Shift

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.

Shift

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.

Shift

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.

Shift

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.

Shift

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.

Shift

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.

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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*}.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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

R1:

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.

R2:

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

Finals:

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.


In The Shadow Of Freedom

December 29, 2018

I considered just going on to the best of 2015 as the next post, but I had an unusual experience.

An unusual experience – unfortunately – that should be usual.

I’ve been building Shadowfist decks.  There are many old cards that I haven’t made much to any use of that I actually own as I’ve accumulated veteran players’ castaways.  A lot of that has to do with how disorganized what I’m sitting on is.

So, I picked a section of the floor that had card boxes sitting on it and opened up a couple of large boxes (not full) and started making decks.

I’ve said before that I build decks very differently for Shadowfist than I do for, say, V:TES.  Oh, sure, my tournament decks may have 5x MG, 3-5x Dockyard, 5x Auramancer, etc.

But, for casual play, my ‘fisting style is the model known as “I don’t give a shit.”

This works for my ‘fisticuffing because of the nature of the game, the number of players, the meta I play in.  For three player games, IDGAS might not work so well as slow starts make for bad games.  Ya da, ya da.

Even though I’ve covered some of this ground before (I should work on new material to pump my blog stats, methinks), maybe not precisely same acreage.

Does IDGAS work for other games?

Ultimate Combat!

To a degree.  UC!, though, has a very small card pool compared to my other CCGs.  There’s a huge danger when facing decks that take power generation seriously that a slow deck is a non-starter [or too much like a starter?  ha, ha ha].

UC! decks don’t tend to feel terribly different from each other within broad archetypes (counter decks are very different from mill decks which are very different from combination decks which are vary different from Favorite Technique decks which … wait, yo, homey, maybe this is why I like UC! so much – there’s a surprising amount of variety in a game where decks pretty much just put techniques in play and beat).

Gee, I guess IDGAS works reasonable well for UC!.

V:TES

Once upon a time, I IDGASed a fair amount.  I may be able to get away with it, but it makes for dumb games when other players are trying to do constructive things.  So, I moved to GingAS and ended up having less fun building decks.  Too much sameness.  Some believe V:TES has a large card pool.  I believe it has a fairly small number of card effects relative to the size of the pool.  I could certainly focus on the unusual effects more, which is where more innovation seems to arise.

Magic

I’ve never had much enjoyment from making constructed decks in Magic.  Could say it’s a testament to how open Magic is to variety, even within blocks or eras.  I just had a hard time pulling the trigger on decks.  It’s why I enjoyed Type P so much.  For me, Type P was less of a perpetual sealed and more of a perpetually creating constructed format.

Yes, I had decks like my Essence Vortex deck, but those were rare.  I always played far, far more limited.  So, I wouldn’t say IDGAS was much relevant.

Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, Tomb Raider

Yes, these three are all Precedence CCGs.  They also tended toward a certain level of structure.  I build silly B5 decks.  I did not build IDGAS decks.  Usually, I focused on something very specific, like fleet enhancements, not just throwing every Llort related card into a deck [more than a couple times].  I usually planned how to win, even if it meant making Adira as big as possible by having her attack characters for no damage.

One would think TR would be easy to IDGAS, as it’s kind of more like a boardgame than a CCG.  I mostly played TR as a playtester, though, similar to WoT but even more so in playtester mode, so I was GingAS.

Traveller

My most recent deck was IDGASsy.  I think Traveller – I know, I keep saying the same thing – is surprisingly open when it comes to deck construction.  Now, if you are playing two player, you may be in a more competitive mindset and doing certain things is risky.  I’m also not considering a meta where you are playing a bankrupt you in four rounds Broadsword a lot.  Talking about casual.

Prior, I didn’t embrace IDGAS much because I was focused on core principles of moving towards victory for things like developer articles or for demos.  The more other players build decks, the more I can goof off.

Shadowfist

Getting back to Shadowfist.  Sure, there are foundation characters, there are sites, there are mids (I don’t think “ramps” is the right word for how I use F4s and their ilk), hitters, character kill, et al.  But, between the no minimum deck size, that I typically play four-player games where not every mastermind requires four resources to put into play, where endgame situations are chaos, IDGAS predominates my thinking.

I’m building a Manchu deck, where Chimpshack.org being down is making it more difficult, where I thought about something like a 30 card deck that just Manchuchus its way to … who knows what?  We have games where someone on 15 power is useless because of an inability to draw characters in hundred card decks.  Manchu You Up! may just wreck house in the same way that Abysmal Li did.

Yeah, I retired numerous casual V:TES decks as undefeated, including some atrocious crap.  The difference is that I stopped building a lot of those decks, one, and, two, a lot of those decks weren’t of the IDGAS sort, they were trying to accomplish something from a mechanical standpoint that tended towards sucktasticness.  With IDGAS Shadowfist, the themes aren’t all that mechanical.  Yes, Manchu cards synergize with other Manchu cards (in theory), I just don’t really care if they do.  I don’t care if some foundation gets to F3.  This is totally different from my Flower Glower decks, where I’m trying to Petal power puissantly.

Sure, I’ve gone through IDGAS phases with V:TES, B5, maybe some other multiplayer CCG, so it could just be a phase, but the nature of ‘fisting is that is just seems to me like I have no real concerns with GingAS, even in tournament play with how we end up doing things like single game tournaments that last over three hours.  I don’t have to IDGAS all of the time.

It’s just entertaining.

Happy almost time for Best Of … 2015!


