[Classic] T-H Rating [3/27/2000]

July 4, 2018

I’m amazed I never bothered to hunt down the infamous … er … insidery … er … virtually unknown outside of a few B5 CCG folks T-H Rating questions.  This is why I hold on so preciously to my AOL personal filing cabinet – I can spew geniusness from yesterdecades upon my devoted readers (shout out Estonia).

T-H Rating, aka TH Rating, aka Turku-Helsinki Rating.

If I was to encapsulate my core nature’s essences, my creating T-H Rating in around March of 2000 would exemplify.

This is a crude way to calculate your local TH Rating – an indicator of the type of metagame you will likely find in an environment. Only answer based on tournament play. I would be amused to have someone keep track of this, but this is mainly for your own benefit. The implications of a high or low TH Rating follow the questions.

10 questions:
What percentage of games go to time?
A. 0-10% B. More than 10%.

In general, rate how useful cards are that allow you to use the wrong ability in a conflict – Level, Fleets on the Border, etc.
A. Not useful B. Useful

Does a player care what the other players are doing if the former is winning?
A. No B. Yes

Does anyone play Ill Fated Reverses?
A. Almost never/no B. Yes

If someone else is playing Growth in Chaos and you play against him or her a second time, do you …
A. Laugh at the player’s lame deck/play for second/reserve in Conscriptions B. reserve in all your Shadow hosers

Does anyone ever put Taunts and Games, Level, or NMTB in the opening hand without knowing what someone else’s deck does?
A. No B. Yes

Since the release of Psi Corps, have you seen any player play with Anti-Telepath Virus, Plague, or Strike at the Heart?
A. No B. Yes

Hidden Treasury:
A. Extra cheese for when one of your 3 STGs or 3 TWs gets hit with NMTB or LR B. Protection from Seeds of Anarchy, Ill Fated Reverses, or the like

How many weapons are normally found in a deck?
A. 0-1 B. 2+

Does anyone ever initiate war conflicts?
A. No B. Yes

Each B answer is worth 1 point. Each A answer is worth zero points. If you aren’t sure, count the answer as one half point.

A low TH Rating indicates a noninteractive environment. Speed is very important. Don’t expect help from other players to stop anyone, so if you want to win, try to win quicker.

A high TH Rating indicates a contentious environment. Both brute force and stealth are encouraged. As are table diplomacy and resilience. Try not to make too many enemies.

Again, this is only a crude way to calculate TH Rating. But, it isn’t easy to come up with a meaningful formula, so it is sort of what we are stuck with.

Why did I hunt this down now?  Well, I also am using this pure, physical geniusness in an article for Traveller where I talk a bit about “race” games, where I always think of B5 as another race game when I think of how we went with Traveller’s primary win condition of 20+ VPs.  (Well, arguably primary win condition until we see how tournament play goes with respect to bankruptcy decks.)

A game like Magic can be analyzed with some level of metagame predictability due to the large playerbase and quick turn around on stealing tech.  However, even with Magic, there are local metagames to consider.  Maybe Red Deck Wins is good at the moment due to lack of hosers, speed of other top decks, and whatever, but the tournament you are going to play in is full of sad, pathetic haters who don’t realize Magic is most fun when it’s a couple “4 to the dome” after some 2/1 beats followed by the uncounterable X burn spell for the kill.

With niche CCGs like … pretty much all of the games I’ve played seriously, regional metagames are far more extreme.  Turku was about the One-AIR decks:  decks that focused on pushing one ability – Diplomacy, Intrigue, Military, and probably not Leadership or Psi which lacked the same number of influence-gaining conflicts – to gobble influence as quickly as possible.  Helsinki was into interaction and throwing out obstacles to opponents rather than just playing your game.

Now, much of Traveller play is two-player, and “negative plays” in two-player games are not the same as negative plays in multiplayer games.  Still, there are plays in two-player games, especially a race game like Traveller, which are more inclined to pushing your victory condition regardless as to your opponent instead of trying to impede your opponent’s march towards second place.

Anyway, an independent creation from the Wayback Machine on an Independence Day.  Now, to go read some of my RPG books to steal session ideas for RPG play.


[Classic] Summary 4/5 session [4/6/2014]

March 28, 2018

I started running Rokugan 1600 (by running a session set in about 1504).  There are certain things I continue to find odd when I run stuff, but I don’t know if this the time to beat that expired pony.

Instead, let me cover a few things and then post my recap of what happened back when I was having lots of fun playing a bushi with an Awareness of 5.

In our Conan play, Brad would reward session writeups, fictions, bringing food, etc.  This group agrees that this sort of encouragement to write about the campaign or otherwise contribute should be done.  My current idea is to give people Destiny Marks (TM) [uh, sure, the game is out of print …].  These Destiny act as Void Points that can only be spent when a PC is out of Void.  They are one-use in case that wasn’t obvious.  I’m already thinking that I should clarify that they can be used as VPs for any character, including other PCs and NPCs.

