Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

A couple more weeks into Sekiro, and I'm still nowhere near being finished with the game. I'm definitely getting the hang of it more, but am also still struggling at pretty much every boss (and mini-boss) that I come across.

I have a few tips based on my own experience and observation that I hope will be helpful for other players, so that you don't have to go through some of the headaches that I've gone through when adjusting to this new game. As stated, everything I'm about to say are my own personal tips and observations. Do not take any of them as gospel. In fact, if you have your own tips, I'd love to read them in the comments.

There will be some minor spoilers for early game content.

Bank your sen

First and foremost, you should definitely take advantage of the ability to "bank" your sen (money). This is one area in which Sekiro actually offers a bit of leniency to players who may be familiar with Dark Souls. The Souls games did not allow you to directly bank your souls; but Sekiro does have a way to bank your cash.

You can use a Light Coin Purse to acquire 100 sen, but they cost 110 sen to buy.

Most vendors will sell coin purses (in varying sizes). Now, you may have noticed that the vendors sell their coin purses for 10% more than what they are worth. For example, if you use a Light Coin Purse, you'll receive 100 sen. However, it costs 110 sen to buy a Light Coin Purse. Similarly, the Heavy Coin Purse grants 500 sen when used, but they cost 550 sen to buy. There's a 10% mark-up.

Sadly, there's no bulk discount for buying larger coin purses, so there's no reason to save up for the Heavy or Bulging Coin Purse, as opposed to just buying a bunch of Light Coin Purses. The number of coin purses that each vendor will sell is also limited, so invest wisely!

Dying will take away 50% of your un-banked sen.

Don't let this 10% mark-up deter you from buying the coin purses. These coin purses are not lost when you die, but some fraction of your "soft" sen are lost when you die (unless you receive "Unseen Aid"). If you do not intend on making purchases with your coin in the immediate future, then you should strongly consider banking the sen by buying coin purses -- especially if you are about to enter a new, unfamiliar area, or if you are repeatedly dying to a boss or mini-boss. A single death will cost you 50% of your un-banked coins. Repeat deaths will quickly eat away at the rest. And (unlike in Souls-Borne), you can't go back and retrieve your lost coin or experience. The 10% mark-up on buying coin purses is a paltry penalty in comparison, and the insurance of having coin purses is well worth the investment!

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Civilization VI - Jayavarman VII of Khmer

Civilization VI's third expansion, Gathering Storm recently released and has added a handful of new civilizations and leaders. I am hoping to write a strategy for each of them, but I also want to continue to write guides for the civilizations that were already in the game. I put up a poll on my Patreon page for my patrons to vote on which civ(s) they would like to see. The three top vote-getters (from all the three people who voted) were Khmer, Aztec, and Norway. It's been a while since I've done a strategy for a religion-oriented civ, so I thought I'd do a strategy for Jayavarman VII of the Khmer. The Khmer were present as a playable civilization in Civilization IV's Beyond the Sword expansion, but they were not present in Civilization V. They appeared as a DLC civ prior to Rise & Fall's release, but this strategy should work for players of the new Gathering Storm expansion as well.

The city of Angkor, the capital of the Angkor Empire (also called the Khmer Empire), is believed to be the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world, stretching for roughly 400 square miles and housing roughly 0.1% of the entire global population at its zenith. This empire controlled most of mainland southeast Asia from the ninth century CE to the 15th century CE, reaching its zenith between the 11th and 13th centuries. Many impressive ruins still stand in the site of Angkor, and many have been restored by local archaeological organizations and UNESCO, including the impressive Angkor Wat, the largest single religious monument in the world. Satellite imagery has also revealed an intricate network of irrigation channels which were likely used to manage the regions unpredictable monsoons, as well as to support the population.

Civilization VI - Jayavarman VII portrait

Around 1150 CE, the kingdom of Angkor was invaded by the neighboring Cham empires, who succeeded at toppling the capital. General Mahaparamasaugata (believed to already be over the age of 60) lead a successful campaign to push the Cham out of the Khmer capital, and he ascended to the throne in order to continue the war and conquer much of the Champa territory. He relocated the capital to Angkor Thom, where large monuments were constructed in his honor, including the temple of Bayon. He went on to re-unify the empire, building a network of roads connecting every major town, complete with rest-houses every 9 miles and hospitals for travelers. He reigned successfully until his death at the impressively-ripe old age 97 or 98, and is regarded as the last great king of Cambodia. He was posthumously re-named Jayavarman VII, after a line of Cambodia's greatest kings.

