The Best of … 2015

December 30, 2018

The thrill of the drill.

I don’t often comment on how the year went.  I did a couple of years ago because two unusual and major events happened, neither of which had anything to do with the election.

Maybe I’ll comment upon 2018 at the end.


Building L5R Characters – Origins

January 2015 seemed like a flopping heavy time, what with my reporting on Shadowfist sessions multiple times and V:TES tournaments.  While not great literature, if you want to see what playing V:TES is like for me as opposed to virtually anyone else in the history of the game {question mark, frowny face, birthday cake}, can read the tournament report post.

Meanwhile, in terms of “this is worth mentioning again after three years” posts, we finally get to this post.  Even as I was writing this post, I was getting off of what I wanted to write about.  However, intermixed with talking too much about mechanics, there’s a point made about finding the right character, even if that right character may be related to the right character sheet.

I know that HoR has been a problem for me because I’ve spent too much time on the character sheet and not enough on the character.  Nightmare War was actually better because I didn’t obsess with how the numbers would look, plus it was just more interesting than HoR3 was or HoR4 has been.

Sure, there’s a lot of stating the obvious, but, I guess, I feel like the obvious needs to be stated because people make questionable decisions constantly even when they have experience.  People.  People with blogs.  People with blogs who have written the best analysis of L5R 4e mechanics in the history of creation.

One hook is probably not sufficient to give a character enough to work with.  See my upcoming post on the dual hook-wielding build methodology for creating the most fun and most approaching absolute zero PCs ever.


Building L5R Characters – Traits

What happens when you get old is that you remember fewer details of your life.  Now, some of the reason for that makes logical sense – the older you are, the more details you have, thus any given detail is less of the memory pie.

I am shocked, shocked I say, that I wrote Origins before these other posts.  I think of Origins as something I did after hitting basics, though, to be fair, The Elemental Party was a prior run on talking about 4e Traits.

Does Void suck?  Well, I do find that my perspective does vary by metagame.  As mentioned somewhere, having a clearly defined role where you have Reflexes 5 is very different from playing with a bunch of strangers in a mod where nobody bothered to be a brain or a talker or a perceiver or whatever.  Still, Void would come after Awareness, Reflexes, Perception at a minimum and Earth-3 could be a higher priority.  I guess that’s not suck territory.


People with blogs are not any one thing.  They may flop.  They may chuck.  They may criticize poetry from the early 20th Century and still may have watched like tons, one might even have said oodles, of “reaching back for something extra”, “what intestinal fortitude”, “Super-Crazy”.

’80s pro wrestling was often frustrating becomes it was so repetitive.  Modernistic sports entertainment has the … exact same problem.  Just changed from crushing jobbers to … whatever.

Somewhere, there is a great story to be had.  Of course, it’s all in the execution, which is why you favor mic gods like The Rock over … whoever.

DunDraCon 2015

I rarely call out convention reports.  I believe that I don’t feel that stating facts is as compelling as stating my perfecto o-pinions.

But, I feel like local cons and I are moving away from each other.  I just don’t feel the experience as I did a decade prior.  How mysterious and totally impossible in any way to figure out why.

So, here’s to 2015, when I reported a lot on Shadowfist casual play but also kept up with the scene in the ‘hood.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

Does anyone even get the joke of this post?  I don’t know that I do, anymore.  Old.  Let’s just say I’m superclever when I’m not on the spot to be clever – wait, isn’t that just a different word?

This is not that profound.  I just feel like calling it out.

Building L5R Characters – Advantages

Apparently, I ruled the blogosphere in February of 2015.  Because, obviously, nothing else matters more than L5R 4e mechanics analysis.

Formatting on this was kind of (nope), which I fixed to a degree later in my Disads post by using the power of bolding words.

Geez, Marie-Louise, I kind of see why my blog has gotten less popular in 2018.  I used to write useful stuff.


More Gooder Deck

Not a more gooder post, so why bother?  It’s long.  It mentions my “24” deck building methodology.

But, you know what?  I don’t do it as often I could, but I have posted deck lists.  Not tournament winning deck lists or here’s how to be furrier than the average bear deck lists, but sheer, unbridled insanity … to make a point.  No, to prove a point.  A thousand points.  A thousand points of CCG light.

It’s easy to have fun with CCGs.  Well, CCGs that don’t have Fate.  Build decks.  Identify other players who are fun to play with.  Play.

Building L5R Characters – Disadvantages

Yup, brilliant formatting makes this as easy to read as the make and model on Wonder Woman’s jet.

Sadly, I still follow my own advice.  I gravitate towards the cheese.  Not that I build a ton of PCs these days, so maybe I’ll learn to go back to when I liked my PCs.

[Classic] TR Vampire Ratings [6/1/2008]

This used to be my thing.  Arguing about stars for cards is fun like getting to ride in Wonder Woman’s jet.

It’s not just that fewer cards come out for CCGs I play.  It’s that I’m much more interested in just getting to play some daft Punks rather than worrying about if something is less gooder.

L5R Party Combat Guide

The original combat guide was more profound for bringing up common mistakes players make.  Neither is the definitive work on the subject.  In my upcoming post, I will …

Actually, it was a discouraging revelation to me that controlling a Unicorn Riding Horse in combat is much harder than I thought.  I don’t know why I got different rolls mixed up.

Anyway, I used examples.  Therefore, most goodest.

Flash VS Arrow

I no longer read comic books.  So, here’s my comicing outlet.  Besides knowing more than the substandard chipmunk, I happen to be the most entertaining reviewer of all things Arrowverse this side of Paradise Island.

Faster than a speeding locomotive, on to the next month …


Same Phat Channel, Same Phat Time …

Oh, the bronze-knees.

