Seasonality – Winter

January 19, 2019

Winter is … is … wait, Cali doesn’t have Winters, just cooler times where water may occasionally fall out of the sky or may not.

Last weekend, I ran season four’s finale for Rokugan 1600.  I’m not sure what you have in mind when you hear that, but every season so far has had three core narrative sessions, and a complete randomfest of additional side sessions due to having only two players at times.

Season one had one side session.  Season two had a tack on session for one player.  Season three had one side session that may have not been intended as a side session, certainly intended to include one of the players who didn’t play.  Season four has had three side sessions and is going to have a fourth set after the finale.

I didn’t realize how unlikely side sessions were earlier on.  I kept thinking of how players couldn’t make every session, but I ran two sessions from season two without all of the players.  Season two was kind of another intro season, as season one was supposed to be, but it was a stranger intro because I inserted the new players into a different part of the world and had them doing stuff that didn’t intersect with season one virtually at all.

So, R.1600 has been disjointed.  But, when I think about its history, makes a lot more sense to me why.  So, we get to season three and the campaign seems to finally feel like a war campaign, with warry things going on and less focus on the romantic adventures of NPCs.

And, then, season four went in a different direction.  Rather than sticking with the field ops of season three, where the party was much more on its own and focused on counteracting enemy army movements, season four was all about “The Meeting”.  The Meeting meant something to me in the grand scope of the war effort, but it just felt like getting pulled into some not terribly relevant to the PCs stuff, with some Hare-brained schemes.  I think having the many side sessions helped with distracting the players from the war efforts, though I would say the first side session feels grossly underexamined by the players.

Anyway, we talked after the finale and it became much clearer that the group interest was having more campaign like season three, at least in terms of types of activities and feel, especially fewer NPCs everywhere.  Also, there’s a player decided direction for what season five will be about.

I’m hardly surprised that people’s expectations differ from the reality; that’s pretty normal in my experiences.  What was more notable to me was how little time there was to actually establish a “normal” for the campaign.  There still isn’t a normal, where I tend to be interested in epic fantasy where volcanoes erupting wipe out enemy bases off stage or romantic fantasy.  My remembrances of Princess Police side sessions was more “someone shows up claiming that a village is under attack by bandits” where there was limited narrative relevance.  It was more about straightforward investigations or combats, and I liked those sessions, in general, quite a bit.  My side sessions often try to expand upon the setting and/or relate in some important way with what’s going on without there being a major confrontation with the noble invaders, er, I mean the non-human abominations that are invading Rokugan.

Maybe the better thing would have been to have a discussion after season three where I would have been clearer with how the players thought that was the norm that we should be striving for.

The thing is is that Rokugan is diverse and finely detailed.  I actually like the setting even given some things I really dislike about it, and one of the things I like most about the setting is that places are defined.  So, I want to have the party visit different locations that aren’t just some village out in the boonies as that forces me to at least a half-assed degree to come up with details about where the party is.

Maybe I should have put forward “Hey, keep in mind that this is the third side session this season and that I’m trying something different than what I view main sessions to be about, so get ready to … dance, dance, dance.”  Or, maybe I should lengthen seasons so that side sessions don’t overwhelm a season.  Though, I like planning for three sessions each season as it pushes me to be more focused and more concise, something I at no time ever have any problem with in my life due to my core conciseisityness, but also means we can refresh the campaign and send it in a different direction faster rather than get lost in something no one wants to play.

So, why doesn’t this post have a L5Rish title?

Well, I also have been playing Shadowfist recently, and I would make mention of how we actually got two full games in last Thursday in our threeish hour block.  Actually, the week before, we played a five player and a four player and finished two games, but I was borrowing decks from another player as I had the wrong deck boxes in my bag, so I was playing far more threatening decks.

This session, I played an Architects/Hand deck that tries to combo something.  Instead of comboing, which would have been entertaining, I put out two Anomaly Spirits (yes, Architects/Hand with Anomaly Spirits) and it was deemed I was “weaponizing” our house rules (that encourage additional columns heavily).  Someday, I may reveal the intrinsic brilliance of this deck that apparently has no way to generate power so can’t afford to do much more than play a 2 or 3 cost character once a turn.

So, that brings me to yet another perfect deck.

Name: Iron Gift
Faction: Dragon/Guiding Hand
Size: 45

Dragon Cards (8)
Characters (6)
4x Junkyard Boys
1x Khofesh
1x Seamus

Events (2)
1x Golden Comeback
1x Never Surrender

Guiding Hand Cards (10)
Characters (8)
1x Bao Ling
2x Buddhist Bellringer
1x Rosalee Leung
2x Shaolin Supplicants
2x White Crosus Society

Events (2)
1x Journey’s Reward
1x Rigorous Discipline

Combo Cards (7)
Events (5)
5x Eagle’s Gift

States (2)
2x Iron Fists

Generic Cards (20)
Edges (2)
1x Martial Focus
1x Shared Interests

Events (2)
2x Scrounging

Feng Shui Sites (10)
5x Dockyard
5x Möbius Gardens

States (6)
1x .44 Kincaid Magnum
2x Butterfly Swords
3x Fortune of the Turtle

This just oozes perfection.  My only winning deck at Merlin’s place a couple of weeks ago.  Then, proof of perfection Thursday.  After all, bringing out Junkyard Boys and Shaolin Supplicants is exactly what every deck needs to beatdown with.  With White Crocus Society as backup to heal those F-1 characters when they may get conflicted.

Joren was playing Monarchs Netherworld Returns, Justin Dragons, Don Architects with Black Helicopter Squads for Bite of the Jellyfish.  Don [Chi] Suck[er]ed with little effort to stop the Sucking.  I used an Eagle’s Gift to get back Six Demon Bag to stop a bid for Sucktastic victory.  Justin got Jenny Zhang in play but was kind of defensive with her.  Three of us were at four FSSs, when I went over the top and nonstop with Boys, Supplicants, and Bellringers.

