EC 2017: Veni. Vidi. Suxisti!

May 24, 2017

So, I went to the 2017 V:TES European Championships.  An obsession with Eyes of Argus (on my banned list), Enkil Cog (banned list), er …, Deep Song (banned list) …  Okay, it was cherry juice.  Cherry juice was the driving force behind going to Berlin.  That and Australian women.

Maybe I should start over.

Before V:TES ceased to be a thing, I wanted to hit a EC and a NAC in Columbus.  I had worked out in my spreadsheet how to have enough hours (stealing from my future accruals) to accomplish both.  Then, I used up more hours than I planned, so I let NAC drop for this year.  Still, with everyone under the Moon, even those who don’t actually play, wanting Anthology Sets and my mother figuring out whether she was going to vacation in Europe, Berlin was booked.

As was London because I didn’t see the point of going for less than two weeks and I didn’t see a point in spending two weeks in Berlin.  My mother had spent a few years going to school in London, so, in theory, we could visit places she knew.  Nigh 60 years absence kind of made that not part of the trip.

We arrive.  In the East End.  To the pub!

See the mustard. Too much mustard.

As is the norm among all middle thinking people, the pub is where you go to drink water and eat.  Yes, every single pub in England I’ve been to I’ve just had water to drink.

My hope was to have localish food in England, pub burger, pub fish and chips, kind of forgot about pub meat pie.  Meat pie.  It was good.  The mustard tray came with dijon, whole grain, and English.  Not liking either of the first two, I figure English would taste … whoa!  Okay, I guess it’s just Statespeople who like sweet mustard that isn’t remotely horseradishy or wasabii.

We only had four days fully open to tourist.  We did not effectively use them all, however I could say we reasonably touristed three days.  We did hit the Childhood Museum a block away from our room.  We did have ice cream at Harrods.  Before getting into other touristing, I should note that my breakfast lasagne at E Pellicci was some of my best food.  Thing about hole in the wall places there – crowded and loud.  I’ll comment more on food hither as I’m sure my insights will sea shanty your world.

Llort! Llort?!?

Yessim.  The key to going to London is to go to Cambridge and do what everyone does in Cambridge – get some Babylon 5 CCG in.  We played two very long games with some cafeteria food lunch and a bit of a crisis averted.

First Game [this is a gaming blog, wrong?]:

I played Ivanova Death Incarnate.  I completely mangled the opening.  I was supposed to Rapid Growth on turn one and sponsor Susan.  I forgot how Rapid Growth/Airlock Mishap openings work.  I set myself probably two turns behind.

Other decks played were home faction Narns, Minbari with intrigue, Non-Aligned.  Narns, for some reason, didn’t develop any infrastructure.  What was interesting was one of the last few groups to play doesn’t use standard openings that get you to 10 influence rapidement.  I didn’t seem terribly threatening, mostly because I couldn’t draw any conflicts and was mostly screwing around with putting things like Spin Doctors out while the Non-Aligned seemed out of control.  I finally started on conflicts.  The Narns Allianced us.  I attacked some with Ivanovas since I could just replace them all.  I brought out Diplomacy characters.  I Rally the People and have enough with A Rising Power to win.

Second Game:

I switch to Llort.  Not Chosen of Llort.  Llort Fast Learner Bodyguard and Non-Aligned Fanatic Llort.  Maybe the spiritual realm was trying to tell me something about playing ineffectual decks as I was ineffectual, actually going back to 10 influence from being above 10 influence.  Home Minbari, Home Centauri Shadows, Bester opposed the righteous Llort.  Centauri should have won.  Then, for some reason, he put Forced Evolution in play to make it harder for him to win and the game times out with a Minbari/Centauri tie.

Crusade cards suck.  I don’t care that they played The Fen constantly and even adapted their play to The Fen.  I care about undercosted or zero costed cards coming into play and dumb turns like making Probes be less huge and just general getting away from what the game was supposed to be about, like Llort.  Oops, argument fail … argument fail!

The highlight of London … em … England was punting on the Cam.  It was relaxing and touristy and our punter was entertaining.

Next day, Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge.  Interesting observation.  No effort to leave time for shopping.  It just felt odd to be rushed about.  Sure, you could shop, but, then, you didn’t spend much time castling or bathing or hengeing.  The guide also didn’t guide much.

Bath was the weakest part of the tour as it was far too museumy for me.  Windsor was wandering around a castle.  Stonehenge was a bright day in the countryside without any interdimensional portals opening up or whatever.  Oh, I should mention that while there was a decent amount of Sun in London, most days it was chilly due to wind.  Sunday, the day when we spent much of the time indoors and on a bus, was warm.  Now, I’m not a warm person, running rather hot [oh nevermind] [see enjoying Scandinavia in January], but we wanted to Thames at some point and warmth on water body not terrible.

As anyone can get pictures of Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge, here’s (of course) a Bath picture.

Nicer looking than broken stone.

Monday, we did get on a ship cruising the Thames, hit Greenwich just before Royal Observatory closed but didn’t think to go to Average Time until time was annihilated into the past.

So, food.  Food was surprisingly cheap in London.  In that, we ended up eating very oddly and kept missing out on pubbing or tourist-fooding.  We had fast food.  It was bad.  Every single time I’ve had fish and chips in England it has been rather awful.  Speaking of chips.  Every single time I’ve had chips [sic] in England, they have been gross.  Soggy crap like you get from fast food places in the States.  Every single time I’ve been to Greenwich, I’ve gotten a burger and French Fries [sic] and it was good.  Now, I did ask them to crisp up my French Fries [sic], but they were better cooked to begin with (I didn’t notice any difference with my mother’s).  Plus, Peanut Butter Cup milkshake was good.  So, secret to eating in London is pay for the extra privilege (aka quid) of having Americanized food.  Or, seek out your breakfast lasagne, whatever.  To be fair, our only pub food was good.

I need to move on … to Berlin.

We get into Tegel, I stupidly have us use public transportation to get to our service apartment.  Not only did that fail when we got to Alexanderplatz because heaven forbid that you put information counters in major public transportation hubs where tourists can find them, but the trek to Alexanderplatz was pain.  Even the better, less stoppy bus, would have taken you through awful looking town in unenthralling weather.  I like overcast, but going from London’s bright and cheery and woodsyness to drab and boxy and congestedness of our bus trip made me hate having to spend so much time in Berlin.

Then, we settled in and wandered a bit and the city was much more pleasant.  We were a five minute walk from Museum Island.  We had the Magic Museum on our block (I eventually didn’t bother due to its reviews).  Walking to U-Bahn stations not so bad.

Speaking of bad.  I hated public transportation besides U-Bahn.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s underground subways and everything else is misery.  Tube – fine.  Metro – my hood.  U-Bahn – same old, same old.  Buses?  Nein!  Trams, S-Bahn, regional trains, trains to other cities?  Icksome.

