The Quiet Year

December 28, 2011

End of the year.  Thought I’d look at what I predicted for 2011 and wrap up anything else for 2011.

Were there any major changes?  I don’t think so.  The Conan campaigns had already lost traction, so that we haven’t done much this year is hardly surprising.  We don’t play Mondays at conventions anymore, which was our one consistent time.  Running HoR2 weekly continued throughout the year, possibly a surprise, the group has even grown.

I did start playing Friday nights with a new RPG group.  That’s a change but not major in the grand scheme of things.  Nor is going to a different convention than ConQuest rise to the level of a major change.

V:TES

I was wrong about storyline play being the big deal this year.  In fact, the big story this year was attendance at standard, constructed tournaments.  We’ve had more 20+ player tournaments this year than every other year combined.  That’s just weird.  It’s so hard for me to understand what interests people when it comes to CCGs.  For me, once I’m invested, I’m invested.  If I’m not, I’m not.  Matt Morgan winning the NAC was notable if not a great shock, had been one of the top players in the game for quite some time.

I may have enjoyed play more but certainly enjoyed tournaments less.  Not playing in finals means less stories to tell, which makes the various tournaments less notable.  I’ve also been less invested in what I’ve played in events.

L5R

Yes, 4e now has at least one broken school – Asako Henshin.  I have really liked the quality of the books that have come out, more so in terms of aesthetics.  I’m much less of a fan of the official forums, where rules questions are rarely answered and are buried in an awful single thread.  As I frequently mention, I’d rather be playing 3e (well, 3r).

Other

I can’t really speak to other predictions.  I just don’t know enough about what is going on in the industry.  Even from a personal perception standpoint, I’m hesitant to believe some of the things I’ve mentioned have either come to pass or haven’t.

Concerns

HoR3 has done well.  It feels slow to me, but that is possibly due to being involved from the beginning.  I’m not clear why there’s so little discussion on the Yahoogroup about the new campaign, but there were a lot of players at Gen Con, so something is going right.

Gen Con was ridiculously expensive again, though just taking the time off as an hourly employee ends up being a huge part of the cost.  I didn’t make it out to Origins.  I realized that I’m not really interested in traveling for cons (except Gen Con) by myself.  A lot of the fun of the cons is in talking about gaming on the way, at the event, and on the way back.

Hopes

DunDraCon was enjoyable for the first time in years this year.  I ran the intro mod for HoR3 and, while stressful, it was also beneficial.  I haven’t generated an interest in running it again or other HoR3 mods at local cons because it’s hard for me to anticipate that things will work out as intended, with players who want to play a living campaign getting to play and those who don’t avoiding the events.  Also, the mods are oriented toward 4 hour slots, and local cons are more about 6 or 8 hour games.  And, I’m not that into most of the mods.  Even the best of the new mods is not a great RPG experience.

V:TES has gone pretty much the way I hoped.  In particular, we finally got rid of the newsgroup as the primary location of discussion.  With 2012, we even will have a major fix to the game by “unbanning” Minion Tap.

I haven’t gotten inspired by a new product.  Though, likely getting into something new means finding a different group of gamers, which isn’t something I’m inclined to try to achieve as I game reasonably often.

Execution

I haven’t come up with a mechanism for creating new decks.  I’m constantly reminded that the best way to come up with deck ideas is to play and to talk with other players.  There are so many cards I’ve been meaning to do something with that I just never get around to.  Of course, actually playing more decks that I design rather than writing out something and never bothering to build it remains an issue.

The best I’ve figured out with Solomon Kane is that I’m not that motivated to run it.  Running a weekly game is far more GMing than I’m really interested in.  My RPG schedule is kind of low on play, but full enough to keep me not only busy but from going to a Thursday class that I’ve been going to for nearly two decades.

I haven’t done hardly any fictions, possibly none at all for HoR3 or Conan.  In both cases, the rarity of play is a significant cause.  In the first case, that I don’t really want anything anymore for my characters has an impact as well.

Haven’t been organized with this blog.  Card of the Weak is actually a good idea for a series but one I don’t spend enough time thinking about to commit to additional card choices.

I did throw a lot of cards into boxes as I needed to clean up the computer room for work to be done.  But, I’m thinking I should really do a massive organization as I’m kind of tired of having some sets never organized.

What else?

I’d say 2011 has been a quiet year gamingwise.  The most surprising thing has probably been the increase in V:TES tournament attendance.  Otherwise, usual evolution of what in particular I’m involved in.  I suppose I could have hoped for more, but there is an element of getting out of something the amount of effort put in.


Never Alone

December 25, 2011

Occasionally, I’m amazed.  Even when it comes to the management of CCGs.

While V:TES will seemingly be forever burdened with Imbued, which have managed to make the game less comfortable for random allies due to an increased interest in ally hate (also helped by Nephandi, War Ghouls, Shamblers, and Carlton), it amazes me the lack of more allies in the game.

What am I talking about?  No, not Salubri allies, though they could use such.  Cammie allies.

You know, Camarilla – the kine “friendly” sect.  The sect that doesn’t think of folks as (just) food but realizes the need to manipulate mortals and other entities as tools to get by in a world of dimness.

Feel free to guess how many new Cammie clan (including Gangrel just because it’s easier to lump them in with the others) allies have been published since 2000.

It’s not zero.

A decent number of folks could think of Ponticulus.

Maybe, folks remember Arcane Appraiser.

Then, there are … um … gangs, no … Nos-, no … political, no … werewolf, no … that’s it – nothing.

One could say that not really that many allies have been added to the game in the 21st Century in general.  It is, after all, a game about vampires … and Imbued.  War Ghoul isn’t new.  Nephandus isn’t new.  Shambling Hordes is quite old, at this point.  Carlton isn’t that old, but he’s not a strategy, just an overly good unique ally; same with Mylan.

