Classful Society

July 23, 2017

If I were to attempt to rank my topics from most popular to less popular, the list would be something like:

L5R RPG mechanics

V:TES tournament reports or more serious analysis

RPG general analysis

Food options when traveling to play games?  I don’t think Shadowfist has terribly broad appeal, maybe general CCG analysis has some.  What of the oddity that is True Dungeon, something only in extreme limited availability and where analysis is really more the province of an even more limited playerbase?

Well, I haven’t been playing much besides Shadowfist and haven’t been buying much besides True Dungeon tokens.  I didn’t get any gaming in when visiting family recently.  I need to leave some topics on Traveller for our website, where my column should be going up soon.

So, True Dungeon it is.  But, not tokens.  Tokens are a rabbit hole that I think I’ll maybe talk about after Gen Con, when I see our collections at work.

Oh, I suppose I could have tried to talk about the Wonder Woman movie and try to tie it into gaming, but I just thought that would be repetitive to my various DC TV show posts and gaming.

Classes.  In many ways, classes don’t matter.  Amazingly enough, I don’t find combat to be all that relevant to the experience when you are the casual player.  Is this ironicful given how much token tycoons relish being better at combat?  Let me expound.

First of all, half the time or so we are doing puzzle rooms.  How do the classes matter when doing puzzle rooms?  Well, there are saving throws sometimes, there are situations where free action may matter, and, of course, there’s hit points.  The cleric, followed by the druid, followed by the paladin are too legit to knit for their abilities to restore hit points.  Possibly, a spell may do something but who knows?  Then, there’s the almighty rogue.  Go rogue, go rogue, go rogue.  I totally get the appeal of the rogue even if you pretty much ignore combat, though it has mighty antiappeal pour moi, as mentioned previously.  Being immune to disease or feather falling or whatever might be relevant once every X number of years.

Can find the class details here:

True Dungeon Classes

So, combat. Oh, not Nightmare combat where memorization just wastes time murdering.  Still talking about the casual experience, the Normal of normals, the “I don’t own any URs” fest that we have been used to over the years of casual play.

Barbarian needs a 2h-er to unleash excessive beats.  Comes with healthy hit points.  Fighter hits most often, I guess.  Ranger can ranged fight if someone has a ranged weapon, where double sliding is something I don’t think advantages the inexperienced.  Monk seems to be the least desirable class IME, though bard doesn’t get a lot of love either.  Paladin can absorb damage for the hit point handicapped to some degree.

Though, mostly what I see with people who basically have random equipment is the inability to murder stuff, not so much the being murdered, until you hit room seven and, if you fight something, routinely get butchered because it will deal out substantial damage.

If I’m a barbarian, fighter, dwarf fighter, ranger, monk, or paladin, how much difference do I feel when I just have some random stuff?  Meanwhile, cleric, druid, wizards all have clear needs to figure out what they are going to do.  I’m usually a wizard, and I blast things til they die … or not.  I’ve been in fights where everyone just kept missing and I used up a ton of spells to finish some monster off because might as well do something and worry about the consequences later (plus, in theory, I have scrolls and wands if I run out of spells, not that I end up using them).  Clerics are often busy as hell unless the party is efficient both in combat and at puzzles.  Druids have plenty of things to worry about, having arguably the toughest decisions on what to do round by round.

Sure, classes matter.  I’d say healers matter the most often.  But, this is mundane analysis.  Where’s the rule of cool, the harm of warm, the thought of hot?

Let’s talk 5th level classes.  I don’t have any designs on a Rod of Seven Parts, nor do I find the variant classes all that compelling, even less interesting in some cases, like the sorcerer who is like the most boring caster ever in that all it does is blast, blast, blast.  On the other hand, we have graduated from playing 4th-ies.  Just too many interesting things to do at 5th plus the number of tokens that uplevel you at this point is so vast that you can only sink a couple hundred into TD and play varsity.

What’s the coolest thing a barbarian does?  Because puzzle damage seems to be Eldritch, the damage reduction is really just another combat ability, though it’s not entirely clear whether all puzzle damage is Eldritch or not.  I love me my damage reduction, but nope.  Greater Rage?  Um, well, since the damage bonus ability is the same as the 4th level dude, you could make this argument.  I just don’t see how a barbarian doesn’t do lots and lots of pain.  But, the barbarian needs to hit things and, while a +4 to hit/damage from STR is fine, just hitting in combat defeats many an adventurer.  Of course, if you are 5th level, you can probably jack your STR to obscene levels or, at least, use the recent synergistic tokens that give hit/damage bonuses at like the uncommon/common level.

Bard.  The coolest thing about being a bard is, of course, distracting everyone with your banjoharp/other.  But, suppose you want to do something besides generate static bonuses.  I know nothing of the lore skill test, since I think bard didn’t exist back in the long, long ago, and, for some reason, there’s discouragement to practicing a class’s tests that you aren’t playing.  That it takes an action just seems incredibly wrong.  Like, why do you need a special instrument to use both your abilities at the same time?  That’s mean.  Of course, this is the quintessential bard issue – without a special instrument, you can do lots of different things but only one of them at a time.  What’s the point of having spells if you don’t cast them because Bardsong is so badass?  Some bards even like to fight, though I don’t know why given that the class offers so many other things to do that someone who likes swinging knouts would go for a knoutswinger class.  You get heal, possibly more efficient than paladin heal, as well.  We don’t have one, but the instrument I rate the most me, myself, and I relevant is Briano’s Blessed Bodhrán.  But, then, why don’t I just play a wizard?

I’m not enthusiastic about playing cleric.  I like protecting folks much and I like healing well enough, but the cleric is just far too busy in my play and gets into weird situations of waiting to see if someone gets hurt.  While the abilities to restore power and restore spell are strong like mule, I’d rather be on the receiving end of restoration rather than the giving end.  Cleric has too much coordination to do between finding out who needs what level of healing and when to “do it again” on some tactical nuke.

Druid is like the best of all worlds.  You can continue to ignore AC while getting good saves, blasts, and heals.  I played druid a couple of times once upon a time (or maybe it was just once), which seems odd given how much time I’ve spent studying the wizard planar charts.  Polymorph?  Sounds cool, but, then, don’t you just become another fighter?  Coolest thing about a druid?  Versatile spellcasting.

Dwarf fighter is for people who love the idea of taunting monsters or for folks who are really good at sliding.  ’nuff said.

Elf wizard ever going to polymorph?  I haven’t seen it.  Do high end parties love the elf for the ability to Alertness every combat?  Well, I guess it’s “fun” to always murder the monster before it gets to act.  I find Ironskin to be the sort of spell I’d like to see cast more, but I somehow doubt it.  I don’t believe it affects puzzles, again Eldritch pierces damage reduction to my knowledge, which is unfortunate for making spellcasting more versatile.

Fighter doesn’t even have taunting.  If you are really into sliding, being able to knock around pucks is I guess a thing.

Monk is where I think the TD experience differs much from a more varied experience.  You get a ton of abilities, but you pretty much end up being fighterlike in what you actually do.  I like the idea of weird abilities and great saves to the point where I actually picked up a token for a monk build, a monk build just for funsies as it will be terrible compared to real purple monks.  Should you be the one to fiddle around during puzzles, trying stuff out?  Perhaps, so this is another strike against the class for me as I’m cowardly by nature.

