Category Archives: All Things Geek

I am a geek. Like really. An uber-geek. Just ask my sister.

Hustle Castle – A Portal’s Tale

On Spending Money

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
– Proverbs 22:1

In-Game Purchases

Everyone knows that in order to make rapid progress in Hustle Castle, you must spend money. The game is designed to slow to a virtual standstill as you get further into it. In other words, it’s designed to entice you to pay the developers!

Now let me be clear. I have no problem with spending money on games, nor with paying someone for a service rendered. I am a gamer at heart, and I like to consider myself a generous person. In the case of in-game payments, these two qualities often complement each other.

I have made several Hustle Castle purchases. My recent success in the Portal is a direct result of a very large purchase, along with a bit of ingenuity.

My Hustle Castle Purchase History

I’m going to open up my Google Play account history to you. Here it is:

Google Play Expenses Page 1
Google Play Expenses Page 2

I want to point out 2 things of note about my Hustle Castle purchases in this account:

  1. They are atypical. While I do occasionally spend money on Android games, I don’t tend to spend such large amounts, or make so many purchases.
  2. They are escalating. I started out with small, occasional purchases. Recently, they have been larger and more frequent.

My Hustle Castle Purchase Rationale

Here is how I rationalized this recent $50 purchase:

  1. I buy entertainment all the time. I think nothing of dropping more than $50 on a board game or console game. I spend much more than $50 on dinner with the family. I spend more than $50 taking the kids to see a movie. In relation to other entertainment purchases, it’s not unreasonable.
  2. That amount of money certainly won’t break the bank. Maybe not exactly a wise purchase (more on this later) but it’s not going to endanger my family’s financial well-being.
  3. I’m getting to the point in the game where good equipment will have a significant effect on my progress. The equipment that I got here was in the 75-78 level range. I will soon have fighters at level 85, and the purple shards that I got can be used to craft level 85 equipment.
  4. My clan needs me! We’ve been having some difficulty in wars recently, and I feel motivated to up my game to help out. I really enjoy playing with my clan, and I like winning!
  5. Legendary rings! I’ve been waiting for a portal with legendary rings for a long time. It’s been several weeks since legendary rings were on offer. My rings were the weakest part of the squad, and I also consider rings to be the safest portal purchase, after shards.

My Hustle Castle Purchase Folly

Despite all of these excuses, I actually felt that spending that money was not a good idea. I was able to convince myself that it was “okay” but I didn’t feel right about it. I should have listened to my conscience.

Here is what I have learned, in hindsight, about the ramifications of my decision:

  1. It has sown suspicion on my character. As the Proverb above states, a good reputation is always preferable to wealth. As a result of spending an amount of money that is disproportionate to that of my clanmates, I have put my reputation at risk, and  all in the pursuit of in-game “wealth”.
  2. It has sown discontent among my friends. In my quest to improve my own squad, I didn’t take into account how my clanmates would feel about it.
  3. I have perhaps set a bad example. Romans 14:15 tells us that we should be careful of the precedents that we set for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I was not considerate in this regard, and I could possibly cause someone to make an unwise decision to imitate my own.

A Formal Apology

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
– James 5:16

I apologize to all my clanmates, and my brothers and sisters. I should have listened to the Spirit’s leading when He told me not to do this. As a result, I have caused discord in the clan. Please forgive me.

The Mathematics Behind My Portal Run

Now that I’ve gone through that, I would like to explain the past couple days, in an effort to regain lost trust and friendship. I will start with the math of how this all came about. I guarantee you that it all works out because I did it.

Initial Conditions

  • My food storage was full (490k food) as was my food court (105k food)
  • I had approximately 1.3k diamonds saved up. I don’t remember the exact number.
  • I had approximately 30 red-and-gold friend gift chests saved up. Each held 37k food. This is about 1.1M food. NOTE: I think I said on chat that it was about 40. This number was wrong. It was closer to 30.
  • I had approximately 40 blue portal chests saved up from previous portal runs.  They each had a varying amount of food in them, from 4k in some to over 50k in others. I don’t know exactly how much food total was in these. I’m going to estimate that these 40ish chests had a total of around 800k food in them.
  • All 6 of my fighters were at level 70
  • My Training room was upgrading, and had about 1.5 days left before it was done.
  • I had 3 lvl 75-78 legendary suits of armor, and 1 lvl 75 legendary sword saved up.
  • I had purchased 13k diamonds from the market.


