Spring Movie League – Who is Laughing Meow?

Week eight of our Spring Fantasy Movie League saw a surprise that was no surprise at all I guess.

Well, it was no surprise if you believed my post from last week where I was declaring for Super Troopers 2.  The lineup for the week looked like this:

 A Quiet Place            $361
 Rampage                  $258
 I Feel Pretty            $251
 Truth or Dare            $126
 Blockers                 $98
 Ready Player One         $95
 Super Troopers 2         $84
 Black Panther            $72
 Traffik                  $68
 Isle of Dogs             $47
 I Can Only Imagine       $33
 Tyler Perry's Acrimony   $26
 Chappaquiddick           $25
 The Miracle Season       $19
 Sherlock Gnomes          $18

On Monday night when I wrote my post the long range forecast for ST2 was just $5 million, but that felt like too little even then.  I started my estimates thinking that maybe $7 million would be a more likely number.

And as the week moved along each new estimate that came out seemed to move higher and higher, capping on Thursday with Box Office Report calling the film at $11.8 million over the weekend.

Meanwhile I Feel Pretty didn’t seem to be getting much love, hovering around $15-17 million in the estimates.  Not a bad number, but not something that would top the week.  It could, however, be a film to consider since it still seemed likely to be worth more in your lineup than ST2.

On Tuesday I thought I was being clever and going with 1x A Quiet Place and 7x Super Troopers 2.  It seemed like a bit of a risk, but being back in the pack I figured I should go all in on ST2 in case it went big.

Clever on Tuesday seemed pretty obvious on Thursday, and when the preview numbers came out on Friday morning, with ST2 pulling in $1.35 million to I Feel Pretty’s $1 million, anybody on the fence knew which way to jump.  It wasn’t exactly like the opening week for Baby Driver last summer, but it was reminiscent.

Spring Week Eight – My Picks

My clever pick became the most popular pick, with 402 of the Top 500 cineplexes going with my lineup.  Six of Seven people in the MCats League went with that pick, as did three people in the TAGN League.  And outside of that, the weekly summary email from FML said that a lot of other people played that pick.

Dude, we hit a record this week. 2367 played the same thing! That’s the most since, like… ever. EVER! Do you understand that?!?!?! Ever! I don’t think you’re getting this. Like, there’s NEVER been a Cineplex more played than “A Quiet Place” x1/”Super Troopers 2″ x7.

I was so clever I was in the biggest pick pack ever.

But with the first weekend estimates on Saturday, that lineup was the perfect pick, a position it held onto with the Sunday estimates.  And it was still the perfect pick when the final numbers came in Monday afternoon.

Spring Week Eight – Perfect Pick

People who hedged their bets with some films expected to do better, like Truth or Dare, ended up disappointed as Super Troopers 2 exceeded even some of the crazy optimistic estimates to rake in $15.18 million.  With the $2 million per screen best performer bonus, a screen of Super Troopers 2 was worth more than a screen of I Feel Pretty, which managed just over $16 million for the weekend.  It was the fourth best performer for the weekend.

Basically, the more screens of ST2 you had, the better you did.  That was the one and only filler worth having so the choice, as I said last week, was one of anchors.  The problem was that to max our ST2 you really only had one anchor choice, A Quiet Place.

Theoretically Rampage could have been the pick.  It came in close to AQP.  The problem was that it was priced low enough that it left too much money on the table, so people felt the need to spend that.  So people who went with Rampage tended to have two screens of that which left room for only 5x ST2 and a lesser filler.  You didn’t get killed if you went that route, but you were out of the running for first.

Anyway, the dominance of Super Troopers 2 left the Meta League looking like this:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $146,183,177
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $146,183,177
  3. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $146,183,177
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $146,183,177
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $146,183,177
  6. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $146,183,177
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $146,183,177
  8. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $146,183,177
  9. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $136,301,586
  10. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $131,794,978
  11. Kraut Screens (T) – $131,794,978
  12. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $130,977,463
  13. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $129,558,341
  14. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $129,558,341
  15. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $129,558,341
  16. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $122,901,183
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $112,201,065
  18. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $109,221,138
  19. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $72,339,442
  20. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $62,043,617
  21. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $61,755,838
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $44,881,286

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

And there we have it, an 8-way tie for first place.  One of those weeks.  The new tie breaker method was used to pick who won the week.  With the Sunday estimates I was in 15th place on that front and winning both leagues, but come the final numbers I fell back about 500 places overall and dropped to second in both of our leagues.  Oh well.

For everybody else, the more screens of ST2 you went with, the higher up you were, with the bottom three places reserved for those who went with no screens of this week’s darling.

