The Sleeping Mind

March 12, 2017

No, not a Kingkiller reference.

I woke up from a dream this morning.  Twas between 3AM and 4AM (already changed my bedside clock).

The dream may have started with Shadowfist play, certainly the players were Shadowfist players, including one who may not be playing anymore.  But, the end of the dream had to do with V:TES.

I had played someone’s deck.  I didn’t get it.  I told someone how I thought it was odd.  He (how come there aren’t more shes, oh right) went on about how I missed the point of the deck by not using card X to be able to do Y and Z.  I was all like “what?”.  “What are you talking about?  I don’t remember those cards.”

So, I looked through the deck.  I still didn’t see the cards that it was supposed to be built around.  So, I looked again.  I finally saw one of the key cards.

It was a Dominate card.  It had no art, just lots of text.  The mechanic of the card is that you turned Dominate into other disciplines, which is why you could play Melpominee(?) in this deck.  There was some explanation (on the card) about why you didn’t want to give your vampire superior Dominate as that would prevent something to do with the uncontrolled region.  It was said, not by me, that the reason the card existed was to give Dominate more variety without making it stronger, but I questioned that.  You know, turn Dominate into Temporis or whatever may be bad.  Actually, thinking about it now, Dominate into Protean would likely be worse.

I finally got the point of the deck.  Btw, the name of the card kept reminding me of Hymn to Tourach.  Though, maybe that was the other card.

So, I started thinking about how to template this card, as it reminded me of a mechanic that we came up with for some of our Traveller cards.

I, then, fell back asleep, kind of, just so I wouldn’t remember as much to post in this blog.

Yup, gaming has been slight in the last week.  I could expound on True Dungeon transactions, as I’ve been back in token tycooning mode, again, plus I built a Spring 2017 transmute spreadsheet where I created a formula to appoximate the value of a token based on its trade items, but let’s save such unsavory topics for when it’s not early in the morning.


Strike Fast, Strike Precise

January 8, 2017

Get something out of the way first.  Played Shadowfist Thursday, five player team game.  I made my last bid for victory having five Cobra Clan Stalkers at a seized Humble Dojo.  The expected Neutron Bomb went off, and someone else won.  But, more importantly, I had five Cobra Clan Stalkers in play at the same location, that being someone else’s site.  I’m sure I won some other subgame as well.

Okay, busy, and I’ll get to HoR4 comments next time, even though we played a bunch of mods before yesterday.

Yesterday, two V:TES tournaments, my first tournaments in a long time as I missed the August tournaments.

I built three decks yesterday morning.  By built, I mean pulled the cards.  I designed them either weeks ago or months ago.  Of course, design takes all of 10-30 minutes, where pulling the cards takes an hour in many cases.

We had 12 players for the two events.  Brandon organized.  Only Chris came up from SoCal.

Tournament 1

Round 1:

Ian (To Perish Uncreated) -> Dave CK (Cel/Pro bruise bleed with rush) -> Eric S (Trem Burst and bleed) -> Alex (Vlad and friends)

Key play.  I play Precision and name Sideslip, thus sealing Dave’s doom.  Dave was hurt immensely by how Eric had Merrill out, who could avoid so many aggpokes, plus Merrill got Ivory Bow giving the poke.  Alex was screwed, sucking bleeds right and further right, only having Vlad in play.

I had two Quira and two Gwendolyns in my uncontrolled, brought both out and stealthed by Dave consistently, avoiding beatings with Swallowed by the Night or Celerity.

Dave Villeined some and Golcondaed Anson, but he had problems fighting forward and I just kept bleeding.  Eric ousted Alex.  I had Appolonius as well in play and ousted Dave by just enough, then didn’t have too much problem in the endgame as Alex’s last significant play was burning Muaziz in combat, so Eric was playing with two dudes.

Round 2:

Chris (Undue Influence with Spoils of War) -> Ian -> Dave A (Shattering Crescendo) -> Dave CK

This was an easy collapse.  Chris could only go forwards.  Dave A’s first Daughter got diablerized before Shattering anything.  By the time he transferred someone who wasn’t Scout (that he could have transferred a round earlier), he Shattered once and I took my VP.  The endgame wasn’t impossible for me for a bit, as I had Quira in play as a 3 bleeder and Gwendolyn in play as a 6 bleeder, but Dave had too much pool, too many minions, and too much combat.  Not a surprising ending.

