Flopping – Part One

October 14, 2017

I don’t do pithy posts.  It’s not just having something gaming related to think about, it’s about having enough to drone on for an hour plus about.  I had two stronger ideas inspired by recent events that lack any mechanical connection but have a thematic connection that may not be obvious, so my intent is to follow up with the second post soon, while I’m still inspired.

First up, let’s talk CCGs.

Shadowfist Kickstarter is live:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2113976333/shadowfist-a-better-tomorrow?ref=discovery

Am I excited?  No, not really.  Seems like it should have come out last year, when you could have had a Fire Monkey theme and appeal to all of those icky people who like monkeys.  [Should be noted that I only hate monkeys in Shadowfist and possibly other places, like RL.  L5R Monkeys are win.]

But, I like playing Shadowfist.  Building decks has gotten harder because I only get inspired after playing and don’t immediately start building decks after our Thursday night sessions.  When I go through cards before Thursday night sessions, I’m like “Where are all of the cards I thought of building decks around after last time?”

I think there’s some good in how the KS was done – always offer a high end option.  I think there’s some lack – offer more than one high end option.  I’m also not interested in any of the cards on the main page.  I have no particular feelings about resource edges.  I guess it encourages more Thunder on Thunder plays, a not so well designed card that nevertheless fills an important hoser function.

Speaking of Shadowfist, we played Thursday as we often do, and we had one reasonably entertaining game.

Ian (Squad Faceoff) -> Joren (Monarch States) -> Don (Ascended Discard w/ Punishments) -> Justin (Hand Swords)

I bring out Black Helicopter Squad and Hit Squad after putting Waterfall Sanctuary in play.  On turn two, I put “broken” Gardens in play behind Waterfall Sanctuary.  On turn three, I put Weeping Willows out.

Over an hour later, the Mobius Gardens never received any damage.  *shrug*

The Waterfall Sanctuary was never revealed the entire game!!

The Hit Squad I played on turn one was hanging around on the turn I won!!!

Miguel!?!  See, I use cards responsibly and people don’t go insane no matter how much they complain about Hit Squad being used against them.

Even though my Jan Zvireci got used multiple times, mostly against Don’s discard deck, never took damage or left play.  My Sacred Wigwam did get seized!!  I considered this a key to my victory.

I could not keep a second location in play as every attempt to have multiple columns ended up with people attacking me and every turn of sitting on one location saw other people getting attacked because they had lots of Fighting in play and could often win on their turns.  Justin had like three NFSSs out for quite a while.  His Rice Paddies got seized by Joren, then by Don.  I never got my Sacred Wigwam back.  By not being close to victory and not having much of a site structure or anything particularly threatening offensively in play, I had the ability to regulate towards victory then pick up the pieces after hitters kept getting stopped.

I, of course, could retire this deck undefeated.  Or, I could play it again and hope to play the various cards that never saw play.

CCGs.  So, there’s this new FCG based on magic samurai.  There’s a tournament coming up, single core with roles, I plan on playing in.  Single core just seems awful with how you have no real ability to customize your 30 Dynasty Deck, defeating what I am excited about – deck construction for a CCG.

I love Influence (not Shadowfist Influence, which is terrible).  Given the tiny card pool, it still has me thinking about stuff.  I don’t love the tiny card pool for Dynasty cards.  Now, I hear people may “quit” [internet verbiage for whine about nothing in a way that just calls attention to how more important you are than people who make their financial decisions without saying “look at me”] because of the release schedule to have more cards to work with, but more cards kind of necessary or the game play is going to be really stale.

Am I committed to getting into this version, unlike the version I thought was a terrible game?  Nope.  But, I may end up committed soon.  I almost got into the VCG.  Now, I have read a review of the LCG that sounded very relevant – I’m not interested in “chess”.  I enjoy slam, bam, thank you ma’am two-player play like UC!.  I enjoy two hour dice-rolling fests of two-player play like WoT.  I enjoy a variety of multiplayer CCGs for their humorously inconclusive interactions.  Do I really want to get owned repeatedly by people who think harder than I do at card games?

On the other hand, if I can afford buying True Dungeon ultrarares, a new CCG is hardly going to be much of a financial drain, and it does give me options for things to do at cons or even maybe get back to having more regular card nights at game stores.

I’ve already created my personal ban list …  Oh, by the way, I’ve yet to actually play a single game of L5R LCG.  I haven’t even watched people play.  I’m knowledgeing myself entirely by [gag] reading rules and play guide and by reading from the interwebs.

Of course, at this point, it might be a tentative ban list.  I might sacrifice my personal honor.

Actually, I can only think of two clans I’d want to play at this time – Crab and Lion.  Crab, of course, is the only clan that has any reason to exist in Rokugan.  Lion appeals to my interest in aggro.  Oh, sure, I like Lion in the RPG, but that doesn’t translate well in my experience, i.e. what I like in RPGs and CCGs tends to diverge quite a bit.  Take Dominate – hate it in the RPG, only eschew it in the CCG because it’s a crutch.

