Flopping – Part One

October 14, 2017

I don’t do pithy posts.  It’s not just having something gaming related to think about, it’s about having enough to drone on for an hour plus about.  I had two stronger ideas inspired by recent events that lack any mechanical connection but have a thematic connection that may not be obvious, so my intent is to follow up with the second post soon, while I’m still inspired.

First up, let’s talk CCGs.

Shadowfist Kickstarter is live:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2113976333/shadowfist-a-better-tomorrow?ref=discovery

Am I excited?  No, not really.  Seems like it should have come out last year, when you could have had a Fire Monkey theme and appeal to all of those icky people who like monkeys.  [Should be noted that I only hate monkeys in Shadowfist and possibly other places, like RL.  L5R Monkeys are win.]

But, I like playing Shadowfist.  Building decks has gotten harder because I only get inspired after playing and don’t immediately start building decks after our Thursday night sessions.  When I go through cards before Thursday night sessions, I’m like “Where are all of the cards I thought of building decks around after last time?”

I think there’s some good in how the KS was done – always offer a high end option.  I think there’s some lack – offer more than one high end option.  I’m also not interested in any of the cards on the main page.  I have no particular feelings about resource edges.  I guess it encourages more Thunder on Thunder plays, a not so well designed card that nevertheless fills an important hoser function.

Speaking of Shadowfist, we played Thursday as we often do, and we had one reasonably entertaining game.

Ian (Squad Faceoff) -> Joren (Monarch States) -> Don (Ascended Discard w/ Punishments) -> Justin (Hand Swords)

I bring out Black Helicopter Squad and Hit Squad after putting Waterfall Sanctuary in play.  On turn two, I put “broken” Gardens in play behind Waterfall Sanctuary.  On turn three, I put Weeping Willows out.

Over an hour later, the Mobius Gardens never received any damage.  *shrug*

The Waterfall Sanctuary was never revealed the entire game!!

The Hit Squad I played on turn one was hanging around on the turn I won!!!

Miguel!?!  See, I use cards responsibly and people don’t go insane no matter how much they complain about Hit Squad being used against them.

Even though my Jan Zvireci got used multiple times, mostly against Don’s discard deck, never took damage or left play.  My Sacred Wigwam did get seized!!  I considered this a key to my victory.

I could not keep a second location in play as every attempt to have multiple columns ended up with people attacking me and every turn of sitting on one location saw other people getting attacked because they had lots of Fighting in play and could often win on their turns.  Justin had like three NFSSs out for quite a while.  His Rice Paddies got seized by Joren, then by Don.  I never got my Sacred Wigwam back.  By not being close to victory and not having much of a site structure or anything particularly threatening offensively in play, I had the ability to regulate towards victory then pick up the pieces after hitters kept getting stopped.

I, of course, could retire this deck undefeated.  Or, I could play it again and hope to play the various cards that never saw play.

CCGs.  So, there’s this new FCG based on magic samurai.  There’s a tournament coming up, single core with roles, I plan on playing in.  Single core just seems awful with how you have no real ability to customize your 30 Dynasty Deck, defeating what I am excited about – deck construction for a CCG.

I love Influence (not Shadowfist Influence, which is terrible).  Given the tiny card pool, it still has me thinking about stuff.  I don’t love the tiny card pool for Dynasty cards.  Now, I hear people may “quit” [internet verbiage for whine about nothing in a way that just calls attention to how more important you are than people who make their financial decisions without saying “look at me”] because of the release schedule to have more cards to work with, but more cards kind of necessary or the game play is going to be really stale.

Am I committed to getting into this version, unlike the version I thought was a terrible game?  Nope.  But, I may end up committed soon.  I almost got into the VCG.  Now, I have read a review of the LCG that sounded very relevant – I’m not interested in “chess”.  I enjoy slam, bam, thank you ma’am two-player play like UC!.  I enjoy two hour dice-rolling fests of two-player play like WoT.  I enjoy a variety of multiplayer CCGs for their humorously inconclusive interactions.  Do I really want to get owned repeatedly by people who think harder than I do at card games?

On the other hand, if I can afford buying True Dungeon ultrarares, a new CCG is hardly going to be much of a financial drain, and it does give me options for things to do at cons or even maybe get back to having more regular card nights at game stores.

I’ve already created my personal ban list …  Oh, by the way, I’ve yet to actually play a single game of L5R LCG.  I haven’t even watched people play.  I’m knowledgeing myself entirely by [gag] reading rules and play guide and by reading from the interwebs.

Of course, at this point, it might be a tentative ban list.  I might sacrifice my personal honor.

Actually, I can only think of two clans I’d want to play at this time – Crab and Lion.  Crab, of course, is the only clan that has any reason to exist in Rokugan.  Lion appeals to my interest in aggro.  Oh, sure, I like Lion in the RPG, but that doesn’t translate well in my experience, i.e. what I like in RPGs and CCGs tends to diverge quite a bit.  Take Dominate – hate it in the RPG, only eschew it in the CCG because it’s a crutch.

Dragon has lame attachment theme, maybe get interesting when monkage expands.  Phoenix has lost interest to me due to RPG play …  I mean, I guess there’s some connection.  Just not interested in shugenja.  Would be interesting to have a Phoenix focused RPG campaign to make Phoenix less extreme between the boring and the psychotic.

Crane may be acceptable in CCG play where they are unacceptable in RPG play.  Unicorn suffers in CCG play from being terrible.  In theme.  In play, sounds like they suck, but I haven’t played the game, yet, so that’s just hearsay.  Unicorn reminds me of Jammers.  They will probably have cards I want to play, but I will need to dodge what they are intended to do because what they intend to do is antifun.

Imperials may have some possibilities.  I’m a hopin’ FFG doesn’t screw minor clans.  If anything could keep me wanting to play the CCG, it’s minor clan play.  Besides, gots to do what everyone does and make broken Monkey Clan stuff.  What might kill me is what they do with Shadowlands.  Shadowlands is both a great boon to the L5R world and a huge bane to rationality.

So, Shadowfist is chuggin’ to some degree.  I like that I can still play it and new cards may not be bad (unlike V:TES, where I think new sets generally make the game worse since they don’t expand on what should be expanded upon and expand on stuff that gets more annoying over time).  L5R is a possible into the 違反.

Flop, flop, flop.  Maybe I can get some V:TES play in some time.  Oh, and, of course, Traveller is the best FCG I have actually played.

As Otomo Kidai may have said a time or two back when he was Usagi Kidai, “I’ll keep my ears floppy.”

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World Of Command

September 24, 2017

So, I have played some things recently that were outside the norm.

Old boardgame group got together and played two games we’ve played a lot:  Lords of Waterdeep; Scepter of Zavandor.  The latter was something of a teaching game for my friend’s son, who won easily … with emeralds.  You could go look up Scepter of Zavandor, look at prior posts where I contrast it with Outpost, or I could just say it’s a reskinned Outpost that fixes the massive problem Outpost has with snowballing victory or … maybe better way to think of it … lack of snowballing into irrelevancy.  Remember, if you can outproduce everyone, just keep pushing further and further ahead.

I also wrote up some V:TES decks, which is arguably so trivial for me to do that it hardly qualified as gaming related, more of a 10 minute thought puzzle per deck.

My friend and I played through some of a tutorial for the Myth boardgame.  Lots of stuff going on in that.  Because of hanging out with him, I got to thinking about playing/running a simple AD&D game.  So, I went to my stack of old modules and … couldn’t pull out a module from what was a stack of all sorts of things.  Instead, I pulled out Greyhawk Adventures.  Yup.  The AD&D hard bound book for AD&D/AD&D2e.  Because people who write blogs like these have this sort of thing just lying around.

I actually read some of it.  I looked at the adventures – I guess I’m the sort of jaded gamer who is the target audience for zero level play except I don’t have any interest in playing a loser [uh … no comment].  I read some monster entries, glanced at god write-ups, skimmed through some NPCs.  There’s so much potential in RPGs for amazing stuff, yet the yesterworld was just replete with game stats.  I guess it can be inspiring, somehow.

Made me think that I should suggest to TD to use a Gorgriffspidrascorp as a monster some year.

But, the most different thing was playing Magic.  My first play of Commander was in Stockholm because my first “play” of Caylus was in Shanghai, etc.  Rather than ‘fist each other, I borrowed a Commander deck and only played my Commander after two players were eliminated?!?  Might have been right before my prey was eliminated.  I think I attacked with my Commander once in the game.

I can see the appeal of Commander, to a degree.  I would rather play Advanced Squad Commander with Commander rules and 50 card decks or 60 card decks, but I get that lack of reliably is an essential part of people enjoying the format.  It does address some of the problems of playing standard constructed.  But, I realize at certain points in Commander games – all two I’ve ever played – that it still has Magic’s fundamental flaw of drawing one card a turn.

I was mana limited all game.  Finally got an artifact in play to accelerate beyond four mana a turn and had the artifact bounced back to my hand.  Sure, I won.  But, that’s because I have decades worth of multiplayer CCG experience and have some vague idea what the rules for Banding are (white not my preferred color but whatever).

