VCG Salute

July 30, 2016

I had recently acquired a box of Ultimate Combat! starters.  I deprived myself of currency in such an effort.  I would not do so for boosters, seeing as I have unopened booster boxes.

But, why starters?

Because they are playable.  They have foundation (land).  They are far more coherent than Magic starters that lack preconstructedness, as UC! only has four “colors”.  In fact, I have never played a sealed deck event that didn’t use only a single starter.  Admittedly, that’s less than a full handful of sealed deck events, but one gets the idea.

I don’t need them, right now.  It’s entirely possible I’ll never need them as I lack the intention of producing a breed of nextgen UC!ers.

But, I got a feeling when looking at the box, a feeling of nostalgia.

It’s not so much that I remember actually playing the game.  No, it was that feeling I have had with multiple VCGs (variable card games) when I got product.

It was the feeling of having something unknown to play with.

FCGs (fixed card games) don’t elicit that feeling from me, nor do I see quite how they would for others, but I do make some effort to not try to project my own beliefs upon the multitude of heathens who prefer the FCG model.

Once upon a time, it was the norm.  You cracked a deck and you weren’t looking for more rares, you were looking for a play experience.  More so than Magic or Jyhad, where a single starter was too random to be a deck I was interested in playing, whether it was B5, UC!, or some games I didn’t play a whole lot of, there was the allure of the potential.

Not that UC! starters and B5 starters are remotely comparable.  B5 starters were quasi-preconstructed.

No, this feeling was connected to a time when I didn’t have every card, when I made an effort to play UC!, when CCGs were relatively new and far more new to me.

The feeling of possibilities.

CCGs (customizable card games) live off of variety.  Yes, there are those always looking to not have to constantly engage with new cards and want to essentially play a different themed boardgame, but let’s venture into the realm of why CCGs have been printing money.

But, it’s not variety, exactly.  It’s possibilities.  I have ten more possibilities of taking an unknown quantity and handing an unknown quantity to someone who I can Mental Domination into playing a game that died around 1997 and that had hardly any playerbase between 1995 and 1997 and I can play a game.  A game that isn’t Settlers of Catan, a game that isn’t shogi, a game that isn’t rummy, a game that isn’t Dragon Dice.  A game that encompasses both the known and the unknown with a randomizing element that doesn’t come across as all that random even though it is (the shuffling of the deck).

A game that has something of a theme that can be made fun of.  (A core piece of enjoyment for me in most CCGs, whether V:TES, WoT, B5, Buffy, Guardians, and various others, is finding humor in the transactions that occur during games within a thematic context.  Others just find UC! laughable for its art and because it did embrace silliness to a degree.)

If I ever had a game of Rage that felt like an actual game, maybe I did once, even terrible games like Rage would have some element of this.  Shadowrun, Hyborian Gates, Highlander(?), 7th Sea, and others where I had a starter in hand rather than had someone’s built Young Jedi, Blood Wars, L5R, or whatever deck had that feeling, that feeling of embarking upon a unique experience not provided by any other form of gaming that readily comes to mind.


I mention how I prefer CCGs and RPGs so much more than boardgames.  Excitement.  When do you get excited by a boardgame?  Far more often than I, I presume.  Now, sure, I get excited by mahjong because it’s part of the tapestry of my life, but I don’t look at “this is better than Puerto Rico, trust me” boardgames and feel anything.  I may enjoy and often do playing all sorts of games, but there’s something elevating in a CCG.

And, more so in a VCG.  Now, maybe if I were younger and lacked decades of experience playing CCGs and hadn’t playtested a bunch and hadn’t designed and hadn’t spent four hours deciding what three opening hand cards and starting Rand I would play in a WoT tournament, I would feel more excitement for FCGs.

But, while I have played Year of the Goat precons and mixed together YotG precons and played various other precons, there’s just something about “hand me a starter deck and let’s check out this game” that opens a portal to another dimension of gaming.

Even a terrible game, a Towers in Timey game, has this dimension when you go to crack open a starter to try something out.

Then, Ultimate Combat! one ups the ante by starter decks being entirely playable, which many a CCG lacked.

I find cracking boosters more interesting than opening Shadowfist Kickstarter rewards.  I said not long ago Magic still holds some appeal to me – more for the nature of it being a highly aesthetically pleasing VCG, but, even more than opening some out of print Shadowfist booster or out of print V:TES booster or “yes, this really did see print” Tempest of the Gods booster, even more than cracking boosters for just published sets hoping to pull recruitable Forsaken or whatever, the starter deck that initiates someone into a game is something magical … er … something that kicks ass.

