Card Superiority

March 28, 2016

This post also could have been called “Your Better Third” cuz …

Looks like I’ll be P-ing, again.  Type P Magic, that is.  Not sure if I ever linked to rules for it.

Type P

When is cracking packs fun?  When you are playing limited.  As much as I don’t see any advantage to the LCG model, it’s not like opening three boxes of boosters to get enough copies of tournament cards is somehow enjoyable.  It’s often tedious and frustrating, only made more so when you get sets that don’t have nice even distributions of rares or power uncommons.

As prizes?  Nah.  I buy enough boxes of cards to get everything I am interested in or, for games with card limits, enough to trade to get what I’m looking for.

What’s the payoff with limited?  Obvious, right?  Card variance.

So, what are the thirds with CCGs?

Better Player

Better Cards

Better Deck

Inspiration for this post is a combination of the last two.

I often have wanted to crack better cards when playing limited.  I know there exists generally a great deal of interest in cracking better cards, even if it was a myth (to a great degree, anyway) once upon a time that Magic sealed wasn’t as skill intensive because you had greater randomness of card pool.

But.  This idea runs counter to how I play multiplayer CCGs.  Sure, I once played two-player CCGs competitively, even Magic, if at a minor level.  They are a different animal for reasons I’ve mentioned at various times.  But, let’s continue on with the thought.

In multiplayer CCG play, I specifically don’t try to build best decks.  With rare exceptions, I’ve never tried to.  Sure, Conscription, “win in 20 minutes” B5 decks were something I found appealing.  Can go into reasons why, but I’ve either mentioned them or they distract from the gist.

Assuming I’m not driven to victory at all costs, wouldn’t I rather have weaker cards than my opponents in limited play?  After all, if I win, it comes down to skill, one or both of two types.  (Ignoring luck and limited sample size issues.)

Either play skill, which is not the topic, either.

Or, deck construction skill.  Which kind of is.

The best deck isn’t necessarily the one with the best cards.  That applies to constructed, as well.  Affinity might be all the rage, but, if everyone maindecks artifact hate at ungodly levels, maybe want to play red control or something.

My experience with not playing the best cards, coming up with my own personal banned lists either for cards or for decks, has soured me on the idea of cracking better cards.  (With V:TES, it’s much more cards.  But, I didn’t play certain decks with B5.)

I still want tons of burn out of Magic packs because I enjoy burn far more than anything else, despite it being really good and even better in limited.

But, the idea of “OMG!, double White Eyes, Black Magician” to wreck people with is … just … hollow.  It’s a fluke.  I don’t plan on selling cards, though I should probably sell a bunch of my Magic cards I never intend doing anything with.  So, foil, mythic planeswalkers of a Jacey bent don’t really amount to extra value.

Not to say I want to analyze a set’s commons to death so that I can build the optimal metagame deck (not that Type P has a metagame, given that it’s essentially sealed Classic) and have pure joy in how my common 1/1s with some annoying special carry the day off of inspired, heroic, bushido flanking.

I guess, at least until I find some reason to think competitively again, I’m just interested in getting random cards that are cool.  Might be cool ability, cool art, cool name, cool cost.  But, it’s almost a commander mentality without remotely getting into playing commander.

Yet, the reason for this post is that there’s still an interest in building a better deck.  Sure, it might not be the best deck for a card pool but a best deck that does what I’m interested in doing.  The last time I played P, I sided in a second Coral Eel and a couple of Giant Octopuses to go Octopus configuration, figuring 3/3s and a 2/1 for two can annoy morphs.  Deck was way too slow in the second and third games, though.

Magic really did do certain things right.  Limited is just so good because there are so many facets to it.  Sure, you will not have some of the consistency and card combinations that constructed provides.  But, you get flex your brain around having a specific card pool that is not predictable.  Sealed is even more this way than draft, which is part of the reason I vastly prefer sealed.

Draft has its own skill – um, drafting skill.  It’s interesting to me, though likely far less fascinating to me than a lot of Magic players find it.  I’d rather spend my time dwelling on how I force a red splash to play two burn spells when all of my other colors are vastly better.

I actually favor redundancy in my Type P decks because it’s a format that can get absurdly redundant.  I have seven Llanowar Sentinels in a deck, though I could imagine someone going crazy with just trying to build the most redundant Type P deck ever could find a way to get a ton of Raging Goblins or something.  The appeal, though, of redundancy tends more towards the “OMG!  I cracked five Scornful Egotists in five packs!”, with a bit of a “Are you sure you don’t mind losing a Shivan Dragon to this deck that already has two?”

And, draft kind of requires having a draft pool and playing out that event, where something like P has the advantage of my 15 year-old decks still being intact and all ready to acquire more dwarves.

Oh, well, yes, Type P is also different from common limited in that your card pool universe changes over time.  Though, I did do with a couple of P-ers a sealed league where it was just about adding a booster every week.  That had some interesting elements.  Magic – so many ways to play.  V:TES, B5, WoT, UC! – not so much.  Actually, Shadowfist might have more functional formats because people will buy into the idea of playing variant formats far more than V:TES players ever have.  Stronger theme.

Better Player?  I defer to my betters most of the time.

Better Cards?  Sometimes cool cards are better cards, and 3-mana, 4-damage, cannot be reduced or redirected or countered to chump or brain is always very cool, or, like, a real card that has some of those features.

Better Deck?  Magic isn’t the only CCG where this occurs, I find that I usually have the second best draft deck in any V:TES draft I play, but the decisions are rather more interesting when you have some bomb demon with double black but just really need to play R/U/w until you ditch blue and go R/W until you ditch white and go mono-red.

Yup, scary as it is.  Where I hardly enjoy cracking packs for CCGs I play, I still enjoy cracking Magic packs.


Your Better Third

March 26, 2016

Let me be mundane and explain the title.  People often use the term the better half to refer to their life companion, SO, or whatever term is in these days.

How do I see PCs?  This is not in any way scientific and YMMV, but I see the RPG experience for me being:  one third player – I make decisions; one third character sheet – resolution goes off of values; one third world engagement – primarily through NPCs.

“But, what about other PCs?”

As I’ve said before, I rate this as far less significant.  Tangent alert.  Tangent alert.

Why?  First, let’s compare tabletop RPG play to LARPing.  I’m not that into LARPing for so much of it is player versus player, even with such things as gathering information.  I’m really not into human vs. human.  If I play videogames, I want to destroy supercheaty computer opponents.

So, what about tabletop play?  I just care less about other PCs because reasons.  One reason is that the PC already has a spokesperson in the form of the player, but, really, the main reason is probably more that I’m interested in exploring the GM’s world and not another player’s world.

I’ve played in pure storytelling games.  No resolution system beyond “I say this happens”.  Feels hollow to me.  Why do I need other people to make up a story?  I can just write a story that interests me.  I don’t feel like I accomplished anything, overcame any challenges, because the challenges are all self-imposed and/or player vs. player.