We finally get to the inspiration for this here particular post.  Ah, the paladin.  Sure, somebody expects you to fight.  Pshaw, grandpa.  The paladin’s real purpose in the world is to Shiba Bushi.  No, not guard.  Well, yes guard but not as the point of your existence.  Nope, the point of your existence is sacrifice.  Who doesn’t want abilities that just say “you don’t die”?  Okay, maybe I’m far into dramatic rescues.  Yup, I could paladin.  I could even go serious defense paladin, in theory.  Btw, an interesting thing about sacrifice is that it disincentivizes high HP.  That’s rather interesting to me, as, suddenly, my obsession with CON in builds doesn’t need to cookiecutter my character building, and, it starts making “don’t nuke me after sacrifice” plays, like sudden HP gains or whatever far more interesting.  Are damage reduction builds optimized with paladin, who is fine losing HP since any serious threat will leave pally at 5, anyway, but wants to lose slowly and not deadfully?  Pretty strong saves, too, plus random weirdness, plus healing.

Ranged ranger is the only build that interests me as I want to do less sliding not more.  May even go to the point of not bothering with melee weapons or wielding idiotic ones for the humor value.  At 5th level, get spells!  So funny.  Who doesn’t like casual spell use?  Decent saves.  It would be interesting to see if I could generate interest in trying to crit repeatedly without sliding 20s.

There’s a surprising amount, to me anyway, references to sneak attack being a thing.  Neither flank nor sneak seem to me to be relevant to the rogue experience, but, hey, whatever, gives some bonus combat utility.  If I were to rogue, I’d sadly need to pick up all of the rogue cheats so that I could fail miserably and still defeat chests.  Rather than do that, I will stay far, far away from this class.  Pretty terrible saves.  Too much effort to flank/sneak.  Well, I rogue enough in my RPG play, where the mechanics are usually less challenging.

Finally, the roc has come back to Greyhawk.  I still don’t get how Lesser Maze is supposed to work since there’s a really simple way to rule on it that, apparently, is not how it actually works.  You don’t get to Alertness cheese combat.  Saves are kind of crap.  Lightning only makes some monsters bigger or electrifies entire parties.  Yet, this is comfy for me.  I can be a kind of sucky bro who cares more about getting memorization right than actually murderfesting the enemy.  I can pretend I’ll use a wand someday without ever actually using one since they pretty well suck compared to what you can do with spell damage bonus tokens.  I like how builds are free of the sort of dull options that others find interesting.  I can ignore armor.  I can wear whichever crown I want.  My hands are just going to play with my staff or maybe my flute, if I’m feeling frisky.  I can run around with no STR, though Elf is pretty much the same.  I’m not some goofy elf, unless someone forces me to option into elfdom.  Sure, wizard isn’t as hot as druid or as Shiba as paladin.  But, hey, I’ll blast you, you’ll fang me.  We will just murder each other like two ships in the night on a collision course, or someone else will murder you and I’ll be pondering the last puzzle we couldn’t figure out.

True Dungeon – it’s not remotely about class … up until the point that it’s all about class.


Fisticuffs – Time To Eat

July 8, 2017

Even though it’s my one relatively consistent gaming experience, I don’t talk about Shadowfist much anymore.  It’s just the nature of settling in, that not as many things are new and shiny.  It’s also a matter of the game being a terribly casual affair for me.  Though, as I rewrite this sentence a couple of times, I realize anything I do repetitively I’m less likely to write about, so it’s not like weekly V:TES or weekly boardgames or weekly Type P Magic or whatever would cause me to post.

I’ve actually written quite a few Fisticuffs posts.  Why this one?

Let’s post a couple of decks.

Name: Memories of Money
Faction: Lotus
Size: 45

Lotus Cards (30)
Characters (11)
1x Doktor Herrnberger
4x Imp
2x Ming I
1x Punk Geomancers
1x Ravenous Devourer
1x Shi Kan Lun
1x Undead Horrors

Edges (1)
1x Insidious Plan

Events (14)
5x Bribery
1x Cries in the Night
1x Shi’s Dark Influence
1x Spirit Wrack
5x Tortured Memories
1x Underworld Coronation

Sites (1)
1x Shi’s Hillside Estate

States (3)
3x The Mark of Evil

Generic Cards (15)
Events (7)
1x Discerning Fire
1x Larcenous Mist
3x Pocket Demon
2x Spirit in a Bottle

Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x Cataract Gorge
1x City Center
2x Dockyard
1x Martyr’s Tomb
1x River of Lights
1x The Hidden Grotto
1x Waterfall Sanctuary

Nothing unusual about the idea of steal and sacrifice.  Some choices may seem unusual, but I throw together a lot of decks from whatever is lying around.  Then, there is some tech in here.

I keep trying to play with Ming I because:  alpha, I like the art; beta, I’m offended by how bad she is compared to Queen of the Darkness Pagoda; gamma, I rarely get her into play and do anything with her.  The sacrifice thing is synergy.

The Mark of Evil is a card I don’t recall ever putting into play.  I’ve played this deck a couple of times, and I didn’t even see it Thursday night.

Every deck plays better with our house rules, but the dearth of foundation characters is concerning.  I happen to have had a Dockyard early on, then used Bribery to take a Wailing Apparition to play Doktor Herrnberger.

Cataract Gorge rarely pays off for me, but I may have included here under the theory that I steal so many dudes I can fail and still attack with a hitter.  Waterfall Sanctuary is pretty good in the Thursday meta, which some may not find surprising, but I don’t find Waterfall to be the hotness in more general metas, especially when every deck has to include 5x Mobius Gardens and Dockyards and Manufactured Islands.

The Hidden Grotto was good to me in that I seized a site, taking me to three, then revealed to have enough power to play Ming I.  So cheesy in like a 7 Masters deck where you Jade Willow over and over.

River of Lights almost never gives me 2 power.  However, I see a reason to include it over other high body sites.  It forces me to think about burning for victory.  Too often, I’ll not think through the benefits of burning for victory, either overrating it or underrating it.  At least this gets me to consider when I’m prone to underrating it.

So, what happened?

Don (Syndicate power) -> Joren (Lotus states) -> Ian (Memories of Money)

Don put out two early Mars Program Executives.  I considered a while before Spirit Wracking one of them before he ended his turn.  Don kept having lots of power, anyway, using multiple The Price of Progress to annoy us as we tried to rein him in.  Joren’s Wailing Apparition got Bite of the Long Teeth and Vampirism.  I stole it and ran it into his Soul Reaver to tidy up his board.

After I played Ming I, Joren Evil Twinned it.  Don had a Street Doc and Song, The Little Dragon.  My Ming I was cancelled with seven damage.  I played Shi Kan Lun, sent him and Ming I after Don’s site, sacced Ming I, burned for victory.  I played Shi’s Hillside Estate, took Song, Tortured Memories Evil Twin, and won.

Yes, our environment is power heavy.  It probably does extend games in that three-player games can easily become beatdowns where one player doesn’t do much of anything, where it’s really hard not to be able to do things with our house rules.

Name: Eleven Evils
Faction: Lotus
Size: 45

Lotus Cards (26)
Characters (17)
1x Demon Emperor
3x Eater of Fortune
1x Gibbering Horror
2x Li Yu
1x Seven Evils
5x Sinister Priest
2x Ti Kan
2x Two Hundred Knives of Pain

Events (9)
2x Corruption
1x Die!!!
4x Evil Whispers
2x Flying Sleeves

Generic Cards (19)
Events (7)
1x Discerning Fire
1x Larcenous Mist
3x Pocket Demon
2x Spirit in a Bottle

Feng Shui Sites (11)
3x Dockyard
2x Hydroponic Garden
1x Martyr’s Tomb
5x The Great Wall

States (1)
1x Six Demon Bag

Most of this deck was made from loose cards from when I broke down other Lotus decks.  I’m a big fan of Li Yu (special) and Ti Kan (art, 5 fighting).  Finally, the blog has come back to … the reason for calling out this session.

I played two Lotus decks in two games.  I played two lotus decks with the same number of Discerning Fire, Larcenous Mist, Pocket Demons, and Spirits in a Bottle.  Yet, the Lotus cards are rather different.

