Of Sword Questions

January 28, 2017

Before my trip, I got asked some questions based on old posts:

What rating would you put in the 1000 years of steel series kata? Using the kata analysis as reference

How many points would gain a kakita and a dragon taking into acount their clan kata, and the fire book’s kata? Using bushi analysis as reference.

And how good is the kenku swordman school? (this is because im doing a character with that school and i dont now if im gonna trampler the other players bushi (bayushi and kakita) and i should tonne it down, or if is simply sigthly avobe average and its fine.

Start with the kata.

The two kata I gave four stars to in Kata Analysis were The Great Clans’ Strength of the Crab and Strength of the Phoenix.  Because kata are so minor (bad), there’s a huge curve.  In reality, +2 Reduction is so much more powerful than +3 ATN that it never made sense to put the two on the same level, but everything else was so much weaker.

I guess if you curve things and don’t leave room at the top, +2 Reduction becomes like a five star kata, while the reason I rate something as small as +3 ATN that high is because Shiba Bushi is likely guarding like crazy and every last drop of helping someone else … helps someone else.

The Empire Rests On Its Edge

This strikes me [ha, ha ha] as the default kata in the game.  Who isn’t thrilled to get +5 to attack rolls?  Well, anyone using no-dachi or tetsubo, but whatever.

Yes, it does require sinking a bunch of XP into a skill you probably weren’t going to take to R-5.  Still, taking Courtier or Etiquette or Medicine or Meditation or Sincerity or Tea Ceremony to 5 is not character suicide.  It’s actually somewhat interesting, though more so in the Medicine case, perhaps.

Would you ever go R-7?  If you have tons of XP and are amused by the Courtier/Etiquette mastery abilities or really, really are fond of Meditating.  But, that’s the biggest cost to this kata – not that you have to buy up your skill to an unusual level but that you buy it up before you ever get the kata, so it’s a delayed blast fireball.

On the curve, this is a five star kata.  Even without a curve, if you are using a junk weapon like the katana, is there any reason you wouldn’t take this?  Kind of sounds five starish all of the time.

Note that a Free Raise is technically better than +5 attack, but it’s not that much better.

The World Is Empty

I don’t personally care about this, but does that make it weak?  Why don’t I care about this?  Because what katana wielders need is damage.  Now, admittedly, I don’t value Agility that highly, either, and this compensates.  And, there’s Feint, calling more Raises, hitting more often.

Except, a big problem with this set of kata is that they are all kata.  Barring Lionisms (to my recollection the only way), going to have only one kata up at a time.  So, take your +xk0 attack rolls or take +5 attack rolls from the cheaper kata?

Sure, +4k0 is a higher bonus.  Not that you will have 4 Void Points sitting around all of the time, but let’s pretend you will.  Let’s make some other build assumptions.

Agility 4, Kenjutsu 7 (way more important than any kata), random +1k0 attack from somewhere.  At 12k4 -> 16k4 -> 10k7.  That’s two kept dice over where you were at.  Feint goes significantly up.  May or may not be able to call more raises than what you were going to do, though high ATN crap like supernatural stuff, Lost, and gaijin become easier to Feint/Knockdown/pump up the jams.

Meanwhile, to avoid losing a VP after your four rounds, you burn your VPs during that time.

Of course, you have Agility 4, Void 4, Kenjutsu 7 for this build, which is not cheap unless you don’t care much about advancement, though a non-K/M will have to have a Ring of 4 (Air is just better, but everyone should know this).

Let’s drop the +1k0 and the Agility, so you are Agility 3, Void 4, K-7.  14k3 goes to 10k5.  That’s respectable for higher end foes.

Or, Agility 4, Void 3, K-7.  14k4 to 10k6.  Even with a more normal Void, this is something.

To me, it’s a redundancy play, but, sometimes, you have to hit crap.  Sure, top level kata where you can turn attack roll bonuses into damage one way or another.

Btw, I’m not just hating on Iaijutsu by ignoring the impact on Iaijutsu.  Where Edge gives you bonuses to all rolls, which can help you in that duel, this only helps with attack rolls which should be largely irrelevant.  Would have to be in a death duel and not be so far ahead of your opponent in dueling prowess that you actually cared for attack bonuses.  That’s the big problem with buffing dueling stuff – only PCs generally make an effort to arms race dueling, so, if you never duel other PCs, just more overkill that could have been raising your Investigation or Stealth ranks.

Also, what is the timing of activating this for dueling?  Note that kata normally last until you turn them off, but a round restricted kata can’t work that way, which, by the way, may mean you waste a simple action other kata users don’t need to.  As a GM, because this kind of needs to do something, I’d allow someone to kata right before assessment.  I’d also treat the duel as using up exactly one of the rounds it applies.

Still would take Edge over this because Edge just strikes me as more interesting, but, if you really need the hit bonus, I can see why people would take this.  I guess I’m arguing myself into 5 stars, as it’s not a no-brainer to use Edge over this.

Victory of the River

Redundancy is redundant.  Why would you ever take this over Empty?  Because the math crunches slightly higher?  Don’t think it does as I’d rather have two more kept dice than 10 better to hit.  Because you don’t lose a VP at the end, so you aren’t incentivized to burn all of your Void in the current combat?  Because you run around with Fires of Purity on you all of the time and want a lower ATN?

