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April 14, 2019

Not much wisdom for today, though ironically Wisdom.

From the marriage of knowledge and experience grows wisdom.

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

Shattering fist under chin, snapping head back.

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

Basics can be quite effective when done with heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, so, we get to Shadowfist.

Let’s work backwards because backwards is normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edges (1)
1x Lightning Patrol

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

States (1)
1x Battle Suit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

States (1)
1x Butterfly Swords

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

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

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The Agony Of Victory

March 3, 2019

Before we get to the topic, must consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster.

Ripping the breath away leaves little will to resist.

Spot on.

Flashing sticks strike faster than the eye can see.

Um, er, em, hmmm …

Precious oxygen gives respite from injury.

Well, I did need lots of oxygen when I went lunchtime hiking a couple times last week.  And, I have injuries from my pathetic badminton play yesterday.  I keep thinking that there’s a way to build a good Oxygen Burst deck, but it’s just such a small effect even for its cost.

One man’s problem is another man’s asset.

Wisdom for the ages.

Concede foundational erosion to evade ruin.

This pack is full of defense.  Control style play where you probably just go for decking your opponent unless you can get off some brutal Counters (this pack does have the ultimate Counter, Counter X, so maybe).  This black belt card is unplayable.  It is just stunningly bad.  If it prevented damage at a rate of 2x how many foundation cards you blew up, that might be different.

Effective attacks are oft repeated.

This would be good flavor text for a RPG post whining about how players will always use their most effective attacks/abilities over and over again even though that’s boring and a major reason I like combat to last relatively few rounds.

Tapping inner strength can be like a breath of fresh air.

Healing Mantra either is the most frustrating brown belt play in the game to face or will fail you miserably as you need the power to put technique in play that threaten attacks.  Nice to stay on theme with the air theme in these two healing cards.

The heart of a warrior holds the spirit of a lion.

Did I already use this?  Not so relevant today.

I had a couple of blog ideas – I just don’t have a lot of energy during the week and last weekend involved five hours of bookshelf creation/movement.

My idea for use today comes from our last Shadowfist session.  One of the players thought the victory was uninteresting.  I don’t disagree that that victory was not terribly interesting.  The point I tried to convey is that lots of Shadowfist victories aren’t all that interesting.  I think it’s a weak point of the game.

Hot take – A Game of Thrones CCG has the most miserable victories I can think of for any CCG.

This is a bit out of order, but I realized while I was writing that I shouldn’t put this last:

What makes for a good CCG game?  I should say that good here incorporates fun to some degree.

Some people just like to win all of the time.  Ignoring that, here are some features of what I think makes for a good individual game:

  1.  Everyone has a chance of winning.  I’m not talking about what makes for a well-designed game, I’m talking about a good individual game.
  2.  Players got to see their decks do what they are intended to do.  Obviously, a boardgame wouldn’t really have this criterion unless the boardgame involved the players bringing their own interests into the game.
  3.  Players’ decisions mattered.  Games can be close, but, if they just come down to random victory, that’s suboptimal.  I think Shadowfist suffers here as I don’t have a sense of what the impact of all of the early game and midgame decisions are that can influence a result.  Can only rewind so far in terms of endgame decisions, so overreact to one decision someone made, but that decision was probably affected by things that happened earlier.

If you wanted to add more fun into “good”, could add 4. Not much whining after someone wins.  The game may have been really good even if the result didn’t make everyone happy.

Shadowfist is full of things that one may not like.  I meta to some degree against things I don’t like, just as I used to meta quite a bit against weenie Potence in V:TES.  I also attack things I don’t like much more strongly, like non-FSSs as they hide FSSs and produce either abilities I don’t like or free power when people ignore them – in other words, I see non-FSSs being a way to slow games down and unbalance games unless someone hates them out of existence.  I hate Underworld Tracker, Demon Whiskey for their free recursion, except if I’m playing them.  I hate monkeys like all middle-thinking people do.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Btw, I realized recently that I like running a card with Monkey in its name even though it’s not a character nor any other sort of permanent.  Sadfacely, I will need to stop playing the card to remain monkeyless pure.

And, yet, I don’t hate Monkeys in L5R.  Irrationality for the … the … lose.

Our Shadowfist house rules are designed to fix ability to play problems.  We give foundations, FSSs, more power through reduced FSS cost.  None of what we do addresses making for better endgames.  In fact, because we tend to swim in massive quantities of power much of the time, a board wipe means an easy win after dropping a couple of hitters (or expensive states on dudes).

