Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Rough Draft in 100 Days

I will write a rough draft of my next book in 100 days.

Well that's torn it, no backing out now. Anything less than an embryonic book by day 101 and my failure is public. To expose myself further I am committing myself to tweet an update every 24 hours. Motivation you see, that's the idea.

I've been plotting out a book, and am now ready to tell myself the story in the form of a rough draft. I could just start writing but I've tried that before. I get bored, discouraged or distracted. I find excuses, obsess over a new computer game, or just forget. Sometimes I do stick with it, Hiding is proof of that, but even then it takes too long. Time to try something different.

Very rarely I buy one of the writing magazines that huddle together in the darker corners of WH Smiths. A few months ago I picked up a copy of Writers' Forum. I found a few articles to be useful, but one in particular caught my interest.

In short, the article proposed setting a writing goal and challenging yourself to achieve it in 100 days. There's more to it than that, such as how to chose the right goal, why 100 days etc. The article was written by Paula Williams and is based on material from The Business Bakery. Credit where credit's due so if you want to learn more then have a read here. Fair warning it's a bit cutesy, but each to his own.

The best thing about the 100 day challenge is that it gives you an excuse to buy a notebook. Not just any notebook, but a beautiful journal, one that you will look forward to writing in. I have a borderline stationery fetish, so this might be what reeled me in.

The notebook is not for the actual draft. The idea is to write in the journal every day about what you are have done to reach your goal. I've added the extra motivation of announcing my target here, and tweeting about it from day 1 to 100. I may even photograph and share the pages of the journal.

It needs a hash tag doesn't it. How about #100daydraft

It's important to set an achievable target for obvious reasons. My book is planned to be 90,000 words in 20 chapters. An average of 1,000 words a day should be within my reach. Day 1 will be when I get to the shops and pick myself a journal. No that's not procrastination, it's a consequence of having a day job.

I may well regret doing this, but I'm hoping my ego will drive me on. It's easy to give up when no one is watching.


I've just announced my 100 day challenge to the twttersphere via #writingchat. This is a group of writers who get together on Twitter ever Wednesday at 8pm UK time for an hour. I now have a horde of writers promising to nag me for 100 days.

I don't dare fail.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Writing for WhatCulture

I'm happy to report that one of the opportunities I mentioned in my last post Angels Take Manhattan: The Basement has paid off. is always looking for contributors, and not so long ago it asked for people to specifically write for its Doctor Who section. Too good a chance to miss I thought, so I gave it a shot. I sent them a note telling them how great I was and they invited me to send an audition piece.

I had something in my rework pile that seemed like a good candidate so I rewrote it to fit the criteria. Happily the Doctor Who section editor liked it and made me a contributor. This meant that I now had access to the dashboard where I could pitch articles or apply to take on one of their recommended assignments.

The dashboard has a detailed and clear style guide so I realised my audition piece wasn't quite fit for purpose. One more light re-work and I submitted it. Just 24 hours later my debut piece was live and being clicked, shared and, most importantly, read. What was it? Well I invite you to consider 10 Things That Every Parent Of A Doctor Who Fan Should Know

Since then I've pitched another article which has been accepted. I think I'm going to enjoy this gig.

If you fancy chancing your arm have a look at the Write For WhatCulture page. It says it much better than I could. You can also have a look at my Profile Page if you don't find Doctor Who frightening enough.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Angels Take Manhattan: The Basement

Is this a joke?
Previous episode: Angels Take Manhattan: 2012

Next episode: Angels Take Manhattan: 1938

Game version played: 2.5.1 (GP-A)

The basement, where Rory met the chuckling cherubs. That was also in Manhattan, but in 1938 not 2012. Same place, different time. Blue Time fragments are likely but no rare drop. The backdrop is a series of arches containing shadowy figures. Shield that Brightwell & Hyman match, screw your courage to the sticking place and follow me.

