Target Practice

November 4, 2018

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year.  The time when I begin talking about the new seasons of Arrowverse shows.

For the three people who are still reading, let’s get some contextual stuff out of the way, first.

Supergirl –

Have not watched a new episode, haven’t watched most of last season on DVR.  I’m so close to mass deleting as the show only really got me perked up (outside of crossovers) in the first two episodes of season “yo, Superman”.

Arrow –

Keep seeing comments about getting back to roots.  Um, nope.  I have had a higher tolerance for Felicity than most after she became a main.  Great supporting character, terrible main.  But, I just can’t stand her this season.  Her arbitrary “I’m more important than everyone else”ness is exactly contrary to what makes superheroes heroes (well, what makes anyone heroes).  Helping others is what society deems Good, as I’ve stated before.  Sacrificing to help others is more Gooder.  Whining is not Good.  Arrow always should have been one of two things – modern take on vigilantes where they just straight up murder the bad guys all of the time … or … ignore early season 1’s straight up murdering people right and left and all hail boxing glove arrow time.  To keep trying to play on the fence of what vigilantism means is really, really boring.  Almost like I said this before – angst is bad, m’kay, there are plenty of ways to have drama without caring whether someone has dealt with their personal demons or not.

It’s like other folks, the folks who like this season, want something different than what I do.  Oh, right, they do.  They want Amell shirtless in prison fights.  I want a superhero show about an archer (well, not really, since Green Arrow isn’t an important character to me, but, given that we don’t get supers I like better, sure, a show about a superhero archer).  Of course there’s lots of agreement on the weak parts.  For instance, get rid of every other main character and have some fun supporting characters, like season 1 Felicity and anyone who is like “Whoa, you are a Bratva Captain?”.  Just to show I don’t hate women – make Nyssa mainish and have her be the rival/foil.  “Husband, while you were fiddling with your long, thick expanding arrow, I straight up murdered all of the bad guys and solved the problem … again.”

Flash –

Not bad.  But, see below about Legends of Tomorrow.  Cicada is actually less interesting already.  I can accept the ludicrous tropes needed to make a god threatened by ungods, but oh my does it get tiresome when they set up scenes where anyone who moves, I don’t know, four times as fast as a normal person wouldn’t be remotely threatened.  Cisco is not as cool as he once was.  Caitlin’s problems are boring.  Ralph is boring.  Wells has yet to get anywhere near season 1 Wells, though that may not be possible.  Having JPK play the daughter of two actors who are actually younger than her is somewhat amusing.  Just too much locked into tropeland rather than capturing the really cool dynamic of early season 1.

Legends of Tomorrow –

At no point has Supergirl been what I wanted it to be as a show.  Sure, Supes’ first two episodes were there, but that didn’t last long.  Arrow had moments but really lost its cool after like the first three episodes.  The Yao Fei training and early Deathstroke stuff was on point.  Even later Deathstroke was just a slog as:  one, wasn’t Ollie’s fault; two, the whole setup was really stupid when you stopped to think about it at any time even though the plan to pit them against each other made perfect sense.  Flash was what it should be early to mid season 1.

Oh, hold on.  All of these shows tend to be what they should be when they do crossovers.

LoT was not good in season 1.  Two characters were such a downer.  But, it got better.  Season premier of this season may not be perfect television, but it’s exactly what LoT should be like.  I’ve had bigger laughs, but that they made a Woodstock episode work at all was an achievement as I don’t have any nostalgia for Woodstock (okay, I’m maybe not as ancient as I think), so I find it a boring historical reference.  Then, the second episode happened.

Which brings me to my gaming topic.  !!

There’s a line in storytelling, even highly mechanical storytelling, where on one side you have good or better and the other you have not good or worse.  LoT had the same ideals and generally the same components but failed the execution.  The second episode was actually exceedingly obnoxious.  Boringland called and paid a visit.  The supernatural antagonist (not really the real antagonist) was not terrible.  The singing was timely.  It was just how mindnumbingly stupid Zari was that left me disgusted with the episode.

My concern with running … since there’s only so much I can do as a player and I have a high tolerance for suboptimal play of RPGs … is that I try to do what sounds righteous and don’t get on the righteous side of the line.

This is likely a terrible example for this particular topic, but it’s something from recent Rokugan 1600 play that hasn’t worked.

Usagi Yumi

I steal so much stuff from prior campaigns.  So, one thing I did was have an object that mattered to me as a player show up in the campaign as a subplot device.  Besides passing comments on rare occasions about getting rid of the yumi, at no point did it matter to the player of the PC tasked with finding the rightful owner to find the rightful owner.

When the lack of progress kept getting commented upon, the players finally came up with some ideas for pursuing the subplot.  One idea was okay, but I called it “prosaic” in an email I sent – prosaic doesn’t fit my style of RPGing.  The other idea I called “I Love Lucy” level thinking to just be rid of the subplot.  Because latchkey kids had to watch TV from the time they got home to when they went to bed and I’m from an age when there were maybe eight TV stations to watch with only about three mattering, I suffered through I Love Lucy.  And, Laverne and Shirley.  And, other shows about incompetents.  Which is maybe why I have such a deep, abiding hatred of entertainment about incompetents/losers.

I was proud of bringing more magic items into a fantasy campaign because I noticed that I should do more of that sort of thing to play up the fantasy elements of, er, fantasy campaigns.  Instead, griping and sarcasm.

The intent was to motivate towards a goal, since I don’t really require players/PCs to have goals yet goals add depth to a campaign and contribute to having a PC story arc.  Sure, this sort of thing is well familiar to GMs.  They have in mind something they think will make for a better game, a cool story, and the player doesn’t care.

So, what could I have done differently?  Well, since I think in a way that most people I play RPGs don’t, maybe the hints I made recently could have been made earlier.  Though, to be fair in the sense that this isn’t the most important thing to the campaign, I was fine with letting the player deal with the subplot when he felt like it.

Now, there’s another reason not to tip my hand.  I like other people figuring out things, perhaps because I like figuring out things.  I like guessing.  I like having an opportunity before I get an answer handed to me.  I find it weird when other people aren’t into guessing, which a lot of people I quiz aren’t into.  To me, being handed an answer either undermines or invalidates knowing something.  Since this is so “profound”, I’ll come back to it another time.

As a GM, I don’t see my job being giving answers.  I see my job being to give mysteries where the players can discover the answers.  Feel like I’m getting off topic, in that maybe I have a bunch of topics related to CW TV shows.

Anyway, ideas are easy, execution is hard.  Oh, also said this before.


Meanwhile, there are things I think I do poorly that seem to find favor with players.  This should not be surprising, but it suggests the closeness to the line that a GM can run at.  With just the right dice rolls or player interpretations or improvisation, something uninspired can be inspirational.