VCGs appear to be dying outside of certain, well known, industry leaders.  So much of the community hates the model and wants FCGs.  There may not be a lot of us, but some of us will miss the VCG experience.  Some of us will be doddering old fools who show up at conventions and be “Hey, want to try this 30-year out of print card game, I have a half sealed box of starters in my bag?  If you like it, I got a couple boxes of boosters back in the hotel room.  We can … draft.”


July 16, 2016

Let us begin with the fascinating world of solitaire.  For what could possibly be more interesting than playing card games that involve neither your cell phone nor another person?

Because I’m likely to lose people fast, I will also talk about V:TES and Shadowfist and may or may not talk about L5R after I scintillate your cerebrums with sultry solitaireity.

I have a book from 2005 (that confused the hell out of me when one of the trivia questions has Michael Phelps as a possible answer) called Games For One.  A possible indictment of my lifestyle, but anyway.

It has a large variety of solitaire games that use one or two decks of cards, with of course lots of other solitaire games that don’t.  I tried two of the solitaire variants.  At some point there will be a metaphysical certitude that this will either become more interesting or not.

Stalactites is a game I’m finding worthy of adding to the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or so solitaire games I play while watching TV or when traveling.  Deal out four foundation cards.  Decide whether you are going to play cards up in ones or twos (suit is unregardable).  Deal out the rest of the deck in eight columns of six cards.  Bottom card of each column is playable.  Three times per game, you can select any two cards and put them in a separate play zone to play any time you want.  The three times per game thing is not elegant, but everything else is.  It’s straightforward, doesn’t take up a ton of space, and it rewards good decisions while not being something you have to obsess about if you don’t want.  It reminds of playing FreeCell.

But, this would be a rather prosaic post if that was what inspired it.  That game didn’t.  The other game I tried was Strategy Solitaire.  You play cards from a single deck out into eight piles.  As you hit an ace, you set it aside as a foundation card.  You can play each card into any of the eight piles, but you don’t play cards up from the aces until you “heap” the entire deck.  Once you have heaped the entire deck, you can play the top card of each heap up from the aces by suit.

What is wrong with this game?

Do you want some time to think about it?

Either way, I’m about to tell you.

It’s a two stage game where the second stage is unregardable.  You know whether you are going to win or not once you have formed your eight heaps.  Actually moving the cards to the aces serves really no purpose.  I don’t think it’s a bad game, at least not yet, but it’s certainly not a very interesting one because all of the decisions are front loaded.  The reality is is that most solitaire games are dictated by the sequence of cards.  What makes a good one stand out is when you have enough decision making ability to adjust to the sequencing of cards, which is why the one I play the most is so good.

Put another way, you can just remove the aces from the deck, shuffle, and play the game, and it plays identically.  That’s inelegant.

Which brings me to an inspiration point for this post.  I’m helping design another game right now.  Don’t include things in games that serve no purpose or detract from the play experience.  It’s like writing.  Don’t write sections into your epic novels that nobody gives a crap about like witches tugging on their dresses (well, unless they tug really hard … and other forms of tugging follow).

Sure, telling someone to remove the aces from the deck before doing anything is its own form of lack of elegance, but I’m just turned off by the idea that the game is decided before it ends.  Actually, that’s a factor for why I don’t enjoy Magic much, as so many other CCGs are not as easy to project to a conclusion.


So, last Sunday, Brett played his last session before his move to Nebraska.  We played three games.  A couple of people I met at KublaCon showed up at various times to contribute to us having a playerbase.

Game 1

Brandon (merged Dancin’ Dana + Leandro) -> Brett (borrowed 13 Daggers) -> Ian (Hatchlings) -> Rob (Salubri) -> David (Skin Eaters) -> Andy (Toreador Alastor)

Nobody got ousted at time.  I don’t think that’s because it was six players.  I think it’s more that there was a lot of combat cards played and entered.

I built two decks that morning because Brett was leaving.  I rebuilt my 16 Daggers deck into a 13 Daggers deck and made it a “24” deck (i.e. x6 Govern, x6 Conditioning, x6 Deflection, x6 wake of your choice).  That … made my life difficult.  We fought a lot.  Playing Gargoyles, I took the brunt of Tension in the Ranks, at first.

