Cherished Memories

May 9, 2021

We didn’t play Denver CRUSH today.  Player availability was an issue, so just hung out and talked for hours.

I was going to try something different in today’s session, something that would have tied into today’s theme.

My family doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day.  That would be my mother and, to my knowledge, her mother.  It’s possible other family does.

I think about my mother all of the time, these days.  But, one of the things I realized was how little I remember about the day to day stuff when younger.

Sure, I don’t remember a lot of my life.  My father was visiting recently and asked me if things trigger memories, and they don’t seem to in the case of mundane events.  I remember mundane things by summoning the memories to the fore.  So many “What was it like when I was 12 and not playing videogames?” memories are just gone.  I know I did various things, but I don’t picture them.  Like school work.  From between like 4th grade and 12th, I remember only a couple failed projects and not really doing anything else.  (Perhaps why I didn’t get into a better university.)

I can recall my mother picking me up from the airport multiple times with really short, very red hair and my wondering why she wanted it that way but not asking since it didn’t really matter to me one way or the other how she did her hair.  I recall instances of her making strawberry shortcake or chocolate wafer cookies, both with home-whipped whipped cream, apparently something she preferred.  But, for instance, I have a hard time picturing her fix food besides spaghetti.  She did a number of things.  I know some of the ones that happened repeatedly, like hamburgers, roast potatoes, split pea soup, stew.  But, I don’t really picture them.  And, I don’t remember all of the other stuff.  Like, I can’t recall any Chinese food she made even though she made some.  I’m not even sure whether she ever made something someone would consider Thai food.

So, gaming.

The mundane is … well, mundane can mean something different with RPG play.  In my mind, mundane in RPG play includes things like looking up rules, accountating treasure/resources, worrying about logistics stuff.  But, here, I’m going for RL’s mundane moments as unmundane, antimundane, nonmundane events in RPG play.

In character activity doesn’t always matter.  But, it could.  The last play of Witch Doctors was full of mundane activity.  Getting up, breakfast, driving to the gun range.  While I wouldn’t normally fixate on minutia in the same way, when a PC does something, doesn’t it have extra meaning?

The small moments.  The quiet moments.  The day to day “What’s your character doing right now?  Um, er, I guess I would be painting in the woods by myself.” differs from “Yo, stupid, does your character have 4 levels of Skydiving or not?”  RL has billions of forgettable moments.  RPG play doesn’t have time for that.  What PCs do is informative.  Maybe it shows what they care about, maybe it is some piece of trivia like favorite color that speaks to being fleshed out enough to where trivia matters to anyone.

A PC might do something that has little meaning to the observer but has a whole train of thought to the player.  When the observer realizes the meaning to actions, so much the better.  Even random decisions can lead to importance later.  Not always, but the goal isn’t to remember every last detail of a character’s existence but to remember those moments that give the character life.

RPG play isn’t just rolling dice and mowing down mice demons.  It should humanize your inhuman, feldspar, rabbit god.

I don’t need to remember every last detail of my life.  But, let’s not ignore that what matters when you get older and you look back on what has transpired and who has been part of that can be injected into gaming to give additional memories to hold on to.


Perplexed

May 7, 2021

I did some chess puzzles recently.  Well, in most cases, didn’t do them.

Since I don’t like chess, why?

Outside of the constant struggle against boredom that is life, I was thinking about puzzles.  Probably because of an observation I had about True Dungeon play that I don’t see much reason to go into at the moment.

But, why chess?

I’m relatively terrible at chess.  As a solitaire activity, I could just play solitaire rather than try chess problems.  I don’t succeed much at 77-7, but whatever it’s called, that I should look up so that I can refer to it without this level of awkwardness, I win at often.

I’m not sure if it’s poor spatial relationship abilities or if it’s laziness or something that isn’t as obvious that causes me to just not get how moving pieces in chess achieves different results.

It’s not like playing something to be sociable.  There are games I’m bad at that I only play because others want to, like Talisman.

Actually, there are games I’m not bad at that I only play to be sociable, but that’s off topic.

What do I want to do during these still pandemicy times?

I spend thought on Denver CRUSH.  But, I can’t get motivated enough to create content.  I looked at the AD&D 1e DMG recently, as I have it sitting out due to looking up artifact names.  It’s just such an amazing product and a bewildering one [use perplexing to stay on theme].  It has tons and tons of material on what doesn’t interest me in RPG play.

Should I try a pass on writing up what I want in RPG play?

I have been trying to organize tokens better, but there’s just not a lot to do until sending in a transmute order.

Gen Con 2021 is being perplexing for seemingly everyone.  Who is going to go is perplexful.

Found out Supergirl is ending after this season, which seems bothersome for some perplexing reason even though I stopped watching it because … I don’t really enjoy it.  I read an article as to how to end the show and the problem the show has had the whole time, and it made a lot of sense.  The show isn’t about Supergirl enough.  It’s far too much about Luthors.  Smallville wore me out for the same reason.  No, villains aren’t more interesting, at least not when you have an interesting hero.

Legends of Tomorrow is back and there’s nothing perplexing about why it’s so much better than other Arrowverse shows – it’s funny.  Kind of forced, at times, but Preventers was even amusing to me.  Does it need to cut some characters …

So, here’s something that perplexes me:  why do TV shows have so many characters?  Actors cost money.  Is it to reduce workload by reducing screentime?  That seems weird, if so.  You have too many characters suboptimal show!  Do more with whoever is supposed to be your main character(s).  Then you will be better.  Endeavor for better.

Do RPGs suffer from too many characters?  Yes-s-s … sort of.  So, just having a lot of names does perplex some people, but, in and of itself, it’s not the problem.  It’s when the PCs don’t know what to interact with that a laundry list of names can be a problem.  And, yet, if players know what they want to do and try to do it, the players can prune the relevant list.

Trying to keep up to date on what’s going on with VTES is perplexing me, which is interesting when you consider how plugged in I try to be and what it says about how connected I feel to the game these days.  I’ve forgotten various card names and can’t summon card choices to mind as easily.  I only recently discovered that you can get some VTES stuff in Latin.  Sure, that’s not actually useful to me, but it’s like art, gamer art, for someone who doesn’t ever put anything up on walls or display even art along the lines of a VTESed portrait of himself.

It occurs to me as I typed that last paragraph that my art is all flat, tabletop art.  It’s CCG playmats and cards in decks that come from white boxes and get put flat on to tables.

One of the effects of having played RPGs is that I no longer value creating RPG content for play that will never happen.  I used to create characters, write up campaign content, and whatever for play that would never happen.  That entertained me.  Now, it feels wasteful not to create content for play I do have or could have.  Why not work on material for games I’m in?  I could be working on my HoR4 character.  I could be working on stories for my Chuda character.

Why not do more for Traveller outside of our weekly calls?

Why not build Shadowfist decks for when finally get to play again?

Why not read more about VTES decks being played on Lackey?

Why not crack some Magic packs for … um … uh …  Okay, I don’t really have a reason to do anything with Magic anymore as I no longer care about Type P.  I should just sell my Magic stuff to clear out space as it’s hard to imagine embracing the game again in the future based on how I felt about most recent endeavors.  Of course, that requires effort.

