True Dungeon – Ultrarares 2017

August 20, 2018

My how have things changed in the last year.

Should reference my look at 2016 URs for context:  2016 Ultrarares

I went from dipping into URs to being at least a Token Tycoon 1%er, maybe still outside of the .1%er club.

While I still don’t have most BiS tokens, I have some and I think much more towards what we don’t have to make a BiS build.  And, my interests in what I play are very, very different.  So, let me just comment on tokens to give insight into how play has changed for me, and maybe I’ll influence some last minute PYP selections.

At Gen Con, at what people complained was the hardest dungeon, I lent this out to someone who otherwise was playing with rares and more common tokens.  It made a massive difference for him and the party overall.  UR weapons do not suck.

However, they aren’t worth much unless they do something unusual or can be upgraded to relic/legendary tokens.  I’d sell ours for $75.  I think there’s someone in the world willing to pay that.  But, you can go to eBay right now and get one for less than that.

Compare to $90 as what PYPs were going for for 2017 URs and maybe around $100 that PYPs might go for this year.  Assuming you have perspective, I don’t see why you would ever want/hope to get one of these even as a random (well, a random from a pack is still getting an UR from an $8 pack).

This is pretty similar situation to Shillelagh.  It’s better by a lot than not having an UR level token, but it’s outclassed by other UR level tokens.  Lot of people like Widseth’s for doing attacks.  I prefer Briano’s for casting spells.

There have been attempts to make scrolls better, but it’s still using a consumable.  My great epiphany with bards, besides that “entertaining” the rest of the party seems annoying unless they are all your friends and find it not annoying, is that they have way too much to do.  I’d prefer to lead off with lore check, which is a different instrument, then cast spells, which is a different instrument, then not be carrying around five instruments because I’m now into minimizing what I have to hold on me in dungeons.

Now, whereas there are plenty of UR weapons or even rare weapons (Bliss gets +3 damage at the moment) or whatever you could run over Shillelagh available at all times, UR instruments are not as readily available, so this is something that’s tolerable to make some effort to get and, given that someday scrolls may get amazing [sic], why not own one?

Still, should be getting this cheap, like more in that $75 range, if possible, just don’t know if the supply is that high since the crazy, inefficient markets for tokens still have a supply/demand component.

Thread started by someone who hated that this was neck slot when this was revealed.  Neck slot is the heart from which all builds radiate because of how exalted the options are.  Others countered that paladin making sacrifices for the good of team players is thematically appropriate.

My view is that you own one of these if you ever play paladin because it’s cool and does something no other token can do.  But, you may not run it.

I find paladin is one of the most in demand classes, finding this because I think paladin is the class I most want to play at the moment.  I would have run this a lot because I did a lot of PUG (pick up group) runs at normal/hardcore and sucking up damage going to others to keep them alive when I have plenty of ways to keep myself alive even without running armor in my armor slot would have been enjoyable.  However, if you don’t need to keep others alive or see next sentence, I can see doing something else.

An observation I have had leading to my achieving a perspective is that hardly anybody targets paladins and who they guard as a DM metagame play.  I find that annoying because rather than using your ability what you are really doing is redirecting damage to other party members, concentrating damage rather than spreading it or absorbing it.  Great, you have a 40+ AC and nobody attacks you.  You have Belt of Thorns and nobody attacks you.  Boring.

My metagame counter would be to make a glass cannon paladin that relied on not being attacked to Deathcleave through enemies.  I tried to get one cheap.  I think I succeeded.

Cool.  Dwarf fighter token.  Sure, you could do an all retribution run, but, in regular play, I don’t expect this to hit more than like once.  I guess if you are playing at a level where party members die pretty easy so the enemy has to target you to inflict damage it gets better.  Can get this real cheap on eBay at moment.  I got mine at okay price.

I made efforts to get Charming sets.  I thought people would realize how good they are.  I still think most folks don’t realize how good they are.  I used them all of the time.

See, I don’t care about AC, so armor sets that eat up the head slot are mostly irrelevant to me.  Meanwhile, don’t run this and my builds have sketchy Will saves and aren’t psychic (which does save me the effort of having to remember I’m psychic and what abilities I have access to).

This is the best of the Charming Trio yet something I’ve got away from with a lot of builds because of a 2018 UR that is cooler.

The most common Charming Trio token I run?  Feels like it.  I haven’t felt a need to run Earcuff of Orbits yet and I ignore all of the earcuffs based on bardsong being in effect, so it’s this and Icecrag for me in pritnear any build in which I fill up slots (something increasingly less common as I am on a mini-build kick because of how much normal/hardcore we’ve been playing to where my usual is 10 total tokens).

At first, I didn’t care much about this, but that was because I was still Focus-ed on wizard builds that don’t have spare ring slots.  So many of my other builds can run this as I give up some extra damage, or I don’t give up a ring slot as I would have run Ring of Heroism in this slot, anyway.

The in thing with all of the .1%ers is full boat of Charms of Awakened Synergy.  I have one of these.  I think about getting more all of the time.

I was hoping to get them cheap since so many people already had 10/plenty.  We just don’t find it that interesting to put money into.  Certainly willing to borrow when the group all wants extra HP.

I would I suppose transmute some into CoAS if I had more, but it’s such a .1%er thing to do.  Given that the lower levels of play that desperately need HP (pack players) need HP far more and won’t have access to the plethora of Constitution buffs, that this is yet another token they won’t likely have just seems kind of suboptimal to me.  That level does have access to Linked Shirt of Healing, but I hardly ever see an effort to get everyone Linked up, anymore.

I value this at no more than $90 but see how prices rise as they will soon be OOP again.

I consider this irrelevant.  It’s not useless.  But, all of my druid/wizard builds would be running Charming Crown, instead, so I don’t get why these were printed at the same time besides maybe that people didn’t realize how good Charming Crown was going to be and realize that the following year would be an even more ridiculous Crown.

I figured these wouldn’t have a lot of value, and I was proved correct.  I might pick one up at $30 or something if I felt like a “fun” UR.

Another token I expected not to hold value.  It’s a nice to have if you don’t have other FoPs in your builds, but it’s like a rare level effect in actual play (to me) for UR cost.

In my case, it tends to be especially poor because I do a lot of really high Dex builds with astronomical Reflex saves and failing a Reflex save when you are plus 25 or more is actually kind of amusing.