Speaking of dumb.  I got us Welcome Cards for Berlin, figuring 8 days was enough to tourist.  I was wrong.  We only used the discounts once on the entire trip.  Either too busy, too tired, or the museum or tour we had to pay for didn’t give discounts.  The only good thing was that we never had to get transportation tickets due to the timing of when we validated the Welcome Cards and when we were leaving.

In the hood.

So, food.  London cheap.  Berlin expensive.  Of course, we did mostly sit down restaurants in Berlin in our hood.  Also, what killed the pocketbook wasn’t food.  It was cherry juice.  Every single time I’ve spent more than a week in Germany I’ve never had a beer.  Oh, I should mention that I had no tea in England, not even in the room.  Drinks aren’t just expensive – $4.50 Cokes, for instance – but the volume is weak sauce.  In the US, you pay $2.50 or possibly more these days in a sit down restaurant for a Coke, but you get free refills.  I had like $3.50 juices of .2 liters.  How can someone eat food with .2 liters of drink?

Now, KiBa was really good both times.  My Coconut Kiss was really good and not horrendously priced at the place near the EC.  But, tea, coffee, water outside of the local places near the EC were just incredibly expensive relative to the volume.

Then, there was the EC’s hood.  Pop out of the Birkenstraße Station and you get a coffee/pastry shop with decent sized cafe au lait.  You get döner kebap sandwiches that are huge, may have amazingly good bread, and cost like $4.  And, there’s markets around to get drinks from if you take your food to go.

Oh yeah, the EC.  I played 8 competitive rounds, a storyline pickup game, and three casual games.  This is my tale.

Because we have a limited tolerance for wandering around, we go by the EC on Thursday to see what’s going on.  I get into a pickup game with Rudolf as my predator, Ali as my prey, Dean as my grandprey, and I can almost remember my grandpredator – Peter, maybe.

I borrow Dean’s !Toreador Embrace deck because I was touristing and didn’t bring decks.  I didn’t draw Embraces until the game was essentially over.  I can try to search my mind for who started my games, but, since I didn’t post this when I got home last Wednesday, I’m just going to rush through by listing myself first in every game.

Pickup 1:

Ian (!Toreador horde) -> Ali (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> Dean (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> ?? (??) -> Rudolf (Tzimisce high caps)

General observation – Armin, Dmitra, Hektor, Tara, Jan, et al were extremely popular across all of the events.  What was somewhat different was how fighty the versions were I saw.

Dean brings out vampire.  Ali stops transferring to same vampire.  I bring out dorks, I Palla Grande a couple of times, Ali has no game.  Dean ousts his prey somehow, not entirely sure how.  I go ahead and oust Dean.  I concede after a couple of fights in endgame.  If I wanted to play a better game, I would have played differently, letting Dean work on Rudolf harder, but it was not a great game, so might as well end it.

Storyline:

I didn’t build specific storyline decks.  I happened to have a deck that could work for End of the Line, which a lot of people couldn’t play due to the low cap crypt requirement.  I did have leftover decks that were clanny, so I played Samedi, taking out some of the cards that didn’t work when I played my LMC/Groaning Corpse deck prior.

Samedi -> Ravnos Fatuus Mastery -> Ralf playing !Toreador with sticks -> Ben playing Matasuntha -> Tito playing Aabbt Kindred (storyline!)

I had no predator early on, as only Aabbt came out and started Camera Phoning.  My prey tried SensDep forward.  Tito had no predator.  I ended up with three Samedi SensDepped.  Yup, my two times in life having three minions SensDepped were the time I played a Regaining the Upper Hand deck and the time I played Samedi Groaning Corpse in a storyline event.

My prey did get two VPs, so it was the right play.  Tito, of course, won, once he could start bleeding and I had like three Deflections in my hand at the end of the game having played none all game.

Samedi -> Bart playing with an Archbishop of Berlin! -> blanked -> Kari still blanking -> NewJah

This was maybe my most irrelevant game, as NewJah just rolled over me with stealth bleed as is its wont.  This game timed out with only my being ousted.  It shows how weak my frail mind has become that I don’t recall what other people were playing, just that titles mattered across table and I’m pretty sure Kari was Governing.  I think she was playing !Trem because I expected Oriandus to pop, probably a Malgorzata deck, but I could be making things up.  It’s really bad that I can’t even picture anything of my grandprey’s deck anymore.  Tzimisce, I think, as it torped Bart’s dudes reasonably often, maybe advanced Sascha was in play.

I didn’t feel the storyline flavor of this event.  But, then, ever since the first one, I never understood why people play good clans in storylines.  That someone likes a clan is not an argument for seeing Malks, Ventrue, et al.  I like Tzimisce but don’t play them in an event designed to make the world more interesting.

I was surprised that it was just a 2+F event.  Not that I want to play 3+F events, but I was surprised.

Pickup 2:

I hung around to play a rather Americanized pickup game, where James played his Corrupt Construction deck, Kevin played some Ravnos deck that didn’t do much.  Some Swiss guy was my predator.  Phillip was my prey with Tremere.

Yes, I went to Europe and all I got to play against was a Los Angeles/Taiwan Corrupt Construction deck I’ve played like five times against.  What did I play?  Standard Matthias gets Temporis and Summons History.

I got 2 VPs just before time as I beat down Phillip’s board mostly due to Ivory Bow as Ponticulus was in play.  Pickup game 2 VPs – that was towering crescendo of effectiveness.

Day 1:

I thought about metagaming harder against hyperbleed, but I just wanted to play my deck.  I didn’t realize it was a sloppy 90 cards until I counted it up.

Ian (Aus/Dem/Obf/Vic) -> Gines (Giotto, Nos Princes) -> (Grinder) -> Peter (Thucimia) -> (Winnie Dementation)

I should know my predator’s name as I talked to him on Day 2 quite a bit, but I’m actually fading writing this post.

Gines was going to win unless my predator crosstabled him.  I thought about suggesting that and didn’t bother.  I did hang around a little bit longer so that I could play a Madman’s Quill on Giotto with only three Dementation bleed decks at the table.  Gines got rid of it, right away.  My predator ousted me because he didn’t want to be ousted.

Gines got too fast a start for his prey and I didn’t control Gines in any way, though I had the cards in the deck to kill Parity Shifts.  Gines 4.

Ian -> Frank (small cap Tzimisce wall) -> Dean (Gangrel Animalism) -> Michael (Carna and friends) -> Kari (Trem/!)

This was surprisingly NoCalish, in that Dean took three actions to burn the Pentex on my Gravitnir and they all got blocked by my prey.  Kari gave me some rope to push on the wall, but I was largely ineffectual.

How ineffectual?

I bring out Gravitnir.  My prey places The Erciyes Fragments.  I take an action to steal it.  We fight.  I don’t maneuver.  He uses Dean’s Aid from Bats to maneuver.  I Breath of the Dragon.  I continue to try to take Erciyes or play Madman’s Quills on my prey, and every single attempt gets blocked.  Did I do any pool damage?  After the game I thought naught.  But, maybe I did Changeling bleed once.