Before starting the portal, I used the majority of my diamonds to finish upgrading my training room and level up my fighters to the point where they could use the new equipment. Finishing the training room cost 1.2k diamonds. Leveling up the fighters cost between 120 – 250 diamonds per level. These tasks cost a total of (I think) about 8k diamonds. I don’t know the exact amount because I figuratively stuck my fingers in my ears and sang “la-la-la” to myself to ignore the incredible waste of resources. I considered it a “necessary expense” in order to prepare for what I wanted to accomplish.

I also spent about 1.4k diamonds on a soul tripler. I don’t remember the exact cost of that item either, and my store doesn’t currently show the price because I have already purchased it.

Food Calculations

I had about 6k diamonds. At my current level, I can fill my food stores for 200 diamonds, which gives me 490k food each time. The numbers aren’t exact because I never had exactly zero food in my food stores at the time that I bought more. Even so, with 6k diamonds, I can purchase around (6000 / 200) * 490000 = 14.7 M food.

My food court can produce over 54k food per hour, plus I get a 20% bonus with Premium. I didn’t lose much (if any) of this production potential during the entire 31 hours of my run. This yields approximately 31 * 54000 * 1.2 = 2M food.

I requested food twice from the clan. The clan was very generous, and gave me 120k food.

I got the daily chest twice, which gave me 50k food each time, for 100k food.

Gifts from friends gave me (I think) about 100k food. I don’t know for sure because I’ve never paid all that much attention to exactly how much food I get from gifts from friends. It’s small enough to be relatively inconsequential. Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t appreciate it!

Add all this to the 595k food I started out with, and you get a total of around 17M food across the 31 hours that I participated in the portal.

Dark Soul Calculations

The previous section had some hand-waving involved. This section will, similarly, involve a little bit of vaguary, for two reasons:

  1. I couldn’t do the same portal level every single time. I had to work my way up from level 1, same as everyone else.
  2. At the beginning, I was trying to farm level 59 of the portal. I did this at least a couple dozen times. However, I eventually abandoned it because it was too difficult. I had to occasionally spend a resurrection to prevent defeat, and I knew that I wouldn’t be sustainable.

I eventually ended up farming level 57 over and over. I don’t know exactly how many times I fought level 57. I can only guess based on the numbers. It was a lot.

Level 57 costs 34200 food each time, and yields 208 dark souls (before triple). Ignoring the two details listed above, if I simply used all of my food for level 57, then I could play it 17000000 / 32400 = 497 times. This would give me a total of 497 * 208 = 103367 dark souls, before applying the tripler.

As of the time of this writing, the number of dark souls that I acquired is public record. I am currently ranked 81st on the portal ranking, with 103079 dark souls. This is suspiciously close to the calculation that I just detailed.

After applying tripling, you get 103079 * 3 = 309237. I actually got 42 less than this because I (for my own reasons) didn’t buy the tripler until I had already beat the first two levels. So I actually accumulated 309195 dark souls.

Prize Calculations

I bought myself 5 legendary rings, costing 28109 each, for a total of 140545 dark souls. I also bought 40 purple shards at 4216 each, for a total of 168640 dark souls.

In theory, that would mean that I should have 10 dark souls left. I actually have 4 left in the store right now. That means my calculations are somehow off by 6. I can’t account for it. Sorry. I’m not perfect!

Time Calculations

In Hustle Castle, time is as precious a resource as diamonds and food. I am often more limited by time than I am by other resources.

Level 57 always starts with 5 minutes on the timer. The length of the run varies from one to the next, but I typically have 3:15ish left on the timer at the end. This means that a typical run takes about 105 seconds. Since I double the speed with Premium, it’s actually around 65 seconds. Now you need to add to this time for loading screens. So let’s say it takes right around 2 minutes per run.