Dragon has lame attachment theme, maybe get interesting when monkage expands.  Phoenix has lost interest to me due to RPG play …  I mean, I guess there’s some connection.  Just not interested in shugenja.  Would be interesting to have a Phoenix focused RPG campaign to make Phoenix less extreme between the boring and the psychotic.

Crane may be acceptable in CCG play where they are unacceptable in RPG play.  Unicorn suffers in CCG play from being terrible.  In theme.  In play, sounds like they suck, but I haven’t played the game, yet, so that’s just hearsay.  Unicorn reminds me of Jammers.  They will probably have cards I want to play, but I will need to dodge what they are intended to do because what they intend to do is antifun.

Imperials may have some possibilities.  I’m a hopin’ FFG doesn’t screw minor clans.  If anything could keep me wanting to play the CCG, it’s minor clan play.  Besides, gots to do what everyone does and make broken Monkey Clan stuff.  What might kill me is what they do with Shadowlands.  Shadowlands is both a great boon to the L5R world and a huge bane to rationality.

So, Shadowfist is chuggin’ to some degree.  I like that I can still play it and new cards may not be bad (unlike V:TES, where I think new sets generally make the game worse since they don’t expand on what should be expanded upon and expand on stuff that gets more annoying over time).  L5R is a possible into the 違反.

Flop, flop, flop.  Maybe I can get some V:TES play in some time.  Oh, and, of course, Traveller is the best FCG I have actually played.

As Otomo Kidai may have said a time or two back when he was Usagi Kidai, “I’ll keep my ears floppy.”

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World Of Command

September 24, 2017

So, I have played some things recently that were outside the norm.

Old boardgame group got together and played two games we’ve played a lot:  Lords of Waterdeep; Scepter of Zavandor.  The latter was something of a teaching game for my friend’s son, who won easily … with emeralds.  You could go look up Scepter of Zavandor, look at prior posts where I contrast it with Outpost, or I could just say it’s a reskinned Outpost that fixes the massive problem Outpost has with snowballing victory or … maybe better way to think of it … lack of snowballing into irrelevancy.  Remember, if you can outproduce everyone, just keep pushing further and further ahead.

I also wrote up some V:TES decks, which is arguably so trivial for me to do that it hardly qualified as gaming related, more of a 10 minute thought puzzle per deck.

My friend and I played through some of a tutorial for the Myth boardgame.  Lots of stuff going on in that.  Because of hanging out with him, I got to thinking about playing/running a simple AD&D game.  So, I went to my stack of old modules and … couldn’t pull out a module from what was a stack of all sorts of things.  Instead, I pulled out Greyhawk Adventures.  Yup.  The AD&D hard bound book for AD&D/AD&D2e.  Because people who write blogs like these have this sort of thing just lying around.

I actually read some of it.  I looked at the adventures – I guess I’m the sort of jaded gamer who is the target audience for zero level play except I don’t have any interest in playing a loser [uh … no comment].  I read some monster entries, glanced at god write-ups, skimmed through some NPCs.  There’s so much potential in RPGs for amazing stuff, yet the yesterworld was just replete with game stats.  I guess it can be inspiring, somehow.

Made me think that I should suggest to TD to use a Gorgriffspidrascorp as a monster some year.

But, the most different thing was playing Magic.  My first play of Commander was in Stockholm because my first “play” of Caylus was in Shanghai, etc.  Rather than ‘fist each other, I borrowed a Commander deck and only played my Commander after two players were eliminated?!?  Might have been right before my prey was eliminated.  I think I attacked with my Commander once in the game.

I can see the appeal of Commander, to a degree.  I would rather play Advanced Squad Commander with Commander rules and 50 card decks or 60 card decks, but I get that lack of reliably is an essential part of people enjoying the format.  It does address some of the problems of playing standard constructed.  But, I realize at certain points in Commander games – all two I’ve ever played – that it still has Magic’s fundamental flaw of drawing one card a turn.

I was mana limited all game.  Finally got an artifact in play to accelerate beyond four mana a turn and had the artifact bounced back to my hand.  Sure, I won.  But, that’s because I have decades worth of multiplayer CCG experience and have some vague idea what the rules for Banding are (white not my preferred color but whatever).

Yet, as much as Magic has this flaw, other CCGs have other flaws and the only perfect CCG is …

No, Ultimate Combat! isn’t perfect.  No, the Traveller Card Game isn’t perfect.  What’s perfect are all of those individual experiences playing whichever flawed game where you just enjoy the heck out of what you are doing.  The Level the Playing Field vs. Not Meant to Be war I can vaguely recall while in Castro Valley playing with one of B5’s designers.  Ousting two players with Jake Washington in a tournament.  And, others that will become harder and harder to remember as I age.

