The Best of … 2011

December 31, 2014

That time of year to look back and recall some things I did years ago.  So, looking at the third year of the blog.  As I mentioned in last year’s year end post, I think I’ve given up on picking out best posts and focus more on those posts I think are the most significant.

A Gnu CCG

What makes this significant?  It might have been the first time I really identified that the biggest problem with Magic is that you draw one card a turn.  It brings up how the biggest problem in the CCG world, for me, is that there’s no reason to reinvent Magic, which is what so many CCGs attempt to do.

Super Role

Maybe because this was shorter, it got a lot of comments.  It actually misses all sorts of points I think I cover elsewhere, so it doesn’t feel like all that great a post, but it does address an angle on something rather important.

Level (more than) 1

This is ramblerrific, but it should be the first time I’ve put down my idea that unlocking higher level abilities shouldn’t be unlocking them but stabilizing them.  This may not work well in a number of systems, but I can totally see this with L5R.

Ramp-le

This is actually a really important post, though it only partially gets into what can be a very deep topic (in that the issue affects a lot of facets of designing a CCG).  I don’t know if I would have much more to say until the next time I try designing a CCG (there was the one that had a flower faction, helping Earl with his Shadowfist like fantasy game, the one based on a computer game, maybe one or two others).

Off Kilter

Not a great post, but my first analysis of Heroes of Rokugan 3, Spirit of Bushido.  The mods, anyway.

 

Now, we get into quite the lull in terms of posts I think have much lasting value.  There’s a bit of stuff, but where the beginning of 2011 was superslow in terms of V:TES, we ended up having our largest event locally in the Summer, and I started posting a lot more session writeups.

In general, I think the blog started slowing down in 2011, but I also see a lot more comments, probably because my readers were more focused on V:TES and Andy started following the blog more, so he made more comments.

 

Review – The Great Clans

My first 4e L5R review.  One thing about this blog is that my L5R posts are really much more popular.  In many ways, my V:TES experiences aren’t all that applicable to others, other than locals.  But, my L5R experiences might be much more relevant.  And, people don’t really tend to do good analysis of RPGs.  Oh, they do intense and painful analyses of aspects of RPGs, like how much time people spend going over builds for Iaijutsu duels for L5R (a largely irrelevant exercise), and I’m sure there’s plenty of D&D build analysis.

But, has anyone else ever talked about party combat tactics?  I don’t recall seeing it.  I recall people saying that shugenja aren’t broken, which means they don’t seem all that familiar with L5R 4e combat.  I constantly see people do incredibly stupid things in combat, myself included – I’m a strategist more than a tactician and realize my mistakes too late.  Remember Knockdown is a maneuver!  Remember!

I also, not with terribly rigorous data analysis but still with a lot of opinion, put forth some pretty uncommon opinions.  Sure, a lot of people realize Mirumoto Bushi is a suck school in 4e, but a lot don’t.  Kakita Bushi gets nowhere near as much hate as it deserves for sucking as a bushi, but, then, people love dueling, even when it hardly ever happens … I asked, I’ve yet to hear anyone ever say dueling was a common activity in their play.  Suzume Bushi is much better than the latter and much better than the former … at combat … except for when you are at SR-3 (well, Mirumoto spell affecting ability is hard to rate, but since they don’t get a combat ability at SR-2 and don’t get a damage bonus at SR-1, still pretty safe to state).

I don’t think it’s so much agreeing with my analysis.  I think it’s just seeing an analysis.  After all, arguing about things is why top 10 lists exist.

Lore: Doors & Knowledge: Architecture

While I don’t think L5R folks take my tier system for skills seriously, I do.  I use these articles as a basis for many thoughts around L5R 4e skills (if I played other systems more often, e.g. played Conan more recently, it would be a basis for other whining about how RPGs like to have too many skills).

Enjoy?

Someone from a nongaming part of my life said they would read my blog more if it were more personal.  One can see how, at a certain point, I got more personal about stuff.  This post embraces a self-analytical aspect to my personality and my quest to understand inward-looking.  I get into what it is I look for in RPGs in other posts, but this is a shot at trying to distill what it is I liked most about various CCGs.

Study In Strength

I see this post being worth mentioning not for itself, as it’s not a particularly important topic but for the sort of articles that players could do for the CCGs I play (not a very long list at the time, doubled when I started playing Shadowfist).

Ultraworld

This post both addresses some of my problems with trying to create a coherent superhero RPG world while also getting into a rare case of my going out of gaming into a potentially controversial topic, though I’m all about keeping my controversies in this blog in the realm of gaming – shugenja are gods, katana suck, Enkidu sucks, etc. – so it’s more an observation that has some minor impact on my gaming.

Playgroup Cohesion

Short!!  To the point!!  Unbelievably important IMO.  So, so very much can be explained when you get into personality differences within a playgroup.

Recent Winners 2010/2011

There’s nothing special here, so why call out this post?  Because I didn’t do one of these this year.  Goes to show how it feels like V:TES is sinking into torpor.

 

For a year that wasn’t very strong on my part, even getting kind of thin where I posted some Wheel of Time CCG playtest reports, I did manage to pull out 13 posts that I think deserve a bit of callout.  Playgroup Cohesion is by far the most important.  Enjoy? and Ramp-le would be next on my list.

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RPG Fiction Guide

December 25, 2014

I had this idea noted for a long time.  I was going to spew the knowledge on how to write fictions for your RPG campaigns.  Not specifically HoR fictions, maybe not even ones that well suited to campaigns where you are trying to gain something.  Fortunately, the vast majority of my blog posts are just made up with a few sentences in the cranial region and end up being whatever I type in the moment.  So, I’m going to forget some highly important things … that I get to use for a subsequent post on the very same topic.

What is the point of a fic?  Okay, in HoR, it’s to get something.  Let’s go with why you would write fics in your home games (and HoR, too).  To add depth to the campaign.  How do they add depth to the campaign?  By doing some of the character development that’s not going to happen on screen with your PC or someone else’s PC or a NPC.  By developing some other part of the world than a character, like providing info on a location or a group or a character’s activities or whatever.

Other reasons for fics:  entertain the GM, entertain the other players, provide a record of what has happened.  Actually, for our Conan play, it was the last that was the original intent of fics.  I take notes on every RPG session I play in, online, in person, convention.  After a certain point, I can’t read my own notes.  One of our Conan players was watching me take notes for a session and the GM was going into a long description of us on a boat moving under an archway with an aged, bronze(?) statue of some dude with a weapon … and so on.  My note was “some guy” or something like that – I’d have to check my notes.  That sort of shorthand is the bane of preserving gaming knowledge for posterity.

So, other than fics to describe what did happen, what is an obvious thing that shouldn’t exist in fics?  What could happen on screen.

