Underpromotion

June 18, 2017

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

But, let me digress for a while.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


KublaCon 2017

June 3, 2017

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

Game 1:

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

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

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

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

So, I Bzzzzzt! one of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traveller Demo

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

Bohnanza

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

Game 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

We did well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traveler, The Next Junction Point

Faction: Architect
Size: 45

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

Edges (2)
2x Reinvigoration Process

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

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

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

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

States (1)
1x Disintegrator Ray

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


Deck Of Many Things

April 30, 2017

I wrote out some four or so new deck lists and managed to get around to pulling together cards for two of them, while also looking back at some of my other possible tournament plays.

Reasons I love CCGs:

One:  Infinite Ideas

While looking over a deck I’ve never pulled the cards for, I was wondering why I hadn’t put Repo Man into it as it ran 4x Sport Bike.  That got me thinking about Repo Man.  That got me to search vehicles.  That got me to thinking about yet other builds for Polaris Coach and deciding that Polaris Coach + Cryptic Mission is totally a deck that should exist.  Then, there’s immediate Helicopters in your PRE/Obf bleed/vote deck.

With every CCG, I think of new decks or card combinations even with a game with as small a card pool as Ultimate Combat! or as focused a card pool (due to allegiances) as Wheel of Time.  Certainly easier with a game with a vast card pool like V:TES, but there are just so many things people don’t do.  Sometimes it’s a clearly less effective strategy, but that may not be a bad thing in multiplayer play.  Sometimes it’s a build that only makes sense for a specific metagame.

There are dozens of decks I can see trying in a local tournament that have never seen the moonlight of night.

Two:  Metagaming

Metagaming isn’t just about trying to win, though that’s quite the driver.  My thinking for the upcoming tournaments goes somewhat along these lines:  the environment will be far more aggressive than our local environment; play will be quicker putting aside deck builds; player skill will be higher; no one will know my play style and I won’t be familiar with other people’s styles.  Doom … d-o-o-o-m …

Just in terms of trying to build to win, I would focus on how Animalism is the best combat, Parity Shift will be played often, Lutz will appear often with some sort of vote, bleeds of 4-6 or permableed of 3 will be common, winnies will probably not be that common but neither will the countermeasures, Imbued will probably show, event decks might appear, tons of fatties, Celerity guns will also likely be notable.

Flesh of Marble plus some sort of hit back should wreck combat decks.  Combat ends should pretty much stop everything if you run enough to get by Psyche!.  Voting may be messy at times with Velvet Tongue, though the chances of much in the way of Daughters screwing around with incentives is low.  The fear with voting, though, is more that tables unprepared for vote should just get run over.  In Stockholm, there was virtually no voting and a vote bloat deck that got going fast enough could have easily won my tables.

Bleed is the easiest thing to defend against, but I find that Auspex bounce is somewhat less valuable due to the commonality of The unnamed decks.

Does what works well versus what works poorly in this crossregional, totally not like my home metagame matter to me?  Of course.  I want to enjoy my games.  If I just get run over then I’m going to find the events boring.  I have plenty of decks that only work locally because I can bank on surviving long enough for them to play out.  My decks show how slow they are in other regions much of the time.  The one deck that did a decent job of getting going, though, even then, it didn’t play in a true crossregional meta, just a different meta, was Living Lolita Loca.  Small vampires allow you to do stuff.  Or, run lots of Zillah’s Valleys and Banishment Santaleous when he appears.

But, there’s more to metagaming than winning, at least for me.  I want to enjoy games.  Maybe an all forward deck would be the best play, but I don’t enjoy those sorts of decks.  I went through several passes on possible decks to play, and I added a fun factor rating that was subtlely different from my usual pros/cons comments on whether to take a deck to an event.

Fun was interesting because it highlighted the difference between fun results and fun play.  In local play, I can believe I can win with anything better than Gargoyles with Presence (which had a chance in that finals).  There are many game features I can build decks around to unlock an achievement.  I’ve never won with Serpentis in a deck.  Or Quietus.  Or Abombwe.  I keep building decks that don’t achieve the minimum threshold of viability with these disciplines because I want to avoid boring stuff.  So, I also build some real decks with Serpentis.  And, I can’t imagine enjoying playing them in a tournament even if I unlock another achievement.

