Crusader Kings 3: FULL AUTO BIRTH CANNON!!!

I want to do a long post about CK3. This is an amazing game. Here’s the TL:DR.

FIRST: it’s much easier to get into than CK2, which I gave the good colleddged try a few times and failed to figure out what to do and it definitely failed to pique my interest and I just yearned for Stellaris… this one is totally smooth. SMOOTH.

SECOND: this is not a conquest game like Total War, this is a medieval FUCK simulator with war-like…um… consequences. It’s all about relationships, both hierarchical and personal, hereditary and romantic. You don’t have winning goal– you set that for yourself which is extremely different than Total War or Stellaris. As a strategy buff, this seemed odd to me, but it’s great. It’s a sandbox and it’s huge.

THIRD: The things you can do are absolute madness. Eating prisoners, seducing relatives of either gender, creating a naked, satanic religion and then forcing it onto your subjects, running a bene gesserit style breeding program with your children and grand children to create what later amounts to a kwizatch haderach (or transalpine dwarfs….).

So what the hell is this game?

CK3 is a game where you play as a single person, specifically a landowning noble of some kind. When that person dies, if they have kids who can inherit their wealth and status and holdings (not just spawns that can’t inherit anything), you play as one of those children, otherwise it’s game over. You are incentivized to continue your bloodline and make sure you have enough heirs, so that with the high death rates of the early medieval period, you don’t lose the game.

You can start as anyone: a king, a queen, a count or a duke but not Barons or unlanded nobles (ie: no banking families— yet). You can start anywhere in the ‘old’ world (Europe to the western edge of China) as well as amazingly, Africa. You can play as nobles in the Califates, in the late dark age Viking kingdoms or as leaders of the Hausa in Africa. The scope is nuts.

Once you start, you will have a holding, house you belong to, family and a court that you need to manage. This comes with a small or large military, alliances, a current religion with all of the rules and complexity that goes along with these.

And here’s how this fucking madness can play out.

lots of kids, lots of useless males…

On my first play, I chose Malika of the Hausa, a matrilineal, tribal area in Africa. I got a husband and other mating partners (totally OK in Hausa culture, not at all OK in most others) and started the full auto birthcannon, just firing out kids. The issue was, they started to try to kill each other as there were no laws of primogeniture. Eventually my first character had about 7-8 kids– quite a horde and 2 of them died early. When my first character died, I thought: ‘Ok, I’ve built quite a power-base here and my oldest daughter is going to continue to kick total ass.’ NOPE! The rules of succession split everything among the female heirs equally and my main daughter immediately had to go to war with two of her sisters to reclaim (or claim rather) the lands that were rightfully hers. Meanwhile she racked up the consorts and started firing out kids of her own– but NO girls. So if she got killed, she I would end up playing as one of her sisters that I was now at war with, or at the last minute would have to switch to a patriarchal culture. Fan, fucking, tastic.

Being my first play with no clue as to what I was doing, I quit to start over. After running through the tutorial that starts in Ireland, then I began as Eudes, a little kid count in Western France, beset by enemies all around him with a couple of powerful uncles, one of which is his liege who has bigger problems to worry about.

Other than making sure I was not going to get immediately destroyed by the Vikings nearby, the first thing I had to find was a good woman just like the Hausa lady finding a set of good men to breed children, this is essential, and in Catholic France, you likely get only one shot at this. I have a certain… uh… type of lady that I like so I was like: why not let’s go look at Spain/Portugal and I found a similar age kid that fit the bill and had a positive congenital trait as well– boom! Betrothed which gave me an instant ally across the Pyrenees and some claims on some counties in the Basque region. I married off a sister which gave me another ally nearby. Then…

Dwarf.

… I got– distracted. The map is gigantic, just mind-bogglingly large. I started looking at India and environs on a whim and BOOM: there were tits. Granted they were on a lady with dwarfism… Then the deep dive into the mystery of the naked rulers in India began– and then I found one in Eastern Europe. Why? What the hell and how can I get everyone naked?? How? I won’t spoil anything, but this led me to some deep respect around the religious aspect of this game. There are 15 Islamic sects alone and I have no idea how many Christian ones, including the Gnoscists, your leaders can, of course, create their own religions. These each have different mechanics and change the rules of the game, including, you got it: NUDITY.

I played as Eudes until he passed away happily having quite a few children and a few un-legitimized bastards and then the madness and obsession really began. When you start with one of the ‘try this first’ factions you feel a bit like you are on rails (you are not) but when that guy or gal dies, you know everything can and will change drastically, a lot like some of the better Total War games. Eventually, France collapsed under the constant conflict between rival counts and dukes, meanwhile raided from Vikings in the north and pressure from the south from the Islamic empire that had rolled across Spain. Eventually ALL of southern France was part of a massive Islamic empire who had also encroached into Italy. The only thing for it was for the Pope to call a Crusade and madness began again.

