Edge Of Gloom

February 23, 2019

The title of this is so not clever, it’s …

So, first we must consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster flavor text.

Dagger strike with the hand, punches through the defense.

I will be punching so daggery no one will ever defense.

Go around, rather than through, the block.

In no way will I address my topics in a roundabout way, so I am doomed to be blocked?

An ax from the sky deals a crushing blow to your head.

Ooh, scratch the dagger thing.  I’m going to crush some heads with my ax.

Mental explosions devastate one’s foundation – wiping the slate clean.

Gosh darn it.  Right when I had ax like focus my slate gets cleaned.

Defense is often weakest following a failed attack.

Well, sure, when you don’t crush a head with an ax, you get someone going around your block.

Run like the horse, and never tire.

Now, look.  Up until this point, every bit of Ultimate Combat! adagizing was entirely incontrovertible.  But, this is just ridiculous.  Horses tire.  Could even argue that horses tire faster than expert runners.  If I can’t trust flavor text from a CCG last sold in 1996, what can I trust?

A whipping arch, Tomita’s instep was an awesome weapon.

So, not that this flavor text is good, but the card is pretty decent.  Black belt Jump Crescent Kick is a 6/5 for 5.  If you wanted big, that’s pritnear the best of the big black belt techniques.  Of course, it’s vastly inferior to …

A spinning elbow to the head can crush resistance like an eggshell.

Ax or spinning elbow?  Both.  Brown belt Elbow Smash is the biggest brown belt technique and comes with a decent cost.  It’s just better than so many black belt techniques on the big side while being brown.  OTOH, my modern view on power management probably means this card isn’t as good as I used to think it was and that I’d be more inclined to a 4/4 for 4 rather than a 5/5 for 5.

When the body is primed, you prepare for dominance.

I am prepared.  Dominance activated.  Save the best for last.  Let’s say you have actually played UC! as unlikely as that is.  Can you think of what card has this flavor text?  If you hadn’t noticed, and I never noticed even though I rose to the exalted heights of brown belt player putting me in the top 10 in the world (based on some list I saw from somewhere).  Let’s just say it’s a really common card and kind of necessary to playing the game.

UC! scores another one over Magic.  Better flavor text on a foundation-al card.

So, something I failed to mention before was learning more about Gloomhaven at DunDraCon.  Oh, I still haven’t played it.  I just have a much clearer understanding why it dominates RPG play.  You don’t need the same people to show up at the same time.  That solves like 96% of all RPG campaign problems.

I feel kind of nostalgia-y mentally.  Like I should be breaking out stuff from the ’80s and reading RPG stuff up until the point that I realize much of what comes from back then, at least in fantasy RPGs, is a bunch of room/monster/treasure descriptions that mean nothing to me unless they involve named animals living in rooms across the hall from each other with broomsticks in the corners.  But, I don’t have a clear enough thought to topicize this nostalgia.

So, let’s jump over to Shadowfist.  One game.  A much better game than the week before.  Why?  Because I whipped out my awesome … deck.  This modest deck.

Name: Forest Futility
Faction: Jammer
Size: 50

Jammer Cards (37)
Characters (26)
1x Demolitions Expert
5x Edge Warrior
1x Gearhead
1x Grenade Posse
2x Gunrunner
1x Napalm Addict
2x Professional Killer
5x Punks
2x Rah Rah Rasputine
2x Resistance Squad
2x Rocket Scientist
1x Titanium Johnson
1x Tunnel Ganger

Edges (2)
2x Payback time

Events (6)
1x Death-O-Rama
2x Disco Inferno
1x Hosed
1x Stick it to The Man!
1x The Underground

Sites (1)
1x Genocide Lounge

States (2)
2x Homemade Tank

Generic Cards (13)
Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x City Hospital
1x Floating Restaurant
1x Heart of the Rainforest
2x Nine Dragon Temple
1x Pinball Arcade
1x Primeval Forest
1x Rainforest Grove

Non Feng Shui Sites (5)
1x Drug Lab
1x Rebel Camp
3x Secret Laboratory

I never drew an Edge Warrior.  I played one Punks.  Resistance Squad got me into Rocket Scientist and Gunrunner and could have gotten me Rah Rah Rasputine early on.  Yes, I play a game with a card named Rah Rah Rasputine.  I may not have a great deck, but I have a great … sense of ha ha?  Rah rah?