Another example that may not even fit.  There’s a geisha that two of the players met in a side session.  She worked in that session better than expected, so I’m obviously having her return to the stage.  Maybe that NPC will engage in a way so many others don’t.

We’ve played enough sessions for players to either gain a feel or reassess their characters.  If I don’t start adding depth rather than continuing to create breadth (shallow and broad I be), going to miss out, methinks, on a better experience.

More engaging villains.  More engaging NPCs.  More engaging locales.  More engaging objects.  More engaging plots, subplots, events.  If wishes were fishes, fish sauce might be more expensive.

So, how to do the better things Arrowverse shows have done and eschew the worse?  Well, no, I don’t look forward to Mick and Constantine working together.  Just sounds Odd Couple level “I only watch this show because nothing else is on this channel I watch for four hours every day” grating.

I’m not very hard on the players.  I was reading some story ideas in L5R supplements and they are *harsh*.  Permanently being made an eta harsh.  Maybe events would be taken more seriously if there were actual consequences.  OTOH, doesn’t sound like that would be any more fun, just more intense.

GM Fun

Because who really cares whether I have a coherent blog post or not?

I was asked what was fun for me as a GM, what would make things more fun.

I enjoy research.  I enjoy worldbuilding.  I enjoy using research in my worldbuilding.  I enjoy coming up with interesting takes on mechanics.  I enjoy the soap opera lives my NPCs have that players generally couldn’t care less about.

What makes me stop enjoying anything is if players aren’t enjoying play.

I’m sure the writers of Arrowverse episodes enjoy Gorilla Grodd or messing up the timelines or trying to address political issues.  See, getting related to my own post – booyah.

I can enjoy building a world that doesn’t get played.  What seems like it would be more fun is having the players enjoy the world.  I’m pretty sure that’s true, as players caring about some aspect of the world gets me motivated to keep creating more of the world, while players not caring about the world hardly at all gets me disinterested in running.

When I can find the time and am in the mood, I enjoy writing stories that are relevant to the PCs.  This is an area I’ve been poor at for R.1600, as we often schedule sessions in quick succession or have long layoffs.  In theory, if we had more every other week sessions, that would give me a week to work on a session and to write up what’s going on with the NPCs so that the players have more insight into how I view the world.

Arrowverse seasons are still early.  Flash feels like it’s wavering between the two sides of the line.  Arrow is relatively good for Arrow but that doesn’t say much as so much of Arrow has had similar problems to so much of Wheel of Time.  I don’t expect it to rise to new heights or to rise to the heights of its crossover episodes.  LoT is where I hope to be continuously entertained, but it needs to figure out how to use its current crew better as I feel like it’s a Sara and everyone else show, at the moment, because only Sara feels fully “present” as a protagonist.  Mick is underused, Nate is annoying, Ray gets too silly, Zari doesn’t work when she’s serious, Constantine is not integrated well, at all.

R.1600 isn’t early.  If only it was easier to implement GMing advice rather than just reading it.  If only it was easier writing good TV.  Oh yeah, still absolutely on theme for today.


Yacht Sea

October 28, 2018

Yacht See.  Yacht C.

Something of a follow up to my prior post.

Let’s talk about game design … and a not so obscure game that starts with a Y.  Actually, if you look at the Wikipedia entry for Yahtzee, you get some rather convenient background on the name.

Anyway, on that trip, Yahtzee came up twice.  Once when I played a bunch on the plane in lieu of playing other things (though I did play a few other things).  The other time when an Australian who didn’t know what CCGs are asked me why I thought Yahtzee was so popular.

I answered with reasons including:  visceral appeal of rolling dice; rerolling dice; gambling roots; scoring system is both understandable and varied.  Actually, maybe I didn’t mention that last one at the time.  But, it’s important to why this blog post exists.

But, let’s talk about rerolling.  Actually, because actually is the secret word for today … doh!  Actually, let’s get off on a tangent.

RPGs often use dice.  As everyone knows, the best dice rolling mechanic is a single d10, with explosions.  Yes, even better than 1e/3e/4e L5R R&K because it’s easy for people not into probability calculations while R&K is suited to people who can approximate TN probabilities in their head.

Then, there’s rerolling.  Rerolling dice is like, totally, the wasp’s elbows.  Every sane, normal, mundane personage wants to be able to reroll dice when they don’t like their initial results.

Gambling is frequently about random results.  Lot of games come out of gambling games.  I have discussed the contrast between poker and Yahtzee recently, but that’s a tangent.  And, if there’s one person who can’t stand tangents, that would be this bloke.  This not-blue eyed, not-blond bloke [there’s like three people who might get this reference … FTW!].

People enjoy bingo, keno, lotteries, bunch of other random stuff.  So, sure, dice.  But, then you have redicing.  It’s like draw poker over stud.

Where was I?

So, game design.  One thing about thinking like a designer/developer in a professional sense is evaluating the replay value of games.  There might be games that are cool/fun/entertaining at first blush and grow sickly right quick.

It gets back to Cards Against Humanity and its ilk.  I enjoyed playing Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond the first time, but I pretty quickly lost interest after that.  I was already losing interest in CAH just in a second session.  Sure, the thrust of these sorts of games is the social interaction rather than the mechanics, and there are plenty of games that are more popular that are hitting the social nerve rather than the quality mechanics nerve, but, in theory, can do both.

Yahtzee has replay value to me.  Now, I wouldn’t rate it as the greatest things since pound cake.  But, for someone who can play solitaire for hours yet has little tolerance for games like Through the Ages, Yahtzee is at least a starting point on simple mechanics with some level of replayability.

Funny.  How long does funny stay funny?  There are folks I’d be happy to play CAH with a lot, though I think that has a lot more to do with wanting to hang with those non-gamer folks and would imagine doing something besides CAH with them would be even better.  Jokes are better when you don’t see them coming.  In Valley speak, you are looking for disruptive verbalizations to sink venture capital into.

It’s not our goal to make perfect games.  It is one of our goals to make games that fit the source material.  It is one of our goals to make games people would want to buy.  Goal isn’t the right word, but it’s a lot better if we make games that we enjoy.

For gamer types, pulling something off the shelf is more likely when the mechanics of the game feel righteous, dude.

Now, I would not be into a Yahtzee variant.  The scoring system being fixed makes it easy, it also makes it limiting.  Consider American Mahjong, where you get new scoring cards every year.  While there could be a scenario based game that plays like Yahtzee, still not really achieving the replay-driving level of variance being looked for in a game that is not trying to compete with solitaire but trying to compete with whatever Eurogames and Ameritrash are happening in the open gaming room.

Nothing wrong with jokes, you there, in the woods.  I am in the woods.

But, note, so much of my entertainment in multiplayer CCGs comes not from eviscerating my victims but from the emergent humor when you “get” the mechanics or thematics of the game.  Hmmm … this paragraph seems rather tangential.  Well, who doesn’t love tangents?  Actually …

Maybe I should just reroll this blog post [don’t let them know that these posts are constructed just based off of a bunch of die rolls … okay, sure, the secret will never be revealed].