Card-inal Rules

December 5, 2018

In the last week, I played Shadowfist, Traveller, and V:TES.

During/after each session, I had profound thoughts on some aspect of card flopping.

I think I’ve forgotten them all.  Let’s see if I remember anything as I ramble …

Shadowfist

In the Shadowfist game, because even though it went pretty quick there’s a dearth of new decks so a second game wasn’t in the cards [ha], I won.

Who cares?

I won with, I believe, 13 power in my pool.

For normal ‘fisters, this may sound like some crushing beatdown against my three opponents and/or I was playing Ascended and there was Bull Market nonsense going on.

In my 50 card deck, I ran 5x Möbius Gardens, 4x Pocket Demon, 2x Spirit in a Bottle, 2x Bloodlust, 5x Auramancer, and … 5x Dockyard.  In other words, 5x Auramancer and 5x search for Auramancer.  Of course, early on, it was Möbius Gardens that powered me through.  Only later did everyone stop caring about my having two Auramancers in play to push me towards being able to dump my hand every turn (not that I did).

Btw, Dockyard to search out Fire Cadets was what gave me enough characters to swing for the win as I needed to do exactly one damage to the final site and my other two dudes could be intercepted.

This game had a high amount of recriminations.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the new norm.  Don’s Napalm Belchers become Brains in a Jar plan combined with Joren’s Jammer site damaging made for a lot of failed attacks as the targets ceased to be in play.

It seems harder and harder to find a game where all four players find the end result fun.  Quick games are unsatisfying.  Long games meant there were plenty of plays that could have changed the results.  While games tend to have everyone have a chance of winning, that doesn’t mean people’s decks are doing what they want, just means you are playing Shadowfist, with its sketchy endgame possibilities.

Traveller

May have heard on the interwebs that there’s a Traveller Kickstarter going on right now.  The irony is that my Saturday Traveller play wasn’t a perfectly timed demo to expand awareness and to inspire backers.  It was getting together with friends to play some games, including Puerto Rico, followed by Mexican food.

I keep meaning to post to travellerccg.com about what I did to create my deck for this three-player game, but there are so many things going on right now that I’m supposed to be dealing with.

I took the Empress Marava Far Trader deck, removed all of the crew, heroic actions, and a bunch of other stuff, and replaced with a vast amount of cards from our Aliens of the Imperium expansion pack.

I wanted to alien as much as possible given little time to work on deck construction.

Usually when I play Sophont Worker’s Union, I get a discount on one or two aliens, take actions to get counters, never use more counters.  Let’s just say that a deck with more than 30 alien crew cards gets a wee bit more use out of the three copies I ran, helped by having Fragmentation Grenades coming in from left and right.

Three-player and four-player Traveller is certainly more … involved.  Eventually, Gary switched to piracy playing my Beowulf connection deck because his son and I were so thin on cards without being that close to winning.  His son got locked to where he had one card left and couldn’t deal with a complication.  I could have kept playing for a bit, but the piracy would have bankrupted me in about two rounds.  I was not a round away from winning.

My deck certainly was not like any sort of reasonable deck.  I made no effort to have a plan for enemy ships, with pretty much just Misdirection to move an enemy ship complication away.  But, it was entertaining.  I got to put out aliens I don’t play all of the time.  I kept wondering about which aliens to care about having in play.  I kept wishing I could generate expert Social so that I could temporarily gain five VPs off of Diverse Dynamics.

How would I build decks for multiplayer play?

Less expectation that crew will remain in play.  There’s just so much crewkill in the game.

Piracy seems like it would be worse with more players as that’s more cards to burn through, but Traveller isn’t V:TES.  Decks naturally burn through cards really fast.  Add in that there are more players to stop someone from racing towards victory, and pushing key players over the edge can, in fact, be easier.

We could have done more or done more sooner to make people aware that Traveller exists.  I don’t expect everyone to love it, but it may surprise some CCG players with how much is going on.

V:TES

Three games at GameKastle Santa Clara.  Three fivers.

Mark (Ass Contract) -> Brandon (!Toreador from cube) -> Rob (Hatchling rush) -> Devin (BB w/ Vic) -> Ian (midcap Thaum w/ Create Gargoyles)

Rob brings out Alabastrom.  Devin brings out Agi.  Agi goes to torpor.  Gets eaten.  Alabastrom goes to torpor.  Gets eaten.  Over in my world, I Society of Leopold Mark’s fat Ass.  For some reason, he blocks my bleed of one.  I theft him to zero.

I bring out many a minion.  Four uniques, Carlton, Create Gargoyle.  The last kills me.  Mark goes backwards with rush and removes my CG w/ Dominate, allowing Devin to get in a bleed of six with Walk of Caine and, then, finishing me off because my CG in torpor also has +bleed for BB card on it.

Rob is helpless and we make a food run.  Mark is taken out.  Brandon has a bunch of guns.

Ian (PRE/FOR/cel/pro vote) -> Brandon (Trem from cube) -> Devin (Dem w/ Tha graft) -> Mark (Guruhi vote) -> Rob (as above)

While tempting at times to try to just get Mark off the table to establish vote lock, the problem with that plan was Devin just getting two easy VPs.  Brandon got to pass every vote he called while Mark constantly failed my votes, then would get me to support his KRCs 2 and 2.  Eventually, Mark got vote lock because everyone let him.  I thought about Banishmenting Eze with his 5 votes before that occurred, but I made a minimal effort to try to keep Devin in the game.