My first site was Primeval Forest.  I revealed it on my predator’s turn.  He did not attack it even though I had no characters in play.  It actually was undamaged most of the game, with the Floating Restaurant taking away a plink at one point.

My second site was even more … rah rah – Pinball Arcade.  You gnome you are playing overpowered naansense when you don’t even want to reveal the Arcade until like the fourth successful attack you make.

I discarded both Disco Infernos on turn one to try to get a foundation character.  I played Stick it to The Man! on the last turn of the game, only for the Reascended/Syndicate player to play a second Catching Bullets on an Imprisoned.

This perfectly tuned masterpiece may just be too brilliant for one such as myself.  I may have to messicate it until my feeble flopping powers can flop it good.

So, UC! flavor text and Shadowfist deck.  What’s missing?  Quiet you, you sarcastic folk.  True Dungeon thoughts?

There are threads currently both for 2020 token development and about the widening gap between starter level play and some level of token ownership play.  It’s not extremely clear what the actual problem is.  I may not encourage PUGs to hardcore like I did in the past, but I still think a lot of players could hardcore if they wanted to gain double XP.  As for my token ideas, people assume I’m an imbecile, which is part of the reason I lose interest in sharing thoughts.  Someday, I will be an imbecile, probably sooner than it should be given my unhealthy lifestyle.  But, as I totally have never said in the past because I’m chock full of originality at all spacetimes, a motivation to blog was to reduce having imbecilic forum conversations.

Speaking of my impending imbecilism, I kind of kept forgetting that making old legendaries wasn’t actually that hard for me.  I have a bunch of relics, and old recipes didn’t take a bunch of OOP URs like less old recipes take.  Now, whether I blow through a ton of trade items and gold to bother making legendaries I theoretically could make is another tale.  I should have odd requirements coming in Origins in case I decide I care enough to bother.

I could mention my Origins plans.  V:TES Tuesday night, assuming I can get to the locale in time.  V:TES Wednesday.  V:TES Friday.  V:TES Saturday.  TD all Thursday to make my owning a collection useful.  Traveller Sunday, if the con accepts my event submissions.  That’s not a very clean slate at all – that’s awfully similar to last year.

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DunDraCon 2019

February 20, 2019

I played four events and asked a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Boardgame question.

I ran a Traveller demo Saturday morning, ran a Traveller competition Saturday afternoon, attended Jeff’s Traveller demo Sunday morning, played in the V:TES event Sunday night.

Local cons are more work to me these days.  I was thinking I’d want to play a RPG, but there was no chance I was going Friday and I had no intention of being there Monday, which meant Saturday night was the only slot available.

But, I’m just exhausted going into cons.  Work is almost always active around the convention times as I do financial reporting input/output at the end/beginning of months and February is always squeezed by our coming out of a budget process along with four week fiscal month and President’s Day.  This con, I was also checking on friends’ cats throughout the weekend.

Then, I feel like I’m just doing more work at these cons rather than having a vacation or going to them to play games.  I do like the hanging out and talking about stuff.  The main topic this year was unusual …  I saw a few people I pretty much just see at cons.  Unfortunately, didn’t get to spend much time with someone who spontaneously decided to attend Sunday.

In the competition, I gunslinged a couple of times.  Sunday, we played a four player.  In all of the games I played of Traveller, I only lost to Jeff who was trying out a Beowulf piracy deck taking advantage of stacking connections.  He gained 12 VPs in one round from piracy.  Try Traveller – a niche CCG with surprising levels of variety.

