Berkeley VTES Tournaments – August 2015

August 16, 2015

The obvious time to have a bunch of gaming commitments is right after Gen Con.  After all, gaming is a hard night’s day.

I plan out my three tournament decks.  Three?  But, what of tournament four?  I just can’t do that.  Not if I’m working the next day.  Drive down to LA, play four tournaments over a holiday weekend?  Sure, but it’s just pain to consider starting a Sunday tournament at 5PM or whatever, normally.

Tournament 1

Thirteen players.  Two SoCal players had some transportation issues.  Darby flew out from Colorado, marking his first trip to the Bay Area to play tournaments.

Round 1:

Alex (Carolina Vález) -> Brandon (Founders of the Ebony Kingdom) -> Ian (Ass Contestation) -> David (Potence Parity)

Brandon quickly Epiphanies to give him three strength against Lutz.  I bring out Lutz, of course, because I just want some votes in play to not see a vote deck run the table.  David has to work to get a vote through, even Brujah Justicar, as I bring out Kabede Maru, as well.  Alex puts out Carolina and puts out Abyssal Hunters.

I call Rumors of Gehenna to bleed my prey.  I have three Storage Annexes out eventually and still don’t have the right cards at the right time.  I, actually, sadly don’t have Quick Exit for when Brandon rushes Lutz early.  I contest Dreams with Brandon for a long time, hoping to draw Praxis Solomon to bleed my prey some more.

I remember David doing various things, but they didn’t seem terribly consequential.  Brandon horded.  David got low on pool, with bounces going back and forth.  I bled with Lutz and Loss to oust him, though the latter was just toocleveritis, as I could have ousted him with Old Friends, instead.  I was really in a position where the only thing to do was get two VPs.  I should have just kept Loss, which would have been enough to oust Alex, instead, I bring him down to 1 pool, and Brandon cleans up.

Round 2:

Brandon -> Jeff (Palla Grande bleed) -> Darby (unnamed Enkil) -> Ian

Again, I bring up Lutz.  I bring up Izhim abd Azrael.  Slowly.  Acceleration just not present.  I make a lot of dumb errors in how I manage cards, as I don’t remotely care about Brandon getting Ivory Bow or Brandon contesting Dreams.  I don’t cycle Conceal to burn The Barrens, and end the game with two wakes in hand.

Jeff comes out fast.  Darby does not, then The unnamed gets Pentexed, which Brandon doesn’t burn right away.  Life is pretty good for me, actually, even more so when Veneficti gets Entrancemented.  Except. I have very little pool, and I’ve done nothing all game except an early bleed of three to cycle Lost in Crowds.  Lutz, with Ivory Bow and Quietus, tries to stand fast, but I get I am Legioned out of existence.

Fairly boring tournament start for me.

Finals:

Brandon wins – I quite like his deck, though I couldn’t play it in a tournament.

Tournament 2

Lost a player, still had 12, whew.

Round 1:

Mark (Baba Yaga) -> Alex (5/6 Salubri) -> David (Victoria & Friends) -> Ian (Ahrimanes/Baali vote)

This was about as uninteresting a game for me as could possibly be up until the point I played Extremis Boon with about 5 minutes left and wondered whether I could oust people.

David’s decks tend to come out fast.  Alex got crushed between two decks that rush.  Mark got like eight cards on Baba Yaga, bled with Enkil Cog into a Sniper Rifle, and Baba Yaga got eaten.  The two rushing decks didn’t take forever to start screwing with each other, so it wasn’t a completely pointless game, for me.  Still, I had no time left to do anything weird, like try to pass an Anarchist Uprising to bring Mark down to about 2 pool and David 1 pool.

Round 2:

Kenneth (Lunatic Eruption) -> Ian -> Darby (Tupdog) -> Mark

Mark didn’t want to bring someone out because of Tupdogs.  Kenneth Lunatic Eruptioned my first vampire, so I had one less minion to try to find an opening to do anything to Darby.  Darby ignored me because all I did was Lost in Translation with Helen Fairchild and hunted.

Couldn’t wait Darby out because he actually knows how to play Tupdog decks, and he got out Hand of Conrad, plus a couple Raw Recruits.  Mark brings out Baba Yaga, she gets nuked.  Kenneth can only survive for so long, I never had a game.

That was a contender for least interesting tournament experience.  Well, not really.  I’ve played tournaments where I just got blown away quickly by fast decks.  In theory, I could have done 20 pool damage to Darby if I can get through Yawp Court, because he had 10 minions in play, but that was never going to happen.  Any time he wanted, he could eliminate my ready region.

Finals:

Jeff did not win playing my Hatchlings deck, v2.  Bill won.

Sunday we lost a number of players, so it looked like casual day.  Jeff showed up to return sleeves to me, and we had eight people around, so we tournamented.  Went multideck due to the unregardable number of players.

Round 1:

Brandon (Bleed w/ Tha) -> David (Victoria & Friends don’t bother playing) -> Ian -> Jeff (winnie Dem w/o Dive Into Madness)

I play Information Highway.  Jeff Suddens it.  After David is ousted, then Brandon is ousted, I transfer up Zubeida and am ousted.