I could have played Iron Fists, but I wanted that for a character with fighting greater than two.  I also had Khofesh in play, pointlessly, as I’m terrible at Shadowfist math.  Whoa, that’s a great article for someone to write – Shadowfist math.

Yup, Iron Gift is retired undefeated.  In no way will I plan on building a less effective version for play in the future … unless, perhaps, I can find a way to squeeze a higher percentage of F-1 foundation characters in play.  I will consider, however, keeping it together to lend out to others who want to win major tournaments.

And, so, I literally literally provide a gift to you, my devoted audience.  Happy almost Martin Luther King Day.

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Flop Til You … Flop

January 8, 2019

Eventually, there is a V:TES tournament report. See Sunday for V:TES stuff if that’s all that matters to you {*weep*}.

Saturday

So, it’s ‘fisting day, as Daniel is in town and Merlin organizes play at his abode.  I’m not sure what time I’m supposed to show up, find out that I’m not supposed to show up for a couple more hours, bake a pie, find out I can show up earlier, don’t cool pie much and head out.

Pecan pie.

I love pie crust.  I just don’t like most pies.  I keep meaning to make a pistachio pie just to see what it’s like.  I hate most cooked fruit, which rules out fruit pies unless someone does the proper thing and jams the fruit or whatever so that it isn’t full of the disgusting pieces of fruit.

I also hate baking.

Do you know how tedious it is to sort cards?  To sleeve and unsleeve cards?  How much room it takes to lay out piles and piles of cards?  As I’m sure there’s a few CCGers left who read this, you very well might.

Baking is a mess.  Mixing bowls.  Whisking.  Melting butter before mixing it.  Flour getting all over the place.  Having to deal with sticky things.  Even worse, dense sticky things like 1/3 cup of honey.

Compare and contrast with taking a skillet and a cutting board and making single skillet lasagne.  Or, a pot and a cutting board and making chili (and recycling the empty cans for the tomatoes, beans, corn, whatever).  Sure, stir fry occasionally takes more than one receptacle of carbon based matter, especially if doing noodles.

So, it’s also seeing things happen.  Browning meat is visually pretty evocative (except when you flour the meat and make a huge mess of burnt flour and everything looks brownish white).  I can taste chili as I make it.  I can taste stir fry as I make it.  I can see the burger getting less pink (to some degree) and the cheese melting on top of it.

Mixing dough just looks like dough, though I suppose I can taste some of it if I really want to.  Then, you dump stuff into something and put it in an oven and hope it turns out.

I don’t like building other people’s decks.  I don’t mind playing them.  I just don’t like building them.  Closest was doing my take on Colin Riggs’ Honor the Elders deck.  I made it more Zip Gunny and, thus, victory was inevitable.

So, with baking, since I don’t know what I’m doing or what impact changing proportions has, I follow recipes.  The lasagne I just use bacon or pepperoni or whatever I want to use up and ditch the mozzarella for a cheese that won’t make me ill (my go to often is Mexican cheese blend).  Stir frying, I just fry stuff I like and toss the cashews in at the end so that they don’t get soft.

I made a pecan pie on New Year’s to use up a Trader Joe’s Pie Crust.  Yes, I did not make the pie crust for either of these pies because I’ve done that before and it was aggravated assault upon my will to prepare food.  I didn’t thaw it enough and had to reroll the crust a couple of times.  I used less brown sugar, less honey, and less maple syrup than the recipe.

It was okay the first day.  After that, just kind of vaguely pecany where the lack of sweetness killed my joie de vivre. My mother liked it fine, so there was that.

This time, I pretty much used the recipe levels of those three sweeteners, minus half a cup of whatever (I was looking at multiple recipes and approximating quantities).  Still a pecan pie that defeats the concept that pecan pies are overly sweet, but somewhat more sweetish.  Used the other Trader Joe’s Pie Crust (since the whole point was to use the box of them up).

So, on the one hand, baking is a miserable experience that involves dealing with measuring things rather than throwing in whatever is handy in quantities that seem plausible.  On the other, we have ludicrous amounts of flour, sugar, honey on hand (plus who knows how much vanilla extract). Quantities impossible to actually use up … unless I bake more often, as it’s frightening how much sugary substances go into baked goods.  Maybe go through a jar of honey in less than a decade.

I arrive and the group has just started a four player boardgame.  A game that will take hours.  As I have an immense tolerance for watching other people play games I don’t care about (and sometimes very little tolerance for watching people play games I do care about), I read the rules and interrupt with questions.

The pie cools.

Merlin goes to pick up Daniel, so we play a four player game of ‘fist.  An awful game won because multiple Monarchs come down when nobody else has gotten past putting foundations in play.  We start a three player game which has some semblance of balance.

Merlin and Daniel return with BBQ. We pick up the three player as nobody was all that fond of their position, I guess that means it might have been a good game.

Two groups of three.

I have a good number of decks on me, having gone through all of my decks that morning and having built recent decks due to the holiday plus the pre-baking period of the day.

Many of them are ineligible for play, either being boring or being not worthy of three-player ‘fist with people who are not bad at the game.

When concocting decks, one makes many decks of varying types, many that would never see play in the highest echelons of competition except when one feels like playing one.

When preparing food for others, one is not pleased well when it doesn’t turn out to be to one’s perceived tier.

Here’s the problem with many of my ‘fist decks.  One, they lack stoppage.  Two, they often lack speed.  Three, they lack hitters.  Four, they lack staple effects (Manchu All Over You! had no Killdeers).  Yup, if it wasn’t for that singular problem, every creation would be tasty as cherry pie minus the gross cherries.

Merlin, Tim, and I played various games while Miguel, Paul, and Daniel played a couple.  Finally, we switched out so that Daniel played with Merlin and me.

Played Manchu deck in four player, Architects in three player we picked up.