Yeah, my 100% storytellerness has always been suspect.  There’s something gamist in the idea that a GM creates a qualitatively different world from another player and that a resolution system is necessary to determine event outcomes.

So, to get on topic.  NPCs.  These are the primary interfaces into a world.  Sure, events happen, locations exist, whatever.  But, how much more engaging is it when those events affect NPCs, those locations are populated with NPCs, whatever with NPCs?

My last post was an example of romance.

Romance

Why do I consider romance the easiest form of NPC interaction?  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Watch TV.  Love stories are superultramegaubiquitous.

Even when entertainment is about murdering those who murdered your family or crashing helicopters into submarines, you get romantic subplots.  Indiana Jones movies, the better ones, have female character to provide motivation.  Even Doctor Who can’t get away from “this new hobo with a science degree is kind of hawt” anymore.

Let’s not create elephants where room don’t have them.  Sex for sex’s sake amounts to a tiny, little insignificant throwaway.  There’s a reason I don’t normally have characters with some form of lechery disadvantage, even though it’s really hard to avoid chasing loincloths/kimonos/et al.  Anyone can go off … and envision their own fantasies.

To have the meaningful romantic subplot means doing that silly romantic comedy stuff where the couple can’t just be with each other until challenges occur.  I see the aim being more like chivalric romance, where you do crap for your beloved, when you aren’t banging other people because of illusions, love potions, or other things straight out of the Camelot stories because Galahad needs to be born.

Maybe a bit too much of the usual – my example of Junhime and Kidai.  They can’t be together as a couple (no matter how much they horizontally socialize) because one is way higher status than the other.  So, motivation is to do something that results in evening up the status difference, while pining (with nontrivial pinewooding).  As events occur, goal gets closer and closer until … the horrible tragedy occurs that leaves everyone traumatized.  Well, or, you get a GM who doesn’t believe misery is fun and you get a pleasant ending.

Basic writing 101 – the relationship has to have challenges.  Soap operas exist because they screw … over … their characters endlessly.  Basic RPGing 101 – the relationship should actually involve some sort of relating, i.e. just rolling dice is hollow.  Don’t need some full-fleshed NPC, can be things like “I go on quest number 81 for Count whatshisname to prove my eternal devotion.”, though may want to make it a bit more realized than that.

Got to move on.

Business/Economics

I bring this up second because it’s something I constantly think about when thinking about ways to try to interact with NPCs, yet it’s one of the hardest to make work.  Speaking of work, not going to spend time on coworkers for the obvious reason that we play games to get away from real life.

Let’s say I’m playing L5R and am playing that mundane, ole boring character concept – Asako Henshin grain merchant patron.  So, my peasant slaves, I mean, peasants have grain production.  I want to turn that into kites to give away to my besties so that they can gloriously fly them.  This is not something that I find all that challenging.  Yes, weird as it is, Rokugan, where money isn’t supposed to matter and commerce is beneath samurai is a place where I actually not only can see but experience business transactions.  Probably because Rokugan is more real than a lot of worlds.  Instead of “heh heh, give you some gold for your diamonds”, you get “the harbormaster is into sculptures of monkeys” … as a totally I-can-roll-with-this thing.

Where I’ve seen it be painful is in such things as Vampire: The Masquerade or even games that are supposed to have an economic component, like Shadowrun or Traveller.  It’s just way too much effort.  Probably because it’s too modern.  We live in a world where we deal with currency and credit transactions every day, where we shop based on prices, realize monopolies exist, marketing is a thing, and so on.  In gaming, I don’t want to deal with the real world.  It’s the concept of “how do I start a business? maintain a business profitably? ruin my enemies? embezzle enough to run around in a private plane and have tactical headsets for the party?” that we are looking for.

I see dice-rolls being useful to economics.  However, couple of things.  First, don’t want to overdo dice-rolls, then you are just scratching off lottery tickets.  Second, the point of this post is NPCs.  I’m not into NPC interactions where it’s all about who can rip off whom.  Sure, you can get ripped off, but there should be some story reason behind it, not just because you only put two ranks in Commerce and every NPC businessperson has five dots.

There should be some coherent goal with ecomonics.  I had a Ventrue PC who settled in the New World back when it was the wild Colonies, who had to survive Sabbat ownership of territory.  The in game goal was credibility with the other Ventrue and everyone else.  “Yo, yo, yo, I just woke up from a hundred year nap, and Ize got all the banking and lumberyardz under my never diablerized by a Sabbie thumb.”  Then, it was a way to actually interact more with a Giovanni PC – no, I don’t totally ignore other PCs.  I want them to succeed and not be eviscerated and stuff.  It was a way to relate to other NPCs by saying “of course I, Ventrue extraordinaire, not only have bucks but neither work for a living nor get involved in crime”.  It was not a strong enough goal.  Our business endeavors came up like once and was resolved weirdly.  Needed to have something more tangible to abuse with wealth.  Also, there was no specific NPC to interact with.  Without a “face” to put on the challenge or interaction, it is prone to becoming background noise.

The other pitfall I encounter is having to be responsible for something that is constantly being screwed with.  I get incredibly weary of my nightclub being shaken down by the mob, burned down by gangs, etc.  That’s not the point of having economic assets.  We aren’t playing a videogame where economic survival is all you do.  We are playing a game where commerce interacts in enjoyable ways with the PCs – enjoyable involving challenge but also not overriding the importance of murdering people who murdered your family.

A similar “can we just burn everything down and become murderhobos?” situation is when you have incompetent employees.  Employees who could use raises, better health care, getting off drugs, not being stalked by vampires, or the like are far more palatable than what I’m used to.

Rivalry

As someone not into player vs. player, I’m not into PC rivalries.  Oh, sure, there can be a bit of friendly rivalry over who wins at snooker.  But, besides just not getting the appeal of counting up how many goblins you murdered, rivalries over prowess*, rivalries in getting NPCs to favor you, and similar stuff just doesn’t seem fun.

*  A note about prowess.  One reason to never get into prowess competitions with PCs is because then you open up the whole whoever designs better mechanical characters feature of RPGs.  This is pure anti-fun for me.

However, prowess competitions with NPCs is a great way to get someone to either dislike or respect a fellow archer.  When we were at Winter Court in the Princess Police campaign, we had anywhere from a bunch to a ton of competitors for various events.  I was all set to care about some Daidoji dude because he owned me at kyujutsu, though that never happened because I had better things to do, like not-doing a Scorpion.  While the competition was kind of nuts in that dice mechanics do not favor an individual in a large competition who might have some advantage (I ended up at the bottom of the top third – more than 30 competitors – even though I was by far the best archer in the party at the time) as dice explode and stuff, the competition managed to identify certain NPCs as someone to take interest in.  Because – Glory is a thing in L5R and kind of should be in a lot of games (Reputation was a thing in Conan).

If the blind archer dude had done better, I would have been more motivated to “sensei, teach me all of your blind secrets”.

