Once Every Decade

June 8, 2019

What is the most notable thing to happen on March 1st, 2009?

Is it Chang’e 1 striking the moon?

I’m sure for someone who I gamed with a fair amount between 2018 KublaCon and 2019 DunDraCon, would have been the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute’s work with embryonic-like stem cells.

Now, just like I can’t probably keep straight my history, this blog’s history is a bit odd.  Four posts show up for March 1st, 2009.

Ten years of blogging with every year getting more and more grand … up until the point that I slowed down playing V:TES and L5R 4e mechanics were not as relevant and I’d post less frequently and post about the same sort of things.  Maybe Arrowverse reviews didn’t enthrall the multiverse.

This is my 603rd post, I believe.  Does mean I average more than a post a week even if I haven’t been hitting that in the last year.


As we all know, as folks age, the mind views things differently.  As we all know, when you are waiting for something to happen, your perception of time is rather different than when you are in the moments of activity.

I’ve had dreams after falling back asleep where it felt like hours passed during the dream, but, then, conk out for what seems like hardly any time and an hour is gone.

Blah, blah, blah.  Stating the obvious is so cold-take.

Every 11 years, a friend of mine in China picks out a new jacket for me.  The one in 2007 has worked out far better than the one in 2018, so far.  Every 11 years.

For reasons I have a hard time wrapping my head around, I didn’t see my aunt and uncle for more than a decade.  Sure, it’s virtually impossible to find a way to get from Midcal to the exotic frontier that is Mid-Oregon.

I’ve lived in the same house for something like 18 years.  That doesn’t sound too strange to someone growing up perhaps.  I lived in a former murder capital of the US (by some measurement, I suppose, as I don’t know if I have proof of this) for more than 10.  While my feeble mind may be ready for retirement, my financial accounts aren’t, so it isn’t like this is the retirement play, either.

It was seven years between my working at my current job and working for the same company previously.  That doesn’t change.  It’s been four years since I’ve been back.  I used to say “12 years ago, things worked like …”, where it’s now “14 years ago, such and such worked in …”


I had thought to do a post just about my interest level change in baseball and why I think …

Sure, MLB will probably survive five more years.  I suppose.

There was a time when I clipped box scores for my favorite team because of my favorite player.  If you can guess my favorite baseball player, well, if you can guess my favorite baseball player and are a smokin’ hot babe, maybe we could hang out, sometime.  You know, play some Traveller CCG or whatever.

I choose not to watch baseball, anymore.  While the reasons aren’t earthshattering epiphanies, I do view them as the overwhelmingly important reasons for why I’d rather hope for Australian Rules Football, darts, or cornhole (the game, oh, nevermind) on the TV.

The reason why MLB mattered back in the day and NFL/NBA didn’t was stats.  Baseball’s history is a history of stats.  Can only be wistful for so long about Ross Youngs’ hitting or whatever.  Through stats, you appreciate stories.  Some dude crushed it before being blacklisted from the game and was an all-timer statwise, therefore some dude mattered and his running around barefoot was charming.

Decade after decade of stats.  Sure, racist stats.  Amphetamined stats.  But, record book stuff.

Any present day play was within the context of the stats.  Deadball era, you aren’t going to rack up 500 wins anymore stats.  Before mound lowering, after mound was moved back to 60’6″, whatever.

The Steroid Era was kind of a problem for what it did to elevate numbers, but the lasting impact is that it generally undermined caring about stats.  This cripples the relevancy of what players are doing.

The true results:  home run, walk, strikeout.  Of course this makes baseball even more boring to watch.  So, I was into baseball stats in the ’80s.  Back then, dudes who walked a lot but didn’t hit 300 (see below) and, therefore, had better onbase percentages than dudes who did hit 300 but didn’t walk much had to be called out by Bill James, et al.  Now, it’s all about walks and dingers.  When the exception was the Human Rain Delay, then the exception was interesting.  When the norm is “Take the first two, foul off a couple, take, ooh, just outside, walk to first.”, then bor-ing.

The most exciting thing in baseball was never a home run.  It was a shot in the gap or down the line with the hitter streaking around the bases.  If anything, a home run is a rally killer, even if it does get runs in.  String together a bunch of singles and doubles and you go crazy like a cucumber.  Maybe baseball can be saved by moving the fences out to force more players to deal with doubles and triples.  Not because we hate home runs but because the incentive to focus so much on them needs to be changed.  Even in the playoffs, what has more drama, more tension – took the lead off a solo/two-run shot or hit a double and see if the run can get in?