Yet, as much as Magic has this flaw, other CCGs have other flaws and the only perfect CCG is …

No, Ultimate Combat! isn’t perfect.  No, the Traveller Card Game isn’t perfect.  What’s perfect are all of those individual experiences playing whichever flawed game where you just enjoy the heck out of what you are doing.  The Level the Playing Field vs. Not Meant to Be war I can vaguely recall while in Castro Valley playing with one of B5’s designers.  Ousting two players with Jake Washington in a tournament.  And, others that will become harder and harder to remember as I age.

So, I’m fine with playing Commander.  I’m fine with building Commander decks.  But, where other people get off on trying to build coherent Commander decks that abuse their Commanders’ abilities or whatever.

I.  I opened up a pack of Betrayers of Kamigawa and Saviors of Kamigawa to see if I got a legend to use.  I did.  Now, Champions of Kamigawa would make more sense, but I have fewer of those packs lying around, maybe one or two, maybe not even that many.  I am now at a point where I don’t know whether to continue to open Kamigawa packs until I can put together a 100 card deck or branch out so that I can support a 100 card black deck where I couldn’t care less if I ever put my commander into play.

Do I just open packs of things I have lying around until I can make a deck?  Or settle on particular blocks (much harder given what I have in packs)?  Do I try to preserve some way to track what I’m opening out of packs so that I can convert Commander cards into Type P decks?  Would I ever try to construct a real constructed Commander deck rather than a sealed Commander deck?  I don’t see why.  I don’t enjoy actually putting together constructed Magic decks.  Oh, sure, I enjoy thinking about them.  But, where V:TES with its no card limits and numerous close substitutes doesn’t feel onerous to me at all in terms of what I’m willing to play with, Magic constructed has always felt onerous to me, even if I could scrape together an Essence Vortex deck with one copy of Necropotence (and lose a game because I played Necropotence rather than just own with Essence Vortex).

I really like the idea of putting together a mono-color Kamigawa deck from just opening packs, but I don’t think it’s possible.  I’m not even sure how feasible it would be if I had boxes sitting around unopened.  The amount of packs I imagine I’d need to open to have a minimum number of non-basics to field a deck seems to be so incredibly wasteful (unless I can P the other cards somehow) that I can’t justify living such an extravagant lifestyle [quiet, tokens are a new toy].  I, of course, would rather build multicolor Commander decks.  So, maybe I dig through Ravnos or Return to Ravnos packs, except I don’t have like infinite quantities of those, either.  I could breakdown my Type P decks I never play and have little interest in playing to have stock.  I could even write down the contents to recreate the Type P decks if I ever felt that was sufficiently important in my life.

Given that every time I play Shadowfist, I think about how I could build new decks, yet rarely build new decks, can I get fired up enough to build Commander decks?

This is the beauty of Type P.  Five packs, 27 basic land, done.  Megasealed, which is what I’m thinking about, is just so resource intensive.  I already have to hunt for basic land just to complete P decks.  Scary how much land would be needed to field sealed Commander decks.

Interestingly, one of my friends gets me stuff.  Makes me feel guilty for not getting him more stuff.  Now, I’m totally good with my female friends getting me stuff as I do get them stuff, but that’s not gaming related and, thus, neither here nor there.  Anyway, he has gotten me Magic stuff that involves legends that could be used as the bases for Commander decks.  Since I don’t know what else I could do with constructed materials like those, since Type P is the only format I build decks for, seems obvious to make use of stuff people give me that’s, uh, gaming related.


Fisticuffs – Time To Eat

July 8, 2017

Even though it’s my one relatively consistent gaming experience, I don’t talk about Shadowfist much anymore.  It’s just the nature of settling in, that not as many things are new and shiny.  It’s also a matter of the game being a terribly casual affair for me.  Though, as I rewrite this sentence a couple of times, I realize anything I do repetitively I’m less likely to write about, so it’s not like weekly V:TES or weekly boardgames or weekly Type P Magic or whatever would cause me to post.

I’ve actually written quite a few Fisticuffs posts.  Why this one?

Let’s post a couple of decks.

Name: Memories of Money
Faction: Lotus
Size: 45

Lotus Cards (30)
Characters (11)
1x Doktor Herrnberger
4x Imp
2x Ming I
1x Punk Geomancers
1x Ravenous Devourer
1x Shi Kan Lun
1x Undead Horrors

Edges (1)
1x Insidious Plan

Events (14)
5x Bribery
1x Cries in the Night
1x Shi’s Dark Influence
1x Spirit Wrack
5x Tortured Memories
1x Underworld Coronation

Sites (1)
1x Shi’s Hillside Estate

States (3)
3x The Mark of Evil

Generic Cards (15)
Events (7)
1x Discerning Fire
1x Larcenous Mist
3x Pocket Demon
2x Spirit in a Bottle

Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x Cataract Gorge
1x City Center
2x Dockyard
1x Martyr’s Tomb
1x River of Lights
1x The Hidden Grotto
1x Waterfall Sanctuary

Nothing unusual about the idea of steal and sacrifice.  Some choices may seem unusual, but I throw together a lot of decks from whatever is lying around.  Then, there is some tech in here.

I keep trying to play with Ming I because:  alpha, I like the art; beta, I’m offended by how bad she is compared to Queen of the Darkness Pagoda; gamma, I rarely get her into play and do anything with her.  The sacrifice thing is synergy.

The Mark of Evil is a card I don’t recall ever putting into play.  I’ve played this deck a couple of times, and I didn’t even see it Thursday night.

Every deck plays better with our house rules, but the dearth of foundation characters is concerning.  I happen to have had a Dockyard early on, then used Bribery to take a Wailing Apparition to play Doktor Herrnberger.

Cataract Gorge rarely pays off for me, but I may have included here under the theory that I steal so many dudes I can fail and still attack with a hitter.  Waterfall Sanctuary is pretty good in the Thursday meta, which some may not find surprising, but I don’t find Waterfall to be the hotness in more general metas, especially when every deck has to include 5x Mobius Gardens and Dockyards and Manufactured Islands.

The Hidden Grotto was good to me in that I seized a site, taking me to three, then revealed to have enough power to play Ming I.  So cheesy in like a 7 Masters deck where you Jade Willow over and over.

River of Lights almost never gives me 2 power.  However, I see a reason to include it over other high body sites.  It forces me to think about burning for victory.  Too often, I’ll not think through the benefits of burning for victory, either overrating it or underrating it.  At least this gets me to consider when I’m prone to underrating it.

So, what happened?

Don (Syndicate power) -> Joren (Lotus states) -> Ian (Memories of Money)

Don put out two early Mars Program Executives.  I considered a while before Spirit Wracking one of them before he ended his turn.  Don kept having lots of power, anyway, using multiple The Price of Progress to annoy us as we tried to rein him in.  Joren’s Wailing Apparition got Bite of the Long Teeth and Vampirism.  I stole it and ran it into his Soul Reaver to tidy up his board.

After I played Ming I, Joren Evil Twinned it.  Don had a Street Doc and Song, The Little Dragon.  My Ming I was cancelled with seven damage.  I played Shi Kan Lun, sent him and Ming I after Don’s site, sacced Ming I, burned for victory.  I played Shi’s Hillside Estate, took Song, Tortured Memories Evil Twin, and won.

Yes, our environment is power heavy.  It probably does extend games in that three-player games can easily become beatdowns where one player doesn’t do much of anything, where it’s really hard not to be able to do things with our house rules.

Name: Eleven Evils
Faction: Lotus
Size: 45

Lotus Cards (26)
Characters (17)
1x Demon Emperor
3x Eater of Fortune
1x Gibbering Horror
2x Li Yu
1x Seven Evils
5x Sinister Priest
2x Ti Kan
2x Two Hundred Knives of Pain

Events (9)
2x Corruption
1x Die!!!
4x Evil Whispers
2x Flying Sleeves

Generic Cards (19)
Events (7)
1x Discerning Fire
1x Larcenous Mist
3x Pocket Demon
2x Spirit in a Bottle

Feng Shui Sites (11)
3x Dockyard
2x Hydroponic Garden
1x Martyr’s Tomb
5x The Great Wall

States (1)
1x Six Demon Bag

Most of this deck was made from loose cards from when I broke down other Lotus decks.  I’m a big fan of Li Yu (special) and Ti Kan (art, 5 fighting).  Finally, the blog has come back to … the reason for calling out this session.

I played two Lotus decks in two games.  I played two lotus decks with the same number of Discerning Fire, Larcenous Mist, Pocket Demons, and Spirits in a Bottle.  Yet, the Lotus cards are rather different.

Alpha, Lotus have too many good+fun cards.  I’m willing to play steal cheese.  I’m willing to be so less cheesy and play fair Lotus cards.  I’m willing to play terrible Lotus cards like Gibbering Horror.  I would note that I’m constantly sitting in the wrong place as, if I were one seat to the left in games, they would be h-u-u-u-g-e, potentially worth the cost.  That’s a political joke and a sports joke in one people.  I’m like totally gifted.

