Odd Ends – To Rogue Or Not To Rogue

August 31, 2014

Let’s see if some theme can come out of noting some miscellaneous events.

A week ago, we played some five player V:TES.  Nice to have that.  In the first game, I was playing a new Hermana Mayor deck and my predator borrowed my Gangrel bruise bleed deck that put Bernard, the Scourge in play on turn two …

Fidus, across table was a target for being bloodhunted.  Predator’s Lectora, and every one of my crypt members.  My third turn consisted of Perfectionist, bleed, get bounced, Impundulu blocks, Weighted Walking Stick, long.  That Hermana got bloodhunted.  My fourth turn consisted of Perfectionist, bleed, get bounced, Impundulu blocks, Weighted Walking Stick, long.  No more Hermanas got bloodhunted, even though I rushed backwards to try to take out Bernard, Killer of Decks … and failed.  My predator got ousted with me doing pretty much nothing of consequence forward and only torping one Gangrel with WWS Brute Force.

I won the second game with !Nos with Dominate where I could have called Ancilla Empowerment to oust both my predator and prey but just tapped out bled my prey and ousted my predator the next turn.  I figured Delaying Tactics, which got played but got DIed since I was giving my new predator a VP, 4 pool, and costing myself 4 pool.

The third game we were supposed to play fast, so lots of fast decks saw Dementation bleed win.

Yesterday, we played BattleTech for the first time in a month.  The scenario I came up with was for light mechs and I had six points on the edge of the maps as victory point spots to hold for a turn to encourage spreading out.  Worked well.  I played pretty badly, which is funny because I’m the one coming up with the scenarios and I often make terrible decisions in my own scenarios.

Why?

That is, why do I make terrible decisions in BattleTech?

Because I like playing recklessly.

I was telling someone about how I played in the BT scenario and the response was “you must not like chess”, which is absolutely true.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m warming up on my theme.  I want to play chess recklessly.  I’m a romantic player (as opposed to technical player).  I want the sudden victory, the massive sacrifice(s) to get some mating combination through.  While some players can do that, they probably also do something I don’t have much interest in doing when I play chess – think.

It’s funny.  There are some games that I think a lot when I play.  V:TES is one of those games.  I weigh the probability of what’s in people’s hands, the probability of my drawing particular cards, run all sorts of potential play scenarios.  Then, there are games I’m not interested in thinking at all.  BattleTech, for me, is more about “close and fire”.

Play.  Think, when I play.  I think about games all of the time when I’m not playing them.  Though, I noticed that I do analyze games in ways that don’t have to do with actually playing those games.

There may be some correlation to how invested I am in the game, but I can think of an example of a game I think a lot about when I play but have minimal investment – Kill Doctor Lucky.  I’m trying to think of an example of a game I’m more invested in but don’t think much about.  BT is something I’m somewhat or middling invested in, and RPGs are a different animal.  HeroQuest was something I could be highly invested in, but I was usually the villain, so I didn’t need to make good decisions.  I’ll play mahjong recklessly, but I know when I’m playing it recklessly.

Magic was something I was partially invested in that I would play recklessly.  Same with Dragon Dice.  What about before I started playtesting the Babylon 5 CCG?  No, it wasn’t really suited to reckless play.  Well, there were hyperspeed openings that I latched on to, but I didn’t find those all that reckless.  Hardly anyone would play the counter to them.  It’s kind of hard to play Ultimate Combat! recklessly since it’s largely a game of massive offense, though I suppose it’s possible – not holding a Speed 1 or Strength 1 and a foundation open to play the advantage on defense.

Suicide Dragon, the only particularly memorable Wheel of Time CCG deck name I came up with (Forsaken.dec was too obvious), was not reckless at all, strategically.  It was the last, best hope for not getting smashed by the vastly superior Shadow side prior to the Light side getting broken to fight broken in Dark Prophecies.  Since you were going to lose, anyway, you might as well throw your characters into challenges and hope Thom takes out key cards through random discard.

Getting back to Magic and Dragon Dice, though, for a moment.  I think I see the pattern.  While both games have a creation element where one’s worth as a human being is judged by how well one can construct a deck/army, I didn’t feel like decks/armies for those games were all that important.  Now, one could say I did just as goofy things with B5 and V:TES as I did with Magic (Essence Vortex creatureless for the win!), so maybe focusing on deck construction is the wrong point.  The right point might be that there are many games where I not only don’t care much about winning but also, importantly, don’t care about not winning.