Appealing games are more appealing if they have replay value.  There are mainstream/classic games that can point to how to achieve replayability or to how there are really popular games with kind of terrible replayability.  Using the former, can think about how to achieve multiple goals with a new game, a fun game.

Actually, on a tangent, CCGs should have immense replayability.  When they don’t have l33t replayability is when they have a crucial flaw.  I find Ultimate Combat! very replayable even with its small and internally similar card pool.  V:TES, of course, has l33t replayability, but certain storyline events had unl33t replayability.

Dice can be appealing.  Rerolling dice can be pre-appealing [OMG, nobody will get this reference, not even her, as she would never read this blog, besides, this use doesn’t even make sense, anyway].

In other news, have had a couple more sessions of Rokugan 1600, where we learn how different gamers perceive …

Kućna Biljka

October 17, 2018

When is a gaming blog not a gaming blog?

When it’s ajar, a jar, … *sigh*.

I can get into TV reviews, movie reviews, book reviews, food reviews, and make some loose tie in to gaming to justify my whims.  Then, there are the travelogue posts that tend to be even sketchier when it comes to fitting this blog.

But, hey, I didn’t take any games but I totally played some (not mind games, well, not intentionally).

In the beginning, was a city.  A city with an airport.  And, an airport shuttle bus.  And, a Metro and a Decathlon on the way to the AirBnB.  Oh, right, there’s only like one or a few people in the world who would understand why I took note of the Metro store and the Decathlon store on the way in.

We were a group of seven.  Five convicted murderers and the other six in the group.  Uh … Germany.  So, I met up with two of the party in Frankfurt.  Success.  Shelter.  Success.  Well, time to declare victory and call it a week.

I headed to the Diocletian Palace area because 4.5 movies on the first flight left me full of chi.

So, I may have said something about not being a movier.  I have in my decrepit old age of traveling an airline a bunch for status (not gaining me much since I dropped from gold) become the moviemeister, Baron von Movie.  Or, Baron von Ultimate Yahzee.

I finally saw Solo.  Watched Deadpool 2, Kingsman: Golden Circle, Monkey King 3, and most of Deadpool.  My early filter didn’t show Deadpool, thus the sequencing.  It’s refreshing when characters actually say what they think.  Yukio is adorable.  I can see getting tired of the Deadpool schtick, though.  Solo – terrible beginning, not exactly all that afterwards.  Golden Circle just bad.  I can understand the value of Bond parody, but, even with the cheesiness of Bond movies, they exude some stylin’ and profilin’.  But, then, I don’t watch action movies so much for action [just like I don’t eat massive quantities of meat because I care that much about the meat … oh never mind, Andy].  Monkey King 3 is not what I have in mind when I think of martial arts flicks, but my lukewarm feelings had more to do with the beating over the head of gender relationship stuff.

We eat at Maslina.  You know, I’m not going to spend a lot of time reviewing food.  I’m hypercritical, I mean, hyperanalytical and mostly complain about how my food and drink don’t rise to the level of … of … really great food.  I did learn to not order lemonade in Europe as I’m not entirely sure who drinks unsweetened lemonade.

Get this out of the way, now.  If you don’t get breakfast and lunch served everyday, then Croatia is about eight gelatos a day for, like, $12.  No matter what tourist port you are in, somehow, they will present gelato to you right as you get off the ship.  If you just need to scavenge for dinner, like us, then knock out your three gelatos for $4.50.  Now, you could order smoothies, like someone who drinks copious amounts of sugar, but just say yes to $1.50 cones and “suffer”.

Obligatory Port Shot

On to Makarska.  Weather was unkind early on …


So, what’s a group of young folks and a blogger going to spend time doing when not rafting or kayaking?

Heads Up!.  Yup, Heads Up!.  Cards Against Humanity.  First time, for me, and it was just like Apples to Apples (from a certain perspective).  I even played Uno and mansplained some on why I’m not into games like chess to someone who had just played some chess.  I’m just going to assume any time I say anything, I’m doing it in a manly way because of my early nurturing.  Also, much later in the trip, Exploding Kittens.

See, gaming content.  I’m nothing if not focused.

Night one of the trip, I didn’t get to sleep until after 4AM.  In fact, I was playing solitaire at 3AM … gaming, booyah!

Yup, me and all of the other kućna biljke [not sure this is as kosher as I think it could be] just notpartying late into the night.

So, that gave me a perfect opportunity to bail out on the next night’s socializing.  Not that I qualify for Navigator cruises, Contiki, et al, but one can just imagine.

Not the “Marco Polo”!?!

Tourist joke time!

I left a review for Sail Croatia.  Quite happy with this ship, though, to be arguably unfair, it’s not their ship, they just lease vessels from ship owners.  Might have been different if I shared a cabin with a stranger, but can worry about that the next time …

Sand not shown.

So, I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  I took no pictures while dune buggying as I was the seventh wheel, the wheelman.  All alone in my buggy (the second one as, of course, the first one wouldn’t turn over).  Anyway, one thing about our trip was lack of connection between beaches with sand and being in the water.  This beach would have been an opportunity for that, but the weather was still gloomier than usual.

Back to the lightning storm in Korčula.  Dinner at a nice restaurant and it didn’t rain at our sea wall locale.  Not here but near here.

Europe …

I also took no pictures while kayaking Malo Jezero (malo) and Veliko Jezero (Most-ly, sic humor FTW), while zip lining (see, gaming, as Andy and I discussed how Zip Line is a stealth card due to the squealing sounds matching the frequency of bats), or on …

Not Old … Town

The walking tour.  The Game … … … of Thrones walking tour.  Who loves irony?  Who?  I’m sure there’s a fantasy oriented sort who suffered through all of the Wheel of Time books (if not all of the chapters) who has never watched a complete episode or read any of the books who would be into such a tour.  Pretty safe bet.

I was definitely impressed at Dubrovnik Old Town.  Those three tourists, yum.  Anyway, Dubrovnik is one of the (numerous) locales on the trip I would have been interested in spending more time.  In this case, I felt like I only scratched the surface of touristdom.

The day after Dubrovnik was, I believe, when I had this sense of the trip being incredibly dense.  Sure, you don’t spend a lot of time in any given port (unless you stay up until 4AM doing … whatever), but each day is different to where there’s a lot of feeling of activity.  Also, weather improved and we actually hit swim spots.

Swimming.  I don’t actually swim much.  Kućna biljke aren’t known for mobility – all about the floating.  But, between being dumped in the middle of placid water, it being chilly, and whatnot, I even coordinated using arms and legs at the same time at times to achieve water-based motion.  I know, pin a medal on me right now.

I drink my sugar.