I played with two vampires (Luc).  I got Pentexed by my prey, my predator’s first Magic of the Smith was for Signet of King Saul when her predator was kind of already strong and the only 8+ cap that hit play was mine, I got ‘schrecked when playing a combat ends.

General observation backed up by some other people agreeing.  People would rather lose to Govern/Conditioning and Kindred/Confusion than face the unknown.  People expect Dementation bleed from Zettler and Gravitnir?  Why would anyone bother?

I pontificated about my lack of success and in what way my beliefs are wrong about the game.  Does deck construction matter more than I think?  Am I suckier than I think?  Is my play style all wrong?

Play style for the moment.  I rely heavily on other players realizing that I’m virtually never a threat and that someone else is.  I rely on people not crippling the weak.  General observation – a lot of players in crossregional metagames don’t go after the strong but cripple the weak and seemingly play for 1 or 2 VPs.  This is interesting because one thing I’m pretty sure about is that I don’t build decks oriented to multiple game wins and you need multiple game wins to win 156 player tournaments or even 88 player tournaments much of the time.

I had my Sanguine Instruction between two !Malks … for Vicissitude … blocked.  My prey feared my !Malky bleed possibilities – my prey had bounce.

Dean, Frank, and I just beating on each other meant Michael had an easy game.  Kari finished me off, I played Extremis Boon, Michael spent some time calculating the amount of pool to give me, Frank Suddened the Extremis Boon.

Ian -> Bart (Winnie Auspex Anarch) -> Jaakko (Kiasyd SB) -> Enrico (Malk94) -> Jan (!Brujah beats)

Jan Havened and IGed backwards but gave up on eviscerating his predator.  Enrico didn’t bounce early but just kept bleeding and being torped.  Jaakko had sporadic bleed.  I kept trying to Madman’s Quill Bart, but it didn’t work.  I tried Concealing his Bowl, that didn’t work.  I lost a variety of cards to Constant Revolution, which didn’t really hurt me, I wanted one more round to discard 3 cards at random.  I lost Extremis Boon and Personal Scourge.  I did Inner Essence/Coma one of Bart’s dudes, but we mostly just handsed each other.  Yet again, someone tried Pentexing me, though I did bring out three vampires for a change.

Enrico ousted Jan.  Jaakko took the rest.

Did two wall decks in front of me hinder my VPing?  I don’t think so.  Walls are to be expected.  You need a game plan for getting through them.

Actually, with The unnamed doing really well (foreshadowing), Auspex is just not as good as it once was.  I would have vastly preferred Deflection as my bounce of choice from a metagame standpoint.

End of the Line

We finally got a four player together for End of the Line.  Petri was my prey with !Gangrel.  My predator played Kiev Circle.  I played Hermana Mayor.  The other deck was Tupdog.  I actually had a plan for dealing with Tupdog.  Everyone failed me, including my predator who didn’t bother blocking a bleed that ousted him, leaving me tapped out with 4 pool and my new prey having a minion with Groundskeepers.

An awful game, and I think the format has some strong potential for awfulness, yet another game going on during ours was like five player and the Corruption deck won at time or something.

Sunday

Obviously not qualifying, I played in the side event, with its 88 players.

Ian (Pre/Vic BB?) -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Forestal anarch) -> (Kiasyd combat?) -> Luis (unnamed bleed focus)

I had no way to defend against my predator.  My bounce got cancelled as predicted.  His predator did nothing.  My grandprey didn’t realize Forestal can only fake one discipline at a time.  My prey was the only one who could stop the Baali but didn’t.  Luis swept.

Ian -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Kiasyd SB) -> (Lutz/Maris) -> (Aus/Tha/Vic)

This was the only talk game I had.  This was what I kind of expect in Day 2 of big tournaments.  There was like a 10 minute discussion that led to not playing a Parity Shift.  Malks Deranged backwards, ended up on Dmitra.  Never left Dmitra as afraid would end up on Hektor.  My prey had to deal constantly with Dmitra’s ability.  I had Velya in play, so I was vote relevant.  I Starvation of Marenaed my predator’s Malgorzata to torpor but didn’t interact much after that.  Kiasyd just kept trying to bleed.

Because Malks were in danger of death, kept dealing to get off Parity Shift.  One Parity Shift was possibly four different targets before eventually going backwards.  My prey asked me afterwards when the game went to my predator.  We agreed it was when he brought out Sha-Ennu after Malgorzata and Mistress Fanchon.  Malks called Reins of Power to bring me to 3 pool, first 3 bleed by predator killed me.  He deemed that his only clear mistake.

It was rough with how to deal the votes.  Yet, it didn’t time out.

Ian -> Kari (Aus/Chi bleed) -> (Shadow Court Satyr w/ Dominate) -> (Winnie Dom/For) -> (Winnie Dom/Pre)

I asked for the time twice.  The other players said something like “with two weenie Dom decks, I don’t think the game is going to time out”.  I considered giving my reason for asking about time.

My first action of the game was Creamy Jade rescues my predator’s Ingrid Russo.

In the first 50 minutes of the game, I played one card – Enchant Kindred (Matteus to Enid Blount).  My predator did 3 pool damage to me all game with his four minions, a bleed I let through hoping he would bleed for more.  I did not Entrancement my grandprey’s SCS.  Misdirection killed me as I was out of wakes for my second predator.

Competitive play was done.  I enjoyed my games, actually, parts of all of my games.  Well, maybe not the second round storyline, thinking about it.  But, I was useless.  I was going to get into why in this post, but I think I need to finish up with the reporting and get into analysis in another post.

Pickup 3:

Ian (!Toreador blocky) -> Peter (Samedi, Genina focus) -> Rudolf (Tupdog) -> ?? (Rudolf’s Montano) -> Ali (Rudolf’s Tzimisce)

Rudolf wasn’t as scary as one expects from Tupdog.  He didn’t draw any Raking Talons for a while.  He didn’t Graverob that much.  I did Soul Painting his Selena, which somehow didn’t instantly burn her, but maybe I’m wrong about Soul Painting as well as many other things.

Peter Nightmare Cursed at double superior my Greta late in the game.  That didn’t hurt too much, as I had Majestys.  Ali didn’t threaten me much.  Montano did one Baltimore Purge and ended up in torpor when it went off.

Rudolf ousted as his prey couldn’t keep minions ready.  Peter ousted.  I should have been able to oust Peter but couldn’t get the right combination of Unholy Penanced, Melanged, Aire of Elationed, Palla Grandeed bleeds lined up before we timed out.

Yes, I was that sad.  Multiple Unholy Penances, a Melange, Palla Grande, like four vampires with Presence, and I couldn’t do like 2 more pool to my prey’s Samedi with Auspex deck when I needed to.