The requirements become meaningful at this point, though not that meaningful for K/M.

Just strikes me [ha, ha ha] as nothing remotely different from what you can already do, while costing one more XP than Empty and two more than Edge.

Like 2 stars, where it just pales next to other stuff.  Very possibly higher if there weren’t close substitutes.

Standing on the Heavens

This is your Air 5 K/M build, as requiring a ring of 6 is … not even that likely for someone who loves the idea of Air 6.  Note how long you will adventure without this kata.

So, you want to maximize ATN just so that you occasionally cost someone an attack at the cost of a VP, which, btw, you could have used to increase your ATN by 10, something likely to be far better in tough fights.  I don’t know, maybe don’t want some oni or Maho-Bujin to eviscerate you but getting increasingly cornercase.

I don’t think people who write mechanics understand rules very clearly.  When in any other case can you take Free Actions on other people’s turns?  So, you use a Free to activate this, how does that impact your next turn?  GM ruling tedium.  Or, you just say “You can spend a VP to force a reroll, once per round.” rather than introducing confusing action verbiage.

It’s just limited to me.  Stars-2 for having some sort of theoretical build, but I’m not seeing much application and this will come so late in a PC’s life that the number of uses of it just seems so small.

Middle Line

One thing the kata do is further encourage Air builds, either through compensating for lower Agility or for interacting with your own ATN.  I like Edge for encouraging someone to skill up something they wouldn’t have done otherwise.  I just can’t get that enthused by the others, though so many kata not in this series suck, that you might as well have one that does something.  First two aren’t hard for non-K/M, but last two are very K/Mish, which helps with low damage schools.

The problem with saying K/M get better from these kata is that Hida get better from Strength of the Crab and Ichiro get better from Strength in Arms Style (until they get simple attacks, but Ichiro is not a school you go into because you want to be an Ichiro at IR-4) and Bayushi and Daigotsu.  Also, katana schools can take these, too, and the better ones are the easier ones to take.  Now, non-katana schools get jack from these existing, so it does help level the playing field somewhat.  Your Moto build isn’t going to buy Sincerity 5 because of a kata … though, I have a new idea for a character build …

The schools I placed above K/M begin with Suzume.  Suzume naturally goes no-dachi in combat, but, maybe, you katana in which case you may also take Edge or Empty, anyway.  Given that minors and imps get screwed on kata, even more likely the Suzume is going to Edge and take some goofy Lore skill to 5 or something for thematic reasons, though the better way is ignore Lores with the school and maybe go Meditation 5 or even 7!!  Given how fast Suzume burn VPs, an actual reason to do the Meditation-7 build … oh, I so wasted my time with my Moshi.

Then, Moto, Toritaka, Bayushi.  Moto obviously not going to take these as they already get to keep 3 on damage doing other stuff.  Moto do have Indomitable and SiAS as kata options that aren’t absurd, but neither of those is as good as Edge/Empty.  Toritaka may take these or may go Crab if in a Crabby era.  Bayushi is another natural no-dachi school, but can use the same argument as Suzume – if you katanaize, can buy up Sincerity 5 or whatever and feel less bad about it.

I may have been harsh on K/M in my analysis, but the reason why is because they waste time in a dueling arms race.  Give them anything to do at their dueling ranks that’s actually useful and they jump at least a couple of points, anyway.  If you ever actually think you will lose a duel, then, sure, you may care about dueling bonuses and value them more highly than I do.

Kenku Swordsman

I’ve read this a lot but never get a great feel for it.

Wing of Thunder

Solid since Reflexes is the premier combat Trait.  Not hard to get to SR-2, so looking at +6 ATN pretty quick, something Mirumoto get at SR-3, which may be a long time away or not in your play, with this school probably +8 ATN at SR-3.  Even at SR-1, +5 ATN which is comparable to Usagi and Suzume.  Now, you may not always have higher Initiative, though Initiative manipulation is a thing.

OTOH, that’s all you get.  For a SR-1 ability, feel like should get more.  Stars? 2 or 3.

Heaven’s Claw

Sucking out opponents’ VPs is fun.  It means fights go faster when they can’t Void off damage and it means maho-tsukai have a harder time casting broken stuff.  The damage reroll thing is not as exciting to me, but it’s damage and everyone loves more damage.  Probably a 3 star.  Compared to a lot SR-2 abilities, better than the norm where Wing feels kind of worse than typical SR-1 abilities, so feeling pretty balanced at this point.

Lightning Kiss

5 stars, of course.  Emphasis requirement is all of 2xp to just blow people up.  Got to love that this is another no-dachi school or tetsubo school if you want to get fancy.  Why would you bother learning anything about tetsubo?  There may be some SR-5 combo thing you could pull off that would be hilarious, though I’m too lazy to find school techniques specifically around heavy weapons that isn’t the boring +1k0 of the Hida.

Churning Skies

Sadly will never play a PC with this ability as I’m all for going last in rounds.  I could get so much mileage out of this ability.  “Round 1, Full Defense.  Round 2, Full Defense.  Round 3, delay, no-dachi on first dude with 2VPs for damage, no-dachi on second dude with 2VPs for damage.”  This assumes that you can spend VPs for +1k1 on any damage rolls, which is not defined anywhere.  Katana special rule doesn’t even address, as it’s a specific rule that has been specifically referenced somewhere with some ability.