It has been said ad nauseam that soccer isn’t more popular with Statespeople because we like scoring.  Actually, barring a major change in the way futbol is played everywhere, it’s not more scoring that I’m interested in, it’s more scoring chances.  Putting a crooked number on the board isn’t dramatic.  Hitting the crossbar when the score is 1-0 is dramatic.  Some baseball fans enjoy the pitcher’s duel.  I’m not so sure I’ve ever enjoyed a pitcher’s duel, but the principle is similar.  “Well, it’s 7-3, we need a couple dudes to walk, three-run dinger, then hope for a solo shot.” – not exactly what I think of when I think of Ye Olde Pastime.

Finally, reason three for how I can’t watch baseball anymore is … the best thing about MLB once upon a time.  I should have been a sabermetrician.  Perfect.  Numbers.  Sports (without being all that athletic, er, ladies).  Growing industry, maybe they score the big bucks.  Don’t end up in accounting.

Sabermetrics has been poisoning baseball.  Whereas in days of yore, you could focus on hitting 300, 100 ribs, 30/40/50 dingers.  Now, it’s not just WAR, which in and of itself is only mildly toxic, it’s the plethora of exotic metrics that just removes anyone from tracking what’s actually going on.  Sure, papers – I mean – newsfeeds/microblogs/YouTube/podcasts could report how someone’s 0 for 3 with a walk affects their in season WAR ranking vs. other players in their position, but who cares?

Temporal Anomalies

Oh, look, I ranted about a sport, rather than a game for quite a while there.

Interests change.  Actually, quite a few of my gaming interests haven’t changed at all, at least in a general sense.  I still enjoy creating characters and envisioning campaign ideas or PC adventures.  I may look down on systems I used to enjoy creating characters for, but that seems a minor change as I started being interested in different systems from D&D almost as soon as I picked up other RPGs.

It’s more that lifestyles change.  I haven’t played V:TES since, I think, DunDraCon.  I don’t feel like I have time to organize.  Given that others haven’t, either, imagine their time feels similarly impacted.

I notice that my BattleTech Scenario Building post still gets more views than most.  I have a hard time imagining having the time to put into even something like that.  I used to play RPGs on Friday nights, even in those odd times when I had a job, and I view Friday nights as crash time, now.

20 years ago, I went to Origins and Gen Con as a Precedence volunteer.  I had midnight shifts for demoing B5.  20 years ago.  I was able to stay up after 10:30PM without being useless the next day.

Ancient “Wisdom”

I mentioned no longer providing the wisdom of an UC! pack.  It occurred to me that I was forgetting the wisdom of The Ancient Fighting Arts of China!

Ultimate Combat! essentially lasted from 1995 to 1997.  22 years ago was the last tournament I can recall playing in.

22 years ago, one could get such wisdom as:

Seize your opponent’s advantage and make it your own.

This is a laughably bad gold belt card in that I’ve never seen someone put it into a deck.  Sure, you would run it in limited play just in case.  But, weapons were never as good as not running weapons, not even when they never went away and only gained one counter when used.

Let your mind absorb his attack.

Again, in a modern CCG, I’d imagine the wording would be “her” attack or possibly even “their attacks” or something.  This card is terrible, as well.  This probably wouldn’t even make the cut in limited play.  Would have to be metagaming against psychic damage decks, which I’ve built but were never an important part of the oh-so-well-established metagame.

The more you attack, the more damage you deal.

Can see what putting flavor text on every card does – leads to rather insipid flavor text.  On the other hand, this is kind of ironic in that it isn’t for the fighting style that has built in combination attacks and it’s for a technique you would pretty much never play due to how expensive it is and, thus, would be attacking more often with some technique that didn’t suck.

Accepting risk is part of battle.

I suppose I could squeeze some time to show pictures of these cards if I was more motivated to provide visual presentation with my ramblings.  I tried a browser search and couldn’t find this card’s art.  While I mostly don’t care about how unappealing most UC! art is, this card could easily be called out for how it would not get younguns or most others to embrace the best two-player CCG of all time.  The mechanics are also unplayable.

