Miscellany

May 31, 2010

KublaCon is over.  There was more V:TES than usual as we played until late Saturday night.  Wackiest stuff was my bringing out Lithrac, Tashaing, Freaking, Computer Hacking, having my predator Hostile Takeover my one dude, paying 11 for him, as he bled with Democritus for 6, which I Archoned, leaving my predator down about 21 pool and me up, also kept the edge for like 4 straight turns, bring out Reg, who takes like 5 actions in a turn, including diablerizing a Preternatural Strengthed Homa, only to burn to Carlton.  Pentex on my axe’s first vamp finally got broken when I ousted my prey.

But, in general, I did very little.  Sure, we played 2.5 hours of my convention campaign of Solomon Kane, went better than normal.  Played some Type P Magic.  But, no role-playing.  Lots of sitting around doing nothing.  Lots of caring my manbag around for no reason. 

This all feeds into an actual topic – I got into a discussion with one of my SK players about how a lot of gamers stop doing scheduled events.  I’m even starting to get there with Gen Con, where Heroes of Rokugan is becoming my “I hang with people I know” thing instead of doing unusual stuff.  A theory he floated was that gamers go through a cycle where they don’t know other gamers, get to know them through events, hang with their friends, newbies backfill.  Gamers age.  I actually like getting some sleep at cons.  I’m more likely to get sick with lack of sleep as I was at DunDraCon and was starting to feel today.  I also have a been there, done that mental block to committing to a scheduled event that, in the past, I would have signed up for.  DDC, with its insipid signup errors and generally bad process, which has screwed me out of two conventions of gaming, has also left me with permanent mental scars.

Still, I see the pattern, with Gen Con being the collateral evidence.  I need to break this pattern, methinks.  SK is a lot of effort that I could instead spend time playing, and I’m tired of feeling like I have no real reason to be at some of these cons.

Technical Readout 3025 may very well be the best RPG supplement I’ve ever seen.  Why bring up a 1986 product I’ve owned since the ’80’s?  BattleTech has such a rich background/concept and mechanics that inspire.  I actually considered BattleTech at Kubla, a game I’ve played very little.

But, I was talking about this one product.  It’s so ludicrously better than other technical readouts.  But, it’s more than that.  First, I’m not much of an art guy, but the art is well suited to the concept, even if some of it is ripped off from RoboTech.  It’s also far better than other BattleTech products.  But, the heart of 3025 is that it tells stories.  Lots of stories.  The ‘mechs, et al, have stories.  The pilots have stories. 

BattleMech design in BattleTech is often moronic.  Nobody would ever choose A , B, or C when D exists.  I don’t own every supplement and I don’t think I own any of the novels, but 3025 does something I’ve only seen in BattleTechnology Magazine – justify stupidity.  The terrible, terrible designs have a story behind why they suck so bad.  Economics, politics, history, mistakes are all used.  There’s a verisimilitude to the product so lacking in not only other products for this game but for so many products (within the context that different genres have different levels of realism).

3025 sells me on the world, on what it’s offering up.  I’m into the idea of piloting a Blackjack to prove an underdog can win, even if the design is atrocious and pretty much unfixable.  In contrast, I was just telling someone how I’ve really lost interest in the Worlds of Darkness.  Too many problems with even the concept of the worlds working mixed with bad mechanics have left me cold.  As much as I don’t care to make any effort to do WW RPGs, even with all of the vast logic problems 3025 has and the undermining of the concept with other eras of play, I still am drawn in.

Now, everything is relative.  So, what’s wrong with other supplements?  Lot of times, it’s too little flavor.  Yes, I understand that numbers typically drive sales, but when I need something for my writing or for my GMing, it’s knowledge.  What was Santo Domingo like in 1607?  What are the rivers near Vera Cruz?  What are reasonable names for …?  Even books that are supposed to be flavorful are fails.  Emerald Empire is considered a superior L5R book, heavily in demand.  It’s very heavy on flavor, supposedly.  It’s very heavy on not having world info that I’m actually looking for, which just annoys me no end.  The books with new paths and advanced schools and other crunch generally have better info on the world.

I’m a big fan of GURPS books, not the game, which I don’t think I’ve ever actually played!  But, I’m constantly using the books for reference, whether Camelot, Aztecs, Russia, Blood Types, etc.

Anyway, 3025 tells stories, lots of stories, and good stories (even if they are a paragraph long).  That’s what RPing is all about – telling stories.  It’s not like other supplements aren’t great.  I just can’t think of any other product that tells a bunch of good stories.

Actually, it’s what other gaming is about, too, at least for me.  Why will I still play Magic?  Because some games have stories.  My main goblin deck – Wolf (I used a naming convention for Type P decks based on clans for other games, so when I ran out of BattleTech clans, I moved on to Vampire clans) – played Goblin Ringleader, got 4 for 0 card advantage, and lost when Wail of the Nim wrecked my board.

I realized recently that every fiction I did for HoR that had a mechanical effect made my characters worse.  The deadline is tomorrow, so I’m done with fics that can do anything mechanically.  I finished the last today.  Do I ask for a rank of Lore: Unicorn?  What do I do to screw over my character to keep my record intact?

It’s a failing of boardgames how bad they are for stories.  Sure, while the game is going on, there might be some epic drama, but afterwards, not so much.

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[Classic] Group 1 Advanced

May 14, 2010

[posted at Presence.vekn.org, September 9th, 2007]

While probably not the best time to start a thread like this as people are more concerned with real cards, the lack of certain things becomes more obvious when a new set is coming out.

Something I would love to see is advanced group 1’s as a promotional set (2 copies of each vampire per tin/box/whatever) to reward longtime players. As well, I’d like to see fleshing out of group 1 with all of the stuff they missed out on: Sabbat, indies, bloodlines, Laibon. As well, group 2 could use some Laibon. Now, is this realistic? Well something has to fill out that promotional set, right? It seems kind of silly to have reprinted all of those 1’s in the 10th Set without supporting them with something (would have vastly preferred that 10th put in some advanced 1’s so that we didn’t just get vampires a lot of us already have).

