Season Premiers

October 31, 2015

There’s not much for me to talk about with Halloween.  It’s not like I play a card game based around vampires or taking on a persona is relevant to roll-playing or …

Let me see if I can tie some things together.

New TV seasons/shows started a bit ago.  Supergirl was okay.  Arrow is far better than it was most of last season.  Flash is kind of slow.  Doctor Who is far, far better with multipart episodes.  And, the best TV show on air remains the same – Open Court.

Yeah, not a lot of people are NBA TV watchers.  As moneymaking as the NBA is, it’s not like a show about it is going to captivate people the same way that … uh … NCIS Helena will captivate people.

Different people have different flavors.  Some people can stand listening to local news, and the rest of us can’t.  And, so forth.

Open Court is like the PBS, “Taste of the Bay” or whatever it’s called shows for people who find sports more interesting than food.  It’s not Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption or the far inferior Mike and Mike and the two arrogant guys (just remembered, First Take) shows.  All of those shows deal in superficiality and a bunch of meaningless crap, like whether someone said something politically incorrect.  It’s not Sportscenter or even Baseball Tonight (which I should probably watch more) in that it isn’t “reporting”.

What it’s kind of more like is Siskel & Ebert.  In that, it’s people expressing real opinions.  Except, unlike S&E, it has people telling stories.  It just wins TV.

Well, said the same thing before.  Just need replication, er, reminders.

I didn’t post anything about Sunday’s V:TES besides foreshadowing, dum dum dum.

In the vein of new, and that’s what Halloween is all about – the split between the past and the less past, I came up with a new experiment.  I had created it a while back but only got around to implementing it Sunday.

It’s called Dirty Dozen.  The entire point is to test the brokenness of Govern the Unaligned.  You run 12x Govern as your only Dominate cards.  You, then, pick four other cards you play 12 copies of because all decks must be perfectly symmetrical and can only ever be 60, 70, 75, 80, or 90 cards.

In the first game, my Obtenebrators had to wall up against !Salubri bleed (the only noncombat deck, you know, what happens every game), so I only ousted my prey by his transferring out with 11 minutes or so left.  My predator, then, poofed, and we had a table split.  My other four cards?  Sudden, Arms of the Abyss, Target Vitals, and Shadow Strike.  My combats with my second prey, a gun deck, were inconclusive.  I Suddened four Blood Dolls, methinksies.

Having little time, I played my second DDD.  The other four cards were Zip Line, Skin of Rock, Skin of Night, and Freak Drive.  This died pretty fast as I had three decks that could stealth bleed behind me.  Ophidian Gaze gave my prey the lock in the endgame.  Not good design, in my mind.  I realize it’s too much card text, but a more appropriate (if less good) effect would be “Reduce a bleed against you by one.  Put this card on this reacting minion.  You may burn this card for +1 bleed.”  Why give FoS something they don’t really care about?  Because just shoring up a weakness makes clans more alike, while bleed reduction is not a good effect for the game.  Don’t want to reduce offense, want to redirect offense to another player because that keeps games moving towards resolution.

So, what did I prove?  As is always the case, two V:TES games reveals the truths of the universe.  The truth is that Govern is not broken in the broken sense (rather than the “broken” = top power level sense).  You cannot just play Govern and win all of the time.  To win all of the time, you do need to play Deflection, as well.

We continue to try different things with Shadowfist.  Thursday, we did Mooks/Sacred Grounds/+1 power per turn in a … four-player game.  It was terrible.  On turn two, one of the players had six power.  One player could drop his hand and still have power left.  One player played Queen of the Darkness Pagoda and Beaumains in the same turn and was just irrelevant to the game.  I failed a bid for victory with three Burning Mans, Mistress of Blotted Moonlight, two Floating Teeth, and a Skin and Darkness Bats in play.  Now, only two of the Burning Mans, the Mistress, and the Bats went for the final site.

Game two, we went with “FSSs cost you one less if you play them to the front row.” in addition to Mooks and miscellaneous FSSs open to all.  I played my 36-Legged Horror deck.  That has 5x Great Wall.  I had six power generating sites in play, including three 20-Body Great Walls, and my sites never got hurt by a character with fighting greater than 1.  There were double digit sites that could be attacked at times.  I liked this format.  You don’t have to use the rule, unlike the extra power every turn rule, but you can.

How does this all tie together?

Freshness.  Sometimes something fresh isn’t good, something I blogged about years ago.  Sometimes, it is.  By good, I mean entertaining.  I have been more entertained by Arrow and Doctor Who than in the previous annum.  I constantly need to find something different to do with V:TES – note that because Govern is on my personal tournament banned list, my concept decks are irrelevant to my post All Soul’s Day competitions.  Shadowfist house rules have often worked fine for making entertaining, if not plausible in tournament play, games.


