Learning

August 29, 2011

Sometimes, one’s notions of one’s own brilliance get punctured.  A group of coworkers and I went to a dinner where we talked a bit about Chinese Astrology.  Later, one of the group posted a link to True Colors, a career personality system with similarities to other personality systems like Myers-Briggs.

There’s only four colors and I would say they correspond to the four elements – Air, Earth, Fire, Water.  Though, the system is oriented to how you function at work and a lot of the questions were about what sort of relationships you prefer rather than being an overall personality measure.  Anyway, I managed to be the only one of the group to get no one else correct (out of five).  Ignoring the person I never had a conversation with, what remained was still someone I reported to for a year and people I’ve known for over a year.

Putting aside what this may say, maybe it was because I was humbled that I wanted to focus on playing decks that I could learn from at yesterday’s V:TES session.  The first deck I put together was for someone else.  The second deck was a Baali/Maleficia deck that … get to that … and the third deck was Jay Kristoff’s tournament winning, 60-card Lasombra deck – http://thelasombra.com/decks/twd.htm#2011wonitf

First game: Jeff (Loving Decapitate) -> Ian (Baali) -> Gerentt (EuroBrujah) -> Andy (!Salubri Garrote) -> Brandon (HoS)

I bring out Nergal, Advanced Nergal, and promptly discarded Epiphany (because it was funny and, theoretically, it wasn’t worth having The Horde take the action later); having to pay for cards the rest of the game was tiresome.  He gets Contagion.  Theo Bell rushes him and empties him because I don’t read a card carefully enough.  Nergal goes to torpor.  My grandpredator tries twice to eat him.  My predator rescues him.  Then, things get messy.  Andy, though he and Jeff had talked a lot about playing the same crypt, forgets that Qawiyya is out and contests her.  Then, things get weird.  I put Smiling Jack in play to give Gerentt something to do besides rush me, but nobody burns it.  Its fourth counter would have ousted me.  Instead, I can’t muster enough bleed to oust Gerentt before Andy gets ousted, then fail to generate enough damage between Anarch Revolt, Smiling Jack, Nergal with Enkil Cog, and Contagion to oust Gerentt before Brandon dies to Contagion or Anarch Revolt.  Possibly, my correct play might have been to not play Anarch Revolt and bleed with Nergal hoping to get blocked and sent to torpor to keep Brandon around.  Brandon only failed to get Jeff because Qawiyya became uncontested just in time for three Smiling Jack damage.  Jeff ousted me when I would have died anyway and the endgame was tense as Gerentt briefly had both Donal and Theo in torpor and hadn’t yet brought out Constanza.

What’s funny is that my deck never even showed what it was trying to do.  Inferior Maleficia on one guy with one blood most of the time was not very exciting, either.

Second game: Gerentt (Ventrue) -> Jeff (as above) -> Brandon (!Trem w/ Obf) -> Andy (Tryphosa) -> Ian (Jay’s deck)

I’m pretty sure I screwed up criminally.  The start of this game was painful with my prey calling KRCs and my predator having Lutz.  I needed one or the other to die and my predator would have been easier.  I played virtually no cards for quite a while, so it was hard to determine what the deck was supposed to do besides bring out lots of vampires (no Embraces, yet).  My prey’s Mary Anne Blaire did reduce the threat of Lutz, but Andy had enough problems that he never did anything I cared about.  He wanted to Parity Shift for my remaining five pool, but messed up by having his justicar do something else.  I couldn’t pass a Con Boon, so I went to one pool.  Then, I sat on one pool for a while.  I did try to do something pointless and bleed Gerentt out when I knew I couldn’t get there with some Govern bleeds, and all that happened was that he gained 10 pool on his turn.  Two Embraces gave me six Lasombra.  Andy died and my choking on Deflections became highly useful as Brandon kept failing to do one pool damage to me.  Gerentt did Banish one of Brandon’s vampires, which helped.  I had just enough bleed to oust Gerentt.  Yeah, now I can afford Wider View.  I finally got Crusade Berlin off and called a second vote that got blocked, which was fine, and, for some inexplicable reason, didn’t tap out to call Con Boon.  Now, maybe it gets blocked by Brandon, but that’s fine since it pretty much guarantees that he dies, being at 2 pool with three bleeders behind him.  I figured he was dead anyway.  Jeff plays Heidelberg with Tasha Morgan in play and then that vampire gets a Light-Intensifying Goggles!?!