Of course, VPs are precious and you aren’t a Shiba Bushi (or are you an IR-8 character … in which case you are so broken who cares anymore what you can do?), so it’s more about ignoring WPs, which also feeds into my sort of builds, though, since you are Reflexes 5 and may be running around in heavy armor (got to love your school kit), not terribly likely you have a bunch of WPs unless you got maho-ed.

Going last is not bad – I do it all of the time.  May get some extra punch through on a big bad or avoid hurting.  As I’m biased though, I’ll be cautious and say 2 stars.  If you think it’s 3 stars, go for it.  To get to 4 stars, that seems unlikely as you really shouldn’t be feeling much in the way of WPs and VPs are often more useful in general use.

The Same Breeze

VP.  You don’t get the best techniques ever for free.  What’s the scariest you could do?  Let’s put aside SR-5 abilities for a moment, as that’s maybe unreliable (except for whatever your fellow bushi PC is playing).

The Shield of Faith is too expensive to bother with except in desperate times, plus I’m thinking it’s a PC who has force field powers to make combats a joke.  Spell manipulation?  Funny.  FR and +1k0 attack?  That school is so good early on.  Simple archery attacks?  Yes!  Regain VPs by spending VPs?  More yes!  Additional attacks?  Sure!!  Aura of Blood?  I should probably have pointed Aura as a 5pt ability, though 2VPs is rather expensive.  Strength of the Badger?  This party is awesome.  Entangle?  Don’t confuse me, with your Kenku Mai Chong build.  Monkey brokenness?  Boring.  Detect spirits, spend VPs on Perform/Lore, go Berserk, “Jade power” (assuming you count this as a bushi technique), and that’s not even getting into non-core schools!!

Yet, just copying someone else’s ability at a higher cost.  If you figure the ability is five points worth, then that’s at least down to four points worth.  OTOH, flexibility.  You could Shield of Faith one round and Berserk another, in theory.  Stack up all of the lasting abilities like Aura of Blood (because Shirley the party is going to have a R-5 Kenku and a Daigotsu in it … you certainly don’t want to be fighting SR-2 Daigotsus, that would be kind of ugly).

Conservatively, 4 stars/points.

Bottom Line

Do get damage bonus and best simple attacks, which is what you most want out of bushi schools outside of weird abilities that break the game, like force fields.  But, you don’t get force field like powers until SR-5.  SR-1 is actually kind of mundane mechanically.

I doubt I’ll ever play one of these and have never seen someone else play one, except when you get monsters abusing rules, so it’s hard to say how right I am.  Figure an Air/Void/Earth build, though maybe break down and go Water 3 just to get some use out of Hunting and for a bit more damage with your Mai Chong build.

The main reason you might end up overpowered is you might go Reflexes 5 long before other characters, which isn’t a school issue so much as the school extra incentivizes, though Kakita does that too.  In a K/K/M party, I’d imagine the Iaijutsu tournaments will end up rather silly.


Nordliga Riter

January 26, 2017
Day The First

Day The First

Got back from Stockholm yesterday Monday.

Shout out to Henrik who made the trip so much better by providing a local’s milieu.  Was at his friend’s birthday party Friday night and told people “I’ve only been here 1.5 days, but it’s been an amazing trip already”, which made me realize I had only been there 1.5 days and it felt like 3 days with all of the sightseeing I did the day I arrived and Friday during the day.

From Gamla Stan to ...

From Gamla Stan to …

I used both my phone and my camera.  Phone often takes better pictures for me to look at.  Camera seems to do broader shots well.  Many of the phone photos were to send to coworkers, which is why all of the food photos are sitting on my phone.

... To Södra Djurgården

… To Södra Djurgården

Friday night was Henrik’s friend’s birthday party, which had many folks appear over the course of the eve.  His friends were quite nice to this tourist and conversations that included book publishing (fantasy/horror), boardgames, politics, criminal justice, Egypt, and … wax?? … and who the hell I was since I had only met Henrik the day before occurred.

Of course, the reason this trip ended up happening is because I looked at the V:TES tournament calendar and saw that there was a tournament on the 21st.  So, I get up and look outside my window to the cemetery across the street, as is standard operating procedure when going to Sweden in the Winter.

Morning Vista

Morning Vista

And, off to Kungsholmen to hit the Lair of Dragon’s.

Some building that wasn't the game store ..

Some building that wasn’t the game store ..

Once enlaired, V:TES was played and we can move into something about … wait for it … gam-ing.

*sigh*  The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

*sigh* The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

But, before talking about gam-ing, let me talk about nuts.  Nuts for the nutty.  I took nut bars, peanut bars, pistachios (gift), macadamia nuts (was going to be a gift), and pecans to Scandinavia.  That was not optimal.  Nut (and peanut) allergy concerns are rather high – I’m seeing a day when eventually nutlike drupes/legumes/seeds will not even be allowed in public places.  On the flight back, I think it was the pilot who asked everyone to not eat any nuts due to someone’s severe allergies.  Well, whatever, 10.5 hour flight without food is quite drupey.

