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Pikuniku, the adorable game of dystopia and revolution, is free on the Epic Store – PC Gamer

The calendar has turned over on another week, and thus the Epic Games Store has turned over on another free game. This week it's Pikuniku, an exploration-puzzle game about strange characters living in a colorful world that's not quite as happy and fun as it seems.

The game's description at really goes places: "Pikuniku is an absurdly wonderful puzzle-exploration game that takes place in a strange but playful world," it begins, which seems simple enough and a good match for the cute visual style. But then: "Help peculiar characters overcome struggles, uncover a deep state conspiracy, and start a fun little revolution in this delightful dystopian adventure!"

I am curious. And on top of sounding tantalizingly weird, Pikuniku is also very good: We called it "a wonderfully absurd tale of insurrection and kicking stuff" in our 79% review, and it's got an "overwhelmingly positive" user rating on Steam.

Pikuniku is free on the Epic Games Store until October 8. Next week, the freebies will continue with Abzu and Rising Storm 2. For even more giveaways, be sure to keep a watch on our running list of free games you can grab right now.

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Pikuniku, the adorable game of dystopia and revolution, is free on the Epic Store - PC Gamer

Family Game Night Is Back On In 2020 With Help From Geppetto’s Toys – Coronado Eagle and Journal

Think back to some of your favorite family memories and I bet at least one of them involves play of some form a board game night, tossing a ball around on a sunny day, maybe more recently putting together a mural-like puzzle? Geppettos Toys has been helping foster those feelings of fun-filled experiences in Coronado for two and half years, and especially now, when families are spending more time together in their homes than ever before during a pandemic.

San Diego local, Brian Miller, has seen the importance of games and play throughout his life. My parents took over a family business of a little toy store and gift shop at the Hotel Del. When I came back to San Diego from school on the East Coast, I loved it so much that I took the toy concept and grew it. Miller has opened multiple Geppettos Toys around San Diego county since then and was happily able to bring one back to Coronado where hes seen tremendous support from the local community, especially in hard-hitting months with COVID-19.

The first 3 months of COVID were disastrous, but in Coronado we could do curbside pickup and weve seen [small town] stores like Coronado bouncing back. Really its the locals that have helped it bounce back big time. Miller recalls being surprised by seeing numbers actually even going up in Coronado for the first few months of quarantine. Locals really did come out with people wanting to stay closer to home with their shopping and trying to be supportive of locals shops.

Millers longtime friend and former manager of the Coronado shop, Sharon Axelson, (who had worked with his parents in their original toy shop), recently retired and helped select the new manager for Geppettos Toys on the island, local Colette OBrien. Sharon knows the community so well and she helped pick Colette for manager who has also grown up in here and has probably babysat half of the kids in Coronado, Miller jokes as he mentions OBrien being a big help from the start when Geppettos opened on the island.

Geppettos is truly a family owned business, said OBrien. By family, often the whole family will comeand help when there is work tobe done. Whenever Brian brings his wife Danielle and their two sons Nathan and Jared to the store, Im reminded how authentic theirlove of toys is and the importance of hard work balanced with play in bonding a family together. Even their dog comes along and provides moral support for the staff.

Both Miller and OBrien share an appreciation for the value of play in childrens development and the benefits of games to all generations. Im a child at heart, and one of my favorite things to do is help kids learn and explore the world through play. Brian taught me that a childs work is play its serious business actually, OBrien said when talking about her work at Geppettos. While OBrien loves the excitement of managing a toy store, she recognizes the challenges associated with the many different roles you have to play in retail, not to mention the added challenges in the midst of COVID-19.

COVID-19 hasnt stopped kids from playing, OBrien notes. On busy days, I feel like Im working at a ride at Disneyland because a line will form and I have to monitor the door.

Currently the store in Coronado is open with safety guidelines in place that limit the number of customers in the space at one time and requires anyone entering to be wearing a mask. We are doing the best we can to help people get the toys they need. During this pandemic, we have seen much more online orders and phone orders. Shipping and curbside pickup remain popular. The maximum capacity is nine because we are a smaller space, OBrien explains.

When asked about any trends theyve been seeing while people have been sheltering in place, Miller and OBrien agree that both puzzles and classic games have seen a lot of renewed interest. Puzzles and building toys (Lego, Magna-Tile, etc) flew off the shelves. Games like Monopoly and Scrabble were gone in the first few weeks and we are just now getting these games again, OBrien said for the Coronado shop.

Miller adds that overall, There was something like a 400% increase in puzzle sales and people got hooked on it. Theyre still doing well as more options become available. Theyre so wholesome and great for problem solving and mental development for both younger and older people.

For upcoming popular products, Miller foresees games that allow a break from screen time. Everyones on their screen more right nowkids staying at home and having classes online, even parents working from home, experiencing more screen time.

He recommends games that have nothing to do with a screen, that give a break from that, So classic games for together time, games for people of all ages that get the whole family together around the table playing a game.