Some of my campaigns are more heroic than others.  Let’s assume that you do heroic stuff a reasonable amount of time on screen during a campaign, on screen meaning during your play sessions.  Then, your fics shouldn’t have heroic stuff going on.  Not only is it tacky to give yourself achievement for things you didn’t earn, but the contrast between the heroic action during sessions and comedy/romance/philosophy/whatever in one’s fics only highlights the cool things you earned.

Now, everything is a guideline, and I’ve thrown some action, even heroic action, into some fics, but I think that tended to be in campaigns or in phases of campaigns when there wasn’t heroic action going on on screen.  As part of earning your achievements (or going for humor, or cetera), usually, in my fics, my characters fail or get some sort of mixed result.

What are my most common types of fics once a campaign has been going a while?

Youth (Backstory)

It may be my PC as a child, my PC as an adolescent, or just my PC before the campaign started.  Yesterday, I wrote about my Princess Police PC’s life just after adulthood (which is like only a couple years or so before the campaign started) during a memorable Winter night.

It went for humor, which is one of the most common things I go for.  It went for contrast between the immature frat boy of a few years prior and the post Imperial Winter Court romantic military commander.  But, one of the things I aim to do is highlight a particular aspect of a character that still exists.

The character gets a rap as a lech, when he’s really just a flirt.  I also throw in character sheet aspects of the character, like how one of his patrol buddies hops away from a grapple attempt as they drunkenly brawl.  My Hare is “not a leaper” but, rather, a lover … of nature.  Not just thematically but mechanically as Usagi Woodsman replaces his SR-2 technique, so he can’t do the Usagi leap.  I wrote in activities that try to get at how he has a low Agility but high Reflexes.  His patrol leader calls him “idiot” and the others call him “stupid” because he will always have an Intelligence of 2, which is not bad in the world but really kind of dumb for a PC and extremely stupid for the sort of characters I normally like to play.

I don’t know if people catch all of the things that are written with intent, but any time I go to the “this is what the PC used to be like before the campaign” well, there’s usually a number of different things I’m trying to go for.

Sometimes, there will be a lesson.  Maybe, there will be some connection to what is currently going on in the campaign.  We are getting towards the end of the Princess Police and the carefree, backwoods days for the PC are gone – again, contrast.  A lot of times I go to the “see how this PC started developing this skill/interest when he was young” well.  An earlier fic was about the Hare getting trained in kyujutsu while practicing patrolling.  Because I’m all about the sleazy character builds that totally min/max, this character started with a Reflexes of 5 (as a replacement, he didn’t start as a newb character) and was all about the “you can’t touch this” and Kyujutsu.

Soap Opera

As a lover of NPCs who won’t rush out of bed the next morning, I often work on romantic subplots in fics because they don’t work so well during sessions, depending.  Actually, probably the best benefit of online play is being able to easily have side conversations going on that don’t involve the rest of the party.  In our Conan play, the relationship stuff was mostly done through fics.  In our Princess Police play, most of the relationship stuff is done in private chat windows.

But, it can be other soap operaesque stuff, too.  Maybe, it’s NPCs plotting against my PC.  Maybe, it’s bro’s doing bro-y stuff.  But, the focus is almost always on quiet things, like conversations … especially conversations, as I love dialogue.  Could also be the PC’s thoughts or could be a NPC’s observations of one or more PCs.  This last tactic is commonly used to help explain why the party adventures together.

One of my Princess Police fics, and I’m focusing on this campaign both because it’s most on my mind at the moment and because the fics are far more recent than the vastly greater number of Conan fics I did, was about NPCs talking about who my PC had the hots for.  Now, the original version had one of the NPCs being an evil mastermind that was the behind the scenes villain of the campaign and how my PC’s on stage efforts only facilitated her rise to ruling the Empire with her healthy hips, but it was too much like another campaign villain, so I wrote a second version where she was just an interested observer.

Another fic was to both highlight and refute the PC’s reputation as an insatiable lecher.  The character has actually managed to avoid having affairs with nearly as many women as he’s had affairs with.  After one session where I actually rolled to resist Temptation, I wrote a fic to take the private conversation the two characters had and make their actual, siblingish relationship known to the other players.  With humor.  I think it was one of my better fics for the campaign as I did pull in other PCs and write dialogue and actions for them and the players were cool with that.

Because when you have geniusness, you are totally in the brainthings of others, knowing all and seeing less.  Or, you could just send people a draft and have them approve/disapprove of your characterizations of their characters.  But, hey, that’s the less geniusness way to go about things.

Anyway, the soap opera aspects of campaigns are often not easily played out on screen because they lack action and often lack involvement for the rest of the players.  Obviously, different sorts of campaigns can be really different.

I also wrote an epilogue for a NPC that the players had no idea my PC cared about and where they basically had no idea who the character was, let alone why my PC was motivated to see someone get boiled ASAP as vengeance for what he had done to her.  Fittingly, as one of the big differences between fiction and gaming is that the narratively most appropriate thing often doesn’t happen, someone else managed to dyify the baddie while my PC lay around on the ground, badly wounded.

Tying Up Narrative

That last example could fit here.  One thing that often happens, especially when the other players aren’t as interested in the coherent narrative as I am, is that the on screen narrative is kind of disjointed.  Session writeups, actually, while being their own category of fics, also can help immensely for clarifying the overarching narrative.

I have something that could fit into this category for the Princess Police, but it’s kind of strange in that it wasn’t intended to be used for such.  I had written a fic to highlight something the character was trying for, when the GM decided to use it as a prologue for the next session.

I suppose another PP fic does address an on screen failure on my PC’s part (though it was failure by fiat), as the people I play with tend to focus on party successes and ignore screwing up, where I think the screw ups have tremendous narrative impact.

Goals/Achievements

Speaking of which, HoR and its ilk incentivize writing fics to achieve personal goals that aren’t going to get reflected in module play.  I’ll write fics for home games that reflect how someone developed a new ability as reflected on the character sheet.  But, I also might write a fic about something the character is working on.

I wrote a Princess Police fic that goes into both.  My Hare needed someone to illustrate his fantasy novels.  He found a painter well-suited to such at Winter Court.  At the same time, both because my PC would be really good at painting due to natural aptitude (Awareness went from 3 at beginning of WC to 5) and because she wasn’t deemed extremely reliable enough to where my PC would go to her every time he needed another novel published, I wrote about my PC taking lessons from her, struggling at some things but showing potential at others.

Again, fics can achieve many different things at once.  I also highlighted how hyperactive the character is in the fic, something that doesn’t always come through during sessions.  And, I referenced my PC’s affair.  And, I gave voice to a couple of campaign NPCs with what they thought of his learning how to paint.  And, I introduced the character’s parents ever so slightly with a reference to prior events.

OPC Development

It’s not unusual for me to play with folks who just want to play a game that has a story.  They aren’t all that invested in their characters as characters, though they may be invested in their characters as character sheets.

