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April 14, 2019

Not much wisdom for today, though ironically Wisdom.

From the marriage of knowledge and experience grows wisdom.

I find knowledge easy.  Is it just lack of experience or is there another component to wisdom?  Making good decisions is hard.  There is the element of applying knowledge and applying wisdom.  I may know a card exists in a card pool or may know the probability of a die roll or whatever, but it doesn’t help without applying it to the decision of what to do when playing.

Shattering fist under chin, snapping head back.

I feel kind of like my head has been snapped back in a totally analogous way to my body feeling beaten down from hiking much longer than planned yesterday morning and badminton.  But, there’s also lack of sleep and too many big meals due to being a coworker’s chauffeur for almost a week.

Basics can be quite effective when done with heart.

Hatano-sensei taught us to strike low and hard and often.

Heartfelt, frequent low blows are apparently the thing to do.

I read a couple mysteries in recent weeks.  Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo.  Not in order.  If you like prostitution, maybe the series for you.  I don’t mean prostitutes, I mean prostitution, which is central and brought up in philosophical and economic ways.  Whereas something like Judge Dee is old school, where the obsession isn’t on the main character, and Bangkok Tattoo didn’t feel quite so main character obsessed, Bangkok 8 was probably more than I cared about for the main character.  I enjoyed the books.

What I got to thinking about was the same old, same old of “What is a *good* book?”  I was asked by my manager about fantasy series (because fantasy is kind of the obvious thing to ask me about).  I’m pretty sure I covered this ground before, but I’m really struggling with what is great fantasy.  There’s fantasy I’m entertained by – that gives me what I’m interested in – characters with cool abilities and cool scenes and some thought provoking ideas.  But, what have I read that I would currently consider great?  A fair amount I haven’t read recently enough to properly analyze.

Lord of the Rings is clearly not great writing – it’s so long-winded it puts me to sleep.  The Hobbit was surprising to me to reread because it’s children’s fiction.  I need to get my Elric books back from Andy and reread those as I feel like they were the highpoint of Moorcock for me, but I have such different views of writing then when I read a lot of stuff, in that I actually pay attention to how something is written rather than just what the story is.

I’d say Timothy Zahn’s first two Star Wars books in his trilogy are great books, but that’s not exactly fantasy.  John Burdett’s books flowed well enough to maybe they are written fairly well, though there were times it wasn’t clear who was saying what, which is something I think is important to manage in writing.  Of course, also not fantasy, though they are spiritual mysteries with Buddhist stuff.

I’ve certainly been entertained by bad books.  Mentioned that before.

And, so, we get to Shadowfist.

Let’s work backwards because backwards is normal.

We tried variant rules from our variant rules last Thursday.  To address the endgame problem Shadowfist has, we used vague rules along these lines:  if you have four or more FSSs in your pool at the beginning of your turn and more than anyone else, you win; you may play FSSs as long as you don’t get ahead of the leader; FSSs are free to play, you still get one power if you have none in play.

The first game ended pretty quick after everyone was a threat to win as an attack right to tie the leader came up one short of taking a site and the leader won when his turn started.  Many possibilities for having that not happen existed, but we weren’t sure what made sense to do.  The following game took far longer and there was a bunch of build up.  I got The Legacy of Shaolin, Shih Ho Kuai, and Rosalee Leung in play at the same time and felt like attacking was a waste of my resources.

Of course, I still am failing to build decks that can get by chump blocking.  That’s the reason I end up playing so unaggressively.

The week prior, I played a scary deck.  I got Dirigible after Dirigible in play, drawing six cards off of two Dirigibles and a Haunted Forest Dirigible.  Scary but not nearly as synergistic as things sounded with a lot of my vehicle cost reductions not working together along with the fact that I went from too few vehicles to play on dudes to far too many vehicles to play on dudes as I didn’t have any Chop Shops in the deck.

Oh, I should mention we also errataed Möbius Gardens to be turn to use its ability after talking about banning it.  I guess the former makes it not broken, but I’m still okay with the latter given how tiresome it had become.

Name: Decked-Out Disappointment
Faction: Dragon
Size: 60

Dragon Cards (30)
Characters (22)
1x Angie Dao
3x Grease Monkey
1x Inspector Will Zhurong
4x Junkyard Engineers
2x Master Mechanic
2x Maverick Trucker
1x Quartermaster
1x Seamus
1x Skilled Techie
3x Techie Apprentices
1x Tech Squad
1x The Dynamic Dr. Dawson
1x You Xia, the Avenger

Edges (1)
1x Lightning Patrol

Events (6)
1x Back for Seconds
3x Dirk Wisely’s Gambit
1x “Is That All You Got?”
1x Life in the Fast Lane

States (1)
1x Battle Suit

Generic Cards (30)
Edges (1)
1x Martial Focus

Events (9)
1x Ejector Seat Malfunction
1x On the Wire
3x Salvage
3x Scrounging
1x The Algernon Effect

Feng Shui Sites (10)
5x Manufactured Island
5x Underground Depot

Non-Feng Shui Sites (5)
5x Decked-Out Dirigible

States (5)
1x Cargo Plane
1x Exo-Skeleton
1x Hover Tank
1x Personal Assault Vehicle
1x Plain White Panel Van

Has to have Chop Shop to clear out unnecessary vehicles.  Should probably have a way to generate dorks to drop vehicles on even given the high percentage of dudes and low percentage of good stuff events.

I never once put a Dirigible on a dude.  That’s how sad it was, even though I could have.  Exo-Skeleton scared people, got it on Angie Dao at one point.  Still, you can just chump block this deck.

Name: Fu Tu Yu
Faction: Guiding Hand
Size: 55

Hand Cards (37)
Characters (23)
2x Blue Flower Society
1x Bountiful Master
1x Buddhist Gardener
1x Buddhist Monk
1x Chanting Monks
1x Kung Fu Master
2x Rosalee Leung
4x Shaolin Supplicants
1x Shih Ho Kuai
1x Sifu Beumer
1x The Legacy of Shaolin
4x Urban Monk
2x White Crosus Society
1x Yung Chang

Edges (3)
1x Chinese Connection
1x Lantern Festival
1x Undisturbed Meditation

Events (5)
1x Confucian Stability
1x Into the Light
2x Iron and Silk
1x Journey’s Reward

States (6)
5x Fu Lions
1x The Jade Dragon

Generic Cards (18)
Events (7)
1x Bending the Path
2x Blade Palm
2x Blossoming Chi
1x Cat Stance
1x Healing Earth

Feng Shui Sites (10)
1x Arctic Fortress
1x Diamond Beach
1x Granite Mountain
1x Puzzle Garden
1x Temple of the Angry Spirits
5x Turtle Island

States (1)
1x Butterfly Swords

Coming full circle [ha], we get back to Buddhism [ha, ha ha].  Also, I’m watching Dragon Ball Super and you have the Turtle Fu connection.  I did defend well.  However, chump chump not win.

Welp, I got to get back to Traveller CCG stuff.  Yup, it still exists.  Go out and buy some and we will make more.  Oh, also help us by running demos and other events as my time has been sucked up with other things, too many work things.

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Tomato Pie And Colder Than Saudi

March 22, 2019

Makes your eyes glow and your other face say … hiya.

How many people are going to get this?  Have to have some particular Americana understanding to get the brillianceosity of my post title.

This will be a travel post (not to be confused with a Travell post), so therefore it will be oodles of popular.  To mitigate the unbridled joy that comes with these sorts of posts, let’s first consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster.

The earth is not a creature of the air.

You haven’t seen my Kakita Bushi build yet.  But, then, neither have I.  Earth was strong in my recent trek.  As was air.  And, water.  You know, it’s probably a good thing when fire isn’t a strong element to a trip, though I did have BBQ twice.  Oh, yeah, will talk about food, too, because … ratings.

To destroy the foe, first attack his base.

Sounds too political, though there’s a supers concept in here.

Eliminate one of your foe’s arms.

Walther PPK?  Golden Gun?  Stormbringer?  Oh, arms, like as in arms.

A primordial roar can push your attack home to victory.

Because eliminating an arm is just a set up, not a win.  This is a weird pack for drafting.  For sealed, it would lend itself to a Fighting Spirit focus.  Terrible gold belt card, yet amusing and not useless.  Better to run gold belt Primal Kiai or white belt Kiai in a deck?  Even ignoring rarity, probably the latter for easy cycle +2 damage.

Still rambling, the trek I’m not referring to but qualifies as a trek and is more gaming related is the one we made to Fresno on March 10th.  I ran a mod that has a great beginning and a more involved not-beginning than I felt from playing it.  I played in a mod that was almost there but not as good as a similar mod from HoR3.

Oh, lizard leavings.  I totally forgot that I had another blog post idea.  I was going to write about everyone’s single most favorite thing ever – listening to someone talk about their RPG character.  Well, maybe I’ll write that tonight as well and do the clever thing of scheduling the publishing of that for when I won’t be writing a new blog post [um, isn’t that most of the time?].

See, I have enough XP to … [to be elaborately detailed elsewhere] …

Proof … Not That Kind, Waterproof.

We begin with …  Well, not the first day, when we got in at 11PM at night.  Was this the next day, the day I spent more than eight hours doing work during my vacation?  I think it may have been, though could have been the third.  Thing #1 about Charleston that doesn’t get mentioned a lot to people who aren’t really that likely to go to Charleston – lot of islands or “islands”.

The Sun and I are rivals. See how he makes my pictures suck with his nonfernal light.

Day three was touristing.  Starting with Charles Pinckney House.  It’s not much of a house.  The grounds aren’t the most interesting thing ever.  But, it does seem a really sweet spot for a picnic, if you are into that sort of thing.

Thing #2 – the emphasis on the history of slaves.  Gullah Culture comes up a ton.  I thought the Gullah Bible was interesting with how it moved between clear English and less clear.

I could post a picture from the tea plantation, the only tea plantation in North America and a locale where I learned some things about tea making.  But, they aren’t that good.  I, then, have a bunch of pictures of trees.  I’m self aware enough to realize that I waste a lot of MB on pictures of nature that aren’t that interesting as pictures because I like trees … and clean water (salt or fresh).  I don’t take much in the way of pictures of people.  Sure, I have some selfies, but they tend to be so horrific/painful that I only show them to people I know who can make comments like “Who’s that?”

My first tomato pie experience was at Tomato Shed.  Maybe it had some crust mixed in, maybe it didn’t.  What worked really well was mixing my tomato pie filling, which was kind of overwhelming, with my other side of pasta.  Tomatoes and pasta!?!  Who knew they could go together?  Who?  I had a tomato pie later that was much more pie-y, also rather too cheesy.

Lot more Spanish Moss on other trees. This is the back of the house, btw.

Okay, you can see how my oeuvre may be that of houses through trees.  The McLeod Plantation was really pretty in those places with trees, including across the street as you head toward the water.  It was strangely windy while we were there.  Strange in that it was inconsistently windy.  Thing #A that I proclaim based upon my extensive research/experience – March is a really good time for Charleston if you want pleasant weather and color (not a racist remark, think flowers blooming, see, now I’m overly sensitive).

The land of the free, the home of the brave.

On Saturday, we went to Yemassee.  For the ruins?  The Chinese food from China Town?  Because our cousin’s other side of the family has roots there.  So, Palmetto Pimento Sandwich with strawberry preserves dipping sauce and, of course, squash puppies.  The cheese-bacon-cheese sandwich was kind of … sort of … cheesy.  But, the strawberry preserves balanced the sweet and cheese into goodly eats.  The squash puppies are truly good.  I had them with and without ranch dressing and without was better.  On a ranking of Super Saiyan transformations, Fletcher’s squash puppies would …

Have a more striking picture of ruins but this has more trees.

Besides the “monkey farm”, Yemassee has a few other things mentioned on TripAdvisor.  One of those very lowcountryish things is the Sheldon Church Ruins.  Had a geniusy observation while reading tombs/tombstones (I maintain a *strong* cemetery to beach ratio in my travels).  The English used was extremely standard – no archaic words or spellings or grammar.  The font variations were kind of weird, with some of them being rather hard to read.  Taken together, it’s almost like a movie set how the colonial or 19th century inscriptions felt rather modern.