I have plenty of time to get puff pastries out of the hot car and get an overpriced mint chocolate chip shake.

I could rant and rave about decks that don’t allow people to play the game (David’s Lazar and Memories Fading Glimpse), but, actually, there are so many of those in V:TES, from Brainwash to winnie rush to Reversal of Fortunes, that there’s no real point.  It was somewhat amusing to have one card in my ash heap and take no actions and be the third player ousted.

Round 2:

Mark (Thaum wall?) -> Jeff -> Brett (Merged Melinda Galbraith) -> Ian (Baali of the Name 1.1)

I got into the habit at some point of having some of my tournament winning decks built, as what’s more productive than lending out decks and saying “this deck has won every tournament it has ever played in”?

Since I didn’t have anything more amusing to do in a tournament where I didn’t care what I played, I figured it would be more entertaining.  I was right.  Thomas Steed got followed by High Priest Angra Mainyu.  I do the bombo of Fear of the Void Below followed by combat ends because cycle, cycle, cycle.  Brett had to worry about winnie Dementation behind him but found a bit of time to do things to me, though my pool total tended to be reasonable.

Mark had Fragment of the Book of Nod, Powerbase: Montreal, and three pool.  High Priest Angra Mainyu went for Montreal, which Mark almost let me have, but, fortunately, for team only kind of evil, he found enough blocking for me to Majesty.  Angra Mainyu, then, went for Fragment since I didn’t have any bleed pump … yet.  Mark managed to get his block on, again.  Majesty.  Redraw.  Sense the Sin.  Since somehow nobody ever bounces my Blessed Baali, I oust Mark.

I eventually oust Jeff because winnie Dementation can’t deal with random Conflagration and being bled.

In the endgame, Brett has vote lock but not a lot of blood on his guys and not ridiculous amounts of pool.  I have Thomas with Obfuscate, Angra, and Giotto.  Stuff happens.  Prophecies of Gehenna is in play, so we look at each others’ hands.  I Blood Doll Thomas down to one blood, Blessing of the Name with him, must hunt.  Brett’s two empty vampires hunt, Mylan untaps one of them, and I get ousted by a KRC he drew after I looked at his hand.  I had no wakes, even though the deck runs like 10 because you have to with Blessing of the Name.

That was just weak.  Could have swept with old school that does not remotely make any sense given the current card pool, the change in how infernal works, card text migrations (Catatonic Fear/Majesty no longer being free), and the meta.

Well, whatever, 2 VPs is a lock for the finals in such a small event.  I was tempted to play Baali of the Name 1.1 again, but I figured that it was a rare opportunity for me to play a deck in the finals no one knew and that has cards on my personal banned list.

Finals:

Ian (Abombwe Makes Protean +Bleeders Bigger) -> Darby (BH Obf) -> Jeff -> Brandon (Gangrel w/ votes) -> Brett

So, about everything possible went my way except not having quite a tight enough leash on Darby and Brett falling a round early.  Zillah’s Valley, Zillah’s Valley, Zubeida.  Darby doesn’t have a fattie for a couple of turns.  Brandon’s Badger calls Reins of Power when Brett has no vampires in play.

Darby had Haqim’s Law: Leadership to bloat.  I had Jamal as my third vampire after Doyle Fincher.  Abombwe spread so that Zubeida was unBanishable, Doyle was an 8-cap.  Brett failed his own Political Stranglehold because it would give me nine pool, but that just meant he died.

Jeff taking the first two VPs made things rather political.  I could only win if I ousted Darby before Darby ousted Jeff.  Jeff got reduced to five pool by BH bleediness, so he was dead the next turn, if Darby didn’t get taken out.  I had five bleed on the table but didn’t have anything else.  Jeff Kindred Spirits backwards enough to put Darby at five, and I bled for five.  In the endgame race, I didn’t come that close to being ousted, and Jeff had no library left and too little pool.

I must admit that a set of SW rares is a pretty good prize.  I wouldn’t really say that I achieved much all weekend, as I sucked horribly at the meaningful tournaments, losing out even on an easy opportunity to back into a finals.  Jeff did most of the work in the finals, probably should have backousted Darby a bit sooner, as Darby’s bleeds went from about three a turn to like eight a turn.  But, if Jeff gets three, he doesn’t care about that.

Thanks to Mark for organizing.  Great to see Darby and Bill come out to join the Bay Area players.  Jeff didn’t completely mangle my Hatchlings deck, though he didn’t win with it, either.

I’ve just got to play with smaller minions.  Why I keep getting sucked into specious ideas for amusing decks is, actually, not that hard to answer, but that needs to be less often.  My third planned deck might have actually taken actions and reduced pool, but that’s hard to say.

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Goatly

August 15, 2015

I’ve backed five Kickstarters.  I’m curious as to what happens when one fails.

Shadowfist: Year of the Goat

It’s not doing well.  I’m not exactly shocked.  The previous Kickstarter barely crossed the threshold and that was a $25k finishing line.  Every time I mention this Kickstarter, I get asked why it’s $40k.  Well, it is double the size in terms of cards.  But, from a marketing standpoint, a standpoint the game is suffering from a great deal, going low with stretch goals might have gotten people more excited?

