Spontaneous Saturday 8/30: Conceptis Puzzles part 3 (finale)

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.19.55 AM

 

It has been a while (at least one month) since the last time I talked about Conceptis, but I’m ready to put this topic to rest.

Before I go on, here are the previous parts of this series:
Part 1: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles/ (Sudoku, Calcudoku, Kakuro, Battleships, Skyscrapers)
Part 2: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles-part-2/ (Tic-Tac-Logic, Hitori, Fill-a-Pix, Pic-a-Pix, Nurikabe)

Now, after the puzzles I have already mentioned, there remain three more: Link-a-Pix, Hashi, and Slitherlink. Along with those, I will provide a brief summary of those I have already covered.

 

Link-a-Pix is another one of those self-explanatory puzzles that are really easy to solve. What you have is a plethora of pairs of numbers that must be connected using the number of squares corresponding to those numbers (including the squares on which the numbers are situated). Here is a solved puzzle for visual reference (notice how the 1s are not connected to anything):

 

This puzzle and the next are, in my opinion, the hardest to solve without guessing. The three tenets, straight from the horse’s (i.e. Conceptis’) mouth, are:

  • There are no more than two bridges in the same direction.
  • Bridges can only be vertical or horizontal and are not allowed to cross islands or other bridges.
  • When completed, all bridges are interconnected enabling passage from any island to another.

The main things to note are: the number of bridges from an island should equal the number on that island, and islands cannot be isolated. Here are a few tips to remember while getting started:

  • If the island is labeled with an even number N and has N/2 possible paths for bridges, all of those paths must be covered with two bridges each.
  • If the island is labeled with an odd number N and has ceil(N/2)—ceil is a ceiling function, basically meaning “round up”—possible paths for bridges, each path must be covered with one bridge and the rest will be left for later.
  • If the island is labeled with an odd number N and has ceil(N/2) + 1 possible paths for bridges, one of which is (or can be) connected by one bridge, the remaining paths must be covered with two bridges each.
  • If the island is labeled with an even number N and has N/2 + 1 possible paths for bridges, one of which is (or can be) connected by one bridge, the remaining paths must be covered with one bridge and the rest will be left for later.

All in all, just keep these four tips in mind and remember not to isolate.

 

Here are the three tenets of Slitherlink, again, straight from Conceptis:

  • The value of each clue equals the number of links surrounding it.
  • Empty squares may be surrounded by any number of links.
  • When completed, the solution forms a single continuous loop with no crossings or branches.

The main things to keep in mind while setting up the solution are corner numbers and neighborly 3s. The corner numbers are taken care of in the following manner:

Corner 1s cannot be marked on the outer edges, corner 2s must be labeled as if the 2 were trying to embrace the board, and corner 3s must be marked on the outer edges.

Now, concerning neighborly 3s, there are two types of setups to note: the photo setup and the prison setup. (Those are not official names, mind you; they are merely mnemonics.) The photo setup is used for 3s that are one tile diagonal from each other, while the prison setup is used for 3s that are adjacent to each other. Here is a visual presentation of the two setups (photo on the left, prison on the right):

Using the corner setups and neighborly 3 mnemonics, as well as avoiding isolation, should help in solving the puzzle to a great extent.

 

Finally, a summary of the puzzles I have covered (this is the tl;dr portion for those who do not want to read everything).