I was looking at our session tracker for Rokugan 1600.

Do you, wait, do I realize that each season has only been three main sessions long?  Well, yes, blog writer, I do realize that each season has been only three main sessions long.  It just doesn’t feel remotely like that.  I feel like I’m running a campaign that jumps around but still keeps building on what has transpired before (or introduces new stuff that makes the foundation of the campaign a mess).

I was trying to do three session story arcs to get more of an episodic feel with the ability to pivot faster.  Let’s see if I can wrap up season 4 in a way that doesn’t irritate the players and we can pivot for season 5 into something weird, like non-time travel, non-romance war stories.


Building L5R Characters – Skills

If it wasn’t for the fact that some people actually are playing FFG’s L5R, maybe I could spread out my geniusness over a longer stretch to not get everyone’s hopes up and, then, give them 2018’s travelogue.

Remember the single most important thing about this post:  I own the rights to factotumness, the rights of righteousosity.



Princess Police – Episode Guide

I’m used to short campaigns that don’t end as much as they cease to exist.  I’m fighting to try to avoid having me be the GM for such campaigns, while I haven’t played in anything for quite a while that wasn’t HoR.

What made The Princess Police interesting was how much the campaign took off long after it started.  I mean, sure, campaigns just seem to get richer as they go along until they stop, but this campaign survived long enough to have the depth of play that I hope for.

I think you can see how events became more meaningful to me later in the campaign.  This and HoR2 were the two L5R campaigns that I played that really satisfied in terms of L5R play.


Gen Con 2015

You know how I constantly call out convention reports.  Well, here’s another mundane, ho hum, hum drum convention report where I get into everyone’s favorite topic – food reviews.


Babylon 5 Request

Looking back is not so easy for the old.  There are so many B5 thoughts that I can probably only access by looking at old emails.  I don’t remember cards off the top of my head, anymore.

The B5 era was a hugely important era for me.  I became a playtester.  I became a designer.  I crusaded (but rarely Crusaded) for a game hard.  I played in the first Worlds.  I volunteered at major cons rather than just playing RPGs the whole time.

I got a foundation in CCGing that just being a V:TES player or UC! player or Magic judge didn’t.

I do realize that certain types of posts are more likely to get likes, it’s kind of interesting that this one didn’t, but, maybe, talking B5 long after the game died wasn’t a way to rapturize the masses.

RPG Yarn

I like some things.  Because I don’t really enjoy activities unless other people enjoy them, I subordinate my interests a great deal to enable groups to enjoy playing stuff.  Sure, exists, etc., so I could find other people with more similar interests, but that requires a level of effort I’ve avoided.

I could probably write ten, twenty more words about what sort of RPGs I like.  Occurs to me that style of play isn’t something I talked much about in this post.  In my upcoming blog post on style of play I prefer, I will …  But, here’s what gets me looking for that Ring of Three Wishes so that I can blow a wish on the important stuff.

L5R Questions

I know.  It’s hard to provide commentary when everything the writer writes is pure, unadulterated geniusness.

Actually, I have an extremely reactive personality, which is why it can be challenging for me to get inspired to blog or to write more for Traveller.  So, if you want more geniusness spewed rather than the week’s latest ramble, maybe better to actually ask for what you want to hear about.

And, then, you will know everything there is to know about core book shugenjahood.  Every little thing.


Double-Striking, Swampwalking Squirrel Pumpers

This was a surprising hit to me.  I played a lot of Type P.  I built a lot more Type P then goldfished those builds.

Most of my Magic play, in the entire history of the cosmos, was, I’m sure, Type P.

Why don’t I talk about Type P more?  Well, I don’t play anymore and more recent efforts to play didn’t capture the Magic.

One hopes that blogging since 2009 would give readers a bit of insight into how my mind works.  This post should be one that gives pretty goodier insight.

If you ever want good sigs, like how I used to use good sigs on a regular basis, can take some quotes from this post.

Want: Land destruction, good way to blow up my own critters over multiple turns, maybe zombies


Brought By The Number 7

When gaming is a way of life, and I’d argue that it is for someone who has only ever been to England because of card tournaments in Germany, life is the shapemeister, baron von shape of gaming.  Sure, fiction is not quite so experiencey as, er, doing things that require physically moving more than the eyes and hands.

If staleness is a frequent problem with so many things, more posts like these might be the antistale needed.

Goat Droppings

Need more of this, somehow.

Ratings were too high on average.

This post actually take a lot of time to write, so I’m not that motivated to point out where I changed my mind, but I’d be happy to argue the rating of a card.

Book ’em Danaan

Ah, elitism, superiority complexion.  I can’t seem to escape pointing out that D&D is not remotely high fantasy.  While shopping for Christmas presents, I looked at possibilities of books I could get myself.  I’m sure no one else in the history of the multiverse has ever done that, ere now.  I didn’t shoot the wallaby.  Again, pretty much got myself a reference book for Aztec/Mayan society, which I still haven’t gotten anything out of.


A Mouse’s Donkey

Some things matter more to me than others.  Plus, I included an image.

Flaw Wars

Certain truths are self evident.  Btw, I don’t have high hopes that part three will redeem the problems of parts one and, especially, part two.

**  **  **  **  **

So, looking back on 2015, I can clearly see why 2015 had better stats than 2018.  I had the L5R character build posts and even more to say about 4e mechanics.  I had more original posts when it came to personal stuff or interests outside of gaming that I could pretend related to gaming.

Yup, 2015 looked mighty.  This was in the pre-True Dungeon period with lots of casual card play reports.  I even talked about Ultimate Combat!.  I wonder.  I wonder if because I changed jobs in 2015 and started traveling fairly often to Shanghai that I was more fired up even without the gaming five days a week thing I once had.