Feng Shui 2 was a $8000 Kickstarter that did over $180,000.  An interesting juxtaposition.

From number of backers – 50 or so less than The Coming Darkness – to how it has been tracking at every stage, where the typical pattern as I understand it is that Kickstarters that succeed have their surges early and late, it’s just not been that lively or hardy.

If you browser search goat, those two words – “lively”, “hardy” – appear.  That Shadowfist is even still in publication might make it hardy, but I don’t feel like the Modern refresh has been.

I will beat the dead horse about how you have to market niche CCGs.  Have to be constantly demoing.  Have to have some sort of tournament environment to remind people that other people play.  Have to be visible.  Where’s the buzz?  The advertising?

Can say all that’s difficult when you don’t have resources of time, money, and/or people.  But, that seems to me to just be an explanation of having a poor business model.  We live in a social media age where the dumbest things go viral.

Is Shadowfist a good game?  A great game?  Better than other CCGs?  Who is championing the game to try to convince people they should be playing it?  Is there a YouTube Channel?

Gen Con was an opportunity to promote the game.  But, if you have been to the CCG area at Gen Con, you might have come away feeling the same way I do when I go through that region – it’s antiseptic.  If you don’t have banners up, have no idea what is in a section.  I have to hunt constantly to find the right tables.  Things are cramped.  In other words, establishing your identity in that place is pretty nonexistent.  Okay, a booth is too expensive.  And, no one was running FS2 (bizarrely) for some crosspromotion (actually, why not encourage some people to do that to have crosspromotion?).

Somebody has to do something to promote.  Could I promote the game … other than by blogging about it?  Sure, except I’ve been down the road and got burnt out on such things.  I’m not into demoing.  I’m not into pitching.  I’m certainly not an artsy type who makes banners or whatever.  I’ll run stuff at local cons, though Earl already has that covered.  I just like playing CCGs, at this point.

A lot of the veteran players I talk to have no particular interest in playing.  That’s what happens.  That’s why new players are necessary.  Just like V:TES, just like B5 when it went off the air, just like whatever, where do these new players come from?  Somebody has to do something.

There are some competitively relevant cards in the Year of the Goat.  But, as far as I can tell, I’m the only person in existence who actually thinks Modern is a regardable environment.  I don’t play with people who play Modern unless they are forced to in a tournament.  I don’t hear anything about the Modern environment.  Reddit seems to have the most discussion of the game, which is pathetic.  Rulings seem to come from an email group, which is also pathetic.

I’m not remotely a fan of shadowfist.com, but if you make it less dark, put in meaningful forums that include a reasonable rulings subforum, make everything easier to find, like card galleries, you know, basic stuff that all games should have, then that might concentrate the playerbase enough to see some friskiness.

So, if it doesn’t get there, what happens?  The card ideas still exist.  Though, card ideas are hardly that important to publishing CCGs – it’s the art, the running of the printers, the distribution, the desire of people to buy cards, that makes things go.

On a related note, since I’ve been back from Gen Con, our group has played twice.  We had two five-player team games on 8/6 and a five and a six on 8/13.

I remember the more recent games better.

Joren (Thunder) -> Franco (Dragon/Hand/7M?) -> Don (Purist) -> Justin (Ascended/Lotus Assassin) -> Ian (Hand Chi)

Don got out early, being able to put the first hitter in play – Mutator.  Justin got beat down because of that.  Joren got out Beaumains eventually, but not a lot happened.  Franco got out Nomad Armies and Red Bat and had enough to push through Don, with Joren and I tied for second to where one of us won …

Good thing I played three foundation characters in this game, including the almighty White Crocus Society.  That gave me the tiebreaker to achieve flawless victory!

Yup, mostly a two-player game.  I did play Robbing the Kong … only to have Joren Winter’s Laugh it; my Shaolin Supplicants were ready to rock!

Franco (as above) -> Don (Shadowy Mentor/Shaolin Surprise/Positive Chi) -> Justin (as above) -> Ian (Sea Dragons, Dragon Style) -> Ray (Dark Traveler A/A) -> Joren (as above)

Franco got out a Big Bruiser.  It got Shadowy Mentored in a complicated way.  Don got out Black Helicopter Squads, one of which was Embraced by a Snake, and Golden Candle Societies.  He Shadowy Mentored White Ninja and Gao Liang to keep team good in the game.  Justin played Gao Liang and killed White Ninja.  Ray played Tail of the Lizard, Buro Godhammered a DNA Mage, put out White Ninja and a couple of Dark Travelers.  Joren got out Lord Hawksmoor and some Thunder Knights.

I had in play at one point:  Average Jane, Lance Corporal, Armorer, Butterfly Knight, Snow Seer with a bunch of Ray’s states.  The Snow Seer became a spirit token.  Fire Cadets were played but never used.  Average Jane had Joren’s Thunderstick.

Team good won.  Team good?  We decided to play two teams of three.  That was a bad idea.  When we did six before, where you could only win with your grandprey and your opposite, that I vaguely recall playing better.  Though, six just seems really bad, with people sitting around for far too long, since not everyone is used to V:TES games where my first bleed comes at the 1:30 mark.