My team is led by the 11th Doctor at Rank 2, who is accompanied by Jenny Flint, Madame Vastra, Porridge and Rory Williams who are all at Lvl.9. I anticipate that this mission will get Jenny to Lvl.10 and hence the next rank. That's confidence for you. It's also a sure way to lose a level, thinking on the reward rather than the task. Stay focused Allsop.

Wave 1 of 4 consists of a Blue Weeping Angel as faced in the last level, plus a Blue cherub which game-wise is a less dangerous version of full grown Angels. We also have Stone gems to add to the fun. I tried for 5+ combos where I could but the Stones make it difficult. It took me 4 rounds to kill the Angel, then just one more to clear the cherub. Knowing that the cherub is less sturdy I probably should have targeted it from the start.

Wave 2 is a single Blue Weeping Angel but this one is in chains. It's the wrist-snapping Angel that Julius Grayle imprisoned in his office. This Angel attacks in 2 rounds instead of 3 and can take a lot more damage than the usual. During our fight she hit me for 160 HP twice, forcing me to use Rory's Stand Firm power. Jenny also powered up but once again using her Smoulder power would have made things worse. Vastra's power was a different story and she let rip, though her Riposte of 150 points barely scratched the chained Angel. By now Porridge was ready to lay a bomb but the Angel was down to about 30%, so I kept it in reserve. The next round she fell so it was the right decision.

The waves are getting larger and next we have a trio of cherubs. This is a multi-coloured flight, 2 Blue and 1 Green. Aha! A chance to let Jenny have at them. I used her Smoulder power and targetted the Green cherub with the resultant Reds. It was a big hit and got Greenie down to 10% or so, as well as badly damaging the other 2. That set me up well and I cleared the cherubs in 7 rounds. I took a few hits but managed to stay near full health using available Pinks. By the time I was done I had the 11th Doctor flashing at maximum, plus Vastra, Jenny and Porridge all with special powers primed and ready for the 4th wave.

The boss wave doesn't feature a boss as such but it's no walk-over. It's the chained Angel flanked by a Green and a Blue cherub. There was no point saving attacks now so I 'unleashed Hell' as Russell Crow said. The 11th Doctor concocted a Fast Plan and aimed 1,000 damage at each opponent. The Blue cherub vaporised but the Green one survived due to his resistance to Blue damage. Next I let Vastra use her Riposte on the survivors which took Greenie down to about 10%. The chained Angel was at about 60% so I planted Porridge's bomb at her feet. I next used Jenny to Smoulder the Blue gems into Red to make sure of the Green cherub, which I targetted.

My first Gem attack killed the Green cherub and got the chained Angel down to 25%. In the next few rounds we traded blows. Rory healed me once and I had the Angel down to next to nothing when the bomb went off and blew her into gravel. A nice bruising battle though I still kept my HP well above 50% all the way through.

There were no drops but after the battle Jenny Flint did indeed reach Lvl.10. The surprise was that Porridge was also promoted to Lvl.10. Both of them ready to elevate to the 2nd rank. Oh yes!

Madame Vastra should give her a rise
This is a landmark in the game, but don't forget the basics. You still get an extra point for going up a level so make sure you assign it. Jenny's attributes have grown over her career, increasing gradually with each level. However her special power, Smoulder, has stayed the same. If you want that to increase, and for her to be able to progress further, then you need to upgrade her rank. Until you do she will be stuck on Lvl. 10 however much experience she gains. Of course there is a price to be paid.

To upgrade Jenny to Rank 2 the cost is 2 Red and 2 Green Time Fragments. Luckily I have them. All you have to do is press the Upgrade button on the Companion's Attributes tab. I did so and was treated to the same 'Brilliant' sequence that I saw when promoting the 11th Doctor. Jenny then immediately jumped to Lvl.11, though you don't get an additional attribute point that time. Looking at her Profile tab her Special Power is now called Flame, and it converts Blue gems to Red in 6 turns instead of 7. Her power has the same effect but you will be able to call upon it more often.