I suppose I should include a few notes about my game.  I bring out Una.  Her first action is to get Polaris Coach.  At a point in the game, I bleed with Una and Brandon blocks.  I don’t use any of the four counters on Polaris Coach.  Gustav Breidenstein did learn Protean and super Forced March.  Ubende tried to take Powerbase: Tshwane using stealth from Instantaneous Transformation but got blocked, anyway.  I kept hoping someone else would fail a vote, including the Ancient Influence that gave me 7 pool or the Reins of Power that I did 6 pool damage with.

Time out with Brandon and Mark with 1.5 and me with .5.

Brandon (borrowed Valkyrie) -> Mark (Children of Stone) -> Rob (Salubri/HoS) -> Devin (Shattering) -> Ian (!Gangrel w/ Thaum)

So, amazingly enough, I tended to win combats with either Aksinya or Mimir playing a deck where my first discard was Shotgun Ritual.  I also discarded Cauldron of Blood at some point.  The table forgot that Mark’s Gargoyle had Armor of Terra on it and we had to roll back a 2 agg punch into diablerie which really messed things up.

Brandon Revolutionary Counciled more times than it actually resolved.  I spent a lot of time at 1 pool.  Through poor play of Aksinya’s ability, I went from 3 pool to zero.  Devin eventually conceded to Brandon.

Common, One Might Have Said … Neutral … Ground … Back In The Day

I don’t build decks often enough.  So many cards or archetypes I could play or play more of.  I play V:TES and next day start writing out some deck lists.  I keep having the same sort of thoughts with Shadowfist decks, one of which is building the all foundation character deck (with no Queens).

I was vague on Keyforge and became somewhat more knowledgeable.  I find it funny that the whole point of the game’s existence is to not allow deck construction, which is kind of the reason CCGs are the most awesomest form of competitive gaming.

I hope I never become one of those folks who complains about deckbuilding, that I just complain about my laziness/procrastinating that causes me to not do something that’s just ultra cool.  I even have interest in L5R deckbuilding and I gave up on the game in a galaxy far, far away.

Certainly, playing Traveller multiplayer brings player psychology into it.  But, I think the last week was less about the commonality of play experiences between the games and more about the essence of CCGs.  They (the decent ones) have depth of play, variety of deck construction, unpredictable events, and flavor text.  Well, V:TES flavor text owns flavor text in the other two.  I’d rate Traveller as having the best art on average.  Shadowfist has the most interesting theme to me these days.

They also aren’t easy.  Shadowfist may have the hardest decisions.  V:TES may have the hardest to remember rules set.  Traveller may be the hardest sell because it didn’t come out in 1994/1995, when CCGs were first Rage-ing and There Can Be more than One.

But, easy isn’t necessary.  I’d much rather that choosing health care options or mobile phones or hotels to stay at were easy.


[Tournament Report] Demented Directions

June 24, 2018

Turns out having V:TES tournaments near Origins is not the optimal way to get folks from Colorado to come out.  Well, lesson for next time.

A different question is whether having V:TES tournaments near Origins, when I’ve gone to Origins, is well-suited for me.  As all things in creation can be determined by single instances, clearly, it’s pain.  Suffering.  And, sleepiness.

So, I got a quick inspiration for a deck and built one on Friday night.  See, this is one of my problems.  I have all of these pent up deck ideas, some of which make sense for tournament play locally, some of which crossregionally, and some of which not ever.  Then, rather than focus on those ideas and knock out some cool, hard awesome, I see something and build a totally unrelated deck.

Saturday morning, I started working on what was needed for the new deck building methodology Andy and I talked about on the way to the airport.  It proved much more involved than what I first thought, much like building a cube is way more effort than I feel like putting in.

I threw together a deck in case we didn’t have 10+ players for the morning tournament.  So, I have two new decks post-Origins.  Both suffer from the same problem.  A problem I keep instilling in my decks.  A problem which will be addressed in a bit.

Carpool up to Berkeley.  Nine players for first tournament.  This is actually why having prize support for events matters – without the magical 10 players to get a deck in the TWDA and to build Hall of Fame resumes, why does it even matter what happens?  Could just be playing casual games.  Part of the reason I don’t push tournament play at conventions, where players appearing is unreliable and people show up late and leave early.

Tournament 1:

Round 1:

Ian (Preternatural Strength w/ Dom) -> Rick (Inconnu Tutelage Prince/Protean/Other) -> Alex (EuroBrujah) -> Mark (Toreador Nightmare Curse)

In both games, no one got ousted.  Welp, that’s NoCal V:TES.  Rick finally got Inconnu Tutelage and almost decked.  Between Alex and me, we got out something like five Preternatural Strengths.  Mark had a Nightmare Curse DIed, had a Will-o’-the-Wisp DIed by Rick that would have ousted me.  Had his final attempt to oust DTed by me.  I didn’t really put any pressure on Rick, with Alex having to do most of the work in the game.  It would have been awful for Alex and me to sit next to each other “Punch for 3.  Punch for 3.”

Round 2:

David (minions) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Ian -> Mark (Samedi Rush) -> Brandon (Ventrue)

Multideck, where maybe only Mark bothered to change decks.  Mark and I didn’t fight much, but I did Horseshoes his guys some which led to a Fame dunk.  His own Dragonbound was doing two to him late in the game.  Brandon was cruising up until he ran out of combat ends against Mark, three were played in a single fight, for instance.  David got out Victoria, Lazar, Volker, Carlton, Muddled, Jake.  Carlton got Pentexed to give Mark a second VP.

