Anomaly Log

March 17, 2018

I could rehash about no snakes in Ireland [did I ever hash?], how boring my day has been, and whatnot, but I can blog about gaming.

For, you see, I was in Virginia for a while.  And, North Carolina.  And, Maryland.

I got into VA on a weekend, did a family brunch on Sunday, but two brothers were out of town and other siblings had stuff to do so there wasn’t much group activity after brunch.  Monday, I drove to Raleigh … and back.  That was another clear instance of low life wisdom.

Why Raleigh?  To pick up True Dungeon tokens from someone I had never met.  Because … I have a game blog for a reason.

I showed him Traveller, briefly.

Tuesday was more normal for me and the scene and I had a lunch in Glen Echo with my mother’s cousins.  Cuz, there’s no shortage of people I know in the DC area.  I displayed to people who aren’t gamers our two-player starter set box and some of the cards.

Wednesday, I caught up on sleep until the point that three of my brothers came over to learn Traveller.  Now, a four-player game is not the best way to teach something as intricate as a customizable card game, especially not to people who aren’t card floppers.  But, we tried, and one brother got out to a lead, another felt like he was learning the game when we called it, and the third was the one who was interested in learning.

Thursday, was Steve’s demo of Traveller at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn.  I did not really expect to do a lot of driving on the trip outside of the casual run from Fairfax to Raleigh and back.  But, that’s because I wasn’t thinking through what I was committed to.  Steve’s demo went fine, with one person being completely new, the others having been shown before, and two people being interested in another demo who didn’t demo the game.

I got rid of our sample playmats.  We expect our cut when those things go on eBay for $1000+.  I figured that mound of playmats would just get replaced with tokens and one suitcase would work well.  Foresh-, um, foretelling – no, it did not work well to carry 40 pounds of tokens back with one suitcase, a gamebag, decks of cards, books, and a laptop + accessories.

Friday, I got together with people I knew due to V:TES.  I showed Traveller – three straight nights of demoing.  We played other games.

We played Shadow Hunters.  It was amusing how Pete kept getting attacked by his fellow hunter.  It was down to two of us and the other hunter fully healed while I didn’t.  Then, we played again, and the same two players won, this time as shadows as the neutral sprayed machine gun fire all around killing most of us, though I thought maybe he could win playing the steal equipment dude as there was enough equipment in play to steal, but he couldn’t steal all of it in one shot.

Then, down to four people, we played Star Trek: Five-Year Mission.  Not to be confused with other Star Trek dice game?  The owner discovered they had been playing stuff wrong and the game was not too easy.  We failed.

Saturday, I slept in.  Finally getting moving, I drove some more.  To Occoquan.  Because, who doesn’t casually drive to Occoquan when the need to buy birthday presents is afoot.  It was reasonably pleasant, with my not realizing George Mason’s main campus was just South of the house.  This has to do with gaming, how?

I drove to Occoquan to buy jigsaw puzzles, as we are all wont to do.  Now, I don’t recall how many decades ago I worked on a jigsaw puzzle.  But, it was something my sister mentioned for presents and, since the birthday celebrating early thing was not well known to everyone ahead of time, this seemed fortuitous.

Sunday, dim sum followed by birthday and unbirthday stuff.  Then, played a movie game that one or more of the siblings came up with.  It was enjoyable, but, since I don’t watch hardly any movies, it was hardly a surprise when I came well in last.

My youngest brother got in Saturday and did not have to go to work Monday, so we did what I do all of the time – we went and saw a movie.  I didn’t realize Red Sparrow had such mediocre reviews until after I saw it and read some, er, reviews.  Doesn’t really matter to me, since it’s not even the sort of movie I make some effort to see (Star Wars, …, …).  It would have done well in the movie game if the right categories came up.

Speaking of reviewing things that don’t have to do with gaming, I did not find Flash:Flashtime remotely comicbooklike nor remotely good.  To me, it was very TVepisodelike.  I got to trying to think of what TV episodes feel like comic book stories and I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head besides the crossovers even though the Arrowverse does have normal episodes that likely qualify.

No V:TES.  No L5R (talked about it some with game store guy demoing Traveller).  No Shadowfist (didn’t make any effort).  No mahjong (Traveller instead, possibly to the regret of some).  Only a bit of solitaire at the airports.

Well, that was …  Why the title of this post?  Well, if you played Traveller, you might know how Stellar Anomaly Log is goodsome for Type S Scout Survey decks.  Survey.  Like as in travel around and explore.  Because I had never been to North Carolina and Optimist Park (yup, I went there … the place I was meant to be), Ashburn, Glen Echo, Occoquan.  See, my titles are superduperclever.  So clever.  And, not remotely obscure with injokes that only like one person in the history of the human race gets.


The Best of … 2014

December 31, 2017

Our annual exercise in calling out what was notable from three years prior.


[Classic] Yu-Gi-Oh! meets V:TES [10/19/2002]

I never got much response to this as an email or as a blog post.  Every time I read it I’m reminded that sometimes I entertain myself in profound ways.  Lot of times I only write somewhat along the lines of what I want to; this is a case of writing just the way I wanted to.  This and old tournament reports help justify the [Classic] posts.

Is it better to watch episodes of YGO! first or read this first?  Note that I don’t think you need to know anything about V:TES besides that it’s a card game for this to have some level of meaning.

Might, Right, Or Contrite

I don’t feel strongly about this post, but, given how popular my L5R mechanics posts are, this seems like one that the 4e players might want to take a look at if they haven’t.



Profound?  Not so much.  I didn’t analyze courtier schools as much as analyzed them for my own interests, which has little application to others.  However, I did settle on my two HoR4 possibilities being a Miya Herald and an Asako Loremaster, with the latter maybe being a better choice in hindsight and the former working adequately.

Finish Line

A callout because I don’t think this got a lot of attention, though I may have lost so much of my old V:TES audience that anything V:TES is not going to get as much attention.  While I didn’t aim for solutions to other people’s problems, I thought I did a good job of pointing out reasons card floppers seem to struggle building V:TES decks more than they do other CCG decks.

Btw, while I’m fine with V:TES continuing as was, if I were going to reboot it, card limits.  Card limits produce a far more digestible game.

Orccon 2014

I was really getting to like how California decided to play with each other.  The reason to highlight this post was not only because it was a last hurrah of sorts but because it’s good balance for me to point out when I suck, even when it doesn’t involve wandering around Berlin.


That I may read Xanth novels or watch Inuyasha or whatever may not be touchstoney enough for my audience, but one hopes the audience knows something about Sherlock Holmes.  I thought this did tie together something important about gaming with an important observation about more mainstream entertainment.


Review – Book of Water

It’s long, therefore it must be good.  Insert banal joke.  Why call this out and not Book of Fire review in the previous Best of …?  Well, I did kind of call out Book of Fire by not calling it out.  My frustration with the rather poor series got me motivated to explain why I thought early 4e supplements were superior supplements.

Eject The Tape

If you understand why this report of casual V:TES play is … important? … interesting? … entertaining?, then I think you get more value out of my blog.  If you think this was dumb, especially the play reporting, then I’m going to disappoint at times.  If I beat a zombie pony with certain comments in various posts, this sort of post cuts to the heart of the matter (in a far more subtle and therefore geniusy way).

Bushi Analysis – Extended

Is it heartening or disheartening that so much of what gets read in my blog are posts like these?  Did I ask this question before?  I used to have an audience for V:TES, and I get why that doesn’t seem to be as important because I don’t play as much and, thus, spend less time talking about the game and people I used to play with don’t and, maybe, there are fewer people playing in general.  I wonder what V:TES players do consume.  Regional forums?

Anyway, I rated stuff.  I’m not aware of anyone else rating this sort of stuff, therefore I win the blogosphere?  I could try to clickbait by putting this sentence in my preview – Kim K. or Haifa Wehbe hotter in her prime?  I’ve never used a picture of the former for a NPC, I did use the latter (also Adriana Lima in a very different campaign).  All I got was comments about how HW wasn’t what people thought of as a “girl next door”.

I haven’t really changed my opinions on how bushi rank.  Maybe I’d get more argument from folks if I posted on forums instead of in a place where I can control the message.

Generic Bushi School

Speaking of winning.  Look, everybody has bad ideas and a lot of people have good ideas.  I just happen to have good ideas that occasionally get shared (when I’m not sharing bad ideas).  And, no, I don’t think the R-5 technique is overpowered compared to other R-5 techniques in 4e.

Strong Sorrows?

I had a coworker note that I was dead inside (recently).  Is that better than being dead outside?  Seems like it.  I enjoyed putting together this post.  Again, I got really, really tired of doing the Zodiac posts back in the day.  I should have fun on rare occasions.  Harkening back to yesteryear pleasures me (well, when it’s about things like gaming).

That aside, what’s the importance of this post?  Look, I have done things others haven’t.  Sure, I’m not likely to be a Hatamoto in the L5R LCG and I was never a World Champion at any CCG I was ranked in the top 10 in the world for and I’ve never been credited with breaking a non-playtest play environment and I have lots of opinions on things I don’t know jack and diane about.  But, I’ve also taken a number of CCGs seriously.  There’s some probability I may know something rather than just blogging made up words.

On another note, I stopped reading Magic articles because they became hard to read.  Why do people do that?  I may not particularly want to play Magic, but I find Magic interesting.


HoR Strategy

Is HoR important to me?  Right this last day of 2017?  Today, no.  Yesterday, no.  Day before that, no.  Pretty much since Gen Con 2017 ended, no.  And, that’s become the norm.  This post addresses why it’s so easy to lose the plasma on HoR play.

That being said, I’ve gotten a lot out of HoR.  I really like 3e/3r/4e basic mechanics.  I’ve had some great play experiences.  I’ve met some people I really enjoy doing things with.  I played in an epic home game because of HoR.  So, at some point, I’ll look to ramp up, again.  We might be able to play some missed mods next weekend.  It’s just brutal how disengaged I become during the months when there isn’t anything going on.




BattleTech Scenario Building

I did post stuff in May and June, in case you want to relive more of my 2014.  This post has to be great … cuz I’ve seen it get some continuous reads in 2017.  BattleTech is such an interesting game in that it’s often awful to play yet is so evocative.  Well, it can be fun … and I tell you how.


Sure, my Gen Con 2014 post was long.  They usually are.




Ah, a rant about gear.  Or, is it?  Maybe I just feel like calling out one of the easiest to read pieces of Statesish, ever.