Fisticuffs 20151022 and 20151024

October 25, 2015

Yup, multiple fisting in one week.

Thursday, we had six.  We decided to try the dreaded three player game … with Mooks … and Sacred Grounds … and you also got an extra power every turn.

Finally, the Shaking the Mountain has come back to Shadowfist.

I played my “I guess I’m playing Hand so that I have chi to play miscellaneous chi cards” deck in one game.  It got Sifu Beumer and three Shaolin Supplicants in one turn.  They didn’t survive long.  My Kung Fu Master survived a bit longer.  I played against a three faction Red Bat deck and a Monarch/Lotus deck that got out both queens and one of the kings.

In the second game, I played Architects – Arcanomoths were joined by Blood Eagles, some of which were being played from my smoked pile.  Jammers to my left cleared the board with Thermobaric Explosion preventing me from Fire in the Skying Red Bat, who multiattacked for the win.

Games were swingy, explosive, reasonably balanced.  Burning for power seemed weak – I just kept playing sites in game two since the penalty for putting them out was relatively less.  I would seize.  I should have burned for victory early in game two, maybe earlier in game one.  We liked our games.

The other group didn’t so much like the format.  The whole point of most of our rules is to prevent someone from getting beaten down so much that they don’t do anything anymore, waiting for someone to win.  In their second game, someone got into a position of feeling like they couldn’t dig out of the hole.  Don’s argument for why an extra power would be bad is that everyone would have a bunch of hitters in play that make a lot of other characters worthless, that hitters would lose specialness because they would be so common.  Character removal would be ubiquitous to deal with hitters.

I don’t know.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing that someone can get out all of the Monarchs royalty reliably.  High levels of character removal is annoying but so is one deck having cards like Tortured Memories and other decks not.  I think slow decks gain a lot.

Of course, it’s breakable.  Sacred Ground pile is breakable by playing no FSSs in your deck.  Mooks are breakable by having any resource at any time and being able to swarm people to death when you have 12 power lying around.

Yesterday, Earl hosted a games day.  I played Forbidden Desert with his daughter and two of his friends.  We were pretty ineffectual and sand buried us.  I always bring Shadowfist to his house but never expect to play on the general gaming days, but Miguel was there, so we played four games.

Miguel started game one, he won in a not terribly balanced affair where I played … something.  Earl won game two off of Ming I in a Modern Lotus deck; I played Syndicate and somehow my dudes couldn’t survive Spirit Wracks.  I won game three with Ascended, using The She-Wolf’s ability once but mostly because Tears of the Crocodile is pretty good.  Earl won the last game, where I played my 25 card Butterfly Knight deck inspired by Miguel’s Butterfly Knight deck that he played in this game.  He adds Ascended for Moonlight Raid and various trickiness, causing my bid for victory to end with a Suicide Mission.  Earl won with his two faction demon deck.  So, yes, someone else chose Stand Together Thunder, and the third player played Stand Together.  I lost by decking, by the way, though this game probably took 45 minutes or more.

See, this is the problem.  In normal ‘fist, I think I’m bringing a Wooden Stake to a Weighted Walking Stick fight (reference will make more sense if I post about today’s V:TES games).  Sure, my 25 card deck is a concept deck (foreshadowing).  It’s not intended to be complete.  It’s intended to provide the minimum required to have Butterfly Knights take sites.  Adding more cards isn’t a problem as long as it doesn’t pad out the deck so much that it loses its focus.  Stolen Thunder isn’t an option because it’s a Modern deck, but some plays are.

Before getting back to ‘fisting in general, this deck is an example of how my casual decks are more focused and smaller than my competitive decks.  A lot of the time, I want to see one specific aspect of the game in casual play because it’s only that aspect that makes that deck purposeful.

Okay, back to the problem of not having an extra power every turn and whatnot.  In our team games, I can be sucky and slow and may or may not matter.  Sucky and slow in competitive ‘fist just makes for terrible games.  This is why I prefer five player V:TES.  I have so much more opportunity to do nothing until my inevitable victory.

Yes, I should be building decks for any CCG that are more proactive, faster, more threatening.  After all, being the target for table hate is … is … um … em … a sign of respect?

This is where I wonder what it would be like if I played a two-player CCG competitively again.  Table hate is a meaningless consideration, and I build decks that come out with Both Heron-Marked Blades Blazing because winning and having your deck do its thing have tremendous crossover.

After ‘fisting, we played a three player of Splendour, and I seem to be getting better at the game.  One would think it’s right up my alley based on what sort of mechanics I intuit, but I don’t know.  As mathy as I am, other people are mathier.  Mahjong is probably my best game in terms of managing hands, if not necessarily from a maximizing money standpoint.  But, one could argue that playing it competitively since the age of 8 probably has something to do with that.