So, yes, I have to adjust to a metagame, but I also have to metagame myself to strike the right balance where I can play something that interests me that will interest me in events I’m not likely to make the finals for.

Three:  Not Every Deck Is Gargoyles With Presence

I started pulling cards for decks, then realized my builds didn’t make sense.  I overlooked vampire specials.  I forgot to put in a hoser.  I overestimated how many vampires I could have in play.  In some cases, it’s annoying to have to change geniusness.  But, in some cases, like realizing Inbase Discotek is h-u-u-u-g-e tech for a deck I want to play, fun can be had by actually trying to construct a well crafted deck.

Now, building for two-player CCGs is usually more interesting for this sort of thing as, again, deck construction is typically much more of a thing in two-player play.  But, maybe I do have room for Force of Will in my Fortitudeless deck.

Four:  Weird Stuff Happens

More so with multiplayer play, where opponents will mess with other opponents, but the nature of vast possibilities of card interactions is that sometimes you aren’t psychic.  Sometimes, you just find the situation amusing.

We played two games of Shadowfist last Thursday.  In the second game, I ended the game with 13+ power realizing my 7 No Masters deck had not that many characters in general – my smoked pile at the end of the game consisted of something like 10, maybe 12, events.  The first game, I proved that multiplayer CCGs are lunacy.  My three Betrayers of the Crane went for a Dockyard and through the power of Butterfly Swords achieved victory.  Yes, three, 1-cost foundation characters seized control of the world.  In both games, I only ended up with one character in a smoked pile and that was the turn I won the first game.

I can only hope some weird stuff happens at these tournaments.  After all, why bother playing games that are chesslike … uh, doh, some people like those sorts of games.  Hey, CCGs are better!

Speaking of CCGs, we are going to check out the L5R LCG and see if it’s more enjoyable than the VCG was.


Crunchy Time

April 22, 2017

I have been lax on posting anything.  Some of that is due to the Traveller CG needing me to do things right now.  But, mostly, I think it’s because I’m not in the habit and my game playing is often-impaired.

I was going to post on one thing, maybe Shadowfist, until I realized I’m at a confluence point.

  1. Playing Shadowfist regularly and last session I realized how long this group has been playing
  2. Need to build decks for upcoming V:TES tournaments
  3. Played new HoR4 mod in a long time
  4. True Dungeon transacting

Let’s work backwards as all right-thinking people do.

True Thalersink

I remain invested in investing in building a collection of tokens I don’t need.  If only gaming didn’t have numismatics in the form of things worth way more than the coins I used to numis, it would be less costly.  But, who cares besides my heirs?  No, I got to thinking about how my perception of token usefulness has evolved.

Oh, I don’t want to state what I think is better of the 2017 stuff than I used to, as someone may actually read this blog and I might have some influence on market valuations to my detriment.  After I finish getting what I want of 2017 tokens, I’ll look to post an analysis as I did with 2016 tokens.

Where I didn’t used to be into 2015 ultrarares, I now see how some are more relevant to someone who can’t restrain themselfs to just what amuses themselves.  So, let’s talk about something I won’t impact in a way that is meaningful to me.

+2 Deadly Drow Blood Mace

My non-wizard builds struggle mightily when it comes to choosing melee weapons, since melee combat hasn’t been a thing any of our group has cared about and, thus, we haven’t made any effort to acquire weapons.  Now, if I melee, my preference is Barbarian for obsidian cannonage.  So, one-handers are useless.  But, Ranger gets shafted by having to double one-hand and Paladin might be silly and run a shield in melee for set bonuses.  Still don’t actually care, but it would be an upgrade over +1.

Boots of the West Wind

Now, Boots of the Four Winds is just better (and only some $700 more expensive), but there really aren’t a ton of ways to increase ranged damage for non-Mighty ranged weapons.  I have various builds, some sillier than others, where I want more ranged damage and aren’t going to STR-blast with a +1 Mighty Sling.  Plus, everyone had to have this to make Four Winds.

Bracers of Supreme Archery

I actually want one of these, now, for, uh, increasing ranged damage while also getting a to hit bonus over Bracers of Archery.