But, c’mon m-a-n-n-n!  Camarilla.  Besides the thematics, which one may not agree with but if you do agree with makes it even more unnatural that many ally strategies are non-Camarilla, there’s just what sort of paradigm of expansion one may wish to use.  Expanding CCGs is about expanding options.  Much like how it blows my mind that more effort hasn’t been put into making the Primogen title mean something, for adding options to the Cammies (and Gangrel), I’m amazed [word of the day] at the lack of adding mortals and other allies to the arsenal of the Camarilla.

Brujah

Arms Dealer
Loyal Street Gang
The Knights
The Slashers

Arms Dealer is okay.  I’m aware of decks built around it.  The other three have always sucked.  At least, Brujah got allies, unlike some clans.  They even have a theme.  A terrible, terrible theme from a competitive standpoint.  So, here’s the deal.  I don’t want to throw out some new gangs that are going to be better than the original gangstas to where we continue to ignore the mighty Knights and the salty Slashers.

So, here’s my idea.  I should note that this is real time, off the top of my head stuff and, therefore, is likely missing far better concepts.

Gang Lord
Ally
C = 1p
Unique. Requires Brujah. Mortal.
2 life. 1 bleed. 1 strength.
Allies that require Brujah cost one less blood or pool to play and gain +1 strength for each life counter above one that the ally has.  When Gang Lord would be sent to the ash heap from play, you may burn an ally you control to shuffle him into your library instead.

Gangrel [I know]

Gypsies
Renegade Garou
Werewolf Pack

Another theme and an actual good ally (historically, anyway).  Jacob Fermor did do something with this theme in more recent memory.  Do I care about Gangrel getting more werewolf allies?  Not particularly.  But, what – nature got no better bones to throw than Underbridge Stray?

One might think cutting oneself off from the Camarilla would mean a desire for more buddies.  There are plenty of outdoorsy concepts – hunter, logger, environmentalist, etc.

Park Ranger
Ally
C = 1b
Unique. Requires Gangrel. Ghoul.
2 life. 0 bleed. 1 strength.
Park Ranger may strike for 1R damage.  Park Ranger has one optional maneuver per combat.  When recruiting a werewolf ally, you may tap Park Ranger to reduce the cost of the ally by one pool or blood.  If the Park Ranger is burned from play, its controller must remove a life counter from each werewolf ally she controls.

Malkavian

Muddled Vampire Hunter

Seriously, that’s it?!?

Start with something basic in concept and amusing in mechanics.

Psychiatrist
Ally
C = 2p
Requires Malkavian. Mortal.
1 life. 1 bleed. 0 strength.
Psychiatrist may take a +1 stealth action to tap or untap a ready Malkavian.  When Psychiatrist is burned from play, its controller discards three cards at random and all Malkavians gain +1 strength until the end of the turn.

Nosferatu

Okay, this is a theme.  Much like Nosferatu not having virtually any Presence as out of clan was a theme.  But, c’mon m-a-n-n-n!  The theoretically more scary if not so much so in the background !Nos get frickin’ Couriers.  All sorts of obscure and weird clans get allies.  Demons are increasingly running loose.

Sure, I will say that it’s fairly clear that the indies were given substantial ally themes, which does distinguish them from other sects.  Assamites get ghouls, FoS mummies, Giovanni wraiths, Ravnos crazy expensive choice.

Congregation of Alligators
Ally
C = 2b
Requires Nosferatu or Nosferatu antitribu. Animal.
3 life. 0 bleed. 3 strength.
When a Nosferatu or Nosferatu antitribu successfully blocks an acting minion, you may tap Congregation of Alligators to enter combat with the acting minion instead of the blocking vampire (do not tap the blocking minion).

Toreador

Arcane Appraiser

Wtf?!?  The most social of all clans gets one ally in the entire history of the game and it’s only been printed in the last couple of years?!?  (Yes, I like using ?!? to end sentences.)

Again, so many concepts could work.  I’m tempted to think of some demonic patron of arts or even angelic, but we know what we want.

Groupies
Ally
C = 1b
Requires Toreador. Ghoul.
1 life. 0 bleed. 1 strength.
Groupies do not untap as normal.  During your untap phase, you may burn a blood from a ready Toreador you control to untap Groupies.  Groupies may tap to prevent 1 damage to a Toreador in combat.

Tremere

Outcast Mage
Thadius Zho, Mage
Ponticulus

A theme, once upon a time.  There are only so many mages to go around, so I see not doing more mages.  Do Tremere really need more allies?  Sure, everybody needs more allies.

Techie
Ally
C = 0
Requires Tremere. Mortal.
1 life. 0 bleed. 0 strength.
Techie can take a +1 stealth action to search your library or ash heap for an electronic equipment card and place it on a ready minion you control who meets the requirements of the card (pay cost to equip as normal).  If none of your ready minions meet the requirements of the card, the card is burned without cost.  If the equipment came from your library, shuffle your library afterwards.

Ventrue

Political Ally

Again, wtf?!?  One ally.  Ever.  Printed in Jyhad.  So many concepts that can be worked with.

Special Agent Smith
Ally
C = 2p
Unique. Requires Ventrue. Mortal.
2 life. 1 bleed. 1 strength.
Special Agent Smith may strike for 2R damage.  Special Agent Smith may search your library (shuffle afterward) for the first Government card and move that card to your hand as a +1 stealth action (discard down to hand size).

Should the game see tons more allies?  Not so much.  On the other hand, Cammie clans (and Gangrel) need *different* things to do.  And, it’s crazy like a Malk how few allies some of the Cammies have received throughout the 17 year history of the game.


Qualifier – 2011

December 23, 2011

Weekend ended up being too busy to put thoughts down on the qualifier and other V:TES games.  Reading some other tournament reports, I don’t know if it’s that I never went into the same level of detail that others do or that I’ve lost interest in going into as much detail.  Oh well.  Highlights, then.