It’s not perplexing as to the mood I’ve been in – it’s the same mood that would strike me constantly in the past that would get me to switch to delving into the next game in my game cycle.  Get burnt out on doing something for Champions?  Move on to BattleTech.  Burn out on that?  V:TM.  Stormbringer, Dragon Dice, Feng Shui, AD&D, Conan, Marvel SH, whatever.  A lot of these don’t have nearly the draw they once did.  Sure, Solomon Kane and Legend of the Burning Sands and other things I’ve actually either run or played or both in the last decade take the place of stuff I never really expect to play, like Mecha! or Wheel of Time CCG.

What’s, perhaps, perplexing is why I find it so hard to find things I like to do.  I don’t like chess puzzles.  Well, to be more specific, I do like retrogade analysis style chess puzzles because they aren’t typically spatially oriented in the way that mate in two problems are.  Why not read a book that will inspire me to a RPG campaign idea that will never happen?  Why not adapt content from one game product to something like the Denver CRUSH campaign?

Sure, it’s clear why I don’t put effort into creating content for a campaign I want to run because campaigns I want to run don’t really seem to work.  Solomon Kane was more deciding to run SK first, then fleshing out campaign, rather than having something already created that my players wouldn’t appreciate.

I asked myself recently why I’m spending time playing solitaire, especially 77-7, which is too hard to be satisfying or, when I do get a win, often has easy wins that aren’t satisfying.  Not perplexing that being lazy is, um, less effort.

Perplexed?

Gamer’s block.  It happens to me even though there are lots of ways to avoid it.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.  How to get past it when people won’t entertain me on Discord or forums or whatever?

Well, let me head upstairs and navigate the deathtrap that is the computer room and find some old gaming product that I might mine for some temporary amusement and/or somehow relate to stuff I actually play.


To Lose Is To Win

May 3, 2021

Keeping with a theme of losing, let’s talk about CCGs … and tokens.

Two things happened recently, one was True Dungeon 2022 token development wrapped up (to the extent that it does) and Jeff and I met for a bit more than an hour last week to work on Traveller CCG cards.

Jeff and I spent about an hour trying to figure out one card.

Again, one of my low life wisdom decisions is not recording our design meetings, even after realizing how interesting that could be.

Not even a Connection, where I persist in viewing Connections as the most build around cards in Traveller (on average).

At one point during the trying to hammer out some text to at least get to a playtest point, even if we don’t have a lot of playtesting for our game, I brought up an example of something with token development.

True Dungeon is not a CCG.  It might be closer to a MMO in token economy, but I wouldn’t know since I have never been interested in MMOs after trying one for a short time.

Yet, I approach design/development for it based on what I know – … … … oh, right, I know CCGs.

In the first draft of 2022 ultrarares, one of them was Butterfly Cloak.  I liked it.  I liked it because it did something different and wasn’t burdened with brokenness (BWB, TM, R, C, XYZ).  I pointed out on the forums that I both liked it and I knew it would never make it through dev as is.  It was too weak for the powergamers that comprise much of the forumites.

It survived through dev.  After getting massively powered up.  I no longer care anything about the token.

… and he who wins shall lose.

Not politically correct.  … and they who win shall lose, perhaps.

Anyway, I tried to point out why the token was good as is or should have a different power up from what it got.  Falls on deaf ears.  Now, maybe I shouldn’t try to impose my CCG expertise on games that aren’t.  Or, maybe people should just listen to the geniusness.

Not every card is for everyone.  Not every token is for everyone.

So, I used the latter phrase.  I can just imagine anyone who cared enough to quote me would say something like “Sure, rares are for poor people, URs for people who are getting serious about TD, and relics/legendaries for us.”

Yeah, that displays more how I view others than how they likely view themselves.  Everyone is the evil mastermind in their own head.

But, we can just assume that my criticisms of the outlooks of other people are in all ways justified, even though I suck at life and other people maybe suck less at life.  But, neither here nor there, so I should move on.

Just as Mark Rosewater will pontificate about Magic cards that appeal to some players and not others, I will latch on to that without really adding anything of consequence.

We were working on a card and think that it may be too weak to see play, assuming that Traveller CCG players even care about how good their decks are.  We had part of the effect be an answer (to recursion).  We discussed increasing the magnitude of the effect.

But, my arguments for keeping the magnitude low-sounding were twofold:  one, we don’t know how good this sort of effect is at the moment or how good it will be in the future after we publish a few hundred thousand new Traveller CCG cards; two, not every card has to be good.

Not every card has to be good.

I, apparently, love repeating myself.  I put this down to twofoldiness:  one foldiness, I have very little to say … unless someone argues with me and forces me to examine the nature of reality in a more geniusy way; second foldiness, people don’t listen to me.  Now, one could argue listening to me doesn’t make one’s life better, and one could be wrong.  Because, I don’t like being wrong.  So, when someone can point out that I am, I don’t argue until the dying of the light about how I’m right.  Of course, they need to actually prove I’m wrong, which requires effort/care.

Many years ago, because time passes even though that only leads to more and more health problems until we fall apart, I realized that it’s not possible for every card to be above average.  I know, genius.

I further realized that I enjoyed below average cards in some cases.

So, I changed from “Why can’t people just make all great cards?  Power, yum, yum, power, eat, power, yum.” to “What offends me about bad cards isn’t badness, it’s that these bad cards are boring.  I hate boring.  Fire up my zeppelin so that I can rant to the publishers in person!”

Why play CCGs?  Oh, deities!  Stop, in the name of blogging!

Don’t be boring, m’kay.

Butterfly Cloak was not boring.  Now?  Far more boring.  It’s now very similar to an existing token which wasn’t the case before.

Our unpublished, unfinalized card?  Not boring since nothing does something similar.  May not be broken now but could easily could end up broken because it does something no other card in the game does.  Scary.  As lead developer and not lead designer, my job is to try to shut that stuff down.

True Dungeon rares never meant much of anything to me, as I skipped from casual player with meaningless collection (mechanically) to 1%er to .1%er.  Yet, there was a rare set in for awhile that I had interest in using on some run.  Not that I ever would, as a year later I would have lost my momentary whimsy and sought only power, yum, yum, power, eat, power, yum.

It’s “funny”, by which I mean offensively arrogant and patronizing, how people consider my comments to be telling them how to play a game when I’m pointing out that not everyone is interested in the same things and how when they speak for other players rather than just expressing what they like or don’t like they are wrong.  Not everyone is obsessed with power.  Not everyone is looking to drop a few thousand dollars on a game that doesn’t require any investment besides the ticket cost, which can be gotten around by just finding someone to sponsor your play for the rewards.

Then, there are plenty who are just wrong about what’s good, too.  That’s pretty common with CCGs.  There are so many players who don’t understand tech, who don’t understand metagaming, who don’t explore and discover.

