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.

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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!.

V:TES

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.

Magic

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.

Traveller

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.

Shadowfist

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 Chimpshack.org 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.


Open To Interpretation

December 16, 2018

There once was a man with the name of Lee
who spoke with his pa bout poetry.
They sat long in a car,
not going very far.
He quoted Stevens uneasily.

Trip ended back in Nuuanu,
the internet for research in lieu.
Limerick to study,
Wallace not his buddy,
Lee wanting to listen to rhymes true.

In the past, Lee wrote a bunch of beats.
Not the most challenging of his feats.
No mention of peacocks
or cause to fear hemlocks,
what value for these various treats?

The stresses are on the wrong syllables.  But, you get the point.

No?

Shocking.

If it isn’t obvious, and, what I consider obvious often isn’t, there’s something like a response to the body of poetry of one Wallace Stevens, here.

Response?

I’m not what one would call young.  That means my parents are less young.  Apparently, in college, they shared a class in poetry that had something to do with Wallace Stevens.  I found out about this in the long, long ago – last weekend.

I’m not a fan … of WS’s poetry, least that which I’ve read.  First of all, I like rhymes, unbusted rhymes.  Even more any sort of poetry that can be recited in a singsong manner.

Emperor of Ice Cream, Anecdote of the Jar, et al, are not anything like, say, George Herbert’s Virtue.

Now, in theory, this is a gaming blog.  While not a fan of the poems as poems, one thing I was feeling with WS’s works was how much RPG gamingishness they possessed.

Peacocks.

Peacocks!!

And, of course, hemlocks.

I have yet to build a serious peacock deck for Shadowfist, there being two Peacock cards, one of which would be the container on the hill, one might even call a Summit, a Peacock Summit.

Peacocks, of course, appear elsewhere.  Mythology.  Etc.

Poetic.  Nope, not the topic for today.

History.  Revelations.  There is a lot I don’t know about my parents’ histories.

Sure, NPCs with backgrounds.  An easy equine to pummel.  So, let’s get beyond that.

History isn’t just about a GM writing backstories.  There’s on stage history built by players.  That history is the most evocative history in our Conan d20 play.  I created a bunch of backstory for my PC and for NPCs important to him, which entertained me, but it is the shared history that our group may still speak of.

Yes, that has been addressed prior, one might say readdressed.

And, as evident as it is to say, RPG play is the gaming form where the story’s elements emerge.  I’m ignoring LARPing or whatever because I’m not much of a LARPer.  CCGs may be outside the box in terms of the play experience, but it’s not where elements of the play experience are brought into existence from the minds of the participants to fuel a narrative.

I didn’t play games when visiting with my father.  We watched some (football) games.  I tried to shop (seasonal reasons) and largely failed, as usual.  Had brunch with my father’s friend with details that led me to tell coworkers about the event, so ask me about it sometime if we cross paths.

Living.  Living without gaming is something common amongst other folks.

To a lesser extent with CCGs, manifestly, but, then, there’s imagination.  RPGs are a medium for sharing imagination.  Bringing life to something more than experience.

I had heard the name Wallace Stevens, methinks.  I knew nothing.  I read … some.

Peacocks.  Hemlocks.

Unenthused but inspired – possible.

Living with gaming to where one can be stuck in traffic and lensify poetry to see gaming potential.  Not terribly unlike how one of my friends has been creating V:TES cards recently related to his life that he has shared with some of us.

There was a point.  Experience becomes description.  Experience becomes resource.  Narrative of the actor, narrative of the character.  Oh, and, if hearing about someone’s PC is pain, try reading poetry interpretation.  Sometimes, a peacock is just a multi-layered archetype.

Jabberwocky.


Digital Travel

November 27, 2018

The plan has been in place for quite some time to have an electronic version of Traveller.

Yesterday, Horizon launched a Kickstarter to expand play beyond the rectangular cardboard into the world of zip zap that is the fu-ture …

Traveller CG Digital Edition

Posted about the KS on the VEKN forums, pointing out how our programmer is one of the most successful V:TES players in history.  I thought it was an interesting bit of trivia.

Only 28ish more days to back, back, back.  It could go all the way … with your help.  (Gratuitous sports jokes are all part of the payoff.)