Anyway, I took a shot at advanced versions of many of the less often seen or most horrendously designed group 1’s. When I thought about it, I tried to give them some crossover potential with group 2’s or hoped for new 1/2’s. I tried to do exactly 3 per clan, but I failed.

Bianca (Advanced)
G = 1
Brujah
C = 7
CEL, DAI, pot, pre
Camarilla. Infernal.
Bianca treats aggravated damage as normal damage. <merge> At the end of combat, if Bianca is ready and the opposing minion is not, Bianca untaps.

Miranda Sanova (Advanced)
G = 1
Brujah
C = 8
CEL, PRE, aus, obf, pot
Independent. Anarch. Baron of Portland, Oregon.
When Miranda is moved from your uncontrolled region to your ready region, you may search your library for a Master: Discipline card and move it to her at no cost. <merge> Miranda may play any card that requires more than one discipline at the basic levels.

Appolonius (Advanced)
G = 1
Brujah
C = 10
AUS, CEL, FOR, PRE, pot
Laibon. Magaji.
Appolonius gains +1 intercept for each Ishtarri you control. <merge> Any minion attempting to block Appolonius burns 2 blood or 2 life.

Zack North (Advanced)
G = 1
Gangrel
C = 6
ani, for, pot, pro
Camarilla.
Minions opposing Zack in combat cannot dodge as a strike. <merge> Minions opposing Zack in combat cannot end combat as a strike.

Gunther, Beast Lord (Advanced)
G = 1
Gangrel
C = 7
ANI, AUS, for, pro, vic
Independent.
Animal retainers Gunther employs have an additional life. <merge> Gunther does not have to burn blood to pay the cost of cards requiring Animalism that he plays.

Quinton, McDonnell (Advanced)
G = 1
Gangrel
C = 8
CEL, FOR, ani, obf, pro
Camarilla. Prince of Cincinnati.
Quinton has one optional maneuver and press per combat. <merge> While Quinton is ready, location cards you play cost one less pool.

Dancin’ Dana (Advanced)
G = 1
Malkavian
C = 6
AUS, CEL, obf
Camarilla.
Dancin’ Dana may dodge as a strike. <merge> Dancin’ Dana gets an optional additional strike during the first round of combat.

Sylvester Simms (Advanced)
G = 1
Malkavian
C = 8
AUS, OBF, ani, dom, for, pre
Camarilla. Primogen.
Rescuing Sylvester from torpor costs 2 less blood. <merge> Sylvester pays 2 less blood for the leave torpor action and this action cannot be blocked.

Dr. Jest (Advanced)
G = 1
Malkavian
C = 8
DEM, OBF, aus, dom, for, pre
Camarilla. Primogen.
While Dr. Jest is ready and untapped, cards discarded from hand by your prey are removed from the game. <merge> If Dr. Jest successfully bleeds your prey, untap him at the end of your turn.

Sebastian Marley (Advanced)
G = 1
Nosferatu
C = 7
ANI, POT, aus, obf
Camarilla.
Sebastian gets +1 stealth on directed actions. <merge> Primogen. Sebastian has 2 additional votes.

Chester DuBois (Advanced)
G = 1
Nosferatu
C = 7
ANI, POT, for, obf, ser
Camarilla. Primogen.
Chester can burn a vampire in torpor to gain blood equal to the burned vampire’s capacity as a (D) action. This action is not considered diablerie. <merge> Chester may send a younger vampire to torpor or burn an ally as a strike.

Ebanezer Roush (Advanced)
G = 1
Nosferatu
C = 8
ANI, OBF, POT, nec, pro
Camarilla.
Once each combat, Ebanezer may burn a blood to gain +1 strength until the end of combat. <merge> When Ebanezer burns a vampire in combat, that vampire’s controller loses 2 pool.

Marty Lechtansi (Advanced)
G = 1
Nosferatu
C = 9
DOM, OBF, POT, ani, for
Camarilla. Primogen.
+2 bleed when bleeding a Methuselah who controls an ally. <merge> Each round after the first round of combat, minions opposing Marty take 2 damage at the beginning of the round.

Kallista, Master Sculptor (Advanced)
G = 1
Toreador
C = 6
AUS, CEL, pre, pro
Camarilla.
<merge> Kallista may play an Aim card from your ash heap. If she uses this ability, remove the Aim card from the game instead of burning it.

Adrianne (Advanced)
G = 1
Toreador
C = 6
aus, cel, obt, pot, pre, qui
Independent.
Adrianne may gain 1 level of any discipline another of your ready vampires has at superior as a +2 stealth action. <merge> Anarch.

Eliott Sinclair, Virtuoso Thespian (Advanced)
G = 1
Toreador
C = 7
CHI, PRE, aus, cel
Camarilla. Primogen.
If Eliott is ready at the end of a round of combat and has successfully inflicted damage on an opposing vampire during the round, he gains 1 blood. <merge> Once each turn, Eliott may pay 1 less blood when playing an action modifier card.

Sabine Lafitte (Advanced)
G = 1
Tremere
C = 5
aus, dom, pot, tha
Camarilla.
When Sabine successfully hunts, she gains 1 additional blood. <merge> Sabine’s capacity is increased by 2 while she is in play.

Thomas Thorne (Advanced)
G = 1
Tremere
C = 6
DOM, ani, aus, cel, tha
Independent. Anarch.
<merge> Each time a vampire becomes an anarch, Thomas gains 1 blood from the blood bank.

Lydia Van Cuelen (Advanced)
G = 1
Tremere
C = 6
aus, dom, pre, ser, tha
Camarilla.
Lydia gets +1 stealth on political actions. <merge> When Lydia is merged choose a discipline she has at basic, she gains 1 level of that discipline.