Then, Ascended in a game so bad my biggest character was an Academy Instructor.  An Iron Fists deck that won through the power of Fists of Iron – wthf?!?  I guess sometimes the world stops spinning.  Final game with Tim saw me try to control things with a “Fractured Soul” deck facing Lotus Unique Recursion and a Eunuch deck.  I had at one point or another Sir James Lamb, Evil Twin of The Emperor, Beaumains, Pi Yin, Pi Tui, Larcenous Misted to stop a Spear of Destiny, Tortured Memories Seven Evils, and … lost, of course, being outclassed by Eunuchs after I Discerning Fired Imperial Boon and The Dragon Throne (Chimpshack doesn’t have Imperial designator, but I also could have chosen Imperial Champion if TDT didn’t have Imperial).

Daniel game saw my Bush Pilot with a Muscle Car not do anything, saw my Wu Bin of Turtle Island get Never Surrender, saw me Thunder on Thunder five edges where I discarded my second one.  I had two Trade Centers in front of two FSSs a couple of times.  malloc() wrecked for a while, turning off Daniel’s Hand abilities.  Nomad Army did a little, came back, did more, got Material Transcendenced.  I played Sword of the Dragon King stupidly because I forgot which characters it prevents from intercepting (it gave +2 Fighting to Iron Jim Colson).

After midnight, we were done.  Take Daniel back to his hotel (pretty easy but had to think about how to get home efficiently from the hotel).  Get home with the remains of the pie.  Try sleeping four hours after my target bed time.

Even post-Saturday, I had thoughts about my ‘fisting.  Much like how I don’t bake like a bakemaster, baron von bake, I’m kind of not good at ‘fisting [sorry ladies].  I routinely make bad decisions and miss plays and don’t keep track of card text in play.

And, yet, for some reason people find my positions threatful, possibly even uberthreatful.  I think I know why.  See, because I don’t build decks like competitive players do, people think that my having 17 fighting in play from two characters and more than everyone else combined means that I can not blow it and win.  They don’t realize I won’t burn for power often enough to fuel putting out … some foundation characters because my deck doesn’t have any hitters left.  They may even think that I put characters in for some synergistic reason rather than “hey, that card seems cooler than this other card”.

If my Thursday night group sees decks with a dearth of characters and fighting, my decks see at least a dearth of the latter.  And, virtually no removal, no evasion, no engine.

So, I have power, fighting, and a site structure.  And, I know I’m doomed.  I usually only win against veteran players because no one else does and that’s not that common.  I think the thing that does work better for me is cheap.  I just don’t know how to make good use of hitters, so smaller dudes with weapons is far more likely for me to not get powerlocked out of the game.

Sunday

While up before 6AM, only start working on my V:TES tournament deck after six.  I know what I want to play, and this is where the next hours of the rest of my life are ruined.  For, you see, I metagame.  I just don’t metagame in any way that makes any actual sense.

I run lots of Swallowed by the Night in Obfuscate decks because I grow weary of close range beats.  I decided not to on Sunday because that would be boring.  Forestruggling alert.

I know that players in the hood tend to play the same sort of deck archetypes routinely.  Yet, I just assume that some people will refrain from playing same old, same old combat decks.  Huh?

I blithely cut Blithe Acceptance from my deck while relying upon five cards to get me out of combat.  Yup.

I figure six pool gain cards is fine and that I’ll have time to hunt. Maybe in a perfect world, a world of all bleed decks, such things are plausible.

I do not bake.  I throw the ingredients together and hope that magic makes them tasty, like a nice chocolate pie without too much chocolate and with a good amount of whip cream or something else that makes the chocolate less boring.

I finally get going in the fiercest water-falls-from-the-sky storm in the State where it never rains this side of 2019.  I arrive like half an hour early to a place that doesn’t open until 11AM.  I avoid falling water by sitting in a car.  I manage to mostly stay awake until just before 11AM.

10 players

R1:

Sean (Palla Grande Undue Influence) -> Brandon (Tupdog Rush/Bleed) -> Ian (Every Computer Hacking Deck Is Better With Babble, aka This Is Just Wrong And Crosswise) -> David A. (Valkyrie Vote) -> Eric (Tunnel Runner)

Eric gets a Tunnel Runner.  It eventually gets Veles Hunted.  Yup, that happened.

Sean plays Jost, who gets rushed by a Tupdog and Graverobbed.

Brandon bleeds me for a bunch and rushes my guys enough that I don’t bring out a third vampire for ages.

I could easily stop pretty much everything David does as I can generate one intercept easily enough and sit on Delaying Tactics forever waiting for a vote he calls that I actually don’t like.  But, very little that he does matters to me.  I did Babble Dolie so that Eric could block an early vote.

I eventually bring out Rodolfo who reduces some bleeds before I get ousted.

I don’t know how much time I have to get food, so I wait until the round ends.  I can’t decide whether to get food or not, though I discover that there’s a Burmese Street Food place around the corner that I hope to try some day.  Because I just want a snack and have too much food at home to go through, I end up eating nothing.  I’m so used to playing at Victory Point Café these days that I didn’t know how to manage food for the day.  Had to keep reminding myself as I was driving in that I wouldn’t be getting food and drink from VPC.

R2:

Eric -> Kenneth (Malk Royalty) -> Mark (Samedi rush) -> Sean -> Ian

Kenneth brings out Lucian.  Lucian gets rushed and Leandro doesn’t block/Obedience.  Leandro is hugely annoying … going on 20+ years.  Sean gets out dudes.  I get out dudes.  Sean bleeds at stealth.  I don’t have bounce, yet.  Mark is hale enough to beat down going forward.  Leandro Banishments Eric’s Ember, so I bleed out Eric with the help of Sean’s Club Illusion (Yorik went Anarch because people take forever to burn Revolts) and two bounces I had in hand to not get ousted by Sean who fell one action or one stealth short of getting me.  Kenneth is at 8 pool and Mark at 7.  I don’t mind bleeding Kenneth for a lot, then having Kenneth Parity Shift, Leandro Mark out of the game.  OTOH, I don’t mind having 2 VPs either, so I bleed for 8 with the help of Club Illusion.  Mark finished off Sean.  Mark doesn’t rush me successfully.  I bleed until he is ousted.