Rob and I didn’t interact that much except how he blocked my Hatchlings early.  We didn’t hurt each other.  I drew four of my five Raking Talons early, so I threatened while facing a deck full of prevent on one side and a deck with combat ends and prevent on the other side.  My prevent did blow up a bunch of Daggers, but, really, who cares?

Meanwhile, David was decrypting.

Meanwhile, Brandon and Andy fought.  Brandon put out Anarch Revolts and everyone went anarch, but it meant everyone was vulnerable to having their one anarch get dirtnapped.  Also, Leandro was annoying some of us, as he is wont to do.  Andy Alastored Alexandra, and Brandon looked to be in trouble, until Rob and David conspired to allow David to get a Skin Eaters online and Skin Eatered Alexandra, who got other-eatered.

Yup, just your typical NoCal game.

Game 2

Andy and Rob leave.  Drew appears.  Brandon helps Drew with his first game in many years.

Drew (Malk94ish) -> David (DoC vote) -> Brett (borrowed !Nos lowcap) -> Ian (3e Malk SB)

David threw a Lily Prelude backwards for four.  He regretted that.  I regretted helping him pass one that did three forward, as David’s deck is just not fast enough to race a focused bleed deck.  Brett was the one who suffered from having back to back fierce predators, not having enough bloat online but having enough bleed to make things dicey for me.  I was an Eyes of Chaos short from winning the endgame race.

Brett has blogged about how awful the !Nos are.  While I agree, I think people spend too much time worrying about what clans are supposed to be good at.  They have Obfuscate.  Just bleed all of the time … and play Fake Out and Dodge … cuz you have Couriers in your deck.

Game 3

Drew (as above) -> Brandon (as above) -> Ian (!Nos lowcap) -> David (Huitz Great Beast bleed)

Brett took off.  Proving that style is everything and everyone has their style, I won with my deck.  Drew was in a bad spot in that Brandon had merged Dancin’ Dana and had WMRH and Bowl of Convergence in play, but, somehow, Brandon ran out of intercept/bounce and Drew just barely took him out.  That was actually kind of good for me in that I no longer needed to worry about combat, but it meant my hand full of Fake Outs and Dodges needed to be purged.

Carlton was just barely enough to keep me alive against Drew (well, just as the previous game, Drew lost a minion to this deck’s Archon Investigation).  I Heidelberg/Robert Cartered away David.  I took out Drew while sitting on a few pool with a final bleed from my Courier.

I was explaining to Brett what would likely be a better !Nos deck – play Badr al-Budur, Count Ormonde, and whatever !Nos you want with Obfuscate and win the old fashioned way – with Dominate.  That sort of thing doesn’t interest him.  That sort of thing was my lifeblood for coming up with ways to win with terrible clans, though, actually, it almost never worked (I screwed up an Abominations win really badly).  My tournament winning decks have defied my attempts to cheesilicious victory, thus my need to actually write down my absurdly expansive personal banned list.


Three games Thursday.

Don (Battleground Jammers) -> Justin (Ascended Power) -> Ian (Year of the Goat Dragon) -> Joren (Architects)

Our house rules contribute well to Hong Kong’s Finest, as we build a lot horizontally.  I tried to police Killing Grounds and Justin, but Justin just gained too much power to do anything about.  Joren kept hoping to get attacked, but everybody was too busy attacking other people to ever attack him.

Justin won.

Justin (Hand states) -> Ian (really old Dragons) -> Joren (Monarch burn) -> Don (Secret Flambards)

My deck has plenty of Thunder on Thunder, which would have helped some in the first game.  The only one I played got Winter’s Laughed.  My Netherworld Vet, with four corrupt damage from Incendiary Blast, never got taken out because of that.  Marisol joined him and a Maverick Cop and winning occurred after people blew their burn on stopping Justin from doing stuff.

Ian (Architects) -> Joren (Lotus) -> Don (Homicide Detectives) -> Justin (Ascended Power)

Everyone hates Homicide Detectives.  I Bzzzzzt!ed one of them but discarded my hand to a Snap of the Crocodile stolen Scramble Suit that held three more copies.  Didn’t draw the fifth.

Everyone was out of control.  Joren kept building sideways.  Don Kiii-YAAAH!ed him, Great Wall, Kiii-YAAAH!ed him again.

