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.


Cleanse The Slate

April 9, 2016

I might post next week but won’t be posting for a couple of weeks after.

I don’t have anything on mind that is philosophical.  I just have on mind miscellany.

Shadowfist

We played two games Saturday after I got out of a meeting.

Chi Bomb is really annoying, much more so than I expected.  It’s easy enough to work around once I remember that Jammers are being played, but I’ve gotten annihilated by it, like Thursday, when I played Crown of Thorns and lost three dudes and had sites take four damage just because I didn’t bother revealing all of my sites first.

Jenny Zheng multiattacked for the win.

In the second game, I played Purists and had three Quantum Sorcery in play at the end.  I had two revealed Great Walls, an unrevealed site, played Kisa Serkov, and she got Killdeered.  Then, someone ran into her until she died.  We were supposed to play a quick game so that we didn’t have to move tables when the store section closed, but we can’t seem to choose to play a quick game.

Which brings me to my thought on Shadowfist.  How to speed up games without making them boring?  More power is not the way.  Our house rule of playing sites to new columns for one less power is good for this sort of thing – opens up a lot more targets of attack.  Obviously, people could play decks with less stoppage.  People could play more superleap.  Both of those sound not that great, in that, for the former, the average amount of stoppage isn’t that high.

I don’t know.  We tend to like the amount of stuff that happens in our games, we just don’t want to play for more than 3 hours, so we rarely start a third game.  Superleap does a good job of ending games, but it can often end them in not very satisfying ways.

I was mentioning how the fastest games I tend to play in are ones where one or two players get rolled over by someone, which is like the opposite of fun.

V:TES

Stick with CCGs for the moment.  The tournament got me thinking more about V:TES.  There’s something of a discussion on vekn.net about tier one decks, which I don’t really have anything to say about since I’ve never played in an environment where you could define best decks nor am I even sure such a thing as best decks exists.  Better decks, yes.  My Ass SB deck is not as good as stealth plus Govern plus Conditioning.  Whether that makes Malk94 more likely to win a tournament or less is not as clear, but, if Kate and I had switched decks, she would have likely had no VPs where I could have ended up with the same or more without that much difficulty.  But, best?  I much rather prefer playing against decks like Malk94 or Dembleed because I actually bother to put bleed defense in most of my tournament decks.  They win the argument of “if a newb can win with this deck, then that makes it better than …”, but they lose often.  Lot of time they lose because I think newer players are more likely to be the pilots.

Anyway, what always comes up when I play is just how many decks I’ve yet to play.  It’s not always cards I haven’t played, sometimes it’s combinations of cards I haven’t played to a significant level.  I still haven’t gone hardcore Preternatural Strength plus Spike-Throwers, for instance.  Nor have I done casual Clan Impersonation.

I haven’t embraced my suggested variants, whether Ancilla Antics or Distinct Directive.

Magic

Type P for me is not the same thing as it is for most of the people who play it.  I’ve got some new “wizards” together, and I become reminded of what actually interests me and what doesn’t.

What I’m most enthused by is a deck that has clear and limited goals.  A card pool that is too strong and/or that has little you would want to change just doesn’t have much long term appeal.  I have an all Journey Into Nyx wizard that looks like a lot of fun to play, but it may get boring fast because there might not be enough interesting ways to evolve it.

Meanwhile, a wizard that has good enough cards to function but no hook is forgettable.  Type P wizards are a bit like RPG characters in that they have successes and failures and should have character development.  Just getting your 2/2 for 2 that can’t block upgraded to a 2/2 for 1 or a 2/2 for 2 that can block just isn’t compelling character development.  My Nightstalker deck can be hilarious, which makes it structurally interesting.

It’s not that I hate all of my good decks.  I have a blue/red deck that is extremely oriented to how I like to play, that also comes across as quite the beating (I haven’t played it anywhere near as much as 30 or so other decks).  It doesn’t have any coherent evolution plan.  If anything, its distinctive cards actually run counter to what makes it good.

I’m increasingly cognizant that any new wizard needs to build around the cards I’ll enjoy building around and not just trying to be good … since I don’t aim for just being good … trying to be good at whatever falls into some middle ground of balancing being good at something specific.  I really need to just pick those cards that are the most fun and really ignore whether the deck is remotely functional playing them.  Well, I might play a build that can win some useful cards to make it more functional at playing them.

Of my new wizards, one has an obvious, interesting goal – become mono-red.  It has some awful creatures in it even in a more viable R/U/w configuration just because I needed more creatures.  It would love 2/2s for 2 that can’t block, as a huge upgrade.  I know what packs I’d pity pack it with.  Winning something interesting might alter its path.  My dragon-collecting deck didn’t have a dragon-collecting plan until someone was fine with losing a dragon to it.

But, it’s these sorts of “this deck will be known as the deck that does …” things that makes me keep playing so many of my wizards.  With everything from Alpha to Shadows Over Innistrad available as potential antes to win, can end up with creations that no one would ever see, whether it’s because constructed play would weed out to many weaker cards or any popular format of limited Magic wouldn’t have the ability to end up with cards from any set.