DISCLAIMER:
Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the Gathering Storm expansion (ver. 1.0.0.314) (Antarctic Late Summer Patch, April 2019)

Khmer is a strong religious civ who gets extra food from Holy Sites, and extra faith from Aqueducts, as well as other bonuses to food and amenity. It can build and support large populations in its cities, and gets relics from its missionaries and apostles much more frequently, which can contribute to a culture victory.

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Adjusting to FROM Software's newest game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has been a very mixed bag. I'm handling most of the stealth just fine (coming from a background of lots of Metal Gear Solid), but I've been having a tough time with the game's very-demanding combat. This game is much further divorced from the Souls games than even Bloodborne was -- so much so, that I'm not sure if it's fair to lump Sekiro in as a "Souls-Borne" or "Souls-like" game. Honestly, I was never much of a parry-er in the Souls games anyway, so I'm having a harder time adjusting to Sekiro than many other Souls veterans might. Sekiro is all parry, all the time!

Even a week later, I'm not very far into the game. I've cleared the Ashina Outskirts, Ashina Castle Gate, and a large chunk of the Hirata Estate. I've only beat [I think] two legit bosses, a couple mini-bosses, and have challenged (but yet to defeat) a third boss. These bosses have been tough -- perhaps tougher than any early-game bosses in any of the Souls games or Bloodborne. A big part of this difficulty is that Sekiro very deliberately, and very explicitly, has removed many of the crutches that Souls players have enjoyed since Demon's Souls: you can't summon help, nor can you grind to level up your character. You can acquire new skills, but you can't upgrade your attack power or vitality by simply farming grunt enemies as you could in FROM's earlier games.

If you weren't much of a parry-er in Souls games, you may find it difficult to adjust to Sekiro.

This creates a much higher bar of entry than FROM's earlier games. Perhaps too high?

In any case, don't expect a full review from me any time soon. I'll be tanking the rakes for weeks -- if not months.

The Blazing Bull can be parried!

In the meantime, however, I want to share some important observations that I had about one particular boss in the early levels of Sekiro: the Blazing Bull. All of the bosses that I've encountered in the game so far have felt like entering the Capra Demon arena in the first Dark Souls -- but none of them have channeled the cheapness of the Capra Demon quite like the Blazing Bull.

Many early bosses -- the Blazing Bull in particular -- feel like walking into the Capra Demon arena.

This giant, flaming beast essentially ambushes you. It's exceedingly aggressive and almost impossible to dodge. It's very easy to feel overwhelmed. I certainly did.

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Civilization VI - Wilfrid Laurier of Canada

Civilization VI's second expansion, Gathering Storm recently released and has added a handful of new civilizations and leaders. I am hoping to write a strategy for each of them, but I want to start with the civilizations and leaders who are completely new to the franchise.

One of these new civs represents a sort-of "farewell" present to the founder and former lead-host of the PolyCast podcast, Dan Q, who stepped down from the podcast at the end of 2018 in order to spend more time with his new family. However, he'll still be playing Civ, and for the first time in the franchise's history, Dan gets to play as his home and native land of Canada. It's too bad he's not on PolyCast anymore to tell us about how great Wilfrid Laurier of Canada is, eh?

PolyCast logo

On a more serious note: thank you, Dan for over a decade of faithful service and dedication to the Civilization community. And on a more personal note, thank you for inviting me to join the regular panel on PolyCast. You gave me a voice within this community that I did not think I would ever be able to reach. We'll miss you, Dan, and we hope to talk to you again as a guest host many times in the future. Best wishes to you and your new wife in your new life together. May your lives together be forever in a Golden Age!

This guide is dedicated to you, Dan. Now let's talk about Canada in Civilization VI!

Civilization VI - Wilfrid Laurier portrait

The first European colony in North America is widely accepted to be a Norse encampment in Newfoundland, which was abandoned within a few years of settlement. It wasn't until the 16th century that large-scale colonization began -- mostly by French and British colonists. In 1763, France ceded most of its North American colonies to the British following years of on-again-off-again warfare. The Confederation of Canada was formed over a hundred years later, but remained loyal to the British crown until the Canada Act of 1982. Despite being a formally independent nation, Canada still maintains the British monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) as its official head of state. Because many of the founding cities were French colonies, Canada is an officially bilingual country, with both English and French being its official languages, and it is now one of the most multi-cultural nations in the world due to frequent large-scale immigration from other parts of the world. Canadian interactions with indigenous peoples were generally less violent than with neighboring United States' interactions with natives. However, the expansion of Canadian territory still required the forced relocation or assimilation of somewhere between 200,000 and 2 million indigenous peoples, including the Inuit, Métis, the Cree, and several dozen other tribes.

