Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Counties that share a name with a U.S. President

Importantly, this is not counties named after a president. (For example, all of the Clinton counties were named a long time ago, either after DeWitt Clinton or George Clinton. This is generally true for the more recent presidents.)

I guess this blog will just host a miscellany of things now.

Mystery Hunt 2016

Spoilers below. Supposedly we came in 9th, which appears to be roughly in the ballpark of where Galactic Trendsetters normally gets (so around the second tier of teams who probably won’t win the hunt but might get reasonably “close” for some definition of close). I actually do want to win the hunt at some point though (preferably with this team). Being involved in the creation of a hunt sounds fun, if a ton of work. (However, unless we magically become significantly better, such a win is pretty much contingent on the at least 5-6 teams a tier above to not want to win the hunt (which apparently is very much a thing for winning teams a year or two after they host).)

Continue reading

Puzzlehunt released!

You can go do some puzzles here.

Puzzle 2 – Suraromu

Following the tradition of being too lazy to recodify rules, are the rules, don’t worry that Slalom != Suraromu, they are the same puzzle type.

Basically: Dotted lines are gates. You must go through each gate perpendicular to them. Numbered gates must be traversed in that order, i.e. the gate marked 3 is to be traversed third, starting and ending at the circled number. (the direction is up to your interpretation) The number in the circle indicates the total number of gates for convenience.


This is more of a proof of concept than a legitimately hard puzzle. This construction however proves that Suraromu is NP-complete though. Also very belated Pi Day imagery? Difficulty: Pretty easy.

(Spoiler: The heart of the puzzle is isomorphic to finding a Hamiltonian cycle in the trianglar prism graph, provided that you have to go through two particular edges.)

EDIT: Darn, I totally failed to capitalize on making the two gates 3-3 and 14-14. (antisymmetric pattern). Edited it slightly but it doesn’t affect anything besides aesthetics. If you’re an unlucky subscriber, you can count this one solved if you solved it through email.

Puzzle 1 – Heyawake

At first you’re like: hey look, a new post!!!

But then your reaction is either one of the following:

A) Darn, it’s a puzzle. I wanted a wall of text!

B) I like puzzles. Darn, this puzzle sucks/is too easy/whatever.

C) I like this puzzle. Darn, he’s not going to make them regularly.

Oh well, I can’t please anyone. (And yes, I can’t really crank out puzzles regularly.)

Puzzle 1

Puzzle 1

This is a Heyawake. Color small squares black or white such that:

  • Rule 1: Painted cells may never be orthogonally connected (they may not share a side, although they can touch diagonally).
  • Rule 2: All white cells must be interconnected (form a single polynomino).
  • Rule 3: A number indicates exactly how many painted cells there must be in that particular room.
  • Rule 4: A room which has no number may contain any number of painted cells, or none.
  • Rule 5: Where a straight (orthogonal) line of connected white cells is formed, it must not contain cells from more than two rooms—in other words, any such line of white cells which connects three or more rooms is forbidden.

(Source: Wikipedia, accessed 03-28-15)

Difficulty: Easy-Medium? Sounds like a good difficulty to start off with.

I will note that I did not have to specify every single number. (Random extra: figure out which boxes could remain unspecified!) But I did it anyway, because I’m nice, and it would look weird without those numbers.


EDIT: Speak of the devil, of course there was going to be something wrong with the puzzle. Fixed one part which makes the puzzle not have a contradiction, specifically the 1 in the room left of the center room is now a 3.

Initial Playthroughs: Prosperity

This will be an ongoing blogpost. Why I didn’t make this post a page instead, I don’t entirely know. (Actually, this is somewhat obvious. Barring concatenating all of my video game reviews, I would have to make a new page for each video game. Although I guess there are folders. Oh well.) Basically I will play a game with zero prior knowledge (without reading any walkthroughs, wikis, or other external resources) and record my experiences. It’s akin to those “Let’s play!” Youtube videos except in a slower, word-based format. In particular, if you don’t wish to to be spoiled by the gameplay, stop reading right now. (Ok, maybe you can read the next paragraph for an idea of what game I’m talking about, but yeah.)

[Stuff found inside brackets typically mean that it’s an aside irrelevant to the game.]

Prosperity  is (as of currently when I am writing this) currently in closed beta. (The subreddit is here. It wouldn’t really make much sense to link you to the game, considering that it’s in closed beta…)This means that the following presented is NOT THE FINAL GAME, nor is it feature complete. (I’ll be more lenient when talking about it, but I will point out the various bugs that I encounter.) It is perhaps a multiplayer incremental, but who knows? Let’s dive into this game.