Expected this to go for no more than $75 and expect that this is something might get below $40 if you hit the right eBay auction.  While other save unfailers/rerollers do seem to hold value, it could be because it’s Reflex or because it’s still in print that it’s just so uninteresting to me.

Sure, I would run it in a bunch of builds if I were filling out slots, but that’s just because FoP is an area I’ve put hardly any effort into.

Least interesting to me of the Trio, but I’d run it all of the time because I didn’t have Ioun Stone slots locked up and needed to get at least three of the Trio [ha] in place.  So many used to run Will’s Dragonheart, and it has just been so outclassed.  Part of the overall evidence of how TD power jumped in recent years rather than creeped.

You have to have it.  You load up on them to where at one point True Adventures posted an announcement about delayed availability.  More of the crazy that is variance in treasure draws for players.

I think I saw a couple go for about $90, but pretty much the thing you pick up extras of for the inevitable price increase or almost immediate ability to sell at $100, barring the TD economy collapsing or, at least, the desirability of treasure pulls taking even more of a hit.

A sign of how my TD experience has changed is that I didn’t bother commenting on the luscious Amulet of the Champion last year (I still will run AotC, but I understand how its value has declined).  I could have gotten this for under $150.  I didn’t bother.

With Ioun Stone Gold Nugget and Ioun Stone Platinum Nugget coming, my interest in Ioun Stones has declined.  I’m loaded with Con and Dex increasers in the five slots, already, as I’m still a big “raise stats” champion.

I expect this to decline, but it’s strictly better than stones I do often run.  The rare version was unfortunately really uninspiring for volunteers due to there being close substitutes or better things to do at UR.

Game changer.  Sure, we will get the Eldritch Kilt transmute next year and it will likely be absurdly overpowered, but this is how you get obscene hit points.

I thought I had more of these, but I guess our group only got so many.  I think these will rise quite a bit and I expect lots of last minute PYPs will go into these (figure most token tycoons would have already used PYPs on Silver Nuggets by this point).

$100 seems a good price right this moment with someone offering $105 on the forums.  As much as this is a massive power jump, I will do builds without it.  Again, I’m enamored by massive Dex builds that don’t need 70+ hit points at even the hardcore level, so I’ll run Fatherbane [gasp] or free movement pants.

Is this the most underrated UR in the set?

I didn’t expect these to go for a lot because the meleers would go with Instant Analysis, wizardy types would probably prefer a rare over this (I usually run a rare over this in wizard builds), etc.  Still, I love this token and run it all of the time.

I’ll do Deathcleaving builds, but I still like having the option to hit things with a +1 Mighty Sling.

Would expect it to be middling in value up until the point some ludicrous new eye slot token gets made and devalues a bunch of stuff.  I think it’s worth $90 to have one but would see [sic] about trying to get a couple for less … if I was looking [sic].

See [stop, just stop] this being necessary.  For some reason, players who have $10k plus builds care about getting random rares.  Hell, if I played rogue, which is extremely unlikely as it’s the class I have the least interest in playing, I would want my free loot as well due to the principle rather than the value.

We have been loaning out ours in PUGs because it just makes dollars, even though it does remove some of the entertainment value of the rogue screwing the party or nobly sacrificing a couple dollars worth of token.

I saw this as a legendary recipe component when it came out that gave wizards something different to do if they really wanted to be different.  Neck slot too precious to waste on wanding.

But, TD made this relevant as a play, and I applaud that as higher end builds really would be more fun if they were more diverse.

I was hoping to pick up cheap back when I didn’t expect hardly any use.  I never did.  Still don’t own one.  Would be interested even though the legendary recipe doesn’t really interest me.  Keep options open.  Unfortunately, I’m not willing to put much $$ into getting one.

Both underrated and an example of how weird the TD economy can get.  A bunch of these went cheap (under $90, in some cases significantly under $90 based on my feeble recollection).

Sure, transmuting a bunch is not cost effective (in theory, in practice people do this stuff all of the time).  I never understood why this wasn’t highly valued.  I would so much rather have +5 Dex than have +8 AC.  Dex actually does something.  Then, Starhide is core to a ton of my builds.

We could use another Starhide, but we don’t need one, so I’m not willing to put much money into another (I’d do $250 for Starhide, for instance, yeah ludicrous difference between TD and niche CCG card prices).  I would take another of these and probably waste the resources transmuting.

I’m routinely the second high bidder on these, especially Onyx versions, where I don’t know if I’d keep or transmute.  Kind of expect some short term action on these as people try to get the Starhides made before the deadline.  When not transmutable anymore, I’m curious as to what they go for as +5 Dex is still a massive power bump for someone without a bunch of URs.

I have yet to embrace consumables in TD.  Sure, I’ll look at picking up rezzes to save folks who are playing above their builds and I’ll dole out Potions of Distilled Healing like candy so that players don’t need rezzing.  But, I still pretty much never use scrolls and I don’t quaff any potions besides healing.

So, this is just meaningless to me.  Which means, a year from now, I’ll be talking about all of the amazing Runestone builds I’m doing.  I wouldn’t even bother at $30 because it doesn’t fit my interests.  I have yet to run a single Runestone in any build and am happy to sell off my various rare Runestones.

It’s hard to say how I feel about this.  I think it’s generally underrated.  I will run this over Cloak of Shadowskin (yes, I got some, had at least 3 at one point) at times.  I hardly ever remember damage reduction (run Kvothe’s as well at times).  But, I just don’t feel that strongly about pushing its value.

I don’t need more.  Probably have/had too many.  Feels like it should be middling in value in the future with no surprise that an eBay auction may have seen it go in the $70s (I don’t know, didn’t focus that much on what they did go for).

I ran this in some non-polymorph builds because I didn’t care about other shirts, builds I’m not sure I ever played.  I feel like this really got screwed not because it’s focused – focused isn’t terrible for a game where tokens often overpower each other.  It’s just not Focus-ed.

To have Shirt of Focus come in the very next year just shredded any labyrinth cred this had.  I think it’s cool and there’s a reason to have no more than two.

I can see why it would go cheap.  I can see both why someone might spend $70 and why someone might pass on an auction at $50.

Lobbying exists for it to allow other things while polymorphed.  I’d like to try polymorphing some time for the variety, more so the elf wizard version as I don’t expect druid to be available, and I’m fine with not being all polymorphpowerful, but there are others who crave all of the polymorphpower.