Somehow, my guys just didn’t die.  Don’s Shadowy Mentor bouncing around kept team evil from annihilating us long enough for me to somehow end up with four FSSs in play, and a horde of site taking awesome, led by that beatstick Butterfly Knight (who lost his Armorer buff when the Armorer got assassinated).

We definitely need more boardclearers.  Even Final Brawl would have cleaned up a lot of junk in a lot of our games.

On an important additional note, Ray introduced the idea of table cards – Sacred Ground and Mooks are two cards anybody can play.  Why would you play Mooks?  Because they have an additional rule that they can be sacrificed to generate any resource until end of turn.  The obvious idea is to prevent players from being crippled by not having sites or foundations, though there are some things you can do to try to abuse these options, like the Manufactured Island opening (since we also have people choose a non-unique foundation and a FSS for the opening hand).

Variant mechanics may make certain players cringe, but, you know what?  It’s better to have people play the game in some form than constantly be annoyed by features of it.  We are also talking about some constant power generation, though that seems more … distorting.  I mean, really, if you were building decks to all of the variant stuff we do, probably end up with something not at all similar to a tournament deck.

I actually quite like the Sacred Ground/Mooks stuff because it feels like all sorts of options open up to do weird things with a mediocre and an awful card.  It’s like playing a good V:TES storyline rather than the recent storylines.

We are less likely to do two three-player games than a four-player, with the other two people doing something on the side.  That’s how completely different this group is from the veteran Fisters that I’ve talked to who are all over three-player.

I do think that I need to build more decks that actually do something.  As funny as it is to be the guy who gets five sites with a Sea Dragons deck where he never puts out a Sea Dragons, I think I’m missing doing cooler things in some way.

I do find that Modern is limiting and that Classic isn’t limiting enough.  But, whatever, I play Shadowfist because I like playing CCGs, and it’s entertaining.


Gen Con 2015

August 4, 2015

Once upon a time, two intrepid adventurers commenced upon an adventurous quest.  The first shall be identified as Warrior.  The second shall hold the title of Steakshaker.

Before the light of Odin’s Day, Steakshaker and relative arrive at Warrior’s manse and proceed to take on supplies upon the hybrid wagon.  Sky transportation is without meaningful incident and our weary band arrives in the fabled realm of Indianas, taking the prepaid caravan, stopping at the Omni.

From hence, an arduous journey upon the South Street takes our virtuous explorers to the hinterlands, whereupon they discover the artisan academy that will act as their shelter for the grand convocation.

A muggy time is had within the big house that many a contest will see in the coming days, though it serves little purpose to Steakshaker in most annums.  Rather than partake of hot pastrami at a New York style deli, Warrior and Steakshaker march across vast bike paths upon Virginia’s Avenue and arrive at their destination for Chicago style deep dish.  Exotic fruits in the form of green, bell-shaped peppers join the remains of a noble Pepperoni Beast to satiate our famished protagonists.  Sadly, the savaging of the Pepperoni Beast resulted in the thinnest of meat portions, such that though the beast’s sacrifices could be espied upon the pizza, its flavorful meats were hardly made aware.

Thor’s Day

As is Steakshaker’s wont, one might say compulsion, he seeks the practical break of fast of a triple steakburger with no cheese, everything, and fries, eschewing the many years addiction of Barq’s Root Beer in a quest to keep the toxin that is triglycerides from building within his fragile frame.  Thus begins a daily dance of the merits of the corner tavern vis-à-vis the plethora of other possibilities.

Where Warrior joins a War of Flames, some might term a Flames of War, Steakshaker begins his annual quest with a trek into Rokugan, where many Heroes display their dueling and sake prowess.  Coming upon a band of idle samurai, Steakshaker convinces an inexperienced crew to join the artisanal Tattooed Monk, Hoshi Takumi, in a mission to escort a monk of the Tenth Kami.  The lordly master of games begins the rite by asking those most disconcerting words “Are any of your characters engineers/architects?”  Steakshaker rues this day, as his IR-4 Moshi, Suzume Bushi, with the Construction Emphasis of Engineering and INT of 4 would be a most inappropriate companion to the union that Steakshaker gathered.

An Aftermath occurs.  For mighty inhabitants of Rokugan known as campaign admins’ PCs have left a village in dire need of assistance rebuilding.  Tool are recovered.  Shrines cleaned.  The Inn and Homes are made habitable.  Arsonists are tracked down.  Yet, all of this takes much movement of the local star that cannot be seen from within the dwelling known as the Hyatt.  A combat is joined with bandits.  A duel breaks out with the Heroes’ Daidoji Iron Warrior.  Her victory sees an end to the drama in a modular structure.

Steakshaker ponders.  In the past, he has dealt with accompanying those whose investment in campaigns of the living sort is less than his own.  The frustration of the structure of individual missions and how they may run long, with little engagement of particular characters’ abilities, or may run short with little role-play satisfaction becomes only exacerbated when the grander scope and lifelong pursuit is not clear.

