This weekend got ridiculous. I was on a business trip until Friday morning. Flew back. Went out Friday night and talked possible CCG, played A Game of Thrones CCG, played Star Realms, even talked about Card Invaders and how it brings up solitaire issues.
Wait, Card Invaders??
I was going to do this as a separate post, but I have too many other posts to get to. Can skip past to get to V:TES stuff and the like.
Card Invaders (R, TM, P, Q, W, Ltd.)
I did a brief search on the name Card Invaders as I thought for sure that someone would have used it, well, I’m using it. The original, no cards unshuffled game that I invented is:
Take a 52 card deck. Deal out three stacks of 5 cards. Deal yourself a hand of 5 cards. Draw a card. Begin. Begin by flipping over the top card of any stack that does not have a face up card. When you get through the three stacks each round, draw a card. An existing face up card either has to be removed or it depopulates the Earth. Aces and twos are tiny little scout ships while queens and kings are mighty battleships or carriers. You remove a face up card by playing a card from hand that is the same value or one value higher/lower. If you do not remove a face up card, it goes into a discard pile and you discard from the top of your draw pile that many cards (11 for jack, etc.) *and* you also turn up the next card in the stack (I put them sideways) so that you have to deal with it sooner rather than having a free round of turning a face down card face up. When you have to “take damage” from your draw pile and can’t, you lose. You don’t have to draw a card every round when the draw pile is exhausted (because that’s an even more bleak game).
This is the base game. It is really hard to win. I don’t like hard to win solitaire games. The one I think is best is one that you are supposed to win about twice out of three plays. So, of course, I made an easier version.
In the variant, any ace or deuce in your hand you can discard to draw the top card of the draw deck. You basically sacrifice small “anti-ship guns” because you don’t really care if scouts decimate some of the world’s population to get massive cannons to blow up the tens, jacks, queens, and kings of the enemy. This is my most commonly played variant. It’s unlikely to win.
While the game has decisions, which I think is essential to any meaningful solitaire game, it’s still rather random. An unblownup king will pretty much wipe the Earth’s population, for instance. So, why do I play it?
I invented this years ago when I was trying to figure out how to play solitaire games that took up very little space but still had decisions. It’s also fast. The lesson with games is that your game can be less good if it plays faster. If Magic took, on average, 15 more minutes to play, it would likely be nowhere near as popular in comparison to other CCGs.
I started coming up with other variants, like that you could play multiple cards from your hand to add up to the exact value of a larger card. This makes aces and other low cards more interesting and provides a decision point if you use the discard rule for aces and deuces as well. It doesn’t seem to help much.
The “I really like winning solitaire” variant is that you get to once per game ignore a ship raining death upon your people. I call this the superscience version of Card Invaders. You cobble together an experimental superweapon or supershield to just stop a ship’s attack run. This vastly increases the chances of winning. I’m often one card away from winning in the normal version of the game.
V:TES & Friends
Saturday, had 7AM online HoR-Nightmare War mod. Saturday afternoon, had BBQ game day. Could have gone to a second BBQ game day that night. Sunday, V:TES, mostly cube draft.
Let’s start with the last.
We used the same cube we had before. We had more notes to make on adjusting it. It uses one copy of each Jyhad vampire and a variety of library cards, probably too many with not enough things like skill cards.
But, I’ll come back to building a cube, which I’m now much more interested in both because V:TES really needs such things as Sabbat cubes to see certain cards actually played, while Saturday involved a Shadowfist draft where a cube would have made more sense (though doing my first Shadowfist draft is a thing to get into in another post).
We had six players. That didn’t make drafting a problem – two packs of 9 vampires, five packs of 11 library cards; 30 card libraries with one recursion, five minimum crypts. It did mean playing two six-player games. Six player games were okay. I had a path to 6 VPs in the first game, settling for 5 when … okay, this requires some explanation.
I had 1 VP. Andy calls a Con Ag to do 3 to me, as his predator. I play Poison Pill. He has 2 pool. I can’t get the vote to fail. Why would I want the vote to fail when it gives me 2 VPs and net 3 more pool? I had Political Backlash!!