Justin’s out of control was decisive.


Really need to go into more detail some other time, as this post is extensive enough.  I have been working on projected HoR4 builds and am running into challenges.  I should always be 1.5 ranks behind everyone else once people start ranking up, which will concern people when mods start going mid, mid/high.  I don’t end up playing much in the way of highs, anyway, so that’s less of a concern.

Besides that, there’s fun and there’s funny.  The original inspiration for my main was funny.  I need to focus more on the fun and be less obsessed with milestones of funny.

Fisticuffs and Fur 20160707 and 20160709

July 9, 2016

Three games of Shadowfist Thursday.

Justin (Hand) -> Joren (Battle-Matics? was all Architects in play) -> Don (Flambards) -> Ian (Lotus)

Flambards in and out of play made things soft targets.  Justin won with Little Grasshopper and three “Mooks” in play to take a site because nobody could actually stop that.  Of course, part of that was Joren Imprisoneding one of my three resource giving dudes to prevent me from playing Mesmerism to stop the onslaught.

Justin (Ascended Edges & States) -> Joren (as above) -> Don (200 Guys with Probability Manipulators) -> Ian (Syndicate Ambush)

Don was blamed for throwing this game by not toasting Joren’s Quanqui Wishing Well off of Dangerous Experiment when I attacked it.  I bought four “Mooks” and took back my Hot Springs that had been being used on Elle Mactans earlier so that she couldn’t unturn from The Lodge for the win.

As dumb as it can be to win off of our “Mooks” mechanic, I put out Xu Mei, The Dragon, and she got Imprisoned.  I played her the next turn.  Should get some credit for that as I only drew Catching Bullets too late to ever play it, so I had no combat relevant events played all game.

Oh, I also intentionally burned for power early in the game to get Bited.  Don Bited me.  It’s all part of my research into whether the player who gets Bited wins more or less often.  With our huge power environment, I think it helps to be Bited early as it makes someone else the enemy.

Ian (Monarch Warriors) -> Justin (Purists) -> Joren (as above?) -> Don (uninterceptable Dragons)

Joren joined a couple of attacks to use states to mess with people’s characters – Single-Action Devolver, etc.  I just played warriors and Stolen Thunder because that’s pretty much what the deck does.  Justin only got a Memory Spirit out in terms of anything that mattered.  Don’s Homicide Detectives were slowed.  Joren Rebuild a Detective, but it didn’t do much.

People drew cards to stop my Jaguar Warriors, Spartan Warriors, Ice Warriors take two sites for victory plan and nobody had stoppage.

The deck is okay, I like the warriors, but it doesn’t do much that interacts meaningfully.  The Syndicate deck desperately needs damage buffs for the Salarymans and Echo and Silence.  The Lotus deck needs to have hitters as it’s two Year of the Goat decks with none of the YotG hitters.

Further Adventures of the Fearsome Biter Tribe (and human friends)

Played NW2.  My Nezumi shaman is now Hanashi Jakr’kir of the Fearsome Biter Tribe because of course that’s how things roll.  If that means nothing to you, well, let’s say that he’s both a Paragon of Bushido and Wealthy and will be learning a kiho as soon as I can find one worth taking and might have had some samurai pass down a precious item (katana would be boring, maybe wakizashi or something courtly for my court oriented Nezumi shaman) through Inheritance.

The other two Nezumi in our tribe did not make it into the Hanashi Family for … good reasons.  Actually, we could have all been in the same family, but once one player wanted to be Kobe, that broke up us all being the same, and what’s more amusing than Hanashi Jakr’kir of the Fearsome Biter Tribe given playing a Nezumi shaman?

I’m enjoying the campaign.  No one is trying to be silly in our group – it’s just the natural state of playing stuff that really doesn’t belong in a L5R campaign that you would take seriously.


I think I’ve settled on my main and I told people today that my philosophy on an alt should be different than what I was thinking.  I was thinking my alt for HoR4 would be a Battle Interactive character because I would be playing a courtier.  Except, most of my courtier ideas are combat characters.  And, I would not play my main in a Political Interactive.  Not that I expect to play more than a couple PIs, but I might as well have my alt be a “social” character.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha.  With the group’s help, I have much of my “social” character done.  I do feel like charting out my main’s progression interval by interval to make sure the build is sufficiently entertaining to others, but I have tons of time to worry about that.