Where I worry about rivalry as a tactic is when it feels forced.  The premise of us having two competing martial arts high schools just doesn’t really engage in the same way that organic rivalry can.  There should be several instances of competing to build things up to a level where you care what happens.

I suppose organic is a good word.  Any sort of NPC relationship gains from organic development.

Enemy (but not that kind)

There are enemies you murder, then there are enemies that you can’t.  Enemies you murder are not what I normally think of when I think of NPCs.  I think of those as antagonists, villains, or some number of hit dice.  Yes, recurring villains should be in every campaign, but …

Let’s talk about not-rivals-but-enemies as present forces.  Someone who just screws with you constantly is obnoxious, so we aren’t talking about “my boss is an elder dragon lich with a crystal ball”.  We are talking about someone who is in opposition to you in a way that still allows for you to interact with the NPC in a variety of ways.

Another key.  Variety of interaction.  The jealous lover can be fun if not nearly as much fun, perhaps, as the “game on, big boy” lover.

HoR2, where I felt like I interacted more with the campaign villains, had some instances where you would hang with someone who didn’t like you, you didn’t like, but you two didn’t do more than play a shogi match.

More compelling are situations that arise where it’s like “Oh crap, we won, but this only makes Heinous Warlock get more souls.” or like “At least poisoning are entire water supply so we are forced to drink imported Tang will mean Heinous Warlock’s microbrewery is shut down.”

Government/Criminal

Might think of this like business/economics, but it usually plays out somewhat differently.  Government is all about authority and the perception of power (where wealth disguises power).

Again, an oppressive government is just annoying.  Far more interesting is having officials that you favor and disfavor and either try to get someone elected or appointed or couped.

I do mean someone.  Government can be a world interaction without involving an individual, but that’s a different topic.  What we want here is someone in government, even possibly a subordinate to a PC who is an official.

Other than get out of jail cards, the official can provide intel, invitations to parties, affect your business, detain someone you want to interrogate.  This all seem obvious?  How often does it come up in your games?  I find that having a specific person I interact with in government is virtually nonexistent.  This may be due to things like traveling the world in Conan or the government being in pure opposition in something like Shadowrun (one of the reasons I don’t like the idea of playing a criminal).

One of my goals in the Princess Police campaign was to promote minor clans.  Trying to get someone appointed in a position of status meant the possibility, if not the actuality, of having that someone nebulously improve the lot of minor clans.  Beyond just playing favorites when it came to clans or personality, there was also the game of trying to get someone into your debt or for swapping political benefits (favorable marriages, for instance, in a world like Rokugan).

Criminals work much like government, suspiciously so …  They get you stuff or they have authority or they rescue you from jail.  I’m not a fan of criminal activity, but, for those genres where it can be better appreciated, can try to have interesting things happen.  Note that “I go to the fence and haggle for 10% more” is a boring activity.

Informants

Assuming some sort of reused locale, informants are a rather common thing to develop.  But, are they interesting?  Is it just a way to progress plot?  I find that I rarely come to care about informants because their roles are so limited.  Again, variety of interactions.

Society

Can overlap with government, especially in a world like Conan.  We are talking about having someone who relates to you in some sort of social way that faces others, rather than a direct relationship.

It didn’t develop much, but I saw potential for this with one of my V:TM campaigns.  My Belgian Tremere was totally willing to French with some Toreador at Elysium.

I’m not much into embarrassing people, so the caustic society of, say, V:TM Harpies doesn’t interest me as much.  But, just like how someone might want to be a successful businessperson, someone might want to run with the in crowd, whether death bikers or parents’ groups or the well known death biker parent group.

Again, what’s the goal?  Just having bigger parties at nicer mansions isn’t much of a goal in our murder those who murdered your family world.  I find society less of a thing in games because most games aren’t oriented to popular-but-not-rich-nor-powerful-nor-more-swordrrific.

Family

I hate thinking about family before playing a character.  Well, not always, just much of the time.  I don’t give a crap who my parents are, who my siblings are, who my children are up until the point that I need to murder someone for murdering them.

Or, up until the point I play for a while and need to flesh out my PC.  I never find parents to work well as actual NPCs.  As hooks, “Emperor Evil hates you because your mother called his painting pedestrian”, that’s fine, troperrific.

Children I see being more of a goal for a campaign.  You not only murdered those who murdered your family but rescued supercutie from their murderous clutches and now breed to create a new family from which your child will survive and lead a life of perpetual vengeance.

Siblings are good for providing contrast.  Sure, everyone can have schoolmates or whatever, but the feeling of connection to such is more limited than someone of your ilk.

What’s the downside of family?  Most of the time, I come up with my own family, rather than the GM.  So, this runs into the “trying to explore GM’s world” problem.  A NPC I create might be fine for interacting with another PC, but it’s awful for interacting with me.

Yeah, the GM can have things happen with family that don’t require you to interact with the family member but with the NPCs or situation that interact with the family member.  This can feel forced or not, depending upon how interesting the situation is for your kin.

Secret family is not something that comes up that often IME, but it is something in our Through the Breach campaign for one of the PCs.

Expertise

This could fall under a bunch of other categories, but let me start with an example.  Because Kidai wanted his novels illustrated, he sought out a painter.  He also developed his painting skills because it was a way to get hot chicks to pose for him, er, a way to bring the beauty of art to the world.

This is a diamond mine for games.  Consider.  PCs tend to be really good at certain things, mostly murdering those who murdered their families, but, occasionally, because of the game mechanics or ancillary needs, also stuff people actually care about, like putting on puppet shows.

Why wouldn’t NPCs seek out expert PCs to help or teach them in the ways of putting on better puppet shows?

Yet, how often does that happen?  Sure, in a supers game, Brainmaster may be found at science-con until Mindrot appears to steal all of the knowledge of the elite scientists in the world.  I don’t play in supers games.  What I play in hardly ever sees NPCs want PCs for anything besides investigations, murder, murder investigations, infiltration, escort duty.

Meanwhile, how often do PCs seek out NPC experts?  Occult ones, all of the time.  In one-shots, seems common.  But, this sort of “can you illustrate a hot chick with a sword and a tiger for me?” thing doesn’t happen enough, probably because players don’t care enough about creating fantasy novels in a fantasy world to get into areas where PCs aren’t already awesomest.  And, if it’s something important, like healing or murdering, players don’t want NPCs to be more awesome.  Where, I’m totally okayish with a NPC teaching me the fullest depths of Lore: Tropical Fish.

The thing about experts is that it’s rarely adversarial.  Instead, we get helpful without “you can’t defeat Emperor Evil, Brainmaster, I, Nuclear Propulsion Champion will send him into the gray hole” levels of players feeling overshadowed by NPCs.

On the other hand, experts are experts.  How much variety can you get out of them?  Kind of similar to informant in that a specific need is addressed, rather than a relationship that could be varietous.  On the other paw, Kidai was quite fond of his painting instructor, without wanting to “brush” her “canvas”.