Alpha, Lotus have too many good+fun cards.  I’m willing to play steal cheese.  I’m willing to be so less cheesy and play fair Lotus cards.  I’m willing to play terrible Lotus cards like Gibbering Horror.  I would note that I’m constantly sitting in the wrong place as, if I were one seat to the left in games, they would be h-u-u-u-g-e, potentially worth the cost.  That’s a political joke and a sports joke in one people.  I’m like totally gifted.

Beta, let’s talk Lotus characters.  Not enough Eaters of Fortune in the deck.  All of Jammer and not Jammer nonsense have to Die!!!  So mote it be.  I don’t get why I’ve never seen Li Yu outside of my playing it.  It’s often amazing, just sloughing Final Brawls and miscellaneous annoyance plays.  Two Hundred Knives of Pain is the main reason people play Shadowfist – things have cool names.  It is, however, a rather terrible card.  Sure, the threat of its ability is vaguely better than using its ability, but I’d rather have a good Lotus 4-F character and, no, not Underworld Tracker – UT is just so dull with its obvious brokenness.  Sure, I’ll play UTs at times, but that just shows two things.  Omega, I do actually play good/broken cards at times in CCGs.  Psi, Lotus brokenness is more palatable to me than other brokenness just as Centauri cheese was more palatable to me than Narn cheese or Voter Cap abuse has become more palatable to me than Dominate abuse.

Gamma, events.  Corruption, to me, is sweet delicious feldspar-hard plums.  It’s just fun and totally my sort of card.  I should do a Card of the Weak for Shadowfist where I bring up all of the cards in other CCGs that are like Corruption that float my kayak.  Evil Whispers was an experiment.  Evil Whispers is awful in our meta for the obvious …, Gardens related reason.  It marginally got me more power than it gave my opponents.  Flying Sleeves is really good, twice (yup, 2 for 2) stopping Xin Ji Yang from causing the Empire of Evil to my left from winning.

Delta, generic events.  Why the same seven?  Alt power gain, even in the land of Gardens, is necessary.  Larcenous Mist isn’t just to further punish tank decks or gun decks or whatever, it’s also to address that some players like to play absurdly obnoxious characters.  Discerning is mostly to murder monkeys … and whatever else annoys me that day.  There was a turn in game two in which Don was set up to go for the win and had my Seven Evils for the turn.  I told Joren I could deal with Seven Evils.  I was prepared to Discerning Fire for “evil” to remove Empire of Evil as well, as I didn’t want to choose demon when Don didn’t have another demon in play, leaving me the only other demonmeister.

Two Lotus decks that have incredible similarities and ridiculous differences.  That’s just how I roll.  If IKG would ever let me design a card, I’d create a Lotus character.  A noble, virtuous Lotus character because you can look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!  The Empire of Good shall reign!  Yup, that’s a classic poem reference and a callback within this post.  I may be getting more and more decrepit, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.

So, what happened?

Ian (Eleven Evils) -> Don (Feast of Souls) -> Joren (monkeys)

I actually had to support Don at times.  So it is written, so mote it be – monkeys gotta meet their maker.

I had Die!!! in my hand early on while Don and Joren were tussling, but I couldn’t play it.  Yes, even given our house rules, I still run into resource issues.

What made this game unusual was that we got into this situation where everyone was constantly on 3-4 FSSs.  I actually had a pretty good setup with four FSS in play because Joren had Potlatched me, so, since everyone else would win if they took one of my sites, I not only always had four in play but could afford to lose one and still just take for the victory.

The actual victory was not terribly interesting, being attrition based as we kept stopping Don’s hitters and Joren’s monkey poo from winning.  Sure, Don did have a Haunted Forest in play that duped a Family Home, then a Mobius Gardens.  He cancelled his Feast of Souls when I Eatered it, as his deck is designed to do.

Sure, I won both games.  I tend to do better in three-players probably because someone else is usually the threat early, yet our rules allow for people to always be in the game.  Maybe the fewer decisions on what to do make it easier for me to make decisions that balance things in my favor.

Welp, that’s Shadowfist from 2017/7/6.  It’s like gaming, with customizable decks.  It’s like the good stuff in life.

On a totally unrelated note, congratulations to Martin for winning the V:TES NAC.  Great guy.  I really, really need to figure out a plan for playing V:TES more often.  At this rate, though, not until after Gen Con.  No momentum at all locally, from what I see, due to Anthology Set, which a shame it be.


Token Analysis

July 2, 2017

What denotes the difference between a talking head spouting opinion from an analyst?

Real analysis is scientific.  The intent is to prove something by using … evidence.

Someone posted to an old thread on the TD forums about best choice for a PYP from the 2016 list for a fighter.  Now, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play fighter.  Sure, I’d play fighter over any of dwarf fighter, monk, or rogue, but at least the last two have some sort of interesting component to them.  But, more power to people who like things I don’t when it only helps me do what I want to do.

My choice was Kvothe’s Bloodless.  Now, again, because I have no interest in fighter, more generally usable tokens are going to be more appealing to me.  I chose this over +1 Mighty Sling, any of the Redoubt Set, Goggles of Instant Analysis, and less relevant things.

Redoubt Set.  I posted my complete lack of interest in armor and my especial lack of interest in taking save hits.  Well, guess what?  Plan to have a Redoubt Set by end of Gen Con.  This is what comes from “value” bids on eBay and a ridiculous glut of Blessed Redoubt Plate.  Now, I actually have to think about whether to trade the whole thing away or to actually upgrade to Blessed Redoubt Helm and Blessed Redoubt Shield for extra lunacy.

Anyway, I remain unconvinced normal Redoubt is good, so my thought is that anyone looking to get into the set should just figure on spending $700-1000 for a complete Blessed Set … like all true Tycoons are wont to do.

The power of +1 Mighty Sling has only grown on me as I run through various character builds.  The big downfall of my madness is that Mighty Sling is pretty much the same token for $85 or whatever less.  Again, for a fighter this may not be as sweet and delicious as other possibilities, such as the rumored reprint of +1 Mighty Longbow next year, but it’s an any class play, which means I just throw it into cleric builds to fill out a ranged slot and because likely no one else in our group would need to run it.  We are Strange.  Team Strange.  Or, Team Echo.  Or, Team Blow.  Well, someday, aspire to Blow.

Goggles of Instant Analysis does not make virtually any of my builds.  I like attributes.  I have a Lenses of the Fae.  I may not be helping melee beatdown, but melee beatdown is the most boring form of beatdown to me, so give me +3 Dex and maybe I don’t miss incorporeals, either.  Still, I get that a fighter who probably is going to melee is going to wonder what else to bother with that is anywhere close to +2 to hit.

Speaking of +2 to hit, I’ve asked about alt builds in case we don’t just play our preferred classes, and Dave mentioned being okay with fighting but wants hit bonuses.  Quite often, forumites talk of hit bonuses.  One of the benefits of having a character builder handy is that I can see numbers in a more numbery way.  I kind of get the need to weed over the need to bleed the more I see how easy ramping damage versus becoming a hit god is.  Even my fighty builds don’t get vast, potentially oversized, on hit-eration.

Now, it was pointed out to me that Kvothe’s Bloodless sounds better than it is for TD.  Wait, what?  Then, what?  The contrasts with TG – True Grind – are frequent.  Often talk about how builds change for TG, and that’s a good thing, assuming you can get into any slots of TG, which seems unlikely given our schedules at GC, though there were openings open for slots I couldn’t make.

How much beatdown will you suffer in TD?  Little sayeth the pros (and, believe me, given the buy in possibilities, pro is not far from the truth).  Time is the mindkiller.  The fear, when tooled up to ultra levels, is puzzle-ing because combat is one round of monster slayage or so the impression upon me has been made.  Of course, that may not be the case for Team Strange.  We don’t relish firepower of the eldritch god … er … set.  We eschew double Viper Fang attacks.  Our DPS (damage per slide) is within reason and two Strangers are preferred on cleric and bard who sit around contemplating the inadequacies of the beatdowners.