Which brings up an actual important point and highlights that as much as I facetiously tout the wisdom of the flavor text in this game, one of the common features of CCG expansion is to come up with useless mechanics.  Sure, Wheel of Time did wonders with its first expansion of not making a bunch of coasters, and WoT even made some coasters playable later, but just because a mechanic is possible in a game doesn’t mean it should be utilized.  Jeff and I often question the playability of cards (Jeff usually asks whether something is playable, then I conclude it isn’t after thinking a bit about it).

The power of the beast foils the threat.

This could be on a Magic beast creature, though unlikely.  What makes this funnier in context is this card is Gi Patch: Rhino.  I summon my rhino totem to foil … some of the most broken sounding cards in the game.  Mental Domination, aka Mindslaver (well, actually, Worst Fears is a closer analogy).  Suppress, probably a better version of Mental Domination.  Of course, would probably run …

Grasp an extra moment to prepare yourself.

Psychic Delay was my choice for second best card in the game with TAFAoC included in the cardpool.  Yet, curiously, I don’t autorun 4x in every deck as I run 4x Mantra of Power in every deck.  Of course, I don’t have any real opponents besides me, myself, and I, anyway (you know, a smokin’ hot babe who wants to play Ultimate Combat! is probably someone I could make an effort to hang out with, just sayin’).  This is more playable than Gi Patch: Rhino while Mental Agility is about as playable as the Rhino.

I don’t want to quote every card in this pack, but I feel I have to call out:

If you turn your back on your opponent, do so quickly.

This is a cool card with decent flavor text.  No, really, UC! had cool cards besides Mindslaver before Mindslaver.  Torque is just funny.  My Torque deck was one of those cases of just having fun with a CCG in a way that CCGs were meant to be fun.  It wasn’t trying to make a stupid card functional even though Torque is borderline stupid.  It was trying to make an esoteric play less esoteric.  Actually, +2 damage for one power is not a terrible ratio for a single attack.  It’s just far better to have +8 (overkill) damage on a Favorite Technique with, even better, a Coach Card in play to maximize rotation rate.

Fast and agile, the wyvern strikes.

If you know anything about UC!, you can assume that this is on Gi Patch: Wyvern.  You may also know that the creator of the Wyvern CCG is on this card.  If you didn’t, there you go.  The industry was a lot more fun back in 1995.  One hopes that if you know that Mike Fitzgerald is on this card you know that Richard Garfield is on Touch of Magic.

Finally, there are two cards in this pack, Alter Destiny and Clear Vision, that have flavor text but, more importantly, bring us back to the idea that just because you can make an effect doesn’t mean it’s worth doing.

Both have the same cost (the “wisdom” cost of Knowledge and Experience).  One lets you look at the top card of an opponent’s deck and the other rearrange the top four cards of a deck.  These are Magicish mechanics that are way less meaningful in a game where you may draw four cards on your turn and discard seven to draw seven more without needing a special card in play.  I’m sure powered up versions might be relevant.  A “Look at the top 10 cards and rearrange them.” card would be worth playing and be incredibly annoying to someone who can’t get a power engine going to burn through cards, nevermind that it would set up your Adrenaline combos to some degree.


No, I’m not going to stop blogging.  While I don’t like to announce travel plans, anyone reading my blog should know I plan on being at Origins next week.  My abode protected by relatives and a needy cat.

I hope to blog for another decade.  I hope to have my friend pick out a new jacket for me in 10 more years.  I hope next year is more like 10 years ago rather than 20 years ago.  I hope that future episodes of Doctor Who are better.

While highly unlikely I make it to the VTES EC this year, sadfaces, it feels so so long ago that I went to Berlin.  Got to figure out a way to mentally slow down or will turn around and …



KublaCon 2019

May 27, 2019

So, I have a business trip Monday to Friday before the con.  Mostly due to having to get up at 3:30AM for one flight and 4:05AM for another but also due to other various stressors, I end up getting sick.  Friday, first flight is okay, but second flight is obvious not wellness.

I never had any plans to go to Kubla on Friday night.  The only two events I planned on playing in were the two Shadowfist tournaments, so I didn’t need to be to the con until noon Saturday.

I didn’t feel horrible.  I felt like reducing my plague-ridden footprint at the con and seeing if resting until I needed to head up for my Saturday night demo would help.  It probably did.

I didn’t feel bad so much as easily was losing my voice Saturday night.