Ian 4 VPs, Mark 1 VP

Finals:

With both Brandon and Mark in the finals, I don’t expect to get to do anything.  I ensure that by not thinking through the seating.

Mark and Alex are low seeds.  I choose to be Mark’s predator, thus dooming myself to irrelevancy.  Brandon does the obvious and sits across from Mark.  David has different possibilities, but sits as Mark’s prey, which seemed like the prima facie choice.

So, here’s what I should have done.  I knew Mark and Brandon would opposite.  So, I go as Mark’s prey.  Brandon becomes my prey.  David has a less clear decision, where I’m not sure at all what he would have done, though I think he sits next to Mark in some way, maybe his prey.  Regardless, even if I’m still between two rush decks, Mark will likely go backwards first and … Brandon will just take out my guys and have no predator and easily win unless David votes him out, which is hard when Brandon doesn’t pay a lot for minions, won’t have a predator, can rush David wherever he is, and has Yawp Court in his deck.  It’s not like Mark will ignore me to put pressure on Brandon.

Alex (Goratrix BH) -> Brandon -> Ian -> Mark -> David

Alex never manages to do anything of significance, so Brandon has no predator.  David reduces Alex’s pool by a lot to where Alex is on the verge of ousterture for multiple rounds.  Brandon largely leaves me be because nothing I do really affects him besides reduce Mark’s pool and David’s Anarch Revolt (terrible idea with two rush decks at the table) is increasing my pool loss while my Blood Doll gets Washed.  My Claven gets beaten down by Mark.

I do have a turn of Sleep of Reason on a Tupdog and Conceal on Mark’s Ivory Bow, so I get to cycle cards.  Brandon Yawps one of the Valkyries down.  Mark starts beating down David’s dudettes to where Brandon becomes concerned and even encourages me to take actions.  Mark is low enough on pool to back rush again.  I eventually bring out a fourth minion just so that I can Eagle Sight block a Reanimated Corpse bleed and get my first Dodge out of my hand.  Earlier, Brandon thought I’d Dodge with an Escaped Mental Patient, so he Grappled.  Amazingly enough, EMP is not as good of a minion as a completely expendable Tupdog.

So, I’m sitting between two rush decks.  I have virtually no combat (did press against Brandon’s !Trem to reduce to zero blood).  So, the usual happens.  David ousts me crosstable with a vote.

Finally out of a game in which I really should never be able to do anything besides kingmake.

Turns out to be the correct enough play as David barely hangs on to win with 1.5 VPs as top seed.

I considered just never bringing anyone out in this game, but that wouldn’t have changed anything.  Brandon would bleed for a lot because the one thing Tupdogs needed was a good way to bleed.  Mark and Brandon wouldn’t fight until it was too late for it to matter to me or I was ousted.  David would have been crushed by rush.  Alex would have been a bit healthier until he fell over, unless by that point Brandon worked to rein in Mark.  I suppose Brandon might have tried using me to put pressure on Mark, but that’s essentially what happened, anyway.

I don’t think I played badly all day.  I didn’t play great nor did I try all that hard to rally tables against the table threats.  What made my day a fail was terrible metagaming.  Not only the sort of decks people play round here but their styles of play, which are rather predictable.  And, making a boring and suicidal choice of seating in the finals.

Thanks to Mark and Brandon for organizing.  Merlin for hosting and getting BBQ.  Players for playing.

The drive home was miserable and as dangerous as California roads get when water falls from the skies and white stuff impairs visibility.  If it would only rain some of the time, maybe everyone would be more used to driving when it’s wet and lane markers would be clearer at night.  OTOH, I did get to eat some leftovers, though no pie, when I got home.  Some day will finish that pie.


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.

In The Shadow Of Freedom

December 29, 2018

I considered just going on to the best of 2015 as the next post, but I had an unusual experience.

An unusual experience – unfortunately – that should be usual.

I’ve been building Shadowfist decks.  There are many old cards that I haven’t made much to any use of that I actually own as I’ve accumulated veteran players’ castaways.  A lot of that has to do with how disorganized what I’m sitting on is.

So, I picked a section of the floor that had card boxes sitting on it and opened up a couple of large boxes (not full) and started making decks.

I’ve said before that I build decks very differently for Shadowfist than I do for, say, V:TES.  Oh, sure, my tournament decks may have 5x MG, 3-5x Dockyard, 5x Auramancer, etc.

But, for casual play, my ‘fisting style is the model known as “I don’t give a shit.”

This works for my ‘fisticuffing because of the nature of the game, the number of players, the meta I play in.  For three player games, IDGAS might not work so well as slow starts make for bad games.  Ya da, ya da.

Even though I’ve covered some of this ground before (I should work on new material to pump my blog stats, methinks), maybe not precisely same acreage.

Does IDGAS work for other games?

Ultimate Combat!

To a degree.  UC!, though, has a very small card pool compared to my other CCGs.  There’s a huge danger when facing decks that take power generation seriously that a slow deck is a non-starter [or too much like a starter?  ha, ha ha].

UC! decks don’t tend to feel terribly different from each other within broad archetypes (counter decks are very different from mill decks which are very different from combination decks which are vary different from Favorite Technique decks which … wait, yo, homey, maybe this is why I like UC! so much – there’s a surprising amount of variety in a game where decks pretty much just put techniques in play and beat).

Gee, I guess IDGAS works reasonable well for UC!.

V:TES

Once upon a time, I IDGASed a fair amount.  I may be able to get away with it, but it makes for dumb games when other players are trying to do constructive things.  So, I moved to GingAS and ended up having less fun building decks.  Too much sameness.  Some believe V:TES has a large card pool.  I believe it has a fairly small number of card effects relative to the size of the pool.  I could certainly focus on the unusual effects more, which is where more innovation seems to arise.

Magic

I’ve never had much enjoyment from making constructed decks in Magic.  Could say it’s a testament to how open Magic is to variety, even within blocks or eras.  I just had a hard time pulling the trigger on decks.  It’s why I enjoyed Type P so much.  For me, Type P was less of a perpetual sealed and more of a perpetually creating constructed format.

