August VTES Tournaments

August 18, 2018

It’s a sign of old age that I just don’t recover from Gen Con as fast as I used to.  Of course, there are other factors, but having V:TES tournaments the weekend after GC was not easy.

For one thing, I only built one new deck in the time I had before driving up to Berkeley.  So, for the second event, played boring deck I took to NAC, leaving all of the antivote stuff in [alert, alert, foreshadowing alert … wait, if you call it out, is it foreshadowing anymore?].

T1, R1

Ian (Cel/For/Pre/Pro vote) -> Mark (Emerald Legionnaire w/ Anu) -> Kenneth (FoS merge vote Corruption) -> Jonathan (EuroBrujah) -> Devin (Nos weenies with Flash Grenades)

Since it’s been a week, my memory of details is reduced, but Mark did lots of stuff unmolested as neither Kenneth nor I block stuff and neither one of us did horrible things to him with votes.  Kenneth was okay at first but then just generally crumbled as he got bled for tons and choked on political actions.  Jonathan and I contest a title for a while as he brings out Donal and I bring out Una.  I eventually give up the title based on game state.  I try to ignore Devin as much as possible due to Flash Grenade being annoying to my low minion deck, which means getting bled constantly by a horde.

Since my predator never really got hurt, I had one useful thing to do in the game:  call Anarchist Uprising when my prey had 7 pool and 7 minions after having other actions blocked.  It got blocked.  What would have been funny is even a Forced March in my hand would have seen it go off and correct the game state to something better, as I would have Zip Lined, unlocked, called the vote at enough stealth.  Drew Polaris Coach too late to matter.

After that failed bid, Mark ousted and became unoustable.

R2

Devin -> Lev (unnamed) -> Rick (Trem/!(?) no bounce) -> Ian -> Kenneth

Rick reduced bleeds (he put Narrow Minds in play!!), which made Lev’s game more terrible.  Kenneth was allowed to pass votes, which made Devin’s game more terrible.  Pentexes and deals between Lev and Rick made this game meaningless to me, though I was pretty uninvested from the beginning as I was tired, had too much hot chocolate and ruffles, and still had post-GC things on my mind.

I guess my highlight in this game was bringing out Hardestadt and not having horrible things happen to him.  At one point, I tried Banishment on one of Kenneth’s dudes to stop a likely oust and Rick voted it down, so I just stopped caring what happened.  Kenneth’s stealing of Devin’s dudes through merged Sarrasine and whatnot plus Devin’s inability to block nor beat up Kenneth’s dudes meant there was inevitability at work even if I remembered to Scourge of the Enochians one of the stolen dudes.

After that happened, the game ground down to nothing as Lev just used his resources to stop Kenneth or me from going forward.  I’m not sure what Rick’s deck was supposed to do, though it played many of the usual cards in Aus/Dom/Tha except for bouncing stuff to me.  I can understand how reduction may be tech, but Narrow Minds is just a bad card that, to my aged and feeble recollection, has never actually helped the person who played it in my games and don’t get why people find it so appealing when they could put in better cards and not just create random distortions in games.

F

Mark won.

T2, R1

Ian (SER SB) -> Eric (Ventrue/! wall) -> Alex (high cap HoS) -> Jonathan (Shamblers) -> David CK (Thrown Gates)

So similar in terms of my predator and grandpredator both fighting or not that I had a hard time remembering which tournament I played against Devin’s deck and which David CK’s deck.  Shamblers do not do well against Thrown Gates.  Which meant I had to survive some on my own.  By which I mean I let plenty of bleeds through, yet again.

Alex did do stuff that helped and Eric blocked a bunch of Alex’s actions.  Eventually, Eric tried to go forward and ran into 3 Strength often enough to be relevant.  Jonathan could get stronger over time and could get bleeds through, but his game was slowed a lot by vamps going to torpor.

I eventually ousted Eric when he didn’t have a ton of pool and was tapped out in front of my four minions (Mylan may have been one of them).  I would have ousted Alex with more time, Jonathan still had a huge pool amount to go through even after finally getting David below 10.

R2

David A (Shattering Crescendo) -> Rick (Lasombra vote/fight) -> Ian -> Alex -> David CK

I think David A was first, might have been CK.  Anyway, David A sent two Crescendoes backwards, eliminating CK’s game.  Alex didn’t really do hardly anything, as one of CK’s rushes punked one of his dudes.

I ousted Alex.  Rick didn’t vote out David A to make CK more of a pool sack.  I ousted them.  In the endgame, I actually used The Eternal Mask at superior to bring back a murdered Kephamos and bled for a lot until Rick was going to die to Anarch Convert + Anarch Railroad if he didn’t scoop.

F

As high seed, I went with my first inclination though I wasn’t that fond of the choice.  Too much combat or pseudocombat in the finals.  I inserted between Mark and David A.  This meant if I was ousted, Mark, as second seed, would probably win, but I wouldn’t care anymore.  Also, the local players have strong stylistic play and I figured I wouldn’t get as murdered by Crescendoes as CK did in the earlier round.

Ian -> David A -> Jonathan -> Devin (anarch POT) -> Mark (high cap fake vampires – Lord Tremere, Capuchin – brought out by Malgorzata)

Mark’s game started poorly as Malgorzata got beaten down, but he recovered to where I didn’t think he was oustable and could just keep reducing my pool.  The latter was mostly true, the former was oddly not exactly true.

David Crescendoed forwards though I was ready to have my Mylan explode in a fine green mist.  I eventually brought out a couple vampires because I liked bleeding David.  I struggled with the idea of bringing out yet more dudes, but I was pretty worried about pool as I had no Dominate in play for a long time to bounce and had no way to stop votes … yet.

Devin crumbled before the power of Conditioning.  I ousted David with 8 bleed in a turn.  I didn’t fear Jonathan except it did force me to hold on to combat ends in case one of his few Shamblers came my way.  Jonathan ousted and I figured the game would time out with either my winning or Mark ousting me as I didn’t see how Jonathan got through Mark’s copious defenses of permacept and Carlton and Bowl and AUS.

Well, unless he bounced me.  Since I wanted to put the fear of Set in Mark, I got bounced and five-stealthed a bleed through on him to put him lower.  Mark did get down to 2 pool through faults of his own.

Mark figured he would get me.  The bleeds weren’t too bad or got bounced.  On his final turn, he called a vote, I Delayed it.  He bled for one to reduce me to five and called Reins of Power.  I Delayed it.  I took my turn.

Jonathan took his turn, getting a bleed through with the power of Obfuscate (in his Shambler deck, yes) and bled for … 1.  Game over.

It was an interesting ending.  I would have been heavily in favor of Jonathan ousting much earlier and trying the endgame, or, before that, Devin ousting and my double ousting and racing POT against SER in the endgame.  We probably could have played faster, I was actually getting confused as to what actions made any sense for me to do towards the end of the game.  That Mark would have won if not for Delaying Tactics and Jonathan would have won if he had any plus bleed made it thrillful.

Halfway Around
Description:
Blood retention (Path of Typhon, Life in the City) style Serpentis SB.

Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=1 max=8 avg=4.33)
===============================================
3x Anarch Convert 1 Caitiff:ANY
1x Celine Chevalier 3 obf ser Follower of Set:2
1x Count Ormonde 5 dom pre ser OBF Follower of Set:2
1x Ezekiel, Lord of Montreal 6 obf pot PRE SER Follower of Set:3
2x Hesha Ruhadze 6 ani obf pre SER Follower of Set:2
1x Kephamos, High Priest of Marrakech 8 dom obf pre SER Follower of Set:2
1x Nepata 4 obf pre ser Follower of Set:2
1x Samat Ramal-Ra, Archon 6 pre ser tha OBF Follower of Set:2
1x Sir Marriot D’Urban 5 aus obf ser PRE Follower of Set:2

Library (90 cards)
==================
Master (28)
1x Anarch Railroad
1x Archon Investigation
1x Barrens, The
5x Blood Doll
3x Dominate
1x Dreams of the Sphinx
5x Life in the City
1x Obfuscate
1x Opium Den
4x Path of Typhon, The
1x Temple Hunting Ground
1x Vessel
1x Wash
2x Wider View

Action (10)
8x Eternal Mask, The
1x Revelation of Ecstasy
1x Set’s Curse

Ally (1)
1x Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Action Modifier (20)
4x Cloak the Gathering
2x Faceless Night
1x Leverage
1x Lost in Crowds
2x Revelation of Desire
1x Spying Mission
7x Truth of a Thousand Lies
2x Veil the Legions

Reaction (19)
1x Confusion of the Eye
6x Deflection
3x Delaying Tactics
1x Fillip
6x On the Qui Vive
1x Poison Pill
1x Wake with Evening’s Freshness

Combat (9)
1x Cobra Fangs
2x Dodge
4x Majesty
2x Unholy Penance

Combo (3)
1x Form of the Serpent
2x Swallowed by the Night

Besides enjoying playing stealth bleed, an archetype (set of archetypes) I don’t play often enough, this now marks my first win with Serpentis.  So, still a bunch of disciplines to go, including Quietus.  I do want to play more Necromancy especially now that there’s a great way to play Transfusion for free, but it showed up in my Augustus deck.  I think about more Obtenebration decks, but that showed up in my Kiasyd w/ Animalism deck.  So, whatever.  I guess I focus on Quietus or Abombwe to get those over with.  I think the Abombwe build needs to be a graft it on dudes build and go for evasion rather than Akunanse as I just don’t feel interested in Akunanse builds I’ve done.

No, I never played Cobra Fangs.  I did have in hand in the finals and wanted to play it, but I couldn’t reliably get into combat with a vampire.

Thanks to Mark, who enables tournaments locally.  Thanks to the players who showed up and to the person who didn’t play.  I really need to remember that Victory Point Cafe may have other options for chips than ruffles and maybe put in my dinner sandwich order before they run out of rolls.

Advertisements

Subtraction By Addition

July 22, 2018

While my current thoughts are more on Rokugan 1600 since I just ran a session and we had three sessions in three weeks, I was thinking about V:TES and adding cards versus removing cards from the card pool due to the recent threads on the forums.

I got to thinking about what expansions actually made V:TES a better game.  Not a more fun game, since that’s incredibly subjective, but something not remotely subjective since I know all and see all and think all that is what made the game play better.

Dark Sovereigns

Ha.  Ha ha.  Terrible balance with incredibly obnoxious cards like Thoughts Betrayed.

Ancient Hearts

Worse balance.  Note that Giovanni and Ravnos are still awful (more so the one without a lot of Dominate), Ass are more awful than either of those (close with Ravnos), and Serpentis is incredibly top … focused with cards not like Temptation and Form of Corruption tending towards gar-bage.

Sabbat

Finally, a set that seems to be trying to address the game mechanically and may have been playtested a reasonable amount.  Sure, wild imbalances in clans, but this is a step in the right direction even if the path of producing crappier versions of Deflection and Telepathic Misdirection isn’t really the path of making a better game.

Sabbat War

For this post, I don’t see this being significantly different, but it did put cards into the precons that weren’t in the boosters.  My appreciation for this set has grown considerably since I tend to forget how the !Trem got slighted.  Some good additions cryptwise.

Final Nights

Full of gar-bage.  Made Giovanni Shamble.  Made Ravnos Nightmarish.  Not remotely my idea of a good set, but it did make the game better in some ways.  Having indies not be so terrible is better even if I find Shambling tiresome.

Bloodlines

No.  Bloodlines may be superpopular and superinteresting, but I see it only taking away from the game as it expanded the game in a way that made it far far harder to grok and away from core concepts.  For one thing, hardly any of the bloodlines are votey, which means increased variance in how votish tables are.  Plus, just trying to expose someone to a game with a ton more disciplines, outferiors, disciplines that hardly any vampires have, weirdly non-synergistic crossover possibilities that caused many bloodlines decks to ignore mixing with non-bloodlines is not happy times.

Camarilla Edition

Nerf hammer unleashed.  Did that make the game better?  It’s kind of hard to remember how insane free Majesty and always free Second Tradition is.  Ton of new vampires that weren’t out of control powerwise even if some are superobnoxious.  Sure, CE made the game better.  I would have liked The Embrace to be changed in a different way, but some good clarity and nerfing.

Anarchs

Frowny face.

Black Hand

More frowny.  This might have been more welcome if it didn’t come on the heels of Anarchs.  Both suffer from not giving so much interesting spins on what is already possible but pushing towards low yield mechanics in the name of expansion.  The idea of introducing new things weak does not make games play better.  It makes tables more unbalanced as the experimenters get Dominated.

Gehenna

The end times.  Variety of normal cards that are pretty good balancewise.  Saddled with the most obnoxious stuff in existence.  So many games with a bunch of Events in play as people tried out Fall of the Camarilla, et al.

10th Anniversary

Atrocious new cards.  Get 10 cards where at least three never should have been printed (as written).  After initial efforts, I don’t see five played by anyone besides me.  Channel 10 is borderline in my mind as to whether it should exist.  Powerbase: Los Angeles is the one card that, if you think anarchs should be part of the game, deserved being published.

Pretty much a set of unique promos beyond the reprints and I never think that’s a way to make games better.  OTOH, a bunch of important reprints.

Kindred Most Wanted

Where Anarchs and BH led to “Something different, I’ll build bad decks!”, KMW led to “I’m going to permarush you with this incredibly bad deck until I can murder your dude!”  Also think it made draft significantly worse by putting out way too much unnecessary draft text.  Reminds me of Gehenna in that there are various normal cards with the set saddled with awful, but are all of the normal cards good ideas?  The Embrace got turned into a pure swarm card, so we get Tumnimos as another version?!?  Waters of Duat?!?  How about just fixing The Embrace to get a skill card if put into play by a 5+ cap?

Legacies of Blood

More bloodlines.  Tupdog.  Plus, let’s add Abombwe to the game.  At least Bloodlines seemed to have a plan.  This just smacked of “How do we sell the next set?”

Mixed bag on crypt cards.  Samedi in this set are just atrocious.  Far more Laibon options if you have to have Laibon even part of the game, something I used to be in favor of but now am not, at least not how it was done.  More Laibon in Tzimisce and Lasombra help open up varied crypts in a way I think the game would be benefited by.

Nights of Reckoning

If Gehenna had never been made, would this set be so hate-worthy?  Could argue that it forced people to build decks differently and punished people playing sketchy strategies.  Except, this isn’t Magic.  This is a multiplayer CCG where a lot of play is not for tournament preparation/competition and the balance was way out of whack when this got published.  Now, what is the balance now?  Is it boring to play Imbued?  Generates too much table hate?  Or, did the better players learn how to cause Imbued not to turn into swarms with permastealth, permacept, permableed, permafreak?

3rd Edition

Heart of Nizchetus.  Did On the Qui Vive make for a better game or just a more powerful game?  Is having a wake for Carlton and friends a good idea or an “Allies are even more annoying” idea?  It did put a bunch of cards into people’s hands, a bunch of misprinted, marked, smelly cards, but that’s not germaine to whether it makes for a better game.  Some good.  I consider Mirror Walk good.  Abbot is arguably good for the game.  I question whether Helicopter is, being mostly a buff to three-bleeders with four votes.

Cryptwise, I’d say pretty good adds to the game.  Overall, then, I’m wishy washy about it, but I guess I’d go with good for the game.

Sword of Caine

Ignoring expanding on BH, something I don’t think substantially added to the game and only became more and more annoying as it got better and better cards to support the trait, what did this add?

Biothaumaturgical Experiment continued to make Thaum more diverse, which it needed.  Epiphany was huge for making a terrible mechanic less terrible.  Nocturn is another ally that strikes me as being too good and can warp the environment, though this gets into a different argument about what role allies are supposed to play in the game.  The Uncoiling was an attempt to counteract a terrible card type, and it does a pretty bad job of it in my experience.  Unexpected Coalition was something to throw at one of the worst clans in the game, possibly the worst at the time.  Veil the Legions is such an unneeded effect for Obfuscate and can contribute to the Aus/Obf arms race.

Sometimes you make overly good cards, but SoC had so few cards in it and the greatest need was far a ton more Sabbie vampires.