With Brandon not slain, I just barely get ousted.  I think Jeff split, so maybe that wasn’t a terrible play as I did outminion him and would have vote lock.  I didn’t come close to decking, and it was hilarious how much I could sit around doing stuff while at one pool and no ability to pass a vote.

Third game: Ian (Ass bleed) -> AJ (Ventrue vote) -> Jeff (!Malk Earthshock) -> Gerentt (Salubri) -> Andy (!Salubri Garrote) -> Brandon (Ravnos)

AJ kept calling Con Ags, which often hit Jeff for five at a shot since nobody else had any votes besides the Edge and Tyler McGill.  Jeff had no game as he couldn’t bleed for more than two and Serenna shut down his Kindred Spirits pool gain (sure, he could have bled someone else, but that would have been nearly as pointless).  Andy couldn’t draw a Garrote, so his combat was ineffectual and one of his dudes got SensDepped.  Brandon just kept building his forces.  I had lots of Nest of Eagles, but he wasn’t bleeding me and, then, I was too tapped to reduce his bleeds.  Jeff explodes.  I fall.  AJ goes.  Andy finally dies.  Gerentt and Brandon contest four cards – Heidelberg, Dreams, Tasha, J.S. – for a while with Brandon eventually giving cards up.  The “start your turn by losing four pool” stuff was entertaining.  Gerentt’s bloat was just too much, allowing him to pay for the contests.

As much as I love the crypt for the Earthshock deck, it needs to be reengineered or eliminated as it can’t do anything to impact the game.  The Ass deck can go away, too, having been played three or so times.  I broke down four or five decks in the morning to prevent ever seeing them get played again, I really need to ramp up with new decks.

Anyway, as to learning.  The last game didn’t have much to work with.  The first game was amusing, but my deck never even tried what it was intended to do.  I’ve been keen on building other people’s decks to check out some different strategies and styles, though it was interesting to me how many decklists I kept in new mail that I ended up deciding I didn’t actually care about.  Playing Jay’s deck was strange in that, on the one hand, it has elements of my style of play in its innocuousness and the result of the game was typical of a lot of games for me where I undeservedly oust someone, but, on the other, did I learn whether the deck played better than the player or was the situation just the usual one of weird things happening?  I so wish Tribunal Judgment was Failsafe …

Now, the takeaway for someone else from all of this folly is that we don’t deal enough.  In particular, I have next to no interest in dealing, anymore.  My learning, such as it was, was to learn about cards, strategies, and styles I don’t play.  Jay’s deck could have had a very different game with some attempt to deal.  Jeff could have threatened to Kindred Spirits backwards to backoust.  And, so forth.  Well, my interests are what they are, and I’d rather just play cards then try to engineer a result in spite of them.

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Tournament Triumph

August 14, 2011

Not for me, of course.  The triumph was that we had more players for a V:EKN sanctioned event than we have ever had.

I’m still trying to get caught up gamingwise with Gen Con follow up, so I made some changes to the deck I was building for Jeff and came up with a couple of deck ideas Friday night, then had to figure out what I was playing in Saturday’s two tournaments Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, I frequently forget the decks I most want to play in tournaments because they are so infrequent and so many ideas have accumulated.

So, I started looking through old ideas.  There are actually quite a few decklists I have for decks I’ve never pulled the cards for.  I should think about notating that in their file names.  Eventually, I found one of the ideas that I had been saving for tournament play that I was sufficiently interested in to put together.

