supply chain and starve out a defending force, or raze his own farms to avoid their capture.

The irony of the situation is that the real downfall of Hegemony in comparison to its peers among the PAX 10 finalists is that it is so deep and complex, that a significant amount of time would have to be spent with it to really get a feel for the game. Whereas other titles on this list could be picked up and played immediately, many seemed daunted by the sheer amount of information involved in this one.


8. Fowl Space
Platform: PC and Mac
Release date: holiday 2010
Price: unannounced

Fowl Space is a run 'n' gun shooter starring a spacefaring rooster. Developed by Pixelante, who have several free Flash-based games playable on their site, it began as a joke that the creators came up with in order to deal with boredom. It has a stark silhouetted art style, but its main selling point is in its juvenile humor and not-so-vague sexual innuendo.

For example, the protagonist, being a rooster astronaut, goes by the title of Astrocock, and he rides in a phallic rocket ship called the Thruster. His main weapon for fighting the lingerie-wearing Viking enemies is a caulking gun that fires out unspecified sticky white goo, and it requires time to recharge to full power.

Past the humor, there appeared to be very little to make Fowl Space stand out. The gameplay is pretty standard fare; navigate levels, jump from platform to platform, shoot enemies. It's solid, but it's not groundbreaking by any means. If Pixelante keeps up with its tradition of providing free online Flash games, then this may be worth checking out, but if the company decides to start charging, then only a person who has significant appreciation for low-brow humor should look into it.


7. Solace
Platform: PC
Release date: available now
Price: free

Solace joins Plane Weaver as the other student project among the PAX 10 finalists. It is a shmup with five levels, representing the five stages of grief. Along with the beautiful minimalistic visuals, audio plays a significant role in the game. Each shot fired contributes to the game's soundtrack, and depending on the level, it can encourage or deter the player.

Really, the element of Solace that makes it stand out from other shmups is that each of the different levels plays significantly differently from one another. In the Anger stage, enemies fill the screen and litter it with bullets, but pacifism is rewarded as enemy deaths spill even more bullets onto the stage. In the Depression stage, the player's shots are rendered useless, so he must focus more on dodging than attacking. Finally, in the Acceptance stage, the game turns the player into a total powerhouse, blanketing the entire playing field with bullets the way a boss in a shmup typically would.

The only negative point about Solace--and some may view this as a positive--is that it is very short in length. The entire game can be completed in about fifteen minutes, but for a free game developed by students, it tells a strong story of grief in those fifteen minutes.


6. Puzzle Bots
Platform: PC
Release date: available now
Price: $10

Puzzle Bots is a cute point and click adventure game, starring five tiny robots who go on adventures to help the engineers who created them. Each has a different ability and personality, and the player must switch between them in order to solve the environmental puzzles. It almost has a Lost Vikings vibe in that each character has a special ability, but it focuses more on puzzle solving than action.

One of the real treats in Puzzle Bots isn't in the gameplay, but rather in the presentation. The humor in it is great, ranging from silly puns to snarky one-liners, and it never seems particularly forced. Each robot does have a distinct personality, and the player can pick up on that after only a few minutes with them. An unfortunate byproduct of indie development does rear its head in the presentation, and it has to do with the lack of animation for the characters. It's an understandable omission, but it really gives the game an unpolished feel.

Another minor complaint is that while most of the puzzles are clever and intuitive, there are a few pixel hunting puzzles where the player may know what he has to do, but still has to find exactly where the developer wanted him to click in order to effect his plan. Still, even with these faults, the charm of Puzzle Bots really stood out among the PAX 10 finalists.


5. Altitude
Platform: PC
Release date: available now
Price: $10

Altitude is a 2D team-based flight combat game that is primarily played online. It has some relatively simple controls to pick up on, with buttons for turning, thrusting, primary and secondary weapons, and not much else. Despite the ease for a new player to begin playing immediately, it has such a huge breadth of game types that it could easily keep a gamer occupied for a period of time much longer than $10 normally would, provided that said gamer enjoys competition.

There is a healthy selection of different planes to choose from, though many of the choices result from having a particular body with different weapon loadouts. Still, there are at least five different bodies to choose from, ranging from the quick and nimble to the slow but heavily armored. Like many team-based games with different classes to play as, a strong team will have representatives from each class, and the members of the team should coordinate with each other in accordance to their strengths and weaknesses.

One of the most popular (and most fun) gametypes on display was the soccer mode. Much like real soccer, it involves getting a ball into the enemy team's goal. However, it plays out with much more action, given that the players are constantly blowing each other up, and since they are planes, everybody is constantly in motion. All in all, Altitude is a solid game, and it would be great for a PC gamer looking for something he can pick up, play for a bit, and put down for later.


4. Shibuya
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Release date: available now
Price: $1.99

Shibuya is a simple touch-based puzzle game that tasks the player with matching colored blocks in order to clear them from the field. It sounds like something that has been done a thousand times before, but strangely, it is set up in such a way that it makes the player think in a manner completely backwards from normal. It takes a few games to un-learn strategies from other puzzle games, but once it clicks, it becomes supremely addictive.