Yes, I had decks like my Essence Vortex deck, but those were rare.  I always played far, far more limited.  So, I wouldn’t say IDGAS was much relevant.

Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, Tomb Raider

Yes, these three are all Precedence CCGs.  They also tended toward a certain level of structure.  I build silly B5 decks.  I did not build IDGAS decks.  Usually, I focused on something very specific, like fleet enhancements, not just throwing every Llort related card into a deck [more than a couple times].  I usually planned how to win, even if it meant making Adira as big as possible by having her attack characters for no damage.

One would think TR would be easy to IDGAS, as it’s kind of more like a boardgame than a CCG.  I mostly played TR as a playtester, though, similar to WoT but even more so in playtester mode, so I was GingAS.

Traveller

My most recent deck was IDGASsy.  I think Traveller – I know, I keep saying the same thing – is surprisingly open when it comes to deck construction.  Now, if you are playing two player, you may be in a more competitive mindset and doing certain things is risky.  I’m also not considering a meta where you are playing a bankrupt you in four rounds Broadsword a lot.  Talking about casual.

Prior, I didn’t embrace IDGAS much because I was focused on core principles of moving towards victory for things like developer articles or for demos.  The more other players build decks, the more I can goof off.

Shadowfist

Getting back to Shadowfist.  Sure, there are foundation characters, there are sites, there are mids (I don’t think “ramps” is the right word for how I use F4s and their ilk), hitters, character kill, et al.  But, between the no minimum deck size, that I typically play four-player games where not every mastermind requires four resources to put into play, where endgame situations are chaos, IDGAS predominates my thinking.

I’m building a Manchu deck, where Chimpshack.org being down is making it more difficult, where I thought about something like a 30 card deck that just Manchuchus its way to … who knows what?  We have games where someone on 15 power is useless because of an inability to draw characters in hundred card decks.  Manchu You Up! may just wreck house in the same way that Abysmal Li did.

Yeah, I retired numerous casual V:TES decks as undefeated, including some atrocious crap.  The difference is that I stopped building a lot of those decks, one, and, two, a lot of those decks weren’t of the IDGAS sort, they were trying to accomplish something from a mechanical standpoint that tended towards sucktasticness.  With IDGAS Shadowfist, the themes aren’t all that mechanical.  Yes, Manchu cards synergize with other Manchu cards (in theory), I just don’t really care if they do.  I don’t care if some foundation gets to F3.  This is totally different from my Flower Glower decks, where I’m trying to Petal power puissantly.

Sure, I’ve gone through IDGAS phases with V:TES, B5, maybe some other multiplayer CCG, so it could just be a phase, but the nature of ‘fisting is that is just seems to me like I have no real concerns with GingAS, even in tournament play with how we end up doing things like single game tournaments that last over three hours.  I don’t have to IDGAS all of the time.

It’s just entertaining.

Happy almost time for Best Of … 2015!


Card-inal Rules

December 5, 2018

In the last week, I played Shadowfist, Traveller, and V:TES.

During/after each session, I had profound thoughts on some aspect of card flopping.

I think I’ve forgotten them all.  Let’s see if I remember anything as I ramble …

Shadowfist

In the Shadowfist game, because even though it went pretty quick there’s a dearth of new decks so a second game wasn’t in the cards [ha], I won.

Who cares?

I won with, I believe, 13 power in my pool.

For normal ‘fisters, this may sound like some crushing beatdown against my three opponents and/or I was playing Ascended and there was Bull Market nonsense going on.

In my 50 card deck, I ran 5x Möbius Gardens, 4x Pocket Demon, 2x Spirit in a Bottle, 2x Bloodlust, 5x Auramancer, and … 5x Dockyard.  In other words, 5x Auramancer and 5x search for Auramancer.  Of course, early on, it was Möbius Gardens that powered me through.  Only later did everyone stop caring about my having two Auramancers in play to push me towards being able to dump my hand every turn (not that I did).

Btw, Dockyard to search out Fire Cadets was what gave me enough characters to swing for the win as I needed to do exactly one damage to the final site and my other two dudes could be intercepted.

This game had a high amount of recriminations.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the new norm.  Don’s Napalm Belchers become Brains in a Jar plan combined with Joren’s Jammer site damaging made for a lot of failed attacks as the targets ceased to be in play.

It seems harder and harder to find a game where all four players find the end result fun.  Quick games are unsatisfying.  Long games meant there were plenty of plays that could have changed the results.  While games tend to have everyone have a chance of winning, that doesn’t mean people’s decks are doing what they want, just means you are playing Shadowfist, with its sketchy endgame possibilities.

Traveller

May have heard on the interwebs that there’s a Traveller Kickstarter going on right now.  The irony is that my Saturday Traveller play wasn’t a perfectly timed demo to expand awareness and to inspire backers.  It was getting together with friends to play some games, including Puerto Rico, followed by Mexican food.

I keep meaning to post to travellerccg.com about what I did to create my deck for this three-player game, but there are so many things going on right now that I’m supposed to be dealing with.

I took the Empress Marava Far Trader deck, removed all of the crew, heroic actions, and a bunch of other stuff, and replaced with a vast amount of cards from our Aliens of the Imperium expansion pack.

I wanted to alien as much as possible given little time to work on deck construction.

Usually when I play Sophont Worker’s Union, I get a discount on one or two aliens, take actions to get counters, never use more counters.  Let’s just say that a deck with more than 30 alien crew cards gets a wee bit more use out of the three copies I ran, helped by having Fragmentation Grenades coming in from left and right.

Three-player and four-player Traveller is certainly more … involved.  Eventually, Gary switched to piracy playing my Beowulf connection deck because his son and I were so thin on cards without being that close to winning.  His son got locked to where he had one card left and couldn’t deal with a complication.  I could have kept playing for a bit, but the piracy would have bankrupted me in about two rounds.  I was not a round away from winning.