That left the season scores looking like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $833,745,375
  2. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $812,394,881
  3. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $809,835,649
  4. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $778,714,154
  5. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $769,894,194
  6. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $768,763,971
  7. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $768,563,492
  8. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $765,333,153
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $760,264,576
  10. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $759,971,281
  11. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $751,335,800
  12. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $688,020,548
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $668,667,883
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $654,906,795
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $644,572,684
  16. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $628,561,108
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $624,541,265
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $600,543,549
  19. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $596,083,240
  20. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $572,686,075
  21. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $557,869,887
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $459,291,113

Not a lot of change at the top half of the list.  Ben pulled a little further away from Po, while Biyondios closed in on second place.  After that is Corr and then a whole group of us who could end up in fifth position, we’re all so close in score.

The bottom half of the list though… as I said, if you didn’t pick any screens of Super Troopers 2 then you suffered.  Ride the wave or get swamped.

So there we are.  But the age of Super Troopers 2 is over.  It was a crowd-funded, front loaded run, with half of its weekend revenue coming from Thursday night previews (which featured a number of Super Troopers & Super Troopers 2 double features) and the Friday night box office.  I expect it will fade more than 50% week over week along with the usual price punishment that run-away best performers tend to get.

Instead, this week is all about the Marvel universe, with Avengers: Infinity Wars, a film that ropes in what feels like every member of said universe that has a big screen success in one of the most expensive films ever produced.  So it will be on a lot of screens.  The price list for week nine looks like this:

Avengers FRI       $620
Avengers SAT       $411
Avengers SUN       $334
A Quiet Place      $70
Rampage            $55
I Feel Pretty      $47 
Super Troopers 2   $33
Black Panther      $32
Truth or Dare      $21
Blockers           $21
Ready Player One   $21
Isle of Dogs       $13
Traffik            $11
I Can Only Imagine $8
Chappaquiddick     $6

Avengers: Infinity Wars is the only new film on the list, but it is expected to do something in the neighborhood of $250 million over the three day weekend, so it is split into three, pushing Tyler Perry’s Acrimony , The Miracle Season, and Sherlock Gnomes off the list this week.  I won’t miss the gnomes, they under performed every time I picked them.

So this week we’re back to the anchors being the most important aspect of your line up.  With as much as $250 million on the line you want as much Avengers as you can get, which pretty much means going with Friday/Sunday or Saturday/Saturday as your anchors.  To my mind any other pick leaves too much on the table.

When it comes to filler, you can make either of those picks without leaving an empty screen as due to the scale of Avengers this week everything else fades into insignificance.  We have a $6 option this week with Chappaquiddick, so there should be no empty screens.

But also means that all but maybe the bottom four filler options are off the table as well.  I guess I could come up with a scenario where picking A Quiet Place would be worth a couple empty screens, but I need to think hard on that.

Anyway, another week another puzzle to solve.  We’ll see if 2,367 people get it dead on again this week.

Daybreak Has Always Been Owned by Eastasia

In a bit of a futile effort somebody at Daybreak Game Company is attempting to either edit history or cover up a serious mistake.

That eye is, and always has been, Jason Epstein’s

As we know, back in 2015 Sony Online Entertainment was purchased by an investment group called Columbus Nova.  We know this because that is exactly what SOE told us, both in press releases as well in messages to the community.  Both John Smedley and Jason Epstein specifically mention Columbus Nova and having SOE join their portfolio.

People dug into just who the hell Columbus Nova was, finding out that it was owned by Renova, which in turn was owned by Russian Viktor Vekselberg.

This comes into play, as reported over at Massively OP, because of sanctions being imposed on certain key Russians, Viktor included.

So the question came up as to what happens to Daybreak.  Since Daybreak is setup as an LLC, probably nothing in the short term, no matter who owns it.  If the government seizes it they will likely resell it.

Daybreak seems to have gone paranoid on the question though.  When asked for a statement by Massively, Daybreak said:

Daybreak Game Company has no affiliation with Columbus Nova. Jason Epstein, former member of Columbus Nova, is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) which he acquired from Sony in February 2015.

When prodded about the fact that this flew in the face of everything we knew up until now, Daybreak followed up again stating that everything that they said about Columbus Nova in the past was wrong and that Jason Epstein himself bought SOE and has owned it himself ever since.

Meanwhile, somebody at Daybreak has been trying to clean up, fixing their Wikipedia article to correct an error with a very specific notation, “Removing inaccuracies. The company has no affiliation to Columbus Nova. Jason Epstein is and has always been the primary owner and executive of Daybreak Game Company.”  This started on April 6, 2018, more than three years after the acquisition.