I could revisit my 2016 Ultrarares comments, but, eh, don’t feel that strongly about it.  I changed.  TD changed.

I had a Sill’s Anointed Redoubt Mail briefly which we enjoyed playing with, by we, I mean not me but Dave.

My focus [OMG, can you please stop] nowadays is on PYPs that I expect to hold value as a good amount aren’t that valued by token tycoons and can be had in the $60s-$80s on eBay.  Plus, as much as I’ve spent on tokens, I don’t see catching them all, so it’s better to just focus [*shakes head*] on what I’ll enjoy playing with, rather than speculating on Synergy, Awareness, or whatnot.

Advertisements

Gen Con 2018

August 9, 2018

What is the hookful opening to make everyone want to read about our Gen Con experience?

Let’s talk about food.  Bavarian food.

Maybe you know The Rathskeller chain.  Maybe you have had the traditional Bavarian Gulf Shrimp (North or Baltic) or the traditional Bavarian Southwest Cornbread (Black Forest baby) or the traditional vegetation Greek pasta or the traditional Bavarian Cajun Poppers or the traditional Bavarian Snickers Ice Cream Pie.

We chose to forego such native delicacies and shared a hot wurst platte while I got grilled pork tenderloin with potato pancake and spaetzle noodles and authentic teriyaki BBQ sauce.  The others got other stuff.

It occurred to me after we ate much of the bockwurst, bratwurst, and kielbasse that I could have taken a picture for work and, uh, this blog.  As I said a couple of times, strikes me as a tad odd that you would cook tenderloin to make it not tender, but everything is better with Bavarian teriyaki BBQ sauce, so it was good even in its chewiness.  Pancake was the best thing.

We could have gone back for Snickers Ice Cream Pie, but we didn’t actually have time.

For, you see, in what is a brilliant writing stylistic flourish, it was only our Wednesday night meal that I have described.

So, you may not care about food, but all of this was supreme cleverness to segue into talking about logistics.

“What was the lowlight of the con?” was asked Sunday evening.  I thought it was pretty clearly two things:  I didn’t get enough sleep; I ate too much.  Both would have been solved to some degree by foregoing teriyaki BBQ sauce.  However, the focus was more on when we fly in.  I’ve been old.  I’m oldening.  To fly in Tuesday and sleep continuously would solve a sleep problem but opens up other problems.  Increased hotel expense doesn’t bother me that much.  Taking more time off from work bothers others in addition to me much.

One opinion was to fly out later than 6AM.  Actually, I used to fly out more like 8AM, so I only had to set my alarm for 4AM rather than 2AM to finish getting ready to go to the airport.  I’m not sanguine about flying out after 8AM, also flights tend to happen at similar times.  We can see about a somewhat later flight and see if that makes a difference.

However, besides flight changes and skipping sit down meals, a manifesto is required.  For, you see, we are TDers, at least I’m a token tycoon.  We engage in an activity that one person described as a cross between a haunted house and an escape room [plus shuffleboard].

The Truth (shall reduce structural damage to one’s shoulders, collarbone, back, et al)

  1. I shall not bring tokens to dump on newbs and/or casual players to Gen Con.
  2. I shall not bring tokens to Gen Con solely with the intent of selling or trading them.
  3. I shall not buy, sell, nor trade tokens at Gen Con if it requires meeting up with someone Wednesday.
  4. I shall have normal and hardcore builds that don’t require nightmare/epic tokens prebuilt and arranged in my binders.
  5. I shall have those builds in my Android app.
  6. I shall endeavor to get rid of as many irrelevant tokens (rares and less) from sealed packs, treasure pulls, treasure bags, or whatever as soon as we meet people in the coaching area for a run and not somehow expect anyone to hang around at 1AM to trade, buy, or receive some gift.
  7. I shall not plan on transmuting anything at Gen Con.

Note the frequent use of a term spelled with two words and six letters.  Gen Con is just too short.  It’s too dense (busy).  There just isn’t any time to fiddle with anything that isn’t essential.  Better to just offer to give people $5 to mail something to me than wander around for 15 minutes trying to find someone when I could be sleeping.

Even at GameHole Con where I had nothing to do but TD, fiddling with a bunch of low worth tokens was rather excruciating.

Thursday

And, so three of us begin with Heroes of Rokugan.  For, you see, because gamers are masters of socialism … socialiting …

Anyway, when I was a lone wolf, always on the prowl for booth babes and beer roots (with no ice), I could play games where you were a many-layered archetype or where you made snakes more important to your tribe or where you superheroed in Renaissance Italy.  But, now that we are a pack, we must do two things at Gen Con.  Heroes of Rokugan and True Dungeon.  Two things that aren’t available on Sundays and, thus, make our schedules dumb.

9AM – CIT20

The Soul Goes Forth was the best of our day one mods and the only open library mod we did on day one.  It’s my type of mod, though there should have been more to do.

Sadly for thou, in an attempt to avoid spoilers, even spoilers for things spoiled on Sunday at Gen Con and spoiled in the TD forums, my actual content is virtually nonexistent.  But, don’t worry, I’ll get back to food soon.

2PM – CIT25

The Game didn’t Change because I know nothing about what matters in this campaign so having high status people do stuff meant nothing to me.  The poorest experience of the three mods we did on Thursday.  Too much party arguing over nothing.

7PM – CIT24

The Balance Shifts well to courtiers.  Courtiers who decide all enemies must not survive more than a couple of rounds.  I could see how this could be hard on certain tables.  I don’t recall feeling all that threatened.  It was okay, neither being as surprising as it seemed to want to be nor as challenging as I’m sure it could be for a mid rank mod.

Late – Into the Viper’s Nest

Long thread on the TD forums about how this was not a good intro.  On reddit, you can find people who said they would not play TD again if they hadn’t also done N1 and seen a different dungeon.

I did not care for the puzzles in this 2014 redux intended for newbs.  I totally understand the frustration two of my friends had with room 5 and how they had nothing to do after that.

I enjoyed it.  I like snake themes (hellooo Setite seducers).  I got to play druid for the first time in ages.  I actually wanted to cast Detect Poison and Neutralize Poison.  I entered room 7 with only Resistance left of the spells I was ever going to cast.  I survived with 2hp left at the end.  I didn’t have to make a saving throw in room 5.