Lords of the Night

A bunch of alt wakes, well, that’s not terrible.  I could get into details on cards, but I’d say generally that more help for Ass/Quietus is positive where helping things that didn’t really need it to better at what it already does – Leverage, Murmur of the False Will – is maybe not the best way to go.  Then, there are cards that very well may have made the game better by adding value to weaker disciplines (Celerity, by this time Potence).

It’s less clear to me whether this set made the game better.  If unclear, then tend to side with “Have to add something to the game or it isn’t a CCG.”

Twilight Rebellion

Given anarchdom, sure, this made the game better.  This is a set that I seem to appreciate far, far more than other people outside of Anarch Convert, Club Illusion, Constant Revolution, and Revolutionary Council.

This is the one small set I think was worth publishing.  I’m sure others will complain about how weak most of the cards are and how that doesn’t make a game better when you won’t play the cards, which is as valid as my pointing out how full of gar-bage Final Nights is.

Keepers of Tradition, Ebony Kingdom, Heirs to the Blood

Why group these three together?  Given that I think the game has suffered from getting away from core clans and core disciplines, the latter two wouldn’t be a surprise on my list of “bad for ball”.  KoT is on my list for reasons mentioned in another post – grossly unneeded power jumps in library cards, plus the likes of Lutz and Santaleous.

There do seem to be certain eras to expansion of the game.  The first era is obviously the introduce more clans era, though often leaving clans exceptionally weak against the OGs.  The SW/FN era of making stuff better was logical, though FN suffered immensely from so many bad cards.  Then, you get the “V:TES weirder” era with bloodlines, anarchy, BHness, Events, Red List, Laibon where I get that the game was going down a path of trying to broaden its mechanics.  At the time, I was into the idea of bloodlines.  I was into the idea of Laibon.  BH and anarchy both seem somewhat innocuous and don’t require more disciplines.  But, I just don’t see how the game got better, just more diverse.  Then, you get a power up era with KoT and HttB.

Given that you have to expand the game somehow, what would have made more sense?  Really, Camarilla could use more expansion to do things besides P/J plays.  Vampire expansion was generally good, but each grouping could use more options, especially for certain clans.  Core clans – Cam, Sabbie, Indie – could do with more clan cards, though indies have gotten a ton of love over the years.  More multidiscipline, especially for weaker discipline combinations.  More vampires that share out of clan disciplines for the likes of Lasombra and Tzimisce (besides Dominate and Presence, like the indie disciplines).

Add one new mechanic and it seems like a minor increase in complexity.  Keep adding and you get not only a far more difficult game to teach newbs but a game that becomes even harder for existing players and turns off more casual groups that remember what it was like in prior eras and preferred that.  Then, how many of these mechanics are actually positive additions to the game.  Can say anarchy and BHness are now good additions, but they were terrible additions when they came out.  Events remain a pox on the game.  Aus/Obf arms race was not my idea of making stealth/intercept work better but had the tendency to squeeze out a lot of middle ground plays (though the evidence for this doesn’t seem to exist).

So, V:TES thoughts while in another pretty dry period for V:TES play.  I’m sure negative views on other things will surface, or I’ll have something the same/different to talk about after Gen Con.


[Tournament Report] Demented Directions

June 24, 2018

Turns out having V:TES tournaments near Origins is not the optimal way to get folks from Colorado to come out.  Well, lesson for next time.

A different question is whether having V:TES tournaments near Origins, when I’ve gone to Origins, is well-suited for me.  As all things in creation can be determined by single instances, clearly, it’s pain.  Suffering.  And, sleepiness.

So, I got a quick inspiration for a deck and built one on Friday night.  See, this is one of my problems.  I have all of these pent up deck ideas, some of which make sense for tournament play locally, some of which crossregionally, and some of which not ever.  Then, rather than focus on those ideas and knock out some cool, hard awesome, I see something and build a totally unrelated deck.

Saturday morning, I started working on what was needed for the new deck building methodology Andy and I talked about on the way to the airport.  It proved much more involved than what I first thought, much like building a cube is way more effort than I feel like putting in.

I threw together a deck in case we didn’t have 10+ players for the morning tournament.  So, I have two new decks post-Origins.  Both suffer from the same problem.  A problem I keep instilling in my decks.  A problem which will be addressed in a bit.

Carpool up to Berkeley.  Nine players for first tournament.  This is actually why having prize support for events matters – without the magical 10 players to get a deck in the TWDA and to build Hall of Fame resumes, why does it even matter what happens?  Could just be playing casual games.  Part of the reason I don’t push tournament play at conventions, where players appearing is unreliable and people show up late and leave early.

Tournament 1:

Round 1:

Ian (Preternatural Strength w/ Dom) -> Rick (Inconnu Tutelage Prince/Protean/Other) -> Alex (EuroBrujah) -> Mark (Toreador Nightmare Curse)

In both games, no one got ousted.  Welp, that’s NoCal V:TES.  Rick finally got Inconnu Tutelage and almost decked.  Between Alex and me, we got out something like five Preternatural Strengths.  Mark had a Nightmare Curse DIed, had a Will-o’-the-Wisp DIed by Rick that would have ousted me.  Had his final attempt to oust DTed by me.  I didn’t really put any pressure on Rick, with Alex having to do most of the work in the game.  It would have been awful for Alex and me to sit next to each other “Punch for 3.  Punch for 3.”

Round 2:

David (minions) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Ian -> Mark (Samedi Rush) -> Brandon (Ventrue)

Multideck, where maybe only Mark bothered to change decks.  Mark and I didn’t fight much, but I did Horseshoes his guys some which led to a Fame dunk.  His own Dragonbound was doing two to him late in the game.  Brandon was cruising up until he ran out of combat ends against Mark, three were played in a single fight, for instance.  David got out Victoria, Lazar, Volker, Carlton, Muddled, Jake.  Carlton got Pentexed to give Mark a second VP.

Eric got beaten up some and never really threatened me, which was sort of sad as I did have bounce.

I was Potencely impotent.  See, this is what happens when I don’t think through my deck choices for tournaments.  Because I don’t play a lot of the standard offensive weapons, so many of my decks can’t really hurt anyone (by themselves).  This is a bad habit that I need to get out of as it impacts the experience for other players.

Finals:

Devin (Aus/Dem/Tha) -> Mark (Samedi rush) -> Eric (Trem/!) -> Jonathan (Shamblers) -> Ian

Devin put no meaningful pressure on and would have been ousted if I hadn’t been with a couple of minutes left.  Mark beat up Eric’s guys easily enough.  Eric didn’t have much of a game.  Jonathan had an interesting situation.  Shamblers are awesome sauce against Mark’s deck.  They punch, explode, more get made.  Actually, we saw zombie on zombie action with Reanimated Corpses and Shamblers.  At the very end of the game, Jonathan rushed my guys multiple times, which might have mattered if …

If Devin didn’t DI my third Deflection to get me ousted by The Baron.  I actually could have bounced to Mark as I needed two ousts to win and didn’t really care what happened if I didn’t get two.  Mark, as top seed, didn’t need to do anything after Eric got ousted.

Before moving on to the tournament that mattered, expounding time on not playing offense.

I keep thinking about how long it has been since I’ve played Dementation SB.  I enjoy all sorts of stealth bleed decks, but I think more about Dementation in part because I have no TWDA decks with Dementation, in part because I’ve played far more Dom SB over the course of the last 20+ years, in part because I so rarely play anything remotely normal for Dem SB even when I do come up with deck ideas for the TWDA.

There’s this massive struggle between feeling like I’m missing out in enjoyable play with my extensive banned list and feeling like I achieve nothing by winning with boring stuff.  I mean, sure, winning the NAC or the EC or the SAC or whatever would be an achievement as my resume is poor when it comes to major tournament wins, but I have my “code” and it amuses me to stick to it.

Jay actually said that to me when I was playing a pick up game:  “You have your code.”  Some people like to win more than anything else.  I like to amuse people more than anything else.  Though, to be fair, I do have a tournament winning deck with Protect Thine Own in it and another with Pentex in it.  But, that’s ancient history.  I become more and more restrictive over time and I’m not sure it’s the most fun way to go.

I really have to think about what sort of limitations I place on myself, though I doubt I’ll suddenly unban a lot of cards.  It is sort of absurd that I could play Gremlins and Murmur of the False Will in decks and not play Scouting Mission and Threats, but absurdity is all part of the game I play.