Heroes of Rokugan

I still have yet to play any Nightmare War module.  I no longer really have any interest in trying.  If people I game with want me to play, sure, whatever.  But, I just don’t have enough interest to justify putting a bunch of effort into getting tables together.  Then, so much time has passed at this point, that I would rather just find out what the plan is for HoR4.

I wonder if Gen Con will have any HoR event that isn’t NW.  If it’s only NW, I very well may not end up doing anything L5R at Gen Con for the first time in a long time.

A format that opened up ancestors, not having to ask about kata, playing any minor or imp you wanted, any path or advanced school.  That format holds some interest to me.  Nonhuman PCs and guns really don’t.  That’s not L5R, anymore.

I do have interest in playing L5R characters.  I suppose if I were playing I’d have that much more interest.  As should be obvious in my pattern of posts, whatever I’m playing at the time is what I spend most of my time thinking about.

I have my HoR4 characters planned, I just have no sense of what’s going to happen.  I assume 4e will continue to be the mechanics – the buyout by FFG probably simplifies timing, though knowing that 5e isn’t around the corner in advance may have seen HoR4 follow right after HoR3.

Since L5R RPG posts are far more popular than my other posts, I could try to figure out what else I think about 4e.  I’m just not sure there’s that much more to say.  Do people have things they want me to opine about?  They sure seem to keep looking at the same posts over and over, so I don’t know if I’ve said everything I could usefully say or not.

Things I haven’t written much or anything about:  supplement mechanics – schools, paths, advantages/disads; advanced schools, in general; much about paths, in general; ancestors; kiho (because these don’t actually exist in my play); ninja stuff (might as well ask someone else who actually finds these sorts of characters interesting); and whatever.

BattleTech

I played a week ago as a demo on mechanics.  BattleTech, in the absence of narrative, is actually a pretty not good boardgame.  It really needs the story.  Whether you care about your pilot who got an Awesome shot out from underneath her, so she’s stuck with a Charger or you care about your Charger that went XL with double heat sinks and Gauss (or, even dumber, stole clan tech to effectively just be a clan mech) or you care about the scenario you are playing with its ice floes and explosive decompression rules while every third round someone bombs you, the resolution system is actually kind of a weak point in that it’s rather random for attacks while movement/terrain rules kind of suck.

I kept hitting the same left arm with a single large laser against a heavier mech, taking out half the AC/10s on my opponent early on, and our one on one was just kind of dumb after that.  That would make for good fiction, but it makes for a crap competitive game.  Sure, with experienced players, much like a two-player CCG, just call it and start up something new, but BT requires far more setup IME than shuffling up another deck.

TV

I read a lot of reviews of the shows I watch, most of which are superhero shows.  I find criticism interesting, but I also find myself thinking “okay, it’s not perfect, maybe not even well acted, well plotted, well staged, but … did you find it entertaining?”

A big difference between young me and old me is that young me watched a lot of TV and only really cared whether he enjoyed it or didn’t, where old me thinks about wasted opportunities, plot logic, acting, dialogue, fight choreography, special effects quality, etc.  On the other eye, I still decide to watch flawed shows just because they are entertaining.

I don’t know if I’d enjoy a high quality show, but, then, I don’t watch any high quality fiction.

Since pretty much all of the fiction I watch are DC superhero shows, one thing does come to mind.  Look.  The things that happen are often because the producers are trying to emulate comicbook logic.  Sure, it’s dumb the sort of things characters decide to do or the situations they may find themselves in.  Sure, a guy who can run fast enough to travel through time should never be threatened by anyone who can’t move that fast.

Yes, plenty of people will post comments along the lines of “The reason this happened this way in this show is because it’s a trope/genre feature/CW show.”  So, I’m really just adding support to them rather than being all uniquely special.

Where I can see it being frustrating that time travelers with a variety of superpowers can’t take out some guy who lives a long time and has nebulous street level superpowers, I do respect that Berlanti and crew are not giving me Smallville, Lois & Clark, or whatever that felt more like a TV show with superheroes rather than a comics style superhero story on TV.

May

What should I write about in May?


Card Superiority

March 28, 2016

This post also could have been called “Your Better Third” cuz …

Looks like I’ll be P-ing, again.  Type P Magic, that is.  Not sure if I ever linked to rules for it.

Type P

When is cracking packs fun?  When you are playing limited.  As much as I don’t see any advantage to the LCG model, it’s not like opening three boxes of boosters to get enough copies of tournament cards is somehow enjoyable.  It’s often tedious and frustrating, only made more so when you get sets that don’t have nice even distributions of rares or power uncommons.

As prizes?  Nah.  I buy enough boxes of cards to get everything I am interested in or, for games with card limits, enough to trade to get what I’m looking for.

What’s the payoff with limited?  Obvious, right?  Card variance.

So, what are the thirds with CCGs?