I don’t think people adjust to our way of playing well.  Of course, I still don’t have a good sense of how to play normal Shadowfist well, so it’s not like playing better is much of a goal.  Still, there are arguments about superleap, events, event cancel, and whatever because games can not feel right, whatever that means.  Actually, I think different things bother people differently.  Deck construction style can influence what bothers you.

Of Don, Joren, Justin, and myself, I think Justin wins the most these days.  Don gets massive in game hate often due to actually trying to build powerful combos.  If someone asked each of us, not sure you would get consensus on who does the best.  And, actually, I think the percentages are close enough to not matter a whole lot.

Regardless as to who wins more often, I think a lot of my wins are bad wins.  Because I play a lot of decks that don’t try to do good things, don’t run good stoppage, and where the cards don’t synergize with each other well, I feel like most of my wins come about not because I can push an attack through but because everyone was spent on stoppage when I made some attack.  You could say Shadowfist is routinely this way, but I’m not so much setting up these wins as just falling into them.  As evidence, there tends to be a lot of recriminations about who screwed up to let me win when I win.  Well, more than the average recriminating.

Of course, I have an overwhelming inclination to build multiplayer decks for variety’s sake and not effectiveness.  There are plenty of times with Shadowfist that I get frustrated when people murder my dudes not because I think my dudes aren’t concerning on offense but because I don’t have any defense outside of having those dudes in play, and a lot of my decks run few events that I have to waste power to create defense where smoke events or Imprisoned or Final Brawl or whatever are power efficient.

I’ve said it before and guess I say it again.  I should run more stoppage.  I think that brings better balance to the ‘fist.

Sure, I have some decks full of attack affecting events, like Monarch burn, many Lotus decks, possibly Architects.  I just don’t play those that often and the other decks are hideously low on attack affecting events, which means I can’t do anything more than what you see in play a lot of the time.  Well, there are also my tournament decks, which play less goofy stuff, so someone like Miguel may not perceive this feature anywhere near as strongly as the Thursday night players.

I actually have better ideas for decks.  I just don’t get around to them.  Maybe I’ll try to use some time later today to throw together a couple ideas I’ve had.

Anyway, the topic at hand is trying to make for more fun Shadowfist, particularly on the back side.  We often play about two hour games, which means one game in a night.  A game less than an hour for four people is probably not going to be satisfying except if it’s crazy attacks by everyone all of the time.  So, the duration isn’t too bad.  The better duration would be two games of 1.5 hours, assuming those games were not bad games.

I think I can make games better by upping my card/deck quality.  Have more stoppage to balance the decks.  Play the occasional Manchu All Over You! far less often and more Jake Rattlebones.dec decks.  Run five Auramancers, five Winter’s Laughs, and five Twin Thunders in every deck, assuming I own five Twin Thunders.

 


Edge Of Gloom

February 23, 2019

The title of this is so not clever, it’s …

So, first we must consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster flavor text.

Dagger strike with the hand, punches through the defense.

I will be punching so daggery no one will ever defense.

Go around, rather than through, the block.

In no way will I address my topics in a roundabout way, so I am doomed to be blocked?

An ax from the sky deals a crushing blow to your head.

Ooh, scratch the dagger thing.  I’m going to crush some heads with my ax.

Mental explosions devastate one’s foundation – wiping the slate clean.

Gosh darn it.  Right when I had ax like focus my slate gets cleaned.

Defense is often weakest following a failed attack.

Well, sure, when you don’t crush a head with an ax, you get someone going around your block.

Run like the horse, and never tire.

Now, look.  Up until this point, every bit of Ultimate Combat! adagizing was entirely incontrovertible.  But, this is just ridiculous.  Horses tire.  Could even argue that horses tire faster than expert runners.  If I can’t trust flavor text from a CCG last sold in 1996, what can I trust?

A whipping arch, Tomita’s instep was an awesome weapon.

So, not that this flavor text is good, but the card is pretty decent.  Black belt Jump Crescent Kick is a 6/5 for 5.  If you wanted big, that’s pritnear the best of the big black belt techniques.  Of course, it’s vastly inferior to …

A spinning elbow to the head can crush resistance like an eggshell.