By the way, I was asked what card is my most banned card.  I think I mentioned Eyes of Argus.  I was really tired.  Actually, Deep Song would be more banned.  But, the obvious superban is Enkil Cog.  Gods, I hate out of turn actions.  It’s so obnoxious to suddenly be playing a different game just because of two stupid cards, one of which should have never been made and the other of which should have been banned a long time ago.

Yes, they reward skill.  Yes, helps you Shatter the Gates and achieve numerous other combos.  They are so dumb in terms of how they alter the natural flow of the game.  I would also ban Reversal of Fortunes as I’m not into effects that cause you to be playing a different game, but the need would decrease quite a bit if the Madness would go away.

Tournament 2:

Round 1:

Ian (CEL/PRE Fifth Tradition) -> Alex (Brujah group 34 P/J) -> Mark (Emerald Legionnaire) -> Devin (Valkyrie vote Undue Influence) -> Eric (!Ventrue intercept combat)

Crypt was three 10-caps and a 9-cap.  I had no masters to play for a while.  I brought out Andreas and had a hand full of wakes.  Andreas got a gun.  Anneke came out.  Anneke got Giant’s Blooded so that I pretended to be relevant.  I was irrelevant.  I had a dumb decision to make.  I could have contested the Brujah Justicar title to stop Alex from Second Traditioning with Jaroslav which would just shut me down.  I probably would have, but Eric had Owain in play and the correct thing would have been to feed Jaroslav until I give up, so I didn’t.

And, maybe Jaroslav can keep Mark under control.  He did.  Thing about Erlik and Erebus is that they are Sabbat and Jaroslav hates him some prey Sabbat.  Mark almost got Devin, but stuff happened including my using Anneke at the very end to block ELs.  Eric further shut down my game by getting Owain with a Sniper Rifle, The Rack.  I just couldn’t ever impact him and Devin had to defend too much to force Eric to use resources.

NoCal play – .5 VPs for all.

Round 2:

Devin -> Rick (Nos/! Horseshoes fight) -> Alex -> Brandon (Tupdog) -> Ian

I transferred to my two 10-caps for a long time, considering whether my 9-cap would have mattered and not considering my 8-cap.  The reason for one of the 10-caps was Justicar title.  The reason for the other was built in press.  Meanwhile, Brandon bled me for one a lot and used Tupdog rushes to fight the superfighty Brujah.

With no predator, Devin did stuff.  Only having Brunhilde advanced Archoned when she went for the five bleed kill stopped his ruthless bleeds of two at one stealth.  Amusingly, Devin could actually pass a vote past both Anneke and Alex’s four votes.

After I finally brought out minions, one of my 10-caps got diablerized, which I thought was weird.  I expected all of my minions to go to torpor even with a hand of six combat cards, but the diablerie slowed Brandon down, if anything.

There was a brief window when Devin needed to bring out another Brunhilde that I could have bled for 5 and probably gotten it through with him at 6 pool.  Nobody bled into my bounce during that window to reduce his pool to 5 (or, better, 2).  I’m sure I would have been Archoned, anyway, so it hardly mattered, but Devin got Rick finally, did heinous damage to Alex even after I gave Alex 13 pool with Golconda and Political Stranglehold, bled out Brandon who was at 1 pool, bled me out without effort after I Golcondaed my only minion.

The reason I didn’t encourage helping me to deprive Devin of round two existence is that I didn’t see how Brandon had any interest in my ousting him.  Devin did far more pool damage to Alex than we expected once Rick was out of the way, so it didn’t seem like he was going to sweep like he did.  The only window for me was when Rick was still around and Brandon was close to ousting me with my 2 pool, which would have been far better for him.  That’s the problem with suppressing players and not ousting them – their maximizing VPs means sitting around and surviving and putting no pressure forward.  All hail SB that won’t mess up people’s games but will eviscerate the players’ existences.

Those were two horrible games of V:TES in terms of my being remotely relevant to my prey.  Now, that’s not unusual in a lot of my games for reasons mentioned, but it furthers the idea of just going small and ousty.

See, in, say, EC play, my fat dudes people don’t typically see make me impotent because I get hit too hard too early from my right and get Pentexed by even the likes of my prey who I haven’t actually done pool damage to.  In local play, that’s not as likely, instead, the problem is having way too much combat for my not totally focused on combat decks to have to deal with.  Not because everything is combat – finals involved The unnamed, for instance, a deck that only hits for 2 with its 4-caps, and a deck with a horde of allies that hit for 2, beyond the two actual combat decks.

I was so tired on the way back, didn’t even have much to talk about on the ride back.

It was a decent experience.  Got to spend time with people I don’t see all of the time.  Got to wander around Berkeley some to find a place open at 11PM (not actually hard).  Just felt like my V:TES play was pointless.  Far more relevant in games I cared nothing about, while taking up space in games that will impact generations for millennia.

Congratulations to Mark for winning the second tournament.  Thanks to Mark for making stuff happen.  I’d be good with more tournaments.  Thanks to Brandon for driving.  Got to talk to people about stuff, which was nice.

Well, if this experience taught me anything, it taught me that my next Elixir of Distillation deck needs to be far more potent.  Actually, harkening back to yesterparagraph, the lesson may be to just play more stealth bleed.  It puts pressure forward and doesn’t do weird things to games like voting and combat and … weird stuff.


Origins 2018

June 20, 2018

I hadn’t been to Columbus in 20 years.  And, that trip to Origins was as a Precedence volunteer where much of my time was spent demoing the Babylon 5 CCG.  The RPG schedule was so boring I didn’t even try.

This year was for two things:  V:TES, True Dungeon.

Even the TD was limited, so let’s start … with Tuesday.

Tuesday, I go to sofa around midnight, not really sleep, and get up at my 2AM alarm.  Quarter to 4AM, Athena and Andy pick me up and we are off to Oakland.

Flights happen.  We arrive before 4PM in Columbus.  We wait a long time for the hotel shuttle, which is aggravating as I’m not sure I’ll make it to the 6PM V:TES tournament on time.  We check in.  We walk to Fabian’s, and we order a deep dish pizza.

V:TESing happens.  I may not have the starting players right in all of these rounds.  I knew some of the names when I was playing but have since forgotten.

Round 1:

Will (Sabbie 2 caps) -> ?? (Trem stuff) -> Mark (Summon History) -> Ian (HoS 3/4 toolbox) -> Jay (Nos prince/support)

As Mark said, I didn’t have much of a game.  I hung around for a while with potential answers to being rushed by Remnant of the Endless Storm, but it wasn’t like I was flowing cards.  Actually, I shouldn’t have gone in for the terrorism that is Outside the Hourglass and Domain of Evernight and just made some effort to block things, especially once I was never going to be a predator in the game.

Mark was not in a great position, but I got ousted and continued to eat pizza.

The pizza was not good.  I like Fabian’s well enough and they were good to us, but the crust was too dry, the cheese was overwhelming compared to the toppings, the toppings were very meh.  I’m willing to try thin crust, probably without cheese.  Then, Andy didn’t get a chance to eat any until it was coldish.

Round 2:

John (SB) -> Maria (Newjah) -> Ian -> Andy (borrowed FoS SB)

This was set up ludicrously well for me in that John kept continuous pressure on Maria, keeping her from dominating.  I got out a couple of Emerald Legionnaires, almost completely botched bleeding Andy for 3 with permanents on my HoS by playing Call of the Hungry Dead needlessly at superior rather than inferior emptying one of my dudes.  Drew a Blood Doll, pushed, killed Andy, ousted John after fending off attempts to keep him in the game, then raced Maria in the endgame where I played around Archon Investigation and could bleed for 11 or whatever on my turn with three HoS and Emeraldness.

Sometimes you sweep because it’s hard to mess up your position.

Finals:

Kelly (Pre/Obf vote) -> ?? (Mistress Fanchion doesn’t do it all) -> Ian -> Mark -> ??

I blanked on my predator’s name but should be obvious to anyone else being one of two women playing.  Grandprey was the same from round one, I read his name during the first round but forgot.

Kelly ran over the table as his prey didn’t have any game and his predator didn’t have enough intercept and Mark couldn’t get ally rush going fast enough.  I did survive longer than expected, but that just delaying tacticsed the inevitable.

