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April 14, 2019

Not much wisdom for today, though ironically Wisdom.

From the marriage of knowledge and experience grows wisdom.

I find knowledge easy.  Is it just lack of experience or is there another component to wisdom?  Making good decisions is hard.  There is the element of applying knowledge and applying wisdom.  I may know a card exists in a card pool or may know the probability of a die roll or whatever, but it doesn’t help without applying it to the decision of what to do when playing.

Shattering fist under chin, snapping head back.

I feel kind of like my head has been snapped back in a totally analogous way to my body feeling beaten down from hiking much longer than planned yesterday morning and badminton.  But, there’s also lack of sleep and too many big meals due to being a coworker’s chauffeur for almost a week.

Basics can be quite effective when done with heart.

Hatano-sensei taught us to strike low and hard and often.

Heartfelt, frequent low blows are apparently the thing to do.

I read a couple mysteries in recent weeks.  Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo.  Not in order.  If you like prostitution, maybe the series for you.  I don’t mean prostitutes, I mean prostitution, which is central and brought up in philosophical and economic ways.  Whereas something like Judge Dee is old school, where the obsession isn’t on the main character, and Bangkok Tattoo didn’t feel quite so main character obsessed, Bangkok 8 was probably more than I cared about for the main character.  I enjoyed the books.

What I got to thinking about was the same old, same old of “What is a *good* book?”  I was asked by my manager about fantasy series (because fantasy is kind of the obvious thing to ask me about).  I’m pretty sure I covered this ground before, but I’m really struggling with what is great fantasy.  There’s fantasy I’m entertained by – that gives me what I’m interested in – characters with cool abilities and cool scenes and some thought provoking ideas.  But, what have I read that I would currently consider great?  A fair amount I haven’t read recently enough to properly analyze.

Lord of the Rings is clearly not great writing – it’s so long-winded it puts me to sleep.  The Hobbit was surprising to me to reread because it’s children’s fiction.  I need to get my Elric books back from Andy and reread those as I feel like they were the highpoint of Moorcock for me, but I have such different views of writing then when I read a lot of stuff, in that I actually pay attention to how something is written rather than just what the story is.

I’d say Timothy Zahn’s first two Star Wars books in his trilogy are great books, but that’s not exactly fantasy.  John Burdett’s books flowed well enough to maybe they are written fairly well, though there were times it wasn’t clear who was saying what, which is something I think is important to manage in writing.  Of course, also not fantasy, though they are spiritual mysteries with Buddhist stuff.

I’ve certainly been entertained by bad books.  Mentioned that before.

And, so, we get to Shadowfist.

Let’s work backwards because backwards is normal.

We tried variant rules from our variant rules last Thursday.  To address the endgame problem Shadowfist has, we used vague rules along these lines:  if you have four or more FSSs in your pool at the beginning of your turn and more than anyone else, you win; you may play FSSs as long as you don’t get ahead of the leader; FSSs are free to play, you still get one power if you have none in play.

The first game ended pretty quick after everyone was a threat to win as an attack right to tie the leader came up one short of taking a site and the leader won when his turn started.  Many possibilities for having that not happen existed, but we weren’t sure what made sense to do.  The following game took far longer and there was a bunch of build up.  I got The Legacy of Shaolin, Shih Ho Kuai, and Rosalee Leung in play at the same time and felt like attacking was a waste of my resources.

Of course, I still am failing to build decks that can get by chump blocking.  That’s the reason I end up playing so unaggressively.

The week prior, I played a scary deck.  I got Dirigible after Dirigible in play, drawing six cards off of two Dirigibles and a Haunted Forest Dirigible.  Scary but not nearly as synergistic as things sounded with a lot of my vehicle cost reductions not working together along with the fact that I went from too few vehicles to play on dudes to far too many vehicles to play on dudes as I didn’t have any Chop Shops in the deck.

Oh, I should mention we also errataed Möbius Gardens to be turn to use its ability after talking about banning it.  I guess the former makes it not broken, but I’m still okay with the latter given how tiresome it had become.