We did talk about teaching English, as the EC was less an opportunity to get VPs and more an opportunity to speak with people who learn multiple languages about how a middle-aged American be less monolingual.  It was kind of funny that Peter mentioned that people count in their own languages, when I find numbers the easiest thing to remember in other languages, though I was in an elevator trying to remember how to count backwards from 100 in French.  Learning a little bit of Mandarin constantly screws up my remembering any French outside of memorized phrases.

My mother and I went out to eat with Hung-ary Peter (you know, it could be that some of these Peters spell their names Pieter or whatever, but I hope I’m getting their names right) and a bunch of Swedes.  Large contingent of Swedes.  They may think I’m a goofball, but I quite enjoy hanging out with them.

Only two people mentioned my blog.  Ralf.  Tomas (sp?).

Rudolf, Ali, my mother, and I arranged to meet Monday for touristing.  We did a hop on, hop off bus trip, finally using a Welcome Card discount (still kind of expensive compared to … foreshadowing).

Speaking of my mother, what was she doing while I was playing cards?  Fortunately, Martin’s mother also wanted to do some sightseeing.  So, his mother who doesn’t speak English and my mother who doesn’t speak German had a good day of sightseeing on the weekend, including a river jaunt.

Martin, his mother, Rudolf, Ali all really helped make the trip better.  As did Michael (B5), organizers, opponents, people I spent some time with outside of play – had lunch with a couple of Italians and Dean, lunch with Kevin who I had never met in the US (to our knowledge), etc.

 

Symbolic.

Tuesday, went to Potsdam on a guided tour.  Interesting thing about this tour.  Unlike the UK tour, where we were just sort of dumped into places to look around at stuff, this tour didn’t have much in the way of going in palaces or churches or whatever but had a lot of history.  Like our punter, the tour guide was entertaining.  We still didn’t have time to shop on the 6 hour tour.  We hit Sanssouci with various pauses along the way.

My phone doesn’t do wide shots all that well, so all of my palace photos show only parts of the palace.

Ironicful.  Best touristy thing in our trip to London was in Cambridge.  Best touristy thing in our trip to Berlin was in Potsdam.

Good size group – 12 + guide.  Guide was Australian.  No, he wasn’t a woman.  But, there were a coincidentally disproportionate number of Australian or Australian-connected women on the tour.  They hung out with cool Spanish/Portuguese guys rather than uncool Statesperson guy.  I can’t blame them.  Who wants to hang out with a guy who talks about logic puzzles and racist pidgin languages?

Foreshadowing1:  unnamed was in EC Day 2 finals, in Shadow Twin finals.

Foreshadowing2:  Tour to Potsdam was 15 euros apiece, 1 more euro than hop on/hop off bus.  Can’t say the latter was bad in any way, just seems like a bus ride with audio guide should be less demanding than live guiding.  Of course, compared to the W/B/S tour in the UK, which was over a 100 sterling apiece, maybe bus rides are superoverheadful.

Well, I think I failed to write in the way I wanted to write, but I have to get this published and get back to Traveller and work and getting on a normal sleep schedule.


Riffing

February 26, 2017

There’s something I’ve tried explaining in recent years a bit more to people I know.

I picked up some fantasy novels in an effort to use up an Amazon gift card.  Because of True Dungeon, I became aware of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle.  It occurs to me those two sentences would logically be switched in order, but, if you read my blog, you may grasp that I don’t always follow logical order.

I finished the first book last week and am a bit more than 750 pages into the second book.

I got into something of a discussion Thursday with the Shadowfist group, mostly around my view that the series purposefully endeavors to merge low fantasy and high fantasy.

And, so, the usual trying to explain what low fantasy is and what high fantasy is.  I was a bit surprised anyone would think Lord of the Rings wasn’t high fantasy.  To me, it’s a classic and illustrative example.

While it’s hard for me to argue against high magic being prevalent in high fantasy, there’s more to it than that.  D&D is not philosophically high fantasy.  It’s videogame fantasy.  You obsess over power, whether through stuff or levels.  You hope some random wheel of fate gives you +5 Strength.

But, I’ve said as much before.

I’m quite enjoying the series.  In fact, it’s addictive.

Movies aren’t.  TV can be.  I’ve said as much before, but let me try it a different way.

Movies are complete.  They are straightforward.  They are bombastic.  TV has more opportunities to twist and turn as there’s so much more content, and they are often incomplete.  At least, for me, they are incomplete, as I often don’t pay much attention to series when they end.  The threat of ending is why I am so reluctant to invest in series that sound interesting.

Books are different.

When I was in sixth grade, the teacher brought a box of books, put them in the side room (storage?, was there a sink?).  The box was full of fantasy and science fiction novels.  She was giving them away.  The other students may have taken more than I thought, but I remember only a casual interest.

I took an armful, a stack.

I may have read some of those books – I believe a few.  I’m fairly sure I didn’t read some.  I’m fairly sure I still own them and could read them at my leisure.

What have I been trying to explain?

Not yet.

I have an affinity to the Kingkiller Chronicle.  Oh, I don’t think highly of my abilities.  I found myself increasingly weary of the obsession over low fantasy concerns, like paying tuition or going hungry.  I don’t embrace entertainment for real world concerns.  I embrace entertainment for adventure, for drama, for melodrama, for another world.

I have fantasy novels that I have no affinity for.  Perhaps I didn’t read long enough.  But, my way of explanation for giving up on them is that they throw too many fantasy names of people and places at me too soon without my caring a jot about the characters or the plot.

I have some … criticisms isn’t the right word because writing is hard and different people have different tastes … hindrances to elevating the series to some lofty perch.

I said an addiction.  Books do that to me, even ones that aren’t so great.  I’ve read a good number of Xanth books, and they become much more childish over time.  One of those books I read when on vacation with family in Honolulu.  A day or maybe one and a half.

An addiction because stories do more then tell stories.  They inspire other stories.

RPG play is more like TV to me.  I don’t mean RPG campaign ideas or whatever, I mean the actual play.  The actual play lives beyond itself to a degree but not the same degree.  It’s too much one thing.  The value in the long running campaigns, with the PC development, is that they expand beyond one thing.  I still think of Usagi Kidai beyond the Princess Police.  Ty maybe not as much, anymore, but Ty and Rald and Hak and Smed and so on.

But, books, they inspire me to riff.

Being incompetent with music besides knowing what’s good, bad, and interesting better than anyone else who has ever lived, I imagine that musicians feel that way with music.  They want to riff.

I will stop reading.  I will peer into that other world and I will construct my own story.  The characters may be much the same or the scene may be much the same or the concept may be much the same.  Sometimes, it’s an idea for a novel but usually it’s dialogue.  I so love dialogue.

Eventually, I will return to reading.

The more I riff, the more entertainment I will get from a book.  Even bad books, which is why I continued with bad series long after they stopped being decent series.  I’ll forego naming names, as I can respect those who have abilities beyond my own.

I’ve been riffing a lot more with this series than I have in a long, long time.

I’m starting to remember something, something important, but that’s either going to sound ridiculous, pretentious, or will not elicit enough reaction to bother.  People don’t listen to me, but it’s not my job to force them.