So, I’m fine with playing Commander.  I’m fine with building Commander decks.  But, where other people get off on trying to build coherent Commander decks that abuse their Commanders’ abilities or whatever.

I.  I opened up a pack of Betrayers of Kamigawa and Saviors of Kamigawa to see if I got a legend to use.  I did.  Now, Champions of Kamigawa would make more sense, but I have fewer of those packs lying around, maybe one or two, maybe not even that many.  I am now at a point where I don’t know whether to continue to open Kamigawa packs until I can put together a 100 card deck or branch out so that I can support a 100 card black deck where I couldn’t care less if I ever put my commander into play.

Do I just open packs of things I have lying around until I can make a deck?  Or settle on particular blocks (much harder given what I have in packs)?  Do I try to preserve some way to track what I’m opening out of packs so that I can convert Commander cards into Type P decks?  Would I ever try to construct a real constructed Commander deck rather than a sealed Commander deck?  I don’t see why.  I don’t enjoy actually putting together constructed Magic decks.  Oh, sure, I enjoy thinking about them.  But, where V:TES with its no card limits and numerous close substitutes doesn’t feel onerous to me at all in terms of what I’m willing to play with, Magic constructed has always felt onerous to me, even if I could scrape together an Essence Vortex deck with one copy of Necropotence (and lose a game because I played Necropotence rather than just own with Essence Vortex).

I really like the idea of putting together a mono-color Kamigawa deck from just opening packs, but I don’t think it’s possible.  I’m not even sure how feasible it would be if I had boxes sitting around unopened.  The amount of packs I imagine I’d need to open to have a minimum number of non-basics to field a deck seems to be so incredibly wasteful (unless I can P the other cards somehow) that I can’t justify living such an extravagant lifestyle [quiet, tokens are a new toy].  I, of course, would rather build multicolor Commander decks.  So, maybe I dig through Ravnos or Return to Ravnos packs, except I don’t have like infinite quantities of those, either.  I could breakdown my Type P decks I never play and have little interest in playing to have stock.  I could even write down the contents to recreate the Type P decks if I ever felt that was sufficiently important in my life.

Given that every time I play Shadowfist, I think about how I could build new decks, yet rarely build new decks, can I get fired up enough to build Commander decks?

This is the beauty of Type P.  Five packs, 27 basic land, done.  Megasealed, which is what I’m thinking about, is just so resource intensive.  I already have to hunt for basic land just to complete P decks.  Scary how much land would be needed to field sealed Commander decks.

Interestingly, one of my friends gets me stuff.  Makes me feel guilty for not getting him more stuff.  Now, I’m totally good with my female friends getting me stuff as I do get them stuff, but that’s not gaming related and, thus, neither here nor there.  Anyway, he has gotten me Magic stuff that involves legends that could be used as the bases for Commander decks.  Since I don’t know what else I could do with constructed materials like those, since Type P is the only format I build decks for, seems obvious to make use of stuff people give me that’s, uh, gaming related.


VCG Salute

July 30, 2016

I had recently acquired a box of Ultimate Combat! starters.  I deprived myself of currency in such an effort.  I would not do so for boosters, seeing as I have unopened booster boxes.

But, why starters?

Because they are playable.  They have foundation (land).  They are far more coherent than Magic starters that lack preconstructedness, as UC! only has four “colors”.  In fact, I have never played a sealed deck event that didn’t use only a single starter.  Admittedly, that’s less than a full handful of sealed deck events, but one gets the idea.

I don’t need them, right now.  It’s entirely possible I’ll never need them as I lack the intention of producing a breed of nextgen UC!ers.

But, I got a feeling when looking at the box, a feeling of nostalgia.

It’s not so much that I remember actually playing the game.  No, it was that feeling I have had with multiple VCGs (variable card games) when I got product.

It was the feeling of having something unknown to play with.

FCGs (fixed card games) don’t elicit that feeling from me, nor do I see quite how they would for others, but I do make some effort to not try to project my own beliefs upon the multitude of heathens who prefer the FCG model.

Once upon a time, it was the norm.  You cracked a deck and you weren’t looking for more rares, you were looking for a play experience.  More so than Magic or Jyhad, where a single starter was too random to be a deck I was interested in playing, whether it was B5, UC!, or some games I didn’t play a whole lot of, there was the allure of the potential.

Not that UC! starters and B5 starters are remotely comparable.  B5 starters were quasi-preconstructed.

No, this feeling was connected to a time when I didn’t have every card, when I made an effort to play UC!, when CCGs were relatively new and far more new to me.

The feeling of possibilities.

CCGs (customizable card games) live off of variety.  Yes, there are those always looking to not have to constantly engage with new cards and want to essentially play a different themed boardgame, but let’s venture into the realm of why CCGs have been printing money.