One thing B5 and V:TES have in common is the multiplayer aspect and the potential for making games suck for other people when you don’t pull your weight.  If I got trounced in Magic, it was 10 minutes or whatever of a game I don’t even enjoy playing that much when I win.  Dragon Dice always had the problem to me that I cared so much less about playing it than about thinking about it.

I have felt a responsibility with B5 and V:TES to try to make the game worthwhile for others.  After all, victories are of the hollowish sort if your opponents are goofing around.  I probably do feel some responsibility to play well in two-player play since the argument is the same.  I just don’t focus as much on it because it’s so much easier to goof off in a multiplayer game to where it’s more of a potential concern.

Consider, for a tangent, how not focusing on results might also impact play style.  I certainly approach the importance of doing stuff versus the importance of results very differently for some games.

WoT was a CCG I didn’t start playing until after I was hardcore playtesting, as evidenced by being one of the few people in the world to playtest the original set (beyond the precons).  I was always in playtest mode, aka results matter mode, where there was a responsibility to show what’s what.  Ultimate Combat! was my favorite CCG.  I really just enjoyed not only building decks but playing the game.  I might have made some goofy decks, like the white belt, techniqueless deck, but, more than possibly any game I’ve ever played, I was probably more into every game I played of it.  I also was outclassed during much of my career, so I probably felt like I had to prove myself as a player.  Yes, I actually was competitive when it came to UC! because, you know, I wanted to gain points [results matter!] to move up in the ranks.  I might qualify as an honorary black belt or something by this point, but I never progressed past brown belt in terms of what plastic ranking card I received.

I know why I like to play games recklessly.  And, I suppose I’m seeing why I don’t with some games.  The other problem with playing V:TES recklessly is that you might spend 30 minutes playing and 90 minutes waiting for everyone else to finish, something that doesn’t happen with two-player games.

 

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Gen Con 2011

August 10, 2011

Usual smooth logistics.  Potential roommate backed out a few days before trip, but it wasn’t a new experience to be on my own like last year, so I was in a much better mental state.

Thursday

9AM – Emperor’s Favor, Part I

Start the con off with some Heroes of Rokugan.  First two-part mod in the campaign and I had scheduled to do it back to back.  Unsurprisingly, not everyone else had.  Cory, the campaign admin, made an announcement that it would be a very good idea to play this before the political interactive, much more important than the other new mods.

From my left, it was Mirumoto Katsubishi, Hida Kaminari, Shosuro Sakura, Hiruma Genji, Mirumoto Ito, Doku (ronin), and I was playing Moshi Shigeo (my main).  Ben Fredericksen was the GM; I am now trying to note GM names so that I better recognize people both in person and through their online handles.  I took a lot of notes, more than I expected.  Because others hadn’t planned to play the 2PM slot and we wanted to keep our table intact, we pushed through to get done by 4PM.

The most amusing thing about this table was that the two highest Honors were the Mantis and the … ronin.  It felt strange to not play online.  I think it was a combination of factors:  seven players; playing with people and characters I wasn’t familiar with; GM style; importance of moving quickly.  Mods just seem to be much more direct in person.  Maybe, it’s because it’s easier to determine leadership and come to an agreement on what people are doing and GMs don’t get terribly distracted with things not all that important to the plot.

2PM – Emperor’s Favor, Part II

Not really 2PM, we probably started 1PMish.  Similar level of notes.  I want to witness people’s reactions to what happens.

I go by the exhibit hall to check on Great Clans, as the most value to getting it at the con is to get it early and see if it affects my existing characters or what characters I might want to make if my I lose one.  Sold out.

7PM – Mouth of Milu

I had signed up for this because it was set in Hawai’i.  I’m surprised more things aren’t.  As we finished Emperor’s Favor early, I got to the game almost two hours early.  The GM had a large number of decorations, a tiki hut of sorts, leis for everyone, etc.  I ended up taking home a number of the decorations for work to put up.

This was FUDGE set in the modern day.  I played Dr. Lenk Martell, radical scientist working on NEOP Near Earth Object Probe(s).  These probes could be used to deflect asteroids and whatnot by self-destructing.  The PCs had various relationships, though not with everyone else.  After a recent meteor shower (caused by one of my probes), Kilauea erupts and the Big Island is being evacuated.  Blue geodes and strange cave formations appear around the island, with the blue crystal seeming to move.  We barely get off of it with our helicopters and start flying to some dink town because the stoner husband to one of our pilots has family there.  While arguing what to do, we let some people on the roof of a church get immolated.  Flying elsewhere, we rescue some Japanese who talk about monsters.  Eventually, we figure out that all of our theories – scientific, spiritual – point to going up to Mauna Kea where I hope to blow my probe.  The less intelligent PCs instead decide to throw some magic rocks into a frozen lake to get spirits to reactivate the volcano.  The GM is surprised that I survive and ours is the only group to never blow the probe.