I suppose one piece of that, though, may sound not so ridiculous.  I perceive the world differently at the moment.  Sure, Star Wars movies can do that, too, and music does that, and so can other things.  The mind is rather malleable when you let it be.

I have his children’s(?) book to read after day two.  I have a series my sister had on her Christmas list that I decided to try out for myself afterwards.

So many distractions.  So much time.


500 Ways To Read Your …

February 12, 2017

I almost forgot this was post 500.

I was thinking of talking about the last Shadowfist session, which didn’t go particularly well.

I was thinking of talking about a book I’m reading.

But, that would not be calling out a milestone.

I’m not going to link back to a bunch of posts as some sort of retrospective.  I essentially do that at the end of each year.

I started a blog because I was not satisfied with how much opining I was doing to local gaming groups and on game forums.  I got tired of the substance being lost in the argument.  Those don’t sound like terribly positive things, but negative motivation is motivation.

Whether as motivation or as a result, I got an opportunity to talk about things I only talk about with those I game with and family and friends … who probably don’t pay much attention since Ultimate Combat!, the craziness of niche CCG playtesting, the craziness of my V:TES tournament play, or whatever isn’t nearly as important to the audience as to the person who pursues gaming as a way to be amused.

More so with stories but also other posts, I entertain myself.  I reread my old posts.  Sure, I hit the same areas with many of the same opinions more often than is probably useful.

Over time, one can see clearly what I’m playing and what I’m not.  Can see batches of V:TES for a few months become a bunch of L5R, see references to whatever I’m running – Solomon Kane, Legend of the Burning Sands, Feng Shui – for those brief periods I end up running anything.  Can see how trips to China got me playing more mahjong than I had in decades.  Pretty obvious what TV shows I watch.  Get an idea of what books I read or were inspired by when younger.  Can see when I got into Shadowfist and started backing things on Kickstarter (the two coinciding).  Can see when BattleTech became important and when play dropped off.  Can see where I suddenly started paying attention to the True Dungeon economy.

Can see the posts that were struggles and may be able to glean those that weren’t.  (Hint:  tournament reports often aren’t a struggle, trying to stay on theme, though …).  Can see where I, unfortunately, stopped reading Magic articles.

Lot of things can be seen.  But, as much as I feel pressure to try to post often enough to maintain interest which is not great, it may not be as obvious how enjoyable it can be to write when I’m “feeling it”.

As I don’t get much in the way of feedback, the most I can glean is that people are really, really starved for L5R RPG analysis, with a side dish of travel log.  Still, hopefully, there’s enough audience for other things, like how many times is the correct number of times to eat at Steak & Shake in Indianapolis.

I might enjoy reading my own thoughts, but I hope that I also provide something to the audience.  I appreciate the reader, who inspires the writer to actually write.  And, while not the Thanksgiving time of year, I’m grateful that I get to do what I get to do, including struggling to find a Gen Con hotel room.

No promises that I’ll get better at this or even that I won’t beat more dead pegasi, but I’ll endeavor to keep spewing non-unregardable geniusness upon the world.


Forgive And Remember

February 6, 2017

This is my 499th blog post.  I think I have an idea about the next one that makes sense as a milestone post.  But, when it comes to real world, this is more important.

My youngest brother is part of a team Kickstartering something that doesn’t have virtually anything to do with gaming.

Direct link to Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/71323644/somaliland-the-abaarso-story

Link to Facebook post (then click to share): https://www.facebook.com/somalilandfilm/posts/1268242429935727

Expanding educational opportunities and developing the international community is something far more noble than anything I spend my time on.


I did have some thoughts on gaming.

I played three games of Second Edition A Game of Thrones LCG yesterday.  It got me thinking.

But, first, some comments on AGoT card games.  I played the CCG when it was new.  I was amazed at how similar it was structurally to Babylon 5 and looked at the designer credits only to not recognize the names.  Not to say it played anything like B5 or Wheel of Time, but it was e-e-rie.

I hardly played in the next 15 years.  I’ve not read any of A Song of Fire and Ice nor have I watched a complete episode.  Nothing I’ve ever heard enthused me (okay, one thing I’ve heard about the TV series might interest a dude …).

These games were far more comprehensible than anything I had played previously.  In part, that is likely due to each time I play I get more familiar with the strategies.  I think it also helped that I wasn’t just suddenly handed a deck for an impromptu beatdown but knew I would be playing and was handed relatively simple decks (limited card pool).

So, I got to thinking.  Not so much about AGoT.  I got to thinking about decisions.  Yup, decisions, again.  I don’t mean deckbuilding decisions, though I whined about a deck I played not having enough economy and cheap characters.

The impact of decisions on play.  Why do I find games like V:TES and Ultimate Combat! more fun than games like AGoT and L5R (card game)?  Why do I kind of hate Outpost, yet find The Scepter of Zavandor to be like my favorite EuroBG?

Probably for multiple reasons, but it occurred to me that a reason could be that mistakes are far more forgiving in the games I prefer.  Outpost is a game, in my experience, where, if you make one mistake, you are waiting for the game to end.  Defend that province?  Oh, sucks to be your lack of any characters.  Don’t defend that province?  Oh, economic shortfall ruins you.

Can put aside some of these games as not being terribly relevant to hardly anyone.  Let’s bring V:TES into the discussion.  You can lose a game by making a bad decision in the beginning.  You definitely lose games by making bad decisions at the end (by you, I mean, a lot of people and me, or I would have had the first Abominations win and couldn’t have put Conditioning on my personal banned list).  However, because there are so many players and the game isn’t a race (like B5), mistakes often not only go unpunished but provide advantages.  Get Kissed by Ra early on?  Hey, hang out in torpor for a bit and have people gang up on the table threat.

AGoT has always felt like a game where decisions mattered too much.  Not that it’s alone.  Magic makes me feel like decisions matter too much, which might not be the case if you drew more than one card a turn.

I don’t just look to be able to play odd decks (aka forgiving deck construction) but also look to be able to enjoy playing without the pressure of always having to make an optimal decision.  Oh, gee, note why I don’t like chess.  The randomness of card draw with hidden information feed the idea that you aren’t always going to make the correct decision.

Note how this angle on game features ties into how I’m not really that into playing Dragon Dice or CMGs, where there’s a lack of hidden information and the randomness is still calculable.

Branching off into RPGs, why I got so annoyed with Conan d20’s lack of viable character builds is that a poor decision just assigning attributes was crippling.  Meanwhile, the much less rigid [sic!!] character building of L5R has always appealed to me.  Yup, L5R less suicidal character creation than Conan – that’s molybdenumic.  Yes, Stamina 4, Willpower 2, with Intelligence 3, and Spears 4 is probably going to feel masochistic, but you can get out from under this awful by leveling off Earth and “remembering” that you are a Boar who Mai Chongs like mad.  Or, if not a bushi, can find some excuse to Multiple Schools into shugenjahood.

