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Age of Sparta - Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for the Budding Warrior

Posted by Jennifer Allen on March 10th, 2015

Hail, brave warriors:
Are you still trying to decide if this is the kind of game for you? Check out our Age of Sparta review!

Just downloaded Age of Sparta and not sure what the best path to success and glory is? Don’t worry, we’ve got some handy tips and tricks on how to get there - and you can have fun while you’re doing it!


The Basics

  • Follow the Quests - It’s such a simple thing but they really do make a difference. Besides teaching you the basics, they’re a great way of gaining money and experience quickly. And you want to level up as fast as possible, especially early on.

  • Maximize your layout - The game likes to encourage you to place things quite randomly, but an organized layout helps a lot. You can save space, thereby saving you from buying extra land plots, plus a close knit layout works well with boosters.

  • Boosters, you say? - Yup, they’re incredibly useful. They’re decorative pieces but you can use them to increase the efficiency of nearby buildings. Their effects can stack, plus you can use one to cover many different buildings, providing you place things carefully.

  • Build plenty of income-gaining buildings - These include things such as wheat farms, vineyards, and other production based buildings. You can use the revenue you gain this way to train soldiers, as well as build more structures for ultimate profit.

  • Faith buildings are handy, too - They generate energy that you can then use in battle. Don’t forget those boosters, either!

  • Work towards level 10 as quickly as possible - You can join an alliance then, and backup is always handy!

  • As with many games of this type, you have a protective shield stopping PvP attacks early on. Take advantage of it by building up your city and resources while no one else can pick on you just yet.

The Witcher Battle Arena - Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Getting Ahead in Battle

Posted by Jennifer Allen on February 4th, 2015

Welcome to the arena:
Are you on the fence about jumping into battle in the first place? Check out our review of The Witcher Battle Arena!

Have you just downloaded The Witcher Battle Arena and have no idea where to start or what to do? I’m not surprised given its tutorial is far from helpful. But no worries: we’re here to give you some helpful tips and tricks on how to get ahead!

The Basics


  • Like so many free to play MOBAs, The Witcher Battle Arena gives you some characters for free before requiring you to unlock more for a price (in-game or otherwise).

  • Pick a character and stick with it. Each character has their own playing style, with different types suiting different players. Learn what works for you and stick with it.

  • Melee based fighters are generally the best choice when you’re learning early on, with ranged fighters being a bit trickier and requiring more practice.

  • Each character gains experience and items individually, which is another reason to focus on one or two at most.

  • You can gain experience and coins through playing the practice mode, giving you the perfect opportunity to build up your character before diving into the much harder PvP side of things.

  • Once you feel comfortable with practice mode, dip into co-op and learn what it's like to play alongside other players. Again, it'll earn you experience as you play.

  • Remember to equip new items. They come at a steady pace after each game, with gold also being useful to use during a match.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats on How to Take Out All the Candies

Posted by Jennifer Allen on December 10th, 2014

Got a Sweet Tooth?
All these strategies for crushing candy (and soda!) are all well and good, but what if you want to know if you should even bother with it in the first place? Fortunately that's precisely why we have a Candy Crush Soda Saga review for you!

Have you recently downloaded Candy Crush Soda Saga and are in need of some help? We’re here with some handy tips and tricks to get you out of a jam!


The Basics



It sounds a little obvious but remember - this isn’t Candy Crush Saga or any of the other Match-3 games you may have played. Candy Crush Soda Saga isn’t just about matching up anything and everything. All the levels have key objectives that you really need to focus on. Don’t be distracted.
  • The Bubble Bear stages require you to make the bubble bears float to the top. This is done by matching up soda bottles to make the soda level rise, thereby taking the bubble bears upwards.

  • Always focus on clearing soda bottles first.

  • When you can’t match up a soda bottle, focus on matching directly above the bubble bears to help them float to the top that bit faster.

  • It’s possible to have soda bottles float off the top of the screen. Don’t let them. Match them up before they get that far.

Agents of Storm: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to be the Strongest Out There

Posted by Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014

Calling all agents:
Would you like to see what we thought of this rather pretty base builder? Check out our Agents of Storm review!

Have you downloaded Agents of Storm, been bowled over by the graphics, and aren't quite sure what to do next? Never fear, for we’re here with some handy tips and tricks to help any beginner get started!