Steakshaker dispenses with his revelry and rushes unnecessarily to his next adventure.  Within the dwelling known as the Marriott (not to be confused with the Courtyard, the JW, or the various others), there is a table that he must establish himself at, to engage in the defense of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt, to support the Sudanese leadership as they try to preserve the ancient nation from Assyrian conquest.  Fortunately for the princess, the party consists of characters from the Nefertiti Overdrive system.  For they are animesque or akin to those of whom have their stories told in books with comic panels.

Steakshaker has not perused the tome known as Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  However, the quick start handout for Nefertiti Overdrive credits it.  The system is one of composing four dice (to begin with), using narration to justify using more powerful (if less explosive) dice.  World features are challenges.  To Steakshaker, it is along the lines of Dogs in the Vineyard and its brethren.  As Steakshaker explains mechanics, Steakshaker takes a moment to express concern over the impossibility of PCs failing beyond their own interest in narrating failure.  Theoretical impotence can occur due to poor management of resources, but, in Steakshaker’s vision, only the loss of time in inevitable success is the cost of activity.

Yet, for a single venture, at a convocation, such concerns are fairly unconcerning.  As the narrative intent underlying the system caters to those who favor the telling of stories over the accumulation of power or the desire for immersion.

Even in the lack of success in a time increment known as a round, a protagonist can inflict permanent changes upon their allies and enemies.  Such changes only feed their prowess.  Steakshaker’s PC is Serpent, a “Child of the Streets”, “Assassin”, who “Protects the Innocents” and is “Empowered by Seeing Evil Prosper”.  This heroic assassin works to stop some chump merc assassins from striking at the princess.  Thus begins a battle in a supposed traitor’s residence.  “Blinded” and “Tarred and Feathered” enemies are made to be “Stumbling”, “Bawling”, and “Flaming” as evolutions of their existences that are removed only upon the whim of the godlike protagonists.

Gathering intelligence from the true traitor, the band seeks an encampment within the desert.  A separate and not so well hidden outpost contains refugees.  Using the banal resource that is the Deadly Clown mortar, the Judges of Ammit, Assyrian patronized assassins, must face the firebreathing and clever juggling skills of a defender of Egypt.  Serpent disappears within the enemy camp, bolstered by the “Oblivious”ness of his enemies.  He encounters a dark soul who must be sacrificed to Ammit (yes, some may find the tale confusing) to free his own soul from Set’s clutches.

The leadership of the enemy has fled to the Cave of Scorpions.  With great wisdom, the party uses a scorpion compass to follow their scorpion allies to where they seek mates to perpetuate their glorious race.  Within the Valley of the Kings, little used by the current dynasty, the arachnids mutate, gaining “Bioluminescence”, “Leashed Lightning”, and “Growing”.  The passé (ahistorical) camels are fed to these giant creatures.  Having mastered the art of floor punching, the Misfit graduate of Egyptian(?) clown college breaks the cave’s hidden trapdoor, yet Assyrian ninja burst from it!  Serpent engages in a long, wearying duel with his foe in the traditional Egyptian assassin way of pretending to be honorable one on one combat where instead you bring your Giant, Glowing, Lightning-fast scorpions with a “Sense of Achievement” and who “Devour Courage” as well as some human allies into the fray to advance to the den of iniquity that is the Eye of Ammit’s lair.  He and his lieutenant are dispensed with, and the princess’s entourage leaves their glorious scorpion allies to breed in peace.

Steakshaker has time to rendezvous with those who are primarily companions through the power of magic, the passing of electrons across a web.  Steakshaker needs meat.  His companions are much more of the Oreo Milkshake sort.  Johnny’s Rockets contain such payloads and some discussion is had before the parting of others to Witchhunter and AEG’s RPG event, where Steakshaker bides his time to face Kult.

Aye, verily.  Kult.  Steakshaker possesses a tome of Kult (as well as some cards acquired much later after the CCG, yes, there was a CCG, was kaput).  Yet, Steakshaker did not recall experiencing Kult.  Steakshaker quickly experienced Kult by randomly getting the character with a sexual neurosis that led to molesting members of the spaceships crew while they were in cryosleep.  Now, let us not distract from what passes for greater evil within the world.  For, my PC had only cut a deal with the true PC villain who accidentally slew his wife and, then, proceeded to cause an outbreak of high tech, demon vampires by mixing science with a resurrection spell.

Much humor was had.  Allow these words to be written:

The player of the captain was hilarious with his nervous, indecisive paranoia.  “I want you to find a buddy and stick with them.  No one does anything alone.  We are going to go to the armory as a tightknit group, nobody wander off.  Whoa, hold on, don’t open that door.”

The captain and Dr. Dieter Hahn pull guns on each other.  Steakshaker’s PC, Dr. Marcus Weenz, surrepticiously pulls a gun and shoots at the infected captain’s shoulder.  Of course, Marcus misses.  Marcus drops his gun and pulls out a syringe and begins to stab at the captain.  While the doctor spends a considerable amount of time stabbing at the captain, the captain and the scientist continue their armed standoff until finally they begin shooting at each other.  Before the violence breaks out, Marcus does keep accessorizing his syringe stabbing efforts with an invocation to the captain to “shoot him!”.  Finally, the captain is sedated after the scientist’s leg is shot out.