Name: Decked-Out Disappointment
Faction: Dragon
Size: 60

Dragon Cards (30)
Characters (22)
1x Angie Dao
3x Grease Monkey
1x Inspector Will Zhurong
4x Junkyard Engineers
2x Master Mechanic
2x Maverick Trucker
1x Quartermaster
1x Seamus
1x Skilled Techie
3x Techie Apprentices
1x Tech Squad
1x The Dynamic Dr. Dawson
1x You Xia, the Avenger

Edges (1)
1x Lightning Patrol

Events (6)
1x Back for Seconds
3x Dirk Wisely’s Gambit
1x “Is That All You Got?”
1x Life in the Fast Lane

States (1)
1x Battle Suit

Generic Cards (30)
Edges (1)
1x Martial Focus

Events (9)
1x Ejector Seat Malfunction
1x On the Wire
3x Salvage
3x Scrounging
1x The Algernon Effect

Feng Shui Sites (10)
5x Manufactured Island
5x Underground Depot

Non-Feng Shui Sites (5)
5x Decked-Out Dirigible

States (5)
1x Cargo Plane
1x Exo-Skeleton
1x Hover Tank
1x Personal Assault Vehicle
1x Plain White Panel Van

Has to have Chop Shop to clear out unnecessary vehicles.  Should probably have a way to generate dorks to drop vehicles on even given the high percentage of dudes and low percentage of good stuff events.

I never once put a Dirigible on a dude.  That’s how sad it was, even though I could have.  Exo-Skeleton scared people, got it on Angie Dao at one point.  Still, you can just chump block this deck.

Name: Fu Tu Yu
Faction: Guiding Hand
Size: 55

Hand Cards (37)
Characters (23)
2x Blue Flower Society
1x Bountiful Master
1x Buddhist Gardener
1x Buddhist Monk
1x Chanting Monks
1x Kung Fu Master
2x Rosalee Leung
4x Shaolin Supplicants
1x Shih Ho Kuai
1x Sifu Beumer
1x The Legacy of Shaolin
4x Urban Monk
2x White Crosus Society
1x Yung Chang

Edges (3)
1x Chinese Connection
1x Lantern Festival
1x Undisturbed Meditation

Events (5)
1x Confucian Stability
1x Into the Light
2x Iron and Silk
1x Journey’s Reward

States (6)
5x Fu Lions
1x The Jade Dragon

Generic Cards (18)
Events (7)
1x Bending the Path
2x Blade Palm
2x Blossoming Chi
1x Cat Stance
1x Healing Earth

Feng Shui Sites (10)
1x Arctic Fortress
1x Diamond Beach
1x Granite Mountain
1x Puzzle Garden
1x Temple of the Angry Spirits
5x Turtle Island

States (1)
1x Butterfly Swords

Coming full circle [ha], we get back to Buddhism [ha, ha ha].  Also, I’m watching Dragon Ball Super and you have the Turtle Fu connection.  I did defend well.  However, chump chump not win.

Welp, I got to get back to Traveller CCG stuff.  Yup, it still exists.  Go out and buy some and we will make more.  Oh, also help us by running demos and other events as my time has been sucked up with other things, too many work things.


In Sight

March 31, 2019

Haven’t been playing Shadowfist recently due to scheduling.  Haven’t got a lot to say about Arrowverse shows.  Haven’t gotten into new RPG experience.

So, really, the obvious thing to do is follow up on my last post, even though a comments exchange would have made more sense for resolving that issue.

What I didn’t talk much about last time was the impact of advancement choices on ranking up.

That’s the beauty of playing a Miya Herald.  There’s no difference between a SR-4 Miya Herald and a SR-0 Miya Herald, outside of the Satoshi path.  So, even if there might be a difference, there’s no difference between SR-3 and SR-0.

Except, why do I make the decisions I make to amuse myself?  What is the concept with this PC?

Play a school that has no techniques and play to a weakness of it.  Same as playing an Omoidasu or most courtiers.  Now, I will likely take the R-4 path, so I’m not rigidly beholden to this paradigm, but an element of playing a Miya Herald is to play a Miya Herald and not just play a rich, not unimportant, not scavenging for food ronin.

Which means ranking up to get all of the bizarre and irrelevant techniques that the school “offers”.

But, I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself.  We must gather insight from today’s Ultimate Combat! booster.

With a bellow of desire, Sung Lee attacked.

This sounds either like anime or something kind of illegal.  The more I delved into this booster, let’s go with anime.  This flavor text, BTW, is interesting to me in a way that is rather obscure.  I’ll just leave that unexplained.

The card does fit Tatakisu’s je sais quoi.

Lacking a power reserve, you may not survive to regret.

