It actually didn’t occur to me until a few hours ago to take a look back at the year. It’s still a few hours until 2011 here, so here I go with my look back on my 2010 gamingwise. No top 10 lists, no deep thoughts on theory or strategy or astrology, no particular cleverness at all – just some things to ramble about.
I watch a lot of ESPN/ESPN News, and they had a poll of the top story for 2010. LeBron’s decision led. I understand that; it was the story that had the most that could be talked about and was really intended to be a media frenzy thing. It wasn’t the most important story, but it was the biggest.
Heroes of Rokugan. I got invested in 2009, but I was involved in 2010. I did most of my fictions, played in the final events, scrambled to try to get all the mods in, planned things out, and completed my (main two) characters’ stories. HoR3 hasn’t been that big of a thing, yet, I still don’t know what I want to do with characters, but I’m still looking back at HoR2 both for the stories and because of my running it for others.
Most Notable Event
V:TES going out of production. While I actually don’t care a lot that there’s no cards expected any time soon, which is a complete reversal of my views on CCGs I played in yesteryears, it’s akin to Tiger Woods (the most important sports story of 2010) in that what it precisely means is unknown, yet is disturbing in its implications.
It’s not just about V:TES, which, really, has already had a period in which it looked like production was over. It’s also a general sign of the decline of CCGs. Where have all of the niche CCGs gone? Oh, not being plugged into the CCG market like I once was, I’m sure there are ones doing okay out there. Just had a conversation with a store owner where L5R seems to be hanging on. The market isn’t likely to die as enough CCGs have gone mainstream and (even more ludicrous) Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes keep getting shown in the US. But, I don’t see any effort to publish new ones.
As for the major release of 2010 – Heirs to the Blood – I have such mixed feelings. On the one hand, the starter thing was painful. On the other, the set overall was quite pleasing.
I must rant about Visionquest, however. There are plenty of horrible cards in V:TES, astronomical numbers in all of CCGdom, so why single out this, rather harmless, card? I get offended by certain cards because they are such a mindboggling failure of design and/or development. There’s no rational reason for how bad Visionquest is. Sanguine Instruction isn’t technically, strictly better, it’s just “strictly” better, which is absurd when you consider how bad a card Sanguine Instruction is. When SI was first published or maybe when we were playtesting the set, I don’t recall, I couldn’t understand why it was only a 1 stealth action. That Visionquest does far less *and* has a drawback suggests to me a few possibilities. One is, of course, that maybe nobody read the card, something I highly doubt if it was provided to playtesters since even niche playtesting sees a high enough level of scrutiny that how bad it is would have been caught. My preferred theory, at the moment, is to think that the card was stronger in playtesting and got nerfed after the playtesters were done, something that happens quite often in my experience. I don’t prefer this because I think it’s the most likely scenario, I prefer it because playtesters often get blamed for things that aren’t their fault. There’s always the niche CCG playtesting problem of not having enough time to worry about underpowered cards, but that would still mean that people found it acceptable as it is currently written, which would be discouraging.
Gen Con was a major mixed bag for me. The lack of comrades on the trip had a huge impact both monetarily and in terms of enjoying my downtime. DunDraCon was awful, as it has been for years. KublaCon was okay. ConQuest was virtually nonexistent. I had more fun going to the Vegas Qualifier and the LA Storyline events, events where I didn’t game a whole lot, than I did most of the local cons. Hell, I tend to get more enjoyment out of a casual gaming day than most of the local cons.
The question is whether this is the cons’ faults, my fault, or both. I certainly don’t make much of an effort, anymore, at local cons. The first ConQuest near my house I rather enjoyed as I played a few scheduled events, and that was only a couple of years ago. On the other hand, a reason I don’t make much of an effort is that the cons don’t really offer much that enthralls me. I’d rather play HoR online than virtually any of the RPG offerings at local cons. A lot of that is due to a “been there, done that” view of things. CCGs are all but dead at cons. Boardgames …
Here’s the thing about local cons – they no longer provide something I can’t get elsewhere. I can play boardgames probably like 5 times a week if I wanted. Right this second, I’m not playing as many RPGs as I’d like, but I could be playing more, and I’m GMing my limit. And, with CCGs being a nonfactor at cons, RPGs are the only things left. Where are the special events? Where’s the diversity? Oh, right, have to go to Gen Con to find those.
Order or Chaos
I actually have very little consistency in my gaming schedule. The only consistent thing these days is my running HoR2. In general, though, the average amount of gaming seems fairly normal. Maybe V:TES playdays pick up and Pleasanton slows down or South Bay RPGing picks up when HoR slows down or whatever. No doubt, the amount of time spent gets fairly consistent due to filling up my free time with the sort of things I enjoy doing. If I were busier, I don’t think I could continue running HoR2, for instance. Should be interesting to see what happens in January.
What’s the grade for 2010?
I see discouraging things in the RPG industry and I’ve mentioned many times my views on the decline of CCGs. I find a lot of boardgames popular with others rather tedious; those I don’t, I tire of reasonably quickly since boardgames are so inferior to CCGs in variety. Campaigns have been inconsistent. We have far too few V:TES tournaments. I haven’t gotten terribly inspired by something new.
On the other hand, gaming leads to meeting new people and doing some different things (hadn’t driven to SoCal in ages) and gives me far more things to think about than I ever write about in this blog.
I should have time tomorrow to write about 2011 – what I predict, what I hope for, or whatever comes to mind. Still thinking about 2010, is there anything I really would have changed? I would have, of course, preordered HttB starters like I did for every set prior that WW published, but that’s not really what I mean by the question. Should I have made more effort, whether it was with cons or getting people to play things I wanted or whatever? Should I have tried more new things (or just more things in general)?
I give this year a mediocre to poor grade for gaming, but one thing that has struck me quite a bit in recent years is the idea that gaming should just be fun. At the point where it is more of a chore or a downer or whatever, it’s kind of failing. Now, gaming to me is more than just actually playing games, so I enjoy things that others can’t comprehend, like horrible RPG sessions and terribly designed boardgames that nevertheless have strategic options that are up for analysis. I don’t have the mentality that some do that every session/experience should be enjoyable, but I see 2010 as being more of a year of just letting things happen rather than being as driven.
And, somehow, I taught people Ultimate Combat!