The Road To Mana

This has very little to do with gaming.  But, it hints at something that I’ll mention because I doubt other people would make the same connections.  I’m quite fortunate to be able to have a variety of first-world problems.  Gaming in the form I consume it is a first-world activity.  Gaming can be really easy.  Bust out Advanced Squad Leader and make up some homebrew rules for simultaneous turns and you are platinum.  But, sometimes, you can run into problems of people having other things they need to do besides play games, like raise children or work.  Here, my problem was that I was getting closer to living an adventure yet couldn’t make a connection to improving my gaming experiences, something so ridiculously first-worldy that I get … amused.  Now, that’s not all downside since I get to Beware of Invisible Cows, keep it real, et al.  This is not the post to get much out of, unless you want something from this blog besides gaming thoughts, like tourist suggestions on the Islands.

I do seem to have some portion of audience who finds travel log stuff more interesting.  Btw, would you be shocked to hear that my ideal lifestyle would be “travel the world and play games”?


Exploring Villainy

It has been said that actors prefer villains because those are meatier roles.  While this post isn’t likely to be helpful to others, it does clarify why I’m a villain vegan.

Lo, The Fun

Do you play CCGs?  Do you enjoy them?  Why are CCGs the best form of competitive gaming ever?  The Fun.

L5R Campaigns

I believe there’s plenty of room for other types of L5R campaigns.  Now, I don’t see the people I play with being into some of the types, but they exist.  Where this has maybe a touch more value than it seems is that it was before I started running LBS – Black Water Lake [sigh], and it helped inform things I tried in that campaign, a campaign I was actually more happy with than most.  I’m still into the idea of LBS as a setting (well, part of a setting) because it addresses some of the problems Rokugan has a setting.  (Topic for another time?)


Clan Cards – Camarilla

I do try to use my analytical awesomeosity to be helpful, even if nobody cares.  *weep*

Note that there are two other posts in this series, but I don’t feel energetic enough to link them.

RPG Fiction Guide

You know what else my two long-running campaigns had?  My writing fics for them.  It adds so much to the experience.  So much of game time is spent on combat, rolling dice outside of combat, arguing about what to do, arguing about treasure splits [not really but sadly this has actually happened], looking up rules, etc.

Well, that was a lot of posts.  As much as I feel like I’ve lost some of the magic early on with more profundity, I also can see where I can keep going far, far into the future.  As long as I throw numbers into more posts.

Gamehole Con 2017

November 9, 2017

Where to begin?  Oh, probably with some unexciting stuff.  I do have some enthralling material later, but let’s get some minutia out of the way.

It sounds so simple.  Take two days off from work.  Fly out to Madison on Thursday, fly back on Sunday.  No commitments other than True Dungeon.  Take L5R to play when bored and take Traveller to show off.

I kind of forget what it’s like to fly East.  Set alarm for like 3AM to get up and finish packing before getting to airport and being delayed half an hour because of undownloaded paperwork.  Set alarm for 4:30AM after Daylight Saving Time ends, in the dark, at 2:30AM, to head back.  Sure, we could sleep in twice, but, then, there’s the “what the hell are we going to do with all of these tokens we just acquired?” phase of the con.

Everyone else, even Californians who flew out, seemed to really like GHC.  I didn’t.  Oh, I don’t think it’s the con’s fault.  I think it’s the city’s fault, in part.  The convention center is isolated, so you can’t just run over to a restaurant and run back between games.  The food trucks and stalls didn’t have bad food, just food I didn’t want (well, the smoothie that was $2 more than it should have been was desirable tasting).

The hotel was loud – first night seemed like a helicopter flew right over the building.  Okay, that’s unusual and hard to control for.  Next two nights could hear our neighbors talking clearly, and I’m sure they could hear us talking clearly.  Doesn’t it get cold in the North?  Would think sturdier buildings.

Our one opportunity to go out for food was okay (if expensive).  Always amusing to go to Wisconsin for your Laotian food.  I wonder if the pork tod mun would have been better as beef, and the beef Lao paradise meat would have been better as pork.  Might have fixed the texture oddities the two appetizers had.  The main dishes were good.  Who doesn’t like deep fried noodles?  I could get even further off topic by talking about ratings for food as I travel, but let’s get around to gaming at some point.

We played a game of L5R Thursday night.


Three True Dungeon runs and True Grind.  Since there were only two dungeons, a lot of stuff just runs together.

I think I played monk on the first run, cleric on the second, ranger on the third.  Did play ranger in Grind.

The first two runs weren’t terribly notable, except some general views on the changes from Gen Con.

I didn’t like Dancing at Gen Con.  I loved Moongate at Gen Con.  I actually wasn’t terribly fond of Moongate at GHC and thought Dancing was respectable at GHC.  Switching out one of the puzzles in Dancing improved it.  Sure, the fights were still not great, one of which was actually ridiculously pointless on normal and hardcore because of how little damage was dealt.  Moongate suffered from having too little combat.  And, while I understand why it was used and we even somehow solved it on our third run of Moongate, it had a puzzle I hate … not hated … hate.  Plus, it had a puzzle I was over with the second time I ran Moongate at Gen Con.

Then, came run three.  We played hardcore, with six players, three of which lacked much experience, and two of which didn’t have hardcore level builds.  What’s a hardcore level build?  Hard to quantify outside of my view that you should never play hardcore with less than 30 hit points and shouldn’t play nightmare with less than 40.  If we had a full party, probably would have been more enjoyable.

So, we got to the second fight and we got wrecked.  Two players were a round away from dying.  I took 42 damage.  I figured we were doomed at that point, even though we got through the room.  Look, the point of challenge level is to be challenging, not to be “well, you asked for it”.  The fight didn’t scale based on our party size, and I still contend that it should due to how it worked.  If it worked differently, then, sure, don’t adjust it for underadventurered parties.

Now, we did the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do in another room.  After that amusing fiasco, I knew we were going to get wiped fast in room seven.  In some ways, that was a good thing.  For, you see, in none of the other six runs were Andy and I challenged.  Now, some of that had to do with knowing the solutions to many of the puzzles from Gen Con.  A lot of that had to do with my whining about playing a loser paladin who only ran around with 60 hit points, unlike my 77 hit point monk.  Of the seven runs, I think three were normal and four hardcore.  When we played with nightmare level players, we also had party members who could never be relevant at nightmare except as victims.

So, we were challenged and end room wiped.  Something else happened during this run.  I used consumables.  I never use consumables because that’s like burning money, in a way.  Not only did I hand out potions, but I actually used a Mystic Mushroom to bring someone back to life.  That’s right.  I finally used a token to bring someone back to life.  That’s actually more like what TD should be when you play a combat run.

There’s an argument that the reason to rein in the Eldritch healing bonus is because it makes runs boring with how easily clerics/druids mass heal parties.  Having played various ultrarare builds on normal difficulty, I totally get the idea of not feeling like there’s anything at stake, anymore.

We went to play Grind.  Before I get into some facets of that experience, I’ll note that while talking to Andy about how the last run went, I realized that I had completely forgotten:  I was psychic and could heal 4 hit points; 5th level ranger has a healing spell; I was wearing both a Linked Shirt of Healing and Pants of Blisswalk to get bonuses from Andy’s healing spells.  I may also have forgotten Icecrag healing at times.

Then, I failed to murder a puppy.

In True Grind, we played with six players who didn’t know anything about what TG is like, which is reasonable as I didn’t know what TG was like until … until … I played it.  More problematic may have been that they really didn’t have the tokens to be playing Grind.

Though, our bigger problem wasn’t combat effectiveness … no matter how much the giant head and neck of the puppy evaded my +18 to hit with my +2 Keen Slayer Longbow.  Our biggest problem was indecisiveness.  At Gen Con, with a similar plot, the group made decisions, mostly to fight, and it was good.  With this group, we kept not knowing whether to fight or not.

It was amusing.  Besides missing every single attempt to put an arrow in a puppy’s head, I did get devoured by a Gazebo – the just punishment for not being a “I guess I Mad Evoker’s Charm my Lightning Storm and Ring of Spell Storing my Charm of Spell Swappinged Magic Missile” wizard.

Worst ranger ever.  I think it only fitting I never play ranger again.  “Oh, crap, I had spells!?!”  I didn’t even remember to cast Barkskin, which I talked about doing before we started playing.

If you’ve survived to this point, let’s say I’ll go over what I thought of playing different classes after I explain Saturday.


It is pretty sweet to have transmuting when you want to transmute.  We got 50 treasure pull bags and got mostly junk, which is to be expected.  We did finally get an ultrarare in like our sixth bag, maybe fifth bag.  We tried to put together trade item transmutes to cut weight.

For, you see, TD is really all about reducing how many tokens you have.  TD is all about cutting weight.  As Leftcoastians, we fly.  Now, if United or Southwest, we can get by with weight.  But, even so, I had to correct the counter person that I could have two overweight bags at my status level.  If you are kind of dim and fail to comprendez the problem, plastic tokens with metal inside of them weigh a lot, especially when their owners aren’t too organized and bring extra stuff to try to get rid of it only to realize that you constantly get more stuff you want to get rid of and don’t have time to because you need to get back home before work starts.

Four runs, including the last Dancing run.  I played paladin in our first run, our only run organized ahead of time through the forums – one of our better runs … hmmmmm … could there be a connection?  Then, I played monk, bard, and, finally, paladin.

Beginning with the ending, because save the best for last, our last run was so easy that I guarded someone squishy and never received any damage on a combat run at hardcore.  See below for more on playing a paladin.

Will get to playing a bard in a moment.

I found monk to be rather pleasant.  Of course, I was playing a ranged monk, as all “geniuses” do.  See … no, screw it, let me talk about ranged builds now.

Ranged Builds

I was told that in Kirk’s DMing class/seminar on Thursday night that the most common or one of the most common mistakes by room DMs is using melee stats for people using ranged weapons.  I believe, though I’m old and increasingly senile, on every single one of my seven TD runs (not my TG run, of course), there was at least one room that the DM used my melee stats when I never used a melee weapon.  Yup, in seven runs, including playing cleric(!!) and monk(!!), I played seven ranged builds.

I’m trying to get increasingly efficient with tokens and it’s just really easy to use the same high Dex builds for every class.

On some runs, it was particularly egregious how my attack mode was ignored.  In the only challenging run, my melee stats were used in the room that doomed us.  Look, I’m into being a sidekick.  I’m good with others murdering puppies better than I.  But, when I’m needed to impale fae spiders, I kind of want to be impaletastic.