At the beginning, there is a reasonable amount of narrative. It’s not the most developed but compared to the rest of the incremental genre having some plot is already a fair accomplishment. The way it lets you pick your profession, name, and avatar (encompassing gender) is cleverly designed to not break the fourth wall as much. That’s already better than most older console RPG’s and the Pokemon franchise! (“Are you a boy or a girl?”).

The choice for our profession is of particular interest:

> Merchant: Better trade values for buying/selling

> Scholar: 25% increased worker learning rate

> Warrior: 20% increased strength

> Builder: One free mason for building things.

I suspect that the Builder class has the best earlygame but falls off later. (This could be untrue if mason costs are exponential like every other incremental, but oh well. I don’t see that much difference between, say, 12 masons and 13 masons.) I pick the scholar because I like learning. It appears to be the most “versatile” of all the classes. The merchant class could be versatile but I don’t have any numbers to quantify or back it up.

But yeah, the narrative is in short sentences. This is evidently not a novel nor a short story. (Still better than Pokemon’s plot, in some sense). It’s even non-linear! Maybe.

The beginning plays very much like a graphic novel. Since this is my first time playing, I have no idea whether my choices matter, but let’s try to be reasonable. I have gotten about 2 different other choices which don’t have any explicit effects noted but maybe it’ll affect my alignment or something.

After this narrative, you begin the game.


At this point, I turn off adblock because it wants me to turn off adblock. Fair enough. But oops, my progress is wiped. I go back and choose slightly different narrative options. Aw, it was linear with false choices after all. Oh well. Can’t expect THAT much plot from a supposedly plotless genre 😛


The interface is a bit overwhelming at first but it’s not too bad after a bit. You start training your first worker (which is weird, where do these people come from? Maybe I should’ve paid attention to the lore more).

I see the first problem to address is food. But wait! Hunting for food depletes the environment of food. Good catch. So does chopping down trees (depleting the environment of trees instead). This will be a tough survival game.

Ahhh, they are refugees from the warlord guy. Makes sense.

There’s an active portion as well as you can chop trees yourself. Rewards active play, if repetitive (let’s be honest, all incrementals are pretty repetitive).

Money seems to be a problem – though you do get money from traveling traders. It seems to largely be the gating resource of the earlygame.

The next part of progression appears to be getting to a population of 15. That involves building several hovels, so I do that. Once the offer to a mine arises (at a pretty hefty cost of 1800 wood), it’s all about beelining towards that. Metal is king in these progression games. Right?


It is now 5 months of gametime. We are well in our way of housing. THANK YOU FOR THE NONSCALING BUILDINGS! Frankly, I found that to make very little “actual” sense besides for gameplay purposes. The environment gating is rather hard so I decomissioned most of my hunters into more domestication jobs. I note a very strong resemblance between this game and Stronghold Kingdoms, except here you deal with numbers rather than physical placement of things. Also, happily the early game is faster and more fun.

Overhunting has already become a problem by the 6th-7th month. Oops. The problem is that fur is a VERY gated resource by animals. Fur is used for pretty much every advanced food production building (not including hunting, which let’s be honest you don’t have any food because the animals are gone), housing (for people), and even wood production. So the lack of furs is at least somewhat annoying.


So, at the end of the first year, we have a settlement with a population of 56. Not that bad. A lot of this game is about rotating your production every season because different food sources don’t work at different times.

Lots of development happens the following year. We hit 120 people, which causes us to become a Village. At this point, a lot of stuff happens – mercenaries come, quests happen.

The quest is another minor plot diversion with a few more false choices. I’m not sure, did I lose 100 gold? The mercenaries gave me some troops for a small price, I’ll take it.

War! Maybe. I now have a very sizeable army at around 60 strong. However my spy has consistently failed about 8 straight attacks despite being at 50% chance all the time. And I promptly lose my 83 soldiers since they have archer support. Oh well. (As I will later learn, it is because I am pretty bad at the battle interface at first.)

I later try and scout out army sizes with a single soldier. Here I find out a bug (which was promptly fixed after mentioning it) that you can attack nonadjacent territories from your territories. I guess I will have to get stronger then.


Year 2 ends with a housing capacity of 127 (and a working class of about 100 or so). Rotating production is no longer a problem as food isn’t a problem. It’s time for some war!