Beta, let’s talk Lotus characters.  Not enough Eaters of Fortune in the deck.  All of Jammer and not Jammer nonsense have to Die!!!  So mote it be.  I don’t get why I’ve never seen Li Yu outside of my playing it.  It’s often amazing, just sloughing Final Brawls and miscellaneous annoyance plays.  Two Hundred Knives of Pain is the main reason people play Shadowfist – things have cool names.  It is, however, a rather terrible card.  Sure, the threat of its ability is vaguely better than using its ability, but I’d rather have a good Lotus 4-F character and, no, not Underworld Tracker – UT is just so dull with its obvious brokenness.  Sure, I’ll play UTs at times, but that just shows two things.  Omega, I do actually play good/broken cards at times in CCGs.  Psi, Lotus brokenness is more palatable to me than other brokenness just as Centauri cheese was more palatable to me than Narn cheese or Voter Cap abuse has become more palatable to me than Dominate abuse.

Gamma, events.  Corruption, to me, is sweet delicious feldspar-hard plums.  It’s just fun and totally my sort of card.  I should do a Card of the Weak for Shadowfist where I bring up all of the cards in other CCGs that are like Corruption that float my kayak.  Evil Whispers was an experiment.  Evil Whispers is awful in our meta for the obvious …, Gardens related reason.  It marginally got me more power than it gave my opponents.  Flying Sleeves is really good, twice (yup, 2 for 2) stopping Xin Ji Yang from causing the Empire of Evil to my left from winning.

Delta, generic events.  Why the same seven?  Alt power gain, even in the land of Gardens, is necessary.  Larcenous Mist isn’t just to further punish tank decks or gun decks or whatever, it’s also to address that some players like to play absurdly obnoxious characters.  Discerning is mostly to murder monkeys … and whatever else annoys me that day.  There was a turn in game two in which Don was set up to go for the win and had my Seven Evils for the turn.  I told Joren I could deal with Seven Evils.  I was prepared to Discerning Fire for “evil” to remove Empire of Evil as well, as I didn’t want to choose demon when Don didn’t have another demon in play, leaving me the only other demonmeister.

Two Lotus decks that have incredible similarities and ridiculous differences.  That’s just how I roll.  If IKG would ever let me design a card, I’d create a Lotus character.  A noble, virtuous Lotus character because you can look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!  The Empire of Good shall reign!  Yup, that’s a classic poem reference and a callback within this post.  I may be getting more and more decrepit, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.

So, what happened?

Ian (Eleven Evils) -> Don (Feast of Souls) -> Joren (monkeys)

I actually had to support Don at times.  So it is written, so mote it be – monkeys gotta meet their maker.

I had Die!!! in my hand early on while Don and Joren were tussling, but I couldn’t play it.  Yes, even given our house rules, I still run into resource issues.

What made this game unusual was that we got into this situation where everyone was constantly on 3-4 FSSs.  I actually had a pretty good setup with four FSS in play because Joren had Potlatched me, so, since everyone else would win if they took one of my sites, I not only always had four in play but could afford to lose one and still just take for the victory.

The actual victory was not terribly interesting, being attrition based as we kept stopping Don’s hitters and Joren’s monkey poo from winning.  Sure, Don did have a Haunted Forest in play that duped a Family Home, then a Mobius Gardens.  He cancelled his Feast of Souls when I Eatered it, as his deck is designed to do.

Sure, I won both games.  I tend to do better in three-players probably because someone else is usually the threat early, yet our rules allow for people to always be in the game.  Maybe the fewer decisions on what to do make it easier for me to make decisions that balance things in my favor.

Welp, that’s Shadowfist from 2017/7/6.  It’s like gaming, with customizable decks.  It’s like the good stuff in life.

On a totally unrelated note, congratulations to Martin for winning the V:TES NAC.  Great guy.  I really, really need to figure out a plan for playing V:TES more often.  At this rate, though, not until after Gen Con.  No momentum at all locally, from what I see, due to Anthology Set, which a shame it be.


KublaCon 2017

June 3, 2017

It seems like each year KublaCon is less and less convenient for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I do monthly financial reporting for work that is timed toward end of month/beginning of month or what.  Well, even with my previous company, where I didn’t have such things, there were things like doing training on the East Coast, so maybe what.

Add in how less enamored I am by local con RPG play and add in how Gen Con did something dumb and scheduled event registration on a holiday weekend, and what I get is a barely there fare.

I skipped Friday to try to get rest and/or something done for the Saturday evening Traveller demo.  I skipped Monday, even though there were two RPGs I had interest in, because of old man disease.

Saturday

I move slow.  Build my Shadowfist Classic deck, figure I’ll play it multiple times rather than switch decks between games, so I bloat it to an absurd 45 cards to give me lots of extra options.  Base it on my ole Aerial Bombardment, Fire in the Sky deck that sometimes worked … somehow.

I get to the con about 11:30AM and find out CCGs are in a different room this year.  Get to the room.  A good room!?!

Maybe trying to separate CCGers from mainstream sorts is a new goal, and we just got the benefit of isolation’s blessed windowfulness.

Watch Earl and Jason finish up on Star Realms.  Then, we get five players.  Earl keeps offering to sit out so that we don’t have to endure five, but he-y-y-y, it’s all good, who doesn’t love five player CCG play?

Game 1:

Drew (Architects) -> Earl (Hand Monkeys) -> Jason (Architects w/ Napalm Belchers) -> Miguel (Big Bruisers, et al) -> Ian (Blood Eagles)

Actually, I think maybe Miguel went first.  I’d give my deck a better name except:  1, unlike V:TES, there isn’t a bunch of real world flavor text to steal; 2, Blood Eagles.

I lived the cheese dream … I actually make an effort to do strong things in my Shadowfist tournament decks because I don’t have a history of repeated accidental success that leads to winning every tournament I’ve ever played with a Sensory Overload deck … and get Möbius Gardens, Test Subjects, and Manufactured Island out on turn one.  Or, I could be totally wrong and my Gardens was a Dockyard, otherwise known as the only other Modern relevant FSS, but I think it was a Gardens.

Then, it doesn’t take forever for me to get a Blood Eagles in play.  I’m doing stuff … I’m doing stuff.  Miguel also does stuff and I’m not so threatening that he doesn’t backwards or crosstable his stuff.  In fact, his armada of two Good Ol’ Boys is feverishly eager to inflict heinous beats upon my poor partially damaged Manufactured Island.

So, I Bzzzzzt! one of them.

Drew plays Loyalty Officers.  They eventually get cleared by Final Brawl.  Earl has a slow game, lacking Monkey madness but still Iron Monkeys and picks on people who have more power than I.  Jason can’t get any resources so keeps playing sites but eventually gets out a Napalm Belcher and the “fun” part of Shadowfist ensues.

Drew puts out Dr. Jean-Marc Ngubane, so he can unturn a Belcher.  My CHAR gets Tracer Implanted, so I never turn it again, though I considered the possibility of turning it when going for the vic-tor-y play.

Instead, CHAR is an Expendable Unit, and I eventually get down to Assassin Bug, Arcanomoth, Blood Eagles.  I believe Arcanomoth is turned for some reason and still in play but maybe got wiped by this point, then all of this stuff is wiped.  Earl and Miguel have generated heft, with Big Bruisers being kind of easy for my deck to kill if I have the cards but not so much when I don’t have the cards.  Everyone has been a threat except Drew.

I survey the sadness that will come after I pass my turn and decide there’s no place like resting all hope on an Assassin Bug.  Assassin Bug feasts on Ngubane’s soul as nobody has anything to intercept with.  Blood Eagles with two damage and an Arcano- … wait, not an Arcanomoth since my Reinvigoration Process gets undone … my Dark Traveler … my 2-Fighting Dark Traveler go for Drew’s damaged FSS for the win.

And, that’s Shadowfist.  Hey, pun-time.  My deck could have been called Traveler, The Next Generation to … um … to … em … to achieve ultimate dorkiness.

That was not a quick game.  Then, there was game two.

Game 2:

Drew  -> Miguel (Monarchs) -> Earl (Lotus w/ Uniqueness) -> Ian -> Jason (Lords)

This was not a quick game.  Miguel came out fast with Queen of the Ice Pagoda and continued to threaten, though never did the annoying Ice Sword play on her that I see so often.  With his Netherworld Returns, the game got funky at times.  His Monarchs kept getting beaten up, even Darkness going down, but Returns was undermining Drew’s ability to “We Can Rebuild Him”.

Earl just got stronger and stronger over time, though we did manage to toast a couple of his Underworld Trackers and Miguel did turn the Queen of the Ice Pagoda into a ghost before she could get Tortured Memoriesed.

I was not strong.  I discarded a couple of times before playing any cards.  By the time I could get a site and a foundation in play, I had lost something like six characters to discards.  When I finally play a CHAR to have something that isn’t a foundation in play, it gets toasted by a redirected fight of the Darkness Queen, leaving me with pretty much Arcanomoth as my only way to have more than a 4-Fighting character in play, and I couldn’t even do that because I didn’t have three Architects resources.