See, anime.  I was not feeling this booster until I got to the black belt and brown belt action cards.  I’m watching Boruto, of course.  The show seems better with the adults as primary actors even if Sasuke and Lord Seventh don’t unleash.  A problem with Boruto is that there’s very little development of the kids’ powers.  I don’t really care about them as characters.  I’m far more into abilities when it comes to anime, which is why I like fight anime.  Just like I’m more into supers’ abilities then their angst-ridden lives.

BTW, because if I don’t teach the galaxy about how to be good at UC!, who will?  Power Drain is an interesting card.  It’s a card I dismissed early on, well, it is a black belt card, and, early on, I kept mostly to white belt and brown belt decks.  If Favorite Technique is one of the game’s most defining cards, an answer to Favorite Technique is … a thing.  Also, in limited play, removing even horribly overpriced technique is temporiffic.

Tatakisu’s power reserve – spoiler alert – will increase.

Noxious air harms all who breathe it.

Less a tie in to Rokugan 1600’s “rogue air” threat and more relatable as a callback to Naruto beating Shiba with the help of Bad Air.  Anime!!

This is a multiplayer card, being way too expensive to do anything terribly meaningful in dueling.  Tatakisu isn’t much of a multiplayer combatant.  Sure, like everybody, he gains a lot from being Pathed or Mountained or whatever, but his style is trade until the enemy fine red mists.  Bad Air is just too little damage output to enable him to win.

I eschewed the path of short term damage output for reasons I will someparagraph get to.

Fight fire with fire, mind with mind.

Very anime!!  Since Tatakisu has no mind (but may someday), he’ll use his half-fire to combat, um, … wow, this analogy is failing big time.  Psychic Block is a weird card.  It’s not useless.  The Conditioning/Fighting Spirit requirement makes no real sense thematically, but I think I know why it ended up with that combination of power requirements – lot of psychic attacks are going to be coming from Knowledge/Experience, so the counter to psychic (damage, anyway) is the oppositeium.

A controllish pack with good power coming from how it includes Speed 1 and Strength 1.  Would be amusing to build a sealed booster deck out of.

Getting back to all things Miya.

So, amusement points are scored if I can actually ever use the school techniques in some non-moronic way.  Actually, I did use “pay 2 VPs for Way of the Land” again, just recently.

Tangent Time

Dooooo, doo doo dooo …

I played a HoR4 mod recently.  I enjoyed it.  The mod wasn’t that hot, being rather not a whole lot going on, at least it didn’t feel like much going on.  But, we didn’t get bogged down in incoherent plotting and I got to wak dudes without murdering a single dude, dropping a 54 on one of my damage dice just to preserve the sanctity of human life.  I’m so miya.  Adventure moved.  Die rolling was fine, did multiple Animal Handling rolls.  Success was attained.  No gotcha moments happened.

Back to spending XP.

So, I had decided to spend XP on pushing Kenjutsu to 10 because that would have been accomplished in one more mod’s worth of XP, having enough to go to R-9 with unspent.  This was amusing me.  Then, as I was still on a plane back from Florida (up to 19 states in which I’ve done something of significance), I reassessed.

I actually want to rank up.  Kenjutsu 10 is not out of the question, but it gains short term amusement at the cost of midterm IRing.

So, I’m going with the most mundane option for the most mundane Miya – Void 3.  This does stuff, and it puts IR-4 in sight.  IR-3 just requires not being a moron anymore, sad as that will be.  The most amusing path to Insight, to the point where I might actually try it, due to it requiring the least amount of XP for trait/ring bumps and because it messes with my own expectations for this PC is to go Intelligence 4.  I buy up a bunch of Lore skills for the rest of the Insight to IR-4.

Means being rather glass cannony, which I may regret, but regret is a sin, and who doesn’t love sinning?

I do see value in K-10, though.  The kept dice bumps are possible, if not superefficient, and I do kind of need to be able to hit TNs of 75 or whatever on my attack rolls in order to do no-dachi levels of damage.

Speaking of anime, one thing about my L5R play is that it doesn’t lend itself much to anime style play.  Maybe one of the things I liked about The Princess Police is that it did get more that way towards the end.  My attempts to run something more that way don’t tend to work as, well, my players either don’t get anime or don’t care to get L5R anime style.

L5R Mechanics – Sample Advancement

March 25, 2019

Time to talk L5R 4e.  Time to get all of the views as there isn’t likely anything else to check out online in March.  Time to be fascinated by someone else’s PC.