While the urge is to get the biggest Kingdom/Dukedom or solid heirs, sometimes, you just need do things out of spite. A few generations down I had an absolute rake seducer as a duke as well as some unruly vassals and they went and rebelled. The rebellion was crushed and I captured a couple of the rulers, most of which I tortured and then let go. But one of them had a comely lass for a spouse and no children yet! I left him to rot in jail, seduced his wife who must have been oh so lonely (she hated him anyway) and as soon as she was impregnated, I turned him loose from jail to cope with the fact that his primary heir was not his own child. This did nothing to advance the cause of my realm, but real good fun.

Another event was that I needed a good spymaster. I found some Teutonic broad in the low countries with a shockingly high intrigue stat, seduced her to my court, then my rakish duke had some kids with her. Over the years, I noticed one of her daughters had some amazing congenital traits and seduced her too (this was her daughter from a previous husband/lover) and when the Duchess died, married the duke to the daughter. Eventually, since her mom was the spymaster, she exposed the secret to her daughter that the duke had also humped her mom and there was an incident… luckily my duke had a high likability, otherwise you start to see murder after murder of your dynasty members from inside your own court.

Eventually my dynasty was stripped of all other Duke level titles and was stuck with just a Duchy of Provence (between Italy and France) and even though I had kidnapped my liege multiple times to get concessions, due to disease, murder and accidents at war, I was down to a barren duchess with zero male heirs in her line of succession and it was game over.

Again, this game has no ‘winning’ goal: you make your own goals and it’s just brilliant. You can play as a warlike Richard the Lionhearted, a foppish lout who whores and drinks, or a Bathory style torturer and murderer and anywhere in between. Then, next generation, you get to decide how to play again.

Lastly, I love how small, seemingly insignificant decisions later become massive problems or boons. Marrying off an ugly, scaly daughter to some bastard child of one of your vassals ends up accidentally with you controlling the province as the father murdered his bastard and a month later his son and heir, one of your knights, is killed fighting in a crusade.

They really knocked one out of the park and this will be played all Winter…I can’t wait for expansions: especially if there are BANKING expansions where you can play as the FUGGERS, etc. and not worry about all the owning land stuff.

My horribly scarred ruler, his drunk lesbian wife, and bastard son.

Dr. Squatch is damn good soap

This is not an advertisement, but it’s going to read like one. I will readily admit, I totally fell for the Dr. Squatch video ad years back fronted by comedian James Schrader as it was hilarious and subsequently started up a small soap subscription. I want to say a couple things because I think it’s an EXPENSIVE but excellent product.

First, I don’t think about soap, well not until now. I grew up with Irish Spring, Ivory and Yardley’s of London soap as a kid as an adult I would just get those bottles of ‘soap’ from a pump and never thought about it.

Of course, special soaps were for womenfolks! When you see the little soap places at the mall or at county fairs or farmers markets, it’s ALWAYS marketed to the women. Therefore, I never thought about this type of soap as a guy except as gifts for gals and me mum –and it all smells super girly anyway. The Squatch stuff is marketed specifically, and humorously, towards men. Never having thought about it before, I figured, what the heck. This turned out to be a good marketing ploy to fall for, the shit is GOOD and I did give a few bars to my mom even though they are MANLY SOAPS.

The Dr. Squatch stuff showed up and smelled great. I used it for a week or so and while still thinking about soap, called it already as the best bar soap I’ve ever used. Skin doesn’t feel all dry (I never noticed before that it was, but it was) after or later in the day. It has great lather, and a good variety of (manesque) smells. All of the bars were great, but the Pine Tar made everything in the shower black for a bit, so I wasn’t the biggest fan of that one. Some of the bars last longer than others, but generally they last awhile. It sorta depends who else is using your shower. My kids get in there and I think they lather up with the shit for a LONG period of time because that’s what this soap wants you to do: lather the shit out of yourself, which, thinking about soap for probably the first time in my existence, is likely the mark of good soap.

That said, it’s 6$ PER BAR. This is expensive. Realistically I’d like to be paying about 3$ per bar of soap, but I really cannot fault the quality of this stuff. Try it– and you probably don’t ever need to think about soap again.

Lastly, this is a gaming blog so for me to take the effort, as fucking lazy as I am, to post about soap, I have to say I REALLY like the soap and when I use of my favorite scents down to a nub and it falls to the floor of the shower, sometimes, I feel sad. Otherwise, I pretty much will never think about soap again other than which scent to grab next.

GENCon 2017 day…. uhhhh

i guess it’s Saturday already.  My Mythras game went well despite fucking up and signing up for only two hours rather than four.  We tried to get through The DCC funnel sailors on the starless sea but near total drunkenness ensued and the characters were left on the ship ready for a TPK, which was awesome.  I’m going to make a big picture post when I get back home.

