I hadn’t been to Columbus in 20 years. And, that trip to Origins was as a Precedence volunteer where much of my time was spent demoing the Babylon 5 CCG. The RPG schedule was so boring I didn’t even try.
This year was for two things: V:TES, True Dungeon.
Even the TD was limited, so let’s start … with Tuesday.
Tuesday, I go to sofa around midnight, not really sleep, and get up at my 2AM alarm. Quarter to 4AM, Athena and Andy pick me up and we are off to Oakland.
Flights happen. We arrive before 4PM in Columbus. We wait a long time for the hotel shuttle, which is aggravating as I’m not sure I’ll make it to the 6PM V:TES tournament on time. We check in. We walk to Fabian’s, and we order a deep dish pizza.
V:TESing happens. I may not have the starting players right in all of these rounds. I knew some of the names when I was playing but have since forgotten.
Will (Sabbie 2 caps) -> ?? (Trem stuff) -> Mark (Summon History) -> Ian (HoS 3/4 toolbox) -> Jay (Nos prince/support)
As Mark said, I didn’t have much of a game. I hung around for a while with potential answers to being rushed by Remnant of the Endless Storm, but it wasn’t like I was flowing cards. Actually, I shouldn’t have gone in for the terrorism that is Outside the Hourglass and Domain of Evernight and just made some effort to block things, especially once I was never going to be a predator in the game.
Mark was not in a great position, but I got ousted and continued to eat pizza.
The pizza was not good. I like Fabian’s well enough and they were good to us, but the crust was too dry, the cheese was overwhelming compared to the toppings, the toppings were very meh. I’m willing to try thin crust, probably without cheese. Then, Andy didn’t get a chance to eat any until it was coldish.
John (SB) -> Maria (Newjah) -> Ian -> Andy (borrowed FoS SB)
This was set up ludicrously well for me in that John kept continuous pressure on Maria, keeping her from dominating. I got out a couple of Emerald Legionnaires, almost completely botched bleeding Andy for 3 with permanents on my HoS by playing Call of the Hungry Dead needlessly at superior rather than inferior emptying one of my dudes. Drew a Blood Doll, pushed, killed Andy, ousted John after fending off attempts to keep him in the game, then raced Maria in the endgame where I played around Archon Investigation and could bleed for 11 or whatever on my turn with three HoS and Emeraldness.
Sometimes you sweep because it’s hard to mess up your position.
Kelly (Pre/Obf vote) -> ?? (Mistress Fanchion doesn’t do it all) -> Ian -> Mark -> ??
I blanked on my predator’s name but should be obvious to anyone else being one of two women playing. Grandprey was the same from round one, I read his name during the first round but forgot.
Kelly ran over the table as his prey didn’t have any game and his predator didn’t have enough intercept and Mark couldn’t get ally rush going fast enough. I did survive longer than expected, but that just delaying tacticsed the inevitable.
Andy had already left since he wasn’t in the finals.
The day of more V:TESing.
Nobody expects …
Mark (Trem toolbox) -> Kelly (High cap Lasombra w/ Fort) -> Ian (Sea Pirates redux) -> Karl (Wolves Feed !Tor w/ Gerald FG)
Ambrosio takes an action, Mark blocks and ‘schrecks, I had an Anarch Convert out. I debate what to do. I mention the possibility of a deal, but I don’t know if Kelly was listening, so I eventually eat. I play in the dark poorly by forgetting a way to reduce one of Mark’s bleeds and cycle a card and am ousted pretty easily and Mark eventually sweeps.
Just a not good game.
Ian -> Tom (Tunnel Runner) -> Jay (Samedi) -> John (THA close range combat)
I let Tom get a Tunnel Runner and Jay’s game sucks. My Nadima does stuff but trying to police forwards and fight backwards and not be Pentexed does me in, eventually.
Next tournament, I decide to play the FoS SB deck with some slight changes because I was all about trying to simplify my tournaments.
?? (Una and DoC) -> Adam (!Brujah Undue Influence) -> Mark (5 discipline, including Dom, Nos-ish) -> Ian (FoS SB) -> Ben (borrowed Nos Anathema)
This was pure. The sacred playing of numerous Delaying Tactics brought righteous glory to some involved. Mark did hardly anything to me, Immortal Grapple twice in one fight and just hitting for one each time. I kept getting vote damage aimed at me from other than my predator.
Adam and I dealt with the idea that Mark would go and I’d be unmolested until Ben was gone. Ben was at 2 pool and had virtually no defense against my bleeding in his deck. Angela Preston was Famed and in torpor. Una tried to rescue, Anathemaed Una. Ben gained 9 pool. Adam and I talked about his going forward when he was near death and I was fine with it. I did mention that I had enough bleed to reduce Ben to 1 in hand. My top card would have been enough to remove Ben. I played like two DT, Adam played like six.
