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.
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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.


Digital Travel

November 27, 2018

The plan has been in place for quite some time to have an electronic version of Traveller.

Yesterday, Horizon launched a Kickstarter to expand play beyond the rectangular cardboard into the world of zip zap that is the fu-ture …

Traveller CG Digital Edition

Posted about the KS on the VEKN forums, pointing out how our programmer is one of the most successful V:TES players in history.  I thought it was an interesting bit of trivia.

Only 28ish more days to back, back, back.  It could go all the way … with your help.  (Gratuitous sports jokes are all part of the payoff.)

I can, of course, be doing more to advertise the game.  So, with the theme of travel, I thought of how 2019’s convention schedule can be impacted now that cards are available in retail establishments and/or through their distributors.  If anyone has any suggestions outside of Origins and Gen Con, I’m interested in getting a better sense of which cons would have the most impact for exposing to people who don’t know the game is available.  International suggestions also welcome.

So, with the theme of digital, while Jeff and I were at GobbleCon Saturday to do some late notice demos, my Thanksgiving, besides being a blogging day, because one can be thankful of the opportunity to blog about gaming as well as write absurdly run on sentences, was a day of catching up on Rokugan 1600 fictions.  Not written with quill and squid but with the dread power of a keyboard while peering at a monitor.

I finally wrote something from a villain’s perspective.  I should just write those to begin with.  Though, thinking about it, are the villains really the villains or are they just antagonists to a messed up society of sword worshipers?

I wrote some other NPC stuff, too.  I could write all month (next month) and still not cover all of the NPC possibilities.

Yup, too many NPCs.  I knew there were from the start and, yet.  And, yet, you know what is fun for me?  More NPCs.  More stories that have nothing to do with the players or even really the campaign’s focus.  Well, rein it in, myself, rein it in.

Don’t rein in your end of year Kickstarter backing of the Digital Edition of the Traveller Card Game.

I know things I want to happen in the next installment of R.1600, I just foresee two problems.  One, too many things.  Two, how to adapt to player action.  Three … foresee three problems … everything is cooler in my brain than it normally ends up being in play.

It is funny, like when I read some reddit stuff on too many NPCs, how my problems aren’t special snowflake problems but rather mundane difficulties GMs routinely face.  It’s almost like there’s this human nature thing that happens that makes things suboptimal as, even though we know about a potential trap, we walk into the trap anyway.

Why is it so difficult?

You know who travels?  The Doctor travels.

I watched The Witchfinders and, then, hurriedly went to read reviews expecting to see comments supporting my one and only truth – that episode was atrocious.  Only to have people say they liked it.  Ye gods.  Hath Satan taketh controlleth of the interwebseth?  I kept wondering whether there was some clever audience manipulation thing going on that would make the tonal whipflash make sense.  It was like there was a parody running interlaced with the episode.

I’m not a fan of this season.  It does make me recall oldWho.  That’s not bad.  But, there was a lot of not so great oldWho, too.  And, there’s been plenty of newWho I haven’t thought highly of.  It’s like there’s untapped potential.

The Traveller Customizable Card Game is replete with untapped potential.  Potential that could be tapped … I mean … exerted with a few heroic actions.  All totally not pitching aside, there are some deep interactions in the card game, a lot of which have to do with how cards are money.  There were times I played complications on the contracts I was going to pursue just to be forced to bounce permanents back to my hand to use as money for going after more contracts.  It didn’t exactly work as I was far behind my opponent and had no way to really slow him down, but it was techy in a way that a lot of Magic puzzles want you to think.

Wow, haven’t mentioned Magic in a bit.  I guess that comes from not playing it or reading about it or having other people talk to me much about it while at the same time playing/running other games.  It’s almost like I’m stating something so keenly obvious that it has already sliced through the fabric of destiny.

Digital.  Travel.  Oh.  Nevermind.  For the one and only time in the history and future of this and every other creation, I managed to stray from my topic.


Kućna Biljka

October 17, 2018

When is a gaming blog not a gaming blog?

When it’s ajar, a jar, … *sigh*.

I can get into TV reviews, movie reviews, book reviews, food reviews, and make some loose tie in to gaming to justify my whims.  Then, there are the travelogue posts that tend to be even sketchier when it comes to fitting this blog.