Guides can make for another form of expert, though I find guides are often either too much into screwing you or too much into running away when the fan cuts your fingers off.  Dangerous worlds should have guides expecting danger.

That’s it, folks.  Ran out of brainvapor to make this longer.


The Story of O … -tomo Junhime and Usagi Kidai

March 20, 2016

I started writing that NPC post I alluded to.  Then, I had more urgent topics.  I was going to use this as an example, either tacked on to the end (possibly not ideal since reading lots of my posts is already so time consuming) or as a follow up.  But, I mentally inhabited a space that led me to start thinking about the campaign that ended last Summer, even wrote a fiction set after the campaign was over, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post this to the playgroup for some time, just waiting to see if the GM wrote some sort of unexpected ending.

So, if I ever post the next NPC “here’s how PCs can interact with NPCs” post, can consider this an example of what I find to be the least effort – romance.

**     **     **

The Story of O … -tomo Junhime and Usagi Kidai

Usagi Kidai discovers that Otomo Junhime is one of the attendees of Winter Court spreading malicious gossip about Otomo Yasumi having an affair with Kaiu Hikosada.  [Session #32]

“I’m happy to observe your cousin, my lady.”  (Kidai to Yasumi)  [Session #34]

Junhime approaches group after Doji Shorai is outed as … Crane.  “Yasumi-chan, always surrounded by such handsome and virile gentlemen.”  Kidai replies, “Not just handsome and virile gentlement but also surrounded by beautiful women, including those who just visit.”  AWA/Sincerity.  Follows up with twinkling, AWA/Temptation.  <GM_Chris> You are certain you saw Junhime nod at you in appreciation.  [Session #34]

Later, Kidai chats with Junhime about her interests – “father always fascinated with sumai” – and some of the competitions.  Still later, while at the archery range to practice, write out the kanji for “sharumu” while Junhime is looking on, requires five rolls of Kyujutsu, all pass (ranging from 29 to 48).  Junhime talks up Kidai’s archery skill.  [Session #34]

Junhime approaches Kidai after opening ceremonies of WC.  Kidai talks about focusing his attention on her during the ceremonies and about making others happy, Junhime looks sad for a moment.  [Session #36]

Cousin of Isawa Daniwa wants assistance, eight days away from WC, Junhime seems sad when Kidai leaves.  [Session #37]

Junhime wants to go on a picnic at some nearby waterfalls.  Just Yasumi and Dove, Daniwa, Moshi Izumi, Bayushi Tanaka, and Kidai to go with her and one of her handmaidens.  Junhime wants to go swimming.  Yasumi, Izumi, Tanaka, and Kidai join her.  Junhime pulls Kidai’s leg, surfaces, and splashes him.  Yasumi finds the horseplay amusing.  Junhime dunks Kidai.  Junhime almost falls off cliff, Daniwa saves her.  Junhime offers battle formation plan while returning to Pale Oak Castle, Kidai takes interest.  After returning to WC, bit of flirting.  [Long OOC conversation about Kidai’s IC plans.]  [Session #38]

Kidai works on crafting a yumi as a gift for Junhime.  All five rolls (one to use workshop at Pale Oak Castle) are made and yumi is completed.  During fireworks display, Junhime and Kidai chat and arrange a walk in the woods, that ends up being chaperoned by a maid.  [Session #39]

Goose hunt.  Kidai presents the yumi as a gift.  Junhime and Kidai stay close together during the hunt.  Junhime gets some assistance from Kidai on murdering geese, she bags two.  Kidai bags … three.  Junhime is happy.  [Session #40]

Sumai competition.  Junhime is interested in that.  Kidai is interested in … something else.  A good, but not great, time is had while Junhime is still excited by the competition.  [Session #41]

<GM_Chris> So, are you going to focus your efforts on Junhime or Rin?
<Usagi_Kidai> Junhime is always the top … priority.
<GM_Chris> I figured as much.  [Session #41]

Shinjo Mikael knows how to ride a horse.  Kidai gains experience in horseless riding.  Junhime has some concern about being discovered.  Rumors of others doing naughty things helps cover for the two.  [Session #42]

Return from helping Jurojin out.  Junhime is quite excited by Kidai’s return as Kidai was gone for more than a week.  Kidai is quite excited at putting his Stamina of 3 to work.  [Session #44]

Riding competition.  Oh, and there’s the WC’s Riding event, as well.  There’s pillow talk, but Junhime never talks about her future.  [Session #45]

Kidai spends a lot of time thinking about the situation with Junhime when away from Pale Oak Castle.  His thinking is interrupted by the shameless Buttercup.  [Session #47]

Archery competition.  Kidai starts calling Junhime Kikujo-chan in private as a sign of affection.  Kidai tries to encourage Junhime to participate with her gift.  Junhime doesn’t think she’s good enough.  Suggestion that Junhime is interested in more than just Kidai’s well-used body.  [Session #48]

Bayushi Komaki implies that Kidai has an invitation for some private Scorpion time.  Junhime is displeased when Komaki talks to Kidai.  [Session #49]

Hantei Hanahime wants to talk with Junhime and thinks Kidai should tag along.  Stairway railing is unkind to Hanahime who grabs Junhime and both start to tumble.  Kidai has immense relief when neither plunge to their deaths.  [Session #50]

Polearms competition.  Junhime is unhappy about Kidai talking to Komaki.  Kidai points out that not flirting with Komaki would be suspicious … and that only supernatural possession or the like would cause him to be physically unfaithful with another woman at Winter Court.  Junhime calms down but doesn’t want Kidai seeking Komaki out.  The Emperor asks Kidai to sit with the family due to Junhime providing a reference (goose slayer, yumi crafter).  [Session #51]

Kidai starts working on his first novel as a gift to Junhime where the main character, a Rokugani Princess who ends up on another world, a world of monsters(!) and magic(!), one might say a fantasy world, portrays how he thinks of her as the best thing ever and how she should think of herself.  Seiji is confronted.  Attack on the Imperial Family.  Kidai rushes to assist Junhime while others focus on other family members.  Junhime is not under attack, Kidai borrows her yumi to use to fight off the metal kumo attacking the Emperor, Crown Prince, and Crown Princess since he doesn’t wander around the castle with either his yumi or a naginata/nagamaki.  [Session #53]

Because of Kidai’s promotion from helping save the Emperor’s family, Junhime works on making Kidai appear to be legit enough to be a suitor.  Kidai’s novel is still being illustrated by Shiba Toyoka and calligraphized by Tsugumi and Kidai is working on content.  Emperor gets attacked again, Kidai Guards Junhime.  Kidai almost dies fighting oni and friends when party separates Seppun Nana from an oni.  [Session #57]

Junhime expects Kidai to continue to do “amazing things” (of the socially acceptable sort) to enable everyone else to think of him as suitor material as she’s fallen for Kidai.  GM makes the rolls for the novel.  [Session #61]

First use of Kharmic Tie (Otomo Junhime) when fighting Gaijin assassins trying to kill the Imperials.  [Session #63]