I’m aware enough to call out that someone should use my ranged stats on a challenging run.  My bard can bury my strength so deep that I get -2 to hit and the DM realizes that can’t be right.  (Btw, when I played bard with a STR of 6, I was also hauling around a 30 pound backpack for 8 hours of upright gaming.)  But, what about other poor schleps who don’t scream bloody puppymurder?


It was not a bad experience.  It was a learning experience.  What we learned is that there’s not really any reason for us to go to GHC again.  We could have been at the L5R Worlds, at a HoR con.  All we really did was play True events and it was repetitive and below great.  Yeah, I’m cool with the idea of getting to know other forumites better, etc.  I just don’t need this particular setup to do more of the same.



I don’t want to play bard again.  Maybe it would work in a run where I knew everyone.  But, it’s not the awkwardness of singing that sapped my enthusiasm while I was playing, it was that bard has too many options.  I could lore, I could bardsong, I could attack, I could scroll, I could cast.  Just too many options where I’m not that into any one of the options.

Andy’s girlfriend did ask about highlights of the experience.  I did eventually remember that having like four attacks succeed … in one round … because of bardsong was a highlight.


I only played cleric on a run where challenge was so irrelevant that nobody even bothered skill checking me.  Hello, why do we play the game?  We play the game to pass skill checks through being suprageniusy at memorization.

I studied beads.  I never studied beads before.  I … I … *weep* … never got to prove I could identify a bead.  My soul has been crushed.

I hated playing cleric, anyway.  As I figured would happen, I was just constantly in “do you need any healing?” mode, which is tiresome.  I want spells that can burn any puppies who blink at me.


Good times.  Originally, I pegged monk as one of the classes I would never want to play.  Then, I won an auction for a crossbow, and I realized it would be perfect to be a crossbowing monk with saves greater than that of God.  I didn’t go full overboard saves with my GHC build, but I was pleased with my +14/+5 ranged monk build, playing either normal or hardcore.  On hardcore, maybe I switch into Bracers of Supreme Archery for more damage, but whatever.  I’m not sure how, but I was doing like 21 damage with some shots.  Not sure where bonuses were coming from that would have got me there.

Maybe I create some sort of thematic monk character to get into character.  Or, I just impale things with bolts instead of useless puppymurderfailing arrows.


Two runs, two not remotely in danger scenarios.  But, I did learn one thing.  Every DM I had avoided attacking me or my ward(s).  I’m pretty senilesure that nobody I guarded and not my own personage were ever targeted for attacks.  That’s something that maybe someone can abuse in a meta way.  It’s also a bunch of crap.  The point of having abilities is using them.

The irony was that I was playing a paladin build that didn’t have an unusually good AC and had relatively poor hit points.  I was guarding the ranger on one of the runs, too.


Dead to me.  Devoured and fertilized in the great gazebo planes.


Not a single wizard or elf wizard play.  That was good.  Fighters are mindnumbing to me, rogue would only be tolerable in Grind, druid was so close but I didn’t have a build built because I don’t expect to be able to play druid, barbarian is just too brutal for sensibilities except maybe on nightmare where I can unleash.


Finally, I can get someone to go to Origins.  Now, I can play in the V:TES NAC with TD as … a time competitor?!?


August 13, 2017

On August 5th, 2017, I was in Washington D.C., watching the premier screening of the Abaarso School movie at an event where cocktail attire was expected.  I borrowed a blazer, but otherwise I wore what I might wear to a game convention.

The piano bar after party had singing (by the pianist) so painful my musician brother and I desperately wanted to go get pizza elsewhere.

Let’s start with the first reason this has anything to do with gaming.  The students trying to get placed in US high schools, prep schools, universities are coming from a situation that I just can’t process.  The 60 Minutes (yes, the TV show) producer who did a panel after the screening asked Harry (my brother who made the movie with Ben and Kate) to contrast the opportunities available to someone who went to Thomas Jefferson High School in the NoVa area with what the Somaliland students had to deal with.

Role-playing games.  An opportunity to live out, to whatever dicechucking degree you wish, fantasies unrelated to your lifestyle.  For someone who has had it easy (that being me) by growing up in US suburbs, gloss over upbringings that involved true hardship as some characters may have had.  Economic position, educational prospects, ability to make choices, etc., etc. etc.  While RPGs are a great way to just “it’s clobberin’ time” some hours away each week like hitting a sports bar and pounding back some brewskis (I assume people call it that), it’s not a bad thing to take a moment and try to get into the headspace of what it’s like to live in a completely different milieu.

I did not play any games in my 1.5 days in Virginia/DC.  There were scenes in the movie of students playing cards and whatnot.  But, the second way this trip relates to (my) gaming is that I missed out on a V:TES tournament weekend.

I know Mark and Kenneth won tournaments.  Eric sent me a picture of a Sens. Depped Laecanus with Praxis Seizure: Stockholm, which is probably more than at least two injokes you may not get at all, but maybe you will.  But, I have little sense of how things went, probably because lots of people use Facebook and I don’t.

Given how rare V:TES play is, this is a significant lost opportunity.  Now, I obviously prioritize family stuff over gaming, but it’s an unfortunate result that I could have avoided if I had been more on the ball about suggesting when the tournaments should have taken place.  Actually, the weekend before Gen Con is usually going to be okay because it’s unlikely I would have travel I can control, knowing that back to back trips is suboptimal.

I am so disconnected from V:TES play, but, then, this year has been unusually heavy with travel and, er, with Traveller.  That’s … symbolic?

When in town, we usually get together for Thursday night Shadowfist.  In our last session, we played three games.  That’s not a good thing.  Our short games, well, our short four-player games, tend to be bad.  We had two games that felt like three-player games in that someone got out to a strong position, failed to get “regulated”, then won because people’s decks are way too big and inconsistent and/or lack character stoppage.

I completely failed from a metagame standpoint playing a deck full of edge hate in the first game, where no one had edges in play.  I really need to build some new decks.  I keep wanting to play more Final Brawls, but I just don’t own that many that I can find.

Speaking of failure, in the business trip leading up to hopping off to DC, there was no time for mahjong, my VR experience was lacking any actual play, and my friend’s phone cover of “Winter Is Coming” had pretty much no impact because I may be a nerd, but I’m an iconoclastic nerd who has never read Harry Potter nor A Song of Fire and Ice, nor made any effort to watch their visual media unless you count looking at a screen on a plane.  Nor did I hit Core Gaming Salon, as there were two other Americanos in Shanghai for me to have Italian food with, and I was only there for a week.

Been playing around with the True Dungeon phone app, discovering a real bug and a faux bug.  The faux bug is what I want to talk about.

What are the most contested equipment slots in TD?  For me?

Neck.  I was heavy Amulet of the Champion in my builds until I realized Charm Necklace probably does me more good, while Exalted Creeper Amulet is amusing, plus Amulet of Treasure Finding is necessary for our fourth and fifth characters, and a host of other stuff is irrelevant because it’s not as good but sounds cool.

Wrists.  I can’t even decide on wrists for my primary build.  Bracers of Fast Fitness is my preferece, but, if I have to burn stuff like in Grind or Hardcore/Nightmare, I guess I go Bracelets of the Cabal.  For other builds, Bracers of Supreme Archery, Charm Bracelets, Fast Fitness, other stuff all contend.

Feet.  I want to own a bunch of Boots of the Four Winds, but I’d rather play with Boots of Might or maybe even Boots of the Marauder.  All comes down to whether playing normal dungeon or not.  Not a lot of choices but ones that I constantly toy with.

Charms.  This is a recent phenomenon.  For the longest time, charms and ioun stones were two things my collection was really weak in.  Now, the three charm limit is impactful, as I frequently am happy to pump Dex at a cost of Str, yet Vicious Charm isn’t making the cut anymore.  Charm of Enlightenment is taking off as I realize just how bad non-healers want to not have embarrassing Will saves … just in case.

Least contended slots?

Fingers.  Sure, my wizard builds could do more ringing, but I struggle immensely with finding a second ring for ranged fighty builds even using first slot on Ring of Heroism.  It’s currently easy for me to level up builds as I can just Ring of Heroism up some build, except so many of my builds run the Charming Trio that RoH is unnecessary.  Obviously, if I had a certain Legendary ring or a certain Eldritch ring, things would be different, but I don’t.  I’d really like to see a ring that increases physical ranged damage by something reasonable, like 1 point, to avoid making ranged Ranger even more IO’sP (probable gross exaggeration as ranged Ranger gives up double attack Ranger).  I could, of course, pick up the rare saves boosters to have something that is theoretical good stuff – shows what sort of holes exist in my collection that I can trot out more URs than rares that do something.

Legs.  I really don’t know what pants to run when not going Kilt of Tavernbane.  When I go with free action pants, I’m defeated by how Boots of the Marauder provides free action.

Head.  Either Templar Helmet, Defender Helmet, Redoubt Helm, Crown of Iron Will, or Charming Crown.  Charming trumps Iron will, but I only own one Charming.  Templar will normally trump Defender, but I own only one Templar set.  Blessed Redoubt might suffice, but Redoubt doesn’t really at the moment, especially since I won’t own one until Gen Con.  Charming and Templar don’t contend with each other.

Shirt.  I often don’t even know what to run unless it’s Linked Shirt of Healing for everyone.  Shirt of Blessed Strength for those rare STR based builds I do, of course.

Most binary slot?

Waist.  Belt of Blessed Constitution or Girdle of Frost Giant Strength.  That’s it.  That’s all I’m going to run, unless I end up with a Viper Strike Belt at some point.

So, you may have heard that Gen Con is in August.  I wonder if it’s going to be a zoo, given that it’s sold out.  Sold out.  Interesting comments as to why moving to Chicago wouldn’t be better.  I wonder what next year will be like.  Will some folks be so turned off by the excessive number of attendees this year that attendance would actually be lower than recent years?  Unlikely.  Probably get new blood who takes the place and everyone will hope hotel situation will ease when it won’t be GC50.

For most of our group, it’s lots of TD and HoR.  Will let you know how that turns out in a couple of weeks.

Privilege.  Play games.  Travel the world.  Question why people want Italian food when in China.  Get pizza in Georgetown at 1AM.  Afford my TD collection.  Just so fortunate and useful to remind myself that it could be so much worse.

EC 2017: Veni. Vidi. Suxisti!

May 24, 2017

So, I went to the 2017 V:TES European Championships.  An obsession with Eyes of Argus (on my banned list), Enkil Cog (banned list), er …, Deep Song (banned list) …  Okay, it was cherry juice.  Cherry juice was the driving force behind going to Berlin.  That and Australian women.