Besides developing NPCs, which often will fall under the “Soap Opera” category, sometimes I like to give my take on OPCs (other PCs).  This can confirm my vision of them or it can possibly even give another player something to run with to flesh out the character for oneself.

I’ve said before that I care more about NPCs than other PCs as characters, if not in these exact words, because NPCs are the interface into the greater world where other PCs are just more constructs like my PC, who often know less about the world than I do.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  I can get more interested in what other PCs are doing and what the players are trying to do with their characters from a thematic standpoint.  I just need to have a sense of those characters and their interests and goals.  If I can facilitate them having more “character”, more interests, or more goals, well, maybe worth an occasional story [fic].

Foreshadowing

I’m running out of categories that come to mind off the top of my head.  I’m sure looking back at more Conan fics will jog my memory of others, but to bracket the categories, let’s finish up with the … future.

I come up with lots of ideas for what can happen in campaigns I play in.  I wish it were as easy when I run them.  I think it has to do with how restrictions breed creativity – shout out to Magic articles that I no longer read because of their suck new website.

While I will throw out ideas to my GMs, I also write about possibilities.  These fics tend to be not only vague but really, really hard to follow for other players and the GM.  Since they don’t relate to anything that has happened, they come across as “that’s an interesting story, but, uh, wtf?!?”

For my initial character in the Princess Police campaign, I wrote a fic that was about him, but it wasn’t at all clear, as it was about the character after he grew old and retired, and it involved a bunch of characters that had nothing to do with the campaign (considering how I’d just created them for the fic).  What the point of the fic was wasn’t even clear.  It was trying to do some of the character development that “Youth” fics do, only going the other direction timewise.  I didn’t think it was bad, but I had the hardest time thinking about how I’d follow it up for that brief period before I got bored.  That PC was a disaster, anyway, with his coolest achievements being kind of out of character.

Summary

Writing fics is awesome.  I’m not always in the mood.  I sometimes struggle.  I can easily get pretentious and write horribly out of character fics where average intelligence PCs use numerous enormical words.  And, my style probably doesn’t enthuse people who care about action rather than the behind the scenes soap opera, navel gazing, or the like.

But.  I have a lot of fics I wrote that I enjoy reading.  I surprise myself with how many subtle aspects of character development I can put into a story that might not even end up a full page.  I often nail the personalities and something of the speech styles of GM created NPCs or other PCs, or, at least, I sometimes do and the other times nobody cares enough to complain.

The thing is is that I lack the patience and sustained enthusiasm to write enough to write professionally, even short stories (on my bucket list to write a novel but have a hard time seeing it), but I think (and read) in terms of scenes and dialogue, so as long as I don’t get bogged down in describing how things/people look, which I’m not so good at, and focus on two characters going back and forth about … who is sleeping with whom, who is going to be sleeping with whom, or who should be sleeping with whom, it’s all good.

Did I mention that I love writing romantic comedy, one might even call some of it farce?*

*  How ironic is this when I tend to find slapstick in TV and movies painful?  Guess it needs to have more romance and brain-humor and less physical comedy.


Definitely Good and Evil

December 22, 2014

For a while, I thought it was easier to define evil than good.  Evil to me was intentionally causing others to suffer, where unintentional causing of suffering to others was more complicated.  But, what was good?  The lack of causing suffering not so good.  Relieving suffering in others?  Yeah, sure.  But, there was something not terribly clear about self vs. others.

Not long ago, for whatever reason, I was thinking about how obvious good is as determined by humanity.  More specifically, humanity has produced entertainment and that entertainment makes good easy.  Good is helping others.  The only thing good has to do with the self is that if you suffer to do more for others, you are more gooder.

Philosophers can debate the rationale for this, but it’s ubiquitous.  Heroes sacrifice themselves so that others, even the baddies, gain more/suffer less.  A trope, because apparently it’s impossible to avoid using the term trope anymore, is that only the heroes are in the know and knowing sucks because horror, but it’s to save/protect innocents.  It’s always about someone else.

Which makes sense in that society has an incentive to encourage helping others as that makes for more society.  D&D originally just had Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic, whether because it took inspiration from Moorcock’s and others’ use of Law vs. Chaos or because it realized that adventurers in games don’t tend towards good or evil but do tend towards collaboration (to varying degrees from what I’ve seen) or schism, where being some loner monster fits the Chaotic side.

Okay, so once you settle on good = do stuff for others and the more it sucks for you the more gooder and evil = cause others to suffer and the more you enjoy it the more eviler, what then?

RPG parties are often dysfunctional.  One way that they can end up being so is that some folks want to be good guys and some folks don’t.  I personally have a hard time with the don’t.  It’s not that I can’t see settings where the protagonists aren’t goodies, it’s that I don’t see the point in playing any of those settings.

This lack of interest in being the goodies, meanwhile, kills certain settings.  Star Wars, in my experience is an awful setting for role-playing because so few people embrace being a goodie.  Superhero campaigns aren’t something I’ve gotten to experience, but I think my lack of experience with them has something to do with the lack of interest in people playing goodies.  I’ve found fantasy role-playing to be problematic because good just gets thrown off the cliff so regularly.

There are some who believe good is boring.  I don’t know how that’s the case when the vast majority of fantasy and other genres that RPGs set in have goodies as protagonists.  Can read a book, watch a TV show or movie, watch anime – helping others is all the rage.  Nevermind that the actual amount of getting into character I find to be much less than the looking up of numbers on character sheets in my play, so why spend what little time role-playing as a jerk?

Maybe it comes down to thinking being a goodie is simplistic or, even, difficult.  Ha ha, you are a naive goodie while I’m a badass ninja with my own code.

Well, different strokes for different blokes.  I find not being good to be hollow in my play.  If I’m not trying to help someone or make the world a better place, why do I care about anything?  Any set up where you are just trying to survive or trying to get rich or whatever just seems like a setup more suited for a boardgame, where mechanics can just rule the day.

Great, why does this matter now?

I might end up running Legend of the Burning Sands.  There are a lot of factions.  There are way more factions than L5R.  Unlike L5R, there’s no standard for good (essentially Honor in Rokugan, Integrity is the same mechanic but it doesn’t feel like a standard).  Every faction has its own issues, which makes for a much more realismish and complex milieu.  I can easily anticipate that the party won’t be good if the players are left to build their own characters.

One of my problems with Mechwarrior is that I don’t feel like anyone is good in the setting, it’s all point of view based.  That sort of realistic, shades of grey morality just defeats any sort of moral component to a campaign.  Many mech pilots righteously battle in character … and I just think “Why would anyone think they have moral high ground?”

As said, I have a hard time seeing playing a supers game except online because supers games, more than other settings, just don’t make any sense unless you are willing to embrace good.  I would say Star Wars games almost never end up making sense for the same reason, but I think I already said that.

