Run Up To Gen Con

July 26, 2015

Gen Con starts this week.  The crush to get HoR3 mods in before the end of the campaign is on.  I have something I could say about HoR3 now, but I might as well wait until the campaign is over in a week, and see if my perspective changes any.

I’ve been playing Shadowfist, just haven’t been doing session reports.

Speaking of Shadowfist …

Year of the Goat

Seems like kind of an ambitious Kickstarter since the last one was significantly less.  Maybe, it’s because of the time of year, both Summer and Gen Con, though the last one was like 150 cards and this one is 300.

So, I got to talking to my group about the FCG (fixed card game, since LCG is a trademarked term) format versus the random pack format.  The more I think about it, the more both suck for getting what someone like me wants.  I just prefer random packs as it’s boring to know how boned you are.

Maybe other FCGs give you the correct amount of the cards in the sets.  I’ve yet to see it with games I’ve bought.  I just see that I end up with lots of junk and far too few copies of cards I want with a FCG format, much like a VCG (variable card game, sure, why not?) format.  Now, when I started seeing the distribution of cards in the Lord of the Rings LCG, I pretty much figured neither format made much difference to a Mr. Suitcase type, such as myself.  I spend lots of money to get lots of cards.

But, you know what?  I have a lot of Eyes of Argus, a lot of Ashur Tablets, and pathetically few Pocket Demons, Violet Meditations, and Scroungings as most of mine come from Modern sets.  Am I underbuying Shadowfist?  I think it’s more that I don’t feel like buying more because I know I’ll get a lot of things I don’t care about.  Again, how is that different from VCGs?  I have absurd numbers of coasters from various VCGs.  Perception.  It’s not the perception that you will end up getting sweet boosters that only contain cards you want.  It’s the perception that VCGs have a model where you buy a lot to get what you want, where FCGs have a perception (if one I’m trying to change) that you can get what you want with more modest investments.

Consider secondary markets, whether the trade market or the singles market.  I actually have no idea what they are like for Shadowfist.  I’ve traded nothing and only bought singles from IKG directly.  It feels like FCGs are harder to trade than VCGs since VCGs will always have some sort of variance.  I suppose I need to find out.  It’s just that eBay and trading are both … effort.  I was into them back in the day, but, once I stopped doing them regularly, I really lost any enthusiasm for them.

As for recent sessions, the last session saw me play two Ascended decks.  The first did nothing before the game quickly ended.  The second rushed out to an early lead with Solar Farm and Insurance Policy.  I made a poor decision on whom to attack for the team win, and my allies never got strong enough to get us to victory.

Speaking of team play, which is our standard since we usually have five players.  I think it was more fun when people focused more on trying to get their decks to do their thing.  Now, it has become very much a political game of determining who to help be strong.  May not be actually different in terms of how long games last or how unbalanced they can be, but it does feel more like a competitive thing rather than a game of amusing transactions.

I also played V:TES a couple of times this month.  What does it say that I have less that I can remember of those games than usual?  Is it because of other things on the mind?  Is it because my mind is deteriorating?

I played a rather amusing vote/bleed deck that brought out Zubeida and gave her superior Abombwe.  Her +bleed ability kicked in!  In the endgame, I Anarchist Uprisinged and Ancilla Empowermented in the same turn to oust my remaining opponent.  Yup, do six pool damage to myself to do eight to my preydator for the win.  Brandon’s Toreador not having AUS allowed a lot of Adana bleeds to land.  Eric’s Kiasyd really should have ousted me, but Omme got torped blocking a nonlethal bleed.

In the other game, my Political Antagonist deck bombed again.  I should have been in the game longer than I was, but nobody seemed to care that my Neighbor John was Pentexed.  My Neighborhood Watch Commander did Shoulder Drop + Pulled Fangs Masika, but the deck really doesn’t put any pressure on its prey.

Oh, besides playing a HoR3 mod yesterday morning, I also played three games of Vegas Showdown yesterday.  One of my brothers had gotten it for me, and I first played the boardgame at the local game store.  Having never done the set up for the game or being that aware of the rules details, I rather butchered the explanation of play, and illegally placed the Dragon Room in the second game, with the winner illegally placing the Buffet.  The third game we finally got things right, I guess.  Renovation led to my victory in a fiveway.

So, yeah, stuff going on.  The weekend after Gen Con, I’ll probably be playing three V:TES tournaments.

No rest for the righteous … they always say.  Yup, that’s what they always say.


Every Hare In Its Place

July 20, 2015

Before getting into material from the PPC (Princess Police Campaign), a review of Imperial Archives.

Imperial Archives isn’t long.  The POD books are actually among the most expensive because I’ll get both the .pdf and a hard copy.