Why this mechanic and not, say, a Destiny Mark is worth a Free Raise on a roll or a reroll?

Success versus survival.  L5R is not strong on ways to save your character when the explosions go off.  Typically, it’s the GM who saves you by just not keeping high damage dice.  VPs are a temporary defense through ATN increase or damage reduction that doesn’t break the game like having a 51 ATN in 4e breaks the game.  Meanwhile, FRs on rolls do jack on defense, being “offensive” in nature.  And, I’m pretty tired of rerolls luck and right.

Of course, I could do both, rewarding different contributions in different ways.

Of some possible interest to GMs is that I started this campaign off with a prologue session.  Rokugan 1600 is a sequel of sorts to all sorts of stuff but most directly to Heroes of Rokugan 2.  The first session was March Unto Death, one of the last mods in HoR2 and one that fed into the final battle interactive.  Not only am I a fan of MUD for some interesting mechanics and for incentivizing things I like doing (and, yet, things that my players don’t like doing for some reason that escapes me … let it go, dude … let it go), but it fits the theme of Rokugan 1600 really well with the Crab being screwed, Tattooed Folks getting in the action, et al.

Obviously, the players would not be playing the same characters in the prologue and the main campaign.  The intent was that their PCs in the past would through their actions or inaction or whatever inform some aspect of their real PCs.  For instance, a simple way to go would be that the past PC would be the ancestor to the 1600 PC.  But, all sorts of things could have been possible.  I thought it went okay, where a group more comfortable with the idea could get more out of such narrative tricks.

More to come on 1600, but let’s get to why this is a classic post.  I was trying to find a description of a Bayushi NPC from the Princess Police when I came across this session recap:

**     **     **     **     **

Players: Michele, Jackie, Ian

Because we had only the three players, it was a question whether to do some personal social stuff or reconvene 4/12. With Michele/Izumi enthusiastic about helping Shosuro Nanami get ball-and-chained, we were off.

According to Izumi, Nanami wanted Isawa Masusuke to breed with Hiruma Masami (rather than her), and Izumi thought Nanami and Seppun Nana would make a cute couple. To promote Nanami for tying the knot with the Emperor’s youngest son, Izumi went to the Lion Champion and called him out for ducking the far superior go player, Nanami. Kidai was hanging around some imperial types and marketed the match, which got the ole Compassionate One to witness this friendly between the Lion and the Scorpion. Nanami beat Akodo Kurojin 32 to 29 and Mirumoto Tomo backed up the carrot gallery’s comment about wondering what other hidden talents Nanami possessed.

Next up was showing off Nanami’s samisen skill. No, the rock duet with Bengi didn’t happen, but there was a tea party to reflect upon the ending of Winter and more Amaterasuish days ahead. Hantei got invited and knowing that it was the place to be for all of the cool folks, they showed up. Daniwa did the tea thing with a bunch of Hantei, the Master of Fire, and some other folks watching. Nanami nailed the muzak. End result? Nanami has some momentum for locking up Nana.

To get the two swimsuit models to notice each other, Kidai made a call out for models to help him work on painting humanoids. In a shocking coincidence, Masusuke and Masami happened to be at the same session and it was noted by someone how smoking hot their kids would end up being. A bit of work on the Crab and Phoenix followed up on the “pretty people deserve the pain that comes with being together” concept. End result? Progress but unknown how much.

Crab and Phoenix were kind of inclined to be helpful as the EC got this Hare-raising idea to create a special maho-hating taskforce within the Emerald Magistrates. The idea to call them Diamond Magistrates (PR move to make Unicorn happy) went over less well. Well, whether they get called Pearl Magistrates, Opal Magistrates, Crystal Magistrates, or whatever, who cares? The important thing was opening up some positions well-suited to Crab and Phoenix (also, maybe it gets Yasumi and Izumi and maybe even us nobodies a promotion). Now, the Phoenix were already right-thinking, but the Crab were persuaded to think about how suitable Bayushi Saya would be as 1st Imperial Legion Commander, seeing as how so many Crab would be busy being imperial magistrates. If someone could have come up with a good angle for getting the Unicorn to abandon Yoshi and go with Saya, that would have locked things up for Team Floppy Arthropods. But, Kidai needed some “nap” time.

We were done in a bit less than 3 hours.

[Classic] V:TES Poll Talk [2/27/2016]

February 27, 2016

An instant classic sent to our local V:TES list.  Oh, did I not mention that VEKN.NET has a poll on the future of Vampire: The Eternal Struggle?  I haven’t mentioned a bunch of things, like my Kickstarter backings recently.  Anyway.