Apparently, the meteor shower brought alien life that was trying to conquer the volcano goddesses.  The goddesses fought back by having the lava chase the crystal.  Reactivating Mauna Kea was enough firepower to keep the alien stuff at bay.

The lack of agreement on what to do was fine.  The lack of caring of what others did was a bit odd.  Some characters had way more to do than others.  A lot of time was spent with the husband and wife and ineffectually hanging around locals.  For me, it was fine as I got to do my thing.

Friday

10AM – Dragon Dice Quests

Yes, Dragon Dice.  I couldn’t get into a slot of a RPG at this time, so this ended up being the very last event I signed up for, figuring it was different and I could talk to someone about stuff Andrew and I worked on over a decade ago for Campaign Dragon Dice.

This was not at all what I expected.  This was Dragon Dice the RPG.  By using dice to reflect character skills, your character was a collection of dice that had normal RPG adventures.  A terrain die reflected range to enemies.  Number of health determined character level.  As a demo/playtest, it was mostly a combat scene, a combat that dragged on forever with no way we were going to lose.

It’s a really interesting idea, one I wouldn’t have considered.  On the one hand, I like how it enables using a bunch of dice to do something besides play Dragon Dice, to use dice one might normally use, and I think it can actually work.  On the other, I’m skeptical about selling the idea of using Dragon Dice to people for a home RPG.  While I like Dragon Dice on some aesthetic level, others I run into don’t.  I can see the relatively gaudy colors making things seem too cartoony for serious fantasy role-playing.

Being right next to the exhibit hall, I look for Great Clans.  Sold out.

2PM – Grand Theft Chariot

Greek heroes.  I choose the Cunning Hero and name him Kyrevaius.  His epithet, a game mechanic (one I’m used to with other Greek mythology games), is “The Resourceful”.

We begin in Patara, where the land goes dark.  The priests of Apollo wish to make additional sacrifices and the crowd gets unruly.  Being cunning, I douse torches to blind the crowd.  Others do their things.  Oh, the others being:  agile hero, strong hero, wise hero, charming hero, and fast hero.  The next day, we are called in by the queen to be sent to find the Oracle to Apollo on an isolated island.  I am the only person the GM recalls who actually asks what we know about the island.  Seems odd, when two of us are heavy on the Knowing skill.

Mechanics.  Roll a number of d6’s equal to your skill.  Fives and sixes are successes.  You have a Competency ability that is a pool of additional dice that can be added to a bunch of appropriate skills.  Competency dice explode on sixes.  So, my Knowing, for instance, is 3d6 from Competency and 4d6 from normal.

On the way to the island, we realize the entire world is in darkness.  The Storm strikes us, but we don’t lose the ship.  Korus “The Beguiling” loses a follower, as I recall.  The player gives his followers the most awesome names:  Red Shirticus; Expendicles; Meat Shieldian.  We begin to scale the 100′ cliffs, when harpies attack.  Pythus “The Knowing” cyclones some.  We dispatch the rest.  The filthy, sarcastic oracle tells us that Apollo has been taken to the Underworld, tells us about Charon, Cerberus.  I make some honeycakes for Cerberus and two sleeping potions, one a fake.

We music Charon as Orpheus did.  Cerberus we toss some poisoned honeycakes to and seems asleep as we sneak past but wakes up and attacks Cassius “The Colossus”.  I try to remove Cerberus’s acidic spittle from Cassius’s armor and get attacked by Cerberus’s serpent tail.  I survive the venom, so I milk some into another container … for I am cunning.  Meat Shieldian bleeds some for the ghosts so that they will give us information.  Expendicles helps dig a pit for the blood.  To Tartarus.

We find a centaur guarding a tree where the head of Orpheus sings, making this area of Tartarus pleasant.  Orpheus will tell us where Apollo is if we get him out of the Underworld.  Centaur doesn’t like that.  We cut off the centaur’s leg to free him from his chains and take the two with us.  Orpheus had been kept in a box by Hades and Persephone liked to take him out.  She dropped him, which is how he ended up in Tartarus.  Orpheus saw Hecate dragging a chained Apollo, so we look for her cave.