You prove them wrong by winning.  In a coop game where you choose your difficulty level and can self impose limitations upon yourselves easily, there’s no real winning with TD.  Sure, you could do “prove everyone wrong” runs with like soloing Epic or something, but, since most people want to play with full parties, I don’t consider hardly any of my play relevant to other players.  Much of my VTD play is Double Downs, where needs are just different, not completely different, but different.  Then, I do theme runs.  When I was playing PTD with PUGs (true or forum), I often didn’t need to do anything because the builds were so overpowered for the difficulty level, so can’t draw any conclusions about what actually matters for being challenged from those runs.

Of course, cards or tokens can be not boring for non-mechanical reasons.  Maybe the title is cool, e.g. Refusal to Yield.  Maybe the art is good.  Maybe it has a coherent flavor with other cards.

I realize that getting random URs that suck is a downer just as much as when I used to open booster after booster of CCGs and got suck rares that it was a downer.  But, you know what, if you are getting random URs, you have already sunk a bunch of money into the game and are getting ones you want *or* you got insanely lucky to get an UR at all and shouldn’t be whining about how it isn’t as good as the above-averagers.

Speaking of losing.  We sent off a package recently for transmuting tokens.  Andy made the comment that the package getting lost could maybe make us come to our senses about how much money we put into a game.  After all, cost for me to play a RPG is essentially time and $0.


Superlosers

April 27, 2021

Should superheroes be losers?

[But, blogger, that’s so direct.]

When I think of superhero activities in comics, I think more of the covers than the fights inside.  On the covers, supers are constantly lying unconscious on the ground, in some deathtrap after being captured, being held limp by some villain, or whatever.

How do you get into deathtraps if you don’t get knocked unconscious?

And, the ways that superheroes lose can be ridiculous.  Someone just zaps with something and done.  All to set up the rematch later.

So, what of RPG play, where games aren’t fiction?

Far more than other genres, I see the value in losing.  You lose in L5R and you should be dead.  You lose in dungeoncrawling and you should be dead or use a Fate Point to be left for dead.  But, supers who always win are really boring.

Recurring villains are necessary to simulate comics.  Sure, if you want to just be superpowered but not superheroes, then you get fangs or whatever and win, win, win.  Or, maybe run away.  But, superheroes aren’t just superpowered characters; they are a mess of weird psychological problems in a soap opera.

My Aberrant character is doing a great job at being a loser, but his team is letting him down and racking up win after win.  All of my taking two punches from a brick and being out of combat for 1.5 more sessions is going to waste.

We haven’t gotten captured.  No deathtraps.

Of course, this is Aberrant.  Combat is harsh.  Several levels of lethal damage after a couple of punches harsh.  Whereas being quickly taken out should be a normal result, recovery in Aberrant is far too slow to simulate comic fighting.

Meanwhile, my skill rolls have largely been great.  Botching a stealth roll ended up causing an enemy plane to crash.  I did roll far below usual in a roll in last session, a linguistics roll …

That actually seems about right.  If you are a super, whatever your areas of expertise should be crushed.  But, supervillains are only to be taken seriously when they beat the crap out of you.  If you just beat the crap out of them all of the time, well, that ultimately doesn’t make you seem very impressive, it just means the villains are losers and the “audience” (NPCs) should just expect you to win all of the time and also fix all of their other problems.

Interesting idea that supers are performers in a way that PCs in other genres aren’t.  Even darker games should see supers from a normal’s point of view not from other supers’ points of view.  Ah, the advantage of actually playing in a supers game – keep learning how things differ from other games.  Yeah, Mechwarriors or whatever could be seen in similar lights, but that doesn’t tend to happen.

Superagents were a threat to the others.  (I was too unconscious to fight superagents.)  Small sample size on how I feel about this, plus I wasn’t the one affected, so I have no experience to work with.

Subplots are kind of awkward because the group doesn’t do much outside of sessions and is very groupy during sessions.  I’m working on an angle to get some progress on a mystery on the side, but I haven’t yet built up enough feel for my character and the game to start writing fictions about stuff I do offstage.  Did one that introduced my executive assistant.

After talking to a couple of us, the GM decided to give out more XP.  So, my character got way better mechanically.  How this plays out, I have no idea since we haven’t played another session since this happened.  But, I addressed a primary weakness – fragility.  So, it should be interesting to see what happens.

Combat still takes a long time, so narrative progress is not quick.  We also have a lot of things happening without clarity on what to do about them.  Better than having only one thing to do, but I think we could divvy up activities more if the characters were better defined.

That’s it.  Another session Sunday even though I have family in town.  See how that works.

True Dungeon 2022 token development is almost done, so that has been on my mind a lot, but I have to think about whether what I’ve been thinking makes for fascinating blog fodder or not.  Started throwing out Shadowfist deck ideas to live vicariously through someone who is actually playing.


VTD 4ABC

April 19, 2021

So, why post here about my True Dungeon runs rather than just use the forums?  Because it’s a different medium for expressing thoughts.

I did four runs of 4C.  In total, I did 13 runs of 4ABC – essentially 13 runs of the same dungeon.

4C was all about wizards.  Everyone finally get to whip out their Mage Medallions and Ashenne’s and lose even more hit points than by MECing.

I had no intention of playing on Friday, but an urgent plea on the forums dragged my generous and noble self to turn $66 into more treasure I don’t need.  Gave me a chance to run Mage Medallion for the first time as human Wizard.

We did puzzles in rooms 6 and 7.  In rooms 1, 3, 4, and 5 combat lasted three rounds.  I had not done all of my math ahead of time, so I took a long time calculating damage in room 3 when I cast two spells on round one.  The group was something of a mixed group where it wasn’t exactly playing up but where, for instance, I held back significantly.  This run was mostly about my understanding decisions and math for MM … and, uh, socializing with other people and playing a game with other people and being there/doing a solid for other people because I’m just that wonderful [insert “ladies” here doofus].

Saturday was a Cabal run.  We had five complete Cabal Sets available, so we could all cast two spells once per room on a single turn.  Because of made up errata on tokens that didn’t need errata (yet), actually could cast three spells in a turn.  So, someone who shall remain named Potter burned through his spells as fast as possible.  Room 1 = one round of combat.  Room 3 = one round of combat.  Room 4 = one round of combat, I never took an action.  Room 5 = three rounds of combat as a certain wizardly type was running out of spells.  Room 6 = I killed myself twice, more on this later.  Room 7 = choosing to do puzzle because one player hadn’t seen it.

As someone who embraces sidekickiness, junior partnerness, having wizards nuke things on round one was entertaining enough.  But, I really dislike the room 6 combat.  I immediately lost interest in room 6 puzzle after I knew the solution (which was given to me, making it even less relevant to me … foreshadowing).  But, I actively disdain the combat.

I’ve been trying to nail down a single reason and I think I’ve concluded it’s not a single reason.  I think it’s a combination of:  one, it’s way too hard for a non-7 room combat with all sorts of obnoxious effects; two, I don’t want to murder the enemy and I don’t have a lot of melee builds to subdue her, a mechanic that doesn’t even interest me in this case anyway as it still feels like beating down; three, there are ways to not fight at all and I learned what the main way was pretty quick.  On multiple occasions, the combat was avoided.  So, why bother choosing to do it?  If it’s a forced combat, then, I understand coming up with cool alt ways to deal with it.  When you can just choose not to do it in the first place and have a bunch of free time to get a drink out of the kitchen or use the restroom or whatever with the puzzle, why choose to do it?  Other than getting petrified, which probably shouldn’t have happened as the DM screwed me on at least one occasion, the only time I ever died in 4ABC was in room 6 combat.  Some may say that’s a good thing, that it gives a challenge.