But, hey, I didn’t take any games but I totally played some (not mind games, well, not intentionally).

In the beginning, was a city.  A city with an airport.  And, an airport shuttle bus.  And, a Metro and a Decathlon on the way to the AirBnB.  Oh, right, there’s only like one or a few people in the world who would understand why I took note of the Metro store and the Decathlon store on the way in.

We were a group of seven.  Five convicted murderers and the other six in the group.  Uh … Germany.  So, I met up with two of the party in Frankfurt.  Success.  Shelter.  Success.  Well, time to declare victory and call it a week.

I headed to the Diocletian Palace area because 4.5 movies on the first flight left me full of chi.

So, I may have said something about not being a movier.  I have in my decrepit old age of traveling an airline a bunch for status (not gaining me much since I dropped from gold) become the moviemeister, Baron von Movie.  Or, Baron von Ultimate Yahzee.

I finally saw Solo.  Watched Deadpool 2, Kingsman: Golden Circle, Monkey King 3, and most of Deadpool.  My early filter didn’t show Deadpool, thus the sequencing.  It’s refreshing when characters actually say what they think.  Yukio is adorable.  I can see getting tired of the Deadpool schtick, though.  Solo – terrible beginning, not exactly all that afterwards.  Golden Circle just bad.  I can understand the value of Bond parody, but, even with the cheesiness of Bond movies, they exude some stylin’ and profilin’.  But, then, I don’t watch action movies so much for action [just like I don’t eat massive quantities of meat because I care that much about the meat … oh never mind, Andy].  Monkey King 3 is not what I have in mind when I think of martial arts flicks, but my lukewarm feelings had more to do with the beating over the head of gender relationship stuff.

We eat at Maslina.  You know, I’m not going to spend a lot of time reviewing food.  I’m hypercritical, I mean, hyperanalytical and mostly complain about how my food and drink don’t rise to the level of … of … really great food.  I did learn to not order lemonade in Europe as I’m not entirely sure who drinks unsweetened lemonade.

Get this out of the way, now.  If you don’t get breakfast and lunch served everyday, then Croatia is about eight gelatos a day for, like, $12.  No matter what tourist port you are in, somehow, they will present gelato to you right as you get off the ship.  If you just need to scavenge for dinner, like us, then knock out your three gelatos for $4.50.  Now, you could order smoothies, like someone who drinks copious amounts of sugar, but just say yes to $1.50 cones and “suffer”.

Obligatory Port Shot

On to Makarska.  Weather was unkind early on …

Hindshadowing

So, what’s a group of young folks and a blogger going to spend time doing when not rafting or kayaking?

Heads Up!.  Yup, Heads Up!.  Cards Against Humanity.  First time, for me, and it was just like Apples to Apples (from a certain perspective).  I even played Uno and mansplained some on why I’m not into games like chess to someone who had just played some chess.  I’m just going to assume any time I say anything, I’m doing it in a manly way because of my early nurturing.  Also, much later in the trip, Exploding Kittens.

See, gaming content.  I’m nothing if not focused.

Night one of the trip, I didn’t get to sleep until after 4AM.  In fact, I was playing solitaire at 3AM … gaming, booyah!

Yup, me and all of the other kućna biljke [not sure this is as kosher as I think it could be] just notpartying late into the night.

So, that gave me a perfect opportunity to bail out on the next night’s socializing.  Not that I qualify for Navigator cruises, Contiki, et al, but one can just imagine.

Not the “Marco Polo”!?!

Tourist joke time!

I left a review for Sail Croatia.  Quite happy with this ship, though, to be arguably unfair, it’s not their ship, they just lease vessels from ship owners.  Might have been different if I shared a cabin with a stranger, but can worry about that the next time …

Sand not shown.

So, I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  I took no pictures while dune buggying as I was the seventh wheel, the wheelman.  All alone in my buggy (the second one as, of course, the first one wouldn’t turn over).  Anyway, one thing about our trip was lack of connection between beaches with sand and being in the water.  This beach would have been an opportunity for that, but the weather was still gloomier than usual.

