Cleanse The Slate

April 9, 2016

I might post next week but won’t be posting for a couple of weeks after.

I don’t have anything on mind that is philosophical.  I just have on mind miscellany.


We played two games Saturday after I got out of a meeting.

Chi Bomb is really annoying, much more so than I expected.  It’s easy enough to work around once I remember that Jammers are being played, but I’ve gotten annihilated by it, like Thursday, when I played Crown of Thorns and lost three dudes and had sites take four damage just because I didn’t bother revealing all of my sites first.

Jenny Zheng multiattacked for the win.

In the second game, I played Purists and had three Quantum Sorcery in play at the end.  I had two revealed Great Walls, an unrevealed site, played Kisa Serkov, and she got Killdeered.  Then, someone ran into her until she died.  We were supposed to play a quick game so that we didn’t have to move tables when the store section closed, but we can’t seem to choose to play a quick game.

Which brings me to my thought on Shadowfist.  How to speed up games without making them boring?  More power is not the way.  Our house rule of playing sites to new columns for one less power is good for this sort of thing – opens up a lot more targets of attack.  Obviously, people could play decks with less stoppage.  People could play more superleap.  Both of those sound not that great, in that, for the former, the average amount of stoppage isn’t that high.

I don’t know.  We tend to like the amount of stuff that happens in our games, we just don’t want to play for more than 3 hours, so we rarely start a third game.  Superleap does a good job of ending games, but it can often end them in not very satisfying ways.

I was mentioning how the fastest games I tend to play in are ones where one or two players get rolled over by someone, which is like the opposite of fun.


Stick with CCGs for the moment.  The tournament got me thinking more about V:TES.  There’s something of a discussion on about tier one decks, which I don’t really have anything to say about since I’ve never played in an environment where you could define best decks nor am I even sure such a thing as best decks exists.  Better decks, yes.  My Ass SB deck is not as good as stealth plus Govern plus Conditioning.  Whether that makes Malk94 more likely to win a tournament or less is not as clear, but, if Kate and I had switched decks, she would have likely had no VPs where I could have ended up with the same or more without that much difficulty.  But, best?  I much rather prefer playing against decks like Malk94 or Dembleed because I actually bother to put bleed defense in most of my tournament decks.  They win the argument of “if a newb can win with this deck, then that makes it better than …”, but they lose often.  Lot of time they lose because I think newer players are more likely to be the pilots.

Anyway, what always comes up when I play is just how many decks I’ve yet to play.  It’s not always cards I haven’t played, sometimes it’s combinations of cards I haven’t played to a significant level.  I still haven’t gone hardcore Preternatural Strength plus Spike-Throwers, for instance.  Nor have I done casual Clan Impersonation.

I haven’t embraced my suggested variants, whether Ancilla Antics or Distinct Directive.


Type P for me is not the same thing as it is for most of the people who play it.  I’ve got some new “wizards” together, and I become reminded of what actually interests me and what doesn’t.

What I’m most enthused by is a deck that has clear and limited goals.  A card pool that is too strong and/or that has little you would want to change just doesn’t have much long term appeal.  I have an all Journey Into Nyx wizard that looks like a lot of fun to play, but it may get boring fast because there might not be enough interesting ways to evolve it.

Meanwhile, a wizard that has good enough cards to function but no hook is forgettable.  Type P wizards are a bit like RPG characters in that they have successes and failures and should have character development.  Just getting your 2/2 for 2 that can’t block upgraded to a 2/2 for 1 or a 2/2 for 2 that can block just isn’t compelling character development.  My Nightstalker deck can be hilarious, which makes it structurally interesting.

It’s not that I hate all of my good decks.  I have a blue/red deck that is extremely oriented to how I like to play, that also comes across as quite the beating (I haven’t played it anywhere near as much as 30 or so other decks).  It doesn’t have any coherent evolution plan.  If anything, its distinctive cards actually run counter to what makes it good.

I’m increasingly cognizant that any new wizard needs to build around the cards I’ll enjoy building around and not just trying to be good … since I don’t aim for just being good … trying to be good at whatever falls into some middle ground of balancing being good at something specific.  I really need to just pick those cards that are the most fun and really ignore whether the deck is remotely functional playing them.  Well, I might play a build that can win some useful cards to make it more functional at playing them.