Eric got beaten up some and never really threatened me, which was sort of sad as I did have bounce.

I was Potencely impotent.  See, this is what happens when I don’t think through my deck choices for tournaments.  Because I don’t play a lot of the standard offensive weapons, so many of my decks can’t really hurt anyone (by themselves).  This is a bad habit that I need to get out of as it impacts the experience for other players.

Finals:

Devin (Aus/Dem/Tha) -> Mark (Samedi rush) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Jonathan (Shamblers) -> Ian

Devin put no meaningful pressure on and would have been ousted if I hadn’t been with a couple of minutes left.  Mark beat up Eric’s guys easily enough.  Eric didn’t have much of a game.  Jonathan had an interesting situation.  Shamblers are awesome sauce against Mark’s deck.  They punch, explode, more get made.  Actually, we saw zombie on zombie action with Reanimated Corpses and Shamblers.  At the very end of the game, Jonathan rushed my guys multiple times, which might have mattered if …

If Devin didn’t DI my third Deflection to get me ousted by The Baron.  I actually could have bounced to Mark as I needed two ousts to win and didn’t really care what happened if I didn’t get two.  Mark, as top seed, didn’t need to do anything after Eric got ousted.

Before moving on to the tournament that mattered, expounding time on not playing offense.

I keep thinking about how long it has been since I’ve played Dementation SB.  I enjoy all sorts of stealth bleed decks, but I think more about Dementation in part because I have no TWDA decks with Dementation, in part because I’ve played far more Dom SB over the course of the last 20+ years, in part because I so rarely play anything remotely normal for Dem SB even when I do come up with deck ideas for the TWDA.

There’s this massive struggle between feeling like I’m missing out in enjoyable play with my extensive banned list and feeling like I achieve nothing by winning with boring stuff.  I mean, sure, winning the NAC or the EC or the SAC or whatever would be an achievement as my resume is poor when it comes to major tournament wins, but I have my “code” and it amuses me to stick to it.

Jay actually said that to me when I was playing a pick up game:  “You have your code.”  Some people like to win more than anything else.  I like to amuse people more than anything else.  Though, to be fair, I do have a tournament winning deck with Protect Thine Own in it and another with Pentex in it.  But, that’s ancient history.  I become more and more restrictive over time and I’m not sure it’s the most fun way to go.

I really have to think about what sort of limitations I place on myself, though I doubt I’ll suddenly unban a lot of cards.  It is sort of absurd that I could play Gremlins and Murmur of the False Will in decks and not play Scouting Mission and Threats, but absurdity is all part of the game I play.

By the way, I was asked what card is my most banned card.  I think I mentioned Eyes of Argus.  I was really tired.  Actually, Deep Song would be more banned.  But, the obvious superban is Enkil Cog.  Gods, I hate out of turn actions.  It’s so obnoxious to suddenly be playing a different game just because of two stupid cards, one of which should have never been made and the other of which should have been banned a long time ago.

Yes, they reward skill.  Yes, helps you Shatter the Gates and achieve numerous other combos.  They are so dumb in terms of how they alter the natural flow of the game.  I would also ban Reversal of Fortunes as I’m not into effects that cause you to be playing a different game, but the need would decrease quite a bit if the Madness would go away.

Tournament 2:

Round 1:

Ian (CEL/PRE Fifth Tradition) -> Alex (Brujah group 34 P/J) -> Mark (Emerald Legionnaire) -> Devin (Valkyrie vote Undue Influence) -> Eric (!Ventrue intercept combat)

Crypt was three 10-caps and a 9-cap.  I had no masters to play for a while.  I brought out Andreas and had a hand full of wakes.  Andreas got a gun.  Anneke came out.  Anneke got Giant’s Blooded so that I pretended to be relevant.  I was irrelevant.  I had a dumb decision to make.  I could have contested the Brujah Justicar title to stop Alex from Second Traditioning with Jaroslav which would just shut me down.  I probably would have, but Eric had Owain in play and the correct thing would have been to feed Jaroslav until I give up, so I didn’t.

And, maybe Jaroslav can keep Mark under control.  He did.  Thing about Erlik and Erebus is that they are Sabbat and Jaroslav hates him some prey Sabbat.  Mark almost got Devin, but stuff happened including my using Anneke at the very end to block ELs.  Eric further shut down my game by getting Owain with a Sniper Rifle, The Rack.  I just couldn’t ever impact him and Devin had to defend too much to force Eric to use resources.

NoCal play – .5 VPs for all.

Round 2:

Devin -> Rick (Nos/! Horseshoes fight) -> Alex -> Brandon (Tupdog) -> Ian

I transferred to my two 10-caps for a long time, considering whether my 9-cap would have mattered and not considering my 8-cap.  The reason for one of the 10-caps was Justicar title.  The reason for the other was built in press.  Meanwhile, Brandon bled me for one a lot and used Tupdog rushes to fight the superfighty Brujah.

With no predator, Devin did stuff.  Only having Brunhilde advanced Archoned when she went for the five bleed kill stopped his ruthless bleeds of two at one stealth.  Amusingly, Devin could actually pass a vote past both Anneke and Alex’s four votes.

After I finally brought out minions, one of my 10-caps got diablerized, which I thought was weird.  I expected all of my minions to go to torpor even with a hand of six combat cards, but the diablerie slowed Brandon down, if anything.