I think I mentioned something about auction games in a post this year.  If I haven’t, I need to.  Getting off topic into what sort of mechanics suit me (as opposed to what sort I like), so will table this.

Anyway, I proposed a quarterly or more often Shadowfist day in Fremont, as that is central enough for people to congregate.  People want to play, just not enough to jump through a bunch of hoops.  I’ll be looking to organize that on the Bayfist list and the general list, when I have a better sense of when I’d like to do something.  Probably December, but I have some family travel to do at an unspecified time, and we have our annual V:TES events after Christmas.


Double-Striking, Swampwalking Squirrel Pumpers

October 24, 2015

There’s a few things I’ve thought to blog about.  Then, work travel has limited my time, both my travel and my manager’s.

So, Magic.

As I mentioned, my friend is introducing Magic to his son.  We played previously with his old multiplayer decks.  I mentioned Type P.  I was heading over to their place last Sunday, when Gary told me to bring stuff to make P decks.  I grabbed Time Spiral, box with a few Ravnica and mostly Guildpact, and a Dissension box (none of these were full, I don’t have that much random crap lying around).  I figured Time Spiral would have some easier to grok cards, though it also has too many things going on.  The multicolor stuff just has really cool cards.

So, I bartered them Time Spiral tournament packs and boosters for popcorn.  And, I helped his son put together a deck.  While his blue actually looked the most solid!  Based off of the creature base!!  I figured the G/R/b build was easier to process.  He had Stormbind to justify that.  He also had Stuffy Doll!

We played two games.  Both games, he got out Evil Eye of Urborg, a card I just love … see, there are so many things about Magic that are lovable.

In the first game, I played one of my goblin decks.  This was my hardcore goblin deck with only Moggcatcher not being a goblin.  It was in a more serious configuration, i.e. I was playing my Hands of Death.

I beat.  Evil Eye raced me.  I had enough 2/2’s to swarm him for the standard Magic result of a 1-0 (life) victory.  We weren’t playing for ante, this was more to get familiar with both the game and the deck.  Still practicing, I switched to my Llanowar Sentinel deck (it still only has seven) in elf mode, i.e. not playing removal.  As is always the case with Magic, the game came down to us both being at 2 life and his Evil Eye stopping him from flying over for the win, so he had to Stuffy Doll tap, untap with Scryb Ranger, Stuffy Doll tap for the kill.

Doesn’t happen that often IME but, sometimes, Magic works.

So, other than an enthusiasm at looking at some of my numerous P decks and looking around at what sets I have various quantities of, I saved the most recent rules into my P folder.  In my P folder are some challenge charts for what my P decks are interested in facing.  Allow me to paste the first 45 decks.
1
Snow Raven
Colors: U/B/w
Want: Removal, Dark Ritual, enchantments/enchantment return, bounce, milling/decking
Have: Goblins, Seal of Strength, Destructive Urge, Red, Forests, Mountains, Green enchantment removal
Size: 106

2
Hell’s Horses
Colors: G/B/u, G/B/w, (5c)
Want: Mana fix, Dark Ritual, removal, flyers, Pernicious Deed, blue permanents
Have: Mountains, bit of red, Chariot of the Sun
Size: 101

3
Jade Falcon
Colors: G/u/b, maybe W/R
Want: Forests, sac creature effects, soldiers, land destruction, counterspells, elves, zombies, creature generation
Have: Soul Link, some red
Size: 101

4
Ghost Bear
Colors: B/w/u
Want: Mana acceleration/fix, counterspells, Aquamoeba, removal especially that can affect black, clerics, wizards, tap effects, hand destruction, land
Have: Not too good Red and Green, Nature’s Blessing, Energy Arc, Forests, Mountains
Size: 100

5
Blood Spirit
Colors: B/r, B/r/g
Want: Black, Swamps, good Red, Terminate, dwarves
Have: Islands, Plains, bit of blue, possible Green/Forests, Razing Snidd
Size: 114

6
Nova Cat
Colors: W/G/r
Want: Ways to put land in my graveyard, flying defense, ways to deal with regenerators, artifact destruction, Llanowar Sentinels, elf cards
Have: Black, Blue, Islands, Swamps, Redwood Treefolk
Size: 106

7
Star Adder
Colors: W/R/g, G/R
Want: Sorceries, Instants, squirrel pumpers, artifact search/protection, threshold, Mountains, Forests, Flame Burst
Have: Pulsating Illusion, Islands, Bog Wreckage, Black discard, Crypt Keeper
Size: 102

8
Smoke Jaguar
Colors: R/b/g, B/r
Want: Threshold, low end Black/Red creatures, Dark Ritual, removal, graveyard recursion, card drawing, good inexpensive sorceries, tap effects, Swamps, Mountains
Have: Good blue, Mind Burst, some White, Islands, Plains, Dwarven Shrine, Abandoned Outpost
Size: 102

