There are rather a number of thoughts on diverse subjects I have had recently. I’m sure I will forget half of them.
Before I forget: John Carter Kickstarter is going on right now! Finally, the Dotar Sojat has returned to Jasoom!
Steak and Shake in Campbell closed recently. It was open four months. It was designated to be opened for far longer. Its closure was sufficiently notable to not only be in the paper (that would be newspaper for you young ‘uns) but also be on the radio (that would be … um … radio for you young ‘uns).
We went to it. I’m not remotely surprised it closed. First, the location was terrible in that it was just East of the upscale-ish downtown. Second, it was not Steak and Shake. Well, it was not S&S a la Indianapolis’s S&S is. One in Indy is a fast food place that’s slow, somewhere along the lines of being at a more focused Denny’s in terms of ambiance. This S&S was pretentiousized for the hood.
Now, I don’t live in downtown Frisco or NYC or whatever, but we get plenty of pretension in the San Jose Bay Area. Whole Paycheck is ubiquitous, et al. Why have another burger chain that competes with Five Guys, The Counter, The Habit, Smashburger, or whatever? It wasn’t trying to? Well, then where is the audience? Best milkshake I can recall, which, admittedly, is not something I think a ton about since it’s kind of effort to screw up a milkshake, I got at Fuddruckers of all places. 5-Way? Well, sure, not a lot of places to get 5-Ways in the Silicon. (That’s what all the kewl kids call this milieu, n’est-ce pas?)
That’s a topic for today.
I’m going to talk about L5R. At some point, I’ll switch to the LCG. But, before I forget, I had some RPG thoughts.
Greek Mythology convention meets L5R. Everyone has an ancestor from one of the 4e books because they hardly ever see play. Rather than lose your ancestor over something black and white and rather arbitrary, you incur the ancestor’s displeasure for a time until you get your act together. Great idea, people. Make it so number one.
Welcome to the kuge, minorlings. Widowed emperor decides he’s good to go without a word to say on marriage number two to some minor clan yumyum. Guess how many PCs are not related to the minor empress?
Not Campaign Ideas:
One of the Friday night LCG players is someone who would much rather be playing the RPG. Actually, that’s how I met him years ago. He’s hot for getting into HoR4 or like anything else RPG related but especially L5R R&K. So, we’ve been talking.
I mentioned Odyssey, TCGMGtCM, and how it related to my running stuff for him and the rest of our local RPG group that dispersed. We talked about old campaigns. We talked about how our interest in the LCG is strongly based on the world and not the game [foreshadowing alert, foreshadowing alert].
I may have problems with aspects of Rokugan, but it’s so, so easy to think about playing more L5R. It’s so easy to think of campaign ideas. I found my mod attempt for HoR3 that I ran a couple of times and got unenthused by due to my just not having the ability to polish efforts up to the level that makes them acceptable. Well, also, staff consistently ignored me, so I stopped bothering trying to contact anyone.
It’s such a fleshed out *game* world. Sure, if everyone knows some book/TV/movie series, you can grok possibilities, but, for us veteran Rokuganites, L5R is just so meaningful. For instance, I was looking stuff up in Strongholds of the Empire. I’m perfectly willing to read about towns and cities I don’t plan on using as settings.
Back to the topic of whether the game is any fun. First, it is. As long as you are winning.
My experience of going back to playing a two-player CCG is utterly fascinating to all multi-celled organisms. I get so much enjoyment out of multiplayer CCGs when the results are inconclusive. It’s this bizarrely mundane feeling of liking doing better than my opponents in L5R, the LCG, that is palpable.
Or, maybe, it’s just that I hate playing Unicorn, and the fact that I often suck while playing them is incidental. Except, I played at least one game of Unicorn where I was feasting on my opponent’s soul and it was tasty.
It is “funny” how switching to Crab is perpetually like “Huh, my cards do stuff. They do good stuff.”
For the others, it also seems to be a game that is enjoyed when you are crushing throats and tearing off limbs.
I read forums. Multiple forums, in fact. No, I don’t read Discord. Not a fan of the interface and I have better things to do, like read the newspaper. Seems to be a certain level of disenchantment.
Then, I ‘fist with a L5R player, and he’s telling me his group is losing interest.
It’s this like really interestingly designed, very possibly well designed, game that is just so not as fun as we-folk want it to be. I’m finding that I’m already reverting to my random-game-element meets minimum-threshold-of-viability tendencies with what interests me in L5R. I’m struggling with the idea of trying to develop superior decks in what’s a very limited environment. I’m more interested in happy, friendly Scorpion, Lion wall, Cautious Scout.dec, and/or whatever.
I thought of an idea umbrella for trying to put the casual back into causality. League. You must play a role that is not the official tournament role for your deck’s clan. You may, of course, change decks, including changing clans. Or, some variation thereof.
I played a game last night. I played Crab, and I had fun. My first turn Kaiu never left play, having Reprieve that also never left play. I flopped three Iron Mines in the game, put another Reprieve in play that also never got used. I Way of the Crabbed once. Now, my opponent was playing Lion, so his military sucked, and he wasn’t running Feast or Famine, which I kept trying to play around. Nor was he playing the required 3x Policy Debates.
See, forumites are bitching a bunch. I think for good reason. I don’t think it’s a particularly fun game to play, though it’s also not terrible. The card pool sucks. Oh, a lot of it doesn’t. Provinces are mostly the problem. That Unicorn have so many subpar or oddly narrow cards is kind of antifun. That Voltroning is such a thing is problematic. That Iron Mine got added to the mix, so that Crab Voltrons never die seems like poor development.