So, somehow for the last three years nobody at Daybreak bothered to correct this mistaken belief that they had been acquired by Columbus Nova, even when opportunities arose, like when Russel Shanks left and Ji Ham of Columbus Nova took over the reigns as president of the company.  Then, suddenly, when sanctions might be an issue the company suddenly remembers that Columbus Nova was never even part of the deal, as though a company and the person they claimed purchased it would make such an error of material fact and neither notice nor correct it for more than three years?

Sounds like horse shit to me,

Anyway, I thought I ought to put a pin on the date that Daybreak inadvertently started drawing attention to itself by coming up with an odd retroactive tale about its acquisition.

Meanwhile Massively OP continues to update the story as new facts hove into view.

Others now talking about this:

Kickstarter to Play the Top Secret Game from the CIA

Another Kickstarter I think is worth noting.  Two in one month, what is happening?

Anyway, this Kickstarter campaign is from Mike Masnick of TechDirt, a site I should probably have on my side bar somewhere, and features a recently declassified card game used by the CIA to train their analysts.

Collect it All

From the Kickstarter:

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a CIA operative? The CIA designed a classified card game which they use to train their analysts. They recently declassified it and we’re adapting the game so you can play it too.

CIA: Collect It All is a competitive card game based on the CIA game Collection Deck. Players take on the role of agents who are collecting intelligence and tackling security threats over multiple rounds.

Drawing from a deck of over 150 cards, players start each round with a hand full of intelligence tactics and must devise strategies to successfully defuse various crises. The tactics and crises all contain aspects – Political, Military, Economic, and Weapons – and players can only tackle crises if they have tactics with matching aspects. However, rival players also have “reality check” cards that they can play to complicate their opponents’ efforts.

Color me interested, if only to see to gain some insight into how the CIA views the world.

The campaign kicked off today and is already more than $8,000 in towards its $30,000 goal so, given my usual first day rule of thumb (20% funded or bust), it looks like it is on its way to success if it can just keep its momentum going.  That means getting the word out, and since I want a copy, I’m helping with that.

The pledge options are pretty simple.  For $10 you can get a print-your-own PDF copy of the game and for $29 you get a physical boxed game plus the PDF version.

More details about the source of the game, once classified TOP SECRET, and how it came to be the focus of this campaign is available on the Kickstarter page.  Check it out.

Field Research and Pokemon Go

Niantic has slowly been refining and expanding the game play options for Pokemon Go.

Players have gotten better, more frequent, and more diverse events with the game.  I was especially good with the recent event that focused on the first generation Pokemon, making them more readily available and boosting the candies awarded on catching them to help people fill out their Kanto Pokedex.  I was also good with the last community day, which featured Mareep, one of my favorite Pokemon.

Mareep the Sheep

But one of the more interesting things of late in Pokemon Go was the introduction of Research.  Those are essentially little tasks to complete, for which you get a reward.  There are two flavors of research, field and special.  For each you have a series of tasks to complete for which you receive and overall reward on top of the bennie for each task.

Field research tends to be the easier group to complete.  For those you get a stamp each day for the first on you complete, earning a prize when you get enough stamps.

One more stamp for a prize

The field research tasks range from easy to annoying.  You pick them up at Pokestops and my very first one was to visit 10 Pokestops.  I happened to be in our local downtown area, which has a dozen Pokestops fairly close together.  I had that done in a snap.

Other ones, like catching a few Pokemon of a given type or getting a candy with your current buddy, or evolving a Pokemon were pretty straightforward.  Others were less so.  At one point I had this lineup.

Throwing me a curve ball

I would love to be able to complete the middle task, catching 3 Treecko or Mudkips.  But seeing that they are pretty rare around where I live and work, that is a tough one.  I still have that one as of this writing, with on Treecko caught so far.

The other two involve throwing curve balls… something I didn’t know how to do in the first place… and having them land multiple times in a row.  Getting my curve ball mojo running that well was a challenge indeed.  I actually ran through all of my base Pokeballs and a good chunk of my Great Balls knocking out those two.

The problem was that I’d find the sweet spot on a Pokemon and get that first “nice” throw (“Great” and “Excellent” also count) and then catch it.  Then I would have to hit again with a different Pokemon who was often a different size or further away on the field, leading to a miss and resetting the counter again.

Still, I got there, finishing up the 5 consecutive curve balls first, only to be rewarded with another curve ball task to replace it.  Fortunately it was just three that time.

And, once I had my stamps for that round, the reward was a shot at Moltres, a rare Pokemon.  Fortunately I had some golden razz berries from raid battles in my bag for just such an opportunity.  Caught him on the first throw.

