[Classic] T-H Rating [3/27/2000]

July 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Tournament Report] Demented Directions

June 24, 2018

Turns out having V:TES tournaments near Origins is not the optimal way to get folks from Colorado to come out.  Well, lesson for next time.

A different question is whether having V:TES tournaments near Origins, when I’ve gone to Origins, is well-suited for me.  As all things in creation can be determined by single instances, clearly, it’s pain.  Suffering.  And, sleepiness.

So, I got a quick inspiration for a deck and built one on Friday night.  See, this is one of my problems.  I have all of these pent up deck ideas, some of which make sense for tournament play locally, some of which crossregionally, and some of which not ever.  Then, rather than focus on those ideas and knock out some cool, hard awesome, I see something and build a totally unrelated deck.

Saturday morning, I started working on what was needed for the new deck building methodology Andy and I talked about on the way to the airport.  It proved much more involved than what I first thought, much like building a cube is way more effort than I feel like putting in.

I threw together a deck in case we didn’t have 10+ players for the morning tournament.  So, I have two new decks post-Origins.  Both suffer from the same problem.  A problem I keep instilling in my decks.  A problem which will be addressed in a bit.

Carpool up to Berkeley.  Nine players for first tournament.  This is actually why having prize support for events matters – without the magical 10 players to get a deck in the TWDA and to build Hall of Fame resumes, why does it even matter what happens?  Could just be playing casual games.  Part of the reason I don’t push tournament play at conventions, where players appearing is unreliable and people show up late and leave early.

Tournament 1:

Round 1:

Ian (Preternatural Strength w/ Dom) -> Rick (Inconnu Tutelage Prince/Protean/Other) -> Alex (EuroBrujah) -> Mark (Toreador Nightmare Curse)

In both games, no one got ousted.  Welp, that’s NoCal V:TES.  Rick finally got Inconnu Tutelage and almost decked.  Between Alex and me, we got out something like five Preternatural Strengths.  Mark had a Nightmare Curse DIed, had a Will-o’-the-Wisp DIed by Rick that would have ousted me.  Had his final attempt to oust DTed by me.  I didn’t really put any pressure on Rick, with Alex having to do most of the work in the game.  It would have been awful for Alex and me to sit next to each other “Punch for 3.  Punch for 3.”

Round 2:

David (minions) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Ian -> Mark (Samedi Rush) -> Brandon (Ventrue)

Multideck, where maybe only Mark bothered to change decks.  Mark and I didn’t fight much, but I did Horseshoes his guys some which led to a Fame dunk.  His own Dragonbound was doing two to him late in the game.  Brandon was cruising up until he ran out of combat ends against Mark, three were played in a single fight, for instance.  David got out Victoria, Lazar, Volker, Carlton, Muddled, Jake.  Carlton got Pentexed to give Mark a second VP.

Eric got beaten up some and never really threatened me, which was sort of sad as I did have bounce.

I was Potencely impotent.  See, this is what happens when I don’t think through my deck choices for tournaments.  Because I don’t play a lot of the standard offensive weapons, so many of my decks can’t really hurt anyone (by themselves).  This is a bad habit that I need to get out of as it impacts the experience for other players.


Devin (Aus/Dem/Tha) -> Mark (Samedi rush) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Jonathan (Shamblers) -> Ian

Devin put no meaningful pressure on and would have been ousted if I hadn’t been with a couple of minutes left.  Mark beat up Eric’s guys easily enough.  Eric didn’t have much of a game.  Jonathan had an interesting situation.  Shamblers are awesome sauce against Mark’s deck.  They punch, explode, more get made.  Actually, we saw zombie on zombie action with Reanimated Corpses and Shamblers.  At the very end of the game, Jonathan rushed my guys multiple times, which might have mattered if …

If Devin didn’t DI my third Deflection to get me ousted by The Baron.  I actually could have bounced to Mark as I needed two ousts to win and didn’t really care what happened if I didn’t get two.  Mark, as top seed, didn’t need to do anything after Eric got ousted.

Before moving on to the tournament that mattered, expounding time on not playing offense.

I keep thinking about how long it has been since I’ve played Dementation SB.  I enjoy all sorts of stealth bleed decks, but I think more about Dementation in part because I have no TWDA decks with Dementation, in part because I’ve played far more Dom SB over the course of the last 20+ years, in part because I so rarely play anything remotely normal for Dem SB even when I do come up with deck ideas for the TWDA.

There’s this massive struggle between feeling like I’m missing out in enjoyable play with my extensive banned list and feeling like I achieve nothing by winning with boring stuff.  I mean, sure, winning the NAC or the EC or the SAC or whatever would be an achievement as my resume is poor when it comes to major tournament wins, but I have my “code” and it amuses me to stick to it.

Jay actually said that to me when I was playing a pick up game:  “You have your code.”  Some people like to win more than anything else.  I like to amuse people more than anything else.  Though, to be fair, I do have a tournament winning deck with Protect Thine Own in it and another with Pentex in it.  But, that’s ancient history.  I become more and more restrictive over time and I’m not sure it’s the most fun way to go.

I really have to think about what sort of limitations I place on myself, though I doubt I’ll suddenly unban a lot of cards.  It is sort of absurd that I could play Gremlins and Murmur of the False Will in decks and not play Scouting Mission and Threats, but absurdity is all part of the game I play.

By the way, I was asked what card is my most banned card.  I think I mentioned Eyes of Argus.  I was really tired.  Actually, Deep Song would be more banned.  But, the obvious superban is Enkil Cog.  Gods, I hate out of turn actions.  It’s so obnoxious to suddenly be playing a different game just because of two stupid cards, one of which should have never been made and the other of which should have been banned a long time ago.

Yes, they reward skill.  Yes, helps you Shatter the Gates and achieve numerous other combos.  They are so dumb in terms of how they alter the natural flow of the game.  I would also ban Reversal of Fortunes as I’m not into effects that cause you to be playing a different game, but the need would decrease quite a bit if the Madness would go away.

Tournament 2:

Round 1:

Ian (CEL/PRE Fifth Tradition) -> Alex (Brujah group 34 P/J) -> Mark (Emerald Legionnaire) -> Devin (Valkyrie vote Undue Influence) -> Eric (!Ventrue intercept combat)

Crypt was three 10-caps and a 9-cap.  I had no masters to play for a while.  I brought out Andreas and had a hand full of wakes.  Andreas got a gun.  Anneke came out.  Anneke got Giant’s Blooded so that I pretended to be relevant.  I was irrelevant.  I had a dumb decision to make.  I could have contested the Brujah Justicar title to stop Alex from Second Traditioning with Jaroslav which would just shut me down.  I probably would have, but Eric had Owain in play and the correct thing would have been to feed Jaroslav until I give up, so I didn’t.