Our subject is Miya Tatakisu, a PC overengineered from day -273.15.

Miya Tatakisu is IR-2, having spent 98 XP after the initial 45 (yup, 45).  Currently have 19 unspent.

Earth 3, Water 2, Fire 2 (Agility 5), Air 3, Void 2

As an unbalanced build, the dump Rings are Water and Void.

Kenjutsu 7 (of course), Athletics 3, Horsemanship 3, Stealth 3, Sailing 2, lots of 1’s.

While there may be some reason to not IR up, given the nature of HoR mod leveling and given that the Miya Herald School doesn’t actually have any techniques until you get to SR-5, I haven’t gone out of my way to stay humble but not yet kind.

Kata – not a bushi.

Kiho – don’t be ridiculous.

Advantages – some mental may be interesting but not going to pay more than cost for them.

So, a very mundane set of options:  Void; traits; skill ranks; emphases.


This seems like continuing the path of being a nobrainer.  Besides giving some endurance (in a way Stamina wouldn’t, though Earth would) and helping with multiroll contests, the main ROI is being able to call three raises instead of two when throwing a wakizashi, poeming, biwaing, or whatever.

Hard to not take the V-3 purchase.  Again, there’s a big difference IME between home games where Void dumping can work just fine and HoR, where sometimes a moron Honor Rolls Spellcraft.

Given the crafting rules for HoR4, all Tatakisu needs is Void 6 and radiant weapons for everyone (along with Craft: Weaponsmithing 7).  Get better at dueling.

So, why not pull the trigger?  Not really that interesting conceptually even if higher Void allows for more in game results.


In my 250xp plan, I-3 is an option.  If all of us were morons, this would be more important.  Then buy Medicine, Divination, Commerce, Engineering, etc.  Will regret Sagelessness even more.  Relatively cheap, gains 10 Insight which isn’t useless (ludicrous techniques and/or the option to path into simple attacks are on the horizon).

Helps crafting non-katana, non-wakizashi weapons.  Can craft other crap.

Just really boring.  At this point, if I’m going to demoron, I kind of prefer just playing a different character.  The Great Potential Medicine character or, at least, an Asako.


When in doubt, overkill.  This only gains combatwise, an area that Tatakisu will increasingly fall behind in, if Kenjutsu goes up or ponying is expected to give +1k0.  Noncombat, however, this is kind of entertaining.  9k6 on Agility rolls is better than 8k5 in some way, maybe a mechanical way.  OTOH, if R-5 in a skill, wasted die unless Voiding with pathetic Void rank.  In an infinite XP world, A-7 or A-9 would be a hoot, but, then, every other PC would still be better in such a world.


The blueprint was to get to this point, then Earth up.  So, why haven’t I Earthed up?

It’s expensive.  I enjoy high Earth.  I don’t enjoy waiting forever to buy it.  There’s a philosophical problem with Earth with this build.  Tatakisu is a “showoff” build.  Earth is only showing off when something happens to you.  Active v Passive.

I decided I should get away from absurd long range plans and try to actually enjoy a character in the moment.  It’s hard to pursue Earth and expect to maximize fun.  Though, crafting does give a reason to care about higher Earth.


A/the primary way to combat losing relative combat effectiveness.  While bushi gain techniques that do something and shugenja godisize more and Tattooeds punch and whoever does whatever, Tatakisu has basically capped offense already except for the R-4 path to fake being a midrank bushi.

Reflexes is combat godliness.  As not everyone pursues the one, true path of Reflexes 5, pursuing that path would maintain some level of combat relevance.  With higher Reflexes comes higher Kyujutsu.

Been there, done that.  Bored now.  Actually, I wouldn’t be that bored chasing the wind.  This is a contender for where to go.  Void 3 or Reflexes 4?  Both are massive marginal upgrades with Reflexes 4 being a necessary step on the path to Reflexes 5.


Conceptually, this offends the concept.  However, our group isn’t all that social, and I often enjoy the Awareness aspects of L5R play.  I don’t hate the idea but also don’t feel sufficiently pushed into being above mediocre.  If poetry and whatnot had been more relevant to play, might feel a desire to be better at these things.