Some people are into the intensity that can come with gaming.  I’m not.  I want to be able to guess what to do and, while that may mean I lose, at least I still have a chance to come from 25 points down in the second half while not having shown the ability to stop the run.


Nordliga Riter

January 26, 2017
Day The First

Day The First

Got back from Stockholm yesterday Monday.

Shout out to Henrik who made the trip so much better by providing a local’s milieu.  Was at his friend’s birthday party Friday night and told people “I’ve only been here 1.5 days, but it’s been an amazing trip already”, which made me realize I had only been there 1.5 days and it felt like 3 days with all of the sightseeing I did the day I arrived and Friday during the day.

From Gamla Stan to ...

From Gamla Stan to …

I used both my phone and my camera.  Phone often takes better pictures for me to look at.  Camera seems to do broader shots well.  Many of the phone photos were to send to coworkers, which is why all of the food photos are sitting on my phone.

... To Södra Djurgården

… To Södra Djurgården

Friday night was Henrik’s friend’s birthday party, which had many folks appear over the course of the eve.  His friends were quite nice to this tourist and conversations that included book publishing (fantasy/horror), boardgames, politics, criminal justice, Egypt, and … wax?? … and who the hell I was since I had only met Henrik the day before occurred.

Of course, the reason this trip ended up happening is because I looked at the V:TES tournament calendar and saw that there was a tournament on the 21st.  So, I get up and look outside my window to the cemetery across the street, as is standard operating procedure when going to Sweden in the Winter.

Morning Vista

Morning Vista

And, off to Kungsholmen to hit the Lair of Dragon’s.

Some building that wasn't the game store ..

Some building that wasn’t the game store ..

Once enlaired, V:TES was played and we can move into something about … wait for it … gam-ing.

*sigh*  The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

*sigh* The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

But, before talking about gam-ing, let me talk about nuts.  Nuts for the nutty.  I took nut bars, peanut bars, pistachios (gift), macadamia nuts (was going to be a gift), and pecans to Scandinavia.  That was not optimal.  Nut (and peanut) allergy concerns are rather high – I’m seeing a day when eventually nutlike drupes/legumes/seeds will not even be allowed in public places.  On the flight back, I think it was the pilot who asked everyone to not eat any nuts due to someone’s severe allergies.  Well, whatever, 10.5 hour flight without food is quite drupey.

Fourteen players (one drop after round 2), 3+F.  I have phone photos proving I took a fan and used it while on every one of my Winter vacations in Sverige.  Remember kids, take antihistamines and take a fan.  Speaking of life saving devices or something approximating such, Henrik helped me find a beanie on my first day and I now understand why people wear them – people have ears and Greenland hasn’t become the hot new housing market yet.

Round 1:

Ian (Ishtarri Bamba) -> Michael (Kiasyd SB) -> Randal (Nakhthorheb Eternals SB) -> Peter (fat FoS with votes) -> Jonas (Sticklike Mennish)

Peter calls a Reckless Agitation doing one to me.  Peter doesn’t survive much longer.  Not sure why Jonas didn’t try to burn out stealth with Eyes of Argus, but his mostly bleeding didn’t do much for either of us, as he was choked on combat and losing pool was unhealthy for my endgame prospects.

Michael did bring out a lot of dudes as I did little forward.  He went to 2 pool as so many of my prey do for reasons that escape me.  He damaged Randy to a degree but not enough.  I considered later that maybe I try to survive one more round and let him go all forward on the non-bouncing Settites so that my endgame is easier, but I took my one VP under the philosophy that I could use more pool and that it was early in the tournament.  The latter is possibly a bad way to think.  I don’t play much in the way of 3+Fs, so I haven’t figured out whether to pluck low hanging fruit or go big, early.

I also kind of sucked at playing, forgetting my own Perfectionists repeatedly, not even realizing I played DI on my own turn due to Randy’s Enkil Cog bleed, not managing priority to where I take my 5 bleed and get the edge back before ending my turn.

Round 2:

Eric [Erik?] (Aus/Tha/Vic that’s all the rage these days, only more fighty) -> Kim (Kiasyd) -> Ian -> Ivan (Goratrix and friends wall) -> Eric [Erik?] (Matasuntha Anarch)

Where the first round, I got out Blood Dolls and Vessels to pretend I had a chance in the endgame against being bled for 7 a turn or whatever, I played a Tribute to the Master this round.  Not playing in NoCal, where that would mean a timeout with my surviving to the end.  I only survived to around the one hour mark with the only bleed deck behind me and three wall decks in front of me.

Matasuntha got Amaranthed by prey.  I took a shot at bleeding for 3 when Ivan was at 3 and he bounced with his Pentexed Goratrix.  Sha-Ennu Eric killed Matasuntha Eric with Ancient Influence.  He later killed Kim and Ivan with Reins of Power when Ivan had no ready minions.

Inauspicious.  I figured 2.5 VPs might get me to the finals, as I knew Ivan was leaving and he had a first round GW.  Had to play for 2 VPs in the third round, at a minimum.

Round 3:

Eric (Matasuntha above) -> Randal -> Eric [don’t think Erik] (!Gangrel intercept bleed) -> Ian

So, V:TES, I hear from people who know something about the game, is like a game that is played with a massive number of participants.  Sometimes 17 (which I will not do again).  Sometimes less.  Only the nutty play mano a mano.

Yet, consider.  Going into the tournament, Randal and I had 13 tournament wins apiece (my recent advancement led to this tie).  I was in the endgame against him in round 1.  Spoiler alert – I was in the endgame against him in round 3.  (He blew through Eric even with Eric having Marked Territory, Abbot, whatever.)

One might almost say … one who is quite full of his beanie and French jacket bought in Shanghai … that the entire tournament was simply a duel to the undeath between 14% of the participants.

On the L-eft, L-oser.  On the R-ight, R-enniw.  Uh, I mean, winne-R.

On the L-eft, L-oser. On the R-ight, R-enniw. Uh, I mean, winne-R.

I had seven masters in my hand of nine cards in the endgame.  Yet again, trying to bloat wide didn’t actually wide or bloat.  Though, to be fair, if I wanted better consistency, I should have had more focus or more cycle.

Two VPs weren’t going to surpass five players who had GWs.  I know, shocking.

Finals:

Randy did not get ousted.  He ousted some folks.  At some point, (assumedly) I will show 13 tournament wins and he will show 14.  It’s like all I do is hand victories to better players.  Well, it’s good to have a goal in life.

Pickup:

My only pickup.  I lent a deck to my prey.

Eric (Khazar’s) -> Henrik (Ahrimanes) -> Michael (tournament deck) -> Ian (Hermana Mayor w/ Dominate) -> Eric (… um … this is tough, see below)

This was a pretty terrible game, with neither Eric doing anything productive.  However, my prey immediately mastered my deck.  Matthias burns Vial of Elder Vitae for Thaumaturgy and plays Magic of the Smith to get … wait for it … wait for it … Vial of Elder Vitae.  Freak Drive.  Burn Vial of Elder Vitae for Temporis and play Summon History.  Use Mirror Walk!! for stealth to get Ankara.  Yup, he almost saw the light.  Needed to bring out Marie Faucigny second rather than a second Salubri.

Henrik controlled some and tooled up.  Michael did try some bleeds.

I called Randy over to look at my hand.  Standard Blood Sister hand of Oppugnant Night and, em, three Deflections and, er, three Poison Pills.

Store closed after I had 2 VPs and bounced Michael’s final bleed.  I did Disarm Howler and a Salubri.

If only I could have shown the Norra a glimpse of my metagame, but, no, boring old Mayor Bounce and lending out the banal Salubri Vial Summon History deck.  Well, another time.

We got Eritrean food for dinner, which was much more affordable than my forays into Swedish food restaurants (aka touristy places) or even the pub with the waitress from Toronto.  Then, a drinking establishment for me to get a second Zingo.  My first Zingo was upon Freya’s Day, when 3+ hours of walking left me weak and Zingo-wanting.  The first Zingo was far more pleasing, which I’m sure had everything to do with the vintage and not my having spent much of the light of a Winter’s day walking the circumference of an island.

Sunday was Långholmen day.  So, recapping a bit, day one involved Riddarholmen and a stretch of Gamla Stan.  Day two involved Gamla Stan, Södra Djurgården, Beckholmen.  Day three involved Kungsholmen.  Because everyone loves recaps that include information not previously disclosed.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

I was looking for beaches.  Because what else is there to do in Europe in zero degree weather with a negative wind chill?  I had been cold at times during the trip.  Took a little rest at a prince’s pad to get out of the wind and get some sun earlier in the trip.  But, I was both exhausted this day and freezing walking across the longest bridge of any bridge ever … that I walked across in Stockholm.

I found two spots that could kind of seem like beaches including where the husky sat on my foot while I scratched it.

I was not much for more touristing, but Henrik kept telling me I should try semla, so I hopped the tube to Gamla Stan only to have my target place be closed and a cafe not carry it.  Had Princess Cake just to do something.

Oh, should probably mention that I never had my Thursday pea soup and pancakes, but I had meatballs (not at Ikea), fläskschnitzel cordon bleu, fishy butter, various breads including tortillalike polar bread, black currant juice, hallon juice, deer sausage (along with lamb sausage and bear’s garlic sausage), and near the end of the trip moose, reindeer, cheese pie, and … semla.

What about gaming?!?

Oh, yes, played Hero Realms for the first time and lost to Henrik.  Lost a Star Realms Colony Wars game to him, as well.  Beat him at two-player Magic Commander, so I wasn’t entirely embarrassing on the trip gam-ing-wise.

Think that was it for gaming.  Talked about V:TES, of course.  Talked briefly about the Traveller Card Game.  Other than superultrarareworthnearinfinitekronor playmat samples, I couldn’t fit much in my lack of checked bags to demo with.  Talked more Babylon 5 CCG than Ultimate Combat! CCG.

Monday was leaving day, but, before leaving, Hagaparken.

Gloomier, eh?

Gloomier, eh?

Not as cold as I was not staying near the water nearly as much as on previous days.

Walked to the train station, off to Märsta and airport.

I could speak of the weirdness of ATMs in Stockholm, where I don’t really need more money leaving the country than entering it, nor do I need a ton of cash at a grocery store, except I lived off of cash because I think it was my optimal rate over going credit card fees.

Everything is close together.  I could walk islands in .5-3.5 hours.  Waterways everywhere.  Nice crunchy snow.  Everyone put up with the monolingual tourist by communicating in a shared language.  Old world feel that I get at times in places like Cairo or parts of China I haven’t been to since the mid ’80s and maybe elsewhere.

Was an amazing trip and a fantastic place to visit.  I want to hit the archipelago and get some kayaking in next time … because there really ought to be a next time.  Maybe I’ll crush in the rematch, too, you know, with Vials of Elder Vitae or whatever.  Forgot something gam-ing related – I was totally expecting votes and only saw one vote the entire Saturday.


Sing Or Singe

December 26, 2016

I haven’t been doing a lot of normal gaming recently.  Did play Shadowfist not last Thursday but the Thursday before, played one long four-player game followed by a short, unsatisfying four-player game.

Besides whatever comes up for the Traveller Card Game, I’ve been rereading Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series.

One thing I notice is that when I go back to read books I haven’t read in a long time or more than once I often come away with differing views, often less enthused.

The Spellsinger series doesn’t fall into that category.  I’ve read most of the books many times in the last 30 years.  There are parts I don’t feel quite the same about, and one of the things that’s more frustrating than it would have been in the ’80s is how certain supporting characters will never reappear.  I don’t think I’m going to go read fan fiction about Roseroar and Folly.  The series still comes across as quality.

Interestingly, perhaps, I started rereading the series after reading Into the Out Of again.  My focus certainly shifted from the adventure and the supernatural to the descriptions of Africa.  I was thinking of this book, specifically, because one of my brothers was born in Nigeria and later worked for several years in Somaliland and I think of getting him Christmas presents that relate to the continent as the rest of us don’t have as strong a connection, even if the other siblings went to school in Cairo for a while.

Oh, by the way, it just occurred to me to market for the school.

Abaarso

My brother Harry has been working on a documentary about it.

So, everything I recall reading by Alan Dean Foster, who has done a bunch of movie adaptions, is something I still appreciate.  Moving on.

I was thinking of writing about V:TES.  I haven’t been playing, but it has become more relevant to me for a few reasons.  For one thing, we have two tournaments on January 7th I need to build decks for.  For another, I really want to hit a European Championships in my life and think I could swing going to Berlin in 2017.  I’d be more inclined if someone else was interested in traveling with me.  On the other hand, could make it a family trip and hit some other Eurolocales only taking up a few days to travel the world to play cards.

Two themes presented themselves.  I must admit neither feels compelling to me.  One was to talk about power in the game.  That just seems kind of similar to previous posts where I try to get away from my habit of eschewing power and talk about good stuff.  The other theme is on the other extreme of this axis where I thought about talking about my experiences trying to come up with decks that use my latest banned list.

I looked back at my post about what I’ve won with and haven’t won with from a crypt standpoint and started mentally putting together my crypt banned list.  I really need to write this stuff down.  Currently, all Gangrel, all Malks, all Nos, all Lasombra, all !Ventrue, all Giovanni are banned, though some aren’t “officially” banned so much as it amuses me endlessly that the only Gangrel I’ve ever had in a winning deck is Stanislava in a deck whose only discipline was Presence.

My “No Decisions” deck will just have to run !Gangrel and whoever to get the necessary all Protean crypt.  The big problem with playing the deck is that it forces me to unban Earth Meld, plus it could be intensely uninteresting to play.