Fourteen players (one drop after round 2), 3+F.  I have phone photos proving I took a fan and used it while on every one of my Winter vacations in Sverige.  Remember kids, take antihistamines and take a fan.  Speaking of life saving devices or something approximating such, Henrik helped me find a beanie on my first day and I now understand why people wear them – people have ears and Greenland hasn’t become the hot new housing market yet.

Round 1:

Ian (Ishtarri Bamba) -> Michael (Kiasyd SB) -> Randal (Nakhthorheb Eternals SB) -> Peter (fat FoS with votes) -> Jonas (Sticklike Mennish)

Peter calls a Reckless Agitation doing one to me.  Peter doesn’t survive much longer.  Not sure why Jonas didn’t try to burn out stealth with Eyes of Argus, but his mostly bleeding didn’t do much for either of us, as he was choked on combat and losing pool was unhealthy for my endgame prospects.

Michael did bring out a lot of dudes as I did little forward.  He went to 2 pool as so many of my prey do for reasons that escape me.  He damaged Randy to a degree but not enough.  I considered later that maybe I try to survive one more round and let him go all forward on the non-bouncing Settites so that my endgame is easier, but I took my one VP under the philosophy that I could use more pool and that it was early in the tournament.  The latter is possibly a bad way to think.  I don’t play much in the way of 3+Fs, so I haven’t figured out whether to pluck low hanging fruit or go big, early.

I also kind of sucked at playing, forgetting my own Perfectionists repeatedly, not even realizing I played DI on my own turn due to Randy’s Enkil Cog bleed, not managing priority to where I take my 5 bleed and get the edge back before ending my turn.

Round 2:

Eric [Erik?] (Aus/Tha/Vic that’s all the rage these days, only more fighty) -> Kim (Kiasyd) -> Ian -> Ivan (Goratrix and friends wall) -> Eric [Erik?] (Matasuntha Anarch)

Where the first round, I got out Blood Dolls and Vessels to pretend I had a chance in the endgame against being bled for 7 a turn or whatever, I played a Tribute to the Master this round.  Not playing in NoCal, where that would mean a timeout with my surviving to the end.  I only survived to around the one hour mark with the only bleed deck behind me and three wall decks in front of me.

Matasuntha got Amaranthed by prey.  I took a shot at bleeding for 3 when Ivan was at 3 and he bounced with his Pentexed Goratrix.  Sha-Ennu Eric killed Matasuntha Eric with Ancient Influence.  He later killed Kim and Ivan with Reins of Power when Ivan had no ready minions.

Inauspicious.  I figured 2.5 VPs might get me to the finals, as I knew Ivan was leaving and he had a first round GW.  Had to play for 2 VPs in the third round, at a minimum.

Round 3:

Eric (Matasuntha above) -> Randal -> Eric [don’t think Erik] (!Gangrel intercept bleed) -> Ian

So, V:TES, I hear from people who know something about the game, is like a game that is played with a massive number of participants.  Sometimes 17 (which I will not do again).  Sometimes less.  Only the nutty play mano a mano.

Yet, consider.  Going into the tournament, Randal and I had 13 tournament wins apiece (my recent advancement led to this tie).  I was in the endgame against him in round 1.  Spoiler alert – I was in the endgame against him in round 3.  (He blew through Eric even with Eric having Marked Territory, Abbot, whatever.)

One might almost say … one who is quite full of his beanie and French jacket bought in Shanghai … that the entire tournament was simply a duel to the undeath between 14% of the participants.

On the L-eft, L-oser.  On the R-ight, R-enniw.  Uh, I mean, winne-R.

On the L-eft, L-oser. On the R-ight, R-enniw. Uh, I mean, winne-R.

I had seven masters in my hand of nine cards in the endgame.  Yet again, trying to bloat wide didn’t actually wide or bloat.  Though, to be fair, if I wanted better consistency, I should have had more focus or more cycle.

Two VPs weren’t going to surpass five players who had GWs.  I know, shocking.


Randy did not get ousted.  He ousted some folks.  At some point, (assumedly) I will show 13 tournament wins and he will show 14.  It’s like all I do is hand victories to better players.  Well, it’s good to have a goal in life.


My only pickup.  I lent a deck to my prey.

Eric (Khazar’s) -> Henrik (Ahrimanes) -> Michael (tournament deck) -> Ian (Hermana Mayor w/ Dominate) -> Eric (… um … this is tough, see below)

This was a pretty terrible game, with neither Eric doing anything productive.  However, my prey immediately mastered my deck.  Matthias burns Vial of Elder Vitae for Thaumaturgy and plays Magic of the Smith to get … wait for it … wait for it … Vial of Elder Vitae.  Freak Drive.  Burn Vial of Elder Vitae for Temporis and play Summon History.  Use Mirror Walk!! for stealth to get Ankara.  Yup, he almost saw the light.  Needed to bring out Marie Faucigny second rather than a second Salubri.

Henrik controlled some and tooled up.  Michael did try some bleeds.

I called Randy over to look at my hand.  Standard Blood Sister hand of Oppugnant Night and, em, three Deflections and, er, three Poison Pills.