Diamonds Are Your Best Friend


  • Diamonds don’t come easily in this game, which is a shame because they’re very useful. For that reason, don’t use them early on. Encouraging you to do exactly that is a common thing with games like this, but resist. There’s just no point using them up to save you a minute of time, when later on they’ll be far more useful.
  • To boost your diamond supply, work towards the achievements that Agents of Storm likes you to complete. You’ll earn a few diamonds here and there for completing some fairly straightforward tasks.
  • You can watch videos for free diamonds, too. It’s a bit tedious, but it's handy when trying to earn more. You could always leave the video playing while doing something else away from your phone for those few seconds!

  • Put those diamonds towards the many enhancements in the shop. These can make all the difference. The Build Module reduces the cool down time between buildings, while Pagoda gives you experience just for being there. Waterfall gives you more gold from every attack you complete.
  • Focus on upgrading your resource gathering buildings for that very reason. Gold is particularly useful as it’s needed for attacking islands. As island attacks are your main source of progressing anywhere in the game, you want to focus on this.

Plunder Pirates: Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats to be the Greatest Pirate Out There

Posted by Jennifer Allen on September 19th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: JOLLY ADVENTURING :: Read Review »

Ahoy There, Seadogs:
Interested in knowing our thoughts on all this plundering and pirating? Check out our Plunder Pirates Review!

Have you just downloaded the rather enjoyable pirate-em-up Plunder Pirates and are in need of some assistance? Never fear, for we’re here with a few tips and tricks to make your early days as a bloodthirsty pirate a bit easier!

Starting Out


  • When you first start, you get the aid of a protective shield for the early moments of your pirating career. Take advantage of it! It won’t be there forever and it’ll cost precious gems to erect a new one. Don’t attack others during this time as your shield will drop.
  • Use that safe time to build up your resources. Grog and gold are everything in this game when it comes to getting anywhere.
  • The game is pretty generous at dishing out gems early on. Use that plentiful supply to hire a second builder to help you build more things at once.
  • Use the remaining gems to start saving towards a third builder. Don’t bother rushing production; it’s just not worth it. Be patient.

Civilization Revolution 2 - Tips, Tricks, Cheats, and Strategies to Help You Conquer the World

Posted by Blake Grundman on July 9th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: MORE REDUX THAN REVOLUTION :: Read Review »

Now that the sequel to the widely lauded Civilization Revolution is finally upon us, it seems high time to fill you all in on the best ways to lay siege to the world for a second time. But as any diehard Civilization fan already knows, the long and winding road to victory can be fraught with countless twists and turns. Hopefully, if you take a few of these hints to heart, you might be able to alleviate a few of those first devastating defeats.

Research Unlocks All Doors



No matter what the objective in the specific scenario being played, research will eventually be the key to success. Here are a trio of key research concepts to keep in mind as the battle progresses:

  • In many cases, the other civilizations on the map are slow to expand outward. Take advantage of that time to pour extra gathering units into pulling in as many research points as possible early on. You will reap the benefits as the eras advance.

  • Though the game does tout its ability to shift gears throughout the research trees, it is still best to put focus one specific area, with specific end goals in sight. Only after exhausting one avenue of advancement in an era is it really beneficial to branch out into other paths.

  • There are great late-game payouts for each research tree, so make sure to check out the flowchart and find the payouts that will best compliment your playstyle.

The Evolving Role of Cities



As mentioned before, early on it is best to pour the most resources into research. But as time progresses and more cities are added to the empire, the roles of each province should change.

  • When more settlements are added to the empire, don’t be afraid to move the production of battle or defensive units out towards the borders. Unless roads link the entire empire, transporting units towards the front lines become far more cumbersome than necessary.

  • It is best to use the more internally located cities as resource mines for pulling in additional research points. The benefits of these advancements can then flow outward, further powering expansion

  • As cities expand away from the capitol, don’t be afraid to change the production role of a city to better match its geographical location on the map. Try to think about what resources in the area are most beneficial to the whole of the country and if the location should be more focused on offense, or defending the core of the empire

  • Don’t feel the need to establish settlements as soon as settlers become available. There is nothing wrong with idling these units until a more suitable location is found. Under most circumstances, patience will lead to far more beneficial locations becoming available from either a resource gathering or tactical sense.

Tactics Evolved



Despite the game offering up to four different ways to win a match (cultural, economic, conquest, or scientific) it will be pretty much impossible to win without some form of moderate combat. When heading into battle, it may be best to keep the following things in mind:

  • Get rid of warriors as soon as possible. They are quasi-useful early on when grouped into armies of 3 units, but their effectiveness wanes quickly.

  • Evolve unit production along with technology. Don’t be afraid to move away from tried and true unit types you rode heavily (in the case of cavalry units, quite literally) early on in the campaign. All of the enemies will be doing the same, so don’t be the one bringing a catapult to a tank battle.

  • Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a unit or two if you don’t have any scouts available. There is nothing wrong with sending one of the worthless warriors you have hanging around to the slaughter if it means you will be able to get a read on the level of your opposition. Sometimes it is better to lose a level one troop instead of a mid-level army that could be more effectively used elsewhere. After all, warriors are much cheaper and quicker to produce than the disposable spy units.

  • Don’t forget to cover your back. Any city that doesn’t have at least one troop stationed within its borders is ripe for the conquering. This is essential to not lose sight of when in the throes of rapid expansion. An unprotected city is essentially like leaving the front door unlocked for anyone to walk in and claim for themselves.

  • As empires become less centralized, consider using roads as a way to 'hotlink' provinces for quickly transferring resources and troops. In the long run it can make the difference between victory and defeat.

Above all else, Civilization Revolution 2 will consistently provide a different experience for every single match. Don’t chain yourself to one specific play style, and you will ultimately be able to harvest far more hours of enjoyment than those intent on pigeonholing themselves into a gameplay corner. So get out there and explore; there's plenty more to learn and enjoy!

FTL: Faster Than Light - Basic Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Inevitably Doomed Captains

Posted by Rob Rich on May 5th, 2014
iPad App - Designed for iPad only
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PREPARE FOR JUMP :: Read Review »

If there’s one thing you need to know about FTL, it’s that it’s a fantastic game. A very close second thing you really need to know is that it’s about as unforgiving as that one extremely tough grade-school teacher that never gave anyone a break. Don’t play innocent, we’ve all had one.

So, while we here at 148Apps wholeheartedly endorse you rushing to the App Store to purchase FTL for your iPad immediately (seriously, go do it if you haven’t already), we also understand that you may have some trouble starting out. Or just in general. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips, tricks, and strategies to hopefully keep your ship and your crew functioning that much longer. Due to the random nature of sector layouts, encounters, and shop inventories there’s no way to guarantee success, but we’re certainly going to do our best for you.

148Apps is Looking for News and Review Writers - Grab Your Hat, Find a Ring, and Throw

Posted by Rob Rich on April 23rd, 2014

Looks like it's that time again. We've finished draining the nutritious goo from our victi-I mean we're looking for more writers!

So if you love you some iPods, iPads, and iPhones, and have access to up-to-date iOS hardware (and have a knack for this whole “writing” thing), give us a shout. We’re currently looking for reviewers and news writers to bring aboard.

Potential reviewers should be able to cut a swath through apps and games (that’s right, apps and games; you have to be up for both) without breaking a sweat, be able to critically analyze their subjects, and express themselves well and with authority. They should also be willing and able to edit their own posts and upload their own screen shots so that their work is ready for publishing as soon as they hand it in. But most of all we’re looking for someone who can manage to pull all of that off and keep things fun and interesting.

Potential newsies need to be able to turn out articles quickly and with regularity. They should have a knack for spotting the important bits in each story, getting the information out accurately, linking to sources, and be able to do it all without reading like an official press release. News writer hopefuls should also note that this position requires adherence to a set schedule, and during this time they’ll be collaborating with us directly on coverage of the day’s events. Otherwise how could we stay on top of everything?

If you think you’ve got what it takes for either of these positions, here’s our list of Musts:

- have an iPhone 5, iPad (2, mini, or later) or iPod touch (5th gen or later) and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread
- have a general knowledge of and interest in the iOS community
- can write at a higher than average level, like what you might see in a magazine or newspaper
- have some familiarity with WordPress or similar CMS platform
- reviewers: have the time to write and post at least three reviews a week
- newsies: churn out 4 to 5 news items per day and adhere to a weekly early morning schedule starting around 6am or 7am Pacific, Mon. through Fri.
- must be 18 years of age or older


What do you get? Writing for 148Apps gets you exposure. With millions of eyes reading your posts, that’s a lot of exposure to be had. You also get some money, per post, at a competitive rate. That’s not bad, right? We do ask that you only apply if you can keep up a regular posting frequency. While this isn’t a full time job, it’s not a once-in-a-while hobby, either. Our best writers are the ones that can keep the same quality output coming week after week.

If you think this is something you might be interested it, take a quick read of our review style and send us three of your best clips. These are the best portfolio works of review writing you’ve done. The closer to an app review your clips are, the better chance we’ll have of understanding your style. Don’t have any written samples? Write one up! Pick your favorite app or two and write up a 300 – 500 word review, with proper spelling and grammar, and email it to helpwanted {at} 148apps {dot} com. We look forward to hearing from you, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Image Credit: TechnaBob

Monument Valley: Tips and Playthrough Video for the Baffling Puzzler

Posted by Carter Dotson on April 3rd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SKIN-DEEP BEAUTY :: Read Review »

Monument Valley can be a confusing game at first glance: its worlds are built to mess with players' perceptions of them. However, by keeping a few good tips in mind, it's possible to master Monument Valley. And if not - we have playthrough videos of the entire game to help you out.