I previously calculated that I must have done around 497 runs. Multiply this out, and you get 497 * 2 = 994 minutes / 60 = 16.5 hours. Obviously, in a 31 hour period I would have enough time to do the required number of runs. In fact I did them all and I got about 5 hours of sleep, and I drove children to school, and went to work, and went out to dinner with my family, and bathed my children, and brushed their teeth, and tucked them into bed, and spent time with my wife, and had a couple of friends over for a visit, and… and…

It was a pretty good couple of days, and while I know my family was aware that I was playing a bit more than normal, I don’t think that it encroached too much on my life. How did I do this? Yes, I admit, I did something akin to what is frequently called “botting”.

The Dreaded Bot

Botting, or the act of scripting a game, is sometimes frowned on in the community. I’m not sure why. I’m honestly not even sure if what I did counts strictly as “botting”.

I have a tool that I used for the first time in this portal run that allows me to record my actions in the game. It’s pretty limited. There is no logic. It simply records my screen presses and allows me to play them back again. I was able to use it to record the actions required to select portal level 57, start the battle, increase the speed, and exit the level on success.

I was then able to tell the recording to execute a specific number of times. To figure this out, I would look at how much food I had and divide by 34200.  So if I had a full food court, then I could execute the recording 490000 / 34200 = 14 times. I did this while at work, while getting ready for the morning, while hanging out with my family, etc. I just had to occasionally (every 30 minutes or so) take a few seconds to purchase more food and restart execution.

I don’t personally consider this to be cheating. It doesn’t modify the game in any way. It doesn’t have any logic. If anything unexpected occurred (which sometimes did) it couldn’t handle it. It was simply a way of repeating my own actions over and over again.

I intend to make a YouTube video showing how to do this, and sharing it with the whole clan in the near future. It’s surprisingly easy to accomplish, and if motivated, I think anyone with some very basic computer skills could handle it.


Thus ends my tale. Judge me if you will. I find myself guilty of unwise, sinful behavior in some aspects, and for this I do apologize. I hope that this can help to heal the rift that I have caused. Let’s enjoy gaming together!

Understanding Physical Damage in Hustle Castle

Damage in Hustle Castle is somewhat complicated, and is often misunderstood. It doesn’t help that it’s not presented very clearly in the game interface. In this article, I will try to bring some clarity to this confusing topic.

Types of Damage

There are two different types of damage:

  • Physical damage (usually just called “damage” in the game)
  • Magic damage

This article will focus exclusively on physical damage. While much of what is described here will also apply to magic damage, there are some extra subtleties that make magic damage even more interesting. I may go over this in another, future article if I am so motivated.

Sources of Physical Damage

Physical damage comes from tank (melee) weapons and from archer weapons. Here is a complete list of all tank weapons:

  • Daggers
  • Sword
  • Mace
  • Axe

And here are the archer weapons:

  • Bow
  • Crossbow

Physical damage can also come from armor and / or a ring that your fighter is wearing. Some tank armor provides damage, and all archer armor provides damage. Some rings provide physical damage, some provide magic damage, and some provide no damage.

Tank armor that provides physical damage

Weapon Attack Speed

The different categories of physical damage weapons each have a different attack speed. This speed is independent of the DPS (damage per second) number reported on the weapon description, but it is important in calculating the overall DPS for the fighter. More on this later.

Here are the attack speeds of the different weapons:

  • Fast (2 per second) – Daggers
  • Normal (1 per second) – Sword, Bow
  • Slow (2 every 3 seconds) – Mace, Crossbow
  • Very Slow (1 every 2 seconds) – Axe

You can find out the attack speed of a weapon by clicking on the DPS number in the weapon’s details screen. For example:

Attack speed details for an axe

The DPS Calculation for a Weapon

Notice in the above image, the Bloodsucker poleaxe deals between 3154 and 3448 damage with each attack. If you take the mean of those two values, you can assume that each attack of the axe will, on average, deal 3301 damage to the enemy. Since the axe is a very slow weapon, it only deals an attack every 2 seconds, or 1/2 attack every second. So, divide 3301 by 2, and you get (rounded down) 1650 damage every second. This is the DPS value that is reported for the weapon.

The DPS Calculation for a Fighter

If you only equip your fighter with a weapon, then the DPS for the fighter is simple to calculate. It is equivalent to the DPS of the weapon, as shown below:

DPS of daggers
DPS of fighter with daggers

Notice in the bottom-left corner of the fighter’s info screen (bottom image) it says that the fighter’s DPS is 1738. This is equal to the DPS of the equipped daggers (top image).