I can, of course, be doing more to advertise the game.  So, with the theme of travel, I thought of how 2019’s convention schedule can be impacted now that cards are available in retail establishments and/or through their distributors.  If anyone has any suggestions outside of Origins and Gen Con, I’m interested in getting a better sense of which cons would have the most impact for exposing to people who don’t know the game is available.  International suggestions also welcome.

So, with the theme of digital, while Jeff and I were at GobbleCon Saturday to do some late notice demos, my Thanksgiving, besides being a blogging day, because one can be thankful of the opportunity to blog about gaming as well as write absurdly run on sentences, was a day of catching up on Rokugan 1600 fictions.  Not written with quill and squid but with the dread power of a keyboard while peering at a monitor.

I finally wrote something from a villain’s perspective.  I should just write those to begin with.  Though, thinking about it, are the villains really the villains or are they just antagonists to a messed up society of sword worshipers?

I wrote some other NPC stuff, too.  I could write all month (next month) and still not cover all of the NPC possibilities.

Yup, too many NPCs.  I knew there were from the start and, yet.  And, yet, you know what is fun for me?  More NPCs.  More stories that have nothing to do with the players or even really the campaign’s focus.  Well, rein it in, myself, rein it in.

Don’t rein in your end of year Kickstarter backing of the Digital Edition of the Traveller Card Game.

I know things I want to happen in the next installment of R.1600, I just foresee two problems.  One, too many things.  Two, how to adapt to player action.  Three … foresee three problems … everything is cooler in my brain than it normally ends up being in play.

It is funny, like when I read some reddit stuff on too many NPCs, how my problems aren’t special snowflake problems but rather mundane difficulties GMs routinely face.  It’s almost like there’s this human nature thing that happens that makes things suboptimal as, even though we know about a potential trap, we walk into the trap anyway.

Why is it so difficult?

You know who travels?  The Doctor travels.

I watched The Witchfinders and, then, hurriedly went to read reviews expecting to see comments supporting my one and only truth – that episode was atrocious.  Only to have people say they liked it.  Ye gods.  Hath Satan taketh controlleth of the interwebseth?  I kept wondering whether there was some clever audience manipulation thing going on that would make the tonal whipflash make sense.  It was like there was a parody running interlaced with the episode.

I’m not a fan of this season.  It does make me recall oldWho.  That’s not bad.  But, there was a lot of not so great oldWho, too.  And, there’s been plenty of newWho I haven’t thought highly of.  It’s like there’s untapped potential.

The Traveller Customizable Card Game is replete with untapped potential.  Potential that could be tapped … I mean … exerted with a few heroic actions.  All totally not pitching aside, there are some deep interactions in the card game, a lot of which have to do with how cards are money.  There were times I played complications on the contracts I was going to pursue just to be forced to bounce permanents back to my hand to use as money for going after more contracts.  It didn’t exactly work as I was far behind my opponent and had no way to really slow him down, but it was techy in a way that a lot of Magic puzzles want you to think.

Wow, haven’t mentioned Magic in a bit.  I guess that comes from not playing it or reading about it or having other people talk to me much about it while at the same time playing/running other games.  It’s almost like I’m stating something so keenly obvious that it has already sliced through the fabric of destiny.

Digital.  Travel.  Oh.  Nevermind.  For the one and only time in the history and future of this and every other creation, I managed to stray from my topic.


August VTES Tournaments

August 18, 2018

It’s a sign of old age that I just don’t recover from Gen Con as fast as I used to.  Of course, there are other factors, but having V:TES tournaments the weekend after GC was not easy.

For one thing, I only built one new deck in the time I had before driving up to Berkeley.  So, for the second event, played boring deck I took to NAC, leaving all of the antivote stuff in [alert, alert, foreshadowing alert … wait, if you call it out, is it foreshadowing anymore?].

T1, R1

Ian (Cel/For/Pre/Pro vote) -> Mark (Emerald Legionnaire w/ Anu) -> Kenneth (FoS merge vote Corruption) -> Jonathan (EuroBrujah) -> Devin (Nos weenies with Flash Grenades)

Since it’s been a week, my memory of details is reduced, but Mark did lots of stuff unmolested as neither Kenneth nor I block stuff and neither one of us did horrible things to him with votes.  Kenneth was okay at first but then just generally crumbled as he got bled for tons and choked on political actions.  Jonathan and I contest a title for a while as he brings out Donal and I bring out Una.  I eventually give up the title based on game state.  I try to ignore Devin as much as possible due to Flash Grenade being annoying to my low minion deck, which means getting bled constantly by a horde.