Much of the force behind making this post was because I got to thinking about bumping Strength to 3.  Prima facie, this is an offense to the concept.  Water is a dump Ring.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought about a few things.  One, S-3 for Tatakisu is actually really, really good.  For a PC like Moshi Shigeo, I don’t think it would have mattered.  He had his no-dachi and had no particular reason to grapple or to care about knockdown.  Tatakisu could no-dachi up, but it’s funnier to murder everything with a wak, while grapple is the courtier’s way of winning combat, nevermind that being grappled completely shuts down Tatakisu.  Even knockdown begins to sound interesting at S-3.

Noncombat, 6k3 on swimming/climbing/whatever is more funner.

As for Water being a dump, Strength bump without touching Perception continues the dumping, even funnier dumping in some ways.  There’s also pursuing Defender of the Wall as an advanced school, though the requirements are so far away from the Tatakisu build that that just doesn’t seem worth it.


Get this out of the way.  Kenjutsu 10 is not so ridiculous for this build.  It’s pretty boring and doesn’t help combat effectiveness that much relative to cost outside of narrow situations where you call 10 raises (Great Potential) for damage on a grappled foe.

It’s not insane XPwise.  It’s still expensive.  It’s like Earth 5 – not useless, amusing when it comes up, not very efficient and doesn’t maintain relevance against better buys.


If people played Stealth correctly, Stealth 5 would likely be an obvious buy.  Since they don’t, eh.  Regardless as to increasing from 3 to 5 (would never go to 7), getting the Sneaking emphasis seems obvious.  But, that’s cheap and less of an advancement concern.


Main buy here would be Throwing emphasis for the esoteric thrown wak kill, though Void is important here for the extra raise.  Emphases are not major questions, but it’s easy to forget this one.

Weapons Skills

While 1xp buys add up, it does seem like Spears 1 and who knows what else would make sense to leverage A-5.  Heavy Weapons 7 is amusing but rather wasteful just for the humor value.


Sailing 5 is funny and not totally outrageous costwise.  But, it would either be a thematic “I don’t care about effectiveness anymore” path or a “I give up on effectiveness” path.

Craft: Armorsmithing/Weaponsmithing

One, the other, or both would actually make sense.  The question here is “Which path do I care about or do I not care about any?”  Multiple buys tie into each other.  Armorsmithing means pushing the Earth, which fits with original concept while making Earth matter more often.  Weaponsmithing either pushes Int or Void.

In a way, realizing that the crafting rules aren’t nearly as onerous as I thought, really would have helped push the character one way or another.  I just don’t have a clear idea in mind for which way I would enjoy more.  If I would have understood crafting better to begin with, I might have a stronger preference or even pursue both misc. weapons and armor or kat/wak and armor.

Flavor Skills

I can keep adding instruments or get better with them.  Biwa 3 would give me something different to do.  Dance is another thought.  There are goofy Lores, which might make more sense with I-3.  Emphases can be funny but rather inefficient except Pony, Sneaking, Throwing.

Focus v Different v Goodstuff

Focus would be Earth and/or Fire.  Goodstuff would be Void, then Reflexes, but Strength is surprisingly interesting to me.  Different would be Strength, a trait I often dump on.  Given how poor Tatakisu’s Traits/Rings are, flippant skill buys are dangerous for making him increasingly irrelevant to higher rank parties.

It’s a conundrum inside a labyrinth being encircled by a Dysan Sphere.  I really can’t think of what to do, but doing nothing is incredibly inefficient as any Trait/Ring bump at this time may matter a lot, while skill/emphasis buys now are less generally impactful but check things off of whatever the checklist is.

Tomato Pie And Colder Than Saudi

March 22, 2019

Makes your eyes glow and your other face say … hiya.

How many people are going to get this?  Have to have some particular Americana understanding to get the brillianceosity of my post title.

This will be a travel post (not to be confused with a Travell post), so therefore it will be oodles of popular.  To mitigate the unbridled joy that comes with these sorts of posts, let’s first consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster.

The earth is not a creature of the air.

You haven’t seen my Kakita Bushi build yet.  But, then, neither have I.  Earth was strong in my recent trek.  As was air.  And, water.  You know, it’s probably a good thing when fire isn’t a strong element to a trip, though I did have BBQ twice.  Oh, yeah, will talk about food, too, because … ratings.

To destroy the foe, first attack his base.

Sounds too political, though there’s a supers concept in here.

Eliminate one of your foe’s arms.

Walther PPK?  Golden Gun?  Stormbringer?  Oh, arms, like as in arms.