It's worth comparing the advancement of Jenny's power to her wife's for a moment. At these levels Madame Vastra's Riposte is becoming less useful as opponents get stronger. However Jenny Flint's ATK attribute keeps rising with every level even if you add no points to it. So she does more damage with each Red Gem. This means that her conversion power constantly grows in effectiveness. Direct damage powers by contrast grow effectively weaker. Something to ponder.

 Jenny's upgrade got me an extra star which took me to 9 in total, 1 short of a new Perk. Good job Porridge is ready to promote as well.

Ah! There's a problem. Porridge needs 2 Yellow and 2 Black Time Fragments to be upgraded. I've got both of the Yellow but just 1 Black fragment. Foiled. However there is a work around. In these situations you will see that the Max Level button in the Profile tab now says Instant Upgrade instead. If you press it you are offered the chance to go ahead with the upgrade by using 2 Time Crystals instead of the required Fragments.

This means I have a decision to make about Porridge, with three options available.

Firstly, I could use Time Crystals to promote him here and now, and I have earned 10 of these through normal play. In my main game I have many more, some of which I bought to unlock the Fan Area and support the developers. Crystals are not short cuts or cheats, they are part of the game and a reward for putting your money where your mouth is. However here it does seem expensive to use 20% of my crystals just to compensate for 1 missing Black Fragment.

Secondly I could take my team and replay levels that offer Black Fragments as a potential drop. Working backwards the first opportunity is The Snowmen: The Great Intelligence. In my case this level still has Strax as a Rare drop. If I replayed it then I might get to fill that empty slot in my team roster while I'm looking for Black Fragments. I might also get Yellow Time Fragments which I am likely to need soon with Vastra at Lvl.9. I would also be guaranteed to collect experience for my team, and have fun replaying levels. There are other missions that offer Black Fragments but they are lower level without a Rare drop, and so less attractive.

The third option is just to play on. I might get a Black Fragment very soon and I would be earning higher amounts of experience in more advanced levels. I might also get more Rares. The drawback to this option is that Porridge will not gain any of that experience and will not get stronger. Each level will become tougher as he gets left behind. If I had other Companions in the TARDIS I could swap Porridge for one of them and let them gain the experience, though my team would be weakened significantly at first. I have beaten all levels so far reasonably comfortably, so I'm confident I could go on for a few levels yet.

Is this wise?
So my options are to pay up, circle back and build my strength, or to press on. In my main game when I first reached this sort of situation I circled back. Later on as my cache of Time Crystals grew and the number of needed Fragments increased drastically I have tended to pay up.

This time though I'm going to push on. That was the original intent when I started this series of posts, here. It'll be fun to see how far I get before I lose, and a nice challenge to play with what the game gives me for free. That's one of the secrets to enjoying a game I find, to adopt a style, character or strategy rather than just play to a  believed optimal strategy.

So on we go, with Jenny Flint at Rank 2 and Porridge stuck at Lvl.10. But not just now though.

While I've been writing these posts some promising ideas for future books and stories have blossomed and I can't ignore them any longer. There's also a couple of other opportunities that I want to explore so my journey through Season 7, or Chapter One as it is now called, will have to take a break. Getting my first Companion to Rank 2 seems like a good place to pause and I don't want to make the same mistake I did with Cryonite Cove and let things peter out. This blog will continue, though it will focus elsewhere for a time and will probably not be as frequent for a while.

Writing all of this has been fun, educational, thought provoking and a good exercise of the writing muscles. Thanks to all those who have read and commented through Twitter or elsewhere. An especial thank you to Tiny Rebel Games who have produced a wonderful game that is a worthy tie-in with my favourite ever television show, Doctor Who.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Angels Take Manhattan: 2012

Stone me!
Previous Episode: Sontaran Disturbance: USA

Game version played: 2.5.1 (GP-A)

The Weeping Angels. The best original monster of New Who and perhaps one of the greatest in the show's 51 year history. Original, fascinating and scary. It looks like we're about to face them in mortal combat. Prepare yourself for Angels Take Manhattan.