Ian -> Karl (vote) -> Mark -> Ben -> Adam
My focus was on playing a table with four of the same players, so I didn’t care much about Karl’s deck. More DTs. More DTs.
I’m blanking on what happened besides more DTs, Ben calling KRC of 1 on himself and 3 on his predator and the only person displeased was his prey. Seriously, I don’t remember how things shook out as I was just in DT nirvana. I did DT, myself, to cycle.
Forgot my credit card at Fabian’s because I’ve never left my CC with restaurants before. Ben helps me settle my “tab” (even though I got everything I wanted before tournament two) and holds my card for Thursday. I should mention that my food was much better, in particular the tater tots from the sister restaurant were better than usual.
Time to get serious … ly ousted. While I had options for a tournament I couldn’t play the finals of due to True Dungeon scheduled for after the tournament is supposed to end (but won’t), I settled on HoS FoW as something fun that actually has any ousting power.
Then, I find out there’s going to be another hour taken up with a food break. Burn.
John (Ass anarch vote) -> Kate (DoC vote) -> Karl (Art of Memory Dom/Obt) -> Darby (“fun” Bribes) -> Ian (Blessed Resilience pure HoS)
Darby kept referring to my bleed deck as an intercept deck. Having no votes, I was not involved in the numerous discussions on whether to help Darby pass votes or not. While Karl could theoretically bleed for 18 in one turn, his turns didn’t tend to be 18ish. So, Darby often had lots of pool or gained back what he lost. Kate is not all that experienced (we knew each other from NoCal) and probably overcomplicated playing Lily Preludes, as Darby didn’t get permavotes until late and John and Karl each had one (John’s one hurt him as his dude couldn’t anarch up). John is low at some point, but a vote passes to give him lots of pool and that makes my game unlikely to proceed.
On turn two, Darby vote bled me for 7. About 100 to 105 minutes into the game, John back ousts me with a vote as it also kills Kate and the game can properly time out at that point.
Ian -> Alex (IC stuff?) -> John (Trem stuff?) -> Alexandre (anarch) -> Karel (!Ventrue bleed)
I doubt my deck could ever play as smoothly as it did in this game. I get out Erlik who gives me Mina on the same turn. I bleed, I Rapid Heal, I Summon Soul, I Emerald, I … before the end, my prey brings out Rafael de Corazon, who becomes Legendary, calls Reins of Power, and votes 7 against … bring out Erebus to go to 2 pool. Rafael gets by my two intercept with a vote and back ousts me to give a Dominate bleed deck a new prey. Somehow, that worked for him.
Finally, we have True Dungeon happen. I mean, sure, I had already done transmutes that morning and the transmute room folks were superhelpful for getting me out of the room.
Into the Shadowlands
So, I’m the one who used our patron code to sign up for this patron event. No point in spoiling anything. I did prove not useless with the first room puzzle. I barbarianed to occasionally do damage, though not 60 at a shot like the rogue and there was one fight where I missed like every round with my +16 to hit. Ah, high level play.
Respectfully, I didn’t find it that interesting. One of the things that’s very clear is how really uninteresting TD combat is. I want it to be challenging but also for there to be some context. Challenging isn’t hard [foreshadowing alert, foreshadowing alert]. The problem I noticed more at Origins, maybe just because I hadn’t played in a while, is how you have no real concept of what’s going on in combat. Did I contribute? 7% of the damage? 22% of the damage? How do my choices matter? At a certain point, if you win, the table just gets wiped clear of sliders and it feels oh so hollow most of the time.
I thought the event would feel more different. Sure, there was metagamey stuff to rein in brokenness, but I couldn’t even tell whether that mattered.
While occasionally entertaining and probably much more so for those who 20ed their Death Dies, this became monotonous to me. I liked what happened to spellcasters because it forced me to do something besides “Spellswap to Magic Missile, MEC, another 36 damage.” I traitored and, thus, was the last to be slain. I would have vastly preferred a different set up with more variety to the fights. It just felt like an exercise after a certain point as victory was never going to happen.
I did something like 300 damage to Lorigorgon, 52 to PCs with my last two spells, 23 to all PCs with my last Burning Hands, had a bunch of spells rejected …, and it felt like it meant nothing. Sure, I could have more efficiently used my Lightning Storms to do more damage, but it was more interesting filling out paperwork up until the point I was a traitor. Actually, failing to hit in melee combat because my build was not built for anything besides casting and surviving was mildly amusing.
Andy had more to do as he didn’t have as many spells rejected and he survived a long time as a non-traitor.
