Dismay

January 21, 2019

This is just perfect.  I’m going to use an Ultimate Combat! booster to provide context to what I view as a failed RPG campaign.  See if you grasp the cleverness.

First of all, because even though I explain little as a GM, I will explain references I use in this blog, Dismay was a pretty popular card.  I am inclined to run Shake Up more than Dismay as killing two cards in play has … wait for it … a bigger effect than killing one.

I considered various flavor text from this booster as defining themes of this post.

So much pain from such a small twist.

No, not a small twist.

To kick twice before returning to mother earth is devastating.

Well, this should be the theme of every post.

The school of experience is a great teacher, though the tuition is often quite high.

Two problems with this.  One, it’s not actually on theme, once I get to the point.  Two, boring.

Early attacks oft repeated add up.

Of all of the flavor text in the 13 options (there are cards with the same flavor text) available to me in this pack, I think this sums things up best.

Or, put another way, early mistakes repeated oft add up.  Or, put another way, repeated mistakes oft add up early.

My current assessment is that I committed a well known, rather egregious, and one would think easily avoided sin given that I know more than the average coati.  I didn’t allow the PCs to be the stars.  While I often have pieces of a metaplot going into a campaign that I build as I go along, in this case, I had a metaplot from the start due to having written the basis for Rokugan 1600 over five years ago.  Rather than have the PCs have their piece of the action, the PCs got dragged around from idea to idea.

Let various deconstruction that won’t encompass everything continue.

Ideas 

My assessment is that I do well with ideas.  Ideas are easy.  As I’ve said before, the problem is execution on those ideas.  Here’s the other problem that was a core problem with R.1600 – you can’t just keep coming up with more and more ideas.  Besides the obvious of providing more resolution, I can understand how players get frustrated when there feels like too many things to care about.  And, even if they focus on something, there are wasted ideas that the party never has time for.

A thought came to me.  Ideas as a player can be helpful.  Should be helpful to GMs.  Rather than having the GM have the burden of being responsible for everything involving characters, the world, play, the player coming up with ideas provides direction and personal engagement for the player (assuming the ideas ever get used).  I keep thinking that I’m completely different as a GM and a player, which is true in a way but probably not true in another way.  I keep considering possibilities as a player to engage me and my PC, and that’s good.  Whether it was fictions written for campaigns, characters referenced in those fictions that didn’t even exist prior, activities for my character(s) to pursue – that’s stuff to build on a campaign.  As a GM, I’m not disciplined.  I can’t just run with something to a straightforward conclusion but keep riffing on ideas with more ideas.

Structure

Having a preconceived story that set up the campaign only likely made things worse than usual with taking an idea and trying to make PC activity fit around it in ways the players weren’t interested in.  I made a comment after yesterday’s session where I felt like trying to reset or reboot on R.1600 was not a good idea with this group due to there being too much baggage.  In a way, due to not being better at GMing, this campaign started with baggage.

If you look in the 4e corebook for L5R, you will see a number of adventure styles listed.  Location-Based, Open World, Character-Driven, Episodic, The Epic, Relationship Mapping.

While listed as adventure types, let’s take them as campaign types for this exercise.  Which style was R.1600?

I, the GM, am not sure.  Drops glaive-guisarme.

I’m very accommodating.  As a player, that makes it easy for me to play in things, even if I don’t like them.  As a GM, that means I lack a coherent campaign vision.  Odyssey talks about writing things down.  We did write some things down early on but didn’t maintain a manifesto.

The players were perfectly happy to play nobodies in a war setting set in Rokugan.  Playing a nobody doesn’t interest me, so I didn’t realize that and how that would inform play.  By nobody, by the way, I don’t mean playing a peasant or something, I mean that there’s no recognition from on high as to who the PCs are.  BTBTW, it occurs to me that this is yet another reason I don’t engage much with dungeon crawling nor do I find random death remotely interesting – I want my PCs to matter to the greater world.

Getting sidetracked, I wonder how I would feel about my PC being locally important but unimportant in the grander scheme of things.  For instance, let’s take a Vampire game where my PC is a primogen or whatever but that nobody beyond the city gives a double eagle.  Would that interest me?  I don’t think so.  Not to say I would actively be annoyed by such a setup, I just don’t think I would care as much about what goes on if that’s the grandest ambition.  Of course, not everything is about Glory/Fame/recognition/whatever, just that I would find it less interesting if the world didn’t extend beyond me more greatly.

Not only did I not have a clear idea on which type of campaign this was, but, obviously, how would the players if the GM wasn’t even clear?  And, why didn’t we clear this up to begin with?

I keep thinking about how one of my players in a previous campaign viewed that campaign as a sandbox when I didn’t and how I may be inclined to play that is more player driven than either I or the players expect.  This is a repeated error.  That’s kind of the point of this post – I keep repeating errors, which I’ll come back to.

Speaking of structure, I just blogged about how the season structure was an attempt to provide more discipline and more ability to rechart course.  It didn’t help because …

What Does A Campaign Mean To You?

This was a question asked after the session as we had talked for quite a while about what the go forward plan is.

That highlighted something.  Very few of my campaigns have gone on very long and even fewer have had endings.  When I look at campaigns that were most meaningful to me, it was longer ones, generally, and, in particular, two that had endings even if one of the endings was scripted out.

No, that wasn’t what got highlighted.  What got highlighted is that I think of campaigns as something that persist indefinitely.  I may intellectually understand that campaigns are intended to have a resolution, but endings aren’t my thing.  I noted that I prefer TV to movies.  TV has more sessions and has no clear end.  I really enjoyed book series like the Spellsinger series because it didn’t have to end.  Even Chronicles of Thomas Covenant trilogies left open the possibility for more.  Elric may have had an end, but, then, there were more stories.

So, having a plan to end a campaign with points where a campaign could end is anathema to what I am actually interested in.  Does it bother me when, say, HoR campaigns end?  Not really, but, then, HoR is something odd, and, even when the campaigns do end, I don’t feel much resolution.  In my mind, The Princess Police doesn’t feel like it ended, and, by using material from it, I extended its life through R.1600, seemingly to the detriment of my players.

So, this may be another reason I enjoy convention one-offs more than much of my campaign play – no expectation of a campaign.  The focus isn’t on my PC or my storytelling.  The focus is on doing stuff in the moment.

So, would I be interested in a seven part series of adventures?  A 20 part?  If I didn’t think of it as a campaign (ironic given that military or political campaigns do kind of need to end).  A significant problem, methinks, with fixed length campaigning is that I don’t have any reason to care about my character.  Oh, just like a one-shot, I may care about what I do with my PCs  or what happens, but I don’t feel linked to a particular character.  So, I won’t care about character advancement (see my Ide Courtier in the marriage campaign we played) and I won’t care about having a personal story arc.

Now, how important is advancement?  I’m not sure.  I know for many that it’s hugely important, and I’ve played HoR at times where all the campaign meant was mechanically advancing a character sheet.