I won one of my gunslinging matches with two cards left after pointing out to a new player that piracy was likely the way to do me in late in the game.  I was pretty close to the edge in the other gunslinging match, as well.  I didn’t play Scout both times.  I just have a very heavy card utilization style with Traveller, which is ironicful given how few cards I use in V:TES.

If you like a game where being more skilled at it matters, well, that’s also a feature of Traveller.

We gave out decks, a lot of playmats, and various promo cards.

Found out at the con that someone can even buy certain Traveller product off of Walmart.com to go with how full range of product is available to retailers and online options.

V:TES wasn’t that great as two players were borrowing my decks and con play just tends to feel really forced when it isn’t pickup V:TES at these NorCal cons.  Still, it was okay.  By far the most notable thing to my brain was how Lisette (Lasombra) repeatedly got bypassed due to the play of Acheron Vortex.  For all of my V:TESers out there, this is mucho hilarity.  For the rest of y’all, well, V:TES is a great game that more people should try (though, like anything else, not for everyone).

I got pastrami sandwiches and large smoothies four times in three days (as I ended up at the con Monday due to unfortunate events).  Twice bagel sandwiches as Bagel Street Cafe (there) doesn’t have rolls at 7-8AM.  Twice dutch crunch.  Three peach smoothies, one wildberry.  While things were hardly perfect and I got charged four different prices ordering the same two things twice, it’s one of the features of the con I look forward to.

Parking was insanely easy at 7-7:30AM on Saturday/Sunday.  Since the con has outgrown the hotel, is that because the attendee demographics skew towards people traveling together?  Uber/Lyft?   Everyone running out for breakfast at the same time?  Just weird how many spaces are available when the convention is so full.  I did notice, though, that Saturday morning at 7:30AM was not a terribly active time in the main rooms of the con.

I enjoyed things in the moment.  I was not excited by the commuting back and forth (forced due to the cats) and the responsibility of being required to be there at specific times.  I just don’t look forward to these cons in the way I used to as they aren’t really about my playing games when I feel like playing games (when I’m not exhausted).  Not running anything would help, so maybe I try to push someone local outside of Jeff and me to run Traveller and I’ll just attend the Traveller events as a lordly inner circler who can explain why Buffbot provides the skill tokens it provides.  (I started telling the story but never got around to telling the important bit.)  Besides Bagel Street Cafe and seeing people I rarely see, my focus on running my events/game also makes me feel not terribly connected to the convention – not enough variety.  Not the con’s fault.  I just don’t have time to prepare for these cons or time to savor them.  Contrast with cons outside the area, where I’m a player and playing in the things I want to play in all con.

It was very encouraging how into Traveller some of the con goers were.  We may not have widespread popularity, but the game works.  That it can easily transition between solo play, two player play, and multiplayer play is a real strength, though two player and multiplayer are going to be pretty different in feel.


Not All Chows

February 18, 2019

DunDraCon is done, but that’s my next post.

I was in Virginia the week before.  Before getting more into that, let’s see what today’s Ultimate Combat! flavor text provides us.

A tornado of power focused in the fist.

Um, not so relevant in any way I can think of.  C’est dommage.

Calling upon your inner reserves brings extra power to bear.

Two Mantra of Power in this pack.  So broken.  Though, I made some minimal effort to find a rulebook for how power is spent as I started wondering about the timing and correctness of playing the best card in the game.  In some way, I feel like rules consistency would dictate that I’ve been doing power spending wrong, but I just am not sure which way it is wrong.

Celestial aid purges pain.

Yup, call upon higher powers to win your martial arts match.  I may need to call upon some celestial aid.

In the blink of an eye an asset can become a liability.

Guess this card.  Come on.  Even though people aren’t into guessing like I’m into guessing.  Based on what I’ve written about UC!, this shouldn’t be impossible to figure out.

The berserker welcomes pain to inflict pain.

Got a pain theme going.  I could claim pain at the moment, though it’s pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things.

So, Virginia.  This was to celebrate the new Earth Pig.  Did dim sum at a Vietnamese place that was covering for my family’s usual dim sum place.