Shadowrun, I think, is supposed to be a heist game.  Again, at the point where good is meaningless, the game becomes mechanical to me.  Gritty space games strike me the same way – I’m never trying to do good, so why do I care what I’m doing?

Feng Shui assumes goodness.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.  Players of the game seem to buy into the idea that they are goodies.

Call of Cthulhu seems to me to be run with the intention of showing how PCs can be destroyed no matter what they do.

Vampire is kind of funny because I’ve seen it played a number of times where the PCs are goodies, maybe because the setting does so much to bring up those that are worst.  In our Conan play, we moved in and out of goodness, sometimes being quite selfish or even awful, but, as little time as we may have spent being good, it felt like we would sometimes be heroic.  I guess it was a game/campaign in which moral complexity actually arose, built up over years of trying to figure out who our characters actually were and what we were trying to accomplish.  For some, it was self-interested prick who learns to give a damn, though, for me, it was more dashing hero who ends up doing horrible things at times.  Anyway, I always much more enjoyed the sessions when I got to be heroic.

Heroic.  That’s a good word to bring up, some 900+ words in.  I always want to play heroic characters in RPGs.  Heroes are good.  They suffer so that others don’t or suffer less.  I could have avoided using goodie and just used hero this whole time, I suppose.

Anyway, I know what I like.  The question becomes how to end up playing or running the games I like.  Is it a conversation with the players beforehand?  Yeah, I think that’s an obvious step.  Is it choosing genres that are heroic?  Yeah, that helps, though I kind of expect the PCs to be heroic in every genre.  I kind of question how much enthusiasm I’ll have for LBS if the players gravitate to the darker elements.

Because it can really suck when some players want to do one thing and others don’t.  Just as much as some players hate social challenges or combat or investigating or sneaking or whatever, some players hate having no moral compass … and, I suppose, some players hate having one.  What I’ve found with some groups is that what annoys players the most are loose cannons, whether those loose cannons are Chaotic Good or Chaotic Evil.  Gets back to how Lawful/Chaotic is not so bad for gaming.

I just had another thought.  I think I so often embrace the idea of playing a sidekick to another PC or to the party because of one of two reasons:  either the sidekick is being good by helping someone else or the party is not good/heroic and being a sidekick removes any sort of feeling of responsibility for the party’s actions.  “Master, I have procured for you many more sacrifices so that we can more effectively release Hell on Earth.  I do good, right?”


[Fisticuffs & Fangs] December 2014

December 19, 2014

As I’ve let some time slide by, I don’t have all of the details in mind for various games of V:TES and Shadowfist as I tend to do.  But, I thought it was worth mentioning some things to mention some other things.

Working backwards, I played Shadowfist last night.  One game.  Hours = 3.5.  This is not actually that unusual for our Thursday night group.  Whether it’s good or bad is hard to say.  Certainly, at a certain point, the players lose interest as attempt after attempt to win gets stopped, and that’s bad.

I was playing a Hopping Vampire deck.  It did get a couple Hopping Vampires back from the smoked pile, but it was more notable that in one turn (but not all at the same time) I had four Hopping Vampires, Xiang Kai, Destroyer, two Wailing Apparitions, and Desolation in play.  It was more notable that I could have blown up the Queen of the Darkness Pagoda with Poison Clan Warriors but thought she was helpful for keeping Havoc Suited Gadgeteers/Seamus/whatever and Hidden Dragons under control.  I did blow her up with a Poison Clan Warriors at some point.  It took a lot of effort, but she and Desolation finally did each other in when my Hot Springs got C4 Sinkholed to enable Fox Pass to do its cheaty stuff.

Justin (Hand, lot of new cards) -> Ray (Darkness plus Molten Heart) -> Ian (Hopping Mad) -> Joren (Dragon weapon states)

Justin’s early Fu Lions on what turned out to be Turtle Island meant it was a long time before that site moved.  Ray was never close to winning except at the very end but his Edges kept people from being too attack effective.  Battle Suit, Havoc Suits, Both Guns Blazing, and the like made Dragon stuff bigger.

One problem we run into is that players often don’t sneak to victory as people burn two sites for victory, making them always a threat.  Joren decked.  Justin finally won with the token from Unbroken Protectorship that had Fighting 4 for some reason and who had got a Bamboo Cane, giving him enough to take out Auspicious Termites that Ray had seized from him earlier.

Last Sunday was V:TES, where we got two games in.

Ian (!Malk SB) -> Andy (Masika Madness) -> Eric (Kiasyd SB) -> Sergio (Giovanni PB) -> Brandon (Ani/Aus/For)

Sergio came really, really close to ousting Brandon, but wakes and intercept and bounce meant Sergio got into very low pool.  Andy didn’t really do a whole lot, though Masika had a gun for a bit before Gremlins got it.  I bled at stealth and rarely hunted.  Eric got two and conceded in the endgame.

More specifically, my deck was put together out of a box of Third Edition boosters and precons, from my long ago Experiment series.  My recollection is this deck has still won every game it has played in.  But, whatever.

Sergio (Giovanni PB) -> Ian (Ani/For/Tha) -> Andy (Malk 3/4 vote) -> Brandon (everyThing) -> Eric (Toreador guns w/ Zephyr)

Sergio got beaten down early but eventually had a horde.  Brandon tried someThing, anyThing, but Maris Streck on one side and intercept Celerity guns on the other meant a lot of noThing.  I thrashed some in combat with either Burst of Sunlight or Walk of Flame, but I didn’t have as much intercept as I drew early on and had to rely too much on leaving Aksinya untapped.  Parity Shifts kept getting stopped by Delaying Tactics.  Andy Banishmented his own vampire before losing his last vampire to be a pool sack that I ousted before time.

There are just some crypts I really like that produce interesting discipline combinations, but I keep running into the basic problem that the eventual deck build will not have enough ousting power.  I had Marcia and Phaedyme as well, Marcia with a Camera Phone, but it barely mattered.  Freak Drives would have helped convert my blood into bleeds, but the deck is busy enough as it is.  And, that’s the problem with relying on esoteric combat plays.

December 11th, we played two, count them – two, games of Shadowfist.

I played my Flower Glower deck in the first game, which actually only went about an hour.  Blossoms of the Black Lotus got reasonably meaty off of Petals of Despair, Moon Petals, and Crown of Thorns.  Even a Hell Charger appeared to aid victory.  For some reason, I have this reputation as a Hand player with this group, even though I play Lotus a lot.

The second game was much longer and full of much funnier.

Auramancer is broken.  Sure, I had a 17 Fighting Auramancer next to something like a 14 Fighting Auramancer, lost a 15 Fighting Auramancer to Die!!! which also took out two 5 Fighting Jammers – Scrounger and a Rhesus Pieces as I recall, both with Electro-Gliders – because that’s what Die!!! always does – take 25 Fighting off the table.  But, even if Auramancer only gets to 3-4 Fighting, how is that not a deal?  As a foundation character, why would I not put five in every deck to just randomly get a net zero cost, 4 Fighting character?