There was a brief window when Devin needed to bring out another Brunhilde that I could have bled for 5 and probably gotten it through with him at 6 pool.  Nobody bled into my bounce during that window to reduce his pool to 5 (or, better, 2).  I’m sure I would have been Archoned, anyway, so it hardly mattered, but Devin got Rick finally, did heinous damage to Alex even after I gave Alex 13 pool with Golconda and Political Stranglehold, bled out Brandon who was at 1 pool, bled me out without effort after I Golcondaed my only minion.

The reason I didn’t encourage helping me to deprive Devin of round two existence is that I didn’t see how Brandon had any interest in my ousting him.  Devin did far more pool damage to Alex than we expected once Rick was out of the way, so it didn’t seem like he was going to sweep like he did.  The only window for me was when Rick was still around and Brandon was close to ousting me with my 2 pool, which would have been far better for him.  That’s the problem with suppressing players and not ousting them – their maximizing VPs means sitting around and surviving and putting no pressure forward.  All hail SB that won’t mess up people’s games but will eviscerate the players’ existences.

Those were two horrible games of V:TES in terms of my being remotely relevant to my prey.  Now, that’s not unusual in a lot of my games for reasons mentioned, but it furthers the idea of just going small and ousty.

See, in, say, EC play, my fat dudes people don’t typically see make me impotent because I get hit too hard too early from my right and get Pentexed by even the likes of my prey who I haven’t actually done pool damage to.  In local play, that’s not as likely, instead, the problem is having way too much combat for my not totally focused on combat decks to have to deal with.  Not because everything is combat – finals involved The unnamed, for instance, a deck that only hits for 2 with its 4-caps, and a deck with a horde of allies that hit for 2, beyond the two actual combat decks.

I was so tired on the way back, didn’t even have much to talk about on the ride back.

It was a decent experience.  Got to spend time with people I don’t see all of the time.  Got to wander around Berkeley some to find a place open at 11PM (not actually hard).  Just felt like my V:TES play was pointless.  Far more relevant in games I cared nothing about, while taking up space in games that will impact generations for millennia.

Congratulations to Mark for winning the second tournament.  Thanks to Mark for making stuff happen.  I’d be good with more tournaments.  Thanks to Brandon for driving.  Got to talk to people about stuff, which was nice.

Well, if this experience taught me anything, it taught me that my next Elixir of Distillation deck needs to be far more potent.  Actually, harkening back to yesterparagraph, the lesson may be to just play more stealth bleed.  It puts pressure forward and doesn’t do weird things to games like voting and combat and … weird stuff.


Origins 2018

June 20, 2018

I hadn’t been to Columbus in 20 years.  And, that trip to Origins was as a Precedence volunteer where much of my time was spent demoing the Babylon 5 CCG.  The RPG schedule was so boring I didn’t even try.

This year was for two things:  V:TES, True Dungeon.

Even the TD was limited, so let’s start … with Tuesday.

Tuesday, I go to sofa around midnight, not really sleep, and get up at my 2AM alarm.  Quarter to 4AM, Athena and Andy pick me up and we are off to Oakland.

Flights happen.  We arrive before 4PM in Columbus.  We wait a long time for the hotel shuttle, which is aggravating as I’m not sure I’ll make it to the 6PM V:TES tournament on time.  We check in.  We walk to Fabian’s, and we order a deep dish pizza.

V:TESing happens.  I may not have the starting players right in all of these rounds.  I knew some of the names when I was playing but have since forgotten.

Round 1:

Will (Sabbie 2 caps) -> ?? (Trem stuff) -> Mark (Summon History) -> Ian (HoS 3/4 toolbox) -> Jay (Nos prince/support)

As Mark said, I didn’t have much of a game.  I hung around for a while with potential answers to being rushed by Remnant of the Endless Storm, but it wasn’t like I was flowing cards.  Actually, I shouldn’t have gone in for the terrorism that is Outside the Hourglass and Domain of Evernight and just made some effort to block things, especially once I was never going to be a predator in the game.

Mark was not in a great position, but I got ousted and continued to eat pizza.

The pizza was not good.  I like Fabian’s well enough and they were good to us, but the crust was too dry, the cheese was overwhelming compared to the toppings, the toppings were very meh.  I’m willing to try thin crust, probably without cheese.  Then, Andy didn’t get a chance to eat any until it was coldish.

Round 2:

John (SB) -> Maria (Newjah) -> Ian -> Andy (borrowed FoS SB)

This was set up ludicrously well for me in that John kept continuous pressure on Maria, keeping her from dominating.  I got out a couple of Emerald Legionnaires, almost completely botched bleeding Andy for 3 with permanents on my HoS by playing Call of the Hungry Dead needlessly at superior rather than inferior emptying one of my dudes.  Drew a Blood Doll, pushed, killed Andy, ousted John after fending off attempts to keep him in the game, then raced Maria in the endgame where I played around Archon Investigation and could bleed for 11 or whatever on my turn with three HoS and Emeraldness.

Sometimes you sweep because it’s hard to mess up your position.

Finals:

Kelly (Pre/Obf vote) -> ?? (Mistress Fanchion doesn’t do it all) -> Ian -> Mark -> ??

I blanked on my predator’s name but should be obvious to anyone else being one of two women playing.  Grandprey was the same from round one, I read his name during the first round but forgot.

Kelly ran over the table as his prey didn’t have any game and his predator didn’t have enough intercept and Mark couldn’t get ally rush going fast enough.  I did survive longer than expected, but that just delaying tacticsed the inevitable.

Andy had already left since he wasn’t in the finals.

Wednesday

The day of more V:TESing.