Kidai suggests a farewell to WC picnic with Junhime, Yasumi, and Hanahime.  “Amazing thing” – the picnic happens.  Kidai has second novel’s story completed but needs Tsugumi to calligraphize before Junhime receives it.  Kidai leads escort duty for Junhime and others returning to Otosan Uchi, Yobanjin attack.  [Session #64]

Mantis Isles, time to shop for a present for Junhime – Kidai considers things he gives her are “presents” now and not “gifts”.  [Session #65]

In Tsuma, Kidai talks to Yasumi about Junhime; Yasumi wonders if she has fallen for someone and who that might be.  [Session #71]

Junhime finally makes it to Tsuma for the Topaz.  Kidai gives her the present he got for her on the Mantis Isles – Pachisi set.  When he returns to his room, U. Kidai finds a watercolor of maidens watching archers shoot at targets with geese flying in the background.  Junhime will be setting out for Ryoko Owari to end her mourning period.  [Session #76]

Junhime insists Kidai go play with his friends and murder some bandits for the “glory”.  Kidai has her and her entourage set up observing bandit murder way too close by.  Kidai tries to tap her for her knowledge of Battle, as she was Kidai’s inspiration … for learning about formations.  First use of second point in Kharmic Tie.  Junhime’s maids make sure that the two won’t be bothered when spending nights at inns on the way to Ryoko Owari.  [Session #77]

Junhime wants to check out the Licensed Quarter.  Junhime’s eyes narrow when Kidai speaks to Bayushi Aiko privately at dinner.  Kidai is “reasonably certain” that Junhime will be safe guarded by the governor’s guards.  Junhime is good with Kidai running off to find bombers and going out to do her ritual thingy if he isn’t back soon.  Junhime gets abducted by Shosuro Shinen while off to her ritual thingy.  [Session #78]

The party chases after Shinen, catches up to him, and recovers Junhime, who doesn’t appear to be a shapeshifting impersonator.  [Session #79]

Kidai thinks it’s better for him to guard Junhime’s body 12 hours out of every day.  Usagi Toshihiro – Emerald Champion, Clan Champion, Big Bunny, Righteous Rabbit, High Hare, “Dad” – meets with Kidai privately and imparts:

“His Imperial Majesty informs me he is aware his youngest daughter
looks kindly upon you. Also, he tells me the Crown Princess spoke
favorably of you. He wished me to know he would consider you an
acceptable suitor for his daughter, were you to prove yourself worthy
of her. I suggest you take advantage of this opportunity to both rid
the Empire of this foul creature and demonstrate why you deserve to be
chosen to marry Otomo Junhime-sama.”

He also takes over personally protecting Junhime.  Junhime and Kidai don’t make it to the Licensed Quarter before Kidai needs to continue on to the Plains Above Evil.  Kidai goes late into the last night in Ryoko Owari discussing how to protect Imperial family members with Aiko and the Big Bunny.  Kidai carries his notes for third novel with him, mentions to Usagi Taka that he has papers to go to Junhime or Hanahime if he can’t deliver them himself.  [Session #80]

GM:  As previously mentioned by the EC, your efforts to bring about a successful end to the situation with Diwe, including being in command of victorious forces of a detachment of the First Imperial Legion, combined with your previous service to the Empire and Emperor has earned you the right to petition to wed Otomo Junhime.  You would take the Otomo name and be assigned responsibilities commensurate with your station and talents.  [Campaign Denouement]


Fisticuffs [20160317]

March 18, 2016

I now know two people who have birthdays on St. Sucatus’s Day.  One is Chinese, the other Irish …

Joren (Dragons w/ states) -> Justin (Insurance Caches) -> Ian (Dragons) -> Don (Architects/Lotus Plague)

Don comboed off with his Plague of Moths deck.  I hear it’s going to get nerfed.  How it didn’t end up being Limited and Toast It I’m not at all clear.  But, Year of the Goat is just generally way overpowered and other cards, like Ejector Seat Malfunction, also didn’t get fixed before publishing.

I don’t hate Plague of Moths, but this was a perfect example of why combo decks are bad.  At a certain point in the game, it was just over.  Maybe could have beaten the player down so much that it couldn’t get there, but how’s that remotely fun?

“But, dude, at a certain point in any game, it’s just over.”

Lot’s of things are hard enough to articulate to where the argumentative can waste my time.  The essence of a combo deck is that you stop being able to interact with it, while they are inclined to endeavor to minimize any sort of interaction.  If I’m not interacting with other players, why am I playing at all?

Yes, combo decks are interesting.  I get why puzzles attract players, especially players of games as complicated as CCGs.  Metagaming the countercounterbreakers is an interesting subgame.  Etc.  But, interesting and fun aren’t the same things.  It’s interesting to see how much you can deprive a Shadowfist deck of resources.  It’s interesting to see how much you can prevent a Magic player from playing cards due to hand destruction, land destruction, or whatever.  It’s interesting to see whether you can hospitalize someone’s entire inner circle.  It’s interesting to see if you can murder+steal every minion in play with Tupdogs.  Don’t like my examples because they are all about preventing someone from playing the game?  Stopping people from playing is not exactly the same as stopping people from mattering.  But, I kind of prefer mattering.

I know, because I’ve asked and because I’ve read about CCGs, that players enjoy playing combo decks.  I’ve enjoyed playing certain combo decks.  Does anyone enjoy playing against them?  I don’t mean tolerate.  I mean, does anyone think they make for fun games when the game finishes?

“But, dude, you may play all of these multiplayer games that are more social and full of questionable decks where people aren’t optimizing for the win.  I play two-player games where the game ends and we play another.”

True.  However, combo decks often lose.  When they do, it’s not pretty.  I’m just not a fan of extremes.  I like games to be close*.  You can respect Kentucky beating Pitt by 40 on the hardcourt, but the sporting events I enjoy are when you get to the last end and you need your last stone to be shot rock.  Destroying someone because the deck doesn’t do anything besides go off is not remotely interesting, though I’m also aware there are plenty of people who just really enjoy winning, even if the events in the games are crap.

*  If every two-player game with a combo deck is “if I didn’t win this turn, you would win next turn”, that’s far more interesting, of course.

Don (Monarchs) -> Joren (as above) -> Justin (as above) -> Ian (Hand)

Don got four Auramancers in play.  I had a “Mooks” survive much of the game, plus had enough power to take the King of the Thunder Pagoda from Don before my turn and could have played a 9-Fighting Superleap guy on my turn.  After a couple of turns, I played Violet Meditation four straight turns.

Don eventually won with the Queen of the Darkness Pagoda and an Ice Diadem.  I didn’t bother making a bid for victory as there was too much to get in the way, even for my superleapers.  Joren had a Monster Truck Ambulance on somebody.  Justin had Death’s Shadow with a way to unturn her.  Don had two unturned Auramancers after I used his King of the Thunder Pagoda to murder his Once and Future Champion.

