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April 14, 2019

Not much wisdom for today, though ironically Wisdom.

From the marriage of knowledge and experience grows wisdom.

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

Shattering fist under chin, snapping head back.

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

Basics can be quite effective when done with heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, so, we get to Shadowfist.

Let’s work backwards because backwards is normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edges (1)
1x Lightning Patrol

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

States (1)
1x Battle Suit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

States (1)
1x Butterfly Swords

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

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


In Sight

March 31, 2019

Haven’t been playing Shadowfist recently due to scheduling.  Haven’t got a lot to say about Arrowverse shows.  Haven’t gotten into new RPG experience.

So, really, the obvious thing to do is follow up on my last post, even though a comments exchange would have made more sense for resolving that issue.

What I didn’t talk much about last time was the impact of advancement choices on ranking up.

That’s the beauty of playing a Miya Herald.  There’s no difference between a SR-4 Miya Herald and a SR-0 Miya Herald, outside of the Satoshi path.  So, even if there might be a difference, there’s no difference between SR-3 and SR-0.

Except, why do I make the decisions I make to amuse myself?  What is the concept with this PC?

Play a school that has no techniques and play to a weakness of it.  Same as playing an Omoidasu or most courtiers.  Now, I will likely take the R-4 path, so I’m not rigidly beholden to this paradigm, but an element of playing a Miya Herald is to play a Miya Herald and not just play a rich, not unimportant, not scavenging for food ronin.

Which means ranking up to get all of the bizarre and irrelevant techniques that the school “offers”.

But, I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself.  We must gather insight from today’s Ultimate Combat! booster.

With a bellow of desire, Sung Lee attacked.

This sounds either like anime or something kind of illegal.  The more I delved into this booster, let’s go with anime.  This flavor text, BTW, is interesting to me in a way that is rather obscure.  I’ll just leave that unexplained.

The card does fit Tatakisu’s je sais quoi.

Lacking a power reserve, you may not survive to regret.

See, anime.  I was not feeling this booster until I got to the black belt and brown belt action cards.  I’m watching Boruto, of course.  The show seems better with the adults as primary actors even if Sasuke and Lord Seventh don’t unleash.  A problem with Boruto is that there’s very little development of the kids’ powers.  I don’t really care about them as characters.  I’m far more into abilities when it comes to anime, which is why I like fight anime.  Just like I’m more into supers’ abilities then their angst-ridden lives.

BTW, because if I don’t teach the galaxy about how to be good at UC!, who will?  Power Drain is an interesting card.  It’s a card I dismissed early on, well, it is a black belt card, and, early on, I kept mostly to white belt and brown belt decks.  If Favorite Technique is one of the game’s most defining cards, an answer to Favorite Technique is … a thing.  Also, in limited play, removing even horribly overpriced technique is temporiffic.

Tatakisu’s power reserve – spoiler alert – will increase.

Noxious air harms all who breathe it.

Less a tie in to Rokugan 1600’s “rogue air” threat and more relatable as a callback to Naruto beating Shiba with the help of Bad Air.  Anime!!

This is a multiplayer card, being way too expensive to do anything terribly meaningful in dueling.  Tatakisu isn’t much of a multiplayer combatant.  Sure, like everybody, he gains a lot from being Pathed or Mountained or whatever, but his style is trade until the enemy fine red mists.  Bad Air is just too little damage output to enable him to win.

I eschewed the path of short term damage output for reasons I will someparagraph get to.

Fight fire with fire, mind with mind.

Very anime!!  Since Tatakisu has no mind (but may someday), he’ll use his half-fire to combat, um, … wow, this analogy is failing big time.  Psychic Block is a weird card.  It’s not useless.  The Conditioning/Fighting Spirit requirement makes no real sense thematically, but I think I know why it ended up with that combination of power requirements – lot of psychic attacks are going to be coming from Knowledge/Experience, so the counter to psychic (damage, anyway) is the oppositeium.

A controllish pack with good power coming from how it includes Speed 1 and Strength 1.  Would be amusing to build a sealed booster deck out of.