Maybe I should start over.

Before V:TES ceased to be a thing, I wanted to hit a EC and a NAC in Columbus.  I had worked out in my spreadsheet how to have enough hours (stealing from my future accruals) to accomplish both.  Then, I used up more hours than I planned, so I let NAC drop for this year.  Still, with everyone under the Moon, even those who don’t actually play, wanting Anthology Sets and my mother figuring out whether she was going to vacation in Europe, Berlin was booked.

As was London because I didn’t see the point of going for less than two weeks and I didn’t see a point in spending two weeks in Berlin.  My mother had spent a few years going to school in London, so, in theory, we could visit places she knew.  Nigh 60 years absence kind of made that not part of the trip.

We arrive.  In the East End.  To the pub!

See the mustard. Too much mustard.

As is the norm among all middle thinking people, the pub is where you go to drink water and eat.  Yes, every single pub in England I’ve been to I’ve just had water to drink.

My hope was to have localish food in England, pub burger, pub fish and chips, kind of forgot about pub meat pie.  Meat pie.  It was good.  The mustard tray came with dijon, whole grain, and English.  Not liking either of the first two, I figure English would taste … whoa!  Okay, I guess it’s just Statespeople who like sweet mustard that isn’t remotely horseradishy or wasabii.

We only had four days fully open to tourist.  We did not effectively use them all, however I could say we reasonably touristed three days.  We did hit the Childhood Museum a block away from our room.  We did have ice cream at Harrods.  Before getting into other touristing, I should note that my breakfast lasagne at E Pellicci was some of my best food.  Thing about hole in the wall places there – crowded and loud.  I’ll comment more on food hither as I’m sure my insights will sea shanty your world.

Llort! Llort?!?

Yessim.  The key to going to London is to go to Cambridge and do what everyone does in Cambridge – get some Babylon 5 CCG in.  We played two very long games with some cafeteria food lunch and a bit of a crisis averted.

First Game [this is a gaming blog, wrong?]:

I played Ivanova Death Incarnate.  I completely mangled the opening.  I was supposed to Rapid Growth on turn one and sponsor Susan.  I forgot how Rapid Growth/Airlock Mishap openings work.  I set myself probably two turns behind.

Other decks played were home faction Narns, Minbari with intrigue, Non-Aligned.  Narns, for some reason, didn’t develop any infrastructure.  What was interesting was one of the last few groups to play doesn’t use standard openings that get you to 10 influence rapidement.  I didn’t seem terribly threatening, mostly because I couldn’t draw any conflicts and was mostly screwing around with putting things like Spin Doctors out while the Non-Aligned seemed out of control.  I finally started on conflicts.  The Narns Allianced us.  I attacked some with Ivanovas since I could just replace them all.  I brought out Diplomacy characters.  I Rally the People and have enough with A Rising Power to win.

Second Game:

I switch to Llort.  Not Chosen of Llort.  Llort Fast Learner Bodyguard and Non-Aligned Fanatic Llort.  Maybe the spiritual realm was trying to tell me something about playing ineffectual decks as I was ineffectual, actually going back to 10 influence from being above 10 influence.  Home Minbari, Home Centauri Shadows, Bester opposed the righteous Llort.  Centauri should have won.  Then, for some reason, he put Forced Evolution in play to make it harder for him to win and the game times out with a Minbari/Centauri tie.

Crusade cards suck.  I don’t care that they played The Fen constantly and even adapted their play to The Fen.  I care about undercosted or zero costed cards coming into play and dumb turns like making Probes be less huge and just general getting away from what the game was supposed to be about, like Llort.  Oops, argument fail … argument fail!

The highlight of London … em … England was punting on the Cam.  It was relaxing and touristy and our punter was entertaining.

Next day, Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge.  Interesting observation.  No effort to leave time for shopping.  It just felt odd to be rushed about.  Sure, you could shop, but, then, you didn’t spend much time castling or bathing or hengeing.  The guide also didn’t guide much.

Bath was the weakest part of the tour as it was far too museumy for me.  Windsor was wandering around a castle.  Stonehenge was a bright day in the countryside without any interdimensional portals opening up or whatever.  Oh, I should mention that while there was a decent amount of Sun in London, most days it was chilly due to wind.  Sunday, the day when we spent much of the time indoors and on a bus, was warm.  Now, I’m not a warm person, running rather hot [oh nevermind] [see enjoying Scandinavia in January], but we wanted to Thames at some point and warmth on water body not terrible.

As anyone can get pictures of Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge, here’s (of course) a Bath picture.

Nicer looking than broken stone.

Monday, we did get on a ship cruising the Thames, hit Greenwich just before Royal Observatory closed but didn’t think to go to Average Time until time was annihilated into the past.

So, food.  Food was surprisingly cheap in London.  In that, we ended up eating very oddly and kept missing out on pubbing or tourist-fooding.  We had fast food.  It was bad.  Every single time I’ve had fish and chips in England it has been rather awful.  Speaking of chips.  Every single time I’ve had chips [sic] in England, they have been gross.  Soggy crap like you get from fast food places in the States.  Every single time I’ve been to Greenwich, I’ve gotten a burger and French Fries [sic] and it was good.  Now, I did ask them to crisp up my French Fries [sic], but they were better cooked to begin with (I didn’t notice any difference with my mother’s).  Plus, Peanut Butter Cup milkshake was good.  So, secret to eating in London is pay for the extra privilege (aka quid) of having Americanized food.  Or, seek out your breakfast lasagne, whatever.  To be fair, our only pub food was good.

I need to move on … to Berlin.

We get into Tegel, I stupidly have us use public transportation to get to our service apartment.  Not only did that fail when we got to Alexanderplatz because heaven forbid that you put information counters in major public transportation hubs where tourists can find them, but the trek to Alexanderplatz was pain.  Even the better, less stoppy bus, would have taken you through awful looking town in unenthralling weather.  I like overcast, but going from London’s bright and cheery and woodsyness to drab and boxy and congestedness of our bus trip made me hate having to spend so much time in Berlin.

Then, we settled in and wandered a bit and the city was much more pleasant.  We were a five minute walk from Museum Island.  We had the Magic Museum on our block (I eventually didn’t bother due to its reviews).  Walking to U-Bahn stations not so bad.

Speaking of bad.  I hated public transportation besides U-Bahn.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s underground subways and everything else is misery.  Tube – fine.  Metro – my hood.  U-Bahn – same old, same old.  Buses?  Nein!  Trams, S-Bahn, regional trains, trains to other cities?  Icksome.

Speaking of dumb.  I got us Welcome Cards for Berlin, figuring 8 days was enough to tourist.  I was wrong.  We only used the discounts once on the entire trip.  Either too busy, too tired, or the museum or tour we had to pay for didn’t give discounts.  The only good thing was that we never had to get transportation tickets due to the timing of when we validated the Welcome Cards and when we were leaving.

In the hood.

So, food.  London cheap.  Berlin expensive.  Of course, we did mostly sit down restaurants in Berlin in our hood.  Also, what killed the pocketbook wasn’t food.  It was cherry juice.  Every single time I’ve spent more than a week in Germany I’ve never had a beer.  Oh, I should mention that I had no tea in England, not even in the room.  Drinks aren’t just expensive – $4.50 Cokes, for instance – but the volume is weak sauce.  In the US, you pay $2.50 or possibly more these days in a sit down restaurant for a Coke, but you get free refills.  I had like $3.50 juices of .2 liters.  How can someone eat food with .2 liters of drink?

Now, KiBa was really good both times.  My Coconut Kiss was really good and not horrendously priced at the place near the EC.  But, tea, coffee, water outside of the local places near the EC were just incredibly expensive relative to the volume.

Then, there was the EC’s hood.  Pop out of the Birkenstraße Station and you get a coffee/pastry shop with decent sized cafe au lait.  You get döner kebap sandwiches that are huge, may have amazingly good bread, and cost like $4.  And, there’s markets around to get drinks from if you take your food to go.

Oh yeah, the EC.  I played 8 competitive rounds, a storyline pickup game, and three casual games.  This is my tale.

Because we have a limited tolerance for wandering around, we go by the EC on Thursday to see what’s going on.  I get into a pickup game with Rudolf as my predator, Ali as my prey, Dean as my grandprey, and I can almost remember my grandpredator – Peter, maybe.

I borrow Dean’s !Toreador Embrace deck because I was touristing and didn’t bring decks.  I didn’t draw Embraces until the game was essentially over.  I can try to search my mind for who started my games, but, since I didn’t post this when I got home last Wednesday, I’m just going to rush through by listing myself first in every game.

Pickup 1:

Ian (!Toreador horde) -> Ali (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> Dean (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> ?? (??) -> Rudolf (Tzimisce high caps)

General observation – Armin, Dmitra, Hektor, Tara, Jan, et al were extremely popular across all of the events.  What was somewhat different was how fighty the versions were I saw.

Dean brings out vampire.  Ali stops transferring to same vampire.  I bring out dorks, I Palla Grande a couple of times, Ali has no game.  Dean ousts his prey somehow, not entirely sure how.  I go ahead and oust Dean.  I concede after a couple of fights in endgame.  If I wanted to play a better game, I would have played differently, letting Dean work on Rudolf harder, but it was not a great game, so might as well end it.


I didn’t build specific storyline decks.  I happened to have a deck that could work for End of the Line, which a lot of people couldn’t play due to the low cap crypt requirement.  I did have leftover decks that were clanny, so I played Samedi, taking out some of the cards that didn’t work when I played my LMC/Groaning Corpse deck prior.

Samedi -> Ravnos Fatuus Mastery -> Ralf playing !Toreador with sticks -> Ben playing Matasuntha -> Tito playing Aabbt Kindred (storyline!)

I had no predator early on, as only Aabbt came out and started Camera Phoning.  My prey tried SensDep forward.  Tito had no predator.  I ended up with three Samedi SensDepped.  Yup, my two times in life having three minions SensDepped were the time I played a Regaining the Upper Hand deck and the time I played Samedi Groaning Corpse in a storyline event.

My prey did get two VPs, so it was the right play.  Tito, of course, won, once he could start bleeding and I had like three Deflections in my hand at the end of the game having played none all game.