We also got Chinese while we were in Yemassee because Thing #3 – there’s virtually no difference between Charleston and China.  Our cousin told us a joke about this, but it should be obvious once you get used to Charleston Tea everywhere and can pick up rice at …

Trees and water, though not the cleanest water. But, you could say the Clarest [sorry].

The Holy City.  Should I spell out the connection or just have people who know where this picture was taken “get” my obscure references?  As soon as I care about adding polls to my blog, I’ll poll y’all.  Thing #4 – besides USC still taking a moment to process and the sports page’s focus on college sports, you don’t get a lot of historical background on the Southeast when you grow up in the Bay Area.  Guess that’s why folks like traveling the US – it ain’t a single state, it’s almost like it’s a dozen or more states.

So, you may be wondering about gaming content.  I did show my cousin Traveller cards.  But, mostly, I had on my mind RPG adventures.  First, I was thinking about ideas for a L5R mod and had one main idea.  But, Sheldon Church’s ruins and the monkey farm got me thinking about a modern setting adventure set in Yemassee where a monkey escapes from the “Monkey Farm” (of course) and you go by the ruins to … do something.  Plus, every body of fresh water has gators (because they do).  While plantation life didn’t hit me from the standpoint of living in another time without air conditioning and with slavery an actual thing, I was struck by the Loraxes, er, the trees and how really pleasant it could be to have landscaped properties on a scale completely unknown in my suburban experiences.

Part of the gardens. Timing mes amis, timing.

Nathaniel Russell House is not quite as out of my normal experiences as plantation sized properties with old oaks.  I’ve done a couple house tours on Oahu (sure, why not?), so I’ve seen scenic scenes.

One is available in Norway.

We quenched our thirsts with native libations.

Not a water taxi.

We traversed the high seas, moving ever closer toward a vessel ahead.

I did also think about how to advance Miya Tatakisu …

And, there is your in depth report on gaming in the Southeast.


Not All Chows

February 18, 2019

DunDraCon is done, but that’s my next post.

I was in Virginia the week before.  Before getting more into that, let’s see what today’s Ultimate Combat! flavor text provides us.

A tornado of power focused in the fist.

Um, not so relevant in any way I can think of.  C’est dommage.

Calling upon your inner reserves brings extra power to bear.

Two Mantra of Power in this pack.  So broken.  Though, I made some minimal effort to find a rulebook for how power is spent as I started wondering about the timing and correctness of playing the best card in the game.  In some way, I feel like rules consistency would dictate that I’ve been doing power spending wrong, but I just am not sure which way it is wrong.

Celestial aid purges pain.

Yup, call upon higher powers to win your martial arts match.  I may need to call upon some celestial aid.

In the blink of an eye an asset can become a liability.

Guess this card.  Come on.  Even though people aren’t into guessing like I’m into guessing.  Based on what I’ve written about UC!, this shouldn’t be impossible to figure out.

The berserker welcomes pain to inflict pain.

Got a pain theme going.  I could claim pain at the moment, though it’s pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things.

So, Virginia.  This was to celebrate the new Earth Pig.  Did dim sum at a Vietnamese place that was covering for my family’s usual dim sum place.

Got in Friday night around 11PM, got to sleep around 1AM.  My alarm went off at 5AM (I was partially awake), felt mostly fine up until I started on a long, boring ride South.  Now, when I drove to Raleigh last year, it wasn’t so boring, but I had more sleep and it was something novel.  This was same highwaying.

Got to Emporia, about 160 miles.  Ordered breakfast at the meetup spot and, after we ate, divvied up True Dungeon tokens.  Yup, this is a gaming blog.  Had to get to the all important gamingness of gamingiosity.  Far fewer tokens to deal with, more value.

Felt pretty good (had coffee which I hardly ever have because I didn’t want to die driving back) … up until the point that I started a long tedious drive back to Annandale.  Multiple playings of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll as I jumped constantly between stations for stimulation.

Took a bit of a shut eye, then headed over to my father’s place.

For a bunch of mahjong with some movie playing in the background.

I did really well in the lucky seat.  Both Saturday and Sunday, it was the seat of the big chip leader.  Whether that speaks to our skill or the feng shui of the Earth Pig year is not so terribly important.

Sunday, got up later than 5AM (I know, weird to not get up then while on vacation and going from Pacific to Eastern time zones), talked a bit about the SF Giants, Bryce Harper, and other things.  Went to dim sum.  Afterwards, to the father’s place for … mahjong and movies.

Speaking of movies, I don’t like watching parts of things.  To not only be playing something, but to be crashing tiles while actors are offering lines would drive me nuts if I actually wanted to watch the movies.  Big Trouble in Little China is a fine movie that others like way more than me.  Romancing the Stone was my idea and a movie I’d be happy to actually watch normally not having seen it in ages.

I did not sit in the Earth Pig Luck seat.  I was hurting blue time.  I got a couple hands at the end to recover blue and red chips to where I was down less than a thousand (points, out of five thousand).  But, my talking about playing mahjong isn’t to go into my supreme ability to not suck at the game.

Everyone my siblings play with play our family style, so it’s easy to play.  The young ‘uns just play for chips if they play for anything because, unlike me, they weren’t playing as an eight-year old with great uncles and great aunts for money.

Over the two days, I played two rounds of winds.  That was pretty normal when I was growing up for one session.  I found the play very Earth Pig unusual in certain ways.

At least four hands were won with all pungs.  I won twice with all pungs, my father at least once and my sister-in-law at least once.  I almost never win with all pungs playing our style, as our style heavily incentivizes speed and only gives all pungs one fan.

What put me way up on Saturday was one suit pure, pinghu clear.  I use pinghu because I’m not entirely sure what the best spelling would be as we always call all chows with no points gained from the eye phonetically punghu, but I can’t internet a spelling like that.  I’ve seen the Cantonese as peng woo, which is kind of close.  Mandarin pinghu works for the second syllable but totally not the first.