But, what I really enjoy is having a personal story arc.  Of course that’s possible with fixed length campaigns.  That’s possible with any number of sessions including a single session, as I’ve had a number of cases of feeling like my PC (that I didn’t create) had a story arc in a one-off.  It’s just that I view the focus on limited duration RPing to be elsewhere to where I don’t expect to be able to feel the character in the same way.  For example, it can take a varying number of sessions to feel a PC, and, in some cases, you need to change PCs to have a proper campaign fit.  If you don’t have a fixed number of sessions, you may never get anywhere as the campaign just stops being played, but a known length to a campaign means you have to plan something that doesn’t necessarily make sense to plan.  In other words, you can be forcing something that maybe shouldn’t be forced.

Better groups probably handle these things better than worse groups.  I don’t know.  I guess I forced a story arc at the end of HoR3 (for my alt character!), and that made that campaign more satisfying (since it was not remotely satisfying with regards to my main character).

Then, I haven’t been involved in much fixed length campaigning, so ignorance may lead to unfounded concerns.  Yet, I know that when I play home games of limited sessions, I tend not to care about my characters at all.  The last such venture, with Savage Worlds Spelljammer, I know I didn’t advance my PC for ages and don’t even recall whether I ever advanced my PC, though my githyanki did get to help murder a mind flayer who was also his employer, so there was some personal achievement.

Hobgoblinism

Wisdom is making good decisions.  To keep repeating the same mistakes of firing up a new RPG campaign only to get frustrated by how things don’t work out as envisioned, even with initial character creation where I can see that my players aren’t on the same wavelength I am before we actually start playing, is making bad decisions.

Sure, I have enjoyed world building for campaigns like FSTH or R.1600 or even Gaki Mura, which players have praised after it petered out.  But, my experiences with repeated problems only remind me as I try anew of past frustrations, and I get really prone, entangled, dazed, and fatigued when players are noticeably unhappy.

Gaming is about fun activities.  Now, those activities aren’t limited to play and not every single activity is going to be fun, but there should be net fun.  Just like there are nigh infinite deck building options with CCGs, there are nigh infinite possibilities for electing to do fun things over doing things that aren’t the fun.

I stopped haranguing card floppers to flop more because I realized that not everyone enjoys flopping as much as I.  I think I stop trying to run campaigns.  That I mostly want to world build/expand works when I’m a player and is too little of what players need out of a GM.  I can see running one-offs at various times for various possible reasons.  I can see running someone else’s game (that’s what HoR GMing is), though guest GMing in campaigns has worked out really badly when I made up my own adventures, so I need to make sure I’m running someone else’s adventure.

Meanwhile, what I should do is be a player more often.  Get back to playing in local convention RPG sessions, for instance.  I can see how HoR structure has had influences on me that could be limiting my perspective.

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Seasonality – Winter

January 19, 2019

Winter is … is … wait, Cali doesn’t have Winters, just cooler times where water may occasionally fall out of the sky or may not.

Last weekend, I ran season four’s finale for Rokugan 1600.  I’m not sure what you have in mind when you hear that, but every season so far has had three core narrative sessions, and a complete randomfest of additional side sessions due to having only two players at times.

Season one had one side session.  Season two had a tack on session for one player.  Season three had one side session that may have not been intended as a side session, certainly intended to include one of the players who didn’t play.  Season four has had three side sessions and is going to have a fourth set after the finale.

I didn’t realize how unlikely side sessions were earlier on.  I kept thinking of how players couldn’t make every session, but I ran two sessions from season two without all of the players.  Season two was kind of another intro season, as season one was supposed to be, but it was a stranger intro because I inserted the new players into a different part of the world and had them doing stuff that didn’t intersect with season one virtually at all.

So, R.1600 has been disjointed.  But, when I think about its history, makes a lot more sense to me why.  So, we get to season three and the campaign seems to finally feel like a war campaign, with warry things going on and less focus on the romantic adventures of NPCs.

And, then, season four went in a different direction.  Rather than sticking with the field ops of season three, where the party was much more on its own and focused on counteracting enemy army movements, season four was all about “The Meeting”.  The Meeting meant something to me in the grand scope of the war effort, but it just felt like getting pulled into some not terribly relevant to the PCs stuff, with some Hare-brained schemes.  I think having the many side sessions helped with distracting the players from the war efforts, though I would say the first side session feels grossly underexamined by the players.

Anyway, we talked after the finale and it became much clearer that the group interest was having more campaign like season three, at least in terms of types of activities and feel, especially fewer NPCs everywhere.  Also, there’s a player decided direction for what season five will be about.

I’m hardly surprised that people’s expectations differ from the reality; that’s pretty normal in my experiences.  What was more notable to me was how little time there was to actually establish a “normal” for the campaign.  There still isn’t a normal, where I tend to be interested in epic fantasy where volcanoes erupting wipe out enemy bases off stage or romantic fantasy.  My remembrances of Princess Police side sessions was more “someone shows up claiming that a village is under attack by bandits” where there was limited narrative relevance.  It was more about straightforward investigations or combats, and I liked those sessions, in general, quite a bit.  My side sessions often try to expand upon the setting and/or relate in some important way with what’s going on without there being a major confrontation with the noble invaders, er, I mean the non-human abominations that are invading Rokugan.

Maybe the better thing would have been to have a discussion after season three where I would have been clearer with how the players thought that was the norm that we should be striving for.

The thing is is that Rokugan is diverse and finely detailed.  I actually like the setting even given some things I really dislike about it, and one of the things I like most about the setting is that places are defined.  So, I want to have the party visit different locations that aren’t just some village out in the boonies as that forces me to at least a half-assed degree to come up with details about where the party is.

Maybe I should have put forward “Hey, keep in mind that this is the third side session this season and that I’m trying something different than what I view main sessions to be about, so get ready to … dance, dance, dance.”  Or, maybe I should lengthen seasons so that side sessions don’t overwhelm a season.  Though, I like planning for three sessions each season as it pushes me to be more focused and more concise, something I at no time ever have any problem with in my life due to my core conciseisityness, but also means we can refresh the campaign and send it in a different direction faster rather than get lost in something no one wants to play.

So, why doesn’t this post have a L5Rish title?

Well, I also have been playing Shadowfist recently, and I would make mention of how we actually got two full games in last Thursday in our threeish hour block.  Actually, the week before, we played a five player and a four player and finished two games, but I was borrowing decks from another player as I had the wrong deck boxes in my bag, so I was playing far more threatening decks.

This session, I played an Architects/Hand deck that tries to combo something.  Instead of comboing, which would have been entertaining, I put out two Anomaly Spirits (yes, Architects/Hand with Anomaly Spirits) and it was deemed I was “weaponizing” our house rules (that encourage additional columns heavily).  Someday, I may reveal the intrinsic brilliance of this deck that apparently has no way to generate power so can’t afford to do much more than play a 2 or 3 cost character once a turn.

So, that brings me to yet another perfect deck.