The prettier crew members and the youthful sorcerer that none of us were familiar with among the crew manage to contain matters and restore the captain to non-demon-vampireness, while also bringing back Dieter’s wife from the dead who sees us all as monsters.  Thus fades out Kult.

It is Warrior’s conclusion, which Steakshaker is largely in agreement with, that Kult is neither something to run nor to play, yet Steakshaker still sees some value in aspects of the world, just finding the playing of such things as psychological deviancy to be less than inspiring.

Upon Steakshaker’s return to the artisanal shelter, where Warrior educates himself upon some bound scrolls, his opening comment is “I just finished playing a character whose primary activity is molesting women in their sleep.  But, I wasn’t the PC villain.”

Freya’s Day

Warrior and Steakshaker quest together to discover A Moment of Truth, the precursor to the mighty battle that is the penultimate stage of Spirits of Bushido.  As is typically the case, the band’s efforts are championed in the social arena by the Hida Berserker, the only PC to actually have Awareness 4.

The true conspiracy, among various in the campaign, is detailed, and a TN of 80 is defeated through the power of Hida Berserker political adroitness and the use of meaningless Favors.

Less rushed, Warrior and Steakshaker go to the nearby Patachou, a place Steakshaker has always had some misgivings for, though not with coherent reason.  A tad too pretentious for he who consumes morning triple steakburgers.  Steakshaker finds an item that is tolerable and consumes his egg salad sandwich on toasted sourdough and his fruit without any more suffering than one who spends about a third more lucre on such things as one wishes.  Warrior, however, suffers mightily at attempting to consume the Brobdingnagian slices of wheat bread that have expelled his turkey sandwich’s innards.  Steakshaker, who was never enthused by places with menus that do not cater to his culinary needs, decides to no longer suggest the highly reviewed cafe.

Warrior and Steakshaker split up.  Steakshaker must Chill.  Where Steakshaker may notice a theme of horror in his Gen Con 2015 experience, Chill is quite at odds with Kult.  A deceased criminal escapes his grave and rampages towards the residence of a woman who showed kindness to him.  A lesson for all women within all realms – do not treat men well, for they will get murdered by federal marshalls and hunt you down as a regenerating, reality warping, throat-crushing revenant before the shackles they wear when executed are used to bind them.

Warrior engaged in Eclipse Phase, a realm that holds no appeal to Steakshaker, though he has ventured within it, once.

The two questors reunite, Warrior became disgusted with the tavern upon the corner where unpleasant odors emanated, where Steakshaker, who lacked a need for a triple steakburger, instead consumed a cookie dough shake, that was adequate.

These are the adventures of the starship Artemis, on a two hour mission to not lead invulnerable space monsters to the human space stations, to insult enemy captains who are unmarried and do not follow their races’ religions, to repeatedly ram into enemy starships before learning how to control helm, to nuke as often as possible, to constantly repair horribly damaged front sections due to engaging enemy convoys chaotically.

Steakshaker is not the type to feel such experiences as awesome, such as his crewmates might, though Steakshaker found it quite pleasing, with the science officer role being far more interesting to his predilections than comms or even tactical.  Warrior amused himself with parody of some space going series that involves a spaceship and pointy-eared first officers.  Some obscure thing from the ’60s.

Returning to the artisanal shelter, it is realized the convocation is more than 50% depleted.

Saturn’s Day

Once again, Steakshaker is able to consume the nutrient-related triple steakburger breaking of fast, being required to place Warrior’s order with the tavern lass to avoid the bitter, yet unspoken, enmity that must reside between Warrior and corner taverns.  Correct repast is attained, if not one to assuage Warrior’s undying hatred of Steakshaker’s fast breaking locale.

This morn sees our two intrepid samurai join a table of IR-3/4 servants of Rokugan to claim Otosan Uchi from the conspirator and his minions.  Once again, Steakshaker does not associate in a dice-rolling way with such as John D. and Kyle, for they do not seek out Steakshaker with advance notice to scheme how to employ his mechanical creations in entertaining ways.

It is not the grand hazard that Steakshaker imagines it could be for their table.  Steakshaker does make the face to face acquaintance of Ezra, whose PC, Shosuro Shoyu, burns through spells at an alacritous clip.  Warrior does prove that shugenja own bushi with simple attacks in a one on one contest.  Steakshaker as well as Hida sit out initial engagement as kyujutsu rules the engagement.  Moshi Shigeo, devotee of going last, blessed be O’Saigo, in fact, accomplishes so little agony that only a house exploding about him inflict scratches.  His Hida cousin, for Shigeo descends from Osano-Wo, continues forward to face the conspirator and his mentally enslaved minions, his non-mentally enslaved minions, and whatever.  Steakshaker, Warrior, and John are called to the hall of expending funds while the finale continues.