9
Fire Mandrill
Colors: W/B/r (W/R)
Want: Rats, removal, land destruction, mana acceleration, enchantment/artifact removal, graveyard recursion, Shelter, land
Have: Blue not good card drawing, Islands, Green life gain
Size: 102

10
Diamond Shark
Colors: U/w/g
Want: Mana fix, bounce/gating, removal, untargeted trample, Mishra’s Workshop, Green creatures, quick drops, Blastoderm
Have: Mogg Toadys, not good Red, bad Black, Mountains, Swamps, Skyshroud Claim, Fog Patch
Size: 103

11
Coyote
Colors: B/G/r (B/G)
Want: Bombs, swampwalkers, maybe land destruction
Have: Good blue, white, multicolor, Islands, Plains
Size: 101

12
Cloud Cobra
Colors: R/W/u
Want: Mountains, Plains, walls with power > 0, flyers, pro-red, Anarchist/Recoup
Have: Good Green, some Black, Forests, Swamps
Size: 103

13
Snord’s Irregulars
Colors: B/U/r, R/W/u
Want: Foil Crosis’s Charm, removal, Crosis cards, maybe life gain in B or U
Have: Druid Lyrist, Norwood Warrior, Forests, Mind Burst
Size: 102

14
Wolf
Colors: B/W/u, B/R/u, R/b
Want: Goblins, effects that trigger off goblins, land
Have: Some Green, double Blue, Forests, Islands
Size: 108

15
Ice Hellion
Colors: R/W/b, R/W/u
Want: Mountains, ways to turn life into killing opponent, burn, cheap creatures, midsized creatures, late game plays, Swamps, cards that protect artifacts, ways to make walls good, life gain, Plains
Have: Some Blue, couple of Islands, Green life gain
Size: 92

16
Goliath Scorpion
Colors: B/W/u
Want: Counterspells, come into play effects, Faceless Butcher, good enough Red to make playing red worthwhile, weenies, trample or evasion giving effects, Dark Ritual, removal
Have: Little bit of Green, Forests, Militant Monks, Cabal Coffers
Size: 106

17
Lion
Colors: R/b
Want: Red, Mountains, decent Black creatures or removal, Swamps, lots of (mass) creature removal, Barbarians
Have: White or Blue, not good Green, Forests, Islands, Plains
Size: 109

18
Steel Viper
Colors: G/r/x
Want: Mana acceleration, ways to get more creatures in play, trample/evasion, ways to deal with regeneration, flying defense
Have: 8/8 Black flyer for 11, Plains, Islands, Swamps, Tainted Isle, double mana cost stuff, maybe a color
Size: 103

19
Scorpion
Colors: B/U/g
Want: Nightmares, Black and/or Blue for a possible two color config, Swamps, (enchantment) search, maybe White
Have: Red, Mountains, maybe White/Plains
Size: 99

20
Dragon
Colors: B/R/u
Want: Land destruction, good way to blow up my own critters over multiple turns, maybe zombies
Have: Good White, some Green, Forests, Plains, Armadillo Cloak
Size: 102

21
Wolf’s Dragoons
Colors: R/B/u
Want: Graveyard recursion, Dragons, threshold producers, mana fixing, creature protection
Have: Green, White, Temporal Spring, Irrigation Ditch, Wax/Wane
Size: 98

22
Nosferatu
Colors: B/G/u/(r)
Want: Black and/or Green, ways to discard or sac a creature, ways to achieve threshold, Braids
Have: White, Plains, Krosan Verge
Size: 96

23
Ventrue
Colors: B/W/u/r
Want: Legends, nonGreen color fixing, good Red, enchantments/creatures that bounce from the graveyard, card drawing
Have: Decent Green, some multicolor, Forests, Riftstone Portal
Size: 94

24
Crab
Colors: U/R, G/U
Want: Forests, Squirrel stuff, threshold, ways to get back land from the graveyard or put land into play, counterspells, land destruction, mass creature pump
Have: Touch of White, Touch of Black
Size: 96

25
Naga
Colors: B/U/g, B/U/r
Want: Madness in any color except White, infinite mana, infinite cards, good instants and sorceries, sac creatures
Have: Some White, a Plains
Size: 95 (beat Shiva 2-1 and got two land for it *twirls finger*)

26
Crane
Colors: G/B/U
Want: Mana acceleration/fix, Goblins, reason to play Red and White
Have: Multicolor, Wirecat
Size: 97

27
Unicorn
Colors: W/G/r
Want: Rebel searchers, enchantments, removal, land destruction
Have: Blue, Black, Mercenaries
Size: 96

28
Brujah
Colors: G/W/r
Want: Flyers, ways to achieve threshold, permanent creature pump, card drawing
Have: Black, maybe Blue
Size: 96