We find Apollo chained up.  Before we figure out what to do, Hecate appears.  Cassius breaks the chains and we briefly fight, with Cassius being turned into a tortoise.  Hades appears and gets everyone’s stories.  Xanthos, King of Patara, was pissed that Apollo was banging his wife, so he worked with Hecate to capture him, with Hecate becoming the new patron of Patara for her help.  Apollo and the rest of us are free to go.  Apollo asks us to kill Xanthos and reconsecrate his temple with the king’s blood.  I prepare a fake wound.  In Patara, we explain to the priests.  At the palace, the king punches his wife and attacks us for interfering with his vengeance.  I avoid guard attacks, moving closer to the king, while exclaiming about my “wound”.  I quaff my fake potion to “heal my wound” and accidentally drop my other “healing potion”.  I go to help the fallen queen, who is a slut.  Everyone else does their fighty thing, and the king finally tries my venom of Cerberus.

Temple sanctified, queen servicing all the heroes who want her rewards.  My legacy is Kyrevaius “The Resourceful” “Who milked Cerberus”

7PM – Ancestral Dictate

Back to HoR.  I find out that AEG got in new Great Clan books around 4PM.  *sigh*

Ancestral Dictate cannot be played by the same character as Prison of Earth, which is perfect since I have two characters.  Most didn’t.  So, I play with four characters that have never played before.  Four combat focused characters … in a mod with no combat tag.

Charles Penn GM, Moto Shizu, Ikoma Osamu, Hiruma Sentou, Bayushi Junichi, and my character, Hoshi Takumi.

I do a lot of courtiering with my tattooed monk.  I spend all 11 of my koku with my Wealthy tattooed monk.  I have a lot of notes, again.  I think I take more notes in face-to-face games these days because I know so much more about the world and the campaign.  More XP means I can buy up my social skills before the political interactive, this ends up mattering a lot.

Saturday

9AM – Prison of Earth

An all HoR day.  I play with someone I know for the first time.  He plays his tattooed monk, I play my Mantis, so we have three Moshi at the same table.  We fight well.  The arc of the mod is a bit odd to me, but I guess that’s cool as it’s different.  One may notice the lack of details in my descriptions of HoR sessions, well, Andy and possibly others haven’t played them yet.

Ben, again, GM.  Utaku Zaina, Moshi Akio, Moshi Kokoro, Isawa Koukainashi, Togashi Juichi.

Swing by AEG booth, sold out.

2PM – Summer Storms

Ah, battle interactives, I love them so.  We have 12 Mantis, four rank 2’s, three shugenja.  I’m at the table with the rank 2 shugenja I played in the morning with and four rank 1 bushi.  I am rank 2.  Yes, I who can take 20 mods to rank up am a high ranking member of my contingent.

Moshi Kokoro, Tsuruchi Kendai, Yoritomo Sen (unit commander), Yoritomo Wakou, Yoritomo Kikai.

The nature of the battle event is that there are five locations for each battle.  Crab fight Crane, Dragon Phoenix, Lion Unicorn, the noble and virtuous Mantis vs. the Scorpion.  There are three rounds, where you get a random location.  If opposing tables are at the same location in a round, you can have player vs. player, which the Crab and Crane had.  There were three tiers of difficulty.  If you rolled well enough, you could choose a higher tier, roll really well, a low tier with better tier rewards, if you fail, a mid tier encounter with low tier rewards.  Mantis lacked generals.  We found out later we got slaughtered, not because our PCs did but because our victory points were way lower because our tiers were lower.

In the first round, we defended Gateway Village, the gateway to the Tsuruchi Valley.  We actually played this fairly smart but we took a lot of damage.  Didn’t matter as wounds healed between rounds.  We didn’t make our roll high enough to do anything but a low tier encounter.

In the second round, we tried a mid tier encounter.  Not good.  In the second round of combat, their bushi did 41 damage to one rank 1, 41 damage to another rank 1, 20-30 damage to a third rank 1.  We should have lost after round two.  After round three, we should have been wiped.  They were rank 2 bushi with 9k4 attack rolls.  While we finally took some guys down, mostly with grapple plus gang up tactics, we lost two bushi, one having to use a mod reward to reduce damage not to die.  Our shugenja, me, and our one archer (only one Tsuruchi archer at each table!) had to carry the load.  To give an idea how bad this was, we didn’t realize the bushi we were fighting were Earth 2 until two of our bushi were out of the fight.  We persisted.  We ran over time.  We finally won as the enemy shugenja was surprisingly useless.  We didn’t have time for a third encounter but got the rewards for a low tier encounter for the third round, anyway.  We did gain Honor for fighting a battle we should have lost.