My deck certainly was not like any sort of reasonable deck.  I made no effort to have a plan for enemy ships, with pretty much just Misdirection to move an enemy ship complication away.  But, it was entertaining.  I got to put out aliens I don’t play all of the time.  I kept wondering about which aliens to care about having in play.  I kept wishing I could generate expert Social so that I could temporarily gain five VPs off of Diverse Dynamics.

How would I build decks for multiplayer play?

Less expectation that crew will remain in play.  There’s just so much crewkill in the game.

Piracy seems like it would be worse with more players as that’s more cards to burn through, but Traveller isn’t V:TES.  Decks naturally burn through cards really fast.  Add in that there are more players to stop someone from racing towards victory, and pushing key players over the edge can, in fact, be easier.

We could have done more or done more sooner to make people aware that Traveller exists.  I don’t expect everyone to love it, but it may surprise some CCG players with how much is going on.

V:TES

Three games at GameKastle Santa Clara.  Three fivers.

Mark (Ass Contract) -> Brandon (!Toreador from cube) -> Rob (Hatchling rush) -> Devin (BB w/ Vic) -> Ian (midcap Thaum w/ Create Gargoyles)

Rob brings out Alabastrom.  Devin brings out Agi.  Agi goes to torpor.  Gets eaten.  Alabastrom goes to torpor.  Gets eaten.  Over in my world, I Society of Leopold Mark’s fat Ass.  For some reason, he blocks my bleed of one.  I theft him to zero.

I bring out many a minion.  Four uniques, Carlton, Create Gargoyle.  The last kills me.  Mark goes backwards with rush and removes my CG w/ Dominate, allowing Devin to get in a bleed of six with Walk of Caine and, then, finishing me off because my CG in torpor also has +bleed for BB card on it.

Rob is helpless and we make a food run.  Mark is taken out.  Brandon has a bunch of guns.

Ian (PRE/FOR/cel/pro vote) -> Brandon (Trem from cube) -> Devin (Dem w/ Tha graft) -> Mark (Guruhi vote) -> Rob (as above)

While tempting at times to try to just get Mark off the table to establish vote lock, the problem with that plan was Devin just getting two easy VPs.  Brandon got to pass every vote he called while Mark constantly failed my votes, then would get me to support his KRCs 2 and 2.  Eventually, Mark got vote lock because everyone let him.  I thought about Banishmenting Eze with his 5 votes before that occurred, but I made a minimal effort to try to keep Devin in the game.

I suppose I should include a few notes about my game.  I bring out Una.  Her first action is to get Polaris Coach.  At a point in the game, I bleed with Una and Brandon blocks.  I don’t use any of the four counters on Polaris Coach.  Gustav Breidenstein did learn Protean and super Forced March.  Ubende tried to take Powerbase: Tshwane using stealth from Instantaneous Transformation but got blocked, anyway.  I kept hoping someone else would fail a vote, including the Ancient Influence that gave me 7 pool or the Reins of Power that I did 6 pool damage with.

Time out with Brandon and Mark with 1.5 and me with .5.

Brandon (borrowed Valkyrie) -> Mark (Children of Stone) -> Rob (Salubri/HoS) -> Devin (Shattering) -> Ian (!Gangrel w/ Thaum)

So, amazingly enough, I tended to win combats with either Aksinya or Mimir playing a deck where my first discard was Shotgun Ritual.  I also discarded Cauldron of Blood at some point.  The table forgot that Mark’s Gargoyle had Armor of Terra on it and we had to roll back a 2 agg punch into diablerie which really messed things up.

Brandon Revolutionary Counciled more times than it actually resolved.  I spent a lot of time at 1 pool.  Through poor play of Aksinya’s ability, I went from 3 pool to zero.  Devin eventually conceded to Brandon.

Common, One Might Have Said … Neutral … Ground … Back In The Day

I don’t build decks often enough.  So many cards or archetypes I could play or play more of.  I play V:TES and next day start writing out some deck lists.  I keep having the same sort of thoughts with Shadowfist decks, one of which is building the all foundation character deck (with no Queens).

I was vague on Keyforge and became somewhat more knowledgeable.  I find it funny that the whole point of the game’s existence is to not allow deck construction, which is kind of the reason CCGs are the most awesomest form of competitive gaming.

I hope I never become one of those folks who complains about deckbuilding, that I just complain about my laziness/procrastinating that causes me to not do something that’s just ultra cool.  I even have interest in L5R deckbuilding and I gave up on the game in a galaxy far, far away.

Certainly, playing Traveller multiplayer brings player psychology into it.  But, I think the last week was less about the commonality of play experiences between the games and more about the essence of CCGs.  They (the decent ones) have depth of play, variety of deck construction, unpredictable events, and flavor text.  Well, V:TES flavor text owns flavor text in the other two.  I’d rate Traveller as having the best art on average.  Shadowfist has the most interesting theme to me these days.

They also aren’t easy.  Shadowfist may have the hardest decisions.  V:TES may have the hardest to remember rules set.  Traveller may be the hardest sell because it didn’t come out in 1994/1995, when CCGs were first Rage-ing and There Can Be more than One.

But, easy isn’t necessary.  I’d much rather that choosing health care options or mobile phones or hotels to stay at were easy.


Out Of The Shadows

September 19, 2018

So, Shadowfist has a new owner.  The impact of this is so slight in the interwebs that it’s not easy to find references to the new ownership company … even when I include Vetusta Games in my search.

It feels like we are some of the few players left (by players I mean people who play).  Had a couple comments about missing out on the opportunity for our game company to own Shadowfist, but that was rather unlikely.

Yet, why not muse about what it would be like to own a game with a long history rather than a game we are hoping builds some history?

What would I do if I suddenly became in charge of Shadowfist?

Bring back Architects right away and get some control over effects Lotus get?  Probably not.  I like playing Architects (zero interest in RPG, though as a villain they are okay).  Abominations are often cute.  I play the goofy removal rather than the staple removal.  I just don’t care nearly as much as others do.

Bring back Syndicate or 7 Masters or do more faction stuff?  No.

Ban Netherworld Trickster and other ridiculous Modern cards that don’t need to exist?  Hmmm …

What does Shadowfist need besides more players?