I haven’t read much of it.  What I did read was the courtier section.  This.  This is what I want from L5R supplements.  This is exactly what should have been in Sword and Fan.  This is the sort of breakdown of both the thematics and mechanics in a lifecycle format that I’d like to see for all sorts of aspects of the game.  I don’t recall anywhere else ever seeing analysis on how to build a PC mechanically.  While there are pieces of the lifecycle of a character in the world, with an unusual emphasis on birth, marriage, and death, this was by far the most coherent and relevant explanation of how a character type fits in the world.

Yet, somehow, this didn’t make the cut in another book?  I just don’t get it.  The priorities of publishers are just so off.

Is the book high value?  Up there with EE, EotE, and TGC?  I don’t know about that.  It is random stuff that didn’t make it into other books of varying relevance and only about 100 pages of such.  But, it was certainly intriguing that the best description of what it’s actually like to be a samurai in Rokugan and how to build a productive character ended up in an odds and ends book.

In the Princess Police, I started out playing an Akodo Bushi.  He’ll get some attention some day, probably.  But, it was the latter two thirds of the campaign that I played an Usagi Bushi.  I already blogged about the criteria for this character, a direct response to the problems with my initial character.  I’ve also blogged or posted to the AEG Forums about some of the odder features of the character.  While I even posted some of this material, I thought it would be productive to post it here, anyway.

Usagi Kidai has had two paths and what we have called the first rank of an advanced school, though, really, since the campaign was never going to last long enough to get to a second rank and since an advanced school is thematically rather implausible, could just think of it as a third path.

Usagi Woodsman
Rank = 2
Requires = Hunting 3 or Lore: Nature 3
“One with the Wild”
The Usagi Woodsman is never so much at home as in the wilderness he loves so dearly. While in the wilderness, you gain a +1k0 bonus to all non-Weapon Skill Rolls.

At SR-2, Kidai became a Woodsman.  Actually, it turned out that a major NPC was a Kitsune who was an Usagi Bushi, which is how I got more enthused with going in a nature direction.  This is right out of 3e, except for the requirements and except for using the 4e nerfhammer to bring +1k1 down to +1k0.  I forgot to use this ability a lot at first.  At some point, I think I just took it more seriously as a feature of the character and started doing a pretty good job of remembering.  Of course, it helped that we left Winter Court to where more sessions were in the wilderness.

Not weak, even with the blah +1k0.

Usagi Ranger
Rank = 4
Requires = Hunting 3
“Feller of Beasts”
An Usagi Ranger is always aware of his surroundings, swiftly identifying and bringing down his prey. You may add your Perception rank to all attack rolls. Also, while in the wilderness, you add twice your Perception Rank to Initiative rolls.

I waited to go to SR-3 for Secrets of the Empire to come out.  Since SotE had nothing relevant, I got simple attacks with a whole bunch of things that Kidai sucked at.  At, SR-4, because Kidai was not “a leaper”, I pushed forward with the nature kick.  Our GM came up with the mechanics based upon the Empress’s Guard path, though there was various back and forth about what made sense.  Actually, these mechanics were what he came up with for a different titled path, but we just switched the name of the path and used the other title for the planned IR-5 ability.

The bonus to Initiative is just amusing.  I never care about higher Initiative.  I somehow cared just as equally zero about higher Initiative for my Reflexes 5 character.  The attack bonus counteracted such things as firing fleshcutters at armored enemies and range penalties.  Two extra damage on Feints.


Master Hunter
“In Two Places”
The Master Hunter learns to fell enemies with startling speed and mobility.  SAA with a weapon you have 5 ranks and an emphasis in but only one attack may be made per round using this technique.

The mechanics here were all mine, could be tightened up some, but who cares?  Amazingly enough, SAA are not that fantastic when rolling 3k2 on attack rolls.  The optimal combat play for Kidai was to use a naginata.  SAA with samurai weapons plus Iron Forest Style (using the “anyone can take a kata at +1 requirement” mechanic for having this kata) = decent.  That was out of character.  Besides being a yumiist, the character naturally decided that the nagamaki was the clear choice for melee weapon.

So, now, the character could attack and guard!  In the same round!  The character could run all over the place and still attack, considering he moves at Water 5 speed.  Without this ability and without some great need to shoot someone once with an arrow, he should always be Guarding or moving and Guarding, as that gives him two relevant actions versus one.  Got kind of repetitive.

Interesting discovery once I started using this ability.  See, Kidai always had a monster ATN.  In Defense Stance, at IR-1, it was 44.  It didn’t scale up that much, but it went to 51.  Even while Guarding twice, an ATN of 41 plus eight Reduction (Kaiu Armor) was hefty defense.  However, being in Attack Stance … and Guarding, not so great ATN anymore, only 38 while armored, a paltry 30 when not armored.  Considering that his one attack didn’t have much behind it – no exploding 9’s on damage, for instance – just not as impressive a combat ability as it seemed like it would be.  Well, he would gain IR in ATN for free action drawing a knife, having Usagi Ranger compensate for the -5 of dual wielding nagamaki and knife.  So, yes, he could be ATN 56-5/10 if all he did was Guard, dropping to a measly 48-5/10 when not armored.

