The Best of … 2010

Hopefully, I faithfully do this every year.  Time again to look back three years and pick out what I consider my best blog posts from the long, long ago.

At first, my thinking about 2010 was that I had so much pent up supply of profound, brilliant genius to drop on folks that there wasn’t much good stuff left for year two of this blog.  While that might be the case, I find the ebb and flow of my posts in year two to be rather interesting.  There were some lean months, for sure.  The big thing in the first half of the year was educating people on the best CCG of them all – Ultimate Combat!!

My judgment ability for “best” is something I question.  So, instead, let me go with most important and pretend that means the same thing.

2010 was the year of Ultimate Combat!.  Not playing it, of course.  Analyzing it, as I actually got feedback from this blog!

Ultimate Combat! – Scott’s Analysis, Part I
Ultimate Combat! – Scott’s Analysis, Part II
Ultimate Combat! – Scott’s Analysis, Part III

Why does Ultimate Combat! matter?  Because – and I say this repeatedly but it doesn’t penetrate – it’s the most fun CCG in the history of the human race.  Many CCGs tried to bill themselves as fast.  The problem with fast is that a short game has no actual relationship to how much fun a game provides, just as a longer game isn’t better because you spend more time playing it.  What you want is action and the threat of someone winning at any time.  UC! provided that as well as any other CCG.

Unlike Magic, L5R, Highlander, et al, UC! has great balance and virtually no waiting for the game to end because you get locked out of being able to win.  It’s repetitive, but one of my few stories of tournament play involves having to blow Bear’s Jaw not to get knocked out after using every possible resource on defense, and, then, making my first attack of the game for the win.  These things are possible in other CCGs, they just aren’t nearly as likely.

2010 was a year of V:TES analysis.  I did individual card ratings for Heirs to the Blood, which weren’t all that good in hindsight.  I did a number of posts I probably didn’t tag with “reviews” that I would tag that way today.  Here are my choices of most important V:TES analysis posts:

Reading of the Will

Why is this important?  Because I feel largely the same way after three years.  Because I think that designers should do similar analysis (admittedly, this is a follow up article, itself, to an article that better demonstrates) when planning a set.

Recent Winners

While the layout of this is crap and there’s not a lot of quality or depth in the writing, this sort of analysis is analysis I consider fundamental to examining the game’s needs and trends.  Metagaming is fun.  You can’t metagame if you don’t know what people play.  Now, one interesting thing about my reading old emails to our old V:TES Yahoogroup is that I did a number of posts about what won not just globally or at the EC but what won recently locally, which is far more relevant to locals.

Weak 1 – Laecanus

The Card of the Weak series is a great concept that is full of execution problems for me.  As explained in one of the entries, I think, just looking at a bad card serves no purpose.  The purpose is to look at a card that isn’t considered good and explain what you would do with it to make it better and/or more fun.  While there are plenty of such cards, it’s not necessarily easy to write about them.  Besides being the first entry in this series, this entry had multiple *played* decklists to use as examples.

Rise and Fall

What makes this interesting is that we had our highest tournament attendances two years (and three months) after I posted this.  Clearly, the lack of new cards wasn’t essential “two years down the road”.  However, attendance dropped off dramatically this December from last December and cards only get harder to acquire (outside of the usual method of buying out a former player’s collection, which I have no data on the difficulty of year over year).  My views haven’t changed.  Unfortunately, I have little sense of what other people’s views are.  I don’t mean views on wanting new cards, as it’s unlikely that people would say they don’t want new cards.  I mean whether people are less interested in the game due to a lack of new cards.  Actually, what I would really like to see are less cards.  Ban promo cards, ban events, ban Imbued – that would be great for the game (in theory).

Design Essay, Part I
Design Essay, Part II

I’d say part two is more interesting, but it’s hard to separate these.  More of the actual answers are in part two.  Part one is too much about figuring out how the game could rearrange mechanics.  While the questions don’t align to V:TES as well as Magic (given that they were designed for Magic), very thought provoking questions.

While arguably V:TES analysis, I’d put this post in the camp of tournament report.  With an obvious exception, tournament reports aren’t something I normally rate that highly as they tend to lack profundity, but I’ve reread this one a bunch:

Bay Area Qualifier

Maybe it’s just because it was a hilarious draft event to cap things off, as the constructed bits weren’t all that … except for the “After an hour, I played two cards” bit.

Still in the realm of CCGdom but not specific to V:TES, we have:

1001^n Deck Ideas

Is this all that good advice?  I think there are many things unsaid that I didn’t have on my mind at the time.  Still, CCGs have essentially infinite deck possibilities, even with something as limited as, say, Shadowfist Modern.  Probably a function of age and experience, but I’m increasingly unconcerned with what’s good and increasingly concerned with “let’s just all have fun playing this … game”.

These are arguably more about CCGs than other types of games but encompass a wider gaming experience:

Practical Testing

An interesting concept if not the most interesting piece of writing.  Is the concept clear enough?

Nice Hat

I go to the “elegance” well quite often.  Redundant?  Maybe.  Undepthful?  Perhaps.  But, it’s a key goal to beat people over the head with the idea of elegance in card design.

Capricorn II – Zodiac I

Speaking of beating people over the head.  I had one cogent thing to say about using astrology for gaming and drew it out into what was a nightmare of forced posts.  What was amazing was that anything useful could have come out of the series this late in the game.  This states a lot of obvious stuff, but sometimes you have to fry the bacon.

D-Tales

Really two topics that give me grief.  The first is my not knowing what details to include in running a RPG.  The second is researching those details.  This is not a high quality post, but it brings up a major concept not just for me as a GM but for the industry (not that this post will likely have any influence on the industry, but … OMG, is that a butterfly … coming right for me!).

Then, finally, a pure L5R 4e rant article:

4e Funlessness

I guess I’m used to 4e, at this point.  But, expansion material rants aside (see this year’s Secrets of the Empire review), it’s still amazing how much better 4e could have been if it didn’t try to distance itself so much from 3e.

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