It’s slotless.  Bloodless, that is.  Slotless is my new slot since, sadly in a world where retirement savings matter, I don’t really need any more tokens to run hardcore or nightmare.  I just need wisdom.  Oh, the injokes you don’t get.

So, I’m sure this is utterly fascinating in every way, but how can we make this even more opinionated … uh … analytical?

2016 was not a good year for ultrarares.  Sure, Amulet of the Champion makes many of my builds, so there’s that powercreep.  And, Boots of the South Wind allowed for Boots of the Four Winds, which is like better than Shirt of the Three Dragons (ooh, ooh, proposed token path, except already have the Kilt set in progress; maybe pretend the three year Kilt is the dragon complement).  But, if you take each individual ultrarare, it’s just hard to get excited in the same way that 2017 gets one enflamed.

There are 2017 tokens I still see as important.  Sure, there are narrow use, “I don’t value this above like $70” ultrarares I wouldn’t mind having for amusement, like Amulet of Guarding and Belt of Thorns, but I still see greed, I mean, need, nope, greed in 2017.  Hopefully, 2018 has a paucity of Strange seduction.

Time to go anti-analytical.  So, it’s hard not to keep running the good stuff in builds to be as twinked out as possible on the path of Suitcasedom.  But, I have thought of a colorful pastime.  What do you think when I say …

RED, BLUE, and … and … maybe I’ll wear a white shirt.  USA!  USA!  Only in Statesland can you run around with five figure character builds for TD/TG … until we export it!  USA!  USA!

On this day, this day when the Continental Congress voted for independence, we will consider the red, blue, and TBD white build.

Belt of Blessed Constitution, Steelclad Cloak, Charm of Health, Exalted Creeper Amulet, Greater Arcane Scrolltube, Shirt of Blessed Strength all are the bluest of the blue that we zoo.  That’s not much of a fill.  Okay, reds.  Who gets slammed by weakosity if they go down from purple to red?

Well, I expect to have a couple Defender Sets by sometime during Gen Con.  That doesn’t offend my sensibilities.  The ranged weapon is obvious if you, like, can read minds.  Please don’t read my mind.  Seppuku for me.  Let’s assume that this is TG for funsies, so treasure enhancers aren’t needed.

Boots of Agility makes a lot of my builds.  Pants of Blisswalk.  Bracers of Archery goes with Exalted Creeper Amulet or any of Bracers of Fire/Frost/Lightning.  Gloves of Spell Negation is something I consider running in certain builds already; there’s always Gauntlets of Ogre Power.

Lenses of Focus would only work for a class that can’t Defender, so Goggles of Seeking if we have any.  Cloak of Resistance +2 makes pretty much all of my builds.  Oh, I should mention we have, for the moment, three Cloaks of Shadowskin, guess I was wrong about its brokenness as I don’t see the point in almost any of my builds.  Still, hang on to two just in case.

Charm of the Sipquick is ubiquitous in my builds.  Charm of Enlightenment if we had enough to go around.  Really should be reprinted.  Also should be printed is another way to pump Wisdom.  Oh, and all right-thinking True types need more Rings of Greater Focus, so reprint Ring of Focus and a relic recipe.

Earcuff of Vitality.  I don’t know if we own any Ramparts.  Ring of Dark Health and a variety of rings we may or may not have.

Ioun Stones:  Beryl Prism, Iridescent Spindle, Faceted Amber, Garnet Sphere (slightly cheaty), and whatever.

This isn’t bad.  As soon as I become a jaded TDer/TGer, which should take like two more runs or who knows, I’ll totally embrace USA! USA! … or, on Arbor Day, go green for that all uncommon build.  Green and purple?  Green and black would look stylin’ and profilin’, but am I that deep pocketed to blacken my world?

Stay tuned.  Onyx do look sharp.  Of course, black and red looks spiffy.  Black and blue, eh, the blue is too cartoonish.  Black and orange … stop, just stop, just just go back to talking about L5R 4e, which is free, and V:TES which only costs travel and Shadowfist, which is free.


HoR4 – Same But More

June 25, 2017

I skimmed through my earlier post about HoR4 – Early Read.

Is there anything to add?  In terms of how I feel about playing, no, not really.

So, what’s the point of posting a rehash?  Let’s try to newhash as much as possible.

I’ve played CIT00 to CIT04, CIT06, CIT07, CIT10.  I can’t recall any standout mod.  Early on in HoR3, I thought some of the mods were way underdeveloped – SoB02 and SoB03, with SoB04 being suddenly over as well.  But, I liked SoB00 quite a bit, SoB01 seemed like interesting things were afoot, like maybe the Phoenix would be relevant for a change.  Then, SoB07 was one of my favorites, with all sorts of points for originality even if running it was not as good as playing it.

Then, there was SoB09.  SoB09 was something I thought was really cool at first.  As time wore on, probably because there wasn’t the payoff on Nothing in the series mattering, I grew less enamored with it.  I also read the Fire side which I neither played nor ran and was less interested in that part.  Even late in the campaign, though, it was memorable for having engaging combat, having the fantasy aspects I am more interested in, and just flowing well … like water or some liquid that flows well.

Playing HoR4/CIT, I now look back on SoB09 with much more fondness.

I’ve run at least four of the mods I’ve played – 02, 03, 06, 10.  Maybe ran 00, but whatever.

02 and 03 are both okay.  Neither 06 nor 10 appeal to me.  Yet, 10 was precisely my sort of mod in HoR3.

What happened?

I can reiterate how disconnected I feel towards CIT not just because I go months without playing or because I lack personal goals but also just because I have no concept as to what the campaign is even hinting at.  SoB may have had themes that our group never felt were (properly) executed on, but, early on, at least there felt like themes.  Balishnimpur, tension with Ivinda (not Ivindi, which is the language, or Invindi which is who knows what).  Except, Balishnimpur as a setting hasn’t mattered at all, could just as easily substitute more common things and tension with peasant Ivinda feels just like tension with peasant Rokugani.

I hated the Second City Boxed Set, well, hated may be only slightly off, more felt was a waste of effort because it didn’t develop the setting into something that was “yeah, dude, Ivory Kingdoms safari, yo”.  I feel like the point of having a setting is to explore that setting.  L5R does an amazing job of developing its setting, well, its Rokugan setting, kind of terrible job of developing the other parts of the world or other worlds.  Somehow, it would seem to me that more effort could be put into scoping out what the Ivory Kingdoms is really about for a five year campaign that theoretically is going to be spending half the time in it.

But, there’s more to whine about.

I realize I could write mods.  I realize volunteers aren’t being paid to entertain me.  I realize that Rob Hobart and his crew were fantastic at putting together HoR.  I cut SoB some slack for being a first time for a lot of folks – the mods weren’t my major complaint or my second major complaint.  Nightmare War, in my limited experience with it, actually was very cool, far far more interesting and coherent than I expected it to be.

I just feel like there’s too much similarity in mod structure.  Where HoR3 had a huge advancement was in court mods.  Sure, some of the mechanics didn’t hold together at all once you GMed the mod, but you could see what they were trying to do and provided a new spin on playing through social stuff.  At some point during that campaign and in this campaign, I already feel like the same court well is over used.  There are mechanics that never pay off that may seem like they matter when playing but are just tedious when GMing and become extremely repetitive for certain players.

In general, there just comes across a feeling of sameness to mods.  Yes, HoR4 has had one mod that was very noticeably different, even if it may have had some similarities to a previous or two.  By sameness, I don’t mean “oh, here’s another travel to a fight mod” or “is the mod just about talking down a god/crazy/recalcitrant kuge/etc.?”.  I mean that within the half dozen or so common mod archetypes, there just feels like going through the motions.