Do you think there was some analogy in Steven Moffat's mind when he demonised the Statue of Liberty in this story? The USA's symbol of freedom and democracy becoming a giant Weeping Angel. Is he saying that liberty has become a force for evil, that great horrors and destruction are wrought in order to preserve an impractical ideal? Perhaps the Moff feels that certain individual rights should be sacrificed in order to improve the common good.

Is he instead saying that if you take your eye off liberty for a second then we are all doomed? That freedom must be watched constantly. Blink and it becomes corrupted.

Was it a comment about the USA itself? Is he implying that the country which styled itself as the embodiment of freedom and democracy is now a monster? A monster that sends its enemies back to the stone age, or snaps their neck and steals their voices?

I doubt it. More likely someone said "Imagine if the Statue of Liberty was a Weeping Angel. That would be brilliant that would." Mr Moffat hears that and says, 'Och! That would be fine indeed. I'm away to write that up. Cheers pal." That's how The Angels Take Manhattan was born. Well it is in my mind anyway. Enough of this prattling.

Metaphor of monster?
Blue Time Fragments are signalled for this level so the Angels are likely to be Blue. That could be a problem as Green is my weakest colour. Rory will have to earn his keep in both dealing and healing.

My team is led by the 11th Doctor in his new monkly attire at Rank 2. Jenny Flint is at Lv.9 and Porridge, Madame Vastra and Rory Williams are at Lv.8. I still have an empty slot but there will be no chance to fill it in this adventure.

This is another level with a shifting background. It changes between the roof of the Winter Quay apartment building, with some interesting Skaro inspired graffiti, and the night skyline of Manhattan. Very pretty.

As the level starts the 11th Doctor warns us to be careful. He says that a lot in this game.

We first face one Blue Weeping Angel. It's taking 3 rounds to attack so it looks as if they'll be slow. The interesting thing to note is that one of the gems looks like a grey marble. It is in fact a stone gem. These appear in Weeping Angel levels and are a pain. They have no colour so can't be used to attack or heal. The only way to get rid of them is to combine them with other stones, at which time they shatter. Shattering stones count as a combination in your damage calculation so they are not completely useless. It pays to get rid of them as they mount up steadily. Don't make it your priority but if you can do it while making a good colour combo then do so.

This first Angel was reasonably tough and it took me two rounds to get rid of her though I took no damage. The stone gems make it difficult to rack up a decent set of combinations, which effectively makes the Angels more durable.

My slightly new-look team
Wave 2 of 3 was a brace of Blue Weeping Angels. The battle lasted 7 rounds and I learned that each Angel does 150 damage, as they both hit me before I could kill one. 300 points is not insignificant when you have just 874 to start with. 6 hits without healing and I'd be done for. Happily I got through the wave just 150 points down at the end, thanks to careful use of Pink gems. Jenny Flint was primed for use but turning Blue Gems Red when you're facing Blue enemies is not wise. There seems to have been a few levels where I've had to put her special power aside.

It was decent scrap but I prevailed, with a Blue Time Fragment as booty. We stepped forward to the Boss wave. And what a big Boss it is, Lady Liberty herself.

Fighting the Statue of Liberty is hard. She's as tough as nails, hits like a hammer and steals your gems. It took a Riposte from Vastra, a bomb from Porridge, Cunning from the 11th Doctor, and 9 attack-filled rounds to beat her down. She deals 300 points per hit but they are 4 rounds apart, so with Rory's help I was able to keep ahead of  the damage.

At 18 rounds this was my longest level yet. The enemies' damage is high if infrequent, and the stone gems are an effective handicap. My advice would be to heal your wounds quickly as Pinks appear less often, and it won't take many hits to knock you over.