Name: Iron Gift
Faction: Dragon/Guiding Hand
Size: 45

Dragon Cards (8)
Characters (6)
4x Junkyard Boys
1x Khofesh
1x Seamus

Events (2)
1x Golden Comeback
1x Never Surrender

Guiding Hand Cards (10)
Characters (8)
1x Bao Ling
2x Buddhist Bellringer
1x Rosalee Leung
2x Shaolin Supplicants
2x White Crosus Society

Events (2)
1x Journey’s Reward
1x Rigorous Discipline

Combo Cards (7)
Events (5)
5x Eagle’s Gift

States (2)
2x Iron Fists

Generic Cards (20)
Edges (2)
1x Martial Focus
1x Shared Interests

Events (2)
2x Scrounging

Feng Shui Sites (10)
5x Dockyard
5x Möbius Gardens

States (6)
1x .44 Kincaid Magnum
2x Butterfly Swords
3x Fortune of the Turtle

This just oozes perfection.  My only winning deck at Merlin’s place a couple of weeks ago.  Then, proof of perfection Thursday.  After all, bringing out Junkyard Boys and Shaolin Supplicants is exactly what every deck needs to beatdown with.  With White Crocus Society as backup to heal those F-1 characters when they may get conflicted.

Joren was playing Monarchs Netherworld Returns, Justin Dragons, Don Architects with Black Helicopter Squads for Bite of the Jellyfish.  Don [Chi] Suck[er]ed with little effort to stop the Sucking.  I used an Eagle’s Gift to get back Six Demon Bag to stop a bid for Sucktastic victory.  Justin got Jenny Zhang in play but was kind of defensive with her.  Three of us were at four FSSs, when I went over the top and nonstop with Boys, Supplicants, and Bellringers.

I could have played Iron Fists, but I wanted that for a character with fighting greater than two.  I also had Khofesh in play, pointlessly, as I’m terrible at Shadowfist math.  Whoa, that’s a great article for someone to write – Shadowfist math.

Yup, Iron Gift is retired undefeated.  In no way will I plan on building a less effective version for play in the future … unless, perhaps, I can find a way to squeeze a higher percentage of F-1 foundation characters in play.  I will consider, however, keeping it together to lend out to others who want to win major tournaments.

And, so, I literally literally provide a gift to you, my devoted audience.  Happy almost Martin Luther King Day.


Flop Til You … Flop

January 8, 2019

Eventually, there is a V:TES tournament report. See Sunday for V:TES stuff if that’s all that matters to you {*weep*}.

Saturday

So, it’s ‘fisting day, as Daniel is in town and Merlin organizes play at his abode.  I’m not sure what time I’m supposed to show up, find out that I’m not supposed to show up for a couple more hours, bake a pie, find out I can show up earlier, don’t cool pie much and head out.

Pecan pie.

I love pie crust.  I just don’t like most pies.  I keep meaning to make a pistachio pie just to see what it’s like.  I hate most cooked fruit, which rules out fruit pies unless someone does the proper thing and jams the fruit or whatever so that it isn’t full of the disgusting pieces of fruit.

I also hate baking.

Do you know how tedious it is to sort cards?  To sleeve and unsleeve cards?  How much room it takes to lay out piles and piles of cards?  As I’m sure there’s a few CCGers left who read this, you very well might.

Baking is a mess.  Mixing bowls.  Whisking.  Melting butter before mixing it.  Flour getting all over the place.  Having to deal with sticky things.  Even worse, dense sticky things like 1/3 cup of honey.

Compare and contrast with taking a skillet and a cutting board and making single skillet lasagne.  Or, a pot and a cutting board and making chili (and recycling the empty cans for the tomatoes, beans, corn, whatever).  Sure, stir fry occasionally takes more than one receptacle of carbon based matter, especially if doing noodles.

So, it’s also seeing things happen.  Browning meat is visually pretty evocative (except when you flour the meat and make a huge mess of burnt flour and everything looks brownish white).  I can taste chili as I make it.  I can taste stir fry as I make it.  I can see the burger getting less pink (to some degree) and the cheese melting on top of it.

Mixing dough just looks like dough, though I suppose I can taste some of it if I really want to.  Then, you dump stuff into something and put it in an oven and hope it turns out.

I don’t like building other people’s decks.  I don’t mind playing them.  I just don’t like building them.  Closest was doing my take on Colin Riggs’ Honor the Elders deck.  I made it more Zip Gunny and, thus, victory was inevitable.

So, with baking, since I don’t know what I’m doing or what impact changing proportions has, I follow recipes.  The lasagne I just use bacon or pepperoni or whatever I want to use up and ditch the mozzarella for a cheese that won’t make me ill (my go to often is Mexican cheese blend).  Stir frying, I just fry stuff I like and toss the cashews in at the end so that they don’t get soft.

I made a pecan pie on New Year’s to use up a Trader Joe’s Pie Crust.  Yes, I did not make the pie crust for either of these pies because I’ve done that before and it was aggravated assault upon my will to prepare food.  I didn’t thaw it enough and had to reroll the crust a couple of times.  I used less brown sugar, less honey, and less maple syrup than the recipe.

It was okay the first day.  After that, just kind of vaguely pecany where the lack of sweetness killed my joie de vivre. My mother liked it fine, so there was that.

This time, I pretty much used the recipe levels of those three sweeteners, minus half a cup of whatever (I was looking at multiple recipes and approximating quantities).  Still a pecan pie that defeats the concept that pecan pies are overly sweet, but somewhat more sweetish.  Used the other Trader Joe’s Pie Crust (since the whole point was to use the box of them up).

So, on the one hand, baking is a miserable experience that involves dealing with measuring things rather than throwing in whatever is handy in quantities that seem plausible.  On the other, we have ludicrous amounts of flour, sugar, honey on hand (plus who knows how much vanilla extract). Quantities impossible to actually use up … unless I bake more often, as it’s frightening how much sugary substances go into baked goods.  Maybe go through a jar of honey in less than a decade.

I arrive and the group has just started a four player boardgame.  A game that will take hours.  As I have an immense tolerance for watching other people play games I don’t care about (and sometimes very little tolerance for watching people play games I do care about), I read the rules and interrupt with questions.

The pie cools.

Merlin goes to pick up Daniel, so we play a four player game of ‘fist.  An awful game won because multiple Monarchs come down when nobody else has gotten past putting foundations in play.  We start a three player game which has some semblance of balance.

Merlin and Daniel return with BBQ. We pick up the three player as nobody was all that fond of their position, I guess that means it might have been a good game.

Two groups of three.

I have a good number of decks on me, having gone through all of my decks that morning and having built recent decks due to the holiday plus the pre-baking period of the day.

Many of them are ineligible for play, either being boring or being not worthy of three-player ‘fist with people who are not bad at the game.

When concocting decks, one makes many decks of varying types, many that would never see play in the highest echelons of competition except when one feels like playing one.

When preparing food for others, one is not pleased well when it doesn’t turn out to be to one’s perceived tier.

Here’s the problem with many of my ‘fist decks.  One, they lack stoppage.  Two, they often lack speed.  Three, they lack hitters.  Four, they lack staple effects (Manchu All Over You! had no Killdeers).  Yup, if it wasn’t for that singular problem, every creation would be tasty as cherry pie minus the gross cherries.

Merlin, Tim, and I played various games while Miguel, Paul, and Daniel played a couple.  Finally, we switched out so that Daniel played with Merlin and me.

Played Manchu deck in four player, Architects in three player we picked up.

Then, Ascended in a game so bad my biggest character was an Academy Instructor.  An Iron Fists deck that won through the power of Fists of Iron – wthf?!?  I guess sometimes the world stops spinning.  Final game with Tim saw me try to control things with a “Fractured Soul” deck facing Lotus Unique Recursion and a Eunuch deck.  I had at one point or another Sir James Lamb, Evil Twin of The Emperor, Beaumains, Pi Yin, Pi Tui, Larcenous Misted to stop a Spear of Destiny, Tortured Memories Seven Evils, and … lost, of course, being outclassed by Eunuchs after I Discerning Fired Imperial Boon and The Dragon Throne (Chimpshack doesn’t have Imperial designator, but I also could have chosen Imperial Champion if TDT didn’t have Imperial).

Daniel game saw my Bush Pilot with a Muscle Car not do anything, saw my Wu Bin of Turtle Island get Never Surrender, saw me Thunder on Thunder five edges where I discarded my second one.  I had two Trade Centers in front of two FSSs a couple of times.  malloc() wrecked for a while, turning off Daniel’s Hand abilities.  Nomad Army did a little, came back, did more, got Material Transcendenced.  I played Sword of the Dragon King stupidly because I forgot which characters it prevents from intercepting (it gave +2 Fighting to Iron Jim Colson).

After midnight, we were done.  Take Daniel back to his hotel (pretty easy but had to think about how to get home efficiently from the hotel).  Get home with the remains of the pie.  Try sleeping four hours after my target bed time.

Even post-Saturday, I had thoughts about my ‘fisting.  Much like how I don’t bake like a bakemaster, baron von bake, I’m kind of not good at ‘fisting [sorry ladies].  I routinely make bad decisions and miss plays and don’t keep track of card text in play.

And, yet, for some reason people find my positions threatful, possibly even uberthreatful.  I think I know why.  See, because I don’t build decks like competitive players do, people think that my having 17 fighting in play from two characters and more than everyone else combined means that I can not blow it and win.  They don’t realize I won’t burn for power often enough to fuel putting out … some foundation characters because my deck doesn’t have any hitters left.  They may even think that I put characters in for some synergistic reason rather than “hey, that card seems cooler than this other card”.

If my Thursday night group sees decks with a dearth of characters and fighting, my decks see at least a dearth of the latter.  And, virtually no removal, no evasion, no engine.

So, I have power, fighting, and a site structure.  And, I know I’m doomed.  I usually only win against veteran players because no one else does and that’s not that common.  I think the thing that does work better for me is cheap.  I just don’t know how to make good use of hitters, so smaller dudes with weapons is far more likely for me to not get powerlocked out of the game.

Sunday

While up before 6AM, only start working on my V:TES tournament deck after six.  I know what I want to play, and this is where the next hours of the rest of my life are ruined.  For, you see, I metagame.  I just don’t metagame in any way that makes any actual sense.

I run lots of Swallowed by the Night in Obfuscate decks because I grow weary of close range beats.  I decided not to on Sunday because that would be boring.  Forestruggling alert.

I know that players in the hood tend to play the same sort of deck archetypes routinely.  Yet, I just assume that some people will refrain from playing same old, same old combat decks.  Huh?

I blithely cut Blithe Acceptance from my deck while relying upon five cards to get me out of combat.  Yup.

I figure six pool gain cards is fine and that I’ll have time to hunt. Maybe in a perfect world, a world of all bleed decks, such things are plausible.

I do not bake.  I throw the ingredients together and hope that magic makes them tasty, like a nice chocolate pie without too much chocolate and with a good amount of whip cream or something else that makes the chocolate less boring.

I finally get going in the fiercest water-falls-from-the-sky storm in the State where it never rains this side of 2019.  I arrive like half an hour early to a place that doesn’t open until 11AM.  I avoid falling water by sitting in a car.  I manage to mostly stay awake until just before 11AM.

10 players

R1:

Sean (Palla Grande Undue Influence) -> Brandon (Tupdog Rush/Bleed) -> Ian (Every Computer Hacking Deck Is Better With Babble, aka This Is Just Wrong And Crosswise) -> David A. (Valkyrie Vote) -> Eric (Tunnel Runner)

Eric gets a Tunnel Runner.  It eventually gets Veles Hunted.  Yup, that happened.

Sean plays Jost, who gets rushed by a Tupdog and Graverobbed.

Brandon bleeds me for a bunch and rushes my guys enough that I don’t bring out a third vampire for ages.

I could easily stop pretty much everything David does as I can generate one intercept easily enough and sit on Delaying Tactics forever waiting for a vote he calls that I actually don’t like.  But, very little that he does matters to me.  I did Babble Dolie so that Eric could block an early vote.

I eventually bring out Rodolfo who reduces some bleeds before I get ousted.

I don’t know how much time I have to get food, so I wait until the round ends.  I can’t decide whether to get food or not, though I discover that there’s a Burmese Street Food place around the corner that I hope to try some day.  Because I just want a snack and have too much food at home to go through, I end up eating nothing.  I’m so used to playing at Victory Point Café these days that I didn’t know how to manage food for the day.  Had to keep reminding myself as I was driving in that I wouldn’t be getting food and drink from VPC.

R2:

Eric -> Kenneth (Malk Royalty) -> Mark (Samedi rush) -> Sean -> Ian

Kenneth brings out Lucian.  Lucian gets rushed and Leandro doesn’t block/Obedience.  Leandro is hugely annoying … going on 20+ years.  Sean gets out dudes.  I get out dudes.  Sean bleeds at stealth.  I don’t have bounce, yet.  Mark is hale enough to beat down going forward.  Leandro Banishments Eric’s Ember, so I bleed out Eric with the help of Sean’s Club Illusion (Yorik went Anarch because people take forever to burn Revolts) and two bounces I had in hand to not get ousted by Sean who fell one action or one stealth short of getting me.  Kenneth is at 8 pool and Mark at 7.  I don’t mind bleeding Kenneth for a lot, then having Kenneth Parity Shift, Leandro Mark out of the game.  OTOH, I don’t mind having 2 VPs either, so I bleed for 8 with the help of Club Illusion.  Mark finished off Sean.  Mark doesn’t rush me successfully.  I bleed until he is ousted.

Ian 4 VPs, Mark 1 VP

Finals:

With both Brandon and Mark in the finals, I don’t expect to get to do anything.  I ensure that by not thinking through the seating.

Mark and Alex are low seeds.  I choose to be Mark’s predator, thus dooming myself to irrelevancy.  Brandon does the obvious and sits across from Mark.  David has different possibilities, but sits as Mark’s prey, which seemed like the prima facie choice.

So, here’s what I should have done.  I knew Mark and Brandon would opposite.  So, I go as Mark’s prey.  Brandon becomes my prey.  David has a less clear decision, where I’m not sure at all what he would have done, though I think he sits next to Mark in some way, maybe his prey.  Regardless, even if I’m still between two rush decks, Mark will likely go backwards first and … Brandon will just take out my guys and have no predator and easily win unless David votes him out, which is hard when Brandon doesn’t pay a lot for minions, won’t have a predator, can rush David wherever he is, and has Yawp Court in his deck.  It’s not like Mark will ignore me to put pressure on Brandon.

Alex (Goratrix BH) -> Brandon -> Ian -> Mark -> David

Alex never manages to do anything of significance, so Brandon has no predator.  David reduces Alex’s pool by a lot to where Alex is on the verge of ousterture for multiple rounds.  Brandon largely leaves me be because nothing I do really affects him besides reduce Mark’s pool and David’s Anarch Revolt (terrible idea with two rush decks at the table) is increasing my pool loss while my Blood Doll gets Washed.  My Claven gets beaten down by Mark.

I do have a turn of Sleep of Reason on a Tupdog and Conceal on Mark’s Ivory Bow, so I get to cycle cards.  Brandon Yawps one of the Valkyries down.  Mark starts beating down David’s dudettes to where Brandon becomes concerned and even encourages me to take actions.  Mark is low enough on pool to back rush again.  I eventually bring out a fourth minion just so that I can Eagle Sight block a Reanimated Corpse bleed and get my first Dodge out of my hand.  Earlier, Brandon thought I’d Dodge with an Escaped Mental Patient, so he Grappled.  Amazingly enough, EMP is not as good of a minion as a completely expendable Tupdog.

So, I’m sitting between two rush decks.  I have virtually no combat (did press against Brandon’s !Trem to reduce to zero blood).  So, the usual happens.  David ousts me crosstable with a vote.

Finally out of a game in which I really should never be able to do anything besides kingmake.

Turns out to be the correct enough play as David barely hangs on to win with 1.5 VPs as top seed.

I considered just never bringing anyone out in this game, but that wouldn’t have changed anything.  Brandon would bleed for a lot because the one thing Tupdogs needed was a good way to bleed.  Mark and Brandon wouldn’t fight until it was too late for it to matter to me or I was ousted.  David would have been crushed by rush.  Alex would have been a bit healthier until he fell over, unless by that point Brandon worked to rein in Mark.  I suppose Brandon might have tried using me to put pressure on Mark, but that’s essentially what happened, anyway.

I don’t think I played badly all day.  I didn’t play great nor did I try all that hard to rally tables against the table threats.  What made my day a fail was terrible metagaming.  Not only the sort of decks people play round here but their styles of play, which are rather predictable.  And, making a boring and suicidal choice of seating in the finals.

Thanks to Mark and Brandon for organizing.  Merlin for hosting and getting BBQ.  Players for playing.

The drive home was miserable and as dangerous as California roads get when water falls from the skies and white stuff impairs visibility.  If it would only rain some of the time, maybe everyone would be more used to driving when it’s wet and lane markers would be clearer at night.  OTOH, I did get to eat some leftovers, though no pie, when I got home.  Some day will finish that pie.


The Best of … 2015

December 30, 2018

The thrill of the drill.

I don’t often comment on how the year went.  I did a couple of years ago because two unusual and major events happened, neither of which had anything to do with the election.

Maybe I’ll comment upon 2018 at the end.

January

Building L5R Characters – Origins

January 2015 seemed like a flopping heavy time, what with my reporting on Shadowfist sessions multiple times and V:TES tournaments.  While not great literature, if you want to see what playing V:TES is like for me as opposed to virtually anyone else in the history of the game {question mark, frowny face, birthday cake}, can read the tournament report post.

Meanwhile, in terms of “this is worth mentioning again after three years” posts, we finally get to this post.  Even as I was writing this post, I was getting off of what I wanted to write about.  However, intermixed with talking too much about mechanics, there’s a point made about finding the right character, even if that right character may be related to the right character sheet.

I know that HoR has been a problem for me because I’ve spent too much time on the character sheet and not enough on the character.  Nightmare War was actually better because I didn’t obsess with how the numbers would look, plus it was just more interesting than HoR3 was or HoR4 has been.

Sure, there’s a lot of stating the obvious, but, I guess, I feel like the obvious needs to be stated because people make questionable decisions constantly even when they have experience.  People.  People with blogs.  People with blogs who have written the best analysis of L5R 4e mechanics in the history of creation.

One hook is probably not sufficient to give a character enough to work with.  See my upcoming post on the dual hook-wielding build methodology for creating the most fun and most approaching absolute zero PCs ever.

February

Building L5R Characters – Traits

What happens when you get old is that you remember fewer details of your life.  Now, some of the reason for that makes logical sense – the older you are, the more details you have, thus any given detail is less of the memory pie.

I am shocked, shocked I say, that I wrote Origins before these other posts.  I think of Origins as something I did after hitting basics, though, to be fair, The Elemental Party was a prior run on talking about 4e Traits.

Does Void suck?  Well, I do find that my perspective does vary by metagame.  As mentioned somewhere, having a clearly defined role where you have Reflexes 5 is very different from playing with a bunch of strangers in a mod where nobody bothered to be a brain or a talker or a perceiver or whatever.  Still, Void would come after Awareness, Reflexes, Perception at a minimum and Earth-3 could be a higher priority.  I guess that’s not suck territory.

Kayfabeulous

People with blogs are not any one thing.  They may flop.  They may chuck.  They may criticize poetry from the early 20th Century and still may have watched like tons, one might even have said oodles, of “reaching back for something extra”, “what intestinal fortitude”, “Super-Crazy”.

’80s pro wrestling was often frustrating becomes it was so repetitive.  Modernistic sports entertainment has the … exact same problem.  Just changed from crushing jobbers to … whatever.

Somewhere, there is a great story to be had.  Of course, it’s all in the execution, which is why you favor mic gods like The Rock over … whoever.

DunDraCon 2015

I rarely call out convention reports.  I believe that I don’t feel that stating facts is as compelling as stating my perfecto o-pinions.

But, I feel like local cons and I are moving away from each other.  I just don’t feel the experience as I did a decade prior.  How mysterious and totally impossible in any way to figure out why.

So, here’s to 2015, when I reported a lot on Shadowfist casual play but also kept up with the scene in the ‘hood.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

Does anyone even get the joke of this post?  I don’t know that I do, anymore.  Old.  Let’s just say I’m superclever when I’m not on the spot to be clever – wait, isn’t that just a different word?

This is not that profound.  I just feel like calling it out.

Building L5R Characters – Advantages

Apparently, I ruled the blogosphere in February of 2015.  Because, obviously, nothing else matters more than L5R 4e mechanics analysis.

Formatting on this was kind of (nope), which I fixed to a degree later in my Disads post by using the power of bolding words.

Geez, Marie-Louise, I kind of see why my blog has gotten less popular in 2018.  I used to write useful stuff.

March

More Gooder Deck

Not a more gooder post, so why bother?  It’s long.  It mentions my “24” deck building methodology.

But, you know what?  I don’t do it as often I could, but I have posted deck lists.  Not tournament winning deck lists or here’s how to be furrier than the average bear deck lists, but sheer, unbridled insanity … to make a point.  No, to prove a point.  A thousand points.  A thousand points of CCG light.

It’s easy to have fun with CCGs.  Well, CCGs that don’t have Fate.  Build decks.  Identify other players who are fun to play with.  Play.

Building L5R Characters – Disadvantages

Yup, brilliant formatting makes this as easy to read as the make and model on Wonder Woman’s jet.