Popularity for products in categories like arts and crafts, active and outdoors, puzzles, and classic games are on the rise with favorites including Mixy Squish (colorful, air dried clay for sculpting), tie-dye kits, and a variety of HearthSong inflatable sports games for backyard fun. Mixy Squish is great for working on fine motor skills for younger kids while for older kids tie-dye is all the rage right now, Miller says bemusedly of the old-school trend making a strong come back. He mentions classics like Monopoly and Stratego still offering great options for different age ranges, as well as newer style games such as Settlers of Catan and Genius Square and subsequent Genius Star offering fresh family fun and opportunities to develop critical thinking and problem solving along with a tactile, hands-on experience which is a great element that kids can engage with.

While the pandemic has created challenges around a variety of aspects including safety guidelines and inventory, suppliers, and shipping being at different levels of operation right now across country, state, and even county lines, Miller and his team have been working to provide customers with the best and safest possible experiences. Weve worked on our website and created a system to order online and either deliver to [a customers] house or to their car outside with curbside pickup. Were trying to meet customer where they are. Geppettos Toys also creates print catalogs that they mail out which Miller has found has seen renewed success with people being at home. The catalog can also be viewed on their website, where customers can also sign up for the mailing list to get the newest catalog which will go out in November.

Theres an inherent joy to working in toys that is obvious in the way Miller and OBrien talk about their experiences at Geppettos Toys. It is an all-around rewarding job considering people are happy when they walk into a toy store and even happier when they walk out with toys, OBrien says, whose favorite part of the job is talking to children about their favorite toys. They teach me a lot not just about toys; my knowledge on animals and dinosaurs has expanded since working here.

Miller recalls a time he was in one of his stores on a school day and a young child was in the store with their parent. I asked him if he had the day off of school and was told it was his birthday and he had been given a choice to go to Legoland or Geppettos and he wanted to go to Geppettos. It doesnt get much more rewarding than that!

Geppettos Toys is located at 1146 Orange Avenue and is open from 9-7 Monday-Saturday, and 10-6 on Sundays. To contact the store call 619-522-0918, or for more information visit their website at

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Family Game Night Is Back On In 2020 With Help From Geppetto's Toys - Coronado Eagle and Journal

10 Bizarre Nintendo Spin-Offs You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – TheGamer

Nintendo has put out some strange games in the past, but these weird spin-offs take the cake.

One thing Nintendo is not afraid of doing is experimenting: taking what gamers love and attempting something different. Sure, there are the Nintendo classics like Super Mario 64 or A Link To The Past but Nintendo has attempted to create spin-off franchises.

RELATED:10 Lesser-Known Nintendo 64 Games that Need More Love

Some of these became successful like the Yoshi series but they've also created spin-offs that not many know about. Not only are they typically unknown but they tend to be stranger titles that make gamers go wide-eyed with excitement and confusion.

Yoshi became quite the mascot after Super Mario World: this resulted in games like Tetris Attack. For those expecting a straight-up clone of Tetris with a Yoshi skin will be surprised as this comes closer to the match-three-items games seen on mobile.

In many ways, Tetris Attack is ahead of its time with colorful sprites, fun gameplay, happy music, and multiple characters to choose from. With a friend, Tetris Attack makes for a fun time at house parties.

Every person hoping for that great sequel to StarFox 64 was met with disappointment. Rather than the dogfighting game that StarFox was known for, Nintendo decided to make the next StarFox game into a Legend Of Zelda clone.

Fox McCloud on an alien dinosaur planet trying to save another fox named Crystal could have been a great idea. Unfortunately, it just made fans wish they had gotten a true StarFox title rather than a watered-down Zelda.

Another puzzle game featuring everybody's favorite green dinosaur. This time, the player must line up rows of cookies to win the game. Fairly simple but fun enough to keep fans entertained. It featured both a solo and VS mode for friends to compete, much like Tetris Attack.

RELATED:10 Amazing Yoshi Fan Art Creations

Even though fans rarely remember the game, Nintendo brought the cookies back in several Mario RPGs over the years, including the Paper Mario games. It was received overall as just an okay puzzle game.

The 2D animated Zelda games for the Phillips CD-I are infamous for being awful but many forget that there was a third game. This one used live-action FMV and "realistic" sprites in a more traditional overhead Zelda game. Sounds like a decent idea, right?

Well, it was botched by hilariously awful voice acting, ugly graphics, and a user interface so broken, it was somehow worse than a game for the NES. Though not as bad as the other CD-I games, it is mostly just a strange misfire.

Sega Genesis players were gifted with the addictive Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine as an exclusive. Two years later, Nintendo decided to make their own exclusive with the same kind of puzzle game: this resulted in Kirby's Avalanche.

Kirby's Avalanche is without a doubt, a clone of Mean Bean Machine; the sprites for the beans are nearly identical, the mechanics are the same, and it does nothing new but add Kirby characters. On the plus side, it is just as fun as its competitor.

Luigi's first starring role and it happens to be in one of the most disappointing Mario games ever made. From the title and the setup, every gamer is going in expecting an epic adventure in which Luigi must save his older brother.

That is not the case: it is an educational game and not a fun one like Math Blaster. Instead, it is a tedious and boring trek across the globe learning about geography and that somehow saves Mario from Bowser.

Where did Wario come from? This was the game that introduced him to the bizarre Nintendo universe. It was an exclusive title for the Nintendo GameBoy and is often considered a much superior sequel to the original.