I gained a Blue Time fragment from this battle and another achievement, Time Lord Chancellor for making 500 gem combos. Another plaque for the TARDIS wall. Experience-wise I got Vastra, Porridge and Rory to join Jenny Flint on Lv.9. Maybe the next level will get Jenny to Rank 2. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sontaran Disturbance: USA

That's a dirty ha..No, no I just can't do it
Previous Episode: Time Attack: The Silent

Game version played: 2.5

The name suggests that this level may be a sequel of sorts to Sontaran Disturbance: England. If so it may likewise be an easy encounter, welcome after the ordeal of our first Time Attack. Yellow Time Fragments are indicated so Yellow Sontarans are to be expected. Be cautious though, take nothing for granted.

There’s yet another Rare drop, but this time it’s a costume. It looks to be the monkish robes the 11th Doctor wore in The Bells of Saint John. The location is New Hampshire, USA. Why there? Why not?

My team is the 11th Doctor at Rank 2. Porridge, Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Rory Williams all at LVL.8. Geronimo!

We start by witnessing a discussion between two Sontarans. One wants to wait for backup, worried by the Doctor’s success in stabilising time. His senior officer, who has an eight pack instead of the usual six, reminds him that the Doctor and his companions have been allowed to suceed. This perplexes the grunt but he is told that Commander Vade the Defiant has his reasons. That’s interesting, a little bit of story. 
See what I mean

Looking at the background it seems that New Hampshire, USA is identical to Bexhill, England but without the rain. Curious.

I am irritated that the junior soldier is carrying a swagger-stick-like weapon, as used by General Staal in The Sontaran Stratagem. I saw that weapon as an indicator of rank, but I’m aware that is a bit anoraky of me so I’ll say no more.

The discussion ends, gems drop and the match begins. Wave 1 consists of a solitary Yellow opponent. It’s the swagger-sticked, six-packed Sontaran. My first strike killed him before he could start his ponderous 3 round attack. He was right to be worried. I prised a Time Crystal from his cold dead fingers.

Wave 2 is a simple double-up, two of the same Sontaran who also lasted but a single round. This may be my quickest level ever.

Wave 3 is a solo effort again, but this time it’s Mr. Eight-pack. My first attack almost killed him but he had Heal ready and used it to drag himself back from the brink. The next round was a carbon-copy of the first, but in the third I killed him. A pitiful performance from the Sontaran Empire, with not a scratch inflicted upon me.

Just before victory was signalled a grey portrait fell. I won the Rare drop! Typical. 5 chances to win a team member and no luck, 1 chance to bag a costume and it’s a bullseye. Tsk! Well a Rare drop is a Rare drop and it does make my team look less run-of-the-mill. The 11th Doctor takes up the habit and we move on.

Jenny Flint moved to Lv.9. A few more levels and we'll be at the next rank. I also won the No More Yellow II achievement for defeating 50 Yellow enemies. My first half-century. Satisfying.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Time Attack: The Silent

There's a countdown!
Stay cool, stay cool!
Previous Episode: The Silent Paradox

Next Episode: Sontaran Disturbance: USA

Game version played: 2.5

Time Attack eh? I wonder what that’s all about.

First things first though. We now have the 6th Doctor. What do we do with him? Up to now I’ve been playing with the 11th Doctor, rejecting the 10th for reasons discussed here. Can number 6 usurp his senior self? Naturally the 6th starts at Rank 1, requiring 3 Yellow and 3 Black Time Fragments for promotion. I’m short of that so he has to be assessed as he is.

His special ability is called Cavalier and is a poison ability. The Doctor has used poison on occasion in the show. I can remember the 4th and 5th Doctor doing so but not the 6th, though I could be wrong. However it does fit his sometimes venomous character.

Poison is a useful power as it continues to damage the victim after the first hit. It also affects a percentage of the subject’s HP rather than a fixed amount. At Rank 1 Cavalier damages the victim by 3% or 6% of their maximum HP for 5 turns, 15% or 30% in total. Being a percentage it is feeble against weak opponents but effective against the strong. At later levels you will value this power greatly. What about now though?