Leaving 2018 with what will inspire any and all to flood this blog with views, likes, and comments to prove that this blog has been made great again, here are some flavor texts from the best two-player CCG of them all:

  • Learned early, soon perfected – always a lance of destruction.
  • Denied the blood of life, first brain then body fail.
  • A good sweep takes you down like a patch of ice – without warning.
  • Draining speed and vitality, sand slows us all.
  • With the speed of a cobra, this whip to the head strikes true.
  • Flying enhances penetration.

World Of Command

September 24, 2017

So, I have played some things recently that were outside the norm.

Old boardgame group got together and played two games we’ve played a lot:  Lords of Waterdeep; Scepter of Zavandor.  The latter was something of a teaching game for my friend’s son, who won easily … with emeralds.  You could go look up Scepter of Zavandor, look at prior posts where I contrast it with Outpost, or I could just say it’s a reskinned Outpost that fixes the massive problem Outpost has with snowballing victory or … maybe better way to think of it … lack of snowballing into irrelevancy.  Remember, if you can outproduce everyone, just keep pushing further and further ahead.

I also wrote up some V:TES decks, which is arguably so trivial for me to do that it hardly qualified as gaming related, more of a 10 minute thought puzzle per deck.

My friend and I played through some of a tutorial for the Myth boardgame.  Lots of stuff going on in that.  Because of hanging out with him, I got to thinking about playing/running a simple AD&D game.  So, I went to my stack of old modules and … couldn’t pull out a module from what was a stack of all sorts of things.  Instead, I pulled out Greyhawk Adventures.  Yup.  The AD&D hard bound book for AD&D/AD&D2e.  Because people who write blogs like these have this sort of thing just lying around.

I actually read some of it.  I looked at the adventures – I guess I’m the sort of jaded gamer who is the target audience for zero level play except I don’t have any interest in playing a loser [uh … no comment].  I read some monster entries, glanced at god write-ups, skimmed through some NPCs.  There’s so much potential in RPGs for amazing stuff, yet the yesterworld was just replete with game stats.  I guess it can be inspiring, somehow.

Made me think that I should suggest to TD to use a Gorgriffspidrascorp as a monster some year.

But, the most different thing was playing Magic.  My first play of Commander was in Stockholm because my first “play” of Caylus was in Shanghai, etc.  Rather than ‘fist each other, I borrowed a Commander deck and only played my Commander after two players were eliminated?!?  Might have been right before my prey was eliminated.  I think I attacked with my Commander once in the game.

I can see the appeal of Commander, to a degree.  I would rather play Advanced Squad Commander with Commander rules and 50 card decks or 60 card decks, but I get that lack of reliably is an essential part of people enjoying the format.  It does address some of the problems of playing standard constructed.  But, I realize at certain points in Commander games – all two I’ve ever played – that it still has Magic’s fundamental flaw of drawing one card a turn.

I was mana limited all game.  Finally got an artifact in play to accelerate beyond four mana a turn and had the artifact bounced back to my hand.  Sure, I won.  But, that’s because I have decades worth of multiplayer CCG experience and have some vague idea what the rules for Banding are (white not my preferred color but whatever).

Yet, as much as Magic has this flaw, other CCGs have other flaws and the only perfect CCG is …

No, Ultimate Combat! isn’t perfect.  No, the Traveller Card Game isn’t perfect.  What’s perfect are all of those individual experiences playing whichever flawed game where you just enjoy the heck out of what you are doing.  The Level the Playing Field vs. Not Meant to Be war I can vaguely recall while in Castro Valley playing with one of B5’s designers.  Ousting two players with Jake Washington in a tournament.  And, others that will become harder and harder to remember as I age.

So, I’m fine with playing Commander.  I’m fine with building Commander decks.  But, where other people get off on trying to build coherent Commander decks that abuse their Commanders’ abilities or whatever.

I.  I opened up a pack of Betrayers of Kamigawa and Saviors of Kamigawa to see if I got a legend to use.  I did.  Now, Champions of Kamigawa would make more sense, but I have fewer of those packs lying around, maybe one or two, maybe not even that many.  I am now at a point where I don’t know whether to continue to open Kamigawa packs until I can put together a 100 card deck or branch out so that I can support a 100 card black deck where I couldn’t care less if I ever put my commander into play.

Do I just open packs of things I have lying around until I can make a deck?  Or settle on particular blocks (much harder given what I have in packs)?  Do I try to preserve some way to track what I’m opening out of packs so that I can convert Commander cards into Type P decks?  Would I ever try to construct a real constructed Commander deck rather than a sealed Commander deck?  I don’t see why.  I don’t enjoy actually putting together constructed Magic decks.  Oh, sure, I enjoy thinking about them.  But, where V:TES with its no card limits and numerous close substitutes doesn’t feel onerous to me at all in terms of what I’m willing to play with, Magic constructed has always felt onerous to me, even if I could scrape together an Essence Vortex deck with one copy of Necropotence (and lose a game because I played Necropotence rather than just own with Essence Vortex).

I really like the idea of putting together a mono-color Kamigawa deck from just opening packs, but I don’t think it’s possible.  I’m not even sure how feasible it would be if I had boxes sitting around unopened.  The amount of packs I imagine I’d need to open to have a minimum number of non-basics to field a deck seems to be so incredibly wasteful (unless I can P the other cards somehow) that I can’t justify living such an extravagant lifestyle [quiet, tokens are a new toy].  I, of course, would rather build multicolor Commander decks.  So, maybe I dig through Ravnos or Return to Ravnos packs, except I don’t have like infinite quantities of those, either.  I could breakdown my Type P decks I never play and have little interest in playing to have stock.  I could even write down the contents to recreate the Type P decks if I ever felt that was sufficiently important in my life.