Samedi -> Bart playing with an Archbishop of Berlin! -> blanked -> Kari still blanking -> NewJah

This was maybe my most irrelevant game, as NewJah just rolled over me with stealth bleed as is its wont.  This game timed out with only my being ousted.  It shows how weak my frail mind has become that I don’t recall what other people were playing, just that titles mattered across table and I’m pretty sure Kari was Governing.  I think she was playing !Trem because I expected Oriandus to pop, probably a Malgorzata deck, but I could be making things up.  It’s really bad that I can’t even picture anything of my grandprey’s deck anymore.  Tzimisce, I think, as it torped Bart’s dudes reasonably often, maybe advanced Sascha was in play.

I didn’t feel the storyline flavor of this event.  But, then, ever since the first one, I never understood why people play good clans in storylines.  That someone likes a clan is not an argument for seeing Malks, Ventrue, et al.  I like Tzimisce but don’t play them in an event designed to make the world more interesting.

I was surprised that it was just a 2+F event.  Not that I want to play 3+F events, but I was surprised.

Pickup 2:

I hung around to play a rather Americanized pickup game, where James played his Corrupt Construction deck, Kevin played some Ravnos deck that didn’t do much.  Some Swiss guy was my predator.  Phillip was my prey with Tremere.

Yes, I went to Europe and all I got to play against was a Los Angeles/Taiwan Corrupt Construction deck I’ve played like five times against.  What did I play?  Standard Matthias gets Temporis and Summons History.

I got 2 VPs just before time as I beat down Phillip’s board mostly due to Ivory Bow as Ponticulus was in play.  Pickup game 2 VPs – that was towering crescendo of effectiveness.

Day 1:

I thought about metagaming harder against hyperbleed, but I just wanted to play my deck.  I didn’t realize it was a sloppy 90 cards until I counted it up.

Ian (Aus/Dem/Obf/Vic) -> Gines (Giotto, Nos Princes) -> (Grinder) -> Peter (Thucimia) -> (Winnie Dementation)

I should know my predator’s name as I talked to him on Day 2 quite a bit, but I’m actually fading writing this post.

Gines was going to win unless my predator crosstabled him.  I thought about suggesting that and didn’t bother.  I did hang around a little bit longer so that I could play a Madman’s Quill on Giotto with only three Dementation bleed decks at the table.  Gines got rid of it, right away.  My predator ousted me because he didn’t want to be ousted.

Gines got too fast a start for his prey and I didn’t control Gines in any way, though I had the cards in the deck to kill Parity Shifts.  Gines 4.

Ian -> Frank (small cap Tzimisce wall) -> Dean (Gangrel Animalism) -> Michael (Carna and friends) -> Kari (Trem/!)

This was surprisingly NoCalish, in that Dean took three actions to burn the Pentex on my Gravitnir and they all got blocked by my prey.  Kari gave me some rope to push on the wall, but I was largely ineffectual.

How ineffectual?

I bring out Gravitnir.  My prey places The Erciyes Fragments.  I take an action to steal it.  We fight.  I don’t maneuver.  He uses Dean’s Aid from Bats to maneuver.  I Breath of the Dragon.  I continue to try to take Erciyes or play Madman’s Quills on my prey, and every single attempt gets blocked.  Did I do any pool damage?  After the game I thought naught.  But, maybe I did Changeling bleed once.

I played with two vampires (Luc).  I got Pentexed by my prey, my predator’s first Magic of the Smith was for Signet of King Saul when her predator was kind of already strong and the only 8+ cap that hit play was mine, I got ‘schrecked when playing a combat ends.

General observation backed up by some other people agreeing.  People would rather lose to Govern/Conditioning and Kindred/Confusion than face the unknown.  People expect Dementation bleed from Zettler and Gravitnir?  Why would anyone bother?

I pontificated about my lack of success and in what way my beliefs are wrong about the game.  Does deck construction matter more than I think?  Am I suckier than I think?  Is my play style all wrong?

Play style for the moment.  I rely heavily on other players realizing that I’m virtually never a threat and that someone else is.  I rely on people not crippling the weak.  General observation – a lot of players in crossregional metagames don’t go after the strong but cripple the weak and seemingly play for 1 or 2 VPs.  This is interesting because one thing I’m pretty sure about is that I don’t build decks oriented to multiple game wins and you need multiple game wins to win 156 player tournaments or even 88 player tournaments much of the time.

I had my Sanguine Instruction between two !Malks … for Vicissitude … blocked.  My prey feared my !Malky bleed possibilities – my prey had bounce.

Dean, Frank, and I just beating on each other meant Michael had an easy game.  Kari finished me off, I played Extremis Boon, Michael spent some time calculating the amount of pool to give me, Frank Suddened the Extremis Boon.

Ian -> Bart (Winnie Auspex Anarch) -> Jaakko (Kiasyd SB) -> Enrico (Malk94) -> Jan (!Brujah beats)

Jan Havened and IGed backwards but gave up on eviscerating his predator.  Enrico didn’t bounce early but just kept bleeding and being torped.  Jaakko had sporadic bleed.  I kept trying to Madman’s Quill Bart, but it didn’t work.  I tried Concealing his Bowl, that didn’t work.  I lost a variety of cards to Constant Revolution, which didn’t really hurt me, I wanted one more round to discard 3 cards at random.  I lost Extremis Boon and Personal Scourge.  I did Inner Essence/Coma one of Bart’s dudes, but we mostly just handsed each other.  Yet again, someone tried Pentexing me, though I did bring out three vampires for a change.

Enrico ousted Jan.  Jaakko took the rest.

Did two wall decks in front of me hinder my VPing?  I don’t think so.  Walls are to be expected.  You need a game plan for getting through them.

Actually, with The unnamed doing really well (foreshadowing), Auspex is just not as good as it once was.  I would have vastly preferred Deflection as my bounce of choice from a metagame standpoint.

End of the Line

We finally got a four player together for End of the Line.  Petri was my prey with !Gangrel.  My predator played Kiev Circle.  I played Hermana Mayor.  The other deck was Tupdog.  I actually had a plan for dealing with Tupdog.  Everyone failed me, including my predator who didn’t bother blocking a bleed that ousted him, leaving me tapped out with 4 pool and my new prey having a minion with Groundskeepers.

An awful game, and I think the format has some strong potential for awfulness, yet another game going on during ours was like five player and the Corruption deck won at time or something.


Obviously not qualifying, I played in the side event, with its 88 players.

Ian (Pre/Vic BB?) -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Forestal anarch) -> (Kiasyd combat?) -> Luis (unnamed bleed focus)

I had no way to defend against my predator.  My bounce got cancelled as predicted.  His predator did nothing.  My grandprey didn’t realize Forestal can only fake one discipline at a time.  My prey was the only one who could stop the Baali but didn’t.  Luis swept.

Ian -> (Pot/Pre/Cel vote) -> (Kiasyd SB) -> (Lutz/Maris) -> (Aus/Tha/Vic)

This was the only talk game I had.  This was what I kind of expect in Day 2 of big tournaments.  There was like a 10 minute discussion that led to not playing a Parity Shift.  Malks Deranged backwards, ended up on Dmitra.  Never left Dmitra as afraid would end up on Hektor.  My prey had to deal constantly with Dmitra’s ability.  I had Velya in play, so I was vote relevant.  I Starvation of Marenaed my predator’s Malgorzata to torpor but didn’t interact much after that.  Kiasyd just kept trying to bleed.

Because Malks were in danger of death, kept dealing to get off Parity Shift.  One Parity Shift was possibly four different targets before eventually going backwards.  My prey asked me afterwards when the game went to my predator.  We agreed it was when he brought out Sha-Ennu after Malgorzata and Mistress Fanchon.  Malks called Reins of Power to bring me to 3 pool, first 3 bleed by predator killed me.  He deemed that his only clear mistake.

It was rough with how to deal the votes.  Yet, it didn’t time out.

Ian -> Kari (Aus/Chi bleed) -> (Shadow Court Satyr w/ Dominate) -> (Winnie Dom/For) -> (Winnie Dom/Pre)

I asked for the time twice.  The other players said something like “with two weenie Dom decks, I don’t think the game is going to time out”.  I considered giving my reason for asking about time.

My first action of the game was Creamy Jade rescues my predator’s Ingrid Russo.

In the first 50 minutes of the game, I played one card – Enchant Kindred (Matteus to Enid Blount).  My predator did 3 pool damage to me all game with his four minions, a bleed I let through hoping he would bleed for more.  I did not Entrancement my grandprey’s SCS.  Misdirection killed me as I was out of wakes for my second predator.

Competitive play was done.  I enjoyed my games, actually, parts of all of my games.  Well, maybe not the second round storyline, thinking about it.  But, I was useless.  I was going to get into why in this post, but I think I need to finish up with the reporting and get into analysis in another post.

Pickup 3:

Ian (!Toreador blocky) -> Peter (Samedi, Genina focus) -> Rudolf (Tupdog) -> ?? (Rudolf’s Montano) -> Ali (Rudolf’s Tzimisce)

Rudolf wasn’t as scary as one expects from Tupdog.  He didn’t draw any Raking Talons for a while.  He didn’t Graverob that much.  I did Soul Painting his Selena, which somehow didn’t instantly burn her, but maybe I’m wrong about Soul Painting as well as many other things.

Peter Nightmare Cursed at double superior my Greta late in the game.  That didn’t hurt too much, as I had Majestys.  Ali didn’t threaten me much.  Montano did one Baltimore Purge and ended up in torpor when it went off.

Rudolf ousted as his prey couldn’t keep minions ready.  Peter ousted.  I should have been able to oust Peter but couldn’t get the right combination of Unholy Penanced, Melanged, Aire of Elationed, Palla Grandeed bleeds lined up before we timed out.

Yes, I was that sad.  Multiple Unholy Penances, a Melange, Palla Grande, like four vampires with Presence, and I couldn’t do like 2 more pool to my prey’s Samedi with Auspex deck when I needed to.

We did talk about teaching English, as the EC was less an opportunity to get VPs and more an opportunity to speak with people who learn multiple languages about how a middle-aged American be less monolingual.  It was kind of funny that Peter mentioned that people count in their own languages, when I find numbers the easiest thing to remember in other languages, though I was in an elevator trying to remember how to count backwards from 100 in French.  Learning a little bit of Mandarin constantly screws up my remembering any French outside of memorized phrases.

My mother and I went out to eat with Hung-ary Peter (you know, it could be that some of these Peters spell their names Pieter or whatever, but I hope I’m getting their names right) and a bunch of Swedes.  Large contingent of Swedes.  They may think I’m a goofball, but I quite enjoy hanging out with them.

Only two people mentioned my blog.  Ralf.  Tomas (sp?).