And, maybe Jaroslav can keep Mark under control.  He did.  Thing about Erlik and Erebus is that they are Sabbat and Jaroslav hates him some prey Sabbat.  Mark almost got Devin, but stuff happened including my using Anneke at the very end to block ELs.  Eric further shut down my game by getting Owain with a Sniper Rifle, The Rack.  I just couldn’t ever impact him and Devin had to defend too much to force Eric to use resources.

NoCal play – .5 VPs for all.

Round 2:

Devin -> Rick (Nos/! Horseshoes fight) -> Alex -> Brandon (Tupdog) -> Ian

I transferred to my two 10-caps for a long time, considering whether my 9-cap would have mattered and not considering my 8-cap.  The reason for one of the 10-caps was Justicar title.  The reason for the other was built in press.  Meanwhile, Brandon bled me for one a lot and used Tupdog rushes to fight the superfighty Brujah.

With no predator, Devin did stuff.  Only having Brunhilde advanced Archoned when she went for the five bleed kill stopped his ruthless bleeds of two at one stealth.  Amusingly, Devin could actually pass a vote past both Anneke and Alex’s four votes.

After I finally brought out minions, one of my 10-caps got diablerized, which I thought was weird.  I expected all of my minions to go to torpor even with a hand of six combat cards, but the diablerie slowed Brandon down, if anything.

There was a brief window when Devin needed to bring out another Brunhilde that I could have bled for 5 and probably gotten it through with him at 6 pool.  Nobody bled into my bounce during that window to reduce his pool to 5 (or, better, 2).  I’m sure I would have been Archoned, anyway, so it hardly mattered, but Devin got Rick finally, did heinous damage to Alex even after I gave Alex 13 pool with Golconda and Political Stranglehold, bled out Brandon who was at 1 pool, bled me out without effort after I Golcondaed my only minion.

The reason I didn’t encourage helping me to deprive Devin of round two existence is that I didn’t see how Brandon had any interest in my ousting him.  Devin did far more pool damage to Alex than we expected once Rick was out of the way, so it didn’t seem like he was going to sweep like he did.  The only window for me was when Rick was still around and Brandon was close to ousting me with my 2 pool, which would have been far better for him.  That’s the problem with suppressing players and not ousting them – their maximizing VPs means sitting around and surviving and putting no pressure forward.  All hail SB that won’t mess up people’s games but will eviscerate the players’ existences.

Those were two horrible games of V:TES in terms of my being remotely relevant to my prey.  Now, that’s not unusual in a lot of my games for reasons mentioned, but it furthers the idea of just going small and ousty.

See, in, say, EC play, my fat dudes people don’t typically see make me impotent because I get hit too hard too early from my right and get Pentexed by even the likes of my prey who I haven’t actually done pool damage to.  In local play, that’s not as likely, instead, the problem is having way too much combat for my not totally focused on combat decks to have to deal with.  Not because everything is combat – finals involved The unnamed, for instance, a deck that only hits for 2 with its 4-caps, and a deck with a horde of allies that hit for 2, beyond the two actual combat decks.

I was so tired on the way back, didn’t even have much to talk about on the ride back.

It was a decent experience.  Got to spend time with people I don’t see all of the time.  Got to wander around Berkeley some to find a place open at 11PM (not actually hard).  Just felt like my V:TES play was pointless.  Far more relevant in games I cared nothing about, while taking up space in games that will impact generations for millennia.

Congratulations to Mark for winning the second tournament.  Thanks to Mark for making stuff happen.  I’d be good with more tournaments.  Thanks to Brandon for driving.  Got to talk to people about stuff, which was nice.

Well, if this experience taught me anything, it taught me that my next Elixir of Distillation deck needs to be far more potent.  Actually, harkening back to yesterparagraph, the lesson may be to just play more stealth bleed.  It puts pressure forward and doesn’t do weird things to games like voting and combat and … weird stuff.

Origins 2018

June 20, 2018

I hadn’t been to Columbus in 20 years.  And, that trip to Origins was as a Precedence volunteer where much of my time was spent demoing the Babylon 5 CCG.  The RPG schedule was so boring I didn’t even try.

This year was for two things:  V:TES, True Dungeon.

Even the TD was limited, so let’s start … with Tuesday.

Tuesday, I go to sofa around midnight, not really sleep, and get up at my 2AM alarm.  Quarter to 4AM, Athena and Andy pick me up and we are off to Oakland.

Flights happen.  We arrive before 4PM in Columbus.  We wait a long time for the hotel shuttle, which is aggravating as I’m not sure I’ll make it to the 6PM V:TES tournament on time.  We check in.  We walk to Fabian’s, and we order a deep dish pizza.

V:TESing happens.  I may not have the starting players right in all of these rounds.  I knew some of the names when I was playing but have since forgotten.

Round 1:

Will (Sabbie 2 caps) -> ?? (Trem stuff) -> Mark (Summon History) -> Ian (HoS 3/4 toolbox) -> Jay (Nos prince/support)

As Mark said, I didn’t have much of a game.  I hung around for a while with potential answers to being rushed by Remnant of the Endless Storm, but it wasn’t like I was flowing cards.  Actually, I shouldn’t have gone in for the terrorism that is Outside the Hourglass and Domain of Evernight and just made some effort to block things, especially once I was never going to be a predator in the game.

Mark was not in a great position, but I got ousted and continued to eat pizza.

The pizza was not good.  I like Fabian’s well enough and they were good to us, but the crust was too dry, the cheese was overwhelming compared to the toppings, the toppings were very meh.  I’m willing to try thin crust, probably without cheese.  Then, Andy didn’t get a chance to eat any until it was coldish.

Round 2:

John (SB) -> Maria (Newjah) -> Ian -> Andy (borrowed FoS SB)

This was set up ludicrously well for me in that John kept continuous pressure on Maria, keeping her from dominating.  I got out a couple of Emerald Legionnaires, almost completely botched bleeding Andy for 3 with permanents on my HoS by playing Call of the Hungry Dead needlessly at superior rather than inferior emptying one of my dudes.  Drew a Blood Doll, pushed, killed Andy, ousted John after fending off attempts to keep him in the game, then raced Maria in the endgame where I played around Archon Investigation and could bleed for 11 or whatever on my turn with three HoS and Emeraldness.

Sometimes you sweep because it’s hard to mess up your position.


Kelly (Pre/Obf vote) -> ?? (Mistress Fanchion doesn’t do it all) -> Ian -> Mark -> ??

I blanked on my predator’s name but should be obvious to anyone else being one of two women playing.  Grandprey was the same from round one, I read his name during the first round but forgot.

Kelly ran over the table as his prey didn’t have any game and his predator didn’t have enough intercept and Mark couldn’t get ally rush going fast enough.  I did survive longer than expected, but that just delaying tacticsed the inevitable.

Andy had already left since he wasn’t in the finals.


The day of more V:TESing.