Andy had already left since he wasn’t in the finals.

Wednesday

The day of more V:TESing.

Nobody expects …

Round 1:

Mark (Trem toolbox) -> Kelly (High cap Lasombra w/ Fort) -> Ian (Sea Pirates redux) -> Karl (Wolves Feed !Tor w/ Gerald FG)

Ambrosio takes an action, Mark blocks and ‘schrecks, I had an Anarch Convert out.  I debate what to do.  I mention the possibility of a deal, but I don’t know if Kelly was listening, so I eventually eat.  I play in the dark poorly by forgetting a way to reduce one of Mark’s bleeds and cycle a card and am ousted pretty easily and Mark eventually sweeps.

Just a not good game.

Round 2:

Ian -> Tom (Tunnel Runner) -> Jay (Samedi) -> John (THA close range combat)

I let Tom get a Tunnel Runner and Jay’s game sucks.  My Nadima does stuff but trying to police forwards and fight backwards and not be Pentexed does me in, eventually.

Next tournament, I decide to play the FoS SB deck with some slight changes because I was all about trying to simplify my tournaments.

Round 1:

?? (Una and DoC) -> Adam (!Brujah Undue Influence) -> Mark (5 discipline, including Dom, Nos-ish) -> Ian (FoS SB) -> Ben (borrowed Nos Anathema)

This was pure.  The sacred playing of numerous Delaying Tactics brought righteous glory to some involved.  Mark did hardly anything to me, Immortal Grapple twice in one fight and just hitting for one each time.  I kept getting vote damage aimed at me from other than my predator.

Adam and I dealt with the idea that Mark would go and I’d be unmolested until Ben was gone.  Ben was at 2 pool and had virtually no defense against my bleeding in his deck.  Angela Preston was Famed and in torpor.  Una tried to rescue, Anathemaed Una.  Ben gained 9 pool.  Adam and I talked about his going forward when he was near death and I was fine with it.  I did mention that I had enough bleed to reduce Ben to 1 in hand.  My top card would have been enough to remove Ben.  I played like two DT, Adam played like six.

Round 2:

Ian -> Karl (vote) -> Mark -> Ben -> Adam

My focus was on playing a table with four of the same players, so I didn’t care much about Karl’s deck.  More DTs.  More DTs.

I’m blanking on what happened besides more DTs, Ben calling KRC of 1 on himself and 3 on his predator and the only person displeased was his prey.  Seriously, I don’t remember how things shook out as I was just in DT nirvana.  I did DT, myself, to cycle.

Forgot my credit card at Fabian’s because I’ve never left my CC with restaurants before.  Ben helps me settle my “tab” (even though I got everything I wanted before tournament two) and holds my card for Thursday.  I should mention that my food was much better, in particular the tater tots from the sister restaurant were better than usual.

Thursday

Time to get serious … ly ousted.  While I had options for a tournament I couldn’t play the finals of due to True Dungeon scheduled for after the tournament is supposed to end (but won’t), I settled on HoS FoW as something fun that actually has any ousting power.

Then, I find out there’s going to be another hour taken up with a food break.  Burn.

Round 1:

John (Ass anarch vote) -> Kate (DoC vote) -> Karl (Art of Memory Dom/Obt) -> Darby (“fun” Bribes) -> Ian (Blessed Resilience pure HoS)

Darby kept referring to my bleed deck as an intercept deck.  Having no votes, I was not involved in the numerous discussions on whether to help Darby pass votes or not.  While Karl could theoretically bleed for 18 in one turn, his turns didn’t tend to be 18ish.  So, Darby often had lots of pool or gained back what he lost.  Kate is not all that experienced (we knew each other from NoCal) and probably overcomplicated playing Lily Preludes, as Darby didn’t get permavotes until late and John and Karl each had one (John’s one hurt him as his dude couldn’t anarch up).  John is low at some point, but a vote passes to give him lots of pool and that makes my game unlikely to proceed.

On turn two, Darby vote bled me for 7.  About 100 to 105 minutes into the game, John back ousts me with a vote as it also kills Kate and the game can properly time out at that point.

Round 2:

Ian -> Alex (IC stuff?) -> John (Trem stuff?) -> Alexandre (anarch) -> Karel (!Ventrue bleed)

I doubt my deck could ever play as smoothly as it did in this game.  I get out Erlik who gives me Mina on the same turn.  I bleed, I Rapid Heal, I Summon Soul, I Emerald, I … before the end, my prey brings out Rafael de Corazon, who becomes Legendary, calls Reins of Power, and votes 7 against … bring out Erebus to go to 2 pool.  Rafael gets by my two intercept with a vote and back ousts me to give a Dominate bleed deck a new prey.  Somehow, that worked for him.

Finally, we have True Dungeon happen.  I mean, sure, I had already done transmutes that morning and the transmute room folks were superhelpful for getting me out of the room.

Into the Shadowlands

So, I’m the one who used our patron code to sign up for this patron event.  No point in spoiling anything.  I did prove not useless with the first room puzzle.  I barbarianed to occasionally do damage, though not 60 at a shot like the rogue and there was one fight where I missed like every round with my +16 to hit.  Ah, high level play.

Respectfully, I didn’t find it that interesting.  One of the things that’s very clear is how really uninteresting TD combat is.  I want it to be challenging but also for there to be some context.  Challenging isn’t hard [foreshadowing alert, foreshadowing alert].  The problem I noticed more at Origins, maybe just because I hadn’t played in a while, is how you have no real concept of what’s going on in combat.  Did I contribute?  7% of the damage?  22% of the damage?  How do my choices matter?  At a certain point, if you win, the table just gets wiped clear of sliders and it feels oh so hollow most of the time.

I thought the event would feel more different.  Sure, there was metagamey stuff to rein in brokenness, but I couldn’t even tell whether that mattered.

Break time.

True Raid

While occasionally entertaining and probably much more so for those who 20ed their Death Dies, this became monotonous to me.  I liked what happened to spellcasters because it forced me to do something besides “Spellswap to Magic Missile, MEC, another 36 damage.”  I traitored and, thus, was the last to be slain.  I would have vastly preferred a different set up with more variety to the fights.  It just felt like an exercise after a certain point as victory was never going to happen.

I did something like 300 damage to Lorigorgon, 52 to PCs with my last two spells, 23 to all PCs with my last Burning Hands, had a bunch of spells rejected …, and it felt like it meant nothing.  Sure, I could have more efficiently used my Lightning Storms to do more damage, but it was more interesting filling out paperwork up until the point I was a traitor.  Actually, failing to hit in melee combat because my build was not built for anything besides casting and surviving was mildly amusing.

Andy had more to do as he didn’t have as many spells rejected and he survived a long time as a non-traitor.

We hit a pub near the hotel, which became the norm.  I had the stromboli, which was really a calzone, but I don’t terribly care.  Too cheesy for eating that late in the day, but it was good, otherwise.

Friday

Day one.  The proof is in the puddinghead plays.

Round 1:

Jay (ANI/THA) -> Ian (THA horde) -> Jesper (Nergal Beast) -> James (high cap Ventrue) -> ?? (POT/Dom)

I could have played this game really differently.  I could have played The Name Forgotten on Nergal before Unleash and Beast got out and could block it.  I let Jesper play his game.  He got the game win.  But, what confused me a lot was how little ability to survive James had.  I thought he would vote and fill up or bounce more or something so that he wasn’t taking constant bleeds from Nergal and Beast.

Jay was frustrated by my inability to go forward, but just because I brought out Hannigan and gave him DOM, then Muaziz and gave her DOM didn’t mean I could actually pressure my prey without Create Gargoyles, which Jay blocked.  Lot of bounce, not bounce, whatever at end.

Round 2:

Karl (!Tor anarch bleed) -> Will (AUS/Obf) -> Ian -> Martin (PRE bleed w/ AUS) -> Adam (ANI and …)

For a short time, this game was set up really well for me.  Martin had very little pool, Adam never got going.  But, as usual, I couldn’t finish and Martin got Adam, and Will got tapped out by Anarch Troublemaker and couldn’t use his bleed defense.  The endgame ground to a halt with Martin not wanting to go forward with my threat of bouncing, Karl somewhat spinning his wheels, and my being kind of impotent.  Karl contested Carlton and I should have bled for the edge rather than Blood Doll hunt.  Eventually, Karl double bounced and Archoned on the same action and I couldn’t deal with a load of minions.  Martin didn’t have any game by the time I was gone.