Event 1 (whatever it was called)

Round 1:

Andy (Cavalier Malk SB) -> Joel E. (EuroBrujah) -> Ian T. (Samedi RC) -> Joel M. (Week of Nightmares) -> Ian L. (Newcromancy)

24 players!!  Really?!?  So bizarre that we are setting attendance records.  Guess mid-December is a pretty good time for tournaments.

The Ian and Joel show was okay.  An interesting mix of somewhat notable with completely non-notable.  On turn two, I play cards, including Govern (bleed) and Spectral Div.  I never bleed like this early, but I wanted to cycle out of Summon Soul and burning the two blood seemed okay.  My overwhelming aggression was only likely to confuse my opponents.

Didn’t last long.  I played one card in the next hour.

I chose to be handjammed with two wakes and two bounce and a complete lack of masters.  In fact, I didn’t draw a master until the turn that my predator ousted me.  But, before that happened, I was in pretty good shape.  My grandprey did a good job of defending with Second Traditions, though we weren’t entirely sure why he didn’t rush backwards with Theo Bell.  Beast joined the ready region eventually.  Andy got beaten up a bit.  While I didn’t bounce much as JM tooled up with Tumnimos and whatnot, I didn’t get bounced much either, so Andy goes down to one pool and it looks like two easy VP for me, while having down little to nothing in the game.

Then, JM decides to oust me.  Andy bouncing a bleed back to me creates the kill situation, which was reasonable as I would have killed him on my turn.  It wasn’t terribly disappointing to fail to get VPs, it wasn’t like I deserved any.  The deck had a lot of masters and I didn’t bother digging, for instance.

No, what was disappointing was that I didn’t play anything interesting in the game, except, maybe, one Transfusion, which without a Path in play, wasn’t terribly meaningful.  An interesting strategic and tactical game but boring from a card interaction standpoint.

JM went on to easily get other VPs.  IT had an interesting lack of stealth in his Samedi (best stealth clan in the game) deck.  Looked like he could get JM into a non-playing position, but a Sensory Dep on The Baron was limiting and JM gained a bunch of pool off of blood farming.

Round 2:

Ian -> Matt (Pre/Obf w/ Events) -> Dan (Gargoyle bleed) -> Joel M. -> Joe (Toreador B&B)

Much more interesting for me.  I had complete control over my predator’s Toreador guns bruise and bleed deck with my early draw of two Promise of 1528s.  I played masters.  The Path of Bone never got burnt.  I wondered if my prey had Parity Shift for the longest time.  I expected his early Fortschritt Library into Break the Code to lead to The Rising, but it never hit the table.  I didn’t get the point of the event cards.

After Chair of Hades-ing Carlton, I stealth bleed Matt out by drawing into a second Govern to enable me to bleed for 12 when he had 11 pool.  While I didn’t have bounce in my hand, it was funny how the table correctly decided that my predator bleeding me when my prey was tapped out with 11 pool was a terrible thing to do.

Dan fell quickly as his deck wasn’t holding up well under the pressure of bleeds for 3 at stealth and votes for 3.  With only three bleed cards left in my library, which was maybe 25 cards tall, I couldn’t get Joel.  TW and 2.5 VPs was .5 VPs short of a tie for fifth place, so not getting one more VP was huge, potentially large.  I did consider letting Dan try to oust Joel, but I didn’t think I could ever get Joe.

Pickup Interlude:

Yeah, I really don’t have as much interest in explaining more details about games, in particular what was going on with others.

I played Ani/Cel/For, 4-cl, Jyhad/DS/AH-only.  We realized halfway in the game that my Quinton McDonnell had the only vote on the table.  My Ass, long range combat predator couldn’t really do anything to me due to my deck being full of combat cards.  On the other hand, my lack of ousting power and inability to get more permacept in play meant my Week of Nightmares prey could do whatever he wanted.

Actually, the Rom Gypsy gave him two VPs.  I had a Raven Spy early, but I couldn’t deal with two permanent stealth between RG and Fortune Teller Shop.  What was weird about this game, besides Andrei Puxon and Quinton McDonnell being combat beasts, was my prey playing Week of Nightmares when I had Andrei and Kostantin.  Kostantin got Sensory Depped, stole a Camera Phone, Freaked.  Andrei took the Camera Phone to become a three bleeder.  How to allocate Week counters was oddly wonderful with people moving them to my Andrei as well as my prey.  I kept getting SensDepped.

Long after we should have called the game and long after the Week ended, my prey conceded the last two VPs as I was gaining three pool a turn and only losing two, while doing things to me was costing my prey.  My plan was to bloat enough to bring out Lucretia, since everyone knows that’s full of win, and have two vamps not SensDepped.

Qualifier:

Ian (!Nos w/ Dominate) -> Matt (Imbued Beretta rush) -> Mike Z. (Giovanni Embraces) -> Alex (Ass w/ Dominate)

Only 21 players, heh.  Four player tables, for the most part, not as enthralling.

My game got warped horribly by the Imbued.  Because I knew that Dragon’s Breath Rounds were coming, I had to play around being tooled by Berettas.  There’s actually a lot of details I could mention about this game, but one can fill in the backwards beatdowns to stop Badr and Ur-Shulgi from bleeding me too much and whatnot.

I use Dreams at one point and my end of turn discards are Preternatural Strength, Torn Signpost, and Villein.  I had to hold on to every Swallowed by the Night for the maneuvers to make sure I could land against the Imbued and, then, started drawing Immortal Grapples, which I choked on as I couldn’t discard those either.  By playing virtually the whole game with just Julio Martinez and Mateusz, I had little ousting energy.  I kept being reluctant to bring up Gustaphe Brunnelle as I kept getting bounced to and my 4-cl deck didn’t have a whole lot of bounce.  Or, more importantly, it didn’t have a lot of wakes.  I knew my deck was wake poor, especially given the crypt size.