Things get more interesting when you throw armor into the mix, though. Look at the following archer armor:

Archer armor

This armor provides between 2581 and 2700 damage on each attack. Note that this is not a DPS value! This is where the confusion comes from. This armor gives an average of 2640.5 damage per attack. So, if you equip it along with the fast daggers, which do 2 attacks per second, then the armor provides 2640.5 * 2, or 5281 DPS. This is shown below:

Archer armor with daggers equipped

Notice that the fighter’s DPS value is 7019, which is the 1738 from the daggers added to the 5281 from the armor.

The same thing goes for damage from a ring. Take this ring, for example:

Ring that provides physical damage

It provides an average of 680 damage, (588 + 772) / 2, on each attack. So, when coupled with the daggers, it provides an extra 1360 DPS, as shown below:

Armor and ring with daggers equipped

The armor and ring are significantly less effective when paired with a very slow weapon, like the Bloodsucker poleaxe, already discussed above. Here is what that configuration looks like:

Armor and ring with axe equipped

Wow! Even though the axe provides DPS of 1650, which is only 88 DPS less than the 1738 from the daggers, the whole package yields 5068 less total DPS for your fighter. That’s because the fast daggers attack 4x as fast as the very slow axe. So the DPS boost from the armor and ring is only 1661 when the axe is equipped. This is 1/4 the DPS boost of 6641 that you get from the armor and ring when the daggers are equipped.

More DPS Examples


Sword DPS
Armor and ring with sword equipped


Armor and ring with bow equipped


Mace DPS
Armor and ring with mace equipped


Crossbow DPS
Armor and ring with crossbow equipped


– danBhentschel

BLURB: Gaming on a mountain

This is a quick addendum to my report on our 2016 White Mountain Presidential Range traverse.

Anyone who knows me is familiar with my passion for board games (see Games I played in the summer of 2014Games I played in the fall of 2014, etc….) Whenever I go on a trip, I almost always bring a stash of games along with me… even in the White Mountains. My pack was very full and very heavy, but there’s always room for one game, right? I decided to bring Bang!: The Dice Game with me. It’s a small game, and pretty resilient, and can be played with 3 to 8 players. Perfect for a trip in the mountains!


Bang!: The Dice Game
Bang!: The Dice Game


Tim decided to bring a second game in his own pack: No Thanks! This is another good choice since it is small, easy to learn, and very fun.


No Thanks!
No Thanks!


Our first night on the trail, we stayed at Mizpah Spring Hut. Before dinner time, Tim, Mr. Tim, and Stephen were playing a round of Uno while I watched. The other two games were sitting on the table, waiting to be played at some later time.

Then a man sitting at the table beside ours turned around and asked, “Is that Bang!: The Dice Game, and is that No Thanks!?” He introduced himself as Jordan, but said I could call him by his trail name “Optimist”. He was a thru-hiker, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. We chatted for a bit, and his wife, “Purple Mist” (who was also hiking the AT with him) came over to say “Hi” as well.

Purple Mist told me a funny anecdote about them building a shelving unit to hold his games and some of her books. Apparently the games took over and left no room for books. Sounds very familiar:


One of my two shelves overflowing with games
One of my two shelves overflowing with games


Optimist played a couple of rounds of Bang with us that night, and we saw the two of them again the next day at Lakes of the Clouds Hut and then again on the summit of Mt. Washington. They didn’t stay at Lakes, though, opting to do the whole Presidential ridge in a single day, and stay at Madison Spring Hut that night. (A very good move, since they avoided the “fun” of hiking the ridge in 80 mph winds.)

So I didn’t have an opportunity to play any more games with Optimist. I very much enjoyed meeting another board gamer in the White Mountain wilderness, though. I’ve been praying for them occasionally over the past couple of months, and several times I have searched Google for any news of them. Well, this morning I was very happy to find this:


Optimist and Purple Mist at the end of the Appalachian Trail
Optimist and Purple Mist at the end of the Appalachian Trail


Congratulations! I am very happy you made it!


They have also created a fantastic video blog of their entire trip on YouTube. Here is the video that spans their Presidential Range hike:


– danBhentschel