Since my predator never really got hurt, I had one useful thing to do in the game:  call Anarchist Uprising when my prey had 7 pool and 7 minions after having other actions blocked.  It got blocked.  What would have been funny is even a Forced March in my hand would have seen it go off and correct the game state to something better, as I would have Zip Lined, unlocked, called the vote at enough stealth.  Drew Polaris Coach too late to matter.

After that failed bid, Mark ousted and became unoustable.

R2

Devin -> Lev (unnamed) -> Rick (Trem/!(?) no bounce) -> Ian -> Kenneth

Rick reduced bleeds (he put Narrow Minds in play!!), which made Lev’s game more terrible.  Kenneth was allowed to pass votes, which made Devin’s game more terrible.  Pentexes and deals between Lev and Rick made this game meaningless to me, though I was pretty uninvested from the beginning as I was tired, had too much hot chocolate and ruffles, and still had post-GC things on my mind.

I guess my highlight in this game was bringing out Hardestadt and not having horrible things happen to him.  At one point, I tried Banishment on one of Kenneth’s dudes to stop a likely oust and Rick voted it down, so I just stopped caring what happened.  Kenneth’s stealing of Devin’s dudes through merged Sarrasine and whatnot plus Devin’s inability to block nor beat up Kenneth’s dudes meant there was inevitability at work even if I remembered to Scourge of the Enochians one of the stolen dudes.

After that happened, the game ground down to nothing as Lev just used his resources to stop Kenneth or me from going forward.  I’m not sure what Rick’s deck was supposed to do, though it played many of the usual cards in Aus/Dom/Tha except for bouncing stuff to me.  I can understand how reduction may be tech, but Narrow Minds is just a bad card that, to my aged and feeble recollection, has never actually helped the person who played it in my games and don’t get why people find it so appealing when they could put in better cards and not just create random distortions in games.

F

Mark won.

T2, R1

Ian (SER SB) -> Eric (Ventrue/! wall) -> Alex (high cap HoS) -> Jonathan (Shamblers) -> David CK (Thrown Gates)

So similar in terms of my predator and grandpredator both fighting or not that I had a hard time remembering which tournament I played against Devin’s deck and which David CK’s deck.  Shamblers do not do well against Thrown Gates.  Which meant I had to survive some on my own.  By which I mean I let plenty of bleeds through, yet again.

Alex did do stuff that helped and Eric blocked a bunch of Alex’s actions.  Eventually, Eric tried to go forward and ran into 3 Strength often enough to be relevant.  Jonathan could get stronger over time and could get bleeds through, but his game was slowed a lot by vamps going to torpor.

I eventually ousted Eric when he didn’t have a ton of pool and was tapped out in front of my four minions (Mylan may have been one of them).  I would have ousted Alex with more time, Jonathan still had a huge pool amount to go through even after finally getting David below 10.

R2

David A (Shattering Crescendo) -> Rick (Lasombra vote/fight) -> Ian -> Alex -> David CK

I think David A was first, might have been CK.  Anyway, David A sent two Crescendoes backwards, eliminating CK’s game.  Alex didn’t really do hardly anything, as one of CK’s rushes punked one of his dudes.

I ousted Alex.  Rick didn’t vote out David A to make CK more of a pool sack.  I ousted them.  In the endgame, I actually used The Eternal Mask at superior to bring back a murdered Kephamos and bled for a lot until Rick was going to die to Anarch Convert + Anarch Railroad if he didn’t scoop.

F

As high seed, I went with my first inclination though I wasn’t that fond of the choice.  Too much combat or pseudocombat in the finals.  I inserted between Mark and David A.  This meant if I was ousted, Mark, as second seed, would probably win, but I wouldn’t care anymore.  Also, the local players have strong stylistic play and I figured I wouldn’t get as murdered by Crescendoes as CK did in the earlier round.

Ian -> David A -> Jonathan -> Devin (anarch POT) -> Mark (high cap fake vampires – Lord Tremere, Capuchin – brought out by Malgorzata)

Mark’s game started poorly as Malgorzata got beaten down, but he recovered to where I didn’t think he was oustable and could just keep reducing my pool.  The latter was mostly true, the former was oddly not exactly true.