It featured new worlds that hadn't been seen before in the main Super Mario series at that point as well as new power-ups. It wasn't the deepest of Mario games but it provided a fun handheld experience for those needing Mario on the go.

Finally, Nintendo gifted the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom with her own game. It is a more standard platformer with very beautiful sprites but what makes it strange is Peach's abilities.

RELATED:10 Princess Peach Cosplays That Look Just Like The Game

Along with her living umbrella named Perry, Peach can attack enemies and solve platforming puzzles with powers that stem from her emotions. Anger, sadness, calm, and joy. So it's like a predecessor to Pixar's Inside Out. It was met with a mixed reception at launch but it does have a fanbase who considers it a fun underrated title.

This is a strange case as the game is actually one of the best selling Zelda games ever made but not long after its release, it faded into obscurity. Link's Crossbow Training was exclusive for the Nintendo which used the Wii Zapper.

The game is an on-rail shooting gallery that is repetitive but addictive enough to keep one entertained. It also features a great soundtrack with many new renditions of classic Zelda themes.

Did anybody ask for Zelda's creepy NPC Tingle to get his own game? No. Yet somehow he got two of them for the Nintendo DS and these were definitely not in the same vein as The Legend Of Zelda games.

Both are strange RPGs that introduce even weirder characters and mechanics. Both feature so many different gameplay elements that it's difficult for them to establish their own identity. Combined with weird, even creepy visuals and it is a game that is worthy of being forgotten.

NEXT:The Legend Of Zelda: Every Iteration Of Link, Ranked By Design

Next What Level Pupitar Evolves (& 9 Other Things You Didn't Know About The Pokmon)

10 Bizarre Nintendo Spin-Offs You've Probably Never Heard Of - TheGamer

The Tetris Mini Will Be Released In Japan Next Week – Bleeding Cool News

Wanna play Tetris wherever you go but don't want something bulky? The Tetris Mini may just be the thing you need to get. Japanese company Gametech revealed this week that they are releasing an officially licensed mini version of the classic puzzle game that is the size of a large keychain ornament. As you can see from the photos below, this isn't a full-on game or a recreation of the original, more of a shrunk-down version of the game so you're able to play it very quickly in a small monitor. There's a few different designs of this thing, but the one that's obviously got everyone's attention right now is the one that looks like a Game Boy, even down to the color of the start button matching that of the A & B buttons on the original.

What makes these really cool, aside from the size and the portability, is that they are USB charged. No relying on watch batteries or a AAA battery or anything that needs replacing. You simply just need to charge it when it winds down. It comes in six colors as you can choose from clear black, clear blue, clear pink, gray, yellow, and just simply clear. You can order one through their shop in Japan for 1,500 (about $14.30), or you can wait patiently for them to eventually come here. While the company hasn't announced they're headed to North America and Europe yet, considering the game's popularity on a global scale, it's only a matter of time before it makes its way here. Honestly, if Gametech isn't trying to get these overseas within the next month, they're basically throwing money away on what could be a top stocking stuffer toy for the holidays.

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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The Tetris Mini Will Be Released In Japan Next Week - Bleeding Cool News

Is Tetris Effect Connected Coming To PS4, PS5? – PlayStation Universe

Is Tetris Effect Connected Coming To PS4, PS5? With Tetris Effect cementing itself as something of a classic on PS4 and PSVR, many players have been asking if Tetris Effect Connected would be coming to PS4 and PS5.

Yes, Tetris Effect Connected will come to PS4 and PS5 as a free update to Tetris Effect.

As per the name, Tetris Effect Connected is a multiplayer focused expansion which adds in local and online competitive multiplayer modes to the base Tetris Effect game.

You can catch the full synopsis on Tetris Effect Connected below.

Tetris Effect: Connected adds an all-new robust multiplayer expansion to the huge variety of addictive and innovative single-player modes that Tetris Effect is known for, and is optimized native 4K / 60 frames per second visuals (Xbox Series X and PC versions).

Wherever they choose to playon Xbox Series X, Xbox One, or Windows 10 PCXbox gamers can connect and play with or against each other in all-new modes like Zone Battle, which shakes up traditional one-on-one Tetris gameplay via the time-stopping Zone mechanic made famous in Tetris Effect, or the innovative co-op of Connected mode, where up to three players can literally connect their Tetris playfields together and play as one, as they work together to take down a series of increasingly-challenging CPU-controlled bosses.

The new multiplayer expansion joins the 10-plus single-player modes already included in the original Tetris Effect. This is Tetris like youve never seen it, or heard it, or felt it beforean incredibly addictive, unique, and breathtakingly gorgeous reinvention of one of the most popular puzzle games of all time, from the people who brought you the award-winning Rez Infinite and legendary puzzle game Lumines. Music, backgrounds, sounds, special effectseverything, down to the Tetriminos themselves, pulse, dance, shimmer, and explode in perfect sync with how youre playing, making all of the games 30+ stages something youll want to experience over and over again.

Development is being handled by the same team of Monstars Inc. and Resonair as the original Tetris Effect, with additional coding and networking help from Tokyo-based Stage Games.

