civilization revolution – iphone

so if you’re wondering, should i check out the civ rev lite for the iphone, the answer undoubtedly is YES. you’ll play it for about 3 hours before you decide to purchase the full iphone game which is currently about 7 dollars and its a steal even at that price. i myself am a sid meier sim city fiend from way back in the day and really fully enjoy a strategy game that is so polished and addictive, its near perfect in every way.

so the iphone version, yeah the graphics aren’t the best but its simple and very usable and the core of the game comes shining thru. i’ve decided to post a few of my tips on how to play and win at this fantastic game.

1. units, cities and movement.

so this is easy – each unit has an attack rating and a defense rating. when you start out with a warrior unit, its attack and defense ratings are both set at 1. an archer unit however has a higher defense rating (3) and a relatively low attack rating. when moving your troops  always always always bring a strong defensive unit along with you to cover.

for example, you have a warrior unit or army, a legion unit or army, an archer unit AND an archer army. depending on whether or not the city you are defending  (probably your capital at first) is at risk of being attacked, you should take your archer army along with your warrior and legion when attacking another city, leaving your archer unit behind to cover your base. if there is a shot that the enemy may get to you from an alternate route, leave your archer army in your city and take just the unit along for the siege.


so there is an ‘experience’ system at work for units and armies. after defeating a comparable foe, your unit gets X number of experience points, fewer for defeating a much lesser foe and more for defeating a stronger opponent. if you hold off a legion army from your city with a single archer unit, they will gain much more experience and be eligible for an upgrade. now depending on what your current objective in the game is, combined with what type of unit it is should dictate the type of upgrade you go for.

if its an attacking unit (legion, warrior, horsemen, knights, catapult, etc) by far the most valuable upgrade is the infiltration upgrade (+100% attack on cities). this is always my first choice for stronger units as you’ll need a super powerful army to penetrate the archer, pikemen, riflemen or infantry armies that are defending.

the scout upgrade is also invaluable, allowing you to preview city attacks – basically whether or not its worth it to attempt an attack.

word of advise: if you have an attack rating of 12 with a veteran legion army and you scout that the defenders are an archer army with a defense rating also of 12, save yourself the effort and don’t attack. chances are you’re going to be slaughtered.

tips for a successful siege.

1. bring a spy or two, make sure to cover them with other units all the way to the city or they’ll be captured!

2. if the city is next to a hill, park ALL your units on said hill. its attack advantage is absolutely required most of the time.

3. scout the cities defense if possible, then attack with your strongest unit first. (they’ll be defending with the strongest defender)

4. block the roads. you can sit and attack for round after round after round, demolishing tons of enemy armies but if there is a road into town chances are they’re feeding troops to you from elsewhere to keep the city. park a strong defensive unit (pikeman army or archer) on the road and defend. cut those troops off!

5. bring at least a couple strong attack armies. (knights, catapults, cannons). its harder to take cities with just legions and warriors.

Excel Save CSV with double quotes

yes, i’m saving this snippet here because it actually works! just insert into the vba for excel, run and remember that it first asks for the source of the file to run the code on, and NOT to output the current file as ‘save as’. get it? good.

Sub CSVFile()

Dim SrcRg As Range
Dim CurrRow As Range
Dim CurrCell As Range
Dim CurrTextStr As String
Dim ListSep As String
Dim FName As Variant
FName = Application.GetSaveAsFilename(“”, “CSV File (*.csv), *.csv”)

If FName <> False Then
ListSep = Application.International(xlListSeparator)
If Selection.Cells.Count > 1 Then
Set SrcRg = Selection
Set SrcRg = ActiveSheet.UsedRange
End If
Open FName For Output As #1
For Each CurrRow In SrcRg.Rows
CurrTextStr = “”
For Each CurrCell In CurrRow.Cells
CurrTextStr = CurrTextStr & “””” & CurrCell.Value & “””” & ListSep
While Right(CurrTextStr, 1) = ListSep
CurrTextStr = Left(CurrTextStr, Len(CurrTextStr) – 1)
Print #1, CurrTextStr
Close #1
End If
End Sub

that moose has huge balls…

of course, i speak of mac – the venerable moose mascot that stands just north of the tim hortons on thatcher in my home town of moose jaw. mom jokingly previewed the moose’s abundant concrete testicles to mandy, and so we just had to go check him (them) out while there. despite the gale force winds that swept across the prairie that day, it was a successful trip to say the least. the kids cameron and abby ran wildly around the moose pretending to be swept away by the gusts that really just annoyed the rest of us. they had fun…

the trip – i have to admit – was by far the best trip home i have had. mom and gord (poppa)’s house is comfortable and inviting and despite having never been to visit mom in her new home, it felt just like home anyway. well, upgrade mom’s old crappy tv with a big screen surround sound, a media center and an xbox 360, it was just like it should have been.

the journey there was fun: me, driving and being fed timbits by the dozen by my trusty navigator mandy ( who really didn’t care if we got lost ), rachel ( who was awake for about 13 minutes of the 16 hour drive there), lily (who tried to wake rachel when she wasn’t napping herself) and cameron and abby who entertained themselves with hours of pictochat on thier nintendos and stuffing thier faces silly with the cooler of snacks that lay between them. while the kids took a morning nap on the second day, we stopped for a quick break outside of fernie that was absolutely breath-taking and spotted what mandy is convinced was an elk but i’m pretty sure it was a deer about 1/4 mile away in a clearing. that was the first of many deers, foxes, elk, horses, cows, bison, emus, llamas and other creatures along the way we spotted. i’m pretty sure the kids were sick of hearing ‘look kids, cows!’ by the 3rd hour of alberta.

