So, for the first time in quite some time, I played V:TES. We have had issues regaining the local group through the holiday season and this year. Having found a pleasant store to play at, Legends in Cupertino, we decided to look at reinstating the every other week schedule at the store and find something else to do if we didn’t have a good number for V:TES.
We didn’t have a good number today, but we still played a couple of three-player games. I was amused, especially by the first game.
Andy (Samedi + Enticement) -> Ian (Ahrimanes) -> Brandon (Group 1/2 Toreador & friends)
I had a great crypt draw with Darlene Killian (heretofore known as Kill-Ian), Effie, Gentha, Muricia. Going second, my first thought was to bring out Gentha, but I had High Top in hand and thought it would be hilarious to have Kill-Ian recruit an ally. Brandon brings out Isabel de Leon behind me and I pass on High Top for a turn as I expect that IdL can intercept me, reducing the value if maybe not the amusement. Brandon calls Toreador Justicar with IdL, letting me know that it isn’t a weenie Auspex deck, and I get High Top which is not great for Andy and just bad for Brandon.
Brandon sees a lack of voting, so discards Dread Gaze. Andy bleeds/Entices me to where I’m not poolriffic as I’ve brought out Muricia and Effie. I get an Underbridge Stray (Sprinkles), Path of Harmony, New Moon Sigil on Effie, Visionquest, but never get around to playing Blessing of the Beast. I start choking on masters, so I Direct Intervention Ogwon playing a Lost in Crowds while Sprinkles is blocking. Sprinkles blocks. I discard another DI. Brandon is calling Con Ags for 2 to Andy and 1 to himself due to my sad pool situation. I put out The Hungry Coyote while at 6 pool, Muricia Vulture’s Buffets for 3 blood, 1 pool off of a deceased Sprinkles. Andy gets ousted because he didn’t oust me nor play enough Off Kilters nor have enough defense against 0 stealth bleeds.
High Top keeps going after IdL, taking her down. Tatiana Romanov follows. IdL comes back, calls a KRC I don’t block, I play Dread Gaze to fail it and Brandon scoops. So, New Moon Sigil, Visionquest, and the final nail in the coffin of Dread Gaze carry me to overwhelming victory.
Brandon (Hannibal & clan) -> Ian (Thin Step) -> Andy (BH Assamites)
Stuff that happened that meant nothing to my game: Lost in Translation Reza’s Guarded Rubrics bleed with Parnassus back to Brandon; put The Black Throne in play while at 4 pool; put Alamut in play and gained 0 counters; got ousted by Neonate Breach with zero combat cards (ignoring Swallowed by the Night) in my ash heap.
As for the other two, they kept bleeding at stealth, though the !Malks did a pretty good job of blocking the Assamites bleeding with nothing happening in combat, while the Assamites occasionally Ministryed enough intercept to block something. The closest any minion got to torpor was Hannibal pressing against Nails to reduce him to 0 blood. Andy didn’t put a lot of pressure on Brandon in the endgame, so Brandon eventually killed him with Reins of Power.
We went to the food court and got gourmet burritos. The Thai burrito actually was fine. It had an interesting taste, it wasn’t absurdly heavy like burritos of similar/smaller size tend to be, and the low quality steak was palatable.
We returned to the store to play Talisman. I was the only one who had played before and largely kept any of my derision for the game hidden until after we played. Playing only with the base set and playing with only three players was an incredibly different experience – people actually progressed rather than just screw each other over for 6 hours. I was amazed at how many adventure cards were positive since I’m so used to people loading them with their personal cards or expansion cards. As we were several hours into the game and all in pretty good shape but not feeling the awesomeness of trying to kill the others off, we decided to use the sudden death rules of whoever gets to the Crown of Command first. Brandon got hit with a Random to take away massive amounts of built up Strength and Andy got hit with Cursed by a Hag followed by the unwise move of visiting the Witch, who toaded him. I made it up to the top level, rolled an 18 in the Crypt (1 in 216 chance, for the win!) to get sent back to the City but had the immensely useful Poltergeist around to enable me to move efficiently back. I eventually got past the Crypt and the rest was easy. Prophetess is so broken.
I’m just amazed at how popular Talisman is, but then, I don’t get any of the “let’s randomly screw ourselves and the other players for hours on end” games like Wiz-War or the less obviously so games like Munchkin, Chez Geek, Grave Robbers From Outerspace, etc. Not that the concept is any way new, as many old kid’s games are structured around the idea of randomness mixed with crippling opponents. Perhaps, that’s why people continue to play such games – it’s an ingrained concept. Perhaps, it’s part of the reason I despise such games – been there, done that, want some actual strategy and meaningful interaction in a game. Of course, there’s always the fact that some people enjoy being mean in games. Compare any of these sorts of game with a good game like Kill Dr. Lucky, which prima facie seems very similar but is either a reasonably strategic/tactical game with small numbers of players or a non-painful, psychological game with large numbers.
Legends has a decent variety of gaming stuff and, apparently, plans on bringing in more. I read an indie RPG book on sword and sorcery that was almost tempting enough to buy and realized that the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG mainbook would be hugely appropriate to my SK campaign where things are at. It was just a pleasant environment and the rest of the mall was better than it had been in the recent past. We still need to try to build the local playerbase again for V:TES and figure out what we enjoy as backup games, but I look forward to getting on a regular, every other week, schedule of heading over there.
As for backup games, my more inspired ideas were for HeroQuest (the boardgame) and Dragon Dice. Other prominent ideas included short RPG sessions and Euroboardgames.