Oops, forgot to put this picture in the Dubrovnik “section”.  Most pictures of food I take for coworkers.  At least one of our group consumed the products of these dispensers.

Blocking the nudist beach.

The back half of the trip had a group humor moment.  Probably had to be there.

Gender bias – 40 kuna.

From here.  Okay, fine, I’ll explain.  At various times, we were low on cash and lots of things were cashy.  Now, ATMs are everywhere, so this isn’t actually much of a challenge, but one groupster would have more cash than another.  So, five of us went into the fortress.  I paid for myself and another male.  The third male paid for himself.  His fiancee was going to be covered by a female.  The ticket dude was having none of this outrageous chivalrouslessness once he realized we were “together”.  So, the two non-males saved some precious gelato-producing materials.

Oh, the adventures I could …

Getting to the end.  Last swim spot was most involved for this one, heretofore known as the “Water Wheel”.  If only someone had a Go Pro, someone who switched helmets with me to mount an electronic device and if only someone with a bumpy skull was into taking pictures while in motion.

Oh, which reminds me.  Safety is a six letter word.  When we had to sign waivers and wear safety equipment for ziplining, given that to that point our entire safety instruction was “Put the life jacket over your head, pull the strap around, and buckle.  Life jackets under the beds.” and at no point when I went kayaking by myself “Do you know how to swim?  Have you been kayaking before?  Do you want a life jacket?” to the point where I think I technically crossed out of Veliko Jezero into the sea, we figured there was a 10% kill rate on ziplining.  Bucked the odds, again.

Almost Splitsville.

Back in Split was trip-py.  It was an odd feeling to me to be back in a “city” where not everything was touristful (Dubrovnik outside of Old Town might have been that if we were ever more than a hop, skip, and jump from Old Town).  Also, the “return” of, er, returning to our starting point.

Return trip was ending of Deadpool, Black Panther, Infinity War, and lots of Yahtzee.  Because, gamer, yo.  Dice forever!

While I still don’t have the enthusiasm to cinemize, except when with family or the like who are more cinematic than I, I guess I’ve got to realize that it doesn’t really bother me to watch superhero movies, anymore.  I was reasonably entertained.

While not a tournament report, thanks to Athena for the invite on her trip and the groupsters for sharing gelato.  Thanks to the crew for not forcing us to use life jackets.  Thanks to Lara for mucho guidance.  Thanks to fellow passengers.

Now, when could I possibly fit in a return trip, where, of course, a V:TES tournament and Traveller feature prominently?

Wait, more gaming.

So, one thing about watching five years’ worth of movies was philosophizing upon the idea that entertainment can be less than great and still, somehow, be good.  In the next three thousand words, I’ll – …


The Needle

September 23, 2018

So, let’s talk about golf.  Well, in a moment.

Let’s talk about sports, first.  Why do athletes get paid nine figure contracts?  Because there’s money in popular stuff.  The world is an opulent place (with high levels of variance in personal wealth, of course).  A boardgame KS with cool minis [ha] can get you $4.2m.  On the other hand, two people I know have companies/organizations fundraising at the moment.  One company is working on drugs to combat the typical effects of aging.  The other group would be a group that involves my brother who has found a film festival to show the Abaarso School film he made and who is working on building a bunch of schools in Somaliland.

Woodstock Film Festival Somaliland

Yup, sports.  Wait.

Sports.  Sports are entertainment.  One of the things that tends to get forgotten when commentators obsess over winning and losing, where winning often correlates to popularity but isn’t the be all and end all of popularity.  Sometimes, you can claim the lovable losers category, have sellouts for a decade while losing, keep players around to give your team a sense of identity rather than come up with a “process” or chasing the Moneyiest Ball of them all.

But, also, sports are an activity that quite a few can relate to.  In watching The Needle move this weekend, I was asked about taking up golf and noted that it was the most frustrating sport I tried up until fencing.  It’s so much more fun to exclaim at a TV (yes, I’m that old school that I don’t say monitor) about “just hit 2 iron, then middle of the green” than actually want to be hot, sticky, muddy, and frustrated by topping a ball, which are vague recollections I have from high school.  Meanwhile, I wish I could find a good wall to throw a tennis ball against to see how messed up my shoulder really is or whether it’s just lack of training.

Golf is an international sport, so I imagine that unless something weird is going on at the moment in the world of futbol, Tiger is the biggest sports story in the world.

Story.  Stories.  Finally, I get to my theme.

I was at a birthday BBQ yesterday and there was a point during conversation where there was a question as to whether what makes the better story is what drives human existence or procreating.  Fortunately, this one is easy.

There are multiple aspects to Tiger’s tournament win.  It’s not just another “Will he catch Jack?” or the banal nonstories 24/7 sports coverage likes to obsess over, such as what a sports figure will do after saying something stupid/offensive/politically incorrect.  Get a lot of pointing out how much humans like comebacks, blah blah blah.

Tiger isn’t my favorite golfer, yet I’ve rooted for him more than any other.  LeBron isn’t my favorite NBAer, yet I root a lot for him, Jordan is also not my favorite NBAer, yet it might be hard to tell back when I watched WGN constantly to see Bulls games.  Another aspect of sports is that people’s favorites can be quite arbitrary.  Other than my mother or maybe someone I’ve told, I don’t think there’s any way someone would guess who my favorite MLBer is.  I’ve lived almost my entire life in one region of the States and none of the local teams rate as favorites nor have local players been among my favorites with maybe a rare exception.  There is an incredibly strong pattern to what are many of my favorites, but I don’t think the reader cares – I’m not looking for sports memorabilia as presents.  I’m not really into presents, at all.  Meanwhile, I have often rooted against teams or even individual players because they were rivals to my favorites.

But, I digest.  No, wait, my blog posts aren’t remotely digestings.

So, good stories.  After all, it’s not *that* hard to not tell bad stories.

I come back to the concept of feeling like I’m being challenged in RPG play without necessarily actually being really challenged.  I come back to that, but that’s just one aspect of a good story.  You also need to plotacize your story.  Well, I think so.  Is there a good story without a plot?

To ponder this some, I looked up the definition of plot.  There are good aspects to stories that aren’t part of the definition of plot, sure.  But, do you really have a story if you lack a plot?  Well, I wasn’t much of an English student and I didn’t read most literature that got foisted upon students back in the pre-computer days of my youth, so my feeble mind probably can’t make use of this topic and this is not the direction to be moving in.

“I rolled a 20, then confirmed my crit, and the sinister priest exploded.”  I’m fairly sure this isn’t a compelling story to you all.  This particular description of events is either what happened in a memorable situation I played in or I critted on a 19 and confirmed the crit.  Anyway, that session and the results were meaningful.