Angel Rush is not a deck, so much as an archetype.  The idea is to minimize card slots for combat by playing Beast, Pariah, and Guardian Angels.  Not that combat necessarily matters, depending upon which version of the archetype we are talking about.  One version is a serious combat deck.  Another, a … disorganized mess.  I only made things worse by inflating the latter from 80 to 90 cards and putting in such cards as No Trace, which proved to be useless.

The other deck I settled on was yet another Laecanus deck.  Not that the deck needed or, even, wanted Laecanus, but he wasn’t useless, in theory.  Superior Celerity, Toreador anarchs with Presence bleed and bounce.  So far, I could have said “Toreador deck” and been about as descriptive.  The deck was supposed to play a ton of Resist Earth’s Grasp for stealth, supplementing with Suppressing Fire, for the kill card – The Portrait.  Of course, there’s no controlling whether The Portrait becomes a bleed card or not, so this wasn’t the most robust of strategies.  Another deck I left at 90 cards, showing just how little I care about competing anymore.

First Tournament

Round 1:  Jeff (Enkidu’s Car Dealership) -> Andy H. (Tryphosa) -> Ian (Flying Portrait) -> Aaron (weenie Cel guns)

Weenie Cel guns?  Ick.  Though, it turned out the ick was mostly for Aaron, who had Enkidu appear quickly and Andy not bring out dudes for a long time, allowing me free rein to do stuff.  I’m not sure Jeff actually went first, which shows how much less I’m into these games.

Ransam appeared.  I got Parmenides for a turn who only bled for 1.  Aaron started rushing right away, which led to Unholy Penance on Parmenides which never got removed.  Because Aaron just kept rushing me, I decided not to play my usual game of passivity and tried to kill him as fast as possible.  Fortunately, for me, he never Psyche!d while I combat endsed fairly often and he only ever got one gun.  I couldn’t muster quite enough bleed to take him out before two of my three vamps got punked.  Andy had to make a decision when I was low on pool and Aaron was at 2 pool with my Famed guy in torpor.  He ate Ransam rather than bleed me out, figuring I’d just bounce some more and that having to do 2 pool damage with one minion was harder than 1 damage and Fame killing Aaron off.

I got Aaron to stay alive and tried to figure out how to rebuild my board.  Jeff was in decent shape.  Andy was still likely to take me out.  Until, Jeff nuked Tryphosa and Lutz.  Even with just Gem left, Andy might have been able to get me.  I rebuilt my position slightly.  I had The Rack on Philippe de Marseilles.  Jeff stole it.  I twice forgot to take it back, bleeding (when I had the Edge) instead.  That might have been game as Jeff took out Andy to put him out of range of one turn of my bleeds and the combats between Enkidu and my Celerity vampires went slightly in Enkidu’s favor.  I did Portrait, only to see Enkidu’s visage … I discarded the other The Portraits.  I decked.  I finally lost a critical combat to Enkidu and, then, lost another fight with my remaining vampire.

A table win would have been interesting.  As terrible an idea trying to throw Well-Aimed Cars is, I actually really like the Enkidu deck, with its strong Black Hand theme and solid crypt for all of the nonsense it tries to do.  So, I was highly amused that Jeff started off so well.

Round 2:  Joel (HoS Shamblers) -> Brandyn (Highlander) -> James (Corrupt Construction) -> Ian

Joel drops KRCG News Radio, making me sad as I have a hard time with permacept.  James keeps burning D’habi Revenants, which tells me what deck he’s playing since I played against it in our qualifier weekend.  Brandyn is very screwed since his numerous discipline deck is so unreliable and he’s surrounded by rushing allies and intercept.  I’m in a strange situation of being largely unable to do things but also being able to handle the ally combat since my deck has tons of maneuvers and combat ends for defense and can shoot the allies (Shamblers, Escaped Mental Patients) dead much of the time.