Earcuff of Orbits

Before the news about treasure-enhancing Ioun Stones, this would not have been as all that.  Absolutely fascinating to all right-thinking people is that this still isn’t good for my builds.  I actually have significant competition on the ear slots … because that’s a totally normal statement in life.  I don’t have much in the way of quality Ioun Stones.  It’s also only two more slots, which means you are sort of netting one slot, which just seems bad.  Now, if my ideas for INT, WIS, CHA increasing Ioun Stones get made and those attributes did more than increase Will saves, then I might start to care.

Gloves of the Brute

Is this or Gauntlets of Linked Fury better for Barbarianhood?  I still tend to view stat bonuses over damage bonuses, though decreasing DEX isn’t trivial.  I own one of these, so I’ve satisfied my brutishness.

Widseth’s Mystical Lute

Why do I value this more highly?  Because someone who shall remain named Warrior bugged me about how this would be the best Bard instrument to pick up.  I refuse to yield.  I think a Bard airhockeying defeats the true reason anyone would want to Bard – hovering around other players and annoying them when combat is going on.

I didn’t realize til just now that it allows ranged attacks as well as melee attacks.  That’s somewhat more interesting.  Still, if I’m Barding, I want to be casting spells or, possibly, “abusing” my ability to cast more scrolls than any other class.  We also don’t need it because we will someday perfect the perfect party of perfectness and name our own special TD runs using a little token called … auugghhh, not in the neck, not in the neck.

Switching equipment.

HoR4

With one exception, I still have no sense of what HoR4 is about.  The exception?  It is the Mantisliest Mantisfest of all Mantisdom in my play.

I feel like mods are self-contained and don’t really stretch into new territory.  So many of the mechanics changes have trivial impact to me, thus far, except that my Honor doesn’t really go up.  Sure, if Glory did something, not having Glory go up would be different.  I got an option to spend five favors to do something.  Except, now that I have some idea what favors can be used for, I fail to see the desire to spend five favors on something that doesn’t really do anything I care about.  Maybe if I was part of a group that found amusement in doing group mechanical things, I would feel differently.

I feel so much like I’m meandering.  I’m also sucking.  Yet again, I’ve played a mod with a bunch of INT rolls.  I love the irony of my playing a moron in an INT campaign.  Playing a non-Moshi in an INT, Mantis campaign.  I rule like a fool.

V:TES

I need to both capture the quintessential meness of my deckbuilding ways while also understanding that I’ll be in a metagame where I can’t just hunt until my inevitable victory.  It can be something of a struggle as I seek to play a clan burdened with Dominate while trying to find a way to bleed effectively.  Guess I’ll have to Presenceless vote or whatever.  Graft Presence … wait, okay, solved my deckbuilding crisis!

I’m not expecting to play much in the way of pickup games, so there’s only so many decks I really need.  Will single box it of probably seven decks.

Shadowfist

What’s impressive about the Shadowfist group isn’t that we’ve played for years, it’s that we are consistent about play when people are not traveling or lack specific events that interfere.  Weekly play is the tame of the game!  Never antiremember this.

Now, because we did lose a player who hated our house rules, we have been playing more three-player games.  Three player has been very different.  For one thing, we are burning for power.  Now, is that because people’s decks are not playing all of the standard power gen cards out of boredom or is it because you can’t keep your site structure as intact when only two people can stop you from successful attacks?

Then, games feel far more vicious.  You kind of have to either wall up or beat down, rather than just hunting until inevitable victory.  It’s a disturbing world of … of … aggression that violates all of my principles of game maiming.

We played three games Thursday.  I played my new 7 Masters deck and it lost, thus breaking the stricture of the omniverse that 7 Masters can only lose to 7 Masters.  I did cancel a Dance of the Centipede on my The Fox Outfoxed on a Haunted Forest duping a Mobius Gardens.  Then, I played an old Warriors deck, which has sucked a lot more than it did early on.  I just had dudes, which didn’t stop people who had other dudes but did prevent the player who didn’t dude much from winning.

Finally, I won the last game off the brutal power of an Exorcist in a Long Black Hearse, an Imp, and a Jian.  I was dudechoked for when bids for victory could be made because I kept holding on to cards I never played, like Spirit Wrack, Poisoned Wound, and Underworld Coronation.