  • Sudoku: You all know it; none of the same number in any column, row, or box; most varied type of puzzle on Conceptis
  • Calcudoku: None of the same number in any column or row; the combination of numbers and operands should equal the specified total number of the field; comes in SingleOp, DualOp, and QuadOp
  • Kakuro: None of the same number in one column or row; solved like a crossword puzzle
  • Battleships: All ships must be completely separate from each other; the number of a row or column must equal the number of black spots in that row or column (also, I recently found out a nifty trick: click the number of a row or column to fill the rest of it with water)
  • Skyscrapers: None of the same number in any column or row; the number in a row or column must equal the number of skyscrapers (with heights equivalent to the numbers on the board) that a person would see down the row or column
  • Tic-Tac-Logic: No three X’s or O’s in a row; no more X’s than O’s down a row or column; no two rows or columns can be completely alike
  • Hitori: No more than one number down a column or row; circled numbers cannot be isolated; remember the Triplet, Stalker Duo, and Sandwich mnemonics (consult Part 2 if confused)
  • Fill-a-Pix: Number on a tile = number of blackened tiles surrounding that tile; numbers to note: all 9s and 0s, 6s on edges, and 4s in corners
  • Pic-a-Pix: Numbers on a column or row determine how many tiles must be colored and in what manner; number omitted = Grid dimension (height or width) – ∑ clues (consult Part 2 if confused); comes in B/W and Color
  • Nurikabe: Black tiles cannot be isolated; number on a tile = number of spaces a white “island” must take up; no two numbers on the same island; no 2×2 or larger black areas
  • Link-a-Pix: Connect pairs of numbers using a number of tiles equal to the corresponding number (including the squares on which the numbers are situated); comes in B/W and Color
  • Hashi: No more than two bridges in the same direction; bridges do not cross; number of bridges from an island = number on the island; all islands must be connected (i.e. no isolation)
  • Slitherlink: Number on a tile = number of links surrounding it; continuous loop (i.e. no isolation); remember how to deal with the corner numbers and neighborly 3s

Overall rating: 9/10. I’m not stating the reason again since I did on both my previous posts.

Poké Monday 8/25: Latios

RNG 

Smogon official tier: OU
Type: Dragon/Psychic
Base Stats: 80 HP, 90 Attack, 80 Defense, 130 Sp. Attack, 110 Sp. Defense, 110 Speed
Ability: Levitate

“Usable” moves (according to Pokémon Showdown): Aerial Ace, Body Slam, Calm Mind, Charge Beam, Double-Edge, Draco Meteor, Dragon Claw, Dragon Dance, Dragon Pulse, Earthquake, Energy Ball, Façade, Frustration, Grass Knot, Hidden Power (Electric, Fighting, Fire, Grass, Ice), Hone Claws, Ice Beam, Light Screen, Magic Coat, Memento, Outrage, Protect, Psychic, Psycho Shift, Psyshock, Rain Dance, Recover, Reflect, Refresh, Rest, Return, Roar, Roost, Shadow Ball, Shadow Claw, Sleep Talk, Solar Beam, Substitute, Sunny Day, Surf, Tailwind, Thunder, Thunder Wave, Thunderbolt, Toxic, Trick, Waterfall, Zen Headbutt

(Note: even though it’s not listed, Defog is also a viable move)

Latios is best compared to his twin sister, Latias (who has the same typing and 80/80/90/110/130/110 stats). Anyone who decides to use Latios should realize that he’s more offensively tailored than his twin sister, so his moveset should be considered accordingly. Support options like dual screens and Defog are more worthwhile in the possession of the sister, Latias (although that’s not to say they’re not viable). That is why all of the bolded moves are offensive.

Here is the set I like to use:
Latios (M) @ Choice Specs
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 Spe
– Dragon Pulse
– Hidden Power [Fire]
– Psyshock
– Trick

I had Draco Meteor over Dragon Pulse initially, but I came to realize that Draco Meteor makes half of the moveset Pursuit bait for Bisharp. Not to mention it eases prediction of Ferrothorn switch-ins after the Specs are tricked away. Hidden Power Fire is mainly there for Steel-types like Ferrothorn, Scizor, and Forretress, who would wall the set otherwise (especially Mega Scizor, who can’t be tricked). Psyshock hits special walls like Chansey and Fairy-types like Togekiss for more damage than its other moves. Trick is the defining trait of this set, which allows Latios to pass his Specs and potentially neuter a physical attacker or a wall. Choice Scarf can also be considered, but it can be costly when put into the wrong hands.