Better Player

Better Cards

Better Deck

Inspiration for this post is a combination of the last two.

I often have wanted to crack better cards when playing limited.  I know there exists generally a great deal of interest in cracking better cards, even if it was a myth (to a great degree, anyway) once upon a time that Magic sealed wasn’t as skill intensive because you had greater randomness of card pool.

But.  This idea runs counter to how I play multiplayer CCGs.  Sure, I once played two-player CCGs competitively, even Magic, if at a minor level.  They are a different animal for reasons I’ve mentioned at various times.  But, let’s continue on with the thought.

In multiplayer CCG play, I specifically don’t try to build best decks.  With rare exceptions, I’ve never tried to.  Sure, Conscription, “win in 20 minutes” B5 decks were something I found appealing.  Can go into reasons why, but I’ve either mentioned them or they distract from the gist.

Assuming I’m not driven to victory at all costs, wouldn’t I rather have weaker cards than my opponents in limited play?  After all, if I win, it comes down to skill, one or both of two types.  (Ignoring luck and limited sample size issues.)

Either play skill, which is not the topic, either.

Or, deck construction skill.  Which kind of is.

The best deck isn’t necessarily the one with the best cards.  That applies to constructed, as well.  Affinity might be all the rage, but, if everyone maindecks artifact hate at ungodly levels, maybe want to play red control or something.

My experience with not playing the best cards, coming up with my own personal banned lists either for cards or for decks, has soured me on the idea of cracking better cards.  (With V:TES, it’s much more cards.  But, I didn’t play certain decks with B5.)

I still want tons of burn out of Magic packs because I enjoy burn far more than anything else, despite it being really good and even better in limited.

But, the idea of “OMG!, double White Eyes, Black Magician” to wreck people with is … just … hollow.  It’s a fluke.  I don’t plan on selling cards, though I should probably sell a bunch of my Magic cards I never intend doing anything with.  So, foil, mythic planeswalkers of a Jacey bent don’t really amount to extra value.

Not to say I want to analyze a set’s commons to death so that I can build the optimal metagame deck (not that Type P has a metagame, given that it’s essentially sealed Classic) and have pure joy in how my common 1/1s with some annoying special carry the day off of inspired, heroic, bushido flanking.

I guess, at least until I find some reason to think competitively again, I’m just interested in getting random cards that are cool.  Might be cool ability, cool art, cool name, cool cost.  But, it’s almost a commander mentality without remotely getting into playing commander.

Yet, the reason for this post is that there’s still an interest in building a better deck.  Sure, it might not be the best deck for a card pool but a best deck that does what I’m interested in doing.  The last time I played P, I sided in a second Coral Eel and a couple of Giant Octopuses to go Octopus configuration, figuring 3/3s and a 2/1 for two can annoy morphs.  Deck was way too slow in the second and third games, though.

Magic really did do certain things right.  Limited is just so good because there are so many facets to it.  Sure, you will not have some of the consistency and card combinations that constructed provides.  But, you get flex your brain around having a specific card pool that is not predictable.  Sealed is even more this way than draft, which is part of the reason I vastly prefer sealed.

Draft has its own skill – um, drafting skill.  It’s interesting to me, though likely far less fascinating to me than a lot of Magic players find it.  I’d rather spend my time dwelling on how I force a red splash to play two burn spells when all of my other colors are vastly better.

I actually favor redundancy in my Type P decks because it’s a format that can get absurdly redundant.  I have seven Llanowar Sentinels in a deck, though I could imagine someone going crazy with just trying to build the most redundant Type P deck ever could find a way to get a ton of Raging Goblins or something.  The appeal, though, of redundancy tends more towards the “OMG!  I cracked five Scornful Egotists in five packs!”, with a bit of a “Are you sure you don’t mind losing a Shivan Dragon to this deck that already has two?”

And, draft kind of requires having a draft pool and playing out that event, where something like P has the advantage of my 15 year-old decks still being intact and all ready to acquire more dwarves.

Oh, well, yes, Type P is also different from common limited in that your card pool universe changes over time.  Though, I did do with a couple of P-ers a sealed league where it was just about adding a booster every week.  That had some interesting elements.  Magic – so many ways to play.  V:TES, B5, WoT, UC! – not so much.  Actually, Shadowfist might have more functional formats because people will buy into the idea of playing variant formats far more than V:TES players ever have.  Stronger theme.

Better Player?  I defer to my betters most of the time.

Better Cards?  Sometimes cool cards are better cards, and 3-mana, 4-damage, cannot be reduced or redirected or countered to chump or brain is always very cool, or, like, a real card that has some of those features.

Better Deck?  Magic isn’t the only CCG where this occurs, I find that I usually have the second best draft deck in any V:TES draft I play, but the decisions are rather more interesting when you have some bomb demon with double black but just really need to play R/U/w until you ditch blue and go R/W until you ditch white and go mono-red.

Yup, scary as it is.  Where I hardly enjoy cracking packs for CCGs I play, I still enjoy cracking Magic packs.