So, yeah, I do do things that are gamingishlyable.  They just are kind of coin-flippish in consistency.  Did I mention that I played Aztec Pyramid in one of those games and it supposedly influenced an opponent’s decision to play a card.  Rule like a fool.  Rule like a fool.

 


Thrice Guarded

March 5, 2017

Three days left for the Abaarso School Documentary Kickstarter.

The Abaarso Story


Now, I’m just going to ramble a bit.

Played Shadowfist last two Thursdays.  Last Thursday was one game that lasted close to 3 hours.

Ian (Lotus Site Damage) -> Don (Feast of Souls/Palace Guards) -> Justin (Ascended/Architects Cops) -> Joren (Monarchs Site Damage/Heal)

Much Rain that Killing-ed.  Though, I can only find x3 Killing Rain in my modern cards, so not all KR all of the time.

There were complaints about site murder.  Here’s the thing.  If Shadowfist were a different game, one with more moderate effects, I would probably despise Killing Rain as a blunt tool that just made games tedious.  Shadowfist is not a game of moderate effects.  In particular, I need battlegrounds to explode into fine cardboard mists because they are dumb.

Interestingly, because Joren could heal sites, sites weren’t bloodbathed left and right.  It took quite a while for me to lose any of my own sites, for instance, as my Thousand Sword Mountain got healed multiple times.  Of course, my Diamond Beaches weren’t terribly bothered.

I put out a Zhenmushou at the beginning of the game.  I played a second.  Quite the annoying card and not to me a fair effect, but, then, how much of Shadowfist is all that fair?

I might have been able to win.  I could have made one more bid for victory than I did.  Multiple attempts to nuke Don’s Feasts of Souls were defeated or he Dance of the Centipeded his own Feast.  Two Underworld Coronations went off.  Beaumains got toasted.  Players went from close to winning to being at 1 FSS.

Finally, Justin had fighting on the board and people lost their stoppage.

I thought it was a very dynamic game.  The bane of enjoyable long games is boredom.  For Shadowfist, it was a high quality game.

Which brings me to a few things about my take on Shadowfist.

I don’t build decks as often as I once did.  Oh, I still have scraped together new decks for the last two sessions, but I rely heavily on my stockpile of existing decks, maybe making a few adjustments.

That’s not a good sign.  However, I don’t feel like I’ve felt when playing with B5 or V:TES players who rarely built new decks.  I’m not looking to prove things with Shadowfist.  I don’t have any idea about future tournaments.

I’m just looking to have some fun playing a CCG.

I know, what a weird concept.  It’s almost like CCGs can provide enjoyment in multiple ways.

Still, I encourage everyone to build two new decks every week.  Then, you will have more fun, much more fun.

One of the benefits of Shadowfist being a pot of crazy is that it’s rather difficult to decide what is good or bad.  I had no power generating events in my quasi-KR deck.  Under our house rules, that ended up working just fine.

I can focus on concepts.  With V:TES, I have two huge problems when it comes to designing.  The first is that I’ve built a thousand decks give or take a few hundred.  Been there, do that again?  The second is that I concern myself over viability.

I don’t have a lot of concerns over viability with Shadowfist.  Having enough foundation resources is about the only thing that actually matters, where we can get by with zero FSSs in our decks.  Sure, having some plan for generating power matters, but just avoiding purposefully playing bad decks can help with that.

The other thing about Shadowfist that could use a reminder is that it’s unpredictable.  Maybe it’s better balanced than it seems, but, then, we play with rules that destroy the usual balance in the game.  Because I rarely need to make good decisions, I haven’t progressed much with making better decisions.  I focus on removing edges and non-FSSs and let other people worry about whether to let me win.

I shouldn’t differentiate between Shadowfist and V:TES too much.  I’ve certainly been in situations where I played existing decks and just focused on playing the game.

Switching gear-inscribed tokens, as we have our 2017 True Dungeon tokens, now, and I’m not the only one in the group acquiring, we have had discussions on what to transmute and what to pursue.  Honestly, I don’t know that I care that much about buying more tokens.  I want to transmute several things, and I can’t get too excited beyond that.