Name “That” Game

July 4, 2016

Clear out some comments before getting to some sort of core point.

Started building Third Edition cube for V:TES.  Ran into something I forgot.  CCG companies are dumb.  There are two clans specific to the Sabbat.  One of them got a precon.  The other didn’t.  So, not only are there no Animalism, Fortitude (surprisingly rare discipline in Sabbat only play), Presence, and Protean skill cards.  There are no Obtenebration skill cards.  Obtenebration is required.

How to deal?  Make up house rules?  Make up cube cards?  Switch to Sabbat War for cube?  … mix … a … cube?  The last is just offensive in so many ways because Third Edition is the most offensive set ever printed for any CCG for reasons that have nothing to do with the card pool.

I really want to have a 3e Cube because I hardly play 3e cards, and there are good ones for limited play and I don’t hate all draft text.

This weekend has been gaming deprived, just working on designing another CCG, for reasons.  Last weekend, can’t get that motivated to deepify on The Last Spike, Splendour, Epic Roll.

So, time to name that tune.  Nezumi.

I name it in one, Chuck.  Uh, that’s three syllables.  Shut up, Chuck.  You are Chuck, right?  Uh, no, there’s like a ton of people who hosted this show and none of them are Chuck.

Nezumi Nights

Rattled?  No, Ratling.

It’s Time To Play The Name!

So, I mentioned playing HoR Nightmare War.  The theory was to go full whiskered with the party, but, predictably, that didn’t happen.  Three of us did the tailed beast thing.  Since I don’t really see anything all that different about playing a tailed fighter or a tailed thief, I went tailed wizard.

* Jakrkir looks insulted. “Me not grasping paw.”

<Jakrkir> If time to be killed, find entertainer to learn goblin fire dance.

Still working on our tribe name.  Haven’t come up with better than Fearsome Biter Tribe.  Not that Jakr’kir** is a biter.  Not that much of an igniter.  More of a righter.

**  Why so boring a name?  Sounded decent.  I went through some basic Nezumi words and couldn’t find anything better.  Yup, research.  Even when I’m playing something rather meaningless.

Even though I’ve built tons of newb PCs, it is brutal how few points you get to newb up, even with my 68 points from playing most of HoR3.  Not Earthy, oblivious, stupid.  At least I don’t think I can take Luck, which would have been more of a points suck.

I’m probably going for a rebuild to be a bit more balanced.  Have to N-4 (Name-4), of course, for any shaman.  But, maybe can be somewhat spread in Rings.

So far, got most use out of Bless Name.  Didn’t want to take weird spells.  Named Weapon, thematically, should go to our Nezumi fighter (picking yumi), but it’s kind of wasted as she’s a biter.

I overlooked the actual mechanics around true names.  I’ll roll for those next time.  Didn’t really matter.

Was it fun?  Sure.  Gaming can encompass a lot of different experiences.  Being the only Nezumi would likely be annoying to a serious party, but we can just not be too serious.

Speaking of names, card names matter.  Take Sins of the Cauchemar.  It doesn’t really matter what the card does as long as it doesn’t hurt you because it has an awesome name.  While the design process is at a point where we aren’t worrying about card names, I’m much more cognizant of the importance of them.

And, themes.  But, this post isn’t about CCG design.  This is about a Gnawing Gneed for Gnezumi Feed.

Shadowfist Draft Decks

July 1, 2016

What?  No title like Fistful Factions of Fury?  Drafty Dragons and Sinful Syndicate?


So, I mentioned last time we did a Shadowfist draft last Saturday as part of a game day barbeque.  There were like 11 people who could have played a Shadowfist tournament, far more than KublaCon.  We had 8 for the draft, two people who were largely unfamiliar with Shadowfist.

We only got one game in at each of the four-player tables as it got too late by the time our untimed game finished.