I cleaned up after that. As we give the cards back to Brandon, I don’t remember precise contents, but here are some contents:
1x Legendary Vampire (first overall pick)
1x Sudden Reversal (same pack! came back to me!?!)
1x Society of Leopold
1x Sermon of Caine
1x The Barrens (first pick from pack)
1x Haven Uncovered
1x Dominate Kine
1x Deflection (first pick in pack over Wake with Evening’s Freshness)
1x Pulling Strings
1x Telepathic Counter
1x Forced Vigilance
1x Claws of the Dead
1x Faceless Night
1x Forgotten Labyrinth (with draft text)
1x Veil the Legions
1x Into Thin Air
1x Changeling (for Animalism bleed)
1x Camera Phone (first pick from pack)
1x Raven Spy
1x Fake Out
1x Neonate Breach
1x Instinctive Reaction
1x Sense the Savage Way
1x Political Backlash
1x Poison Pill
Two more cards. I know I didn’t have my two Lucky Blows or Harass in, originally. I did change things up for the second game to be far more combat oriented as I thought that would be interesting.
My first game crypt was:
1x Sebastian Marley
1x Sylvester Simms
1x Roland Bishop
1x Dancin’ Dana
1x Anastasia Grey
I did not play Gilbert Duane in either game, my first overall crypt pick. I did not play Masika + Aching Beauty, though I thought about it. Animalism was just too important, so Sebastian and Sylvester were possum. Dana didn’t come out game one, every one else did, with Roland coming from a decrypt.
In the second game, I went combat, so I went with Wynn, Badger, Sebastian, Sylvester, and Roland. I started on Wynn but gave up on him as I got a much worse start.
In the first game, Marley was Legendary for two turns of bleeds of three before Lucian said “um, stop that”. So, Marley went Raven Spy with Anastasia Camera Phoned. Limited may not be about bounce, but bounce made both my games much easier. Only wake was Sense the Savage Way, which was a later pick after I saw nobody taking Animalism, which isn’t shocking as Animalism’s awesome often gets obfuscated by all of the stealth bleed that one can do with later sets and draft text.
I had a good number of Potence cards to change into for game two: Decapitate (no POT, though), Pushing the Limit, Thrown Sewer Lid, Sacrament of Carnage. These were either hate drafts or stuff I was stuck with. My plan to go Thaumaturgy didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t even bother with Rutor’s Hand due to Astrid just not being as awesome as Sylvester.
I felt like I struggled hard with building a deck this time around and what crypt to actually play – weenieish, Sebastian + Sylvester + weenies, olderish. That’s not a bad thing. I felt like the first time we did this decks were too good and the play environment was not sufficiently limited to feel like usual drafting. This time, it felt far more like other drafts and I was more into my deck, even without double King’s Rising, Leverage (had to pass it this time), or a WwEF (had to pass it because Deflection).
Comments I can recall about this cube: too many Protean cards, especially aggropoke; two few skill cards; too many unplayable cards (Legion, Cull the Herd, etc.); too much combat in general; discipline balance out of whack (this draft, two of us never saw an Auspex intercept card, I saw like one Dominate bleed card besides Dominate Kine and two Presence bleed cards); not enough presses (Thaumaturgy blows without lots of presses to continue).
So, it’s up to me to build a Sabbat cube or maybe more than one. I think Third Edition makes the most sense to start out with as I don’t play most of my Third cards even though I’ve probably opened up more boxes of the set than anyone but a hand full of players. Third has multiple wakes. Pool gain cards. Variety. Possibly too many disciplines, but oh well – I’d like to see Obtenebration and Vicissitude get some action.
Speaking of specific disciplines, here was my thought for a Cammie Cube: 1x Protean/Thaumaturgy to 2x others in ratio (yes, 2x even for Auspex, Dominate, Presence); 2x skill cards for common disciplines, 3x skill cards for Protean/Thaumaturgy. I’ll use that as a principle for my Sabbie Cube.
Some day, I’ll get around to the contents of my first cube. In the meantime, plenty of other stuff to talk about … like how to do a Shadowfist cube.