Let’s look at the last level, The Silent Paradox. The Blue Paradox started with 2200 HP, our toughest opponent so far. If the 6th Doctor got his full power attack in, which takes 60 combos to build, he would do 132 points damage each round, 660 in total. Compare this to the 11th Doctor at Rank 1. After 30 combos he would inflict 500 damage instantly. He could then repeat this after another 30 combos dealing 1,000 of damage to the Blue Paradox in total, just as the 6th Doctor started his 660. Poison also affects one target only, but the 11th Doctor’s power hits all opponents. If you are facing more than one enemy then the 11th Doctor’s power outdoes the 6th’s completely. In my case I have the 11th at Rank 2 so the advantage is even stronger.

As opponents get tougher then Poison attacks catch up, but for now it doesn’t earn 'sixie' Doctor a place on my team. Of course if you refer to him as ‘sexie’ then who cares what I think? Put him in and enjoy.

He is the first Yellow Doctor, appropriate as he did show an un-Doctorly cowardly streak once or twice. You could use him to build a nice Yellow team, with Vastra, Yellow Adipose and Punishment Soldier if you have them. It would be an aggressive team that could be interesting to play, and start you off on the Exterminate Yellow achievements.
See? 235 seconds left on the clock.
I don't know what all the fuss was about

For me though I’m sticking with the 11th Doctor in this journey through Season 7.

Back to Time Attack: The Silent. We have a potential drop, a Green framed girl that I don’t recognise. Once again we’ll have to win her to know her. Yellow Time Fragments are likely to drop so we will probably face some Yellow Silence again. The time and place are still in line with The Impossible Astronaut but this time we are facing a metal door. Maybe it’s the entrance to the Silences’ control room from Day of the Moon.

My team is once again the 11th Doctor at Rank 2, Jenny Flint and Porridge at Lv.8, Vastra and Rory at Lv.7.

As the level starts we face 3 Silence as expected, but what is different is the counter ticking down at the top left of your screen. It starts off saying “You still have 500 sec”. I’m guessing that Sec means seconds, rather than indicating the leader of the Cult of Skaro. From this you can quickly deduce what a Time Attack level is. If you don’t clear the level before the counter runs out then you’re beaten.

The timer encourages you to hurry, so the tendency is to seize the first half decent opening you see instead of finding the optimum move. In the first wave I certainly fell into this trap and the first 3 Silence died the death of a thousand cuts instead of being blessed with a swift death.

I also find that I use special abilities less often in Time Attacks, especially convert powers where I like to consider the colours of opponents and the make up of the board. In the second wave, against 3 other Silence, I finally got to plant Porridges bomb and see it go off. It made a nice bang.

In Wave 3, versus 3 Silence once more, the central Silent got ready to retaliate with a bomb of his own called Arc Blast. Fortunately I’d let the 11th Doctor build his A Fast Plan ability to maximum and I used it to blow them all off the board before it detonated, winning the level with 235 seconds to spare.

Once again there was no Rare Drop. 5 chances and no wins. Just saying. I did earn the experience to promote Vastra and Rory to Lv.8.

I love Time Attacks. They are a proper challenge and certainly get the heart beating. You’ll come across a few of these in your DWL career so it might be wise, as well as enjoyable, to practice. 

The first thing is not to rush. The doomsday counter makes it easier to say that than do it, but you usually have time for sensible play. Be prompt, not frantic. Snatching at the first 3 gem combo you see is less effective and can even take longer. An extra second or two might mean that you do as much damage in one move as you would in 3 rushed attacks.

Another tip for Time Attacks. As soon as you’ve completed your gem move, start looking for the next one.

After your move is done a series of events is set in motion. New gems drop and additional combos fire until the board stabilises. Damage points are then calculated and boosted, which is afterwards inflicted on enemies who are then marked down or removed from the board. Sometimes Time Fragments or crystals drop. Then the bad guys get their attack. This can all take 5 seconds or more, during which time you can’t move. But you could be using it to examine the board.

Watching the chain reaction that your move initiated is fun but you can’t influence it, it’s dead time. Let the game do its thing while you work out your next move.

