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Unboxing and playing the ‘League of Legends’ board game

Mechs vs Minions is League of Legends fanfiction presented in the style of Dungeons & Dragons or Descent, with just a hint of Fireball Island thrown in for good measure. It’s a cooperative, programmable, card-wielding board game set in the League universe, starring League characters, but nothing about it feels shoehorned into a tabletop format. This could easily be a standalone game on the shelf at Target, no outside video game connection required.

That said, the aspects of Mechs vs Minions that reference League make the game exponentially more special for fans of the video game — and, let’s face it, there are a lot of League fans. More than 100 million people around the world play the game every month and SuperData Research estimates that its studio, Riot Games, will pull in revenue of nearly $1.8 billion in 2016. Part of that cash influx comes from Riot’s eSports efforts, which are in full swing this weekend: The League of Legends World Championship concludes on Saturday at the Los Angeles Staples Center, which has sold out (again) for the final global showdown.

But, that’s all just background information for the board game, which we unboxed live on Facebook on Friday. Mechs vs Minions is a cooperative tabletop experience designed for two to four players, who all work together to defeat hordes of minions and complete dangerous missions. The stars are Tristana, Corki, Ziggs and Heimerdinger, all of whom are yordles (short, furry, cartoonish creatures) plucked directly from League.

The map comes in five pieces to accommodate a plethora of mission designs, and players move around by slotting cards into their command lines — basically, these are long boards with six card-shaped slots. Each player gets her own command line and is able to customize it to make the associated character move, attack and transport packages across the map. It’s like programming; once the cards are slotted in, each player has to execute the entire line, in order, on each turn. Figuring out where to put action cards in relation to movement cards is half of the battle (and the fun).

However, minions and other hazards can make the command line messy. Players take damage when they’re next to minions and other explosive objects, which means they pick up a damage card. These cards are either placed on top of a slot in a player’s command line, mucking up the program until the player uses a turn to get rid of it, or they’re used right away, forcing players to move cards around their command line and generally throwing off their groove.

These are just the basics of Mechs vs Minions gameplay. The full game is $75 and it comes with 100 minions, four yordles, a large boss statue, five map pieces, nearly 200 cards, a tiny bomb figurine, and 10 mission envelopes, each offering a different way to play and new foes to defeat, and of course a dense rulebook and tutorial guide. This isn’t exactly a pick-up-and-play kind of tabletop game — it takes a little bit of studying and at least one practice round to get fully acquainted with its rhythms, but it’s absolutely worthwhile for League fans (and their long-suffering friends).

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick