The Best of … 2013

December 31, 2016

I almost forgot about the need to post my annual look back three years.

Sadly, with my poor timing, I’ll have two posts on the same day, which I feel like doesn’t give the other post enough visibility.

Here we go, the callouts I want to make from 3 years ago.


Deck Choice

This post is relevant to me now, as I expect to have far fewer tournaments unless V:TES goes back in print, even maybe if it does, as the local, local group has fallen apart, failing to replenish the people who have basically stopped playing.

Chunin Exams

Wow, I was so much more fire style back three years ago.  Maybe I’ll get back some of that gaming passion.  True Dungeon, for the wind style?

Anyway, advancement is … hmmmmm … relevant again.  What I like about this post was I used examples.  Examples are meatriffic.

Review – Book of Earth

Relevant not in that this book was ever relevant to my play but relevant in that most of the 4e books aren’t relevant to my play.  I was mentioning how for our upcoming mod playing trip, I don’t see why I need anything besides the core book and largely don’t even need that, anymore, because I know enough about the game.


Roll With It

If January had lots of “hey, this is still important to me” posts, the beginning of 2013 was very heavy on my challenges being better at GMing.  I tend to not be mechanically inclined as a GM and, in my feeble efforts to promote campaign play, started learning some nonobvious things about how to provide for players.

Kata Analysis

Just because tons of people view my L5R crunch posts doesn’t mean that I should skip over calling some of them out.  Do I, as of today, know everything about 4e kata?  Oh, yeah, totally, I’m the kata king, the master of the maneuvernot, the lord of lechery … wait, ignore that.

I crunched numbers.  When someone crunches RPG numbers, pat them on the head and tell them they are pretty and will make a good homespouse.  After all, how many people even bother?

Of course, it’s still largely opinion.  Not like I crunched numbers on how much +3 ATN will reduce damage in 1000 fights or whatever.

Book of Fire for more exciting kata, Book of Fire.



This sounds like a pretty terrible post … up until the point where I use numbers.  Numbers, the only true way to play RPGs.  There are so many ways to quantify RPG play that I just don’t see done, though maybe I’m just overlooking other people’s contributions to mathing your way to storytelling.

RPG death seems to be a topic I talk a lot about given how infrequently it happens in my games besides the Friday group’s slaughterfest.  Studying death so that it can be managed in a reasonable way, therefore, became an interesting topic to me.


Challenge 4 – Zayyat

I had to pick one of the Challenge posts.  Why?  Because I don’t interact much with my audience and this series actually saw some interaction.  While I may not have come up with brilliant decks, especially given that my inclinations tend towards things other people find difficult to play (e.g. hardly any ousting power), perhaps the series allowed me to share a bit about how I range through different possibilities, mostly coming up with junk, occasionally winning too many tournaments.

This post saw comments, which felt like I was doing a bit more service than sermonizing.



And, so it begins …  Shadowfist, Kickstarter, wait, I was part of five gaming groups back then?  Oh how I need to get out and socialize through the playing of … anything.  I’m part of like one gaming group at the moment, with maybe some potential for a HoR group coalescing.


The Elemental Party

Besides being brilliant comedy and a pure example of all that is right with the world, this post has colored my thinking on characters ever since.  I’m all about exploring the extreme in Ring/Trait.  I’ve done Air 5/Water4/Earth 3/Fire 2/Void 2.  At some point, I’ve got to stop dumping on Water and do a Water 5/whatever build.


Deconstruction 01

Fascinating?  Not likely.  But, I think there’s things I could say that aren’t boring, repetitive, or repetitively boring about deckbuilding, and this was some of them.  Strategic commitment, comrades, strategic commitment.


My Samuraimichi

Play with your magic tsurugi.  Okay, maybe there is more to L5R than this.

Set-tling Matters

I think this is still an interesting subject, the idea that sets can be good when full of bad cards and sets can be bad when full of good cards.

I suppose I could have included my Book of Fire review.  It was very long, thus it must have been awesome.  But, it was Book of Earth where I think began the rantfest on the series being pretty weak.

While my 2016 wasn’t as bad as many other people’s, saw a friend I hadn’t seen in 8 years and close family got married and, oddly, pretty much every major US sports championship was won by the team I wanted to win, I can understand the hope that 2017 is better.  Happy New Year!  Already there on the East Coast and much of the world.


The Best of … 2011

December 31, 2014

That time of year to look back and recall some things I did years ago.  So, looking at the third year of the blog.  As I mentioned in last year’s year end post, I think I’ve given up on picking out best posts and focus more on those posts I think are the most significant.


What makes this significant?  It might have been the first time I really identified that the biggest problem with Magic is that you draw one card a turn.  It brings up how the biggest problem in the CCG world, for me, is that there’s no reason to reinvent Magic, which is what so many CCGs attempt to do.