Steakshaker, upon hearing how the finale functioned realizes his failure.  For, while a Suzume Bushi striving against the Empire’s greatest threats amuses, it does not amuse sufficiently.  No, it is what could have occurred in some implausible distortion of reality.  For, you see, Steakshaker had already designed Shigeo’s replacement based upon realizing the Truest Test.  Such replacement was of a different nature, perhaps.  Of an Asako Loremaster nature.  An Asako Loremaster designed specifically for being in the heart of battle.  Though, in something of a limited way.  For, this Asako Loremaster, of IR-2, would be rolling 3k1 Initiative.  This Asako Loremaster would be ATN 0 in Full Attack Stance, a Stance he would merrily embrace.  Atsukikame, the ultimate villain of HoR3, would claim ranks of one’s Earth Ring in battle.  Isawa Fumetsu, IR-2 Asako Loremaster, would claim “You fight like a courtier.” against such a feeble foe who would have to deprive the humble Phoenix of six of his ranks in the Earth Ring before “My honor appears greater than your soul.” would no longer be an accurate taunt.

Alas, Steakshaker is but a minute speck within the HoR milieu.  Far better for those who deserve to be rewarded with commendations and memories.

Warrior, Steakshaker, and John return to participate in court.  Steakshaker is not motivated, typically, at such proceedings for he rarely has coherent goals and finds LARPing exhausting.  This event is something of an exception.  Returning to his more fun character, Hoshi Takumi, Steakshaker proceeds to pursue his own personal interests while occasionally reporting back what information he can glean to his soon to be erstwhile clan.  For Takumi was set upon a distinct path from the very first court he attended.  His artisanal ways were promoted, as he strove under the patronage of Kakita Yoshi.  A number of Crane maidens had been encountered, at least one of which had a career setback due to her father’s treachery.  Steakshaker used up some of Daidoji Unaju’s time to arrange a betrothal to that maiden that would see the Tattooed Monk depart the mountains for weal.

One Doji Sai sought out Takumi.  Takumi attempted to assuage any concerns the former Dragon had, but it was “I’m not concerned so much as I’m incredulous that you exist.”  Steakshaker attained the attention of his clan’s voice, played by one who knows Steakshaker’s character creations, and Steakshaker noted that “I do exist.”, which produced a hearty chortle.

Takumi did prop for Shigeo somewhat, though it hardly matters as Steakshaker was never relevant to the campaign.

Warrior had the possibility of an extraordinary character arc.  Tis better for him to tell the tale, which he could in making a comment upon this record.  Let us say that his *nearly* being the Empress’s consort suggests many meanings to the efficacy of the Phoenix.

Many HoR stalwarts were impressive.  The Emerald Championship (especially the winner and Ben), the resolution of the Shogunate, the second place finishing of the Jade Championship, Nine-Izo Sake, miscellaneous scenes were very welcome.  While Takumi (and Shigeo) are aghast that Okucheo got away with it and there was little that certain clans seemed to accomplish, it was a reasonable ending to the campaign.  Nightmare War will be a topic for another time.

Much time was available for Warrior and Steakshaker, such that they could accumulate script and partake of mediocre barbeque and, in Steakshaker’s case, syrup-light Dew from the Mountains.  Why Steakshaker returns to taverns he finds less than profound is a mystery, for numerous alternatives exist, though no particular tavern reaches Steakshaker’s profundity threshold.

No, such places must be addressed later in this record.

True Dungeon may have been something Steakshaker last engaged in in 2008.  Warrior had never been True in a Dungeon.  Warrior took upon the role of druid, for druid is sweet like maple syrup.  Steakshaker claimed wizard, for Steakshaker, who would find shuffleboard interesting normally, does not seek the responsibility of shuffleboard effectiveness but rather wishes to use his puzzle-poor mind to memorize planes of existence to maximize artillery support for his parties.  Of interest is that the wizard chart has been changed.  Where once it was possible to misremember the location of a particular plane, the latest chart is absurdly easier than the last and any failure should lead to wizard seppuku.

Our party was skilled in the ways of Dungeoning.  To the point where even the loss of the cleric’s soul was not considered a black mark upon the trouncing that our gifted crew gave to the forces of opposition.  Warrior enjoyed his experience.  Steakshaker was pleased that such a worthy band was available to eliminate the need for Steakshaker to use his puissant dearth of cleverness.

Bathrobe Day

The pursuit of happiness takes a dark turn.  For, the V:TES event that Steakshaker and Warrior were prepared to participate in was inconsequential.  To speak with Oscar, to meet Jason, such things have value.  But, neither Warrior nor Steakshaker has happy feelings for the Red Sign Storyline.  Yet, it was not so much lack of preparation, as it was that but a single game was played … in a six hour slot.  Steakshaker cannot justify such experiences when there is such a wealth of options per annum.  His reluctance to expend multiple RPG slots upon a CCG event was dispensed with in the year 2015 due to a wish to support those games he cherishes.  Yet, what was accomplished?  There was even little in the way of camaraderie established in the meager minutes spent endeavoring to flop cards.

Perhaps 2016’s events will enable Steakshaker to find a more fruitful card-flopping experience, but it is with trepidation that he approaches seeking out such festivities.  More inspiring would be a separate quest to the realm of Columbites where Origins may be written.

Silver lines all things, which is why they are so heavy and conductive.  Steakshaker seeks ODAM to be mesmerized by a Jersey bodybuilder into ordering a new RPG.  Despite Steakshaker’s contempt for pitching sales and though Steakshaker’s will is strong against certain influences, Steakshaker is eager to deprive himself through the power of credit of a batch of his earnings.