Now, here is a more common set:
Latios (M) @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 1 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA / 30 SpD / 30 Spe
– Draco Meteor
– Psyshock
– Hidden Power [Fighting]
– Recover

Life Orb Latios is the only variant of Latios I’ve seen apart from mine, so I decided to take a look at the Smogon Strategy Pokédex and see what it had to offer. Draco Meteor is Latios’ hardest hitting move and is not as problematic for a Life Orb set as it is for a Choice set (because you have the ability to use a non-attacking move after). Psyshock is there for the same reason as the Choice set, and Hidden Power Fighting makes it even harder to Pursuit trap. Now, on the Strategy Pokédex entry, I saw that they recommended Roost as a fourth move. Why Roost? If you’re a Levitating Pokémon and have the choice between Recover and Roost, there is literally no reason to choose Roost. Anyway, the recovery move is there to restore the HP it lost via Life Orb and other prior damage (and, as I mentioned before, it can be used as an alternate option instead of switching after using Draco Meteor).

Other options: Once again, it can use supporting options like Defog and dual screens, but those are better off with Latias. Thunderbolt is an option for hitting Togekiss and Azumarill harder than anything else. Substitute can be used to block status, scout for Pursuit or Sucker Punch, and ease prediction in general. Dragon Dance is an okay option (mainly for the surprise factor, if anything), but I wouldn’t recommend it.

I will include a team, but take it with a grain of salt because it has not passed 1300 in rank (added to the fact that it has no hazard control): http://pastebin.com/xgJsicLE

Top Three Thursday 8/21: Video games I play on a regular basis

3. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

The first time I heard of Guitar Hero (when I was young beyond my memory), I was like, “Guitar Hero? What a preposterous idea!” (Disclaimer: I don’t think I knew the meaning of the word “preposterous” back then.) A year or so later, my naïve mind was exposed to the actual nature of the game and, needless to say, I was stimulated. Even though I wasn’t good at the game (I started on Medium difficulty), after the release of Guitar Hero 3, I managed to progress slowly but surely to where I could pass everything on Expert (I even passed Through the Fire and Flames thanks to GuitarHeroPhenom’s intro tutorial) thanks to the bass charts helping me get a feel for the Expert difficulty. All that aside, my YouTube channel (EchecCritiqueGH) pretty much sums up how far I’ve come in the last few years and where I am now.

In a nutshell, it’s a fun rhythm game where you pretend to play instruments, enjoy the music, and get your mind going. Sometimes, though, getting that one little FC (full combo) can be quite a chore.

2. Team Fortress 2

I was first introduced to Steam on August 10, 2012 (about 2 years after the Mac version was released). I learned my way around the free-to-play games Team Fortress 2 and Realm of the Mad God. Surprisingly, Team Fortress 2 was the one that really appealed to me (even though I’m not usually a fan of first-person shooters). I have been free-to-play since day one, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest; being F2P doesn’t mean as much in TF2 as it does in games like AdventureQuest and Runescape. At any rate, what draws me to the game is the cartoonish art style, the humorous character dialogue, and especially one server in particular: Randomizer Mann vs. Machine. Randomizer is so much fun on its own (because you never know what you’re gonna get) and something about MvM makes me too hooked on it to even care about PvP. Unfortunately, as fun as TF2 is, it sure has been taking a toll on my keyboard as of late; the computer sometimes has difficulty registering my inputs on the middle keys (A, S, and D in particular) and the W key.

1. Fire Emblem: Awakening

I already talked a bit about my experience with this game on one of my prior Top Three Thursdays; long story short, this is the first Fire Emblem game I’ve ever played, I’ve put a lot of time into it (300 hours at least), and it’s responsible for my profile icon. I really do like RPGs (which is what keeps me following the Pokémon games) and strategy games (thank Final Fantasy Tactics A2 for that); thus, I can agree that Fire Emblem: Awakening is an amazing game, especially for a portable title. The most notable mechanic of the game is the ability of units to bond with one another (over 500 different relationships available!), marry, and even be visited by children of the future. It’s one heck of an experience, I tell you.