**   **  **  **  **

As I said on the forums, I don’t see the point of a VTESlike game that isn’t V:TES.

For all of the grief that CCGs get, including V:TES, V:TES is actually a good game.  CCGs are a bitch to design and to expand and to manage.  Magic may have hit on some cheat codes in that set rotation is a way to deal with mechanics bloat, plus having enough design and development resources to actually make the game work.  But, a lot of CCGs either started off less playable or became less playable when they expanded.

Keep in mind that you can actually change some of the core rules and have the same game.  Transfers can work differently, for instance, without removing the ability to play Undead Strength.  You couldn’t remove the idea of superior disciplines or the idea that you have ranges/strikes.

Is combat a mess?  Sure.  Additional strikes are confusing as hell.  But, remove “as about to enter combat” effects like Obedience and that reduces a step, remove a host of prerange cards and people can probably live with Carrion Crows and Torn Signpost without losing their minds, remove Immortal Grapple timing, Aim cards, first strike, Rotschreck, and this thing we like to call combat ends … and who knows?

I said on the forums that one reason I’d make most of the currently playable card pool unplayable in an overhaul is because I’ve played some games in the last year that had that old, Jyhad feel to them.  People liked playing Jyhad.  A fair number, by anecdotal “evidence”, stopped liking the game when it stopped feeling like Jyhad.

It’s amazing, but I still really enjoy playing V:TES.  But, in numerous ways, I’m an exception as I don’t stop playing the games I play, no matter what I may think of them, until the fellow players are gone.

I can see enjoy playing a Jyhadlike game more than current V:TES, though.  Jyhad was so much faster, so much more straightforward.  I realize it was also much more broken.  Weenies, fewer bleed defense options catering to an even more Dominated environment than currently exists, combat ends being a huge combat problem which was why Potence was so much more common are all elements that just rewinding the clock is not going to fix.

Oliver points out something that came up when we were talking about what to do for Brett’s demo decks at the con.  The discipline mixes in the game are horrendously out of balance.  This means either forcing Dominate on whatever clan that doesn’t have it, playing very very narrow archetypes, relying on P/J cards to not die, or the like.

Speaking of demo decks, other than the Toreador and Tremere, I kind of see problems with all of the Camarilla Clans in a teaching environment.  Brujah – can’t defend pool.  Gangrel – can build toolbox, but there’s no variety to the build.  Malks – too easy to just bleed and ignore everything else.  Nosferatu – midcaps don’t really do anything useful for you without Deep Song.  Ventrue – I bleed, I vote, I bounce, I combat ends, but I don’t intercept because Second Tradition in a demo deck is weird and because I bleed, I vote, I bounce, I combat ends.  Toreador have that mix of bleed, vote, combat, intercept without jumping through a bunch of hoops that shows off a balanced game.  Tremere don’t have the voting prowess, but they bring an interesting combat element to a basic game where people don’t just combat ends or first round murder you.

Anyway, getting back to discipline combinations.  Other than disciplineless Deflection for 5+ caps, just making Celerity and Potence do more out of your early sets would help immensely.  Sure, Celerity now is kind of interesting with Resist Earth’s Grasp, but that’s a recent phenomenon.  Potence still suffers from blah.  Spoils of War is the sort of card that addressed a problem with how some clans just suck because of their disciplines, but it came 15 years later than it should have.

The thing about it is that when you clear out the chaff and the broken stuff (Govern, Conditioning, Voter Cap, Giant’s Blood, etc., etc. etc.), you can rebalance the game to where Malks and !Malks fight without equipment or Protean skill cards.

Will the player base put up with 75% of their collections, their Summon Histories and their Enkil Cogs, being not tournament legal?  Very possibly not.  Can you sell 5000 new players on playing this game about the Camarilla, Sabbat, and a few indie weirdoes that can take more than 75 minutes to play and requires at least three players but is kind of ridiculous with more than five?  I have my doubts.

So, as much as what I want is a better V:TES, I do imagine that the only two things anyone will ever do is continue to bloat the existing game and/or put out “I Paradoxically Rage Your Fae Mummy” as something that hopefully doesn’t even try to pretend it’s related to V:TES.

Cardflopping Like It’s 1999

February 21, 2016

I was going through a box of my stuff in a pathetic attempt to get the house more organized.  Besides some ornamental mementos, there was quite a bit of gaming related stuff from when I was a Precedence Publishing volunteer.

In other words, from 1998 to 2000, the heyday of Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, and Tomb Raider CCGs.