Rudolf, Ali, my mother, and I arranged to meet Monday for touristing.  We did a hop on, hop off bus trip, finally using a Welcome Card discount (still kind of expensive compared to … foreshadowing).

Speaking of my mother, what was she doing while I was playing cards?  Fortunately, Martin’s mother also wanted to do some sightseeing.  So, his mother who doesn’t speak English and my mother who doesn’t speak German had a good day of sightseeing on the weekend, including a river jaunt.

Martin, his mother, Rudolf, Ali all really helped make the trip better.  As did Michael (B5), organizers, opponents, people I spent some time with outside of play – had lunch with a couple of Italians and Dean, lunch with Kevin who I had never met in the US (to our knowledge), etc.



Tuesday, went to Potsdam on a guided tour.  Interesting thing about this tour.  Unlike the UK tour, where we were just sort of dumped into places to look around at stuff, this tour didn’t have much in the way of going in palaces or churches or whatever but had a lot of history.  Like our punter, the tour guide was entertaining.  We still didn’t have time to shop on the 6 hour tour.  We hit Sanssouci with various pauses along the way.

My phone doesn’t do wide shots all that well, so all of my palace photos show only parts of the palace.

Ironicful.  Best touristy thing in our trip to London was in Cambridge.  Best touristy thing in our trip to Berlin was in Potsdam.

Good size group – 12 + guide.  Guide was Australian.  No, he wasn’t a woman.  But, there were a coincidentally disproportionate number of Australian or Australian-connected women on the tour.  They hung out with cool Spanish/Portuguese guys rather than uncool Statesperson guy.  I can’t blame them.  Who wants to hang out with a guy who talks about logic puzzles and racist pidgin languages?

Foreshadowing1:  unnamed was in EC Day 2 finals, in Shadow Twin finals.

Foreshadowing2:  Tour to Potsdam was 15 euros apiece, 1 more euro than hop on/hop off bus.  Can’t say the latter was bad in any way, just seems like a bus ride with audio guide should be less demanding than live guiding.  Of course, compared to the W/B/S tour in the UK, which was over a 100 sterling apiece, maybe bus rides are superoverheadful.

Well, I think I failed to write in the way I wanted to write, but I have to get this published and get back to Traveller and work and getting on a normal sleep schedule.

Nordliga Riter

January 26, 2017
Day The First

Day The First

Got back from Stockholm yesterday Monday.

Shout out to Henrik who made the trip so much better by providing a local’s milieu.  Was at his friend’s birthday party Friday night and told people “I’ve only been here 1.5 days, but it’s been an amazing trip already”, which made me realize I had only been there 1.5 days and it felt like 3 days with all of the sightseeing I did the day I arrived and Friday during the day.

From Gamla Stan to ...

From Gamla Stan to …

I used both my phone and my camera.  Phone often takes better pictures for me to look at.  Camera seems to do broader shots well.  Many of the phone photos were to send to coworkers, which is why all of the food photos are sitting on my phone.

... To Södra Djurgården

… To Södra Djurgården

Friday night was Henrik’s friend’s birthday party, which had many folks appear over the course of the eve.  His friends were quite nice to this tourist and conversations that included book publishing (fantasy/horror), boardgames, politics, criminal justice, Egypt, and … wax?? … and who the hell I was since I had only met Henrik the day before occurred.

Of course, the reason this trip ended up happening is because I looked at the V:TES tournament calendar and saw that there was a tournament on the 21st.  So, I get up and look outside my window to the cemetery across the street, as is standard operating procedure when going to Sweden in the Winter.

Morning Vista

Morning Vista

And, off to Kungsholmen to hit the Lair of Dragon’s.

Some building that wasn't the game store ..

Some building that wasn’t the game store ..

Once enlaired, V:TES was played and we can move into something about … wait for it … gam-ing.

*sigh*  The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

*sigh* The mat is so much better looking than the balding dude.

But, before talking about gam-ing, let me talk about nuts.  Nuts for the nutty.  I took nut bars, peanut bars, pistachios (gift), macadamia nuts (was going to be a gift), and pecans to Scandinavia.  That was not optimal.  Nut (and peanut) allergy concerns are rather high – I’m seeing a day when eventually nutlike drupes/legumes/seeds will not even be allowed in public places.  On the flight back, I think it was the pilot who asked everyone to not eat any nuts due to someone’s severe allergies.  Well, whatever, 10.5 hour flight without food is quite drupey.

Fourteen players (one drop after round 2), 3+F.  I have phone photos proving I took a fan and used it while on every one of my Winter vacations in Sverige.  Remember kids, take antihistamines and take a fan.  Speaking of life saving devices or something approximating such, Henrik helped me find a beanie on my first day and I now understand why people wear them – people have ears and Greenland hasn’t become the hot new housing market yet.

Round 1:

Ian (Ishtarri Bamba) -> Michael (Kiasyd SB) -> Randal (Nakhthorheb Eternals SB) -> Peter (fat FoS with votes) -> Jonas (Sticklike Mennish)

Peter calls a Reckless Agitation doing one to me.  Peter doesn’t survive much longer.  Not sure why Jonas didn’t try to burn out stealth with Eyes of Argus, but his mostly bleeding didn’t do much for either of us, as he was choked on combat and losing pool was unhealthy for my endgame prospects.

Michael did bring out a lot of dudes as I did little forward.  He went to 2 pool as so many of my prey do for reasons that escape me.  He damaged Randy to a degree but not enough.  I considered later that maybe I try to survive one more round and let him go all forward on the non-bouncing Settites so that my endgame is easier, but I took my one VP under the philosophy that I could use more pool and that it was early in the tournament.  The latter is possibly a bad way to think.  I don’t play much in the way of 3+Fs, so I haven’t figured out whether to pluck low hanging fruit or go big, early.

I also kind of sucked at playing, forgetting my own Perfectionists repeatedly, not even realizing I played DI on my own turn due to Randy’s Enkil Cog bleed, not managing priority to where I take my 5 bleed and get the edge back before ending my turn.

Round 2:

Eric [Erik?] (Aus/Tha/Vic that’s all the rage these days, only more fighty) -> Kim (Kiasyd) -> Ian -> Ivan (Goratrix and friends wall) -> Eric [Erik?] (Matasuntha Anarch)

Where the first round, I got out Blood Dolls and Vessels to pretend I had a chance in the endgame against being bled for 7 a turn or whatever, I played a Tribute to the Master this round.  Not playing in NoCal, where that would mean a timeout with my surviving to the end.  I only survived to around the one hour mark with the only bleed deck behind me and three wall decks in front of me.

Matasuntha got Amaranthed by prey.  I took a shot at bleeding for 3 when Ivan was at 3 and he bounced with his Pentexed Goratrix.  Sha-Ennu Eric killed Matasuntha Eric with Ancient Influence.  He later killed Kim and Ivan with Reins of Power when Ivan had no ready minions.

Inauspicious.  I figured 2.5 VPs might get me to the finals, as I knew Ivan was leaving and he had a first round GW.  Had to play for 2 VPs in the third round, at a minimum.

Round 3:

Eric (Matasuntha above) -> Randal -> Eric [don’t think Erik] (!Gangrel intercept bleed) -> Ian

So, V:TES, I hear from people who know something about the game, is like a game that is played with a massive number of participants.  Sometimes 17 (which I will not do again).  Sometimes less.  Only the nutty play mano a mano.

Yet, consider.  Going into the tournament, Randal and I had 13 tournament wins apiece (my recent advancement led to this tie).  I was in the endgame against him in round 1.  Spoiler alert – I was in the endgame against him in round 3.  (He blew through Eric even with Eric having Marked Territory, Abbot, whatever.)

One might almost say … one who is quite full of his beanie and French jacket bought in Shanghai … that the entire tournament was simply a duel to the undeath between 14% of the participants.

On the L-eft, L-oser.  On the R-ight, R-enniw.  Uh, I mean, winne-R.

On the L-eft, L-oser. On the R-ight, R-enniw. Uh, I mean, winne-R.

I had seven masters in my hand of nine cards in the endgame.  Yet again, trying to bloat wide didn’t actually wide or bloat.  Though, to be fair, if I wanted better consistency, I should have had more focus or more cycle.

Two VPs weren’t going to surpass five players who had GWs.  I know, shocking.


Randy did not get ousted.  He ousted some folks.  At some point, (assumedly) I will show 13 tournament wins and he will show 14.  It’s like all I do is hand victories to better players.  Well, it’s good to have a goal in life.


My only pickup.  I lent a deck to my prey.

Eric (Khazar’s) -> Henrik (Ahrimanes) -> Michael (tournament deck) -> Ian (Hermana Mayor w/ Dominate) -> Eric (… um … this is tough, see below)

This was a pretty terrible game, with neither Eric doing anything productive.  However, my prey immediately mastered my deck.  Matthias burns Vial of Elder Vitae for Thaumaturgy and plays Magic of the Smith to get … wait for it … wait for it … Vial of Elder Vitae.  Freak Drive.  Burn Vial of Elder Vitae for Temporis and play Summon History.  Use Mirror Walk!! for stealth to get Ankara.  Yup, he almost saw the light.  Needed to bring out Marie Faucigny second rather than a second Salubri.

Henrik controlled some and tooled up.  Michael did try some bleeds.

I called Randy over to look at my hand.  Standard Blood Sister hand of Oppugnant Night and, em, three Deflections and, er, three Poison Pills.

Store closed after I had 2 VPs and bounced Michael’s final bleed.  I did Disarm Howler and a Salubri.

If only I could have shown the Norra a glimpse of my metagame, but, no, boring old Mayor Bounce and lending out the banal Salubri Vial Summon History deck.  Well, another time.

We got Eritrean food for dinner, which was much more affordable than my forays into Swedish food restaurants (aka touristy places) or even the pub with the waitress from Toronto.  Then, a drinking establishment for me to get a second Zingo.  My first Zingo was upon Freya’s Day, when 3+ hours of walking left me weak and Zingo-wanting.  The first Zingo was far more pleasing, which I’m sure had everything to do with the vintage and not my having spent much of the light of a Winter’s day walking the circumference of an island.

Sunday was Långholmen day.  So, recapping a bit, day one involved Riddarholmen and a stretch of Gamla Stan.  Day two involved Gamla Stan, Södra Djurgården, Beckholmen.  Day three involved Kungsholmen.  Because everyone loves recaps that include information not previously disclosed.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

Most of my good pictures are on my phone, including the parting shot of the husky that ran up to me to get petted.