Nobody expects …

Round 1:

Mark (Trem toolbox) -> Kelly (High cap Lasombra w/ Fort) -> Ian (Sea Pirates redux) -> Karl (Wolves Feed !Tor w/ Gerald FG)

Ambrosio takes an action, Mark blocks and ‘schrecks, I had an Anarch Convert out.  I debate what to do.  I mention the possibility of a deal, but I don’t know if Kelly was listening, so I eventually eat.  I play in the dark poorly by forgetting a way to reduce one of Mark’s bleeds and cycle a card and am ousted pretty easily and Mark eventually sweeps.

Just a not good game.

Round 2:

Ian -> Tom (Tunnel Runner) -> Jay (Samedi) -> John (THA close range combat)

I let Tom get a Tunnel Runner and Jay’s game sucks.  My Nadima does stuff but trying to police forwards and fight backwards and not be Pentexed does me in, eventually.

Next tournament, I decide to play the FoS SB deck with some slight changes because I was all about trying to simplify my tournaments.

Round 1:

?? (Una and DoC) -> Adam (!Brujah Undue Influence) -> Mark (5 discipline, including Dom, Nos-ish) -> Ian (FoS SB) -> Ben (borrowed Nos Anathema)

This was pure.  The sacred playing of numerous Delaying Tactics brought righteous glory to some involved.  Mark did hardly anything to me, Immortal Grapple twice in one fight and just hitting for one each time.  I kept getting vote damage aimed at me from other than my predator.

Adam and I dealt with the idea that Mark would go and I’d be unmolested until Ben was gone.  Ben was at 2 pool and had virtually no defense against my bleeding in his deck.  Angela Preston was Famed and in torpor.  Una tried to rescue, Anathemaed Una.  Ben gained 9 pool.  Adam and I talked about his going forward when he was near death and I was fine with it.  I did mention that I had enough bleed to reduce Ben to 1 in hand.  My top card would have been enough to remove Ben.  I played like two DT, Adam played like six.

Round 2:

Ian -> Karl (vote) -> Mark -> Ben -> Adam

My focus was on playing a table with four of the same players, so I didn’t care much about Karl’s deck.  More DTs.  More DTs.

I’m blanking on what happened besides more DTs, Ben calling KRC of 1 on himself and 3 on his predator and the only person displeased was his prey.  Seriously, I don’t remember how things shook out as I was just in DT nirvana.  I did DT, myself, to cycle.

Forgot my credit card at Fabian’s because I’ve never left my CC with restaurants before.  Ben helps me settle my “tab” (even though I got everything I wanted before tournament two) and holds my card for Thursday.  I should mention that my food was much better, in particular the tater tots from the sister restaurant were better than usual.


Time to get serious … ly ousted.  While I had options for a tournament I couldn’t play the finals of due to True Dungeon scheduled for after the tournament is supposed to end (but won’t), I settled on HoS FoW as something fun that actually has any ousting power.

Then, I find out there’s going to be another hour taken up with a food break.  Burn.

Round 1:

John (Ass anarch vote) -> Kate (DoC vote) -> Karl (Art of Memory Dom/Obt) -> Darby (“fun” Bribes) -> Ian (Blessed Resilience pure HoS)

Darby kept referring to my bleed deck as an intercept deck.  Having no votes, I was not involved in the numerous discussions on whether to help Darby pass votes or not.  While Karl could theoretically bleed for 18 in one turn, his turns didn’t tend to be 18ish.  So, Darby often had lots of pool or gained back what he lost.  Kate is not all that experienced (we knew each other from NoCal) and probably overcomplicated playing Lily Preludes, as Darby didn’t get permavotes until late and John and Karl each had one (John’s one hurt him as his dude couldn’t anarch up).  John is low at some point, but a vote passes to give him lots of pool and that makes my game unlikely to proceed.

On turn two, Darby vote bled me for 7.  About 100 to 105 minutes into the game, John back ousts me with a vote as it also kills Kate and the game can properly time out at that point.

Round 2:

Ian -> Alex (IC stuff?) -> John (Trem stuff?) -> Alexandre (anarch) -> Karel (!Ventrue bleed)

I doubt my deck could ever play as smoothly as it did in this game.  I get out Erlik who gives me Mina on the same turn.  I bleed, I Rapid Heal, I Summon Soul, I Emerald, I … before the end, my prey brings out Rafael de Corazon, who becomes Legendary, calls Reins of Power, and votes 7 against … bring out Erebus to go to 2 pool.  Rafael gets by my two intercept with a vote and back ousts me to give a Dominate bleed deck a new prey.  Somehow, that worked for him.

Finally, we have True Dungeon happen.  I mean, sure, I had already done transmutes that morning and the transmute room folks were superhelpful for getting me out of the room.

Into the Shadowlands

So, I’m the one who used our patron code to sign up for this patron event.  No point in spoiling anything.  I did prove not useless with the first room puzzle.  I barbarianed to occasionally do damage, though not 60 at a shot like the rogue and there was one fight where I missed like every round with my +16 to hit.  Ah, high level play.

Respectfully, I didn’t find it that interesting.  One of the things that’s very clear is how really uninteresting TD combat is.  I want it to be challenging but also for there to be some context.  Challenging isn’t hard [foreshadowing alert, foreshadowing alert].  The problem I noticed more at Origins, maybe just because I hadn’t played in a while, is how you have no real concept of what’s going on in combat.  Did I contribute?  7% of the damage?  22% of the damage?  How do my choices matter?  At a certain point, if you win, the table just gets wiped clear of sliders and it feels oh so hollow most of the time.

I thought the event would feel more different.  Sure, there was metagamey stuff to rein in brokenness, but I couldn’t even tell whether that mattered.

Break time.

True Raid

While occasionally entertaining and probably much more so for those who 20ed their Death Dies, this became monotonous to me.  I liked what happened to spellcasters because it forced me to do something besides “Spellswap to Magic Missile, MEC, another 36 damage.”  I traitored and, thus, was the last to be slain.  I would have vastly preferred a different set up with more variety to the fights.  It just felt like an exercise after a certain point as victory was never going to happen.

I did something like 300 damage to Lorigorgon, 52 to PCs with my last two spells, 23 to all PCs with my last Burning Hands, had a bunch of spells rejected …, and it felt like it meant nothing.  Sure, I could have more efficiently used my Lightning Storms to do more damage, but it was more interesting filling out paperwork up until the point I was a traitor.  Actually, failing to hit in melee combat because my build was not built for anything besides casting and surviving was mildly amusing.

Andy had more to do as he didn’t have as many spells rejected and he survived a long time as a non-traitor.

We hit a pub near the hotel, which became the norm.  I had the stromboli, which was really a calzone, but I don’t terribly care.  Too cheesy for eating that late in the day, but it was good, otherwise.


Day one.  The proof is in the puddinghead plays.