No, it doesn’t.  It’s not a challenge when you know you can not do it at zero penalty.  The room is completely hollow to me no matter what you choose to do.

So, let’s talk about room 7, next.  I like the combat in room 7.  Oh, it’s not the greatest thing since that fight in … in … um, the Ice Shaman Troll whatever in N2, perhaps or … room 3 in 4ABC where murdering porcupossums enpleases me due to multiple targets being preferable to me.  I fully embraced the Mask of Mayhem into Hood of Reflection metagame.  I didn’t understand people who didn’t just cheat their way out of petrification.  I equipped Hood of Reflection a number of times for no reason as my groups chose puzzle and the blindness from room 5 is not that big of a deal.

I _ the puzzle in room 7.  Yup, it’s _ to me.  First time I did room 7 puzzle, within about two minutes, the group solved it using prior experience with it and a clue given on the forums that changed behavior in room 2.  Having O chance to process the puzzle, it’s not really a puzzle room to me, it’s just a blank room to end the adventure.  Yet again, totally hollow experience.

So, I got some enjoyment out of the Saturday run but way less than a crazed wizard who turned invisible because couldn’t be bothered to run Charm of Spell Swapping.  But, it was two rooms in a row that I had zero or less than zero interest in.  Not that we shouldn’t have done the room 7 puzzle since I’m not soloing these runs, but it’s completely anticlimactic.

In general, I’m finding that having a token collection means that room 7 puzzles lack interest to me.  Well, after the first time you do them or the first time you solve them or whatever, but that’s the problem.  Any puzzle loses interest when you know the answer.  For room 7 to be a puzzle means you missed out on what is supposed to be a boss fight just to not do anything.

Sunday’s first run was different in that my group sponsored a forum run.  Eventually ended up full for an Epic run where I expected us to crush tiny heads.  Rounds = 3, 2, 2, 2, 3.  There was too much help on at least the room 6 puzzle to someone who hadn’t seen it before because so many people just love to give answers rather than puttering around the kitchen debating on whether to get a snack or not.

But, it was good.  Certainly for me it was good.  Things went smoothly whenever I was paying attention.  My Mage Medallion use was very fast because I precast all of my first round spells except for one time where I got Restored Spell.  I had my round twos figured out so those went fast.  Room 7 combat had Epic!! ending with rogue critting sneak attack and getting turned to stone, then monk critting with stun … and getting turned to stone.

Last 4C run was Nightmare Double Down.  Mage Medallion third time.  Everything was prefigured out again so my turns went quick.  Bard kept critting for 90+ damage and this party should have probably been doing Epic Double Down to get challenged.  We did room 7 puzzle for more rogue treasure and party treasure (a topic I don’t care about blogging about).  So, again, anticlimactic ending.

I was drained after that.  I jumped into our Discord voice channel for my weekly supers game right as they were ending.  I felt wasted for hours afterwards.

4ABC was not my favorite dungeon.  I liked 2AB the most, then 3AB, then 4ABC, then 1AB.  I don’t think having a C version of the dungeon was the problem.  The problems (for me) were:  I don’t like NPCs constantly talking to me while I’m trying to do something, so I enjoyed room 2 way way less than other people did, plus it got crazy repetitive since it only changed outside of the puzzle itself between dungeon versions; room 4 puzzle was completely uninteresting as it was just a memorization task which makes zero sense when people screenshot in VTD; room 5 monster didn’t interest me unlike various other people and I didn’t find metagaming against it interesting either, also the look of it was way less cool than it seemed when we got a look at it in the warehouse – the perspective was all wrong which has been a consistent problem with like one room each dungeon in VTD combats; room 6 combat sucked and puzzle was pretty much a blank to me; room 7 puzzle was a blank to me and I don’t like room 7 puzzles anymore.

But, I played it 13 times and what largely determined my enjoyment level was not any of this stuff.  What largely determined my enjoyment level was who I played with.  Playing with people I like is so, so much better and I realize now that TD really should be all about finding people you want to play with and only playing with those people.  It’s too expensive and, now, too repetitive for me to do runs where I may not enjoy playing.

For instance, my solo runs were … okay, one kind of sucked because there was no way I could get through it, where the other was decent up until I ran into room 6 combat.  I need to only do solo runs when I already know the dungeon.

I do hope 5ABC is better than 4ABC.  I hope to avoid “task” puzzles.  I hope there aren’t terrible combat room options but rather combat room options I want to fight because they can be metagamed and because I want to murder the monsters with extreme prejudice.

I hope that melee doesn’t get as punished as it did in 4, which was better than 3 but not as good as 2.

More undead!  How about a plant?

What am I missing?  More comments about resource use?  How to Mage Power your way to 100+ damage on round one of combats?  My feelings on the aesthetics of the dungeon?

Sure, room 1 looked good, room 2 looked good, room 3 before the fight looked good enough, room 4 looked good, room 5 would have looked better if monster wasn’t so small and toylike, room 7 looked good.  Only thing was too many trees in a swamp.  Wanted more swampiness.  Some overly dark sections that could have had small lights behind trees to give more haunted feel.

Still, 4ABC way better than 1AB.  Apps work really, really well for most things that matter.  Repeated runs are routinely righteous.  But, then, I mostly play with friends or friends of friends.

Okay, bonus Mage Medallion section:

Sunday 248

Rm1 = Quicken Burning Hands 20/20/21, spellswap Cat’s into BH 20/21/20, 40/41/41 == 2 rds, 41 damage, no action on round 2, won initiative

Rm2 = pomegranate Detect Evil and two tiny t-rex arms, turtle/ram/cat

Rm3 = Quicken, Fork MM 42/42 and Lightning Storm 20/20/54, Reaver 62/62/64, round 2 Hammer 25, round 3 no action == 3 rds, 62/62/64, 25, no action, we won initiative

Rm4 = Throw hammer 28, no action Quicken, Sharpen Scorching Ray 52 and Fire Dart 37, 52/37 == 2 rds, 28, no action

Rm5 = Quicken, Sharpen Scorching Ray 42 and MM 32, 42/32, throw hammer 13, no action == 3 rds, 74, 13, no action

Rm7 = Quicken, Alter, Sharpen, MEC Ray of Shock 60/112 and MM 30 Puzzle bonus treasure

 

Sunday 1212

Rm1 = Quicken, Fork, Sharpen Ray of Shock 49, Magic Missile 39 ; Bull’s Strength Ranger, Acid Splash right 37 == 3 rounds, lost initiative

Rm3 = Quicken, Fork MM 39/39, Fireball 51/20/20, 51/59/59, Reaver survivor for 10 – 59/59/61 = rounds 2, didn’t act on round 2, Init 39 (QS)

Rm4 = Fail save, miss hammer, rd 2 – Hammer for 24 == rounds 2, hammer/hammer, miss, 24

Rm5 = Restored Fireball, MEC, 56 damage, Acid Splash 19 == rounds 2, Fireball, 0 level 19

Rm7 = Quicken, Alter, Sharpen, MEC Ray of Shock 52/101?, Magic Missile 19, spellswap Ray of Shock 29, Spell Store Fireball 31, rd 3 spellswap Invisibility into Acid Ray 23 == rounds 3, 52+19, 29+31, 23, monk and rogue both critted and turned to stone, also maybe one or two others


Casual

April 9, 2021

Let’s see if mentioning random tidbits can coalesce into some forced theme.