I was looking for beaches.  Because what else is there to do in Europe in zero degree weather with a negative wind chill?  I had been cold at times during the trip.  Took a little rest at a prince’s pad to get out of the wind and get some sun earlier in the trip.  But, I was both exhausted this day and freezing walking across the longest bridge of any bridge ever … that I walked across in Stockholm.

I found two spots that could kind of seem like beaches including where the husky sat on my foot while I scratched it.

I was not much for more touristing, but Henrik kept telling me I should try semla, so I hopped the tube to Gamla Stan only to have my target place be closed and a cafe not carry it.  Had Princess Cake just to do something.

Oh, should probably mention that I never had my Thursday pea soup and pancakes, but I had meatballs (not at Ikea), fläskschnitzel cordon bleu, fishy butter, various breads including tortillalike polar bread, black currant juice, hallon juice, deer sausage (along with lamb sausage and bear’s garlic sausage), and near the end of the trip moose, reindeer, cheese pie, and … semla.

What about gaming?!?

Oh, yes, played Hero Realms for the first time and lost to Henrik.  Lost a Star Realms Colony Wars game to him, as well.  Beat him at two-player Magic Commander, so I wasn’t entirely embarrassing on the trip gam-ing-wise.

Think that was it for gaming.  Talked about V:TES, of course.  Talked briefly about the Traveller Card Game.  Other than superultrarareworthnearinfinitekronor playmat samples, I couldn’t fit much in my lack of checked bags to demo with.  Talked more Babylon 5 CCG than Ultimate Combat! CCG.

Monday was leaving day, but, before leaving, Hagaparken.

Gloomier, eh?

Gloomier, eh?

Not as cold as I was not staying near the water nearly as much as on previous days.

Walked to the train station, off to Märsta and airport.

I could speak of the weirdness of ATMs in Stockholm, where I don’t really need more money leaving the country than entering it, nor do I need a ton of cash at a grocery store, except I lived off of cash because I think it was my optimal rate over going credit card fees.

Everything is close together.  I could walk islands in .5-3.5 hours.  Waterways everywhere.  Nice crunchy snow.  Everyone put up with the monolingual tourist by communicating in a shared language.  Old world feel that I get at times in places like Cairo or parts of China I haven’t been to since the mid ’80s and maybe elsewhere.

Was an amazing trip and a fantastic place to visit.  I want to hit the archipelago and get some kayaking in next time … because there really ought to be a next time.  Maybe I’ll crush in the rematch, too, you know, with Vials of Elder Vitae or whatever.  Forgot something gam-ing related – I was totally expecting votes and only saw one vote the entire Saturday.

True Dungeon – Ultrarares 2016

October 29, 2016

Got back from China yesterday.  Swung by Core Game Salon and things are unfortunately slow.  I think the main thing I like about it is that it’s a place where East can meet West.  Compared to the prior locale, a restaurant, I like the space better.  Now, 9.5 years ago, there was a cafe in the Nanjing West Road area that I loved because cheap food that I was interested in and endless drinks, but, even in 2007, that didn’t last.  Hopefully, the scene picks up again.

So, I’m a latecomer to the party when it comes to token accumulation.  Also, while 2016 ultrarares will be available for another year, they have also been out for almost a year.  So, why not do analysis on 2017 ultrarares instead?  Why do analysis on this subject at all?  Because I feel like it.  Because I’ll read reviews of RPG supplements that came out 10 years ago.  Because it’s a snapshot in how I think about TD at this point in time, whether that says I’ve come a long way in the past two months or whether I have a long way to go.  Because how I think about these things may spark … something.

I need to go over some general biases.

My preference is for wizard, followed by elf wizard which I think is better but aesthetically less attractive and whose betterness might be suited for a different player, druid but not open if playing with Andy, bard because I can still avoid shuffleboard, paladin, barbarian, …, ranger, cleric but not open if playing with Dave, fighter, …, and that’s it.  Dwarf fighter strikes my lack of interest in dwarves.  Monk is supposed to shuffleboard twice but has cool defensive abilities.  Rogue, oh rogue, totally my class in RPG play, but I just don’t have the interest in the responsibility of playing Operation for profit nor does sneak attack appeal to me.

So, in general, heavy bias towards casters and not doing anything in melee.  Even paladin is more for guarding someone else.  Barbarian is for hitting hard.  Ranger is only because an entire focus on ranged combat and utterly ignoring dual wielding holds some interest to me, in part because I have an extremely powerful ranged weapon token.

I also expect to play mostly normal (Standard?) level difficulty and play with PUGs (pick up groups – this acronym confused me for quite a while).  So, see my comments about power below.

Skipping Amulet of the Champion for … ?? … aesthetic reasons?

+1 Mighty Sling

Quite mighty, I think.  Slings are pushed hard in recent years.  Is this to give wizards more ranged weapon options?  Well, whatever.  For people who don’t have everything, this has huge damage potential for Strength builds, which is pretty much everything I have no interest in playing.  I cracked this token with a random pull.  Solid value token that means nothing to most of my wizard builds.


+2 Baton of Focus

Does any druid not want to use the best Baton of Focus available?  It is a massive power jump for the druid.  It is a thing for the cleric that addresses Dave’s greatest interest – increased healing prowess.  In 2017, there will be a rare that’s +1, which is something that won’t cost $90 (about how much one can expect to pay for a PYP – pick your purple).  Andy may go after one of these or may just look for the +3 transmute, though the latter is going to be over $300 in all likelihood.  Still available for a year, but I’ve talked to folks and they aren’t concerned about my getting tokens for their builds.


+2 Rod of Persuasion

If I were going to play rogue, I’d likely get this.  See, my kick, having played a squishy wizard for years, is to try to push hit points hard.  Puzzle players don’t care much about damage output, AC, saves.  They need to survive damage in all forms.  Add in some healing bumps for your cleric/druid, and you should be good with taking some poundings, especially as the treasure chests and combat are likely happening at different times.  While I have no rogue interest, Dave’s secondary thought is rogue, so it’s not something to rule out completely.  Note that this and the prior token are both weapons, yet I don’t even pay much attention – doesn’t hurt to have a magic weapon that has better damage than lesser tokens.


Boots of Might

Constitution.  One of the things I find kind of odd and terribly not all that helpful about reading the forums is that the focus is so much on better, better, BiS (best in slot).  For one thing, as much as I’m sinking into acquiring tokens, I’m still not ready for the leap into $1000+ tokens, so BiS doesn’t mean anything to me.  For another thing, everyone seems to be trying to improve their position on a spectrum of power, which doesn’t appeal to me either.  I’m picking up power tokens, but I’m picking them up to meet my minimum threshold of viability and/or because certain builds amuse me.  Gee, I’m V:TESing TD.  So, where the low collection sorts are looking to upgrade to rares and better on a budget and the rare builds are looking for better rares and better and the “I’m willing to spend N dollars to upgrade” are looking to power up, the only builds I’ve seen that embrace diversity of builds desires rather than power desires have been cranky wizard builds and those tend to run thousands of dollars and are, thus, rather useless to me, as well.

So, Constitution.  My first “hardcore” (not to be confused with Hardcore) build is to max Constitution.  I love the 2017 Kilt of Tavernbane.  I want tons of hit points.  I don’t care if I just cast off my card and do nothing else but absorb levels of damage that would have annihilated a tokenless wizard.  As a side effect, maybe a Fortitude save will be required for something and the not-squishy wizard will make it.  Boots of Might are part of this build.  I don’t have an interest in the other Might Set tokens, for the most part, either being too expensive or too pointlessly only used for becoming Might-y.  While Boots of Agility, which we have, or Boots of the Marauder, which seems easy to acquire at a good price, are more offense.  I just want to meet my minimum threshold of offense viability for the level I’m playing at.

Now, when we move up to Hardcore …


Boots of the South Wind

Too late to the party to transmute Boots of the Four Winds.  Still, this is a monstrous power upgrade for spellcasters.  Which means, of course, that I was going to ignore it and focus on my wizard-survivor build.  Except, some day, because I actually want to max out experience points, we need to move up to Hardcore, and I feel like I have to pull some weight and not just survive.  So, my plan is to pick these up and use them as an alt build for Hardcore play as I don’t have a lot of options for affordable offense upgrades that I’m willing to pursue.

So, for those who aren’t aware, and I’m sure I don’t have a huge TD audience (yet … ladies), there are limited slots.  Only one set of boots should be obvious.  Two earcuffs, three charms, five ioun stones, two rings, and some ways to expand on various slots.  The brutal slot is the neck slot.  Because we don’t have the best treasure enhancers, we are mostly using neck slots on Amulet of Treasure Finding, which cuts out lots of utility plays and lots of really cool plays.  The 2017 Amulet of Guarding for the paladin is something I’d consider if I ever thought I’d play a paladin often and had the slot open, but I don’t see either ever being that likely.


Charm Bracelets

True Dungeon’s powers that be are not dumb.  A lot of tokens come out that encourage people to try other tokens even if the tokenholics or, my tradeitemmarked term, token tycoons just obsess over BiS.  I was not remotely interested in this token.  Part of it was that we don’t have elite charms in our collection.  But, there’s a 2015 token that those in the know can guess that I will always run in the wrists slot over this.

Then, 2017 tokens got spoiled.  I’m now planning on picking one of these up for a specific combo for probably Dave to use, not that I’ve bothered to tell him.  Andy might have some interest, but I think he has more commitments for his druid build than Dave has for his cleric build.

Yup, more money for … for … for the enjoyment of thinking about gaming.  If you don’t love thinking about gaming, well, meet someone who does.


Cloak of Blending

Cloak of the Shadowskin is deemed broken.  I wouldn’t disagree.  I think my chances of getting an affordable one are pretty much shot, at this point, but one never knows with niche games.  Cloak of Blending, on the other hand, is pretty bad for most characters.  Then, there’s bard.  This seems crazy powerful for the bard, even competitive with Shadowskin.

Bard is something our group can embrace.  You know, we need a team name.  Team Magic is a bit too pedestrian.  Team Mystic is better.  Team Strange (see upcoming movie I might actually break down and go see) …  I’ll run it by the band and see if they will go with it.  In other words, we all hate melee/missile.  We are the casters and the choir, when casting won’t fly.

So, this is useful, perhaps.  Good thing I cracked one in a random pull so that I didn’t even have to think about buying one.

Now, I just need to consider my song list for when I can’t run wizard (even though wizard seems really low in popularity for some reason – lot of folks enjoy shuffleboard).