We had good demo attendance.  Everyone showed up at the same time, pretty much.  This is not really optimal as even with Jeff and his brother helping, it was hard to walk through things for everyone.

I make demos too hard.  I use my more basic decks for them, but there’s no scripting, there’s not a concerted effort to simplify which cards are used.  Jeff actually did better demos at … Pacificon? … where he had everyone use the same precon matchup and had everyone do the same things at the same time.  Sure, if there’s only like two people trying to play through something, I can be there for that.  But, I did a really bad job of explaining while two games were going on at the same time.

Even simplified decks are not great for demoing to people who just want to see what the game is like and don’t want to go through the nuances of multiple rounds.  So, I’ll look to put together some demo packs to use.  And, some demo decks.  Then, I can just ask people whether they want to run through a very limited experience or a reduced experience or a full experience.

Guess I need to open more ship decks so I have enough copies of cards to do this.  Yes, I don’t actually have that large a collection of my own game.  I can carry my entire Traveller card collection.  That’s not remotely true for B5, Magic, Shadowfist, V:TES.  I might be able to carry my WoT collection.  I’m sure I could carry my Tomb Raider collection.

Nonlinearly, the second demo, Sunday morning, was not heavily attended, and we did what we did at DunDraCon and played a multiplayer game.  In the three-player, Jeff and I tied at 24 VPs and he won on tiebreakers.  My hybrid piracy deck could never generate more than 0 AV to even bother attempting a piracy action against Jeff over the course of the game.

So, Saturday evening, I pick up a sandwich, do my demo, head home.  Sunday, I do my demo, we hit “this used to be so much better” dumpling shop, and I felt up to sticking around for a few hours to play in the Shadowfist event Sunday night if I wasn’t going to be the fifth player.

I played a couple games of Star Realms (basic set) with Jeff and people who did a Traveller demo.  Both times, I ended up with lots of card draw and enough scrapping to where I could run through my whole deck.  In the second game, four player, I was reduced to three cards and drew basically my entire deck.  The two cards I had to discard to get down to three both had … card draw.

I kind of forget how powerful card drawing is in various games.  Foreshadowing alert.  Foreshadowing alert.

So, I was the fifth for the Shadowfist event.  The decision has been made to junk doing Modern tournaments as Modern is a more degenerate environment that isn’t especially interesting.  That won’t stop me from making Modern decks because I don’t make the best decks in the first place.

So, I didn’t even need to defend my crown as California’s Modern Champion.  The last Modern Champion for the fifth largest economy in the world … ladies.

The group dragged in a sixth player for reasons not completely clear to me, but I assume it had something to do with not just playing against the same opponents over and over again.

Saturday, I didn’t take decks as I didn’t want the temptation to play Shadowfist and get sicker.  Sunday, I simply forgot to take decks as I wasn’t thinking about anything besides my commitments [ladies].

So, borrowed various decks.

In the first three-player, I played Jason’s Lotus good stuff.  I noted after the game that the character curve was really odd as the deck only had like two hitters and relied on Evil Twin for midrange.

I discarded my entire opening hand except an Abysmal Wyrm.

I got out an early Abysmal Wyrm and probably could have sealed the deal quickly if Cutting Loose Ends didn’t smoke my two Abysmal Wyrms and I could draw anything else with a fighting greater than …

So, I have a Hungry Ghosts in play.  I have Evil Twin in hand as well as Tortured Memories.  My first bid for victory is the obvious play of Evil Twin Time Bandits to get two fighting.  Then, I Tortured Memories the Time Bandits and swing with the ability to take out a site of five body.  I get chumped, so I can only do four damage.  I rearrange to get a facedown site as my target hoping for LaGrange Four and, shockingly, it’s not a four body site.

Why did I spend Evil Twin and Tortured Memories to gain four fighting?  I had to move cards.  I couldn’t really play anything else, not a FSS when at four FSSs.

Reverend Redglare gets played.  I have Hungry Ghosts in play.  I Evil Twin Reverend Redglare … the *biggest* character on the table … and choose “hero” because Miguel is playing his healing deck.  I shoot the other Reverend in case my next play gets cancelled or retargeted.  I Underworld Coronation my Evil Twin, drop two Stone Gargoyles and swing for the win.

In the next game, I played Jason’s Reascended deck and Miguel got his healing to finally work, while I could barely put out characters having resource and power issues.