But, it’s not variety, exactly.  It’s possibilities.  I have ten more possibilities of taking an unknown quantity and handing an unknown quantity to someone who I can Mental Domination into playing a game that died around 1997 and that had hardly any playerbase between 1995 and 1997 and I can play a game.  A game that isn’t Settlers of Catan, a game that isn’t shogi, a game that isn’t rummy, a game that isn’t Dragon Dice.  A game that encompasses both the known and the unknown with a randomizing element that doesn’t come across as all that random even though it is (the shuffling of the deck).

A game that has something of a theme that can be made fun of.  (A core piece of enjoyment for me in most CCGs, whether V:TES, WoT, B5, Buffy, Guardians, and various others, is finding humor in the transactions that occur during games within a thematic context.  Others just find UC! laughable for its art and because it did embrace silliness to a degree.)

If I ever had a game of Rage that felt like an actual game, maybe I did once, even terrible games like Rage would have some element of this.  Shadowrun, Hyborian Gates, Highlander(?), 7th Sea, and others where I had a starter in hand rather than had someone’s built Young Jedi, Blood Wars, L5R, or whatever deck had that feeling, that feeling of embarking upon a unique experience not provided by any other form of gaming that readily comes to mind.

Excitement.

I mention how I prefer CCGs and RPGs so much more than boardgames.  Excitement.  When do you get excited by a boardgame?  Far more often than I, I presume.  Now, sure, I get excited by mahjong because it’s part of the tapestry of my life, but I don’t look at “this is better than Puerto Rico, trust me” boardgames and feel anything.  I may enjoy and often do playing all sorts of games, but there’s something elevating in a CCG.

And, more so in a VCG.  Now, maybe if I were younger and lacked decades of experience playing CCGs and hadn’t playtested a bunch and hadn’t designed and hadn’t spent four hours deciding what three opening hand cards and starting Rand I would play in a WoT tournament, I would feel more excitement for FCGs.

But, while I have played Year of the Goat precons and mixed together YotG precons and played various other precons, there’s just something about “hand me a starter deck and let’s check out this game” that opens a portal to another dimension of gaming.

Even a terrible game, a Towers in Timey game, has this dimension when you go to crack open a starter to try something out.

Then, Ultimate Combat! one ups the ante by starter decks being entirely playable, which many a CCG lacked.

I find cracking boosters more interesting than opening Shadowfist Kickstarter rewards.  I said not long ago Magic still holds some appeal to me – more for the nature of it being a highly aesthetically pleasing VCG, but, even more than opening some out of print Shadowfist booster or out of print V:TES booster or “yes, this really did see print” Tempest of the Gods booster, even more than cracking boosters for just published sets hoping to pull recruitable Forsaken or whatever, the starter deck that initiates someone into a game is something magical … er … something that kicks ass.

VCGs appear to be dying outside of certain, well known, industry leaders.  So much of the community hates the model and wants FCGs.  There may not be a lot of us, but some of us will miss the VCG experience.  Some of us will be doddering old fools who show up at conventions and be “Hey, want to try this 30-year out of print card game, I have a half sealed box of starters in my bag?  If you like it, I got a couple boxes of boosters back in the hotel room.  We can … draft.”


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.


Shadowfist Draft Decks

July 1, 2016

What?  No title like Fistful Factions of Fury?  Drafty Dragons and Sinful Syndicate?

Nope.

So, I mentioned last time we did a Shadowfist draft last Saturday as part of a game day barbeque.  There were like 11 people who could have played a Shadowfist tournament, far more than KublaCon.  We had 8 for the draft, two people who were largely unfamiliar with Shadowfist.

We only got one game in at each of the four-player tables as it got too late by the time our untimed game finished.

Earl won our game.  Here is his deck:

Name:  Earl’s Deck
Faction:  Architects & Hand
Size:  39

Architects Cards (15)
Characters (10)
1x Destroyer Drone
2x DNA Mage
1x PubOrd Officer
1x Security Officers
1x Simon Draskovic
3x Test Subjects
1x Thing with a 1000

Events (5)
3x Cellular Reinvigoration
1x Dangerous Experiment
1x Expendable Unit

Hand Cards (13)
Characters (11)
1x Accupressure Master
1x Exiled Monk
1x Fist of Freedom
1x Fist of Shadow
1x Instrument of the Hand
1x Kung Fu Student
1x Railroad Workers
1x Righteous Fist
1x Stoic Wanderer
1x Willow Warriors
1x Zhu Maichen

Sites (2)
1x Mountain Monastery
1x Violet Senshi Chamber

Generic Cards (11)
Events (1)
1x Orbital Laser Strike

Feng Shui Sites (8)
2x Blessed Orchard
1x Hydroponic Garden
1x Mirrored Lake
1x Monkey House
1x Stone Garden
1x Tangram Alley
1x Turtle Beach

Sites (2)
1x Drug Lab
1x Trade Center

I passed a Trade Center.  I think I took something cool over it.  Three Cellular Reinvigorations is nuts and how Earl won off of Destroyer Drone being immune to Miguel’s Nerve Gas.

