Virgo I – Zodiac I

Really should stop missing my astrological windows.  In some parts of the world, I couldn’t even get these in in September.

Virgo
“I analyze”
positive qualities: clarity of thought, discrimination, courtesy, service to others, practicality, self-honesty
negative: criticism, crankiness, timidity, pessimism, inferiority, hair-splitting

The one thing I can remember about Virgos is being analytical.  I know some quite analytical Virgos.  Ah, analysis – that’s something I can relate to.

What Is Good vs. Why It’s Good

Is it more important to know what is good or why something is good?  Sure, the goal should be to understand both.  It’s interesting how sometimes someone, including myself, can get lost in trying to answer one without taking the bigger picture into account.  Of course, any decent analysis of what is good begs the question as to why and studying why things are good generates a list of what is naturally.

Taking CCGs …  I quite enjoy rating cards.  I don’t do as much of it as I once did, but then, I don’t write articles anymore or playtest anymore.  And, with V:TES being the only CCG I regularly play, it’s hard to care as much about analysis.  Okay, this whole paragraph was an aside.

Why is Govern the Unaligned better than Scouting Mission?

It’s not always the case that more effect for higher cost is better in V:TES.  I don’t rate Pushing the Limit as better than Undead Strength.  Could argue that there’s greater diminishing returns with dealing combat damage than with bleed or “banking”.  Rather than try to get technical when I’m tired, I think there’s an intuitive basis for why the former is better.  Card economy, action economy.  Two Governs do as much as three Scouting Missions.  You pay for it in blood but save it in actions.  Clearly an action isn’t worth just one blood.

Why isn’t an action worth a blood?

Both are finite resources, but I’d put actions as (usually) the greater constraint in a game.  I could talk about hunting.  Some players are aware of how seriously I take hunting.  Probably not the time to go into it, but I’d note that the power in hunting has little to nothing to do with gaining blood.

Why is Enchant Kindred a better card than Scouting Mission?

They have the same text, yet the former is far better.  Sadly, the answer is one that people either get or don’t get and so probably isn’t all that exciting.  Ban Govern and they might end up being equal or SM might end up being better.

Does analysis make players better?

Anecdotally, I, myself, could point out many instances where people who just do and don’t think do better than those who think.  I certainly think far more about the CCGs I play than a lot of better players.  Then, I find that some strong players do analysis and the analysis is wrong.  What’s going on?

Well, obviously, there’s more to success than thinking.  How many sports fans think they know better how to run a team than the professional coaches?  And, we see all of the time in life how some people have better instincts than those who may know more.

On the other hand, there’s the theoretical analysis that I tend to favor versus the practical (ooh, used a Virgo word in this article) analysis that a strong player may do.  No matter how brilliant the former may be, it’s the latter that is likely to pay off.

I can get back to the earlier question.  I’ve known good players who didn’t think about why something was good but just knew what was good based on such things as how often they saw stuff played or the like.

Thinking About Winning

For all that it seems like some people succeed whether they have any analytical sense or not, I’d still put forth that for most of us, the better we understand why things are good or bad, the better we can do (under the grand assumption that someone applies what they know to maximize results … I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t be interested in maximizing results, can I?).

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9 Responses to Virgo I – Zodiac I

  1. Brandon says:

    As far as thinking about winning goes, it has practical limits(especially on fun). If you conclude that Malk 94 is the best deck play, why play anything else if all you care about is winning? The only reason I might weigh in that case would be that people would metagame around my favored deck.

    When constructing a deck, thinking about how the deck can win is necessary, but not a sufficient reason to construct a deck. Take my latest Ventrue deck for example. Is forced march that great at inferior? Is the crypt that good? Both could be optimized for winning, but they are about as good as I can do for what I’m trying to achieve: Ventrue w/celerity and +1 bleed. The essential elements of voting, bleeding, and untapping are all well represented, just in an unconventional form. Scouting Mission and Enchant Kindred are *both* better for this deck than Govern.

  2. Azel says:

    hmm, practical v. theoretical. very true. i have found that i have had to reassess cards after conventional wisdom already laid judgment (often w/o hardly playing said cards).

    for example, Under the Skin v. Scalpel Tongue. normally the argument goes that Scalpel wallpapers Under the Skin. granted, Under is limited to pretty much 1 clan (Tor/!Tor), and its a clan that already does well w/ votes. but the issue for Scalpel is it cannot cycle if everyone else abstains. so Scalpel ends up being less of a act mod pull card, than a reaction vote defense card. and then at some point you gotta ask, how many DTs go with ST, and whether DT is straight up better for your deck. then suddenly ST doesn’t look as hot as it used to; it’s more situational than first thought.

    same went with Bloodstone. overall, at first glance it seems fun. later it looks like a total waste of an action — your opposing meth can just use another minion to equip with the Bloodstone. but at some point playing with the card i noticed i was eating up actions and slowing down aggression. saw it even lock down a minion by helping to dunk it at making it wholly pointless to rescue or push pool onto it. saw players who had me with essentially “unblockable protean” waste time fiddling with moving it around off of Stanislava and then sitting still. weenie 2 caps with a Bloodstone suddenly made my predator “do math” and hold back, buying me turns.

    it’s not a strong card, as you and i can see. but there it is, holding down minions that normally shrug when big caps with a Raven sit around. somehow having a small minion kill that much stealth, and not being a real rush target, tends to let people give up actions instead. hey, i don’t mind, i’ll take the extra turns. it’s a weird card, but i wouldn’t have noticed it if i just relied on theory over practice.

    theory is important to know the whys a card isn’t optimal. but practice finds the hows it can be finessed tactically into something passable/decent.