A primordial roar can push your attack home to victory.

Because eliminating an arm is just a set up, not a win.  This is a weird pack for drafting.  For sealed, it would lend itself to a Fighting Spirit focus.  Terrible gold belt card, yet amusing and not useless.  Better to run gold belt Primal Kiai or white belt Kiai in a deck?  Even ignoring rarity, probably the latter for easy cycle +2 damage.

Still rambling, the trek I’m not referring to but qualifies as a trek and is more gaming related is the one we made to Fresno on March 10th.  I ran a mod that has a great beginning and a more involved not-beginning than I felt from playing it.  I played in a mod that was almost there but not as good as a similar mod from HoR3.

Oh, lizard leavings.  I totally forgot that I had another blog post idea.  I was going to write about everyone’s single most favorite thing ever – listening to someone talk about their RPG character.  Well, maybe I’ll write that tonight as well and do the clever thing of scheduling the publishing of that for when I won’t be writing a new blog post [um, isn’t that most of the time?].

See, I have enough XP to … [to be elaborately detailed elsewhere] …

Proof … Not That Kind, Waterproof.

We begin with …  Well, not the first day, when we got in at 11PM at night.  Was this the next day, the day I spent more than eight hours doing work during my vacation?  I think it may have been, though could have been the third.  Thing #1 about Charleston that doesn’t get mentioned a lot to people who aren’t really that likely to go to Charleston – lot of islands or “islands”.

The Sun and I are rivals. See how he makes my pictures suck with his nonfernal light.

Day three was touristing.  Starting with Charles Pinckney House.  It’s not much of a house.  The grounds aren’t the most interesting thing ever.  But, it does seem a really sweet spot for a picnic, if you are into that sort of thing.

Thing #2 – the emphasis on the history of slaves.  Gullah Culture comes up a ton.  I thought the Gullah Bible was interesting with how it moved between clear English and less clear.

I could post a picture from the tea plantation, the only tea plantation in North America and a locale where I learned some things about tea making.  But, they aren’t that good.  I, then, have a bunch of pictures of trees.  I’m self aware enough to realize that I waste a lot of MB on pictures of nature that aren’t that interesting as pictures because I like trees … and clean water (salt or fresh).  I don’t take much in the way of pictures of people.  Sure, I have some selfies, but they tend to be so horrific/painful that I only show them to people I know who can make comments like “Who’s that?”

My first tomato pie experience was at Tomato Shed.  Maybe it had some crust mixed in, maybe it didn’t.  What worked really well was mixing my tomato pie filling, which was kind of overwhelming, with my other side of pasta.  Tomatoes and pasta!?!  Who knew they could go together?  Who?  I had a tomato pie later that was much more pie-y, also rather too cheesy.

Lot more Spanish Moss on other trees. This is the back of the house, btw.

Okay, you can see how my oeuvre may be that of houses through trees.  The McLeod Plantation was really pretty in those places with trees, including across the street as you head toward the water.  It was strangely windy while we were there.  Strange in that it was inconsistently windy.  Thing #A that I proclaim based upon my extensive research/experience – March is a really good time for Charleston if you want pleasant weather and color (not a racist remark, think flowers blooming, see, now I’m overly sensitive).

The land of the free, the home of the brave.

On Saturday, we went to Yemassee.  For the ruins?  The Chinese food from China Town?  Because our cousin’s other side of the family has roots there.  So, Palmetto Pimento Sandwich with strawberry preserves dipping sauce and, of course, squash puppies.  The cheese-bacon-cheese sandwich was kind of … sort of … cheesy.  But, the strawberry preserves balanced the sweet and cheese into goodly eats.  The squash puppies are truly good.  I had them with and without ranch dressing and without was better.  On a ranking of Super Saiyan transformations, Fletcher’s squash puppies would …

Have a more striking picture of ruins but this has more trees.

Besides the “monkey farm”, Yemassee has a few other things mentioned on TripAdvisor.  One of those very lowcountryish things is the Sheldon Church Ruins.  Had a geniusy observation while reading tombs/tombstones (I maintain a *strong* cemetery to beach ratio in my travels).  The English used was extremely standard – no archaic words or spellings or grammar.  The font variations were kind of weird, with some of them being rather hard to read.  Taken together, it’s almost like a movie set how the colonial or 19th century inscriptions felt rather modern.