The trick the game pulls, similar to an M.C. Escher painting, is that real-world perspective is essentially useless. Mainly, if a place looks like it can be traveled to, then it can. So when manipulating objects, don't consider their absolute position, consider where they are relative to Ida. This is often the key to many puzzles: moving an object in one spot where according to its perspective, Ida can reach it, then moving it with Ida on the object, to where she needs to go. This is the backbone to the majority of the game's puzzles.

Remember that the key rule to interacting with Ida is that she can only move where you can see her, so if a path is hidden to you, it's likely that it is not the right path - at least for this perspective. Maybe a quick rotation will do the trick? Don't be afraid to experiment - there's no way to die or otherwise fail at the game.

If a location can be traveled to, it will illuminate with a circle around it. This doesn't mean that Ida will travel to it, just that it's actually possible to go there. This is worth keeping in mind if one gets stuck.

The crows can be tricky, but it's often just a matter of timing to get out of their way to let them pass. Remember that objects can be moved while the crows are on them. Ida is the only character in the game who can cause parts of the level to be non-manipulatable. If the mechanism doesn't change into an unworkable state (the handles on cranks will retract if Ida is on their manipulatable portions) then it can be manipulated.

Keep these tips in mind, and the world of Monument Valley can be explored in all its glory.

How To: Set Up and Use iCloud Keychain on iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 27th, 2013

One of iOS 7's new features is the iCloud Keychain. What this allows is for passwords and credit cards stored in AutoFill to be shared between iOS devices and Safari on Mavericks so that you can easily retrieve them without needing to type them in again. It is also engineered to protect your data through an additional security key and two-factor authentication. Here's how to set it up, use it, and protect yourself.

iCloud Keychain can be set up when setting up a new device, when updating to a new iOS version, or from the iCloud menu in Settings. When setting up for the first time you'll be asked if you want to enable iCloud Keychain and to create a security code. By creating a security code, this will store the data in iCloud; if you don't create one it will still allow for data to be shared between devices, but it will not be stored in iCloud and you will need to authenticate a new device from another device with iCloud Keychain enabled on it. Authenticating from another device requires putting in the password to the iCloud account and choosing "Allow" on the dialog that appears.

To save a password or credit card to iCloud Keychain, just log in to a site or use a credit card in Safari. A dialog will pop up asking if you wish to save to the iCloud Keychain. Now, when you try to use a saved login or credit card from another device, Safari can automatically fill it in no matter where it was originally saved from.

It's important while using iCloud Keychain to have a passcode of some sort on your device. This treats you physically using your device as secure, so make sure that there's a security mechanism in place to ensure that your device is being used only by yourself or someone you trust. Otherwise someone can easily get access to your passwords and credit cards just by having your unprotected device.

What the security code for iCloud Keychain does is make it simple to sign in to the iCloud Keychain from a new device without needing to log in on that other device. This is a separate code or password from your login passcode, though it can be the same.

By default iCloud Keychain will prompt for a four-digit security key, though it's possible to either have an advanced security key that can contain letters and numbers, and/or one that is randomly-generated for complexity. If you forget this key, then you can use a second device in order to approve it. It also provides security so that even if someone compromises your iCloud account and wants to set up iCloud Keychain, they still can't get into your data unless they know the second password or if they have another device of yours that they also know the password to.

If you disable iCloud Keychain on a device by disabling it from the iCloud Settings, you can prompt to save the AutoFill data locally or erase it.

Hopefully this demystifies this very useful feature!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and Enemy Within) - Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats For Beginner Commanders

Posted by Rob Rich on November 17th, 2013

Update: 11/13/2014
Since they're technically the same game, I've added tips for Enemy Within to our pre-existing guide for Enemy Unknown. All of the Enemy Within tips can be found towards the bottom of each category, and are denoted with a bullet point. You can also check out our Enemy Within review right here.

The X-Com series, particularly the earlier games, are notoriously unforgiving. Although while XCOM: Enemy Unknown has been modernized, and is therefore more player friendly, it’s no slouch either. In fact, even on the Normal difficulty there’s a good chance you’re going to get creamed if you try to breeze through it. But all is not lost. If you find that you’re losing soldiers at an alarming rate or keep getting the project disbanded because a bunch of countries freak out and leave, we've got a few tips you might want to consider.