Key Features

Online or Local co-op and competitive play for one to three players (one to two competitive, one to three co-op, with CPU players available).

Ranked and unranked play, matchmaking, and player progression for unlockable avatars.

Cross-play between all Xbox Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows 10 PC.

The entire Tetris Effect single-player game also included.

Smart Delivery means Xbox One owners can upgrade to Xbox Series X any time for free.

Available for sale or via Xbox Game Pass at launch.

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Is Tetris Effect Connected Coming To PS4, PS5? - PlayStation Universe

A grand horror classic, new releases, and deals to celebrate the 12th anniversary of GOG.COM – GamingLyfe Network

They say time flies when youre having fun and it wouldnt be even half as fun without you, gamers from all around the world, sharing the same love for games as we do. Thats why we celebrate GOG.COMs 12th anniversary with new DRM-free releases and awesome game deals for you to choose from.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord (-20%) will take you to the war-torn land of Calradia where youll have the chance to raise your own army. Explore, raid, and conquer a vast continent, making friends and enemies along the way. Buy the game before our 12th anniversary sale ends and receive the original Mount & Blade for free!

Silent Hill 4: The Room is a classic survival horror that is making its grand comeback. Join Henry Townshend, who finds himself trapped in his apartment. The only escape he can find is through a portal that leads to a horrifying alternate reality. With gruesome sights around every corner, he must find his way out of the unspeakable nightmare.

The Talos Principle: Gold Edition (-90%) is a sci-fi puzzle game that will pose you with some inspiring questions. As if awakened from a deep sleep, you find yourself in a strange world of ancient ruins and advanced technology. Tasked with solving a series of increasingly complex puzzles you must brace yourself for a mind-blowing challenge.

GOG.COMs 12th anniversary also brings you the last chance to buy the Ultimate RED Collection. This hefty pack combines all the games from The Witcher franchise at their highest discounts yet with a pre-order for Cyberpunk 2077!

Thats not all, as we have over 200 game deals up to 90% off in our 12th Anniversary Sale! Check out our teams recommendations and share your own top 12 to help celebrate the anniversary. Select from all-time classics like Blade Runner (-33%), Jagged Alliance 2 (-75%) and Diablo + Hellfire (-15%). Grab big hits like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (-85%) and Desperados III (-25%). Finally, immerse yourself with fascinating indie games like Crying Suns (-30%), Darkest Dungeon (-75%), Frostpunk (-60%), and many more.

12th Anniversary event runs until October 9th, 2020, 1 PM UTC. For more information, please visit GOG.COM.

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A grand horror classic, new releases, and deals to celebrate the 12th anniversary of GOG.COM - GamingLyfe Network

The best turn-based strategy games on PC – PCGamesN

Turn-based strategy games bring out the more cerebral undertones of the genre the break afforded by turns allows us to think, ponder and plan our moves with as much expert precision as we can muster. Witnessingthat mater plan unfold can create untold levels of satisfaction, and suddenly you fancy yourself the master tactician.

This genre is also home to the one more turn trope that feeling of near-addiction that compels you to click the End Turn button just one more time to see what happens. Maybe youre waiting to see the outcome of a daring attack, maybe youre just trying to click through some downtime. We also have an ultimate list of thebest strategy games on pcif youre looking to expand beyond petty concepts like turns.

This is a living list, in the sense that there are many worthy candidates and not enough room to fit them all in. Every so often (especially as new games come out), well give this list a refresh and an update to bring some other titles their turn in the spotlight.

Lets take a look at some of our favourite turn-based strategy games

There have been quite a few challengers to XCOMs turn-based tactical throne over the past few months. Some have been good, some not so good. As much as theGears of Warthird-person shooter franchise is well regarded, were still surprised at how good itsturn-based tactics spin-off is inGears Tactics.Set before the events ofthe original Gears of War,this game is essentially a series of tactical battles strung together by a narrative and some light progression mechanics.

Theres no strategy layer, and while theres some persistence for main characters it mainly revolves around loot and some basic skill-trees. Its not perfect, but its imperfections stand to further highlight just how solid the rest of it is. One innovation theyve tried to carry over from the shooter series is the boss battle elements. These do work in the tactical sphere, but can still be a bit clunky. Still, if youre looking for some to scratch that turn-based tactics itch, this is one of the best newcomers in a while. Read ourGears Tacticsreview for more.

This ones a bit more on the hardcore side, but when it comes to historical turn-based strategy games, thePanzer Corpsfranchise is King.Panzer Corps 2builds on the original games success and couples it with a brand new 3D engine. The scale is a bit abstract a single tank can actually represent hundreds of vehicles but it allows you play sweeping campaigns on maps that can represent chunks of entire countries.

Related:Want more WW2 Games? Weve got you covered.

Its a combat-focused game, so you dont need to worry about building units, but you WILL have to worry about keeping your forces supplied as they blitz across the map. Tactical options such as encirclement, supporting fire & breaking down units into smaller mini versions for a decent flank means youll have plenty of options with which to take that key objective. Its not too far-removed from a hex-based, WW2-styleAdvanced Wars.