Sadly, I still follow my own advice.  I gravitate towards the cheese.  Not that I build a ton of PCs these days, so maybe I’ll learn to go back to when I liked my PCs.

[Classic] TR Vampire Ratings [6/1/2008]

This used to be my thing.  Arguing about stars for cards is fun like getting to ride in Wonder Woman’s jet.

It’s not just that fewer cards come out for CCGs I play.  It’s that I’m much more interested in just getting to play some daft Punks rather than worrying about if something is less gooder.

L5R Party Combat Guide

The original combat guide was more profound for bringing up common mistakes players make.  Neither is the definitive work on the subject.  In my upcoming post, I will …

Actually, it was a discouraging revelation to me that controlling a Unicorn Riding Horse in combat is much harder than I thought.  I don’t know why I got different rolls mixed up.

Anyway, I used examples.  Therefore, most goodest.

Flash VS Arrow

I no longer read comic books.  So, here’s my comicing outlet.  Besides knowing more than the substandard chipmunk, I happen to be the most entertaining reviewer of all things Arrowverse this side of Paradise Island.

Faster than a speeding locomotive, on to the next month …

April

Same Phat Channel, Same Phat Time …

Oh, the bronze-knees.

I was looking at our session tracker for Rokugan 1600.

Do you, wait, do I realize that each season has only been three main sessions long?  Well, yes, blog writer, I do realize that each season has been only three main sessions long.  It just doesn’t feel remotely like that.  I feel like I’m running a campaign that jumps around but still keeps building on what has transpired before (or introduces new stuff that makes the foundation of the campaign a mess).

I was trying to do three session story arcs to get more of an episodic feel with the ability to pivot faster.  Let’s see if I can wrap up season 4 in a way that doesn’t irritate the players and we can pivot for season 5 into something weird, like non-time travel, non-romance war stories.

May

Building L5R Characters – Skills

If it wasn’t for the fact that some people actually are playing FFG’s L5R, maybe I could spread out my geniusness over a longer stretch to not get everyone’s hopes up and, then, give them 2018’s travelogue.

Remember the single most important thing about this post:  I own the rights to factotumness, the rights of righteousosity.

June

July

Princess Police – Episode Guide

I’m used to short campaigns that don’t end as much as they cease to exist.  I’m fighting to try to avoid having me be the GM for such campaigns, while I haven’t played in anything for quite a while that wasn’t HoR.

What made The Princess Police interesting was how much the campaign took off long after it started.  I mean, sure, campaigns just seem to get richer as they go along until they stop, but this campaign survived long enough to have the depth of play that I hope for.

I think you can see how events became more meaningful to me later in the campaign.  This and HoR2 were the two L5R campaigns that I played that really satisfied in terms of L5R play.

August

Gen Con 2015

You know how I constantly call out convention reports.  Well, here’s another mundane, ho hum, hum drum convention report where I get into everyone’s favorite topic – food reviews.

September

Babylon 5 Request

Looking back is not so easy for the old.  There are so many B5 thoughts that I can probably only access by looking at old emails.  I don’t remember cards off the top of my head, anymore.

The B5 era was a hugely important era for me.  I became a playtester.  I became a designer.  I crusaded (but rarely Crusaded) for a game hard.  I played in the first Worlds.  I volunteered at major cons rather than just playing RPGs the whole time.

I got a foundation in CCGing that just being a V:TES player or UC! player or Magic judge didn’t.

I do realize that certain types of posts are more likely to get likes, it’s kind of interesting that this one didn’t, but, maybe, talking B5 long after the game died wasn’t a way to rapturize the masses.

RPG Yarn

I like some things.  Because I don’t really enjoy activities unless other people enjoy them, I subordinate my interests a great deal to enable groups to enjoy playing stuff.  Sure, meetup.com exists, etc., so I could find other people with more similar interests, but that requires a level of effort I’ve avoided.

I could probably write ten, twenty more words about what sort of RPGs I like.  Occurs to me that style of play isn’t something I talked much about in this post.  In my upcoming blog post on style of play I prefer, I will …  But, here’s what gets me looking for that Ring of Three Wishes so that I can blow a wish on the important stuff.

L5R Questions

I know.  It’s hard to provide commentary when everything the writer writes is pure, unadulterated geniusness.

Actually, I have an extremely reactive personality, which is why it can be challenging for me to get inspired to blog or to write more for Traveller.  So, if you want more geniusness spewed rather than the week’s latest ramble, maybe better to actually ask for what you want to hear about.

And, then, you will know everything there is to know about core book shugenjahood.  Every little thing.

October

Double-Striking, Swampwalking Squirrel Pumpers

This was a surprising hit to me.  I played a lot of Type P.  I built a lot more Type P then goldfished those builds.

Most of my Magic play, in the entire history of the cosmos, was, I’m sure, Type P.

Why don’t I talk about Type P more?  Well, I don’t play anymore and more recent efforts to play didn’t capture the Magic.

One hopes that blogging since 2009 would give readers a bit of insight into how my mind works.  This post should be one that gives pretty goodier insight.

If you ever want good sigs, like how I used to use good sigs on a regular basis, can take some quotes from this post.

Want: Land destruction, good way to blow up my own critters over multiple turns, maybe zombies

November

Brought By The Number 7

When gaming is a way of life, and I’d argue that it is for someone who has only ever been to England because of card tournaments in Germany, life is the shapemeister, baron von shape of gaming.  Sure, fiction is not quite so experiencey as, er, doing things that require physically moving more than the eyes and hands.

If staleness is a frequent problem with so many things, more posts like these might be the antistale needed.

Goat Droppings

Need more of this, somehow.

Ratings were too high on average.

This post actually take a lot of time to write, so I’m not that motivated to point out where I changed my mind, but I’d be happy to argue the rating of a card.

Book ’em Danaan

Ah, elitism, superiority complexion.  I can’t seem to escape pointing out that D&D is not remotely high fantasy.  While shopping for Christmas presents, I looked at possibilities of books I could get myself.  I’m sure no one else in the history of the multiverse has ever done that, ere now.  I didn’t shoot the wallaby.  Again, pretty much got myself a reference book for Aztec/Mayan society, which I still haven’t gotten anything out of.

December

A Mouse’s Donkey

Some things matter more to me than others.  Plus, I included an image.

Flaw Wars

Certain truths are self evident.  Btw, I don’t have high hopes that part three will redeem the problems of parts one and, especially, part two.

**  **  **  **  **

So, looking back on 2015, I can clearly see why 2015 had better stats than 2018.  I had the L5R character build posts and even more to say about 4e mechanics.  I had more original posts when it came to personal stuff or interests outside of gaming that I could pretend related to gaming.

Yup, 2015 looked mighty.  This was in the pre-True Dungeon period with lots of casual card play reports.  I even talked about Ultimate Combat!.  I wonder.  I wonder if because I changed jobs in 2015 and started traveling fairly often to Shanghai that I was more fired up even without the gaming five days a week thing I once had.

Leaving 2018 with what will inspire any and all to flood this blog with views, likes, and comments to prove that this blog has been made great again, here are some flavor texts from the best two-player CCG of them all:

  • Learned early, soon perfected – always a lance of destruction.
  • Denied the blood of life, first brain then body fail.
  • A good sweep takes you down like a patch of ice – without warning.
  • Draining speed and vitality, sand slows us all.
  • With the speed of a cobra, this whip to the head strikes true.
  • Flying enhances penetration.