I basically achieved the build I wanted minus transmuting for Starhide Robe.  The thing with TD is that it’s so expensive to “deckbuild” that I can’t be bothered picking up speculative improvements for a barbarian build or a paladin build or any of the other classes I don’t really expect to ever play.  Unlike CCGs, where I acquire everything and thus build everything, TD deckbuilding is for those richer than I.

Not to say I won’t look at picking up more tokens.  I just don’t need any more tokens to feel satisfied.  We should be just fine for hardcore and I don’t care about playing at nightmare level.

Speaking of lack, out of 120 rares, we got zero Defender Platemails.  That’s not terribly important because none of our preferred classes need the Defender Set, but it’s mildly irksome.  I like the idea of a rare set that is actually good.  Gives the pretense that a middle class exists for TD.

I think I’m fond of the 2017 set.  There are good tokens at various rarities.  I am interested in multiple transmutes, though I don’t know about switching cloaks.  Because I’ve finished Wise Man’s Fear, I might also be more engaged with the tokens because I know the references.

So, I’m cool with Shadowfist and cool with TD, what’s wrong?

I’m not gaming enough.  HoR is waiting for more mods.  V:TES requires other people to get motivated for a session.  No home RPG play.  No BattleTech.  No boardgame sessions planned.

There is the Traveller Card Game, of course.  I have plenty to do for that.  More ideas, more testing, more wording tweaks, more keywording.  Yes, I’m being cagey.  When someone has a question, I’m sure there’s a way to track me down.


Strike Fast, Strike Precise

January 8, 2017

Get something out of the way first.  Played Shadowfist Thursday, five player team game.  I made my last bid for victory having five Cobra Clan Stalkers at a seized Humble Dojo.  The expected Neutron Bomb went off, and someone else won.  But, more importantly, I had five Cobra Clan Stalkers in play at the same location, that being someone else’s site.  I’m sure I won some other subgame as well.

Okay, busy, and I’ll get to HoR4 comments next time, even though we played a bunch of mods before yesterday.

Yesterday, two V:TES tournaments, my first tournaments in a long time as I missed the August tournaments.

I built three decks yesterday morning.  By built, I mean pulled the cards.  I designed them either weeks ago or months ago.  Of course, design takes all of 10-30 minutes, where pulling the cards takes an hour in many cases.

We had 12 players for the two events.  Brandon organized.  Only Chris came up from SoCal.

Tournament 1

Round 1:

Ian (To Perish Uncreated) -> Dave CK (Cel/Pro bruise bleed with rush) -> Eric S (Trem Burst and bleed) -> Alex (Vlad and friends)

Key play.  I play Precision and name Sideslip, thus sealing Dave’s doom.  Dave was hurt immensely by how Eric had Merrill out, who could avoid so many aggpokes, plus Merrill got Ivory Bow giving the poke.  Alex was screwed, sucking bleeds right and further right, only having Vlad in play.

I had two Quira and two Gwendolyns in my uncontrolled, brought both out and stealthed by Dave consistently, avoiding beatings with Swallowed by the Night or Celerity.

Dave Villeined some and Golcondaed Anson, but he had problems fighting forward and I just kept bleeding.  Eric ousted Alex.  I had Appolonius as well in play and ousted Dave by just enough, then didn’t have too much problem in the endgame as Alex’s last significant play was burning Muaziz in combat, so Eric was playing with two dudes.

Round 2:

Chris (Undue Influence with Spoils of War) -> Ian -> Dave A (Shattering Crescendo) -> Dave CK

This was an easy collapse.  Chris could only go forwards.  Dave A’s first Daughter got diablerized before Shattering anything.  By the time he transferred someone who wasn’t Scout (that he could have transferred a round earlier), he Shattered once and I took my VP.  The endgame wasn’t impossible for me for a bit, as I had Quira in play as a 3 bleeder and Gwendolyn in play as a 6 bleeder, but Dave had too much pool, too many minions, and too much combat.  Not a surprising ending.

Finals:

1GW and 4VPs only put me second behind Brandon, which made things difficult in terms of seating choices.