I finally muster up a sizeable force of 130 to take down the enemy. It seems that spamming charge is the way to go with this game. One down… wait where did my soldiers go? (Probably an unimplemented feature). Oh well. I guess you can’t really acquire new territory for now. I’ll wait for the next patch for this feature to come to fruition.

In the economic side of things, I finally get a trading market after rushing upgrades. In this game, you gain xp for assigning workers to certain jobs over time, and once they level up, you can get upgrades. It’s an interesting design scheme. Getting the trading post took some time, but it was really worth it. (Ok, let’s be fair: you can get the trading post the moment you level up once in that category, so you could have a post much earlier than I did.)

For one, furs are no longer much of a problem. For another, there are some very grossly mispriced items allowing you to make a nice sum from arbitrage. I love it when wheat becomes a major cash crop. (I suspect that this will be less true when the market becomes dynamic, or is fixed considering that it was stated to be dynamic.)

[Other than that, markets appear to do what I would want a market for my game to be like. Dynamic and global. (Perhaps maybe not global, but that could get complicated. Maybe as you get more developed, you influence more markets?)]


Year 3 and 4 were devoted to getting lots of wood and furs for the housing explosion that was to follow after the markets opened. Not that much else really, although the periodic pop-ups that notified that some category leveled up was nice.

Food was something that definitely had to be managed, and I almost forgot that early on in the housing spree (around 170 villagers). I came back wondering why the normally full granary was almost empty. Oh, it’s because I stopped assigning workers to food places.

This game is interesting in that it operates on a season by season scale [something that my game would not be able to do (how else are you going to simulate thousands of years of history?)], and various food production buildings work only part of the year. (Hence the rotation of workers early on). However some upgrades as well as simply just the amassing of the all-season buildings made efficiency concerns largely a non-issue (in that seasonal crops typically gave higher yields).

Somewhat less interesting is what happens when you advance to the next village “tier”: all you get is a rather underwhelming housing building which, other than hovels, are grossly overpriced. Some proper balancing will have to be done at some point.


Year 5 begins with 637 workers, enough to be classified as a town. As mentioned previously, all that means is I get a new fancy manor building that houses… oh, it seats a reasonable number this time. (Unlike the Mansion which is literally just a one-up over the House despite being well over three times as expensive) But it’s just so expensive!

It gets worse – once you see that you need 3000 citizens for the next tier, you see that it’s impossible to continue, as the total populace that your housing can hold is around 2650 if I calculate correctly (without the assistance of additional technologies).

Other than that I don’t really see very much way to progress in this game. Maybe I’ll wait out until I reach level 6 (I really do hope I get a lab of some sort by then, as they seem to indicate some sort of “research points”) in a category. But meanwhile, it’s a bit more grinding.

You can’t really idle in this game, or else your sick workers start spreading their disease and then it’s really no fun for anyone. Medicine production itself is not much of a problem, though distribution is apparently something that requires player intervention even with a populace of 600. Shouldn’t I have some sort of physician that administers medicine automatically? Oh well.

I think I will pause the game shortly after since it appears to be the end of where I can really make any meaningful progress. It’s very promising – showing that a javascript game has the potential to be a very deep incremental but it really needs a fair amount of work to reach that point. (Most of the framework is solid, just the balance is quite wonky right now.)

[Now about Research Complete…]


Year 6 begins. I’ve sort of sloppily upgraded my stuff this year (mostly being preoccupied with other stuff) so I’m only at 817 citizens now. Some interesting developments happen as more of my categories reach level 5. I get a “Crop Circles” upgrade and some other combination upgrades that could lead to interesting plot development. However, the categories that reached level 6 gave me research points to a laboratory, that I can’t exactly spend because I haven’t even unlocked the laboratory yet! As the game admin has left, I’ll wait until tomorrow to ask whether the lack of visible means of continuing the game is intentional or not.

phenomist signing out for the day.

Ok fine, I slightly lied. I came back to check up on things. First, I note that once you hit level 6, you can’t advance any further – it just says Max Level. Curiously, this is not the case for the Blacksmith, which I’ve already exhausted all of its upgrades. So I prepare the “great starvation”: I will try to rotate (once again) my people to different locations in order to maximize their xp. This includes non-food locations as well such as the mine and apothecary so this will take some time.

A status of everything so far:

90/90 Lumberjacks => 54 Cutting Wood, 36 Planting Trees.

Level 5: 73775/129600

I don’t claim that this ratio is perfect – in fact, far from it.