Not that you probably have any idea what I’m talking about, but, let’s say that I played TD a long, long time ago and witnessed the devastation that could be wreaked by dancing foes and had the presence of mind to take constructive action.  On the other hand, I’m not a quick thinker.  I know.  You must be shocked that my brain isn’t so perfectly adept at all things that I must be a master of speedextricitous actions of perfect wisdom and calculation.  Nope.  It never occurred to me to say anything to the rest of the party until after I considered the value of players developing good dungeon skills through terminal experience.

Damn, druid is so good.  Can just cast forever both murdering stuff and saving folks.

Not much sleep.

Friday

9AM – CIT26

Whereas Thursday was about sharing mods, Friday was about splitting up since we didn’t expect Andy to do HoR on Friday.  I played the intro mod, which required that I spend no XP from 1PM Thursday to 1PM Friday as I sat at 149 Insight.

I like intro mods.  This was not a good intro mod.  I got value out of it.  Liked it better than any of the other four mods I played at GC, but two of the newbs were completely lost and two others were mostly lost.  This mod is just way too complicated and exotic for newbs.  The very young girl playing the Seppun Guardsman who was a veteran of sorts of HoR play, however, got to win a duel and was quite proficient in the role-playing parts.

2PM – CIT23

Best start ever.  Two of us burned a Luck (because of course it’s “a” and not “the”) on the first activity!

The GM was willing to let someone(s) roll INT/Spellcraft at one point.  I kept saying “Someone … should roll INT/Spellcraft.” in the direction of at least one of our two shugenja (both of which with INT higher than 2) … up until the point that I rolled 2d10 and got a 13.  Then, the moron herald with no knowledge of magic … Honor Rolled …  Ah, the mechanics stories that will live on until my future self blows up the Sun and wipes out the human race [sorry, not all that I see seems to come to pass, so there’s still hope].

After 7PM – N2

So, Andy and I had done N1 at Origins and we figured it would be easier to get into a N1 late in the con.

Lot of forum complaints about how hard N2 was.  I liked it most of all, but, then, I had lots of hit points with my mini barbarian build (10 token) and didn’t realize how much everyone was getting beaten down and not just some of the newer players.  I passed out a number of healing potions at one point.

The most important thing, however, was I got to play my mini-barbarian build that uses … wait for it … this probably means utterly nothing to you … but it’s still going to blow your +1 Fae Blowgun Flute … as its two-handed melee weapon my +1 Quarterstaff.  Yup, my wooden +1 Quarterstaff.  I saw it pop up once, but, apparently, it kept popping out of the disk.

For, you see, I played wizard a lot and had a +1 Quarterstaff as one of my few “relevant” tokens.  It was irrelevant.  Now, I could never bother with a non-focus staff.  But, it’s a two-handed weapon.  A dozen or so years in the making – +1 Quarterstaff beats.  And, now that I’ve proved my amazingosity and my total disdain for being a good player and teammate, I will move on to using only weapons that actually stay in the disks.

Later – N3

This was our improvement over the nearly deadly GC 2017 – back to back runs in a RPG slot rather than everything after a full day of RPGing.  This was the group’s favorite dungeon.  I liked it.  I just liked N2 more, which was prettier to me.  I was struck, though, by how similar puzzles were between dungeons.  I have this sense that TD comes up with clever ideas but tends to go to similar wells too close in proximity to each other.

I played wizard and was not effective in the last fight.  Not effective at all.  I could rant about it, but it didn’t affect my experience here like it may have affected my experience a couple years prior due to the same cause.

Saturday

9AM – Political Interactive

My first announcement at a major political interactive and I chose my words poorly.  Not to say it was related, but the other notable thing was how totally uninterested everyone was in the Imperial Advisor contest.  Nobody ever wanted help from any of the four of us Imperials to choose a candidate.  I may have been lame, but so was that.

The four of us started with five influence chips and the four of us turned in our 20 influence chips.  What was good was that the Crab Lion War sides were much better balanced and more amusing than it sounded like they would be.

Actually, I thought the Battle Interactive premise was weak, but having this event precede it helped immensely, methinks, in building up the clan vs. clan event into something for people to care about.

Playing an Imp in the PI was so, so much better than not.  Previously, I was an irrelevant flunkie who accomplished nothing.  Now, I get to be my own nobody who helps newbs and accomplishes nothing.  Win-win-win.

3PM – Battle Interactive

I was an observer, of course.  Eric chose to join team Observe In Force, where I pushed heavily engaged on the group for our opening round.  We did some arranging to end up with one shugenja and someone who didn’t suck at Battle rolls.

The table GM then told us that I had to make all of the Battle rolls due to my military status and because, for some reason, no delegation from table commander to battle commander to have someone good at something weak actually get to make use of their abilities.  I thought it was funny, but it kind of impacted our entire table and theoretically could have been really punishing to a PC.  It worked out fine for us, but I’ve already tried lobbying for not having military status dictate these things.

So, I rolled my 3d10 (first VP gone) and failed the Tier 2 TN 20 by 1.  I spent my second and last VP in the first round of combat against Matsu Berserkers.  Oh, why?  Why did we have to be on the Crab side?  I’m a huge fan of Matsu, whether Berserkers or the even more feline kind.

Eric finally got to Kenjutsu-Kill and did 98 wounds with his first ever Katana-7 attack.  We were actually in pretty good shape after round one, but decided to go easy because I couldn’t make any TN higher than 15, anyway.  Disengaged Tier 2.

Our shugenja got wrecked.  Team two courtiers, a monk, a shugenja, a Taoist, and the Flower Champion would have been good to go without a world to slay, but we just went for Engaged Tier 2 because some folks are not all that into harshness.  I Honor Rolled to make the roll.  We had to slaughter some poor pussies and their […].  I almost had a full attacking animal ready to reduce me by more than the 20 wounds I had.  Some Initiative manipulation and it ended without Observers In Force carnage.

I did get dinged Honor, though, for pinballing extra attacks off of grappled samurai.  Mechanically bad for me and the mechanical rewards for BIs are pretty lame for the people who play, but it doesn’t bother me as it would be hypocritical to bitch about how dumb grappling is and still feel entitled to abuse it.

I wonder if I would get more value out of GMing BIs.  At their best, they are my favorite thing to do in HoR, so the idea of doing them is ingrained in me, unlike PIs where I’m typically bored after 30 minutes.  But, GMs get interesting things that might shape more interesting characters and so many BIs are monotonous.

