No, not a card of the weak entry.
Friday, played two games of L5R in like 3.5 hours. That was not thrilling. In fact, after we were done, the question was asked, “Do we enjoy playing this game?”
It’s unclear whether we do. I continue to compare the game to chess. Everything you do is a “move”. While not impossible to come back from being behind, it can be draining to try to come back from behind – more so than the game already is. A significant difference is that it’s not so clear when the game is essentially unwinnable, for one thing when is a game essentially unwinnable? 10% chance of winning? 5% chance?
I played Crab in the first game and my opponent conceded with something like one province broken. I don’t think we broke a single province in Lion vs Crab in the first three rounds. My first round Hida Kisada was still in play at the end, with both of us down to one card in hand at one point. He sent three Lion, including Matsu Berserker and a dude with a Fine Katana in against my revealed province, Charged Toturi in, and I still won the conflict. I got down to 5 Honor and, then, had like twice as much Honor as the Lion not long after, being around 14.
One of the big differences for me with playing this game versus the multiplayer CCGs I’ve been playing is that I enjoy far more when I’m doing well. As long as I can do amusing things in multiplayer CCGs like … well, see below … I don’t need to be winning or end up winning to enjoy the game. But, I find that L5R isn’t much fun when you feel like you are losing. So, I’m not surprised that we called the game where his board would be clear and I’d still have Kisada in play for another round.
Second game, I played Unicorn vs Dragon. This was very entertaining to me as it’s obvious that Unicorn should have a board of four characters – two courtiers, a shugenja, and a monk, with no cavalry. That Unicorn should have three out of four guys honored. That the attack on the stronghold can be 24 military with Cavalry Reserves in hand because a one cost dude is a 6/6 and because hardcasting Moto Horde is totally normal. I am down on Ide Trader. Just inclines me to jump through a bunch of hoops to trigger ability, though that’s what Unicorn is mostly like – spend lots of effort just to get back the cards and fate you spent trying to get cards and fate, while your smallish dudes can be easily stopped.
Still, I have cards coming, so I might find deck construction interesting enough. Actually, thinking about it, L5R is being a lot like constructed Magic to me – fascinating from a deck construction standpoint, relatively unpleasant to actually play.
I don’t like chess. I don’t like agonizing over decisions.
Saturday, we drove to Berkeley for a couple of games of V:TES.
Rick (POT/Pro high cap Amaranth) -> Ian (Mimir Will Survive) -> Mark (Lydia and Aus friends) -> Carol (!Malk SB) -> Alex (Ahrimanes) -> Brandon (Cube Toreador)
Brandon brought out Anneke, which led to Mark and Brandon “talking”. I had lots of ways to deal with agg, so I often was blocking Baron Dieudonne, Adana, or Lydia. Mimir did eventually get Disarmed as did Aksinya, but time ran out by the time the latter happened and Mimir came back to agg hands someone after being Disarmed.
I couldn’t put any forward pressure on, but that was a function of lacking ousting power in the deck. I did Theft of Vitae someone, though. Carol was doing fine until Mark got Talbot’s out and just murdered everyone. Brandon lost a dude because of Adana and Mark wouldn’t help bloodhunt her, so Brandon blocked Lydia getting Preternatural Strength, and Anneke got diablerized. Brandon got ousted. And, that was it for the three hour game.
Brandon (as above) -> Ian (New Anarchs) -> Mark (Mata Hari does it all) -> Rick (Shatter the Gate/Parity Shift) -> Alex (as above)
Mark played Vaticination, looked at five players’ hands and discarded my Skullduggery. You can have a lot more fun playing in NorCal.
I repeatedly blocked with Monica Chang because she was my most effective defense, playing Diversion at Thaum and being able to play Crawling Chamber. I got out The Medic and Laura Goldman reasonably early. Yes, that was my board. Three vampires in play with a total of eight disciplines, where no two vampires shared a discipline.
Rick Shattered two Gates and got hit with Sensory Deprivation and, later, Pentex. I called Reckless Agitation and ousted Mark, going to 20 pool. Rick gave us shattered counters because nobody once tried to remove a Shatter the Gate. Alex died. I brought out Alabastrom, who in this deck Forced March. We ran out of time, but, after time, I got Rick low and Brandon caused me to go to zero pool, where Rick Life Booned me and I tried to oust Rick which made it impossible for him to Parity Shift Brandon. In a replay, if we were going to play it out, Rick and I probably talk about how to play out the endgame so that Brandon doesn’t just win.
I also Free States Ranted with a 3-cap to reduce two vampires to zero blood. My Diversity got blocked when we all had shattered counters by not my predator.
So, V:TES can be played a number of different ways. I was commenting to Brandon on the drive back that I enjoy it most when it avoids being completely noncompetitive and when it’s too competitive. Would I ever play this deck in a tournament? Of course not. I’m just trying to play cards I’ve never played, like my entire Anthology Set crypt.
I had fun. As I said recently, V:TES is something I can look forward to because it is so often enjoyable the way I play it. The question is whether L5R can be played in a way where it’s actually fun for everyone.
If I didn’t have to do something soon, I’d probably post my decks since it’s unlikely I’d ever play either again. Both decks need more ousting power, and the latter’s crypt may be funny, but it isn’t that interesting to me. The Medic also needs way more Freak Drives than what I was running. I should have played Skullduggery with him before it got discarded, but oh well.