Ax or spinning elbow?  Both.  Brown belt Elbow Smash is the biggest brown belt technique and comes with a decent cost.  It’s just better than so many black belt techniques on the big side while being brown.  OTOH, my modern view on power management probably means this card isn’t as good as I used to think it was and that I’d be more inclined to a 4/4 for 4 rather than a 5/5 for 5.

When the body is primed, you prepare for dominance.

I am prepared.  Dominance activated.  Save the best for last.  Let’s say you have actually played UC! as unlikely as that is.  Can you think of what card has this flavor text?  If you hadn’t noticed, and I never noticed even though I rose to the exalted heights of brown belt player putting me in the top 10 in the world (based on some list I saw from somewhere).  Let’s just say it’s a really common card and kind of necessary to playing the game.

UC! scores another one over Magic.  Better flavor text on a foundation-al card.

So, something I failed to mention before was learning more about Gloomhaven at DunDraCon.  Oh, I still haven’t played it.  I just have a much clearer understanding why it dominates RPG play.  You don’t need the same people to show up at the same time.  That solves like 96% of all RPG campaign problems.

I feel kind of nostalgia-y mentally.  Like I should be breaking out stuff from the ’80s and reading RPG stuff up until the point that I realize much of what comes from back then, at least in fantasy RPGs, is a bunch of room/monster/treasure descriptions that mean nothing to me unless they involve named animals living in rooms across the hall from each other with broomsticks in the corners.  But, I don’t have a clear enough thought to topicize this nostalgia.

So, let’s jump over to Shadowfist.  One game.  A much better game than the week before.  Why?  Because I whipped out my awesome … deck.  This modest deck.

Name: Forest Futility
Faction: Jammer
Size: 50

Jammer Cards (37)
Characters (26)
1x Demolitions Expert
5x Edge Warrior
1x Gearhead
1x Grenade Posse
2x Gunrunner
1x Napalm Addict
2x Professional Killer
5x Punks
2x Rah Rah Rasputine
2x Resistance Squad
2x Rocket Scientist
1x Titanium Johnson
1x Tunnel Ganger

Edges (2)
2x Payback time

Events (6)
1x Death-O-Rama
2x Disco Inferno
1x Hosed
1x Stick it to The Man!
1x The Underground

Sites (1)
1x Genocide Lounge

States (2)
2x Homemade Tank

Generic Cards (13)
Feng Shui Sites (8)
1x City Hospital
1x Floating Restaurant
1x Heart of the Rainforest
2x Nine Dragon Temple
1x Pinball Arcade
1x Primeval Forest
1x Rainforest Grove

Non Feng Shui Sites (5)
1x Drug Lab
1x Rebel Camp
3x Secret Laboratory

I never drew an Edge Warrior.  I played one Punks.  Resistance Squad got me into Rocket Scientist and Gunrunner and could have gotten me Rah Rah Rasputine early on.  Yes, I play a game with a card named Rah Rah Rasputine.  I may not have a great deck, but I have a great … sense of ha ha?  Rah rah?

My first site was Primeval Forest.  I revealed it on my predator’s turn.  He did not attack it even though I had no characters in play.  It actually was undamaged most of the game, with the Floating Restaurant taking away a plink at one point.

My second site was even more … rah rah – Pinball Arcade.  You gnome you are playing overpowered naansense when you don’t even want to reveal the Arcade until like the fourth successful attack you make.

I discarded both Disco Infernos on turn one to try to get a foundation character.  I played Stick it to The Man! on the last turn of the game, only for the Reascended/Syndicate player to play a second Catching Bullets on an Imprisoned.

This perfectly tuned masterpiece may just be too brilliant for one such as myself.  I may have to messicate it until my feeble flopping powers can flop it good.

So, UC! flavor text and Shadowfist deck.  What’s missing?  Quiet you, you sarcastic folk.  True Dungeon thoughts?

There are threads currently both for 2020 token development and about the widening gap between starter level play and some level of token ownership play.  It’s not extremely clear what the actual problem is.  I may not encourage PUGs to hardcore like I did in the past, but I still think a lot of players could hardcore if they wanted to gain double XP.  As for my token ideas, people assume I’m an imbecile, which is part of the reason I lose interest in sharing thoughts.  Someday, I will be an imbecile, probably sooner than it should be given my unhealthy lifestyle.  But, as I totally have never said in the past because I’m chock full of originality at all spacetimes, a motivation to blog was to reduce having imbecilic forum conversations.