Seemed to be payback for game one to prevent someone from sweeping to undisputed victory for the Championship of the sixth largest economy in the world.

Miguel was so threatful, only by decking did he ceased being a factor, which also didn’t help me any as I kind of liked his threat factoriness to rein in Earl.  Jason got strong at one point with Lord Shi and Lord Hawksmoor, but he got beset by Wailing Apparitions.  Yes, that’s Shadowfist, and I told Earl I’ve routinely seen their annoying ability matter.

Drew got a Napalm Belcher and didn’t Belch Earl when Earl had one location and lots of little stuff.  Typical Shadowfist stoppage (aka every possible effect) stopped stuff to keep the game going.  Oh, I remember why I wanted Miguel in play – his sites were easier to take than other people’s.  I decked without a real chance to win.

Later, I found out Earl had won.  For you see, I had a Traveller demo to do.

Traveller Demo

We had like seven people, no one who actually knew about our Kickstarter.  We didn’t have great demo product to show people, but things seemed okay.  We are still moving towards putting what we think is a good looking, solid game out.  Mostly need to get things printed at this point.

Bohnanza

As mentioned, I defeat a 10-year old on tiebreakers.  Who’s the Bean Harvester Now?

Game 3:

Back to Shadowfist.  Miguel has stuff he needs to do, so time to play crummy less than five-player Fist.

Ian (Lotus Killing Rain) -> Jason (Reentry Squad) -> Drew (Hand) -> Earl (Purists)

I so hated this game.  It happens.  It happens with V:TES, with B5, with … er … Blood Wars? and all sorts of other multiplayer card games.

Some day, I need to actually have more Killing Rains in my Killing Rain deck since I rarely play them.

Here’s the problem.  Jason’s deck is a site suppression deck.  Drew didn’t play sites but somehow got enough power to keep putting out annoying Hand characters like Buddhist Bellringer and Reformed Bandit.

None of us had answers to Reentry Squad until late in the game, when I was irrelevant.  The thing was that early in the game I wasn’t irrelevant, getting enough fight in play to take sites, but I didn’t know what to do when only Earl had any sites in play.  Oh, sure, if I was the only one with dudes, I could take on the table, but Jason and Drew had dudes, just no sites.  Then, my sites kept getting taken out by either Jammer crap or being attacked, which meant I couldn’t generate any power as my dudes started disappearing, which led to Shadowfisticus Ineffectualitus – an extremely common disease when playing normal rules.

Sure, it was funny when I took one damage to each of my FSSs and I revealed two Diamond Beaches to go with my third Diamond Beach, but, after that, I was sitting around waiting for Earl to win.  For, you see, Earl’s decks tend to have long game play, so they will keep getting Mutators out or whatever and no one will board wipe.  I did try an Underworld Coronation on my Exorcist, but, predictably, Jammers players always have Who’s the Monkey Now? in hand when I play character removal.

Drew eventually ended up winning after spending much of the game attacking right, with a decent sized horde that included some superleap.

The Thursday night group whines about superleap constantly, but it doesn’t really bother me that much.  I find sitenuke far more annoying not because it’s more powerful but because it undermines the basic nature of the game of putting sites in play and having characters attack them.  I find power steal far more annoying because it can easily lock a player out of the game.  I find edges far more annoying because the power level on a lot of them is way too high for a repeatable effect when there’s really relatively little edge removal in the game.

Pretty much every Shadowfist game really needs one Final Brawl played, one Thunder on Thunder played, maybe one Neutron Bomb played.  Instead, either feast or famine on these sorts of plays, though only the first gets really annoying when it happens multiple times.

Sunday

Gen Con event registration, the second most stressful day of every year, though, actually, my wish list hardly mattered due to how many HoR events I was signing up for.  When I saw Don Thursday, he said he didn’t get into anything he tried to.  I just assumed I’d get into everything except Friday 2PM because I wasn’t our group’s True Dungeon guy.  Dave had the lamentable task of trying to get us into TD and True Grind.

We did well.

I go back to sleep.  I eat something at home.  While I did have tan tan mian from Shanghai Dumpling Shop, I will say this – I’m disappointed with what was my favorite restaurant.  Both tan tan mian and the sesame dumplings in crushed peanuts are nowhere near as good as they used to be.  Yeah, I can continue to get savory dumplings from them, but I miss what were two of my favorite dishes in the panverse.  Also, Zorba’s pizza way overpriced for what it was.  So many places could drive to in the area that would interest me.

I roll into the con 3:30PM to be available for pickup V:TES and to drop off Anthology Sets.  I sit around for a while with only Brad and Rob being around to talk about stuff.  I also unload some 30,000 cards I was sitting on to be passed to needful players.

Seriously, I don’t know if it’s because of shipment costs, but anyone in California can effortless have a 30,000 card collection just by waiting around until someone leaves the game.  V:TES staples are not remotely hard to get.  I could probably drop 10,000 extras on someone if I felt so inclined.

My V:TES event starts half an hour after the Shadowfist Modern tournament.  I have no chance to prove I dominate at all multiplayer CCGs that lack Dominate.  I was the defending Modern champion from last year’s Kubla.

We have seven players at first.  Yes, multiplayer CCGs are a Bear Market when it comes to having the right number of players.

I don’t try running tournaments at cons anymore, just too unpredictable who is playing, how long anyone is playing, etc.  So, I give away my precious boosters as table prizes and let people play for a pack.

I win my first game with like 11 Hermana Mayors in play or it timed out or whatever.  I remember the last game, when tiredness was kicking in, that I killed my predator with Can’t Take it with You to table split with my prey.  My predator had like double digit pool.

It’s not that I’d rather play Shadowfist.  It’s just that getting to play CCGs is rare enough that I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to play all of the CCGs I could.

Long, boring drives home after midnight.  I’ve got to start scheduling my events at 8AM, when I’m up and at ’em.

Traveler, The Next Junction Point

Faction: Architect
Size: 45

Architect Cards (24)
Characters (14)
3x Arcanomoth
2x Assassin Bug
4x Blood Eagles
2x CHAR
3x Test Subjects

Edges (2)
2x Reinvigoration Process

Events (8)
3x Aerial Bombardment
2x Bzzzzzt!
1x Expendable Unit
2x Fire in the Sky

Generic Cards (21)
Characters (2)
2x Dark Traveler

Events (8)
1x Ejector Seat Malfunction
1x Salvage
5x Scrounging
1x The Algernon Effect

Feng Shui Sites (10)
2x Dockyard
5x Möbius Gardens
3x Manufactured Island

States (1)
1x Disintegrator Ray

You know, just because Imprisoned, Nerve Gas, and Neutron Bomb are on my personal banned list doesn’t mean I don’t love me my Architects.  Yeah, I actually find Architects very pleasing, sometimes even more pleasing than Lotus for when I’m tired of same old, same old deck building with Lotus.  That’s me – the removal guy.  Yup, I’m a Red/Black kind of player.  I Shake Up.  I … I … have a hard time continuing the theme though B5, WoT, et al do have character removal.


EC 2017 – Explicatio

May 28, 2017

There are some details I missed in the last post.

I never saw Celerity guns or Celerity sticks.  In hindsight, I should have played winnie Celerity, maybe sign some 5-caps without Auspex for the adoring public (hey Sheila, want an autographed crypt card?).

I remembered my other opponent in the second storyline game.  I was in the bathroom, shaving I think, when I started thinking about how much I hate Powerbase: Montreal.  I was considering the obvious way to get rid of it and various other annoying cards, when I realized my grandprey was Kemal playing fat Tzimisce.

Yes, the only reason I remembered the one time I played against Kemal was because of hating Montreal.  For, you see, I had little to do in that game besides take Kemal’s Montreal, which he tried to block with one dude, where I Call of the Hungry Deaded a Tzimisce at inferior and he stopped caring.

Kemal brought out John Paleologus first and used his ability a couple of times.  Still don’t recall Kari’s deck all that well.

So, moving on to where I’m wrong.

Does deck strength matter more than I have suggested?

That’s the most interesting question to me.

Putting that aside, does my play ability and/or style work poorly in large events, crossregional events, or both?

I’m just going to rule out sample size with my games because I wasn’t just impuissant in 8 rounds but pretty useless.

Let’s get play out of the way first.

Play skill is not any one thing.  There’s knowledge:  I was surprised how many cards people weren’t particularly familiar with and do find it kind of odd when good players don’t know what burn-a-vampire-action, I mean, Soul Painting does.  Opponent deck archetype knowledge or possible plays by other decks, too.  There’s technical skill – remembering to take for the edge, ordering effects during untap and master, remembering transfers, not transferring up the wrong minion, understanding combat timing, understanding out of turn action timing, etc., etc., etc.  There’s threat assessment of decks and specific plays, e.g. counting up how much pool damage someone could reasonably do in a turn.  There’s manipulation, not just of a sinister sort but just getting people to recognize how much they can annihilate someone else if they feel it in their hearts.  There’s understanding your own deck in terms of when to cycle, what to expect to draw, what cards in the deck will change the game.  And, whatever else.