Joren got to four sites plus a Chop Shop, but he didn’t have much in the way of characters, even less so after he lost a couple sites.  Justin managed to figure out how to play Entrapment by having his characters turn to change sites to stop a bid for victory.  Equal Opportunity Butt-Kicking savaged my board right before Don won, wiping some five characters of mine.

But, all that really mattered is that I stopped making a bid for victory because my Peasant Mob attacked an unrevealed site that turned out to be … wait for it … stay on target … wait for it … Hidden Sanctum.

[Hand] Peasant Mob
Angry Rabble

4 fighting
Requires: [Hand][Hand] 3
Provides: [Hand]
Inflicts +2 damage on any Site with a printed Body of 7 or more and -2 damage on any Site with a printed Body of 5 or less, even if the Site is unrevealed.

[Un] Hidden Sanctum
Feng Shui Site

1 power, 4 body
Sites at this location gain +5 Body.

 


The Ceaseless Struggle

March 13, 2016

I started writing something I said I was going to write about NPCs, then got distracted by gaming.

Today, had a V:TES day.  Also, had notes from a conversation about formats and mechanics from the prior session.

While I had more hope for winning the first of our three games, I did the most in the second game with Ani/Nec, unfortunately a deck I can’t play in a tournament.  Brandon doesn’t think my lending it out would work all that well, and I would imagine much the same.  The third game ended some 1.5 hours after I was ousted.

Anyway, we talked about a variety of things:  league play; prizes for league play; combat mechanics; rules changes; even some history on stuff like when the NRA rule came into being.

Let me dispense with a few things.

Combat ReWhatever

I don’t have a great idea on how to make combat work the way I’d like to see it work, which is lots of cards played with one person losing one blood and the other losing two, while also having combat serve its purpose in the game.  Combat serve a crucial purpose of not making the game just about bleed for 5 and vote “3 and 1”.

That minions get torped and burnt has uses.

I find additional strikes to be clunky and overly limited to one discipline (Protean’s additional stuff is rather awful, Obtenebration’s is more prevalent but not much for affecting the game, etc.), but something for newer players to keep in mind is that the game started with seven clans, 10 disciplines.  The current, bloated mess is just what happens when you constantly expand CCGs.

I did mention to Brandon, who thought it was my idea, that it wasn’t my idea to change combat ends to “skip to press step”, though I find that an interesting change.  I might have even heard that back in ’97 or whatever playing with Jyhad players, when we all found 14 Majesty to be rather cheesy, but I know I heard it from somewhere a long time back, maybe the newsgroup.

Prizes

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that winning more cards is not a prize I find all that interesting.  I’ve been in the camp that cool beads, good playmats, interesting edges, and other accessories make for better prizes.  Plaques are notable for being different, it’s something Shadowfist events have had, but I don’t find them terribly useful.  I can see things more like trophies for major events, which … I don’t play in.

I tried thinking of what I wanted from other CCG tournaments.  Ultimate Combat!, of course, had the best prizes ever in a functional playmat and a hit point counter, also had a real black belt, though that’s not terribly functional.  Babylon 5 had promo cards that were actually hard to get – I may hate unique promo cards, but I’ll still chase them.  Shadowfist, where I’ve only been playing for four years or whatever, I just like the idea of glory, though I suppose there are promos I could use.

It’s only Magic where I wanted more cards.  Actually, if you have a prerelease or release event, I can see boxes of cards as prizes, as not everyone preorders everything they intend on getting.  But, for the CCGs I was invested in, I was going to end up with everything I wanted from published sets, so more cards were largely meaningless.  That was not the case with Magic, where I never had full sets of cards or anything remotely resembling having the collection to build tournament decks.

Good playmat.  That’s the best.  There are so few good playmats.  A good playmat has the right thickness, is foldable (not just rollable), is largely neutral in color with a color neither too light nor too dark so that you can actually see not only someone’s cards but their counters, it needs to be close to the right size for personal use, though I can see some benefit for ones big enough for two or four players.  My Ultimate Combat! (yes, I managed to discover I had a second one) playmats largely fit, as do other Khalsa-Brain playmats I have.  My Shadowfist one isn’t all that foldable and is way too busy to where you may not be able to see important things.  I might like fantasy art and whatnot, but I’m not into having unrelated gamer art on display – a playmat should relate to the game it was made for.

I’ve actually picked up odd counters – pumpkin power, apple/hearts, costume jewels – to use for games, so something connected to the game has use.  Shadowfist had plastic counters for each of the factions which are cute, maybe a bit spiky, so maybe do a pattern inside a circle, but still way better than the wooden tokens that come with Combat in Kowloon.  Not sure why those aren’t still produced.

Mechanics Changes

Putting aside the usual mantra of “Remove Imbued, Events, promos, and a few other things I hate from the game.” and changing combat, what would I look to change in V:TES?

Couple of things did come up.  Transfers seem like they could work better.  Forums have recently discussed what I think is another old idea with having five transfers.  Contesting.  Contesting/auctions/uniqueness rule/whatever just sucks in every game.  It was mentioned by one of our locals, at a minimum, the idea that contested vampires lose their text.  So, no titles, no specials, no restrictions, just empty shells of hum- … vampiredom, with capacity and disciplines and clan and sect.  That seems interesting.  Contest Anson and you get an 8-cap Toreador with superior guns, superior vote, inferior block, and inferior broken.

Formats

Not this session but the prior, we talked about different formats.  Here are two I like:

Ancilla Antics (better name TBD)

The whole idea is to limit vampire options by capacity to both remove the weenies from the game and get away from fatties, which are providing their own form of tyranny.  What did we settle upon?  Capacity 4-7 or something close.

You can only run vampires of capacity four to capacity seven in your crypt.  And, may Caine have mercy upon the play environment.  I have no idea how this will turn out.  But, I want to try it.

Unfortunately, unlike the next format, this is not something I can just build my own decks to and see any impact.  I may have a lot of decks like this, but forcing it only upon myself just doesn’t seem like I’ll see the games turn out any differently.

Distinct Directive (this is even worse of a title, how about Mine Is Only Mine)

The only unique library cards you can put in your deck are clan cards.  Kuta was building decks with no unique library cards to make decks less “chase”.  I liked the idea.  I think this idea, though more complicated, has some benefits over no uniqueness.  Having the game push back towards more clanness is not a bad thing.  We talked about this today, as well as many other times in the past, but V:TES has a draw of people who actually like Vampire: The Masquerade or WoD stuff.  Part of my hope for getting more players through shrinking the card pool is refocusing the game on the core clans.

If you can’t play any unique cards, you lose Hunting Grounds, EcoLibraries, etc., which means you lose clan flavor.

What this does do is kill Dreams, Ivory, Info, Barrens, Bowl, number of top tier allies/retainers, Heidelberg, the occasionally played Subversion, Coven, Montreal, and the like.  Two downsides to this.  One, Brett pointed this out, it takes out intercept locations.  I don’t see them much, but they have a lot of impact when they are in play.  Two, it makes anarchs weaker.  Other than that, it takes out a ton of overly played cards.  Note that unique titles from Crusades and Praxis Seizures are a different type of ghoul.  They aren’t unique cards.