Better conclusion to games, of course.  One could say that requiring two resources to play the game and being able to get stone aged on power during play is what makes games the most unpleasant, but the lack of clear endgame is something I find increasingly offputting.

Have I seen the game at its best?  What is the best Shadowfist?  I’ve been playing for years more often than most and I still don’t have a great sense of what the game sold itself on.  Theme?  What do really good players playing each other get out of games?

V:TES doesn’t sell me on theme.  It sells me on the lunge.  It sells me on the comebacks.  On a zero intercept deck holding the Edge in a five-player game multiple turns.  It sells me on winning tournaments with Ghouled Street Thug in a vote deck, Mercury’s Arrow in, uh, a Mercury’s Arrow deck, Chalice of Kinship in a vaguely !Gangrel deck.

Daughter of Nu Gua with Butterfly Knives and Blade Palm for my first tournament win.  That’s what may sell me on Shadowfist.  More than a game focused on WoD vampires and numerous allies, Shadowfist is open, in some ways far more open than Magic, in others not so much.

There are plenty of rarely seen cards that amuse me.  I had five Cobra Clan Stalkers in play at the same time.

So, besides hoping someone comes up with a great way to market the game and run bunches of demos and tournaments across the planet (almost like every CCG needs this, almost …), I want interesting.  Shadowfist is wildly diverse.  Netherworld and pop up junctions can do anything.  70’s, Wild West, whatever.

I’d make “my” card.  Lotus magistrate because someone needs to be the Lotus good guy.  I’m not a punmaster, Baron von Pun, but I’d greenlight card ideas that sounded funny more than sounded good.

Would I adopt our house rules?  Specifically, the new location cost reduction?  It’s so good for the game in so many ways that I’d want to sanction it as a format and see if people could break it.  Choose a FSS and non-unique foundation for opening hand?  Yeah, probably.

I was talking about Traveller recently to a non-gamer.  I think it’s a good game.  I think you can try a variety of other games and note that there are usually problems in every CCG because CCGs are complicated and openended.  Sure, Ultimate Combat! may be more fun to play than anything else, but that’s mostly out of a starter box and the card pool is rather limited and some people care that the art isn’t spectacular.

Shadowfist has Difficulty at the Beginning and Difficulty at the End of Things.  Lot of the old time players want to play games that are much faster than what I want to play for multiplayer CCGs, so the game is not going to be that amazing for one or both of us.

But, I enjoy it.  I even enjoy games with obnoxious cards played, like monkeys.

I think Modern doesn’t do it any favors and maybe the concept of Modern needs to be rethought.  Modern has way overpowered cards in isolation with what feels like a pretty limited environment.  Maybe that’s not that different from when the game was new.  How often do I see the Queen of the Ice Pagoda in classic play?  A lot of cards just aren’t that good in your typical CCG and players gravitate towards the best cards.

I’d try to make the Ascended more interesting.  There’s just something about their characters that tends to grate on me.

I’d try to find a way to even out power because there’s just insane levels of alt power generation and … Möbius Gardens needs to be nerfed.  Is Jury-Rigged Dynamo a necessary play in your meta?  It’s pretty much a single card reason to play Jammers in our meta as it’s infinite power.  Of course, you are also playing Monarchs so that you can Twin Thunders your Wrath of the Monarchs to double nuke Gardens.

Is Superleap fun?  Just gets constant complaints in our play even though the reason it so often works is because there isn’t a lot of character/attack screw.

Should Loyalty be more common?

On the one hand, I think I’d struggle with making cards for the game as I don’t have a great sense of the mechanical balance in the game.  On the other, I might design cards that aren’t intended to address a mechanical need but just ooze flavor.

Would I hose Lotus recursion yet not Dragon recursion?  Maybe just reprint The Crucible with another name so that you can run ten cards that toast all demons in play.

Monarchs faction probably has the most potential for interesting cards as factions like Hand and Lotus are pretty focused on their thing.  Yet, I’ve become pretty bored with Modern Monarchs characters.  Actually, I’ve just generally become less enamored with Modern play, with my main way of keeping engaged with Modern decks being going multiple factions.

Shadowfist can have stories.  I know stories can annoy players who don’t like their factions changing, but it is an opportunity to shake up the environment.  “All apes/monkeys/gorillas have been wiped out through time, but mermaids and golems are appearing everywhere.”

I don’t know.  Is there a different CCG I’d rather have control over?  Well, Wheel of Time would be interesting but only if it somehow sold, which I think is unlikely at this point.  I wouldn’t want to control Magic, Pokemon, or their ilk.  L5R might be interesting if I could say “Forgot that unpleasant game that was put out, I’ll take the cool of the IP and come up with passable mechanics so that the game is actually fun.”  But, then, would I want to hear endlessly about adding Spider or some such?  I wonder if I could make the Scorpion fun in the CCG while it remains the opposite in the RPG, much like how Dominate works in V:TES or Architects in Shadowfist.

The irony of my current situation is that I have control over a card game and could, theoretically, have more, yet what I’ve always wanted with the CCGs I’ve played is influence, not control.  I guess going into what it’s like to be a designer/developer/manager versus being a player would make for a good topic some day, but today is more about giving Shadowfist some exposure.

Oh, reprint Shadowfist, the card.  That’s the top priority.


Long Absence Releasing Product

September 9, 2018

So, I’m still capable of typing.  In fact, I’ve even played one or more games since August 20th.

August was just exhausting, having early Gen Con run into when I do monthly stuff at work, into V:TES tournaments, into getting back to normal cadence of Rokugan 1600/Shadowfist/whatever.

So, September rolls around and … Pacificon.  I went two days.  I wore my two vivid Pacificon shirts from the 90’s.  When I wore the black one, another con goer I sat at a table with had the same year’s shirt upon his torso.