There are so many miscellaneous things in that pile.

gencon ’99 and origins ’99 duty roster [sic]

I’ve only ever been to one Origins in Columbus.  It was because I was so deep in the volunteering thing that I had as my volunteer blocks:  Open Demos, Friday, July 2nd, 12AM-6AM; Open Demos, Saturday, July 3rd, 12AM-6AM; Open Demos, Sunday, July 4th, 12AM-6AM!!

I occasionally need to remind myself just how absurd my life has been, at times.  I worked in San Francisco for a while.  On Van Ness.  Where we had parking!?!  I was doing currency speculation in the ForEx market for a company long gone from that site.  I didn’t have much of a commute when I was getting in at midnight and leaving at 6AM.

Apparently, at some point, the idea of being up in the middle of the night didn’t really bother me.  Oh, how times change.

It doesn’t get any less weird for Gen Con:  Friday, August 6th, 12AM-6AM; Saturday, August 7th, 12AM-6AM; Sunday, August 8th, 12AM-6AM.

While I recognize a bunch of names on the duty roster, there are also a lot of names I don’t recognize.

An email I sent after Origins ’99:

Disgraceful. Sam wins the West Regionals. Mike Calhoon wins the Midwest Regionals. Where were you all at the East and Southeast Regionals?

Origins: the other con. Attendance was probably light due to Dragon Con being the same weekend. I only played in the social tournament. Someone was actually surprised that Adira got up to 11 intrigue. Don’t know much about the constructed. The sealed deck final was one of the longest finals ever. It sounded incredibly amusing with We Can’t Allow Thats flying around. Eventually, the Minbari won?! Just shows you can’t expect everyone to be an expert. Lots more starters given away. Jeff Conaway and Walter Koenig were at the con. Walter was his usual cool self about autographs. The lines were very short because he wasn’t in the booklet. Psi Corps uncut sheets were available for viewing. Nice looking art.

Non-B5, Precedence, Origins stuff: Tomb Raider was on hand for demos. Wheel of Time is still being worked on. The 2nd edition Immortal booklet had suitably eyecatching art on the cover.

Gen Con preview: Walter will be back. He will be joined by Robin Atkin Downes (Byron) and Julie Caitlan Brown (who was born in SF and has been very cool). There will also be the official Lara Croft model. All the Precedence games will get a push, except Gridiron.

Question: Of the B5 stars, who would be most desirable as a Precedence guest at events?

Oh, not much from Gen Con ’99, except one of our local players won US Nationals to qualify to play Worlds in Germany.  I might not crossregionally achieve at my CCGs, but there’s an argument I can make others better.

I found articles written by a couple of Babylon 5 players.  Mike was local.  I have his “The Fine Art of Murder:  Winning With the Narn Seizing Advantage Deck” article.  I have Merric’s “Understanding the Vorlons”, “Delenn Transformed and Ambassador Kosh”, “Winning with Diplomacy”, and other articles.


Well, at some point, I was an editor for a B5 CCG site.  I didn’t try to edit Merric’s content too much, as one of the things with niche CCGs is that metagames are very different, plus he was writing to the beginner player, not for someone like me.  A virtual pro, briefly ranked in the top 10 in the world before being crushed by serious players at the first Worlds.  (Of the three CCGs I have been ranked in the top 10 in the world, … ah, nobody cares.)

Anyway, the main criticism I’d have of Merric’s articles is that his starting hands are so not what the metagame was like at that point.  His starting hand choices were the sort of thing you’d see before Shadows only using cards printed long after.  They would have been like 3 turns too slow, lacking starting agenda and influence gainers (Corporate Connections, Airlock Mishap) to accelerate to “let’s actually play the game” time around turn 5.  What is the point of my bringing this up?  Maybe I should do a post on B5 deck construction that is pretty useless to pritnear everyone.

I have draft versions of the Tomb Raider and Wheel of Time Rulebooks.  I could go into this in more depth some other time, though why anyone would care is a good question.  But, the single most memorable thing to me about the WoT Rulebook is what a total pain in the ass it is to put into writing how damage works at reducing abilities.  It’s just so ambiguous in the English language unless you word it right, yet it’s the easiest thing to show someone.  I could see how Shadowfist words damage and attributes, as it works like that.

I had a bunch of printouts for playtesting B5, TR, WoT.  Was starting to toss them into recycle when I came across some for WoT and realized that they were for the unreleased Aes Sedai set.  I don’t know where the files are for these playtest sheets, but I gots to reveal to the world the ancient mystery foretold by the prophecy and suppressed by the Illuminites.  I mean, has anyone else who knew anything about the unpublished WoT CCG set ever provided any info on it?  I don’t even recall much, as I think we were very early in playtesting for it and/or were playtesting other things at the same time such that it wasn’t as much of a priority.  Well, and I was designing for B5 at that point.