Finals:

1GW and 4VPs only put me second behind Brandon, which made things difficult in terms of seating choices.

Alex and Dave CK were low.  Mark was playing a Malgorzata deck, like Alex was, so they didn’t want to sit next to each other.  I would have been fine with being Dave’s predator since I could stealth by him consistently and I had enough ways to deal with rushes, but, if I placed behind him, Brandon would have likely been behind me and that seemed bad, with my not knowing how much I probably didn’t care about Brandon’s deck.  It would have been bad as Dave likely would have rolled Alex, though maybe that wasn’t terrible as Dave would become the enemy and Brandon might let me just go forward.

What did happen is that I inserted as Mark’s predator and Brandon as Alex’s predator.

Ian -> Mark (Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, whatever) -> Dave -> Brandon (Brujah limited collection deck) -> Alex

Early on, Alex was under pressure and I ignored his token bleeds.  Brandon had about the same number of minions as Dave, and the two fought with both getting beaten up.  Dave was strong early on with pool and minions and because Mark’s deck just grows high caps before he does anything.  But, he got torped at times.  Mark became the biggest threat once he had Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, and Carlton in play, but time was running out and he had limited success on removing Dave’s pool.

Nevertheless, Dave was in danger.  Alex was potentially in danger but not so much.  I had Famed Quira (I got Famed like five times during the day and never once went to torpor), who got Pentexed, Kalinda with Tasha Morgan, Appolonius, and a very late Darrell Boyce.

Time was running short.  I talked about who should remove Pentex for me to interact with Mark.  Alex seemed to be the player.  Alex bleeds me, bleeds me, I’m at 5, bleeds me with Vlad for 5.  I bounce with Quira, of course.  Mark Eludes Morpheus.  I DI.  Mark takes 5.  I bleed him out.  Time runs out.

Key play?  Precision naming Eyes of Argus that gets blocked due to Eyes of Argus.  Between that and my being Obedienced like five times as I never bothered stealthing by Mark’s four +1 intercept minions, Mark had no chance … unless Alex just burned Pentex like we “hoped”, which meant Brandon would have likely won on time, though maybe Mark had enough bleed to oust Dave.

Not a brutal victory, but I could have reasonably gotten Dave next, which would have been more convincing as to the true power of playing one Walk of Flame in a deck.  Mark was constantly worried about my combat because … of geniusness.

Deck Name:   To Perish Uncreated
Created By:  Apple’s sidekick – Ian Lee
Description: Apple bleeds, Quira and friends Cloak and Revelate and Precision.

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 22, Max: 42, Avg: 7.66)
———————————————-
2  Appolonius                         CEL for pot PRE10 Brujah
1  Darrell Boyce                      CEL OBF PRO    6  Gangrel Antitribu
1  Greta Kircher                      AUS CEL obf PRE7  Toreador Antitribu
2  Gwendolyn                          aus CEL FOR POT PRE tha11 Brujah
1  Kalinda                            CEL OBF tha    6  Assamite
2  Quira                              AUS OBF obt tha6  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Tansu Bekir                        cel OBF        4  Assamite
1  Vasantasena                        AUS DEM dom OBF pot9  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Zahir                              CEL OBF qui tha6  Assamite

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (21 cards)
1  Barrens, The
5  Blood Doll
1  Direct Intervention
1  Dreams of the Sphinx
2  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Legendary Vampire
2  Obfuscate
3  Perfectionist
1  Villein
4  Wider View

Action (9 cards)
1  Computer Hacking
4  Precision
4  Revelations

Action Modifier (15 cards)
9  Cloak the Gathering
2  Elder Impersonation
1  Leverage
3  Veil the Legions

Reaction (17 cards)
3  Confusion of the Eye
1  Delaying Tactics
1  Fillip
5  On the Qui Vive
5  Telepathic Misdirection
2  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (5 cards)
4  Vampiric Speed
1  Walk of Flame

Retainer (2 cards)
1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
1  Tasha Morgan

Combo (11 cards)
4  Resist Earth`s Grasp
7  Swallowed by the Night

With that out of the way, I felt like playing something different.  Though my second deck was different, my third deck was much more different, being full of beatings, I mean, whiffings.