Anyway, five fans.  I may have gone many years with virtually no mahjong play, but I’ve played a fair heft amount, especially in that key 8-12 age range.  I’ve gone for all one suit hands many a time, including in silly cases for the challenge.  I even made what I consider a suboptimal decision in that hand and still Earth Pigged my way to victory.

Truly celestial aid purges pain … or whatever.

We didn’t play Codenames though my brother who was hosting me for the weekend talked about playing it a couple of times.  One of our Chinese cousins who hadn’t played before was shown how to play mahjong.

Just a wallbuildingfest of wallbuildingness.

Anything about TD?  I’d like to get some 2019 rares.  Quite a few are used for transmutes.  Some are just good.  I had some thought at some point about something related to reading the forums but lost that somewhat at sometime.

We head to the airport about 7AM Monday morning.

I read a book during the travel to and fro.  Pirate story.  Resonated reasonably well but not great.  Read some reviews that I thought pointed out the shortcomings of what’s a perfectly decent story.  The protagonists are underdeveloped.  One person did a good job of sarcastically pointing out the Mary Sueness of the puppeteer hero.  The fantasy aspects got anime level ridiculous – this is my original thought.  The ending dragged, partially because the love interest is so irrelevant.  Still, nice to read a book that I didn’t dislike.  It reminded me of my Solomon Kane GMing but didn’t particularly stimulate me to want to run something, play a piratey game, or even world build much.

Was this length of trip the right length?  Felt like wasted days on traveling.  Half the trip was essentially traveling, whereas my December trip to hang with family where I used zero vacation days didn’t feel like I was wasting time traveling.  Of course, I had connecting flights on this trip and didn’t on that trip, so hanging out in Denver and eating twice at the same sports bar was time not spent explaining how True Dungeon works or getting snowed on.

Because it has little to do with DunDraCon, I should note that I played Shadowfist Thursday night.  We played two games.  I was incapable of playing any cards for several turns in the first game and it ended dumbly as I stopped a Reascended victory with Onslaught of the Turtle only to have the next player waltz in when little was left in play.  Second game, I played cards, enough hitters to get them taken out.  I didn’t actually do a whole lot with my Lotus/Dragon deck, but the game was less dumb.

I’m not always happy when I play mahjong, as losing sucks and hands that “should” win don’t while hands that shouldn’t win … also don’t, but it’s just such a pleasant thing to do.  I would compare with how playing V:TES for 20+ years is just doing something I enjoy doing that I have mental investment in.  Plus family bonding.


Shift

February 3, 2019

Not that I have any playcalling cred, but maybe use your two tailbacks at once, throw to a tight end, run some screens before the fourth quarter, bootleg, end around, jet sweep, quarterback draw, draw, play from the shotgun, run hurry up, or run anything remotely different.  Good D.  Not terribly entertaining.

Shift

So, I played my 7 Masterless deck Thursday.  I play Wudang Monks.  So much hate.  Now, 7 Masters + 5 Auramancers is something I’ve played in a tournament before, but, just because an opponent had an Auramancer in play as I played a second WM and a third WM, somehow WM is too OP to live.

Speaking of living, we almost had an Underworld Coronation played, except two hitters were unaffected by events, so we played around UC for the rest of the game up until the point that the Reascended player played every Reascended in his deck and powered through for the win with the UC having been discarded earlier.  At no point in the game did my OP Monks or any of my other characters reduce a site’s body to zero.

Of course, my “Mountain Hermit” deck doesn’t make much use of Mountain Hermit as WM can unturn a Hermit, but the Hermit can’t unturn a WM.  My Occult Kung Fus (picking Dark Traveler, of course) got me three Fighting.  My Bridge of Birds was used more effectively by the Reascended (Cabinet Minister) than by me.  I think the better version makes use of Auramancers, maybe Netherworld Tricksters, other good stuff, and probably drops the Mountain Hermits for more cards that provide magic.  I’m not sure how this deck plays as is, though, as I drew five WMs and no removal in a deck that runs some removal.

Sure, we all had to start counting power using dice rather than counters because of multiple Bull Markets, Tranquil Peaks use, and whatnot, but that only does something when you spend that power to affect the game state.

Shift

I finally got out to the local Groundhog Day event.  I thought I had been to one before, but I tend to travel a lot this time of year or have some commitment as it’s close to DunDraCon, so I can’t recall if I have.

I just think it’s a really well written/produced movie.  It has a really good tempo to it.  It stays true to its concept.

I played Blood Rage, Key Flow, and Elysium.  All for the first time.  Blood Rage played differently than I thought it would, where I screwed up the second age massively by trying to contest Yggdrasil burning out my Rage to where I couldn’t play my hand full of upgrades, then I was irrelevant in the third age.  Winner won by two, while I was 40 points or whatever behind.  I would play it again, but I didn’t like it that much.  The Yggdrasil location just annoys me.

Key Flow is the sort of game that knowing how games turn out helps a lot.  I ended up in second by accidentally playing lots of animals, which wasn’t remotely my plan.  The winner (also won Blood Rage for the standard twofer) crushed us with heavily upgraded late game structures.  I would probably find this fine to play about the same number of times as 7 Wonders, which is a few.

Elysium saw me get ahead early and get crushed late as I still don’t understand scoring based on the incredibly unhelpful help cards.  Because I like mythology, I thought the game was fine up until the point it was over.  I have no interest in this game at all.  It’s actually rather boring, plays slow with people who don’t know the cards, lacks effects that interest me, doesn’t make me feel like the chrome matters at all.  If everyone knows the cards, I imagine it’s an easy game to play for people who want something lighter, but one could just play something else.  I think I’d rather play Ticket to Ride.

Shift

I was reading some L5R 4e books partially because I’m playing in HoR4 where mechanics might matter to my character, though not really as courtiers don’t get anything like kata, kiho, spells.  And, there’s one path relevant to my character which I was well aware of before playing this character, since Imperials get dumb mechanics where ronin have far more options.  Brotherhood Monks may have more options, though one would only know if one cared.