I find when GMing that the good stories don’t seem that common.  There are events and dice are rolled and wounds are recovered later and I’m not sure what the story is.  When I play in campaigns, I remember what happens, at least in recent sessions.  Okay, maybe I’m a special snowflake who cares far more about such things to where I devote brainspace to trying to perceive and engage with a narrative.  Except, if that’s the case, how come narrative-ridden offerings are as popular as they are?  Folks must like stories.  Gooder stories.  Wellier stories.

What’s today’s big story?  Tiger wins tournament for first time in 5 years.  Not Justin Rose wins FedEx Cup.  Not Rory choking.

I see the advantage of RPGs over other sorts of games is that you can achieve stories that move the needle for yourselfem to the same degree.  I have, of course, said the same thing before because I wake up a certain Dog all of the time (shout out that there isn’t much of the Year left).

We are in a hiatus period on Rokugan 1600 because of work, work, travel, travel.  I considered filling up some of the down time with stories written by the GM, a GM who doesn’t make memorable villains and therefore reduces the rapturousness of the players.  Behind the scenes views into the lives and times of “Who is that guy?  Whatshisname?” may make events resonate more.

Because, as much as I might like HeroQuest or may have played SSI gold box AD&D games to nondeath, there’s more to existence than procreating.  Maybe.

Out Of The Shadows

September 19, 2018

So, Shadowfist has a new owner.  The impact of this is so slight in the interwebs that it’s not easy to find references to the new ownership company … even when I include Vetusta Games in my search.

It feels like we are some of the few players left (by players I mean people who play).  Had a couple comments about missing out on the opportunity for our game company to own Shadowfist, but that was rather unlikely.

Yet, why not muse about what it would be like to own a game with a long history rather than a game we are hoping builds some history?

What would I do if I suddenly became in charge of Shadowfist?

Bring back Architects right away and get some control over effects Lotus get?  Probably not.  I like playing Architects (zero interest in RPG, though as a villain they are okay).  Abominations are often cute.  I play the goofy removal rather than the staple removal.  I just don’t care nearly as much as others do.

Bring back Syndicate or 7 Masters or do more faction stuff?  No.

Ban Netherworld Trickster and other ridiculous Modern cards that don’t need to exist?  Hmmm …

What does Shadowfist need besides more players?

Better conclusion to games, of course.  One could say that requiring two resources to play the game and being able to get stone aged on power during play is what makes games the most unpleasant, but the lack of clear endgame is something I find increasingly offputting.

Have I seen the game at its best?  What is the best Shadowfist?  I’ve been playing for years more often than most and I still don’t have a great sense of what the game sold itself on.  Theme?  What do really good players playing each other get out of games?

V:TES doesn’t sell me on theme.  It sells me on the lunge.  It sells me on the comebacks.  On a zero intercept deck holding the Edge in a five-player game multiple turns.  It sells me on winning tournaments with Ghouled Street Thug in a vote deck, Mercury’s Arrow in, uh, a Mercury’s Arrow deck, Chalice of Kinship in a vaguely !Gangrel deck.

Daughter of Nu Gua with Butterfly Knives and Blade Palm for my first tournament win.  That’s what may sell me on Shadowfist.  More than a game focused on WoD vampires and numerous allies, Shadowfist is open, in some ways far more open than Magic, in others not so much.

There are plenty of rarely seen cards that amuse me.  I had five Cobra Clan Stalkers in play at the same time.

So, besides hoping someone comes up with a great way to market the game and run bunches of demos and tournaments across the planet (almost like every CCG needs this, almost …), I want interesting.  Shadowfist is wildly diverse.  Netherworld and pop up junctions can do anything.  70’s, Wild West, whatever.

I’d make “my” card.  Lotus magistrate because someone needs to be the Lotus good guy.  I’m not a punmaster, Baron von Pun, but I’d greenlight card ideas that sounded funny more than sounded good.

Would I adopt our house rules?  Specifically, the new location cost reduction?  It’s so good for the game in so many ways that I’d want to sanction it as a format and see if people could break it.  Choose a FSS and non-unique foundation for opening hand?  Yeah, probably.

I was talking about Traveller recently to a non-gamer.  I think it’s a good game.  I think you can try a variety of other games and note that there are usually problems in every CCG because CCGs are complicated and openended.  Sure, Ultimate Combat! may be more fun to play than anything else, but that’s mostly out of a starter box and the card pool is rather limited and some people care that the art isn’t spectacular.

Shadowfist has Difficulty at the Beginning and Difficulty at the End of Things.  Lot of the old time players want to play games that are much faster than what I want to play for multiplayer CCGs, so the game is not going to be that amazing for one or both of us.

But, I enjoy it.  I even enjoy games with obnoxious cards played, like monkeys.

I think Modern doesn’t do it any favors and maybe the concept of Modern needs to be rethought.  Modern has way overpowered cards in isolation with what feels like a pretty limited environment.  Maybe that’s not that different from when the game was new.  How often do I see the Queen of the Ice Pagoda in classic play?  A lot of cards just aren’t that good in your typical CCG and players gravitate towards the best cards.

I’d try to make the Ascended more interesting.  There’s just something about their characters that tends to grate on me.

I’d try to find a way to even out power because there’s just insane levels of alt power generation and … Möbius Gardens needs to be nerfed.  Is Jury-Rigged Dynamo a necessary play in your meta?  It’s pretty much a single card reason to play Jammers in our meta as it’s infinite power.  Of course, you are also playing Monarchs so that you can Twin Thunders your Wrath of the Monarchs to double nuke Gardens.

Is Superleap fun?  Just gets constant complaints in our play even though the reason it so often works is because there isn’t a lot of character/attack screw.

Should Loyalty be more common?

On the one hand, I think I’d struggle with making cards for the game as I don’t have a great sense of the mechanical balance in the game.  On the other, I might design cards that aren’t intended to address a mechanical need but just ooze flavor.

Would I hose Lotus recursion yet not Dragon recursion?  Maybe just reprint The Crucible with another name so that you can run ten cards that toast all demons in play.

Monarchs faction probably has the most potential for interesting cards as factions like Hand and Lotus are pretty focused on their thing.  Yet, I’ve become pretty bored with Modern Monarchs characters.  Actually, I’ve just generally become less enamored with Modern play, with my main way of keeping engaged with Modern decks being going multiple factions.

Shadowfist can have stories.  I know stories can annoy players who don’t like their factions changing, but it is an opportunity to shake up the environment.  “All apes/monkeys/gorillas have been wiped out through time, but mermaids and golems are appearing everywhere.”

I don’t know.  Is there a different CCG I’d rather have control over?  Well, Wheel of Time would be interesting but only if it somehow sold, which I think is unlikely at this point.  I wouldn’t want to control Magic, Pokemon, or their ilk.  L5R might be interesting if I could say “Forgot that unpleasant game that was put out, I’ll take the cool of the IP and come up with passable mechanics so that the game is actually fun.”  But, then, would I want to hear endlessly about adding Spider or some such?  I wonder if I could make the Scorpion fun in the CCG while it remains the opposite in the RPG, much like how Dominate works in V:TES or Architects in Shadowfist.