In The Shadow Of Freedom

December 29, 2018

I considered just going on to the best of 2015 as the next post, but I had an unusual experience.

An unusual experience – unfortunately – that should be usual.

I’ve been building Shadowfist decks.  There are many old cards that I haven’t made much to any use of that I actually own as I’ve accumulated veteran players’ castaways.  A lot of that has to do with how disorganized what I’m sitting on is.

So, I picked a section of the floor that had card boxes sitting on it and opened up a couple of large boxes (not full) and started making decks.

I’ve said before that I build decks very differently for Shadowfist than I do for, say, V:TES.  Oh, sure, my tournament decks may have 5x MG, 3-5x Dockyard, 5x Auramancer, etc.

But, for casual play, my ‘fisting style is the model known as “I don’t give a shit.”

This works for my ‘fisticuffing because of the nature of the game, the number of players, the meta I play in.  For three player games, IDGAS might not work so well as slow starts make for bad games.  Ya da, ya da.

Even though I’ve covered some of this ground before (I should work on new material to pump my blog stats, methinks), maybe not precisely same acreage.

Does IDGAS work for other games?

Ultimate Combat!

To a degree.  UC!, though, has a very small card pool compared to my other CCGs.  There’s a huge danger when facing decks that take power generation seriously that a slow deck is a non-starter [or too much like a starter?  ha, ha ha].

UC! decks don’t tend to feel terribly different from each other within broad archetypes (counter decks are very different from mill decks which are very different from combination decks which are vary different from Favorite Technique decks which … wait, yo, homey, maybe this is why I like UC! so much – there’s a surprising amount of variety in a game where decks pretty much just put techniques in play and beat).

Gee, I guess IDGAS works reasonable well for UC!.

V:TES

Once upon a time, I IDGASed a fair amount.  I may be able to get away with it, but it makes for dumb games when other players are trying to do constructive things.  So, I moved to GingAS and ended up having less fun building decks.  Too much sameness.  Some believe V:TES has a large card pool.  I believe it has a fairly small number of card effects relative to the size of the pool.  I could certainly focus on the unusual effects more, which is where more innovation seems to arise.

Magic

I’ve never had much enjoyment from making constructed decks in Magic.  Could say it’s a testament to how open Magic is to variety, even within blocks or eras.  I just had a hard time pulling the trigger on decks.  It’s why I enjoyed Type P so much.  For me, Type P was less of a perpetual sealed and more of a perpetually creating constructed format.

Yes, I had decks like my Essence Vortex deck, but those were rare.  I always played far, far more limited.  So, I wouldn’t say IDGAS was much relevant.

Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, Tomb Raider

Yes, these three are all Precedence CCGs.  They also tended toward a certain level of structure.  I build silly B5 decks.  I did not build IDGAS decks.  Usually, I focused on something very specific, like fleet enhancements, not just throwing every Llort related card into a deck [more than a couple times].  I usually planned how to win, even if it meant making Adira as big as possible by having her attack characters for no damage.

One would think TR would be easy to IDGAS, as it’s kind of more like a boardgame than a CCG.  I mostly played TR as a playtester, though, similar to WoT but even more so in playtester mode, so I was GingAS.

Traveller

My most recent deck was IDGASsy.  I think Traveller – I know, I keep saying the same thing – is surprisingly open when it comes to deck construction.  Now, if you are playing two player, you may be in a more competitive mindset and doing certain things is risky.  I’m also not considering a meta where you are playing a bankrupt you in four rounds Broadsword a lot.  Talking about casual.

Prior, I didn’t embrace IDGAS much because I was focused on core principles of moving towards victory for things like developer articles or for demos.  The more other players build decks, the more I can goof off.

Shadowfist

Getting back to Shadowfist.  Sure, there are foundation characters, there are sites, there are mids (I don’t think “ramps” is the right word for how I use F4s and their ilk), hitters, character kill, et al.  But, between the no minimum deck size, that I typically play four-player games where not every mastermind requires four resources to put into play, where endgame situations are chaos, IDGAS predominates my thinking.

I’m building a Manchu deck, where Chimpshack.org being down is making it more difficult, where I thought about something like a 30 card deck that just Manchuchus its way to … who knows what?  We have games where someone on 15 power is useless because of an inability to draw characters in hundred card decks.  Manchu You Up! may just wreck house in the same way that Abysmal Li did.

Yeah, I retired numerous casual V:TES decks as undefeated, including some atrocious crap.  The difference is that I stopped building a lot of those decks, one, and, two, a lot of those decks weren’t of the IDGAS sort, they were trying to accomplish something from a mechanical standpoint that tended towards sucktasticness.  With IDGAS Shadowfist, the themes aren’t all that mechanical.  Yes, Manchu cards synergize with other Manchu cards (in theory), I just don’t really care if they do.  I don’t care if some foundation gets to F3.  This is totally different from my Flower Glower decks, where I’m trying to Petal power puissantly.

Sure, I’ve gone through IDGAS phases with V:TES, B5, maybe some other multiplayer CCG, so it could just be a phase, but the nature of ‘fisting is that is just seems to me like I have no real concerns with GingAS, even in tournament play with how we end up doing things like single game tournaments that last over three hours.  I don’t have to IDGAS all of the time.

It’s just entertaining.

Happy almost time for Best Of … 2015!


Post Of Eves Past

December 24, 2018

In a way, it does matter that it’s Christmas Eve at the moment.  Matters because I have the day off from work, of course, but also because the timing of recent events.

Speaking of recent events, I thought our official announcement for the reasons for canceling the Kickstarter were spot on.  We think digitizing the game has value for making it easier to play, but that only helps when there is either a larger playerbase or an awareness of the card game combined with a preference for e-play.  Coming out of the holidays, I’m going to see what I can do about expanding awareness and getting together with other players in the area and when I have time on trips I make outside the area.

For a timing example, one of my friends picked up Ultimate Combat! boosters for me.  This provided an opportunity not only to talk about draft value of different cards but to just talk about aspects of the game as well as to read some of the flavor text I haven’t read in a long time.  See, almost all cards have flavor text.  Not good flavor text.  But, if you already are amused by real world martial artists in funny poses, then the flavor text will only add to that.

The “karate chop” of old movies, deadly against the throat.

The thing about Ultimate Combat! is that it provokes so many fond memories of being an UC! player, even if it was a time in my life that wasn’t so great for other reasons.

I played Terra Mystica yesterday.  It was a get together of a group of us who don’t get together that often as … what happens when you don’t do something regularly is that you let it slide.  I played Giants.  I chose not to Stronghold on round one and was, therefore, out of the game.  That was not terribly fun.  Not that I was sure I was out of the game, but when someone had eight dwellings in play and I had trouble making any (by the time I Strongholded to generate consistent spades, I was surrounded), figured the game wasn’t going so well.  Reading some, it would be interesting to try shipping to build dwellings apart from each other.  Still, the Giants’ ability is a disadvantage as far as I’m concerned and the Stronghold ability just counters the disadvantage, whereas other factions get useful abilities.  Five player game took about 5.5 hours, so we played just the one game.