Cassandra, Magus Prime (Advanced)
G = 1
Tremere
C = 10
AUS, DOM, PRE, THA, cel
Camarilla. Primogen.
Combat cards that require Thaumaturgy cost Cassandra one less blood to play. <merge> When Cassandra is attempting an action that requires Thaumaturgy, younger vampires and allies cannot block and the action costs 2 less blood or pool.

Melissa Barton (Advanced)
G = 1
Ventrue
C = 5
cel, dom, for, pre
Camarilla.
When Melissa’s controller gain the Edge, Melissa gains +1 bleed until end of turn. <merge> If the Edge is uncontrolled, Melissa has +1 stealth.

Lucia Paciola (Advanced)
G = 1
Ventrue
C = 6
DOM, for, mel, pre
Camarilla.
Lucia gets one optional press each combat. Her hand strikes cannot be dodged. <merge> Lucia may tap a ready minion controlled by another Methuselah as a +1 stealth (D) action.

Helena Casimir (Advanced)
G = 1
Ventrue
C = 9
DOM, POT, PRE, cel, for
Camarilla. Primogen.
Helena may enter combat with an Independent vampire as a +1 stealth (D) action. <merge> Damage from Helena’s hand strikes is aggravated. +1 strength.

A fun waste of a few hours, at any rate.

p.s.  I haven’t researched old material nearly as much as I expected to use for [classic] posts.  But, every time someone talks about doing advanced versions of group 1 vampires, I am reminded of this.  Not that I ever got a sense that these designs were thought much about, but it’s probably the case that the merged versions need to be powerful to justify playing with base versions, and I’m sure some of these don’t rise to that level.


Doubt

May 10, 2010

So, I’m going to talk about L5R (RPG) and HoR.  But, first, Champions (or any Hero system game but especially Champions).

There was an article in an issue of the Adventurer’s Club (#9, Spring 1987) about powergaming …

“Now, your character is going to be a hopelessly psychotic cripple who takes damage from being alive, and is hunted by every intelligent being in the universe; but with this kind of point total, who cares?”

… If you ever look at the disadvantages that (yesteryear, I stopped buying Hero products a long, long time ago) Champions characters typically have, they make about as much sense as trying to follow my trains of thought.  It’s all about point scraping.  “Oh, if I just had 15 more character points, I could do cool stuff.  Where can I scrape those up?  I’m sure I ticked off some random villain group that doesn’t exist in the campaign yet before I started adventuring.  Speaking of ticked off, I’m sure I’ll get Enraged by …”

It was just so blatantly blatant in Champions.  That had something to do with the game having the non-genre concept that characters should balance against each other and that starting characters should be largely wusses.  However, the idea of coming up with out of character disadvantages to scrape up some more points is hardly limited to Hero.

But, that’s not what this post is really about, either.  Fourth Edition L5R is coming out this Summer.  I like Third Edition.  Really, I actually like something.  Something broken, horribly, horribly broken.  But, then, I’ve come to realize that broken vs. broken can be fine.

There are things I don’t like about Third Edition.  Main one?  Disadvantages.  At the heart of many of my rants about RPGs is balance.  What’s galling about imbalance is that it discourages variety.  I find it excruciating to go through the list of disadvantages in the main book for 3e to scrape up those extra 10 character points to make my silly characters.

I’m not going to go through every disadvantage – there’s 60 of them and I haven’t played with most of them, anyway.  I will talk about a few, but before I get to that point, maybe someone would like to know what the point of this post is.  Even though it’s true that in many RPGs, including this one, that characters should be designed with disadvantages in mind first as it’s usually the disadvantages rather than the abilities that make the character interesting and more fully realized, that’s not the inspiration for taking a look at L5R 3e disads.

What is the inspiration is the hope that they don’t screw up the costing as badly in 4e as they did in 3e.  Note that I don’t care about fixes in Third Edition Revised – the point isn’t to criticize 3e or fix 3e but to point out areas where I hope better playtesting with 4e avoided pitfalls.  Note #2, I only play L5R in HoR, and HoR has its own biases.

Antisocial (2/4)

Gain 2 character points (CP) for keeping one less die on social rolls, 4 CP for keeping two less dice.  One of the biases in HoR is away from combat.  Combat is too deadly to expect someone to survive for very long unless you limit it.  In truth, it’s not that brutal, most of the time, to be socially impaired.  But, sometimes it is.  Keeping one less die on social rolls is not real far off from having one less Awareness.  Certainly, it’s crippling for a social courtier.  It might make some sense with a duelist who only bumped Awareness for the dueling benefits and insight.  It probably fits best with a shugenja who doesn’t care so much about social stuff as having a good Air Ring for spellcasting.  Socially inept bushi have enough problems in HoR (more so out of boredom, but still), without being saddled with such a significant loss in dice pool.

Bad Health (3)

Basically, suicidal unless you avoid every combat mod.  That’s totally worth 3 CP.

Bad Sight (4)

Four is a lot of points to get from a disad when you consider that you would never want more than 10 points.  On the other hand, four is not a lot of points to apply to making your character better.  My current backup character has Bad Sight.  I find it amusing, but then, I’m a masochist.  Read literally, it’s absurdly painful, being a disad that would kick in in about 50% of the rolls made in HoR; actually, even if adjudicated more reasonably than two less dice on all Perception checks (unless they just mean raw trait rolls), it’s still crippling.  From a thematic standpoint, it’s frustrating as not knowing what’s going on runs counter to my personality of trying to know everything that’s going on.  Last mod I played in, I actually had no idea what the plot was until the mod was over, all because nothing is more important than being perceptive (true of many RPGs).

Can’t Lie (3)

Oddly, I find this to be trivially disadvantageous.  As long as someone else can lie, and as long as you can keep your mouth shut, eh.  I do enjoy characters who lie outrageously, though I also like the idea of having to think about what I say to avoid lying.  I sometimes forget which character I’m playing but, otherwise, hardly notice this disad.