Nobody expects …

Round 1:

Mark (Trem toolbox) -> Kelly (High cap Lasombra w/ Fort) -> Ian (Sea Pirates redux) -> Karl (Wolves Feed !Tor w/ Gerald FG)

Ambrosio takes an action, Mark blocks and ‘schrecks, I had an Anarch Convert out.  I debate what to do.  I mention the possibility of a deal, but I don’t know if Kelly was listening, so I eventually eat.  I play in the dark poorly by forgetting a way to reduce one of Mark’s bleeds and cycle a card and am ousted pretty easily and Mark eventually sweeps.

Just a not good game.

Round 2:

Ian -> Tom (Tunnel Runner) -> Jay (Samedi) -> John (THA close range combat)

I let Tom get a Tunnel Runner and Jay’s game sucks.  My Nadima does stuff but trying to police forwards and fight backwards and not be Pentexed does me in, eventually.

Next tournament, I decide to play the FoS SB deck with some slight changes because I was all about trying to simplify my tournaments.

Round 1:

?? (Una and DoC) -> Adam (!Brujah Undue Influence) -> Mark (5 discipline, including Dom, Nos-ish) -> Ian (FoS SB) -> Ben (borrowed Nos Anathema)

This was pure.  The sacred playing of numerous Delaying Tactics brought righteous glory to some involved.  Mark did hardly anything to me, Immortal Grapple twice in one fight and just hitting for one each time.  I kept getting vote damage aimed at me from other than my predator.

Adam and I dealt with the idea that Mark would go and I’d be unmolested until Ben was gone.  Ben was at 2 pool and had virtually no defense against my bleeding in his deck.  Angela Preston was Famed and in torpor.  Una tried to rescue, Anathemaed Una.  Ben gained 9 pool.  Adam and I talked about his going forward when he was near death and I was fine with it.  I did mention that I had enough bleed to reduce Ben to 1 in hand.  My top card would have been enough to remove Ben.  I played like two DT, Adam played like six.

Round 2:

Ian -> Karl (vote) -> Mark -> Ben -> Adam

My focus was on playing a table with four of the same players, so I didn’t care much about Karl’s deck.  More DTs.  More DTs.

I’m blanking on what happened besides more DTs, Ben calling KRC of 1 on himself and 3 on his predator and the only person displeased was his prey.  Seriously, I don’t remember how things shook out as I was just in DT nirvana.  I did DT, myself, to cycle.

Forgot my credit card at Fabian’s because I’ve never left my CC with restaurants before.  Ben helps me settle my “tab” (even though I got everything I wanted before tournament two) and holds my card for Thursday.  I should mention that my food was much better, in particular the tater tots from the sister restaurant were better than usual.

Thursday

Time to get serious … ly ousted.  While I had options for a tournament I couldn’t play the finals of due to True Dungeon scheduled for after the tournament is supposed to end (but won’t), I settled on HoS FoW as something fun that actually has any ousting power.

Then, I find out there’s going to be another hour taken up with a food break.  Burn.

Round 1:

John (Ass anarch vote) -> Kate (DoC vote) -> Karl (Art of Memory Dom/Obt) -> Darby (“fun” Bribes) -> Ian (Blessed Resilience pure HoS)

Darby kept referring to my bleed deck as an intercept deck.  Having no votes, I was not involved in the numerous discussions on whether to help Darby pass votes or not.  While Karl could theoretically bleed for 18 in one turn, his turns didn’t tend to be 18ish.  So, Darby often had lots of pool or gained back what he lost.  Kate is not all that experienced (we knew each other from NoCal) and probably overcomplicated playing Lily Preludes, as Darby didn’t get permavotes until late and John and Karl each had one (John’s one hurt him as his dude couldn’t anarch up).  John is low at some point, but a vote passes to give him lots of pool and that makes my game unlikely to proceed.

On turn two, Darby vote bled me for 7.  About 100 to 105 minutes into the game, John back ousts me with a vote as it also kills Kate and the game can properly time out at that point.

Round 2:

Ian -> Alex (IC stuff?) -> John (Trem stuff?) -> Alexandre (anarch) -> Karel (!Ventrue bleed)

I doubt my deck could ever play as smoothly as it did in this game.  I get out Erlik who gives me Mina on the same turn.  I bleed, I Rapid Heal, I Summon Soul, I Emerald, I … before the end, my prey brings out Rafael de Corazon, who becomes Legendary, calls Reins of Power, and votes 7 against … bring out Erebus to go to 2 pool.  Rafael gets by my two intercept with a vote and back ousts me to give a Dominate bleed deck a new prey.  Somehow, that worked for him.

Finally, we have True Dungeon happen.  I mean, sure, I had already done transmutes that morning and the transmute room folks were superhelpful for getting me out of the room.

Into the Shadowlands

So, I’m the one who used our patron code to sign up for this patron event.  No point in spoiling anything.  I did prove not useless with the first room puzzle.  I barbarianed to occasionally do damage, though not 60 at a shot like the rogue and there was one fight where I missed like every round with my +16 to hit.  Ah, high level play.

Respectfully, I didn’t find it that interesting.  One of the things that’s very clear is how really uninteresting TD combat is.  I want it to be challenging but also for there to be some context.  Challenging isn’t hard [foreshadowing alert, foreshadowing alert].  The problem I noticed more at Origins, maybe just because I hadn’t played in a while, is how you have no real concept of what’s going on in combat.  Did I contribute?  7% of the damage?  22% of the damage?  How do my choices matter?  At a certain point, if you win, the table just gets wiped clear of sliders and it feels oh so hollow most of the time.