I got to thinking about campaign ideas.  I know.  This is dumb.  But, it was interesting.  I have this thought of a Hengeyokai campaign.  All of the PCs would be Hengeyokai with some sort of task that binds them together.  It would be a campaign where the PCs should be faking being samurai (or non-samurai, after all, still a reason to party together no matter what you are, though a traveling geisha character may be a stretch).  Might make far more sense as a one-shot, but …

… Why would I want to play a L5R one-shot?  I mean, using 1e, 3e, or 4e.  Obviously, a 5e one-shot to learn the mechanics makes sense.  So many modules, not just HoR modules, and box sets I’ve played are like one-shots.  So I can play a Brotherhood Monk who used to be a ronin who has Dark Secret revealed and becomes a Lost Akutenshi?

If I struggle to see playing L5R as a one-shot, what else?  Conan?  I think I do see where I stopped trying to get into con games of Conan because one-shots have the same problem of not providing anything I haven’t already done.

I can still see playing Feng Shui, which would probably only ever be one-shots given that 1e doesn’t work that great and 2e isn’t even trying to be a game for campaign play, but replaying Big Trouble in Little China for something like the fourth or fifth time isn’t really attractive.

Shift

I had opened an Ultimate Combat! booster before my last post and couldn’t fit in the flavor text I wanted to.  It still doesn’t fit.

Utter chaos blasts through the arena.

As a draft pack, the first pick is obvious, the second pick is less so.  As a sealed pack, while the technique is garbage, the pack is bountiful.

Strength X.  Warrior’s Helmet.  Strength 1.  Speed 1.  Gi Patch – Owl.  Combination 1.  Psychic Storm.

That’s a possible draft order, with Strength 1 being possibly better than Warrior’s Helmet if you can sligh your deck or have Adrenaline.  Of course, if you have Strength X, you would want Speed 1 more.  Why Strength 1 over Speed 1 everything else being irrelevant?  Banana Peel in Limited.  Combination 1 could even be the second pick, though highly unlikely.  Psychic Storm might be a first pick if you were playing a multiplayer variant.  Yup, UC! made cards for multiplayer play.  I’d still take Psychic Storm over bad cards or extra technique for the possible “get ahead and end the game” ability, especially if I knew someone else had Favorite Technique or a weapon (either is rather likely if I don’t get them) for the reach ability.  If I had drafted healing, healing, and more healing plus had some way to deal damage, could also see it maybe mattering, though far more likely a defensive draft deck would play a decking strategy where Psychic Storm would be awful.

The art of Psychic Storm may be UC! level art, but I do like the vivid red of action cards with the gold rarity symbol.  Plus, it has an awesome name.

Shift

The next time I post, I may have 2019 True Dungeon tokens.  Will that cause me to think of anything to say about TD?

I could write about how the change in plans for Origins is disappointing, but it’s not that big of a deal to me.  Affects others far more.

DunDraCon is coming.  I’ll be running Traveller events, look to play in the V:TES event, be commuting back and forth so I might not try to play a RPG after all.  Only expect to be there Saturday and Sunday.


Gyros Of Rokugan

January 30, 2019

Too good a title to forget about.

We headed to Fresno Saturday afternoon.  Didn’t stop, through the power of GPS found the clubhouse we were going to, getting there a bit before 6PM.

Eric ran a mod that Andy and I deadheaded (technically, we could have sat around doing nothing as it wasn’t that challenging).  We head over to the hotel making less use of GPS.

In the morning, go to breakfast, go over to clubhouse, Andy eats a mod and Bill eats a mod, then head home from Fresno about 6:30PM after talking for about half an hour.  At one point during the weekend, talked some about 5e, as I have so little grasp of it.

Not my intention to rant about how it’s unclear what HoR4 is actually about.  Nor my intention to blog about what the conversation during the ride home was mostly about.

Just some miscellaneous observations.

I hadn’t played in a RPG session since … … Gen Con?!?  Yeah, I think Gen Con.  Oh, by the way, we got a strange hotel for GC2019, so it should be quirky in my GC report.

It didn’t feel weird to be playing.  I was just very conscious of how much I want to be doing things.  I did things while deadheading.  I was the only one who pushed a part of a mod that meant nothing (haven’t decided yet whether to rant about this or not).  I was more involved than most in the other mod.  It helps when you aren’t playing with a bunch of strangers.  Online play of HoR is far less appealing to me than it was in the past because I don’t feel inclined to be as active.  Could have been pent up desire to do anything as a RPG player.

One of the mods felt like a “mod”, i.e. felt like it was reasonably crafted.  Another mod was just a vastly inferior version of a mod from HoR3.  The third mod had different features that were probably more interesting to others than to me, but it was completely a bait and switch.  Not in a good, “you are now playing a peasant” way, either.

I spent a lot of effort into rating HoR3 mods.  Only one mod in HoR4 comes to mind as a “keeper”.  What does that even mean?  It means that the mod is sufficiently developed, which most early HoR3 mods weren’t and seemingly almost all non-court mods in HoR4 aren’t.  It means that the mod isn’t just a redux of another mod.  There are okay mods in HoR4 that just come across as a paint by numbers on some earlier HoR mod.  It means a mod that seems like it should be fun.  And, I guess, it also means a mod that fits.  CIT26 was perfectly pleasant to me and pretty interesting, but it was atrocious as an intro mod.  There is no way at all that you throw HoR specific stuff like the Owl Clan and zany features of L5R at people who don’t know what HoR is like (or may not even know what L5R is like, like two of the people I played the mod with).

Sure, the more one has played HoR/L5R, the more a new adventure is going to remind of an old adventure.  What I find interesting is that I look back on HoR3 not to complain about how incoherent the campaign was but with how much more memorable the mods were.  HoR3 really advanced in the area of court mods.  HoR3 had some mid campaign mods that had so many ideas that you couldn’t follow up on everything.  There were some pretty terrible mods that were at least trying to do something different.  There were mods that I appreciated for doing something different, in one case less than other players, in another case far more than the people I ran the mod for.  Not everyone likes the same things.  There were multiple mods I wished had no plot, that just let us shop and stuff.

While HoR3 didn’t do a good job with recurring NPCs, something HoR2 was far better at, even if you didn’t always want the Toritaka around, overall, it felt far denser than HoR4.  Balishnimpur has not been used effectively as a setting or a campaign element.  It’s hard to get an idea what any of the HoR4 mod series are trying to do.