Unlike most other puzzle games that involve falling blocks, there is only a single lane into which the blocks can fall in Shibuya. The game provides information on the colors of the five upcoming blocks, and it is the player's job to arrange them in such a way that combos are formed and the playing field never fills up entirely.

Shibuya is by far the simplest of the PAX 10 finalists, taking a single game mechanic and running with it alone, but luckily, it is a solid mechanic that makes for a particularly addictive game. Achievements and Leaderboards are present, but only the most hardcore puzzle fans will ever finish all of the Achievements or post a score near the top of the Leaderboards. Even so, at only two dollars, Shibuya seems like a great value for something that could potentially provide hundreds of hours of time wasting gameplay.


3. Super Meat Boy
Platform: XBLA, WiiWare, PC
Release date: October 20th on XBLA, unannounced on other platforms
Price: $15

Super Meat Boy is a 2D precision platformer starring an anthropomorphic cube of meat, who is tasked with saving his girlfriend (an anthropomorphic cube of bandages) from an evil fetus in a jar. Meat Boy is a free online Flash game that gained popularity and inspired the creation of a bigger, more heavily featured downloadable release.

Super Meat Boy showed off the first three world at PAX, which included several warp zones that either transported Meat Boy back into a older, lower resolution console world, or allowed the player to use a character other than Meat Boy, taken from one of many other indie games. Gish, from the game of the same name, the ninja from N+, and Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series all make an appearance, each with his own special abilities.

Super Meat Boy was poised to take the number one spot in this countdown, and indeed it has won the title of Best in Show from Destructoid, but there were certain issues with the demo at PAX that keep it from top honors here. Some sort of lag between pressing buttons and having the actions show up on screen was present, and in a precision platformer, it's nearly gamebreaking. While it was likely an issue with the hardware present (as the Flash game controls perfectly), it was frustrating to fail a level at the fault of the game rather than the fault of the player. Still, with instant respawns and bite-sized levels, one could only be frustrated for a few moments before getting right back into it and trying to compensate for the lag.


2. Retro City Rampage
Platform: WiiWare
Release date: unannounced
Price: unannounced

Retro City Rampage is an open-world sandbox action game, with a graphical style that hearkens back to the 8-bit era. It follows the misadventures of a generic thug through a story so ridiculous it could only have been thought up during the 1980s, or in a game that so expertly lampoons the decade.

In addition to the graphics and gameplay ripped from the early days of gaming, Retro City Rampage is chock full of gaming and pop culture references. Within the first few minutes of the campaign, the player can spot not-so-subtle allusions to Mega Man, Duck Hunt, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the A-Team, Frogger, and several others. Retro City Rampage is the 1980s distilled, bottled, and then spilled all over the TV. Half of the fun comes in spotting references and feeling nostalgic for the old days.

The other half of the fun is in the solid arcade style gameplay, and sheer vastness of the game. More than simply having a large world map, the number of options given to the player is staggering. There are standard guns, a rocket launcher, a flamethrower, a bionic arm, and vehicles to use in order to maim enemies and random pedestrians, but if all else fails, the player can always just jump on people's heads to kill them. Retro City Rampage is pure fun, with a whacked out sense of humor and more variety than some current open-world games.


1. Bastion
Platform: consoles first, PC afterward
Release date: summer 2011
Price: unannounced

Bastion is an action-RPG starring a white-haired kid known only as "The Kid." It follows his journey to the Bastion, in order to rebuild the world that has been mysteriously torn asunder. The narrator specifically details that what precisely happened is muddled, with the line, "Proper story's supposed to start at the beginning. Ain't so simple with this one."

Speaking of the narrator, he plays a significant role in the game. He details what The Kid is doing, as the player is going through the actions. It gives Bastion a unique feel, as if it were a novel that has been brought to life with lush visuals and music.

As far as the visuals go, Bastion contains some of the most beautiful graphics ever seen in gaming. The environments are hand drawn and reminiscent of those seen in Vanillaware titles such as Odin Sphere or Muramasa: the Demon Blade. Elements of the world are constantly rebuilding themselves around The Kid, which puts an emphasis on exploration, as certain destinations are unclear until the player nears them. The Kid himself is cel-shaded, but done so well that it's initially difficult to differentiate his polygonal body from a set of well done sprites. It seems an exaggeration to say it, but Bastion may very well be the best looking videogame ever.

The gameplay itself is solid, with the player finding melee weapons, ranged weapons, and defensive items pretty early into the demo. Combat is smooth, and requires a bit more patience and skill than simple button mashing. The build shown at PAX hinted at more gameplay than combat and fetch quests, with a range of possibilities open for areas further into the game. More details are bound to emerge as Bastion's release nears, but there is unfortunately still about a year until the full game sees the light of day. Until then, all there is to do is wait.

So what do you think? Did you get to play the PAX 10 games? Is my ranking totally wrong? Do I just suck at platformers, which is why Super Meat Boy ended up in third? Sound off in the comments!
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