Got in Friday night around 11PM, got to sleep around 1AM.  My alarm went off at 5AM (I was partially awake), felt mostly fine up until I started on a long, boring ride South.  Now, when I drove to Raleigh last year, it wasn’t so boring, but I had more sleep and it was something novel.  This was same highwaying.

Got to Emporia, about 160 miles.  Ordered breakfast at the meetup spot and, after we ate, divvied up True Dungeon tokens.  Yup, this is a gaming blog.  Had to get to the all important gamingness of gamingiosity.  Far fewer tokens to deal with, more value.

Felt pretty good (had coffee which I hardly ever have because I didn’t want to die driving back) … up until the point that I started a long tedious drive back to Annandale.  Multiple playings of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll as I jumped constantly between stations for stimulation.

Took a bit of a shut eye, then headed over to my father’s place.

For a bunch of mahjong with some movie playing in the background.

I did really well in the lucky seat.  Both Saturday and Sunday, it was the seat of the big chip leader.  Whether that speaks to our skill or the feng shui of the Earth Pig year is not so terribly important.

Sunday, got up later than 5AM (I know, weird to not get up then while on vacation and going from Pacific to Eastern time zones), talked a bit about the SF Giants, Bryce Harper, and other things.  Went to dim sum.  Afterwards, to the father’s place for … mahjong and movies.

Speaking of movies, I don’t like watching parts of things.  To not only be playing something, but to be crashing tiles while actors are offering lines would drive me nuts if I actually wanted to watch the movies.  Big Trouble in Little China is a fine movie that others like way more than me.  Romancing the Stone was my idea and a movie I’d be happy to actually watch normally not having seen it in ages.

I did not sit in the Earth Pig Luck seat.  I was hurting blue time.  I got a couple hands at the end to recover blue and red chips to where I was down less than a thousand (points, out of five thousand).  But, my talking about playing mahjong isn’t to go into my supreme ability to not suck at the game.

Everyone my siblings play with play our family style, so it’s easy to play.  The young ‘uns just play for chips if they play for anything because, unlike me, they weren’t playing as an eight-year old with great uncles and great aunts for money.

Over the two days, I played two rounds of winds.  That was pretty normal when I was growing up for one session.  I found the play very Earth Pig unusual in certain ways.

At least four hands were won with all pungs.  I won twice with all pungs, my father at least once and my sister-in-law at least once.  I almost never win with all pungs playing our style, as our style heavily incentivizes speed and only gives all pungs one fan.

What put me way up on Saturday was one suit pure, pinghu clear.  I use pinghu because I’m not entirely sure what the best spelling would be as we always call all chows with no points gained from the eye phonetically punghu, but I can’t internet a spelling like that.  I’ve seen the Cantonese as peng woo, which is kind of close.  Mandarin pinghu works for the second syllable but totally not the first.

Anyway, five fans.  I may have gone many years with virtually no mahjong play, but I’ve played a fair heft amount, especially in that key 8-12 age range.  I’ve gone for all one suit hands many a time, including in silly cases for the challenge.  I even made what I consider a suboptimal decision in that hand and still Earth Pigged my way to victory.

Truly celestial aid purges pain … or whatever.

We didn’t play Codenames though my brother who was hosting me for the weekend talked about playing it a couple of times.  One of our Chinese cousins who hadn’t played before was shown how to play mahjong.

Just a wallbuildingfest of wallbuildingness.

Anything about TD?  I’d like to get some 2019 rares.  Quite a few are used for transmutes.  Some are just good.  I had some thought at some point about something related to reading the forums but lost that somewhat at sometime.

We head to the airport about 7AM Monday morning.

I read a book during the travel to and fro.  Pirate story.  Resonated reasonably well but not great.  Read some reviews that I thought pointed out the shortcomings of what’s a perfectly decent story.  The protagonists are underdeveloped.  One person did a good job of sarcastically pointing out the Mary Sueness of the puppeteer hero.  The fantasy aspects got anime level ridiculous – this is my original thought.  The ending dragged, partially because the love interest is so irrelevant.  Still, nice to read a book that I didn’t dislike.  It reminded me of my Solomon Kane GMing but didn’t particularly stimulate me to want to run something, play a piratey game, or even world build much.