Plus, we were often mounted once Winter Court ended, so taking actions to move were meaningless.  (As much as it sucked to fire a yumi from horseback for my archer, it still didn’t make any sense to give up free moves from a steed.)

So, there you go.  Kidai may not have been “a leaper”, but he sure was a lover … of nature.

Princess Police – Episode Guide

July 16, 2015

Saturday, July 11th, 2015.  Our final session of a Legend of the Five Rings campaign that had its first session on March 3rd, 2012.  The second longest RPG campaign I have ever played in.  While technically not complete, as we await the denouement of the campaign from the GM, plus there are some things I might send out, no more actual play.  I am very likely going to post some from fictions, session notes, emails, or whatever here – those things I think are interesting for someone who wasn’t “there”.  While our Conan campaign had a lot more material, quite a bit of it isn’t suitable for public consumption, not that everything from this campaign is suitable, either.

First up, a breakdown of the sessions, with a variety of injokes – some of which I might get around to explaining:

Princess Police Episode Guide

Topaz Championship
Sessions: 1-4
Important Locations: Tsuma
Events: #3 – Izumi Topaz Champion

The Kitten Trail
Sessions: 5-12
Party: Daniwa joins #7
Important Locations: Zakyo Toshi

Ryoko Owari
Sessions: 13-23
Party: Tanshin joins #21
Important Locations: Ryoko Owari, Kudo Mura
Events: #21 – Bird “killed”

Kudo Mura
Sessions: 23-26
Important Locations: Kudo Mura
Events: #26 – extensive information on organization

Kyuden Miya
Sessions: 27-31
Important Locations: Kyuden Miya
Events: #27 – Kitten executed

Winter Court
Sessions: 32-64
Party: Kagayatsuki leaves #32, Kidai joins #32; Mikael joins #42; Lia leaves #??
Important Locations: Pale Oak Castle, Otosan Uchi
Events: #32 – Otomo Seiji appears; #38 – picnic!!; #40 – geese murder!!; #41 – Izumi Sumai Champion!!; #44 – Touch of Jurojin; #45 – Mikael Horsemanship Champion!!; #45 – Bird flies again; #51 – Yoake appears; #53 – Seiji flees, Emperor saved, Emerald Magistrate for everyone!!; #55 – Diwe dream; #56 – costume party; #57 – Shadowspawn attack Emperor, Nana’s soul freed!!; #58 – Yobanjin; #59 – Mikael Kenjutsu Champion, Shorai Iaijutsu Champion!!; #60 – Vision tomb sealing; #63 – Mikael Phoenix, Tanaka Centipede, Tanshin ends Undertaker’s streak, Gaijin attack Emperor!!; #64 – WC ends, promotions, bandits + Yobanjin!!

Mantis Isles
Sessions: 65-66
Party: Katsuro in the ‘hood #65
Important Locations: Mantis Isles
Events: #65 – Seiji slain!!

Mura Sabishii Toshi
Sessions: 67
Party: Katsuro not so much in the ‘hood
Important Locations: Lonely Shore City
Events: #67 – Kumohito defeated, Bayushi Courtiers 0, Kidai 2 …

Tani Senshio
Sessions: 68
Important Locations: Valley of the Centipede
Events: #68 – Moshi heir slain, Blessed by Rokugan’s preeminent hottie, Tanaka Moshi-ed!!

Sessions: 69-76
Important Locations: Tsuma, former Unicorn Lands
Events: #69 – Crustaceans!!; #70 Ostrich no Oni, Shino; #72 Fuyumi recovered, Kitsune guidance; #73 Lia’s fiancee finished; #74 centuries ago!!; #75 Kibatsu’s love!!; #76 Dragonfly divination, Taka Topaz!!

Ryoko Owari Toshi
Sessions: 77-80
Important Locations: Ryoko Owari Toshi, Three Willows Village
Events: #77 Toritaka Akane/Heichi Yokichi; #78 Junhime taken!!; #79 Izumi patricides, Junhime freed!!; #80 Big Bunny presses Bunny Babe on Harried Hare, Legion traitor dead during duel, 1st Legion/3rd Division command!!

Mission’s End
Sessions: 80-88
Important Locations: Razor of the Dawn Castle, Plains Above Evil
Events: #81 Inaka Runs, Shadowlands horde, hurricane!!; #83 Onwakaze; #84 Naga, Yume-do!!; #85 Akasha City; #86 Tear of Heaven; #87 Kira killed!!; #88 Diwe, Done!!