I think I do well in knowledge and decently in technical skill.  I think I’m good on threat assessment.  I’m not so good on manipulation, maybe was better before when I cared more whether other people let someone win by ignoring table threats and would talk more.  I don’t deal hardly at all.  I don’t even see the need to deal, but that’s some sort of ideal where everyone is equally awesome and sees the same things I see in a game.

What’s interesting is how poorly I understand how to play my own decks.  Now, one could make the argument that my penchant for playing decks in tournaments for the first and only time in a given tournament means I don’t achieve mastery over how my decks play as other people achieve mastery over their decks.  I often wonder if I don’t cycle enough based on what sort of threats other decks display.

There are certainly far better players and many, many better players than I.  But, I don’t feel overwhelmed by play skill in most of my games.

So, let’s talk about play style, which is different enough to break out separately from play ability.

I do think my play style fits poorly with playing with people who don’t know me and other people’s play styles suit better than mine when playing with the less familiar.  What is my play style?

I actually enjoy playing from a position of weakness.  It amuses me to have low pool, for instance.  I strive for the least threatening position at tables.  This works fine locally because even though people may still consider me to be some sort of threat there’s a lot of table balancing that occurs and there’s not a lot of crush the weak.

As I said in the last post, when I play in tournaments elsewhere, I find there’s a lot more not bothering to table balance the threat and, instead, taking out the weak for VPs even if it doesn’t help long run.  Of course, this is anecdotal.

I don’t talk much, though I will occasionally be so apoplectic at players ignoring that someone is going to run away with a game that I will still interject comments.  I don’t cripple players, generally being interested in players having a chance to lose to me after 1.5 hours of my hunting.

So, I depend heavily on my other opponents to properly punish the winful deck(s).  Given that many of my opponents’ decks have poor control elements, sometimes that’s not even possible.  I avoid decks that do nothing but go forward, but other people will play them.

Now, the rub is that this fondness for weakness carries over to deckbuilding.  My personal banned list is ultimately about avoiding boring plays, but many, many best plays are boring plays.  It’s a big deal when you don’t allow yourself to play Second Tradition, nevermind Govern/Conditioning.

So, there is an argument that I’m a chump, fish, a deserver of Darby’s scorn simply because I don’t work on my fierceness or on mind controlling the weak of will.

But, that’s less interesting to me than the question of deckbuilding.  Why?  I guess it’s because I bitch about how players blame their decks rather than blame their poor play skill on why they lose.  If I’m wrong about deck construction matters, then it undermines my ability to tell people “stop worrying about your deck and just play better”.

Though, anyone can build any deck.  Anyone can webdeck.  Anyone can borrow cards they don’t have.  So, it’s still a pretty easy argument that someone’s deckbuilding skills are pretty much irrelevant to their success.

However, my deckbuilding decisions may be relevant to my success.  I mean, I’m not supermotivated to try to run around and win continental championships.  I don’t have a competitive personality, so my value in playing games is in being amused by them far more than in winning them.

Oh, I would note that I’m the Shadowfist Classic Champion for the sixth largest economy in the world (if you include states).  Assassin Bug for the win!  And, I totally won last night’s Bohnanza game by beating a 10-year old on tiebreakers.

Minimum threshold of viability.  I talk about this a lot with multiplayer CCGs.  The concept took root with me from Babylon 5 play, but I also apply it to V:TES.  Another name for failing to meet the MToV is a nutpuncher deck.

I have previously talked about MToV as a single thing.  But, I can see the reasonable argument that what can win a 10-12 player, 2+F tournament by getting 2 VPs in prelim rounds and timing out with 1.5 in the finals is not the same as what will get you into the finals of a 156 player tournament.

MToV is a moving target?  Okay, sure.  My !Malks with Vicissitude build (I would note Zettler made one of the crypts of the finals of Day 1) might fall into victory in some local event just as my ridiculous Ravnos deck got into a finals on a roll off and then won because everyone wanted my prey dead.  But, it can’t fall into 2 GWs in three rounds.  Same with my vaguely Pre/Vic bruise bleed deck (sorry, Henrik, maybe it won’t work as well for you as I suggested it could).

Now, how you identify whether a deck hits MToV is interesting.  Danilo’s Day 2 winning deck is pretty cool, but it’s hardly a common archetype.

So, you hit MToV.  What’s the range above MToV?  Is it a wide range, where Grinder, Girls, winnie Animalism, winnie _, et al or so much better than, say, random PRE vote?  Is the range not so great where any MToV-satisfying deck is fine and you should just “play better” or metagame better or be at the whim of matchups and seating?

Since my perceptions on what is viable are so skewed by smaller tournaments, I don’t have a sense of that range.

Metagaming is also a thing.  I metagamed poorly for Day 1 in that I could have easily taken out some combat ends and added a bunch more bleed bounce and maybe been more relevant.  I’m not sure I metagamed poorly for Shadow Twin, as I did see a lot more combat like I expected and I laughed at combat [ha ha, ha] all the while I was being ousted.

My most obvious problem is speed.  I get run over a lot when I play outside this region.  I used to play winnies and midcaps far, far more than I do these days.

There’s a reason.  I crave variety.  I run fatties not for their sweet, sweet abilities or lots of votes or whatever but because they share out of clan disciplines.  I play fatties with cool names (I think) or maybe cool art (really?) – nah, I play fatties that other people don’t … because other people don’t, and that’s the fact Jack.

I’ve got to stop doing that or get serious about acceleration.  Yeah, I write up a lot of decks with Info plus Dreams plus Zillahs, but a lot of the decks I’ll play in tournaments will cut most or all of the Zillahs out to make room for Inner Essence and Zip Line.

So, really, I’ve got to stop playing fatties, since I don’t try to abuse their powers.  I need to get back to lots of cheapish minions who take lots of hunt actions.  Though, given my limitations on playing Dominate, there is a reason I go fat with DOM to be able to Murmur folks.  If I could Conditioning like the old days, any random 5 cap is functional.

In other words, I need to be building Ancilla Antics decks.  Or, bunch of 3 caps since I didn’t see Neonate Breach in Berlin.

Of course, I wandered back into play style when talking about building decks differently.  I actually like playing weenies, I just don’t like being punished for playing less good weenies because people Scourge or whatever.

Even with my rather extensive banned list, I think there are plenty of reasonable decks and ones that better suit getting moving faster and having some sort of impact on the game.  I just need to The Becoming those possibilities rather than expecting to need to play Extremis Boon every round.

So, what did I not talk about that I should have?  Most folks care less about my brainwandering egofests than in what the metagame was like, how to own Grinder/Kiasyd SB/winnie Animalism/unnamed/Matasuntha/blah, and, you know, something revelatory about this game.

Actually, I’ve gotten various deck ideas both to metagame against my predilections and to actually incorporate Anthology Set cards.  Maybe I’ll say something about building decks with Anthology Set stuff.  Still annoyed Spiritual Guidance got printed when there were so many other cards from e-sets I would find more regardable.


EC 2017: Veni. Vidi. Suxisti!

May 24, 2017

So, I went to the 2017 V:TES European Championships.  An obsession with Eyes of Argus (on my banned list), Enkil Cog (banned list), er …, Deep Song (banned list) …  Okay, it was cherry juice.  Cherry juice was the driving force behind going to Berlin.  That and Australian women.

Maybe I should start over.

Before V:TES ceased to be a thing, I wanted to hit a EC and a NAC in Columbus.  I had worked out in my spreadsheet how to have enough hours (stealing from my future accruals) to accomplish both.  Then, I used up more hours than I planned, so I let NAC drop for this year.  Still, with everyone under the Moon, even those who don’t actually play, wanting Anthology Sets and my mother figuring out whether she was going to vacation in Europe, Berlin was booked.

As was London because I didn’t see the point of going for less than two weeks and I didn’t see a point in spending two weeks in Berlin.  My mother had spent a few years going to school in London, so, in theory, we could visit places she knew.  Nigh 60 years absence kind of made that not part of the trip.

We arrive.  In the East End.  To the pub!

See the mustard. Too much mustard.

As is the norm among all middle thinking people, the pub is where you go to drink water and eat.  Yes, every single pub in England I’ve been to I’ve just had water to drink.

My hope was to have localish food in England, pub burger, pub fish and chips, kind of forgot about pub meat pie.  Meat pie.  It was good.  The mustard tray came with dijon, whole grain, and English.  Not liking either of the first two, I figure English would taste … whoa!  Okay, I guess it’s just Statespeople who like sweet mustard that isn’t remotely horseradishy or wasabii.

We only had four days fully open to tourist.  We did not effectively use them all, however I could say we reasonably touristed three days.  We did hit the Childhood Museum a block away from our room.  We did have ice cream at Harrods.  Before getting into other touristing, I should note that my breakfast lasagne at E Pellicci was some of my best food.  Thing about hole in the wall places there – crowded and loud.  I’ll comment more on food hither as I’m sure my insights will sea shanty your world.