Round 3:

Elon (Baali vote) -> Pete (!Tor) -> ?? -> Ian -> Sam

This was odd.  I should have gotten 4 vps with how it played out as I could have saved Elon not once but twice, with the second time ousting Sam while Elon was at 1 pool with two tapped Baali.  My predator transferred low enough for Pete to oust him.  I had Carlton and Ponticulus right away and my predator’s first minion was … Stanislava.  But, I didn’t care.

Sam would bleed a lot for 1.  I bled a lot for 1.  Pete held on long enough for me to oust Sam but had little pool at that point and I had an impregnable wall with my ability to get to two intercept.

What made it odd?  Sam’s deck does like one thing.  Elon got into a position where he couldn’t do anything pretty quickly with just Nakhthorheb and Waters behind him.

N1 – Astral Bliss

Final TD event.  Even more important not to spoil this as many will be doing it for the first time at Gen Con.  There were good things about it.  I didn’t find it to be the best thing ever.  I preferred GC 2017’s Moongate combat.  A question, how interesting is up to the reader, is:  What do I actually enjoy about TD?  I enjoy other people being clever.  I enjoy the camaraderie.  I enjoy thinking about builds (but not so much writing them out as they tend to be very similar to each other).  I enjoy having certain tokens.

My build for this run, btw, was a ranged monk.  I went minimalist, even though my build was kind of more oriented to normal than hardcore.  My damage bonus was too low for hardcore.  I could fix that easily, but it would mess with the aesthetic of the build.  What wasn’t too low was my 39 hit points.  I liked feeling in danger and needing healing.  To play TD and be “Well, I’m down 40, but I’m okay.” is not enough tension.

I still had people use my melee stats, which were like +1/+1 vs. my ranged of +25/+2.  Part of the balance of playing at levels that aren’t that hard.  Fortunately, the six person group had a fighter who could consistently do 30+ to make up for my impotence and Andy’s druid was probably doing good damage.

Saturday

Day two.  Every cat has his day.

Round 1:

Kelly (Cybele and friends w/ Striga) -> Ian (my vampires have Obfuscate) -> Hugh (borrowed Summon History ally) -> Bob (!Ventrue Grinder?) -> Adam (Palla Grande)

The best thing about not having stealth in my first 31 cards is that I got to put out a bunch of permanents that nobody cared about and a couple of my Conceals got through due to the swarm factor.  I burned Ankara three times by the end.  One of those times was a horrible mistake, the kind of mistake that losers make, losers with blogs.  I burned a Renegade Garou with DBR.  I only really got beaten down by a Rock Cat after I failed to topdeck a third stealth card in the first 42 cards which would have ousted Hugh, though I could have swarm ousted Hugh with just my board if I didn’t trust in the heart of the cards.

Of course, my deck with all OBF vampires except one is barely running any stealth, only 22 stealth cards, so it’s understandable that I should have played smart and not like I just got embraced last week.  Not that I think I get Bob, but 1 VP is 1 VP more than 0 VPs.

Round 2:

Karl (FoS anarch vote) -> Jesper (Deep Song bleed) -> John (Trem toolbox) -> Ian -> Robert (Malgorzata and friends vote)

Karl survived longer than he should have, which got him a VP.  Jesper beat John down hard early to where John never had game.  John wasn’t expecting my deck to wake as much as it did, which meant he couldn’t lunge and I wasn’t terribly afraid of combat.  I got out lots of ranged weapons.  Anarch Troublemaker was rather important.

I Concealed Creepshow Casino in the endgame after Robert got 2 VPs, which Robert let through.  He also didn’t play around my weapons well.  Newer than most to the game, some better decisions and I wouldn’t have ousted him after I diablerized all of his guys right before time.  Also, earlier, probably could have played differently to get two easy VPs.  Learning experience.

Round 3:

Ian -> Alexandre (Vignes) -> Pete (Ventrue Grinder) -> Brad (FoS w/ Dom Corruption) -> Bill (PRO/Dom w/ intercept)

Even with my dispensing with cards that can provide stealth and with a Free States Rant crosstable, Vignes still took out Pete.  If not for that, I would have had two easy VPs as Alexandre wasn’t doing so great.  Meanwhile, I ignored Bill who tooled up with lots of intercept and Brad never felt confident going forward, so I eventually got worn down by bleeds in the endgame.

While I could be frustrated by how my Day One deck couldn’t lunge, what was different about these events is that I was actually capable of threatening my prey most of the time, with the one game of Nergal being a case where I think I just end my prey’s game on turn three if I choose to and end up ineffectual instead.  The plan of lowering crypt capacities and focusing on getting more minions in play seemed to work in general.  Now, the issue remains that with my banned list, there are a lot of ways to improve ousting power I don’t have access to, but that just means I embrace voting … because everyone loves voting.  Everyone.

For all intents and purposes, it’s pink lemonade time as I wasn’t going to play in the finals on Sunday and no more transmuting to do for TD.  To the pub for more lemonade.  I finally got the $4 double burger.  I was not surprised that it was a slider.  It was a very thick slider.  Certainly, I understand the price point.

Oh, speaking of food, didn’t mention my getting Tibetan dumplings (too chewy), brisket and rib tips (kind of overpriced for the quality in my mind), lamb curry with a lassi (lassi was quite good, rest was okay) from North Market, getting many smoothies from the convention center with my first Buckeye being really, really good and the other being kind of watered down, with the Strawberry Sunrise being just too pineappley.  Got food at the airport on the way back and it was pretty good and like $10 for a full size sandwich and a 20oz drink – I’m increasingly a fan of smaller airports.

Sunday

One more tournament I can’t win.

Round 1:

Ian (Indie Gargoyles) -> Mark (Nos Royalty Disarm) -> Peter (Baron something) -> Brad (Ani/Obt)

This was entertaining for how sad and pathetic we all were at ousting our prey.  Ferox rushed Sheldon.  Sheldon got torped.  Peter got Fee Stake: New York with Calebros in play.  Because of the recent forum post on vekn.net, I remembered the contestation penalty barons have, so Ferox had to empty Calebros in torpor.

While Mark and Peter got pool deprived to the point of it being laughable and more laughable, Brad just achieved infinite power.  I kept waiting for a crosstable Parity Shift, which got DTed.  Mark only ousted because Peter did a thing with a Famed vampire.  Mark and Brad stalled out in the endgame.

Round 2:

Darby (DoC vote) -> Robert (Malgorzata again) -> David (Summon History Inceptor) -> Alexandre (Malk anarch) -> Ian

“Darby, if I don’t oust you now, I don’t think I’ll ever oust you.  So, I’m done, go ahead.”  I, then, took a restroom break.  When I got back, Darby was ousted, so, as usual, I’m psychic … because I didn’t oust him.

David got a VP because somehow Alexandre just kept eating bleeds of four from Codex.  Robert got a VP because David’s game was impaired by Washes and Suddens.  I didn’t get ousted with four cards left and one untapped minion against Malgorzata, Oriandus, Polly.

Welp, that’s V:TES.  All things can be predicted at the beginning of every game and you’ll lose games because your grandprey tries to rescue a vampire from torpor.

On the way to the airport, Andy and I discussed my next deck construction method.  Let’s see how secret sauce works this weekend …

While no gaming event at Origins was great, I’d still say the overall experience was greatish.  The best part was hanging out with people better at winning V:TES than I am.  Better hotel next year would improve things.  Trying thin crust might be better, especially with no cheese.  Maybe I’ll even play a Dominate card besides Deflection in one of my decks, like, uh, Autonomic Mastery.

Andy really liked the size of the convention.  I really liked having a two minute walk between V:TES and TD, as opposed to rushing for a 15 minute hussle between hotels to make RPGs.  Still, Origins and Gen Con provide two very different opportunities for me, so I’d much rather have both be the norm.

Thanks to Black Chantry folks and Jay for V:TES events.  Thanks to Mongo for getting my transmutes done faster than they deserved to be.  Thanks to my fellow dungeonites for putting up with my dungeon demeanor.