An observation I’ve had with my superhero character is that he is really competent … as a rich dude.  He’s pretty bad at actually being super.  Most of his powers are combat powers, and he has sucked in combat.  Meanwhile, even things he doesn’t have like eight dice for, keeps rolling lots of successes.  Just kept doing like five successes on each roll in a social scene last session, though, actually, very little got accomplished.  Case of rolling dice too much for something minor, or, alternatively, the situation should have had more impact to justify even rolling dice at all.

I could reference a post on theangrygm.com, which I like to read, though talk about long, rambling intros that lack substantive content and sarcastic/sardonic language …  Um, post about when to roll dice.  But, you could just read that.

I did almost double his soak with some XP because the more combat I saw the more I would expect to get hit once and be out of combat.

Because we still lack clear benchmarks on play, it’s hard for me to analyze my build.  It’s not terribly constructed using the awful Aberrant character creation rules (aka awful any White Wolf RPG character creation rules).  It’s just unclear how combat should work.  I may have already said this, but I find combat odd in that it should go very quick to take characters down which I like in RPG combat but feels too harsh even if you don’t end up dead.  The lack of a clear STUN Pips side to combat means supers get ripped up in combat in a way that just doesn’t fit 4c comics play.  While there hasn’t been a narrative fail, yet, I don’t think it’s possible to do multiple combats in the same day, which is totally not normal for comicbook supers.

Nothing going on for me with my new HoR4 character.  I know how much that depresses you, but tis be what tis be.

I had a one on one session of Witch Doctors, wherein I played my Washington DC character.  Got to resolve something involving a subplot.  Guns and lust – the greatest subplots of them all.  No plot.  No specific conflict.  All player driven narrative of a day in the life, where conflict is the psychological state of the character in the aftermath of Ghosts and a desire to get laid, um, I mean have meaningful companionship on this lonely rock hurtling through spacetime.  Can’t cue up Afterglow just yet.

Did actually use magick.  In a geniusy way, of course.  A way totally in preparation for his further adventures around people who fire arms.  No idea when that would be, but stories can last quite a long time in one’s mind.  Maybe I’ll be a certain type of WD player – the casual player.

Didn’t send any True Dungeon transmutes in, so I will still need to take up a slot to be psychic or be two STR below where I could be.  Now, I could even be two DEX higher than before, yet I don’t know when I’ll get around to sending anything in.  Fascinating.

I keep thinking about Shadowfist deck ideas (and not remotely about V:TES or Traveller deck ideas).  I find it interesting just how different the perspective is on Discord from my own on cards.  Fascinating differences of opinions.  Utterly fascinating.

Okay, so … content?

Arrowverse is back.  Fascinating!

Flash is okay.  Not particularly cringeworthy.  Less annoying than a lot of Arrow episodes and, uh, a lot of Flash episodes.  I’ve yet to pay attention to Superman & Lois or see Kung Fu (for bonus CWness).

Blah, blah, solitaire, blah, Terraforming Mars solitaire, blah.

Going back to the fascinating world of True Dungeon, 2022 development has started.

So, I try.  I try to view things from an experience standpoint different from mine.  But, so many people make me want to not bother.  I have immense tolerance for things that will bother other people.  Obtuseness is not something I have much tolerance for.

You can’t want Black Lotus and Time Walk to be your average power level every set and not create a model that is of no benefit to the people currently invested.  When new is always better than old, than a rational person, which admittedly people who get into collectible stuff may not qualify as, will conclude that nothing has any value anymore; the new will just keep obsoleting the old until … there’s nothing new anymore.

Now, this doommongering is not going to “pay off” tomorrow or next year.  There are other factors at work and not every token is outclassed immediately, so there’s a reasonable illusion that not everything will get outclassed even years down the line.  Also, structurally, some tokens, slotless tokens, are rather difficult to make less valuable up until slotless get forced into slots or there becomes a restriction on number of slotless or whatever other rule that doesn’t currently exist and likely never will as it will piss off established players.

But, what’s the point of new tokens?  Sure, those of us who have already achieved a power level greater than that of the Jurai Royal Family don’t need to catch up to some level of play beyond us.  There are those who are trying to get to the lofty heights of token tycoondom.  And, yes, they can catch up with new tokens.  Can also catch up with existing tokens by just shelling out lots of money, which is what getting new tokens eventually results in.  But, it’s a treadmill.

Get to my point, then what?  Chill?

Let’s say anyone with as good of a collection as mine stops running.  Then, bubble burst.

Someone has to keep wanting.  Sure, there’s the next gen.  My gen (at the point of serious investment, not at the point of initial play) just stops running, and the PAXites or friends and family or whoever throws money at the new stuff.  Yes, that will happen.  Is it sustainable?

Maybe tulips have more value than I think.

Not like Magic cards haven’t gotten considerably more valuable over a significantly longer period of time.

So human nature to want to be one of the in crowd, to lord over others, to speculate that markets just go up.

And, also, so human to want rather than be satisfied.

I still get tokens.  I’m part of the engine that keeps the economy chugging along.  Other than an eventual inability to keep pouring money into by far the most expensive hobby I’ve ever had, when do I stop?  When do I move on from the desire to be a .1%er and am just satisfied being a …

… casual player?


007

March 28, 2021

Or, is that 070?

No.  Wait, that’s right.  This is post 700.

So, one might think that James Bond hasn’t been all that relevant to my life recently.  Certainly, haven’t seen a movie recently, haven’t read a book recently, nor played a spy game in like forever.

March 23rd, we finished up New Amsterdam.  I didn’t just use one Token, I used both of Garrett’s Tokens.  Btw, nobody will get this, but my character was named Garrett Vaplon.  If you do understand why, well, I guess that would be … interesting.  The resolution was interesting, where a low key investigation turned into a war zone.  So, what does this have to do with Bond?  As a magistrate, GV has a license to homicide.  No sex (for good reasons).  No gadgets, vehicles, or even weapons use.  No drinking.  A lot more looking after others than Jimmy B.

Today, episode 2 of Denver CRUSH.  Dominated by super team versus super team combat.  So, Julio Torres isn’t a martial arts expert, is only somewhat socially inclined without having relations with any of a number of villainous possibilities, doesn’t even have a gun or commando knife (unlike Garrett), hasn’t destroyed a vehicle he has piloted yet, and has wealth more akin to Bond’s antagonists than Commander Bond, himself.  We set up some forums and talked about doing more between sessions to get the character development that we often don’t have time for during sessions.  At some point, we should get better at combat, as combat is actually kind of harsh, to leave more time on Sundays for other stuff.