54 Cutting Wood => 13.5 Trees / 16.04 seconds => 0.84 Trees / sec

36 Planting Trees => 36 Trees / 19.8 seconds => 1.82 Trees / sec

I think planting trees only happens in Spring and Summer, so that last part averages to about 0.91 Trees / sec. So I could probably add more trees to the Cutting Wood section (particularly because I also got the Seasonal Cutting upgrade which should reduce my Tree income by 1/8), as well as counting natural growth. So it’s probably more like 57-33 or so. I’m not too picky as long as I don’t run out of trees and wood production isn’t too slow. (It also helps keep the useless bundle of seeds item low.)

50/50 Hunters

Level 5: Exp: 27933/129600

Note that they’re not actually hunting anything. (most of the time; when animals spawn they devour it instantly) I just want the experience.

309/320 Ranchers

Level 6: 198026/388800

I just calculated it out, apparently these are actually unprofitable all the time, LOL. That’s 300+ population that could be gone to better use. Good thing I maxed its level.

18/18 Orchardists

Level 4: Exp: 30285/43200

18 Harvesting Fruit

0 Making Wine

Fruit harvesting gives you 22 Fruit / 12.38 seconds. I measure a day to be around 15 seconds, so this is well over the 12 Food / 15 seconds personnel upkeep. It’s even better than vegetable gardens (25 Veggies / 16.63 Seconds) by a fair margin – the only drawback being that they don’t work in the Winter.

24/24 Miners

Level 4: Exp: 28959/43200

10/10 Bee Keepers

Level 4: Exp: 890/43200

Not much to say here. They are mostly a utility industry that provides support for other industries.

240/240 Vegetable Farmers

Level 6: Exp: 109080/388800

Oh dear, there’s apparently yet another level. Good thing I still like this industry, it’s a reliable soruce of food.

12/12 Blacksmiths

Level 4: Exp: 3718/43200

Makes weapons and stuff.

40/40 Wheat Farmers

Level 5: Exp: 15969/129600

20/20 Bakers

Level 4: Exp: 24285/43200

I’ll lump these together since they make one cohesive industry.

Bread is a three-step process: Wheat -> Flour -> Bread.

1 Wheat Harvester gives you 36 Wheat / 14.78 seconds.

1 Flour Miller requires 80 Wheat / 13.20 Seconds

and gives you 12 Flour / 13.20 Seconds.

And finally

1 Bread Bake requires 1 Flour / 12.47 seconds

and returns 43 Bread / 12.47 seconds.

How efficient is this process? (Note that harvesting in of itself only happens in two seasons.)

To get 43 Bread / 12.47 seconds, we need 1 bread baker, 0.09 Flour Millers, and 0.22 Wheat harvesters. So that’s 1.31 people, which consumes about 13 bread in that time. Even if we double our Wheat harvest rate to compensate for the seasons, our upkeep inches up to maybe 15. Bread is actually the most overpowered food in the game, even if its production flow is the most complicated.

1/5 Apothecaries

Level 3: Exp: 1140/14400

Meh. They cure stuff, you might want them for medicine. You want to ensure that you have the fruit to supply them or else you may run into some problems.

So you have my gut-level analysis versus a more concrete analysis. As you can see, it differs from hard calculation.


Anyway, back to the game. After a lot of idling, we begin Year 7.

At this point, more of my professions are leveling up. Ranchers hit lv7, nothing special happened. Interestingly, once they hit level 7, the experience counter returns to normal (at level 6 it was reading Max Level). Also fortunately, once they start generating research points, the experience to next level caps out at 388800. (which is a lot, true) Remaining to hit lv5 are the Miner, Beekeeper, Apothecary (still at level 3…), and Baker professions.

I mostly leave it open as a background process for the next few years.

Ok, so I’m back. We are almost at the end of Year 9 now. Leveling is pretty much the status quo as I still need to reach lv5 on the Beekeeper and Apothecary. I tried conquering things again for the kicks and it seems to work now! Not sure what to actually do about them though, but hey it’s fun.

Conquest works now! To some extent, at least. I get no plot points for doing so, but hey it’s fun. War is fun. After a few more stealth updates, it turns out that you can end up annexing a territory for a periodic influx of resources every ingame month, or get a one-time lump sum worth 5 months of resources. Except razing (the lump sum option) isn’t permanent, and you can re-raid it immediately. A clear oversight. Oh well.