Only 39 cards I can find (was it 40?) … in that I played more.  Shows how bad I am at Shadowfist draft.

We could choose two pods to get foundation characters and we got a FSS pod to supplement drafted cards.  This need to give people extra cards heavily suggests the value of cubery.  The Borg has won, we must all be assimilated into drafting materials not in original wrappers.

Interesting cards in Earl’s sideboard:  2x Realpolitik; Really Big Gun (I thought it was good enough to play …); Buddhist Monk (guess Chi really wasn’t needed); Master Hao (I avoided high resource characters that, apparently, wasn’t necessary to do); Lui Man Wai (Senshi Chambers not so rare in this draft).

Miguel was the early game threat that kept requiring containment.  I don’t know his precise deck as he didn’t keep it together, for instance, I know he had General Gog but I don’t see it in the card stack.

Name:  Miguel’s Deck
Faction:  Architects & Dragon
Size:  55

Architects Cards (16)
Characters (12)
1x Alpha Beast
2x Arcanotechnician
1x DNA Mage
1x General Gog
1x Jason X
1x Nightmare Horror
1x Prototype X
1x PubOrd Officer
2x Test Subjects
1x The Dogs of War

Events (3)
1x Desperate Measures
1x Imprisoned
1x Nerve Gas

Sites (1)
1x Abominable Lab

Dragon Cards (19)
Characters (12)
1x Cavalry Regiment
1x Dragon Fighter (Miguel mentioned it.  I didn’t see it or his other.)
2x Everyday Hero
1x Friends of the Dragon
1x Gadgeteer
1x Gambler
1x Gonzo Journalist
1x Hacker
1x Maverick Cop
1x Redeemed Gunman
1x Sidekick

Events (3)
1x Booby Trap
1x Final Brawl
1x Just a Scratch

Sites (1)
1x House on the Hill

States (3)
1x Bag Full of Guns
1x Fastest Gun in the West
1x Muscle Car

Monarchs Cards (1)
Characters (1)
1x King of the Thunder Pagoda

Generic Cards (19)
Feng Shui Sites (15)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Family Home
1x Family Restaurant
1x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Maze of Stairs
1x Monkey House
1x Moon Base
2x Proving Ground
2x Sacred Ground
1x Stone Garden

States (4)
1x Attack Helicopter
2x Fusion Tank
1x Robot Arm

Why was Miguel the early threat?  He got General Gog out quick after a burn for power I could have stopped if I understood how Grove of Willows worked.  Proving Ground was helping pump out more dudes.  Monkey House was used a couple of times.

Fastest Gun in the West on Gog got stopped by Confucian Stability (from Into the Light) if I recall correctly.  Fusion Tank on Gog stuck, I believe.  Gog only got taken out by Earl a turn before Earl won.  Mobility is, after all, deserving of murder.

Interesting cards:  Righteous One (see below); Tunneler Drone; 2x Thunder on Thunder.  While edges may not be common, they may be really powerful.

Charles was new to Shadowfist.  He seemed to have a frustrating experience.  Shadowfist is a game of constant failure and ridiculously hard choices.  I’ve learned to not care about either of those.

Name:  Charles’s Deck
Faction:  Hand
Size:  60

Hand Cards (37)
Characters (27)
1x Accupressure Master(?)
1x Black Belt Rebels
1x Blue Mandarin
2x Buddhist Monk
1x Exiled Monk
5x Golden Candle Society(!!)
1x Green Monk
2x Instrument of the Hand
1x Iron Hands Ma
1x Jia Baoyu
2x Kung Fu Student
2x Righteous Fist
1x Shaolin Agent
1x Shaolin Monk
1x Shaolin Saboteur
1x Shaolin Warrior
1x Stoic Wanderer
1x Swordsman
1x The Silent Cowboy

Edges (2)
2x Hill of the Turtle

Events (5)
1x Confucian Stability
1x Into the Light
1x Iron and Silk
1x Mysterious Return
1x The Willow Bends…

Sites (3)
1x Green Senshi Chamber
1x Shaolin Sanctuary
1x Yellow Senshi Chamber

Generic Cards (23)
Events (3)
3x Healing Earth(!!)

Feng Shui Sites (18)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Arctic Fortress
1x Blessed Orchard
1x City Square
1x Coral Reef
1x Dragon Mountain
1x Family Home
2x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Jagged Cliffs
1x Maze of Stairs
1x Mirrored Lake
1x Monkey House
1x Sacred Ground
2x Stone Garden
1x Weeping Willows

States (2)
1x Armored in Life
1x Hands Without Shadow

The lack of hitters really hurt.  He drew ridiculous numbers of cards off of Jia Baoyu but ran out of offense for when we had contained Miguel.  Assuming he did actually have them in his deck, I’m glad he never played Hill of the Turtle.

