Board? Card? Ramble …

I have been having trouble thinking of one thing to write about.  I could write about V:TES games today, boardgames yesterday, rolling the Games: Mahjong skill in my last L5R session, forum posts, my latest attempt to elicit what other players want most of campaign RPG play, etc.

Given that V:TES struggles with having an enthused playerbase just like Shadowfist, I feel like I should write as much as I can about it, so I’ll probably get to today’s games in a bit.

I was thinking of analogies for putting together RPG campaigns, like a sandwich analogy.  But, what was more interesting to me was talking about what sort of sandwich I like and I’m sure some web search can bring up various articles akin to this.

I was considering a V:TES post about how the game would differ if certain things were removed.  That seems like it should be a fuller post when I’m more interested in the topic.

I considered trying to write something about the L5R RPG, like maybe getting into character design, as a lot of people seem to want help with their characters, even thematic (or, at least, I think of them as thematic) aspects.  But, that should be a focused post.

The most unusual thing was learning some new boardgames.  Actually, I have been playing a number of new boardgames in the last month, with getting together with my friend Cedric and playing such stuff as Temporum.  Playing boardgames has caused me to think about ones I might have more interest in playing, like Phoenicia.

But, anyway, I’m going to be running some Rio Grande games at the next convention, so I got my boardgame group to help me try out Loch Ness, Cardcassonne, and O Zoo Le Mio.  I figured Cardcassonne would go over best as it’s the most Euro-y of the three.

To my surprise, Loch Ness turned out the most popular.  It’s a horrible sounding premise – taking pictures of Nessie, but the mechanics hold together fine.  The worker placement and (move) card play were more important than just glancing at the game made them seem.  Light, quick (especially if you want it to be), with minimal setup/teardown.

Cardcassonne was still considered good.  The main complaint I’ve read and that one of our players had was that it had nothing to do with Carcassonne.  Since I’m not that big a fan of Carcassonne (even if it did get played at my apartment in China … without me), I don’t care.  For those who can’t be bothered to look up on what the game is like, you place cards in four rows and place a dude to scoop up all of the cards in one row to that point and score based on what cards you get.  I think it’s perfectly playable with replayability.  It also has very little setup.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to play it, but it’s a lot more interesting to me than games I keep ending up playing, like Dominion.

O Zoo Le Mio wasn’t considered bad, just not good.  I don’t understand why the income mechanic works the way it does at all.  A lot of games build in a catch up mechanic, where OZLM can easily snowball.  I think it’s an auction game that really punishes not planning your auctions carefully.  As a tile laying game, it has all of the annoyances I find that games like … gee, Carcassonne … and others have where you spend too much time trying to spin the tile around to find the optimal placement.  But, getting back to the income, I’m not clear why income isn’t a fixed amount, like three coins a turn.  In general, whoever has more tiles has more scoring potential, so giving them more money every turn seems kind of wacky.  Then, the scoring system is just so limited.  It just seems like a game meant for children.

What do all of the games have in common?

They all involve reading opponents.  Loch Ness has some bluff potential but is mostly a matter of matching math with whether you think opponents will go low or go high.  Cardcassonne is all about how greedy you think other players will be to adjust your level of greed.  OZLM is blind auction.

Maybe that should have been my unifying topic – reading opponents.

For, you see, reading opponents is a huge aspect of V:TES, Shadowfist, and pretty much any CCG where you have significant play from hand ability (or, even those CCGs, like Magic, with limited play from hand ability).

Brandon (HoS do things to the prey’s ash heap) -> Andy (borrowed Starvation of Marena wall) -> Ian (Aus/Pre/Vic) -> Eric (borrowed Porphyrion) -> Sergio (Tzimisce high cap wall that votes)

Andy found the deck he was playing annoying.  He didn’t like how inconsistent combat was.  But, he also was wasting combat cards on minions he didn’t need to nuke.  While he expressed verbally his lack of ability to fight at times, it also wasn’t that hard to figure out when he couldn’t fight at other times.  Yet, because I played recklessly when time was running out, he got a VP and would have eventually won an endgame.

Brandon got pretty beat up sitting between two Tzimisce wall decks.  While he tried to oust Andy, Andy had plenty of wakes with permacept to stop any of that nonsense.  Meanwhile, due to his Anarch Revolts, I got ousted.  Anyway, his deck was playing both Trochomancy and Victim of Habit, which is not terribly synergistic.  The first VoH got blocked to stop brutal On the Qui Vive pool loss.

Sergio’s deck often just draws cards off of advanced Sascha and tools up until it can beat people up.  Even though his predator has no offensive combat and the two hardly interacted, Sergio had all of one blood between Sascha and Lambach, then a torped Lambach, then an empty, Sensory Deprivationed Sascha.

Because everyone knows that Ogwon should Restore himself while Porphyrion Dark Mirrors of the Mind before dropping Sensory Deprivation.  Eric nearly got ousted, though, as I had put only minimal bleed in the deck, and, even with a prey at one pool and a grandprey at two pool, it was a struggle.  He eventually got his two VPs before time.  Since Eric’s most striking experience borrowing one of my decks and trying to grasp how I can possibly ever win at this game was when he played my Treaty of Laibach deck, did a crosstable rescue, looked up at some point and noticed his prey was at one pool and couldn’t block a one stealth bleed from Porphyrion and his predator had a ton of pool and no ready minions … this sentence has gone so long, I should have avoided starting it with “Since …” …, Eric should play Porphyrion all of the time – it shall heretofore be his totem crypt card.

I got out Enid Blount, The Rose, and Velya.  None of my vampires went to torpor fighting Andy.  Enid learned superior Presence, Vicissitude, Auspex.  I put out Matteus at the end of the game and that was the only reason I was ousted before time.  Fights with Andy were funny.  Brandon had built the Starvation deck due to the discussion, while I killed Andy’s first Raven Spy with one of my five “I haven’t played Starvation of Marena in a while” Starvations.  I also did the ole Inner Essence + Majesty thing a couple of times.  I even bled Eric, bleeding for three once or twice and bleeding with three minions for two in one round.

Why was that notable?

Because one of the reasons for the deck, besides how amused I can be by Inner Essence + Majesty or how interesting I can find discipline mixes like Presence/Vicissitude even after playing with them, is that I wanted to build a deck more akin to the decks I used to build, where I actually have some ousting power and where I take actions … hunting.  Too many of my decks these days just sit around doing nothing rather than taking the glorious hunt action as a precursor to a bunch of bleeds.

Ian (borrowed HoS deck from above) -> Andy (Dem SB) -> Eric (Toreador guns) -> Brandon (weenie Assamite fight) -> Sergio (Giovanni Powerbleed)

I won the race for first Nagaraja.  Though I stopped Sergio’s first Govern, that was the only intercept I drew all game.  Govern + Bonding killed me, though I could have not brought out Gisela after already having a Convert, Egothha, Mylan, and Raful out.  I actually had very little impact on the game even while taking a bunch of actions.

Eric only got out two minions and didn’t completely destroy people with guns, also didn’t stop being bled for a bunch.  Sergio had pool loss, then got beat up.  Brandon had tons of dudes in play and beat up Andy’s Malks in the endgame.

It was interesting to play the deck I borrowed.  It actually wasn’t terribly different from decks I’ve built, though I’ve built hundreds of decks.

Unfortunately, this game doesn’t tie into my read opponents theme.  Well, not for me.  Maybe someone else had to make decisions based on their opponents, though it seemed like a game with minimal interesting interaction.

Switching gears, because this post never really was coherent, two of my RPG campaigns are coming to an end.  It makes me wonder what’s next.  But, I guess that should really be a post for another time.


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