Tournament 2

Round 1:

Rick (Le Dinh Tho supports Dem bleed) -> Ian (CEL +1 STR) -> Kenneth (Lasombra SB) -> Alex (as above)

Kenneth blew through Alex, not that long for Rick, decked, but he had just enough stealth to get by my two +2 intercept minions – Carlton Sport Bike, Blaise Sport Bike and Mr. Winthrop – to not have all of his dudes murdered by my combat.

I never beat anyone down, discarding Blurs, Sideslips, Tastes.  I did make a terrible mistake by not giving Blaise (or Carlton) Mr. Winthrop a turn earlier.  I’m not sure if having Carlton at +3 was better or not than having two +2 interceptors.  But, between Shroud of Absence and combat ends, I never touched Kenneth’s dudes.

Pickup1:

I played my King of the Mountain deck with no Tastes.  I’m unclear what I was thinking.

Round 2:

Andrew (Malk SB) -> Rick -> Mark (Lucian, The Perfect bleed) -> Ian

This didn’t last long.  I couldn’t generate enough intercept to stop Lucian, so I took several bleeds of 7.  Andy ousted Rick.  Mark had more pool and more bleed in the endgame.

Well, that wasn’t all that.  Again, losing is fine.  Not doing anything is the bane of good games.  But, whatever.  I already won an event and had allergy issues all day so chilling was cool.

Pickup2:

Five player, I played a Jyhad only Pre/Cel deck and had the only oust, bringing out my sixth minion afterwards.

Great to play V:TES again.  Great to still have enough players to have meaningful events.  We talked about a V:TESlike game that relied less on cards in hand.

Congratulations to Kenneth for winning his first tournament.

Thanks to Brandon for organizing, to Andrew and Eric and their family for the use of their house, where we get our biggest events.  Thanks to all three for getting sandwiches and burgers.

Good times.  Hopefully, just a start on my playing a bunch of V:TES in a bunch of places this year.


Kickstarter – Traveller Card Game

December 9, 2016

 

So, I said I was working on a card game.  Kickstarter is live, folks.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1587896607/traveller-customizable-card-game?ref=nav_search

What should I start with?  How about some insight that you probably won’t see in another announcement?

Someone asked us what makes this game special.  As lead developer, what impressed me was how solid game play was early on, even when Bankruptcy was too common and Piracy wrecked opponents.

I may not be a big art person, but I have also been really impressed with what the artists have come up with.  Vibrant.

You can see inspiration come from various card games that we have played.  What’s interesting is that some feedback from playtesting has included feelings of similarity to games that the design group hasn’t played.  At some point, I’ll get into this more.

Design Goals

Traveller RPG

We wanted the game to have a strong RPG feel, where a game would evoke a sense of playing a series of adventures.  Are you more interested in plot or challenge?  Contracts are the plots, Complications the challenges.

Lively

Everyone wants games to be fun.  How do you achieve that?  Be reasonable in duration.  Have interesting choices.  Have the quality interaction with other players that I’ve talked about with other games.  Keep rules manageable.

Plus?

Want to be a playtester?  We have stretch goals and potential expansions already in development.

Next local convention is DunDraCon.  If we get funded, expect to see me at Origins and Gen Con demoing the game, as well as additional regional conventions.

 


Fisticuffs 20160908

September 9, 2016

While I haven’t played V:TES in quite a while, I have been playing Shadowfist, even more than weekly after a few weeks off from travel.

I don’t remember a lot from earlier games.  Sure, I remember the “battle of everyone play four FSSs side by side” game to some degree, what with my massive character steal failing, multiple Big Bruisers failing, and how this sort of site structure only comes about because of one of our house rules.

I could recreate some events based on remembering which decks got played in which games, but whatever.  Let’s go recent.