I can see how my just building decks under this rule would impact play.  I would never be contesting ubiquitous plays.  I lose card cycling, which I often don’t bother with in casual decks anyway, but which I too often overlook for tournament play.  Obviously, if I knew others weren’t going to play these cards, that removes some location control and equipment control considerations.

I just like how much it forces me not to go to boring wells, plus there are so many obnoxious cards among the uniques.  Carlton and Mylan don’t bother me anywhere near Bowl, Montreal, Ivory, and Coven.  I’m not even that much of a hater of Pentex.  Still, I don’t think any of those cards need to exist in the game.  I’ll miss J.S. and Tasha, but, without Heidelberg, why do I even care that much?  I’ll switch to Laptop/Camera tricks to get multiuse out of +bleed.  Coyote being gone is kind of sad, though I only like Coyote when I play it and not when others abuse it.

Card Ideas

I forgot some other card ideas.  We were talking about Forgery today.  I like the capacity limit, but it’s just too weak.  If it was a +1 Stealth action, it would probably be a bit good.  While text heavy, aka way too much text, adding the line “Vampires with a capacity below 5 and allies have -1 Intercept when attempting to block this action.” would be a direction to like.

Voter Captivation.  It just makes the Presenceless weep.  We were talking about how pointless !Ventrue vote was, that it was only more common back in the day because Stickmen and the like weren’t options due to lack of quality midcaps.

Overwhelming Popularity
Action Modifier
Play when a referendum called by this vampire succeeds by three or more votes.  This acting vampire gains 2 blood from the blood bank.

No Presence deck would ever play this.  Yet, it throws some red, drippy stuff to the less Captivating.

Lots of ideas come up when we talk about how weak various cards are or how much we’d like to weaken various cards.  Unfortunately, the pure geniusness of us will never be revealed due to not bothering to write stuff down.  A bunch of the ideas are no-gos because of adding too much card text, though, so some ungeniusness will also never be revealed.

Deck Ideas

I have this thing I often carry that sucks for phone calls but does allow me to look up restaurants and map stuff and crap.  It has a memo app.  I started writing down all of the many, many deck ideas I think of when I play.  Now, let’s see if I get around to building some of these decks.

I was playing a deck that brought out Vignes, played two damage prevent cards as its first two plays, Concealed a Desert Eagle right before it died.  I was telling my prey I was struggling to recall what the deck was supposed to do.  He called it “No Bruise, No Bleed”.  I love that deck name.  I’m not sure this is that deck.  I need to build that deck, assuming I haven’t already built it in one of the myriad decks I’ve written up and never pulled the cards for.


Fisticuffs – Abysmal Li

March 6, 2016

Name:  Abysmal Li
Faction:  Lotus
Size:  45

Lotus Cards (30)
Characters (22)
3x Abysmal Prince(!!)
5x Eater of Fortune(!)
3x Gibbering Horrors(!)
3x Li Yu
5x Sinister Priest
3x Ti Kan

Events (4)
2x Die!!!
2x Flying Sleeves

Sites (3)
3x Infernal Temple

States (1)
1x Five Fingers of Death

Generic Cards (15)
Events (6)
1x Discerning Fire
5x Pocket Demon

Feng Shui Sites (9)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary(!!)
1x Mobius Gardens
1x Petroglyphs
3x Pinball Hall
1x Puzzle Garden
1x Temple of the Angry Spirits
1x Whirlpool of Blood

Best deck.  Oh, not ever.  That would be far too limiting.  The best deck possible in any combination of panverses, encompassing all space-time.

That is what has been conclusively proven through its lifetime winning streak.  Yup, not only is it retired undefeated, like so many of my V:TES decks, it is undefeated with two – one more than one – wins!!  Not a lot of my undefeated V:TES decks can make that claim.

Miguel handed me a couple extras boxes, which I’ve spent some time going through though not as much time as I would have when I was disemployed in my younger days.  Lotus are always the easiest faction to build around because … uh, even though I have no interest in eunuchs and little in magic, Lotus are like the most awesomey faction ever.  I like creature, er, character removal/steal.

Working backwards through the last seven games, played yesterday and Thursday, we have …

Two Modern games:

Miguel (Dragon/Monarchs I Heal For Power) -> Cy (Dragon/Monarchs Mass Damage Doubled!) -> Ian (Khofesh Returns) -> Oliver (Flower Glower)

As is always the case with Shadowfist, this game was decided by auctions … with an “s” …??!!??

Since I’m working backwards, Oliver hadn’t played in a while and was playing my straightforward Flower Glower deck for a second straight game.  This game, he got to do things, like have two 11-Fighting Blossoms of the Black Lotus, with their Crowns of Thorns, in play.  He had four FSSs at one point and might have won if he had remembered Arcane Esotericist discarding to stop Hungry Ghosts from eviscerating a Moon Petal!

At some point, there’s only so many times you can say “Welp, that’s Shadowfist.”

Miguel burned two sites for victory, which made it easy for him to get to four.  We regulated him.  Cy got to three but had to spend a lot of time regulating as he and I were sitting at one site and one burned for victory for a while.

My first Khofesh was at 14 or 16 fighting.  Miguel played Khofesh and bid 3 power and Cy wasn’t interested in spending 4.  That gave Miguel both the Prince of the Ice Pagoda and a boring, 5-Fighting Khofesh.

Cy eventually decided to play Prince of the Ice Pagoda and pay one more to have his copy exist.  I Thunder on Thundered Miguel’s one (of five in the deck) Crystal Heart as part of the deal.

I Golden Comebacked Khofesh and bid one to restore her to the player playing five Inauspicious Returns.

Welp, that’s Shadowfist.

I play, drop Sewer Scum, take with Scum, take with my 11 or 12 fighting Khofesh, for the usual triple auction victory that shows up like 70% of the Shadowfist games or … whatever.

Miguel (as above) -> Cy (Heroes Band) -> Ian (Chi) -> Oliver (as above)

My deck was made up of mixing Year of the Goat Ascended and Hand.  It’s won a game, but it usually doesn’t fare that well.  It didn’t really matter.  Once we ganged up on Miguel’s Average Jane, Cy’s Average Jane survived and he destroyed us with Heroes.  His Band of Heroes, Ejector Seat Malfunction, etc. deck routinely just crushes us.

Two three-player games before Oliver arrived:

Miguel (Heat of Battle/Proving Grounds) -> Cy (Mass Removal as above) -> Ian (Skyfire)

I got an Arcanomoth.  I had to play a second to Fire in the Sky away a Virtuous Hoods.  I was irrelevant thereafter.  Miguel could just keep Heat of Battleing into Virtuous Hoods and stuff.  Cy got off his Snow Seer Iron Fists McQueen bombo (we just thought it was funny for IFM to be a queen, so we didn’t bother looking up whether it was true) for the win.