What defines 007?  Sure, there are all of the quirks.  There’s a formula for his stories.  But, in the words of a geniusy type, can solo word “competence”.  And, that’s where my two PCs struggled.  Garrett didn’t solve the Mystery.  Julio or, rather, Arc Flash got face numbingly blasted once and was Crippled from then on.  Neither one is terribly knowledgeable to where they can avoid pitfalls that JB regularly avoids (or sleeps his way out of or gadgets his way out of).

But, let’s switch gears in our Aston Martin (7 speed!) and talk about quirks.  Shaken not stirred.  Walther PPK.  Aston Martin.  Ability to meet woman with extremely suggestive names.  I suggested a new Shadowfist format Saturday, though it’s a format that could apply to a variety of CCGs.  Not all, at least not as defined for Shadowfist as Shadowfist has no minimum deck size and five-card limit.

Showcase – Choose up to one card from each set and construct your deck using only copies of those cards.

Modern Showcase – As above but only choose cards from Modern sets.

Feedback so far?

That sounds terrible

I’ve built two decks so far.  Start with the Ascended since it would be a bad format if you couldn’t do something interesting with the worst faction.  Also, … come back to this next point later.

Semi-Crocodile
x5 Violet Meditation
x5 Dockyard
x3 Shadowy Mentor
x3 Recruits
x5 Valley of Ashes
x3 Rosomak
x2 Elle Mactans
x5 Corporate Informer
x5 Snap of the Crocodile

So, I started with 4x Tears of the Crocodile because … I didn’t really think about this format a whole lot when I started.  Save the best (selection of options) for last.  Because Back for Seconds only has two of the six Modern factions, Dockyard is going to show up a lot … except when it doesn’t.  Because something I discovered when working on decks was just how prevalent foundations were.  Sure, you give up something else, maybe something really good, but it’s not hard to run 10x or more foundations in what are going to be around 40 card decks.

This deck won’t look anything like typical Ascended decks.  But, then 007 isn’t 005 or 006 or anything like what a spy is actually supposed to be like.  Also, I don’t really get Ascended, anyway.  Sure, it’s totally missing events that do things, so … come up with your own Ascended Modern Showcase.

Then, we go to a good faction.  A too good faction in Modern.

5 Demon Bagless
x5 Bribery
x5 Pocket Demon
x5 Feng Kan
x5 Abysmal Wyrm
x5 Exorcist
x5 Feather Mountain
x5 Secluded Redoubt
x5 Punk Geomancers
x5 Jian

Why the name?  Well, I had Six Demon Bag until … I realized I hadn’t put any FSSs in.  SDB would be good for Feathering attackers into the dudes who don’t just heal every turn.  No Dockyard here.  Still event soft, plus lack of evasion outside Bribery, plus lack of inevitability.  Well, plenty of changes possible.  If not for need for another FSS, would have run non-Lotus, faction card.

So, quirky.  AKA, interesting.  Sure, actually playing this format may not turn out well, after all, who has any clue?  But, I was way more into the Ascended decisions than I normally am because the decisions felt interesting rather than just playing good cards or, um, just playing bad cards.  I’m far more inclined to try to build good decks when I have limited options.  This is why I’m way better as a limited player than I am as a constructed player in CCGs.  Well, at least some geniusy type thinks that, where the only evidence is winning limited Magic tournament and placing second in a couple of others while sucking in constructed Magic and being ranked number two in the world in limited VTES rankings for like a year after winning multiple limited tournaments in a row as opposed to … being a Hall of Famer off of constructed wins and dropping all the way down to a tie for 25th most tournament wins ever.

So, these decks are probably terrible Modern Showcases, but I want to play this format, these formats.  Enthusiasm!  Not my thing … most of the time.  Why be a terrible spy?  To be a legendary character.


No Hero Here

March 22, 2021

As I mentioned, lots going on last week.

I’ll get to True Dungeon thoughts later.

I’m no longer playing Miya Tatakisu.

He left Ningen-do, Saturday.

Too busy to stay
One arm tires more than other
Just service still waits
Play with Fire that will not die
The stables still need cleaning

Heroes of Rokugan

Monday, played CIT51.  Did very little.  In three rounds of combat (total), took one turn of actions.  NPC interactions were mostly made up as mod just lacked NPCs one could interact with.

Tuesday, played CIT50.  Lot meatier.  One conceit of the mod I liked quite a bit, though I wasn’t tracking the resolution very clearly.  If this campaign didn’t hate romance, mod might have been more meaningful.  Went reasonably well.

Thursday, deadheaded CIT49.  Technically did stuff but had no reason to.  Party was plenty sufficient.  In fact, party did exactly what it should have, then got bogged down in trying to figure out how to proceed, then achieved ultimate victory.

Saturday, only had time for Battle Interactive.  Now, I also only have two mods I can even play and one of them isn’t available and the other I couldn’t play with Tatakisu, so it wasn’t like trying to do things around True Dungeon made any sense.

The Battle of Breaking Dawn

Going in, we think vanguard, but our Defender of the Wall is going to be late and may not even end up playing, so we think siege weapons, but so many tables want to do siege weapons that we are back on vanguard. Get unique, snail oni with bunch of attached husks that it uses to regenerate and a couple controlled Crab. We eliminate Crab quickly and take so much time that GM figures we would finish off oni, so we succeed. I take total of 8 wounds, 1 from attacks due to Be the Mountain, 7 from acid. Oni never gets to do its thing due to others having high ATNs and not good attack rolls.

Round 2, stay at vanguard, get what seems much tougher fight. Four trolls, Lost Taskmaster, Genso no Oni. Again, oni abilities don’t end up kicking in as Genso never hits anybody. Defender of the Wall messes with Taskmaster and Taskmaster tries to create separation. I focus on trolls where their low ATN (20) means I can call 7 raises for damage. I pick off Genso when he’s almost done. 1.5 trolls wander away after Taskmaster finished off. Combat was 2 rounds.

Round 3, still vanguard, get unique. Maho-tsukai, yojimbo, oni yojimbo, hulking oni. Maho-tsukai goes first and casts Kami’s Strength. Both yojimbo taken out quick. Hulking oni moves away to destroy. Party starts chasing. No attacks on tsukai are doing anything as ATN was 67 and DR was 25 or 30. I get hit by bird attack from tsukai for 50. Shugenja heals me with nemuranai, which is deactivated by tsukai after one use, all other spells he tries are countered by tsukai. All the rest of party chases after hulk, where I’m so slow that I didn’t bother trying. I full attack grapple tsukai and roll 82. Because I don’t have more Jiujutsu ranks than IR, maho effect grapples me instead. As others chase and attack oni, which actually wasn’t hard to take out, I get crushed by tendril while tsukai walks back towards Shadowlands. Eventually, Marked by the Lords of Death triggers. Then, I burn Intervention of Fate. Others can’t get back to me in time to do anything that matters. Because of Offering of Bone, GM has me roll to resist Taint at end of fight. Have Strength of Crow on me, roll 8k8+10 for a 75. Tsukai tries to take soul but end up in Meido with Lords of Death and begin my servitude to them … as planned.