Store closed after I had 2 VPs and bounced Michael’s final bleed.  I did Disarm Howler and a Salubri.

If only I could have shown the Norra a glimpse of my metagame, but, no, boring old Mayor Bounce and lending out the banal Salubri Vial Summon History deck.  Well, another time.

We got Eritrean food for dinner, which was much more affordable than my forays into Swedish food restaurants (aka touristy places) or even the pub with the waitress from Toronto.  Then, a drinking establishment for me to get a second Zingo.  My first Zingo was upon Freya’s Day, when 3+ hours of walking left me weak and Zingo-wanting.  The first Zingo was far more pleasing, which I’m sure had everything to do with the vintage and not my having spent much of the light of a Winter’s day walking the circumference of an island.

Sunday was Långholmen day.  So, recapping a bit, day one involved Riddarholmen and a stretch of Gamla Stan.  Day two involved Gamla Stan, Södra Djurgården, Beckholmen.  Day three involved Kungsholmen.  Because everyone loves recaps that include information not previously disclosed.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

I was looking for beaches.  Because what else is there to do in Europe in zero degree weather with a negative wind chill?  I had been cold at times during the trip.  Took a little rest at a prince’s pad to get out of the wind and get some sun earlier in the trip.  But, I was both exhausted this day and freezing walking across the longest bridge of any bridge ever … that I walked across in Stockholm.

I found two spots that could kind of seem like beaches including where the husky sat on my foot while I scratched it.

I was not much for more touristing, but Henrik kept telling me I should try semla, so I hopped the tube to Gamla Stan only to have my target place be closed and a cafe not carry it.  Had Princess Cake just to do something.

Oh, should probably mention that I never had my Thursday pea soup and pancakes, but I had meatballs (not at Ikea), fläskschnitzel cordon bleu, fishy butter, various breads including tortillalike polar bread, black currant juice, hallon juice, deer sausage (along with lamb sausage and bear’s garlic sausage), and near the end of the trip moose, reindeer, cheese pie, and … semla.

What about gaming?!?

Oh, yes, played Hero Realms for the first time and lost to Henrik.  Lost a Star Realms Colony Wars game to him, as well.  Beat him at two-player Magic Commander, so I wasn’t entirely embarrassing on the trip gam-ing-wise.

Think that was it for gaming.  Talked about V:TES, of course.  Talked briefly about the Traveller Card Game.  Other than superultrarareworthnearinfinitekronor playmat samples, I couldn’t fit much in my lack of checked bags to demo with.  Talked more Babylon 5 CCG than Ultimate Combat! CCG.

Monday was leaving day, but, before leaving, Hagaparken.

Gloomier, eh?

Gloomier, eh?

Not as cold as I was not staying near the water nearly as much as on previous days.

Walked to the train station, off to Märsta and airport.

I could speak of the weirdness of ATMs in Stockholm, where I don’t really need more money leaving the country than entering it, nor do I need a ton of cash at a grocery store, except I lived off of cash because I think it was my optimal rate over going credit card fees.

Everything is close together.  I could walk islands in .5-3.5 hours.  Waterways everywhere.  Nice crunchy snow.  Everyone put up with the monolingual tourist by communicating in a shared language.  Old world feel that I get at times in places like Cairo or parts of China I haven’t been to since the mid ’80s and maybe elsewhere.

Was an amazing trip and a fantastic place to visit.  I want to hit the archipelago and get some kayaking in next time … because there really ought to be a next time.  Maybe I’ll crush in the rematch, too, you know, with Vials of Elder Vitae or whatever.  Forgot something gam-ing related – I was totally expecting votes and only saw one vote the entire Saturday.

Wealth Read

January 15, 2017

Are you reading this post?


Do you want riches beyond your wildest Sphinxes?

Pear happiness?

I’m building decks.  I have another tournament to go to and maybe some casual play.  If I survive and the trip doesn’t fizzle, I will remark upon it, pear happiness even include a photo-graph to prove that I don’t just make everything up.

I consume gaming words associated with games I play.  Now, less so for Shadowfist and more so for V:TES.  Less so nowadays for L5R (because mostly I just see people wanting to change 4e rather than bringing up anything notable about 4e) and more so for … not Qin, though I tried for a brief time.  Eh, moving on.

I sense that I am more invested in particular games than people I play with.  I sense it.

Yet, dost thou wishest to joyous thou annums partaken upon some partakeable?

Or, do you just want to win fame and … and … and … hey, do we get anything else for winning niche CCG tournaments?  No?  Oh, okay.

Read.  People say stuff.  Some people are idiots but even they may say something interesting, though probably not.  Other people are … not idiots.  Then, some people are thinky types.  They caress the mind and force it to perform mind things.

I’m building decks.  I don’t have every idea.  In fact, I routinely steal ideas from people who write words and make them worse.  Sure, around 75% of the time I just luck into success.  But, every 25% of the while I might know what I’m doing.

But, you don’t have to read what I write.  If you look at my decks posted here, in the TWDA, from playtest reports 15 years ago, you will be little vantaged, as you likely don’t play games like I do.  You will play Govern and Conditioning in the same deck, for instance, and someday people will make fun of you, some day …

Not too many post much.  Understandable.  Yet, unfortunate.  Because CCGs tend to be not easirrific.  Even while rolling dice from one’s cards, decisions make differences.