We switched up.  I played Miguel’s Eunuchs against Band of Heroes and Hand Heal.  I misplayed by not discarding most of my opening hand, as my draw was just too slow to really matter much.  I kept trying to suppress heroes only for Li Po to show up and double attack for the win.  In the next game, I discarded my entire opening hand.

This is the thing about normal Shadowfist, it really isn’t well-designed.  Veteran ‘fisters can claim it’s the best multiplayer CCG ever, but it has huge mechanical flaws.  Sure, I may discard my entire opening hand with Traveller, but those cards in my discard pile might end up being really useful later, and I may not need any specific card in order to play the game, where Shadowfist requires you to have a power generation ability and specific levels of resources to play most of the cards in the game.

Also, I’m just not much of a fan of three-player play, as good games depend too much on decks coming out at the same speed.  Lot of my threesomes are dominated by a single participant and not everyone leaves satisfied.  Fourways are where it’s at, as you don’t need to conform as much to a particular tempo with fourways.

We folded up the second Eunuchs game to switch up, again.  Jason had already won by this point.  I played Miguel’s Ascended deck.  I got a fast start and had plenty of ways to gain power even if it meant giving power to others, so I punched through what limited character generation my opponents had.

Around 11PM at this point.  Finally, get to end my con.  Yup, ‘nother amazing KublaCon where I ran two events and played in one and maybe did some pickup thing in between for a bit.

Kubla is just a really bad time of year for me.  DunDraCon isn’t near month end, so I’m not as bogged down in financial reporting as I usually am, though, admittedly, these days, I spend about four weeks out of every month on our monthly financial reporting.  For some reason, travel is common near Memorial Day in a way that it isn’t for Labor Day.  So, I have no enthusiasm for doing much beyond running my events and trying to get in some Shadowfist play, which doesn’t even end up working that great due to the vagaries of existence.

Oh, I did show people the Traveller Two-Player Set box during my business trip.  I did talk about the solitaire games I’ve created, though I never showed a coworker 544 Flaming Falcon (for instance).

Due to all of our nights being booked with dinners during the summit, I never got out to game stores while in Bentonville/Rogers, only walking about halfway to one of them before needing to turn back, to see if Traveller was on the shelves.

Going to try to get Traveller regular play going in Fremont on Tuesday nights.  Going to someday get around to building some new Shadowfist decks.  Need to start building V:TES decks for Origins.

Speaking of Gen Con [you weren’t, oh], I need to move three True Dungeon E1 tickets at 11PM Thursday due to our only real opportunity to do E3 overlapping with that slot.  Would be joining seven other unknown players.  If interested in one to three of those tickets, I’d love to sell and transfer rather than eat the drop cost.  I’ll also post to the forums to try to move those, but forumites are generally going to be looking for runs with other forumites rather than unknown players.

The wisdom of UC! is likely waning.  Just as I eventually lost the energy with astrological posts, I’ll probably stop cracking boosters to see what they offer for these posts.

An ancient application of physics multiplies the attacking force dramatically.

One of the more interesting weapons.  No technique has a base attack value of nine.

Failed attacks against the ninja often prove suicidal.

The timing of this card’s ability is likely one of those cases of just intuitively working out when to use it rather than being clearly defined.

The obvious first draft card in this deck is Speed X.  If you already had one, Nunchaku is a force multiplier.

Attacking and ninja.  Well, that’s very Shadowfisty.

Move Left

April 14, 2019

Not much wisdom for today, though ironically Wisdom.

From the marriage of knowledge and experience grows wisdom.

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

Shattering fist under chin, snapping head back.

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

Basics can be quite effective when done with heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, so, we get to Shadowfist.

Let’s work backwards because backwards is normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edges (1)
1x Lightning Patrol

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

States (1)
1x Battle Suit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

States (1)
1x Butterfly Swords

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

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

Edge Of Gloom

February 23, 2019

The title of this is so not clever, it’s …

So, first we must consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster flavor text.

Dagger strike with the hand, punches through the defense.

I will be punching so daggery no one will ever defense.

Go around, rather than through, the block.

In no way will I address my topics in a roundabout way, so I am doomed to be blocked?

An ax from the sky deals a crushing blow to your head.

Ooh, scratch the dagger thing.  I’m going to crush some heads with my ax.