Game 1

Justin (Cops) -> Ian (Archaic Architects) -> Joren (Jammers) -> Don (Nukey Jammer Battlegrounds)

At a certain point, we sort of decided Joren and Don had infinite power due to three Jury-Rigged Dynamos being in play (one seized!).  That didn’t stop Justin and me from making bids for victory.

My bids with CHARs kept coming up short as I was overaggressive.  I definitely have a habit of going from one extreme to another with Shadowfist, sometimes knowing failure is an option just to have the thrill of defeat or, if the game is goofy (see below), the agony of victory.

I CHARed up some with many Mobius Gardens plays (feeding the Dynamos, of course).  My last gasp in the game was putting Homo Omega in play and making a bid for victory that didn’t even come close to succeeding.

Don played a lot of uniques which meant my Bzzzzzt!s stuck in hand far too much.  I did Bzzzzzt! one of Joren’s Razor-Clad Fanatics to keep my Gardens a bit longer.  Actually, my main problem is that I had to police Don, since no one else could be bothered, and it didn’t really help me as I wasn’t moving towards victory and was getting Payback Timed repeatedly.

Joren didn’t get a lot of fighting.  The Lunatic Fringe did do some stuff, but it was mostly events that stifled others while he couldn’t get fierce enough to threaten.

Don didn’t really move much towards victory, often having few FSSs because his other stuff made him seem threatening.

So, Justin won.  He had 200 Guys to take some advantage of uniques coming down.  His cops would die.  More cops would appear.  Eventually, people couldn’t stop anything.

Some Nukes did blow stuff up.

Game 2

Justin -> Ian (Abominations) -> Joren -> Don

I don’t take advantage of some of our house rules or don’t take as much advantage of them as I could.  I couldn’t get an Arcanomoth to play anything.  So, I put Mobius Gardens in play and had 7 power.  I bought a Mooks to generate an Architect resource, dropped two Blood Eagles.  I took a site.  My Eagles didn’t take any damage.  I played a third Eagles on my next turn and won.

I was entertained by the game, but, then, the winner of these awful games is often far more entertained than the losers, and I’ve often been on the other side in multiplayer games.  Because this game lasted like 15 minutes, we played another.

Game 3

Ian (Minimalist Butterfly) -> Joren (CDCA Scientists) -> Don (Darknessy Monarchs) -> Justin (Hoods)

This was not all that compelling either, but, at least, it wasn’t quite as dumb as play three Blood Eagles and win.

CDCA Scientists didn’t do a whole lot.  Don’s deck did almost nothing of consequence.  Hoods were scary.  There was so many Hoods in play that Justin’s army had to be policed … hard.  This meant …

… I could win having played 13(!!) cards.  Oh, not only 13 cards.  More, wow, that’s … that’s more than 50% of your deck 13 cards.

I still have yet to fill out my 25 card Butterfly Knight deck to 30 cards.  As much as I hate on Miguel’s decks, I do steal ideas from everyone I play against.  The whole point was to go with as streamlined a deck as possible where I could take three sites in one turn.  If my first Butterfly Knight hadn’t been cancelled, I would have tried that path to victory.  Instead, I only went for two sites in one turn with a second Butterfly.

Name:  Basic Butterfly
Faction:  Monarchs
Size:  25

Monarchs Cards (13)
Characters (11)
2x Beaumains, the Mongrel Knight
4x Butterfly Knight
5x Fire Cadets

States (2)
2x Thunder Gauntlet

Generic Cards (12)
Feng Shui Sites (10)
1x Cataract Gorge
1x Eagle Mountain
1x Emergency Room
1x Humble Dojo
1x Nightclub
1x Precious Lotus Monastery
1x The Dragon’s Teeth
1x The Iron Palace
1x The Red Lantern Tavern
1x Tiger Leaping Gorge

States (2)
2x Deadly Fans

What five cards to add (that are Modern)?  I thought about it at one point, but I don’t necessarily care enough to worry about it.