Earl won our game.  Here is his deck:

Name:  Earl’s Deck
Faction:  Architects & Hand
Size:  39

Architects Cards (15)
Characters (10)
1x Destroyer Drone
2x DNA Mage
1x PubOrd Officer
1x Security Officers
1x Simon Draskovic
3x Test Subjects
1x Thing with a 1000

Events (5)
3x Cellular Reinvigoration
1x Dangerous Experiment
1x Expendable Unit

Hand Cards (13)
Characters (11)
1x Accupressure Master
1x Exiled Monk
1x Fist of Freedom
1x Fist of Shadow
1x Instrument of the Hand
1x Kung Fu Student
1x Railroad Workers
1x Righteous Fist
1x Stoic Wanderer
1x Willow Warriors
1x Zhu Maichen

Sites (2)
1x Mountain Monastery
1x Violet Senshi Chamber

Generic Cards (11)
Events (1)
1x Orbital Laser Strike

Feng Shui Sites (8)
2x Blessed Orchard
1x Hydroponic Garden
1x Mirrored Lake
1x Monkey House
1x Stone Garden
1x Tangram Alley
1x Turtle Beach

Sites (2)
1x Drug Lab
1x Trade Center

I passed a Trade Center.  I think I took something cool over it.  Three Cellular Reinvigorations is nuts and how Earl won off of Destroyer Drone being immune to Miguel’s Nerve Gas.

Only 39 cards I can find (was it 40?) … in that I played more.  Shows how bad I am at Shadowfist draft.

We could choose two pods to get foundation characters and we got a FSS pod to supplement drafted cards.  This need to give people extra cards heavily suggests the value of cubery.  The Borg has won, we must all be assimilated into drafting materials not in original wrappers.

Interesting cards in Earl’s sideboard:  2x Realpolitik; Really Big Gun (I thought it was good enough to play …); Buddhist Monk (guess Chi really wasn’t needed); Master Hao (I avoided high resource characters that, apparently, wasn’t necessary to do); Lui Man Wai (Senshi Chambers not so rare in this draft).

Miguel was the early game threat that kept requiring containment.  I don’t know his precise deck as he didn’t keep it together, for instance, I know he had General Gog but I don’t see it in the card stack.

Name:  Miguel’s Deck
Faction:  Architects & Dragon
Size:  55

Architects Cards (16)
Characters (12)
1x Alpha Beast
2x Arcanotechnician
1x DNA Mage
1x General Gog
1x Jason X
1x Nightmare Horror
1x Prototype X
1x PubOrd Officer
2x Test Subjects
1x The Dogs of War

Events (3)
1x Desperate Measures
1x Imprisoned
1x Nerve Gas

Sites (1)
1x Abominable Lab

Dragon Cards (19)
Characters (12)
1x Cavalry Regiment
1x Dragon Fighter (Miguel mentioned it.  I didn’t see it or his other.)
2x Everyday Hero
1x Friends of the Dragon
1x Gadgeteer
1x Gambler
1x Gonzo Journalist
1x Hacker
1x Maverick Cop
1x Redeemed Gunman
1x Sidekick

Events (3)
1x Booby Trap
1x Final Brawl
1x Just a Scratch

Sites (1)
1x House on the Hill

States (3)
1x Bag Full of Guns
1x Fastest Gun in the West
1x Muscle Car

Monarchs Cards (1)
Characters (1)
1x King of the Thunder Pagoda

Generic Cards (19)
Feng Shui Sites (15)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Family Home
1x Family Restaurant
1x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Maze of Stairs
1x Monkey House
1x Moon Base
2x Proving Ground
2x Sacred Ground
1x Stone Garden

States (4)
1x Attack Helicopter
2x Fusion Tank
1x Robot Arm

Why was Miguel the early threat?  He got General Gog out quick after a burn for power I could have stopped if I understood how Grove of Willows worked.  Proving Ground was helping pump out more dudes.  Monkey House was used a couple of times.

Fastest Gun in the West on Gog got stopped by Confucian Stability (from Into the Light) if I recall correctly.  Fusion Tank on Gog stuck, I believe.  Gog only got taken out by Earl a turn before Earl won.  Mobility is, after all, deserving of murder.

Interesting cards:  Righteous One (see below); Tunneler Drone; 2x Thunder on Thunder.  While edges may not be common, they may be really powerful.

Charles was new to Shadowfist.  He seemed to have a frustrating experience.  Shadowfist is a game of constant failure and ridiculously hard choices.  I’ve learned to not care about either of those.