It’s not like the ability says the card goes from smoked to play, it just says removed from smoked.  I may be playing in a recursion heavy environment, but any sort of Reload, toast from smoked pile, minor recursion is going to happen.  I was only running three and avoided having too many in play at once because who wants to be the clear table threat because of their foundation characters?  My “Auramancer” deck is going to be fairly obvious, when I build it, but it seems pointless to bring to casual play.

At the point where Pi Tui, Matron of Silver and Ice is less threatening than my 2 cost foundation character, something is kind of off.  She got taken out once, replayed with a Fire Horse steed for 17 Mobility Fighting and still wasn’t anywhere near as good as “I gain another power and Fighting.”  By the way, I ended this game with 24 power.  I didn’t have much deck left and no more Auramancers (or Pi Tuis), so I was waiting for some character thinning before playing the rest of my characters and making a bid for victory.  Justin pushed through with recursive demons before that could happen, and, of course Die!!! to take out 25 Fighting.

Ray was playing Purists and Joren, obviously, Jammers.  Purist character removal did do the Matron of Silver and Ice and one or two Auramancers in.

I mention above about pointless to bring to casual play.  I’m definitely overlapping how I approach Shadowfist and V:TES in certain ways.  I’m playing very passively and considering some things as “not suitable for casual play” in Shadowfist, like I do with V:TES.

On the other hand, there’s a big difference when I go to build decks.  It’s just so easy for me to throw together a Shadowfist deck because of the thousand plus cards I haven’t played, where trying to build something for V:TES that’s novel and interesting and suitable either for casual play or under my personal tournament banned list or both is a narrow path to walk.

Put another way, while I may be building pretty sketchy Shadowfist decks, I think they function adequately or better, where my sketchy V:TES decks just seem to make for bad games.  It’s interesting to think that V:TES has a higher threshold for deck construction than another CCG.

Is it because V:TES has a relatively small number of relevant effects – bleed pump, stealth, intercept, combat ends, etc.?  Or, is it that Shadowfist has greater interchangeability in cards – my 3 cost, 4 Fighting dude is a lot like other 3 cost, 4 Fighting dudes I play; my hitters are hitters; my character removal is a lot like other character removal, etc. – that I’m actually playing a much higher level of card in Shadowfist without even trying?

Name:  Hopping Mad
Faction:  Lotus
Size:  50

Lotus Cards (35)
Characters (28)
1x Desolation
1x Destroyer
4x Flesh Eater
5x Hopping Vampire
1x Jueding Shelun
1x Miasma
5x Poison Clan Warriors
4x Shamanistic Punk
1x Xiang Kai
5x Wailing Apparition

Events (7)
3x Corruption
1x Demonic Plague
1x Dust Storm
2x Shrieking Witch Heads

Generic Cards (15)
Events (5)
5x Pocket Demon

Feng Shui Sites (10)
1x Boot Hill
2x Hot Springs
1x Ominous Swamp
3x Proving Ground
3x Sunless Sea Ruins

Demonic Plague wasn’t that interesting.  Corruption was deemed to be powerful by an opponent, which I thought was weird as Lotus have Tortured Memories.  I never played Proving Ground, but they are really tricky in my goldfishing.  I need a way to clear out my own Proving Grounds to avoid getting locked out of games, perhaps.  I had to switch to Wailing Apparitions and Shamanistic Punks to get the magic to play Pocket Demons just to avoid self-locks.  I also need to make my Hopping Vampires fiercer.  I already had in mind an idea to mix up with Jammers, but I actually could just stick to Lotus and add the effect I’m looking for.

Name:  Flower Glower
Faction:  Lotus
Size:  40

Lotus Cards (22)
Characters (17)
3x Arcane Esotericist
5x Blossoms of the Black Lotus
1x Hand of Darkness
5x Moon Petal
3x Petal of Despair

States (5)
3x Crown of Thorns
2x Hell Charger

Generic Cards (18)
Events (4)
4x Pocket Demon

Feng Shui Sites (14)
1x Booby-Trapped Tomb
4x Dockyard
1x Forgotten Temple
1x Martyr’s Tomb
1x Medicinal Flower Garden
4x Po Toi Islands
2x Tower of Glass and Steel

A very focused deck for me.  Arcane Esotericist is pretty much only in here to give me magic resources, as I got tired of playing Imps all of the time.  I do find it interesting how the non-faction resources are so essential to play Pocket Demon, Scrounging, Violet Meditation, cards I consider necessary to any sort of deck where you don’t want to just get locked out of the game when things go awry, yet how few foundation characters actually give the resources over the game’s history.  Modern seems much better about the dual resource foundations.

Too many FSSs, but that’s because this is just thrown together with what’s handy.  I’m eschewing the power Lotus events as I’ve played those.  Also, I’m trying to remove cards that can be played to stop victories due to how long our games run, which leads to having a lot of characters to play …

I’m not going to bother with my Monarchs deck, as my decklist doesn’t match the actual deck, one, and, two, it’s a random pile of crap with three Auramancers, some Fire Cadets, and some Fire Horses.

Deck Name:   141129  Aksinya Burns You
Created By:  Aksinya

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 30, Max: 41, Avg: 8.91)
———————————————-
3  Aksinya Daclau                     cel tha ANI FOR PRE PRO9  Gangrel Antitribu
1  Fakir al Sidi                      abo ANI FOR PRE PRO THA11 Gangrel
2  Jayakumar                          ANI FOR chi tha6  Ravnos
1  Konrad Fleischer                   tha ANI AUS DOM FOR9  Ventrue Antitribu
2  Marcia Felicia Licinia             ANI CHI FOR THA dom9  Ravnos
1  Mictlantecuhtli                    pre pro ANI FOR POT THA10 Gangrel
2  Phaedyme                           ANI CHI DEM FOR pre tha10 Ravnos

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (23 cards)
1  Giant`s Blood
2  Information Highway
5  Life in the City
1  Park Hunting Ground
1  Thaumaturgy
7  Villein
1  Wider View
5  Zillah`s Valley

Action (3 cards)
1  Army of Rats
1  Resilient Mind
1  Shepherd`s Innocence

Action Modifier (3 cards)
1  Dawn Operation
1  Freak Drive
1  Kiss of Ra, The

Reaction (14 cards)
3  Cats` Guidance
3  Eluding the Arms of Morpheus
3  Rat`s Warning
5  Sense the Savage Way

Combat (29 cards)
6  Burst of Sunlight
1  Canine Horde
6  Carrion Crows
6  Hidden Strength
4  Indomitability
2  Rolling with the Punches
2  Skin of Night
2  Walk of Flame

Ally (2 cards)
2  Underbridge Stray

Retainer (3 cards)
1  Mr. Winthrop
1  Owl Companion
1  Raven Spy

Equipment (3 cards)
2  Camera Phone
1  Veneficorum Artum Sanguis

More Freak Drives but fewer cards … or maybe just a different deck.  I could make the combat less reliable, I suppose, but, then, what’s the point of the deck?