Spontaneous Saturday 8/16: Thoughts on Summer 2014 anime (5-6 episodes in)

Jinsei – Even though it’s ranked close to 5000 on MAL (which is below average), I like this anime. Not just because of the fanservice, mind you; the characters have quirky traits and the comedy is good. The three lead females, in my opinion, are rather similar to the Minami family in Minami-ke (Rino = Chiaki, Fumi = Haruka, Ikumi = Kana). Also, the opening and ending themes are pretty catchy.

Majimoji Rurumo – Although Witch Craft Works is the first thing that came to mind when I noticed this anime, it seems more like a stand-alone than I expected (although the lead male seems to me like a cross between Yokodera from Henneko and Kenji from D-Frag). It’s something of a “meh” anime to me, but it has some entertaining bits (and episode 6 really hit me in the feels).

Persona 4 the Golden Animation – I don’t claim to be a die-hard Persona fan by any means, but I have watched the original Persona 4 animation and I definitely enjoyed it. The golden animation, however, is quite an oddity compared to the original. It started off with Yu slaying monsters like a boss, then it developed into a slice of life featuring Marie (who was not in the original animation), but then, the episode after Marie sensed the bad vibes of Adachi (that is, episode 6), things just got…inexplicable.

Re:_Hamatora – I watched the original Hamatora during the winter 2014 season and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it left me with questions (and did it right, unlike Mahou Sensou, no offense)—questions that could only be answered by being taken through the second season of the anime. The plot of Hamatora is centered around people with special powers called Minimums and a particular detective group of “Minimum Holders” (known as Hamatora) that seeks to fight crime. I’m generally not interested in mystery anime, but I can say that the Hamatora series is certainly entertaining (and tends to bring me to the edge of my seat).

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance – What can I say about this…it’s ecchi, it involves fantasy combat, and it creates a fairly obvious harem. Zero no Tsukaima? Hmm…not really. What I know of the anime is that there is a contracted spirit of a contracted spirit (Est is contracted to Kamito, who is contracted to Claire), Kamito (the male lead) has a plot-relevant female alter ego known as Ren Ashbell, and Restia is some evil chick whom Kamito used to know. My impressions about this anime are up in the air for now, but hopefully I’ll have a clear-cut impression of it by the finale.

In addition, I’ve been watching Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (which is still as epic as ever), Pokémon XY, and the OVAs and specials (of anime I’ve already watched) that come out from time to time. What else can I say? It’s been a good season so far. If I had to give a rating…8/10.

Poké Monday 8/11: Litleo

 

Smogon official tier: LC
Type: Normal/Fire
Base Stats: 62 HP, 50 Attack, 58 Defense, 73 Sp. Attack, 54 Sp. Defense, 72 Speed
Abilities: Rivalry, Unnerve, Moxie (HA)

“Usable” moves (according to Pokémon Showdown): Crunch, Dark Pulse, Endeavor, Façade, Fire Blast, Fire Fang, Flame Charge, Flamethrower, Frustration, Hidden Power (Electric, Fighting, Fire, Grass, Ice), Hyper Voice, Overheat, Payback, Protect, Rain Dance, Rest, Return, Roar, Sleep Talk, Solar Beam, Substitute, Sunny Day, Taunt, Toxic, Wild Charge, Will-o-wisp, Work Up, Yawn

This analysis will answer a potential question concerning Poké Monday: What if the generated Pokémon is not fully evolved? That doesn’t matter. Most first-stage Pokémon (excluded: Gligar, Scyther, Sneasel, Swirlix, Tangela, Yanma, Meditite, Murkrow) belong in an official tier called Little Cup where everything is Level 5 and EV investment becomes “confusing.” For more information, please consult the following URL: https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/a-little-help-a-guide-to-the-intricacies-of-lc.3497933/

As for second-stage Pokémon, there is no official tier (well, there is Middle Cup, but it’s not nearly as official as LC), so I will analyze their usability in whatever tier they are in (usually NU, but there are exceptions: Combusken, Doublade, Fletchinder, Gligar, and Golbat are RU; Porygon2 is UU; Chansey is OU (even though Blissey is UU)). But, those analyses are for a later time.