July 6, 2015

So, gaming.  I had Friday off, I played not a game.  I had class on Saturday, yes, I had class on Independence Day in the vicinity of a state of one of the United ones.  I, then, went to a park where there was chili tasting, had unexciting chili sliders and tater tots, and retired indoors to play Arkham Investigator The King Cometh.  We did not do well, scoring only 10 points.  Scored way better playing A Grain of Evil some number of weeks ago.

But, it’s Sunday where we get into something more umamiful.  Off to chez Haas for VTES.

There are eight of us for the play that is casual.

Game 1:

Alex (Lasombra vote) -> Ian (Hatchling) -> Brandon (Santa acceleration) -> Eric (Lasombra fight)

I have the perfect crypt draw of Ferox, elder Ferox, Obsidian, Erinyi.  Of course, my deck has six Wider Views and I play like four early on.  I begin to Hatch an evil plan, which causes my prey’s Kindred Spirits to go backwards, as you know playing indigenous Gargoyles always does.

Brandon doesn’t accelerate much, so plays with an Anarch Convert, Santaleous, and adds Bloody Mary later.  Lord Vauxhall gets an Improvised Flamethrower and Abbot.  Alex puts out the Lasombra who takes no damage from allies and calls votes, only putting into play two Abyssal Hunters right before he gets stealth bled out.

I eventually get a flyer, three groundpounders, and my uncontrolled region out.  Swarm bleeding takes out Brandon because we know that Gargoyles with a capacity above one and their progeny who can’t stop votes totally wreck tables when being stealth bled backwards and being KRCed.  Eric concedes in the endgame to the mighty wall/legion.

Interesting that Hatchling got its text changed.

Brandon commented that this is why every deck should run Scourge of the Enochians.  I’d argue that this game is a perfect example of why Scourge of the Enochians is a horribly designed card.  If Scourge sees routine play, this deck scoops.  I’m sure that’s exactly the intent of putting in weenie hosers – to cause non-slave Gargoyle decks to scoop.  Now, should there be a card that nukes weenies when there are a horde of them in play?  Possibly.  Vote decks already kill horde decks, as Alex’s deck could have easily of done if he survived longer or drew differently.

Twas fun to play that deck.  Unfortunately, by winning, I may have to retire it, at least in my hands.  Because we all know just how pleasing it is for Ian to say “every time …”, whether that continues “… I’ve played the deck, I’ve won” or “… I’ve played the deck in a tournament, it won”.

Game 2:

David A. (Ass Strike At the True Flesh) -> Ian (Political Antagonist) -> Brett (Merged Melinda Sabbie vote) -> Brandon (Ass Priority Contract)

Lot of Ass on Ass violence/contesting.  So, that was game.

If you have a vote deck at a table and you don’t do anything to it, … who do you expect to win?

I should have discarded more aggressively, then I might have had multiple Antagonists in play for extra metagaming brilliance.

Game 3:

Andy (Malk SB) -> Brett (borrowed Pot/Pre) -> David CK (borrowed Giovanni Talbot’s) -> Ian (4cl Jyhad Toreador)

After I backousted David, having every vote pass, the first two with nothing more than the vote card itself providing sufficient votes, I, of course, grind out the Malks in the endgame.  The poor, feeble, helpless Malks have to DI my Distraction to prevent … cycling.

Of course, I never managed to bounce a single bleed and gave Ramiel superior Celerity, so business as usual for team Toreador.

We could have played another game, but it was after 4PM on a Sunday and the Berkeley group had to drive a ways.

So, Andy and I jumped into a HoR3 mod that was advertised on the forum.

Poisoned Thread

High rank mod, with unknown tags because … no tags put into module request page.  Obvious investigation mod.

We do stuff.  It is highly effective.  Here is my great spoiler for the mod:  I fought with a katana and took no wounds.

I don’t actually think my SR-4 Suzume Bushi has ever used a katana before.  Sure, I’ve used a Tsurugi because … really … who hasn’t?  I happened to have something in one of my hands, a source of light, that prevented no-dachiness of no-dachidom.  I killed 3-4 dudes.

Interesting thing about this character.  Having no armor is really, really subgood.  I might have been able to get away with that in the IR-1 days, but I somehow imagine that other high rank fights are not going to be as frabjous.

We successfulize!  We do so in a relatively short amount of time – 4.5 hours.  Callooh callay for being able to go home at nearly 10PM on a Sunday, after gaming for 10.5 hours minus an hour or so for getting overpriced Vietnamese food of less than frabjous quality.

At the moment, I’m allergying, which I attribute to staying up well past my bed time.

Oh, well.  Such are the mighty challenges a gamer must undertake in life.  I’m sure there are those who suffer 10, 20% as much.  When I feel up to it, I’ll toast some Perrier-Jouet to their travails.