Llort! Llort?!?

Yessim.  The key to going to London is to go to Cambridge and do what everyone does in Cambridge – get some Babylon 5 CCG in.  We played two very long games with some cafeteria food lunch and a bit of a crisis averted.

First Game [this is a gaming blog, wrong?]:

I played Ivanova Death Incarnate.  I completely mangled the opening.  I was supposed to Rapid Growth on turn one and sponsor Susan.  I forgot how Rapid Growth/Airlock Mishap openings work.  I set myself probably two turns behind.

Other decks played were home faction Narns, Minbari with intrigue, Non-Aligned.  Narns, for some reason, didn’t develop any infrastructure.  What was interesting was one of the last few groups to play doesn’t use standard openings that get you to 10 influence rapidement.  I didn’t seem terribly threatening, mostly because I couldn’t draw any conflicts and was mostly screwing around with putting things like Spin Doctors out while the Non-Aligned seemed out of control.  I finally started on conflicts.  The Narns Allianced us.  I attacked some with Ivanovas since I could just replace them all.  I brought out Diplomacy characters.  I Rally the People and have enough with A Rising Power to win.

Second Game:

I switch to Llort.  Not Chosen of Llort.  Llort Fast Learner Bodyguard and Non-Aligned Fanatic Llort.  Maybe the spiritual realm was trying to tell me something about playing ineffectual decks as I was ineffectual, actually going back to 10 influence from being above 10 influence.  Home Minbari, Home Centauri Shadows, Bester opposed the righteous Llort.  Centauri should have won.  Then, for some reason, he put Forced Evolution in play to make it harder for him to win and the game times out with a Minbari/Centauri tie.

Crusade cards suck.  I don’t care that they played The Fen constantly and even adapted their play to The Fen.  I care about undercosted or zero costed cards coming into play and dumb turns like making Probes be less huge and just general getting away from what the game was supposed to be about, like Llort.  Oops, argument fail … argument fail!

The highlight of London … em … England was punting on the Cam.  It was relaxing and touristy and our punter was entertaining.

Next day, Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge.  Interesting observation.  No effort to leave time for shopping.  It just felt odd to be rushed about.  Sure, you could shop, but, then, you didn’t spend much time castling or bathing or hengeing.  The guide also didn’t guide much.

Bath was the weakest part of the tour as it was far too museumy for me.  Windsor was wandering around a castle.  Stonehenge was a bright day in the countryside without any interdimensional portals opening up or whatever.  Oh, I should mention that while there was a decent amount of Sun in London, most days it was chilly due to wind.  Sunday, the day when we spent much of the time indoors and on a bus, was warm.  Now, I’m not a warm person, running rather hot [oh nevermind] [see enjoying Scandinavia in January], but we wanted to Thames at some point and warmth on water body not terrible.

As anyone can get pictures of Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge, here’s (of course) a Bath picture.

Nicer looking than broken stone.

Monday, we did get on a ship cruising the Thames, hit Greenwich just before Royal Observatory closed but didn’t think to go to Average Time until time was annihilated into the past.

So, food.  Food was surprisingly cheap in London.  In that, we ended up eating very oddly and kept missing out on pubbing or tourist-fooding.  We had fast food.  It was bad.  Every single time I’ve had fish and chips in England it has been rather awful.  Speaking of chips.  Every single time I’ve had chips [sic] in England, they have been gross.  Soggy crap like you get from fast food places in the States.  Every single time I’ve been to Greenwich, I’ve gotten a burger and French Fries [sic] and it was good.  Now, I did ask them to crisp up my French Fries [sic], but they were better cooked to begin with (I didn’t notice any difference with my mother’s).  Plus, Peanut Butter Cup milkshake was good.  So, secret to eating in London is pay for the extra privilege (aka quid) of having Americanized food.  Or, seek out your breakfast lasagne, whatever.  To be fair, our only pub food was good.

I need to move on … to Berlin.

We get into Tegel, I stupidly have us use public transportation to get to our service apartment.  Not only did that fail when we got to Alexanderplatz because heaven forbid that you put information counters in major public transportation hubs where tourists can find them, but the trek to Alexanderplatz was pain.  Even the better, less stoppy bus, would have taken you through awful looking town in unenthralling weather.  I like overcast, but going from London’s bright and cheery and woodsyness to drab and boxy and congestedness of our bus trip made me hate having to spend so much time in Berlin.

Then, we settled in and wandered a bit and the city was much more pleasant.  We were a five minute walk from Museum Island.  We had the Magic Museum on our block (I eventually didn’t bother due to its reviews).  Walking to U-Bahn stations not so bad.

Speaking of bad.  I hated public transportation besides U-Bahn.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s underground subways and everything else is misery.  Tube – fine.  Metro – my hood.  U-Bahn – same old, same old.  Buses?  Nein!  Trams, S-Bahn, regional trains, trains to other cities?  Icksome.

Speaking of dumb.  I got us Welcome Cards for Berlin, figuring 8 days was enough to tourist.  I was wrong.  We only used the discounts once on the entire trip.  Either too busy, too tired, or the museum or tour we had to pay for didn’t give discounts.  The only good thing was that we never had to get transportation tickets due to the timing of when we validated the Welcome Cards and when we were leaving.

In the hood.

So, food.  London cheap.  Berlin expensive.  Of course, we did mostly sit down restaurants in Berlin in our hood.  Also, what killed the pocketbook wasn’t food.  It was cherry juice.  Every single time I’ve spent more than a week in Germany I’ve never had a beer.  Oh, I should mention that I had no tea in England, not even in the room.  Drinks aren’t just expensive – $4.50 Cokes, for instance – but the volume is weak sauce.  In the US, you pay $2.50 or possibly more these days in a sit down restaurant for a Coke, but you get free refills.  I had like $3.50 juices of .2 liters.  How can someone eat food with .2 liters of drink?

Now, KiBa was really good both times.  My Coconut Kiss was really good and not horrendously priced at the place near the EC.  But, tea, coffee, water outside of the local places near the EC were just incredibly expensive relative to the volume.

Then, there was the EC’s hood.  Pop out of the Birkenstraße Station and you get a coffee/pastry shop with decent sized cafe au lait.  You get döner kebap sandwiches that are huge, may have amazingly good bread, and cost like $4.  And, there’s markets around to get drinks from if you take your food to go.

Oh yeah, the EC.  I played 8 competitive rounds, a storyline pickup game, and three casual games.  This is my tale.

Because we have a limited tolerance for wandering around, we go by the EC on Thursday to see what’s going on.  I get into a pickup game with Rudolf as my predator, Ali as my prey, Dean as my grandprey, and I can almost remember my grandpredator – Peter, maybe.

I borrow Dean’s !Toreador Embrace deck because I was touristing and didn’t bring decks.  I didn’t draw Embraces until the game was essentially over.  I can try to search my mind for who started my games, but, since I didn’t post this when I got home last Wednesday, I’m just going to rush through by listing myself first in every game.

Pickup 1:

Ian (!Toreador horde) -> Ali (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> Dean (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> ?? (??) -> Rudolf (Tzimisce high caps)

General observation – Armin, Dmitra, Hektor, Tara, Jan, et al were extremely popular across all of the events.  What was somewhat different was how fighty the versions were I saw.

Dean brings out vampire.  Ali stops transferring to same vampire.  I bring out dorks, I Palla Grande a couple of times, Ali has no game.  Dean ousts his prey somehow, not entirely sure how.  I go ahead and oust Dean.  I concede after a couple of fights in endgame.  If I wanted to play a better game, I would have played differently, letting Dean work on Rudolf harder, but it was not a great game, so might as well end it.

Storyline:

I didn’t build specific storyline decks.  I happened to have a deck that could work for End of the Line, which a lot of people couldn’t play due to the low cap crypt requirement.  I did have leftover decks that were clanny, so I played Samedi, taking out some of the cards that didn’t work when I played my LMC/Groaning Corpse deck prior.

Samedi -> Ravnos Fatuus Mastery -> Ralf playing !Toreador with sticks -> Ben playing Matasuntha -> Tito playing Aabbt Kindred (storyline!)

I had no predator early on, as only Aabbt came out and started Camera Phoning.  My prey tried SensDep forward.  Tito had no predator.  I ended up with three Samedi SensDepped.  Yup, my two times in life having three minions SensDepped were the time I played a Regaining the Upper Hand deck and the time I played Samedi Groaning Corpse in a storyline event.

My prey did get two VPs, so it was the right play.  Tito, of course, won, once he could start bleeding and I had like three Deflections in my hand at the end of the game having played none all game.

Samedi -> Bart playing with an Archbishop of Berlin! -> blanked -> Kari still blanking -> NewJah

This was maybe my most irrelevant game, as NewJah just rolled over me with stealth bleed as is its wont.  This game timed out with only my being ousted.  It shows how weak my frail mind has become that I don’t recall what other people were playing, just that titles mattered across table and I’m pretty sure Kari was Governing.  I think she was playing !Trem because I expected Oriandus to pop, probably a Malgorzata deck, but I could be making things up.  It’s really bad that I can’t even picture anything of my grandprey’s deck anymore.  Tzimisce, I think, as it torped Bart’s dudes reasonably often, maybe advanced Sascha was in play.