Looking at Litleo’s stats, it looks to be all-around with specially offensive bias. Unfortunately, it is cursed with a bad set of abilities (Rivalry is too situational to be of competitive use, Moxie doesn’t bode well with its subpar Attack stat, and even Unnerve is bad thanks to Berry Juice being legalized) and a lacking movepool (albeit normal for a Fire-type). In the end, though, its main use lies in being a special attacker. It can also use Taunt to deal with hazard leads, although keep in mind that its max Speed is only 4th-highest in the tier (tied with base 63-72). Here is one set I used:
Litleo @ Life Orb
Ability: Unnerve
Level: 5
EVs: 252 SpA / 76 SpD / 180 Spe
Timid Nature
– Fire Blast
– Hyper Voice
– Taunt
– Dark Pulse

This set is a straightforward stallbreaker with dual STAB, Dark Pulse (mostly for Frillish, although I haven’t encountered many of those while testing), and Taunt. Sadly, this set falls short in that it can’t handily deal with bulky things and it’s too slow to be any sort of offensive presence. Another set I thought of is Scarf+Moxie, but that’s even less capable of dealing with bulky things.

The set:
Litleo @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Moxie
Level: 5
EVs: 196 Atk / 132 SpD / 180 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Fire Fang
– Return
– Crunch
– Wild Charge

Really, you can’t bring this thing in unless the opponent is below half and either is not resistant to Return or is weak to any of its other moves. Physical Litleo just that weak without any boosts under its belt; therefore, it is not a very effective sweeper.

However, I managed to come up with another physical set that utilizes Litleo’s average bulk, interesting typing, and access to Flame Charge and Moxie:
Litleo @ Eviolite
Ability: Moxie
Level: 5
EVs: 180 HP / 196 Atk / 84 SpD / 20 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flame Charge
– Return
– Wild Charge
– Will-O-Wisp

Flame Charge can boost its 4th-rate Speed (which is even lower when Adamant) to new levels and carve a potential opportunity to sweep with Moxie. Return is for sheer power, Wild Charge takes care of Water-types (namely Frillish) and hits Flying-types hard, and Will-o-wisp is mainly just there in case of Geodude and Onix (both of which wall this set). Long story short, it can sweep through unprepared teams.

Other options: Bulldoze (not listed in usable moves) and Crunch are additional options for coverage on physical sets. Work Up could be used on a mixed set, although it would need the added bulk of Eviolite and/or speed of Flame Charge. Hidden Power is a coverage option on special sets, but its nerf to 60 is detrimental and coverage is less important in LC. Overheat is another considerable option on special sets, but the Special Attack drop forces you to either switch, resort to physical moves (if applicable), or deal with being weaker than a Nosepass. Yawn can be used on non-Scarf sets to force switches and/or induce sleep.

All in all, Litleo is more of an offensive presence than anything. It’s not the most offensive thing in the tier, but it should definitely not be overlooked. Here is the most successful team I created while testing, which features Flame Charge+Moxie Litleo: http://pastebin.com/qT2K64n2

Again, comments/questions are always welcome (but please, no trolling).

Top Three Thursday 8/7: Pokémon

While I have Poké Monday to talk about Pokémon, I figured I would make my own personal top three list of Pokémon, mostly because I have no other topic in mind.

3. Nidoking

Before you ask, I am not a genwunner. I don’t discriminate Pokémon by their generation of origin; I accept them the way they are. That aside, the reason why I like Nidoking dates back to the days of FireRed. The first time I played through the game, Nidoking was one of the champions of the Elite Four. Not only that, but I let a friend borrow it so that it was a champion of his Elite Four as well. In addition, it was a key member of my team as I was exploring the post-game Sevii Islands, and one of my first two Level 100s (the other was Mewtwo; I don’t remember the exact order). My moveset back then was Surf, Megahorn, Earthquake, and Brick Break (back then, I only cared about covering weaknesses rather than the viability of movesets).