Ian (Abysmal Li) -> Miguel (Senoritas & Jammers) -> Cy (Mass Removal as above)

This looked like it would be a pointless game, as Cy and I both had incredible problems playing anything.  Cy had gotten out two foundation characters.

I didn’t.

I had Pocket Demons and Eaters of Fortune and Infernal Temples coming out of my ears.  At one point, I had three Infernal Temples in hand.  Yes, the sum total of all of the ones in the deck.  I did play out two Infernal Temples but couldn’t legally play Eater of Fortune – no magic – to ironically not have all the magic I could use.  At the end of the game, I had something like three Pocket Demons in my toasted pile, three Eater of Fortune in my toasted pile.  This having played one of each over the course of the game.

With six power and not having played a character yet or anything besides sites, I finally discarded my hand.  I drew a Sinister Priest and a Li Yu.  I played both.  I murdered a Blasting Crew with Li Yu.

So, bit more detail on Cy’s deck – it has Final Brawls, Just Gettin’ Riled Ups, and Twin Thunders.  I played two of my three Li Yus over the course of the game.  If you have no idea what Li Yu’s special is, there’s the virtually complete database (lacking Prince of the Ice Pagoda from what I can see) at Chimpshack.

I played an Abysmal Prince, thus signifying that I will win.  Miguel commented about neither seeing anyone play “Big Red” or my first play of the game, Ancestral Sanctuary (yes, first play of the game!, it survived for a while, somehow).

Let me get off on a tangent because what’s better to get off on?

Abysmal Prince is a horrible card.  Oh, not because it’s like paying 5 power to get a 2-Fighting Stealth character or something.  Its text is absurdly overcomplicated.  Senoritas aren’t just superior in nearly every way – Senoritas are hot.  Most 3-Power, 4-Fighting characters are going to have a relevant ability other than the designator Mastermind.

But, that’s why it’s so good.  See, just like V:TES, Shadowfist has multiple opponents.  Oh, sure, back in the time before running water, people would play two-person Shadowfist, and it’s more playable than two-person V:TES, but we have Type P Magic or Ultimate Combat! if we want to play two-person CCGs.  Yes, three-player is very different from four or five, as you more easily just get stopped.

But, Abysmal Prince is the “hunt” of Shadowfist.  It’s 4-Fighting for less than 4 power, with a strange ability that makes people question the need to murder his “Redness”.

I Die!!!d an Iron Fists McQueen to clear out anything on the table that mattered.  Using my second Abysmal Prince and Li Yus, I proved that no deck can ever be more finely crafted than Abysmal Li.

My only played Eater of Fortune ate nothing and never got above 2-Fighting.  I seized back one of my two Infernal Temples.  I played a Ti Kan for the “tech”-y play that didn’t really matter.  I discarded the two Gibbering Horrors I drew because somebody, who will remain named Miguel, only had one event in his smoked pile unlike a certain Cy who had plenty.

Welp, that’s Shadowfist.

Thursday

Joren (Architects) -> Ian (YotG Dragon) -> Don (Purists) -> Justin (Deny Me A River)

Justin pulled out anti-event because of the previous game, to be talked about next.

Spear of Destiny got put into play twice and blanked a Mutator, a Stasis Engine?, some of my crap, a Mobius Gardens, and whatever.

Don was constantly putting out massive threats.  Justin had Li Po and Chin Ken but had some issues because of Stasis Engine lockdown.  Joren kept playing crappy characters but took The Gray with “We Can Rebuild Him” as well as Stasis Engine.  I had to Double Feature a Mutator and an Assassin Bug because Justin and Joren didn’t have any good targets earlier to help stop Purist power, and I had crap in my smoked pile.

I did make a bid for victory after Don turned some guys with a mighty horde of two Junkyard Engineers, a Netherworld Trickster, and a Hong Kong’s Finest.  (My epitome of power was two 4-Fighting Hong Kong’s Finests and some foundation dudes.)  I had a state in hand to get me up to 7 damage, but it was easily shut down.

I think Joren eventually won with “We Can Rebuild Him” on Stasis Engine.  Longer game.

Ian (Monarchs burn) -> Don (Tanks) -> Justin (Ascended) -> Joren (Monarchs burn)

This was a frustrating game for Don and Justin who saw their characters constantly being murdered.  Though, Justin did play The Eastern King, the good one, at one point.  While it didn’t go well for me, and I, again, only put out junk characters, I was amused at how Joren and I could murder things left and right and crosstable.

Joren eventually put two 5-Fighting(!) Fire Warriors in play and won.

I get that having all of your characters nuked is boring.  It’s one of the reasons I never cared that much about creatures in Magic.  When Don tried to play a tank on somebody, I wiped his board.  But, the damage cards we were using were not Twin Thunders on Final Brawl.  They either required power or didn’t do that much damage.

Just like in V:TES, there may be a good argument for not having overly focused decks.  Though, as much as I don’t find monkeys interesting, I don’t mind monkey madness.  My Flower Glower deck is not 100% lotus/petal/thorns, but it doesn’t really do much else.  Maybe it’s just that characters are more flavorful to people than events or states or edges.  I certainly don’t find heavy state decks appealing, nor heavy edge decks.

But, then, there are lots of things I haven’t seen as the old time players haven’t been building a lot of new decks.  Though, some of the old time decks I’ve seen are pretty “I either combo win or I suck”, which never interests me that much.

It’s also boring when you can’t kill characters.  I didn’t pick up Shadowfist for 15 years or so because I found the swinginess of Neutron Bomb to be off-putting.  Just meant I couldn’t reliably do anything, ever, making me feel like I had no control over my own game.  I actually kind of like Neutron Bomb’s role in the game, these days.  It doesn’t guarantee the person who plays it wins, plus it removes a lot of really annoying characters or board positions where someone simply has too much in play for anything besides surviving longer, hoping someone can remove some hitters.

Don (Dragon guns) -> Justin (as denial deck above?) -> Joren (Architects from above?) -> Ian (Abysmal Li)

Don buffed a couple of dudes with guns and unturned Ex-Commando a few times to be threatening.  I know Justin was playing Hand, but I don’t remember much of consequence getting played.  It wasn’t a long game.  Joren played Helix Rethreads, but he had severe resource issues and felt like he was never in the game even though he did his Midnight Whisperer with a Kincaid Magnum thing.

I played an Eater of Fortune to eat Joren’s Martial Focus.  I played Abysmal Prince.

The AP hung around because no one really had much of an incentive to rend him.  I dropped a couple of Ti Kans after getting a Li Yu in play for the win, with my two Eaters of Fortune in play being 3’s because of Justin’s edge.

So, I obviously should keep playing some of the cards I was playing.  Li Yu, for instance, Ti Kan for another instance.  But, I think “His Redness, Big Red” will have to take a break.  Just too busted.

– Mess with the red and you end up shed.