Name:  Charles’s Deck
Faction:  Hand
Size:  60

Hand Cards (37)
Characters (27)
1x Accupressure Master(?)
1x Black Belt Rebels
1x Blue Mandarin
2x Buddhist Monk
1x Exiled Monk
5x Golden Candle Society(!!)
1x Green Monk
2x Instrument of the Hand
1x Iron Hands Ma
1x Jia Baoyu
2x Kung Fu Student
2x Righteous Fist
1x Shaolin Agent
1x Shaolin Monk
1x Shaolin Saboteur
1x Shaolin Warrior
1x Stoic Wanderer
1x Swordsman
1x The Silent Cowboy

Edges (2)
2x Hill of the Turtle

Events (5)
1x Confucian Stability
1x Into the Light
1x Iron and Silk
1x Mysterious Return
1x The Willow Bends…

Sites (3)
1x Green Senshi Chamber
1x Shaolin Sanctuary
1x Yellow Senshi Chamber

Generic Cards (23)
Events (3)
3x Healing Earth(!!)

Feng Shui Sites (18)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Arctic Fortress
1x Blessed Orchard
1x City Square
1x Coral Reef
1x Dragon Mountain
1x Family Home
2x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Jagged Cliffs
1x Maze of Stairs
1x Mirrored Lake
1x Monkey House
1x Sacred Ground
2x Stone Garden
1x Weeping Willows

States (2)
1x Armored in Life
1x Hands Without Shadow

The lack of hitters really hurt.  He drew ridiculous numbers of cards off of Jia Baoyu but ran out of offense for when we had contained Miguel.  Assuming he did actually have them in his deck, I’m glad he never played Hill of the Turtle.

I found an Accupressure Master in this deck, but I only saw Earl play one and didn’t find one in his card pool.

Interesting cards:  Corruption; The Alabaster King; Midnight; Under the Knife.  Had enough foundations already to play these but could have podded for more.

Let’s get to my deck since I didn’t play against the other two decks I have.

Name:  Ian’s Deck
Faction:  Dragon & Syndicate
Size:  45

Dragon Cards (17)
Characters (10)
1x Chinese Doctor
1x Everyday Hero
2x Friends of the Dragon
1x Gadgeteer
1x Gonzo Journalist
1x Hacker
1x Lenny Wu
1x Reedemed Gunman
1x Righteous One

Events (7)
2x Back for Seconds
2x Final Brawl
1x Golden Comeback
1x Last Outpost
1x Stunt Driving

Syndicate Cards (10)
Characters (7)
1x Nihilist
2x Street Sweepers
1x Tattooed Man
3x Triad Punks

Events (2)
1x Data Mining
1x Inconvenient Debt

Sites (1)
1x Cybermod Parlor

Architects Cards (1)
Characters (1)
1x DNA Mage

Jammers Cards (2)
Characters (2)
2x $10,000 Man

Generic Cards (15)
Characters (1)
1x The Dis-Timed

Events (1)
1x Orbital Laser Strike

Feng Shui Sites (9)
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Devil’s Mountain
1x Grove of Willows
2x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Marsh
1x Mountain Retreat
1x Sacred Ground

Sites (2)
2x Secret Laboratory

States (2)
1x MegaTank
1x Really Big Gun

What was my overall first pick?  Righteous One.  It was the only thing in the pack that seemed good and playable.  I was fairly happy with my draft even though I didn’t know what my second faction besides Dragon was going to be until I built my deck.

Really, this is more dependent on tech than anything else.  I was thinking with Righteous One that I’d get Dragon hitters at some point.  Instead, saw $10,000 Man and started drafting tech stuff … and Purists and Architects and …

I was using BREAD as a guideline.  Though, P for Power should be in the Shadowfist version.  Any remotely plausible way to gain power I looked for just as any remotely plausible way to gain Pool in a V:TES draft is something I look for.

I should have focused more on bombs.  I passed a lot of hitters because I thought it would be hard to get enough resources to play them.  It wouldn’t have been.  My style, when I’m trying to build good decks, is to go for efficiency over magnitude of effect.  I think there’s pretty good efficiency here, maybe some unnecessary foundations, maybe some fun cards.  More hitters are warranted.

What did I Golden Comeback?  Righteous One, of course, to stop a bid for victory.  I never Back for Seconds.  I got out a Tattooed Man *and* he took two sites!!  That never happens with my Tattooed Man decks in constructed play.

I could have used Final Brawl early on to prevent Miguel from burning for power, but I wanted to get some help, just ended up killing my own Righteous One, anyway.