We hit a pub near the hotel, which became the norm. I had the stromboli, which was really a calzone, but I don’t terribly care. Too cheesy for eating that late in the day, but it was good, otherwise.
Day one. The proof is in the puddinghead plays.
Jay (ANI/THA) -> Ian (THA horde) -> Jesper (Nergal Beast) -> James (high cap Ventrue) -> ?? (POT/Dom)
I could have played this game really differently. I could have played The Name Forgotten on Nergal before Unleash and Beast got out and could block it. I let Jesper play his game. He got the game win. But, what confused me a lot was how little ability to survive James had. I thought he would vote and fill up or bounce more or something so that he wasn’t taking constant bleeds from Nergal and Beast.
Jay was frustrated by my inability to go forward, but just because I brought out Hannigan and gave him DOM, then Muaziz and gave her DOM didn’t mean I could actually pressure my prey without Create Gargoyles, which Jay blocked. Lot of bounce, not bounce, whatever at end.
Karl (!Tor anarch bleed) -> Will (AUS/Obf) -> Ian -> Martin (PRE bleed w/ AUS) -> Adam (ANI and …)
For a short time, this game was set up really well for me. Martin had very little pool, Adam never got going. But, as usual, I couldn’t finish and Martin got Adam, and Will got tapped out by Anarch Troublemaker and couldn’t use his bleed defense. The endgame ground to a halt with Martin not wanting to go forward with my threat of bouncing, Karl somewhat spinning his wheels, and my being kind of impotent. Karl contested Carlton and I should have bled for the edge rather than Blood Doll hunt. Eventually, Karl double bounced and Archoned on the same action and I couldn’t deal with a load of minions. Martin didn’t have any game by the time I was gone.
Elon (Baali vote) -> Pete (!Tor) -> ?? -> Ian -> Sam
This was odd. I should have gotten 4 vps with how it played out as I could have saved Elon not once but twice, with the second time ousting Sam while Elon was at 1 pool with two tapped Baali. My predator transferred low enough for Pete to oust him. I had Carlton and Ponticulus right away and my predator’s first minion was … Stanislava. But, I didn’t care.
Sam would bleed a lot for 1. I bled a lot for 1. Pete held on long enough for me to oust Sam but had little pool at that point and I had an impregnable wall with my ability to get to two intercept.
What made it odd? Sam’s deck does like one thing. Elon got into a position where he couldn’t do anything pretty quickly with just Nakhthorheb and Waters behind him.
N1 – Astral Bliss
Final TD event. Even more important not to spoil this as many will be doing it for the first time at Gen Con. There were good things about it. I didn’t find it to be the best thing ever. I preferred GC 2017’s Moongate combat. A question, how interesting is up to the reader, is: What do I actually enjoy about TD? I enjoy other people being clever. I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy thinking about builds (but not so much writing them out as they tend to be very similar to each other). I enjoy having certain tokens.
My build for this run, btw, was a ranged monk. I went minimalist, even though my build was kind of more oriented to normal than hardcore. My damage bonus was too low for hardcore. I could fix that easily, but it would mess with the aesthetic of the build. What wasn’t too low was my 39 hit points. I liked feeling in danger and needing healing. To play TD and be “Well, I’m down 40, but I’m okay.” is not enough tension.
I still had people use my melee stats, which were like +1/+1 vs. my ranged of +25/+2. Part of the balance of playing at levels that aren’t that hard. Fortunately, the six person group had a fighter who could consistently do 30+ to make up for my impotence and Andy’s druid was probably doing good damage.
Day two. Every cat has his day.
Kelly (Cybele and friends w/ Striga) -> Ian (my vampires have Obfuscate) -> Hugh (borrowed Summon History ally) -> Bob (!Ventrue Grinder?) -> Adam (Palla Grande)
The best thing about not having stealth in my first 31 cards is that I got to put out a bunch of permanents that nobody cared about and a couple of my Conceals got through due to the swarm factor. I burned Ankara three times by the end. One of those times was a horrible mistake, the kind of mistake that losers make, losers with blogs. I burned a Renegade Garou with DBR. I only really got beaten down by a Rock Cat after I failed to topdeck a third stealth card in the first 42 cards which would have ousted Hugh, though I could have swarm ousted Hugh with just my board if I didn’t trust in the heart of the cards.
Of course, my deck with all OBF vampires except one is barely running any stealth, only 22 stealth cards, so it’s understandable that I should have played smart and not like I just got embraced last week. Not that I think I get Bob, but 1 VP is 1 VP more than 0 VPs.
Karl (FoS anarch vote) -> Jesper (Deep Song bleed) -> John (Trem toolbox) -> Ian -> Robert (Malgorzata and friends vote)
Karl survived longer than he should have, which got him a VP. Jesper beat John down hard early to where John never had game. John wasn’t expecting my deck to wake as much as it did, which meant he couldn’t lunge and I wasn’t terribly afraid of combat. I got out lots of ranged weapons. Anarch Troublemaker was rather important.