I found an Accupressure Master in this deck, but I only saw Earl play one and didn’t find one in his card pool.

Interesting cards:  Corruption; The Alabaster King; Midnight; Under the Knife.  Had enough foundations already to play these but could have podded for more.

Let’s get to my deck since I didn’t play against the other two decks I have.

Name:  Ian’s Deck
Faction:  Dragon & Syndicate
Size:  45

Dragon Cards (17)
Characters (10)
1x Chinese Doctor
1x Everyday Hero
2x Friends of the Dragon
1x Gadgeteer
1x Gonzo Journalist
1x Hacker
1x Lenny Wu
1x Reedemed Gunman
1x Righteous One

Events (7)
2x Back for Seconds
2x Final Brawl
1x Golden Comeback
1x Last Outpost
1x Stunt Driving

Syndicate Cards (10)
Characters (7)
1x Nihilist
2x Street Sweepers
1x Tattooed Man
3x Triad Punks

Events (2)
1x Data Mining
1x Inconvenient Debt

Sites (1)
1x Cybermod Parlor

Architects Cards (1)
Characters (1)
1x DNA Mage

Jammers Cards (2)
Characters (2)
2x $10,000 Man

Generic Cards (15)
Characters (1)
1x The Dis-Timed

Events (1)
1x Orbital Laser Strike

Feng Shui Sites (9)
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Devil’s Mountain
1x Grove of Willows
2x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Marsh
1x Mountain Retreat
1x Sacred Ground

Sites (2)
2x Secret Laboratory

States (2)
1x MegaTank
1x Really Big Gun

What was my overall first pick?  Righteous One.  It was the only thing in the pack that seemed good and playable.  I was fairly happy with my draft even though I didn’t know what my second faction besides Dragon was going to be until I built my deck.

Really, this is more dependent on tech than anything else.  I was thinking with Righteous One that I’d get Dragon hitters at some point.  Instead, saw $10,000 Man and started drafting tech stuff … and Purists and Architects and …

I was using BREAD as a guideline.  Though, P for Power should be in the Shadowfist version.  Any remotely plausible way to gain power I looked for just as any remotely plausible way to gain Pool in a V:TES draft is something I look for.

I should have focused more on bombs.  I passed a lot of hitters because I thought it would be hard to get enough resources to play them.  It wouldn’t have been.  My style, when I’m trying to build good decks, is to go for efficiency over magnitude of effect.  I think there’s pretty good efficiency here, maybe some unnecessary foundations, maybe some fun cards.  More hitters are warranted.

What did I Golden Comeback?  Righteous One, of course, to stop a bid for victory.  I never Back for Seconds.  I got out a Tattooed Man *and* he took two sites!!  That never happens with my Tattooed Man decks in constructed play.

I could have used Final Brawl early on to prevent Miguel from burning for power, but I wanted to get some help, just ended up killing my own Righteous One, anyway.

Interesting cards:  15 Purist Cards, including two hitters, enough foundations not to need a foundation pod, and I could have drafted a third hitter; Price of Progress … requires Chi and I wanted to not get complicated by Chi where I would be tempted to play Hands Without Shadow; I wasn’t so committed to Righteous One to play Sports Car or Motorcycle, but the former would have stopped annoying damage redirection; not a single card in my favorite faction to play – Lotus, yet Architects cards, Jammer cards, 3x Natural Order, etc.

Cy won the other game in much less time.

Name:  Cy’s Deck
Faction:  Architects
Size:  41

Architects Cards (26)
Characters (13)
2x Alpha Beast
1x Beta Beast
1x Bonechill
1x Gamma Beast
1x Melting Flesh Squad
1x PubOrd Sniper
1x Tank Commander
5x Test Subjects(!!)

Edges (3)
1x Reinvigoration Process
1x Reinvigoration Seed
1x Rise of the NeoBuro

Events (4)
1x Imprisoned
1x Nerve Gas
1x Overzealous Assassins
1x PubOrd Raid

States (6)
1x Frenzy Engine
2x Helix Chewer
1x Helix Rethread
1x Helix Scrambler
1x Nanovirus

Lotus Cards (2)
Characters (2)
2x Shadowy Horror

Generic Cards (13)
Edges (1)
1x The Rackets

Events (1)
1x IFF Missiles

Feng Shui Sites (9)
1x Big Red Barn
1x Blessed Orchard
1x Cave Network
1x Grove of Willows
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Inner Sanctum
1x Jagged Cliffs
1x Monkey House
1x Ominous Swamp

Sites (1)
1x Secret Headquarters

States (1)
1x Replacement Parts

Swarm for the win?