Contrary (3)

On the one hand, this sounds fun.  On the other, I see it being incredibly hard to play correctly while not being forced to commit seppuku.

Coward (3/6)

It’s just too broad for me to see how it could be remotely fun.  It’s just so-o-o-o rare to find NPCs who are more glorious than you.

Cruel (3)

Your Awareness is one less for social interaction = Antisocial.  And, you get dinged on Honor Rolls.  I’m trying to envision the character who works around these.  Dishonorable, antisocial scum can survive in the relatively benign HoR world.  I happen to know a rank 5 character who not only made rank 5 but is a high status magistrate who is Cruel.  While it has a good thematic element, it’s mechanically rather punishing.

Doubt (4)

I consider Doubt cheesy.  While I did have a character with it, 1) I had a pretty cool explanation for why he had it, and 2) he was the opposite of effective.  Third Revised actually made it less disadvantageous for some reason.  Are there schools that only have useful starting skills?  Probably.  I know it never mattered to my character that he Doubted a combat! skill.

Elemental Imbalance (1/3/6)

I see this as:  cheese; hysterical.  I wonder if I would ever build a shugenja that didn’t have this.  Of course, you’d never take the 1 pt. version.

Fascination (1)

Key to my main character is his Fascination.  It’s one of the disads that I think makes characters more interesting without screwing them utterly.  That’s assuming you don’t read what the description says, where this 1 pt. disad would kill anyone dumb enough to act the way the disad suggests.

Forsaken (1)

More often an advantage than a disad.

Gaijin Name (1)

I think I played a mod where this was actually a disad.  That would make 2% of the mods even considering this a disad.  Admittedly, it’s only worth 1 pt., except it’s worth 2 for Unicorn, which is a lot of money for nothing.

Gullible (3)

I only mention this because it’s incredibly amusing to play someone Gullible.  Nonsensical, a lot of the time, because the character is perceptive and smart.  This is probably worth too many points as it hasn’t really had any impact.

Idealistic (2)

Total screwjob, unless your goal was to have no Honor, in which case it’s a broken dishonor engine.  In what way does it make any sense that someone Idealistic is the least likely to be honorable?

Insensitive (2)

I’m inclined to believe that the mechanic is way out of line with the thematics and the point value.  Maybe, it’s not that hard to justify helping others.

Lame (5)

Five’s a lot, and about five less than it should be when you consider that all combat rolls outside of ranged go off of Agility.

Lechery (1-4)

I’m failing to see how you wouldn’t get autoseduced by anyone of any competence at all, which pretty much means either being a tool or being a broken tool.

Low Pain Threshold (5)

Can look at this two ways.  There’s the cheese of taking this and Strength of the Earth 2 to gain a CP and have the effect of Strength of the Earth 1.  Or, you can look at this as a crippling disad for someone who fights who doesn’t have SotE.

Missing Eye (3)

I seem to be missing something as it’s amazing how many characters have missing eyes.  There must be some sort of constructive point scraping going on that I don’t quite get as the effects are actually pretty obnoxious.

Missing Limb (3)

That’s right, Bad Sight is worth more than missing a limb.

Momoku (10)

Sure, it’s undervalue by some ridiculous amount, but I don’t have any problem with it.  There’s no point in making a disad worth more than 10, so the 10er has to be so utterly harsh that only people with personality traits like mine would want to figure out what to do with it.  The real problem is that it’s so out of line with other disads, in one way or another.  It’s not actually as suicidal as a lot of other disads should be, but it’s way more crippling.

Overconfident (2)

Speaking of suicidal.  Assuming I don’t just build a Perception monster character, a disad that forces you to fight against superior enemies in a game with one of the most lethal combat systems should probably be worth more than 2 CP.

Unlucky (3/6/9)

Unlucky is less of a hose job than one would think.  Maybe it’s because GMs don’t like to screw players that much.  On the other hand, while I frequently notice that various disads never come up, Unlucky is one of those disads that is almost required to see play in every single adventure.

Weakness (5)

I’ve been looking at this, trying to figure out whether there’s ever a way to compensate for the bad math – 8 XP to raise a trait from 1 to 2 vs. +5 CP to start out.  Of course, short term maybe more important than long term, and it would be funny beyond funny to roll, say, 2k1 on an initiative roll, but the angle I’m looking at is playing a family/school mix that you want to play for flavor but gives you some trait bonus you will never care about that you can give back for the 5 CP.

Wrath of the Kami (3)

Another case where I come up with a flimsy justification for cheese.  Please look at the spells in the game and figure out when Wrath of the Kami (Water) x1, x2, or x3 will ever kick in.  Fortunately, my anti-cheese of Bad Sight and no weapon skill ranks, mixed with my awesomeness at having a Tattooed Man monk who has won every iaijutsu tournament he’s ever been in and who is a member of a famed acting troupe … all in the space of two adventures, completely counter the cheese factor of getting six free points off of this.

It’s funny how many of the comments are about disads that should be worth less.  Actually, that’s my own pitfall.  Rather than them being worth less, the others should be worth more is probably the more proper way to look at it.  I don’t know, it gets boring to write “Another suicidal disad for any sort of reasonable campaign.”  I just want disads that hurt some every once in a while that you can play without being crazy and without having the GM coddle you.


Ultimate Combat! – Scott’s Analysis, Part III

May 9, 2010

Now, let’s talk about cards that suck.  Really, that’s always more fun, anyway.