I have a shocking number of tournament forms from B5 tournaments between 1998-2000.  Again, the game wasn’t actually around that long.  The intensity of my engagement made up for the brevity of it all.

I have Zeta Squadron/Legends membership newsletters.  Looks like I only ever was ranked in B5 in one of them.

I tossed some checklists where I noted how many copies of cards I got.  I have promotional brochures.

Just a very different experience than my current one, yet, it’s entirely possible that someone else is currently in that kind of world.

I certainly miss things from those days, though I could be so involved because I wasn’t as employed, so I certainly don’t want to go back to that sort of thing.  Even if CCGs make money, that doesn’t translate into big bucks for people.

Should I rummage through and find my signed, embossed B5 cards and stare wistfully at the stars?  Probably not.  But, maybe, I’ll go hunt down some emails from those days and look to post more antediluvian mysteries.

However, next up in my plans is to talk about NPCs, maybe get into some !Nosferatu decks.  Who knows?  Some day, I might even get back to posting something about the L5R RPG, since that’s mostly what people read about on my blog.  Actually, I tried finding out some info about the Saturday campaign and it doesn’t look like I’ll get anything more, so I have something I’ve been thinking of posting from that campaign, even though it won’t help anyone to build better characters, murder enemies faster, et al.  Does tie into talking about NPCs, though …

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

March 19, 2015

Sent to local list. I found this while looking through files in my V:TES folder because of the storyline.

* * *

I don’t get to do this for articles anymore, but I was in the mood to opine, so here are my ratings of the new vamps.

*         Suck
**       Normal, mediocre
***     Good
****   Great
***** Best in game

#01: Clifton Derrik [TR:V]
Clan: Brujah
Group: 4
Capacity: 2
Discipline: cel

** Typical weenie.

#02: Jack Drake [TR:V]
Cardtype: Vampire
Clan: Brujah
Group: 4
Capacity: 8
Discipline: pre tha CEL POT
Independant. Anarch: When you put a younger vampire in play from your uncontrolled region, that vampire may burn a blood to become anarch. +1 strength.
Artist: Leif Jones

*** An anarch out of the gate who makes anarchs who is a bully and has the Power of One. Not cheap but not crazy expensive either.

#03: Marguerite Foccart [TR:V]
Clan: Brujah
Group: 4
Capacity: 6
Discipline: aus pot PRE CEL
Camarilla. Marguerite gets +1 intercept vs. political actions.

** Interesting crossover discipline spread and nontrivial special but not bouncy enough.

#04: Anarch Convert [TR:V]
Clan: Caitiff
Group: any
Capacity: 1
Discipline: –
Independent. Anarch. When the convert enters play, you may remove him from the game to make a non-titled vampire you control anarch and either gain 1 pool or draw a card from your crypt.

***** Not Tupdog, not far from Tupdog, usable for any group. In the running as a possible second best crypt card in the game.

#05: Andy [TR:V]
Clan: Caitiff
Group: 4
Capacity: 1
Discipline: for
Camarilla. An older vampire opposing Andy gets one optional press each combat.

* Borderline dork.

#06: Dirk [TR:V]
Clan: Caitiff
Group: 4
Capacity: 1
Discipline: pre
Camarilla. Titled vampires get +1 intercept when attempting to block Dirk.

** Adequate dork.

#07: Calvin Cleaver [TR:V]
Clan: Gangrel
Group: 4
Capacity: 3
Discipline: for pro
Camarilla. Calvin may add a blood to an anarch as a +1 stealth action. Once each turn, an anarch may add a blood to Calvin as a +1 stealth action.

** Usual.

#08: Jacob Fermor [TR:V]
Clan: Gangrel
Group: 4
Capacity: 5
Discipline: ani tha PRO
Independent. While Jacob is ready werewolves you control get +1 bleed. Jacob gets an optional press each combat.

** Good for some things, not so good for others.

#09: T.J. [TR:V]
Clan: Gangrel
Group: 4
Capacity: 3
Discipline: cel for
Independent. T.J. may tap and burn 2 blood to cancel a referendum called by a titled Camarilla vampire.

** Interesting filler.

#10: Antoine, The Lost [TR:V]
Clan: Malkavian
Group: 4
Capacity: 5
Discipline: aus cel dem OBF

** Group 4 is not the hotness for Malk bleeders. Filler if you feel some need to play 4 OBFers or Dem/Obf.

#11: Sean Rycek [TR:V]
Clan: Malkavian
Group: 4
Capacity: 4
Discipline: aus dem
Camarilla. Once each referendum Sean may tap or burn a blood to gain 2 votes. He may burn a boon as a +1 stealth (D) action.