Late – N1

Finally, the Paladin and Monk get back to the Astral Plane.  I played fighter, for the first time ever.  I could see playing fighter again, but I never used the reslide and I doubt I would except when things are not going well.

We played this normal.  The 19hp rogue (to my recollection) and a low hp ranger (maybe) both got hit for 8 damage twice in the first room.  That was weird.  It was way better doing the stupid arrange lights puzzle (so, so over coordinating lights in that way) when it was known exactly how to proceed.  Another fight made no sense to me in that the rogue kept getting targeted when the rogue wasn’t overequipped for this run like two of our group were.  I actually participated in the final puzzle room and it was pretty easy.

So, I’m not as big of a fan of N1 as others.  I don’t tend to find puzzle rooms with a physical component (not a physical challenge necessarily) appealing.  The first puzzle in N1 I like, though I think it’s rather easy.  The second sets me off.  The third is a great room, but I just don’t really care.  And, … well, that describes the fourth puzzle room as well.  I just don’t feel stimulated by those sorts of challenges.

Not to say I was super thrilled by the logic problems.  I did like the seven image puzzle in terms of style, just finding the dungeon kind of foreboding, where N2’s bright, snowy features were far more appealing to me.

To be fair, I don’t know that hardly any puzzles really excite me.  One forumite was mentioning not liking role-playing style challenges like Moongate’s first room.  That’s the stuff I love.  I got tired of it after the first couple of times and my efforts weren’t appreciated as much as I appreciated thinking about them before GHC, but I’m all over kneeling before naked hotties, er, and, um, sucking … up to them.  Even when I solve puzzles quickly, I often feel like then the puzzle was too easy.

As much as I didn’t like playing bard, there’s something about bard that is more engaged with the seven room romp to where I could see some effort to do a spellcasting build, of course, that’s helped by my owning Briano’s.

Maybe two hours of sleep.

Sunday

8AM(!!) – Invisible Sun

I was physically struggling.  After my game, Andy brought me bitterish coffee that tasted along the lines of unsweetened tea.  During the game, I was very interested.  The theme appeals to me.  The chrome is a bit much for regular play, but it seems good for convention play.  I just didn’t get to do hardly anything.  Normally, when I have supernatural powers, I find good uses for them.  My main contribution was causing a demon to vomit up a bunch of insects long enough for us to get what we needed.

I’d be willing to get into Invisible Sun, though I have my doubts it will see any more play than Age of Legends, 7th Sea 2e, Weapons of the Gods, et al.

12PM – Spirit of 77

Charlie’s Angels … on the Love Boat … with Ricardo Montalban as a possible Charlie.  Kris tried to prove herself as the new Angel by taking on toughs by herself.  I played Sabrina and lost a close chess match in a Battle of the Network Stars style competition to Captain Stubing.  Jill (party NPC) had to give mouth to mouth to Doc.  Kelly outshot the bartender and brought up her former heroin addiction.  We never did reconcile the divorcing couple who struck me as right out of Love, American Style.

So many of these references and others will make no sense to younger folks.  I want to go back and watch episodes because I don’t really remember them that well.  I watched a ton of TV when I was growing up and it’s largely a blur of impressions rather than detailed knowledge.

Everyone answered my question correctly – four players, four middle-aged men, only one Bosley.

Spirit of 77 strikes me as something to look at for rules light play.  Again, likely just a con game, but maybe not.

And, so we get to the crucial part of the con.

The after con BBQ.  I made a poor decision due to factors that are too involved to articulate and ate a rack of ribs, a cheddar-jalapeno link, and a Sugarfire Pie Milkshake for our Sunday dinner.  Dave’s strawberry milkshake sounded much yummier.  The ribs had a lot of fat to where I pulled some off and there was no real advantage to a rack over a half rack.  I’d go back to Sugarfire Smokehouse Indianapolis, but I wasn’t stunned by the awesomeness.  I could see trying the pulled pork and brisket and getting a different milkshake.  Because, if there’s one thing hard to find in downtown Indy, it’s milkshakes.

Food highlight?  My TGIF berry smoothie was solid and not overpriced.  The drink I probably enjoyed the most was the grocery store sweet teas, stirred not shaken.

Oh, and the highlight?  Playing True Dungeon.  I enjoyed ItVN well enough and everyone liked N1-3 a lot.  I got to rage with a quarterstaff, cast Neutralize Poison, and talk with another Dungeoneer.

I also got to completely avoid going into the exhibit hall.  No ticket issues.  Not late for any games.  Had a little bit of HoR conversation.  We somehow got exactly the Blessed Redoubt Helm we needed from one of our treasure bags.  And, I started making my fun buys for Miya Tatakisu where maybe I’ll get to be a cavalryman or assassin or deckhand or something and really relate to it.


Subtraction By Addition

July 22, 2018

While my current thoughts are more on Rokugan 1600 since I just ran a session and we had three sessions in three weeks, I was thinking about V:TES and adding cards versus removing cards from the card pool due to the recent threads on the forums.

I got to thinking about what expansions actually made V:TES a better game.  Not a more fun game, since that’s incredibly subjective, but something not remotely subjective since I know all and see all and think all that is what made the game play better.

Dark Sovereigns

Ha.  Ha ha.  Terrible balance with incredibly obnoxious cards like Thoughts Betrayed.

Ancient Hearts

Worse balance.  Note that Giovanni and Ravnos are still awful (more so the one without a lot of Dominate), Ass are more awful than either of those (close with Ravnos), and Serpentis is incredibly top … focused with cards not like Temptation and Form of Corruption tending towards gar-bage.

Sabbat

Finally, a set that seems to be trying to address the game mechanically and may have been playtested a reasonable amount.  Sure, wild imbalances in clans, but this is a step in the right direction even if the path of producing crappier versions of Deflection and Telepathic Misdirection isn’t really the path of making a better game.

Sabbat War

For this post, I don’t see this being significantly different, but it did put cards into the precons that weren’t in the boosters.  My appreciation for this set has grown considerably since I tend to forget how the !Trem got slighted.  Some good additions cryptwise.

Final Nights

Full of gar-bage.  Made Giovanni Shamble.  Made Ravnos Nightmarish.  Not remotely my idea of a good set, but it did make the game better in some ways.  Having indies not be so terrible is better even if I find Shambling tiresome.