An excellent strategy game that doubles up as a viable gateway to the world of digital war games, Unity of Command 2 does everything its predecessor did and more. By changing up the scenario design and adding in new elements like HQs and more meaningful meta-campaign, few repeats of the same mission will play out the same, althoughUoChas always had a trace of puzzle DNA within it, which is still true but not to the same extend as the first game.

Unity of Command 2takes players to the more known waters of the Western front, starting with the closing stages of the Battle for North Africa, before moving on to the invasion of Sicily, Italy before finally allowing you to re-live the Normandy campaigns. As you play through the grand campaign, your army units and HQs will grow and improve over time, and theres also a light card mechanic that allows you to play a limited number of special actions that can make or break an offensive.

Whichever way you cut it,BattleTechis a colossal title and a long time coming. A meaty, ruminative turn-based mech battler that does as much justice to its FASA tabletop roots as it does to making a ponderous, complex miniature game come alive in digital form. Its depth and sprawl is the product of thirty-odd years of lore and gaming, and the game most mech-heads were chasing.

This is a game that demands commitment, selling the idea of mechwarrior combat being anything but brief. Theres lots of crunchiness to encounters on the tactical level, with heat and weapon management coalescing with environmental factors and position.Mechs are beautifully detailed, evoking just the right mix of old Ral Patha miniatures and the thankful modernisation ofMechWarrior Onlines artistic precedent. We also have a Mech Build Guide to help people get to grips with the wealth of options.

Related:Like big robots?Here are the bestmech gameson PC.

At the time of writing, active development ofBattleTechhas ended as the studio moves to other projects, but they did release a lot of free content and three major expansions:Flashpoint,Urban Warfare& Heavy Metal.

Battle Brothersis ostensibly theGame of Thrones:Bron Simulator. A deliciously low-fantasy mercenary manager that is refreshingly free of trope-ridden kings and kingdoms, OverHyper Studios hex-based combat game is immediately accessible, balanced by brutality and permadeath.

Theres a hand-crafted quality to the game, appealing in much the same way asUnity of Command 2. Grim little busts of ugly mercenaries plug their way across swamps and forests, paper-dolled with whatever arms and armor you assigned, engaging in violent combat with all manner of armies. Whats most impressive aboutBattle Brothersis the impact with which it conveys every hit, stab, slice and shot. Each successful attack is incredibly visceral, making sure you know that there are no do-overs in theBattle Brothersworld. By the end of each encounter, the field is littered with loosed arrows, blood and corpses. Those who diedare indeed gone for good. And those that survive just may live a little longer.

While not theultimateAdvanced Wars PC game we could haveasked for,this highly anticipated turn-based tactics title certainly did not disappoint when it released in February 2019. An excellent visual design coupled with a rich tactical experience across all the factions meant that this was a game that was easy to learn, challenging to master, but never anything less than a delight to play.

The real strength of Wargroove however is its built-in future proofing. Theres plenty to do and try out straight out of the box, but a powerful and robust editor means that there will be some fantastic user-generated content coming down the pipe in the months ahead. People are already recreating maps and entire campaigns from other classics like Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars, so we cant wait to see what the else the community does with the game. Read our Wargroove reviewfor more.

Indie sensationFrozen Synapseis very much deserving of its accolades. A simultaneous turn-based breakdown ofCounterStrikeat its heart, Mode 7 Games condensed the fundamentals of the first-person shooter movement, stance, speed and vectors into five-second parcels of plotting direction and behaviour. While the sequel didnt try to mess with this simple and effective formula too much, it did try to instil a sense of purpose with a big picture strategy layer.

Frozen Synapse 2s main offering is a grand-strategy layer. You run a private security firm in a procedurally generated city, and your goal is to grow, keep the other organisations in check, while also deal with a mysterious new foe thats appeared on the scene. Take contracts, hire recruits to fill out your squads, and fight your enemies in battlegrounds that vary depending on where the action takes place. The initial offering is functional and imperfect, but its already proven to be a great way ofoffering an excellent tactical experience with meaning and persistence.

Were thankfully not short on Warhammer games, and when theyre as satisfying as Straylight Entertainments Sanctus Reach, I say keep them coming. Sanctus Reach is an interesting creation because it strikes exactly the right balance fans would want in retaining the ruminative cogitation of the tabletop with the flair and spectacle of a digital interpretation.

Snapped to a grid and letting the computer do the heavy statistical lifting, players are free to think three moves ahead as they smash Orks into Space Wolves and vice versa. Map design retains a tabletop physicality, strewn with exactly the kind of terrain assets youd hope to roam amidst, and Sanctus Reachs scale is pitch-perfect for selling its interpretation of digital miniature battles. With asynchronous multiplayer, lengthy campaign and good skirmish, all the game really needs is MORE WAAAGH.

What kind of turn-based list would it be without some sort of open-source or free elder statesman of the genre? Just inching out Peoples General, The Battle for Wesnoth is a sprawling suite of tactical turn-based hexery. The game itself is accommodating, the community modules vast and varied, and heck, its even been ported to phones. Wesnoth in its base form feels like its at an aesthetic cross-roads between traditional Japanese SRPGS and Western heavy-hitters like Heroes of Might & Magic.

Related: Weve got an excellent list of free games to play on PC.

Light enough to run on the most dismal of systems, and not costing a brass razoo, The Battle of Wesnoth is truly the peoples game.