Top 10 Cards to stay away from

#10 (Kevlar Vest)

 

Cons: this game is not about holding off you opponent it’s about kicking ass. Kevlar vest only works on holding someone off and if I did want to hold someone off (maybe I’ve made some type of control deck) for some point in a game I would use the other the armor and or armor type cards shown above

Pros: +3 defenses is good but to slow with a cost of 6 with -1 attack

ICL:  An interesting choice to start us off.  There are plenty of awful cards in the game that should never see play that wouldn’t make for interesting analysis, so it’s nice to start off with something controversial.  I’ve seen this played, I’ve also played it.  Putting aside Counter decks, is there any reason to play this?  Not really, at least not in constructed, whereas in limited, it should be a house.  There is a big, big cost difference between this and other defensive cards that could be played, like Healing Mantra.  Not that I’m a fan of Warrior’s Helmet or any of the other (cheaper) armor, either.  However, Counters, the advantages, exist in the game and this is just the sort of thing you want out of a permanent for such a deck.  It is rather blatant to the point where you can’t get a surprise knockout with a tactical Counter (something that maybe I should explore more).  It’s also a big annoyance to Combination decks, though Combination decks should really take you out before or about the time that this comes down.

#9 (Beijing blitz)

 

Cons: ok so this card seems like a great card at 1st, but it’s really not. You can get a good attack out of it but the other cards like it can do better. Unlike the combo cards as seen above BB can only be blocked by one tech which is what the card does, well what’s wrong with it #1 it cost too much <two power points would be good>. #2 speed X and strength X will make for a big attack as well and not kill two techs killing your defenses

Pros: It’s still an ok card but better cards are out their

ICL:  Why ever play with this?  It’s cool in what it does and has an amusing name.  As Scott says, maybe if it were half the cost it wouldn’t be so bad.  There are only certain circumstances when you need massive amounts of extra force, like trying to punch through a Counter deck that has tooled up.  But, it’s so rare that you can’t put someone out with the +2 from movement, the +2 from Speed/Strength (or +4 from both), or whatever that the effect rarely matters.  Then, how often would a deck ever have two good technique in play at the same time, anyway?  Decks just don’t run that way.  You either tend to have multiple cheap technique or one good technique.  If you have multiple good technique in play, it’s probably from multiple Favorite Techniques, and the game is basically over one way or the other, anyway.  Note that if advantages were less good in power to cost ratio and technique better, then cards like this might mean more.  While Ancient Fighting Arts of China tries to move the game away from advantage based beatdown to some degree, it only really succeeds with Drunken technique, and Drunken would stop Beijing Blitz, anyway.

#8 (white belt foot sweep)

 

Cons: a 3 under cost attack, yup it’s sucky

Pros: Unlike its Brown and black belt counter parts this foot sweep is only pretty much sucky not super awful. The fact that it’s only 3 under cost and a white belt and it’s a throw. In a well built throw deck this is not a bad card…But it’s not great

ICL:  Footsweeps are hilarious.  As a game designed by real world martial artists, I guess footsweeps are weak sauce in actual use.  One of the Coach cards from the expansion makes them less horrendous but not really any less laughable.

#7 (Intimidation)

 

Cons: yup [] pic and [] card… This card is really just pointless. If you are play some one whom has a lot of advantage cards in their deck, all this will do is delay them one turn for a cost of 3 if you are that close to losing this card will not save your day it will just delay your demise one turn. *Body Odor is a much better card and at a better cost.*(see above) and has a generic casting cost.

Pros: none I don’t like this card… but if it had been an Environment card it may have been a real game breaker

ICL:  Sounds better than it is.  Advantages are a beating in this game, typically turning a 2-4 point attack into a 12-20+ one.  But, it’s too hard to control, it has a funky cost, and it’s too narrow when compared to alternatives.  While there is a concept of stalling attacks in this game, it does kind of pale next to Body Odor.  Then, Drunken technique is way more annoying than this.

#6 (Black belt Uppercut & Throat Jab)

Cons: 3 under cost that’s all you have to say.

Pros: none

ICL:  Can’t remember if there is a Coach card for Throat Jab.  Anyway, while you would never see these, or lots of other technique, in constructed play, I wouldn’t cut them from a sealed deck.

#5 (Sumida’s Misdirection)

 

Cons: the idea is good but its cost is too high, if its cost was 2 or lower maybe even 0 it would be a good card. But with the cost of 5 and you have to discard one card per point of damage I don’t think so.

Pros: good if you have to use it can save your life from a really big attack but you would kill you hand at the same time.

ICL:  Yeah, the idea is interesting.  It’s really easy to deck people in this game even without a decking deck, so the costs are rather significant.  The total power cost should be no more than 3, otherwise might as well put way more powerful cards in your deck at the same cost level, or, at one less, play Suppress (opponent can only do a build phase on next turn) to get a free turn because free turns are in no way better than questionable damage prevention.

#4 (Leaping Ax kick)

Cons: 3 under cost its just bad and it’s a jumping attack un like the throws the jumping attacks have a lot of cards that attack the fact that you are jumping. Or cards that make you jumping and then adds more power to the attack but those cards don’t do anything for cards that are already a jumping attack.

Pros: none

ICL:  It’s funny that the best Jumping strategy involves technique that aren’t jumping.  This is bad, but it’s hard to get too excited.  More amusing is that I had an ax kick deck that ran no advantages and it was bizarrely functional – all ax kicks except maybe one are fairly awful, not that it ran this card either.

#3 (Banana Peel)

Cons: When are you really going to use this card? It’s a (filler card) that should have a better card in its slot that could be used more often. Look if you opponent doesn’t have any speed advantage cards in his deck this card does nothing.

Pro: don’t get me wrong this card could fuck up a big speed X card but it’s not likely to happen.   

ICL:  I don’t have a lot of UC! stories as the game wasn’t living for very long and there wasn’t much of a player base.  Nor did I play a lot of tournaments; well, I might have played a lot relative to other players but not relative to other CCGs.  I only won one tournament.  I went 7-0 and decked four of my opponents.  It was sealed deck, which unlike other CCGs meant just playing a starter.  Deck I faced that I feared most?  Had Speed X.  My Banana Peel never played so well … MVP!  MVP!  MVP!