We also got Chinese while we were in Yemassee because Thing #3 – there’s virtually no difference between Charleston and China.  Our cousin told us a joke about this, but it should be obvious once you get used to Charleston Tea everywhere and can pick up rice at …

Trees and water, though not the cleanest water. But, you could say the Clarest [sorry].

The Holy City.  Should I spell out the connection or just have people who know where this picture was taken “get” my obscure references?  As soon as I care about adding polls to my blog, I’ll poll y’all.  Thing #4 – besides USC still taking a moment to process and the sports page’s focus on college sports, you don’t get a lot of historical background on the Southeast when you grow up in the Bay Area.  Guess that’s why folks like traveling the US – it ain’t a single state, it’s almost like it’s a dozen or more states.

So, you may be wondering about gaming content.  I did show my cousin Traveller cards.  But, mostly, I had on my mind RPG adventures.  First, I was thinking about ideas for a L5R mod and had one main idea.  But, Sheldon Church’s ruins and the monkey farm got me thinking about a modern setting adventure set in Yemassee where a monkey escapes from the “Monkey Farm” (of course) and you go by the ruins to … do something.  Plus, every body of fresh water has gators (because they do).  While plantation life didn’t hit me from the standpoint of living in another time without air conditioning and with slavery an actual thing, I was struck by the Loraxes, er, the trees and how really pleasant it could be to have landscaped properties on a scale completely unknown in my suburban experiences.

Part of the gardens. Timing mes amis, timing.

Nathaniel Russell House is not quite as out of my normal experiences as plantation sized properties with old oaks.  I’ve done a couple house tours on Oahu (sure, why not?), so I’ve seen scenic scenes.

One is available in Norway.

We quenched our thirsts with native libations.

Not a water taxi.

We traversed the high seas, moving ever closer toward a vessel ahead.

I did also think about how to advance Miya Tatakisu …

And, there is your in depth report on gaming in the Southeast.

The Agony Of Victory

March 3, 2019

Before we get to the topic, must consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster.

Ripping the breath away leaves little will to resist.

Spot on.

Flashing sticks strike faster than the eye can see.

Um, er, em, hmmm …

Precious oxygen gives respite from injury.

Well, I did need lots of oxygen when I went lunchtime hiking a couple times last week.  And, I have injuries from my pathetic badminton play yesterday.  I keep thinking that there’s a way to build a good Oxygen Burst deck, but it’s just such a small effect even for its cost.

One man’s problem is another man’s asset.

Wisdom for the ages.

Concede foundational erosion to evade ruin.

This pack is full of defense.  Control style play where you probably just go for decking your opponent unless you can get off some brutal Counters (this pack does have the ultimate Counter, Counter X, so maybe).  This black belt card is unplayable.  It is just stunningly bad.  If it prevented damage at a rate of 2x how many foundation cards you blew up, that might be different.

Effective attacks are oft repeated.

This would be good flavor text for a RPG post whining about how players will always use their most effective attacks/abilities over and over again even though that’s boring and a major reason I like combat to last relatively few rounds.

Tapping inner strength can be like a breath of fresh air.

Healing Mantra either is the most frustrating brown belt play in the game to face or will fail you miserably as you need the power to put technique in play that threaten attacks.  Nice to stay on theme with the air theme in these two healing cards.

The heart of a warrior holds the spirit of a lion.

Did I already use this?  Not so relevant today.

I had a couple of blog ideas – I just don’t have a lot of energy during the week and last weekend involved five hours of bookshelf creation/movement.

My idea for use today comes from our last Shadowfist session.  One of the players thought the victory was uninteresting.  I don’t disagree that that victory was not terribly interesting.  The point I tried to convey is that lots of Shadowfist victories aren’t all that interesting.  I think it’s a weak point of the game.

Hot take – A Game of Thrones CCG has the most miserable victories I can think of for any CCG.

This is a bit out of order, but I realized while I was writing that I shouldn’t put this last:

What makes for a good CCG game?  I should say that good here incorporates fun to some degree.

Some people just like to win all of the time.  Ignoring that, here are some features of what I think makes for a good individual game:

  1.  Everyone has a chance of winning.  I’m not talking about what makes for a well-designed game, I’m talking about a good individual game.
  2.  Players got to see their decks do what they are intended to do.  Obviously, a boardgame wouldn’t really have this criterion unless the boardgame involved the players bringing their own interests into the game.
  3.  Players’ decisions mattered.  Games can be close, but, if they just come down to random victory, that’s suboptimal.  I think Shadowfist suffers here as I don’t have a sense of what the impact of all of the early game and midgame decisions are that can influence a result.  Can only rewind so far in terms of endgame decisions, so overreact to one decision someone made, but that decision was probably affected by things that happened earlier.