Getting back to all things Miya.

So, amusement points are scored if I can actually ever use the school techniques in some non-moronic way.  Actually, I did use “pay 2 VPs for Way of the Land” again, just recently.

Tangent Time

Dooooo, doo doo dooo …

I played a HoR4 mod recently.  I enjoyed it.  The mod wasn’t that hot, being rather not a whole lot going on, at least it didn’t feel like much going on.  But, we didn’t get bogged down in incoherent plotting and I got to wak dudes without murdering a single dude, dropping a 54 on one of my damage dice just to preserve the sanctity of human life.  I’m so miya.  Adventure moved.  Die rolling was fine, did multiple Animal Handling rolls.  Success was attained.  No gotcha moments happened.

Back to spending XP.

So, I had decided to spend XP on pushing Kenjutsu to 10 because that would have been accomplished in one more mod’s worth of XP, having enough to go to R-9 with unspent.  This was amusing me.  Then, as I was still on a plane back from Florida (up to 19 states in which I’ve done something of significance), I reassessed.

I actually want to rank up.  Kenjutsu 10 is not out of the question, but it gains short term amusement at the cost of midterm IRing.

So, I’m going with the most mundane option for the most mundane Miya – Void 3.  This does stuff, and it puts IR-4 in sight.  IR-3 just requires not being a moron anymore, sad as that will be.  The most amusing path to Insight, to the point where I might actually try it, due to it requiring the least amount of XP for trait/ring bumps and because it messes with my own expectations for this PC is to go Intelligence 4.  I buy up a bunch of Lore skills for the rest of the Insight to IR-4.

Means being rather glass cannony, which I may regret, but regret is a sin, and who doesn’t love sinning?

I do see value in K-10, though.  The kept dice bumps are possible, if not superefficient, and I do kind of need to be able to hit TNs of 75 or whatever on my attack rolls in order to do no-dachi levels of damage.

Speaking of anime, one thing about my L5R play is that it doesn’t lend itself much to anime style play.  Maybe one of the things I liked about The Princess Police is that it did get more that way towards the end.  My attempts to run something more that way don’t tend to work as, well, my players either don’t get anime or don’t care to get L5R anime style.

L5R Mechanics – Sample Advancement

March 25, 2019

Time to talk L5R 4e.  Time to get all of the views as there isn’t likely anything else to check out online in March.  Time to be fascinated by someone else’s PC.

Our subject is Miya Tatakisu, a PC overengineered from day -273.15.

Miya Tatakisu is IR-2, having spent 98 XP after the initial 45 (yup, 45).  Currently have 19 unspent.

Earth 3, Water 2, Fire 2 (Agility 5), Air 3, Void 2

As an unbalanced build, the dump Rings are Water and Void.

Kenjutsu 7 (of course), Athletics 3, Horsemanship 3, Stealth 3, Sailing 2, lots of 1’s.

While there may be some reason to not IR up, given the nature of HoR mod leveling and given that the Miya Herald School doesn’t actually have any techniques until you get to SR-5, I haven’t gone out of my way to stay humble but not yet kind.

Kata – not a bushi.

Kiho – don’t be ridiculous.

Advantages – some mental may be interesting but not going to pay more than cost for them.

So, a very mundane set of options:  Void; traits; skill ranks; emphases.


This seems like continuing the path of being a nobrainer.  Besides giving some endurance (in a way Stamina wouldn’t, though Earth would) and helping with multiroll contests, the main ROI is being able to call three raises instead of two when throwing a wakizashi, poeming, biwaing, or whatever.

Hard to not take the V-3 purchase.  Again, there’s a big difference IME between home games where Void dumping can work just fine and HoR, where sometimes a moron Honor Rolls Spellcraft.

Given the crafting rules for HoR4, all Tatakisu needs is Void 6 and radiant weapons for everyone (along with Craft: Weaponsmithing 7).  Get better at dueling.

So, why not pull the trigger?  Not really that interesting conceptually even if higher Void allows for more in game results.