Super Role

Maybe because this was shorter, it got a lot of comments.  It actually misses all sorts of points I think I cover elsewhere, so it doesn’t feel like all that great a post, but it does address an angle on something rather important.

Level (more than) 1

This is ramblerrific, but it should be the first time I’ve put down my idea that unlocking higher level abilities shouldn’t be unlocking them but stabilizing them.  This may not work well in a number of systems, but I can totally see this with L5R.


This is actually a really important post, though it only partially gets into what can be a very deep topic (in that the issue affects a lot of facets of designing a CCG).  I don’t know if I would have much more to say until the next time I try designing a CCG (there was the one that had a flower faction, helping Earl with his Shadowfist like fantasy game, the one based on a computer game, maybe one or two others).

Off Kilter

Not a great post, but my first analysis of Heroes of Rokugan 3, Spirit of Bushido.  The mods, anyway.


Now, we get into quite the lull in terms of posts I think have much lasting value.  There’s a bit of stuff, but where the beginning of 2011 was superslow in terms of V:TES, we ended up having our largest event locally in the Summer, and I started posting a lot more session writeups.

In general, I think the blog started slowing down in 2011, but I also see a lot more comments, probably because my readers were more focused on V:TES and Andy started following the blog more, so he made more comments.


Review – The Great Clans

My first 4e L5R review.  One thing about this blog is that my L5R posts are really much more popular.  In many ways, my V:TES experiences aren’t all that applicable to others, other than locals.  But, my L5R experiences might be much more relevant.  And, people don’t really tend to do good analysis of RPGs.  Oh, they do intense and painful analyses of aspects of RPGs, like how much time people spend going over builds for Iaijutsu duels for L5R (a largely irrelevant exercise), and I’m sure there’s plenty of D&D build analysis.

But, has anyone else ever talked about party combat tactics?  I don’t recall seeing it.  I recall people saying that shugenja aren’t broken, which means they don’t seem all that familiar with L5R 4e combat.  I constantly see people do incredibly stupid things in combat, myself included – I’m a strategist more than a tactician and realize my mistakes too late.  Remember Knockdown is a maneuver!  Remember!

I also, not with terribly rigorous data analysis but still with a lot of opinion, put forth some pretty uncommon opinions.  Sure, a lot of people realize Mirumoto Bushi is a suck school in 4e, but a lot don’t.  Kakita Bushi gets nowhere near as much hate as it deserves for sucking as a bushi, but, then, people love dueling, even when it hardly ever happens … I asked, I’ve yet to hear anyone ever say dueling was a common activity in their play.  Suzume Bushi is much better than the latter and much better than the former … at combat … except for when you are at SR-3 (well, Mirumoto spell affecting ability is hard to rate, but since they don’t get a combat ability at SR-2 and don’t get a damage bonus at SR-1, still pretty safe to state).

I don’t think it’s so much agreeing with my analysis.  I think it’s just seeing an analysis.  After all, arguing about things is why top 10 lists exist.

Lore: Doors & Knowledge: Architecture

While I don’t think L5R folks take my tier system for skills seriously, I do.  I use these articles as a basis for many thoughts around L5R 4e skills (if I played other systems more often, e.g. played Conan more recently, it would be a basis for other whining about how RPGs like to have too many skills).


Someone from a nongaming part of my life said they would read my blog more if it were more personal.  One can see how, at a certain point, I got more personal about stuff.  This post embraces a self-analytical aspect to my personality and my quest to understand inward-looking.  I get into what it is I look for in RPGs in other posts, but this is a shot at trying to distill what it is I liked most about various CCGs.

Study In Strength

I see this post being worth mentioning not for itself, as it’s not a particularly important topic but for the sort of articles that players could do for the CCGs I play (not a very long list at the time, doubled when I started playing Shadowfist).


This post both addresses some of my problems with trying to create a coherent superhero RPG world while also getting into a rare case of my going out of gaming into a potentially controversial topic, though I’m all about keeping my controversies in this blog in the realm of gaming – shugenja are gods, katana suck, Enkidu sucks, etc. – so it’s more an observation that has some minor impact on my gaming.

Playgroup Cohesion

Short!!  To the point!!  Unbelievably important IMO.  So, so very much can be explained when you get into personality differences within a playgroup.

Recent Winners 2010/2011

There’s nothing special here, so why call out this post?  Because I didn’t do one of these this year.  Goes to show how it feels like V:TES is sinking into torpor.


For a year that wasn’t very strong on my part, even getting kind of thin where I posted some Wheel of Time CCG playtest reports, I did manage to pull out 13 posts that I think deserve a bit of callout.  Playgroup Cohesion is by far the most important.  Enjoy? and Ramp-le would be next on my list.