Yes, earlier stuff has the advantage of coming earlier.  Originality is going to generally fade.  But, that can be fought.  Engaging recurring NPCs like Daniel from HoR2 (not like cursed Toritaka) help.  What else?  I don’t know.  I’d have to think more about it.  I’m not saying it’s easy to be original and cool and cater to my tastes and whatever, though I thought some SoB mods that had way too much going on had some really cool things that I wish were expanded upon.

Oh, there is one thing.  Have what each and every PC do matter more often.  I’m tired of mods where, at the end, I realize that my efforts were pretty much irrelevant.  I also really dislike having mods where the crucial stuff doesn’t feel like a significant part of the mod, having been burnt on that in HoR2 once and still being irritated by that mod both for that and for having the most obnoxious NPC I recall.  Can’t have every mod be a “everyone is a special snowflake mod”, though Words and Deeds from HoR2 felt like that to me and I loved how that played for my character.  But, I feel so much like I’m tagging along in CIT not so much in an adventure but in an exercise to gain more XP.

I can try to fight this on my end.  I can try to finally figure out what to care about to where I can begin my character’s story arc.  I can actually put together my Bushido Tenet Ratings for this character.  What is going to be difficult, though, is being dedicated enough to complete a mod.  It doesn’t help that when I ask about whether one of my ideas should be followed up on, I don’t get any response.


Underpromotion

June 18, 2017

Since KublaCon, in terms of actual play, it has been pretty much Shadowfist.

But, let me digress for a while.

I finished the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.  That was disappointing.  It was a slog to get through the books what with the constant verbiage taken up with “I can’t continue.  Someone else is better than I am.”  Just beaten over the head constantly with how awesome haruchai are, giants are, someone else is.  Sure, there was the gratuitous use of pretentious diction replete in the quadripertitus series.  I’m sure a staff could be found with lenitive properties to flush the experience.  Look, I’m sure it’s condign to make yourself hard to understand to the reader, your audience will grow properly chary.  But, when the first page of a new chapter is like 10 words you haven’t (over)used in book four, most of the way towards the end, that stick out like a sore pollex, feels like you are just trolling the reader.

But, here’s the ultimate problem – the ending was boring.  There were moments when things were cool.  There was potential, like the weird alliance that was crucial in book four.  But, it just seemed like after dragging and dragging, the ending was rushed just to get it over with.

Anyway, it’s not the only series where much more cool stuff could have happened.  So, how does this tie into gaming?

Satisfying endings aren’t easy.  I do find that con RPGs can often create the appropriate ending by simply having a very linear structure to the adventure.  This … does … not … bother … me.  You know, dungeon crawling has the feature of (typically) a linear path to the end.  I don’t dislike dungeon crawling.  I just view it different from role-playing.  One thing I don’t formulate in my mind well are endings.  And, I, too, fall into the “trap” of wanting players to have freedom to make terrible results.

Number second:  Don’t be repetitive.  Fights shouldn’t all feel the same.  NPCs shouldn’t feel the same.  Missions shouldn’t feel the same.  Unfortunately, when it comes to game mechanics, very often PC actions are highly repetitive.  Use same attacks or always try Diplomacy +26 roll or whatever.  Now, this is where having a player explain what they say or do can vary from just rolling dice.  Is this an argument for spell memorization with inability to duplicate overmuch spell choice?  Hmmm …

Number three:  Make your gods interesting.  Actually, one of the godlike powers in the series actually became interesting, though it didn’t get a story arc.  I’m a big fan of gods.  But, if they just do things the protagonists can’t or can’t affect, kind of not so exciting.  Then, if they just get owned by chumps, that’s kind of eh, too.  I should be more specific, since the point of Lord of the Rings is that a god gets owned by chumps.  If chumps are clever or cool in their ownage, okay, but it’s when chumps are just chumping and happy ending in the post-carnage world that it’s kind of chumptastic.

As you probably don’t recall, a recent Gen Con saw me playing yet another game where you play a god.  I complained about how the game was like two hours for something not actually billed as two hours.  But, I had relatively lots of pleasure in that brief period.  My god was cool.  My god licked blood off of folks.

Switching offhand weapons.  Back to thinking about True Dungeon.  We really don’t need more tokens at this point, well, except maybe one and only if we somehow play something besides normal level.  Didn’t get into Grind and probably don’t have to worry about it since my schedule is rather tight at Gen Con.

One question is whether to loan tokens to other players.  I actually did that last year when we had like nothing in the way of relevant collections, as class specific uncommons are still better than not.  I can see it to a degree – talking about PUGs where we actually have much more stuff than the others.  I mostly see it with class specific tokens below ultrarare rarity.  Masterwork Thieves’ Tools, Ring of Soothing Touch, instrument if Eric isn’t our Bard, whatever crap Monks use.  I don’t want to be in the position of being pushy in any way.  On the other hand, as unlikely as it seems based on comments on the forums that we would have a more beefed up group, sure, switch out your Redoubt Plate for this largely devalued Blessed Redoubt Plate.

I have even more tokens that make me want to vaguely try a different class just to see the token get used, though the problem is that it would encourage me to play a style that doesn’t interest me, with probable results that don’t interest me.  For example, I have a solid one-handed melee weapon.  In a PUG, playing normal, I might do something boring like play a Paladin that goes sword and board or, just to see how boring it is, a Fighter.  In this scenario, I’d likely be a prime damage dealer at air hockey shuffleboard.  I can’t see how this is a fun result.  I want other folks to be +2 Slayers.  They will enjoy murder.  I will be embarrassed or bored hitting or missing for average double digit damage.

Contrast with Barbarian.  I cannot actually see how you build a Barbarian that doesn’t just annihilate things.  Even when you aren’t using a +3 relic, damage output is so absurd when you make even a token effort [ha, ha ha] to not undermine what the class does.  I have a STR 14, level 5 Barbarian build written up, and it still is just gross.  Then, I decided to see what our best Grind, Barbarian build would be, and it averages 22.5 damage ranged and just under 38 damage melee.  Point of reference?  Last year, most of my spells did 6 damage.  Even now, with my normal build where I don’t worry about damage pumps much, looking at those spells doing 10 damage.  Sure, I could Mad Evoker’s Charm for some base doubling, but that’s not why you … I mean … why I play a Wizard.  I play a Wizard to point out planes of existence on a chart, not because I feel a need to polish off monsters.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how it will play out at GC, when we finally get a chance to use collections that didn’t exist prior and whether I want to regress into playing builds that are more green or red than purple or whether I’ll want to be even more violet end of the color spectrum.  Or, gasp, get orange.

I’m trying to find builds that are different yet still relevant.  Purple tokens have a habit of converging builds, at least for me and for my concerns.  Paladin retribution damage build is an interesting build, though not one we could do.  All Dex, all the time Wizardy builds (more Elf Wizard) may end up more interesting than it seems what with maybe having a decent AC somehow mattering.  Ranged damage builds with Bard or others is maybe a thing to do that’s different.  Unfortunately, there’s only so many ways to pump ranged damage not dependent upon STR, and I doubt there will be a lot more tokens to pump ranged damage given what Rangers can do.  Of course, just put it into a slot Rangers may care about, which is … uh, probably all of the slots I already care about, like wrist slot, feet slot, neck slot.

Haven’t tried to put together a V:TES session, haven’t even been able to make Berkeley sessions on the weekend – just too many things going on.  Do plan on playing next HoR mod tomorrow.  Expect to play Saturday, two weeks after, so may start talking about HoR again before Gen Con.

So, Shadowfist.  We have had short games and long games but less in the middle games.  In our last session, we actually failed to complete a game because the new rule at the store is you have to be out of there by 10PM.