David Crescendoed forwards though I was ready to have my Mylan explode in a fine green mist.  I eventually brought out a couple vampires because I liked bleeding David.  I struggled with the idea of bringing out yet more dudes, but I was pretty worried about pool as I had no Dominate in play for a long time to bounce and had no way to stop votes … yet.

Devin crumbled before the power of Conditioning.  I ousted David with 8 bleed in a turn.  I didn’t fear Jonathan except it did force me to hold on to combat ends in case one of his few Shamblers came my way.  Jonathan ousted and I figured the game would time out with either my winning or Mark ousting me as I didn’t see how Jonathan got through Mark’s copious defenses of permacept and Carlton and Bowl and AUS.

Well, unless he bounced me.  Since I wanted to put the fear of Set in Mark, I got bounced and five-stealthed a bleed through on him to put him lower.  Mark did get down to 2 pool through faults of his own.

Mark figured he would get me.  The bleeds weren’t too bad or got bounced.  On his final turn, he called a vote, I Delayed it.  He bled for one to reduce me to five and called Reins of Power.  I Delayed it.  I took my turn.

Jonathan took his turn, getting a bleed through with the power of Obfuscate (in his Shambler deck, yes) and bled for … 1.  Game over.

It was an interesting ending.  I would have been heavily in favor of Jonathan ousting much earlier and trying the endgame, or, before that, Devin ousting and my double ousting and racing POT against SER in the endgame.  We probably could have played faster, I was actually getting confused as to what actions made any sense for me to do towards the end of the game.  That Mark would have won if not for Delaying Tactics and Jonathan would have won if he had any plus bleed made it thrillful.

Halfway Around
Description:
Blood retention (Path of Typhon, Life in the City) style Serpentis SB.

Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=1 max=8 avg=4.33)
===============================================
3x Anarch Convert 1 Caitiff:ANY
1x Celine Chevalier 3 obf ser Follower of Set:2
1x Count Ormonde 5 dom pre ser OBF Follower of Set:2
1x Ezekiel, Lord of Montreal 6 obf pot PRE SER Follower of Set:3
2x Hesha Ruhadze 6 ani obf pre SER Follower of Set:2
1x Kephamos, High Priest of Marrakech 8 dom obf pre SER Follower of Set:2
1x Nepata 4 obf pre ser Follower of Set:2
1x Samat Ramal-Ra, Archon 6 pre ser tha OBF Follower of Set:2
1x Sir Marriot D’Urban 5 aus obf ser PRE Follower of Set:2

Library (90 cards)
==================
Master (28)
1x Anarch Railroad
1x Archon Investigation
1x Barrens, The
5x Blood Doll
3x Dominate
1x Dreams of the Sphinx
5x Life in the City
1x Obfuscate
1x Opium Den
4x Path of Typhon, The
1x Temple Hunting Ground
1x Vessel
1x Wash
2x Wider View

Action (10)
8x Eternal Mask, The
1x Revelation of Ecstasy
1x Set’s Curse

Ally (1)
1x Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Action Modifier (20)
4x Cloak the Gathering
2x Faceless Night
1x Leverage
1x Lost in Crowds
2x Revelation of Desire
1x Spying Mission
7x Truth of a Thousand Lies
2x Veil the Legions

Reaction (19)
1x Confusion of the Eye
6x Deflection
3x Delaying Tactics
1x Fillip
6x On the Qui Vive
1x Poison Pill
1x Wake with Evening’s Freshness

Combat (9)
1x Cobra Fangs
2x Dodge
4x Majesty
2x Unholy Penance

Combo (3)
1x Form of the Serpent
2x Swallowed by the Night

Besides enjoying playing stealth bleed, an archetype (set of archetypes) I don’t play often enough, this now marks my first win with Serpentis.  So, still a bunch of disciplines to go, including Quietus.  I do want to play more Necromancy especially now that there’s a great way to play Transfusion for free, but it showed up in my Augustus deck.  I think about more Obtenebration decks, but that showed up in my Kiasyd w/ Animalism deck.  So, whatever.  I guess I focus on Quietus or Abombwe to get those over with.  I think the Abombwe build needs to be a graft it on dudes build and go for evasion rather than Akunanse as I just don’t feel interested in Akunanse builds I’ve done.

No, I never played Cobra Fangs.  I did have in hand in the finals and wanted to play it, but I couldn’t reliably get into combat with a vampire.