Mental explosions devastate one’s foundation – wiping the slate clean.

Gosh darn it.  Right when I had ax like focus my slate gets cleaned.

Defense is often weakest following a failed attack.

Well, sure, when you don’t crush a head with an ax, you get someone going around your block.

Run like the horse, and never tire.

Now, look.  Up until this point, every bit of Ultimate Combat! adagizing was entirely incontrovertible.  But, this is just ridiculous.  Horses tire.  Could even argue that horses tire faster than expert runners.  If I can’t trust flavor text from a CCG last sold in 1996, what can I trust?

A whipping arch, Tomita’s instep was an awesome weapon.

So, not that this flavor text is good, but the card is pretty decent.  Black belt Jump Crescent Kick is a 6/5 for 5.  If you wanted big, that’s pritnear the best of the big black belt techniques.  Of course, it’s vastly inferior to …

A spinning elbow to the head can crush resistance like an eggshell.

Ax or spinning elbow?  Both.  Brown belt Elbow Smash is the biggest brown belt technique and comes with a decent cost.  It’s just better than so many black belt techniques on the big side while being brown.  OTOH, my modern view on power management probably means this card isn’t as good as I used to think it was and that I’d be more inclined to a 4/4 for 4 rather than a 5/5 for 5.

When the body is primed, you prepare for dominance.

I am prepared.  Dominance activated.  Save the best for last.  Let’s say you have actually played UC! as unlikely as that is.  Can you think of what card has this flavor text?  If you hadn’t noticed, and I never noticed even though I rose to the exalted heights of brown belt player putting me in the top 10 in the world (based on some list I saw from somewhere).  Let’s just say it’s a really common card and kind of necessary to playing the game.

UC! scores another one over Magic.  Better flavor text on a foundation-al card.

So, something I failed to mention before was learning more about Gloomhaven at DunDraCon.  Oh, I still haven’t played it.  I just have a much clearer understanding why it dominates RPG play.  You don’t need the same people to show up at the same time.  That solves like 96% of all RPG campaign problems.

I feel kind of nostalgia-y mentally.  Like I should be breaking out stuff from the ’80s and reading RPG stuff up until the point that I realize much of what comes from back then, at least in fantasy RPGs, is a bunch of room/monster/treasure descriptions that mean nothing to me unless they involve named animals living in rooms across the hall from each other with broomsticks in the corners.  But, I don’t have a clear enough thought to topicize this nostalgia.

So, let’s jump over to Shadowfist.  One game.  A much better game than the week before.  Why?  Because I whipped out my awesome … deck.  This modest deck.

Name: Forest Futility
Faction: Jammer
Size: 50

Jammer Cards (37)
Characters (26)
1x Demolitions Expert
5x Edge Warrior
1x Gearhead
1x Grenade Posse
2x Gunrunner
1x Napalm Addict
2x Professional Killer
5x Punks
2x Rah Rah Rasputine
2x Resistance Squad
2x Rocket Scientist
1x Titanium Johnson
1x Tunnel Ganger

Edges (2)
2x Payback time

Events (6)
1x Death-O-Rama
2x Disco Inferno
1x Hosed
1x Stick it to The Man!
1x The Underground

Sites (1)
1x Genocide Lounge

States (2)
2x Homemade Tank

Generic Cards (13)
Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x City Hospital
1x Floating Restaurant
1x Heart of the Rainforest
2x Nine Dragon Temple
1x Pinball Arcade
1x Primeval Forest
1x Rainforest Grove

Non Feng Shui Sites (5)
1x Drug Lab
1x Rebel Camp
3x Secret Laboratory

I never drew an Edge Warrior.  I played one Punks.  Resistance Squad got me into Rocket Scientist and Gunrunner and could have gotten me Rah Rah Rasputine early on.  Yes, I play a game with a card named Rah Rah Rasputine.  I may not have a great deck, but I have a great … sense of ha ha?  Rah rah?

My first site was Primeval Forest.  I revealed it on my predator’s turn.  He did not attack it even though I had no characters in play.  It actually was undamaged most of the game, with the Floating Restaurant taking away a plink at one point.

My second site was even more … rah rah – Pinball Arcade.  You gnome you are playing overpowered naansense when you don’t even want to reveal the Arcade until like the fourth successful attack you make.