At present, Nidoking is still a very interesting Pokémon. With Sheer Force and Life Orb, it becomes something to be feared. Its movepool is no joke either; Sludge Wave, Earth Power, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Fire Blast, Focus Blast, and Shadow Ball for special sets; Poison Jab, Earthquake (not Sheer Force boosted, but more powerful than boosted Bulldoze), Sucker Punch (again, not boosted, but a good move nonetheless), and elemental punches by 5th gen (and hopefully ORAS) tutor for physical sets. Neither its Speed nor its bulk is much to behold, but Nidoking is still a force to be reckoned with.

2. Gallade

When I first saw Gallade, I was enthralled. “Blades for arms? Man, that’s so cool!” That, in essence, was the thought process going through my former mind. Back when I used Serebii Forums (that place is dead to me now), this Pokémon was the basis for my first username (Super Gallade). I don’t care about its ridiculously large hips; its appearance is aesthetically pleasing.

Looking now at its stats, it’s not that fast and it’s not that bulky (at least not on the physical side), but its Attack stat is nothing to scoff at. It can run Bulk Up well, has access to Taunt and Will-o-wisp as support options, and can hit hard with its repertoire of physical moves: Close Combat, Psycho Cut, elemental punches (by tutor), Shadow Sneak, and Stone Edge, just to name a few. It also has Trick (again, by tutor).

1. Galvantula

One day, since I couldn’t think of a good nickname for Joltik, I decided to look at an online list of foreign Pokémon names. The link I used was:
http://www.pokepedia.fr/index.php/Liste_des_Pok%C3%A9mon_dans_l%27ordre_du_Pok%C3%A9dex_National
(warning: it’s a French website)

On using that list, I found Galvantula’s French name to be Mygavolt (which, in my opinion, is cooler than Galvantula), so I nicknamed it that without second thought. Eventually, it became my username on the Smogon Forums (after I changed it from Newby N0Ob) and Pokémon Showdown, as well as my in-game name in Pokémon Y (although I don’t really play that anymore).

Besides its French name, what drew me to Galvantula was its unique Bug/Electric typing and access to the ability Compound Eyes and the move Thunder. Its stats are that of a special sweeper, although they are mediocre by competitive standards (it has the 37th highest Special Attack stat and the 25th highest Speed stat in the game). Despite that, its Smogon official tier is UU. Why? Because of a new move called Sticky Web. Galvantula is the fastest Pokémon with access to Sticky Web and, as a bonus, the only one that can’t get paralyzed (being Electric-type). As an offensive presence, it seems to compete with Leavanny as a Sticky Web user, but it ultimately wins out due to its superior coverage. Point is, Galvantula is an offensive Sticky Web user.

Spontaneous Saturday 8/2: Codecademy

Codecademy is a website of which the main purpose is to teach visitors the ins and outs of web development. I was directed to this website via a post on Reddit that my brother showed me. Since the post said something about HTML and CSS tutorials, I decided to check them out. I was taken step by step through a series of interactive tutorials that were relatively easy to follow (especially for me, as I had prior programming experience with Java and C++). I must also add that the website format is really nice.

You have a tutorial on the left side, space in the middle for coding, and a preview of what the code does on the right side that automatically updates as you type. There are step-by-step instructions below the tutorial, so kinesthetic learners like me (those who learn better through activity) can just skip the text and go straight to the action. (There are also hints for those who need them.) It also helps, while doing these tutorials, to keep track of the code you learn as you go (I do this using Google Spreadsheet) so that you have a handy resource in case memory does not serve.

Fortunately, HTML and CSS lessons are not all that the website has to offer. There are 6 web development languages to choose from: HTML/CSS (bundled into one lesson set), Javascript, jQuery, PHP, Python, and Ruby. On writing this article, I have completed the HTML/CSS, Javascript, and jQuery lessons and am halfway through the PHP lessons. In addition to language lessons, there are lessons on web developer skills, 30-minute coding projects, and API (application programming interface) tutorials (of which there are 29…which leaves a lot of room for exploration). There’s so much to explore, I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg.

Overall rating: 9/10. This website is a very helpful resource for learning about how websites are made. Even though I’ve yet seen so little of it, I can say that it has definitely been worth my time.