*** Cheap dude with meaningful vote power and a decent clan designation. Would rank higher with other disciplines.

#12: Toby [TR:V]
Clan: Nosferatu
Group: 4
Capacity: 5
Discipline: ani obf pre
Camarilla. Once each action, Toby can burn a blood to give an acting anarch +1 bleed.

*** Hate to give dudes with crappy disciplines love, but the ability is significant and the crappy disciplines include Veil of Legions and Power of One/Undue Influence.

#13: Topaz [TR:V]
Clan: Nosferatu
Group: 4
Capacity: 7
Discipline: ani for qui OBF POT
Camarilla. When Topaz successfully equips from your hand, you may look at your prey`s hand, and Topaz may take an equipment from it instead (discard the original equipment card).

* Love to give dudes with junk disciplines hate. Special is wild and crazy and that means play (in bad decks). Overcosted equipbleeder.

#14: Laecanus [TR:V]
Clan: Toreador
Group: 4
Capacity: 5
Discipline: obt pre CEL
Camarilla. Once each combat, Laecanus may press to end combat. He is immune to frenzy cards.

* Two uses. About two less than a decent dude at this level.

#15: Lin Jun [TR:V]
Clan: Toreador
Group: 4
Capacity: 4
Discipline: aus cel pre tha
Camarilla. If Jun is in torpor, vampires with Thaumaturgy controlled by your predator get +1 bleed.

* Usual in most cases, funny in weird cases, like building around. Unfortunately for LJ, usual of 4 caps with clan inferior is weak unless the disciplines involve Dominate and stealth.

#16: Preston Varrick [TR:V]
Clan: Tremere
Group: 4
Capacity: 7
Discipline: aus nec DOM OBF THA
Camarilla. Preston gets +1 bleed when bleeding a Methuselah who controls a ready ally.

*** Want to give 7 caps who got nothing but disciplines two stars, but I can see Varrick as a solid roleplayer in several decent archetypes.

#17: Tarautas [TR:V]
Clan: Tremere
Group: 4
Capacity: 4
Discipline: aus nec tha
Camarilla. While Tarautas is ready, Blood Doll and Minion Tap cards cost an additional pool.

* My kind of dude … in the RPG. Overcosted dork in the CCG.

#18: Juniper [TR:V]
Clan: Ventrue
Group: 4
Capacity: 6
Discipline: ani dom pre FOR
Camarilla. Juniper may steal an ally controlled by your predator or prey as a +1 stealth (D) action.

* Superannoying special makes up some for a substandard discipline spread but not enough unless the meta is ally ripe.

#19: Louis Fortier [TR:V]
Clan: Ventrue
Group: 4
Capacity: 5
Discipline: aus dom for obf pre

** Hello, my name is “I have the most common disciplines in the game.” But, you can call me “The Filler”.

#20: Reverend Adams (ADV) [TR:V]
Clan: Ventrue
Group: 4
Capacity: 4
Discipline: aus PRE
Camarilla. During your master phase, you may look at the top X cards of your libary, where X is the number of Gehenna cards in play. Older vampires do not tap for successfully blocking Adams.

* I sound so good until you realize my drawback is harsh and that there’s no reason to merge me. I can let you look at the top card of your library, I can also be replaced by any of four other PRE 4 caps in group 4 alone who don’t have meaningful drawbacks.

* * *

Jack Drake is still someone I keep thinking of but have a hard time pulling the cards for. It’s just not clear what I want him to do that I can’t do without him.

Jacob has been a lot more useful than **.

[Classic] Definition of a broken card [8/19/2001]

November 19, 2014

Sent to the Babylon 5 CCG Rangers group, i.e. the volunteers group (not to be confused with the player’s group, the old volunteer’s group, the playtest group, or any of the other groups that got setup up near the turn of the century).

*  *  *

While we are on the subject of errata, I thought that it might be helpful to
share my definition of a broken card with you all.  Here it is:

Any card or card combo that can win consistently in 9 or less turns unless
someone puts a card in their opening hand to stop it.

The main qualm I have with this definition is that there’s nothing wrong with consistently winning within 9 turns if every deck is that fast.  8-10 turn games where everyone has a chance of winning sound real good compared to the current length of many games.  I’m not sure there is a good comprehensive definition.  Some others that I’ve heard include:

Where X is some specific strategy, card, or group of cards, if you must play X or anti-X, X is broken.  This works better in some situations.  Unless you get quite broad in how you use this, I don’t know that it ever applied real well to B5.  For instance, in the first Worlds, OAA would have made a good X, but anti-X wasn’t nearly as clear.

If a strategy still produces excessive wins even when players prepare for it, it’s broken.  This, OTOH, has applied often to B5.  For example, I’ve often seen a searched out Master of Darkness fail to stop GiC.  On a more extreme level, Sheridan mark still could win after It Will Be His Undoing (put in opening hand) got played.