Round 1:

Jay (ANI/THA) -> Ian (THA horde) -> Jesper (Nergal Beast) -> James (high cap Ventrue) -> ?? (POT/Dom)

I could have played this game really differently.  I could have played The Name Forgotten on Nergal before Unleash and Beast got out and could block it.  I let Jesper play his game.  He got the game win.  But, what confused me a lot was how little ability to survive James had.  I thought he would vote and fill up or bounce more or something so that he wasn’t taking constant bleeds from Nergal and Beast.

Jay was frustrated by my inability to go forward, but just because I brought out Hannigan and gave him DOM, then Muaziz and gave her DOM didn’t mean I could actually pressure my prey without Create Gargoyles, which Jay blocked.  Lot of bounce, not bounce, whatever at end.

Round 2:

Karl (!Tor anarch bleed) -> Will (AUS/Obf) -> Ian -> Martin (PRE bleed w/ AUS) -> Adam (ANI and …)

For a short time, this game was set up really well for me.  Martin had very little pool, Adam never got going.  But, as usual, I couldn’t finish and Martin got Adam, and Will got tapped out by Anarch Troublemaker and couldn’t use his bleed defense.  The endgame ground to a halt with Martin not wanting to go forward with my threat of bouncing, Karl somewhat spinning his wheels, and my being kind of impotent.  Karl contested Carlton and I should have bled for the edge rather than Blood Doll hunt.  Eventually, Karl double bounced and Archoned on the same action and I couldn’t deal with a load of minions.  Martin didn’t have any game by the time I was gone.

Round 3:

Elon (Baali vote) -> Pete (!Tor) -> ?? -> Ian -> Sam

This was odd.  I should have gotten 4 vps with how it played out as I could have saved Elon not once but twice, with the second time ousting Sam while Elon was at 1 pool with two tapped Baali.  My predator transferred low enough for Pete to oust him.  I had Carlton and Ponticulus right away and my predator’s first minion was … Stanislava.  But, I didn’t care.

Sam would bleed a lot for 1.  I bled a lot for 1.  Pete held on long enough for me to oust Sam but had little pool at that point and I had an impregnable wall with my ability to get to two intercept.

What made it odd?  Sam’s deck does like one thing.  Elon got into a position where he couldn’t do anything pretty quickly with just Nakhthorheb and Waters behind him.

N1 – Astral Bliss

Final TD event.  Even more important not to spoil this as many will be doing it for the first time at Gen Con.  There were good things about it.  I didn’t find it to be the best thing ever.  I preferred GC 2017’s Moongate combat.  A question, how interesting is up to the reader, is:  What do I actually enjoy about TD?  I enjoy other people being clever.  I enjoy the camaraderie.  I enjoy thinking about builds (but not so much writing them out as they tend to be very similar to each other).  I enjoy having certain tokens.

My build for this run, btw, was a ranged monk.  I went minimalist, even though my build was kind of more oriented to normal than hardcore.  My damage bonus was too low for hardcore.  I could fix that easily, but it would mess with the aesthetic of the build.  What wasn’t too low was my 39 hit points.  I liked feeling in danger and needing healing.  To play TD and be “Well, I’m down 40, but I’m okay.” is not enough tension.

I still had people use my melee stats, which were like +1/+1 vs. my ranged of +25/+2.  Part of the balance of playing at levels that aren’t that hard.  Fortunately, the six person group had a fighter who could consistently do 30+ to make up for my impotence and Andy’s druid was probably doing good damage.


Day two.  Every cat has his day.

Round 1:

Kelly (Cybele and friends w/ Striga) -> Ian (my vampires have Obfuscate) -> Hugh (borrowed Summon History ally) -> Bob (!Ventrue Grinder?) -> Adam (Palla Grande)

The best thing about not having stealth in my first 31 cards is that I got to put out a bunch of permanents that nobody cared about and a couple of my Conceals got through due to the swarm factor.  I burned Ankara three times by the end.  One of those times was a horrible mistake, the kind of mistake that losers make, losers with blogs.  I burned a Renegade Garou with DBR.  I only really got beaten down by a Rock Cat after I failed to topdeck a third stealth card in the first 42 cards which would have ousted Hugh, though I could have swarm ousted Hugh with just my board if I didn’t trust in the heart of the cards.

Of course, my deck with all OBF vampires except one is barely running any stealth, only 22 stealth cards, so it’s understandable that I should have played smart and not like I just got embraced last week.  Not that I think I get Bob, but 1 VP is 1 VP more than 0 VPs.

Round 2:

Karl (FoS anarch vote) -> Jesper (Deep Song bleed) -> John (Trem toolbox) -> Ian -> Robert (Malgorzata and friends vote)

Karl survived longer than he should have, which got him a VP.  Jesper beat John down hard early to where John never had game.  John wasn’t expecting my deck to wake as much as it did, which meant he couldn’t lunge and I wasn’t terribly afraid of combat.  I got out lots of ranged weapons.  Anarch Troublemaker was rather important.

I Concealed Creepshow Casino in the endgame after Robert got 2 VPs, which Robert let through.  He also didn’t play around my weapons well.  Newer than most to the game, some better decisions and I wouldn’t have ousted him after I diablerized all of his guys right before time.  Also, earlier, probably could have played differently to get two easy VPs.  Learning experience.

Round 3:

Ian -> Alexandre (Vignes) -> Pete (Ventrue Grinder) -> Brad (FoS w/ Dom Corruption) -> Bill (PRO/Dom w/ intercept)

Even with my dispensing with cards that can provide stealth and with a Free States Rant crosstable, Vignes still took out Pete.  If not for that, I would have had two easy VPs as Alexandre wasn’t doing so great.  Meanwhile, I ignored Bill who tooled up with lots of intercept and Brad never felt confident going forward, so I eventually got worn down by bleeds in the endgame.

While I could be frustrated by how my Day One deck couldn’t lunge, what was different about these events is that I was actually capable of threatening my prey most of the time, with the one game of Nergal being a case where I think I just end my prey’s game on turn three if I choose to and end up ineffectual instead.  The plan of lowering crypt capacities and focusing on getting more minions in play seemed to work in general.  Now, the issue remains that with my banned list, there are a lot of ways to improve ousting power I don’t have access to, but that just means I embrace voting … because everyone loves voting.  Everyone.

For all intents and purposes, it’s pink lemonade time as I wasn’t going to play in the finals on Sunday and no more transmuting to do for TD.  To the pub for more lemonade.  I finally got the $4 double burger.  I was not surprised that it was a slider.  It was a very thick slider.  Certainly, I understand the price point.

Oh, speaking of food, didn’t mention my getting Tibetan dumplings (too chewy), brisket and rib tips (kind of overpriced for the quality in my mind), lamb curry with a lassi (lassi was quite good, rest was okay) from North Market, getting many smoothies from the convention center with my first Buckeye being really, really good and the other being kind of watered down, with the Strawberry Sunrise being just too pineappley.  Got food at the airport on the way back and it was pretty good and like $10 for a full size sandwich and a 20oz drink – I’m increasingly a fan of smaller airports.