Was this length of trip the right length?  Felt like wasted days on traveling.  Half the trip was essentially traveling, whereas my December trip to hang with family where I used zero vacation days didn’t feel like I was wasting time traveling.  Of course, I had connecting flights on this trip and didn’t on that trip, so hanging out in Denver and eating twice at the same sports bar was time not spent explaining how True Dungeon works or getting snowed on.

Because it has little to do with DunDraCon, I should note that I played Shadowfist Thursday night.  We played two games.  I was incapable of playing any cards for several turns in the first game and it ended dumbly as I stopped a Reascended victory with Onslaught of the Turtle only to have the next player waltz in when little was left in play.  Second game, I played cards, enough hitters to get them taken out.  I didn’t actually do a whole lot with my Lotus/Dragon deck, but the game was less dumb.

I’m not always happy when I play mahjong, as losing sucks and hands that “should” win don’t while hands that shouldn’t win … also don’t, but it’s just such a pleasant thing to do.  I would compare with how playing V:TES for 20+ years is just doing something I enjoy doing that I have mental investment in.  Plus family bonding.


Shift

February 3, 2019

Not that I have any playcalling cred, but maybe use your two tailbacks at once, throw to a tight end, run some screens before the fourth quarter, bootleg, end around, jet sweep, quarterback draw, draw, play from the shotgun, run hurry up, or run anything remotely different.  Good D.  Not terribly entertaining.

Shift

So, I played my 7 Masterless deck Thursday.  I play Wudang Monks.  So much hate.  Now, 7 Masters + 5 Auramancers is something I’ve played in a tournament before, but, just because an opponent had an Auramancer in play as I played a second WM and a third WM, somehow WM is too OP to live.

Speaking of living, we almost had an Underworld Coronation played, except two hitters were unaffected by events, so we played around UC for the rest of the game up until the point that the Reascended player played every Reascended in his deck and powered through for the win with the UC having been discarded earlier.  At no point in the game did my OP Monks or any of my other characters reduce a site’s body to zero.

Of course, my “Mountain Hermit” deck doesn’t make much use of Mountain Hermit as WM can unturn a Hermit, but the Hermit can’t unturn a WM.  My Occult Kung Fus (picking Dark Traveler, of course) got me three Fighting.  My Bridge of Birds was used more effectively by the Reascended (Cabinet Minister) than by me.  I think the better version makes use of Auramancers, maybe Netherworld Tricksters, other good stuff, and probably drops the Mountain Hermits for more cards that provide magic.  I’m not sure how this deck plays as is, though, as I drew five WMs and no removal in a deck that runs some removal.

Sure, we all had to start counting power using dice rather than counters because of multiple Bull Markets, Tranquil Peaks use, and whatnot, but that only does something when you spend that power to affect the game state.

Shift

I finally got out to the local Groundhog Day event.  I thought I had been to one before, but I tend to travel a lot this time of year or have some commitment as it’s close to DunDraCon, so I can’t recall if I have.

I just think it’s a really well written/produced movie.  It has a really good tempo to it.  It stays true to its concept.

I played Blood Rage, Key Flow, and Elysium.  All for the first time.  Blood Rage played differently than I thought it would, where I screwed up the second age massively by trying to contest Yggdrasil burning out my Rage to where I couldn’t play my hand full of upgrades, then I was irrelevant in the third age.  Winner won by two, while I was 40 points or whatever behind.  I would play it again, but I didn’t like it that much.  The Yggdrasil location just annoys me.

Key Flow is the sort of game that knowing how games turn out helps a lot.  I ended up in second by accidentally playing lots of animals, which wasn’t remotely my plan.  The winner (also won Blood Rage for the standard twofer) crushed us with heavily upgraded late game structures.  I would probably find this fine to play about the same number of times as 7 Wonders, which is a few.