Planning Tips

Facilities are essential. Your manufacturing and research abilities, as well as your satellites, all require the proper facilities to operate. Completing a terror mission to earn five engineers could be a waste if you don’t have enough workshop space to use them. And that could lead to falling perilously behind in the early game arms race.

Research, research, research. Don't neglect your scientists! The technologies they can uncover after studying alien corpses and weaponry are essential to giving your soldiers a fighting chance. By the same token, don't be afraid to take aliens alive. Assuming you can do so with relative safety. It allows you to recover their weapons intact, which can then be equipped on your soldiers or sold for a tidy profit.

Don't ignore the Council. You might prefer to spend your money and resources on better armor and weapons, but if you don't get a few satellites in orbit and ignore the Council's requests you stand to lose immense amounts of funding. Plus you can flat out lose if too many countries abandon the project.

Check your stores often. Sometimes you'll acquire items you don't need for research or manufacturing, and these can be sold off in bulk for a decent price. The same goes for alien tech and specimens you've fully researched. So long as it isn't Ellerium or alien alloys there's a good chance you won't need it for the long haul.

Build smart. Most facilities belong to one of a few different categories, such as energy production or satellite use. Whenever two facilities belonging to the same category are next to each other either horizontally or vertically (i.e. uplink next to an uplink, etc) they both get a bonus. This is a very good thing.

Pay attention to your upgrades. You won’t necessarily have the chance to develop all of them, but many of the projects you can produce at the Forge (once it’s available) can make a huge difference.

Consider holding off on major tasks. Despite all the open-endedness Enemy Unknown’s story does progress linearly. Every so often an urgent mission or task will appear, and once it’s completed the next phase of the story begins. While the alien forces will get more and more difficult to deal with over time, regardless of where you are in the story, there are benefits to keeping the plot in check. Namely it gives you the opportunity to research better equipment and gather more resources before the endgame.

  • Don't rush to build a Cybernetics Lab or a Genetics Lab right away. I know it'll be tempting to try out all those shiny new toys as soon as possible, but it will take you a while to collect enough Meld (the new alien substance you'll use to enhance your soldiers) for either one to be useful. You're better off focusing on keeping your squads well-equipped at the start - you can always build either (or both) structures later.

  • Both cybernetic and genetic augmentations take time, so plan accordingly. No matter if you're turning your soldiers into hulking death machines or enabling them to leap several stories into the air, you'll need to wait a few days - in addition to the upfront money and Meld costs, of course. You'll want to pace yourself so you don't end up with half (or more) of your best soldiers stuck in surgery or whatever when the aliens start a new terror campaign.

  • MECs don't use equipment. If you do ever turn a soldier into a MEC trooper, know that they won't be able to use any of their old equipment. If you plan to augment one or two of your soldiers and they happen to be using nice armor or weapons, you can pass them along to the others and save a few million bucks on production costs.


    Soldier Tips

    Pay close attention to soldiers' skills. Plan accordingly. Try to select skills that compliment each other, such as the heavy's Holo-Targeting (accuracy bonus to all squad members when firing on an enemy) and the sniper's Squad Sight (can target any enemy that other soldiers see, no matter the distance, so long as there's a clear path to the target).

    Consider having two or more of each elite class. It can take some effort but will be worth it. It enables you to create various soldiers with skills that are ideal for a variety of situations; such as a sniper that specializes in large, outdoor environments or an assault soldier ideal for cramped locations.

    Upgrade the barracks. Don’t forget about the Officer Training School. Many of the upgrades you can acquire can be a huge help throughout the game; especially the ones that increase the squad size. Check in every so often as more options become available as your soldiers gain higher ranks.

    Don't ignore the support class. Having a medic on the team can mean the difference between a favorite soldier spending a few days in the infirmary or getting their own epitaph. Plus their smoke grenades can really help out in a pinch.

    Sidearms can be your best friend. Pistols may not seem all that great at first, but they can mean the difference between life and death; especially plasma pistols. Make sure to give your most powerful handguns to your snipers as they can’t move and fire their rifle in the same turn unless they learn a specific perk. Otherwise, if you intend to move them at all, make sure they have rockin’ pistols. And make the effort to manufacture the pistol upgrades when you can, too. I’ve had my snipers take down enemies from quite a distance during their reaction shots using only a pistol on several occasions.

    You wanna live? Get a S.H.I.V. The S.H.I.V. is a small robotic vehicle, not unlike a human-sized tank. They’re no replacement for a battle-hardened soldier but with enough research and development they can be quite devastating. Plus they’re the perfect expendable solution to filling an injured soldier’s spot on the squad during a mission.