See, to me, in Modern, Monarchs has cool cards but makes uncool decks.  Lotus has cool cards and cool decks but has way too many uncool cards and uncool decks.  Dragon has cool cards and largely uncool decks.  Hand has cool plays but maybe not as cool cards and only has cool decks when you don’t play certain obvious things (Superleap everywhere, counterspells everywhere, combos).  Jammers has cool cards and amazingly uncool cards, and the decks are often really annoying.  And, the Ascended are the antithesis of cool.

Gee, it’s almost like I don’t favor much of the game.  Or, is it just that I prefer Classic?  To an extent, yes.  I make goofy Architects decks as Neutron Bomb, Imprisoned, and Nerve Gas are all on my personal banned list.  I can find plenty of appealing Modern Lotus plays, but Classic just adds other Lotus plays.  Syndicate is green.  No, really, I don’t enjoy playing Syndicate much yet still like them, so it must be because they are green.  I like the effects in 7 Masters, though they are just so broken.  Purists used to be appealing until I found my decks boring and other people’s decks obnoxious.  Reascended are cool.

The best thing, one might say, about Classic is that there are so many more bad cards for me to play.  Ah, I guess some things never change!


Tributaries

August 21, 2016

Still no philosophies.  No reviews.  No how to.

Some ranging thoughts.

Gen Con feels shorter.  While the amount of been there, done that is strong, which makes everything run together, I think there’s another reason it feels shorter.  I don’t take any breaks.  I used to leave an open slot to get some sleep and/or hit the exhibit hall.  Now, I just don’t have the lack of things I want to do to leave any slot open.  Even having HoR slots likely slows things down some because there are fast mods and slow conversations to break up the “well, got to run to the next game”.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about True Dungeon.  That’s not necessarily helpful as so many people on the forums are the types who think nothing of debating which ultrarares/transmuteds/legendaries are the better way to go.  Of course, now that I’ve seen most of the 2016 set of commons/uncommons/rares with my own eyes, I can pretty much figure out what I care about of those.  Still, it’s always interesting – I so ignore shuffleboard that I miss a lot of important things about it.

After GC, I had a family reunion, ironically in a place where I have more family on the other side.  Gaming hits so many notes for me – there’s the story aspects of RPGs, the puzzle aspects of deckbuilding, the gambling aspects of trusting in the heart of the cards or the whimsy of the dice, the analysis in determining component or action efficiency, etc.  No one else in my family is what I’d call a gamer, and many have virtually no idea what I’m talking about, though, to be fair, I game with people who knew nothing about True Dungeon until I started explaining it.

Both of my parents were relevant to my interest in games.  My mother and I used to play rummy or hangman when waiting for food at restaurants.  My father had some interest in chess and poker, but, of course, that side of the family was mostly about mahjong in terms of consequential gaming.

As I think about my mother’s birthday present(s), I wouldn’t consider anything gaming related, even RPG books that are more thematic than mechanical.  Buying anyone gaming stuff is rare, as I try to avoid getting into present exchanges with friends.  Not unheard of, but there are just some ways in which not everything ties into gaming, which I suppose has some benefits.

Not sure why daimyo info for HoR4 was worth posting this early – I would much rather know what character I’m creating than caring about NPCs that likely have no impact on my play experience.  Still leaving the door open to bail out on playing a Loremaster.

Of all the RPG campaigns I could run, would Legend of the Burning Sands be the one I’m most interested in?  It keeps coming to mind.  I think I hit some rich veins, though it wasn’t like I ran it for very long.  I sort of see why fantasy can be appealing to run – you can do strange stuff and it fits the genre.  Solomon Kane was much more rooted, and I get distracted by the mundane when trying to create the adventurous.  Camelot suffered from veering too far into the out of genre with not having enough in genre.

In the realm of solitaire, Card Invaders is too hard and Stalactites too easy.  I’ve come up with yet another way to try to make Card Invaders not be like a 10% win rate game – instead of burning aces and deuces to draw cards, once per turn, after drawing a card, can put a card from hand on the bottom of the draw deck and draw a card.  Seems to add slightly to decision making.  With Stalactites, it’s just too much like playing FreeCell, where you know you will win, you just have to run through all of the possibilities until you find the winning plays.