Of my new wizards, one has an obvious, interesting goal – become mono-red.  It has some awful creatures in it even in a more viable R/U/w configuration just because I needed more creatures.  It would love 2/2s for 2 that can’t block, as a huge upgrade.  I know what packs I’d pity pack it with.  Winning something interesting might alter its path.  My dragon-collecting deck didn’t have a dragon-collecting plan until someone was fine with losing a dragon to it.

But, it’s these sorts of “this deck will be known as the deck that does …” things that makes me keep playing so many of my wizards.  With everything from Alpha to Shadows Over Innistrad available as potential antes to win, can end up with creations that no one would ever see, whether it’s because constructed play would weed out to many weaker cards or any popular format of limited Magic wouldn’t have the ability to end up with cards from any set.

Heroes of Rokugan

I still have yet to play any Nightmare War module.  I no longer really have any interest in trying.  If people I game with want me to play, sure, whatever.  But, I just don’t have enough interest to justify putting a bunch of effort into getting tables together.  Then, so much time has passed at this point, that I would rather just find out what the plan is for HoR4.

I wonder if Gen Con will have any HoR event that isn’t NW.  If it’s only NW, I very well may not end up doing anything L5R at Gen Con for the first time in a long time.

A format that opened up ancestors, not having to ask about kata, playing any minor or imp you wanted, any path or advanced school.  That format holds some interest to me.  Nonhuman PCs and guns really don’t.  That’s not L5R, anymore.

I do have interest in playing L5R characters.  I suppose if I were playing I’d have that much more interest.  As should be obvious in my pattern of posts, whatever I’m playing at the time is what I spend most of my time thinking about.

I have my HoR4 characters planned, I just have no sense of what’s going to happen.  I assume 4e will continue to be the mechanics – the buyout by FFG probably simplifies timing, though knowing that 5e isn’t around the corner in advance may have seen HoR4 follow right after HoR3.

Since L5R RPG posts are far more popular than my other posts, I could try to figure out what else I think about 4e.  I’m just not sure there’s that much more to say.  Do people have things they want me to opine about?  They sure seem to keep looking at the same posts over and over, so I don’t know if I’ve said everything I could usefully say or not.

Things I haven’t written much or anything about:  supplement mechanics – schools, paths, advantages/disads; advanced schools, in general; much about paths, in general; ancestors; kiho (because these don’t actually exist in my play); ninja stuff (might as well ask someone else who actually finds these sorts of characters interesting); and whatever.


I played a week ago as a demo on mechanics.  BattleTech, in the absence of narrative, is actually a pretty not good boardgame.  It really needs the story.  Whether you care about your pilot who got an Awesome shot out from underneath her, so she’s stuck with a Charger or you care about your Charger that went XL with double heat sinks and Gauss (or, even dumber, stole clan tech to effectively just be a clan mech) or you care about the scenario you are playing with its ice floes and explosive decompression rules while every third round someone bombs you, the resolution system is actually kind of a weak point in that it’s rather random for attacks while movement/terrain rules kind of suck.

I kept hitting the same left arm with a single large laser against a heavier mech, taking out half the AC/10s on my opponent early on, and our one on one was just kind of dumb after that.  That would make for good fiction, but it makes for a crap competitive game.  Sure, with experienced players, much like a two-player CCG, just call it and start up something new, but BT requires far more setup IME than shuffling up another deck.


I read a lot of reviews of the shows I watch, most of which are superhero shows.  I find criticism interesting, but I also find myself thinking “okay, it’s not perfect, maybe not even well acted, well plotted, well staged, but … did you find it entertaining?”

A big difference between young me and old me is that young me watched a lot of TV and only really cared whether he enjoyed it or didn’t, where old me thinks about wasted opportunities, plot logic, acting, dialogue, fight choreography, special effects quality, etc.  On the other eye, I still decide to watch flawed shows just because they are entertaining.

I don’t know if I’d enjoy a high quality show, but, then, I don’t watch any high quality fiction.