It’s hard to hate in Shadowfist since everybody does obnoxious things.  Oh wait, I hate lots of stuff already, including non-Feng Shui Sites, monkeys, Lotus recursion, most edges people play, site removal (not site damage, though Orbital Laser Strike is essentially site removal).  I’ve tried not to hate the Jammers.  They have some non-monkey, non-nuke cards.  Unfortunately, they don’t have enough joy and only lend the world Pain.  I may have to just abandon any pretense of not being a hater and go full on hating with maximum metahate.

Then, there’s Ascended.  I struggle so hard to find things I want to do with Ascended.  For instance, I have a module of Ascended cards I want to play with another faction, but I can’t find another faction to put the module in.  Something like Syndicate might make sense, but it’s a Modern module.  To be fair, I do find Ascended cards I will play and even not hate long enough to play the decks multiple times.  But, I find that even then I’m discouraged, as the Ascended just can’t hold back.  I was sitting on a bunch of power and had two hitters in play that allowed me to do stuff, so I didn’t want to overcommit, yet by not dumping my hand to have four hitters in play, I lost a dude I didn’t want to lose and expected to not even make a bid for victory.

Of course, I might have tried harder to play the game if the three Nuked that successfully resolved didn’t Nuked my FSSs.  Jammers just make you want to stop doing anything.  Or, maybe, the only answer is to load a deck up with counterspells and go for hand size so that you can always counterspell when you try to do anything.  Yup, that’s how gagworthy Jammers play – I’m thinking of hand size increasing plays.

If you’ve read this far, you finally get an explanation for the post title.  What else have I been doing gamingwise?  Why, I’ve been reading my shogi book, taking the quizzes over and over and still not seeing the moves without memorization.  I have this huge problem with chess where I just don’t see the connections between pieces.  With shogi, I feel like I have a better sense because the ranges are more limited and the emphasis is less on gaining material.  But, I still think my brain that does some things so well does some things so poorly, like get spatial connections.  Of course, there’s a lack of experience element.  People get better by doing.  Since shogi isn’t like a thing that I’m likely to do and chess doesn’t interest me, seems like getting better isn’t going to happen.

Yup, still haven’t gotten to the point of talking about deckbuilding with Anthology Set cards.  Well, I do need to get back to all things Traveller for a while.


KublaCon 2017

June 3, 2017

It seems like each year KublaCon is less and less convenient for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I do monthly financial reporting for work that is timed toward end of month/beginning of month or what.  Well, even with my previous company, where I didn’t have such things, there were things like doing training on the East Coast, so maybe what.

Add in how less enamored I am by local con RPG play and add in how Gen Con did something dumb and scheduled event registration on a holiday weekend, and what I get is a barely there fare.

I skipped Friday to try to get rest and/or something done for the Saturday evening Traveller demo.  I skipped Monday, even though there were two RPGs I had interest in, because of old man disease.

Saturday

I move slow.  Build my Shadowfist Classic deck, figure I’ll play it multiple times rather than switch decks between games, so I bloat it to an absurd 45 cards to give me lots of extra options.  Base it on my ole Aerial Bombardment, Fire in the Sky deck that sometimes worked … somehow.

I get to the con about 11:30AM and find out CCGs are in a different room this year.  Get to the room.  A good room!?!

Maybe trying to separate CCGers from mainstream sorts is a new goal, and we just got the benefit of isolation’s blessed windowfulness.

Watch Earl and Jason finish up on Star Realms.  Then, we get five players.  Earl keeps offering to sit out so that we don’t have to endure five, but he-y-y-y, it’s all good, who doesn’t love five player CCG play?

Game 1:

Drew (Architects) -> Earl (Hand Monkeys) -> Jason (Architects w/ Napalm Belchers) -> Miguel (Big Bruisers, et al) -> Ian (Blood Eagles)

Actually, I think maybe Miguel went first.  I’d give my deck a better name except:  1, unlike V:TES, there isn’t a bunch of real world flavor text to steal; 2, Blood Eagles.

I lived the cheese dream … I actually make an effort to do strong things in my Shadowfist tournament decks because I don’t have a history of repeated accidental success that leads to winning every tournament I’ve ever played with a Sensory Overload deck … and get Möbius Gardens, Test Subjects, and Manufactured Island out on turn one.  Or, I could be totally wrong and my Gardens was a Dockyard, otherwise known as the only other Modern relevant FSS, but I think it was a Gardens.

Then, it doesn’t take forever for me to get a Blood Eagles in play.  I’m doing stuff … I’m doing stuff.  Miguel also does stuff and I’m not so threatening that he doesn’t backwards or crosstable his stuff.  In fact, his armada of two Good Ol’ Boys is feverishly eager to inflict heinous beats upon my poor partially damaged Manufactured Island.

So, I Bzzzzzt! one of them.

Drew plays Loyalty Officers.  They eventually get cleared by Final Brawl.  Earl has a slow game, lacking Monkey madness but still Iron Monkeys and picks on people who have more power than I.  Jason can’t get any resources so keeps playing sites but eventually gets out a Napalm Belcher and the “fun” part of Shadowfist ensues.

Drew puts out Dr. Jean-Marc Ngubane, so he can unturn a Belcher.  My CHAR gets Tracer Implanted, so I never turn it again, though I considered the possibility of turning it when going for the vic-tor-y play.

Instead, CHAR is an Expendable Unit, and I eventually get down to Assassin Bug, Arcanomoth, Blood Eagles.  I believe Arcanomoth is turned for some reason and still in play but maybe got wiped by this point, then all of this stuff is wiped.  Earl and Miguel have generated heft, with Big Bruisers being kind of easy for my deck to kill if I have the cards but not so much when I don’t have the cards.  Everyone has been a threat except Drew.

I survey the sadness that will come after I pass my turn and decide there’s no place like resting all hope on an Assassin Bug.  Assassin Bug feasts on Ngubane’s soul as nobody has anything to intercept with.  Blood Eagles with two damage and an Arcano- … wait, not an Arcanomoth since my Reinvigoration Process gets undone … my Dark Traveler … my 2-Fighting Dark Traveler go for Drew’s damaged FSS for the win.

And, that’s Shadowfist.  Hey, pun-time.  My deck could have been called Traveler, The Next Generation to … um … to … em … to achieve ultimate dorkiness.

That was not a quick game.  Then, there was game two.

Game 2:

Drew  -> Miguel (Monarchs) -> Earl (Lotus w/ Uniqueness) -> Ian -> Jason (Lords)

This was not a quick game.  Miguel came out fast with Queen of the Ice Pagoda and continued to threaten, though never did the annoying Ice Sword play on her that I see so often.  With his Netherworld Returns, the game got funky at times.  His Monarchs kept getting beaten up, even Darkness going down, but Returns was undermining Drew’s ability to “We Can Rebuild Him”.

Earl just got stronger and stronger over time, though we did manage to toast a couple of his Underworld Trackers and Miguel did turn the Queen of the Ice Pagoda into a ghost before she could get Tortured Memoriesed.

I was not strong.  I discarded a couple of times before playing any cards.  By the time I could get a site and a foundation in play, I had lost something like six characters to discards.  When I finally play a CHAR to have something that isn’t a foundation in play, it gets toasted by a redirected fight of the Darkness Queen, leaving me with pretty much Arcanomoth as my only way to have more than a 4-Fighting character in play, and I couldn’t even do that because I didn’t have three Architects resources.

Seemed to be payback for game one to prevent someone from sweeping to undisputed victory for the Championship of the sixth largest economy in the world.

Miguel was so threatful, only by decking did he ceased being a factor, which also didn’t help me any as I kind of liked his threat factoriness to rein in Earl.  Jason got strong at one point with Lord Shi and Lord Hawksmoor, but he got beset by Wailing Apparitions.  Yes, that’s Shadowfist, and I told Earl I’ve routinely seen their annoying ability matter.