nonetheless we made it to nanna’s house on time and were greeted with a fridge full of my favorite beer and a warm rodo’s pizza, as thick as your neck and as greasy as a frenchman. we spent the first few days catching up with mom as gord was visiting his father in ontario for the weekend. it was nice to have her all to ourselves i have to say and i think she enjoyed the chaos of chasing around 3 kids (plus rachel who also did alot of chasing herself when she wasnt’ playing assassins creed or napping).

i miss the little things about home. i miss the smell of the air before a big storm. i miss the deafening silence of the prarie sitting in a car at the side of the road at night. i miss the assortment of snacks (and yes mandy we’ll get you the box of bounty bars shipped in ASAP). i miss sitting around a fire and talking about really nothing at all.  but mostly i miss the most important things:  cameron spending even just a little time with his (great) uncle mitch. zipping around buffalo pound in his ailing golf cart for the thrill of cam and abby. mitch silencing camerons cries after getting bumped in the noggin with an offer to ‘go kill a woodpecker with this slingshot?’. priceless lessons… i will miss watching lily dote and incessently flirt with her uncle dustin – truly i’ve never seen her put on a show like she does for my brother. she’ll plop herself down in front of him, staring at him, smiling at him, making sure she is the center of his attention until he gives it to her, which only encourages her more. and little ben, getting to meet him for the first time was so great. he’s so chubby and cute, so quiet and expressive and he’s got such an adorable toothy smile that just makes me want to grab his little cheeks and never let go.

a week was definitely not enough. (although mom might say otherwise – i’m pretty sure she slept for 2 days after we left). sleeping in while nanna whips up a breakfast for the kids and keeps them entertained. mandy would rise early too and would sit out in the backyard with nanna, drinking coffee and chatting like a couple old ladies lol. after everyone was adequately bathed (the shower broke before we got there), we’d head out for our days adventure. to the beach, to the mall, to the tunnels of moose jaw. on the grand regina tour where we drove by just about every significant landmark of my childhood. we even stopped at my old elementary school and let the kids play while i sneaked a peek in the windows of my old classroom. then by thom collegiate, and finally by the university. our house on mclean st. the gibbs on stewart (and sheldons and cunninghams and goulds). pat and carls place on mcgillivray. a whirlwind tour to be sure but it was great and i needed it. for posterity, mandy’s camera snapped happily at every post and back alley, every house and school, every building that we passed that i mentioned.

this was also the first canada day i’d spend in canada in some 13 years, which was special to me. we went down to wakamow, surrounded by moose-jawians adorned in red and white, eating hotdogs and shaved ice. the kids jumping on huge inflatable hamburgers and forts. mandy searching for 4 leaf clovers in the park while gord tried patiently to get lily to cross the bouncy bridge on the play structure. then, a fantastic meal at the burger cabin made especially comfy by the fenced park/eating area complete with swings and play cars for the tykes, and a nice view of the river next to us. we never did make it back to the cabin during our trip but its definitely on the agenda for next year…

at dusk a day or so later, the familiar dark clouds began to roll in and the air gets sweet with the smell of rain. flashes of lightening flicker in the distance and its the perfect time to go watch the storm. gord draws a quick map and mandy and i hit the road. out on hwy 363 we make our way to the top of the largest hill outside the city, where you can see the flickering lights of moose jaw perfectly. and in the distance surrounding the city, a singular black cloud, darkening the picturesque horizon. the radio warns us of possible ‘tornadic activity’ but the amazing forked blasts of lightening that i haven’t seen in such a long time make me want to stay. mandy gets quiet and pensively suggests that we return to the city, which we do – probably the smart thing when the radio is suggesting people get inside thier homes and go to the basement as nickle-sized hail is approaching with this massive storm front. it rained a bit on our way back but that night we never actually got the storm, which veered off after midnight much to our dismay.

the week flew by, so quick that even though we ran out of things to do, i could have spent so much more time there just doing nothing more than hanging out at mitch’s cabin watching movies, going fishing, hanging out with my buds james and mike again, or doing nothing at all. maybe next year we’ll take 2 full weeks…all in all it was exactly what a vacation should be. time with family and friends, reconnecting and making sure that despite the old saying, sometimes, you can go home again 🙂

homeward bound

after a lengthy hiatus, i’ve finally booked a trip back home to canada to visit my family. it has been over 3 years since i’ve made the long journey from seattle to moose jaw and i’m looking forward to it- bigtime! the long drive is planned for the end of june, with vacations already approved and suitcases being dusted, i look forward to lily’s first time in canada to meet her extended canuck clansmen.

a trip home means adjusting from the frantic life of the city to the slower, more comfortable pace of a small town. it is very much a welcome change, although it always seems to be laced with a great reluctance to return to ‘reality’. thank god its the summer though – not sure i could stand -40 degree temps anymore…

i’m actually looking forward to the drive, oddly enough. there’s something eerily soothing about driving till your eyes are blurry, especially across the flatness and huge skies of the canadian prairies. maybe i’ll find some peace at a road side pull-off whilst the kids pee.

i figure i’m long overdue for a break. my vacation time at work is all banked up and i’m honestly ready to go now. thanks to facebook i’ve already re-established contact with at least a half- dozen people that i knew in my younger days, still in regina or moose jaw, and thirsty to sit down and catch up. my mom (newly married jamaican style), will be throwing a little bbq/reception to celebrate that occasion which i’m joyously anticipating. not to mention, we’ll be there for canada day to boot, eh.