Rane and Alleen ask:

Who was right, Aegon or Rhaenyra?

So, I didn’t know the deep lore of A Song of Ice and Fire well enough to remember on  my own exactly who Aegon and Rhaenyra are or what there was for either of them to be right about, so take this with a grain of salt… but I talked to Jim the Editor about this and read part of a wiki article, and it seems pretty clear-cut that Rhaenyra was the rightful heir and got fµ¢£ed over?  I mean… it’s A Song of Ice and Fire so obviously the whole story is ridiculously complicated and I assume everyone involved was absolutely awful in one way or another, but the actual inciting dispute of the civil war feels to me like an open-and-shut case.

Dosidicus Giygas asks:

Can you recommend any good resources for learning about Aegean depictions of cephalopods?

That’s a… concerningly specific request

and this is coming from a guy whose thesis is on Roman window glass

So, uh… I mean, there’s nothing off the top of my head that isn’t ludicrously dry and technical; like, if you have JSTOR access or similar you could search for some of Penelope Mountjoy’s articles on the Late Minoan IB “Marine Style” but they’re, um… not exactly page-turners.  They probably won’t make a lot of sense without a fairly thorough grounding in Minoan archaeology, and honestly I’m not even sure they’ll tell you what you want to know, if you’re interested in, like, the accuracy of anatomical details.  Is the Marine Style what you mean?  Because that’s where my mind instantly goes on hearing “Aegean depictions of cephalopods,” but without context that phrasing is… kinda broad.  There’s a bunch of Attic black and red figure pots with octopuses(-pi/-podes) on them that you can find by searching the Beazley Archive database (type “octopus” into the “decoration description” field and hit “list” at the bottom of the page); I dunno if anyone’s ever written anything about them and at a glance it looks like a lot of them just have the octopus as a shield device or a generic ocean-themed ornament, but… I mean, they’re there if you want ‘em, I guess.

Alolan Raichu, Marowak and Exeggutor

The regional variant Pokémon we’re looking at today all evolve from Pokémon that do not have regional variant forms of their own – a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched in Alola will look much the same as a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched anywhere else.  In fact, they don’t just look the same, they are the same; an Alolan Pikachu that is sent to Galar will evolve into a standard Raichu (even though Sword and Shield do know what an Alolan Raichu is, and Pokémon games do track each individual Pokémon’s region of origin), while a Pikachu that arrives in Alola from anywhere else will evolve into an Alolan Raichu.  That’s weird, because other regional forms don’t work this way (with the exception of two Galarian forms, Weezing and Mr. Mime); you can take an Alolan Rattata to any region of the world and keep it there for as long as you like, it’ll still evolve into an Alolan Raticate.  Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on here.

Continue reading “Alolan Raichu, Marowak and Exeggutor”

Cosmic Crunch asks:

Should Hannibal have gone for Rome?

Well… to my mind, he did.  I mean, that’s what he was doing in Italy.  It’s just that the Romans’ strategy after Cannae was to ensure that a direct assault on the city would always be prohibitively difficult and dangerous.  I’m not a military historian or an expert on the Middle Republic, and maybe I’d have stronger opinions about this if I were, but I just don’t think our sources for the Second Punic War give us a good enough picture of the overall strategic situation for there to be any profit in second-guessing the moves of a general who was there on the ground.  Like, clearly he thought attacking the city wouldn’t have worked, and he knew a lot more about the capabilities of both the Roman and Carthaginian armies than anyone alive today.  Jim the Editor thinks Hannibal probably saw attacking Rome as too big a gamble, risking his entire army and his foothold in Italy when he could just keep wearing the Romans down and demoralising them until they eventually capitulated.  That’s not actually what happened, of course, but it’s very difficult to know whether the alternative strategy would have produced better results.

Alicent Hightower asks:

Which Pokemon would you choose for your personal sigil and why?

Should this just be my favourite Pokémon?  Is there a reason for it not to be my favourite Pokémon; should I have a better reason than that?

Well, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume (for reasons discussed herein).  The Pokémon that represents me, that really is who I am and aspire to be deep down, is Druddigon, who lives in a cave being surly and irritable, occasionally emerging to terrorise a village and eat people.  So I guess it’s one of those two (or both; I could have my arms quartered or something, right?).  I hope that answers your question.

Larry asks:

Hey, so I know you’re an utter madman and would like to eliminate types from the chart. That sounds really unnecessary but. If you got to rebalance the type chart a bit, change some of the dynamics, what would you do? How will you help the poor ice types? Will you finally stop the steel types?

I think you’ve maybe misunderstood me, because to me these are two unrelated issues.  I don’t think the 18-type chart is, in principle, impossible to balance (I do think that 900 Pokémon are, in principle, impossible to balance, but that’s another whole thing).  I don’t want to cut down the number of types because I think it would make the game more balanced (I mean, it might, but I don’t think it’s the only or best way to do that, and it wouldn’t be enough on its own).  I want to cut it down… as weird as this will sound, basically for aesthetic reasons – to whit, I think it’s an ugly, overcomplicated mess that doesn’t actually need to exist.  Beautiful or elegant game mechanics, to me, are ones where complex gameplay and strategy arise from the interactions of simple rules and principles.  The type chart means that Pokémon does this in reverse: the fundamental rules are complicated and counterintuitive, but the resulting gameplay is not particularly any more interesting than it would be using a greatly reduced system.

I will admit, having said all this, that (like many things) I say this stuff partly just to be contrary.  I’m not even all that committed to it; I just want to force everyone to think about it.  I mean, people talk all the time about what new types they’d want to add, from time to time people ask me to talk about types I’d like to add; so clearly no one thinks the type chart is sacred and can’t be changed.  Why is it so much more uncomfortable to talk about getting rid of some of it; why is anyone bothered when I say that I think that might be a good idea?  It’s an uncontroversial axiom of good design that you should leave out or trim down elements that are unnecessary or bloated, but after last year’s… invigorating discussions… about Sword and Shield, I get the impression that a good chunk of the Pokémon fan community is pretty strongly opposed to what I think is a fairly obvious principle.  I’d like people to consider, when they talk about game design in Pokémon and all the cool ideas they want to add, whether there are also things they’d like to remove – because that can also improve a game.

Anyway, to the question you actually asked… whatever, Steel should have a lot of resistances but maybe it could do with one more weakness (Water?), Grass and Bug are comically shafted and shouldn’t be resisted by so many things (maybe lose Flying for Grass and Ghost for Bug), thematically I just think it would be really neat for Normal to be strong against Fairy (it should really be strong against something)… and at that point I guess you should probably stop and playtest for a bit before tinkering any further. Something like that.