Bloodlines

No.  Bloodlines may be superpopular and superinteresting, but I see it only taking away from the game as it expanded the game in a way that made it far far harder to grok and away from core concepts.  For one thing, hardly any of the bloodlines are votey, which means increased variance in how votish tables are.  Plus, just trying to expose someone to a game with a ton more disciplines, outferiors, disciplines that hardly any vampires have, weirdly non-synergistic crossover possibilities that caused many bloodlines decks to ignore mixing with non-bloodlines is not happy times.

Camarilla Edition

Nerf hammer unleashed.  Did that make the game better?  It’s kind of hard to remember how insane free Majesty and always free Second Tradition is.  Ton of new vampires that weren’t out of control powerwise even if some are superobnoxious.  Sure, CE made the game better.  I would have liked The Embrace to be changed in a different way, but some good clarity and nerfing.

Anarchs

Frowny face.

Black Hand

More frowny.  This might have been more welcome if it didn’t come on the heels of Anarchs.  Both suffer from not giving so much interesting spins on what is already possible but pushing towards low yield mechanics in the name of expansion.  The idea of introducing new things weak does not make games play better.  It makes tables more unbalanced as the experimenters get Dominated.

Gehenna

The end times.  Variety of normal cards that are pretty good balancewise.  Saddled with the most obnoxious stuff in existence.  So many games with a bunch of Events in play as people tried out Fall of the Camarilla, et al.

10th Anniversary

Atrocious new cards.  Get 10 cards where at least three never should have been printed (as written).  After initial efforts, I don’t see five played by anyone besides me.  Channel 10 is borderline in my mind as to whether it should exist.  Powerbase: Los Angeles is the one card that, if you think anarchs should be part of the game, deserved being published.

Pretty much a set of unique promos beyond the reprints and I never think that’s a way to make games better.  OTOH, a bunch of important reprints.

Kindred Most Wanted

Where Anarchs and BH led to “Something different, I’ll build bad decks!”, KMW led to “I’m going to permarush you with this incredibly bad deck until I can murder your dude!”  Also think it made draft significantly worse by putting out way too much unnecessary draft text.  Reminds me of Gehenna in that there are various normal cards with the set saddled with awful, but are all of the normal cards good ideas?  The Embrace got turned into a pure swarm card, so we get Tumnimos as another version?!?  Waters of Duat?!?  How about just fixing The Embrace to get a skill card if put into play by a 5+ cap?

Legacies of Blood

More bloodlines.  Tupdog.  Plus, let’s add Abombwe to the game.  At least Bloodlines seemed to have a plan.  This just smacked of “How do we sell the next set?”

Mixed bag on crypt cards.  Samedi in this set are just atrocious.  Far more Laibon options if you have to have Laibon even part of the game, something I used to be in favor of but now am not, at least not how it was done.  More Laibon in Tzimisce and Lasombra help open up varied crypts in a way I think the game would be benefited by.

Nights of Reckoning

If Gehenna had never been made, would this set be so hate-worthy?  Could argue that it forced people to build decks differently and punished people playing sketchy strategies.  Except, this isn’t Magic.  This is a multiplayer CCG where a lot of play is not for tournament preparation/competition and the balance was way out of whack when this got published.  Now, what is the balance now?  Is it boring to play Imbued?  Generates too much table hate?  Or, did the better players learn how to cause Imbued not to turn into swarms with permastealth, permacept, permableed, permafreak?

3rd Edition

Heart of Nizchetus.  Did On the Qui Vive make for a better game or just a more powerful game?  Is having a wake for Carlton and friends a good idea or an “Allies are even more annoying” idea?  It did put a bunch of cards into people’s hands, a bunch of misprinted, marked, smelly cards, but that’s not germaine to whether it makes for a better game.  Some good.  I consider Mirror Walk good.  Abbot is arguably good for the game.  I question whether Helicopter is, being mostly a buff to three-bleeders with four votes.

Cryptwise, I’d say pretty good adds to the game.  Overall, then, I’m wishy washy about it, but I guess I’d go with good for the game.

Sword of Caine

Ignoring expanding on BH, something I don’t think substantially added to the game and only became more and more annoying as it got better and better cards to support the trait, what did this add?

Biothaumaturgical Experiment continued to make Thaum more diverse, which it needed.  Epiphany was huge for making a terrible mechanic less terrible.  Nocturn is another ally that strikes me as being too good and can warp the environment, though this gets into a different argument about what role allies are supposed to play in the game.  The Uncoiling was an attempt to counteract a terrible card type, and it does a pretty bad job of it in my experience.  Unexpected Coalition was something to throw at one of the worst clans in the game, possibly the worst at the time.  Veil the Legions is such an unneeded effect for Obfuscate and can contribute to the Aus/Obf arms race.

Sometimes you make overly good cards, but SoC had so few cards in it and the greatest need was far a ton more Sabbie vampires.

Lords of the Night

A bunch of alt wakes, well, that’s not terrible.  I could get into details on cards, but I’d say generally that more help for Ass/Quietus is positive where helping things that didn’t really need it to better at what it already does – Leverage, Murmur of the False Will – is maybe not the best way to go.  Then, there are cards that very well may have made the game better by adding value to weaker disciplines (Celerity, by this time Potence).

It’s less clear to me whether this set made the game better.  If unclear, then tend to side with “Have to add something to the game or it isn’t a CCG.”

Twilight Rebellion

Given anarchdom, sure, this made the game better.  This is a set that I seem to appreciate far, far more than other people outside of Anarch Convert, Club Illusion, Constant Revolution, and Revolutionary Council.

This is the one small set I think was worth publishing.  I’m sure others will complain about how weak most of the cards are and how that doesn’t make a game better when you won’t play the cards, which is as valid as my pointing out how full of gar-bage Final Nights is.

Keepers of Tradition, Ebony Kingdom, Heirs to the Blood

Why group these three together?  Given that I think the game has suffered from getting away from core clans and core disciplines, the latter two wouldn’t be a surprise on my list of “bad for ball”.  KoT is on my list for reasons mentioned in another post – grossly unneeded power jumps in library cards, plus the likes of Lutz and Santaleous.