The random inclusion of gaijin of various sorts in HoR4 is … well, part of the inspiration for the title of this post.  It’s such a random “wait, what did you just say?” that you could easily have Greekified Yodotai and it would make as much sense as some of the things that came out of the blue when I’ve been playing.

But, you know what?  Just because these living campaigns are called campaigns doesn’t mean I need to act like they are.  I didn’t start playing HoR2 because I was looking for a campaign.  I had plenty of enjoyable moments in HoR3 even though the metaplot stuff meant absolutely nothing to me or my characters.  I don’t currently look at the prospects of playing more HoR4 as a “gosh darn it, how do I gets into them thar story”.  I think I see more clearly that I just do my thing and roll with whatever.  Refocus back on my PC(s) and not worry about what others think may be going on.  True, it does create more character when you have things to bounce off of, like wiping out gaijin civilizations because they are annoying, but being more mechanically focused with L5R is still better than my D&D convention experiences.

Speaking of my character and mechanics, the most fascinating …

I took a closer look at crafting in the campaign since it gives a hook and has something to do with the campaign.  It amuses me the idea of getting to Void 6 just to make one special quality wakizashi before the campaign ends immediately afterwards.  Earth, which was part of the original plan, actually makes more sense if embracing the armor theme I’m doing.  Fire to make useless weapons strikes me as amusing and would mean no longer being a moron, thus inflicting myself with the punishment of not taking Sage.

What is the most absurd weapon to craft?  Bisento?  Probably not, but the idea of crafting massive polearms and heavy weapons while continuing to use a wakizashi in combat is groping me.  Of course, it helps to be making inexpensive weapons so that the TNs are low.

See, even though Noticed by _ has never mattered, crafting inane things is totally campaigny.

Combat has been highly inconsistent in HoR4, with the harshest combats being in earlier or lower rank mods.  HoR2 had some brutal early combats that I didn’t play until I was a more experienced character.  HoR3 was generally more combatty early on and would have the occasional heinous fight.  HoR4 seems to have even more editing problems where there are combats that should just rip parties apart due to being too early and/or too poorly set up.  What I found to be ironic is the one midrank mod wasn’t scarier to me.

I’m going to try to make more effort to find GM runs of mods so that we remove the mod eating that people have been doing.

And, I’m going to buy up Earth or Fire or Void to pretend to care about crafting.  And, Animal Handling because, for some reason, I don’t have Animal Handling.

There are no Miya heroes, but there may just be a Miya Gyros.


The Best of … 2015

December 30, 2018

The thrill of the drill.

I don’t often comment on how the year went.  I did a couple of years ago because two unusual and major events happened, neither of which had anything to do with the election.

Maybe I’ll comment upon 2018 at the end.

January

Building L5R Characters – Origins

January 2015 seemed like a flopping heavy time, what with my reporting on Shadowfist sessions multiple times and V:TES tournaments.  While not great literature, if you want to see what playing V:TES is like for me as opposed to virtually anyone else in the history of the game {question mark, frowny face, birthday cake}, can read the tournament report post.

Meanwhile, in terms of “this is worth mentioning again after three years” posts, we finally get to this post.  Even as I was writing this post, I was getting off of what I wanted to write about.  However, intermixed with talking too much about mechanics, there’s a point made about finding the right character, even if that right character may be related to the right character sheet.

I know that HoR has been a problem for me because I’ve spent too much time on the character sheet and not enough on the character.  Nightmare War was actually better because I didn’t obsess with how the numbers would look, plus it was just more interesting than HoR3 was or HoR4 has been.

Sure, there’s a lot of stating the obvious, but, I guess, I feel like the obvious needs to be stated because people make questionable decisions constantly even when they have experience.  People.  People with blogs.  People with blogs who have written the best analysis of L5R 4e mechanics in the history of creation.

One hook is probably not sufficient to give a character enough to work with.  See my upcoming post on the dual hook-wielding build methodology for creating the most fun and most approaching absolute zero PCs ever.

February

Building L5R Characters – Traits

What happens when you get old is that you remember fewer details of your life.  Now, some of the reason for that makes logical sense – the older you are, the more details you have, thus any given detail is less of the memory pie.

I am shocked, shocked I say, that I wrote Origins before these other posts.  I think of Origins as something I did after hitting basics, though, to be fair, The Elemental Party was a prior run on talking about 4e Traits.

Does Void suck?  Well, I do find that my perspective does vary by metagame.  As mentioned somewhere, having a clearly defined role where you have Reflexes 5 is very different from playing with a bunch of strangers in a mod where nobody bothered to be a brain or a talker or a perceiver or whatever.  Still, Void would come after Awareness, Reflexes, Perception at a minimum and Earth-3 could be a higher priority.  I guess that’s not suck territory.

Kayfabeulous

People with blogs are not any one thing.  They may flop.  They may chuck.  They may criticize poetry from the early 20th Century and still may have watched like tons, one might even have said oodles, of “reaching back for something extra”, “what intestinal fortitude”, “Super-Crazy”.

’80s pro wrestling was often frustrating becomes it was so repetitive.  Modernistic sports entertainment has the … exact same problem.  Just changed from crushing jobbers to … whatever.

Somewhere, there is a great story to be had.  Of course, it’s all in the execution, which is why you favor mic gods like The Rock over … whoever.

DunDraCon 2015

I rarely call out convention reports.  I believe that I don’t feel that stating facts is as compelling as stating my perfecto o-pinions.

But, I feel like local cons and I are moving away from each other.  I just don’t feel the experience as I did a decade prior.  How mysterious and totally impossible in any way to figure out why.

So, here’s to 2015, when I reported a lot on Shadowfist casual play but also kept up with the scene in the ‘hood.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

Does anyone even get the joke of this post?  I don’t know that I do, anymore.  Old.  Let’s just say I’m superclever when I’m not on the spot to be clever – wait, isn’t that just a different word?

This is not that profound.  I just feel like calling it out.