Given that every time I play Shadowfist, I think about how I could build new decks, yet rarely build new decks, can I get fired up enough to build Commander decks?

This is the beauty of Type P.  Five packs, 27 basic land, done.  Megasealed, which is what I’m thinking about, is just so resource intensive.  I already have to hunt for basic land just to complete P decks.  Scary how much land would be needed to field sealed Commander decks.

Interestingly, one of my friends gets me stuff.  Makes me feel guilty for not getting him more stuff.  Now, I’m totally good with my female friends getting me stuff as I do get them stuff, but that’s not gaming related and, thus, neither here nor there.  Anyway, he has gotten me Magic stuff that involves legends that could be used as the bases for Commander decks.  Since I don’t know what else I could do with constructed materials like those, since Type P is the only format I build decks for, seems obvious to make use of stuff people give me that’s, uh, gaming related.

Cleanse The Slate

April 9, 2016

I might post next week but won’t be posting for a couple of weeks after.

I don’t have anything on mind that is philosophical.  I just have on mind miscellany.


We played two games Saturday after I got out of a meeting.

Chi Bomb is really annoying, much more so than I expected.  It’s easy enough to work around once I remember that Jammers are being played, but I’ve gotten annihilated by it, like Thursday, when I played Crown of Thorns and lost three dudes and had sites take four damage just because I didn’t bother revealing all of my sites first.

Jenny Zheng multiattacked for the win.

In the second game, I played Purists and had three Quantum Sorcery in play at the end.  I had two revealed Great Walls, an unrevealed site, played Kisa Serkov, and she got Killdeered.  Then, someone ran into her until she died.  We were supposed to play a quick game so that we didn’t have to move tables when the store section closed, but we can’t seem to choose to play a quick game.

Which brings me to my thought on Shadowfist.  How to speed up games without making them boring?  More power is not the way.  Our house rule of playing sites to new columns for one less power is good for this sort of thing – opens up a lot more targets of attack.  Obviously, people could play decks with less stoppage.  People could play more superleap.  Both of those sound not that great, in that, for the former, the average amount of stoppage isn’t that high.

I don’t know.  We tend to like the amount of stuff that happens in our games, we just don’t want to play for more than 3 hours, so we rarely start a third game.  Superleap does a good job of ending games, but it can often end them in not very satisfying ways.

I was mentioning how the fastest games I tend to play in are ones where one or two players get rolled over by someone, which is like the opposite of fun.


Stick with CCGs for the moment.  The tournament got me thinking more about V:TES.  There’s something of a discussion on about tier one decks, which I don’t really have anything to say about since I’ve never played in an environment where you could define best decks nor am I even sure such a thing as best decks exists.  Better decks, yes.  My Ass SB deck is not as good as stealth plus Govern plus Conditioning.  Whether that makes Malk94 more likely to win a tournament or less is not as clear, but, if Kate and I had switched decks, she would have likely had no VPs where I could have ended up with the same or more without that much difficulty.  But, best?  I much rather prefer playing against decks like Malk94 or Dembleed because I actually bother to put bleed defense in most of my tournament decks.  They win the argument of “if a newb can win with this deck, then that makes it better than …”, but they lose often.  Lot of time they lose because I think newer players are more likely to be the pilots.

Anyway, what always comes up when I play is just how many decks I’ve yet to play.  It’s not always cards I haven’t played, sometimes it’s combinations of cards I haven’t played to a significant level.  I still haven’t gone hardcore Preternatural Strength plus Spike-Throwers, for instance.  Nor have I done casual Clan Impersonation.

I haven’t embraced my suggested variants, whether Ancilla Antics or Distinct Directive.


Type P for me is not the same thing as it is for most of the people who play it.  I’ve got some new “wizards” together, and I become reminded of what actually interests me and what doesn’t.

What I’m most enthused by is a deck that has clear and limited goals.  A card pool that is too strong and/or that has little you would want to change just doesn’t have much long term appeal.  I have an all Journey Into Nyx wizard that looks like a lot of fun to play, but it may get boring fast because there might not be enough interesting ways to evolve it.

Meanwhile, a wizard that has good enough cards to function but no hook is forgettable.  Type P wizards are a bit like RPG characters in that they have successes and failures and should have character development.  Just getting your 2/2 for 2 that can’t block upgraded to a 2/2 for 1 or a 2/2 for 2 that can block just isn’t compelling character development.  My Nightstalker deck can be hilarious, which makes it structurally interesting.

It’s not that I hate all of my good decks.  I have a blue/red deck that is extremely oriented to how I like to play, that also comes across as quite the beating (I haven’t played it anywhere near as much as 30 or so other decks).  It doesn’t have any coherent evolution plan.  If anything, its distinctive cards actually run counter to what makes it good.

I’m increasingly cognizant that any new wizard needs to build around the cards I’ll enjoy building around and not just trying to be good … since I don’t aim for just being good … trying to be good at whatever falls into some middle ground of balancing being good at something specific.  I really need to just pick those cards that are the most fun and really ignore whether the deck is remotely functional playing them.  Well, I might play a build that can win some useful cards to make it more functional at playing them.

Of my new wizards, one has an obvious, interesting goal – become mono-red.  It has some awful creatures in it even in a more viable R/U/w configuration just because I needed more creatures.  It would love 2/2s for 2 that can’t block, as a huge upgrade.  I know what packs I’d pity pack it with.  Winning something interesting might alter its path.  My dragon-collecting deck didn’t have a dragon-collecting plan until someone was fine with losing a dragon to it.