Speaking of my impending imbecilism, I kind of kept forgetting that making old legendaries wasn’t actually that hard for me.  I have a bunch of relics, and old recipes didn’t take a bunch of OOP URs like less old recipes take.  Now, whether I blow through a ton of trade items and gold to bother making legendaries I theoretically could make is another tale.  I should have odd requirements coming in Origins in case I decide I care enough to bother.

I could mention my Origins plans.  V:TES Tuesday night, assuming I can get to the locale in time.  V:TES Wednesday.  V:TES Friday.  V:TES Saturday.  TD all Thursday to make my owning a collection useful.  Traveller Sunday, if the con accepts my event submissions.  That’s not a very clean slate at all – that’s awfully similar to last year.


Not All Chows

February 18, 2019

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

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

A tornado of power focused in the fist.

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

Calling upon your inner reserves brings extra power to bear.

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

Celestial aid purges pain.

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

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

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

The berserker welcomes pain to inflict pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truly celestial aid purges pain … or whatever.

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

Just a wallbuildingfest of wallbuildingness.

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

We head to the airport about 7AM Monday morning.

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

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

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

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


Shift

February 3, 2019

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

Shift

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

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

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

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

Shift

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

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

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

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

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

Shift

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

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

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

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

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

Shift

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

Utter chaos blasts through the arena.

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

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

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

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

Shift

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

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

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


Fisticuffs 20190124

January 24, 2019

And, so I went through my built decks as my idea to run uniqueless 7 Masters required time I didn’t have to put together.

Manchu All Over You!

Don (Twisted Horrors) -> Joren (Architect Ambush) -> Ian (Manchu All Over You!) -> Justin (Quixotic)

I didn’t win.  Justin won after first attacking with a F-2 Superleaper from Unbroken Protectorship only to have his target change.  Then, the killing blow with a Fu Lions with 2 damage and Yanyuedao Blade against a Hidden Grotto.

There were no characters who could intercept.

Actually, earlier, Justin had no reason to Journey’s Reward my Moonlight Raid as I couldn’t stealth by the Fu Lions, anyway, not that I expected my Moonlight Raid to matter, even though I was going for the kill on Hidden Grotto with a F-2 Manchu Soldiers, a F-2 Manchu Bureaucrat, and Colonel Richtmeyer with two damage and Origami Handguns.  Later, the same Manchu Soldiers and Manchu Bureaucrat and a BuroMil Grunt went for the win against a Forgotten Shrine.  After that inevitably failed, my last bid for victory (in the same turn) involved playing General Senggelinqin and saccing the BuroMil Grunt to put into play a Manchu Officer.  The Officer was F-5 due to Stand Together (Manchu, of course, though Soldier would have been interesting) and got Math Bombed, while F-8 Senggelinqin got taken out by Glimpse of Brief Eternity only because one of the five cards was … Superior Tactics to match on Military.  No, not any of my other Manchu cards came up that Glimpse.

The game was kind of dull for Don, who didn’t do a whole lot of Twisted stuff.  Joren had tons of power and Neutron Bombed to put the game in peril of ending at any turn but played the game with few characters.  Justin put Huang Yi in play twice, Jade Fox, Wei Tian, but some of those plays put BuroMil Grunts back into play because my edges (in play!) consisted of:

Stand Together (Manchu)

Political Corruption

Political Corruption #2

Paper Trail

200 Guys with Hatchets and Ladders

Extortion

Tomb of the Beast

I also had five power generating sites in play a couple of turns, a Waterfall Sanctuary that got hit for five late, Tower of Glass and Steel (due to our house rules), Tranquil Peaks (seized, never turned by me), Manchu Garrison, and a Dockyard played late so that I could play another Manchu Soldiers when all I had in play were one-cost characters.  I ended the game with those sites and a second Manchu Garrison.

Typical Shadowfist.  The only way to stop Manchu beatdown is to show the General his lack of Superior Tactics.

Well, have an interesting weekend coming up.  I expect to play in a RPG for the first time in … a long time.  HoR4 catching up, where I have to remember what my character does.  Oh, right, “Full Attack, Free Action draw my wakizashi, call five raises for extra attack and …  You know, if they revere the Emperor, any survivors lose Honor for attacking me.”  So, from flopping to chucking in all likelihood for next post.

 


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.