The irony of my current situation is that I have control over a card game and could, theoretically, have more, yet what I’ve always wanted with the CCGs I’ve played is influence, not control.  I guess going into what it’s like to be a designer/developer/manager versus being a player would make for a good topic some day, but today is more about giving Shadowfist some exposure.

Oh, reprint Shadowfist, the card.  That’s the top priority.

Long Absence Releasing Product

September 9, 2018

So, I’m still capable of typing.  In fact, I’ve even played one or more games since August 20th.

August was just exhausting, having early Gen Con run into when I do monthly stuff at work, into V:TES tournaments, into getting back to normal cadence of Rokugan 1600/Shadowfist/whatever.

So, September rolls around and … Pacificon.  I went two days.  I wore my two vivid Pacificon shirts from the 90’s.  When I wore the black one, another con goer I sat at a table with had the same year’s shirt upon his torso.

Gamingwise, there was running a Traveller demo which was well attended and running a Traveller tournament that wasn’t.  I wasn’t shocked by the latter, but it ties into how it’s time for us to ramp up building a player base of active players.  And, I played something.  I played a prototype game, Treasuremania.  It reminds me of something a lot, but I can’t quite think of what.  My friend suggested some advanced rules to the designer and those rules remind me of playing RoboRally, though I guess the basic game has similarities to RoboRally already, though the game is very different in that RoboRally messes with people like me a lot where the movement mechanics of this game don’t.  I am undefeated at Treasuremania [ladies].

There was some nongaming stuff at the con, like seeing people and talking/eating.  Discovered nearby strip mall replaced Chinese restaurants and the new one is very much like restaurants in Shanghai.  All restaurant food seems like it’s getting expensive enough to me to encourage just cooking my own food, but, if you accept that Chinese food isn’t a lower medium cost option anymore, this place seems worth going to occasionally.

Anyway, back to gaming, I’ve also played Shadowfist a couple of times or so, with our games taking a long time such that we get one game in in nearly 3 hours.  I think the ideal is about 75 minutes per game.  Considering how open our environment is for targets to attack due to our house rules, would think sudden victories wouldn’t be so hard.

And, I’ve run a couple of Rokugan 1600 sessions in recent memory, though one of them may have been prior to my last post.  I was happier with how the Bridge session went than the Mountain session.  But, I think my latest problem is that I’m still writing sessions for when our group tried to play in a 3 hour or so block on a weeknight, so the sessions actually don’t seem set up well when we know we have 4+ hours to play on a weekend.  To retain flexibility, I think that means I need to have multiple sessions worth of material available at a time to be able to run less or more, which isn’t a terrible idea anyway, though thinking through how to adjust things on the fly for how first parts turn out requires … more … thinking?  More preparation is a good thing to do, but it’s more work.

But, I had a question asked of me recently that I’ve been thinking about.

I was asked what I would want to play for a LARP.

I didn’t have a good answer.

What crossed my mind at the time was that sci-fi didn’t sound appealing.  Let me tangentialate for a while.

I’m not a sci-fi fan in terms of the idea of futureosity.  Sure, I like original Trek and watch a fair amount of Doctor Who, but neither makes the science all that important.  It’s not hard science.  oTrek was sci-fi in terms of speaking to the human condition with whizbang tech.  DW is just kind of quirkful.  Games like Eclipse Phase or whatever that seem more hard just hold like zero appeal to me.  I’m not into the tech in Shadowrun.  I find Shadowfist/Feng Shui tech acceptable because they are so unimportant.

Tangentialfuller.  I’ve read Bimbos of the Death Sun.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mystery novel set at a game convention that points out all of the nerdglory that actually exists even today, if maybe not to the same degree now that a lot of gamers have aged and produced offspring.  The title is because the mystery solver’s husband (boyfriend?) wrote a hard science novel that his editor forced to be called Bimbos of the Death Sun so that they could put sci-fi appropriate cover art on it, which is the excuse for the pair to go to a con for him to push his book while she deals with gamers and murder.  I think about this novel every time hard science and gaming intersect.  I did enjoy the novel when I read it.  Another piece of conversation lately involving gaming had to do with how different gaming can be in the US versus another place, to where the other person didn’t understand a lot of gamer jokes made by Statespeople until moving to the States.

Anyway, trying to get this back on “topic”, LARP set in the future, where you have tiresome tech like cameras everywhere, does not sound remotely appealing.  If anything, historical sounds more appealing, though I realize this may not be that great for me as the folks into that sort of LARPing probably have costumes and I’m not a costume guy.  That kind of leaves modern, but not WoD modern as WoD LARPing just sounds painful based on the stories I hear.

Thinking about it after I was asked, what came to mind was the idea of doing something collaborative in a LARP, as part of a small team.  What I often find to be the case with LARPs is that I have no meaningful goals in that even if I have goals I don’t really care about them, so I get really tired after about an hour and am fine with doing nothing at that point until it ends.

The only LARP where I can recall being more into things for longer was one of the first, maybe the first, I ever did, where I played a pregnant duchess.  I was given one of the NPC roles, so I didn’t really have a goal, but other players had goals that involved me, so I would interact with people who were motivated to accomplish something.  Then, at the end of the parlor LARP, the big reveal revealed how everything connected together and I was totally not murdered like my husband was(?).  I still grew tired in the middle, so mostly this anecdote is about my awesome pregnant duchess playing skillz.

I played an Immortal LARP once, but I recall very little about it.  Everyone seemed to be trying to accomplish the same thing, so it wasn’t very similar to any other LARP in my vague recollections.

Just not something that holds my attention/vast reservoirs of enthusiasm.  Which is interesting because one-shot RPGs do a good job holding my attention, so why not one-off LARPs?  An obvious reason is that LARPs depend a lot on other players and other players aren’t necessarily all that compelling.  In this conversation I had, the concept of players having actual in-character jobs came up, and I realize that a big problem with HoR political interactives is that hardly anyone has a defined job, which is why so many people can just sit around, with very little of consequence occurring.

Now, let’s say I’m in an ongoing LARP and have an in character job.  Is that interesting to me?  It doesn’t sound like it.  I already have things I want to do and things I do (watch Golf Channel or NBA Channel or whatever while playing solitaire) when I don’t want to do “anything”.

But, then, why play RPGs?  Why run RPGs?  Where’s the difference?  I don’t get into character that much in RPGs, even less so in campaigns.  I’m more interested in visualizing a story over acting one out.  When I do portray NPCs in character in RPGs, it doesn’t last very long.  I don’t have the acting bug.  I’m far more into being entertained than being an entertainer.  Even writing is something where I might spend way more time reading other people’s blog posts than writing my own, except I write 2000 word blog posts and a lot of people don’t and a lot of people don’t post that often for games I actively play.