I thought the event would feel more different.  Sure, there was metagamey stuff to rein in brokenness, but I couldn’t even tell whether that mattered.

Break time.

True Raid

While occasionally entertaining and probably much more so for those who 20ed their Death Dies, this became monotonous to me.  I liked what happened to spellcasters because it forced me to do something besides “Spellswap to Magic Missile, MEC, another 36 damage.”  I traitored and, thus, was the last to be slain.  I would have vastly preferred a different set up with more variety to the fights.  It just felt like an exercise after a certain point as victory was never going to happen.

I did something like 300 damage to Lorigorgon, 52 to PCs with my last two spells, 23 to all PCs with my last Burning Hands, had a bunch of spells rejected …, and it felt like it meant nothing.  Sure, I could have more efficiently used my Lightning Storms to do more damage, but it was more interesting filling out paperwork up until the point I was a traitor.  Actually, failing to hit in melee combat because my build was not built for anything besides casting and surviving was mildly amusing.

Andy had more to do as he didn’t have as many spells rejected and he survived a long time as a non-traitor.

We hit a pub near the hotel, which became the norm.  I had the stromboli, which was really a calzone, but I don’t terribly care.  Too cheesy for eating that late in the day, but it was good, otherwise.

Friday

Day one.  The proof is in the puddinghead plays.

Round 1:

Jay (ANI/THA) -> Ian (THA horde) -> Jesper (Nergal Beast) -> James (high cap Ventrue) -> ?? (POT/Dom)

I could have played this game really differently.  I could have played The Name Forgotten on Nergal before Unleash and Beast got out and could block it.  I let Jesper play his game.  He got the game win.  But, what confused me a lot was how little ability to survive James had.  I thought he would vote and fill up or bounce more or something so that he wasn’t taking constant bleeds from Nergal and Beast.

Jay was frustrated by my inability to go forward, but just because I brought out Hannigan and gave him DOM, then Muaziz and gave her DOM didn’t mean I could actually pressure my prey without Create Gargoyles, which Jay blocked.  Lot of bounce, not bounce, whatever at end.

Round 2:

Karl (!Tor anarch bleed) -> Will (AUS/Obf) -> Ian -> Martin (PRE bleed w/ AUS) -> Adam (ANI and …)

For a short time, this game was set up really well for me.  Martin had very little pool, Adam never got going.  But, as usual, I couldn’t finish and Martin got Adam, and Will got tapped out by Anarch Troublemaker and couldn’t use his bleed defense.  The endgame ground to a halt with Martin not wanting to go forward with my threat of bouncing, Karl somewhat spinning his wheels, and my being kind of impotent.  Karl contested Carlton and I should have bled for the edge rather than Blood Doll hunt.  Eventually, Karl double bounced and Archoned on the same action and I couldn’t deal with a load of minions.  Martin didn’t have any game by the time I was gone.

Round 3:

Elon (Baali vote) -> Pete (!Tor) -> ?? -> Ian -> Sam

This was odd.  I should have gotten 4 vps with how it played out as I could have saved Elon not once but twice, with the second time ousting Sam while Elon was at 1 pool with two tapped Baali.  My predator transferred low enough for Pete to oust him.  I had Carlton and Ponticulus right away and my predator’s first minion was … Stanislava.  But, I didn’t care.

Sam would bleed a lot for 1.  I bled a lot for 1.  Pete held on long enough for me to oust Sam but had little pool at that point and I had an impregnable wall with my ability to get to two intercept.

What made it odd?  Sam’s deck does like one thing.  Elon got into a position where he couldn’t do anything pretty quickly with just Nakhthorheb and Waters behind him.

N1 – Astral Bliss

Final TD event.  Even more important not to spoil this as many will be doing it for the first time at Gen Con.  There were good things about it.  I didn’t find it to be the best thing ever.  I preferred GC 2017’s Moongate combat.  A question, how interesting is up to the reader, is:  What do I actually enjoy about TD?  I enjoy other people being clever.  I enjoy the camaraderie.  I enjoy thinking about builds (but not so much writing them out as they tend to be very similar to each other).  I enjoy having certain tokens.

My build for this run, btw, was a ranged monk.  I went minimalist, even though my build was kind of more oriented to normal than hardcore.  My damage bonus was too low for hardcore.  I could fix that easily, but it would mess with the aesthetic of the build.  What wasn’t too low was my 39 hit points.  I liked feeling in danger and needing healing.  To play TD and be “Well, I’m down 40, but I’m okay.” is not enough tension.

I still had people use my melee stats, which were like +1/+1 vs. my ranged of +25/+2.  Part of the balance of playing at levels that aren’t that hard.  Fortunately, the six person group had a fighter who could consistently do 30+ to make up for my impotence and Andy’s druid was probably doing good damage.

Saturday

Day two.  Every cat has his day.

Round 1:

Kelly (Cybele and friends w/ Striga) -> Ian (my vampires have Obfuscate) -> Hugh (borrowed Summon History ally) -> Bob (!Ventrue Grinder?) -> Adam (Palla Grande)

The best thing about not having stealth in my first 31 cards is that I got to put out a bunch of permanents that nobody cared about and a couple of my Conceals got through due to the swarm factor.  I burned Ankara three times by the end.  One of those times was a horrible mistake, the kind of mistake that losers make, losers with blogs.  I burned a Renegade Garou with DBR.  I only really got beaten down by a Rock Cat after I failed to topdeck a third stealth card in the first 42 cards which would have ousted Hugh, though I could have swarm ousted Hugh with just my board if I didn’t trust in the heart of the cards.