There do seem to be certain eras to expansion of the game.  The first era is obviously the introduce more clans era, though often leaving clans exceptionally weak against the OGs.  The SW/FN era of making stuff better was logical, though FN suffered immensely from so many bad cards.  Then, you get the “V:TES weirder” era with bloodlines, anarchy, BHness, Events, Red List, Laibon where I get that the game was going down a path of trying to broaden its mechanics.  At the time, I was into the idea of bloodlines.  I was into the idea of Laibon.  BH and anarchy both seem somewhat innocuous and don’t require more disciplines.  But, I just don’t see how the game got better, just more diverse.  Then, you get a power up era with KoT and HttB.

Given that you have to expand the game somehow, what would have made more sense?  Really, Camarilla could use more expansion to do things besides P/J plays.  Vampire expansion was generally good, but each grouping could use more options, especially for certain clans.  Core clans – Cam, Sabbie, Indie – could do with more clan cards, though indies have gotten a ton of love over the years.  More multidiscipline, especially for weaker discipline combinations.  More vampires that share out of clan disciplines for the likes of Lasombra and Tzimisce (besides Dominate and Presence, like the indie disciplines).

Add one new mechanic and it seems like a minor increase in complexity.  Keep adding and you get not only a far more difficult game to teach newbs but a game that becomes even harder for existing players and turns off more casual groups that remember what it was like in prior eras and preferred that.  Then, how many of these mechanics are actually positive additions to the game.  Can say anarchy and BHness are now good additions, but they were terrible additions when they came out.  Events remain a pox on the game.  Aus/Obf arms race was not my idea of making stealth/intercept work better but had the tendency to squeeze out a lot of middle ground plays (though the evidence for this doesn’t seem to exist).

So, V:TES thoughts while in another pretty dry period for V:TES play.  I’m sure negative views on other things will surface, or I’ll have something the same/different to talk about after Gen Con.


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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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:

PROs

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.

CONs

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.

Sunday

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.

Monday

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.

Aftermath

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.


Pasticheing

May 13, 2018

I read three books recently.  None of them were my books.  Most of the books gotten for me in recent years I have yet to read because, well, I can always do it later, in theory.  Whereas, my mother is working on getting rid of some of her books, which includes a lot of mysteries.

Why not a Mother’s Day themed post?  Family tradition, at least as far back as my grandmother, that we don’t celebrate it.

Sherlock Holmes story I would not consider a pastiche as it didn’t really imitate ACD in style, just used his characters.  It was interesting to read but, much like recent Star Wars movies, you can pick at it more and more after the fact.  I read some reviews afterwards and I could see the problems with it.  It wasn’t much of a SH story.  SH was incapacitated for much of the early book, it involved romantic notions involving not-Watson, it was goryesque (for me, irrelevant), it had Mycroft swinging between appearing to be brotherly and being mucho manipulative.  And, then, I realized it didn’t really try to solve any mystery.  As I’ve said before, SH stories aren’t about good mysteries, they are about fanciful characters and dramatic moments, but they still use a mystery as the basis of a plot.  In this case, sure, you could call the beating up of SH by an unknown assailant a mystery and some boring murders, but it’s not a SH-style mystery.  Once SH is on stage, you are pretty much just left with determining which of two brothers is a bad guy, where forensic type clues are largely meaningless.

Then, I read a Robin Hudson novel – that’s the protagonist’s name.  Author would be Sparkle Hayter.  It was fine.  Expectations are different.  The focus was on presenting an appealing protagonist and I’m all for redheads built like Rita Hayworth who keep poison ivy around in their apartments.  What this book had in common was that it was very, very focused on characters and the mystery was pretty unimportant.  Some guy gets killed and there’s barely any explanation as to precisely how by the end of the book.  I’m not sure the supporting characters hold up as plausible given the relationship drama and the events of the book that cause all sorts of public scandals.  But, I wouldn’t be opposed to reading the other four Robin Hudson books, until I’ve read another.

Recently, I took a couple of sessions to read a Judge Dee book.  I had never read one before.  It was more mystery focused than the first two.  The cultural elements are distracting, with some of the diction sounding a bit too modern, but, hey, written in the ’60’s, so whatever.  It was fine.  I thought maybe it would be somewhat inspiring for L5R or whatever, but, even with fantasy elements, not so much.  I didn’t feel that strongly about any of the characters, which is contrastriffic to the other two books.

There are mysteries that can inspire me, whether it’s gaming or writing fantasy.  In fact, I still retain minimal recollections of being interested in doing a series of stories with a mystery feel involving a witch and her stepdaughter paladin.  But, I’m not feeling much from these books other than being somewhat transported to the realmscapes of the mind.

So, what has been going on gamingwise?

Shadowfist, where I gave up on the second of two games Thursday because I felt like I was wasting too many of my resources trying to keep the game going.  I still don’t get enough deckbuilding done as it’s not easy for me to throw something together before we play and I’m usually interested in vegging for a bit after we play.

Traveller rulebook updates.  Commenting in our playtest forums.  Playing with Jeff yesterday as he was in town.  I wrote about our play session to some degree on the Traveller forums.

I need to do some work on session three of Rokugan 1600, The Northern Front.  I have ideas I like, but ideas don’t make product.

True Dungeon forumites up in arms about Gen Con electronic tickets and no ghosting policies.  I just hope our situation isn’t affected by “improving the experience”.  In general, I still come from things with a casual player’s perspective rather than 1%er’s viewpoint, so a lot of things don’t steal my sheep.

I finally bought V:TES cards from drivethrucards.com after it kept denying my checkout because my name wasn’t in my address even though I had ordered stuff before with the same address.  Otherwise, haven’t been thinking much about V:TES.  At the rate I’m going, Origins prep would likely happen right before Origins, which is way too late for the number of decks I should build.

To a degree, have I gotten to the point of imitating my old habits?  I don’t build decks that often, yet have three games I have reasons to build decks for.  I don’t try to play RPGs.  I acquire more stuff seemingly because I feel I should rather than for a passionate desire to have the stuff.

Everything seems to be waiting on conventions.  KublaCon for HoR engagement.  Origins for V:TES engagement and TD engagement.  GC for HoR engagement and TD engagement.  Traveller is when I’m needed for something rather than trying to get ahead of the curve on our release plans.

On the other hand, finding solace in something distracting with no greater project impact, like driving through a short novel is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been inclined to do.  Then, there’s getting caught up on Arrowverse shows, which is so not that great.  Still haven’t broken down and watched an Into the Badlands episode for season three, so maybe that will be inspiring when I get around to it.


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.

Yeah.

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.


Travelling 东西

April 21, 2018

Efforts to get more consistent about posting run into logistical limitations when I do such things as travell.