One more tournament I can’t win.

Round 1:

Ian (Indie Gargoyles) -> Mark (Nos Royalty Disarm) -> Peter (Baron something) -> Brad (Ani/Obt)

This was entertaining for how sad and pathetic we all were at ousting our prey.  Ferox rushed Sheldon.  Sheldon got torped.  Peter got Fee Stake: New York with Calebros in play.  Because of the recent forum post on vekn.net, I remembered the contestation penalty barons have, so Ferox had to empty Calebros in torpor.

While Mark and Peter got pool deprived to the point of it being laughable and more laughable, Brad just achieved infinite power.  I kept waiting for a crosstable Parity Shift, which got DTed.  Mark only ousted because Peter did a thing with a Famed vampire.  Mark and Brad stalled out in the endgame.

Round 2:

Darby (DoC vote) -> Robert (Malgorzata again) -> David (Summon History Inceptor) -> Alexandre (Malk anarch) -> Ian

“Darby, if I don’t oust you now, I don’t think I’ll ever oust you.  So, I’m done, go ahead.”  I, then, took a restroom break.  When I got back, Darby was ousted, so, as usual, I’m psychic … because I didn’t oust him.

David got a VP because somehow Alexandre just kept eating bleeds of four from Codex.  Robert got a VP because David’s game was impaired by Washes and Suddens.  I didn’t get ousted with four cards left and one untapped minion against Malgorzata, Oriandus, Polly.

Welp, that’s V:TES.  All things can be predicted at the beginning of every game and you’ll lose games because your grandprey tries to rescue a vampire from torpor.

On the way to the airport, Andy and I discussed my next deck construction method.  Let’s see how secret sauce works this weekend …

While no gaming event at Origins was great, I’d still say the overall experience was greatish.  The best part was hanging out with people better at winning V:TES than I am.  Better hotel next year would improve things.  Trying thin crust might be better, especially with no cheese.  Maybe I’ll even play a Dominate card besides Deflection in one of my decks, like, uh, Autonomic Mastery.

Andy really liked the size of the convention.  I really liked having a two minute walk between V:TES and TD, as opposed to rushing for a 15 minute hussle between hotels to make RPGs.  Still, Origins and Gen Con provide two very different opportunities for me, so I’d much rather have both be the norm.

Thanks to Black Chantry folks and Jay for V:TES events.  Thanks to Mongo for getting my transmutes done faster than they deserved to be.  Thanks to my fellow dungeonites for putting up with my dungeon demeanor.

Breaks & Brakes

June 2, 2018

Now to transition into Origins mode, where I will metagame hard against antiSalubri and Samedi rush.  Might have to play Blood Brothers now that they have bleed reduction??  I figure take about 10 new decks to Origins, see if I can get two boxes worth (14 decks) for “variety”.

Before Kubla, I ran my skirmish combat session of Rokugan 1600 and it did not go as planned.  Rather than find the cast abstracted into assistance mechanics where I was hoping would make them feel like folks the party would find endearing, the party hardly used my table of NPC mechanics.  The skirmish rules were terrible for the set up, as the set up didn’t have clearly defined distances and everyone was on horseback.

Got into a long discussion on players and GMs not connecting on mechanical expectations.  Basically, I want people to do different things because doing the same actions over and over bores me, but the players don’t feel like they can judge the value in creative solutions to problems, and encounters end up being far harder (seeming) because nobody tries a literature solution.

I make up all sorts of one-off mechanics, and they don’t often work well.  Well, duh, they aren’t playtested.  A little bit of that goes a long way to messing with players.  Then, in this case, introducing both skirmish battle rules and abstracted NPC mechanics charts and a host of unexplained antagonist abilities.

Was it terrible?  It was just a waste.  Rather than add any depth or caring to the campaign, it was an exercise in murdering named enemies whose names didn’t matter to anyone.  Boring combat that came across as largely meaningless combat.

I’m going to try to focus more on personal stories and maybe actually try to build up to big set pieces rather than rush them on stage.  Plus, peasants and Yobanjin because everybody else seems to love … Yobanjin.

Following up from the last post and switching gears hard, Shadowfist has an advantage in just enjoying play over various other CCGs to me in that it’s less predictable to me.  Sure, a player can get locked out of a game due to insufficient power or lack of resources, but players can get nerfed hard when they get out of control.  Of course, I could argue that V:TES has an advantage over Shadowfist for me because I’m psychic and will know every last thing that will happen except half the things, so I can make informed decisions, where I mostly try to do something in the moment with Shadowfist and fail.

I need to get around to doing my 2018 True Dungeon builds.  Going to consider some metagaming for the Lorigorgon and Into the Shadowlands events.  Then, we need to decide what to pack to transmute some of our crap.  And, I should make sure I can actually find my ultrarares and other hard to replace tokens.

Not running out of time just this day but going to be running out of time soon if I don’t start actually prepping for a major event.  And, I need to write some adventures, including side adventures.

KublaCon 2018

May 30, 2018

Kubla went about what I expected.  That’s not a superior thing.  I was committed to running five events.  I had done essentially zero prep for the con.  I was going to have to be there Friday and Monday, where I didn’t particularly want to be there Monday and didn’t want to be there Friday.

See, besides having a job where management doesn’t get specific ahead of time about leaving early going into holiday weekends, Memorial Day Weekend happens at the end of a month, which is right when I’m focusing on my primary reporting output.


I hope to get home early enough to nap because I’m old and I figured I would get less sleep than normal.  That didn’t work.  I picked up V:TES, Traveller, L5R 4e core book and headed up to Burlingame.

I ran my V:TES event which was talking to someone who had never played and probably still hasn’t and playing a couple of games with two people I don’t often see.  That’s actually a primary benefit of going to cons.  I may not game nearly as much as I used to, but I don’t have to con to game.  I do have to con to see a bunch of people I used to game with.

I forget to take my Black Chantry cards to the con, losing precious talking points for building brand new, heretofore discomprehended decks that will inspire our insect successors until the Sun reddens.


I’m unsure I’m running something at 9AM.  I end up running a HoR mod for three people who know what HoR is plus a deadhead.  It’s okay.  The mod is amazingly lacking in material if you skip the inn.  It has an amusing monologue.

Anyway, food time afterwards.  By the time we get back, I have to run a 2PM mod for people who aren’t invested in HoR.  It seems to go reasonably well.  I eat some.  By the time I’m getting together with Jeff to get dinner, I have just finished lunch.  By the time I finished my Shanghai Dumpling Shop food, we drive over to Shanghai Dumpling Shop for food.  Why couldn’t the tan tan mian and lei sha tang wan be as good as they used to be?  Why?!?