Artie- Definitely a boy
There are other strategies. For example relying on a team of Tanks may be unwise. You want to finish the enemy quickly rather than engage in a battle of attrition. Don’t go too far as you still need durability, but adding a few damage dealers to the team should be considered. You could also turn off the Skill cut-in animation. That might save you a second or two but it hardly seems worth it.

Your first Time Attacks may be difficult but stick with it. It's not as if you can go round them.

Now about that Rare drop. I described it as a girl, but when you get lucky you’ll discover that ‘she’ is a ‘he’. It’s Artie Maitland, one of Clara’s charges who were taken to Hedgewick’s World in Nightmare In Silver. He was played by Kassius Carey Johnson. Sorry Kassius. You’re definitely a chap but your DWL portrait looks a little feminine.

Artie is a Balanced character with the special power of Sneaky. Sneaky converts Green gems to Pink, which can be mighty useful if you are in a tight spot. You are likely to be taking more damage by now so he may be a useful team member. When levelling him up my advice would be to boost his HEAL, so that you can take maximum advantage of the Pink gems he creates.

Artie is your third Green potential Companion after Rory and Punishment Medic, all of whom have a healing bias. If I had won all the drops up to now then I’d still be using the 11th Doctor, Porridge, Vastra, Jenny Flint, Rory and Yellow Adipose. If you found that your style of play leads you to taking a lot of damage then you might want to have Rory and Artie together. This would give you a team with the recuperative powers of The Flash.

Just to make it clear, I love Time Attacks. A welcome new play mode for Doctor Who legacy. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Silent Paradox

Number 6. No Colin Baker
 not Patrick McGoohan
Previous Episode: Ascent of the Governess

Next Episode: Time Attack: The Silent

Gamer version played: 2.5

Another paradox adventure. Does the mean we get another Doctor? Yes. There's no mistaking that mop of curly yellow hair. It's the 6th Doctor. Okay...number 6. What to say, what to say...Well there's a lot than can and has been said, much of it unfair and unkind.

I've never come across anyone who names the 6th Doctor as their favourite, and I admit that he's a fair way down my list. He was an unlikeable character who barely qualified as hero in some adventures, battling to save his neck or prove his superiority rather than for the good of others. He did warm as the show went on, but much of the time I wished that someone would slap the superior look off his face.

He was the Doctor though, be in no doubt. His arrogance, prickliness and contemptuousness have surfaced in almost every incarnation. It's easy to see particular similarities with the 1st, 9th and the current 12th Doctor. The trouble was in this persona it wasn't tempered by enough humour, bravery, nobility or even obvious affection for his companions. He joked about people falling into an acid bath, used a gun and even killed in hand to hand combat. He wasn't very nice.

However I do think that he is one of the most interesting Doctors, and perhaps the bravest attempt to push the boundaries of the character. I also think he looked a treat. That hideous outfit was something else and Colin Baker was probably the best looking man to play the part. David Tennant later had sex appeal and Matt Smith had a gawky charm, but C.Baker was a handsome chap.

The other thing counting against number 6 was the state of the show at that time. Poor old John Nathan-Turner had tried to pass on the baton of producer several times, but the BBC kept him in place. He had done good stuff for Doctor Who but it was past time for a change behind the scenes. Budgets were cut, the show was suspended for 18 months, and it was moved from Saturday tea time to go against Coronation Street. It was if someone was deliberately trying to kill the show. Conspiracy theories abound.

Some of the 6th Doctor stories are terrible. Particular scenes, such as the 'tree' throwing its branch around Peri to save her in The Mark of the Rani, drove me behind the sofa in embarrassment. Some of the acting, not Colin Baker's I hasten to say, barely warranted the description.

Colin Baker was also famously sacked by the BBC. That was unjust as the problems were elsewhere, and it ended the character's journey prematurely. If he'd had more seasons I think he'd have won people over.