But, it’s these sorts of “this deck will be known as the deck that does …” things that makes me keep playing so many of my wizards.  With everything from Alpha to Shadows Over Innistrad available as potential antes to win, can end up with creations that no one would ever see, whether it’s because constructed play would weed out to many weaker cards or any popular format of limited Magic wouldn’t have the ability to end up with cards from any set.

Heroes of Rokugan

I still have yet to play any Nightmare War module.  I no longer really have any interest in trying.  If people I game with want me to play, sure, whatever.  But, I just don’t have enough interest to justify putting a bunch of effort into getting tables together.  Then, so much time has passed at this point, that I would rather just find out what the plan is for HoR4.

I wonder if Gen Con will have any HoR event that isn’t NW.  If it’s only NW, I very well may not end up doing anything L5R at Gen Con for the first time in a long time.

A format that opened up ancestors, not having to ask about kata, playing any minor or imp you wanted, any path or advanced school.  That format holds some interest to me.  Nonhuman PCs and guns really don’t.  That’s not L5R, anymore.

I do have interest in playing L5R characters.  I suppose if I were playing I’d have that much more interest.  As should be obvious in my pattern of posts, whatever I’m playing at the time is what I spend most of my time thinking about.

I have my HoR4 characters planned, I just have no sense of what’s going to happen.  I assume 4e will continue to be the mechanics – the buyout by FFG probably simplifies timing, though knowing that 5e isn’t around the corner in advance may have seen HoR4 follow right after HoR3.

Since L5R RPG posts are far more popular than my other posts, I could try to figure out what else I think about 4e.  I’m just not sure there’s that much more to say.  Do people have things they want me to opine about?  They sure seem to keep looking at the same posts over and over, so I don’t know if I’ve said everything I could usefully say or not.

Things I haven’t written much or anything about:  supplement mechanics – schools, paths, advantages/disads; advanced schools, in general; much about paths, in general; ancestors; kiho (because these don’t actually exist in my play); ninja stuff (might as well ask someone else who actually finds these sorts of characters interesting); and whatever.


I played a week ago as a demo on mechanics.  BattleTech, in the absence of narrative, is actually a pretty not good boardgame.  It really needs the story.  Whether you care about your pilot who got an Awesome shot out from underneath her, so she’s stuck with a Charger or you care about your Charger that went XL with double heat sinks and Gauss (or, even dumber, stole clan tech to effectively just be a clan mech) or you care about the scenario you are playing with its ice floes and explosive decompression rules while every third round someone bombs you, the resolution system is actually kind of a weak point in that it’s rather random for attacks while movement/terrain rules kind of suck.

I kept hitting the same left arm with a single large laser against a heavier mech, taking out half the AC/10s on my opponent early on, and our one on one was just kind of dumb after that.  That would make for good fiction, but it makes for a crap competitive game.  Sure, with experienced players, much like a two-player CCG, just call it and start up something new, but BT requires far more setup IME than shuffling up another deck.


I read a lot of reviews of the shows I watch, most of which are superhero shows.  I find criticism interesting, but I also find myself thinking “okay, it’s not perfect, maybe not even well acted, well plotted, well staged, but … did you find it entertaining?”

A big difference between young me and old me is that young me watched a lot of TV and only really cared whether he enjoyed it or didn’t, where old me thinks about wasted opportunities, plot logic, acting, dialogue, fight choreography, special effects quality, etc.  On the other eye, I still decide to watch flawed shows just because they are entertaining.

I don’t know if I’d enjoy a high quality show, but, then, I don’t watch any high quality fiction.

Since pretty much all of the fiction I watch are DC superhero shows, one thing does come to mind.  Look.  The things that happen are often because the producers are trying to emulate comicbook logic.  Sure, it’s dumb the sort of things characters decide to do or the situations they may find themselves in.  Sure, a guy who can run fast enough to travel through time should never be threatened by anyone who can’t move that fast.

Yes, plenty of people will post comments along the lines of “The reason this happened this way in this show is because it’s a trope/genre feature/CW show.”  So, I’m really just adding support to them rather than being all uniquely special.

Where I can see it being frustrating that time travelers with a variety of superpowers can’t take out some guy who lives a long time and has nebulous street level superpowers, I do respect that Berlanti and crew are not giving me Smallville, Lois & Clark, or whatever that felt more like a TV show with superheroes rather than a comics style superhero story on TV.


What should I write about in May?

Double-Striking, Swampwalking Squirrel Pumpers

October 24, 2015

There’s a few things I’ve thought to blog about.  Then, work travel has limited my time, both my travel and my manager’s.

So, Magic.

As I mentioned, my friend is introducing Magic to his son.  We played previously with his old multiplayer decks.  I mentioned Type P.  I was heading over to their place last Sunday, when Gary told me to bring stuff to make P decks.  I grabbed Time Spiral, box with a few Ravnica and mostly Guildpact, and a Dissension box (none of these were full, I don’t have that much random crap lying around).  I figured Time Spiral would have some easier to grok cards, though it also has too many things going on.  The multicolor stuff just has really cool cards.

So, I bartered them Time Spiral tournament packs and boosters for popcorn.  And, I helped his son put together a deck.  While his blue actually looked the most solid!  Based off of the creature base!!  I figured the G/R/b build was easier to process.  He had Stormbind to justify that.  He also had Stuffy Doll!

We played two games.  Both games, he got out Evil Eye of Urborg, a card I just love … see, there are so many things about Magic that are lovable.

