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
Dragon Cards (8)
4x Junkyard Boys
1x Golden Comeback
1x Never Surrender
Guiding Hand Cards (10)
1x Bao Ling
2x Buddhist Bellringer
1x Rosalee Leung
2x Shaolin Supplicants
2x White Crosus Society
1x Journey’s Reward
1x Rigorous Discipline
Combo Cards (7)
5x Eagle’s Gift
2x Iron Fists
Generic Cards (20)
1x Martial Focus
1x Shared Interests
Feng Shui Sites (10)
5x Möbius Gardens
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.