Steakshaker’s only other purchase is less soothing, being an odd bit of nostalgia, as he acquires Dice of the Dragon, with no intention to take back up the ten-sided monsters of former years to change the facing of eight-sided terrain dice.

Steakshaker and Warrior convene with Josh, and more of Johnny’s Rockets are fired.  The band follows Steakshaker upon his sketchy and bizarre endeavors to find gifts.  No such presents are purchased, though a card that will facilitate communication with an artisan may produce some result, and Warrior speaks an intriguing possibility.

The convocation ends with Steakshaker not present to its dying seconds.  Warrior and Steakshaker retire to the artisanal shelter, eschewing bathrobes as overly warm.

Review Day

Tis early when Warrior and Steakshaker traverse to the skytravel locale.  Steakshaker takes time to study the tavern distribution of the realm of Indianas.  He searches $ taverns as he is well aware that what he considers $ vs. $$ is quite different than what others do.  His first find is an establishment with over 100 reviews, 4.7 stars, and is Zagat rated.  Too far, he laments.

Then, he realizes his folly.  For the realm of Indianas has academies, with students.  Apparently, such must be catered to by only the finest chefs in the multiverse.  For, let us consider a tavern.

Big Mike’s Cafe Americana

28 reviews

5.0 stars

As we delve deeper into Big Mike’s we discover that there is an individual whose experience is so awful that she had no choice but to give the tavern only four stars.  Let us read her review that we may revel in the awfulness that Big Mike’s may inflict upon its customers.

The first time I went to Big Mike’s Café was a little over a month ago, and I was amazed at the taste and quality of the food as well as the friendliness of the staff. At first it looks like a little hole in the wall, but it’s really an undiscovered gem. *Food*I’ve spent a good deal of time in England, and I’m a huge fan of traditional fish ‘n’ chips. Every place I go to that offers them, I have to try them once and compare them to jolly ol’ England. Big Mike’s passed this test with flying colours. It’s obvious they took the care and effort to get fresh fish for this dish. The chips that came with it were equally amazing. No condiments needed, which is a first for me in America. The second time I went to Big Mike’s, I tried a burger and coleslaw. The burger was cooked to perfection, and all the condiments came on the side so I could as as much or as little sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion that I wanted to it. The burger tasted amazingly alone, but the whole thing was served on something called a pretzel bun, which was amazingly soft and not chewy, even though it looked very much like a pretzel. Big Mike took the simple burger and elevated it to a whole new level for me. One thing you should note is that if you go to Big Mike’s, save room for dessert or be prepared to take some home. It is made fresh, and it is *AMAZING*. My fiancée’s a huge fan of the Red Velvet Cheesecake cake. It’s a red velvet cake with a thin layer of cheese cake between the layers of cake, then topped with a soothe butter cream icing. They serve huge portions of it, though, so even when you share there is enough for both. *The staff*The place is family owned and operated. They are friendly, cheerful, and happy with their work, and it shows. Both times we’ve been there, we’ve been greeted with a smile and directed to sit where ever we wanted, then joined nearly immediately by a staff member to get our drink orders. They make sure every dish comes out well and that you’re satisfied, not just not grumbling. It’s a wonderful, home-like welcome while out to eat.

Obviously, suffering burger enlightenment and having to look askance at ever eating fish and chips in England again are the horrible consequences of this establishment.  As an epilogue to the tale of the greatest food conveyance place in all of creation, I found another tavern listed.

Taste of Europe

12 reviews

It is no wonder that this place is “permanently closed”.  For it had the misfortune of only having 4.9 stars.  (By the way, if anything unfortunate did happen to the owners or whatever that caused it to be closed, this joke is in poor taste, but c’mon … Warrior’s food woes, Steakshaker’s required breakfasts, then these reviews!)

Steakshaker will now depart, to return a year hence.

Man, that dude is pretentious.  Okay, hotel was nice but I don’t want to walk even seven blocks to get to the convention center as it discourages switching out stuff.  Plus, expensive.  The math is such that with two roommates, I’d be pretty happy with even the Conrad Hilton again through the passkey system, but I don’t expect to ever be able to get a room I want through GC’s housing block system, so we have alternative possibilities in mind.

I was thinking the con was a B-, but that was mostly due to the V:TES “event” pulling things down.  While an amazing waste of what is precious gaming time, Forge/Artemis, True Dungeon, even as costly as both of those are which is not really that much compared to wasting money in the exhibit hall or the logistics costs of Gen Con, everything else being decent if not necessarily spectacular really should outweigh one problematic game.  Then, logistics, ignoring cost, were just fine and without hiccups.  Food was a struggle, but that just means I need to find places other than the foul-smelling corner to tavernize since not everybody can live off ordering the exact same meal twice a day.  So, probably more like a B, with Artemis A/A-, True Dungeon A, battle interactive C, political interactive B.  I still feel bad that I can’t support Shadowfist more, but I talked to Daniel about changing the start time of events to not so badly overlap multiple RPG slots.

The last I saw, the Shadowfist Kickstarter needs a huge bump from Gen Con.