Now, let’s get back to reality.  This is a perfect example of why hosers are stupid in CCGs.  Threats are superior to answers by the nature of threats causing you to win and answers not.  It’s a maxim of CCGs that answers should cost less than threats.  The Speed threats in the game are primarily of the 1 or 2 cost sort.  While someone may have Speed X, since it’s completely awesome, may just as well have Strength X or Combination X or even Counter X.  Hosers almost never work the way they were intended because of any one of – they don’t actually hose what was intended, what they are hosing isn’t common enough to run the hoser, they don’t cause the opponent to lose such that you would play them instead of cards that always help you win, they hose the wrong thing.  Even if they do something approaching what was intended, they just tend to make games less fun by making games too swingy when the correct answer in CCG management is to address what is so unbalancing in the game that deserves hosing. 

Then, this eats up a precious black belt slot that only a gold belt deck could ever justify.  Now, I can see someone running this in a gold belt deck as metagame tech, and I can see it as a sideboard card.  Except, I never played with sideboards, ever.

I’m happy that it made this list as it gave me an opening to tell that story.  It’s not nearly as bad as other cards and it’s vaguely amusing, but it is nearly pointless.

#2 (Gold belt Multiple Movement cards *not shown*)

Cons: 1st off Multiple Movement are a waste of a gold belt card in a any deck but a master’s deck and even then its still a sucky card. The white belt movement cards are ok because for 1 power point you can get +1 or maybe +2 if you’re lucky. But that’s what sucks about all movement cards… if you play movement cards and your opponent does not then they work good but if you opponent plays them too then they suck look at the card above if you move left and your opponent moves left, front, or back your move did nothing or it took away 1 attack point from your attack. Only if your opponent does not move or (if he has shit for brains) moves right which he wouldn’t do you get a + on attack. With Multiple Movement cards you use a gold belt slot for a card that cost 2 and may give you only 1

Pros: None unless you are playing someone with shit for brains

ICL:  Gold belt movement was a case of flawed design.  Movement, as a concept, is something that sets the game apart and grounds it a bit more in reality.  If a (pure) fencing CCG were ever invented (I wonder if anyone in Europe ever did one), it would likely be missing something without movement effects like UC!’s.  Anyway, getting back to the design mistake, multiple foundation are strictly better than basic foundation except in absurd situations, which makes sense in a CCG with deck construction restrictions based on rarity, i.e. you only ever play them in gold belt decks and you probably run as many as you can, which means buying more cards, which means selling more product.  But, gold belt movement isn’t strictly better, it’s in fact frequently worse because it costs twice as much.  One may not think that costing 2 vs. costing one is a big deal, but it’s major, important enough that I rarely play Speed/Strength 2.  I’ve played with gold belt movement a decent amount because there are some cards to help movement, not good cards but cards, and I like playing with harder to get cards even if they suck.  Yet, consider what you could be playing instead of cards that aren’t really any better than the common versions.

#1 Cards to stay away from (foot sweep black and brown belt)

Cons: Ok so these cards are both not even at cost for attack and are 3 under cost for defense making them 4 under cost making them the worst cards in the game.

Pros: The maker’s of the game knew how weak these cards are so in the 2nd set they fix it with a card caller Professor Uchida. Making them less [], with Uchida out they cost only 4 and become 5/2 for attack and defense…

ICL:  I think I built a footsweep deck.  Where the ax kick deck, and the spinning deck, and the other “let’s see if a coach can make these terrible cards less terrible” decks occasionally were amusing, I think the footsweep deck didn’t actually function at a level where one was actually playing the game.  Note that Shaolin technique are so dumbly costed and Coach Chung’s effect is so ludicrous, that I couldn’t even bring myself to build a deck around him … there are plenty of candidates for the worst cards in the game, just as there often are in every CCG, though Magic’s worst list is surprisingly consistent.


San Francisco Regional Qualifier 2010

May 4, 2010

So, qualifier weekend. Standard constructed Saturday morning (not a miniqualifier for some reason), qualifier in the evening, storyline on Sunday.

Round 1:

James (Ferryman/Talbot’s) -> Eric (Black Cat Kpist) -> Ira (Ani/Dom/Obf) -> Ian (For/Pro intercept) -> Gerentt (4/5 Brujah Royalty)

This wasn’t terribly memorable except for all of the intercept locations that came down. Five of them got played, plus The Anarch Free Press. Eric could never do anything as he kept getting blocked trying to get a gun, and it wasn’t clear what the deck did without one. Ira, with no predator, amassed the expected army. I got Gerentt with Monkey Wrenches. James actually had his deck do what it was supposed to and got Talbot’s on the Ferryman. Some backwards rush kept Gerentt weak, ousting Eric was pretty easy. Talbot’s finally got blown up by Canine Horde, removing the only threat James had to Ira’s deck, and I barely survived on time.

Round 2:

Mike (Shattering Crescendo vote) -> Ian -> Michael (weenie Hack w/ Obf) -> Alex (Torrance Circle) -> James

Alex thought it was impressive that Mike torped all of my vampires with Death of the Drum (off of my maneuver) and Shattering Crescendo.  I was far, far more impressed that Alex stabilized almost immediately against the horde with Thicker Than Blood and Info Highway and beatings.  Of course, with my lack of pressure, Michael just kept decrypting to build his fleet.  Mike was annoyed by all of the intercept around him and kept threatening Alex with the idea that Michael was a better predator to James, but James did virtually nothing.  The real problem for Mike was that his deck seemed to go way too much forward.  I think he should have killed off James as Alex would have still been constrained by the horde.  Alternatively, he nukes the weenies, unloosening Alex to make James defend, and then, goes after me.

Anyway, Michael lunges unsuccessfully, setting me up for 2 after I recover.  James takes out Mike who has no defense.  James and I should time out as he could just stay untapped and I could never get through because Daring the Dawn isn’t so useful against allies.  But, we try to do stuff, and eventually he is tapped enough for me to finish him off.