In the first game, I played one of my goblin decks.  This was my hardcore goblin deck with only Moggcatcher not being a goblin.  It was in a more serious configuration, i.e. I was playing my Hands of Death.

I beat.  Evil Eye raced me.  I had enough 2/2’s to swarm him for the standard Magic result of a 1-0 (life) victory.  We weren’t playing for ante, this was more to get familiar with both the game and the deck.  Still practicing, I switched to my Llanowar Sentinel deck (it still only has seven) in elf mode, i.e. not playing removal.  As is always the case with Magic, the game came down to us both being at 2 life and his Evil Eye stopping him from flying over for the win, so he had to Stuffy Doll tap, untap with Scryb Ranger, Stuffy Doll tap for the kill.

Doesn’t happen that often IME but, sometimes, Magic works.

So, other than an enthusiasm at looking at some of my numerous P decks and looking around at what sets I have various quantities of, I saved the most recent rules into my P folder.  In my P folder are some challenge charts for what my P decks are interested in facing.  Allow me to paste the first 45 decks.
Snow Raven
Colors: U/B/w
Want: Removal, Dark Ritual, enchantments/enchantment return, bounce, milling/decking
Have: Goblins, Seal of Strength, Destructive Urge, Red, Forests, Mountains, Green enchantment removal
Size: 106

Hell’s Horses
Colors: G/B/u, G/B/w, (5c)
Want: Mana fix, Dark Ritual, removal, flyers, Pernicious Deed, blue permanents
Have: Mountains, bit of red, Chariot of the Sun
Size: 101

Jade Falcon
Colors: G/u/b, maybe W/R
Want: Forests, sac creature effects, soldiers, land destruction, counterspells, elves, zombies, creature generation
Have: Soul Link, some red
Size: 101

Ghost Bear
Colors: B/w/u
Want: Mana acceleration/fix, counterspells, Aquamoeba, removal especially that can affect black, clerics, wizards, tap effects, hand destruction, land
Have: Not too good Red and Green, Nature’s Blessing, Energy Arc, Forests, Mountains
Size: 100

Blood Spirit
Colors: B/r, B/r/g
Want: Black, Swamps, good Red, Terminate, dwarves
Have: Islands, Plains, bit of blue, possible Green/Forests, Razing Snidd
Size: 114

Nova Cat
Colors: W/G/r
Want: Ways to put land in my graveyard, flying defense, ways to deal with regenerators, artifact destruction, Llanowar Sentinels, elf cards
Have: Black, Blue, Islands, Swamps, Redwood Treefolk
Size: 106

Star Adder
Colors: W/R/g, G/R
Want: Sorceries, Instants, squirrel pumpers, artifact search/protection, threshold, Mountains, Forests, Flame Burst
Have: Pulsating Illusion, Islands, Bog Wreckage, Black discard, Crypt Keeper
Size: 102

Smoke Jaguar
Colors: R/b/g, B/r
Want: Threshold, low end Black/Red creatures, Dark Ritual, removal, graveyard recursion, card drawing, good inexpensive sorceries, tap effects, Swamps, Mountains
Have: Good blue, Mind Burst, some White, Islands, Plains, Dwarven Shrine, Abandoned Outpost
Size: 102

Fire Mandrill
Colors: W/B/r (W/R)
Want: Rats, removal, land destruction, mana acceleration, enchantment/artifact removal, graveyard recursion, Shelter, land
Have: Blue not good card drawing, Islands, Green life gain
Size: 102

Diamond Shark
Colors: U/w/g
Want: Mana fix, bounce/gating, removal, untargeted trample, Mishra’s Workshop, Green creatures, quick drops, Blastoderm
Have: Mogg Toadys, not good Red, bad Black, Mountains, Swamps, Skyshroud Claim, Fog Patch
Size: 103

Colors: B/G/r (B/G)
Want: Bombs, swampwalkers, maybe land destruction
Have: Good blue, white, multicolor, Islands, Plains
Size: 101

Cloud Cobra
Colors: R/W/u
Want: Mountains, Plains, walls with power > 0, flyers, pro-red, Anarchist/Recoup
Have: Good Green, some Black, Forests, Swamps
Size: 103

Snord’s Irregulars
Colors: B/U/r, R/W/u
Want: Foil Crosis’s Charm, removal, Crosis cards, maybe life gain in B or U
Have: Druid Lyrist, Norwood Warrior, Forests, Mind Burst
Size: 102

Colors: B/W/u, B/R/u, R/b
Want: Goblins, effects that trigger off goblins, land
Have: Some Green, double Blue, Forests, Islands
Size: 108

Ice Hellion
Colors: R/W/b, R/W/u
Want: Mountains, ways to turn life into killing opponent, burn, cheap creatures, midsized creatures, late game plays, Swamps, cards that protect artifacts, ways to make walls good, life gain, Plains
Have: Some Blue, couple of Islands, Green life gain
Size: 92

Goliath Scorpion
Colors: B/W/u
Want: Counterspells, come into play effects, Faceless Butcher, good enough Red to make playing red worthwhile, weenies, trample or evasion giving effects, Dark Ritual, removal
Have: Little bit of Green, Forests, Militant Monks, Cabal Coffers
Size: 106

Colors: R/b
Want: Red, Mountains, decent Black creatures or removal, Swamps, lots of (mass) creature removal, Barbarians
Have: White or Blue, not good Green, Forests, Islands, Plains
Size: 109

Steel Viper
Colors: G/r/x
Want: Mana acceleration, ways to get more creatures in play, trample/evasion, ways to deal with regeneration, flying defense
Have: 8/8 Black flyer for 11, Plains, Islands, Swamps, Tainted Isle, double mana cost stuff, maybe a color
Size: 103