It was kind of like yesteryearishness.  But, in many ways, not.  We went out to eat together, for instance, which isn’t something we used to do.  The location was an area close to my work, so I knew plenty of food places around.

I’ve run a couple side sessions of Rokugan 1600 and … I’m not sure I really have any new takeaways, though I have a better sense of what I think works, I just don’t necessarily execute on what I know, a consistent problem outside of gaming.

One thing I did think might happen was a Tahaddi Duel.  But, of course, that would have been more likely with different players.  Anyway, I wrote homebrew rules for Tahaddi Dueling as I’ve run a LBS 3e Tahaddi Duel and it was atrocious.  The mechanics were just painfully boring.  Unlike 3e Iaijutsu, which could be interesting.  4e Tahaddi is an awful copy of 4e Iaijutsu Dueling – awful because the two aren’t really similar thematically.  I considered doing something similar to 4e Iaijutsu, but Tahaddi is all about back and forth, not staring at someone until they explode.

Revel in the completely coherent and in every way fully thought out rules mechanics awesome:

Tahaddi Rules – Art of the Thrust and Parry
Each duelist has a number of thrusts and parries equal to Void. Each additional of one or the other requires a VP. Can change to normal skirmish after both are out of free thrusts/parries, before that is half rank Integrity/Honor loss.
Assessment: As usual, one time bonus to either Thrust or Parry. Uses Knives (Tahaddi), -5 for not having Tahaddi. Winner goes first.
Thrust/Parry: AGI/Knives (Tahaddi) vs REF/Defense (Knives if Tahaddi skill). Winning by 5 or more is a strike. Each additional 5 is a FR to damage.

The session I ran Saturday was a very special holiday session, which I didn’t think about until a player mentioned it as a possibility and I liked it as I’m trying to wrap up a story arc and thought it could be risky to run on the 23rd.  One player didn’t play the previous session so had less sense than usual what was going on.  The holiday break meant splitting up the story arc ending session into two was going to be more painful than usual.  As it turned out, one of the players had to cancel, so having another side session made sense, even if it was a missed opportunity for her to be involved in time travel – the single most common thing in L5R, ever, as “everyone” knows.  Actually, in this case, made a bit more sense.  The prevalence of time travel outside of a Fortune of Shinseimas Past/Present/Future makes far more sense to me because the players don’t know things I know.

What’s different and what’s the same.  Time, something I feel like I have less of even though I actually have plenty of time, I just don’t use it effectively, gives an opportunity to reflect.  To nostalgiasize.

One thing I haven’t done a lot of this time of year is read fiction/reference/RPGs, even though it’s something I think I do more often when days are their shortest because of lack of TV shows, more time, and because I can’t seem to stop buying relatives books for Christmas.  I tried reading something I bought myself about Aztec and Mayan Mythology/Anthropology, but I couldn’t get into it.  Tried to play more music rather than have the same old sports talk shows on and haven’t felt that strongly about actually listening to the CDs I used to listen to.  Realized I need to hook back up a DVD player to play some Garth Brooks DVDs.

I’m sure that’s the first thing the audience of this blog thinks of when thinking of musical interests pour moi.  Yup, poppish country, melodramatic piano rock, Christmas carols, and good songs outside of those genres.

Well, I may have had some other thought, but I need to do some other things tonight.


Elsewords

December 18, 2018

As the most right-eous reviewer of all things Arrowverse, you gnome I was going to commentitate upon Elseworlds.

Not so great.

Yeah, had Supes, who is a better Supes than most, but it just seemed like Supes and LL to have Supes and LL.  Batwoman does nothing for me.  I mean, if you want to have an Yvonne Craig lookalike in a new spinoff, that might do something for me.  I’m not a Bats fan.  I was okay with him on Superfriends and am entertained by Adam’s adventures, probably more now where I pay more attention to the dialogue than I did back in the dim ages.

I chuckled at some part one stuff.

I felt like Melissa was wasted.  One thing I liked about Crisis was Melissa and Stephen getting to interact.  Here, felt like a buddy crossover with Supes and a bunch of others.  John Wesley Shipp also felt like a wasted opp.

Wasn’t funny enough.  Wasn’t spectacular enough.  Rushed.  Because of Gotham, felt like not a lot happened.  More Iris and Oliver, some Felicity and Barry, Kara and, uh, Diggle?  Ralph?  Everybody?

Then, Legends of To Meow Meow.  I agree with the comment that LoT essentially crossovered with itself.  I don’t usually rewatch LoT episodes (even though it is the best of the four shows), but I had to rewatch parts to relive SoS and DC’s Puppets of Tomorrow.

And, that brings us to our topic.

Giving the audience what it wants.

No, I’m not going to get rambled down into RPG GMing.

What do floppers want?

Art?  Can’t be art in and of itself.  There’s so much not good CCG art.

Mechanics?  Hell, nope.  I mean, look at what has done well over long spans of time.  Then, look at how forgotten and not so impactful a really fun to play game like Ultimate Combat! has been.

Theme?  Sire, yes sire.  Magic has fantasy.  Pokemon has poke.  Yu-Gi-Oh! has Exodia, Egyptian God Monsters, et al.  L5R is really cool.  Even V:TES and Shadowfist developed playerbases through theme (certainly not art).  Star Wars.  Lord of the Rings.  Buffy got made.  Doctor Who got made.  So, so many got made.

Competitive play?  I think so.  Even Babylon 5 did better than it might have due to tournaments.  No matter how much casual appeal there may be, and V:TES has had quite the casual appeal as I’ve run across numerous players who had no tournament interest, tournaments and prizes enhanced appeal.

Why would I pick up a CCG at this point?

Theme.  I’m not looking for a great mechanics CCG; a CCG with great mechanics would have to sell me on theme.

Analogizing, the problem with Elseworlds is that it didn’t theme well.  Crisis themed much better, giving supers all sorts of opps to superize, shippers opps to sail (Sara and Alex, e.g.).  Supes and LL were like art, fight scenes were like mechanics, Barry Queen and Oliver Allen training was like competitive play??  Well, it’s analogistic in the typical way that analogies don’t always work.

Meow Meow themed.  Singing.  Cat petting.  Amy in action.  Not perfect.  Ray, Mick, Ava not so well served.  But, Fairy Godmother did well.

Course, everyone knows the best themes involve space ships and aliens and economics, especially in a high tech digital version.

But, I digesticate.

On a related note, totally not enthralled with this season of Who.  I get that it’s stylistically much more like oldWho.  But, Pertwee and Tom were so much more interesting.  I liked Matt Smith’s and Capaldi’s Doctors more than most, even if their episodes weren’t always brilliant.  Jodi’s Doctor is too ordinary.  Too many companions, especially when you don’t have multipart episodes.  Just not all that interesting adventures.

BBC’s Doctor Puppet!!

Give the audience what it wants.  Wait.  What are my favorite episodes of a-l-l timeandspace?  Maybe another timeandspace I’ll have an answer.  I did really like parts of The Girl in the Fireplace of newWho.  I liked Tom on Gallifrey in oldWho.