Interesting cards:  Underworld Coronation; Blasting Crew …; Andi Di.  I could totally see splashing some Jammers to try to make my little dudes bigger.

I also have Jeff’s card pool.

Name:  Jeff’s Deck
Faction:  Lotus & Monarchs
Size:  53

Lotus Cards (20)
Characters (13)
1x Abysmal Horror
1x Cannibal Army
1x Claw of Fury
1x Eunuch Underling
1x Flesh Eater
1x Gnarled Horror
2x Sinister Priest
1x Snake Man
1x Thorns of the Lotus
1x Thugs
1x Wailing Apparition
1x Xin Ji Yang

Events (1)
1x Inauspicious Reburial

Sites (2)
2x Infernal Temple

States (4)
1x Abysmal Behemoth
1x Deathtrap
1x Hell Charger
1x Two-Headed Horror

Monarchs Cards (16)
Characters (12)
1x Darkness Priestess
1x Dog Soldiers
1x Fire Acolytes
1x Fire Engineers
1x Fire Warriors
1x Flambards
1x Ice Carvers
1x Ice Healer
1x Ice Sorceress
1x Skin and Darkness Hunter
1x Thunder Champion
1x Thunder Knights

Edges (1)
1x Spirit Pole

Events (1)
1x Chain Lightning

Sites (2)
1x Sacred Wigwam
1x Thunder Pagoda

Generic Cards (17)
Characters (1)
1x The Dis-Timed

Events (6)
1x Curse of Discord
2x Killing Rain
1x Lateral Reincarnation
1x Memory Reprocessing
1x Shattering Fire

Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x Ancestral Sanctuary
1x Auspicious Termites
1x Hallowed Earth
1x Hot Springs
1x Monkey House
1x Proving Ground
1x Sacred Ground
1x Stone Garden

States (2)
1x Grenade Launcher
1x Speed Boat

Not bad.  Could just be generally tighter.  Jeff had never built a deck before.

Interesting cards:  not sure why Scroll of Incantation, Inexorable Corruption, Infernal Plague, and Stolen Thunder(!) weren’t played; I would have considered some of the ramp characters in Lotus or Monarchs; Harbinger(!).  Only Flambards to play the last.

Did we learn anything?

Experience helps.  With these sets, I probably could have gone mono-Monarchs.  I needed to consider bombs more.  I could have drafted cards with more resource conditions.  While winners are likely better players, getting the balance in decks right seems to be the biggest issue with how many packs we drafted (8) and having the pods to make decks playable.  Not enough hitters in Charles’s deck, probably not enough in mine, either, or I should have cut 5 cards.

I’m much more interested in building a V:TES cube than a Shadowfist cube at this time.  I think I understand limited V:TES better.  But, as I have these notable experiences, I will write about them and maybe related events will occur.

Of course, if I were going to do a Shadowfist cube, I would use Modern and could see 1x every card as a starting point …  Then, removing some of the Lotus cards to balance things.


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.


Unusual Suspects

May 15, 2016

I will post about the routine.  V:TES playdays, Shadowfist nights, not as much RPG sessions as I’m not trying to elevate the visibility of RPGs the same way I have an interest in elevating the visibility of CCGs.

While recent gaming hasn’t necessarily been esoteric, obscure, or unprecedented, I feel like there’s some callout on the distinctiveness of certain things.

We didn’t play Shadowfist last Thursday, but we did the week before.  There was one thing I wanted to mention.  I played a Gibbering Horror.  “Yo, dude, so your metagame is, like, eventriffic, n’est-ce pas?”  Could be.  Red Bat is fairly common.

Gibbering Horror, rather than posting the whole text, has a Fighting equal to the number of events in the smoked pile of the player to your left.  I played one.  The player to my left had this many events in his smoked pile:  0.  I was the table threat that needed to be beaten down for much of the game.

I questioned what I was doing when I did it.  I eventually concluded it was the correct decision.  Spending three power for no characters in play – try not do or do not.  I’m sure any Shadowfist player will figure out why it was necessary – resources.  With a second Lotus resource, I could play characters that did something.

Okay, moving on.

Saturday, I played in a playtest of a friend’s Feng Shui game using the FATE system.  It went fine.  We pointed out a few things.  I was reminded of why I have such a hard time with systems that mechanize thematics.  You don’t need to mechanize thematics.  I find FATE so much more gamey than d20, for instance.  When everything relates to some sort of mechanic, you are actually, shockingly enough, more mechanical than a game where the GM just says “Okay, go ahead and roll Brains + K: Pudding.” and tells you what’s what.  Anyway, always nice to have food served for his events.

We played V:TES today.  Brandon built a cube.  In my mind, a cube draft is you choose any card from the cube and people keep doing that with all cards and picks known, but I guess I’m wrong as Wikipedia says you can make makeshift boosters out of your cube.