I Concealed Creepshow Casino in the endgame after Robert got 2 VPs, which Robert let through. He also didn’t play around my weapons well. Newer than most to the game, some better decisions and I wouldn’t have ousted him after I diablerized all of his guys right before time. Also, earlier, probably could have played differently to get two easy VPs. Learning experience.
Ian -> Alexandre (Vignes) -> Pete (Ventrue Grinder) -> Brad (FoS w/ Dom Corruption) -> Bill (PRO/Dom w/ intercept)
Even with my dispensing with cards that can provide stealth and with a Free States Rant crosstable, Vignes still took out Pete. If not for that, I would have had two easy VPs as Alexandre wasn’t doing so great. Meanwhile, I ignored Bill who tooled up with lots of intercept and Brad never felt confident going forward, so I eventually got worn down by bleeds in the endgame.
While I could be frustrated by how my Day One deck couldn’t lunge, what was different about these events is that I was actually capable of threatening my prey most of the time, with the one game of Nergal being a case where I think I just end my prey’s game on turn three if I choose to and end up ineffectual instead. The plan of lowering crypt capacities and focusing on getting more minions in play seemed to work in general. Now, the issue remains that with my banned list, there are a lot of ways to improve ousting power I don’t have access to, but that just means I embrace voting … because everyone loves voting. Everyone.
For all intents and purposes, it’s pink lemonade time as I wasn’t going to play in the finals on Sunday and no more transmuting to do for TD. To the pub for more lemonade. I finally got the $4 double burger. I was not surprised that it was a slider. It was a very thick slider. Certainly, I understand the price point.
Oh, speaking of food, didn’t mention my getting Tibetan dumplings (too chewy), brisket and rib tips (kind of overpriced for the quality in my mind), lamb curry with a lassi (lassi was quite good, rest was okay) from North Market, getting many smoothies from the convention center with my first Buckeye being really, really good and the other being kind of watered down, with the Strawberry Sunrise being just too pineappley. Got food at the airport on the way back and it was pretty good and like $10 for a full size sandwich and a 20oz drink – I’m increasingly a fan of smaller airports.
One more tournament I can’t win.
Ian (Indie Gargoyles) -> Mark (Nos Royalty Disarm) -> Peter (Baron something) -> Brad (Ani/Obt)
This was entertaining for how sad and pathetic we all were at ousting our prey. Ferox rushed Sheldon. Sheldon got torped. Peter got Fee Stake: New York with Calebros in play. Because of the recent forum post on vekn.net, I remembered the contestation penalty barons have, so Ferox had to empty Calebros in torpor.
While Mark and Peter got pool deprived to the point of it being laughable and more laughable, Brad just achieved infinite power. I kept waiting for a crosstable Parity Shift, which got DTed. Mark only ousted because Peter did a thing with a Famed vampire. Mark and Brad stalled out in the endgame.
Darby (DoC vote) -> Robert (Malgorzata again) -> David (Summon History Inceptor) -> Alexandre (Malk anarch) -> Ian
“Darby, if I don’t oust you now, I don’t think I’ll ever oust you. So, I’m done, go ahead.” I, then, took a restroom break. When I got back, Darby was ousted, so, as usual, I’m psychic … because I didn’t oust him.
David got a VP because somehow Alexandre just kept eating bleeds of four from Codex. Robert got a VP because David’s game was impaired by Washes and Suddens. I didn’t get ousted with four cards left and one untapped minion against Malgorzata, Oriandus, Polly.
Welp, that’s V:TES. All things can be predicted at the beginning of every game and you’ll lose games because your grandprey tries to rescue a vampire from torpor.
On the way to the airport, Andy and I discussed my next deck construction method. Let’s see how secret sauce works this weekend …
While no gaming event at Origins was great, I’d still say the overall experience was greatish. The best part was hanging out with people better at winning V:TES than I am. Better hotel next year would improve things. Trying thin crust might be better, especially with no cheese. Maybe I’ll even play a Dominate card besides Deflection in one of my decks, like, uh, Autonomic Mastery.
Andy really liked the size of the convention. I really liked having a two minute walk between V:TES and TD, as opposed to rushing for a 15 minute hussle between hotels to make RPGs. Still, Origins and Gen Con provide two very different opportunities for me, so I’d much rather have both be the norm.
Thanks to Black Chantry folks and Jay for V:TES events. Thanks to Mongo for getting my transmutes done faster than they deserved to be. Thanks to my fellow dungeonites for putting up with my dungeon demeanor.