Kickstarter rewards have been showing up.  I’m not enthused.  One game is way less interesting than I thought; another is something I just don’t know if I’ll play, at least not until I get some session in at a con.  I have so much stuff that it’s just overwhelming to figure out how to manage all of the cards, tokens, books, etc.  Meanwhile, I still have little interest in ebooks for RPGs – I tend to be terrible about learning mechanics without an actual book I can peruse.

In general, my enthusiasm is more for L5R and TD and not with card games or trying to do something new with RPGs.  As the Summer has been eventful and Fall may be less so, maybe I can get some of the house in order and feel more open to additional things, as I’m not gaming that often.


Name “That” Game

July 4, 2016

Clear out some comments before getting to some sort of core point.

Started building Third Edition cube for V:TES.  Ran into something I forgot.  CCG companies are dumb.  There are two clans specific to the Sabbat.  One of them got a precon.  The other didn’t.  So, not only are there no Animalism, Fortitude (surprisingly rare discipline in Sabbat only play), Presence, and Protean skill cards.  There are no Obtenebration skill cards.  Obtenebration is required.

How to deal?  Make up house rules?  Make up cube cards?  Switch to Sabbat War for cube?  … mix … a … cube?  The last is just offensive in so many ways because Third Edition is the most offensive set ever printed for any CCG for reasons that have nothing to do with the card pool.

I really want to have a 3e Cube because I hardly play 3e cards, and there are good ones for limited play and I don’t hate all draft text.

This weekend has been gaming deprived, just working on designing another CCG, for reasons.  Last weekend, can’t get that motivated to deepify on The Last Spike, Splendour, Epic Roll.

So, time to name that tune.  Nezumi.

I name it in one, Chuck.  Uh, that’s three syllables.  Shut up, Chuck.  You are Chuck, right?  Uh, no, there’s like a ton of people who hosted this show and none of them are Chuck.

Nezumi Nights

Rattled?  No, Ratling.

It’s Time To Play The Name!

So, I mentioned playing HoR Nightmare War.  The theory was to go full whiskered with the party, but, predictably, that didn’t happen.  Three of us did the tailed beast thing.  Since I don’t really see anything all that different about playing a tailed fighter or a tailed thief, I went tailed wizard.

* Jakrkir looks insulted. “Me not grasping paw.”

<Jakrkir> If time to be killed, find entertainer to learn goblin fire dance.

Still working on our tribe name.  Haven’t come up with better than Fearsome Biter Tribe.  Not that Jakr’kir** is a biter.  Not that much of an igniter.  More of a righter.

**  Why so boring a name?  Sounded decent.  I went through some basic Nezumi words and couldn’t find anything better.  Yup, research.  Even when I’m playing something rather meaningless.

Even though I’ve built tons of newb PCs, it is brutal how few points you get to newb up, even with my 68 points from playing most of HoR3.  Not Earthy, oblivious, stupid.  At least I don’t think I can take Luck, which would have been more of a points suck.

I’m probably going for a rebuild to be a bit more balanced.  Have to N-4 (Name-4), of course, for any shaman.  But, maybe can be somewhat spread in Rings.

So far, got most use out of Bless Name.  Didn’t want to take weird spells.  Named Weapon, thematically, should go to our Nezumi fighter (picking yumi), but it’s kind of wasted as she’s a biter.

I overlooked the actual mechanics around true names.  I’ll roll for those next time.  Didn’t really matter.

Was it fun?  Sure.  Gaming can encompass a lot of different experiences.  Being the only Nezumi would likely be annoying to a serious party, but we can just not be too serious.

Speaking of names, card names matter.  Take Sins of the Cauchemar.  It doesn’t really matter what the card does as long as it doesn’t hurt you because it has an awesome name.  While the design process is at a point where we aren’t worrying about card names, I’m much more cognizant of the importance of them.

And, themes.  But, this post isn’t about CCG design.  This is about a Gnawing Gneed for Gnezumi Feed.


Card Invaders In Cube D

June 26, 2016

This weekend got ridiculous.  I was on a business trip until Friday morning.  Flew back.  Went out Friday night and talked possible CCG, played A Game of Thrones CCG, played Star Realms, even talked about Card Invaders and how it brings up solitaire issues.