I’m building decks.  I got to thinking about one of those writers, someone who writes much more difficult posts than I do (for me to write, good thing we aren’t each other, as he may have difficulty writing the geniusness that I spew).

Focusing on V:TES because it’s my tournament game [rolls eyes].  You can tell people over and under to know what cards do, but who cares what most cards do?  What do decks do?

Why don’t people know how Imbued work or Tupdogs or unnamed or Reversal of Fortunes or something else?

Because they don’t bother to read.  Can have a goal, but, if you don’t put in your 20 reps at medium-high weight, are you still going to want to lose weight?  Think about how little time it takes to read vekn.net (the meaningful subforums).  Sure, cataloguing the contents of TWDs is tedious.  Reading them?  Seems like it would be fun [waves hands at you].

Before I went to build some of these decks, I read.  Oh, sure, I just glanced at some decklists from 2014/2015 and whatnot, but, hey, I’ll just rely on my 75% luck kicking in.  Or, I’ll choose failure as an option.

Nothing more than understand how other people are successful.  Except, there’s an application phase.  Reading isn’t seeing words.  Reading is consuming stuff so your mind can do things it couldn’t do before, like bleed people out when starting the turn with no minions in play.

Is there a reason to *gasp* put effort into gaming?  Is poorhood a state to The Embrace?

Some players achieve success and they don’t even 75% luck their way there.  Oddly, they often know things, mind things.

Not just decks, but how people play.  You know, there are some long transcripts from some tournaments.  I don’t generally read them as I don’t visualize what’s going on all that well.  But, maybe the decisions people make during play kind of matter.

I suppose I should go read a transcript cuz I’m already bored pulling the cards for the first deck I’m building.

HoR4 – Early Read

January 11, 2017

While technically not caught up, I feel caught up on HoR4.

As a follow up to Courtier of the Ivory Throne, I’ve had various realizations.

First, I would have likely enjoyed my other most planned build early on in the campaign.  I’m really missing having an Intelligence of 3!  I guess it’s a good thing that I feel like Intelligence has been relatively useful so far in the campaign.  Plus, my other build is more efficient in XP expenditures.

I feel like I’m really scraping to do core things.  Now, after five mods, I have 18 skills, so that’s part of the issue.  I’ve enjoyed using various skills that I thought might be temporary, like Perform: Biwa.  That’s the thing I noticed when planning buys hundreds of points into the future, I was not allowing for doing fun things in the interims between major buys.

But, enough about my character, move on to characters in general, then move on to some thoughts on the mods generally.

In home play, I did great with Void 2 and Fire 2.  Some of that had to do with starting with 117xp.  But, a rather important difference between home play and living campaign play is that I know what my role is in home play.  In mods, I might be running with one group to be able to run for another group.  I feel very, very limited in functionality rolling Nk2 dice pools, having only two Void, and not knowing what skills I need to be better at for challenges.

Of course, the groups I’ve played with eschew Intelligence, so we are missing a brain.  Players don’t make obvious buys, like Investigation, which puts undue pressure on randomness or one PC.

Also, talking about largely starting characters and, often so far, small parties.  Sure, expertise is lacking, but so is versatility.  This will change to some extent.  But, it’s such a difference in feel from when I was rolling 8k5 or 8k4 in my core areas and leaving research to other party members.

Should I respect Void more?  My HoR3 characters had Void 3 right off or quick, so I never saw the Void 2 build in an unpredictable setting.  Void 2 might be far more challenging than I thought.  Also, my Void 2 play with a R-5 character was with someone whose highest ring was the Ka-Ching Ring, so I was abusing mechanics even while fighting the norms.

As I have my plans and I don’t know that V-3 will be more enjoyable for me, I’ll continue on with dumping on Void in HoR4 and see how it plays out.

As to the campaign …


I have no sense of combat in this campaign to this point.  In HoR3, I was surprised how much more fighty the campaign was than HoR2, which was massively investigative in my experience.  So far, couple token combats with one brutal mod and mods with nothing.


My lack of sense of the combat norm is in line with my lack of sense of what the campaign is about at all.  Seem to swing wildly from one thing to another, though I think it’s one of the mods that just seems like it would have fit better being around mod 20.  Couple of the mods are typical fare (also the mods I enjoyed more), highlighting different common concepts in Rokugan.

HoR3, for all that it eventually just stopped making any sense to me at all, early on, felt very coherent.  Early mods were underdeveloped, but they flowed reasonably well from one to another, and the campaign seemed to have themes.

I’m hoping the next mod establishes something about the character of the campaign, as, very much influenced by whom I’ve played with, this campaign seems to be the Yoritomo Campaign of Campaigns.

Getting back to my problems, I need to set my characters on paths to maximize enjoyment.  I may still find a hook to build around, but my previous “defining moments” tended to happen early on, even if Journey to the Burning Sands was Jun’s perfect mod, that was because he was already inclined to find it his perfect mod.

Being the only Honorable PC in my local group hasn’t really been interesting.  I’m also finding it hard to balance motivation to do particular things.

The other thing that helped HoR2 quite a bit with coherency was having mod series that were actually series.  I hope something is done to develop real series, like can have a Balishnimpur series where you actually accomplish something in Balishnimpur.