Drew got a Napalm Belcher and didn’t Belch Earl when Earl had one location and lots of little stuff.  Typical Shadowfist stoppage (aka every possible effect) stopped stuff to keep the game going.  Oh, I remember why I wanted Miguel in play – his sites were easier to take than other people’s.  I decked without a real chance to win.

Later, I found out Earl had won.  For you see, I had a Traveller demo to do.

Traveller Demo

We had like seven people, no one who actually knew about our Kickstarter.  We didn’t have great demo product to show people, but things seemed okay.  We are still moving towards putting what we think is a good looking, solid game out.  Mostly need to get things printed at this point.

Bohnanza

As mentioned, I defeat a 10-year old on tiebreakers.  Who’s the Bean Harvester Now?

Game 3:

Back to Shadowfist.  Miguel has stuff he needs to do, so time to play crummy less than five-player Fist.

Ian (Lotus Killing Rain) -> Jason (Reentry Squad) -> Drew (Hand) -> Earl (Purists)

I so hated this game.  It happens.  It happens with V:TES, with B5, with … er … Blood Wars? and all sorts of other multiplayer card games.

Some day, I need to actually have more Killing Rains in my Killing Rain deck since I rarely play them.

Here’s the problem.  Jason’s deck is a site suppression deck.  Drew didn’t play sites but somehow got enough power to keep putting out annoying Hand characters like Buddhist Bellringer and Reformed Bandit.

None of us had answers to Reentry Squad until late in the game, when I was irrelevant.  The thing was that early in the game I wasn’t irrelevant, getting enough fight in play to take sites, but I didn’t know what to do when only Earl had any sites in play.  Oh, sure, if I was the only one with dudes, I could take on the table, but Jason and Drew had dudes, just no sites.  Then, my sites kept getting taken out by either Jammer crap or being attacked, which meant I couldn’t generate any power as my dudes started disappearing, which led to Shadowfisticus Ineffectualitus – an extremely common disease when playing normal rules.

Sure, it was funny when I took one damage to each of my FSSs and I revealed two Diamond Beaches to go with my third Diamond Beach, but, after that, I was sitting around waiting for Earl to win.  For, you see, Earl’s decks tend to have long game play, so they will keep getting Mutators out or whatever and no one will board wipe.  I did try an Underworld Coronation on my Exorcist, but, predictably, Jammers players always have Who’s the Monkey Now? in hand when I play character removal.

Drew eventually ended up winning after spending much of the game attacking right, with a decent sized horde that included some superleap.

The Thursday night group whines about superleap constantly, but it doesn’t really bother me that much.  I find sitenuke far more annoying not because it’s more powerful but because it undermines the basic nature of the game of putting sites in play and having characters attack them.  I find power steal far more annoying because it can easily lock a player out of the game.  I find edges far more annoying because the power level on a lot of them is way too high for a repeatable effect when there’s really relatively little edge removal in the game.

Pretty much every Shadowfist game really needs one Final Brawl played, one Thunder on Thunder played, maybe one Neutron Bomb played.  Instead, either feast or famine on these sorts of plays, though only the first gets really annoying when it happens multiple times.

Sunday

Gen Con event registration, the second most stressful day of every year, though, actually, my wish list hardly mattered due to how many HoR events I was signing up for.  When I saw Don Thursday, he said he didn’t get into anything he tried to.  I just assumed I’d get into everything except Friday 2PM because I wasn’t our group’s True Dungeon guy.  Dave had the lamentable task of trying to get us into TD and True Grind.

We did well.

I go back to sleep.  I eat something at home.  While I did have tan tan mian from Shanghai Dumpling Shop, I will say this – I’m disappointed with what was my favorite restaurant.  Both tan tan mian and the sesame dumplings in crushed peanuts are nowhere near as good as they used to be.  Yeah, I can continue to get savory dumplings from them, but I miss what were two of my favorite dishes in the panverse.  Also, Zorba’s pizza way overpriced for what it was.  So many places could drive to in the area that would interest me.

I roll into the con 3:30PM to be available for pickup V:TES and to drop off Anthology Sets.  I sit around for a while with only Brad and Rob being around to talk about stuff.  I also unload some 30,000 cards I was sitting on to be passed to needful players.

Seriously, I don’t know if it’s because of shipment costs, but anyone in California can effortless have a 30,000 card collection just by waiting around until someone leaves the game.  V:TES staples are not remotely hard to get.  I could probably drop 10,000 extras on someone if I felt so inclined.

My V:TES event starts half an hour after the Shadowfist Modern tournament.  I have no chance to prove I dominate at all multiplayer CCGs that lack Dominate.  I was the defending Modern champion from last year’s Kubla.

We have seven players at first.  Yes, multiplayer CCGs are a Bear Market when it comes to having the right number of players.

I don’t try running tournaments at cons anymore, just too unpredictable who is playing, how long anyone is playing, etc.  So, I give away my precious boosters as table prizes and let people play for a pack.

I win my first game with like 11 Hermana Mayors in play or it timed out or whatever.  I remember the last game, when tiredness was kicking in, that I killed my predator with Can’t Take it with You to table split with my prey.  My predator had like double digit pool.

It’s not that I’d rather play Shadowfist.  It’s just that getting to play CCGs is rare enough that I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to play all of the CCGs I could.

Long, boring drives home after midnight.  I’ve got to start scheduling my events at 8AM, when I’m up and at ’em.

Traveler, The Next Junction Point

Faction: Architect
Size: 45

Architect Cards (24)
Characters (14)
3x Arcanomoth
2x Assassin Bug
4x Blood Eagles
2x CHAR
3x Test Subjects

Edges (2)
2x Reinvigoration Process

Events (8)
3x Aerial Bombardment
2x Bzzzzzt!
1x Expendable Unit
2x Fire in the Sky

Generic Cards (21)
Characters (2)
2x Dark Traveler

Events (8)
1x Ejector Seat Malfunction
1x Salvage
5x Scrounging
1x The Algernon Effect

Feng Shui Sites (10)
2x Dockyard
5x Möbius Gardens
3x Manufactured Island

States (1)
1x Disintegrator Ray

You know, just because Imprisoned, Nerve Gas, and Neutron Bomb are on my personal banned list doesn’t mean I don’t love me my Architects.  Yeah, I actually find Architects very pleasing, sometimes even more pleasing than Lotus for when I’m tired of same old, same old deck building with Lotus.  That’s me – the removal guy.  Yup, I’m a Red/Black kind of player.  I Shake Up.  I … I … have a hard time continuing the theme though B5, WoT, et al do have character removal.


EC 2017 – Explicatio

May 28, 2017

There are some details I missed in the last post.

I never saw Celerity guns or Celerity sticks.  In hindsight, I should have played winnie Celerity, maybe sign some 5-caps without Auspex for the adoring public (hey Sheila, want an autographed crypt card?).

I remembered my other opponent in the second storyline game.  I was in the bathroom, shaving I think, when I started thinking about how much I hate Powerbase: Montreal.  I was considering the obvious way to get rid of it and various other annoying cards, when I realized my grandprey was Kemal playing fat Tzimisce.

Yes, the only reason I remembered the one time I played against Kemal was because of hating Montreal.  For, you see, I had little to do in that game besides take Kemal’s Montreal, which he tried to block with one dude, where I Call of the Hungry Deaded a Tzimisce at inferior and he stopped caring.

Kemal brought out John Paleologus first and used his ability a couple of times.  Still don’t recall Kari’s deck all that well.

So, moving on to where I’m wrong.

Does deck strength matter more than I have suggested?

That’s the most interesting question to me.

Putting that aside, does my play ability and/or style work poorly in large events, crossregional events, or both?

I’m just going to rule out sample size with my games because I wasn’t just impuissant in 8 rounds but pretty useless.

