Off Kilter

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – so sayeth someone who stole a bunch of inventions.

I could, of course, do my first June post by stealing some idea.  The inspiration hasn’t been great enough to justify the, admittedly modest, perspiration.  Why?  KublaCon came and went.  Normally, write about my con experiences.  Then, other things came and went that kept my mind unfocused.

I didn’t get inspired by KublaCon because it was mediocre.  It wasn’t terrible in any way and some of the annoyances didn’t have to do with gaming, like having my favorite Chinese restaurant have stupid hours on the weekend.  There was nothing particularly excellent.  Sure, there were a lot more V:TES players around than usual, but that also contributed to a lot of messy organization because people can’t be forced to be ready to play on time.  I must remember to never pretend that a convention tournament is ever going to be a tournament and just have whoever is there start a game and keep having games generate as players become available.

It would have been amusing to have my main character in HoR3 get killed on my birthday.  I did like Fire and Water.  The main gimmick is interesting but also not one I’d like to see employed much.  The reward gimmick based off of it is less bothersome and kind of cool, if, typically, unfair.

Rank the Mods (1-10 FQ, fun quotient):

SoB00 New Beginnings – (7)  Cute spin.

SoB01  Undefended Border – (4)  Stuff going on that went over my head, too early.

SoB02  Bonds of Fate – (3)  Not much going on, IME.

SoB03  Standing Against the Waves – (3)  What’s the story?

SoB04  Personal Sacrifice – (7)  Could use more development, PC defining.

SoB05  Poisoned Gift – (1)  Cool ideas, terrible plot, ridiculous rewards.

SoB06  Walk Through the Mountains – (8)  I was much more into this than SoB03.

SoB07  Delicate Negotiations – (9)  Biased cuz my PC was perfect for it?  Felt shafted on rewards.

SoB08  WC: Kyuden Hida – (6)  Would have done more with my other PC.

SoB09  Fire and Water – (7)  Could have done Fire and felt screwed in the end.

Okay, so that’s from a FQ perspective and that’s only factoring in the actual play, not the aftermath that is rewards.  Factoring in a more objective measure of quality of mod, trying to take personal experiences out of it, the rankings of the mods in my mind are more like:

1.  SoB07 – Lots to do, aka depth, personal achievements matter and don’t screw over others.
2.  SoB06 – Things to do before plot, resolution interesting.
3.  SoB08 – Decent number of things going on without being bogged down.
4.  SoB00 – Better intro than Topaz Championship (fewer die rolls), decent narrative.
5.  SoB09 – Linear, which a number of mods have a problem with, but flavorful.
6.  SoB04 – Heavy on the exposition, light on things to do.
7.  SoB01 – Too much wandering about without a sense of what to do.
8.  SoB03 – Maybe there’s more to the story, felt like excuses for combat.
9.  SoB02 – Missing a scene or better connectivity between scenes.
10. SoB05 – Waste of some interesting mechanics.  Is there more than one way to proceed?

In general, the earlier mods suffer from lack of depth either in story or in choices.  Later mods feel fuller, more coherent.  Undefended Border would probably be given more credit if it came later, when it made more sense to introduce “new” things.  Alternatively, if there was follow up to it, to where what happens mattered more.  I really want the sequel(s) to Personal Sacrifice since its reward/punishment mechanic clearly needs a follow up.

It’s good to see some different faces for our Sunday V:TES sessions.  My new Pander deck is the sort of hilarious, “here’s a bunch of cards in five disciplines” deck that is so much more interesting to play than focused decks.  I so need more of these.  Maybe I build a counterpoint deck that is the other five common disciplines.  What I just said might not make any sense.  The Pander deck is an Aus/Obf/Pot/Pre/Tha deck.  Not intentionally, just because it’s what the crypt encouraged.  If I build a deck specifically of Ani/Cel/Dom/For/Pro, I have a challenge and a wacky deck … um, except Stanislava is the only vampire that natively has all of those disciplines, with Forestal in support.  That doesn’t sound wacky or hugely challenging.  Maybe I just don’t run either one.  I could take out the “crutch”, but that leads to boring Gangrel/! crypts.  Taking out Protean is funny for Cardano and Kostantin.  Taking out Animalism has some interesting choices.

As for Off Kilter, only thing I got that would be different is vote, in particular Patsy deck to try to wreck annoying titled decks, except those are the decks that can stop your votes.

Bonus boardgaming section:

I’ve gone to some boardgame days recently.  I played a couple of games of Phoenicia (and watched one before playing which helped immensely).  I liked it.  Not great but something I’d do again for a few more times.  Quick, light, auctions weren’t painful.  It was a day of nothing but auction games for me, though, with a six-player of Scepter of Zavandor.  First six-player game I can recall, though I think I’ve played five once or twice.  Fortunately, only one new player, so things weren’t crazy long.  My strategy of focusing on production with sapphires and buying up production artifacts worked well … for someone else.  I came in third or fourth in what was a reasonably close game.  With players who know how to value artifacts better, the game is much harder to dominate.  Anyway, a reasonable day.

Yesterday, played Alea Iacta Est for the second? time.  We totally didn’t remember how it was supposed to work so we played a practice round first.  I finally remembered what it was like and went through the same feelings as the first time – it seems like sets end too quickly but it makes sense when you play the game out.  Frustrating in some ways because I find the dice mechanic neat and the game is much more tactical than strategic in how you use dice.  Me being a strategist and not so much a tactician.  Another game I’d want to play again, though I’m more interested in how to use the dice mechanic for something cooler.

Then, played Glen More for the first time.  I’m not a big fan of Carcassonne.  It’s okay if uninspiring out of the base game and I’m not too familiar with the expansions.  I hate Caylus.  Didn’t used to.  But, it’s mechanics are not ones to endear me to repeated play.  Glen More has elements of both.  Yet, I’d easily play it again, maybe a few more times.  I like the flavor, for one thing.  That I haven’t figured out the winning strategy is another plus.  I had the most whiskey, the most chieftains, the castle that rewards for villages to counteract my massive territory, and came squarely in last.  I knew a big territory was bad, but I didn’t realize that what VPs I got from my advantages wouldn’t pay off at all.  My theory is that brown tiles are where it’s at and the game is about cashing them as much as possible.  I only had one in my 17 tile empire and I didn’t even max it out.  I find the “bigger territory = less VPs” mechanic highly amusing and innovative.  Do I think it will hold up after about 5 or so plays?  Probably not.  Even with the randomness of tile sequences, the game seems simple enough to solve in terms of optimal strategies.  I’m not a huge fan of games that require spatial planning, since I overthink things, but this has few enough tiles that I don’t see a big paralysis by analysis problem.  Kind of a lighter way to go then Caylus, with more style.

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