I found out later some of the other encounters people had.  The high tier stuff was just insane, with seven rank 3’s where virtually nobody in the campaign is up to rank 3 yet.

8PM – Spoils of War

Political interactive, how I never have done a normal one in person before.  Prior to the event, everyone got special name cards that had stickers to advertise certain things to NPCs.  I got two stickers that very few had, so it was kind of worriesome.  I played my Dragon, the Dragon contingent was large and disorganized.  It didn’t stop us from doing well early, but we got screwed by the Scorpion towards the end.  The Lion got hosed.  Phoenix did well.  Tortoise!!! and Brotherhood of Osano-Wo!!! did well.

I found out that one of my stickers was for artistic ability, so I got pulled aside by the Kakita family daimyo to join his new artists organization.  The other sticker had to do with storytelling, which didn’t help me.  I probably should have had another NPC’s interest since I gained him as an ally in a mod, but it wasn’t reflected in my card since it happened at the con.  Because we were at an imperial court, Etiquette and other social skills were huge.  Another tattooed monk lost a rank of glory and some Honor for not having his social skills high enough, and as I said at the con “all tattooed monks are courtier builds”.  With my final XP expenditures, I skated, having the 3 Etiquette and 3 of either Courtier or Sincerity to not get hammered.  Woe to anyone with no ranks in Etiquette.

Sunday

Morning – exhibit hall

Sold out.

I did some exhibit hall stuff.  Normally, I do a complete walk of the exhibit hall in my off slot, but I had walked a decent amount earlier in the con when with someone else.  So, I focused on some stuff.  So many things I want, so little interest in paying for them, at least at full price or even 25% off.  I did pick up some stuff, about half my cash I brought went on Sunday.

Had to rush to my final game.

12PM – Wu Xing – The Ninja Crusade

I didn’t need to rush.  We started late.  We did very little.  It was lame.  At the end, the GM thanked people for the “demo”.  Okay, I can accept that there are RPG demos, but advertise things as such.  We had a full table with one fight scene and some other stuff most didn’t care about.  I did relatively a lot of stuff I cared about because I can be forceful when others aren’t, but it was still amazingly hollow.

I’m unimpressed with the mechanics of the game.  First, d20 resolution sucks – too wide variance.  Second, the initiative system was incredibly complex.

The one benefit was that we finished with enough time for me to go back to the exhibit hall, which I think was when I spent most of my money … wait.

Having the last game be lame and so much worse than anything else seemed like it would put a damper on things, but my mind was so much more in the HoR world and the buying of stuff afterwards meant I didn’t think a whole lot about it.  There was nothing great, nothing that stood out to compete with the many HoR adventures.  Grand Theft Chariot was nearly great, just the sort of thing I hope to play, but the con was dominated by HoR for me.  Good or bad?  Good that HoR is doing well, 100+ average number of people for every slot; good that I enjoyed the HoR at the con as much as I did.  Bad that I need some balance.

Okay, why don’t more of my friends go to Gen Con, again?


Crossgrade

April 3, 2011

The title for this, by the way, has to do with a joke about what to call something at work.

Last Sunday, we did our every two week thing.  We played a three-player V:TES game in which we called the game when I Eldritch Glimmered Santaleous into torpor with my Backstep/Backflip deck.  Neither of my two RPG Launchers in play were ever used.  We demoed the game to somebody hovering around and Brandon’s demo decks were so bleedy that +1 bleed cards in hand were just a liability and the average bleed by three different decks was around 4.

Then, I opened up some Dragon Dice.  I invested in Dragon Dice, probably unwisely since I’ve never found it that enjoyable to actually play.  But, as with anything I invest in, I have a lot.  I don’t have a top tier collection – I’d only say my Babylon 5 CCG, Wheel of Time CCG, and V:TES collections would be in the top tier for collectible games.  And, at some point, I stopped getting more, even though the game is surprisingly undead.  Having a lot means that it’s easy for me to field material to play with.  And, I’m kind of pro using stuff I already own rather than buying more stuff I won’t use.

There’s something to Dragon Dice that appeals to me.  Much like Magic appeals to me on various levels, not everything about a game has to do with how well it plays.  Dragon Dice is a perfectly serviceable game, I’d even go so far to say the mechanics are good.  It’s just that what I envision the game being about is not what it’s about.  It’s a fairly dry wargamey … dice game.  To call it a wargame would be confusing, but it’s wargamey vis-a-vis CCGs.  That’s not at all what I envision.