We settle in.  Eventually, James Fames and Havens one of my guys and I am way too cocky about my ability to defend forever in combat.  I Catatonic Fear, Target: Vitals one Corrupt Construction.  I Zip Gun, kill an Escaped Mental Patient.  I get punked by a second Corrupt Construction, which I totally could have blocked, when it plays Trap and I can’t draw a Resist Earth’s Grasp to press to end.  I let my Famed guy get rescued and get punked again for the kill.  Funny.  Eventually, Joel wins.

I go for food rather than play pickups.  I do end up playing a pickup when I get back, but it’s against local players, which makes it kind of pointless.  Speaking of local players, the first tournament had six from the South Bay group, five from the East Bay, and six from SoCal.  An Imbued deck gets thrashed.  I land with some Blood Sweats.  The Trem deck dies by bleeding with Govern when at 1 pool when his prey has two torped vampires, his only ready vampire Pentexed, and a Major Boon … on his predator.  I eventually win an uneven endgame, including having my dude with Fame (from the beginning of the game), while doing a forced hunt at 0 blood, torp a Guruhi with Taste of Death (reduced by Path), and take no damage.

Second Tournament

Just ridiculous that this was the first time we have ever had 20+ for a V:EKN sanctioned tournament in the area.  We got one more from SoCal, one more from the East Bay, and one more that falls under the South Bay group.

Round 1:  Ian (Angel Rush) -> Robert (Vote w/ Faerie Wards) -> Sean (!Toreador anarch) -> Michael (weenie Hack w/ Obf) -> Eric (War Ghouls)

I bring out Beast, I spend my whole game rushing, mainly Michael’s dudes with Obfuscate since I know how his deck works.  Eric doesn’t, not that he could have survived, but he could have forced a couple more actions on Michael’s part if he knew about the Obfuscate splash.  Eric does bring out a War Ghoul, who gets Pentexed, and Eric is ousted.  I also rush with Pariah when I have masters to feed him.  I almost get to blow Failsafe.  I also almost die before Sean gets Michael.  With Michael gone, I’m in no better shape, worse in a lot of ways against Sean and fall quickly.  With a lot of pool, Sean seems to have a huge edge in the endgame, but Robert bloats enough to weather the storm.

I should have discarded more aggressively, but I didn’t want to show much of my deck.  I doubt it would have mattered much since my built-in rushers with Potence had no way of dealing with disciplineless Dodge or Staredown.

Round 2:  AJ W. (!Malk) -> Joel (EuroBrujah) -> Robert -> Chris (Serpentis FSR) -> Ian

While I did Beast rush Allonzo Montoya and Disarm him, I actually did very little backwards even though Chris Tempationed Beast and put Form of Corruption in play.  I figured any significant backwards action would just give Robert the game.  The irony of my being annoyed by Temptation, Form of Corruption, and Free States Rants being called is that Chris never stole one of my vampires as only Anarch Convert was ever low enough to be taken by Form of Corruption.  I died to being bled at stealth.

Before that happened, Joel hammered AJ when AJ blocked a Parity Shift and threw a Pentex on AJ’s other vamp.  To break Pentex, Chris cut a deal with AJ to bleed me with Kindred Spirits, which is what put me in ousting range.  Chris’s votes should have been nullified by Robert, but a KRC got through because Ventrue Headquarters had been tapped on Robert’s turn to pass something I could have caused to succeed.  I bled much more in this game since I lost any particular interest in trying to survive and AJ was fairly weak.  AJ did get Joel, which took all pressure off of Robert while depriving Chris of an easy three VPs.  Robert won.

Having RPG stuff today, I headed out at midnight rather than play pickup games.  Not great timing having all of this gaming the weekend after Gen Con.  It would have been even more ridiculous if my regular Friday night RPG hadn’t gotten cancelled.

The interesting thing about the tournaments for me was how uninteresting I found the games.  My decks should have been more interesting than they were.  I think they both were too vague in their goofiness, so I ended up with far too many ordinary situations even if I had strange plays available to me.

