My friend Nolan Dalla

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Be warned right away, this has nothing to do with online gaming, but at least the internet is involved.

The setting is Las Vegas, the Mirage Poker room, shortly before midnight in early August. I had been playing limit Texas Holdem for a while already, when a new player comes into the room and is sent to our table. He looked familiar from afar, and when he sat down across from me, it became clear. It was Nolan Dalla, the poker author. I knew him, he didn’t know me, nor did he know that I knew him. So I was waiting for a chance to introduce myself. In poker, the best chance to introduce yourself is after you beat somebody in a hand. Which I did. I think. It’s been a while.

A good number of years ago, make it 20, I was bitten by a bug. The gambling bug. I had come across  a few articles on the internet telling me that blackjack was beatable and how to do it. Some research brought me to the usenet group rec.gambling. Blackjack lost its charm quickly, since the casinos don’t like you if you know what you are doing. Which brought me to poker, the other subject the usenet group was discussing.

At that time, say 1995, you weren’t a serious poker player if you didn’t read Cardplayer Magazine. One of the columns I read regularly was “Tales From the Felt” by Nolan Dalla. It was only a small surprise to see him participating in the discussions on rec.gambling.*. The group of people discussing poker in a serious, almost scientific approach was small and if you were halfway internet savvy, you’d end up in this group.

To top it off, this group’s been meeting annually in Las Vegas for 22 years now. It’s called BARGE. Most of the time we’ve met downtown, since the majority of people were students on a budget when it all started. Not so much anymore, since a couple of them have become rich and famous, winning World Series of Poker bracelets, becoming poker commentators, .com millionaires or are helping out on Wall Street. Some of them succeeded in more than one field.

Over the years I’ve met Nolan at every BARGE I participated in and a few times on other occasions. He’s always come across as a smart man with many interests and a career in the US foreign service. Which gives me the European connection to him, since he’s been stationed in Romania in 1989 when their regime came down in a bloody conflict. What are you going to do in an embassy while the world outside turns upside down? Host a poker game and make contact with the rebels. And meet his future wife Marieta, a Romanian native.

Nolan is now Communications Director for the World Series of Poker. He’s  published the biography of Stu Ungar, 3 time winner of the World Series of Poker main event and tragic genius. It’s titled “One of a Kind”.

I am glad to help Nolan Dalla with his next undertaking, a blog to publish his writings of many years. Writings that go far beyond the poker essays I know, travel reports, the events of the Romanian revolution, politics (after all, he has a degree in Political Science) and much more. I am looking forward to read many more of his essays and to learn more what’s going on in his mind.

See for yourself at


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Zombie Apocalypse Survival Tip: Mountain Bikes Rock

Posted by on Jul 22, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

Last week I touched on travel and several important reminders on who and how to travel. This week I pose a question; What is the best mode of transportation during a worldwide epic crisis, such as a zombie apocalypse? Here’s a hint; the motor is you. That’s right, a bicycle. More specifically a hybrid or mountain bike. You do NOT want a road bike because you might not always have the luxury of having a road to ride it on. A hybrid bike will have a little slip off road and the mountain bike will have a little drag on well paved roads. The street (or road / speed) bike are almost unusable off road, thus why it’s a bad choice for even short travel. Bipedal locomotion is always a good alternative, but for speed and distance a good well maintained bike will save the day. But why no motorcycles or cars… maybe an ATV? Unless it’s 100% solar powered and silent I’d suggest thinking about where you’d get the gas or the amount of noise you’d make attracting every hungry mouth within listening distance. Under different circumstances one of those might make more sense for the short term, but ALWAYS bring at least 1 or 2 bikes with you unless the trip is short enough to walk… then walk.


Photo by: Ktos

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How to Exploit the Chain Subtype with Ranged Weapons

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Blog, Guides, The Secret World | 0 comments

Pistol Chain AttacksEnglish please. I realize this title is completely meaningless for somebody who’s not playing “The Secret World”.  But hopefully it catches somebody’s interest who’s gotten a bit deeper into the workings of the combat abilities in TSW. For the record: this is not an exploit in the standard MMORPG sense. This is using a game mechanic in a way the developers intended.