Wait, Card Invaders??

I was going to do this as a separate post, but I have too many other posts to get to.  Can skip past to get to V:TES stuff and the like.

Card Invaders (R, TM, P, Q, W, Ltd.)

I did a brief search on the name Card Invaders as I thought for sure that someone would have used it, well, I’m using it.  The original, no cards unshuffled game that I invented is:

Take a 52 card deck.  Deal out three stacks of 5 cards.  Deal yourself a hand of 5 cards.  Draw a card.  Begin.  Begin by flipping over the top card of any stack that does not have a face up card.  When you get through the three stacks each round, draw a card.  An existing face up card either has to be removed or it depopulates the Earth.  Aces and twos are tiny little scout ships while queens and kings are mighty battleships or carriers.  You remove a face up card by playing a card from hand that is the same value or one value higher/lower.  If you do not remove a face up card, it goes into a discard pile and you discard from the top of your draw pile that many cards (11 for jack, etc.) *and* you also turn up the next card in the stack (I put them sideways) so that you have to deal with it sooner rather than having a free round of turning a face down card face up.  When you have to “take damage” from your draw pile and can’t, you lose.  You don’t have to draw a card every round when the draw pile is exhausted (because that’s an even more bleak game).

This is the base game.  It is really hard to win.  I don’t like hard to win solitaire games.  The one I think is best is one that you are supposed to win about twice out of three plays.  So, of course, I made an easier version.

In the variant, any ace or deuce in your hand you can discard to draw the top card of the draw deck.  You basically sacrifice small “anti-ship guns” because you don’t really care if scouts decimate some of the world’s population to get massive cannons to blow up the tens, jacks, queens, and kings of the enemy.  This is my most commonly played variant.  It’s unlikely to win.

While the game has decisions, which I think is essential to any meaningful solitaire game, it’s still rather random.  An unblownup king will pretty much wipe the Earth’s population, for instance.  So, why do I play it?

I invented this years ago when I was trying to figure out how to play solitaire games that took up very little space but still had decisions.  It’s also fast.  The lesson with games is that your game can be less good if it plays faster.  If Magic took, on average, 15 more minutes to play, it would likely be nowhere near as popular in comparison to other CCGs.

I started coming up with other variants, like that you could play multiple cards from your hand to add up to the exact value of a larger card.  This makes aces and other low cards more interesting and provides a decision point if you use the discard rule for aces and deuces as well.  It doesn’t seem to help much.

The “I really like winning solitaire” variant is that you get to once per game ignore a ship raining death upon your people.  I call this the superscience version of Card Invaders.  You cobble together an experimental superweapon or supershield to just stop a ship’s attack run.  This vastly increases the chances of winning.  I’m often one card away from winning in the normal version of the game.

V:TES & Friends

Saturday, had 7AM online HoR-Nightmare War mod.  Saturday afternoon, had BBQ game day.  Could have gone to a second BBQ game day that night.  Sunday, V:TES, mostly cube draft.

Let’s start with the last.

We used the same cube we had before.  We had more notes to make on adjusting it.  It uses one copy of each Jyhad vampire and a variety of library cards, probably too many with not enough things like skill cards.

But, I’ll come back to building a cube, which I’m now much more interested in both because V:TES really needs such things as Sabbat cubes to see certain cards actually played, while Saturday involved a Shadowfist draft where a cube would have made more sense (though doing my first Shadowfist draft is a thing to get into in another post).

We had six players.  That didn’t make drafting a problem – two packs of 9 vampires, five packs of 11 library cards; 30 card libraries with one recursion, five minimum crypts.  It did mean playing two six-player games.  Six player games were okay.  I had a path to 6 VPs in the first game, settling for 5 when … okay, this requires some explanation.

I had 1 VP.  Andy calls a Con Ag to do 3 to me, as his predator.  I play Poison Pill.  He has 2 pool.  I can’t get the vote to fail.  Why would I want the vote to fail when it gives me 2 VPs and net 3 more pool?  I had Political Backlash!!