Finals:

James -> Ian -> Brandon (Dom/more Dom/For) -> Oliver (some anarch thing) -> Robert (weenie Presence bleed)

This was kind of dumb as there were two decks that needed ganging up on.  I was second seed and had an okay seat.  People ganged up on Brandon and he couldn’t get the draw to take out Oliver, so I ousted him.  People didn’t gang up on Robert, so he won.  I think Brandon should have worked with someone, like me, to put some pressure on Robert with bounce, rather than just keep throwing bleeds at Oliver, hoping he would die.  It was taking so long to get Oliver that even if he did get him, Robert would win.  My unloosening Oliver didn’t do much as he failed to rescue my “Force of Will for the oust” third vampire and I couldn’t deal with the weenie horde.

Qualifier, round 1:

Mike (Renegade Garou can bleed) -> Ian (The Horde) -> Alex (EuroBrujah) -> Eric (Qawiyya) -> Matt (Soul Scan)

At least it was quick.  I learned pretty quickly that my attempt at combo horde of Hordes didn’t combo much and didn’t exactly horde as I only brought out about 7.  Matt’s game might have been less interesting than mine as he spent pretty much the whole game just rescuing and hunting as Eric went completely forwards.  For some reason, Eric didn’t continue to contest Fame, so Mike ousted me (after I got Eric to twice Hide the Mind bleeds when I was at 2 pool).

Round 2:

Matt -> Andy (Crazy Santa[leous]) -> Robert (Ahrimanes) -> Ian -> Brandon (weenie anarch Auspex)

Matt and I had a really, really lame tournament.  He couldn’t do anything as Brandon would block him.  Even with no predator, I couldn’t do anything, either.  My horde of free, stealth bleeding dudes was actually just 5 to 7 “I hit you for one” dudes.  Andy propped me up some to try to put pressure on Brandon, but that was mostly ineffectual, so with around 15 minutes left, he finally decided to oust me, and the game timed out.

Finals:

Robert won again, beating Mike, Andy, Jeff?, and Eric.  I was showing Kuta how to play Race for the Galaxy.

Storyline, round 1:

Matt (Chicago Circle) -> Michael (Tupdog) -> Alex (Torrance Circle) -> Ian (Trujah vote)

Alex was loyalist, I think.  I think Michael cheated.  Matt and I definitely cheated.  The two BB decks were scared to even bring out minions against the Tupdogs, even though they both fought well enough when they finally did.  Seating meant I won … but not before I gave Matt a VP by crosstable Banishing Pugfar.  I was usually above 20 pool and brought out 35 pool worth of vampires, working on a 10 cap when I won.  Amusing?  Tupdog getting Pentexed and still getting into combat via slave mechanic.

Round 2:

Ian -> Brandon (Off Kilter) -> Ian (Samedi ally) -> Ira (Samedi Dabbler)

Yeah, that would make three (out of three) Samedi decks at my table.  That slowed them down.  Mistrust and my prey having 2 permanent votes slowed me down, so I never had three minions at the same time.  I did bloat enough to keep Ira from reducing me below 1 pool, which he managed twice.  Ian should have put way more pressure on Ira by attempting to block Brandon’s bleeds so that the bounces were at stealth.  He became an ineffectual predator, allowing Ira to put six or so Samedi in play.  I had one turn in which I could have gotten Brandon, but I assumed he had Archon Investigation and I had problems doing things.

Finals:

Ian -> Oliver (Kiasyd w/ vote) -> Brandon -> Steve (The Horde) -> Ira

Third seed.  I don’t think Oliver chose wisely, but he only knew Steve’s deck.  Ira had no chance of winning, I had virtually no chance.  Oliver brings out a dude and becomes a Cardinal.  I don’t bring out any dudes with votes, ever.  I Free States Rant Steve, which only impacts one Horde because along with Oliver and I, he is cheating.  I forget why Hall of Hades’ Court isn’t a good card and bleed Brandon for 3, which kills him when I figure he’s going to win as he’d oust Steve on his next turn and Ira would gladly capitulate for a Samedi victory.  I play an awful lot of Free States Rants to slow Oliver’s five Kiasyd, but he gets Steve, anyway, and the game times out with a chance I could have gotten Oliver with more time.  I make another hugely stupid mistake, not that it would have had any impact on the results by not playing Legendary Vampire on my fourth Trujah.

Deck Name:   Sea Pirates
Description:  Restoration shouldn’t be that bad.  Besides, I’ve never won a tournament with Protean

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 26, Avg: 3.91)
———————————————
  5  Anarch Convert                     none           1  Caitiff
  1  Antonino                           FOR ani pre pro6  Gangrel
  1  Harry Reese                        cel obf FOR PRO6  Gangrel Antitribu
  1  Maria Stone                        cel obf pro FOR5  Gangrel Antitribu
  1  Mariel St. John                    dom pro AUS FOR6  Ventrue Antitribu
  1  Mowgli                             ani cel FOR PRO5  Gangrel Antitribu
  1  Nadima                             ani aus FOR PRO SER8  Gangrel
  1  Sophia Watson                      obf pro ANI FOR6  Gangrel

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (17 cards)
  1  Anarch Free Press, The
  2  Archon Investigation
  1  Barrens, The
  6  Blood Doll
  1  Direct Intervention
  2  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
  1  Rumor Mill, Tabloid Newspaper, The
  2  Storage Annex
  1  Wall Street Night, Financial Newspaper

Action (10 cards)
  2  Force of Will
  8  Restoration

Action Modifier (13 cards)
  1  Daring the Dawn
  7  Freak Drive
  5  Monkey Wrench

Reaction (22 cards)
  4  Eyes of the Beast
  4  Forced Awakening
  4  On the Qui Vive
  4  Sonar
  5  Steadfastness
  1  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (12 cards)
  1  Armor of Vitality
  1  Claws of the Dead
  4  Earth Meld
  2  Form of Mist
  1  Lam Into
  3  Soak

Ally (1 cards)
  1  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)

Retainer (3 cards)
  1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
  1  Mr. Winthrop
  1  Tasha Morgan

Equipment (2 cards)
  2  .44 Magnum

I never drew a Storage Annex in three games, I just realized.  As you can plainly see, the second .44 clearly defines this as one of my combat decks.  The fact that I have no actual way of getting actions through is testament to the efficacy of my philosophy of doing nothing until my inevitable victory.  Or, in other words, sea pirates!!