I usually make anti-Shadowlands characters. Tatakisu is not one. I was playing way above where he should have been, whereas normally only playing somewhat above where should have been. Because I burned Book of Fire at beginning of BI (would have BoE but used that previously), I was running around with Agility 7 and 10k10+4 attack rolls. Going out in a blaze of … well, not glory since died … blaze of boneguardiness.

The end was fitting.  Both in good ways and in bad, very fitting.  His weaknesses killed him, and his strength of *character* saved him.  The only party member to wound the maho-tsukai, though that didn’t matter mechanically.  I had a vision for how Tatakisu would achieve his pinnacle of achievement.  This result was like the exact opposite.  Instead of going one on one with a monster while the rest of the party went off to win the day, the rest of the party went off to win the day by dealing with the monster, while he helplessly got crushed to death like some chump.

There are no Miya heroes

Miscellaneous thoughts:  The mechanics of the BI were good.  Had special effects could buy for exceeding Battle rolls.  Our table had most victory points; it was weird that our table was at top of power curve, but I guess once everyone besides shugenja have simple attacks and you have a R-5 bushi and a Defender of the Wall in a Shadowlands event, you’ve made it, kid.

Miya Herald

So, I never got to SR-5.  I betrayed myself by taking R-4 technique that actually does something.  I intentionally made it harder to use my techniques.  My experiment of taking one of the most irrelevant schools and playing it through 230 additional XP didn’t tell me a ton about the true power of shishadom.

On the other hand, I never used R-2 nor R-3 techniques.  They really are moronic.  Well, in anything resembling a typical campaign.

I was supposed to be Earth 5, Void 2 (possibly 3) at this point.  Earth 3, Void 5 because planning ahead is less fun than making choices in the moment.

Agillity 6 wasn’t necessary, but I enjoyed it.  I got enough use out of it to make it fun in actual play not just in a “look at my build!” way.

As I wrote about so long go in my Elemental Party post, the “showoff build” was exactly that.  Horribly fragile and easily countered by doing (ironically) intelligent things, but he got to show off.  He dealt 112 wounds in one round in one of his last mods.  In the Battle Interactive, in one of the rounds, he dealt 155 wounds to two trolls (subtract like 15 for Reduction for around 140 net).  With a wakizashi.  A normal wakizashi.

I’m going to miss Agility 5, I think.  While it’s far, far better to do a Reflexes 6 build with Great Potential Kyujutsu to get multiple yumi attacks, what now mechwarrior?

Thematically, it might have been awkward for a while, but it came together.

I did miss out on calling 5 Raises on a non-Kenjutsu roll.  I did fail to beat a Unicorn in a horse race, though part of this is my fault as I forgot to reach out to other players and get into a horse race with a PC.  Failed to sneak kill the Emperor, but, hey, there are no Miya heroes.

Witch Doctors

What?  Yup, in the middle of Weekend in Rokugan and VTD 4B weekend, played second session of New Amsterdam.  It went well, but we didn’t finish.  I think if we had played right after first session, we would have wrapped in two, but the delay caused a fuzziness that we exacerbated in how low key we approached further investigation.  Two sessions, still haven’t used any magick.

True Dungeon 4B

Only four runs.  First run was Friday night.  Notrangerhate was kill things only with physical ranged attacks while rangers sits this one out.  We had seven players.  I played that noted missile master cleric and rarely missed.  We were doing fine, but we decided to do room 7 puzzle instead of combat, which was disappointing.  The disappointment was exacerbated by other players wanting to try out a pet theory and solving the puzzle in a couple minutes while the two of us who had never seen it never got a chance to provide input.

There’s something about human nature and the desire for glory.  Meanwhile, I’m embracing failure more and more with TD.  Success has far too often had nothing to do with me, it’s only failure where I get to actually matter.  There are no me-a heroes, I suppose.

Saturday morning, we have four players, so we decide to do a restricted Epic run.  Restriction?  Minimum AC40.  Yup, AC, the best thing ever in TD.  I call it the Tank Platoon Run, but others have used “Armored” and whatever to term it something else.  Of course, TPR has to be exactly four, where Armored Whatever could be any number of AC40+ers.  I was playing paladin and I guarded bard … AC40 bard.  We did not come close to winning combats in rooms 5 and 7.  Something about not having massive damage combined with insane Epic stats for monsters’ defenses.  We were further away from killing room 7 monster when time was called than a Nightmare party starts that fight at.

Sunday morning, Sticks & Rocks, Double Down where can only smite things with sticklike or rocklike weapons.  Barely got any notice when I surrounded my woodie +1 Quarter Staff with legendary weapons I wasn’t playing.  This was funny as barbarian had AC32 and my fighter had ACs of 14 and 15.  Paladin guarded fighter!!  Fighter smashed for more damage than barbarian!!  I hardly ever missed as I metaed for lots of offense with tech to bypass the saves requirements in the run.  We crushed.

Sunday midday, we got one more player, so we did an Elf Illusionist run just to cater to my sense of aesthetics.  Monk, barbarian, rogue, ranger filled out team Elf-Cabal-Polymorph-Illusionist.  Yes, I got to cast two spells a round some rounds where half the spells did nothing.  I got to polymorph … as an Elf Wizard … and deal damage.  And, I got to Color Spray nearly every room.  I did kind of cheapen the experience by Spell Swapping Improved Invisibility into Magic Missile on my last turn of room 7.  Also, we got wrecked in room 6 combat because somebody, who shall remain named Potter, was all like “No heals, combat all of the time!” where we didn’t even win room 6 through combat.  One of my spells that causes a monster Will save actually succeeded.  I guess there are Elf Cabal Polymorph Illusionist heroes.

All of the runs went well for me.  Amusement was had.  I got to say I played Epic even if we didn’t win at it.  I got to tech the dream in the last run.

Well, I could talk about my new HoR4 character, but, hey, there are plenty of posts for that.  So much for you to look forward to.


Next Gen

March 14, 2021

One would think I’d have good inspiration as my gaming has picked up and I had multiple things last weekend.

This weekend, my nephew turned one.

Much of last week I spent playing the solo challenge of Terraforming Mars using the app.

Learning – that’s my theme I just settled on.

Jesse (not to be confused with a certain erstwhile coworker) has all of the usual things to learn as well as all of the things that won’t be the same for us.  I’m already a different gen from my siblings.

Meanwhile, this old Dog had to learn how to generate plenty of oxygen and temperature while not forgetting to get nine ocean tiles in play by the end of Gen 14, while playing various corps of different utility.  Still haven’t won playing Ecoline.  Thought I had and overlooked that I hadn’t oceaned enough.  I may have been in a position to win with Ecoline once, maybe it was someone else, but I stupidly bought a card I couldn’t play as I didn’t pay attention to the cost and fell like one temperature level short.

But, why does anyone care about my new solitaire thing?