Speaking of decks, I fell into the same trap of blaming my decks, even if it was intended to be in jest, for performance failures.  The Portrait deck was good enough, maybe the Angel Rush deck, in all of its bloated 90 card glory, didn’t achieve the minimum threshold of viability.  But, it’s just so easy to talk about deck failures when it’s really player failures, even when joking.  People might have taken my comments about my decks not being serious because they were 90 cards … well, seriously.  Really, I didn’t play well, and I’ve stopped trying to use table politics to determine results, which is a form of playing badly.

I could have had more fun – I think I just wasn’t mentally prepared for tournament play this weekend.  But, the far more important thing was the exceptional attendance for events, attendance at a peak without even the draw of it being a qualifier weekend.  Kudos to Brandon for making it happen and nagging people from outside the region.  Big ups to Andy H. for hosting and providing food and drink.  Shame I didn’t get to play any with much of the SoCal crew – never played with Andy F., Dennis, Matt.


Gen Con 2011

August 10, 2011

Usual smooth logistics.  Potential roommate backed out a few days before trip, but it wasn’t a new experience to be on my own like last year, so I was in a much better mental state.

Thursday

9AM – Emperor’s Favor, Part I

Start the con off with some Heroes of Rokugan.  First two-part mod in the campaign and I had scheduled to do it back to back.  Unsurprisingly, not everyone else had.  Cory, the campaign admin, made an announcement that it would be a very good idea to play this before the political interactive, much more important than the other new mods.

From my left, it was Mirumoto Katsubishi, Hida Kaminari, Shosuro Sakura, Hiruma Genji, Mirumoto Ito, Doku (ronin), and I was playing Moshi Shigeo (my main).  Ben Fredericksen was the GM; I am now trying to note GM names so that I better recognize people both in person and through their online handles.  I took a lot of notes, more than I expected.  Because others hadn’t planned to play the 2PM slot and we wanted to keep our table intact, we pushed through to get done by 4PM.

The most amusing thing about this table was that the two highest Honors were the Mantis and the … ronin.  It felt strange to not play online.  I think it was a combination of factors:  seven players; playing with people and characters I wasn’t familiar with; GM style; importance of moving quickly.  Mods just seem to be much more direct in person.  Maybe, it’s because it’s easier to determine leadership and come to an agreement on what people are doing and GMs don’t get terribly distracted with things not all that important to the plot.

2PM – Emperor’s Favor, Part II

Not really 2PM, we probably started 1PMish.  Similar level of notes.  I want to witness people’s reactions to what happens.

I go by the exhibit hall to check on Great Clans, as the most value to getting it at the con is to get it early and see if it affects my existing characters or what characters I might want to make if my I lose one.  Sold out.

7PM – Mouth of Milu

I had signed up for this because it was set in Hawai’i.  I’m surprised more things aren’t.  As we finished Emperor’s Favor early, I got to the game almost two hours early.  The GM had a large number of decorations, a tiki hut of sorts, leis for everyone, etc.  I ended up taking home a number of the decorations for work to put up.

This was FUDGE set in the modern day.  I played Dr. Lenk Martell, radical scientist working on NEOP Near Earth Object Probe(s).  These probes could be used to deflect asteroids and whatnot by self-destructing.  The PCs had various relationships, though not with everyone else.  After a recent meteor shower (caused by one of my probes), Kilauea erupts and the Big Island is being evacuated.  Blue geodes and strange cave formations appear around the island, with the blue crystal seeming to move.  We barely get off of it with our helicopters and start flying to some dink town because the stoner husband to one of our pilots has family there.  While arguing what to do, we let some people on the roof of a church get immolated.  Flying elsewhere, we rescue some Japanese who talk about monsters.  Eventually, we figure out that all of our theories – scientific, spiritual – point to going up to Mauna Kea where I hope to blow my probe.  The less intelligent PCs instead decide to throw some magic rocks into a frozen lake to get spirits to reactivate the volcano.  The GM is surprised that I survive and ours is the only group to never blow the probe.