I cleaned up after that.  As we give the cards back to Brandon, I don’t remember precise contents, but here are some contents:

1x Legendary Vampire (first overall pick)
1x Sudden Reversal (same pack! came back to me!?!)
1x Society of Leopold
1x Sermon of Caine
1x The Barrens (first pick from pack)
1x Haven Uncovered
1x Dominate Kine
1x Deflection (first pick in pack over Wake with Evening’s Freshness)
1x Pulling Strings
1x Telepathic Counter
1x Forced Vigilance
1x Claws of the Dead
1x Faceless Night
1x Forgotten Labyrinth (with draft text)
1x Veil the Legions
1x Into Thin Air
1x Changeling (for Animalism bleed)
1x Camera Phone (first pick from pack)
1x Raven Spy
1x Dodge
1x Backstep
1x Fake Out
1x Neonate Breach
1x Instinctive Reaction
1x Sense the Savage Way
1x Political Backlash
1x Poison Pill
1x Arson

Two more cards.  I know I didn’t have my two Lucky Blows or Harass in, originally.  I did change things up for the second game to be far more combat oriented as I thought that would be interesting.

My first game crypt was:

1x Sebastian Marley
1x Sylvester Simms
1x Roland Bishop
1x Dancin’ Dana
1x Anastasia Grey
1x Normal

I did not play Gilbert Duane in either game, my first overall crypt pick.  I did not play Masika + Aching Beauty, though I thought about it.  Animalism was just too important, so Sebastian and Sylvester were possum.  Dana didn’t come out game one, every one else did, with Roland coming from a decrypt.

In the second game, I went combat, so I went with Wynn, Badger, Sebastian, Sylvester, and Roland.  I started on Wynn but gave up on him as I got a much worse start.

In the first game, Marley was Legendary for two turns of bleeds of three before Lucian said “um, stop that”.  So, Marley went Raven Spy with Anastasia Camera Phoned.  Limited may not be about bounce, but bounce made both my games much easier.  Only wake was Sense the Savage Way, which was a later pick after I saw nobody taking Animalism, which isn’t shocking as Animalism’s awesome often gets obfuscated by all of the stealth bleed that one can do with later sets and draft text.

I had a good number of Potence cards to change into for game two:  Decapitate (no POT, though), Pushing the Limit, Thrown Sewer Lid, Sacrament of Carnage.  These were either hate drafts or stuff I was stuck with.  My plan to go Thaumaturgy didn’t go anywhere.  I didn’t even bother with Rutor’s Hand due to Astrid just not being as awesome as Sylvester.

I felt like I struggled hard with building a deck this time around and what crypt to actually play – weenieish, Sebastian + Sylvester + weenies, olderish.  That’s not a bad thing.  I felt like the first time we did this decks were too good and the play environment was not sufficiently limited to feel like usual drafting.  This time, it felt far more like other drafts and I was more into my deck, even without double King’s Rising, Leverage (had to pass it this time), or a WwEF (had to pass it because Deflection).

Comments I can recall about this cube:  too many Protean cards, especially aggropoke; two few skill cards; too many unplayable cards (Legion, Cull the Herd, etc.); too much combat in general; discipline balance out of whack (this draft, two of us never saw an Auspex intercept card, I saw like one Dominate bleed card besides Dominate Kine and two Presence bleed cards); not enough presses (Thaumaturgy blows without lots of presses to continue).

So, it’s up to me to build a Sabbat cube or maybe more than one.  I think Third Edition makes the most sense to start out with as I don’t play most of my Third cards even though I’ve probably opened up more boxes of the set than anyone but a hand full of players.  Third has multiple wakes.  Pool gain cards.  Variety.  Possibly too many disciplines, but oh well – I’d like to see Obtenebration and Vicissitude get some action.

Speaking of specific disciplines, here was my thought for a Cammie Cube:  1x Protean/Thaumaturgy to 2x others in ratio (yes, 2x even for Auspex, Dominate, Presence); 2x skill cards for common disciplines, 3x skill cards for Protean/Thaumaturgy.  I’ll use that as a principle for my Sabbie Cube.

Some day, I’ll get around to the contents of my first cube.  In the meantime, plenty of other stuff to talk about … like how to do a Shadowfist cube.