I mean, sure, we played a three-player game Friday where my knowing cards and interactions much better helped a lot, though that was still only my second game with opponents because I’m just not that interested in interacting with AI opponents or random people online.  The considerations are just so different, where you need to do very specific things in the solo challenge.

I tried doing a plants strategy in solo challenge multiple times, and it was painfully slow.  What works for me is 4+ energy to fuel one of the blue cards that gives an oxygen level, plus heat high enough to keep moving temperature up each turn.  I think only once did I ever win with an animals card in play because I was in command on Gen 13 to where there was inevitability and I could fiddle around for VPs.

So, Terraforming Mars was hardly the only thing I did since last post.

Last weekend, had a L5R home campaign session and our second Denver CRUSH session.

The first DC (TM, R, C) session was mostly one round of combat.  Yeah, learning new game with 5 on 4 supers combat was super … slow.

Second session was five more rounds of combat, listening to various academic presentations relating to pyramids around the world, getting called in on a mysterious crime that occurred while my character was ineffectually spamming electricity.

The L5R session was an end to a chapter.  A chapter where almost all of the narrative lives only in my mind.  There’s so much potential to do things that produce more on stage story, where my fiction that I plan on doing has not a lot to do with what we do on stage.  It’s an extrapolation.

This weekend was third session of DC.  It made sense to me to have a quieter session where action was pushed to the side while we did investigating.

Though, we aren’t that good at investigating.  I think 60% of the PCs have pretty straightforward powers that are meant for confrontations.  Not powergamed PCs, just straightforward ones.  Yes, my character has more powers than he needs to for utility and thematic reasons, but they hold together themewise very well.  In Champions terms, looking at an Elemental Control for non-offensive powers and a Multipower for the attacks.

Now, I did roll INT/Biz twice this session.  Nine dice in my dice pool.

We just had various leads that weren’t obviously the one, true lead.

But, besides that sessions one and two were a lot of learning about combat to where session three was learning about noncombat, whether my rolling CHA/Etiquette to talk to a kid in a hospital or Biz roll to remember someone’s face, there’s also learning the pacing and ethos of supers play.

I’ve watched a fair share of soap operas in my day.  I view supers as the most soap opera of common genres (common to folks I’ve played with, anyway).  So, the slow burn of play with various different plots going on simultaneously and some things just getting tabled to be resolved later all make sense to me.

There’s also learning about each other’s characters.  Two of us were following a lead and I realize neither one of us had powers oriented to tracking someone down.  No enhanced senses, no Mega-INT, no mental powers, etc.  Found out one of the other PCs has enhanced senses.

One of the things that I think about with the L5R campaign is how to learn to do things more efficiently so that we use play time better.

This week is kind of insane.  If all goes according to plan, I have RPG sessions Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, have True Dungeon Friday, Saturday, HoR Battle Interactive Saturday, True Dungeon Sunday.  I doubt anyone will run a HoR mod late Sunday for me to get a mod I’ve missed.  Wednesday is Witch Doctors.

In theory, I’ll have plenty of material to mine next week, but I might also be so wiped by 3/22 that it will take me a while to post next post.  Of course, those with a different blogging style would blog multiple times by 3/22.


Quote – Perfect

March 4, 2021

I tried to see if I used this, very likely the most profound thing I’ve ever said regarding gaming, aphorism in this blog:

The perfect deck has no cards

I probably did, but I got bored searching.

But, it’s a different aphorism I used recently that I want to emphasize before returning to the geniusness above.

What makes him good is that he isn’t …

So, I mentioned running Jake Rattlebones in a fat Lotus deck (Shadowfist, people, for those that don’t know).  Every time I’ve played him, I’ve crushed tiny heads with his mighty stickness.  Every … single … time.  Yet, I don’t consider him a … a … a … great … card.

But, he’s a good card.

Card floppers love to obsess over deck builds.  Even in games where deck builds don’t have that much to do with winning.  AKA – multiplayer CCGs.

What about two-player CCGs?

Welp, whelp, let me give you this sage insight:

The perfect deck has no cards

Even if you include sideboards, Magic strives for tech beating the meta.  Magic actually has a meta much of the time.  Other CCGs?  To varying degrees.

If you are playing a CCG where any particular build is acknowledged as optimal by all for more than a single event, well, that’s a flawed CCG.

Flawed?  Why?

A flawless CCG is perfect … shit

Fundamental to CCGs is that they be unsolvable.  If you can solve the tournament scene, you have a terrible tournament scene.

Why do Govern the Unaligned and Kine Resources Contested and whatnot hold V:TES back from being a better game?  Because they incline the game to solvability.  Now, V:TES is a superior game and superior CCG and those only come about when the game isn’t solved, but it could be better.  Magic, ignoring for the moment how terrible drawing one card a turn is, could be better, and it has the advantage of constant influx of new components to endeavor to break the metagame.

CCGs have to have unintended interactions.  If designers and/or developers can figure out a CCG before it hits the masses, the masses will chessify it.

Chess is a classic game, but is it a good game, anymore?  People like me can’t solve it because people like me get bored too fast to care to.  But, is it still a beautiful mystery at this point?

Well, someone who doesn’t write this blog can Waxen Poetica about how geniusy it is and how arrogantful it is for someone who doesn’t own professionals to proclaim its demise.

Anyway, Jake Rattlebones is a midrange with a meaningful ability.  But, what about midrange plays with even worse abilities?  Are they “good cards”?

Let’s say Abysmal Horror is that midrange with worse ability since I got bored looking at a list of 3c4f midrangers.

Sure, good character.  Completely outclassed by Underworld Tracker.  Would you ever put Abysmal Horror in a “good deck”?  Well, no.

Good decks don’t play good cards, good decks play great cards

Let’s not get confused, here.  It’s easy to build bad decks.  Just play cards that aren’t as good as the best cards in the game.  Well, that’s not clear at all, either.

Some decks are good, some are bad, and some are neither

Well, that’s a crap aphorism.

The perfect card sucks

Same issue as above.  If any one card is so “objectively” optimal that it sees autoplay, well, that’s bad development.  Sure, it has happened, though nowhere near as often as people think.  Even in two-player CCGs, metagames exist.  Players adjust to what is numerically better.

So, yes, a multiplayer CCG, where players can gang up on what seems powerful or more likely to win or whatever to where winning from a position of weakness is far more legit than in a two-player CCG where players won’t suddenly help you to take down someone else, has far more space (deck slots) for numerically challenged cards.

I mean, not cards as bad as Grave Diggers, a card I actually thought was a good card.  But, there is room for the non-Underworld Trackers of the world.  Not because of:

One person’s bad cards are another person’s tech

Not because of:

This 7 card combo is not actually bad

But, because it’s possible to win with cards that aren’t numerically optimized.  Especially in multiplayer CCG play.

And, for a completely different reason than numerology.

But, that’s a post for another time.  A post all about the role of trickerration in CCGs, a post that, um, should probably be in someone else’s blog as I’m subarrogant enough to realize that other players are way better at the intentional trickerration.  My dementating other players is just because I routinely dementated myself when I built some deck.