Dragons, Winds, Water

A curious follow up to my last post is that I got invited to play mahjong after I was back in the US.  To play with people I had never played mahjong with.

First time I ever played American Mahjong.  The way I explain it is that you have to win with a special hand.  Other styles have special hands – I certainly spent time studying esoteric special hands from books about Chinese, Japanese, or unaligned mahjong.  The difference is between playing a game where you can win with whatever or whatever that has 1+ fans (or, to be fair, Shanghainese “you can only win with all pungs or all one suit” is incredibly limiting) and have the option of special hands versus only being able to win with special hands.

We only played like six hands.  Two were wall games.  Andy won the first two, which was a good time to retire, and his great aunt won the other two.  I think.

Hard to remember because each hand is so slow.  For me, trying to figure out what legal winning hands overlapped in such a way to move towards multiple hands at once was paralysis by noesis.

Not really my thing.  I have to unlearn how to play normally, then have to work through memorizing a bunch of specific combinations, then calc the probability of being able to form different combinations so that I can focus on what’s viable, meanwhile trying to pay enough attention to realize what someone else can win with.  It strikes me a bit too much like mixing bingo into mahjong.

But, I understand why other forms of mahjong can be less interesting when you don’t play for money or track anything that relates to the type of hand you win with.  If all you do is play to go out as quick as possible, yeah, pretty boring stuff.  It’s like playing poker without playing for money.

So, while Shadowfist has some mahjong related cards, it’s an awkward transition into Shadowfist play.

Thursday

Played two games, no mooks nor Sacred Grounds, pay one less to play a FSS to a new location.

I played the YotG Dragon precon first.  Cut down, of course.

Don (7 Masters) -> Ian (Dragon precon) -> Justin (Martial Focus Hand) -> Joren (Plague of Moths)

I did not have a particularly easy time playing stuff, with Chun Qi Shuan being my main contribution to the game.  One time I got River of Lights, which I couldn’t play.  The other Junkyard Engineer.  The deck seems to either come out strong or not come out at all when I watch it played by others.

Justin got out an occasional character but was really only a factor when he had Joren’s Leashed.  Joren didn’t have removal to stop 7 Masters.  So, 7 Masters won, with a Sky Dragon and an Evil Twin of Sky Dragon among other masters.

Don (Purists) -> Ian (Abomination From The Sky) -> Justin (Cops) -> Joren (Jammers hate their own sites)

We kept murdering Don’s guys, but it wasn’t payback so much as I didn’t want Quantum Sorcery gaining him power.  He kept making us draw cards.  Justin got out some early cops that got murdered by the Jammers.  Joren didn’t make his sleaze bigger by losing sites until late.

I played a bunch of Aerial Bombardments – murdering two Mutators in one turn with the 10 damage I could spread around.  Arcanomoth, fatter Arcanomoth, three Blood Eagles, and an Assassin Bug were my only dudes.  Don made one last bid for victory.  I had open targets in a variety of places, swung with Blood Eagles and Arcanomoth on my own Hot Springs, figuring M.A.D. would get played.  It didn’t.  Victory goes to the noble and virtuous death from above Architects.

Saturday

Five games?

First game was precons.

Cy (Ascended) -> Miguel (Lotus) -> Ian (Hand) -> Earl (Jammers)

Miguel discarded a lot of his good cards, having problems getting stuff out.  I got a strong defensive position after a while with a Buddhist Bellringer, Pacifists (3), Wei Tian, Reformed Bandit, Kitsune.  I had two sites burned for victory and a Garden of Eternal Spring that lasted all game.  So, I was a threat.  I tried some bids for victory, the last one being shot down with Fireworks Display.

Cy put out Campaign Managers, but they just got murdered.  His second Roar of the Lion was much more relevant.

Earl’s A Clockwork Orangutan got put under House Arrest.  He made a dude gigantic with The Blackboard and Personal Assault Vehicle, then made it even bigger with Exo-Skeleton for the win.

Cy won the second game when the only other deck that did anything was mine and my Khofesh died right away.

I played my Abominations From The Sky deck in the third game, and my Helix Mines couldn’t quite stop Cy from winning with Dragons, again.

Miguel had to leave.

I played Syndicate, ambush characters version.  Earl played his Hand Monkey deck.  I don’t get frustrated by a lot with Shadowfist because I don’t care enough most of the time to find plays frustrating, but the “this card doesn’t target”, “my card only stops people’s events that target my guys” stuff is really obnoxious.  Jammers get fantastic counterspells, but I can’t play them because they are monkey cards.  Hand has counterspells, but I don’t want to build a bunch of counterspells + superleap decks.  I think Cy won after my Xu Mei was ganged up on.

I finally played my most recent Insurance Policy deck, with Tears of the Crocodile as the main hitter.  I was a threat.  I had two Tears and Raven Li in play when we had to call the game.  Earl was not winning but had a lot of edges in play to go with his monkey mass.

I keep saying it, but I need to build more decks.  The tools are there to build amusing decks.  I’m sure I can even find something Lotus to do that would be fair and interesting.  I really need things to annihilate weenies and edges.  But, I don’t want to play Dragon all of the time.

A propos of Shadowfist, I decided to watch the first episode of Into the Badlands.  I’ve thought about a list of the movies I’ve never seen that I’d most want to watch.

Much of the list would be like this:  Kill Bill; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; House of Flying Daggers; Chinese Ghost Story; etc.  Yet, the reviews were exceedingly mediocre on ItB, and I’m highly reluctant to watch TV shows after getting burned on shows that I watched lasting only one season.  It was interesting enough for me to record the other episodes.

What do I like about it?

The setup with the Barons.  It’s so suited to RPG play.  The look is nice – vivid.  That I simply don’t watch enough martial arts stuff.

While I really dislike post-apocalyptic settings, I could see a more palatable variation being used as a basis for RPG play.  After all, Naruto isn’t dissimilar.  I’ve had the thought of a school vs. school Ninja Hero game for a long time because Ninja Hero just seems like such a cool take on the Hero System.  I’m just not sure there’s enough “the weakness of the praying desert oyster technique is that you can counterrotate your invisible base” to it, though.

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