Jeff wants me to play Lords of Hellas as a reference point for our designing a game we’ve talked about.

I understood the point.  Now, I didn’t want to play a 3 hour game at 8PM because I knew it would not go well the next day, but here are some pros and cons:


Turns can go quick.  It’s a game with a variety of things going on that you can play fast enough for people to keep engaged.  Multiple paths to victory does allow for interesting possibilities.  Players never seem out of the game and can come back.  Jeff has played a number of times and he finds that most players have a chance of winning.  While I prefer a pure mythological aesthetic, good aesthetics with pretty minis and play pieces.

Every game I’ve ever played of Lords of Hellas, I’ve ended the game with a Strength of 1, had multiple Blessings that rewarded hunting, and would have won off of the usurp action even if I didn’t win off of hoplite beatdown.


Your turns are kind of vaguely explained.  Your hero doesn’t have enough to do, though I ignored quests to the point that I don’t even know what the ones in play required, so maybe that was an option.  I don’t find hunting interesting mechanically.  Seems to be a game of lots of holding someone back from winning off of a third monster too much of the time.  Praying is not fun … when you don’t get to do it.

Every game I’ve ever played of Lords of Hellas, I started the game with no priest making, didn’t get a priest on my second turn, nor on my third turn.  Meant I could ignore injuries, of course.  I felt completely outclassed in terms of abilities, where my massive army didn’t assuage my ability envy.


I sleep in because I can.

I arrive before the 2PM HoR political interactive we are running and find out which NPC I’m playing.  It doesn’t have that many players, which might be a good thing, where there was good diversity of clans.  It went fine.  Andy’s borrowed wig worked well.

I remain convinced that LARPing isn’t my thing as I find them tiring.

Finally, I get to play in the only event I played in.  Shadowfist Modern.  We were going to play with time limits in such a way that we could play a bunch of rounds.

We played one game in the tournament.  One, 3.5 hour game with four players.  The winner left and we played two pickup games of three.

The tournament was a good game.  It wasn’t fun.  None of the games were, though the third game had an amusing ending for me.

In the tournament, I got characters beaten down constantly, with my first hitter getting toasted as it was coming into play and another hitter getting toasted, this was after I discarded multiple hitters at the beginning of the game in order to get the two mandatory resources required to play Shadowfist without the GK house rules.  I would have decked, after Earl decked, as I had zero characters left in my hand or deck when Ray won.  Sure, I had chances to win, but they were pretty terrible chances and my experience with tournament Shadowfist play is that it often involves removing someone’s ability to win without the remover winning, which is just all kinds of antifun.  It’s like playing against rush combat constantly.

In the second game, which was a “20 minute” game even if it probably lasted longer, I had my first hitter toasted as it was coming into play and never played a character with cost above 1.

In the third game, I discarded a bunch of cards on the first turn and passed.  I discarded a bunch on the second turn and passed.  I discarded a bunch on the third turn and passed.  Maybe the fourth turn, maybe the fifth, I played a FSS and an Arcanomoth.  In the end, I Information Warfared my predator’s Abysmal Wyrm into my Manufactured Island which got replaced with a Gambling House and intercepted the Wyrm with … (playing Architects) … CHAR.  I then attacked Eagle Mountain for the win.

See.  I think the L5R LCG helps show, if not conclusively showed, that I’m really a multiplayer CCG player at this point because I don’t care about results.  I care about card interactions and making good choices.  My two opponents both failed to have anything to do for a while in that third game, then ended up wrecking each other to stabilize the game long enough for me to even participate.  While I might have made a good decision or two, that’s about all I had time to do in a game where both opponents were spent because I didn’t play half the game.

Sure, having chances to win is crucial to playing an enjoyable game, but it should come about due to good decisions and interesting card plays, not just because you are so pathetic no one cares what you do.


Get in early for my Traveller demo.  Show a bit of Traveller to those who aren’t familiar.  Build a deck and play Andy’s piracy deck.  I’m at 15 VPs after three rounds.  On round four, before I go to 19 VPs, he bankrupts me.  Just vicious play along the lines of what I’d expect competitive play to be like, where the contract deck and the attrition deck race and race fast.  More comments about this in the Traveller forums when I get a chance to post there.

Hit the donut shop for a burger.  Burger is pretty good.  Well, the onion ring and bacon on it helped a lot.  Once upon a time, Burlingame had some of the best donuts I’ve ever had.  I’m not sure that’s true, anymore.

Watch the Rockets/Warriors game.  I should never gamble on sports (except NFL, where I’ve only ever won money in Vegas) as the Warriors didn’t win by 25, like I expected.  Well, at least we got the finals every middle-thinking person wanted.

As an aside, no, not about His Airness versus the King, even though I’m a fan of both, nor about superteams crushing when they bother to remember that they have far more talent than anyone else or whatever, this season has been terrible.  I don’t mean the results of the playoffs, which ended up exactly the matchup I wanted in the finals.  I mean the season has been terrible.  So many stars or key players going down with injuries, sometimes right in the middle of conference finals.  Horrible playoff games where one team eviscerates the other only to be counterviscerated in the next game.  Were some bright spots, like Utah and New Orleans.  Then you have what fans call “awful coaching”.  Because everyone knows fans know more about how to play and lead teams than players and coaches.  Still, just ugly ball much of the time I bothered to catch games.  The high scoring potential of modern play with the frequency of three-point shooting probably does lead to more variance of results, but it’s the “could you just run some offense instead of holding the ball?” that gets repetitive.


I ran two events for games I care about with sparse attendance.  I played all of one scheduled event.  I played a game that I’m probably fine with starting at nearly my bed time [la-…].  What used to be my favorite restaurant isn’t nearly as good as it once was.  The days of great donuts seem to now require getting them near work, where I’ve never bought a donut at the donut shop but have bought dozens of sandwiches.  I had to drive up to the con on two days I had little interest in attending.  My one play event involved three bad games.  I didn’t see one of my friends at all and seem to be growing more distant to people I used to game with often enough.

Was it awful?  No.  It was about what I expected.  Too busy with no time to prep or to appreciate anything.  I already knew SDS’s food quality had declined.  Casual Shadowfist is far more fun (when people don’t steal your power).  Positive thinking might have led to more positive results.

Of course, I could put this in perspective.  Memorial Day isn’t just about gaming and basketball.  If suboptimal gaming is the worst problem in one’s life, going strong at first world probleming.  The car engine didn’t explode even though I ran low on oil and had to top it off.  No speeding tickets.  No muggings.  Didn’t lose or break the laptop.  Still able to walk up and down stairs at my advanced age while carrying 35 pounds of gaming stuff in backpacks.

L5R Bonus Rules

May 19, 2018

I ran a session of Rokugan 1600 last Tuesday.  A side adventure as we only had two players.  For the Princess Police, we often did side adventures with three players, otherwise known as about half the party.  I have four players for 1600, and it’s typically going to be the situation that if one can’t play another can’t play.