Because of the lack of consistent magic abuse, the need for combat efficiency is high, yet we still make terrible decisions.  As much as I’m not trying to build toward grappling, of the two fights that have mattered, one of them was an obvious “delay, Full Attack grapple” situation and I went for something else.

Window Shopping

Tatakisu is rich, yet I’ve hardly shopped at all.  That others I’m playing with are more into shopping than previous campaign parties may have something to do with my not getting as into it.  I even have in character interests and don’t look for trinkets related to them.


Certainly been funny.  I don’t know about the sustainability of humor over having some sort of goal.


Talking about campaign mechanics.  I don’t mind the Glory system, which helps prevent the “anyone not G-10?” problem.  I am not liking how Honor has worked so far, though, with too much encouragement to think in one particular way.  The favor system has yet to mean anything to me, so no opinion on it.  Crafting has been irrelevant to us.  Ronin survival was amusing but no longer relevant.  I do like how admin stuff is moved to the beginning of mods.

Don’t know what to think about certs that currently don’t do anything.  I found the sleeping swords of HoR3 just really annoying, as it seemed to promise something that only really mattered for core players.

At least it’s far easier to play things you want to play, like techniqueless schools.


I feel less clear on this campaign than either HoR2 or HoR3.  However, to be fair, I didn’t play HoR2 in anything like the release order, so some of the early mods weren’t so jarring as they may have been to other people.

I feel unclear on whether my main’s concept is going to pay off.  What I was seeing with all of my ideas was the need for kobuneloads of XP.  Probably a lot more fun to just start out closer to what you care about and be able to be freeform with XP, like was the case with all three of my HoR2 PCs.

Callout to Bill and Macy for hosting a weekend of Rokugan and providing oodles of Japanese food.  It’s a good thing to have a local group even if it’s also good to play living campaigns with a diversity of disreputables.

Strike Fast, Strike Precise

January 8, 2017

Get something out of the way first.  Played Shadowfist Thursday, five player team game.  I made my last bid for victory having five Cobra Clan Stalkers at a seized Humble Dojo.  The expected Neutron Bomb went off, and someone else won.  But, more importantly, I had five Cobra Clan Stalkers in play at the same location, that being someone else’s site.  I’m sure I won some other subgame as well.

Okay, busy, and I’ll get to HoR4 comments next time, even though we played a bunch of mods before yesterday.

Yesterday, two V:TES tournaments, my first tournaments in a long time as I missed the August tournaments.

I built three decks yesterday morning.  By built, I mean pulled the cards.  I designed them either weeks ago or months ago.  Of course, design takes all of 10-30 minutes, where pulling the cards takes an hour in many cases.

We had 12 players for the two events.  Brandon organized.  Only Chris came up from SoCal.

Tournament 1

Round 1:

Ian (To Perish Uncreated) -> Dave CK (Cel/Pro bruise bleed with rush) -> Eric S (Trem Burst and bleed) -> Alex (Vlad and friends)

Key play.  I play Precision and name Sideslip, thus sealing Dave’s doom.  Dave was hurt immensely by how Eric had Merrill out, who could avoid so many aggpokes, plus Merrill got Ivory Bow giving the poke.  Alex was screwed, sucking bleeds right and further right, only having Vlad in play.

I had two Quira and two Gwendolyns in my uncontrolled, brought both out and stealthed by Dave consistently, avoiding beatings with Swallowed by the Night or Celerity.

Dave Villeined some and Golcondaed Anson, but he had problems fighting forward and I just kept bleeding.  Eric ousted Alex.  I had Appolonius as well in play and ousted Dave by just enough, then didn’t have too much problem in the endgame as Alex’s last significant play was burning Muaziz in combat, so Eric was playing with two dudes.

Round 2:

Chris (Undue Influence with Spoils of War) -> Ian -> Dave A (Shattering Crescendo) -> Dave CK

This was an easy collapse.  Chris could only go forwards.  Dave A’s first Daughter got diablerized before Shattering anything.  By the time he transferred someone who wasn’t Scout (that he could have transferred a round earlier), he Shattered once and I took my VP.  The endgame wasn’t impossible for me for a bit, as I had Quira in play as a 3 bleeder and Gwendolyn in play as a 6 bleeder, but Dave had too much pool, too many minions, and too much combat.  Not a surprising ending.


1GW and 4VPs only put me second behind Brandon, which made things difficult in terms of seating choices.

Alex and Dave CK were low.  Mark was playing a Malgorzata deck, like Alex was, so they didn’t want to sit next to each other.  I would have been fine with being Dave’s predator since I could stealth by him consistently and I had enough ways to deal with rushes, but, if I placed behind him, Brandon would have likely been behind me and that seemed bad, with my not knowing how much I probably didn’t care about Brandon’s deck.  It would have been bad as Dave likely would have rolled Alex, though maybe that wasn’t terrible as Dave would become the enemy and Brandon might let me just go forward.

What did happen is that I inserted as Mark’s predator and Brandon as Alex’s predator.