In my 250xp plan, I-3 is an option.  If all of us were morons, this would be more important.  Then buy Medicine, Divination, Commerce, Engineering, etc.  Will regret Sagelessness even more.  Relatively cheap, gains 10 Insight which isn’t useless (ludicrous techniques and/or the option to path into simple attacks are on the horizon).

Helps crafting non-katana, non-wakizashi weapons.  Can craft other crap.

Just really boring.  At this point, if I’m going to demoron, I kind of prefer just playing a different character.  The Great Potential Medicine character or, at least, an Asako.


When in doubt, overkill.  This only gains combatwise, an area that Tatakisu will increasingly fall behind in, if Kenjutsu goes up or ponying is expected to give +1k0.  Noncombat, however, this is kind of entertaining.  9k6 on Agility rolls is better than 8k5 in some way, maybe a mechanical way.  OTOH, if R-5 in a skill, wasted die unless Voiding with pathetic Void rank.  In an infinite XP world, A-7 or A-9 would be a hoot, but, then, every other PC would still be better in such a world.


The blueprint was to get to this point, then Earth up.  So, why haven’t I Earthed up?

It’s expensive.  I enjoy high Earth.  I don’t enjoy waiting forever to buy it.  There’s a philosophical problem with Earth with this build.  Tatakisu is a “showoff” build.  Earth is only showing off when something happens to you.  Active v Passive.

I decided I should get away from absurd long range plans and try to actually enjoy a character in the moment.  It’s hard to pursue Earth and expect to maximize fun.  Though, crafting does give a reason to care about higher Earth.


A/the primary way to combat losing relative combat effectiveness.  While bushi gain techniques that do something and shugenja godisize more and Tattooeds punch and whoever does whatever, Tatakisu has basically capped offense already except for the R-4 path to fake being a midrank bushi.

Reflexes is combat godliness.  As not everyone pursues the one, true path of Reflexes 5, pursuing that path would maintain some level of combat relevance.  With higher Reflexes comes higher Kyujutsu.

Been there, done that.  Bored now.  Actually, I wouldn’t be that bored chasing the wind.  This is a contender for where to go.  Void 3 or Reflexes 4?  Both are massive marginal upgrades with Reflexes 4 being a necessary step on the path to Reflexes 5.


Conceptually, this offends the concept.  However, our group isn’t all that social, and I often enjoy the Awareness aspects of L5R play.  I don’t hate the idea but also don’t feel sufficiently pushed into being above mediocre.  If poetry and whatnot had been more relevant to play, might feel a desire to be better at these things.


Much of the force behind making this post was because I got to thinking about bumping Strength to 3.  Prima facie, this is an offense to the concept.  Water is a dump Ring.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought about a few things.  One, S-3 for Tatakisu is actually really, really good.  For a PC like Moshi Shigeo, I don’t think it would have mattered.  He had his no-dachi and had no particular reason to grapple or to care about knockdown.  Tatakisu could no-dachi up, but it’s funnier to murder everything with a wak, while grapple is the courtier’s way of winning combat, nevermind that being grappled completely shuts down Tatakisu.  Even knockdown begins to sound interesting at S-3.

Noncombat, 6k3 on swimming/climbing/whatever is more funner.

As for Water being a dump, Strength bump without touching Perception continues the dumping, even funnier dumping in some ways.  There’s also pursuing Defender of the Wall as an advanced school, though the requirements are so far away from the Tatakisu build that that just doesn’t seem worth it.


Get this out of the way.  Kenjutsu 10 is not so ridiculous for this build.  It’s pretty boring and doesn’t help combat effectiveness that much relative to cost outside of narrow situations where you call 10 raises (Great Potential) for damage on a grappled foe.

It’s not insane XPwise.  It’s still expensive.  It’s like Earth 5 – not useless, amusing when it comes up, not very efficient and doesn’t maintain relevance against better buys.


If people played Stealth correctly, Stealth 5 would likely be an obvious buy.  Since they don’t, eh.  Regardless as to increasing from 3 to 5 (would never go to 7), getting the Sneaking emphasis seems obvious.  But, that’s cheap and less of an advancement concern.