Moltres obtained

That was worth the effort on the “collect ’em all” front.

If I get an opportunity like that when I finish up a seven daily field research tasks I’ll be pretty happy.  Of course, I am sitting at number seven today and my options are not so good.

My current task list

I need to hit a Pokestop for a third option, because the first two may take some time.

I also need to do another raid battle to wrap up my final special research task to see what that brings.

Anyway, Pokemon Go keeps on improving in small increments over time.

No Trove of Mounts for You Today!

I have not been playing as much Rift Prime this month as I might have.  Other things have been taking up my game time like the fun in the north in EVE Online.

Still, being the completionist nut that I am, I have been logging in just about every day to collect my daily reward, mostly because on the 21st day you get a mount.  This morning was day 21… I missed a day somewhere… so I logged on to get my mount.  Damn straight!

The last box is the best box

I clicked on the claim button and… nothing happened.  Which was odd, because there is usually something that comes up in the chat window and the ability to claim goes away.  So I clicked it again and still nothing.  On the third click I noticed that an error was coming up in small red text above the rewards window indicating that my inventory was full.

Trying not to notice the alignment…

Well, dopey me, my bags were full, no wonder I couldn’t collected the mount.

Only my bags were not full.  There was ample space in my bags.  So I started tinkering around with inventory, selling a couple of items to see if maybe a little more space would help.  I checked my bank, which also had free space, just in case that somehow counted.  I looked at the mounts tab to see if there was some restriction there.  I dismounted from my own mount, just in case there was some flag that wouldn’t let you collect a mount if you were mounted.  Stranger things have happened.

But nothing helped.  Meanwhile the game, as it is wont to do, was continuing the remind me that I had a daily reward to collect, blinking a button and putting a special little icon up on the mini-map.

Yes, I know…

So I went to Google to see if this was a known issue, but there was nothing related.  So I headed to the forums.  At the top of the bug reports section I found somebody saying that they were having the same issue.  There is always a moment of relief that it isn’t just me having a problem.  A response to the report was given, consisting of a link to a post in the Rift Prime Vigil General Discussion forum.  There I found that the ability to claim the trove of mounts had been turned off.


The Daily Calendar reward “Trove of Mounts” has a bad loot table and has been temporarily disabled.

The Trove will be fixed and unlocked in the next patch. No CS ticket is needed.

The box was giving out duplicate mounts (something it should NOT do) or no mounts at all. Any player that managed to collect their Trove in the hour it was available will be given a replacement Trove of Mounts after the patch goes out. Again, no CS ticket is needed.

Our apologies – I know many of you were very much looking forward to your next mount

So the ability to claim was… well, it wasn’t really turned off.  I guess making the test for inventory space always return that it was full was the most expedient way to disable the feature, but it is a bit of a pisser to spend 30 minutes screwing around trying to figure out the issue, when the problem is that I might not get a mount, or maybe a dupe.

Anyway, we’ll see if they can fix this before the month is out.  But the UI keeps reminding me that I have a reward to collect.

Capital Ships Battle in VFK-IV – What Year is This?

In the ongoing tribulations for Guardians of the Galaxy in the north, a director of Slyce Alliance defected and flipped a Fortizar citadel in VFK-IV to the Imperium.  Nice to see that EN24 can still get a scoop these days.

Fortizar in VFK-IV

(Screen shot from this Reddit post)

For those not paying attention or with short memories, VFK-IV was once the capital of the CFC, the staging system from which operations were launched back when I joined TNT and went to null sec.

Me, in a Drake, at VFK-IV station in 2011

It was the scene of the “VFK Headshot” against Goons back in the summer of 2011 which led to the tightening up of the then somewhat loosely aligned DekCo into the unified CFC.

It was also the location that ended up as the oft repeated catch phrase “VFK by February” back when White Noise Alliance said that Deklein would be free of Goons by then.

And, come the Casino War, it was a location we did not bother to defend.  Instead, we holed up in the Quafe Company Warehouse in Saranen to concentrate our forces and try to resist the invasion by chipping away at the invaders.  Eventually we packed up our husbanded resources and took the long trail to Delve to setup shop and rebuild.

The old station at VFK-IV

We lost VFK-IV almost exactly two years ago.  That feels like a long time ago.

VFK-IV Station Today, good through June 5

And then I woke up this morning to find that not only did we suddenly have a Fortizar in our staging system of old, but that a battle had developed.  GotG was using fighters to reinforce the Fortizar and we dropped dreadnoughts on those and GotG escalated with their own dreads, and soon a full on battle was going.  The battle report still seems to be updating, but the numbers look to be in our favor so far.