  3. iclee says:

    Under the Skin?

    Scalpel Tongue is only a dead draw if nobody votes, ever. If that happens, it means every one of your votes will pass and nobody is playing a vote deck. Scalpel Tongue is way ridiculous in how it works, though it’s not terribly important when other people don’t play vote decks.

    Anyway, there are all sorts of cards published in CCGs that can turn out to be useful that should never see play. Because something else is just (on average, against important matchups) better. Sometimes, it’s tech to play one of these cards because it’s particularly good in a certain matchup or to cover a particular weakness. Most of the time, it’s just playing bad cards to be different.

    Bloodstone isn’t Phobia, but then it isn’t Deflection either.

  4. Azel says:

    oh ho ho no! Scalpel Tongue is a dead draw if nobody votes ever, yes, but that means nothing about whether your votes will pass. people can just abstain their spare titled vamp and then drop the DT when it matters. had 7 Scalpels in a 90 card and choked like nobody’s business on them. 3 opposing titles on the table, they’d abstain each time, then drop a DT on a critical vote. made me wish they were at least half Bewitchings instead.

    Scalpel is ridiculous in how it works — when it works. Under the Skin always is playable, though. sort of like how i just found out that Those Who Endure Judge has better cycling value than Bewitching Oration. 4/60 for BO, 2/60 TWEJ, @10/60 burn cards, 6/60 Ashur Tablets. those BOs started to choke me because my deck was geared to cycle like a fiend to trigger Ashurs. BO is the better vote card, but at some point i wanted the TWEJ to cycle. our metagame is all over the map, so 1 time it’s low-no vote, next it’s all high votes; you either don’t need to push or can’t push enough. suddenly cycling out becomes important. really pissed me off to find that out about BOs — sorta made my PRE focus extraneous.

  5. iclee says:

    Getting rid of matchup cards is why every deck should have tons of card cycling ability. One of these days, I should get back to playing fundamentally sound decks.

  6. iclee says:

    Btw, flexibility is only one axis of card value. Magnitude of power is essential to evaluating the desirability of cards, as well. Under the Skin does little. Scalpel Tongue doesn’t just help pass votes but kills votes dead on defense.

    I’ve played with TWEJ recently. It’s awful. It doesn’t do anything and costs blood for not doing anything. Might as well play cards that are free if you want cards that don’t do anything.

  7. Azel says:

    true, flexibility is 1 axis, as is magnitude. that’s why i do agree with you that after a while a more holistic and intuitive approach to card evaluation needs to occur. some hard and fast rules can be nice, but i’m also starting to add a bit of experiential knowledge into that mix. lack of familiarity with a card’s ability does affect utility.

    dunno about TWEJ yet. seems solid for 2 votes for any Laibon above 4 and cycles pretty fast if the table’s too vote heavy. sorta wish anarchs or others had that sort of vote push for an entire sect. best they can churn up is Rant, which should be more expensive, in cost as in setup. however, midcap vote in Laibon Overseers or Anarchs Barons will never catch up to the speed of weenies w/ Praxii or Crusades. maybe something with FSR or opportunistic diablerie will turn up. i can see something with Croc Tongue and TWEJ and Massassi’s Honor somewhere…

    ps: my DoC/Samedi deck took out an Arika prey while having a weenie DEM predator. later went on to take out a Palla Grande Undue Influence g-prey. total luck and grind, which tends to go with the assessment that a) anything can happen in VTES, b) anecdotal means almost nothing, and c) SF VTES is legally insane and should be quarantined for safety’s sake.

    gonna go break that deck up now. it has now graduated to the higher realms of mythic standing… ;)

  8. iclee says:

    These are the problem with relying on results. You have a multiplayer game where the best deck doesn’t matter, and you have small sample sizes with results to where you don’t know whether a game is part of a long tail, and you have differences in play skill.

    How do you establish any sorts of benchmarks? TWDA is the only thing that isn’t nothing but small sample sizes, yet there’s no leveling of play skill, deck strength, and random stuff happens. Deck strength may very well be overrated in other CCGs. I wrote an article about a major winning Wheel of Time deck that sucked if you knew how to play against it, the guy’s opponents just weren’t familiar with it because there were hardly any players and virtually none who knew what they were doing.

  9. Azel says:

    well, even though i still stand by the assessment that deck strength/construction is necessarily tighter and more influential in MtG and L5R, i will agree that they may be overrated as it stands. i remember some great L5R players who could also spin straw into gold, and others who couldn’t crunch out a speed Lion.

    some people are just better at reading the mechanics and breaking it; others are better at reading the table and managing it. some are crazy good at both. however, i will say that even though results can essentially be meaningless, experience is quite valuable. it’s the best way to learn — if you’ll let it. familiarity helps buffer good players because they can then make less mistakes with any said cards, and also find new tactical circumstances to squeeze previously unseen advantage.

    speaking of the fallacy of results, i will say that i learned a lot from checking out your decks. on average you don’t mess around on short changing your blood/pool management and you also have strong respect for wakes. that was an invaluable lesson for me because i got so used to so many players throwing in 4 Dolls and maybe no wakes in a 90 card deck and getting a win (here and abroad). never really worked for me, yet i relied on previous results from others to discount the experience i was having. now that i drop a Fistful of Dolls and wakes… i still lose terribly to bad match ups and my general aversion about grafting DOM/AUS for bounce. but the collapse is that much more gradual, graceful if you will.

    here’s to one day CEL, OBF, and ANI getting a legitimately good bounce card…

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