Main buy here would be Throwing emphasis for the esoteric thrown wak kill, though Void is important here for the extra raise.  Emphases are not major questions, but it’s easy to forget this one.

Weapons Skills

While 1xp buys add up, it does seem like Spears 1 and who knows what else would make sense to leverage A-5.  Heavy Weapons 7 is amusing but rather wasteful just for the humor value.


Sailing 5 is funny and not totally outrageous costwise.  But, it would either be a thematic “I don’t care about effectiveness anymore” path or a “I give up on effectiveness” path.

Craft: Armorsmithing/Weaponsmithing

One, the other, or both would actually make sense.  The question here is “Which path do I care about or do I not care about any?”  Multiple buys tie into each other.  Armorsmithing means pushing the Earth, which fits with original concept while making Earth matter more often.  Weaponsmithing either pushes Int or Void.

In a way, realizing that the crafting rules aren’t nearly as onerous as I thought, really would have helped push the character one way or another.  I just don’t have a clear idea in mind for which way I would enjoy more.  If I would have understood crafting better to begin with, I might have a stronger preference or even pursue both misc. weapons and armor or kat/wak and armor.

Flavor Skills

I can keep adding instruments or get better with them.  Biwa 3 would give me something different to do.  Dance is another thought.  There are goofy Lores, which might make more sense with I-3.  Emphases can be funny but rather inefficient except Pony, Sneaking, Throwing.

Focus v Different v Goodstuff

Focus would be Earth and/or Fire.  Goodstuff would be Void, then Reflexes, but Strength is surprisingly interesting to me.  Different would be Strength, a trait I often dump on.  Given how poor Tatakisu’s Traits/Rings are, flippant skill buys are dangerous for making him increasingly irrelevant to higher rank parties.

It’s a conundrum inside a labyrinth being encircled by a Dysan Sphere.  I really can’t think of what to do, but doing nothing is incredibly inefficient as any Trait/Ring bump at this time may matter a lot, while skill/emphasis buys now are less generally impactful but check things off of whatever the checklist is.

Edge Of Gloom

February 23, 2019

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

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

Dagger strike with the hand, punches through the defense.

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

Go around, rather than through, the block.

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

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

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

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

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

Defense is often weakest following a failed attack.

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

Run like the horse, and never tire.

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

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

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

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

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

When the body is primed, you prepare for dominance.

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

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

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

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

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

Name: Forest Futility
Faction: Jammer
Size: 50

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

Edges (2)
2x Payback time

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

Sites (1)
1x Genocide Lounge

States (2)
2x Homemade Tank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seasonality – Winter

January 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that brings me to yet another perfect deck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

States (2)
2x Iron Fists

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

Events (2)
2x Scrounging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In The Shadow Of Freedom

December 29, 2018

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

An unusual experience – unfortunately – that should be usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does IDGAS work for other games?

Ultimate Combat!

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

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

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


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


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

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

Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, Tomb Raider

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

It’s just entertaining.

Happy almost time for Best Of … 2015!

Post Of Eves Past

December 24, 2018

In a way, it does matter that it’s Christmas Eve at the moment.  Matters because I have the day off from work, of course, but also because the timing of recent events.

Speaking of recent events, I thought our official announcement for the reasons for canceling the Kickstarter were spot on.  We think digitizing the game has value for making it easier to play, but that only helps when there is either a larger playerbase or an awareness of the card game combined with a preference for e-play.  Coming out of the holidays, I’m going to see what I can do about expanding awareness and getting together with other players in the area and when I have time on trips I make outside the area.

For a timing example, one of my friends picked up Ultimate Combat! boosters for me.  This provided an opportunity not only to talk about draft value of different cards but to just talk about aspects of the game as well as to read some of the flavor text I haven’t read in a long time.  See, almost all cards have flavor text.  Not good flavor text.  But, if you already are amused by real world martial artists in funny poses, then the flavor text will only add to that.

The “karate chop” of old movies, deadly against the throat.

The thing about Ultimate Combat! is that it provokes so many fond memories of being an UC! player, even if it was a time in my life that wasn’t so great for other reasons.