Each weapon group in TSW has its own way to build resources: Melee weapons build up with each use of a builder attack and slowly out of combat. Which means, for melee, you can open your attack with a finisher using maximum resources. Magic is building up resources only when builder attacks are being used. And finally, ranged weapons build up resources with each builder attack, but they are bound to a single target. If the target dies, the resources are lost. Magic and melee attacks are independent of the target. They remain usable after a target’s death.

However, with chain attacks things become interesting. A chain attack hits a first victim and then jumps over to up to 4 more targets. Imagine a lightning bolt not only hitting you, but the 4 people right next to you. If a ranged resource is built through a chain attack, it is built up on each target hit by the chain. Which means, you can execute a finishing attack with maximum resources, switch to the next target and execute another maxed finisher. Rinse and repeat.

Only pistols, elemental and blood magic have chains as part of their standard abilities, but the use of this mechanic is not restricted to these weapons. Some passive abilities can turn certain attacks into chains. As long as the resource building is done with a chain attack by one of those weapon types or triggered by a passive ability and the finishing move is using a ranged weapon, this mechanic can be used.

Caveat: Right now, my pistol/elemental character delivers pretty good dps. I just don’t get around to tab target through 3 or 4 enemies and dispatch them one by one with finishers. They are down way earlier. That’s why it took a while to notice this great option.

© Disclaimer: The Secret World
"The Secret World" is a registered trademark of Funcom GmbH. All logos, images and names are intellectual properties of Funcom GmBH unless otherwise noted. This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Funcom GmbH.

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Zombie Apocalypse Survival Tip: Plan Ahead when Travelling

Posted by on Jul 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

In this article I wanted to give a simple but important tip. Scouting and scavenging are always a must in the new undead world you live in. Two general rules to follow if you must travel at all.

One; NEVER travel alone. Unless you have to or it’s the only way to accomplish an extremely important and necessary goal, it’s always a good idea to travel in groups of 2 to 4 people. Having someone there to watch your back and help keep an ear out for more threats is always a good thing to have. However, pro-tip, learn to communicate visually instead of orally. Sign language or basic predetermined gestures are recommended prior to heading out with a scouter.

Two; NEVER travel at night. As a visual dependant species we rely more highly on our vision than anything else. Why compromise something that they might not even use as much as we do. Again, only if there’s no other way, travel only during daylight and hide at night (or get back to camp befor night fall). In both situations all you’re doing is giving your opponents the upper hand and that is never a good thing in a life and death situations.


Photo by: Digital Sextant

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Analysis of a Deck: Ninja (Dragon)

Posted by on Jul 7, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Guides, The Secret World | 0 comments

Since I haven’t made much progress in understanding character builds, decks and the ability wheel, I need to slow down for a while and study. And why not do that by just analyzing the deck I am using, pre-made by FunCom: “Ninja”. It’s a melee build using blades and elemental magic for some ranged abilities and to spice up things. And by spicing up I mean synergies, something, the designers of “The Secret World” have declared as basic principle behind the creation of the abilities for player characters.

“The Secret World” organizes character abilities in a wheel, consisting of 3 sections with 3 weapon/school types each. For each weapon type, there are 2 inner and 6 outer groups of 7 abilities each. Add 3 more groups with miscellaneous abilities. This adds up to 9 * 8 + 3 = 75 groups or 75 * 7 = 575 abilities. Getting all skills of an inner group will cost you 19 ability points. All skills of an outer group will cost you 169 AP. That’s a total of 9975 AP.

To say the least, this is overwhelming. There are already a good number of guides out there, but I am still far away from really understanding what’s going on. Let’s start with a quick overview of guides & tools: The most comprehensive guide is Yokai’s guide to build mechanics and build philosophy. It’s still a lot to digest. There’s Seki’s “Weapon synergy and build discussion”, which will go away once the TSW boards are reformatted. You’ll find a copy of the post here. There’s also a nice calculator at Bad Omens.

Now we will take a look at the abilities being used for the deck. The damage amounts are taken from an empty build, most of them will be higher when more skill points are added. Please ignore them for now, the actual damage is secondary.



Delicate Strike: Builds 1 resource for each equipped weapon. A single target attack that deals 48 physical damage.
Resource Builder, buffed by “Delicate Precision” passive to increase penetration chance.