29
Phoenix
Colors: B/R/u
Want: Mana acceleration, creatures, flyers, Anarchist
Have: Bit of green, lot of white, forests/plains
Size: 98

30
Assamite
Colors: G/r/b
Want: Nightstalkers, mana acceleration/fix, goblins, beasts, zombies
Have: Some blue and white, islands/plains
Size: 99

31
Samedi
Colors: W/B/R(r)
Want: Goblins, Lightning Rift, soldiers, zombies, clerics
Have: Elves, beasts, wizards, forests/islands
Size: 101

32
Gangrel
Colors: G/U/r
Want: Beasts, mana acceleration/fix, Feral Shadow, Breathstealer
Have: Some white, plains
Size: 97

33
Blood Brothers
Colors: W/B/u
Want: Clerics, Accumulated Knowledge
Have: Unknown
Size: 98

34
Toreador
Colors: G/R/b
Want: Unknown
Have: Black/Blue, white, islands/plains
Size: 97

35
Ravnos
Colors: W/U/b, ?/b/r
Want: Pumpable creatures
Have: Green, treefolk, Harrow, forests, Elfhame Palace, Irrigation Ditch
Size: 100

36
Followers of Set
Colors: B/U/w, 5C?
Want: Mountains, excuse to play red – its strongest color, mana fix
Have: Unknown
Size: 97

37
Tzimisce
Colors: B/R/g/(u), 5C?
Want: Creatures, mana fix
Have: Maybe white
Size: 95

38
Brujah Antitribu
Colors: B/U/G
Want: Creature generators, Urborg Elf, way to generate two white mana without playing white, ways to make use of massive card drawing, life gain
Have: Red, multicolor red, probably white, goblins, Martyr’s Tomb
Size: 99

39
Tremere
Colors: B/G/r
Want: Threshold producers, graveyard fillers, minions
Have: Some white and blue, islands/plains
Size: 99

40
Eridani Light Horse
Colors: W/G/r
Want: Creatures, creature pumpers, bird cards, red
Have: Skyshroud Claims, Black, swamps, Barren Moor
Size: 97

41
Baali
Colors: B/R/w
Want: Zombies, creatures, raise dead effects, Anarchist/Recoup, life gain
Have: Green, blue, Aether Burst, forests/islands
Size: 94

42
True Brujah
Colors: R/B/U
Want: Goblins?, beasts?, land, infinite mana
Have: Slivers?, unknown
Size: 95

43
Pander
Colors: R/W/u, R/G/u
Want: Slivers
Have: Wizards, black, swamps
Size: 98

44
Giovanni
Colors: B/U/r, G/W/r
Want: Zombies, land
Have: Unknown
Size: 93

45
??
Colors: G/R/u
Want: Beasts, double strikers
Have: Unknown
Size: 95

I didn’t ever get around to detailing out my interests for my other ~50 Type P decks.  This is from 2004, by the way.

One may wonder about the difference between wanting “infinite mana” and wanting to “generate 2 white mana without playing white”.  Such is the nature of the “South Bay Style” of Type P.  The “North Bay Style” is this bizarre arena of trying to make your “wizards” better.  That sort of nonsense doesn’t fly down here.  Our culture was all about trying to make our decks evolve into what we wanted them to be.  Dave actually had a creatureless deck.  My dragon deck doesn’t care if it gets more (than 2) Shivan Dragons, it would be fine with some changelings just to have more dragons, though only two cards currently key off of dragons.

My rat samurai deck has two Blazes.  I often leave them in the sideboard.  Rat samurai!!

Before I work on my next post, should say something about Portal.  Portal 2 is arguably my favorite set for making Type P decks – just one-sided(!!) Wraths of God, flyers, burn, and fatties, and Nightstalkers.  But, anyway, the advantage of Portal sets is card text.  I actually think this is a case where Magic does far better than most CCGs – the card text level is much more manageable.  It’s still too much for my tiny little brain to track cards in play that have tap or, Pan Creator forbid, untap effects, but, compared to the encyclopedias that are V:TES cards or the ridiculous number of effects to track in Shadowfist games, it’s something someone might be able to learn when eight years old.

I doubt I have base set packs lying around.  That would have made sense.  Well, whatever.

Btw, did you figure out (assuming you bother to understand how Type P works) why some of the above decks are named after mercenary units rather than clans?


Fisticuffs and Fangs 20151008 and 20151011

October 11, 2015

One of the things we talked about today was marketing V:TES.  I have the same boring ideas that anyone can come up with for marketing niche CCGs:  have a presence at local conventions – all of the ones that matter; social media or any sort of media; focus on demos and getting new players in; reward volunteers … and players; emphasize a calendar of events (hopefully having events on the calendar).

V:TES can’t do a lot of things because of the lack of rights.  But, the way we get into these situations with niche CCGs is because there’s not enough focus on bringing in new players and reminding people that the game is still being played.