Obviously no point in posting my !Malk deck.

I could have gone further back to the previous V:TES session, but I think this is sufficient.  I got to compare and contrast the two games, again.  I got to mention a few aspects of our Shadowfist meta.  I didn’t get into how Stunt Cycle = ownage, but whatever.


Clan Cards – Indies

December 14, 2014

Finally, going to wrap this series up, both because I think I made my point to the extent that I will try to make it and because I want to move on to other things, like CCG playday reports, the nature of good and evil, and other trifles.

Assamite

Twenty-eight clan cards.  Yup, indies get more than twice what Cammies and Sabbies get for clan cards.  Why?

They don’t get Traditions.  There was a lot less of “This independent vampire …” than “This Sabbat vampire …” back in the day or, at least, there are 106 cards in my outdated FELDB database that have Sabbat and only 19 that have Independent.  In other words, there’s less connection between the indies than between the sect-cies.

In the RPG, each indie is supposed to have their own thing going on.  Ass and FoS might have a lot of the same territory and share a discipline, but they aren’t tight.  Then, especially the Giovanni hang elsewhere.

The indies have unique flavor.  There’s an argument for it being a mistake to separate antitribu and the originals mechanically in the CCG by calling them different clans.  I tend to favor separating them precisely to add more variety, but whatever.  As much as the Lasombra and Tzimisce have their own personalities, they are always associated with being part of a larger group, with Lasombra antitribu and Old Clan Tzimisce being thought of as exceptions.  Meanwhile, a Sabbat Assamite in the CCG is primarily an Assamite and far less a Sabbie, except for the Black Hand decks – Sabbat FoS would be a better example, but whatever.

At the point where you get 28 clan cards, worrying about what’s missing seems kind of pointless.  Quietus may still have a dearth of good cards, which significantly impacts Assamites, but they are in no way hurting for having a variety of things you can play.

Followers of Set

Twenty-seven cards.  One of the themes of the indies is allies.  FoS have a lot of allies these days, but, back in the day, it was crappy Giovanni allies that was something notable about playing the clan.

This post isn’t going to go on very long …

Giovanni

Twenty-eight.  One thing about more recent clan cards for the indies is how powerful some of them are.  Dis Pater is not crazy in effect, but, the cost/effect calculation makes it such a desirable card.  Then, Sudario Refraction is just broken.  I didn’t bother calling out some Ass or FoS cards, in part because they tend to be well known, in part because I’m not trying to make a lot of points in this post.

Ravnos

Speaking of broken, The Path of Paradox and Week of Nightmares are two of the most powerful cards in the game.  Keep in mind that TPoP got printed first in Final Nights, that Chimerstry was crazy expensive prior to it and Gabrin.  Chimerstry at one less blood is obscene.  Goes to how the various Paths are very different in power levels, yet are doing the same conceptual things.

The Path of Typhon is something I keep thinking about using in various ways, but it’s not essential.  TPoP is essential for making Ravnos silly.  The Path of Bone is not essential, but it does make Transfusion hilariously fun.  The Path of Blood is much like TPoT – something I keep wanting to take advantage yet not finding enough benefit to justify the cost in deck slots, etc.

Week of Nightmares is inferior to Palla Grande in mechanics, but Ravnos have stealth (and Tumnimos), though Celerity/Presence has gotten a lot more evasive.  That synergy has meant that results seem to show that WoN is the more powerful card, though both have led to many, many tournament wins.

Oh, yeah, they have 24 cards, including such winners as Shilmulo Tarot and Treasured Samadji.

Summary

The game is all about indies.  Wait, it’s not?  It does seem kind of odd how they get so many toys.  Why do Giovanni deserve more toys than Lasombra, Ravnos more than Tzimisce, FoS more than Malks/!Malks combined?

Is it because of clan specific disciplines making them harder to mix and match?  Um, Lasombra, Tzimisce …

The point of this series was that there are areas of the core game that could have been expanded rather than introducing numerous more esoteric elements to the game.  I don’t know that that can be said about indies, as they get tons of vampires and tons of clan cards and Quietus has 42 cards where Protean has 41.

Really, the main thing I’d like to see is more crossover disciplinewise.  Tzimisce with Necromancy isn’t a thing, nor is Lasombra with Quietus, even though Assamite antitribu are a thing and Harbingers started hanging with the Sabbat.


Clan Cards – Sabbat

December 5, 2014

Continuing with this series.  Though, I had some other idea come up, then I forgot it.

Nobody has corrected my excluding the new Gangrel cards from my last post.  Seems like more interest in my old L5R posts.  But, I, uh, actually completely forgot that Gangrel were included in the latest e-set.  That might say something about the state of affairs with Gangrel these days.

Because there are more clans in the Sabbat, one might expect fewer clan cards per clan. It’s also important to realize that there are additional clan cards through e-sets, even if I have no particular interest in playing the e-cards.

Let’s save the unique Sabbat clans for last, note that what I mean by “Sabbat clans” is the group that came out with Sabbat and excludes bloodlines that are Sabbat since those really belong in the bloodlines batch.

Brujah antitribu

Eleven cards, 2.5 are Action Modifiers!  That’s like a theme!  Allies, a sword, Masters, Political Action, 1.5 Reactions.  How diverse.  The new card, Spoils of War, is quite playable.  Number of “build around” cards in Unexpected Coalition, Waste Management Operation, and Dogs of War.

The only thing that seems missing is just a straight up Action card, though the Danse Macabre set has two actions in their discipline.

Gangrel antitribu

Thirteen for these guys, with a shared card from The Unaligned and one from Danse Macabre.  They get one of the coolest allies in the game, though it’s hard to choose something besides Earth Meld for Satyrs.  Eight Masters, including a Path.  While I haven’t had a lot of fortune making use of their Path, the number of decks I come up with because of it is vast.  It would be interesting, if maybe repetitive, if Gangrel had a Path, giving Horrock some buddies in the realm of pay less for Protean.

Some quite terrible cards – Follow, Spiral, Conspiracy, Talons (I found only three TWDs searching Secret Library).  While !Gangrel have been highly successful in recent years to where the justification to power them up didn’t exist, the point of the e-sets is to give useful cards.  Marked Territory hasn’t had as much impact as it seemed like it would, but, then, we basically have one player making that much of an effort to embrace new cards.

As Sabbat are supposed to be less friendly to Kine than Cammies, I’m not just going to use my Cammie mantra of “more allies”.  Nor would a Retainer make a lot of sense.  Political Action, still nope.  Reaction could.  There’s also some crossover stuff with Ahrimanes, so I don’t actually feel like there are obvious holes, like I do with Cammie clans.