Canada's first French-speaking prime minister was Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier. Laurier was part of Canada's Liberal party, advocating for decentralized federalism and staunchly defending individual personal liberty. Despite wishing for Canada to remain an autonomous nation loyal to the British Empire, he would go on to oppose British conscription of Canadian citizens in World War I, which would become a polarizing issue in the early 20th century. He gained a reputation as a bright and cheerful leader who always followed the "sunny ways", and has become one of the most beloved prime minsters in Canadian history.

DISCLAIMER:
Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the Gathering Storm expansion (ver. 1.0.0.290)

Canda is a prime contender for a turtle strategy, as it cannot surprise declare on other civs, or be surprise declared on. They also specialize in settling in otherwise-inhospitable tundra.

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Ace Combat 7

Some number of PC players may have booted up Namco/Bandai's recently-released Ace Combat 7 on PC, only to be disappointed to find that their preferred flight stick doesn't work with the game. Un-supported controllers apparently includes the very popular (and very expensive) Thrustmaster Warthog. This isn't a technical issue; it's a hardware-exclusivity deal that Namco/Bandai apparently signed with Thrustmaster and Hori. Only two flight sticks are supported by the game: the Thrustmaster T. Flight and HORI AC7 flight stick. Apparently, the same restrictions apply to the PS4 and XBox One versions of the game

If you're like me, and don't play a lot of flight sims, any flight stick that you have is likely old and obsolete. But you probably still hoped it would work with the game. It's PC, after all, and controllers are mostly plug-and-play. Worst case scenario, you'd have to custom configure the control mapping. Right?

Not so. If the game detects a flight stick that isn't on its approved list, it apparently refuses to recognize it.

I'm not exactly a huge Ace Combat fan, but Ace Combat 4 (which I played on PS2 back in the day) is on my short list for "favorite games ever". Perhaps I'll put up a retro-review of it at some point. Needless to say, AC4 was a near perfect hybrid of acrade dogfighting and realistic flight sim, and it's nuanced depiction of war might make it my single favorite video game about war -- except for maybe This War of Mine.

So I was excited that a new game was coming out. I had bought a Logitech Attack 3 flight stick some years ago for another game, and I was also excited to see how Ace Combat would feel with a flight stick instead of a game controller. So I bought the game on PC expecting the flight stick would work. It didn't, and I was pretty bummed. I bought the game on the weekend of its PC release, and when I found that my flight stick didn't work, I shelved the game and went back to Resident Evil 2 and Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. I figured I'd come back to AC7 in a few weeks, at which point, the flight stick situation would hopefully be resolved, or modders would maybe add unofficial support for un-supported flight sticks.

You can configure an un-supported flight stick via Steam's built-in Controller Settings.

After a little bit of research, I discovered Steam's built-in "General Controller Settings" gamepad mapping, and that it can be used to "trick" Ace Combat 7 into thinking you're playing with a third-party gamepad. I tested it last night, and was pleased to discover that it works!

To see if your flight stick will work (and it's no guarantee), perform the following steps:

  1. Open Steam and select "Steam -> Settings" in the top menu.
  2. In the Settings panel, click "Controller".
  3. In the Controller Config panel, click the button that says "GENERAL CONTROLLER SETTINGS". A big, blue menu with several check boxes should appear in a new window.
  4. In the Controller Settings window, check the "Generic Gamepad Configuration Support" box.
  5. If your flight stick is plugged in, and the PC is registering it, you should see it in a list of "Detected Controllers". Click it.
  6. This should take you to a key binding screen. Set up your key bindings as you see fit. You do not necessarily have to map every single button, as most flight sticks may not have enough buttons.
  7. Click "Save" and a dialogue should appear asking you if you want to "Share this controller definition?". You can name the controller anything you like. The important part here is that there is a drop down labeled: "Select the type of controller:". You must select "Generic Gamepad" from the drop down! You can then click "No, Thank You" if you do not wish to share the settings.

You should now be able to boot up Ace Combat 7, and the game should now believe your flight stick is a third-party gamepad (rather than a forbidden flight stick), and it should function based on the bindings that you specified.

You can configure your flight stick as a "Generic Gamepad" in Steam's Controller Settings.

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Yes, you can MAYBE play Ace Combat 7 with an un-supported flight stick!Yes, you can MAYBE play Ace Combat 7 with an un-supported flight stick!03/14/2019 Some number of PC players may have booted up Namco/Bandai's recently-released Ace Combat 7 on PC, only to be disappointed to find that their preferred flight stick doesn't work with the game. Un-supported controllers apparently includes the very popular (and very expensive) Thrustmaster Warthog. This isn't a technical issue;...

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