Interesting cards:  15 Purist Cards, including two hitters, enough foundations not to need a foundation pod, and I could have drafted a third hitter; Price of Progress … requires Chi and I wanted to not get complicated by Chi where I would be tempted to play Hands Without Shadow; I wasn’t so committed to Righteous One to play Sports Car or Motorcycle, but the former would have stopped annoying damage redirection; not a single card in my favorite faction to play – Lotus, yet Architects cards, Jammer cards, 3x Natural Order, etc.

Cy won the other game in much less time.

Name:  Cy’s Deck
Faction:  Architects
Size:  41

Architects Cards (26)
Characters (13)
2x Alpha Beast
1x Beta Beast
1x Bonechill
1x Gamma Beast
1x Melting Flesh Squad
1x PubOrd Sniper
1x Tank Commander
5x Test Subjects(!!)

Edges (3)
1x Reinvigoration Process
1x Reinvigoration Seed
1x Rise of the NeoBuro

Events (4)
1x Imprisoned
1x Nerve Gas
1x Overzealous Assassins
1x PubOrd Raid

States (6)
1x Frenzy Engine
2x Helix Chewer
1x Helix Rethread
1x Helix Scrambler
1x Nanovirus

Lotus Cards (2)
Characters (2)
2x Shadowy Horror

Generic Cards (13)
Edges (1)
1x The Rackets

Events (1)
1x IFF Missiles

Feng Shui Sites (9)
1x Big Red Barn
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Cave Network
1x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Jagged Cliffs
1x Monkey House
1x Ominous Swamp

Sites (1)
1x Secret Headquarters

States (1)
1x Replacement Parts

Swarm for the win?

Interesting cards:  Underworld Coronation; Blasting Crew …; Andi Di.  I could totally see splashing some Jammers to try to make my little dudes bigger.

I also have Jeff’s card pool.

Name:  Jeff’s Deck
Faction:  Lotus & Monarchs
Size:  53

Lotus Cards (20)
Characters (13)
1x Abysmal Horror
1x Cannibal Army
1x Claw of Fury
1x Eunuch Underling
1x Flesh Eater
1x Gnarled Horror
2x Sinister Priest
1x Snake Man
1x Thorns of the Lotus
1x Thugs
1x Wailing Apparition
1x Xin Ji Yang

Events (1)
1x Inauspicious Reburial

Sites (2)
2x Infernal Temple

States (4)
1x Abysmal Behemoth
1x Deathtrap
1x Hell Charger
1x Two-Headed Horror

Monarchs Cards (16)
Characters (12)
1x Darkness Priestess
1x Dog Soldiers
1x Fire Acolytes
1x Fire Engineers
1x Fire Warriors
1x Flambards
1x Ice Carvers
1x Ice Healer
1x Ice Sorceress
1x Skin and Darkness Hunter
1x Thunder Champion
1x Thunder Knights

Edges (1)
1x Spirit Pole

Events (1)
1x Chain Lightning

Sites (2)
1x Sacred Wigwam
1x Thunder Pagoda

Generic Cards (17)
Characters (1)
1x The Dis-Timed

Events (6)
1x Curse of Discord
2x Killing Rain
1x Lateral Reincarnation
1x Memory Reprocessing
1x Shattering Fire

Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Auspicious Termites
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Hot Springs
1x Monkey House
1x Proving Ground
1x Sacred Ground
1x Stone Garden

States (2)
1x Grenade Launcher
1x Speed Boat

Not bad.  Could just be generally tighter.  Jeff had never built a deck before.

Interesting cards:  not sure why Scroll of Incantation, Inexorable Corruption, Infernal Plague, and Stolen Thunder(!) weren’t played; I would have considered some of the ramp characters in Lotus or Monarchs; Harbinger(!).  Only Flambards to play the last.

Did we learn anything?

Experience helps.  With these sets, I probably could have gone mono-Monarchs.  I needed to consider bombs more.  I could have drafted cards with more resource conditions.  While winners are likely better players, getting the balance in decks right seems to be the biggest issue with how many packs we drafted (8) and having the pods to make decks playable.  Not enough hitters in Charles’s deck, probably not enough in mine, either, or I should have cut 5 cards.

I’m much more interested in building a V:TES cube than a Shadowfist cube at this time.  I think I understand limited V:TES better.  But, as I have these notable experiences, I will write about them and maybe related events will occur.

Of course, if I were going to do a Shadowfist cube, I would use Modern and could see 1x every card as a starting point …  Then, removing some of the Lotus cards to balance things.