So, Thursday, we had three quick games of Shadowfist.  Just team play with Mooks and Sacred Grounds.

Ray (Dragon guns) -> Ian (Ascended Transformed) -> Justin (Hoods) -> Joren (Lotus) -> Don (200 Architects/Ascended with Hatchets and Ladders)

I got out fast enough with Fistful of Dollars, suppressing some foundation types with Rat Clan Spies and Coyote Clan Scavengers protected by The Iron Palace.  Cobra Clan Stalkers gets me a burn for power, and Don Bites me.  Undeterred, I keep swinging on stuff …

Justin is beaten down from both directions.  I keep killing his hoods with annoying abilities.  Joren doesn’t play a whole lot, he couldn’t draw hitters when he had power.  Don’s deck played out the usual dorks – Cabinet Minister, Chi Sucker, to go with foundations.  Ray put out Senoritas who got an Elephant Gun and a Cop on the Edge.

…  So, I had the power and just enough sketchy fighting to be bolstered by Don’s sketchy fighting to make a bid for victory.  I swung on Ray’s stuff throwing Hydrophobia on the Cop on the Edge and Embrace of the Snake on Senoritas as I claimed his Nine Dragon Temple.  Since nobody had any tricks, I put out Grey Mountain and Don and I won.

Justin (Hoods) -> Ian (Hand Chi) -> Joren (Jammers) -> Don (??) -> Ray (Purists)

Ray did get off a Math Bomb to wipe most of Justin’s characters, but it was too little.  Don and Ray battled, though I can’t recall what Don was doing, something that involved attacking Ray’s Mathemagicians.  Joren had every reason to help Justin, so there was little I could do to protect myself.

Justin (Hoods) -> Ray (Architects/Ascended) -> Ian (Sea + Dragons) -> Don (Syndicate) -> Joren (Jammers)

Don didn’t get as much of a start as he usually does.  He Reprogramminged my Average Jane and Justin’s Hired Bodyguard.  Joren did get a bunch of things into play.  Ray put out a Plasma Trooper, then another, a Femme Fatale, and a G-Man to move continously to victory with Joren.

What was the most notable thing?  I didn’t have any new decks, nor the time before.  I’m being really bad about allotting time for Shadowfist decks, figuring I’ll do it at the last minute, then being too tired to do more than drag myself out of the house.

I have some thoughts on ways to play good cards in less than optimal ways.  I also can just keep focusing on a particular card or group of cards, as that has gotten me to have a couple Ascended decks I don’t hate.

V:TES

Only four players today.  Well, on the plus side, I did put together two decks this morning, one I had started before the previous session, the other a discipline combination I hadn’t tried(?) before.

David (unnamed) -> Brandon (!Salubri) -> Ian (Ani/Nec) -> Brett (demo Brujah)

I played this really badly.  I could have probably lasted 30+ minutes longer if I had used Julio Martinez’s ability rather than Cat’s Guidance for intercept.  Then, I keep not cycling in decks that badly need pool gain.  I spent 2 on Heidelberg, 9 on Julio, 7 on Babalawo, 1 on Zillah’s Valley, had some on Carmine Giovanni, sucked a bounced bleed from The unnamed and took four pool damage from Brandon for the kill.

I did slow Brett down a bit, which only made his game that much harder.  He kept running into Unleash Hell’s Furys.  Brandon got Brett eventually, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, so I didn’t track the endgame.

I did read my generic Tri-Stat RPG book and decided that I’d rather use Champions for my next idea.  I keep trying to think of something less crunchy than Champions for a superheroesque game, and I keep failing.

Brandon (EuroBrujah) -> Brett (demo Gangrel) -> Ian (Stealth Muse) -> David (Salubri)

Being third, I put one counter on Evan Klein, one on Antoine the Lost, and one on Persia.  Florentina was my fourth play.  I didn’t have much to worry about until the Gangrel started bleeding more heavily.  Brandon kept getting punked by aggropoke.  David brought out Matthew, who got Pentexed, then emptied in torpor from The Death of My Conscience.  Serenna also took some beats.  Only one Spirit Marionette stole anybody, to my dismay.

But, I got out Laptops.  I got out a Childling Muse, and who can stop the power of a Childling Muse?  Not my prey who got six pool from Brandon’s DI self-oust.  Not Gangrel.  Really, it’s only defeatist play that stopped the standard Childling Muse sweep.

Brett’s working on demo decks for a private demo he’s doing.

We went to the ramen place for lunch.  I got curry rice, which was good.  Bit tired of the curry ramen.

Ian (Ani/Nec) -> Brandon (Blood Brothers Kiev) -> Brett (Toreador) -> David (Celerity)

David got beaten down enough and lacked a key vampire that my victory was put down to having no predator.  Pshaw, once I don’t do stupid stuff, the true power of getting stealthed by by a Blood Brother when I play Spectral Divination and Cat’s Guidance for intercept from an Animalismic Marino Reymundo Vasquez was presented.