Alongside Civilization, there are few games that can share as much clout as Julian Gollops seminal X-Com. Firaxis spit-shone the formula in 2012 in an all-caps frisson of console-friendly overhauls. Still that same great punitive taste, but with all the bells and whistles of a modern interface. Selling gangbusters, the sequel came in 2016.

XCOM 2 might have had some initial technical niggles around launch, but thereafter has been patched up to shine as intended. Coupled with War of the Chosen, XCOM 2s pot-stirring expansion that throws antagonistic human factions into the mix, theres little reason not to have Firaxis second tilt at this magisterial series in your library. Asymmetric constraints loom as the players rag-tag rotation of freedom fighters make grounds against the established occupation, with an emphasis on hit and run missions. Secondary objectives also add an interesting tension to the game, as well as the looming threat of a grand alien program that cooks away in the background, harbouring a fail-state if left to mature. War of the Chosen elevates XCOM 2 from admirable sequel to essential addition to the long-running franchise. The story might put humanity on the back foot, but XCOM has never been more ahead.

From recent releases, to reader recommendations and previous entries on this list, here are some other great turn-based strategy games you should check out:

Well update this list over time as more turn-based strategy games release that deserve a top spot.PCGamesNis affiliated with the Paradox store.

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The best turn-based strategy games on PC - PCGamesN

North Colonie youth baseball raising awareness of autism – Times Union

Putting on the same athletic uniform presents a near-automatic bond for teammates who strive to achieve success on the playing field.

For the North Colonie 11U baseball team, it isnt all about winning as the team has formed a bond the last few years with an impact reaching far beyond the baseball diamond.

The group has dedicated its season to help create awareness for autism, complete with specially designed uniforms featuring the multi-colored puzzle piece logo for autism awareness and donating a portion of its fundraising efforts in support of a local foundation geared toward the same cause.

Jill Durants son Griffin is one of the teams players and his older brother Carter has become a rallying point for the group as Carter suffers from a severe case of the spectrum disorder.

Carter has a severe case of autism, it does do something because these boys go over, they high-five him, they say hello to him every game, Jill Durant said. Carter, at most baseball games, is sitting next to me pulling grass. He has a lot of sensory needs and for him, they go over and sit by him, pull grass with him, they are good to him.

While Durant is unsure how the teams acceptance affects the 13-year old Carter, she knows it has a positive effect.

Carter Durant, right, who has autism, plays with J.J. Corsi at a recent game for the North Colonie 11U youth baseball team. (Courtesy of Jill Durant)

I dont know how much this does for Carter but it does a lot for my other son, Durant said. I think it is amazing for him. Weve been with this group for a while. It makes Griffin feel special that his friends go out of their way to help his brother.

The uniform suggestion came about during a meeting at practice one night and Durants husband Chris, an assistant coach on the team, had connections that helped turn a good idea into a sensational reality, complete with the logo.

Some of the coaches and dads were at practice one night and were talking about uniforms and doing something different, Durant said. One of the dads said it would be great if we could do something for autism.

Ryan Delgados son Jason is a member of the team and as a parent, Ryan Delgado sees a big opportunity not only for the boys to learn, but to teach as well.

My son and a lot of the children are very lucky. It is good for them to see they can be part of something bigger and different and have an impact, Delgado said. Ive heard from the coaches in the first few games with the jerseys, people are asking questions about them. It does create that awareness and people ask questions, that is part of what they are trying to accomplish and bring about a better understanding.

Fundraising donations have been sent to the Anthony Blaauboer Kindness Foundation, a charity formed after Anthony Blaauboer, who suffered from autism, passed away in August of 2018, just a few days shy of his 15th birthday, when divers found his body in the Mohawk River. Landon Blaauboer was a cousin to Anthony and is a member of the North Colonie 11U team.

The Blaauboer family is very close. We do Christmas together, we do birthdays together, Landons mother Kyrie Berkery said. Just a few days prior to the accident, Anthony was at our house for Landons birthday party. The team views it more for raising awareness for the Durant family and Carter but Landon definitely has that connection personally.

The boys on the team have been competing together for a few years, a familiarity that brings the feeling of one big family.

It is great, were raising awareness for autism that these kids see. Most of these kids have been playing together since they were 7 years old. It is a family, Berkery said. They see Carter, he is at every single game, he is as much family as the boys on the baseball field. They recognize he has this disability but they recognize him as family. We travel together, they include him as much as possible, they swim with him. They are role models at 11 years old.

The affection the boys have for Carter extends beyond baseball and team travel.

The North Colonie school district has a buddy system in place and when all of the boys were in elementary school together, one of the players on the team, J.J. Corsi, stepped up to volunteer to be Carters buddy at school when he was having a tough time.

Carter was at a point where he had some behaviors, he was hitting and you didnt know it was coming, Durant said. Carter doesnt hit because he is angry, it is sensory, hell kind of swat at you, hes not trying to hurt anybody, he just does it. They werent letting him participate at school. One of our moms called me one night. Her son was going to the same elementary school and said she would reach out to the school. J.J. is around Carter enough, he loves Carter and wants to be his buddy.