Let’s get play out of the way first.

Play skill is not any one thing.  There’s knowledge:  I was surprised how many cards people weren’t particularly familiar with and do find it kind of odd when good players don’t know what burn-a-vampire-action, I mean, Soul Painting does.  Opponent deck archetype knowledge or possible plays by other decks, too.  There’s technical skill – remembering to take for the edge, ordering effects during untap and master, remembering transfers, not transferring up the wrong minion, understanding combat timing, understanding out of turn action timing, etc., etc., etc.  There’s threat assessment of decks and specific plays, e.g. counting up how much pool damage someone could reasonably do in a turn.  There’s manipulation, not just of a sinister sort but just getting people to recognize how much they can annihilate someone else if they feel it in their hearts.  There’s understanding your own deck in terms of when to cycle, what to expect to draw, what cards in the deck will change the game.  And, whatever else.

I think I do well in knowledge and decently in technical skill.  I think I’m good on threat assessment.  I’m not so good on manipulation, maybe was better before when I cared more whether other people let someone win by ignoring table threats and would talk more.  I don’t deal hardly at all.  I don’t even see the need to deal, but that’s some sort of ideal where everyone is equally awesome and sees the same things I see in a game.

What’s interesting is how poorly I understand how to play my own decks.  Now, one could make the argument that my penchant for playing decks in tournaments for the first and only time in a given tournament means I don’t achieve mastery over how my decks play as other people achieve mastery over their decks.  I often wonder if I don’t cycle enough based on what sort of threats other decks display.

There are certainly far better players and many, many better players than I.  But, I don’t feel overwhelmed by play skill in most of my games.

So, let’s talk about play style, which is different enough to break out separately from play ability.

I do think my play style fits poorly with playing with people who don’t know me and other people’s play styles suit better than mine when playing with the less familiar.  What is my play style?

I actually enjoy playing from a position of weakness.  It amuses me to have low pool, for instance.  I strive for the least threatening position at tables.  This works fine locally because even though people may still consider me to be some sort of threat there’s a lot of table balancing that occurs and there’s not a lot of crush the weak.

As I said in the last post, when I play in tournaments elsewhere, I find there’s a lot more not bothering to table balance the threat and, instead, taking out the weak for VPs even if it doesn’t help long run.  Of course, this is anecdotal.

I don’t talk much, though I will occasionally be so apoplectic at players ignoring that someone is going to run away with a game that I will still interject comments.  I don’t cripple players, generally being interested in players having a chance to lose to me after 1.5 hours of my hunting.

So, I depend heavily on my other opponents to properly punish the winful deck(s).  Given that many of my opponents’ decks have poor control elements, sometimes that’s not even possible.  I avoid decks that do nothing but go forward, but other people will play them.

Now, the rub is that this fondness for weakness carries over to deckbuilding.  My personal banned list is ultimately about avoiding boring plays, but many, many best plays are boring plays.  It’s a big deal when you don’t allow yourself to play Second Tradition, nevermind Govern/Conditioning.

So, there is an argument that I’m a chump, fish, a deserver of Darby’s scorn simply because I don’t work on my fierceness or on mind controlling the weak of will.

But, that’s less interesting to me than the question of deckbuilding.  Why?  I guess it’s because I bitch about how players blame their decks rather than blame their poor play skill on why they lose.  If I’m wrong about deck construction matters, then it undermines my ability to tell people “stop worrying about your deck and just play better”.

Though, anyone can build any deck.  Anyone can webdeck.  Anyone can borrow cards they don’t have.  So, it’s still a pretty easy argument that someone’s deckbuilding skills are pretty much irrelevant to their success.

However, my deckbuilding decisions may be relevant to my success.  I mean, I’m not supermotivated to try to run around and win continental championships.  I don’t have a competitive personality, so my value in playing games is in being amused by them far more than in winning them.

Oh, I would note that I’m the Shadowfist Classic Champion for the sixth largest economy in the world (if you include states).  Assassin Bug for the win!  And, I totally won last night’s Bohnanza game by beating a 10-year old on tiebreakers.

Minimum threshold of viability.  I talk about this a lot with multiplayer CCGs.  The concept took root with me from Babylon 5 play, but I also apply it to V:TES.  Another name for failing to meet the MToV is a nutpuncher deck.

I have previously talked about MToV as a single thing.  But, I can see the reasonable argument that what can win a 10-12 player, 2+F tournament by getting 2 VPs in prelim rounds and timing out with 1.5 in the finals is not the same as what will get you into the finals of a 156 player tournament.

MToV is a moving target?  Okay, sure.  My !Malks with Vicissitude build (I would note Zettler made one of the crypts of the finals of Day 1) might fall into victory in some local event just as my ridiculous Ravnos deck got into a finals on a roll off and then won because everyone wanted my prey dead.  But, it can’t fall into 2 GWs in three rounds.  Same with my vaguely Pre/Vic bruise bleed deck (sorry, Henrik, maybe it won’t work as well for you as I suggested it could).

Now, how you identify whether a deck hits MToV is interesting.  Danilo’s Day 2 winning deck is pretty cool, but it’s hardly a common archetype.

So, you hit MToV.  What’s the range above MToV?  Is it a wide range, where Grinder, Girls, winnie Animalism, winnie _, et al or so much better than, say, random PRE vote?  Is the range not so great where any MToV-satisfying deck is fine and you should just “play better” or metagame better or be at the whim of matchups and seating?

Since my perceptions on what is viable are so skewed by smaller tournaments, I don’t have a sense of that range.

Metagaming is also a thing.  I metagamed poorly for Day 1 in that I could have easily taken out some combat ends and added a bunch more bleed bounce and maybe been more relevant.  I’m not sure I metagamed poorly for Shadow Twin, as I did see a lot more combat like I expected and I laughed at combat [ha ha, ha] all the while I was being ousted.

My most obvious problem is speed.  I get run over a lot when I play outside this region.  I used to play winnies and midcaps far, far more than I do these days.

There’s a reason.  I crave variety.  I run fatties not for their sweet, sweet abilities or lots of votes or whatever but because they share out of clan disciplines.  I play fatties with cool names (I think) or maybe cool art (really?) – nah, I play fatties that other people don’t … because other people don’t, and that’s the fact Jack.

I’ve got to stop doing that or get serious about acceleration.  Yeah, I write up a lot of decks with Info plus Dreams plus Zillahs, but a lot of the decks I’ll play in tournaments will cut most or all of the Zillahs out to make room for Inner Essence and Zip Line.

So, really, I’ve got to stop playing fatties, since I don’t try to abuse their powers.  I need to get back to lots of cheapish minions who take lots of hunt actions.  Though, given my limitations on playing Dominate, there is a reason I go fat with DOM to be able to Murmur folks.  If I could Conditioning like the old days, any random 5 cap is functional.

In other words, I need to be building Ancilla Antics decks.  Or, bunch of 3 caps since I didn’t see Neonate Breach in Berlin.

Of course, I wandered back into play style when talking about building decks differently.  I actually like playing weenies, I just don’t like being punished for playing less good weenies because people Scourge or whatever.

Even with my rather extensive banned list, I think there are plenty of reasonable decks and ones that better suit getting moving faster and having some sort of impact on the game.  I just need to The Becoming those possibilities rather than expecting to need to play Extremis Boon every round.

So, what did I not talk about that I should have?  Most folks care less about my brainwandering egofests than in what the metagame was like, how to own Grinder/Kiasyd SB/winnie Animalism/unnamed/Matasuntha/blah, and, you know, something revelatory about this game.

Actually, I’ve gotten various deck ideas both to metagame against my predilections and to actually incorporate Anthology Set cards.  Maybe I’ll say something about building decks with Anthology Set stuff.  Still annoyed Spiritual Guidance got printed when there were so many other cards from e-sets I would find more regardable.