    Use the right armor. You might think it’s clever to put every single soldier in your squad into the most durable armor you can find, but it’s more likely to hinder them. For example, snipers shouldn’t be on the front lines, and therefore could benefit a lot more from armors that may not be super-tough but can help them reach the high ground easier.

  • Award medals to your soldiers as soon as you get them. Medals another of the new additions in Enemy Within, and you can use them to give your favorite soldiers a slight boost to various skills or attributes. Each medal can be assigned one of two permanent buffs (in other words, once you pick a medal's effect you won't be able to change it), so you'll also want to think about what will be best for the long haul rather than what might be handy in the moment.

  • No matter how cool it sounds, don't turn everybody into cyber soldiers. Sure MEC troopers are a force to be reckoned with, but they aren't as adaptable as regular or genetically modified soldiers. One or two MECs will probably be enough. And MEC suits are interchangeable, so even if you lose a cybernetic soldier you can still pass their rig onto someone else.

  • Autopsies lead to more modifications. As with the rest of your technology, the more types of aliens you autopsy the more gene and cyber mods you unlock. If you want to really dig into either of these new sub classes, make sure you don't dawdle when it comes to cutting those bodies open.

  • The Foundry can be a MEC trooper's best friend. In addition to a few new projects that benefit regular soldiers (such as giving everyone the ability to carry two items), there are quite a few that are specifically tailored for MEC troops. Things like improved armor durability and movement. Make sure you check these projects out if you're serious about cybernetics.

  • Converted MEC troopers keep their ranks. This is important because, just like regular soldiers, higher ranks means more skills. If you convert a high-ranking soldier into a MEC trooper, you'll be able to access the same number of skills from the MEC skill tree. It gives you a bit of a head-start, as it were.

  • Both cyber and gene mods are irreversible. The game makes sure to tell you this, but it bears repeating: once you modify a soldier, you cannot go back. On a similar note, MEC troopers can never be genetically modified or vise-versa.


    Combat Tips

    Cars can, and will, explode. It seems obvious but I can't stress the importance of keeping an eye out for burning vehicles enough. Cars and trucks do provide decent cover, but once they catch fire it's only a matter of time until they blow. And you don't want your soldiers near them when that happens. So take a moment to see if the vehicle you plan to move to, or are currently hiding behind, is a ticking time bomb before you make a move.

    Don't take unnecessary risks. It's often better to miss out on alien tech than to lose a skilled soldier. Take it slow and don't spread out too much. If a soldier encounters an alien squad and no one can reach them within a turn or two, they could be in serious trouble. Splitting up into groups of two or three is usually the best way to go. At least until your soldiers reach the higher ranks.

    Head for the high ground. Everyone, soldiers and aliens alike, benefits from a higher elevation. The higher up you are, the better your accuracy and the worse your enemy’s is. It’s not worth taking unnecessary risks to get to the top of a building or anything like that, but if you have the chance to take a higher vantage point then do it.

    Never, ever, ever, ever, blindly rush in to a room. It doesn't matter if it's a UFO, base, regular mission, or terror site. It's a sure-fire way to get vaporized. Approach with caution instead. Get at least two soldiers into good positions, preferably with one next to a door or window, and go into Overwatch. Then carefully open the door or peek in on your next turn.

    Approach all newly encountered alien species with extreme caution. At least until you know what they're capable of, and especially if you’re new to X-Com. What looks like a pushover could quite possibly decimate your entire squad if given enough of an opportunity. Just assume every new life form you encounter is the most dangerous creature you’re ever going to face and you should be all right.

    Take ‘em alive. It’s not always feasible, or worth the risk, but when you can you should try to capture an alien or two alive. Not only can their interrogation lead to new research opportunities, you’ll be able to recover their weapons intact which could save you a fortune in engineering costs.

    Push forward at the beginning of your turn, not the end. When you move ahead into unknown territory you always run the risk of encountering a squad of aliens. Believe me, it’s much better to discover them after only moving one or two soldiers than all of them. It leaves the entire squad incredibly vulnerable, especially in the later levels.

    Keep Chryssalids as far away as possible at all times. You’ll typically see these spider-like aliens during terror missions but they can (and will) appear elsewhere. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Trust me.

    Surprise attacks are possible. While the aliens are definitely at an advantage most of the time, they aren’t omnipotent. Use this to lure them into a trap on occasion. If your soldiers can’t see them, they can’t see your soldiers, so it’s possible to set a few up in key locations and use one of your own as a decoy to draw them into range.