Building L5R Characters – Advantages

Apparently, I ruled the blogosphere in February of 2015.  Because, obviously, nothing else matters more than L5R 4e mechanics analysis.

Formatting on this was kind of (nope), which I fixed to a degree later in my Disads post by using the power of bolding words.

Geez, Marie-Louise, I kind of see why my blog has gotten less popular in 2018.  I used to write useful stuff.

March

More Gooder Deck

Not a more gooder post, so why bother?  It’s long.  It mentions my “24” deck building methodology.

But, you know what?  I don’t do it as often I could, but I have posted deck lists.  Not tournament winning deck lists or here’s how to be furrier than the average bear deck lists, but sheer, unbridled insanity … to make a point.  No, to prove a point.  A thousand points.  A thousand points of CCG light.

It’s easy to have fun with CCGs.  Well, CCGs that don’t have Fate.  Build decks.  Identify other players who are fun to play with.  Play.

Building L5R Characters – Disadvantages

Yup, brilliant formatting makes this as easy to read as the make and model on Wonder Woman’s jet.

Sadly, I still follow my own advice.  I gravitate towards the cheese.  Not that I build a ton of PCs these days, so maybe I’ll learn to go back to when I liked my PCs.

[Classic] TR Vampire Ratings [6/1/2008]

This used to be my thing.  Arguing about stars for cards is fun like getting to ride in Wonder Woman’s jet.

It’s not just that fewer cards come out for CCGs I play.  It’s that I’m much more interested in just getting to play some daft Punks rather than worrying about if something is less gooder.

L5R Party Combat Guide

The original combat guide was more profound for bringing up common mistakes players make.  Neither is the definitive work on the subject.  In my upcoming post, I will …

Actually, it was a discouraging revelation to me that controlling a Unicorn Riding Horse in combat is much harder than I thought.  I don’t know why I got different rolls mixed up.

Anyway, I used examples.  Therefore, most goodest.

Flash VS Arrow

I no longer read comic books.  So, here’s my comicing outlet.  Besides knowing more than the substandard chipmunk, I happen to be the most entertaining reviewer of all things Arrowverse this side of Paradise Island.

Faster than a speeding locomotive, on to the next month …

April

Same Phat Channel, Same Phat Time …

Oh, the bronze-knees.

I was looking at our session tracker for Rokugan 1600.

Do you, wait, do I realize that each season has only been three main sessions long?  Well, yes, blog writer, I do realize that each season has been only three main sessions long.  It just doesn’t feel remotely like that.  I feel like I’m running a campaign that jumps around but still keeps building on what has transpired before (or introduces new stuff that makes the foundation of the campaign a mess).

I was trying to do three session story arcs to get more of an episodic feel with the ability to pivot faster.  Let’s see if I can wrap up season 4 in a way that doesn’t irritate the players and we can pivot for season 5 into something weird, like non-time travel, non-romance war stories.

May

Building L5R Characters – Skills

If it wasn’t for the fact that some people actually are playing FFG’s L5R, maybe I could spread out my geniusness over a longer stretch to not get everyone’s hopes up and, then, give them 2018’s travelogue.

Remember the single most important thing about this post:  I own the rights to factotumness, the rights of righteousosity.

June

July

Princess Police – Episode Guide

I’m used to short campaigns that don’t end as much as they cease to exist.  I’m fighting to try to avoid having me be the GM for such campaigns, while I haven’t played in anything for quite a while that wasn’t HoR.

What made The Princess Police interesting was how much the campaign took off long after it started.  I mean, sure, campaigns just seem to get richer as they go along until they stop, but this campaign survived long enough to have the depth of play that I hope for.

I think you can see how events became more meaningful to me later in the campaign.  This and HoR2 were the two L5R campaigns that I played that really satisfied in terms of L5R play.

August

Gen Con 2015

You know how I constantly call out convention reports.  Well, here’s another mundane, ho hum, hum drum convention report where I get into everyone’s favorite topic – food reviews.

September

Babylon 5 Request

Looking back is not so easy for the old.  There are so many B5 thoughts that I can probably only access by looking at old emails.  I don’t remember cards off the top of my head, anymore.

The B5 era was a hugely important era for me.  I became a playtester.  I became a designer.  I crusaded (but rarely Crusaded) for a game hard.  I played in the first Worlds.  I volunteered at major cons rather than just playing RPGs the whole time.

I got a foundation in CCGing that just being a V:TES player or UC! player or Magic judge didn’t.

I do realize that certain types of posts are more likely to get likes, it’s kind of interesting that this one didn’t, but, maybe, talking B5 long after the game died wasn’t a way to rapturize the masses.

RPG Yarn

I like some things.  Because I don’t really enjoy activities unless other people enjoy them, I subordinate my interests a great deal to enable groups to enjoy playing stuff.  Sure, meetup.com exists, etc., so I could find other people with more similar interests, but that requires a level of effort I’ve avoided.

I could probably write ten, twenty more words about what sort of RPGs I like.  Occurs to me that style of play isn’t something I talked much about in this post.  In my upcoming blog post on style of play I prefer, I will …  But, here’s what gets me looking for that Ring of Three Wishes so that I can blow a wish on the important stuff.

L5R Questions

I know.  It’s hard to provide commentary when everything the writer writes is pure, unadulterated geniusness.

Actually, I have an extremely reactive personality, which is why it can be challenging for me to get inspired to blog or to write more for Traveller.  So, if you want more geniusness spewed rather than the week’s latest ramble, maybe better to actually ask for what you want to hear about.

And, then, you will know everything there is to know about core book shugenjahood.  Every little thing.

October

Double-Striking, Swampwalking Squirrel Pumpers

This was a surprising hit to me.  I played a lot of Type P.  I built a lot more Type P then goldfished those builds.

Most of my Magic play, in the entire history of the cosmos, was, I’m sure, Type P.

Why don’t I talk about Type P more?  Well, I don’t play anymore and more recent efforts to play didn’t capture the Magic.

One hopes that blogging since 2009 would give readers a bit of insight into how my mind works.  This post should be one that gives pretty goodier insight.

If you ever want good sigs, like how I used to use good sigs on a regular basis, can take some quotes from this post.