I discarded both Disco Infernos on turn one to try to get a foundation character.  I played Stick it to The Man! on the last turn of the game, only for the Reascended/Syndicate player to play a second Catching Bullets on an Imprisoned.

This perfectly tuned masterpiece may just be too brilliant for one such as myself.  I may have to messicate it until my feeble flopping powers can flop it good.

So, UC! flavor text and Shadowfist deck.  What’s missing?  Quiet you, you sarcastic folk.  True Dungeon thoughts?

There are threads currently both for 2020 token development and about the widening gap between starter level play and some level of token ownership play.  It’s not extremely clear what the actual problem is.  I may not encourage PUGs to hardcore like I did in the past, but I still think a lot of players could hardcore if they wanted to gain double XP.  As for my token ideas, people assume I’m an imbecile, which is part of the reason I lose interest in sharing thoughts.  Someday, I will be an imbecile, probably sooner than it should be given my unhealthy lifestyle.  But, as I totally have never said in the past because I’m chock full of originality at all spacetimes, a motivation to blog was to reduce having imbecilic forum conversations.

Speaking of my impending imbecilism, I kind of kept forgetting that making old legendaries wasn’t actually that hard for me.  I have a bunch of relics, and old recipes didn’t take a bunch of OOP URs like less old recipes take.  Now, whether I blow through a ton of trade items and gold to bother making legendaries I theoretically could make is another tale.  I should have odd requirements coming in Origins in case I decide I care enough to bother.

I could mention my Origins plans.  V:TES Tuesday night, assuming I can get to the locale in time.  V:TES Wednesday.  V:TES Friday.  V:TES Saturday.  TD all Thursday to make my owning a collection useful.  Traveller Sunday, if the con accepts my event submissions.  That’s not a very clean slate at all – that’s awfully similar to last year.


February 3, 2019

Not that I have any playcalling cred, but maybe use your two tailbacks at once, throw to a tight end, run some screens before the fourth quarter, bootleg, end around, jet sweep, quarterback draw, draw, play from the shotgun, run hurry up, or run anything remotely different.  Good D.  Not terribly entertaining.


So, I played my 7 Masterless deck Thursday.  I play Wudang Monks.  So much hate.  Now, 7 Masters + 5 Auramancers is something I’ve played in a tournament before, but, just because an opponent had an Auramancer in play as I played a second WM and a third WM, somehow WM is too OP to live.

Speaking of living, we almost had an Underworld Coronation played, except two hitters were unaffected by events, so we played around UC for the rest of the game up until the point that the Reascended player played every Reascended in his deck and powered through for the win with the UC having been discarded earlier.  At no point in the game did my OP Monks or any of my other characters reduce a site’s body to zero.

Of course, my “Mountain Hermit” deck doesn’t make much use of Mountain Hermit as WM can unturn a Hermit, but the Hermit can’t unturn a WM.  My Occult Kung Fus (picking Dark Traveler, of course) got me three Fighting.  My Bridge of Birds was used more effectively by the Reascended (Cabinet Minister) than by me.  I think the better version makes use of Auramancers, maybe Netherworld Tricksters, other good stuff, and probably drops the Mountain Hermits for more cards that provide magic.  I’m not sure how this deck plays as is, though, as I drew five WMs and no removal in a deck that runs some removal.

Sure, we all had to start counting power using dice rather than counters because of multiple Bull Markets, Tranquil Peaks use, and whatnot, but that only does something when you spend that power to affect the game state.


I finally got out to the local Groundhog Day event.  I thought I had been to one before, but I tend to travel a lot this time of year or have some commitment as it’s close to DunDraCon, so I can’t recall if I have.

I just think it’s a really well written/produced movie.  It has a really good tempo to it.  It stays true to its concept.

I played Blood Rage, Key Flow, and Elysium.  All for the first time.  Blood Rage played differently than I thought it would, where I screwed up the second age massively by trying to contest Yggdrasil burning out my Rage to where I couldn’t play my hand full of upgrades, then I was irrelevant in the third age.  Winner won by two, while I was 40 points or whatever behind.  I would play it again, but I didn’t like it that much.  The Yggdrasil location just annoys me.

Key Flow is the sort of game that knowing how games turn out helps a lot.  I ended up in second by accidentally playing lots of animals, which wasn’t remotely my plan.  The winner (also won Blood Rage for the standard twofer) crushed us with heavily upgraded late game structures.  I would probably find this fine to play about the same number of times as 7 Wonders, which is a few.