Not only does the teams acceptance of Carter have a big impact on Griffin, but also on Jill Durant.

He could be very happy and in seconds, it can change and he is having a meltdown, Durant said. It makes me want to cry sometimes to see the good things the boys do. Having Carter has brought an awareness to these kids and their families. I know it seems silly to have an 11-year old boy come and sit down next to my son and pull grass with him. To me, I cant tell you what that does inside, its great.

Sean Martin, a local freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.

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North Colonie youth baseball raising awareness of autism - Times Union

Hawaii mens hoops looking for pieces to the schedule puzzle – West Hawaii Today

With 353 NCAA Division I mens basketball teams seeking to fill out their schedules, the swipe-right options are complicated.

In pre-pandemic times, according to University of Hawaii coach Eran Ganot, scheduling was usually about matching dates and deal points. Now its like everything has to fit. Dates fit? Games fit? Your school good with it? Our school good with it? Your state good with it? Our state good with it? Your conference good with it? Our conference good with it?

Ganots staff led by director of operations Jesse Nakashima has worked diligently on the revised schedule in the two weeks since the NCAA announced the Division I season would begin on Nov. 25.

UH apparently has filled one date, listing a Nov. 25 game against Division II Hawaii Pacific on the Rainbow Warriors web site.

With scheduling, theres a science to it, theres a puzzle to it, Ganot said. But the unique thing is doing it in September and October versus doing it earlier. At the end of the day, decisions will have to be made with the information we have to the best of our ability. And theres a lot of information we still dont technically have. The big thing is were on top of it as best as we can be. Thats all we can really control.

UHs first step has been re-opening talks with Division I opponents that were scheduled to play ahead of Nov. 25. The initial schedule had the Bows playing Washington State on Nov. 11 and San Diego on Nov. 15 in the season-opening Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. While those two games remain as possibilities, there is no chance North Carolina will be able to reschedule the game planned for Nov. 20. North Carolina was playing that game in advance of the Maui Invitational, which has since moved to Orlando, Fla., this year.

UH still lists a Dec. 2 road game against Santa Clara and Dec. 13 home game against Alcorn State on its published schedule. But those games are being negotiated and any agreement would need to meet the standards set by their schools, leagues and states.

Were working on all the options starting with the ones that were on our current schedules, Ganot said. And were getting ahead on other options in the event that there will be some changes. The NCAA (start date) was one level (in scheduling). The state and the school and league, thats (a level), too. Some leagues are going (with adding) nonconference (games), some arent. Some leagues are moving games around in their conference schedules. But well be all right. Well figure it out.

Ganot indicated he is confident a schedule will be finalized.

Were working on it every day, Ganot said. Its like an obstacle course youre going through. There will be more obstacles on the way. But our commitment to getting through the obstacles course remains the same. Well get to that finish line in whatever parameters they give us.

Hawaii mens hoops looking for pieces to the schedule puzzle - West Hawaii Today

World of Warcrafts hardest puzzle, a Make-A-Wish teen, and her cat – PCGamesN

World of Warcrafts most difficult secret was started by a girl who wanted to immortalise her cat and solved this month by a man who didnt even play the game.

Amara Strande had barely started high school in 2017 when she was diagnosed with Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer. The five-year survival rate for the disease is just ten percent. When the Make-A-Wish foundation reached out to the Minnesota teen to ask whether there was anything it could do, she knew just what she wanted. Strande, now 18, is interested in composing, and loves World of Warcraft. She wanted to go to Blizzard Entertainment, she told the foundation, and write a song for the game with the composers there. The composers, Glenn Stafford and Derek Duke, confirmed the story.

I am not only a huge fan of WoW, but fascinated with the art, science, and ingenuity behind it, Strande tells us in an interview this month. I am very interested in this line of work, and I wanted to see first-hand if this is something I would like. It was the song I wrote that sparked the secret.

The song she wrote with Stafford and Duke is Amaras Wish, a lovely little phrase that you can hear in-game ifyou solve Amaras secret. Jeremy Feasel, Blizzards sometimes-twisted maestro of in-game puzzles, worked with Strande to create a hugely difficult sequence that centred on the music and offered the composition as part of the reward for its solution. The other reward, and a big part of how the secret unfolded, was based on her cat now available, as a chunky little kitty named Jenafur, to all who solve the puzzle as an in-game pet.

Jeremy and I brainstormed for about two hours on how to incorporate my song as not only part of the reward, but the solution too, Strande says. I chose the location Return to Karazhan [a WoW dungeon] because of the musical elements and because I simply love it. When Jeremy told me he was thinking of having a battle pet as the reward, I was reluctant at first because I dont pet-battle. But then it came to me: I could immortalise my cat! So Jenafur was my idea. Shes based on my real cat Jenny. You can hear my song in its entirety once the puzzle is solved. Jenafur also has a rare chance upon summon to play a shortened version, too.

This secret and the people involved pushed me to keep fighting. It gave me life during a time I felt hopeless

Amara Strande

Secrets are hardcore puzzles that Blizzard puts into World of Warcraft. Recent secrets have required figuring out the location of dozens of dun-colored, extremely ordinary pebbles around the world which had to be clicked in a particular order. Others have involved finding and reading clues, solving nearly endless mazes, playing a variety of in-game puzzle games and, almost always, traveling the length and breadth of Azeroth. Feasel and his team have been at the controls for most of them, and these days, a new one tends to drop every patch or so. They typically award mounts, pets, titles, and cosmetic items.