Part of the problem with the card pool is that it’s not a multiplayer game (yet). In a multiplayer game, I’d be beastmastering and war dogging all over the place because it would be entertaining. In a throatcutter game, you just do the same old, same old of top tier stuff, with the occasional Miya combo deck or try to do your own spin on Drop Bears, Switchycorn, or whatever. With Wheel of Time, because so few people actually played, when you ran with an idea, you might have been like one of one posters. With a game that’s actually kind of popular, just another clone deck with maybe a few cards changed.
If the card pool were bigger, then maybe there would be more interesting variation. But, I don’t think the card pool needs to be bigger to have fun. Just to have fun as a throatcutter game.
Would banning Policy Debate make me happier? Um, no. I don’t presently care about Policy Debate, except that I do think that the one area of the LCG that is just bad mechanics is dueling. Dueling is hecka boring and full of NPEness. Sure, it’s not a guarantee that everyone always chooses 1 in every single game. It’s just a guarantee that I have so little interest in resolving duels that I’m okay with mentally seeing tables being flipped.
But, wait, that’s actually kind of like the RPG. In that, duels aren’t guaranteed to go one direction, but the whole concept of resolving anything important with a subgame that’s grossly uneven so much of the time is not strong in the PPE side of the Force.
I played a game the week before where my opponent won when I broke his third province, as he went to 25 Honor. If he doesn’t win, then, I break his stronghold as my first conflict the next round with my unstoppable Imperials and their Unicorn flunkies. 30 minute game. Takeaway #1 – it was how CCGs should play in that it was close with decks doing different things and there was interaction. Takeaway #2 – because I felt I did so little in the game, it felt rather unsatisfying even while I was playing, nevermind the end result. Would I have enjoyed that game if he only got to 24 Honor and I shred his soul on the next round? I don’t think so. Would I have enjoyed that game if he got to 24, I went after his stronghold, he stops me from breaking with all sorts of cards getting played, he does something clever to get to 25 (instead of just declare an Air Ring conflict)? Poss-i-bly …
We ‘fisted for the first time in months last Thursday. The first game was terrible. I spent a number of turns not being able to play a site, then had no characters to do anything when I got sites and a Test Subjects out. The second game I won in a game where everyone was hanging around at four FSSs, and I used superleap cheese and recurring counterspells. Because, who is the … Master? Sho’nuff. Check Youtube if this exceeds the vertical elevation of your brain. Some parts are cringeworthy, but I really like that movie.
Third game went to third player. My Salarymans kept killing unimportant things, and got killed when real characters showed up.
Given how prevalent superleap is and buffs are, I’m surprised Hand isn’t more popular. Now, there is a weakness against site effects, evidenced by how I got stopped by a site effect in one bid for victory, but there are antisite plays to deal with that. Character removal from events is countered by, uh, Hand counterspells. Of course, 7 Masters exists for the classic players, and that’s another level of sleaze.
I enjoyed playing. Shadowfist is usually fun. Sure, it has some terrible design, pretty messed up card pool (especially if you play Modern), requires making extremely complicated decisions even if you don’t realize they are extremely complicated. But, it’s not chess. You do stuff and stuff happens. You don’t wonder if you made a mistake putting two fate on some dude. Now, normal ‘fist does have the problem that you may very well not be able to play anything, which is where it did an even worse job than Magic with forcing requirement cards to be in play to play the game. But, you might be able to come back because it’s not a one v. one game.
Well, I may have forgotten a few other things that would have made my bad fits topic fit less badder.
Wait. I had a topic?
Let’s see. L5R LCG appeals to people who like theme, want to play game where they get to enjoy playing beastmasters. Difficult and highly “mechanical” card game may be good for some, but it doesn’t end up being most goodest for others.
RPG is a decent fit for those of my ilk. On the other hand, campaigns like our 20 Goblin Winter campaign were bad fits because we didn’t really get to enjoy anything about L5R while also being unclear on what we were supposed to be doing. Second City sucked as a campaign; I would say part of that is that you remove the familiar world of Rokugan and fail to replace with something as rich or interesting because you just didn’t develop the Second setting.
Trying to take throatcutting seriously is a bad fit for me, while offgoofing is good fit. It occurs to me that WoT was a case where I didn’t end up throatcutting that much, as most of my play was playtesting rather than striving for prizes. So, I’ve never been a master throatcutter, with my two-player tournament wins usually being in sealed deck play, where I focus more on building better decks rather than tier 1 decks. I’m the guy who played one copy of Necropotence in his Essence Drain deck, rather than the other way around, yet beat a Magic world champion in a sealed deck game with repeated use of Capsize and with a Rolling Thunder with zero cards in my library.
Doh! That’s what I need to do to get my competitive fix on – only seriously compete in CCGs where sealed deck tournaments occur and have decent prizes. Octa-libra! That means I have to take up Magic, again …
Speaking of bad fits, the John Carter movie was a bad fit because it failed to explain why Jesus C-, um, JC is a fun dude to hang with or why sword and planet is a compelling genre or explain how you can do a 21st century movie with a bunch of races defined by their skin color. Read the books. Compared to a lot of other stuff, they are better.
Now, will the setting be a good fit for RPG play? Will it be a good fit for people I play with?