Apparently, the meteor shower brought alien life that was trying to conquer the volcano goddesses.  The goddesses fought back by having the lava chase the crystal.  Reactivating Mauna Kea was enough firepower to keep the alien stuff at bay.

The lack of agreement on what to do was fine.  The lack of caring of what others did was a bit odd.  Some characters had way more to do than others.  A lot of time was spent with the husband and wife and ineffectually hanging around locals.  For me, it was fine as I got to do my thing.

Friday

10AM – Dragon Dice Quests

Yes, Dragon Dice.  I couldn’t get into a slot of a RPG at this time, so this ended up being the very last event I signed up for, figuring it was different and I could talk to someone about stuff Andrew and I worked on over a decade ago for Campaign Dragon Dice.

This was not at all what I expected.  This was Dragon Dice the RPG.  By using dice to reflect character skills, your character was a collection of dice that had normal RPG adventures.  A terrain die reflected range to enemies.  Number of health determined character level.  As a demo/playtest, it was mostly a combat scene, a combat that dragged on forever with no way we were going to lose.

It’s a really interesting idea, one I wouldn’t have considered.  On the one hand, I like how it enables using a bunch of dice to do something besides play Dragon Dice, to use dice one might normally use, and I think it can actually work.  On the other, I’m skeptical about selling the idea of using Dragon Dice to people for a home RPG.  While I like Dragon Dice on some aesthetic level, others I run into don’t.  I can see the relatively gaudy colors making things seem too cartoony for serious fantasy role-playing.

Being right next to the exhibit hall, I look for Great Clans.  Sold out.

2PM – Grand Theft Chariot

Greek heroes.  I choose the Cunning Hero and name him Kyrevaius.  His epithet, a game mechanic (one I’m used to with other Greek mythology games), is “The Resourceful”.

We begin in Patara, where the land goes dark.  The priests of Apollo wish to make additional sacrifices and the crowd gets unruly.  Being cunning, I douse torches to blind the crowd.  Others do their things.  Oh, the others being:  agile hero, strong hero, wise hero, charming hero, and fast hero.  The next day, we are called in by the queen to be sent to find the Oracle to Apollo on an isolated island.  I am the only person the GM recalls who actually asks what we know about the island.  Seems odd, when two of us are heavy on the Knowing skill.

Mechanics.  Roll a number of d6’s equal to your skill.  Fives and sixes are successes.  You have a Competency ability that is a pool of additional dice that can be added to a bunch of appropriate skills.  Competency dice explode on sixes.  So, my Knowing, for instance, is 3d6 from Competency and 4d6 from normal.

On the way to the island, we realize the entire world is in darkness.  The Storm strikes us, but we don’t lose the ship.  Korus “The Beguiling” loses a follower, as I recall.  The player gives his followers the most awesome names:  Red Shirticus; Expendicles; Meat Shieldian.  We begin to scale the 100′ cliffs, when harpies attack.  Pythus “The Knowing” cyclones some.  We dispatch the rest.  The filthy, sarcastic oracle tells us that Apollo has been taken to the Underworld, tells us about Charon, Cerberus.  I make some honeycakes for Cerberus and two sleeping potions, one a fake.

We music Charon as Orpheus did.  Cerberus we toss some poisoned honeycakes to and seems asleep as we sneak past but wakes up and attacks Cassius “The Colossus”.  I try to remove Cerberus’s acidic spittle from Cassius’s armor and get attacked by Cerberus’s serpent tail.  I survive the venom, so I milk some into another container … for I am cunning.  Meat Shieldian bleeds some for the ghosts so that they will give us information.  Expendicles helps dig a pit for the blood.  To Tartarus.

We find a centaur guarding a tree where the head of Orpheus sings, making this area of Tartarus pleasant.  Orpheus will tell us where Apollo is if we get him out of the Underworld.  Centaur doesn’t like that.  We cut off the centaur’s leg to free him from his chains and take the two with us.  Orpheus had been kept in a box by Hades and Persephone liked to take him out.  She dropped him, which is how he ended up in Tartarus.  Orpheus saw Hecate dragging a chained Apollo, so we look for her cave.