So, after Alex got ousted, we settled into a painful three-way of Mike not wanting to do anything into the face of my combat and my Underbridge Stray who had intercept from The Unmasking, Matt getting nowhere against Mike, and my punking an Imbued once in a while only to have it pop back up.  I actually hoped Matt would oust Mike, as I figured I could do more in a heads up game with my combat.  We timed out.  I’m mostly surprised Matt didn’t use the Imbued with built in rush to rush Mike more, but whatever.  My inability to oust a rush Imbued deck was just sad.

Round 2:

Brad (Ventrue grinder) -> Ian -> Brandon (Trem) -> Dennis (Diversion rush) -> A.J. (fat Tzimisce)

I’d say the main takeaway for me from this game is that I played it impatiently.  I played it like I see a lot of other people play.  Brad played “my game” – doing nothing until his inevitable victory.  A.J. was just impotent in the face of damage prevent.  I did bring out Gustaphe who promptly got Preternatural Strength, so at one point, Dennis and I had reduced Brandon to one ready minion, which became three ready minions, two of which were empty.  I took a low percentage shot at ousting Brandon only to have Conditioning bounced.  I was stuck on actions as I was spending so much time trying to contain Brandon, so I discarded Seal of Veddartha at one point and kept not putting Mylan into play.

Just impatient.  Though, I wasn’t at all clear how to prevent Brandon from getting 2 VPs as A.J. never got strong.  In fact, what hurt me a lot was that A.J. kept having bleeds of two bounced to me that I had to eat, which let Brad exactly oust me with a Govern when Brandon was on the ropes.

Just evidence that I suck at playing with combat decks.  First time I haven’t qualified in our local qualifier in my memory.  Really going downhill as a player – the way it should be.

Sunday

Sunday was all about pickup games with the guys up from Los Angeles.

Matt (!Gangrel vote) -> Mike Z. (Giovanni w/ Embraces) -> Ian (Dance, Dance, Revolution) -> Dennis (Journal of Hrorsh) -> Brandon (New Nos)

I am constantly amazed at how much pool damage I can do with Constant Revolution.  My opening game sucked as I had four Anarch Converts in my crypt draw.  Dennis did his Mr. Noir gains 25 pool or whatever thing when Brandon hadn’t even brought out a dude yet.

Eventually, Dennis Hostile Takeovers my Kurt Strauss and Matt gives up on the game by ousting himself with a bid of nine.  The numerous global effects of Judgment: Camarilla Segregation (Brandon), Constant Revolution (me), Anarch Revolt (me, again), even Smiling Jack (yup, me) just didn’t make the game comfortable for folks.  I’m fairly sure I could have stopped Dennis’s second round of gaining massive pool with Power of All on Freak Drive, but I was spending too much time thinking about Filchware’s and whether to stop Journal or not to actually play Power of All.

James (Corrupt Construction) -> Robert (!Toreador w/ War Ghouls) -> Ian (Blessed Resilience) -> Dennis (Eternal Mask IC) -> Matt (Trochomancy)

Matt has two Trochomancys DIed in the same turn (prey and predator).  I manage three intercept to block Ancient Influence and Matt bouncing backwards finishes off Dennis.  Robert has to go through nine crypt cards to get to a Tzimisce to play a War Ghoul.  James withdraws after sucking down a number of Trochomancys with his Corrupt Construction deck … still gets out an 18-life CC at one point.

With four possible Force of Will bleeds, I only need two to oust Matt.  Robert screws around in the endgame by bleeding for zero with a War Ghoul, so with four vampires in my ash heap, zero controlled, and zero uncontrolled, I The Parthenon, Blessed Resilience, hunt, bleed for three with Force of Will, and Call of the Hungry Dead past Robert’s second War Ghoul.  While tainted by the nonsensical War Ghoul bleed, I find ousting someone with five vampires and two War Ghouls while having no controlled or uncontrolled vampires to be highly amusing.

Dennis (Sylvie Helgon) -> James (Selma & Trap/UP) -> Ian (Nos anarch bleed) -> Brandon (Ariadne Garou) -> Mike C. (Ur-Shulgi Contract)

I figure that James’s deck is Trap/UP when March is his first dork.  Selma Anathema-ing Sylvie is just horrendous.  Even more worser is James not playing Blood Hunt on her but on my Anarch Convert, which lets Mike gain tons of pool.  Brandon offends Dennis by looking to rush Sylvie with a Garou to prevent Mike from gaining, not being aware that you have to reduce to zero in combat.  What would have been funny is Dennis’s comment about rushing my Blood Hunted Convert with Sylvie to give me pool, but alas.

Brandon knows my deck, so he rushes backwards with Garou.  I finally play a Kindred Intelligence with this deck.  I finally bring out Josef von Bauren, the only vamp above 5-cap.  I don’t do much to impact the game and get ousted.

Decks (any Path of Lilith is really Lilith’s Blessing):

Deck Name:   111127  Newcromancy
Created By:  Baldesar

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 32, Avg: 4.66)
———————————————
2  Baldesar Rossellini                aus for nec DOM POT8  Giovanni
1  Don Michael Antonio Giovanni       DOM NEC POT    7  Giovanni
1  Gualtiero Ghiberti                 cel pot tha DOM NEC7  Giovanni
1  Guillaume Giovanni                 CEL DOM NEC POT obt9  Giovanni
1  Lia Milliner                       dom nec        3  Giovanni
1  Primo Giovanni                     domnec pot     4  Giovanni
1  Raphaela Giovanni                  DOM NEC pot pre6  Giovanni
4  Tupdog                             POT VIS        1  Gargoyle

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (20 cards)
1  Barrens, The
2  Blood Doll
1  Dis Pater
1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Necromancy
3  Path of Bone, The
1  Path of Lilith, The
1  Powerbase: Cape Verde
1  Rack, The
4  Vessel
2  Villein
1  WMRH Talk Radio
1  Wall Street Night, Financial Newspaper

Action (11 cards)
2  Chair of Hades
6  Govern the Unaligned
1  Haunt
1  Pandora`s Whisper
1  Summon Soul

Action Modifier (14 cards)
5  Call of the Hungry Dead
2  Conditioning
1  Foreshadowing Destruction
5  Transfusion
1  Trochomancy

Reaction (13 cards)
6  Deflection
1  Fillip
6  On the Qui Vive

Combat (8 cards)
2  Mercy for Seth
6  Spiritual Intervention

Ally (1 cards)
1  Leonardo, Mortician

Retainer (2 cards)
2  Masquer (Wraith)

Equipment (2 cards)
1  Gran Madre di Dio, Italy
1  Sargon Fragment, The

Combo (9 cards)
3  Promise of 1528
6  Spectral Divination

Not hugely interesting.  Metagamed for Imbued.  Really only delivered on the Promise of 1528 (I’ve already done the Transfusion thing often enough to know how tasty it is).