    Don’t underestimate Sectoids. Sectoids are the most “normal” of Enemy Unknown’s, and possibly the most common. However, while they aren’t particularly durable they can use their telepathic abilities to strengthen their comrades. However, if you kill a Sectoid while its mind is merged with another alien both will die. Keep that in mind.

  • Pick augmentations that suit a soldier's class. Most of the genetic modifications you can research are useful in a variety of situations, but some are far more tailored to certain types of solders than others. For example, giving your sniper the ability to jump super-high will make it much easier for them to reach the high ground in a hurry. The modification that prevents poison and strangling is also great for snipers as they tend to hang back in combat, which leaves them susceptible to the new Seeker enemies (think robotic flying stealth squids). Similarly, it's most beneficial to give your scouts (typically Assault or Support classes) mods that allow them to 'sense' enemies that are still hidden.

  • MEC troopers are not invincible. Oh sure they're more durable than regular soldiers but they're also bigger targets and they can't use cover. Until you've got a high-ranking soldier using a second or third tier MEC suit, you'll want to avoid using them as walking, talking shields.

  • Try to use two MEC troopers, one with each kind of secondary weapon. The flamethrower can be monstrously effective against Chryssalids, especially when they group up, but it has a very limited number of uses during a mission and the lack of range makes it a poor choice against targets with guns. Foundry upgrades can make it more formidable, though. Conversely, the pneumatic fist (I don't care what it's actually called, that's what I've dubbed it) has absolutely no range. However, it can one-shot most small enemies and may even knock them several feet through a wall. It can also be a very effective (and cool looking) way to finish off larger enemies like Berserkers and the new Mechtoid.

  • Play around with new types of equipment when you can. Enemy Within also sports a number of new secondary items for your soldiers to carry into battle such as grenades that can stun your enemies temporarily and special ammo that deals significant amounts of damage but isn't useful over long distances. There's no reason you shouldn't try most (or all) of these new toys out - especially once all of your soldiers can carry two items apiece.

  • Do NOT investigate the fishing village. Trust me.


    The Most Important Thing

    Be prepared to lose. A lot. Newcomers, especially. XCom is a fair game, but it's also fairly unforgiving. A few wrong decisions early on could create a ripple effect that totally undermines your progress later (see previous tips about selling gear and tending to the Council). Depending on the difficulty and options selected you could also lose a beloved soldier in a flash thanks to one silly mistake. Avoiding these situations is incredibly difficult, but learning from them doesn't have to be.


    If you’ve got your own tips and strategies you’d like to recommend feel free to chime in below. With the odds stacked so firmly against us, We'll need whatever help we can get.

  • Help, I'm Lost on Taris: Learning the Ins and Outs of Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic

    Posted by Carter Dotson on May 30th, 2013
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: JEDI MASTER :: Read Review »

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a huge game. Especially when starting out, you will get lost. Here's some tips to help you out on your way early on.

    Choose wisely, padawan.

    Choosing a class and starting attributes without having ever gotten to play the game is rough, because it really takes getting in to the game and playing it a lot to realize just what is possible, and the path you might want to take with your characters.

    If you're the type that prefers beating people down and being the tank, then the Soldier class is for you. Scoundrels are best at most non-combat abilities like Persuasion and Security, meaning Jedi mind tricks and breaking in to doors. Scouts provide a balance between the two. However, there's two things to consider when choosing a class early on: one, it's possible to travel with a party of three, so even if one play style is preferred, it's possible to have party members fill a different but useful role. Two, the main character is always gonna be there, and there's certain skills like Persuasion that only they can really use. So, why not have them focus on that? Use the wookiee to beat stuff up.

    Focus, you must.

    Jack of all trades, master of none. That saying is a warning in KotOR. You're going to get the best effects and stat bonuses by choosing to focus on particular paths, whether it be a certain set of combat skills, or going down the Dark or Light Side path. Have a plan and stick to it and you'll get the best results. Again, if you're worried about any deficiencies, remember that you have three party members and can control any individual character, so you can cover most any area of expertise at any time if your party is set up accordingly.

    Blow it up like Alderaan.

    Your first playthrough is going to be one giant mass of confusion. Taris, the first planet, is big and confusing and you will get lost often. Plus, you won't quite know what everything in and out of combat is until you experience it in the game.

    By the time you're ready to leave Taris, you've gotten to experience the gist of the game's elements, so this is time to make a decision: do you want to keep going with your selected main character? Don't be afraid to start anew at this point. It will take significantly less time to get back to where you started, and odds are, you'll be far more satisfied with the results. And if not, hey, there's multiple save slots for a reason. Use them!