I didn’t feel the storyline flavor of this event.  But, then, ever since the first one, I never understood why people play good clans in storylines.  That someone likes a clan is not an argument for seeing Malks, Ventrue, et al.  I like Tzimisce but don’t play them in an event designed to make the world more interesting.

I was surprised that it was just a 2+F event.  Not that I want to play 3+F events, but I was surprised.

Pickup 2:

I hung around to play a rather Americanized pickup game, where James played his Corrupt Construction deck, Kevin played some Ravnos deck that didn’t do much.  Some Swiss guy was my predator.  Phillip was my prey with Tremere.

Yes, I went to Europe and all I got to play against was a Los Angeles/Taiwan Corrupt Construction deck I’ve played like five times against.  What did I play?  Standard Matthias gets Temporis and Summons History.

I got 2 VPs just before time as I beat down Phillip’s board mostly due to Ivory Bow as Ponticulus was in play.  Pickup game 2 VPs – that was towering crescendo of effectiveness.

Day 1:

I thought about metagaming harder against hyperbleed, but I just wanted to play my deck.  I didn’t realize it was a sloppy 90 cards until I counted it up.

Ian (Aus/Dem/Obf/Vic) -> Gines (Giotto, Nos Princes) -> (Grinder) -> Peter (Thucimia) -> (Winnie Dementation)

I should know my predator’s name as I talked to him on Day 2 quite a bit, but I’m actually fading writing this post.

Gines was going to win unless my predator crosstabled him.  I thought about suggesting that and didn’t bother.  I did hang around a little bit longer so that I could play a Madman’s Quill on Giotto with only three Dementation bleed decks at the table.  Gines got rid of it, right away.  My predator ousted me because he didn’t want to be ousted.

Gines got too fast a start for his prey and I didn’t control Gines in any way, though I had the cards in the deck to kill Parity Shifts.  Gines 4.

Ian -> Frank (small cap Tzimisce wall) -> Dean (Gangrel Animalism) -> Michael (Carna and friends) -> Kari (Trem/!)

This was surprisingly NoCalish, in that Dean took three actions to burn the Pentex on my Gravitnir and they all got blocked by my prey.  Kari gave me some rope to push on the wall, but I was largely ineffectual.

How ineffectual?

I bring out Gravitnir.  My prey places The Erciyes Fragments.  I take an action to steal it.  We fight.  I don’t maneuver.  He uses Dean’s Aid from Bats to maneuver.  I Breath of the Dragon.  I continue to try to take Erciyes or play Madman’s Quills on my prey, and every single attempt gets blocked.  Did I do any pool damage?  After the game I thought naught.  But, maybe I did Changeling bleed once.

I played with two vampires (Luc).  I got Pentexed by my prey, my predator’s first Magic of the Smith was for Signet of King Saul when her predator was kind of already strong and the only 8+ cap that hit play was mine, I got ‘schrecked when playing a combat ends.

General observation backed up by some other people agreeing.  People would rather lose to Govern/Conditioning and Kindred/Confusion than face the unknown.  People expect Dementation bleed from Zettler and Gravitnir?  Why would anyone bother?

I pontificated about my lack of success and in what way my beliefs are wrong about the game.  Does deck construction matter more than I think?  Am I suckier than I think?  Is my play style all wrong?

Play style for the moment.  I rely heavily on other players realizing that I’m virtually never a threat and that someone else is.  I rely on people not crippling the weak.  General observation – a lot of players in crossregional metagames don’t go after the strong but cripple the weak and seemingly play for 1 or 2 VPs.  This is interesting because one thing I’m pretty sure about is that I don’t build decks oriented to multiple game wins and you need multiple game wins to win 156 player tournaments or even 88 player tournaments much of the time.

I had my Sanguine Instruction between two !Malks … for Vicissitude … blocked.  My prey feared my !Malky bleed possibilities – my prey had bounce.

Dean, Frank, and I just beating on each other meant Michael had an easy game.  Kari finished me off, I played Extremis Boon, Michael spent some time calculating the amount of pool to give me, Frank Suddened the Extremis Boon.

Ian -> Bart (Winnie Auspex Anarch) -> Jaakko (Kiasyd SB) -> Enrico (Malk94) -> Jan (!Brujah beats)

Jan Havened and IGed backwards but gave up on eviscerating his predator.  Enrico didn’t bounce early but just kept bleeding and being torped.  Jaakko had sporadic bleed.  I kept trying to Madman’s Quill Bart, but it didn’t work.  I tried Concealing his Bowl, that didn’t work.  I lost a variety of cards to Constant Revolution, which didn’t really hurt me, I wanted one more round to discard 3 cards at random.  I lost Extremis Boon and Personal Scourge.  I did Inner Essence/Coma one of Bart’s dudes, but we mostly just handsed each other.  Yet again, someone tried Pentexing me, though I did bring out three vampires for a change.

Enrico ousted Jan.  Jaakko took the rest.

Did two wall decks in front of me hinder my VPing?  I don’t think so.  Walls are to be expected.  You need a game plan for getting through them.

Actually, with The unnamed doing really well (foreshadowing), Auspex is just not as good as it once was.  I would have vastly preferred Deflection as my bounce of choice from a metagame standpoint.

End of the Line

We finally got a four player together for End of the Line.  Petri was my prey with !Gangrel.  My predator played Kiev Circle.  I played Hermana Mayor.  The other deck was Tupdog.  I actually had a plan for dealing with Tupdog.  Everyone failed me, including my predator who didn’t bother blocking a bleed that ousted him, leaving me tapped out with 4 pool and my new prey having a minion with Groundskeepers.

An awful game, and I think the format has some strong potential for awfulness, yet another game going on during ours was like five player and the Corruption deck won at time or something.

Sunday

Obviously not qualifying, I played in the side event, with its 88 players.

Ian (Pre/Vic BB?) -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Forestal anarch) -> (Kiasyd combat?) -> Luis (unnamed bleed focus)

I had no way to defend against my predator.  My bounce got cancelled as predicted.  His predator did nothing.  My grandprey didn’t realize Forestal can only fake one discipline at a time.  My prey was the only one who could stop the Baali but didn’t.  Luis swept.

Ian -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Kiasyd SB) -> (Lutz/Maris) -> (Aus/Tha/Vic)

This was the only talk game I had.  This was what I kind of expect in Day 2 of big tournaments.  There was like a 10 minute discussion that led to not playing a Parity Shift.  Malks Deranged backwards, ended up on Dmitra.  Never left Dmitra as afraid would end up on Hektor.  My prey had to deal constantly with Dmitra’s ability.  I had Velya in play, so I was vote relevant.  I Starvation of Marenaed my predator’s Malgorzata to torpor but didn’t interact much after that.  Kiasyd just kept trying to bleed.

Because Malks were in danger of death, kept dealing to get off Parity Shift.  One Parity Shift was possibly four different targets before eventually going backwards.  My prey asked me afterwards when the game went to my predator.  We agreed it was when he brought out Sha-Ennu after Malgorzata and Mistress Fanchon.  Malks called Reins of Power to bring me to 3 pool, first 3 bleed by predator killed me.  He deemed that his only clear mistake.

It was rough with how to deal the votes.  Yet, it didn’t time out.

Ian -> Kari (Aus/Chi bleed) -> (Shadow Court Satyr w/ Dominate) -> (Winnie Dom/For) -> (Winnie Dom/Pre)

I asked for the time twice.  The other players said something like “with two weenie Dom decks, I don’t think the game is going to time out”.  I considered giving my reason for asking about time.

My first action of the game was Creamy Jade rescues my predator’s Ingrid Russo.

In the first 50 minutes of the game, I played one card – Enchant Kindred (Matteus to Enid Blount).  My predator did 3 pool damage to me all game with his four minions, a bleed I let through hoping he would bleed for more.  I did not Entrancement my grandprey’s SCS.  Misdirection killed me as I was out of wakes for my second predator.

Competitive play was done.  I enjoyed my games, actually, parts of all of my games.  Well, maybe not the second round storyline, thinking about it.  But, I was useless.  I was going to get into why in this post, but I think I need to finish up with the reporting and get into analysis in another post.

Pickup 3:

Ian (!Toreador blocky) -> Peter (Samedi, Genina focus) -> Rudolf (Tupdog) -> ?? (Rudolf’s Montano) -> Ali (Rudolf’s Tzimisce)

Rudolf wasn’t as scary as one expects from Tupdog.  He didn’t draw any Raking Talons for a while.  He didn’t Graverob that much.  I did Soul Painting his Selena, which somehow didn’t instantly burn her, but maybe I’m wrong about Soul Painting as well as many other things.

Peter Nightmare Cursed at double superior my Greta late in the game.  That didn’t hurt too much, as I had Majestys.  Ali didn’t threaten me much.  Montano did one Baltimore Purge and ended up in torpor when it went off.