For individual cards, if the card goes into every** deck no matter what the deck’s strategy is, then it’s a candidate for being broken.  A definition that applies well to B5 at times and not so well at other times.  To modify it for B5, would probably have to add “and causes a significant increase in a player’s ability to win”.  Meditation, for instance, is rarely called broken.  Then, there’s a card like Trent.

**  “every” being somewhat open to interpretation.  Every Minbari deck still sounds like a possible problem.  Every Gather Rebels deck doesn’t.

For multiplayer games, if there is a standard of deck strength in terms of how much effort the other players must expend to stop it from winning and a deck significantly exceeds that standard, then the deck is likely broken.  For example, as this is rather abstract, if a standard tournament deck can normally be stopped by one player, assuming the player expends enough effort, and there exists a deck that can only be stopped by multiple players, then the deck is broken.  An extreme would be if all other players did everything possible to stop the deck throughout the game and it still won more often than not, then it is clearly broken.  Decks that come to mind that were above the standard historically would include early CoG, some military decks (depending upon time period).

Of course, if you have statistics, any deck that dominates tournament play is broken.  Broken decks play broken cards as a rule, so there should be some card in the deck that can be pulled out.

“I’m not very tough.  I cry a lot.  And, the tears won’t stop flowing.”

*  *  *

Other than including one of my more memorable sigs, why now brown cow for this post?  I was reading the only B5 CCG blog I know about (given that I haven’t searched for any others), babylon5ccg.blogspot.com

I pulled out my decks box to comment about opening hands.  Two problems with that.  First, most of the decks have slips of paper in them for playtesting one of the CCGs I was designing that never got close to being published.  Second, I had a lot of opening hands that would have undermined my argument, so I don’t know what my comment should be.

Anyway, I started searching my sent email to see if I ever sent my Band of Brothers decklist out.  This was for another blog post idea I had where I’d rehash an old topic – decks that fail to meet a minimum threshold of viability (aka nutpunchers).  I ran across this email.  This is relatively thoughtful compared to many of my emails to the various groups about things B5ish.  I also don’t really have an argument against anything I said 13 years ago.

I also haven’t posted any classics (things I write to places other than here that I copy here, especially anything I wrote prior to starting this blog) for a while.

By the way, something that isn’t broken (per se) is anything I don’t like playing against.  While The Unmasking is broken, it’s not because I hate playing against it, which I do.  It’s because it hits on something this classic doesn’t – certain effects that break basic mechanics of the game are broken.  This is an idiotic definition in that the whole point of CCGs is that cards break the basic mechanics of the game (“OMG, Glancing Blow prevents damage … that’s so broken.”), so you need more stuff in there like “Massive distortion of the game from common play.”, “On a global level and with no real ability to restore the game’s mechanics to the norm.”, or whatever.

[Classic] CQ – Aching Beauty [9/4/2002]

January 24, 2014

Looks like the last constructed tournament report I did in 2002.  Looking at some of the posts I made in 2002, I sure wonder why I thought people cared what I did that didn’t have to do with V:TES.  Fortunately, now, I have a blog, where the whole point is to get off topic and post about things that interest me far more than anyone else.

I guess it’s once again up to me to report on the tournament.

Round 1:
Greg is first with Ventrue/FoS.  Brian Lugo is playing Assamites with Protean.  Jeff is simple FoS bleed/Entice.  Jim – Samedi SB.  I’m playing … *twirls finger* … Gargoyle Presence.

I don’t get Rebekka in my initial crypt draw nor an Effective Management.  Jim questions my comment that I’m going to die.  No way to block, no way to bounce his deck.  No more way to deal with Jeff if Jim dies.  I thought it made sense.  Anyway, Brian can’t stop anything and can’t get into enough combats, but Greg lays off of him for a bit to whomp on Jeff.  Necessary as Jim is getting pounded, then gets ousted.  I somehow find a Rebekka after much Blood Doll based bloat to stall Jim, then Jeff.  I pitch all my combat but hold on to my bleed, so when Greg got down to 6, I went over the top.  Brian couldn’t do anything, so he made no effort to defend his 1 pool.  All that was left was whether Jeff would run out of cards or kill me.  He didn’t quite run out of cards.

Round 2:
I was first.  Randy was playing Sargon supported FoS with Auspex.  Brian third.  Brad had responsible Giovanni bleed.  Gomi – Ravnos toolbox.