We find Apollo chained up.  Before we figure out what to do, Hecate appears.  Cassius breaks the chains and we briefly fight, with Cassius being turned into a tortoise.  Hades appears and gets everyone’s stories.  Xanthos, King of Patara, was pissed that Apollo was banging his wife, so he worked with Hecate to capture him, with Hecate becoming the new patron of Patara for her help.  Apollo and the rest of us are free to go.  Apollo asks us to kill Xanthos and reconsecrate his temple with the king’s blood.  I prepare a fake wound.  In Patara, we explain to the priests.  At the palace, the king punches his wife and attacks us for interfering with his vengeance.  I avoid guard attacks, moving closer to the king, while exclaiming about my “wound”.  I quaff my fake potion to “heal my wound” and accidentally drop my other “healing potion”.  I go to help the fallen queen, who is a slut.  Everyone else does their fighty thing, and the king finally tries my venom of Cerberus.

Temple sanctified, queen servicing all the heroes who want her rewards.  My legacy is Kyrevaius “The Resourceful” “Who milked Cerberus”

7PM – Ancestral Dictate

Back to HoR.  I find out that AEG got in new Great Clan books around 4PM.  *sigh*

Ancestral Dictate cannot be played by the same character as Prison of Earth, which is perfect since I have two characters.  Most didn’t.  So, I play with four characters that have never played before.  Four combat focused characters … in a mod with no combat tag.

Charles Penn GM, Moto Shizu, Ikoma Osamu, Hiruma Sentou, Bayushi Junichi, and my character, Hoshi Takumi.

I do a lot of courtiering with my tattooed monk.  I spend all 11 of my koku with my Wealthy tattooed monk.  I have a lot of notes, again.  I think I take more notes in face-to-face games these days because I know so much more about the world and the campaign.  More XP means I can buy up my social skills before the political interactive, this ends up mattering a lot.

Saturday

9AM – Prison of Earth

An all HoR day.  I play with someone I know for the first time.  He plays his tattooed monk, I play my Mantis, so we have three Moshi at the same table.  We fight well.  The arc of the mod is a bit odd to me, but I guess that’s cool as it’s different.  One may notice the lack of details in my descriptions of HoR sessions, well, Andy and possibly others haven’t played them yet.

Ben, again, GM.  Utaku Zaina, Moshi Akio, Moshi Kokoro, Isawa Koukainashi, Togashi Juichi.

Swing by AEG booth, sold out.

2PM – Summer Storms

Ah, battle interactives, I love them so.  We have 12 Mantis, four rank 2’s, three shugenja.  I’m at the table with the rank 2 shugenja I played in the morning with and four rank 1 bushi.  I am rank 2.  Yes, I who can take 20 mods to rank up am a high ranking member of my contingent.

Moshi Kokoro, Tsuruchi Kendai, Yoritomo Sen (unit commander), Yoritomo Wakou, Yoritomo Kikai.

The nature of the battle event is that there are five locations for each battle.  Crab fight Crane, Dragon Phoenix, Lion Unicorn, the noble and virtuous Mantis vs. the Scorpion.  There are three rounds, where you get a random location.  If opposing tables are at the same location in a round, you can have player vs. player, which the Crab and Crane had.  There were three tiers of difficulty.  If you rolled well enough, you could choose a higher tier, roll really well, a low tier with better tier rewards, if you fail, a mid tier encounter with low tier rewards.  Mantis lacked generals.  We found out later we got slaughtered, not because our PCs did but because our victory points were way lower because our tiers were lower.

In the first round, we defended Gateway Village, the gateway to the Tsuruchi Valley.  We actually played this fairly smart but we took a lot of damage.  Didn’t matter as wounds healed between rounds.  We didn’t make our roll high enough to do anything but a low tier encounter.