Deck Name:   110903  AniCelFor  4cl
Created By:  Andrei Puxon

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 23, Max: 39, Avg: 8)
——————————————-
3  Andrei Puxon                       ani cel chi for5  Ravnos
3  Kostantin                          ANI cel CHI dom FOR9  Ravnos
3  Lucretia                           ANI aus cel for OBF pot10 Nosferatu
3  Quinton McDonnell                  ani cel FOR pro8  Gangrel

Library: (75 cards)
——————-
Master (15 cards)
1  Animalism
1  Barrens, The
4  Blood Doll
1  Celerity
1  Fortitude
1  Giant`s Blood
1  Information Highway
3  Minion Tap
1  Park Hunting Ground
1  Rack, The

Action (2 cards)
2  Restoration

Action Modifier (5 cards)
4  Freak Drive
1  Kiss of Ra, The

Reaction (12 cards)
4  Cats` Guidance
4  Rat`s Warning
4  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (27 cards)
2  Canine Horde
4  Flash
2  Hidden Strength
2  Indomitability
2  Psyche!
4  Sideslip
2  Skin of Rock
3  Skin of Steel
4  Taste of Vitae
2  Unflinching Persistence

Retainer (9 cards)
1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
1  Mr. Winthrop
2  Murder of Crows
4  Raven Spy
1  Tasha Morgan

Equipment (5 cards)
4  .44 Magnum
1  Ivory Bow

The J/DS/AH restriction is to fit in better with the Pleasanton crowd that I haven’t played with in ages.  This deck has been entertaining, if really, really slow.

Deck Name:   111210  antiNos Qualifier Perfect
Created By:  Lucian, The Perfect

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 14, Max: 37, Avg: 6.91)
———————————————-
2  Gustaphe Brunnelle                 obf ANI DOM POT8  Nosferatu
1  Harold Tanner                      ani dom obf POT6  Nosferatu
1  Joseph Cambridge                   ani dom obf POT6  Nosferatu Antitribu
2  Julio Martinez                     ANI DOM nec OBF POT9  Nosferatu Antitribu
1  Lucian                             ANI AUS DOM OBF POT PRE 11 Guruhi
1  Mateusz Gryzbowsky                 ANI OBF POT    8  Nosferatu Antitribu
2  Tarbaby Jack                       dom ser ANI OBF POT8  Nosferatu Antitribu
2  Tupdog                             POT VIS        1  Gargoyle

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (13 cards)
1  Archon Investigation
1  Barrens, The
1  Direct Intervention
1  Dreams of the Sphinx
1  Information Highway
3  Life in the City
1  Nosferatu Kingdom
4  Villein

Action (12 cards)
1  Bum`s Rush
4  Deep Song
4  Govern the Unaligned
1  Harass
1  Preternatural Strength
1  Sense Death

Action Modifier (4 cards)
2  Conditioning
1  Into Thin Air
1  Spying Mission

Reaction (14 cards)
3  Cats` Guidance
1  Confusion of the Eye
4  Deflection
4  On the Qui Vive
1  Redirection
1  Sense the Savage Way

Combat (24 cards)
1  Canine Horde
4  Carrion Crows
1  Drawing Out the Beast
4  Immortal Grapple
2  Slam
4  Taste of Vitae
1  Terror Frenzy
2  Thrown Gate
4  Torn Signpost
1  Vanish from the Mind`s Eye

Ally (3 cards)
1  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
1  Underbridge Stray

Retainer (1 cards)
1  Mr. Winthrop

Equipment (2 cards)
1  Ivory Bow
1  Seal of Veddartha

Combo (7 cards)
1  Hide the Mind
2  Murmur of the False Will
4  Swallowed by the Night

More wakes.  Made me sad Lucian never tabled.  I’ll have to build more Lucian focused decks.

Deck Name:   110709  Dance, Dance, Revolution
Created By:  Sarah Cobbler

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 21, Avg: 3.25)
———————————————
4  Anarch Convert                     none           1  Caitiff
1  Brooke                             dom tha        3  Tremere Antitribu
1  Hannigan                           AUS dom THA    5  Tremere Antitribu
1  Ignatius                           aus dom tha    4  Tremere
1  Jing Wei                           dom tha        3  Tremere
1  Kurt Strauss                       aus DOM tha    5  Tremere Antitribu
1  Merrill Molitor                    aus dom THA    5  Tremere
1  Reverend Blackwood                 DOM obf THA    6  Tremere Antitribu
1  Sarah Cobbler                      dom THA        4  Tremere

Library: (75 cards)
——————-
Master (20 cards)
2  Anarch Revolt
1  Barrens, The
4  Blood Doll
1  Dominate
2  Dreams of the Sphinx
1  Path of Lilith, The
1  Powerbase: Montreal
1  Rack, The
1  Rotschreck
5  Smiling Jack, The Anarch
1  Thaumaturgy

Action (7 cards)
5  Constant Revolution
2  Govern the Unaligned

Action Modifier (5 cards)
3  Conditioning
2  Mirror Walk

Reaction (22 cards)
9  Deflection
8  On the Qui Vive
2  Power of All
1  Redirection
2  Scry the Hearthstone

Combat (15 cards)
2  Burst of Sunlight
1  Diversion
1  Walk of Flame
1  Weather Control
10 Wind Dance

Ally (4 cards)
2  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
1  Nephandus (Mage)

Retainer (1 cards)
1  Charnas the Imp

Equipment (1 cards)
1  Bowl of Convergence

Will have to change this deck as I want to play it again.  So many things I didn’t see in that game.