Elysium saw me get ahead early and get crushed late as I still don’t understand scoring based on the incredibly unhelpful help cards.  Because I like mythology, I thought the game was fine up until the point it was over.  I have no interest in this game at all.  It’s actually rather boring, plays slow with people who don’t know the cards, lacks effects that interest me, doesn’t make me feel like the chrome matters at all.  If everyone knows the cards, I imagine it’s an easy game to play for people who want something lighter, but one could just play something else.  I think I’d rather play Ticket to Ride.


I was reading some L5R 4e books partially because I’m playing in HoR4 where mechanics might matter to my character, though not really as courtiers don’t get anything like kata, kiho, spells.  And, there’s one path relevant to my character which I was well aware of before playing this character, since Imperials get dumb mechanics where ronin have far more options.  Brotherhood Monks may have more options, though one would only know if one cared.

I got to thinking about campaign ideas.  I know.  This is dumb.  But, it was interesting.  I have this thought of a Hengeyokai campaign.  All of the PCs would be Hengeyokai with some sort of task that binds them together.  It would be a campaign where the PCs should be faking being samurai (or non-samurai, after all, still a reason to party together no matter what you are, though a traveling geisha character may be a stretch).  Might make far more sense as a one-shot, but …

… Why would I want to play a L5R one-shot?  I mean, using 1e, 3e, or 4e.  Obviously, a 5e one-shot to learn the mechanics makes sense.  So many modules, not just HoR modules, and box sets I’ve played are like one-shots.  So I can play a Brotherhood Monk who used to be a ronin who has Dark Secret revealed and becomes a Lost Akutenshi?

If I struggle to see playing L5R as a one-shot, what else?  Conan?  I think I do see where I stopped trying to get into con games of Conan because one-shots have the same problem of not providing anything I haven’t already done.

I can still see playing Feng Shui, which would probably only ever be one-shots given that 1e doesn’t work that great and 2e isn’t even trying to be a game for campaign play, but replaying Big Trouble in Little China for something like the fourth or fifth time isn’t really attractive.


I had opened an Ultimate Combat! booster before my last post and couldn’t fit in the flavor text I wanted to.  It still doesn’t fit.

Utter chaos blasts through the arena.

As a draft pack, the first pick is obvious, the second pick is less so.  As a sealed pack, while the technique is garbage, the pack is bountiful.

Strength X.  Warrior’s Helmet.  Strength 1.  Speed 1.  Gi Patch – Owl.  Combination 1.  Psychic Storm.

That’s a possible draft order, with Strength 1 being possibly better than Warrior’s Helmet if you can sligh your deck or have Adrenaline.  Of course, if you have Strength X, you would want Speed 1 more.  Why Strength 1 over Speed 1 everything else being irrelevant?  Banana Peel in Limited.  Combination 1 could even be the second pick, though highly unlikely.  Psychic Storm might be a first pick if you were playing a multiplayer variant.  Yup, UC! made cards for multiplayer play.  I’d still take Psychic Storm over bad cards or extra technique for the possible “get ahead and end the game” ability, especially if I knew someone else had Favorite Technique or a weapon (either is rather likely if I don’t get them) for the reach ability.  If I had drafted healing, healing, and more healing plus had some way to deal damage, could also see it maybe mattering, though far more likely a defensive draft deck would play a decking strategy where Psychic Storm would be awful.

The art of Psychic Storm may be UC! level art, but I do like the vivid red of action cards with the gold rarity symbol.  Plus, it has an awesome name.


The next time I post, I may have 2019 True Dungeon tokens.  Will that cause me to think of anything to say about TD?

I could write about how the change in plans for Origins is disappointing, but it’s not that big of a deal to me.  Affects others far more.

DunDraCon is coming.  I’ll be running Traveller events, look to play in the V:TES event, be commuting back and forth so I might not try to play a RPG after all.  Only expect to be there Saturday and Sunday.

Seasonality – Winter

January 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that brings me to yet another perfect deck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

States (2)
2x Iron Fists

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

Events (2)
2x Scrounging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flop Til You … Flop

January 8, 2019

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


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

Pecan pie.

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

I also hate baking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pie cools.

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

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

Two groups of three.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 players


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Ian 4 VPs, Mark 1 VP


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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