Clearing the Path: Consumes all Blade Resources. A PBAoE attack that deals 57 physical damage. This attack penetrates any Afflicted targets it hits.
Blade PBAoE finisher, exploits Afflicted status

Blaze: Consumes 3 Elemental Resources. A single target attack that deals 164magical damage, or 181 magical damage to Afflicted targets.
Elemental single target resource consumer, exploits Afflicted status

Surging Blades: A column dash attack that deals 58 physical damage.
Utility: gets you to your target fast, and if you do it right, away as well.

Flashpoint: A single target attack that deals 35 magical damage. The target also becomes Afflicted with a damage over time effect that deals 20 magical damage every second for 5 seconds.
If the target is already Afflicted, it will cause 5 enemies in a 5 meter radius around them to become Afflicted with a damage over time effect that deals 20 magical damage each second for 5 seconds.
Single target, exploits and triggers Afflicted.

Ice Manifestation: Places a manifestation at the targeted point that lasts 9 seconds. Every 3 seconds it will hit up to 5 enemies in a 5 meter radius, dealing 40 magical damage. Affected targets will also be rooted to the ground for 2 seconds.
Targeted AoE, crowd control.

Four Seasons: A channelled attack that deals 31 physical damage each hit. The damage dealt increases by 5% for each hit, and all hits will penetrate. The last hit will cause the target to become Impaired and unable to act for 3 seconds. This ability has a 15 meter range.
Single target attack, triggers Impaired and Afflicted, the later because it’s buffed by Incision.



Fortunate Strike: Whenever you attack an Afflicted target, there is a 10% chance you will perform an additional hit that deals 21 physical damage.
Exploits Afflicted.

Aidelon: “Blaze” has a 100% chance to critically hit Afflicted targets.
Exploits Afflicted.

Twist the Knife: Whenever you penetrate you also gain 1 stack of a beneficial effect, which increases all damage dealt by3% for 10 seconds. This effect can stack up to 3 times.
Triggered by Penetrate. 

Incision: Whenever you penetrate, you also cause the target to become Afflicted with a damage over time effect that deals 10 physical damage every second for 3 seconds.
Triggered by Penetrate, triggers Afflicted.

Sudden Return:  Whenever you penetrate, you also perform an additional hit that deals 18 physical damage.
Triggered by Penetrate. 

Delicate Precision:  Increases the Penetration Chance of “Delicate Strike” by 10%.
Self explanatory. 

Flight of Daggers: Whenever you attack, you build a Flight of Daggers counter. When the counter reaches 5, you will hit up to 3 enemies in a 5 meter radius around you, dealing 46 physical damage. Affected targets also become Afflicted with a damage over time effect that deals 10 physical damage every second for 5 seconds.
Triggers Afflicted.



The key to this build lies in the passive ability Incision and the active ability Clearing the Path. Incision causes affliction with the first penetration and Clearing the Path penetrates everything that’s afflicted. Thus, as long as you keep up with time-outs, your target will remain afflicted and penetrated a lot.

This deck gains even more by abilities exploiting the constant affliction and high rate of penetration. Blaze and Flashpoint are active abilities which benefit from the target being afflicted. Fortunate Strike and Aidelon are passives which benefit as well. Additionally, Twist the Knife, Incision and Sudden Return all amplify the effects of penetrate.



By analyzing a single pre-made deck, we’ve seen how well 7 active and 7 passive abilities can interact with each other. Writing this article was an exercise for myself to learn how this interaction happens and I think I know much better now what to look for in other builds. It will still be a challenge to come up with a build of my own, but the first step is done.

© Disclaimer: The Secret World
"The Secret World" is a registered trademark of Funcom GmbH. All logos, images and names are intellectual properties of Funcom GmBH unless otherwise noted. This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Funcom GmbH.

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Zombie Survival Tip: Stay Above the Fray

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

By Björn SöderqvistA while ago, I mentioned “safe climb areas”. These are things at or above chest level that are easily scalable in a hurry when being chased by a few Zombie strays. It’s always better to attack them quickly if spotted rather than running because the moans will attract a lot more, but if you have to flee being 4+ feet off the ground will give you a HUGE advantage to not just killing, but also vision to see what’s on the way. Tip; ALWAYS climb and check first. Then venture off, it should be a place to come back to IF the need arises, not something you run to when it does and “hope” you don’t fall through the unstable shed roof just to be trapped inside like a can-o-Campbell’s soup waiting to be popped open. (Again, careful planning.)



Photo by: Björn Söderqvist

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