Deck Name:   110918  Blessed Resilience
Created By:  Macoute

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 25, Max: 32, Avg: 7.25)
———————————————-
3  Babalawo Alafin                    ani AUS FOR NEC7  Harbingers of Skulls
3  Macoute                            FOR obf NEC thn6  Samedi
3  Mordechai Ben-Nun                  ANI AUS FOR NEC8  Harbingers of Skulls
3  Morlock                            FOR NEC THN obf8  Samedi

Library: (90 cards)
——————-
Master (26 cards)
4  Blessed Resilience
1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
4  Life in the City
1  Parthenon, The
1  Path of Lilith, The
6  Storage Annex
6  Villein
3  Wider View

Action (18 cards)
9  Force of Will
1  Possession
5  Rapid Healing
3  Restoration

Action Modifier (27 cards)
4  Call of the Hungry Dead
8  Daring the Dawn
14 Freak Drive
1  Trochomancy

Reaction (14 cards)
7  On the Qui Vive
7  Telepathic Misdirection

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

Combo (4 cards)
4  Spectral Divination

Man, I love the crypt for this deck – got the perfect draw of one of each, by the way, in that game.  Dennis strongly suggested adding about three Trochomancy.  There’s actually a lot of tweaks I could make now that I realize it’s not quite as kamikaze as I expected.  Still have won every game I’ve ever played playing HoS Force of Will …

Deck Name:   111119  Josef`s Army
Created By:  Toby

Crypt: (15 cards, Min: 4, Max: 32, Avg: 4.46)
———————————————
4  Anarch Convert                     none           1  Caitiff
1  Beetleman                          obf ANI        4  Nosferatu
1  Foureyes                           obf pot        3  Nosferatu
2  Jeremy Wix Wyzchovsky              ani obf pot    5  Nosferatu
2  Josef von Bauren                   cel ANI DEM OBF POT11 Nosferatu
1  Petra                              aus ANI OBF    5  Nosferatu
1  Ruxandra                           ani aus OBF    5  Nosferatu
1  Slag                               ani obf pot    4  Nosferatu
2  Toby                               ani obf pre    5  Nosferatu

Library: (75 cards)
——————-
Master (20 cards)
1  Barrens, The
4  Blood Doll
1  Dreams of the Sphinx
1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Labyrinth, The
2  Obfuscate
1  Path of Lilith, The
3  Perfectionist
4  Villein
2  Wider View

Action (9 cards)
4  Computer Hacking
1  Conceal
4  Kindred Intelligence

Action Modifier (16 cards)
4  Cloak the Gathering
2  Elder Impersonation
2  Faceless Night
1  Leverage
1  Monkey Wrench
4  Spying Mission
2  Veil the Legions

Reaction (12 cards)
4  Confusion of the Eye
2  Delaying Tactics
4  On the Qui Vive
2  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (8 cards)
4  Dodge
4  No Trace

Ally (1 cards)
1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Retainer (3 cards)
1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
1  Robert Carter
1  Tasha Morgan

Equipment (1 cards)
1  Camera Phone

Event (1 cards)
1  Scourge of the Enochians

Combo (4 cards)
4  Swallowed by the Night

Have already decided to cut two of the crypt.  I never gain advantage from playing 15.  I also identified the need for Fragment of the Book of Nod after the first time I played it, but I haven’t cared enough to make the change.  After all, I never get blocked, so I discard stealth constantly.


Recent Winners – 2010/2011

December 10, 2011

It’s that time of year again.  The time to look at how the “clans” have fared in the last couple of years within the V:TES TWDA.  Why not wait until the end of the year?

Because we keep having a regional qualifier late in December.  By looking at what has done well or poorly recently, gives me food for thought leading into our premier event.

From the general …

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Malkavian 20 17 37
Ventrue 11 17 28
Ventrue antitribu 15 12 27
Tremere antitribu 12 11 23
Toreador 11 10 21
Giovanni 8 10 18
Tremere 10 7 17
Imbued 8 9 17
Brujah 5 11 16
Ahrimanes 5 9 14
Nosferatu 7 7 14
Malkavian antitribu 6 8 14
Guruhi 5 9 14
Lasombra 7 6 13
Baali 5 8 13
Tzimisce 6 6 12
Gangrel antitribu 2 10 12
Gargoyle 4 7 11
Kiasyd 7 4 11
Akunanse 4 6 10
Follower of Set 3 6 9
Assamite 1 7 8
Ishtarri 1 6 7
Ravnos 6 1 7
Brujah antitribu 2 4 6
True Brujah 2 4 6
Gangrel 5 1 6
Toreador antitribu 4 2 6
Daughter of Cacophony 1 4 5
Salubri 2 3 5
Osebo 1 3 4
Samedi 0 3 3
Harbinger of Skulls 2 1 3
Pander 1 2 3
Blood Brother 1 1 2
Nosferatu antitribu 2 0 2
Caitiff 1 1 2
Abomination 0 1 1
Salubri antritribu 0 1 1
Nagaraja 0 0 0
Grand Total 428

If we look at the top of the winners, five clans break 20 wins.  Three are original gangster.  Who would have guessed back in the day that the two winningest Sabbat clans would be the !Tremere and !Ventrue?