Breaks & Brakes

June 2, 2018

Now to transition into Origins mode, where I will metagame hard against antiSalubri and Samedi rush.  Might have to play Blood Brothers now that they have bleed reduction??  I figure take about 10 new decks to Origins, see if I can get two boxes worth (14 decks) for “variety”.

Before Kubla, I ran my skirmish combat session of Rokugan 1600 and it did not go as planned.  Rather than find the cast abstracted into assistance mechanics where I was hoping would make them feel like folks the party would find endearing, the party hardly used my table of NPC mechanics.  The skirmish rules were terrible for the set up, as the set up didn’t have clearly defined distances and everyone was on horseback.

Got into a long discussion on players and GMs not connecting on mechanical expectations.  Basically, I want people to do different things because doing the same actions over and over bores me, but the players don’t feel like they can judge the value in creative solutions to problems, and encounters end up being far harder (seeming) because nobody tries a literature solution.

I make up all sorts of one-off mechanics, and they don’t often work well.  Well, duh, they aren’t playtested.  A little bit of that goes a long way to messing with players.  Then, in this case, introducing both skirmish battle rules and abstracted NPC mechanics charts and a host of unexplained antagonist abilities.

Was it terrible?  It was just a waste.  Rather than add any depth or caring to the campaign, it was an exercise in murdering named enemies whose names didn’t matter to anyone.  Boring combat that came across as largely meaningless combat.

I’m going to try to focus more on personal stories and maybe actually try to build up to big set pieces rather than rush them on stage.  Plus, peasants and Yobanjin because everybody else seems to love … Yobanjin.

Following up from the last post and switching gears hard, Shadowfist has an advantage in just enjoying play over various other CCGs to me in that it’s less predictable to me.  Sure, a player can get locked out of a game due to insufficient power or lack of resources, but players can get nerfed hard when they get out of control.  Of course, I could argue that V:TES has an advantage over Shadowfist for me because I’m psychic and will know every last thing that will happen except half the things, so I can make informed decisions, where I mostly try to do something in the moment with Shadowfist and fail.

I need to get around to doing my 2018 True Dungeon builds.  Going to consider some metagaming for the Lorigorgon and Into the Shadowlands events.  Then, we need to decide what to pack to transmute some of our crap.  And, I should make sure I can actually find my ultrarares and other hard to replace tokens.

Not running out of time just this day but going to be running out of time soon if I don’t start actually prepping for a major event.  And, I need to write some adventures, including side adventures.


KublaCon 2018

May 30, 2018

Kubla went about what I expected.  That’s not a superior thing.  I was committed to running five events.  I had done essentially zero prep for the con.  I was going to have to be there Friday and Monday, where I didn’t particularly want to be there Monday and didn’t want to be there Friday.

See, besides having a job where management doesn’t get specific ahead of time about leaving early going into holiday weekends, Memorial Day Weekend happens at the end of a month, which is right when I’m focusing on my primary reporting output.

Friday

I hope to get home early enough to nap because I’m old and I figured I would get less sleep than normal.  That didn’t work.  I picked up V:TES, Traveller, L5R 4e core book and headed up to Burlingame.

I ran my V:TES event which was talking to someone who had never played and probably still hasn’t and playing a couple of games with two people I don’t often see.  That’s actually a primary benefit of going to cons.  I may not game nearly as much as I used to, but I don’t have to con to game.  I do have to con to see a bunch of people I used to game with.

I forget to take my Black Chantry cards to the con, losing precious talking points for building brand new, heretofore discomprehended decks that will inspire our insect successors until the Sun reddens.

Saturday

I’m unsure I’m running something at 9AM.  I end up running a HoR mod for three people who know what HoR is plus a deadhead.  It’s okay.  The mod is amazingly lacking in material if you skip the inn.  It has an amusing monologue.

Anyway, food time afterwards.  By the time we get back, I have to run a 2PM mod for people who aren’t invested in HoR.  It seems to go reasonably well.  I eat some.  By the time I’m getting together with Jeff to get dinner, I have just finished lunch.  By the time I finished my Shanghai Dumpling Shop food, we drive over to Shanghai Dumpling Shop for food.  Why couldn’t the tan tan mian and lei sha tang wan be as good as they used to be?  Why?!?

Jeff wants me to play Lords of Hellas as a reference point for our designing a game we’ve talked about.

I understood the point.  Now, I didn’t want to play a 3 hour game at 8PM because I knew it would not go well the next day, but here are some pros and cons:

PROs

Turns can go quick.  It’s a game with a variety of things going on that you can play fast enough for people to keep engaged.  Multiple paths to victory does allow for interesting possibilities.  Players never seem out of the game and can come back.  Jeff has played a number of times and he finds that most players have a chance of winning.  While I prefer a pure mythological aesthetic, good aesthetics with pretty minis and play pieces.

Every game I’ve ever played of Lords of Hellas, I’ve ended the game with a Strength of 1, had multiple Blessings that rewarded hunting, and would have won off of the usurp action even if I didn’t win off of hoplite beatdown.

CONs

Your turns are kind of vaguely explained.  Your hero doesn’t have enough to do, though I ignored quests to the point that I don’t even know what the ones in play required, so maybe that was an option.  I don’t find hunting interesting mechanically.  Seems to be a game of lots of holding someone back from winning off of a third monster too much of the time.  Praying is not fun … when you don’t get to do it.

Every game I’ve ever played of Lords of Hellas, I started the game with no priest making, didn’t get a priest on my second turn, nor on my third turn.  Meant I could ignore injuries, of course.  I felt completely outclassed in terms of abilities, where my massive army didn’t assuage my ability envy.

Sunday

I sleep in because I can.

I arrive before the 2PM HoR political interactive we are running and find out which NPC I’m playing.  It doesn’t have that many players, which might be a good thing, where there was good diversity of clans.  It went fine.  Andy’s borrowed wig worked well.

I remain convinced that LARPing isn’t my thing as I find them tiring.

Finally, I get to play in the only event I played in.  Shadowfist Modern.  We were going to play with time limits in such a way that we could play a bunch of rounds.

We played one game in the tournament.  One, 3.5 hour game with four players.  The winner left and we played two pickup games of three.

The tournament was a good game.  It wasn’t fun.  None of the games were, though the third game had an amusing ending for me.

In the tournament, I got characters beaten down constantly, with my first hitter getting toasted as it was coming into play and another hitter getting toasted, this was after I discarded multiple hitters at the beginning of the game in order to get the two mandatory resources required to play Shadowfist without the GK house rules.  I would have decked, after Earl decked, as I had zero characters left in my hand or deck when Ray won.  Sure, I had chances to win, but they were pretty terrible chances and my experience with tournament Shadowfist play is that it often involves removing someone’s ability to win without the remover winning, which is just all kinds of antifun.  It’s like playing against rush combat constantly.

In the second game, which was a “20 minute” game even if it probably lasted longer, I had my first hitter toasted as it was coming into play and never played a character with cost above 1.

In the third game, I discarded a bunch of cards on the first turn and passed.  I discarded a bunch on the second turn and passed.  I discarded a bunch on the third turn and passed.  Maybe the fourth turn, maybe the fifth, I played a FSS and an Arcanomoth.  In the end, I Information Warfared my predator’s Abysmal Wyrm into my Manufactured Island which got replaced with a Gambling House and intercepted the Wyrm with … (playing Architects) … CHAR.  I then attacked Eagle Mountain for the win.

See.  I think the L5R LCG helps show, if not conclusively showed, that I’m really a multiplayer CCG player at this point because I don’t care about results.  I care about card interactions and making good choices.  My two opponents both failed to have anything to do for a while in that third game, then ended up wrecking each other to stabilize the game long enough for me to even participate.  While I might have made a good decision or two, that’s about all I had time to do in a game where both opponents were spent because I didn’t play half the game.

Sure, having chances to win is crucial to playing an enjoyable game, but it should come about due to good decisions and interesting card plays, not just because you are so pathetic no one cares what you do.

Monday

Get in early for my Traveller demo.  Show a bit of Traveller to those who aren’t familiar.  Build a deck and play Andy’s piracy deck.  I’m at 15 VPs after three rounds.  On round four, before I go to 19 VPs, he bankrupts me.  Just vicious play along the lines of what I’d expect competitive play to be like, where the contract deck and the attrition deck race and race fast.  More comments about this in the Traveller forums when I get a chance to post there.