In the second round, we tried a mid tier encounter.  Not good.  In the second round of combat, their bushi did 41 damage to one rank 1, 41 damage to another rank 1, 20-30 damage to a third rank 1.  We should have lost after round two.  After round three, we should have been wiped.  They were rank 2 bushi with 9k4 attack rolls.  While we finally took some guys down, mostly with grapple plus gang up tactics, we lost two bushi, one having to use a mod reward to reduce damage not to die.  Our shugenja, me, and our one archer (only one Tsuruchi archer at each table!) had to carry the load.  To give an idea how bad this was, we didn’t realize the bushi we were fighting were Earth 2 until two of our bushi were out of the fight.  We persisted.  We ran over time.  We finally won as the enemy shugenja was surprisingly useless.  We didn’t have time for a third encounter but got the rewards for a low tier encounter for the third round, anyway.  We did gain Honor for fighting a battle we should have lost.

I found out later some of the other encounters people had.  The high tier stuff was just insane, with seven rank 3’s where virtually nobody in the campaign is up to rank 3 yet.

8PM – Spoils of War

Political interactive, how I never have done a normal one in person before.  Prior to the event, everyone got special name cards that had stickers to advertise certain things to NPCs.  I got two stickers that very few had, so it was kind of worriesome.  I played my Dragon, the Dragon contingent was large and disorganized.  It didn’t stop us from doing well early, but we got screwed by the Scorpion towards the end.  The Lion got hosed.  Phoenix did well.  Tortoise!!! and Brotherhood of Osano-Wo!!! did well.

I found out that one of my stickers was for artistic ability, so I got pulled aside by the Kakita family daimyo to join his new artists organization.  The other sticker had to do with storytelling, which didn’t help me.  I probably should have had another NPC’s interest since I gained him as an ally in a mod, but it wasn’t reflected in my card since it happened at the con.  Because we were at an imperial court, Etiquette and other social skills were huge.  Another tattooed monk lost a rank of glory and some Honor for not having his social skills high enough, and as I said at the con “all tattooed monks are courtier builds”.  With my final XP expenditures, I skated, having the 3 Etiquette and 3 of either Courtier or Sincerity to not get hammered.  Woe to anyone with no ranks in Etiquette.

Sunday

Morning – exhibit hall

Sold out.

I did some exhibit hall stuff.  Normally, I do a complete walk of the exhibit hall in my off slot, but I had walked a decent amount earlier in the con when with someone else.  So, I focused on some stuff.  So many things I want, so little interest in paying for them, at least at full price or even 25% off.  I did pick up some stuff, about half my cash I brought went on Sunday.

Had to rush to my final game.

12PM – Wu Xing – The Ninja Crusade

I didn’t need to rush.  We started late.  We did very little.  It was lame.  At the end, the GM thanked people for the “demo”.  Okay, I can accept that there are RPG demos, but advertise things as such.  We had a full table with one fight scene and some other stuff most didn’t care about.  I did relatively a lot of stuff I cared about because I can be forceful when others aren’t, but it was still amazingly hollow.

I’m unimpressed with the mechanics of the game.  First, d20 resolution sucks – too wide variance.  Second, the initiative system was incredibly complex.

The one benefit was that we finished with enough time for me to go back to the exhibit hall, which I think was when I spent most of my money … wait.

Having the last game be lame and so much worse than anything else seemed like it would put a damper on things, but my mind was so much more in the HoR world and the buying of stuff afterwards meant I didn’t think a whole lot about it.  There was nothing great, nothing that stood out to compete with the many HoR adventures.  Grand Theft Chariot was nearly great, just the sort of thing I hope to play, but the con was dominated by HoR for me.  Good or bad?  Good that HoR is doing well, 100+ average number of people for every slot; good that I enjoyed the HoR at the con as much as I did.  Bad that I need some balance.

Okay, why don’t more of my friends go to Gen Con, again?