Also, there’s another reason I can see that would reduce the appeal of LARPing, though I think it would matter far more in an ongoing LARP rather than a one-off, but this seems like a topic to save for another time.

So, to LARP or not to LARP?  Guess I’ll see.  If I’m willing to play wargames and minis because other people want me to, I can probably try out LARPs if people want me to and see whether it turns out better than I expect it to.

True Dungeon – Ultrarares 2017

August 20, 2018

My how have things changed in the last year.

Should reference my look at 2016 URs for context:  2016 Ultrarares

I went from dipping into URs to being at least a Token Tycoon 1%er, maybe still outside of the .1%er club.

While I still don’t have most BiS tokens, I have some and I think much more towards what we don’t have to make a BiS build.  And, my interests in what I play are very, very different.  So, let me just comment on tokens to give insight into how play has changed for me, and maybe I’ll influence some last minute PYP selections.

At Gen Con, at what people complained was the hardest dungeon, I lent this out to someone who otherwise was playing with rares and more common tokens.  It made a massive difference for him and the party overall.  UR weapons do not suck.

However, they aren’t worth much unless they do something unusual or can be upgraded to relic/legendary tokens.  I’d sell ours for $75.  I think there’s someone in the world willing to pay that.  But, you can go to eBay right now and get one for less than that.

Compare to $90 as what PYPs were going for for 2017 URs and maybe around $100 that PYPs might go for this year.  Assuming you have perspective, I don’t see why you would ever want/hope to get one of these even as a random (well, a random from a pack is still getting an UR from an $8 pack).

This is pretty similar situation to Shillelagh.  It’s better by a lot than not having an UR level token, but it’s outclassed by other UR level tokens.  Lot of people like Widseth’s for doing attacks.  I prefer Briano’s for casting spells.

There have been attempts to make scrolls better, but it’s still using a consumable.  My great epiphany with bards, besides that “entertaining” the rest of the party seems annoying unless they are all your friends and find it not annoying, is that they have way too much to do.  I’d prefer to lead off with lore check, which is a different instrument, then cast spells, which is a different instrument, then not be carrying around five instruments because I’m now into minimizing what I have to hold on me in dungeons.

Now, whereas there are plenty of UR weapons or even rare weapons (Bliss gets +3 damage at the moment) or whatever you could run over Shillelagh available at all times, UR instruments are not as readily available, so this is something that’s tolerable to make some effort to get and, given that someday scrolls may get amazing [sic], why not own one?

Still, should be getting this cheap, like more in that $75 range, if possible, just don’t know if the supply is that high since the crazy, inefficient markets for tokens still have a supply/demand component.

Thread started by someone who hated that this was neck slot when this was revealed.  Neck slot is the heart from which all builds radiate because of how exalted the options are.  Others countered that paladin making sacrifices for the good of team players is thematically appropriate.

My view is that you own one of these if you ever play paladin because it’s cool and does something no other token can do.  But, you may not run it.

I find paladin is one of the most in demand classes, finding this because I think paladin is the class I most want to play at the moment.  I would have run this a lot because I did a lot of PUG (pick up group) runs at normal/hardcore and sucking up damage going to others to keep them alive when I have plenty of ways to keep myself alive even without running armor in my armor slot would have been enjoyable.  However, if you don’t need to keep others alive or see next sentence, I can see doing something else.

An observation I have had leading to my achieving a perspective is that hardly anybody targets paladins and who they guard as a DM metagame play.  I find that annoying because rather than using your ability what you are really doing is redirecting damage to other party members, concentrating damage rather than spreading it or absorbing it.  Great, you have a 40+ AC and nobody attacks you.  You have Belt of Thorns and nobody attacks you.  Boring.

My metagame counter would be to make a glass cannon paladin that relied on not being attacked to Deathcleave through enemies.  I tried to get one cheap.  I think I succeeded.

Cool.  Dwarf fighter token.  Sure, you could do an all retribution run, but, in regular play, I don’t expect this to hit more than like once.  I guess if you are playing at a level where party members die pretty easy so the enemy has to target you to inflict damage it gets better.  Can get this real cheap on eBay at moment.  I got mine at okay price.

I made efforts to get Charming sets.  I thought people would realize how good they are.  I still think most folks don’t realize how good they are.  I used them all of the time.

See, I don’t care about AC, so armor sets that eat up the head slot are mostly irrelevant to me.  Meanwhile, don’t run this and my builds have sketchy Will saves and aren’t psychic (which does save me the effort of having to remember I’m psychic and what abilities I have access to).

This is the best of the Charming Trio yet something I’ve got away from with a lot of builds because of a 2018 UR that is cooler.

The most common Charming Trio token I run?  Feels like it.  I haven’t felt a need to run Earcuff of Orbits yet and I ignore all of the earcuffs based on bardsong being in effect, so it’s this and Icecrag for me in pritnear any build in which I fill up slots (something increasingly less common as I am on a mini-build kick because of how much normal/hardcore we’ve been playing to where my usual is 10 total tokens).

At first, I didn’t care much about this, but that was because I was still Focus-ed on wizard builds that don’t have spare ring slots.  So many of my other builds can run this as I give up some extra damage, or I don’t give up a ring slot as I would have run Ring of Heroism in this slot, anyway.

The in thing with all of the .1%ers is full boat of Charms of Awakened Synergy.  I have one of these.  I think about getting more all of the time.

I was hoping to get them cheap since so many people already had 10/plenty.  We just don’t find it that interesting to put money into.  Certainly willing to borrow when the group all wants extra HP.

I would I suppose transmute some into CoAS if I had more, but it’s such a .1%er thing to do.  Given that the lower levels of play that desperately need HP (pack players) need HP far more and won’t have access to the plethora of Constitution buffs, that this is yet another token they won’t likely have just seems kind of suboptimal to me.  That level does have access to Linked Shirt of Healing, but I hardly ever see an effort to get everyone Linked up, anymore.

I value this at no more than $90 but see how prices rise as they will soon be OOP again.

I consider this irrelevant.  It’s not useless.  But, all of my druid/wizard builds would be running Charming Crown, instead, so I don’t get why these were printed at the same time besides maybe that people didn’t realize how good Charming Crown was going to be and realize that the following year would be an even more ridiculous Crown.

I figured these wouldn’t have a lot of value, and I was proved correct.  I might pick one up at $30 or something if I felt like a “fun” UR.

Another token I expected not to hold value.  It’s a nice to have if you don’t have other FoPs in your builds, but it’s like a rare level effect in actual play (to me) for UR cost.

In my case, it tends to be especially poor because I do a lot of really high Dex builds with astronomical Reflex saves and failing a Reflex save when you are plus 25 or more is actually kind of amusing.

Expected this to go for no more than $75 and expect that this is something might get below $40 if you hit the right eBay auction.  While other save unfailers/rerollers do seem to hold value, it could be because it’s Reflex or because it’s still in print that it’s just so uninteresting to me.