Rudolf ousted as his prey couldn’t keep minions ready.  Peter ousted.  I should have been able to oust Peter but couldn’t get the right combination of Unholy Penanced, Melanged, Aire of Elationed, Palla Grandeed bleeds lined up before we timed out.

Yes, I was that sad.  Multiple Unholy Penances, a Melange, Palla Grande, like four vampires with Presence, and I couldn’t do like 2 more pool to my prey’s Samedi with Auspex deck when I needed to.

We did talk about teaching English, as the EC was less an opportunity to get VPs and more an opportunity to speak with people who learn multiple languages about how a middle-aged American be less monolingual.  It was kind of funny that Peter mentioned that people count in their own languages, when I find numbers the easiest thing to remember in other languages, though I was in an elevator trying to remember how to count backwards from 100 in French.  Learning a little bit of Mandarin constantly screws up my remembering any French outside of memorized phrases.

My mother and I went out to eat with Hung-ary Peter (you know, it could be that some of these Peters spell their names Pieter or whatever, but I hope I’m getting their names right) and a bunch of Swedes.  Large contingent of Swedes.  They may think I’m a goofball, but I quite enjoy hanging out with them.

Only two people mentioned my blog.  Ralf.  Tomas (sp?).

Rudolf, Ali, my mother, and I arranged to meet Monday for touristing.  We did a hop on, hop off bus trip, finally using a Welcome Card discount (still kind of expensive compared to … foreshadowing).

Speaking of my mother, what was she doing while I was playing cards?  Fortunately, Martin’s mother also wanted to do some sightseeing.  So, his mother who doesn’t speak English and my mother who doesn’t speak German had a good day of sightseeing on the weekend, including a river jaunt.

Martin, his mother, Rudolf, Ali all really helped make the trip better.  As did Michael (B5), organizers, opponents, people I spent some time with outside of play – had lunch with a couple of Italians and Dean, lunch with Kevin who I had never met in the US (to our knowledge), etc.

 

Symbolic.

Tuesday, went to Potsdam on a guided tour.  Interesting thing about this tour.  Unlike the UK tour, where we were just sort of dumped into places to look around at stuff, this tour didn’t have much in the way of going in palaces or churches or whatever but had a lot of history.  Like our punter, the tour guide was entertaining.  We still didn’t have time to shop on the 6 hour tour.  We hit Sanssouci with various pauses along the way.

My phone doesn’t do wide shots all that well, so all of my palace photos show only parts of the palace.

Ironicful.  Best touristy thing in our trip to London was in Cambridge.  Best touristy thing in our trip to Berlin was in Potsdam.

Good size group – 12 + guide.  Guide was Australian.  No, he wasn’t a woman.  But, there were a coincidentally disproportionate number of Australian or Australian-connected women on the tour.  They hung out with cool Spanish/Portuguese guys rather than uncool Statesperson guy.  I can’t blame them.  Who wants to hang out with a guy who talks about logic puzzles and racist pidgin languages?

Foreshadowing1:  unnamed was in EC Day 2 finals, in Shadow Twin finals.

Foreshadowing2:  Tour to Potsdam was 15 euros apiece, 1 more euro than hop on/hop off bus.  Can’t say the latter was bad in any way, just seems like a bus ride with audio guide should be less demanding than live guiding.  Of course, compared to the W/B/S tour in the UK, which was over a 100 sterling apiece, maybe bus rides are superoverheadful.

Well, I think I failed to write in the way I wanted to write, but I have to get this published and get back to Traveller and work and getting on a normal sleep schedule.


Deck Of Many Things

April 30, 2017

I wrote out some four or so new deck lists and managed to get around to pulling together cards for two of them, while also looking back at some of my other possible tournament plays.

Reasons I love CCGs:

One:  Infinite Ideas

While looking over a deck I’ve never pulled the cards for, I was wondering why I hadn’t put Repo Man into it as it ran 4x Sport Bike.  That got me thinking about Repo Man.  That got me to search vehicles.  That got me to thinking about yet other builds for Polaris Coach and deciding that Polaris Coach + Cryptic Mission is totally a deck that should exist.  Then, there’s immediate Helicopters in your PRE/Obf bleed/vote deck.

With every CCG, I think of new decks or card combinations even with a game with as small a card pool as Ultimate Combat! or as focused a card pool (due to allegiances) as Wheel of Time.  Certainly easier with a game with a vast card pool like V:TES, but there are just so many things people don’t do.  Sometimes it’s a clearly less effective strategy, but that may not be a bad thing in multiplayer play.  Sometimes it’s a build that only makes sense for a specific metagame.

There are dozens of decks I can see trying in a local tournament that have never seen the moonlight of night.

Two:  Metagaming

Metagaming isn’t just about trying to win, though that’s quite the driver.  My thinking for the upcoming tournaments goes somewhat along these lines:  the environment will be far more aggressive than our local environment; play will be quicker putting aside deck builds; player skill will be higher; no one will know my play style and I won’t be familiar with other people’s styles.  Doom … d-o-o-o-m …

Just in terms of trying to build to win, I would focus on how Animalism is the best combat, Parity Shift will be played often, Lutz will appear often with some sort of vote, bleeds of 4-6 or permableed of 3 will be common, winnies will probably not be that common but neither will the countermeasures, Imbued will probably show, event decks might appear, tons of fatties, Celerity guns will also likely be notable.

Flesh of Marble plus some sort of hit back should wreck combat decks.  Combat ends should pretty much stop everything if you run enough to get by Psyche!.  Voting may be messy at times with Velvet Tongue, though the chances of much in the way of Daughters screwing around with incentives is low.  The fear with voting, though, is more that tables unprepared for vote should just get run over.  In Stockholm, there was virtually no voting and a vote bloat deck that got going fast enough could have easily won my tables.

Bleed is the easiest thing to defend against, but I find that Auspex bounce is somewhat less valuable due to the commonality of The unnamed decks.

Does what works well versus what works poorly in this crossregional, totally not like my home metagame matter to me?  Of course.  I want to enjoy my games.  If I just get run over then I’m going to find the events boring.  I have plenty of decks that only work locally because I can bank on surviving long enough for them to play out.  My decks show how slow they are in other regions much of the time.  The one deck that did a decent job of getting going, though, even then, it didn’t play in a true crossregional meta, just a different meta, was Living Lolita Loca.  Small vampires allow you to do stuff.  Or, run lots of Zillah’s Valleys and Banishment Santaleous when he appears.

But, there’s more to metagaming than winning, at least for me.  I want to enjoy games.  Maybe an all forward deck would be the best play, but I don’t enjoy those sorts of decks.  I went through several passes on possible decks to play, and I added a fun factor rating that was subtlely different from my usual pros/cons comments on whether to take a deck to an event.

Fun was interesting because it highlighted the difference between fun results and fun play.  In local play, I can believe I can win with anything better than Gargoyles with Presence (which had a chance in that finals).  There are many game features I can build decks around to unlock an achievement.  I’ve never won with Serpentis in a deck.  Or Quietus.  Or Abombwe.  I keep building decks that don’t achieve the minimum threshold of viability with these disciplines because I want to avoid boring stuff.  So, I also build some real decks with Serpentis.  And, I can’t imagine enjoying playing them in a tournament even if I unlock another achievement.

So, yes, I have to adjust to a metagame, but I also have to metagame myself to strike the right balance where I can play something that interests me that will interest me in events I’m not likely to make the finals for.

Three:  Not Every Deck Is Gargoyles With Presence

I started pulling cards for decks, then realized my builds didn’t make sense.  I overlooked vampire specials.  I forgot to put in a hoser.  I overestimated how many vampires I could have in play.  In some cases, it’s annoying to have to change geniusness.  But, in some cases, like realizing Inbase Discotek is h-u-u-u-g-e tech for a deck I want to play, fun can be had by actually trying to construct a well crafted deck.

Now, building for two-player CCGs is usually more interesting for this sort of thing as, again, deck construction is typically much more of a thing in two-player play.  But, maybe I do have room for Force of Will in my Fortitudeless deck.

Four:  Weird Stuff Happens

More so with multiplayer play, where opponents will mess with other opponents, but the nature of vast possibilities of card interactions is that sometimes you aren’t psychic.  Sometimes, you just find the situation amusing.

We played two games of Shadowfist last Thursday.  In the second game, I ended the game with 13+ power realizing my 7 No Masters deck had not that many characters in general – my smoked pile at the end of the game consisted of something like 10, maybe 12, events.  The first game, I proved that multiplayer CCGs are lunacy.  My three Betrayers of the Crane went for a Dockyard and through the power of Butterfly Swords achieved victory.  Yes, three, 1-cost foundation characters seized control of the world.  In both games, I only ended up with one character in a smoked pile and that was the turn I won the first game.

I can only hope some weird stuff happens at these tournaments.  After all, why bother playing games that are chesslike … uh, doh, some people like those sorts of games.  Hey, CCGs are better!

Speaking of CCGs, we are going to check out the L5R LCG and see if it’s more enjoyable than the VCG was.