The session went better than I expected in certain respects.  Rather than ignore my party NPC, the players made an effort to engage with her.  A lot more effort than I’m used to.  I’m sure there’s a lesson in not having so many NPCs who look a lot like Adriana Lima.

I could blow this off as a joke, but I think it is important.  Eventually, I’ll get back to my main subject.  As a player or a person, I don’t need every female around to be gorgeous.  It is even the truth that beauty isn’t always attractive, but that’s getting off topic.  Why be inclined to have a Buffyverse with RPGs?  Because that’s what literature is like.  Love/lust interests for fantasy protagonists tend to be … looking better than the norm.  Just picking out one example, which romantic interest in the the John Carter stories is not stunning (when in her own body)?

I choose Buffyverse as the term because … uh … TV tends to have attractive people, too.  Was talking recently about soap operas and, while a lot of the women aren’t my idea of sensational, some are.  Whether talking about Arabian Nights or Shakespeare, mental image I have of many a character is attractive, distinctly attractive, and looking better is something that correlates with attractiveness.

You also get distinctly unattractive, where ugliness correlates to that.  It’s a way to call out characters.  But, it’s not a great way to call out characters when the only difference between them is one has long hair and the other short or whatever.  And, it’s simplistic to rely upon such a device.

I don’t spend a ton of time on fleshing [hmmm … fleshing] out characters.  However, because I have a not small cast for 1600, I did try to go through and give every character, yes, even the male characters, multiple interests.  Well, Toku Rekku may not have broad interests, just intense interests in broads, but anyway.  This has, so far, helped, with the potential, perhaps, of continuing to give my players more to engage with.

Sound like banal observation?  Well, sure.  But, I find that L5R is particularly prone to creating large casts of NPCs.  I find this to be the case because L5R has a society.  When we played Conan, we were often on the move.  Have some young, hot noble in a session, next session raiding a tomb where the only living things are insects.  Sure, could be a L5R group often on the move, roving magistrate or whatever, but you have your Topaz/Emerald Championships, your Winter Courts, or whatever to ground the play in a fleshy world.

Large casts are troublesome.  I have some problems with L5R names in that people’s pronunciation is inconsistent and there can be very similar names and the names aren’t ones you hear all of the time, like distinguishing John from Sean or John from Joan.  But, I seem to have far fewer problems than others because Kitsu and Kitsuki mean very different things to me as do Kitsuki and Kitsune, so I’m listening for the distinctions.  Point being that it’s easy, in my experience, for players to get overwhelmed by NPC names.  In Princess Police, we had Hantei Hanahime and Shosuro Hanahime and I seemed to be the only one of the players who realized that until I pointed it out.  Have a family of Akodo, and may get Akodo Ichiro and Akodo Ichigo and Akodo Chisei and so on to where which NPC being talked about is not easy to track.  Obviously, if you run another game where Marcus Smith the Elder, Marcus Smith Jr., and Marcus Smith the Third are characters, that may not be so easy to track, either, but I haven’t played in a lot of those sorts of games.

By giving more attributes than “this is the incredibly handsome … uh … Yasuki”, may mean something in a player’s mind to where they bother remembering the name.  Just like how Topaz vs. Winter Court was completely different for me in PP after the WC folks got a few traits/interests.

But, anyway, kind of not why I wanted to talk about large casts.  Large casts are a problem for GMs because they require more work to make those distinctions.  I don’t care if the PCs are interested in five of my 20 NPCs or interested in two, but there’s a chicken and egg problem that I don’t know which two they will want to engage with and they don’t know which two they want to engage with until I fleshisize 20 out.

Got to move on to the point of my post before taking 1000 words on a common subject.

Another feature of that session was underwater combat.

Here are my house rules on underwater combat:  Scrolls aren’t so good if they are wet.  Don’t expect to swing a sword underwater.

Rather than come up with a bunch of mechanics to make ATNs lower for PCs and affect weapons differently and alter the effectiveness of spells, I just finned it.  I just scaled sea creature attacks and whatnot to the PCs normal stats, though it was kind of fortuitous, I mean totally intentionally planned [yeah], that the one NPC that joined the party that included a knifer was also a knifer.  I handwaved speaking with the breathing spell cast on the party.  The shugenja had memorized enough combat spells to do combat things.  Memorize spells, cheesemeisters, memorize spells – always Jade Strike, Path to Inner Peace, and some aggro combat spell (probably not ones that require being outside to cast).

Here are my house rules on climbing out of pit traps, something that is of great concern to one of the PCs:  “L5R doesn’t concern itself with elevation.” – some precious gift of a hu-man.

It’s almost like L5R is like some ancient RPGs that didn’t feel a need to mechanize everything in existence.  How much falling damage do you take for jumping into a 20′ pit?  30′ pit?  Depends upon my mood.

Ironically, I consider it a strength of mine (whether anyone else does is unknown) that I whip up ad hoc mechanics for specific scenes in specific sessions that strike me as balanced and of exceeding joy to the world.  Or, well, joy to me to see whether the PCs encounter the horned fish that stares at them or not.  I have rather elaborate Lore results tables for the amulet that the party was sent to retrieve in that session.  Sure, they are just longer versions of gossip results in HoR mods, but this is just an example of something I was looking at recently.

Roll Void

< 10 = You are cursed! You have one less Void Point to spend until the curse is lifted.
10-19 = Just another day in the desert ruins.
20-24 = As long as you are in Mada’in Saleh, you have one extra Void Point per day.
25-29 = You gain a rank of Luck while in Mada’in Saleh.
30-39 = You gain a rank of Luck.
40+ = You gain Great Destiny.

This is more my sort of special rules tables.  Is it balanced?  Worked, and one knows that all analysis of goodness can be determined by results.

By the way, I think I mentioned Mada’in Saleh before, but maybe not.  This is the sort of thing that gets me fired up when GMing – taking interesting stuff from a real world and using it in a sort-of-real world.

Yodotai decorations also figured on the troglodytic tombs when the territory traded with the Yodotai. In contrast to the elaborate exteriors, the interiors of the rock-cut structures are severe and plain.

I’m sure you can figure out how this description came about if you cared, which I’m also sure you don’t.

At some point, you may have considered giving up on this post because I hadn’t given you something to steal for your own play.  But, then, you made your Willpower roll and are going to be rewarded with the greatest thing since adding cashews to your pork stew, which only ended us as stew instead of pot roast because you had never used your Instant Pot before.

“What does Battle (Skirmish) do?”  “Nothing, but I give an Initiative bonus …”

Skirmish Battle Rules

PER/Battle (Skirmish) TN 15 “contested”, rolled at the beginning of each round

Choose one combatant of consequence, that combatant cannot act this round (includes no Full Defense).