Since pretty much all of the fiction I watch are DC superhero shows, one thing does come to mind.  Look.  The things that happen are often because the producers are trying to emulate comicbook logic.  Sure, it’s dumb the sort of things characters decide to do or the situations they may find themselves in.  Sure, a guy who can run fast enough to travel through time should never be threatened by anyone who can’t move that fast.

Yes, plenty of people will post comments along the lines of “The reason this happened this way in this show is because it’s a trope/genre feature/CW show.”  So, I’m really just adding support to them rather than being all uniquely special.

Where I can see it being frustrating that time travelers with a variety of superpowers can’t take out some guy who lives a long time and has nebulous street level superpowers, I do respect that Berlanti and crew are not giving me Smallville, Lois & Clark, or whatever that felt more like a TV show with superheroes rather than a comics style superhero story on TV.


What should I write about in May?


[Tournament Report] Malk08

April 3, 2016

We scraped up 10 people for a Spring tournament last night.  Few people outside of the Berkeley group, which is strange given how few tournaments we do.

I have gotten superultramegabad about building CCG decks in a timely and, one might say, enthralling manner.  My current kick tends towards disciplines I’ve never won a tournament with, so I keep trotting out Ass decks to get some Quietus action going, though the true connoisseur of deckbuildification would, of course, play Quietus without any Ass vampires.

In this particular case, I was under the slingshot and either had to go with VIC/PRE/Aus, A-Muse-D, or the deck I threw together in 30 minutes without actually using a deckbuilder.  Ass SB it was.

Round 1:

Zach (Gangrel fight) -> Eric (Shamblers) -> Ian (Ass SB) -> David (Flung Junk) -> Kate (Malk94)

Zach got quickly depleted due to having no real plan for stealth bleed.  Eric had no predator until David came around, so I had to deal with the tedium that is Shamblers.  David rushed Kate a fair amount but not before she could Giant’s Blood a torped Didi to put Zach on one pool, from which he did not survive.

I played an early Anarch Revolt which anyone could have gotten rid of since there were no votes on the table, but Kate never went anarch and it killed her, Eric had someone go anarch who ended up eventually in torpor because Shambler decks aren’t that great against Thrown Gates, and I conceded when AR would have killed myself.  Yup, I played AR on turn one and it lasted the entire game.

I don’t even understand how I survived.  I guess Eric just didn’t have that many bleeders in play.  Plus, he didn’t focus on killing my anarchs.  I quadrupled my pool in one turn.  This let me From a Sinking Ship Eric’s Carlton because, of course.  That gave me some time against David, though it hardly mattered.

The only intercept at the table (besides random Pack Tactics) was from allies.  Yeah, V:TES.

Round 2:

Kate -> Rick (!Nos Horseshoes) -> Brett (!Ventrue vote/bleed) -> Zach -> Ian

Brett’s deck was bleedier than I expected.  I expected him to run over Zach with votes, but it was mostly bleeds.  Rick discarded his first Horseshoes for reasons I didn’t understand given Didi and Gilbert behind him.  He had a chance to oust Brett with Fame double dunk and Tension in play (which, of course, nobody bothered getting rid of – I wanted it in play, figuring Rick would go backwards … I loved my seating position except for how easily Brett could go through Zach).

So, fortunately, I could bounce a bleed back to Brett so that Kate could oust him before he ran over me.  Then, we got into the greatest joy that any humanlike entity can experience in a trillion and 29 moons – the stealth bleed race endgame.

I wasn’t being sarcastic.  This was so much fun.  Well, I suppose what made it more fun is that the natural result of Malk94 versus Ass SB in an endgame where Malk94 already has two VPs is that the Ass deck wins.  Ohanna bleeds for 3 – no block, reduce by 3.  Didi bleeds for 4 – no block, reduce by 4.  Gilbert bleeds for 4.  Oh, dear.  The only reason Kate didn’t have more in play was Rick’s AI before he got wiped from existence.

But, Yazid with Seal of Veddartha, Kalinda, Tansu, and a Spying Mission, with a random Loss (only Yazid!) and Murmur of the False Will and Leverage, and a genius mind honed to dodgeball sharpness proved too much for the Malks to endure.

And, that’s all that really mattered.  Sure, I was third seed with 2 VPs because this tournament was like olden days of 10-12 player tournaments, back when I used to win a lot off of a couple VPs to get into a finals and having everyone want to kill my prey.