Malkavian antitribu

Only ten cards.  No Danse Macabre cards.  A clan that suffers from “too good disease”.  But, I think this is an inherent problem in the game’s management.  Just because you have more options doesn’t mean you will be any better in practice.  Sleep of Reason is quite an interesting card, but I have yet to see it make a Dementation deck better, not even my decks built around the card.

Some pretty terrible cards, as well, so the effective number is even lower.  I used to play Walk through Arcadia, but, at some point, I just decided it was inferior to playing more stealth.  Malkavian Game is neither Game of Malkav nor Malkavian Prank.  Cracking the Wall was coaster-on-sight.  Reality Mirror has never mattered in my play, even though I keep putting it into decks.  If it was something you could play in multiples, that would be an interesting card, a build around card (sort of).

I could see another Master, card typewise, but, mostly, I can just see giving them some interesting but not terribly good things to do to try to get away from stealth bleed.  Escaped Mental Patient helps fill that niche, though, I see EMPs played in stealth bleed decks because you pay for them with Kindred Spirits.

Nosferatu antitribu

Ten cards with the inclusion of Inside Dirt.  Inside Dirt is totally the sort of card I’d play if it were a normally published card.  While it’s possible to play Vermin Channel, there’s not really any reason to do so.  Some other various sketchy/awful cards.

In terms of old cards, only Courier, Information Network, and Nosferatu Kingdom do that much good, with only the last being something I regularly see.

My Congregation of Alligators card idea would give them another Ally.  If not that, some other inhuman Ally is something I can see.  I can also see a Combat card, Reaction, even Political Action.  Reaction might make a lot of sense for the same reason Nosferatu could get a Reaction.  After all, some of the least difference between antitribu and non-antitribu for these guys.

Toreador antitribu

Somebody really liked the Toreador, not because they got great clan cards but because they got great vampires.  Somebody must have really liked the !Toreador, as well, as their clan cards are off the hoof.

Art Scam has seen a ton of play.  Foundation Exhibit and Palla Grande are both abusive/broken.  Only nine total cards, but the number gets disguised by awesome.  The Art of Pain has been key to certain decks.  Only their Allies are pretty bad, and Goth Band was a lot more interesting before the change.

A Political Action seems obvious.  An Action Modifier sounds reasonable.  A Retainer (torturer?) would make sense for what is a relatively social Sabbie clan.  A crazy barber might be an Ally.

Tremere antitribu

Fifteen cards but only nine that aren’t shared.  Lots of Allies, lots of cool Allies, though one is awful and another kind of ridiculously good.  Masters have interesting uses.  As with Tremere, more magic items would make sense.  An Action or Reaction representing some ritual could be a thing that wasn’t done with Thaumaturgy, like Recure of the Homeland.

As much as I’m not enthusiastic about developing the Inquisitor theme in the game, there could be some clan card that does something, like a Master that makes a !Trem into one with some useful special.  Igors or the like could be Retainers.

Ventrue antitribu

Once upon a time, !Ventrue were considered one of the worst clans in the game.  Somehow, a clan with Dominate, Auspex, Dominate, Freak Drive, and Dominate was considered craptastic.  There was a legit reason for that.  They had almost nothing to do that Ventrue couldn’t just do.

Then, they got a lot of quality vampires.  All of the sudden, there was a reversal.  !Ventrue were hot, hot, hot.  They still get a lot of grinder play, though it’s funny how Ventrue have become an in thing to do when grinding.

Because they sucked, I was all over them getting something.  That something?  Decent clan cards.  Their clan cards are horrid form.  Sure, Demonstration is really annoying, but where’s the Voter Cap discipline?  Framing an Ancient Grudge is techy.  But, their build around cards are not the restaurant quality, more the “why bother?” level.

Mostly what I’d like to see is something that further differentiates the knights from the blue bloods.  Combat card would be obvious.  Ally, Retainer, Political Action not as much as that’s more up the plaza of the Auspexless gents.

Lasombra

One area of the game that I think gets nowhere near enough of press is how underdeveloped Lasombra and Tzimisce are.  Laibon was a perfect time to expand these two clans massively.  Sure, Kiasyd also have Obtenebration, but nobody else has Vicissitude.  Even Gangrel/! share their discipline.  I think these two clans should have around 50% more vampires, with some of them obviously being Laibon because that’s something the game has, now.

A reasonable weenie Obtenebration crypt that could take advantage of their Path would be something I’d look forward to.  But, this is about their clan cards.

One problem with weenies and Lasombra is that poorly designed, open-ended cards get published like Power Structure.

A Political Action card would be obvious.  A Combat card might help push towards combat.  While Allies seem out of flavor for a clan that prides itself on being the top dogs, a Retainer could work.

Pander

A clan.  I understand their flavor is that they are a bunch of upstarts that don’t have a real bloodline, but the game made them a clan and one of the things that people really like to do is build around clans.  By the way, do you know how many clan cards they have off the top of your head?

One third of all of their clan cards are promos.  Two thirds of all of their clan cards are terrible.  I might have a 100% win rate with decks running Joseph Pander, like that time I ousted Hugh and The Lasombra on my way to qualifying for the 2007 NAC with winnie Auspex as my predator, but I somehow doubt other people have mastered his mojo.  (I could also note that Ghouled Street Thug was in that deck.)

Yes, Legacy of Pander exists.  Yes, it used to be one of the most insanely powerful votes in the game.  Yes, 1-caps and other dorks violate players.

It’s still a clan.  It’s actually quite easy to design cards that don’t make winnie decks better but help those who may be capacity challenged.  Whether you make cards that limit how many different vampires gain a benefit or make cards that encourage building up disciplines to go into crypts with fattier vampires or whatever, there’s lots and lots of design space available.

Convergence actually has the right theme, it’s just a dumb card on so many levels.

Tzimisce

Old Clan Tzimisce … oh, this isn’t the “what can a new set be about?” post?  Equipment and Allies, two themes.  Allies makes lots of sense for those who create living things from other living things, but I’m not sure why Equipment is so common.

While politically relevant, I’m just not feeling a Political Action.  More Retainers, maybe.  A Combat card could help when Old Clan Tzimisce, who lack the killer combat of Vicissitude are around, who are burdened with modest Thaumaturgy combat (though, Thaumaturgy is the easiest thing ever to expand upon in the game since it does everything).  While they have two of the most Reactiony disciplines around, one could imagine a clan Reaction, as game redundant as that might be.

What I’m feeling is an Action card.  So many Tzimisce decks are blocky.  Rush, bleed, vote – nah.  What we want is something else.  Maybe they could have a card like “Country Real Estate Investment” where they get to have castles that they can exclude everyone else from.  “Enrich My Library” that does some sort of library manipulation … maybe not.