Because I’ve yet again had someone’s collection dumped on me, I’ve been looking through cards and come up with amusing ideas, especially with clan hosers, however clan hosers is such a sketchy thing to go with even with steal/Clan Impersonation awesomeness.

Then, there’s Heroes of Rokugan 4, which we have plans to actually play.  I know, weird, eh?  Will all my plans work out or come to naught?  I’m now trying to put together a couple of tables at the last minute to avoid a problem.

Can talk about HoR4 later, when I actually play.  I just don’t have enough give a damn to get into analyzing the favor system when it has yet to matter to me, for instance.

V:TES.  Trying to see it get a kick back into production.  There are a few things I miss.  Some people – my holiday email list reminds me of how long it has been since I’ve seen some folks I’m fond of.  Badminton, on rare occasions shooting hoops on a cold day – I actually didn’t go out on Christmas and do just that like I have on a number of other occasions.  B5 and WoT and UC! are all CCGs that I only really miss when I see the cards.  At some point, V:TES is going to be like that, but it’s still something I miss when I don’t play.  Goes to show how much it has been a feature of the last 20 years.

There are so many decks I haven’t gotten to even with my massive personal restrictions.  Blood Brothers with no Sanguinus cards.  Gargoyles with Serpentis.  Winnie Daimoinon.  And, that’s just the tournament decks.  In casual play, with my banned list no longer in effect, can break out weird stuff.

The Traveller Card Game is not intended to be a substitute for a CCG like V:TES.  Yet, it still has the deckbuilding aspect.  Deckbuilding is just so fascinating.

Does this post have a point?

Maybe so.

Maybe it’s about the wonders of imagination.

While it’s on my bucket list to write a fantasy novel, though, really, I should try my hand at short stories first as I think they would suit me better, reading ADF’s books both inspires ideas and reminds me that executing on ideas is work.

It’s so much easier for me to build decks.  Pick a card.  Any Eyes of the Dead card you want.  You know my mummy is going to block you from eating my Faithful Servanted torporized dudes.  Okay, even I can’t get that excited by that idea.

Form of the Serpent.  Once upon a time, this was a key card to me, as Serpentis had limited options but also because Immortal Grapple was the bane of my Majesty filled world.  It’s hard for me to get that excited by it, now, but that just means you have to spend more thought.  Sure, I maybe am wrecking an opportunity to get back to the long abandoned “Card of the Weak” series, but here goes.

I have Thaumaturgy and Serpentis.  I know it’s probably some dumb Treaty of Laibach deck but hopefully not.  I need to stealth my Conditionings through because this is not a tournament deck.  I also need to maneuver to Flames of the Netherworld someone.  Or, hey, maybe run Burst of Sunlight with Skin of the Adder and can beat at close or long.  Potence/Serpentis for Thrown Sewer Lids or whatever – I’ve never bothered with a Typhonic Beast deck, to my recollection, just not my style, so close beats with stealth for … profit.

Nightstick taunts me.  Has to be a Black Cat or the like deck so that you don’t just murder yourself with pool loss, of course.

I haven’t made good use of the post’s title.  Where’s the Singe?  Flames of the Netherworld is too easy, Burst of Sunlight and Ignore the Searing Flames at DAI are more relevant.

While I’ve built Body of Sun decks (… deck?), I have a lot more than I once did.  There has to be more to do with it than, uh, practically nothing as someone just dodges or combat ends or whatever.  Sure, there’s the Temptation/Body of Sun/graft Protean skill cards deck I haven’t gotten around to, but that’s so much like the Temptation/Mummify deck or whatever that seems more appealing because Mummify has multiple “uses”.

AUS/Ser is such a common build.  Dom/Ser is actually not something I do a ton of.  Group 3/4, but how do I leverage going to torpor myself?  The Faithful Servant thing is such a hassle and easily defeated by someone rescuing you.  Grafting Animalism when already adding Dominate skill cards is just too too much.  As is grafting Fortitude.

Waters of Duat plus Carver’s to have my dorks abuse Mummify?

Imagination.  There’s a reason I play the games I do.

Probably not a good aside to throw in 1400 words into a meandering post, but has it ever occurred to people that the reason CCGs and RPGs interest me so much more than boardgames is because there’s so much more capacity for using one’s imagination, including when you aren’t playing the game?

Too late to be a Christmas present for those who celebrate on the 25th (and use the most common calendar), but, hey, want to make the world a better place?  Go play more customizable card games and RPGs, maybe even a game based on … Traveller … and add enormically* to the use of imagination.

*  Enormical was spewed upon thee in my Multiplay post.  I now introduce this word to something of the world as a reward that doesn’t even require funding.


North Orléans

November 14, 2016

So, wedding Saturday took a few hundred people to Leesburg.  Very nice wedding.  I know, this sounds like a strange way to articulate one’s perspectives when it’s the first marriage for any of my father’s children, but this is not the place for meaningful thoughts.

I did consider how the intersections of people in real world environments can be a model for RPG campaign world building complexity, but I don’t know where to go with this that isn’t obvious.

I happen to know people besides family and friends of family in the DC area.  Whether it’s V:TES, B5, friends of Dave’s, HoR, there are just people I could game with.

So, I gamed with some.  The remnants of the V:TESers gathered to play a couple of boardgames.

Orléans

I quite enjoyed the way this plays.  I don’t know if it’s balanced, more balanced using the expansion that sets events, which we used, or how the base game/other scenarios play.

While I never understood why Precedence thought Sack Armies was a good idea for a collectible variant from CCGs, I’m okay with games where you draw from a bag.  I think I made some terrible plays and ended up in second, where it wasn’t all that close.  Does that mean the game is hard to figure out?  The game is more forgiving than it seems?

The disparity in results is concerning.  I just find boardgames where players end up far apart even when they aren’t far apart in skill to be problematic.

But, the forming of worker sets was fine.  There were a variety of things to do.  I was the wool master, Baron von Wool.

I’d certainly go for a replay and see if actually understanding what you are doing makes it better or worse.

Shipwrights of the North Sea

You make viking ships.  You draft cards.

I was not as pleased with this game.  The interactions in the game felt distant and griefy at best.  The way you can know that you are going to lose and maybe another element gave me a Settlersesque experience.  I don’t hate on Settlers like a lot of people do, but it’s not something to be looking forward to.

The card play and actions just weren’t all that compelling.  It was okay.  But, I’d have serious concerns about replay experiences being any more interesting.  Part of it is that the cards are often really dull.  Sage just seems awful.  Gaining one resource compared to two or three gold compared to five is a case of clear lack of elegance in that other games often provide weaker effects that are attractive in other ways.

Not much else.  At the bowling alley, bowled rather than play any arcade stuff.  Solitaire when traveling, of course.

As social circles expand (not that some of these folks even know I’m capable of speech given my social peculiarities), maybe try to visit more often, which isn’t likely to rekindle V:TES play but may lead to something else, something exciting and new or dull and old, whatever.

Shadowfist Accessories Kickstarter going into final days.  Pondering what to do about it.