I don't indulge in the vast number of audio Doctor Who adventures. If I bought one I'd be hooked, and I can't afford (both time and money-wise) another obsession. However it's worth noting that Colin Baker has been voted the greatest of all the Doctors in this medium.
A small icon for a big personality

Usually I name a favourite adventure for each Doctor, but for the 6th I'd chose the court scenes throughout The Trial of a Time Lord. His tirades from the dock against the callous, arrogant, self-righteous Time Lords illustrate best of all why the Doctor turned renegade, stole a TARDIS and left Gallifrey with his granddaughter.

With that off my chest it's time to play the game. My team was the 11th Doctor at Rank 2, with Porridge, Vastra, Jenny Flint and Rory all at Lv.7, still my only companions. Yellow and Blue fragments are likely to drop.

We have a new background this time, all dark and creepy. We're in Florida on 8th April 1969 so we must be beneath the warehouse in The Impossible Astronaut. The 11th Doctor is worried, warning us that this paradox is guarded by The Silence. He points out that they should be further in his past, probably due to the Sontarans messing up the timeline. I assume he's referring to the fact that these events happened in Season 6, not 7.

Two Yellow Silence drop in preparation for wave 1, but before it kicks off proper we get a bit of in-game advice We're told that if we find a level too difficult we can replay earlier adventures to boost the team's strength. If that isn't a warning that the game is about to get more difficult then I don't know what is.

We also receive a tip about playing with different allies. Well it would be nice to have the choice wouldn't it?

The first wave finally starts. With the signpost to stiffer opposition still preying on my mind I killed them quickly and avoided any damage. Wave 2 was hot on their heels, made of three Yellow Silence. The one in the middle was sparking up, ready to attack in just one round rather than two. Perhaps I should have targeted him but I didn't, killing the one on the left instead. Sparky hit me for 30 points then fell in the next round. However his mate hit me for 60 before I managed to finish him off and clear the wave.

90 points of damage I took in that round, a record so far. I still had 707 HP left so I wasn't in any trouble, but the opposition is definitely growing teeth.

Wave 3 is a Blue Reaper. We've faced these critters before in Dalek Paradox. I inflicted about 20% damage in our first exchange and Jenny Flint was then ready to use her Smoulder power. Red is weak against Blue so I held back. I then got the Reaper down to about 15% HP, but took a chunky 150 points of damage in reply. I'd healed my previous damage using Pinks but this knocked me back to 647 out of 797 HP. You don't want to take too many of those.

The 11th Doctor's Cunning ability was now ready but as the Reaper was on his last legs I again restrained myself. It was the right decision as I killed him next turn.

My 10th achievement
The final wave is a Blue Paradox. Vastra was now ready to Riposte so my team's timing was spot on. I checked to see how far the Doctor was from his 500 point Cunning ability, but he was still 16 combos away. How did I know that? Well if you click and hold down the portrait of character in your team then it shows you how far they are from their special ability. Cool eh? I didn't know about that for a long time.

I used Vastra's 150 point Riposte which barely scratched the Paradox, then followed up with a traditional attack that got it down to 80%. The Paradox must have got ideas from Jenny Flint, as it converted all my Pink Gems to Red. A cunning move to deprive me of healing, but Rory came to the rescue with Stand Firm and healed 100 HP. Ha!

Now even Porridge was flashing. I actually get to plant a bomb at long last, hurrah! The bomb was set, ready to go off in 5 rounds.

Another attack got the Paradox to 70% just as it warped more Pinks to Red. I then hit one of those really nice series of combos that racks up the damage. The Paradox was down to 15% and victory was nearly mine.

My opponent was down to 5% when it lashed out again taking me to 597 out of 797 HP. The Doctor was still a few combos from his full power attack and the bomb was still ticking down, but I decided enough was enough. His 150 point Cunning was enough to finish the Paradox off. Got 'im.

A grey portrait fell and the 6th Doctor entered my TARDIS. I also won the Exterminate II achievement for using ally attributes 20 times. Jenny and Porridge were promoted to LV.8, with points added to ATK and HP respectively.

Nice. Very nice. The difficulty level just moved up an enjoyable notch.