Only David got a GW.  Fourth and fifth were a tie at 1.5 VPs.

I got Thai food.


I placed upstream of Brett and downstream of Mark.  Kate inserted as my prey, which was probably a mistake.  David inserted behind her, for the obvious locale.

David -> Kate -> Brett -> Mark (Saulot/Nergal) -> Ian

I was choked on combat defense to stop David’s rushes and Nest of Eagles that would have been hilarious for stopping midcap bleed.  Kind of lame against bleed for three with Spirit Marionette (yup, never was used to steal while I was still in the game) and bleed for three with Nergal.  Though Mark only had three bounce cards, Kate’s bleed of four got bounced to me.

David kept nuking Kate’s minions.  Yet, he was a turn away from ousting her.  With my robustity gone from the game because my first Deflection was 60 cards or so down into a deck where I played maybe 20 cards, Mark bled, bled, became Great Beast, ousted, cleaned up.  Maybe one more pool damage to Mark and he can’t go off, but I was already heading home, so I only heard about stuff today.  David could have started the crosstable rushing, like is always necessary, but nope.  I thought he’d get Kate and consider rushing Mark like crazy, but too late.

I did Wash Mark’s Heidelberg, don’t know if he ever played one of the other two copies.  I did Barrens away a useless Dreams of the Sphinx.  These things happen because as much as I can lose, I still prove … something.

My best collapse would have been Mark out first, Brett out second, Kate helps me murder David through my paltry bounce, we race in the endgame.  I really didn’t want David as my prey even though he never hurt me in combat.  Well, he might have hurt me with the threat of combat as it meant sitting on two No Traces for turns.

Mark’s first tournament win.  Congratulations!

Thanks to Mark for organizing and for everyone getting us to scrape together an event.  I might have found the drive tedious (lot more traffic in the afternoon), but I find scavenging for food in Berkeley to be kind of interesting.  Had a decent smoothie from a juice bar, that wasn’t what I would consider overpriced.  Student poverty FTW!

Deck Name:   160402  Ass SB
Created By:  Badr al-Budur

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 28, Avg: 4.16)
4  Anarch Convert                     none           1  Caitiff
2  Badr al-Budur                      cel dom OBF qui5  Assamite
2  Kalinda                            CEL OBF tha    6  Assamite
2  Tansu Bekir                        cel OBF        4  Assamite
2  Yazid Tamari                       ani dom obf CEL QUI8  Assamite

Library: (80 cards)
Master (24 cards)
1  Anarch Revolt
1  Archon Investigation
1  Barrens, The
3  Blood Doll
1  Direct Intervention
2  Dominate
2  Dreams of the Sphinx
1  Dummy Corporation
1  From a Sinking Ship
1  Gambit Accepted
2  Life in the City
2  Perfectionist
1  Vessel
1  Villein
1  Wash
2  Wider View
1  Yoruba Shrine

Action (13 cards)
1  Computer Hacking
2  Conceal
1  Far Mastery
1  Graverobbing
4  Khabar: Glory
1  Loss
2  Songs of the Distant Vitae
1  Web of Knives Recruit

Action Modifier (13 cards)
3  Cloak the Gathering
1  Elder Impersonation
2  Faceless Night
1  Leverage
1  Lost in Crowds
1  Old Friends
3  Spying Mission
1  Veil the Legions

Reaction (17 cards)
3  Confusion of the Eye
3  Deflection
1  Delaying Tactics
3  Nest of Eagles
3  On the Qui Vive
4  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (4 cards)
2  No Trace
1  Quick Exit
1  Selective Silence

Ally (2 cards)
1  Deviki Prasanta
1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Equipment (1 cards)
1  Seal of Veddartha

Combo (6 cards)
1  Murmur of the False Will
5  Swallowed by the Night

With more time, I would have come up with a real deck, not just as Kuta called it “Malk96”, though, given my banned list, not all that akin to, say, Kate’s deck.  Oh well, another of my kicks is to stop playing torturously difficult decks just to work in some card.  Nice, chill stealth bleed.

Conceal was a terrible metagame decision, unregardable in every one of my games.  The maneuvers should have helped me more against Shamblers, but, of course, I didn’t draw them early.