Alex and Dave CK were low.  Mark was playing a Malgorzata deck, like Alex was, so they didn’t want to sit next to each other.  I would have been fine with being Dave’s predator since I could stealth by him consistently and I had enough ways to deal with rushes, but, if I placed behind him, Brandon would have likely been behind me and that seemed bad, with my not knowing how much I probably didn’t care about Brandon’s deck.  It would have been bad as Dave likely would have rolled Alex, though maybe that wasn’t terrible as Dave would become the enemy and Brandon might let me just go forward.

What did happen is that I inserted as Mark’s predator and Brandon as Alex’s predator.

Ian -> Mark (Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, whatever) -> Dave -> Brandon (Brujah limited collection deck) -> Alex

Early on, Alex was under pressure and I ignored his token bleeds.  Brandon had about the same number of minions as Dave, and the two fought with both getting beaten up.  Dave was strong early on with pool and minions and because Mark’s deck just grows high caps before he does anything.  But, he got torped at times.  Mark became the biggest threat once he had Malgorzata, Capuchin, Lord Tremere, and Carlton in play, but time was running out and he had limited success on removing Dave’s pool.

Nevertheless, Dave was in danger.  Alex was potentially in danger but not so much.  I had Famed Quira (I got Famed like five times during the day and never once went to torpor), who got Pentexed, Kalinda with Tasha Morgan, Appolonius, and a very late Darrell Boyce.

Time was running short.  I talked about who should remove Pentex for me to interact with Mark.  Alex seemed to be the player.  Alex bleeds me, bleeds me, I’m at 5, bleeds me with Vlad for 5.  I bounce with Quira, of course.  Mark Eludes Morpheus.  I DI.  Mark takes 5.  I bleed him out.  Time runs out.

Key play?  Precision naming Eyes of Argus that gets blocked due to Eyes of Argus.  Between that and my being Obedienced like five times as I never bothered stealthing by Mark’s four +1 intercept minions, Mark had no chance … unless Alex just burned Pentex like we “hoped”, which meant Brandon would have likely won on time, though maybe Mark had enough bleed to oust Dave.

Not a brutal victory, but I could have reasonably gotten Dave next, which would have been more convincing as to the true power of playing one Walk of Flame in a deck.  Mark was constantly worried about my combat because … of geniusness.

Deck Name:   To Perish Uncreated
Created By:  Apple’s sidekick – Ian Lee
Description: Apple bleeds, Quira and friends Cloak and Revelate and Precision.

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 22, Max: 42, Avg: 7.66)
———————————————-
2  Appolonius                         CEL for pot PRE10 Brujah
1  Darrell Boyce                      CEL OBF PRO    6  Gangrel Antitribu
1  Greta Kircher                      AUS CEL obf PRE7  Toreador Antitribu
2  Gwendolyn                          aus CEL FOR POT PRE tha11 Brujah
1  Kalinda                            CEL OBF tha    6  Assamite
2  Quira                              AUS OBF obt tha6  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Tansu Bekir                        cel OBF        4  Assamite
1  Vasantasena                        AUS DEM dom OBF pot9  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Zahir                              CEL OBF qui tha6  Assamite

Library: (80 cards)
——————-
Master (21 cards)
1  Barrens, The
5  Blood Doll
1  Direct Intervention
1  Dreams of the Sphinx
2  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Legendary Vampire
2  Obfuscate
3  Perfectionist
1  Villein
4  Wider View

Action (9 cards)
1  Computer Hacking
4  Precision
4  Revelations

Action Modifier (15 cards)
9  Cloak the Gathering
2  Elder Impersonation
1  Leverage
3  Veil the Legions

Reaction (17 cards)
3  Confusion of the Eye
1  Delaying Tactics
1  Fillip
5  On the Qui Vive
5  Telepathic Misdirection
2  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (5 cards)
4  Vampiric Speed
1  Walk of Flame

Retainer (2 cards)
1  J. S. Simmons, Esq.
1  Tasha Morgan

Combo (11 cards)
4  Resist Earth`s Grasp
7  Swallowed by the Night

With that out of the way, I felt like playing something different.  Though my second deck was different, my third deck was much more different, being full of beatings, I mean, whiffings.