Bottom feeders – bloodlines (of course), Caitiff and Pander, and !Nosferatu.  I have said about as much as I’m interested in saying in the thread on vekn.net about which of !Brujah, !Gangrel, and !Nosferatu need the most help.  I didn’t even answer the question since my belief is that all three should receive help.  Where the weaker Cammie clans could always rely on powerful Cammie cards as well as a plethora of crypt options, the antitribu have largely been shafted historically.  With exceptions, of course.  !Toreador, for some reason, got cards like Art Scam and Palla Grande, later Foundation Exhibit.  That !Nos are really bad in tournament wins at the moment is not all that exciting.  Sample size issues mean that you can get wild swings in wins.

On the other hand, the two clans with double digit wins in 2011 that aren’t in the top five over the two year span are Brujah and !Gangrel.  So, worrying overmuch about the !Gangrel is mistimed.  Can argue all one wants that !Gangrel are supported by superstars, but determining who isn’t requires deep diving into every clan.

Anyway, a long list, let’s break up into my usual “classes”:

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Malkavian 20 17 37
Ventrue 11 17 28
Toreador 11 10 21
Tremere 10 7 17
Brujah 5 11 16
Nosferatu 7 7 14
Gangrel 5 1 6
Caitiff 1 1 2
Grand Total 141

The demise of Gangrel from elite status is just stunning.  Sure, as time has gone by and groups get added, they’ve lost Camarillaness, lost Dominate, lost Nadima.  Loki’s Gift hardly gets exploited like some other new cards, while Deep Song sees more use with winnies, fatties(!), and Nana Buruku-ies, er, Guruhi then with Gangrel.

Caitiff isn’t terribly surprising.  While the number of people who play Scourge of the Enochians seems really low, the threat of it ending your game seems sufficient to push out Caitiff and Pander, but not Tupdogs for whatever reason.  It’s hard to get enthused by one-caps.  Also, if we hadn’t seen this same effect with Pander, it could be argued that the awfulness of more recent Caitiff has a lot to do with the paltry number of wins.

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Giovanni 8 10 18
Follower of Set 3 6 9
Assamite 1 7 8
Ravnos 6 1 7
Grand Total 42

Always interesting to look at the original indies.  My sense is, without going back to look at the numbers, that they see the greatest swings of any “class” of clans.  We even see crazy swings from 2010 to 2011 with this data.

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Ventrue antitribu 15 12 27
Tremere antitribu 12 11 23
Malkavian antitribu 6 8 14
Lasombra 7 6 13
Tzimisce 6 6 12
Gangrel antitribu 2 10 12
Brujah antitribu 2 4 6
Toreador antitribu 4 2 6
Pander 1 2 3
Nosferatu antitribu 2 0 2
Grand Total 118

Besides unhappy Panders, it’s interesting to me how the most distinctive Sabbie clans by virtue of getting, at the time they came out, a unique discipline, fall into the 3, 4, and 5 slots on wins.  I believe all of the Sabbies, including the “leader” clans – Lasombra, Tzimisce – maybe especially the leader clans, should be getting more toys.  That !Ventrue have such unimpressive clan toys speaks volumes about what sort of vampires they’ve gotten.

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Ahrimanes 5 9 14
Baali 5 8 13
Kiasyd 7 4 11
Gargoyle 4 7 11
True Brujah 2 4 6
Daughter of Cacophony 1 4 5
Salubri 2 3 5
Samedi 0 3 3
Harbinger of Skulls 2 1 3
Blood Brother 1 1 2
Abomination 0 1 1
Salubri antritribu 0 1 1
Nagaraja 0 0 0
Grand Total 75

A notable rise across the board from 2010 to 2011.  New expansions really do have a major, if possibly short term, impact in popularity.  Though, it’s funny that one of the big winners is Ahrimanes when Heirs to the Blood didn’t give them the same sort of boost other bloodlines got.  In fact, they got nothing of great significance as either a clan toy or in Spiritus.

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Imbued 8 9 17
Grand Total 17

Clan Wins 2010 Wins 2011 Total
Guruhi 5 9 14
Akunanse 4 6 10
Ishtarri 1 6 7
Osebo 1 3 4
Grand Total 35

Again, across the board increases.  Starting to look less pathetic.

Movement from 2010 to 2011:

Clan Total
Gangrel antitribu 8
Ventrue 6
Brujah 6
Assamite 6
Ishtarri 5
Ahrimanes 4
Guruhi 4
Samedi 3
Baali 3
Gargoyle 3
Daughter of Cacophony 3
Follower of Set 3
True Brujah 2
Brujah antitribu 2
Osebo 2
Giovanni 2
Akunanse 2
Malkavian antitribu 2
Abomination 1
Salubri antritribu 1
Salubri 1
Pander 1
Imbued 1
Blood Brother 0
Nagaraja 0
Nosferatu 0
Tzimisce 0
Caitiff 0
Harbinger of Skulls -1
Tremere antitribu -1
Lasombra -1
Toreador -1
Nosferatu antitribu -2
Toreador antitribu -2
Ventrue antitribu -3
Tremere -3
Kiasyd -3
Malkavian -3
Gangrel -4
Ravnos -5
Grand Total 42

Probably don’t need to include a total, though I guess it’s worth noting that 42 additional decks are listed for clans, and the year isn’t over.  To get at a total total, the non-“clan” decks need to also be taken into account, and those numbers are up on extrala.blogspot.com, anyway.  What happened to the Ravnos?  They can play Deep Song, too.

So, for me, does any of this matter?

On the perpetual underdog side:  I’ve gotten bored with Nagaraja, but I consider Samedi having such poor showings as more about being underplayed than undercompetitive.  I don’t mind Off Kilter.  Maybe, I can get a bit more enthused with Reanimated Corpse and Little Mountain Cemetery or just try something radical like Groaning Corpse.dec.

On the “what happened to you?” side:  !Nos, sure.  Ravnos?  Why not?  Besides that I’ve won every tournament I’ve ever played with them, a list that gets shorter every time I return to a clan.  Course, not that the TWDA shows it, the same situation exists for Samedi.