Deck Name:   100331  The Horde Trust
Created By:  The Horde
Description:  Try not to pay for minions, in reality, suck.

Crypt: (25 cards, Min: 12, Max: 12, Avg: 3)
——————————————-
  25  Horde                             dai obf pre    3  Baali

Library: (75 cards)
——————-
Master (38 cards)
  1  Antediluvian Awakening
  2  Archon Investigation
  9  Ashur Tablets
  6  Effective Management
  1  Failsafe
  3  Obfuscate
  3  Parthenon, The
  2  Path of Evil Revelations
  4  Presence
  7  Tend the Flock

Action (10 cards)
  1  Aranthebes, The Immortal
  9  Public Trust

Action Modifier (16 cards)
  2  Aire of Elation
  3  Change of Target
  2  Cloak the Gathering
  1  Domain of Evernight
  1  Elder Impersonation
  1  Faceless Night
  1  I Am Legion
  1  Into Thin Air
  1  Leverage
  1  Lost in Crowds
  1  Spying Mission
  1  Veil the Legions

Reaction (5 cards)
  4  Delaying Tactics
  1  Dread Gaze

Ally (3 cards)
  3  Infernal Servitor

Event (1 cards)
  1  Scourge of the Enochians

Combo (2 cards)
  1  Gift of Sleep
  1  Swallowed by the Night

I don’t typically tune decks.  For a deck that I didn’t know how to build correctly, that I only pulled the cards for the morning of the tournament, I sure made a lot of tweaks as I goldfished the deck.  I don’t know that they helped.  The big problem is that the deck doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do.  I’m only supposed to pay for like two Hordes.  But, the number of moving parts is bad enough without trying to do the Ashur Tablets angle.  I’m supposed to be playing Effective Management and Tend the Flock every turn, and I didn’t build that deck.  Without the storyline rule of no infernal payments, I should have just played The Horde intercept combat with a bunch of Evil Revelations.  It couldn’t have been worse.

The whole concept was to play something different – different from my first deck, different from my style of play in that I’m neither fond of combo nor aggro and this was supposed to be both.  If I cared about qualifying in this event, which wasn’t really meaningful as I was already qualified from Vegas, I might have tried something less experimental, but whatever.  Gotz to try different stuff to grow as a player.

Deck Name:   Battle Lines – Trujah
Created By:  Synesios
Description:

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 30, Max: 39, Avg: 8.58)
———————————————-
  1  Al-Muntaquim                       TEM POT FOR obf pre8  True Brujah
  1  Al-Muntathir                       AUS FOR PRE TEM obf qui8  True Brujah
  1  Cybele                             ANI DAI OBF PRE SER THA10 Baali
  1  Huitzilopochtli                    AUS DAI DOM OBF PRE POT10 Baali
  1  Ibn Khaldun                        for POT PRE TEM7  True Brujah
  1  Krassimir                          dom nec POT pre TEM7  True Brujah
  1  Lydia                              AUS FOR POT TEM dom pre9  True Brujah
  1  Mikael Birkholm                    PRE TEM aus for pot8  True Brujah
  1  Nehemiah                           obt POT PRE SER TEM9  True Brujah
  1  Nu                                 ani aus POT PRE pro TEM9  True Brujah
  1  Shalmath                           POT PRE TEM    10 True Brujah
  1  Synesios                           obf POT PRE ser TEM8  True Brujah

Library: (90 cards)
——————-
Master (21 cards)
  1  Barrens, The
  2  Blood Doll
  1  Direct Intervention
  1  Dreams of the Sphinx
  1  Giant`s Blood
  1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
  2  Information Highway
  1  Legendary Vampire
  2  Obfuscate
  1  Sudden Reversal
  1  Tabriz Assembly
  7  Villein

Action (3 cards)
  1  Clio`s Kiss
  1  Kiss of Lachesis
  1  Summon History

Action Modifier (24 cards)
  5  Domain of Evernight
  6  Iron Glare
  4  Pocket Out of Time
  1  Recurring Contemplation
  1  Tangle Atropos` Hand
  7  Voter Captivation

Political Action (13 cards)
  1  Ancient Influence
  2  Banishment
  1  Disputed Territory
  5  Free States Rant
  1  Kine Resources Contested
  1  Neonate Breach
  1  Political Stranglehold
  1  Reins of Power

Reaction (7 cards)
  1  Internal Recursion
  4  On the Qui Vive
  2  Rewind Time

Combat (16 cards)
  8  Majesty
  7  Outside the Hourglass
  1  Taste of Vitae

Ally (1 cards)
  1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Equipment (1 cards)
  1  Heart of Nizchetus

Event (1 cards)
  1  Scourge of the Enochians

Combo (3 cards)
  2  Hall of Hades` Court
  1  Quicksilver Contemplation

Man, this was way more fun than I expected.  Man, the scarce rule is insipid and should be removed from the game so that people can actually have fun, even if they don’t get to have 10 unique crypt options for their scarcies.  Of course, Lilith Blessed this deck.

I didn’t really make much of an effort.  The lack of ability to pass votes was a “what the hell?” decision.

And, yes, I had no bounce cards in any of my three decks.  Only certain sea pirates play bounce.