In this case, a familiar locale with an unfamiliar purpose.  Due to cutbacks on work travell and my interest in seeing people, asked my mother if she was interested in spending some time in Shanghai.  Since she was, got her a visa and spent a week in the same hotel I’ve used on every work trip, which oddly enough costs a lot more when the company isn’t paying for it.

In a nonchronological sequence, since this isn’t a convention report or whatsit where there’s more than one gaming thing to mention, going to display certain, select photos that I deem appropriate.

One of the things about going to Hawai’i is that buying chocolate covered macadamia nuts is passé as they are readily available in stores locally.  Now, there are types that aren’t commonly seen, so I still get some stuff or, commonly, I share boxes I’m gifted as I should not be eating much candy.

Convenience at what price? Cheap. Cheap price.

These were okay.  I hardly bought them for the edibility factor.  Nor did I buy them because I think it’s weird that you can get something in the largest city in the world (per worldatlas.com).  I just thought it was amusing that I could get it at a chain of convenience stores near the hotel and that it was so prominently displayed.

Speaking of convenience stores.  What do I want to drink when I’m in China?  $4 cokes?  $5 cokes?  $6 orange juices?  $9 milkshakes from Starbucks?  Well, actually, the $9 milkshake from Starbucks was really good.  By the by, did I mention that the first time I ever went to a Starbucks was to meet my French classmate in Shanghai?  Maybe I did.  Not only am I losing it, but I’m still pretty wasted from flying back Thursday and going to work Friday.  Sadly, I now acquire mugs with foreign city branding for people when I don’t know which of my friends who I would give a mug to actually like Starbucks.

Got off track there.  “Chinese” milkshakes that really just have one small scoop of ice cream?  Not remotely my level of sweet smoothies?  The “barely sweet enough” level of smoothie is okay, though, again, much less expensive when the company is paying for it.  Suanmeitang?  Well, suanmeitang is okay.  Sweet enough for me.  Works pretty well with spicy stuff, like when we do hot pot.

No, what I most desire is some Wanglaoji/Jiaduobao.  Sweet tea.  It’s what I mostly drink at home.  For only like $2.50 at restaurants (the kind I’d rather eat at in Shanghai), which is what you pay at the local grocery store here, can have sugary goodness that’s totally “healthy”.  Ningmeng cha also tends to work well (rather pricey at Starbucks in Lujiazui, but I guess you pay for river views and for being tourists).

Getting to the point.  At a convenience store, 5 RMB, or less than a dollar.  See, where I have travelled with folks who like blowing $100 on alcohol after arriving at the hotel, I have different tastes.  The tastes of the noble, virtuous, handsomeyishlikemaybeish, and geniusy common man.  Who toils in the cubicle many hours out of a weekday.

Speaking of tastes … [redacted]

Pretty, good.

Could have tried going to a Din Tai Fung.  But, one, reviews I’ve read about the one in this area lead me to believe in marketing over being better than the usual place I go for xiaolongbao.  Two, I thought we could use occasional breaks from Chinese food for Western food.  See, I don’t get on the alcohol types for wanting good steak or good Italian food when travelling, I just don’t see the point of doing that three nights in a row when you are in … uh … China, which has other options besides steak and pasta and pizza.  Oh, I did have lasagna and pizza on the trip.  And, two burgers.

Did I care about eight flavors of xiaolongbao?  No.  Eight pieces of garlic xiaolongbao would have been more my style.  I did have the Szechuan one, which tasted different but not better, and the foie gras (by accident), which was good.

Two of the things I ordered weren’t great at this meal.  The spicy beef vegetable soup wasn’t all that, being a lot of bean sprouts and just being too much food to go with the seven or so other things we ordered for three people.  The breaded pork was light on flavor and just inferior to the breaded sweet/sour fish that I didn’t order.  The shengjianbao were quite good.  I may be honkyish (especially in China if less so in the US), but I’m all for dumplings as long as they lack any recognizable seafood component and vegetable ones aren’t too vegetabley.

This was my favorite meal (don’t take offense other Chinese women I ate with) because it was my kind of Chinese food in a very relaxed atmosphere.  The roast duck meal was one of two times as an adult I was good with eating duck, but it wasn’t as relaxing a setting and involved wasting a larger amount of tasty food.

Not that this is a food blog, so let’s get to gaming …

Pretty, not good.

Er, the perfect transition?  Yellow pea flour does not make for a good dessert.  I took a picture of the menu because I didn’t want to eat this, but my friend liked it.  I don’t know what would have the correct firmness that I would like.  Cookie base would probably be too crumbly.  Mochi could probably be formed in some way, though I don’t know how much I’d like the end result.

Would you call this a “duck hand” – ha, ha ha?  Get it?  No?  I’m sure someone will out of my legions and legions of faithful readers.

Finally, we come back to Core Game Salon!

Traveller travel.

I just assume that you all know what Core Game Salon is or can read my other blog posts where I mention it.

While my demo was sparse, as I waited until the last minute to let Laurent know and chose a weeknight because I was waiting for decks to get shipped to the office for me to pick up, I like touching base with Laurent, George, and whoever else is in the 24th floor hood near exit nine of the Xujiahui Metro Station.  I had two other opportunities to hit CGS that might have seen more gamers, but, Saturday, after dinner, we felt pretty wasted and I didn’t have my package with giveaways, and, Tuesday, I thought there would be even fewer people, yet Tuesday is apparently a new day for a certain crowd to appear.

Laurent did explain to me some of how The 7th Continent works.

Well, that was my intensive, deep dive, into the seedy underbelly of gaming in the harsh streets of Shanghai.  If you are in that hood, might be able to get a Traveller game in.  Oh, I did miss out on playing some mahjong for unfortunate reasons.  I did play tons of Ultimate Yahtzee on the flight back to the US as well as a plethora of other e-games on the flights, but, other than not really getting some of the games and not having any sort of new solitaire game to publish, I also didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about our L5R campaign or other existing gaming.

Overall, a B.  I missed getting together with two people, one harder to get together with than the other.  The Suzhou/Zhou Zhuang trip was not thrilling, where I think what my mother and I would like more might be found in Hangzhou.  Hard to say.  But, I saw most of the people I wanted to see and the people I most wanted to see.  Bit too much of the sort of stuff I have time for on work trips, but I’m pretty bad at being a tourist.