General

So, the average number of clan cards isn’t that bad, though there are a good number of awful ones.  What’s kind of weird is how certain Sabbies got amazing or really cool build around cards.  While inhuman Allies might be a thing, it’s also weird how many non-unique Allies Sabbies get that you could build decks around where Cammies get few Allies, fewer still worth playing.

Well, next time we get into the core of V:TES, as evidenced by how much crazy support they get compared to everyone else.


Clan Cards – Camarilla

December 1, 2014

Related to this post Never Alone but different.  V:TES came out in 1994.  Twenty years, with some years off.  I believe the game is bloated but should also just see certain cards removed from competitive play because they should never have been part of competitive play.

This is not a rant post about removing Events, Imbued, promo cards, and pseudo-promo cards, e.g. Carlton.

This is taking a look at what’s missing in the game that could have been done instead of Redlist/Trophy, et al.  More specifically, let’s take a look at what clan cards exist for the Camarilla, the Sabbat, and the major independents.  I’ll start with Camarilla and will include Gangrel.

Brujah

Thirteen clan cards.  Two are straight out hosers.  Of the relatively high number of allies, three of them suck.  Eleven of the thirteen were available by the time Ancient Hearts was in players’ hands, ten by the time Dark Sovereigns was.  Good ole Anarchs, then New Carthage!!  Sure, it’s grossly powerful, but didn’t I say something about how little support Camarilla get once or twice?

At least the Brujah have themes.  They get the search for weapons theme.  They get the gangs theme.  They have something of a weenie theme between Brujah Debate and Arms Dealer.

Any of Political Action, Combat, Reaction, or Equipment would make some sense to me.  I can see how hotheads don’t get retainers.  Political Action makes the most sense to me, with Reaction probably next.

Gangrel

Twelve cards.  They don’t get Cam titles.  They don’t get Dominate.  They don’t even get Serpentis anymore for some plus bleed.  And, yet, they get half as many clan cards as … well, that’s a future post in this series.

While Shackles, for example, may see virtually no play (too hard to understand even when there weren’t billions of cards) these days, only really one unplayable card in Werewolf Pack.  It’s funny that some of their other cards got buffed and this card didn’t get reduced to 2 pool or something.

Like the Brujah, Gangrel have two, count them – two, cards more recent than Ancient Hearts.  Good thing Anarchs came along and totally brought in the age of independent Gangrel and all of their indie toys.

One thing the game could use more of is animal Allies, but I’m sure a Master card would be reasonable.  I could see something like Oppugnant Night for them to get the combat on, but intercept or bleed are always a thing that decks might want more of.

Malkavian

Back to 13 cards, including the sharesie Derange.  Twelve if you only count unbanned cards.  Goofy stuff for the most killery clan in history is a thing.  Only Childling Muse is awful.  Malkavian Rider Clause and Muddled Vampire Hunter (as annoying as the latter is at times) are cards I think are particularly well-designed.  Game of Malkav is the sort of goofy I can actually enjoy as I don’t recall a time when everyone just chose 1 to have nothing bad happen.  Madness Network should so totally die, as should anything that allows taking actions on other people’s turns, but that’s getting off topic.

Derange doesn’t really count, so we get an Anarchs card and a KoT card.  One that is hard to play and another that should never see play.

So, here’s the thing.  Malks and !Malks routinely suffer from play style problems.  If you care about winning, you ignore their goofiness and their odd effects and even some of their not bad but clearly not bleeding at stealth cards.  Just giving them more silly means the powergamers will ignore the cards and the method actors (or whatever) will build obnoxious decks.  I’m not saying Malks have too much silly right now, but I don’t want to see that theme expanded upon.

What I want to see are Allies and Retainers because insanity is easy to transfer on to mortals and others to where they do want to hang out with you.  An Action Modifier could make sense, as well.

Nosferatu

Thirteen, all of which are Actions or Masters.  Hmmm … that seems almost intentional.  Here’s what I don’t get.  Humans may find Nos disgusting (though not !Nos … ?!?), but animals?  Ghouls?  Wererats?

Promo, Anarchs, KoT give three, count them – three, cards after Ancient Hearts!

The powerful cards are relatively or outrightily subtle.  Some of the cards are just awful.

Nos anti got Inside Dirt, Nos could really use something that promotes any one of combat, politics, or bleeding.  While Storm Sewers already plays on the theme, more cards of the “I can hide in the sewers and pop out anywhere” type can give some Action Modifier or Reaction action.

Toreador

Only 10 cards?!?  (Yes, I like using ?!?.)  Totally disguised by the abusively powerful Toreador Grand Ball and the sheer style points of The Portrait.  All of one card since Ancient Hearts, though Carnivale might as well be a Toreador card.  The Louvre is jumping through a bunch of hoops not to be a self-hoser.  Kindred Society Games is mechanically more of the feel of a Malk card.

Let’s see.  One Ally for the social clan.  One Retainer for the social clan.  No Political Action for the other political clan.

Tremere

Only 10 cards … more than 10 other cards!?!  Okay, six of them are shared with !Trem to do Gargoyle stuff and one is exceedingly silly not because requiring two clans isn’t cool but because Thaumaturgy is fairly common among Followers of Set.  That gets us back to the normal 13.

I find it funny how Tremere, the powermongering scientists get extra Allies and Retainers.  But, hey, if you can’t make friends with your social skills, you can always make friends.

Ankara is just too easy to get into play for other clans (not that it’s exactly balanced for Tremere).  Nuln really, really needs some support to make it suck less.

Political Action might be interesting.  Retainer shouldn’t be hard.  But, really, more magic items seems the easiest thing in the world to do.

Ventrue

Eleven … ?  Ten excluding banned cards … ?  What’s funny is that of those that remain, there are some pretty mediocre or outright bad cards.  Not that Ventrue (or Malks) need more good cards, but the point of giving Camarilla more to do isn’t about giving more good cards, just giving more interesting cards to build a wider variety of decks.

One Ally makes as much sense as the Toreador’s lack of Allies.  Zero Retainers because … because … come on people – even my Ventrue V:TM character had a named Retainer!  Can also come up with a Political Action that’s legal in tournament play.

Caitiff

Pander were always treated like crap (outside of the stupidity of Legacy of Pander), given that they were an actual clan and someone might want to embrace them as a clan and not just a collection of wee folk.  Caitiff were pretty rockin’ in the day.  Then, NotOKtiff got made who had far more crippling drawbacks.  Then, more and more hosers for wee folk.  Plus, just everyone else gets stuff.  Sure, Caitiff aren’t even a clan.  And, sure, one-caps still pull more than their weight a lot of the time.  And, sure, Anarch Convert is the most important crypt card in the game.

But, how about just something like an action card that let’s them go anarch or Pander better?  How about a way to gain disciplines more effectively to perform more of their old timey role of being crypt filler for actual clans?  How about a way to gain immunity to Events since nobody feels inclined to ban Events?