Back to the lightning storm in Korčula.  Dinner at a nice restaurant and it didn’t rain at our sea wall locale.  Not here but near here.

Europe …

I also took no pictures while kayaking Malo Jezero (malo) and Veliko Jezero (Most-ly, sic humor FTW), while zip lining (see, gaming, as Andy and I discussed how Zip Line is a stealth card due to the squealing sounds matching the frequency of bats), or on …

Not Old … Town

The walking tour.  The Game … … … of Thrones walking tour.  Who loves irony?  Who?  I’m sure there’s a fantasy oriented sort who suffered through all of the Wheel of Time books (if not all of the chapters) who has never watched a complete episode or read any of the books who would be into such a tour.  Pretty safe bet.

I was definitely impressed at Dubrovnik Old Town.  Those three tourists, yum.  Anyway, Dubrovnik is one of the (numerous) locales on the trip I would have been interested in spending more time.  In this case, I felt like I only scratched the surface of touristdom.

The day after Dubrovnik was, I believe, when I had this sense of the trip being incredibly dense.  Sure, you don’t spend a lot of time in any given port (unless you stay up until 4AM doing … whatever), but each day is different to where there’s a lot of feeling of activity.  Also, weather improved and we actually hit swim spots.

Swimming.  I don’t actually swim much.  Kućna biljke aren’t known for mobility – all about the floating.  But, between being dumped in the middle of placid water, it being chilly, and whatnot, I even coordinated using arms and legs at the same time at times to achieve water-based motion.  I know, pin a medal on me right now.

I drink my sugar.

Oops, forgot to put this picture in the Dubrovnik “section”.  Most pictures of food I take for coworkers.  At least one of our group consumed the products of these dispensers.

Blocking the nudist beach.

The back half of the trip had a group humor moment.  Probably had to be there.

Gender bias – 40 kuna.

From here.  Okay, fine, I’ll explain.  At various times, we were low on cash and lots of things were cashy.  Now, ATMs are everywhere, so this isn’t actually much of a challenge, but one groupster would have more cash than another.  So, five of us went into the fortress.  I paid for myself and another male.  The third male paid for himself.  His fiancee was going to be covered by a female.  The ticket dude was having none of this outrageous chivalrouslessness once he realized we were “together”.  So, the two non-males saved some precious gelato-producing materials.

Oh, the adventures I could …

Getting to the end.  Last swim spot was most involved for this one, heretofore known as the “Water Wheel”.  If only someone had a Go Pro, someone who switched helmets with me to mount an electronic device and if only someone with a bumpy skull was into taking pictures while in motion.

Oh, which reminds me.  Safety is a six letter word.  When we had to sign waivers and wear safety equipment for ziplining, given that to that point our entire safety instruction was “Put the life jacket over your head, pull the strap around, and buckle.  Life jackets under the beds.” and at no point when I went kayaking by myself “Do you know how to swim?  Have you been kayaking before?  Do you want a life jacket?” to the point where I think I technically crossed out of Veliko Jezero into the sea, we figured there was a 10% kill rate on ziplining.  Bucked the odds, again.

Almost Splitsville.

Back in Split was trip-py.  It was an odd feeling to me to be back in a “city” where not everything was touristful (Dubrovnik outside of Old Town might have been that if we were ever more than a hop, skip, and jump from Old Town).  Also, the “return” of, er, returning to our starting point.

Return trip was ending of Deadpool, Black Panther, Infinity War, and lots of Yahtzee.  Because, gamer, yo.  Dice forever!

While I still don’t have the enthusiasm to cinemize, except when with family or the like who are more cinematic than I, I guess I’ve got to realize that it doesn’t really bother me to watch superhero movies, anymore.  I was reasonably entertained.

While not a tournament report, thanks to Athena for the invite on her trip and the groupsters for sharing gelato.  Thanks to the crew for not forcing us to use life jackets.  Thanks to Lara for mucho guidance.  Thanks to fellow passengers.

Now, when could I possibly fit in a return trip, where, of course, a V:TES tournament and Traveller feature prominently?

Wait, more gaming.

So, one thing about watching five years’ worth of movies was philosophizing upon the idea that entertainment can be less than great and still, somehow, be good.  In the next three thousand words, I’ll – …

 


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.


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.