I finish up leveling things by the end of Year 10. Some interesting developments: my apothecaries can now manufacture poison. Some raidable resources from conquest include Research Points (for the lab/university building) and an unnamed resource that could be some advanced resource to be developed. Who knows.

The chat interface got some much needed updates.

At this point, I think I’ve basically exhausted the gameplay of the entire game (again), for now until updates change that. It’s rather sad (or annoying from an OCD perspective) that you can’t actually get all of the upgrades since you can’t select specialized upgrades past level 5, and the university hasn’t been developed yet. But who knows.

A Tale of X Colleges

Well, X is more or less a Roman numeral, right? For the remainder of this post, I’ll just anonymize their names as College 1, 2, etc. in rough order of preference.


If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you probably know that the college admissions process was not as simple as “apply to college 1 and be done with it since you had a 100% chance”. I knew for a fact that it was not a 100% chance. The only trouble was that my resume was impressive enough to warrant applying to college 1, yet had fairly obvious flaws that forced me to apply to college 10. Nevertheless, I apply to college 1 anyway early. I was going to apply to college 4 as well but I didn’t finish before the early deadline oops. The early thing was supposed to facilitate the college 1/4 combo, although from what I hear there were people who got into college 1 and outright rejected from college 4. Overqualification much?

The deferral from college 1 wasn’t TOO surprising although it did elicit a rather irate response by various people, including the person who got rejected from college 4. I subsequently dropped colleges 7 and 8 for having annoying essays. (Incidentally, I had written an essay for college 8, but then when I checked some other box on the Common App, it gave me another essay to write. At this point, there were about 3 days remaining so I decided to just drop it. I also applied to the public school “chain” which I’ll call college 6, 6.1, 6.2, …, 6.5 for ease of identification even though certainly I would not put college 6.5 over college 7 or 8 (College 6 is more or less well-placed, however.) It was essentially all one big combined app for that school, so no matter.

Oh, and I guess I don’t apply to college 13 because who would ever want to go to college 13, right?

So ultimately I applied to: college 1 (defer), colleges 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-6.5, 9, 10, 11, 12. 10 apps!

The first good news comes in around February, where college 9 decides to accept me with a scholarship thing, on condition of interview. This is interesting since apparently nobody in a particular linear algebra class (our highest math level, which means that they all skipped 1+ grade in math) got such a scholarship, although other people not in linear algebra got the offer. So I take off two days to go to the college, which was a pretty decent facility, I must comment. The guest wifi was pretty terrible though.

Then the acceptances and rejections came rolling in. First was college 1. Reject. Whoops. More irateness. [Though I note that the guy who got rejected by college 4 may in fact go to college 5 due to a full ride scholarship there, NOT college 1 (which is notorious for not being a college that gives scholarships since they’re so top-caliber). Maybe their decision regarding me was a factor for him, I don’t know.] I get some pity acceptances from college 12 and 6.5 (which remember is pretty much college 12-level), and college 4 waitlists me. Well that’s better than a rejection I suppose. The next batch came, and I start going up the 6-ladder: first an acceptance to 6.4, then 6.3, then 6.2 (which an unusual number of people are going to apparently – like people who I consider GOOD at our school o_o). I also get an acceptance from college 10.

More rejections: college 2 and 3 pretty much at the same time. College 5 accepts me, although they’re really expensive. Time to hope for a scholarship. College 6.1 accepts, and whoa college 6 accepts, even though they’re a college that traditionally does not accept my type of profile since they pretty much only look at the area where I was quite weak at. I guess I’ll count my blessings.

Financial stuff! I was basically banking (aha pun right?) my chance at college 5 based on whether they give me a full ride (apparently only two were given this year, unlike in previous years where there were maybe 3 or 4). Being a public school, college 6 of course was relatively affordable, and college 9 (the early interview college) was very costly as well without the scholarship. At this point, I go check college 11, and it turns out I forgot to give them some form or another and they canceled my application. Enjoy my $70, I guess.

So I thought I did pretty decently at the interview but maybe they realized that I thought that they were around college 9 so they gave me only some scholarship, more or less a “quarter ride”. (To be fair, even if it were a half ride it would more or less be on par with college 6’s cost (public schools op) so why bother.) College 5 ends up giving their scholarship to 1) a guy who’s fairly crucial to their startup and 2) a Saudi Arabian IMO gold medalist. I guess I can’t compete with that, though it does make my college decision a lot easier.

So here we are. College 6 it is.


(To be fair, college 6 is pretty good; my college list is a bit top heavy.)