Ian -> Mark (Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, whatever) -> Dave -> Brandon (Brujah limited collection deck) -> Alex

Early on, Alex was under pressure and I ignored his token bleeds.  Brandon had about the same number of minions as Dave, and the two fought with both getting beaten up.  Dave was strong early on with pool and minions and because Mark’s deck just grows high caps before he does anything.  But, he got torped at times.  Mark became the biggest threat once he had Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, and Carlton in play, but time was running out and he had limited success on removing Dave’s pool.

Nevertheless, Dave was in danger.  Alex was potentially in danger but not so much.  I had Famed Quira (I got Famed like five times during the day and never once went to torpor), who got Pentexed, Kalinda with Tasha Morgan, Appolonius, and a very late Darrell Boyce.

Time was running short.  I talked about who should remove Pentex for me to interact with Mark.  Alex seemed to be the player.  Alex bleeds me, bleeds me, I’m at 5, bleeds me with Vlad for 5.  I bounce with Quira, of course.  Mark Eludes Morpheus.  I DI.  Mark takes 5.  I bleed him out.  Time runs out.

Key play?  Precision naming Eyes of Argus that gets blocked due to Eyes of Argus.  Between that and my being Obedienced like five times as I never bothered stealthing by Mark’s four +1 intercept minions, Mark had no chance … unless Alex just burned Pentex like we “hoped”, which meant Brandon would have likely won on time, though maybe Mark had enough bleed to oust Dave.

Not a brutal victory, but I could have reasonably gotten Dave next, which would have been more convincing as to the true power of playing one Walk of Flame in a deck.  Mark was constantly worried about my combat because … of geniusness.

Deck Name:   To Perish Uncreated
Created By:  Apple’s sidekick – Ian Lee
Description: Apple bleeds, Quira and friends Cloak and Revelate and Precision.

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 22, Max: 42, Avg: 7.66)
2  Appolonius                         CEL for pot PRE10 Brujah
1  Darrell Boyce                      CEL OBF PRO    6  Gangrel Antitribu
1  Greta Kircher                      AUS CEL obf PRE7  Toreador Antitribu
2  Gwendolyn                          aus CEL FOR POT PRE tha11 Brujah
1  Kalinda                            CEL OBF tha    6  Assamite
2  Quira                              AUS OBF obt tha6  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Tansu Bekir                        cel OBF        4  Assamite
1  Vasantasena                        AUS DEM dom OBF pot9  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Zahir                              CEL OBF qui tha6  Assamite

Library: (80 cards)
Master (21 cards)
1  Barrens, The
5  Blood Doll
1  Direct Intervention
1  Dreams of the Sphinx
2  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Legendary Vampire
2  Obfuscate
3  Perfectionist
1  Villein
4  Wider View

Action (9 cards)
1  Computer Hacking
4  Precision
4  Revelations

Action Modifier (15 cards)
9  Cloak the Gathering
2  Elder Impersonation
1  Leverage
3  Veil the Legions

Reaction (17 cards)
3  Confusion of the Eye
1  Delaying Tactics
1  Fillip
5  On the Qui Vive
5  Telepathic Misdirection
2  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (5 cards)
4  Vampiric Speed
1  Walk of Flame

Retainer (2 cards)
1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
1  Tasha Morgan

Combo (11 cards)
4  Resist Earth`s Grasp
7  Swallowed by the Night

With that out of the way, I felt like playing something different.  Though my second deck was different, my third deck was much more different, being full of beatings, I mean, whiffings.

Tournament 2

Round 1:

Rick (Le Dinh Tho supports Dem bleed) -> Ian (CEL +1 STR) -> Kenneth (Lasombra SB) -> Alex (as above)

Kenneth blew through Alex, not that long for Rick, decked, but he had just enough stealth to get by my two +2 intercept minions – Carlton Sport Bike, Blaise Sport Bike and Mr. Winthrop – to not have all of his dudes murdered by my combat.

I never beat anyone down, discarding Blurs, Sideslips, Tastes.  I did make a terrible mistake by not giving Blaise (or Carlton) Mr. Winthrop a turn earlier.  I’m not sure if having Carlton at +3 was better or not than having two +2 interceptors.  But, between Shroud of Absence and combat ends, I never touched Kenneth’s dudes.


I played my King of the Mountain deck with no Tastes.  I’m unclear what I was thinking.

Round 2:

Andrew (Malk SB) -> Rick -> Mark (Lucian, The Perfect bleed) -> Ian

This didn’t last long.  I couldn’t generate enough intercept to stop Lucian, so I took several bleeds of 7.  Andy ousted Rick.  Mark had more pool and more bleed in the endgame.

Well, that wasn’t all that.  Again, losing is fine.  Not doing anything is the bane of good games.  But, whatever.  I already won an event and had allergy issues all day so chilling was cool.


Five player, I played a Jyhad only Pre/Cel deck and had the only oust, bringing out my sixth minion afterwards.

Great to play V:TES again.  Great to still have enough players to have meaningful events.  We talked about a V:TESlike game that relied less on cards in hand.

Congratulations to Kenneth for winning his first tournament.

Thanks to Brandon for organizing, to Andrew and Eric and their family for the use of their house, where we get our biggest events.  Thanks to all three for getting sandwiches and burgers.

Good times.  Hopefully, just a start on my playing a bunch of V:TES in a bunch of places this year.