    Exploit the game like the Death Star's exhaust port!

    Need a quick heal? If you can warp out the area on the map screen, you can get healed instantly and for free. And unlike on the Xbox, loading is so brief that you'll save yourself thousands of credits on medpacks.

    If you have a tough Persuasion roll, know that some characters can be re-rolled by going through the conversation again. This doesn't always work, but consider it. Just quicksave before making any important decisions.

    The structure of the game isn't perfect - you'll discover the gaps and how to take advantage of them as time goes on.

    Google is more powerful than the Force

    This is a console/PC game from 2003 that's based on Dungeons and Dragons which is even older than that. There is a lot of info out there. Don't be afraid to use it if you're confused or get stuck. StrategyWiki's KOTOR guide has a fantastic database of numbers and information. IGN has a great guide with plenty of visual aids if you get stuck. GameFAQs can pretty much fill in the rest, because hey - it's GameFAQs and KotOR was originally released in the prime era of GameFAQs' existence.

    Have fun.

    Of course, part of the fun of KotOR is the ability to dig in and find a lot of this stuff out yourself. Don't just follow the guides. Experiment! The quicksave and multiple save slots are there for a reason. Explore! There's a lot to find, and when you discover it yourself, it's the most satisfying.


    [itmsapp: 611436052]

    How To: Enable Two-Step Verification on an Apple ID

    Posted by Carter Dotson on April 9th, 2013

    Apple is introducing a new way to protect the security of your iTunes account. It's called two-step verification, and while it does involve an extra step to log in, it will help make logging in to your Apple ID more secure and make it harder to break into through the use of a trusted device and a secret passkey.

    See, security questions are not entirely safe since it's possible for someone who wants illicit access to your account to get things like your mother's maiden name or first job. So instead, this presumes that a more capable form of security for your account is a physical device that you would have to own in order to get access to your account - this can be a trusted iOS device or any SMS-capable phone, though not a Google Voice account, along with a security key or one's password. It's unlikely that someone wanting access to your account from an untrusted source will have two of the three.

    Go to Apple's ID page, and log in with the Apple ID you want to set up two-step verification on. Go to the Password and Security section, and if it's available, choose to set it up. You will need to wait 3 days before you can complete the setup of your account. So bookmark this page and come back in 3 days!

    Welcome back, unless you stuck around to see what the steps are, then thanks for sticking around!

    Now, follow the various dialogs that appear. Apple will warn that once two-step is enabled, it can't be disabled, and that it will require at least two of the three necessary components.

    Then, Apple will require you to verify your trusted devices. Every device you choose to verify will have a verification code pushed to it, and you can independently verify your iPhone's phone number in case you change devices or switch to another OS. Not that you'd do such a thing.

    Then, Apple will give you your security key. This is one of the other necessary components to get back in to your account. You will need to securely store a copy of this key, by either writing it down, or printing out a copy somewhere. Apple will then make you enter the security key they just gave you.

    Apple will then give you one final warning before enabling two-step verification on your account.

    Congratulations! You've enabled two-step verification on your account. This will make it harder for unauthorized access into your account. You can disable two-factor from the Apple ID settings if you find it too much of a hassle, however.

    Great Free Resource to Shading in Paper by FiftyThree Released

    Posted by Jeff Scott on February 5th, 2013
    iPad App - Designed for iPad only
    Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: :: Read Review »

    Paper fan Bas van den Broek has created a creative commons licensed PDF with 54 pages of hints and tips on using Paper. Most of the pages of his Cheat Sheets PDF have to do with blending and coloring of drawings, there's plenty to learn here for any fan of the iPad app Paper. Grab the PDF at Bas' site, here.

    SOS to Friends in Case of Emergencies With HELP MY FRIEND

    Posted by Kevin Stout on June 1st, 2012
    iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

    Sometimes it's easy to forget the functions our smartphones can provide past entertainment. But I remember my first cellphone. The reason I received it when I was younger was for emergency situations. HELP MY FRIEND is an app that helps expand that emergency aid that an iPhone can provide.

    HELP MY FRIEND has users create an "SOS" of sorts for various situation (being attacked, car accident, diabetes situation, etc. Users setup those messages ahead of time and if an emergency occurs, users can easily send their prerecorded messages to as many friends and family as they'd like to receive emergency help. The messages send location data as well so close ones can get quick directions to wherever the person in danger is. The app also has one-tap calling for emergency services (police, fire, etc).

    Group E. F. C. is a three man team consisting of two accountants who came up with the idea for this emergency app and a programmer. The app is available for $0.99. It can't hurt to have an app like this just in case.