Sure, I would run it in a bunch of builds if I were filling out slots, but that’s just because FoP is an area I’ve put hardly any effort into.

Least interesting to me of the Trio, but I’d run it all of the time because I didn’t have Ioun Stone slots locked up and needed to get at least three of the Trio [ha] in place.  So many used to run Will’s Dragonheart, and it has just been so outclassed.  Part of the overall evidence of how TD power jumped in recent years rather than creeped.

You have to have it.  You load up on them to where at one point True Adventures posted an announcement about delayed availability.  More of the crazy that is variance in treasure draws for players.

I think I saw a couple go for about $90, but pretty much the thing you pick up extras of for the inevitable price increase or almost immediate ability to sell at $100, barring the TD economy collapsing or, at least, the desirability of treasure pulls taking even more of a hit.

A sign of how my TD experience has changed is that I didn’t bother commenting on the luscious Amulet of the Champion last year (I still will run AotC, but I understand how its value has declined).  I could have gotten this for under $150.  I didn’t bother.

With Ioun Stone Gold Nugget and Ioun Stone Platinum Nugget coming, my interest in Ioun Stones has declined.  I’m loaded with Con and Dex increasers in the five slots, already, as I’m still a big “raise stats” champion.

I expect this to decline, but it’s strictly better than stones I do often run.  The rare version was unfortunately really uninspiring for volunteers due to there being close substitutes or better things to do at UR.

Game changer.  Sure, we will get the Eldritch Kilt transmute next year and it will likely be absurdly overpowered, but this is how you get obscene hit points.

I thought I had more of these, but I guess our group only got so many.  I think these will rise quite a bit and I expect lots of last minute PYPs will go into these (figure most token tycoons would have already used PYPs on Silver Nuggets by this point).

$100 seems a good price right this moment with someone offering $105 on the forums.  As much as this is a massive power jump, I will do builds without it.  Again, I’m enamored by massive Dex builds that don’t need 70+ hit points at even the hardcore level, so I’ll run Fatherbane [gasp] or free movement pants.

Is this the most underrated UR in the set?

I didn’t expect these to go for a lot because the meleers would go with Instant Analysis, wizardy types would probably prefer a rare over this (I usually run a rare over this in wizard builds), etc.  Still, I love this token and run it all of the time.

I’ll do Deathcleaving builds, but I still like having the option to hit things with a +1 Mighty Sling.

Would expect it to be middling in value up until the point some ludicrous new eye slot token gets made and devalues a bunch of stuff.  I think it’s worth $90 to have one but would see [sic] about trying to get a couple for less … if I was looking [sic].

See [stop, just stop] this being necessary.  For some reason, players who have $10k plus builds care about getting random rares.  Hell, if I played rogue, which is extremely unlikely as it’s the class I have the least interest in playing, I would want my free loot as well due to the principle rather than the value.

We have been loaning out ours in PUGs because it just makes dollars, even though it does remove some of the entertainment value of the rogue screwing the party or nobly sacrificing a couple dollars worth of token.

I saw this as a legendary recipe component when it came out that gave wizards something different to do if they really wanted to be different.  Neck slot too precious to waste on wanding.

But, TD made this relevant as a play, and I applaud that as higher end builds really would be more fun if they were more diverse.

I was hoping to pick up cheap back when I didn’t expect hardly any use.  I never did.  Still don’t own one.  Would be interested even though the legendary recipe doesn’t really interest me.  Keep options open.  Unfortunately, I’m not willing to put much $$ into getting one.

Both underrated and an example of how weird the TD economy can get.  A bunch of these went cheap (under $90, in some cases significantly under $90 based on my feeble recollection).

Sure, transmuting a bunch is not cost effective (in theory, in practice people do this stuff all of the time).  I never understood why this wasn’t highly valued.  I would so much rather have +5 Dex than have +8 AC.  Dex actually does something.  Then, Starhide is core to a ton of my builds.

We could use another Starhide, but we don’t need one, so I’m not willing to put much money into another (I’d do $250 for Starhide, for instance, yeah ludicrous difference between TD and niche CCG card prices).  I would take another of these and probably waste the resources transmuting.

I’m routinely the second high bidder on these, especially Onyx versions, where I don’t know if I’d keep or transmute.  Kind of expect some short term action on these as people try to get the Starhides made before the deadline.  When not transmutable anymore, I’m curious as to what they go for as +5 Dex is still a massive power bump for someone without a bunch of URs.

I have yet to embrace consumables in TD.  Sure, I’ll look at picking up rezzes to save folks who are playing above their builds and I’ll dole out Potions of Distilled Healing like candy so that players don’t need rezzing.  But, I still pretty much never use scrolls and I don’t quaff any potions besides healing.

So, this is just meaningless to me.  Which means, a year from now, I’ll be talking about all of the amazing Runestone builds I’m doing.  I wouldn’t even bother at $30 because it doesn’t fit my interests.  I have yet to run a single Runestone in any build and am happy to sell off my various rare Runestones.

It’s hard to say how I feel about this.  I think it’s generally underrated.  I will run this over Cloak of Shadowskin (yes, I got some, had at least 3 at one point) at times.  I hardly ever remember damage reduction (run Kvothe’s as well at times).  But, I just don’t feel that strongly about pushing its value.

I don’t need more.  Probably have/had too many.  Feels like it should be middling in value in the future with no surprise that an eBay auction may have seen it go in the $70s (I don’t know, didn’t focus that much on what they did go for).

I ran this in some non-polymorph builds because I didn’t care about other shirts, builds I’m not sure I ever played.  I feel like this really got screwed not because it’s focused – focused isn’t terrible for a game where tokens often overpower each other.  It’s just not Focus-ed.

To have Shirt of Focus come in the very next year just shredded any labyrinth cred this had.  I think it’s cool and there’s a reason to have no more than two.

I can see why it would go cheap.  I can see both why someone might spend $70 and why someone might pass on an auction at $50.

Lobbying exists for it to allow other things while polymorphed.  I’d like to try polymorphing some time for the variety, more so the elf wizard version as I don’t expect druid to be available, and I’m fine with not being all polymorphpowerful, but there are others who crave all of the polymorphpower.

I could revisit my 2016 Ultrarares comments, but, eh, don’t feel that strongly about it.  I changed.  TD changed.

I had a Sill’s Anointed Redoubt Mail briefly which we enjoyed playing with, by we, I mean not me but Dave.

My focus [OMG, can you please stop] nowadays is on PYPs that I expect to hold value as a good amount aren’t that valued by token tycoons and can be had in the $60s-$80s on eBay.  Plus, as much as I’ve spent on tokens, I don’t see catching them all, so it’s better to just focus [*shakes head*] on what I’ll enjoy playing with, rather than speculating on Synergy, Awareness, or whatnot.