I played Terra Mystica yesterday.  It was a get together of a group of us who don’t get together that often as … what happens when you don’t do something regularly is that you let it slide.  I played Giants.  I chose not to Stronghold on round one and was, therefore, out of the game.  That was not terribly fun.  Not that I was sure I was out of the game, but when someone had eight dwellings in play and I had trouble making any (by the time I Strongholded to generate consistent spades, I was surrounded), figured the game wasn’t going so well.  Reading some, it would be interesting to try shipping to build dwellings apart from each other.  Still, the Giants’ ability is a disadvantage as far as I’m concerned and the Stronghold ability just counters the disadvantage, whereas other factions get useful abilities.  Five player game took about 5.5 hours, so we played just the one game.

It was kind of like yesteryearishness.  But, in many ways, not.  We went out to eat together, for instance, which isn’t something we used to do.  The location was an area close to my work, so I knew plenty of food places around.

I’ve run a couple side sessions of Rokugan 1600 and … I’m not sure I really have any new takeaways, though I have a better sense of what I think works, I just don’t necessarily execute on what I know, a consistent problem outside of gaming.

One thing I did think might happen was a Tahaddi Duel.  But, of course, that would have been more likely with different players.  Anyway, I wrote homebrew rules for Tahaddi Dueling as I’ve run a LBS 3e Tahaddi Duel and it was atrocious.  The mechanics were just painfully boring.  Unlike 3e Iaijutsu, which could be interesting.  4e Tahaddi is an awful copy of 4e Iaijutsu Dueling – awful because the two aren’t really similar thematically.  I considered doing something similar to 4e Iaijutsu, but Tahaddi is all about back and forth, not staring at someone until they explode.

Revel in the completely coherent and in every way fully thought out rules mechanics awesome:

Tahaddi Rules – Art of the Thrust and Parry
Each duelist has a number of thrusts and parries equal to Void. Each additional of one or the other requires a VP. Can change to normal skirmish after both are out of free thrusts/parries, before that is half rank Integrity/Honor loss.
Assessment: As usual, one time bonus to either Thrust or Parry. Uses Knives (Tahaddi), -5 for not having Tahaddi. Winner goes first.
Thrust/Parry: AGI/Knives (Tahaddi) vs REF/Defense (Knives if Tahaddi skill). Winning by 5 or more is a strike. Each additional 5 is a FR to damage.

The session I ran Saturday was a very special holiday session, which I didn’t think about until a player mentioned it as a possibility and I liked it as I’m trying to wrap up a story arc and thought it could be risky to run on the 23rd.  One player didn’t play the previous session so had less sense than usual what was going on.  The holiday break meant splitting up the story arc ending session into two was going to be more painful than usual.  As it turned out, one of the players had to cancel, so having another side session made sense, even if it was a missed opportunity for her to be involved in time travel – the single most common thing in L5R, ever, as “everyone” knows.  Actually, in this case, made a bit more sense.  The prevalence of time travel outside of a Fortune of Shinseimas Past/Present/Future makes far more sense to me because the players don’t know things I know.

What’s different and what’s the same.  Time, something I feel like I have less of even though I actually have plenty of time, I just don’t use it effectively, gives an opportunity to reflect.  To nostalgiasize.

One thing I haven’t done a lot of this time of year is read fiction/reference/RPGs, even though it’s something I think I do more often when days are their shortest because of lack of TV shows, more time, and because I can’t seem to stop buying relatives books for Christmas.  I tried reading something I bought myself about Aztec and Mayan Mythology/Anthropology, but I couldn’t get into it.  Tried to play more music rather than have the same old sports talk shows on and haven’t felt that strongly about actually listening to the CDs I used to listen to.  Realized I need to hook back up a DVD player to play some Garth Brooks DVDs.

I’m sure that’s the first thing the audience of this blog thinks of when thinking of musical interests pour moi.  Yup, poppish country, melodramatic piano rock, Christmas carols, and good songs outside of those genres.

Well, I may have had some other thought, but I need to do some other things tonight.