Tournament 2

Round 1:

Rick (Le Dinh Tho supports Dem bleed) -> Ian (CEL +1 STR) -> Kenneth (Lasombra SB) -> Alex (as above)

Kenneth blew through Alex, not that long for Rick, decked, but he had just enough stealth to get by my two +2 intercept minions – Carlton Sport Bike, Blaise Sport Bike and Mr. Winthrop – to not have all of his dudes murdered by my combat.

I never beat anyone down, discarding Blurs, Sideslips, Tastes.  I did make a terrible mistake by not giving Blaise (or Carlton) Mr. Winthrop a turn earlier.  I’m not sure if having Carlton at +3 was better or not than having two +2 interceptors.  But, between Shroud of Absence and combat ends, I never touched Kenneth’s dudes.

Pickup1:

I played my King of the Mountain deck with no Tastes.  I’m unclear what I was thinking.

Round 2:

Andrew (Malk SB) -> Rick -> Mark (Lucian, The Perfect bleed) -> Ian

This didn’t last long.  I couldn’t generate enough intercept to stop Lucian, so I took several bleeds of 7.  Andy ousted Rick.  Mark had more pool and more bleed in the endgame.

Well, that wasn’t all that.  Again, losing is fine.  Not doing anything is the bane of good games.  But, whatever.  I already won an event and had allergy issues all day so chilling was cool.

Pickup2:

Five player, I played a Jyhad only Pre/Cel deck and had the only oust, bringing out my sixth minion afterwards.

Great to play V:TES again.  Great to still have enough players to have meaningful events.  We talked about a V:TESlike game that relied less on cards in hand.

Congratulations to Kenneth for winning his first tournament.

Thanks to Brandon for organizing, to Andrew and Eric and their family for the use of their house, where we get our biggest events.  Thanks to all three for getting sandwiches and burgers.

Good times.  Hopefully, just a start on my playing a bunch of V:TES in a bunch of places this year.


North Orléans

November 14, 2016

So, wedding Saturday took a few hundred people to Leesburg.  Very nice wedding.  I know, this sounds like a strange way to articulate one’s perspectives when it’s the first marriage for any of my father’s children, but this is not the place for meaningful thoughts.

I did consider how the intersections of people in real world environments can be a model for RPG campaign world building complexity, but I don’t know where to go with this that isn’t obvious.

I happen to know people besides family and friends of family in the DC area.  Whether it’s V:TES, B5, friends of Dave’s, HoR, there are just people I could game with.

So, I gamed with some.  The remnants of the V:TESers gathered to play a couple of boardgames.

Orléans

I quite enjoyed the way this plays.  I don’t know if it’s balanced, more balanced using the expansion that sets events, which we used, or how the base game/other scenarios play.

While I never understood why Precedence thought Sack Armies was a good idea for a collectible variant from CCGs, I’m okay with games where you draw from a bag.  I think I made some terrible plays and ended up in second, where it wasn’t all that close.  Does that mean the game is hard to figure out?  The game is more forgiving than it seems?

The disparity in results is concerning.  I just find boardgames where players end up far apart even when they aren’t far apart in skill to be problematic.

But, the forming of worker sets was fine.  There were a variety of things to do.  I was the wool master, Baron von Wool.

I’d certainly go for a replay and see if actually understanding what you are doing makes it better or worse.

Shipwrights of the North Sea

You make viking ships.  You draft cards.

I was not as pleased with this game.  The interactions in the game felt distant and griefy at best.  The way you can know that you are going to lose and maybe another element gave me a Settlersesque experience.  I don’t hate on Settlers like a lot of people do, but it’s not something to be looking forward to.

The card play and actions just weren’t all that compelling.  It was okay.  But, I’d have serious concerns about replay experiences being any more interesting.  Part of it is that the cards are often really dull.  Sage just seems awful.  Gaining one resource compared to two or three gold compared to five is a case of clear lack of elegance in that other games often provide weaker effects that are attractive in other ways.

Not much else.  At the bowling alley, bowled rather than play any arcade stuff.  Solitaire when traveling, of course.

As social circles expand (not that some of these folks even know I’m capable of speech given my social peculiarities), maybe try to visit more often, which isn’t likely to rekindle V:TES play but may lead to something else, something exciting and new or dull and old, whatever.

Shadowfist Accessories Kickstarter going into final days.  Pondering what to do about it.