Free 10’ movement for one combatant that is not limited by Water.

Raises > Enemy:
Each Raise can be used to increase one Initiative by 5 or for 10’ movement.

Geniusness?  Jigoku, no!  But, it’s a start and maybe I’ll use some of my precious nap time this weekend to, instead, write up even more extensive rules that are completely untested.

Geniusness-of-a-sort?  Tengoku, yes!  Every time I read 4e mass combat rules I come away with “What is the point of this?  How would any PC survive most of these heroic actions?”  They are garbage.  In that, what is remotely appealing about using them?  Gen Con Battle Interactives may not always work well mechanically, but they have interesting stuff going on either thematically, mechanically, or both – probably some brilliant stuff.

Take garbage mass combat rules, take that while I wanted mass combat to be a thing in this war campaign I realized that the upcoming encounter isn’t really mass combat but is … wait for it … not normal combat … stay on target … red, red, red!! … Skirmish Battle!?!  Take that I like creating my own mechanics.  And, you get the single most defining thing in any campaign in the history of the hu-man races – the introduction, adoption, and total rewriting/dropping after they don’t work as intended Skirmish Battle Rules!?!

Well, I could find something else to mine from one, kind of 2.5 hour session, but I’m all for terse pithiness …

Mind Tricks

April 29, 2018

You may have heard.  V:TES is supposed to go back in print … again.

VEKN.net announcement.

I feel some enthusiasm.  I felt some enthusiasm last year for having some of the Anthology Set cards get printed.  Mostly, though, I think it’s because it gives something for other people to get enthused about.  I may not be that excited by the tournament scene as I expect the game to continue to be oriented to things I’m not that fond of – fat vampires and bloat.  But, new stuff causes new stuff to be tried in tournaments, which produces some level of increased variety.

We’ve been getting games in every few weeks.  That works for me.  I enjoy playing the game.  As imperfect as it is, it’s a really good game.

Which segues me to playing Magic last night.  Type P.  I have played a lot of Type P and was into it at one point in time.  I think what holds me back from being into it again is the lack of a similar culture. Type P appealed to me far more than normal Magic because of the ability to evolve decks and to strive for particular cards. The old crowd was really into those things as well, where the new crowd seems more focused on effectiveness.

After Type P, most enjoyment I probably got from Magic was sealed deck tournaments.  Maybe success had something to do with that as I won a Mirage event, got prizes in Stronghold prerelease for 5-1 or something, got Urza’s prizes for a free sealed deck tournament that dragged on forever, and came in second in an Invasion tournament where I was a card mule for a far more serious player.  Never all that fond of draft where I may have had decent decks but found the play just tedious.  Constructed could be entertaining at times in casual play, like playing my one copy of Necropotence in my Essence Vortex deck and having that cost me a game.

I don’t know if last night was unusual or I had just forgotten how I generally feel about Magic, but the drawing one card a turn thing was really annoying.  It’s such a bad mechanic that sucks the joy out of what is otherwise a brilliant game.

Of the six games I played, one was actually interesting.  It was the only game that was close and I think we forgot a special ability that would have caused me to lose rather than win at one life.  That’s the problem.  I can play six games of V:TES and find four of them interesting, six games of B5 and find three of them interesting, six games of Shadowfist and find four of them interesting.  There were numerous times I or my opponent could have scooped multiple turns before the game was over.  In a couple of cases around turn two … playing sealed deck.

Maybe the feel of the L5R LCG is a problem because I’m used to multiplayer CCGs where people get to have fun as opposed to two-player games where people just stomp on each other or grief each other constantly.  Of course, I could play some Ultimate Combat! and see if that will rekindle my appreciation for a two-player CCG.

The other players were playing Dominaria.  The set just didn’t seem remotely interesting.  Sagas are fine, but the cards I was seeing just seemed dull with there being not very strong themes in the set.

So, I knew some of the Phoenix expansion cards for L5R.  I got shown the rest of the cards.  So griefy.  I get that negative plays can make for a more balanced game, but it just strikes me as a lost opportunity.  oL5R was a terrible game (IME) because it had terrible mechanics.  But, I would argue I actually like magic samurai in that I like the RPG’s world even if it includes dumb stuff like ronin.  nL5R could have been fun, focusing on thematic elements.  Instead, it seems to be increasing the focus on mechanics over doing cool stuff.  In general, I don’t feel like I’m doing cool stuff when I’m winning, I feel like I’m beating my opponent down to where they can’t recover.


Give me Counter X for 15 to knockout out someone foolish enough not to play Movement.

Could be too late for me.  Could be that I’m only a social player.  A party hearty flopper.  I can’t deal with having a single opponent who is trying to win and not Vorlon Rescue Mr. Morden.

Well, there is Traveller, which can be played two-player.  I’d much rather play Traveller than L5R.  An interesting question is whether I’d much rather play Traveller than Magic.  I could say I think Traveller plays better, but that should be obvious and to have someone prefer a game they helped make over a game they bitch about constantly being nowhere near as good as it should be doesn’t strike me as compelling opinion.

Where I’m not clear what value I get out of L5R, as I don’t feel any thematic coolness and I don’t like the mechanics, I know I get different value out of Magic vs Traveller.  Magic is about discovery for me.  It’s why I like sealed deck, where I’m trying to think of the best way to build a deck, where constructed just feels too open-ended to me.  Traveller is something where I can learn that cards don’t play the way we expected, but I’m so much more focused on what my opponent is doing to try to determine what the game needs more of or less of through either their deck construction or their play experience.  The massive experience gap between me and everyone besides Jeff just causes me to not take my own play all that seriously.  Magic is also about visual appeal to me.  I don’t mean the card art.  I love things like multicolor templates and various land templates.  I like hybrid mana costs for cards.  Just get striking color combinations.

Change your perspective, change your world.  Maybe I get too far into my existing views on things and don’t try a different perspective.  Maybe I should embrace the idea of the quick scoop in Magic as fun.  Maybe I should roll a die when choosing what Ring for my attacks in L5R or when deciding how much Fate to put onto a dude because random chess is better than chess.

Speaking of painfully unpleasant.  Arrow.  I was explaining recently that the reason you do a Green Arrow show is so that you can knock someone out with a boxing glove arrow.  Can imagine how I feel about the tiresome angstaggedon that the show loves so much.  Flash at least tries for some amusement and Legends of Tomorrow does some amazing stuff along with the dumb.  Maybe the trick is to root for the villains because they pretty much constantly win until Counter X for 15 because … good has to suffer until it wins in some dumb ass way.  I can’t even bring myself to watch Supergirl, yet.  Maybe in May.  Meanwhile, Into the Badlands might get some viewing action – it got rid of its albatross storyline by fridging an idiot.  OTOH, child.  Off the top of my head, that worked in Dragonball Z and nothing else that comes to mind.