Of course, my deck with all OBF vampires except one is barely running any stealth, only 22 stealth cards, so it’s understandable that I should have played smart and not like I just got embraced last week.  Not that I think I get Bob, but 1 VP is 1 VP more than 0 VPs.

Round 2:

Karl (FoS anarch vote) -> Jesper (Deep Song bleed) -> John (Trem toolbox) -> Ian -> Robert (Malgorzata and friends vote)

Karl survived longer than he should have, which got him a VP.  Jesper beat John down hard early to where John never had game.  John wasn’t expecting my deck to wake as much as it did, which meant he couldn’t lunge and I wasn’t terribly afraid of combat.  I got out lots of ranged weapons.  Anarch Troublemaker was rather important.

I Concealed Creepshow Casino in the endgame after Robert got 2 VPs, which Robert let through.  He also didn’t play around my weapons well.  Newer than most to the game, some better decisions and I wouldn’t have ousted him after I diablerized all of his guys right before time.  Also, earlier, probably could have played differently to get two easy VPs.  Learning experience.

Round 3:

Ian -> Alexandre (Vignes) -> Pete (Ventrue Grinder) -> Brad (FoS w/ Dom Corruption) -> Bill (PRO/Dom w/ intercept)

Even with my dispensing with cards that can provide stealth and with a Free States Rant crosstable, Vignes still took out Pete.  If not for that, I would have had two easy VPs as Alexandre wasn’t doing so great.  Meanwhile, I ignored Bill who tooled up with lots of intercept and Brad never felt confident going forward, so I eventually got worn down by bleeds in the endgame.

While I could be frustrated by how my Day One deck couldn’t lunge, what was different about these events is that I was actually capable of threatening my prey most of the time, with the one game of Nergal being a case where I think I just end my prey’s game on turn three if I choose to and end up ineffectual instead.  The plan of lowering crypt capacities and focusing on getting more minions in play seemed to work in general.  Now, the issue remains that with my banned list, there are a lot of ways to improve ousting power I don’t have access to, but that just means I embrace voting … because everyone loves voting.  Everyone.

For all intents and purposes, it’s pink lemonade time as I wasn’t going to play in the finals on Sunday and no more transmuting to do for TD.  To the pub for more lemonade.  I finally got the $4 double burger.  I was not surprised that it was a slider.  It was a very thick slider.  Certainly, I understand the price point.

Oh, speaking of food, didn’t mention my getting Tibetan dumplings (too chewy), brisket and rib tips (kind of overpriced for the quality in my mind), lamb curry with a lassi (lassi was quite good, rest was okay) from North Market, getting many smoothies from the convention center with my first Buckeye being really, really good and the other being kind of watered down, with the Strawberry Sunrise being just too pineappley.  Got food at the airport on the way back and it was pretty good and like $10 for a full size sandwich and a 20oz drink – I’m increasingly a fan of smaller airports.

Sunday

One more tournament I can’t win.

Round 1:

Ian (Indie Gargoyles) -> Mark (Nos Royalty Disarm) -> Peter (Baron something) -> Brad (Ani/Obt)

This was entertaining for how sad and pathetic we all were at ousting our prey.  Ferox rushed Sheldon.  Sheldon got torped.  Peter got Fee Stake: New York with Calebros in play.  Because of the recent forum post on vekn.net, I remembered the contestation penalty barons have, so Ferox had to empty Calebros in torpor.

While Mark and Peter got pool deprived to the point of it being laughable and more laughable, Brad just achieved infinite power.  I kept waiting for a crosstable Parity Shift, which got DTed.  Mark only ousted because Peter did a thing with a Famed vampire.  Mark and Brad stalled out in the endgame.

Round 2:

Darby (DoC vote) -> Robert (Malgorzata again) -> David (Summon History Inceptor) -> Alexandre (Malk anarch) -> Ian

“Darby, if I don’t oust you now, I don’t think I’ll ever oust you.  So, I’m done, go ahead.”  I, then, took a restroom break.  When I got back, Darby was ousted, so, as usual, I’m psychic … because I didn’t oust him.

David got a VP because somehow Alexandre just kept eating bleeds of four from Codex.  Robert got a VP because David’s game was impaired by Washes and Suddens.  I didn’t get ousted with four cards left and one untapped minion against Malgorzata, Oriandus, Polly.

Welp, that’s V:TES.  All things can be predicted at the beginning of every game and you’ll lose games because your grandprey tries to rescue a vampire from torpor.

On the way to the airport, Andy and I discussed my next deck construction method.  Let’s see how secret sauce works this weekend …

While no gaming event at Origins was great, I’d still say the overall experience was greatish.  The best part was hanging out with people better at winning V:TES than I am.  Better hotel next year would improve things.  Trying thin crust might be better, especially with no cheese.  Maybe I’ll even play a Dominate card besides Deflection in one of my decks, like, uh, Autonomic Mastery.

Andy really liked the size of the convention.  I really liked having a two minute walk between V:TES and TD, as opposed to rushing for a 15 minute hussle between hotels to make RPGs.  Still, Origins and Gen Con provide two very different opportunities for me, so I’d much rather have both be the norm.

Thanks to Black Chantry folks and Jay for V:TES events.  Thanks to Mongo for getting my transmutes done faster than they deserved to be.  Thanks to my fellow dungeonites for putting up with my dungeon demeanor.