Solving these puzzles has become the pastime of millions of Warcraft players, spawning a Secret Finding Discord server in late 2016 where about 160,000 members do nothing but solve the next series of riddles. Its the largest Warcraft Discord server in existence, run by a dedicated volunteer staff. In September of last year, the equivalent of the Batsignal went up.

Before every game patch, various data mining is done to uncover information about what will be included in said patch, Super, administrator of the Secret Finding Discord, explains. Taking a look through the datamined info for patch 8.2.5, we noticed that new NPCs and objects were added into old zones this is often an indication of a new secret. When the patch dropped, a new NPC was quickly discovered, and it was confirmed a new secret was in the game.

Related: Check out the best MMOs on PC

The SFD cranked up to full speed, with members attempting to figure out exactly what the new character meant and what they should do next. Talking to the night elf triggered a line of dialogue, in which you promise to keep an eye out for her lost cat. That part was relatively easy, once a SFD member found the elf. Even the next steps werent hard. But then progress ground to a halt.

This was, by far, the longest secret to remain unsolved, Super says. This was due to multiple reasons for example, the lack of puzzle feedback, or it being impossible to brute force, with a near-infinite amount of possible combinations. After discovering and interacting with the NPC, a cat food bowl magically appeared on the other side of Azeroth, next to two small pieces of cat food, or kibble, on the floor. Drawing a line through the two kibble pieces and extending it caused it to overlap a dungeon known as Karazhan. This is where the final step of the puzzle took place. The first steps took around an hour to uncover. The latter took just under 12 months to solve.

When Asmongold, Taliesin, or Evitel, talked about me in videos, I was star-struck. When people created fan art, it brought me to tears

Amara Strande

Strande was there to watch as SFD members and other players tried hundreds of solutions and posted thousands of messages, trying to figure out what to do next. Clearly the cat was hungry. Dozens of new, interactable food items were placed throughout the dungeon. They found out about the existence of Amaras Wish, and figured the music might have something to do with the answers. But actually getting to the solution proved to be ridiculously difficult.

I wanted a really hard puzzle, Strande says. To be honest, watching the community struggle over Jenafur at times was hilarious. Often my family and I would gather in the living room, and I would read the best posts, quotes, theories, and memes of the day, and then we would just die laughing. Every time someone like [streamers] Asmongold, or Taliesin and Evitel, talked about me live or in a video, I would watch star-struck. When people created fan art, it brought me to tears.

Gradually, she began to release hints on the SFD, but only when it was obvious things had gotten stuck. When she ran out of ideas, she asked the developers for help, and together they settled on an idea: two final, significant hints. But only if the community could raise attention and funding for research on her cancer. Within days, the GoFundMe she created for Rockefeller Universitys research reached the first milestone of $5,000, and so earlier this month, she posted the first of the two clues:

Two piles of treatsSet the 4/4 beatThe rest of the stanzaIs lined up neatUpon the tilesYou place your notesEight morsels make the musicThat our musician wrote

The solution itself was an amalgamation of a bunch of old theories that had not worked out, Super explains. Some of these old theories were actually incredibly close to the actual solution, and it just needed a fresh pair of eyes to piece everything together.

Those fresh eyes came in the form of a guy named Paul, who didnt even play Warcraft.

Hey there, Im Paul, he says in his solution document. Im not a WoW player, in fact I dont play many video games at all these days, but I am into puzzle-solving. A friend of mine had been telling me off and on all about the difficulties the WoW community has had with this puzzle, and convinced me to take a crack at it. I think youll be pleased with what Ive put together here.

Read more: With Exiles Reach, WoW has never been easier tostart

The document goes through all the steps he took to figure out the last pieces of the puzzle, which were a pretty darned interesting combination of music, architecture, and kitty treats. And just like that, the mental battles that had lasted for more than a year were over. Strandes second clue, timed to $10,000 in donations, wasnt even needed though her fundraiseris still on its way there.

For her, the secrets solution is bittersweet.

I am sad because its been an amazing experience. When I chose to go to Blizzard for my Make-A-Wish, I never imagined any of this. The Jenafur puzzle gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world, she says. At the time, I was very sick, wasnt going to school, and had very little social interaction. This secret and the people involved pushed me to keep fighting. It gave me life during a time I felt hopeless.

Why am I not sad? Because I really wanted Jenafur to be solved and my message for pediatric, young adult, and Fibrolamellar cancers to be heard. I am also ready to move on. I have healed and grown so much over the last year. For the first time in years, I feel healthy, strong, and full of energy. I want to go out and live the life I put on hold. There is no cure for my cancer, and I live with the fact that it can always come back. But despite being chronically ill, I want to live beyond it. With Jenafur now solved, I feel as though a chapter of my life has ended and a new one has just begun. I am so excited to see whats next.

Excerpt from:
World of Warcrafts hardest puzzle, a Make-A-Wish teen, and her cat - PCGamesN

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