Thanks to Mark, who enables tournaments locally.  Thanks to the players who showed up and to the person who didn’t play.  I really need to remember that Victory Point Cafe may have other options for chips than ruffles and maybe put in my dinner sandwich order before they run out of rolls.


[Classic] T-H Rating [3/27/2000]

July 4, 2018

I’m amazed I never bothered to hunt down the infamous … er … insidery … er … virtually unknown outside of a few B5 CCG folks T-H Rating questions.  This is why I hold on so preciously to my AOL personal filing cabinet – I can spew geniusness from yesterdecades upon my devoted readers (shout out Estonia).

T-H Rating, aka TH Rating, aka Turku-Helsinki Rating.

If I was to encapsulate my core nature’s essences, my creating T-H Rating in around March of 2000 would exemplify.

This is a crude way to calculate your local TH Rating – an indicator of the type of metagame you will likely find in an environment. Only answer based on tournament play. I would be amused to have someone keep track of this, but this is mainly for your own benefit. The implications of a high or low TH Rating follow the questions.

10 questions:
What percentage of games go to time?
A. 0-10% B. More than 10%.

In general, rate how useful cards are that allow you to use the wrong ability in a conflict – Level, Fleets on the Border, etc.
A. Not useful B. Useful

Does a player care what the other players are doing if the former is winning?
A. No B. Yes

Does anyone play Ill Fated Reverses?
A. Almost never/no B. Yes

If someone else is playing Growth in Chaos and you play against him or her a second time, do you …
A. Laugh at the player’s lame deck/play for second/reserve in Conscriptions B. reserve in all your Shadow hosers

Does anyone ever put Taunts and Games, Level, or NMTB in the opening hand without knowing what someone else’s deck does?
A. No B. Yes

Since the release of Psi Corps, have you seen any player play with Anti-Telepath Virus, Plague, or Strike at the Heart?
A. No B. Yes

Hidden Treasury:
A. Extra cheese for when one of your 3 STGs or 3 TWs gets hit with NMTB or LR B. Protection from Seeds of Anarchy, Ill Fated Reverses, or the like

How many weapons are normally found in a deck?
A. 0-1 B. 2+

Does anyone ever initiate war conflicts?
A. No B. Yes

Each B answer is worth 1 point. Each A answer is worth zero points. If you aren’t sure, count the answer as one half point.

A low TH Rating indicates a noninteractive environment. Speed is very important. Don’t expect help from other players to stop anyone, so if you want to win, try to win quicker.

A high TH Rating indicates a contentious environment. Both brute force and stealth are encouraged. As are table diplomacy and resilience. Try not to make too many enemies.

Again, this is only a crude way to calculate TH Rating. But, it isn’t easy to come up with a meaningful formula, so it is sort of what we are stuck with.

Why did I hunt this down now?  Well, I also am using this pure, physical geniusness in an article for Traveller where I talk a bit about “race” games, where I always think of B5 as another race game when I think of how we went with Traveller’s primary win condition of 20+ VPs.  (Well, arguably primary win condition until we see how tournament play goes with respect to bankruptcy decks.)

A game like Magic can be analyzed with some level of metagame predictability due to the large playerbase and quick turn around on stealing tech.  However, even with Magic, there are local metagames to consider.  Maybe Red Deck Wins is good at the moment due to lack of hosers, speed of other top decks, and whatever, but the tournament you are going to play in is full of sad, pathetic haters who don’t realize Magic is most fun when it’s a couple “4 to the dome” after some 2/1 beats followed by the uncounterable X burn spell for the kill.

With niche CCGs like … pretty much all of the games I’ve played seriously, regional metagames are far more extreme.  Turku was about the One-AIR decks:  decks that focused on pushing one ability – Diplomacy, Intrigue, Military, and probably not Leadership or Psi which lacked the same number of influence-gaining conflicts – to gobble influence as quickly as possible.  Helsinki was into interaction and throwing out obstacles to opponents rather than just playing your game.

Now, much of Traveller play is two-player, and “negative plays” in two-player games are not the same as negative plays in multiplayer games.  Still, there are plays in two-player games, especially a race game like Traveller, which are more inclined to pushing your victory condition regardless as to your opponent instead of trying to impede your opponent’s march towards second place.

Anyway, an independent creation from the Wayback Machine on an Independence Day.  Now, to go read some of my RPG books to steal session ideas for RPG play.