Gomi was on the defensive for most of the game.  I bloated wonderfully.  Brian got a better draw and bloated well with some backwards rushes that worked.  Brad bled for 1 a lot.  I tried going forward.  Partial success, but a lot of defense in Randy’s deck kept me from finishing him off for far too long.  Eventually, Brad ousted Gomi.  A big bleed bounced helped me finish off Randy.  Brian was some more work.  By the time it was down to Brad and me, I was pretty much out of cards and Brad had lots of minions/permanents.  Brad Haunting my Club Zombie hurt a lot in the endgame as that was one of my few permanents.  I tried withdrawing.  Didn’t work.  We were low on time, but Brad ousted me with about 10 minutes left.  Totally screwed me not getting the table win.

Seating position was everything, well, for me.  The final just had awful interaction with Jeff and Jim both having decks that did nothing but go forward, Jim being unable to defend at all against Brad’s bleeds, Chris having no way to put pressure on Brad.  I didn’t do jack to Chris knowing that my only chance was to bloat long enough to play for second.  I should be more specific as to why I didn’t do jack to Chris as I knew I couldn’t block Jeff’s bleeds, so it wasn’t like I needed to stay up.  If I actually hurt Chris at all, we’d fight, and any expenditure of resources – losing blood, going to torpor, etc. – on my part dealing with that would have likely hurt my bloating and kill me.  Of course, Jim pounded Jeff, failing to oust because Jeff put Khobar Towers out and started nuking his minions (which I was all in favor of).  Brad would hit Jim a bit.  Chris tooled up.  Brad ousted Jim and complained about how I wasn’t doing anything so left Jeff alive for a while to oust me.  But, Jeff had too few minions left, so I wasn’t threatened.  Eventually, Brad gave up and killed Jeff.  Chris punked some of Brad’s minions, but otherwise, put no pressure.  So, even if I could oust Chris, I figured I had little chance of winning.  So, once Chris was basically out of cards, I had a completely different strategy.  It was a two-fold plan to play for “second”.  By going after Chris, maybe I could oust him as I still had 30 cards or so left to try and compensate for all of his permanents.  But, even if I failed, I was hoping to beat Chris down to where Brad would sweep and I’d tie for second.  I was also trying for half a VP for a while, but we were playing with no time limit or something, always a bad idea as it means playing differently than you would in other rounds.

People wondered why I was playing the way I was.  Given the deck I was playing, the decks at the table, and the seating position, I was completely screwed.  If I had won the previous round, I would have been high seed, which would have made all of the difference.  If Jeff inserted to my left instead of my right (Jim was always going to be behind him and Brad behind Jim), would have completely changed my game as I could have ignored Chris, who would have died to Jeff or Jim, and work on Brad.  Might not have gotten Brad as he was still a bleed deck with bounce behind a defenseless deck, but if I got him, I was set up well.

Statue of Slavery
x2  Luma
x2  Obsidian
x2  Saxum
x1  Ferox
x1  Ublo-Satha
x4  Rebekka

x1  Archon Investigation
x5  Blood Doll
x1  Club Zombie
x1  Direct Intervention
x2  Effective Management
x2  Fortitude
x3  Presence
x1  The Barrens

x1  Armor of Terra
x6  Enchant Kindred
x1  Force of Will
x2  Legal Manipulations
x4  Restoration

I pulled an Enchant Kindred probably for a Freak Drive.  Not a good idea as the lack of bleeding power hurt every round.  One problem I had in the final was that people thought I had more bleed, like multiple FoWs.  So, somehow, I was supposedly a threat to ousting Chris when he got below about 10 pool.  No, this deck just sucks, but no one payed any attention.  Got to stop playing bad decks.  They rely too much on other people recognizing that they are bad.

x5  Conscripted Statue
x2  Daring the Dawn
x4  Freak Drive
x3  Skin of the Chameleon

This deck was originally built around Conscripted Statue.  I keep taking more out as, while they annoy intercept decks, they don’t oust intercept decks (or anything else).

x4  Bond with the Mountain
x4  Majesty
x3  Rolling with the Punches
x4  Stone Quills
x1  Zip Gun

No real combat either.

x3  Delaying Tactics
x2  Forced Awakening
x1  My Enemy’s Enemy
x2  Patrol
x5  Telepathic Misdirection
x6  WWEF

Just didn’t nail the metagame with these.  More wakes than I needed.  Didn’t need DT at all.  I thought I left 6 TMs, but apparently not.

x1  Tasha Morgan

Just not enough of anything – intercept, bounce, bleed, ways to get bleeds through, combat.  Used to have Razor Bats, but besides sucking, I don’t have room for more intercept.  Could have done without the Delaying Tactics as there were no vote decks, but votes would have been hard to deal with.  About the only thing the deck did well was bloat.  I consistently outlasted or extended bleed predators.  Kind of surprising that there’s only 5 BDs given how often they showed up.

I don’t think the problem was toolboxing, but that Gargoyle toolbox doesn’t get to use as many good cards as another toolbox deck might and/or has too many issues with the clans/vampires having such poor discipline crossover.