Colors: B/U/g
Want: Nightmares, Black and/or Blue for a possible two color config, Swamps, (enchantment) search, maybe White
Have: Red, Mountains, maybe White/Plains
Size: 99

Colors: B/R/u
Want: Land destruction, good way to blow up my own critters over multiple turns, maybe zombies
Have: Good White, some Green, Forests, Plains, Armadillo Cloak
Size: 102

Wolf’s Dragoons
Colors: R/B/u
Want: Graveyard recursion, Dragons, threshold producers, mana fixing, creature protection
Have: Green, White, Temporal Spring, Irrigation Ditch, Wax/Wane
Size: 98

Colors: B/G/u/(r)
Want: Black and/or Green, ways to discard or sac a creature, ways to achieve threshold, Braids
Have: White, Plains, Krosan Verge
Size: 96

Colors: B/W/u/r
Want: Legends, nonGreen color fixing, good Red, enchantments/creatures that bounce from the graveyard, card drawing
Have: Decent Green, some multicolor, Forests, Riftstone Portal
Size: 94

Colors: U/R, G/U
Want: Forests, Squirrel stuff, threshold, ways to get back land from the graveyard or put land into play, counterspells, land destruction, mass creature pump
Have: Touch of White, Touch of Black
Size: 96

Colors: B/U/g, B/U/r
Want: Madness in any color except White, infinite mana, infinite cards, good instants and sorceries, sac creatures
Have: Some White, a Plains
Size: 95 (beat Shiva 2-1 and got two land for it *twirls finger*)

Colors: G/B/U
Want: Mana acceleration/fix, Goblins, reason to play Red and White
Have: Multicolor, Wirecat
Size: 97

Colors: W/G/r
Want: Rebel searchers, enchantments, removal, land destruction
Have: Blue, Black, Mercenaries
Size: 96

Colors: G/W/r
Want: Flyers, ways to achieve threshold, permanent creature pump, card drawing
Have: Black, maybe Blue
Size: 96

Colors: B/R/u
Want: Mana acceleration, creatures, flyers, Anarchist
Have: Bit of green, lot of white, forests/plains
Size: 98

Colors: G/r/b
Want: Nightstalkers, mana acceleration/fix, goblins, beasts, zombies
Have: Some blue and white, islands/plains
Size: 99

Colors: W/B/R(r)
Want: Goblins, Lightning Rift, soldiers, zombies, clerics
Have: Elves, beasts, wizards, forests/islands
Size: 101

Colors: G/U/r
Want: Beasts, mana acceleration/fix, Feral Shadow, Breathstealer
Have: Some white, plains
Size: 97

Blood Brothers
Colors: W/B/u
Want: Clerics, Accumulated Knowledge
Have: Unknown
Size: 98

Colors: G/R/b
Want: Unknown
Have: Black/Blue, white, islands/plains
Size: 97

Colors: W/U/b, ?/b/r
Want: Pumpable creatures
Have: Green, treefolk, Harrow, forests, Elfhame Palace, Irrigation Ditch
Size: 100

Followers of Set
Colors: B/U/w, 5C?
Want: Mountains, excuse to play red – its strongest color, mana fix
Have: Unknown
Size: 97

Colors: B/R/g/(u), 5C?
Want: Creatures, mana fix
Have: Maybe white
Size: 95

Brujah Antitribu
Colors: B/U/G
Want: Creature generators, Urborg Elf, way to generate two white mana without playing white, ways to make use of massive card drawing, life gain
Have: Red, multicolor red, probably white, goblins, Martyr’s Tomb
Size: 99

Colors: B/G/r
Want: Threshold producers, graveyard fillers, minions
Have: Some white and blue, islands/plains
Size: 99

Eridani Light Horse
Colors: W/G/r
Want: Creatures, creature pumpers, bird cards, red
Have: Skyshroud Claims, Black, swamps, Barren Moor
Size: 97

Colors: B/R/w
Want: Zombies, creatures, raise dead effects, Anarchist/Recoup, life gain
Have: Green, blue, Aether Burst, forests/islands
Size: 94

True Brujah
Colors: R/B/U
Want: Goblins?, beasts?, land, infinite mana
Have: Slivers?, unknown
Size: 95

Colors: R/W/u, R/G/u
Want: Slivers
Have: Wizards, black, swamps
Size: 98

Colors: B/U/r, G/W/r
Want: Zombies, land
Have: Unknown
Size: 93

Colors: G/R/u
Want: Beasts, double strikers
Have: Unknown
Size: 95

I didn’t ever get around to detailing out my interests for my other ~50 Type P decks.  This is from 2004, by the way.

One may wonder about the difference between wanting “infinite mana” and wanting to “generate 2 white mana without playing white”.  Such is the nature of the “South Bay Style” of Type P.  The “North Bay Style” is this bizarre arena of trying to make your “wizards” better.  That sort of nonsense doesn’t fly down here.  Our culture was all about trying to make our decks evolve into what we wanted them to be.  Dave actually had a creatureless deck.  My dragon deck doesn’t care if it gets more (than 2) Shivan Dragons, it would be fine with some changelings just to have more dragons, though only two cards currently key off of dragons.

My rat samurai deck has two Blazes.  I often leave them in the sideboard.  Rat samurai!!

Before I work on my next post, should say something about Portal.  Portal 2 is arguably my favorite set for making Type P decks – just one-sided(!!) Wraths of God, flyers, burn, and fatties, and Nightstalkers.  But, anyway, the advantage of Portal sets is card text.  I actually think this is a case where Magic does far better than most CCGs – the card text level is much more manageable.  It’s still too much for my tiny little brain to track cards in play that have tap or, Pan Creator forbid, untap effects, but, compared to the encyclopedias that are V:TES cards or the ridiculous number of effects to track in Shadowfist games, it’s something someone might be able to learn when eight years old.