Of course, I missed the whole thing, but I thought it was one of those moments worth noting in the ongoing and seemingly escalating conflict in the north.

Addendum: INN has their own story up about the battle now.

Addendum 2: A follow up post about the defections at EN24.

Rising to the Occasion in Fade

Asher called it while we were still docked up long before the fight.

Having suffered the humiliation of yet another defection which, among other loot, involved us ending up with a Keepstar they had yet to deploy, the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was rightfully pissed off and so formed up better numbers than usual when it came time to contest another Raitaru coming online on grid with their Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

They were not out in huge numbers, the sort of numbers a shared feeling of righteous fury would bring.  But it was more than we’ve seen in a while and it was more than we were able to field.  We were especially short on logi, undocking with only eight Guardians in the chain channel, about half of the number we’ve been working with recently.  Two more caught up later, but I am not sure the last one to arrive got in the fight before our logi was toast.

Still, we formed up and rolled out for DO6H-Q, arriving with plenty of time to spare before the event.  As we hung on on structure we could see the enemy forming.

Calm before the battle

As the time drew near we could see their Eagle doctrine ready to go again, with capital support in the form of carriers.  I thought that the numbers against us were enough that we might not take the fight.  But we were there and the time was set and Asher seemed keen to test them, so we broke tether, leaving safety to warp onto the repairing Raitaru.

The first thing we had to do was chase off the fighters already there and set to attack, the plan being to use the carriers to hit the structure while the Eagle fleet kept us busy.  But the Eagles weren’t coming for us yet so the fighters had to withdraw for the moment or get chewed up by our drones.

Then the Eagles were in play and we started warping around the grid from point to point, looking for an optimal position from which to fight them.

Bouncing off yet another deploying Raitaru of ours

That went on long enough that Asher wondered aloud on coms if they really wanted to fight us or not.  But they did want to fight us and, after a few more warps the fleets began to grapple.  We, as usual, went after their support ships first.  You can see in the battle report that we stripped out their tackle, boosters, and some of their logi.

They did the same… after a bit.  For some reason they were hitting Ishtars early on, leaving those of us in the logi chain to scramble in order to save people.  The Eagle fleet didn’t have enough burst damage to alpha any of us off the field, but their rail guns were chewing through armor quickly enough that it was tough to save anybody.  Waiting for armor reps to land, which they only do at the end of the module cycle, meant often seeing ships wink out from my UI before they could be saved.

Then they turned on the logi and we were then quite busy trying to save ourselves.  I managed to get reps onto my down chain logi partner early on, which was enough to get him reps in time and make the enemy swap targets, but the pressure began to tell.  Soon one Guardian was down, then another, and with each one gone the rest became that much easier to kill.  You can tell how busy I was because I only took the two screen shots above during the whole fight.  No time to gawk with my head out the window looking at space.

My turn came.  I had my hardeners pre-heated and when the yellow boxes began to blink on my overview I turned them on.  I broadcast for armor, but by that point there were only a couple of Guardians left.  I was probably gone before reps could finish their cycle and then I was out and about in a pod.  I warped for one of our structures, then headed for the gate and the few jumps back to our staging to get another ship.  The enemy was fully engaged with our fleet, so the route home was clear at that point.

I sat docked up and listened to comms.  Asher was still maneuvering, trying to find weak spots from which he could extract another kill.  Eventually though, the loss of logi, tackle, and other support meant the end of the fight for us.  The enemy was not keep to let him go, looking to get more kills while they held the advantage.  The straight route home was blocked by that point and Asher led the fleet on a round about march back to our staging, losing a couple of stragglers along the way but still bringing home the bulk of the fleet.

In the end Guardians of the Galaxy won the day.  For us the objective was lost, the Raitaru destroyed, and the ISK war tilted against us as well on the battle report.

Battle report summary

There was about another 1.6 billion in ISK lost on our part during the extraction and move back to our staging, which puts the ISK balance clearly, if not overwhelmingly, in their favor.  GotG has their own after action report up on Reddit.  A victory for them.

But another day has dawned already and more citadels will be coming online.  Our time in DO6H-Q is not done yet.  And it is worth noting again that we are taking these fights to them, in their staging system, on grid with their Keepstar, with fleets of between 70 and 100 pilots.

Granted, there is a pile of suicide dreadnoughts waiting for a few stray supers to show up, but it still seems like they could undock capitals in force and shoo us away without much effort.  They could clear their Keepstar grid in a week or so and be done with that nonsense.  This was, after all, the same group that just a couple months ago was bubbling our station and trying to camp us in with capitals and supers.

Our staging, not all that long ago

We shall see if this new resurgence is just temporary or not.