For whatever reason, I actually buy into the flavor.  I know.  It’s just D&D.  It’s even kind of sillier than D&D, a game I stopped caring about because I woke up one day and deemed it silly.  I suppose I could be persuaded to buy a hardcore Norse mythology RPG that had elves and dwarves, but anything else with such a hackneyed premise must be eschewed (oh, poor Middle Earth).  Anyway, I read about the various troop types and the war of races loyal to either Nature or Death and get all enthused about having D&D monsters (some are exactly so) represented with ten-sided dice come charging out to whoop some ass.

Then, I play the game.  And, it’s just about picking up dice and looking at their symbols and resigning oneself to the fact that common, 1-pt. dice armies are almost always better than anything else.  What’s odd about this dichotomy is that I actually like the Wheel of Time CCG.  It’s a game that can easily take two hours with two people that involves rolling dice to resolve everything.  Why isn’t the flavor lost with it?  Is it just because cards are way cooler than dice?  That secret information is why CCGs are awesome and CDGs and CMGs aren’t?

So, a friend of mine and I talked a lot about Campaign Dragon Dice to make it have more of a role-playing feel.  We even started sketching some rules and scenarios.  Ended up being too much effort when there were other things to play.  However, every time I think about Dragon Dice, I think about how I want to use the dice to do something different than actually play Dragon Dice, not because I hate playing DD but because it just seems like the cute icons on the dice could be put to better use.

Which brings me to my topic for today (only 600 words in).  Using components of one game for another.  I have actually played Dragon Dice versus Ultimate Combat! or some such craziness.  That’s not so much what I mean.  Referring to a recent blog post, I mentioned wanting to talk more about using CCG cards in RPGs.

I have heard of someone using Magic cards in a D&D game.  The impetus for the train of thought came from a L5R GM using L5R cards in his game.  As mentioned in the other post, a lot of CCGs don’t mix all that well with the RPGs because of scale.  CCGs typically go at a much broader level – see Shadowfist/Feng Shui, WoT (yes, WoT has a RPG), etc.

I’m actually a big fan of hands of cards in any sort of game, so I have been attracted to RPGs like The Zero Movement (Tarot-based).  How well would a V:TM game actually work with V:TES cards?  Might be interesting to do something like what the L5R guy did and have the cards represent some sort of non-directly translated mechanic.  Voter Captivation may not have to be a Presence effect, for instance.  I’d rather that a hand of cards be more directly applicable to situations, prefer when the cards are used as the resolution system since that gives much greater control to the player over what happens in a story than things like dice resolution.

How could my DD monsters be put to use?  Could I whip out a DD ten-sider in my Solomon Kane sessions and have that be the monster without it being goofy?  Maybe the smaller dice could be used to represent minion allies.  If the Coronel’s musketeers fire, roll to see how many hits they get.  When hit back, roll for saves.  Etc.

While I could always use the terrain dice from DD as eight-siders, what about the magic items being … magic items, minor terrains being used to show progress/features while traveling, etc.?

One of the problems is having genres that don’t mix, of course.  Wheel of Time is kind of specific in its nationalities, names, et al.  So, it may not port well to some other RPG.  On the other hand, Tomb Raider cards are often fairly generic (for something modern), though the art may be a problem.  L5R cards can probably work for any Asian fantasy game.  Magic cards, often portraying generic fantasy and just being often better to look at than cards of other games, can work to represent.  As much as people complain about how Ultimate Combat! cards look, since the technique cards are actual martial arts moves, that seems kind of good for resolving martial arts contests.

Subgames.  One of the things that’s possible, if rare, is to use one game as a subgame in another.  UC! could easily be used to fight out a wrestling match.  DD could be used for mass combat.  What of Seventh Sea CCG or Pirates of the Caribbean CCG to resolve ship battles?  I think it’s rare because it’s actually rare to get into mechanics that a game doesn’t already cover.  Also, it’s a hassle to bring a bunch of extra stuff.  Why fight out a L5R mass combat instead of using the mass combat tables that come in the mainbooks (admittedly, 4e’s is bland)?

I don’t know.  I’m sure there’s a lot of material to mine with using components of one game for another (mechanically, I’m so going to remember some day to pull out the ships from Age of Empires III and use them for my SK game, or whatever).  It’s just hard to pin down what makes sense to do and what would fly with others.  And, there’s always the problem when coming up with house rules of going to all of the effort to codify them.