Marino bled constantly.  His buddy Eze did some bleeding but also Chair of Hadesed away a 2-cap.  Eze rushed a BB, but those BBs – he Earth Melded.  Tammy Walenski also rushed and got Earth Melded.

While David Fast Handsed Brett’s gun, Brett diablerized to get it back.  I Terror Frenzied one time and Canine Horded the next time.  I only bothered with an Eze Trochomancy, never getting Brandon at the right amount for Marino to double superior his way to Archon land.  With Brandon at 2 and Brett at 1 (having survived Walks of Caine with Telepathic Counter and bounce), I bled them out.

As was usual, BB untapped a lot, got blood on uncontrolled guys, yet still got ousted.

Three different people came by and were surprised that anyone still played V:TES.  It’s just so hard for me to relate.  Once I do something, I just keep doing it until some external force stops it, like not having anybody to play with.

I find Shadowfist rather clunky, not just the timing but the nature of how you win, but I don’t have strong opinions on how good it is.  For all that there are some obnoxious plays, V:TES just plays well.  While there are many more decks I could build for Shadowfist, I can still do new things with V:TES.  Sometimes, some of my awkward decks are just really fun, suiting my interests in a game.  That Ani/Nec deck, while I can’t play it in a tournament as it has Aid from Bats, Carrion Crows, and Deep Song in it, just entertains me in ways like the “sure, my guy has AUS, but I’m going to use Necromancy to try to block that, followed by Animalism” way.

CCGs can be fun, if you let them.


Incarnatable

October 4, 2015

I’m sure everyone basically has a progression of:

Thursday – Shadowfist with random FSSs in the middle of the table and only one from your deck that starts in your opening hand.

Friday – Fading Suns where ambushes kept almost happening.

Saturday – Read Against the Dark Yogi only skimming over some geography sections.  Designing a BattleTech scenario based on reading AtDY.

Sunday – Instead of BT, play three player Magic with my friend’s decks as he is trying to teach his son how to play.

Yup, pseudo-Indian fantasy inspiring BattleTech play that leads to playing Magic.

Let’s be a bit more specific.

Shadowfist

The goal of our numerous house rule tries is to make the game smoother but endier after a certain point.  The “Mooks” rule and the Sacred Ground rule are designed to allow someone to always have the resources and FSSs they need.  These have worked fairly well.

Actually, stepping back, the “take one non-unique foundation character and one FSS into your opening hand and draw 4” rule was intended to prevent crippled starts.  This has worked fine, possibly well.

The intent with the “here is a pile of face down, random FSSs that you must use instead of any from your deck except for your opening hand one” rule was to create an inevitability to someone winning.  For, you see, Shadowfist is one of the few games that doesn’t build towards a higher probability of winning in the way that most games do.  It was also to see some FSSs you would never see.

The first game was awful.  It was five player team, one of the players used the “if you don’t have a FSS in play at the end of your turn, you are eliminated” rule and left, leaving the game a four-player free for all.  Not much longer later, it ended.

The second game was an entirely reasonable four-player game where if I only had Mountain Retreat in front instead of whatever, the game would have lasted slightly longer with a funny event.  Actually, the game ended at a good time.  The player to my right was too strong, the player to my left swooped in for the win.

We are thinking of a mechanic where you look at the top two cards in the stack, put one into play and put the other on the bottom of the stack.

Two things about this format.  One, if you build decks to use certain sites, you will not be happy with your random “this may do nothing” FSS.  Two, not having any FSSs in your deck means you draw way more action.

I really don’t care about it one way or the other.

The prior session had cards in play that gave you some additional effect, like the starting card that gives you an additional power each turn.  I think we are overcomplicating things.  Why don’t we just have everyone generate a free power every turn, like we’ve talked about?  Probably because it sounds kind of stale.

I’m a bit worried about a too quick jump on turn two or three, which is why I wonder about something based around turns in the game.  For example, at the end of the last player’s turn on round three, everyone gains a power.  Could then have this keep happening or could have it kick in every three times around the table or whatever.

The reality is that we aren’t trying to be competitive, we are trying to play a game where lots of wacky stuff happens, so people just aren’t abusing these various variants, so simpler might just be best to identify whether it’s a more fun way to play.

Fading Suns

If you read RPG.net, you will find comments about how bad FS is mechanically.  Quite true.  It’s rather absurd, a game of failure with a bunch of unnecessary attributes and a nonsensical skill list (though, natural skills is a good idea).