Hit the donut shop for a burger.  Burger is pretty good.  Well, the onion ring and bacon on it helped a lot.  Once upon a time, Burlingame had some of the best donuts I’ve ever had.  I’m not sure that’s true, anymore.

Watch the Rockets/Warriors game.  I should never gamble on sports (except NFL, where I’ve only ever won money in Vegas) as the Warriors didn’t win by 25, like I expected.  Well, at least we got the finals every middle-thinking person wanted.

As an aside, no, not about His Airness versus the King, even though I’m a fan of both, nor about superteams crushing when they bother to remember that they have far more talent than anyone else or whatever, this season has been terrible.  I don’t mean the results of the playoffs, which ended up exactly the matchup I wanted in the finals.  I mean the season has been terrible.  So many stars or key players going down with injuries, sometimes right in the middle of conference finals.  Horrible playoff games where one team eviscerates the other only to be counterviscerated in the next game.  Were some bright spots, like Utah and New Orleans.  Then you have what fans call “awful coaching”.  Because everyone knows fans know more about how to play and lead teams than players and coaches.  Still, just ugly ball much of the time I bothered to catch games.  The high scoring potential of modern play with the frequency of three-point shooting probably does lead to more variance of results, but it’s the “could you just run some offense instead of holding the ball?” that gets repetitive.

Aftermath

I ran two events for games I care about with sparse attendance.  I played all of one scheduled event.  I played a game that I’m probably fine with starting at nearly my bed time [la-…].  What used to be my favorite restaurant isn’t nearly as good as it once was.  The days of great donuts seem to now require getting them near work, where I’ve never bought a donut at the donut shop but have bought dozens of sandwiches.  I had to drive up to the con on two days I had little interest in attending.  My one play event involved three bad games.  I didn’t see one of my friends at all and seem to be growing more distant to people I used to game with often enough.

Was it awful?  No.  It was about what I expected.  Too busy with no time to prep or to appreciate anything.  I already knew SDS’s food quality had declined.  Casual Shadowfist is far more fun (when people don’t steal your power).  Positive thinking might have led to more positive results.

Of course, I could put this in perspective.  Memorial Day isn’t just about gaming and basketball.  If suboptimal gaming is the worst problem in one’s life, going strong at first world probleming.  The car engine didn’t explode even though I ran low on oil and had to top it off.  No speeding tickets.  No muggings.  Didn’t lose or break the laptop.  Still able to walk up and down stairs at my advanced age while carrying 35 pounds of gaming stuff in backpacks.


Mind Tricks

April 29, 2018

You may have heard.  V:TES is supposed to go back in print … again.

VEKN.net announcement.

I feel some enthusiasm.  I felt some enthusiasm last year for having some of the Anthology Set cards get printed.  Mostly, though, I think it’s because it gives something for other people to get enthused about.  I may not be that excited by the tournament scene as I expect the game to continue to be oriented to things I’m not that fond of – fat vampires and bloat.  But, new stuff causes new stuff to be tried in tournaments, which produces some level of increased variety.

We’ve been getting games in every few weeks.  That works for me.  I enjoy playing the game.  As imperfect as it is, it’s a really good game.

Which segues me to playing Magic last night.  Type P.  I have played a lot of Type P and was into it at one point in time.  I think what holds me back from being into it again is the lack of a similar culture. Type P appealed to me far more than normal Magic because of the ability to evolve decks and to strive for particular cards. The old crowd was really into those things as well, where the new crowd seems more focused on effectiveness.

After Type P, most enjoyment I probably got from Magic was sealed deck tournaments.  Maybe success had something to do with that as I won a Mirage event, got prizes in Stronghold prerelease for 5-1 or something, got Urza’s prizes for a free sealed deck tournament that dragged on forever, and came in second in an Invasion tournament where I was a card mule for a far more serious player.  Never all that fond of draft where I may have had decent decks but found the play just tedious.  Constructed could be entertaining at times in casual play, like playing my one copy of Necropotence in my Essence Vortex deck and having that cost me a game.

I don’t know if last night was unusual or I had just forgotten how I generally feel about Magic, but the drawing one card a turn thing was really annoying.  It’s such a bad mechanic that sucks the joy out of what is otherwise a brilliant game.

Of the six games I played, one was actually interesting.  It was the only game that was close and I think we forgot a special ability that would have caused me to lose rather than win at one life.  That’s the problem.  I can play six games of V:TES and find four of them interesting, six games of B5 and find three of them interesting, six games of Shadowfist and find four of them interesting.  There were numerous times I or my opponent could have scooped multiple turns before the game was over.  In a couple of cases around turn two … playing sealed deck.

Maybe the feel of the L5R LCG is a problem because I’m used to multiplayer CCGs where people get to have fun as opposed to two-player games where people just stomp on each other or grief each other constantly.  Of course, I could play some Ultimate Combat! and see if that will rekindle my appreciation for a two-player CCG.

The other players were playing Dominaria.  The set just didn’t seem remotely interesting.  Sagas are fine, but the cards I was seeing just seemed dull with there being not very strong themes in the set.

So, I knew some of the Phoenix expansion cards for L5R.  I got shown the rest of the cards.  So griefy.  I get that negative plays can make for a more balanced game, but it just strikes me as a lost opportunity.  oL5R was a terrible game (IME) because it had terrible mechanics.  But, I would argue I actually like magic samurai in that I like the RPG’s world even if it includes dumb stuff like ronin.  nL5R could have been fun, focusing on thematic elements.  Instead, it seems to be increasing the focus on mechanics over doing cool stuff.  In general, I don’t feel like I’m doing cool stuff when I’m winning, I feel like I’m beating my opponent down to where they can’t recover.

Yeah.

Give me Counter X for 15 to knockout out someone foolish enough not to play Movement.

Could be too late for me.  Could be that I’m only a social player.  A party hearty flopper.  I can’t deal with having a single opponent who is trying to win and not Vorlon Rescue Mr. Morden.

Well, there is Traveller, which can be played two-player.  I’d much rather play Traveller than L5R.  An interesting question is whether I’d much rather play Traveller than Magic.  I could say I think Traveller plays better, but that should be obvious and to have someone prefer a game they helped make over a game they bitch about constantly being nowhere near as good as it should be doesn’t strike me as compelling opinion.

Where I’m not clear what value I get out of L5R, as I don’t feel any thematic coolness and I don’t like the mechanics, I know I get different value out of Magic vs Traveller.  Magic is about discovery for me.  It’s why I like sealed deck, where I’m trying to think of the best way to build a deck, where constructed just feels too open-ended to me.  Traveller is something where I can learn that cards don’t play the way we expected, but I’m so much more focused on what my opponent is doing to try to determine what the game needs more of or less of through either their deck construction or their play experience.  The massive experience gap between me and everyone besides Jeff just causes me to not take my own play all that seriously.  Magic is also about visual appeal to me.  I don’t mean the card art.  I love things like multicolor templates and various land templates.  I like hybrid mana costs for cards.  Just get striking color combinations.

Change your perspective, change your world.  Maybe I get too far into my existing views on things and don’t try a different perspective.  Maybe I should embrace the idea of the quick scoop in Magic as fun.  Maybe I should roll a die when choosing what Ring for my attacks in L5R or when deciding how much Fate to put onto a dude because random chess is better than chess.

Speaking of painfully unpleasant.  Arrow.  I was explaining recently that the reason you do a Green Arrow show is so that you can knock someone out with a boxing glove arrow.  Can imagine how I feel about the tiresome angstaggedon that the show loves so much.  Flash at least tries for some amusement and Legends of Tomorrow does some amazing stuff along with the dumb.  Maybe the trick is to root for the villains because they pretty much constantly win until Counter X for 15 because … good has to suffer until it wins in some dumb ass way.  I can’t even bring myself to watch Supergirl, yet.  Maybe in May.  Meanwhile, Into the Badlands might get some viewing action – it got rid of its albatross storyline by fridging an idiot.  OTOH, child.  Off the top of my head, that worked in Dragonball Z and nothing else that comes to mind.