Gamingwise, there was running a Traveller demo which was well attended and running a Traveller tournament that wasn’t.  I wasn’t shocked by the latter, but it ties into how it’s time for us to ramp up building a player base of active players.  And, I played something.  I played a prototype game, Treasuremania.  It reminds me of something a lot, but I can’t quite think of what.  My friend suggested some advanced rules to the designer and those rules remind me of playing RoboRally, though I guess the basic game has similarities to RoboRally already, though the game is very different in that RoboRally messes with people like me a lot where the movement mechanics of this game don’t.  I am undefeated at Treasuremania [ladies].

There was some nongaming stuff at the con, like seeing people and talking/eating.  Discovered nearby strip mall replaced Chinese restaurants and the new one is very much like restaurants in Shanghai.  All restaurant food seems like it’s getting expensive enough to me to encourage just cooking my own food, but, if you accept that Chinese food isn’t a lower medium cost option anymore, this place seems worth going to occasionally.

Anyway, back to gaming, I’ve also played Shadowfist a couple of times or so, with our games taking a long time such that we get one game in in nearly 3 hours.  I think the ideal is about 75 minutes per game.  Considering how open our environment is for targets to attack due to our house rules, would think sudden victories wouldn’t be so hard.

And, I’ve run a couple of Rokugan 1600 sessions in recent memory, though one of them may have been prior to my last post.  I was happier with how the Bridge session went than the Mountain session.  But, I think my latest problem is that I’m still writing sessions for when our group tried to play in a 3 hour or so block on a weeknight, so the sessions actually don’t seem set up well when we know we have 4+ hours to play on a weekend.  To retain flexibility, I think that means I need to have multiple sessions worth of material available at a time to be able to run less or more, which isn’t a terrible idea anyway, though thinking through how to adjust things on the fly for how first parts turn out requires … more … thinking?  More preparation is a good thing to do, but it’s more work.

But, I had a question asked of me recently that I’ve been thinking about.

I was asked what I would want to play for a LARP.

I didn’t have a good answer.

What crossed my mind at the time was that sci-fi didn’t sound appealing.  Let me tangentialate for a while.

I’m not a sci-fi fan in terms of the idea of futureosity.  Sure, I like original Trek and watch a fair amount of Doctor Who, but neither makes the science all that important.  It’s not hard science.  oTrek was sci-fi in terms of speaking to the human condition with whizbang tech.  DW is just kind of quirkful.  Games like Eclipse Phase or whatever that seem more hard just hold like zero appeal to me.  I’m not into the tech in Shadowrun.  I find Shadowfist/Feng Shui tech acceptable because they are so unimportant.

Tangentialfuller.  I’ve read Bimbos of the Death Sun.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mystery novel set at a game convention that points out all of the nerdglory that actually exists even today, if maybe not to the same degree now that a lot of gamers have aged and produced offspring.  The title is because the mystery solver’s husband (boyfriend?) wrote a hard science novel that his editor forced to be called Bimbos of the Death Sun so that they could put sci-fi appropriate cover art on it, which is the excuse for the pair to go to a con for him to push his book while she deals with gamers and murder.  I think about this novel every time hard science and gaming intersect.  I did enjoy the novel when I read it.  Another piece of conversation lately involving gaming had to do with how different gaming can be in the US versus another place, to where the other person didn’t understand a lot of gamer jokes made by Statespeople until moving to the States.

Anyway, trying to get this back on “topic”, LARP set in the future, where you have tiresome tech like cameras everywhere, does not sound remotely appealing.  If anything, historical sounds more appealing, though I realize this may not be that great for me as the folks into that sort of LARPing probably have costumes and I’m not a costume guy.  That kind of leaves modern, but not WoD modern as WoD LARPing just sounds painful based on the stories I hear.

Thinking about it after I was asked, what came to mind was the idea of doing something collaborative in a LARP, as part of a small team.  What I often find to be the case with LARPs is that I have no meaningful goals in that even if I have goals I don’t really care about them, so I get really tired after about an hour and am fine with doing nothing at that point until it ends.

The only LARP where I can recall being more into things for longer was one of the first, maybe the first, I ever did, where I played a pregnant duchess.  I was given one of the NPC roles, so I didn’t really have a goal, but other players had goals that involved me, so I would interact with people who were motivated to accomplish something.  Then, at the end of the parlor LARP, the big reveal revealed how everything connected together and I was totally not murdered like my husband was(?).  I still grew tired in the middle, so mostly this anecdote is about my awesome pregnant duchess playing skillz.

I played an Immortal LARP once, but I recall very little about it.  Everyone seemed to be trying to accomplish the same thing, so it wasn’t very similar to any other LARP in my vague recollections.

Just not something that holds my attention/vast reservoirs of enthusiasm.  Which is interesting because one-shot RPGs do a good job holding my attention, so why not one-off LARPs?  An obvious reason is that LARPs depend a lot on other players and other players aren’t necessarily all that compelling.  In this conversation I had, the concept of players having actual in-character jobs came up, and I realize that a big problem with HoR political interactives is that hardly anyone has a defined job, which is why so many people can just sit around, with very little of consequence occurring.

Now, let’s say I’m in an ongoing LARP and have an in character job.  Is that interesting to me?  It doesn’t sound like it.  I already have things I want to do and things I do (watch Golf Channel or NBA Channel or whatever while playing solitaire) when I don’t want to do “anything”.

But, then, why play RPGs?  Why run RPGs?  Where’s the difference?  I don’t get into character that much in RPGs, even less so in campaigns.  I’m more interested in visualizing a story over acting one out.  When I do portray NPCs in character in RPGs, it doesn’t last very long.  I don’t have the acting bug.  I’m far more into being entertained than being an entertainer.  Even writing is something where I might spend way more time reading other people’s blog posts than writing my own, except I write 2000 word blog posts and a lot of people don’t and a lot of people don’t post that often for games I actively play.

Also, there’s another reason I can see that would reduce the appeal of LARPing, though I think it would matter far more in an ongoing LARP rather than a one-off, but this seems like a topic to save for another time.

So, to LARP or not to LARP?  Guess I’ll see.  If I’m willing to play wargames and minis because other people want me to, I can probably try out LARPs if people want me to and see whether it turns out better than I expect it to.