Friday’s session was one of a few where I didn’t feel like it was just a string of accomplishing nothing rolls.  There was the ladling soup at a soup kitchen opportunity to fan the Inner Flame of some bread thief.  Oh, maybe I should mention that my PC is an Eskatonic who knows no theurgy, is no longer trying to be an alchemist because I could never figure out what alchemy actually did, and whose contribution in combat is absorbing hits to the jaw.

I’m beginning to see things that PCs can do, where before I just had no sense of what PCs were supposed to do.  Some investigation.  Some dealing with a murderer.  Some hearing confession.  Other PCs get to smuggle, an activity that seems incredibly weird for the primary aspects of the setting, but whatever.

Against the Dark Yogi

It uses cards from hand.  Great.  It only gives you two to choose, possibly more if you are Karmarrific.  What?

I’m not sure why it’s a good idea to be a total badass but still have a bunch of levels of far more badder assness that you could achieve through your reincarnations.  Why start at Enlightenment 2 other than it gives room for you to die into higher power levels?  Or, become Elderly into higher power levels, which is rather bizarre since spending 5 years meditating upon how to achieve Super Saiyan isn’t exactly a long period of time.  Sure, it’s more like spend 18 years as that’s how long it might take for someone to reincarnate into an adult, but it still seems odd to me that you are supposed to be the chosen ones and only hit your peak after you bite it several times.

I suppose I can do this myself or hope that a GURPS India is available some day, but I’d rather just use a fantasy version of India rather than have everything renamed, including the gods.  I know L5R doesn’t take that approach, but, somehow, I’m not expecting 20 years of material for AtDY.

Still, I can imagine adventures.  I even find the story behind the Dark Yogi to be quite reasonable.  I might imagine sessions being more like one-shots in that momentous things happen often.

BattleTech

It’s funny how much story I can produce for scenarios.  But, maybe, that’s why BT works as well as it does.  For all of the silliness of how mechs work/are built, how completely ridiculous the setting is when you spend any time thinking about it or considering various possibilities of characters, or really how not fantastic the actual resolution of mech combat is, the setting did something to take soldiering into a place where narratives occur.

Of course, I also have an interest in war stories, so maybe it’s just that I’m overstating BT’s contribution to the idea of war stories.

Mechwarrior is still painful, though, methinks.  Every attempt to get characters to do things outside of mechs just seems to completely defeat the setting.

Magic

Not particularly great games of Magic, which is normal, and, thus, why I don’t play more Magic.  First game saw child basically play nothing as the deck needed at least four mana to ramp to fatties.  Second game saw elf deck roll over everybody.  Third game was more interesting, could have been even better if Wildfire would have gone off to clear all creatures in play.

But, putting aside how easy it is to have a bad game of Magic, it was different from my multiplayer CCG experiences of late in that how a deck was built mattered, a lot.  Magic hits that analytical bone on what the current card choices are, what your curve needs to look like, how to maximize the value of everything, what cards are making your ability to function worse by their inclusion.

Next time, we might use my Type P decks for games.  Whether those are any better is hard to say, especially since the decks we were using were intended more for multiplayer play and my P decks so aren’t.

The other takeaway is that there’s so much to learn about Magic that isn’t just learning what cards do.  With other CCGs, I think a relatively large amount of understanding how to play better is knowing what cards do and what may see play.  Now, sure, timing is important to everything, but timing seems a more subtle thing in V:TES or Shadowfist or B5 or whatever.  With Magic, timing is crucial constantly.

Epic Combat!

What?!?  More Ultimate Combat!??  So, Thursday, I was watching a game of Epic.  I’m really not a fan of how it forces a “this is s-o-o-o broken” battle, but I looked at the rulebook.  The mulligan rule caught my eye.  I think it should be used with Ultimate Combat!.  Basically, you shuffle back in (not discard) any number of cards from your opening hand, draw up to hand size, and take damage equal to the number of cards you shuffled back in.

So, of course, when I went to goldfish this rule, I kept getting amazing opening hands – play 5-6 cards in turn one sort of hands.

Using the idea of not starting from nothing, another possibility for how UC! should start is something like everybody starts with two foundation of their choice and a gi patch playable off of one of those foundation.  I’m not sure that’s a good idea, in that it gets everyone to swingy cards that much faster.  But, it’s the possibility of incredibly unbalanced starts that worries me about the game.  Foundation, gi patch, Mantra of Power, Bear’s Jaw, gi patch, Elixir of the Gods, Mantra of Power, Yamashita’s Belt, Gi Patch: Rat, Mantra of Power, Dragon’s Fire is a theoretically possible first turn play.  Just getting up two power on an opponent is probably game after players have a first turn.

Meditations

No, not talking about a B5 card.  One of the effects of not doing much gaming at the moment is that I have time to consider ideas.  Too many ideas.  But, who knows?  Maybe one of the ideas becomes doing something.  I might even have some interest in running a one-shot of something, which, normally, I eschew as I like long stories or, at least, recurring characters from my short stories.