I doubt I have base set packs lying around.  That would have made sense.  Well, whatever.

Btw, did you figure out (assuming you bother to understand how Type P works) why some of the above decks are named after mercenary units rather than clans?


May 31, 2010

KublaCon is over.  There was more V:TES than usual as we played until late Saturday night.  Wackiest stuff was my bringing out Lithrac, Tashaing, Freaking, Computer Hacking, having my predator Hostile Takeover my one dude, paying 11 for him, as he bled with Democritus for 6, which I Archoned, leaving my predator down about 21 pool and me up, also kept the edge for like 4 straight turns, bring out Reg, who takes like 5 actions in a turn, including diablerizing a Preternatural Strengthed Homa, only to burn to Carlton.  Pentex on my axe’s first vamp finally got broken when I ousted my prey.

But, in general, I did very little.  Sure, we played 2.5 hours of my convention campaign of Solomon Kane, went better than normal.  Played some Type P Magic.  But, no role-playing.  Lots of sitting around doing nothing.  Lots of caring my manbag around for no reason. 

This all feeds into an actual topic – I got into a discussion with one of my SK players about how a lot of gamers stop doing scheduled events.  I’m even starting to get there with Gen Con, where Heroes of Rokugan is becoming my “I hang with people I know” thing instead of doing unusual stuff.  A theory he floated was that gamers go through a cycle where they don’t know other gamers, get to know them through events, hang with their friends, newbies backfill.  Gamers age.  I actually like getting some sleep at cons.  I’m more likely to get sick with lack of sleep as I was at DunDraCon and was starting to feel today.  I also have a been there, done that mental block to committing to a scheduled event that, in the past, I would have signed up for.  DDC, with its insipid signup errors and generally bad process, which has screwed me out of two conventions of gaming, has also left me with permanent mental scars.

Still, I see the pattern, with Gen Con being the collateral evidence.  I need to break this pattern, methinks.  SK is a lot of effort that I could instead spend time playing, and I’m tired of feeling like I have no real reason to be at some of these cons.

Technical Readout 3025 may very well be the best RPG supplement I’ve ever seen.  Why bring up a 1986 product I’ve owned since the ’80’s?  BattleTech has such a rich background/concept and mechanics that inspire.  I actually considered BattleTech at Kubla, a game I’ve played very little.

But, I was talking about this one product.  It’s so ludicrously better than other technical readouts.  But, it’s more than that.  First, I’m not much of an art guy, but the art is well suited to the concept, even if some of it is ripped off from RoboTech.  It’s also far better than other BattleTech products.  But, the heart of 3025 is that it tells stories.  Lots of stories.  The ‘mechs, et al, have stories.  The pilots have stories. 

BattleMech design in BattleTech is often moronic.  Nobody would ever choose A , B, or C when D exists.  I don’t own every supplement and I don’t think I own any of the novels, but 3025 does something I’ve only seen in BattleTechnology Magazine – justify stupidity.  The terrible, terrible designs have a story behind why they suck so bad.  Economics, politics, history, mistakes are all used.  There’s a verisimilitude to the product so lacking in not only other products for this game but for so many products (within the context that different genres have different levels of realism).

3025 sells me on the world, on what it’s offering up.  I’m into the idea of piloting a Blackjack to prove an underdog can win, even if the design is atrocious and pretty much unfixable.  In contrast, I was just telling someone how I’ve really lost interest in the Worlds of Darkness.  Too many problems with even the concept of the worlds working mixed with bad mechanics have left me cold.  As much as I don’t care to make any effort to do WW RPGs, even with all of the vast logic problems 3025 has and the undermining of the concept with other eras of play, I still am drawn in.

Now, everything is relative.  So, what’s wrong with other supplements?  Lot of times, it’s too little flavor.  Yes, I understand that numbers typically drive sales, but when I need something for my writing or for my GMing, it’s knowledge.  What was Santo Domingo like in 1607?  What are the rivers near Vera Cruz?  What are reasonable names for …?  Even books that are supposed to be flavorful are fails.  Emerald Empire is considered a superior L5R book, heavily in demand.  It’s very heavy on flavor, supposedly.  It’s very heavy on not having world info that I’m actually looking for, which just annoys me no end.  The books with new paths and advanced schools and other crunch generally have better info on the world.

I’m a big fan of GURPS books, not the game, which I don’t think I’ve ever actually played!  But, I’m constantly using the books for reference, whether Camelot, Aztecs, Russia, Blood Types, etc.

Anyway, 3025 tells stories, lots of stories, and good stories (even if they are a paragraph long).  That’s what RPing is all about – telling stories.  It’s not like other supplements aren’t great.  I just can’t think of any other product that tells a bunch of good stories.

Actually, it’s what other gaming is about, too, at least for me.  Why will I still play Magic?  Because some games have stories.  My main goblin deck – Wolf (I used a naming convention for Type P decks based on clans for other games, so when I ran out of BattleTech clans, I moved on to Vampire clans) – played Goblin Ringleader, got 4 for 0 card advantage, and lost when Wail of the Nim wrecked my board.

I realized recently that every fiction I did for HoR that had a mechanical effect made my characters worse.  The deadline is tomorrow, so I’m done with fics that can do anything mechanically.  I finished the last today.  Do I ask for a rank of Lore: Unicorn?  What do I do to screw over my character to keep my record intact?

It’s a failing of boardgames how bad they are for stories.  Sure, while the game is going on, there might be some epic drama, but afterwards, not so much.