Want: Land destruction, good way to blow up my own critters over multiple turns, maybe zombies

November

Brought By The Number 7

When gaming is a way of life, and I’d argue that it is for someone who has only ever been to England because of card tournaments in Germany, life is the shapemeister, baron von shape of gaming.  Sure, fiction is not quite so experiencey as, er, doing things that require physically moving more than the eyes and hands.

If staleness is a frequent problem with so many things, more posts like these might be the antistale needed.

Goat Droppings

Need more of this, somehow.

Ratings were too high on average.

This post actually take a lot of time to write, so I’m not that motivated to point out where I changed my mind, but I’d be happy to argue the rating of a card.

Book ’em Danaan

Ah, elitism, superiority complexion.  I can’t seem to escape pointing out that D&D is not remotely high fantasy.  While shopping for Christmas presents, I looked at possibilities of books I could get myself.  I’m sure no one else in the history of the multiverse has ever done that, ere now.  I didn’t shoot the wallaby.  Again, pretty much got myself a reference book for Aztec/Mayan society, which I still haven’t gotten anything out of.

December

A Mouse’s Donkey

Some things matter more to me than others.  Plus, I included an image.

Flaw Wars

Certain truths are self evident.  Btw, I don’t have high hopes that part three will redeem the problems of parts one and, especially, part two.

**  **  **  **  **

So, looking back on 2015, I can clearly see why 2015 had better stats than 2018.  I had the L5R character build posts and even more to say about 4e mechanics.  I had more original posts when it came to personal stuff or interests outside of gaming that I could pretend related to gaming.

Yup, 2015 looked mighty.  This was in the pre-True Dungeon period with lots of casual card play reports.  I even talked about Ultimate Combat!.  I wonder.  I wonder if because I changed jobs in 2015 and started traveling fairly often to Shanghai that I was more fired up even without the gaming five days a week thing I once had.

Leaving 2018 with what will inspire any and all to flood this blog with views, likes, and comments to prove that this blog has been made great again, here are some flavor texts from the best two-player CCG of them all:

  • Learned early, soon perfected – always a lance of destruction.
  • Denied the blood of life, first brain then body fail.
  • A good sweep takes you down like a patch of ice – without warning.
  • Draining speed and vitality, sand slows us all.
  • With the speed of a cobra, this whip to the head strikes true.
  • Flying enhances penetration.

Elsewords

December 18, 2018

As the most right-eous reviewer of all things Arrowverse, you gnome I was going to commentitate upon Elseworlds.

Not so great.

Yeah, had Supes, who is a better Supes than most, but it just seemed like Supes and LL to have Supes and LL.  Batwoman does nothing for me.  I mean, if you want to have an Yvonne Craig lookalike in a new spinoff, that might do something for me.  I’m not a Bats fan.  I was okay with him on Superfriends and am entertained by Adam’s adventures, probably more now where I pay more attention to the dialogue than I did back in the dim ages.

I chuckled at some part one stuff.

I felt like Melissa was wasted.  One thing I liked about Crisis was Melissa and Stephen getting to interact.  Here, felt like a buddy crossover with Supes and a bunch of others.  John Wesley Shipp also felt like a wasted opp.

Wasn’t funny enough.  Wasn’t spectacular enough.  Rushed.  Because of Gotham, felt like not a lot happened.  More Iris and Oliver, some Felicity and Barry, Kara and, uh, Diggle?  Ralph?  Everybody?

Then, Legends of To Meow Meow.  I agree with the comment that LoT essentially crossovered with itself.  I don’t usually rewatch LoT episodes (even though it is the best of the four shows), but I had to rewatch parts to relive SoS and DC’s Puppets of Tomorrow.

And, that brings us to our topic.

Giving the audience what it wants.

No, I’m not going to get rambled down into RPG GMing.

What do floppers want?

Art?  Can’t be art in and of itself.  There’s so much not good CCG art.

Mechanics?  Hell, nope.  I mean, look at what has done well over long spans of time.  Then, look at how forgotten and not so impactful a really fun to play game like Ultimate Combat! has been.

Theme?  Sire, yes sire.  Magic has fantasy.  Pokemon has poke.  Yu-Gi-Oh! has Exodia, Egyptian God Monsters, et al.  L5R is really cool.  Even V:TES and Shadowfist developed playerbases through theme (certainly not art).  Star Wars.  Lord of the Rings.  Buffy got made.  Doctor Who got made.  So, so many got made.

Competitive play?  I think so.  Even Babylon 5 did better than it might have due to tournaments.  No matter how much casual appeal there may be, and V:TES has had quite the casual appeal as I’ve run across numerous players who had no tournament interest, tournaments and prizes enhanced appeal.

Why would I pick up a CCG at this point?

Theme.  I’m not looking for a great mechanics CCG; a CCG with great mechanics would have to sell me on theme.

Analogizing, the problem with Elseworlds is that it didn’t theme well.  Crisis themed much better, giving supers all sorts of opps to superize, shippers opps to sail (Sara and Alex, e.g.).  Supes and LL were like art, fight scenes were like mechanics, Barry Queen and Oliver Allen training was like competitive play??  Well, it’s analogistic in the typical way that analogies don’t always work.

Meow Meow themed.  Singing.  Cat petting.  Amy in action.  Not perfect.  Ray, Mick, Ava not so well served.  But, Fairy Godmother did well.

Course, everyone knows the best themes involve space ships and aliens and economics, especially in a high tech digital version.

But, I digesticate.

On a related note, totally not enthralled with this season of Who.  I get that it’s stylistically much more like oldWho.  But, Pertwee and Tom were so much more interesting.  I liked Matt Smith’s and Capaldi’s Doctors more than most, even if their episodes weren’t always brilliant.  Jodi’s Doctor is too ordinary.  Too many companions, especially when you don’t have multipart episodes.  Just not all that interesting adventures.

BBC’s Doctor Puppet!!

Give the audience what it wants.  Wait.  What are my favorite episodes of a-l-l timeandspace?  Maybe another timeandspace I’ll have an answer.  I did really like parts of The Girl in the Fireplace of newWho.  I liked Tom on Gallifrey in oldWho.