On a more general level of what is going on with the game, while there are certainly movements, the picture I get from glancing at this data is one more of stability.  Lack of new sets might have something to do with that.  If only Ebony Kingdoms was the set it should have been – 150 cards, double digit new crypt options for each clan – maybe Laibon would have gotten a much bigger bump.  Guess it makes it that much more interesting that the numbers are rising for them even for the Nana Burukuless clans.


SoB007

December 6, 2011

I have thought quite a long time about writing a mod for Heroes of Rokugan.  As is the norm for anything that has no meaningful deadline, that hasn’t amounted to much of anything.  I did start thinking through an idea, but I got bored with it.

For the next local convention, I haven’t thought of anything to run.  Then, I realized that a playtest of a mod would be the perfect thing to run.  Being deadline and commitment driven, putting an actual date on when it would need to be done might see me put the work in.

What’s difficult is narrowing down to just one idea.  Sure, there’s always writing more mods, but let’s get through one, first.  There are so many things I find lacking in HoR adventures, but they can’t all go into one mod.

What are these lacks?

1.  Honor gains – Honor gains aren’t that common to begin with, I don’t recall any major Honor gains that didn’t involve losing your character from HoR2.  A lot of my recent discussion about what bothers me about 4e L5R is that Honor seems far less important, being a resource only for certain schools or for characters who start with 6.5 Honor schools.

2.  Unusual skills – The lack here isn’t one of omission but of dearth.  On the other hand, rare skills are rare.  Having one mod greatly benefit one skill is neither fair to those who didn’t take it (why would they?) or to the lucky party where someone is good at the skill and can break a mod.  This is where it’s kind of sad that macro skills work the way they do.  If macro skills – Perform, Artisan, Games, etc. – meant you could use the skill with all subtypes, then the skills wouldn’t so rarely be used.  To benefit specialists, emphases could be used to differentiate someone more skilled in one area than another.  In HoR2, I got enough use out of Sailing to be satisfied.  My mod needs to elevate some more obscure skill while not being stupid about it.

3.  Flavorful mod rewards – These crop up from time to time.  No reason not to include them.  Well, I can see where only a limited number of mods should include certs, however, not every unusual reward needs to be certed.

4.  Flavorful story rewards – Not a great way to describe this category, but what I’m thinking of are unusual locations, unusual events, etc.  Any mod that involved leaving Rokugan, whether by traveling into gaijin lands, the Shadowlands, or by traveling to another spirit realm, interested me much more.  Also, just having identifiable locales is better than not, such as a major shrine or a “lost” shrine or whatever.  “Plot mods” are likely better than ones that just exist to have people accumulate XP.

5.  Shadowlands – Already mentioned traveling to them, but what I mean here is really “Monsters”.  I don’t find Taint interesting, but I think there should be far more oni-slaying.  Or, since it appears that the Lying Darkness is important to HoR3, Shadowspawn-thrashing.  I’d rather see much less intrigue and much more monster-murdering in my Asian gaming.  What I’m not interested in is the casual monster – the monster that isn’t necessarily there to be fought but just a plot device.  We want to use our katana, tetsubo, war fans, et al.

6.  Daimyo – Unlike some of my HoR2 players, in HoR2, I couldn’t care less about daimyo, including my own.  They didn’t rise to the level of nebulous NPCs, and that was fine because I was busy trying to plot how to leave Rokugan … er, advance my societal position through proper channels of expression and duty.  However, HoR3 is not HoR2.  The daimyo system is a mechanic in HoR3 that is supposed to matter.  It doesn’t.  Maybe someone, somewhere has been affected, but I have yet to see it.  Of course, there are far too many daimyo, so it’s difficult to incorporate them.  Who wants a dozen names listed as mattering with a hundred or whatever not?

7.  Contests – Again, they exist.  They just aren’t common enough.  I actually rate contests, whether tournaments or not, to be the most desirable elements to include in adventures.  Though, as with everything, it’s easy to overdo.  Not every session should have them.  But, I need to increase the average.

8.  Recurring characters – This I may not be able to do anything about.  If I only ever write one mod, the chances seems slim of using someone else’s character or having someone use one of mine, though mods get edited before publishing, so maybe a recurring character will get inserted into a mod.  Can’t hurt to have as interesting characters as possible to increase people’s desires to see them again.

9.  Limited characters – I hate running Winter Court mods.  It’s not WC, itself, as I find snowy environs evocative.  It’s the endless number of irrelevant NPCs.  Other mods have similar problems.  For running HoR2 as a home game, cutting in half or so the number of NPCs is often the way to go.  Now, as a player, I don’t tend to mind having a large cast of red herring characters.  After all, I just pick a NPC based on clan or other feature and focus my efforts to interact with the world.  That has paid off well enough.  Still, discipline.  Define only interesting characters who serve useful purposes.  The point of these mods shouldn’t be to trick people, should be to entertain.  I’ll leave the “parade of names” mods to other writers …

10.  Action – … because I want the focus to be on action.  Not tedious investigations that involve confirming stories or repeated climbing checks but action that’s actually exciting.  This is not a strongpoint for me.  I’m much better suited for soap operas.  But, we get far too much politics and intrigue and far too little running in abject terror and smiting.

11.  Advantages/Disadvantages – Typically, an advantage or disad either comes up all of the time or virtually never.  That’s not how they are supposed to work.  Much like underused skills need to see some use, underrelevant ads./disads. should matter.

12.  Bears – Total party kills are far too rare.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some lacks.  Though, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably realized something.  This is a terrible way to create entertainment.  You don’t create by trying to address problems.  This is why I’m not a good person for game design – I look to fix what’s broken not create new, broken things.  I’d be far better suited to editing other people’s mods.

Instead of laying out what I see as weaknesses, I should be honing in on what’s awesome and making that awesome be awesome.  Like, bear fights.

[For those who don’t get the joke, bears are like the scariest things in the game that you could ever expect to face.]