Divine Echo Charm

I hope our group gets some use out of this.  No, I didn’t pack pull it.  I actually bought one.  In my defense, it was so much cheaper than an ultrarare normally goes for, I don’t feel all that bad about sinking money into it.  Value propositions, something else that’s going to kill the bank account until we decide to get out of the game.  Ha … ha ha … when do I ever give up on games before they give up on me?

How to make this less bad?  Let’s see.  I hardly ever see scrolls used, one.  I hardly ever see healing scrolls used.  Scrolls don’t benefit from healing bonuses from things that generically increase healing.  Now, the one plus side to this at this time is that 2017 is pushing scroll use hard with the new scroll tubes.  It’s kind of wasteful in a lot of ways, but maybe I can encourage us to blow a scroll every once in a while so that this does something.

Interestingly, I think this is something for the healers to use.  Because healing scrolls are limited so much by class, the healers are the ones who control when they get used.  Do the new tube with some planned scrolls and you heal yourself while improving Team Strange.  Reduces healer need to heal thyself.  Without organization, this will never see value other than buffing the 2017 Charming Set (Trio).


Gloves of the Cutpurse

Next on my want list.  While not BiS for wizards, consider how this hurts them not at all.  TD is very much divided between Strength classes and low grav world classes.  Outside of cranky wizard, which doesn’t interest me, I can bury my Strength six ways to Solarday.  I can do this not only with my caster builds, but I’ve got a ranger build plan (or whomever since nothing is funnier than, say, a ranged paladin build, am I right?) where STR should be meaningless.

Since it’s always a possible PYP and it can be had by trading in Gloves of Dexterity, I’m looking for getting this at a reasonable price, which is the main reason I haven’t already invested.

The DEX buffs you can get in TD are just ludicrous.  It’s almost tempting to look at doing the all DEX, all the time as an alt build to all CON all the time.  The robe in 2017 only adds to the lunacy (pun!!).


Goggles of Instant Analysis

I’m not superfamiliar with the eyes slot, even though there aren’t that many options and lists are easy to find.  This was another random pull.  I thought our random pulls were actually quite solid, just not that useful for our interests.  Dave can go pure healing/buff and use the Cloak of Blending, but Andy and I have to murder stuff … with magic.

This is the sort of thing that doesn’t even help my fighty builds, as I’m only interested in ranged combat at this time, except maybe a barbarian build for when I start embracing my inner shuffleboarder.

Tradebait.  If I can move this for comp monetary value and superior play value, I think Team Strange will find it strangey and strange it.

For meleers, seems pretty solid.  Certainly, secondary market value looks good, which gives me hope.


Kvothe's Bloodless

Ties into the new arc tie-in with the book series I might actually look into reading.  The author will donate to charity anyone who selects this as a PYP.  And, this just seems incredibly good!  Slotless.  Slotless and huge damage reduction.  I have no idea why this doesn’t go for more on secondary markets or why it doesn’t get talked about as a part of top level builds.

I want it.  But, I don’t get everything I want.  It’s just not a priority.  Hit points absorb puzzle damage.  Hit points absorb push damage.  In a world of limited options, this rates behind some other things.  Also, there’s such a thing as defensive paranoia overkill.  I might want to be untouchable in practice, but, in theory, having some risk is kind of more exciting.  Embrace danger, otherwise, might as well live real life and skip the gaming.


Lenses of Sage Speed

Push scrolls?  Good.  Use scrolls?  Bad.  This is an awful ultrarare because we haven’t achieved the point of token overkill where we are into blowing consumables.  Maybe it will get some like because of 2017 transmutes.  I just know I carry around like 20 scrolls and never use them and will stop carrying all of that crap around right in time for scrolls to be marginally less sucky.

Besides, there are other eye slot tokens for Team Strange.  Rather get more damage spells or higher damage without using consumables.

I’ll still wander around with Stone to Flesh just in case, but I don’t expect to do virtually any scroll casting.  Just need them too much for Alchemist’s Parchments.


Pantaloons of the Deeperdark

A lot more appealing before Kilt of Tavernbane and the knowledge that there will be more ultrarare kilts coming down the road for those who want to wear tokens in that region.  I do find it kind of odd how quickly this went from “there aren’t many pants options and this one is so much better” to “eh, other pants options”.

Given that none of our Strange builds have to have high DEX, I can’t see why any of our caster builds wouldn’t go for Tavernbane.  Sure, wizards do gain from DEX because our crappy shuffleboard spells use DEX modifiers to hit (perhaps worth mentioning in the Cutpurse comments), but there are so many ways to pump DEX that CON is our anti-squishiness friend.

Still good.  Forum posters keep going on about how free action (forgot the new official name) effects are surprisingly good.  As a caster, though, I don’t know if it’s as good, and my “unlikely to ever see play though it would mean getting to use a $300 token” ranged build might not care as much, either.


Ray's Ring of Remembrance

I considered this.  But, it just seems bad.  Sure, I took a ton of puzzle damage in 2016.  But, is that normal?  Only two ring slots and probably going to use one of them on Ring of Heroism as the single most important thing to Team Strange is playing at 5th level.  That means a fight for the other, and this just doesn’t seem like it can win that fight.

Sure, I wouldn’t cry if I cracked it, but I considered it long enough as a PYP to realize it would never be a PYP.  If it goes Divine Echo Charm cheap on eBay or something, who knows how crazy irresponsible with money I’ll be.

What it does make me think is that there really should be more tokens for puzzlers.  TD tokenmania caters so strongly to combat, where lots of people like puzzling.  But, you need to move the rarity down to levels where puzzlers, who are likely just playing a ten-pack can actually see the rainbow.

Even at rare, Ri’s Ring of Replenishment … no, that’s a regeneration ring … Ri’s Ring of Restitution … nope … Ri’s Ring of Rejoicing … nah … Ri’s Ring of Reason … bingo, Ri’s Ring of Reason that reduces damage from puzzles by one point each time sounds like a thing to do to expand the game to people who aren’t into $300 weapons.


Redoubt Helm

It interests me how much rangers get cut out of helms, in that I’d rather not wear a helm but have to with a paladin build.  Yup, ranger right around the corner … as Harry Wells would say “not!”.

Anyway, I hear that AC is not as important as saves on the level that forum posters play at.  OTOH, helms rarely (ha … ha ha … puns … ladies) give these sorts of bonuses, and you would only run this as part of the Redoubt Set, so your AC is going to be obscene.  As Wisdom bonuses are among the hardest in the game …

Rant aside:  Why didn’t the game already do more with INT, WIS, and CHA?  There are ungodly number of tokens that modify physical attributes.  I’ve been thinking of token ideas specifically because INT is only used for one token in the entire game, and WIS and CHA only do extremely narrow things.

… The drawback here seems particularly painful.  However, there will be a transmute that removes the drawback, re-doubt (oh, I kill me, today, hold on, you don’t need to kill me … back away from the keyboard).

Armor doesn’t interest me at all.  To use.  Oh, I find some of the armors have cool names or whatever.  But, I’m a wizard through and through.  I hate weapons, armor, being required to shuffleboard, and not having to memorize things.

I also don’t really have any sense of ACs.  I get that a high enough AC means you ignore a lot of damage.  But, I’m a wizard, and any attempt to AC up runs counter to tokens I actually want to use, have, and/or can afford.  The all DEX build all of the time is the only time I might pay attention to AC.


Redoubt Mail

On the other torso, I suddenly realized this is less uninteresting to me than the other Redoubts.  This is usable by my bard build, my ranger build, my barbarian build.  Reflex saves?  I’m still going to have some stupidly high DEX because of the tokens I’ll own for my caster builds, so the drawback here is relatively less painful.


Redoubt Plate

On the third torso, this is useless to me.  See, people have said that the Defender Set is pretty awesome, and it’s rare, and it’s being reprinted in 2017, so that means it’s effectively free to us.  I realize people who have the bank accounts and the number crunching interest have calced out that this set can be pretty Templar Set competitive, but I hate armor and I don’t see why I should bother taking the saves hits when my paladin build or Dave’s cleric build will join the Defenders (we can belong to multiple teams, right?).


Redoubt Shield

I could comment about transmutation costs, but I re-doubt it’s to my benefit to express my opinions.  I don’t like the Fort saves hit, if I had any interest in this in the first place.  I’m never going to transmute this in the 2017 transmutation to remove the hit.  Yeah, +5 AC is a ton for a shield, but this set isn’t a Team Strange set.

And, that’s cool.  If everyone wanted everything, it would be brutal.  See Charm of Avarice pricing, or Rod of Seven Parts, or Boots of the Four Winds.


Ring of Spell Storing

I should talk about how lame this can be, except I have some shreds of integrity.  I’m going to get this.  How many is the question.  When debating what 2016 ultrarares were necessary to acquire at some point, I considered Ray’s before considering this but finally decided this was far more important, even though it’s a combat token for wizards (maybe a heal token for healers, which is why I might not wear one even though I have to own one), and Team Strange has not yet dabbled in mystic fighting arts against the denizens of other planes of existence known as combat runs.

Nor, has Team Strange sought to Grind in a True way.

Unrelated aside:  If you want insight into a Strange life, let’s just say I go to Shanghai to get my grindcore in.

This just seems terribly good for wizards and maybe druid.  Cleric, maybe not as much, though I don’t pour over the spell lists for other classes like I do wizards.


Stu's +3 Handy Stein

One of the reasons I didn’t try to do ratings is that ratings for tokens are heavily dependent upon which classes you favor and heavily dependent upon a variety of factors.  I’m sure there are TDers who just love steins, mugs, and other drink holders.

There is nothing wrong with this token, as you get special ability added to offhandedness.  If you polymorph, you want potion speed.  If you burn healing potions like mad because of Nightmare play or True Grind or whatever that people allude to in forum posts, well, maybe you care.

I just don’t care about this token at all.  I’m sure there are tokens that hit my thematic buttons.  I’m sure there could be a lot more, like Tiffiney’s Turban of Thought.

Well, that’s it for today.  A post probably no one was looking forward to.  No V:TES for whomever may still pay attention to V:TES.  No L5R for my core audience.  No boardgames for the mainstreamers.  No Ultimate Combat! for those strange cases of when someone chimes in with a comment about UC!.  No mahjong talk, which seems to get more likes, by the way, didn’t have time on this trip – so many other things to do in Shanghai, including missing meeting up with a former coworker who will be there next week and sent me a hilarious email recently with the subject “Hi, friend!”

For some of us, gaming isn’t just playing games.  For some of us, obsessing over things you hardly ever play is charming …