If you wanted to add more fun into “good”, could add 4. Not much whining after someone wins.  The game may have been really good even if the result didn’t make everyone happy.

Shadowfist is full of things that one may not like.  I meta to some degree against things I don’t like, just as I used to meta quite a bit against weenie Potence in V:TES.  I also attack things I don’t like much more strongly, like non-FSSs as they hide FSSs and produce either abilities I don’t like or free power when people ignore them – in other words, I see non-FSSs being a way to slow games down and unbalance games unless someone hates them out of existence.  I hate Underworld Tracker, Demon Whiskey for their free recursion, except if I’m playing them.  I hate monkeys like all middle-thinking people do.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Btw, I realized recently that I like running a card with Monkey in its name even though it’s not a character nor any other sort of permanent.  Sadfacely, I will need to stop playing the card to remain monkeyless pure.

And, yet, I don’t hate Monkeys in L5R.  Irrationality for the … the … lose.

Our Shadowfist house rules are designed to fix ability to play problems.  We give foundations, FSSs, more power through reduced FSS cost.  None of what we do addresses making for better endgames.  In fact, because we tend to swim in massive quantities of power much of the time, a board wipe means an easy win after dropping a couple of hitters (or expensive states on dudes).

I don’t think people adjust to our way of playing well.  Of course, I still don’t have a good sense of how to play normal Shadowfist well, so it’s not like playing better is much of a goal.  Still, there are arguments about superleap, events, event cancel, and whatever because games can not feel right, whatever that means.  Actually, I think different things bother people differently.  Deck construction style can influence what bothers you.

Of Don, Joren, Justin, and myself, I think Justin wins the most these days.  Don gets massive in game hate often due to actually trying to build powerful combos.  If someone asked each of us, not sure you would get consensus on who does the best.  And, actually, I think the percentages are close enough to not matter a whole lot.

Regardless as to who wins more often, I think a lot of my wins are bad wins.  Because I play a lot of decks that don’t try to do good things, don’t run good stoppage, and where the cards don’t synergize with each other well, I feel like most of my wins come about not because I can push an attack through but because everyone was spent on stoppage when I made some attack.  You could say Shadowfist is routinely this way, but I’m not so much setting up these wins as just falling into them.  As evidence, there tends to be a lot of recriminations about who screwed up to let me win when I win.  Well, more than the average recriminating.

Of course, I have an overwhelming inclination to build multiplayer decks for variety’s sake and not effectiveness.  There are plenty of times with Shadowfist that I get frustrated when people murder my dudes not because I think my dudes aren’t concerning on offense but because I don’t have any defense outside of having those dudes in play, and a lot of my decks run few events that I have to waste power to create defense where smoke events or Imprisoned or Final Brawl or whatever are power efficient.

I’ve said it before and guess I say it again.  I should run more stoppage.  I think that brings better balance to the ‘fist.

Sure, I have some decks full of attack affecting events, like Monarch burn, many Lotus decks, possibly Architects.  I just don’t play those that often and the other decks are hideously low on attack affecting events, which means I can’t do anything more than what you see in play a lot of the time.  Well, there are also my tournament decks, which play less goofy stuff, so someone like Miguel may not perceive this feature anywhere near as strongly as the Thursday night players.

I actually have better ideas for decks.  I just don’t get around to them.  Maybe I’ll try to use some time later today to throw together a couple ideas I’ve had.

Anyway, the topic at hand is trying to make for more fun Shadowfist, particularly on the back side.  We often play about two hour games, which means one game in a night.  A game less than an hour for four people is probably not going to be satisfying except if it’s crazy attacks by everyone all of the time.  So, the duration isn’t too bad.  The better duration would be two games of 1.5 hours, assuming those games were not bad games.

I think I can make games better by upping my card/deck quality.  Have more stoppage to balance the decks.  Play the occasional Manchu All Over You! far less often and more Jake Rattlebones.dec decks.  Run five Auramancers, five Winter’s Laughs, and five Twin Thunders in every deck, assuming I own five Twin Thunders.


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.

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 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.