Six of us did that.  We made crypt boosters of nine cards, two “packs” per player, and booster drafted them.  We made library boosters of 10 cards and booster drafted them.  All of the crypt cards were group 1, no duplicates.  Library cards had some duplicates – the total contents of the cube weren’t known to the rest of us.

So, let’s say you know V:TES.  Which vampire did I draft first?  No, not Gideon Fontaine, I actually passed him when he came around.  I did not see Anson.  I did see Mariel, Lady Thunder but passed her.  I did draft Anneke … and didn’t play her, it was more of a hate draft in that I hate her ability.

Give a hint, Ventrue.

I drafted Nash but not first.  I drafted Bridges but not first.  I drafted Democritus as a second pick.

I had Jazz, Heather, Melissa (really tempted as I love the card even if I prefer other cards’ art).  Never saw Crowley.  I had Helena and Natasha since no one wanted her.  I played neither.

Yup, once you filter the list down, not a lot of other possibilities.  Oh, I also had Violette and Courtland and played neither.  Yup, I first picked a +1 Strengther.  Every time I see her, I think about how I’d like to play her.  Maybe, the art has something to do with it.  Maybe, I am nostalgic for the days when I played Dominate all of the time.

I second picked another 6-cap.  A Tremere.  I didn’t play Lydia.  See, it was fairly obvious that there was a fight for Dominate cards, and the Presence cards were often bleed cards.  So, I picked up a lot of Fortitude damage prevention relative to what I wanted to get.

I like that it was different.  But, what makes me more interested in limited play is seeing cards you don’t see in constructed.  I put a Meat Cleaver in my deck.  That’s cool.  What was not as cool was how many times I had to pass bleed cards because I had to get good stuff.

#1  Pool Gain

#2  Untaps

#3  Permahurt or permastealthbleed (permableed is good, permastealth is good, permastealthbleed is sick)

My first library pick was … Wake with Evening’s Freshness.  I had to pass good stuff to get Sudden Reversal (stopped Legendary Vampire on my predator’s Anson in the first game, stopped Frontal Assault by my predator in the second game), King’s Rising, a second King’s Rising.  Sure, I also ended up with one of the most powerful transient cards in limited play – Leverage.  And, a Bonding.  And, something like four Presence bleed actions.  I cut Restoration from my deck as I felt too action heavy.  I didn’t cut Mesmerize.

Ah, Mesmerize.  Shows how little I play with it (keep wanting to call it Memorize) that the first game I made three horrible mistakes on my prey’s first action.  I blocked The Crimson Sentinel with Nash and Second Tradition (only intercept card in the deck) … wait for it … with Memorize in my hand and the minion getting the card couldn’t generate intercept and my prey wasn’t going to bring out another minion that turn.  I had Minor Irritation in my hand and didn’t play it.  I used a disciplineless combat card to avoid being hand striked rather than take Anastasia’s hand strike when I had damage prevention in my hand and I had Delilah in play who couldn’t play any of my numerous damage prevention cards.

I swept that four player game.

I didn’t sweep the six player.  I ousted my prey just at time with a four bleed at two stealth because Leverage is broken.  Well, my prey didn’t have to bring out another minion late in the game.  I did have both King’s Risings in play.  I had Barrensed away one of them in the four player as I had too much pool to want to negate transfers.

It was not constructed play, but it was limited play with a lot of the common suspects.

Given how much players who aren’t good at draft complain about their decks, I can see this being more popular as a format as there’s much less fighting with one’s deck to do things.  I think it helps level the playing field.  I found that I had vastly superior decks to my opponents when I drafted challenging sets because I evaluated cards better and had a clearer vision of what sort of deck I was making.  I rarely had to pass cards of the power level that this draft had.  Anyone could get good cards, though here’s a tip – don’t pass King’s Rising, unless, of course, you have the choice of Failsafe or some similar pool gain bomb.

Anyway, we also did a constructed game, but that’s hardly unaccountable.

Oh, Gen Con events today.  Things seemed to have worked out for me and another, but I’m not sure if the third of our group that is going together got what he wanted.  As painful as hotel reg can be, event reg is light centuries ahead of what it used to be and actually rather efficient.  The wish list thing is magnifique.  I was done in the first 20 minutes of registration being open.

What did I go for?  A lot of supernatural stuff.  That’s really my thing.  Whether it’s mythological supernatural or modern supernatural or historical supernatural, it’s just my biggest draw.  No CCGs – Shadowfist is at the wrong time, which I mentioned last year; V:TES just isn’t fun enough during the con.  After the con, before the con, I’m happy to do whatever, maybe a pickup game late at night.  But, I have so very many things I want to do just in the RPG schedule.

And, that’s without any HoR.  What’s the point of my playing any Nightmare War at this stage?  I did look at some non-HoR L5R games, but there are just far too many things I want to try.