Elysium saw me get ahead early and get crushed late as I still don’t understand scoring based on the incredibly unhelpful help cards.  Because I like mythology, I thought the game was fine up until the point it was over.  I have no interest in this game at all.  It’s actually rather boring, plays slow with people who don’t know the cards, lacks effects that interest me, doesn’t make me feel like the chrome matters at all.  If everyone knows the cards, I imagine it’s an easy game to play for people who want something lighter, but one could just play something else.  I think I’d rather play Ticket to Ride.

Shift

I was reading some L5R 4e books partially because I’m playing in HoR4 where mechanics might matter to my character, though not really as courtiers don’t get anything like kata, kiho, spells.  And, there’s one path relevant to my character which I was well aware of before playing this character, since Imperials get dumb mechanics where ronin have far more options.  Brotherhood Monks may have more options, though one would only know if one cared.

I got to thinking about campaign ideas.  I know.  This is dumb.  But, it was interesting.  I have this thought of a Hengeyokai campaign.  All of the PCs would be Hengeyokai with some sort of task that binds them together.  It would be a campaign where the PCs should be faking being samurai (or non-samurai, after all, still a reason to party together no matter what you are, though a traveling geisha character may be a stretch).  Might make far more sense as a one-shot, but …

… Why would I want to play a L5R one-shot?  I mean, using 1e, 3e, or 4e.  Obviously, a 5e one-shot to learn the mechanics makes sense.  So many modules, not just HoR modules, and box sets I’ve played are like one-shots.  So I can play a Brotherhood Monk who used to be a ronin who has Dark Secret revealed and becomes a Lost Akutenshi?

If I struggle to see playing L5R as a one-shot, what else?  Conan?  I think I do see where I stopped trying to get into con games of Conan because one-shots have the same problem of not providing anything I haven’t already done.

I can still see playing Feng Shui, which would probably only ever be one-shots given that 1e doesn’t work that great and 2e isn’t even trying to be a game for campaign play, but replaying Big Trouble in Little China for something like the fourth or fifth time isn’t really attractive.

Shift

I had opened an Ultimate Combat! booster before my last post and couldn’t fit in the flavor text I wanted to.  It still doesn’t fit.

Utter chaos blasts through the arena.

As a draft pack, the first pick is obvious, the second pick is less so.  As a sealed pack, while the technique is garbage, the pack is bountiful.

Strength X.  Warrior’s Helmet.  Strength 1.  Speed 1.  Gi Patch – Owl.  Combination 1.  Psychic Storm.

That’s a possible draft order, with Strength 1 being possibly better than Warrior’s Helmet if you can sligh your deck or have Adrenaline.  Of course, if you have Strength X, you would want Speed 1 more.  Why Strength 1 over Speed 1 everything else being irrelevant?  Banana Peel in Limited.  Combination 1 could even be the second pick, though highly unlikely.  Psychic Storm might be a first pick if you were playing a multiplayer variant.  Yup, UC! made cards for multiplayer play.  I’d still take Psychic Storm over bad cards or extra technique for the possible “get ahead and end the game” ability, especially if I knew someone else had Favorite Technique or a weapon (either is rather likely if I don’t get them) for the reach ability.  If I had drafted healing, healing, and more healing plus had some way to deal damage, could also see it maybe mattering, though far more likely a defensive draft deck would play a decking strategy where Psychic Storm would be awful.

The art of Psychic Storm may be UC! level art, but I do like the vivid red of action cards with the gold rarity symbol.  Plus, it has an awesome name.

Shift

The next time I post, I may have 2019 True Dungeon tokens.  Will that cause me to think of anything to say about TD?

I could write about how the change in plans for Origins is disappointing, but it’s not that big of a deal to me.  Affects others far more.

DunDraCon is coming.  I’ll be running Traveller events, look to play in the V:TES event, be commuting back and forth so I might not try to play a RPG after all.  Only expect to be there Saturday and Sunday.