And probably more ricks

On Holiday!

Fuck yeah.  I may have to work a bit next week (from home) but otherwise I’m off for the rest of the year.    It will go too fast, I will get nothing I wanted to get done DONE, but I’ll at least get to try.   We’ve had a bit of a snowmagedon here in Wisconsin and so I leave you with this, SNOWBEAST 1977.

General plans are to try to play a 6-man Blood Rage game, play something Martin Wallace (probably Struggle of Empires or Moongha Invaders), paint some miniatures, play some Warhammer 9th Age (am I allowed to say that in the same phrase), get some more time in with Attila Total War and Guilty Gear XRD Revelator.

and lastly, run a D&D game with the kids.  They probably aren’t ready, but what the heck.

Game Hole Con tomorrow

Matt and I and others are off to Game Hole Con tomorrow for some 5E, wandering around and a game with Tom Wham. Should be great fun and I am bringing the new Cosmic Encounter / Game of Thrones mash up board game to boot. See you there, fuckers.

ghc_poster_2016_small

Happy Halloween 2016

witch2
heads jawes uzimaki witch1

Ah the scary stuff, the horror movie discussions on the interweb tubes galore.

A scene for the Ages from Omen II.  Probably the best scene in any of the films aside from that chick jumping out of the window at his birthday!

 

Tomorrow = Wallet bad touching!

Valve’s summer sale on steam starts tomorrow (at least so the leaks say) and your wallet needs to be prepared, cause it’s going to get pilloried and then beat with a hairbrush and then full on bented.

Now, I don’t want to hear all these excuses about how bad your game backlog is and that you shouldn’t buy any new games until you ‘finish’ the old ones. Of fucking COURSE you shouldn’t. Frankly we should all just be playing CIV4 or Dominions 4 or DOTA2 and not anything else. Total cost today: about 16$. Instead we’re going to buy Witcher 3 at 20% off and Far Cry 4 and LISA and Crimzon Clover and Eschelon 2 and (for those that don’t have them yet) Darkest Dungeon, Dungeon of the Endless and Dark Souls 1, 2, 3 and they may sit in our steam library uninstalled for YEARS before we play them. So what? Do it anyway. There are just some games, no matter how long it takes to even get them installed, that you fucking NEED to have. Do it.

Again, if I see that LISA is missing from your library, I’m buyin it for you. And Sensless has a birthday and needs to have some games applied to his account.

Other than stuff listed above, I’m looking for Blood Bowl 2, Vermintide, Mordheim, BFG and shit all the Games Workshop IP stuff that I haven’t got around to buying to go on sale (slightly). If I was going to ask one game peeps should buy together it would be Vermintide and then we can play like friends again. Like we did in 1998.

Free RPG day 2016 and sharting for the win

Free RPG day was good this year.  Perfect weather and two places in town that were hosting it.  There was TOO much good stuff to choose from so tough choices had to be made.  We ended up getting SLUGS! of course, which is a ridiculous Lamentations of the Flame Princess spoof (yes, it has some good monsters in it, but the intro– teeing off on all non DIY publishers in a Donald Trump style diatribe must be read to be believed), The Derelict, a Cthulhu adventure, the Nights Black Agents/13th Age combo (the 13th Age adventure looks pretty good too) and the obligatory Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure.  All of it kick ass stuff that will get some use (except the Nights Black Agents– we don’t play that) even if we just read it.

Why attack the Xmas slug? Why???
Why attack the Xmas slug? Why???

Talisman

After the whirlwind of game and comic shops in the morning, Keneda (in town for the weekend), Sensless, Okyo and I got together and play Talisman with the Cataclysm expansion– with the new board only and not any other big boards. This meant no dungeon, no city, no Highlands and no Woodlands.

We did include the REAPER expansion cards (not the reaper himself) as I feel this expansion at least is absolutely essential.  There were a few Frostmarch and Sacred Pool cards included cause we were sort of drunken by the time we started sorting to no ill effect.

Cataclysm, being a new main board an all, has some surprises.  Gone are the standard places visited for healing, FATE and buying stuff. Instead there are areas where you draw new cards called “denizens” who represent effects from the old board, but randomized around.  If the denizen originally belonged in the space you drew her, she will stay, otherwise they are one-shot cards.  For example if you draw the BARMAID in the graveyard, she won’t stay but she’ll stay if she’s in the Tavern or Village.  Cool stuff.

We also played with the new crown of command as the goal rather than the random center cards, which is more deadly for everybody as the person on the crown can be killed using it as well.

We played at first with only Cataclysm characters (draw one rather than the usual three and choose), then when one would die, replacements were randomized from the whole deck of characters as normal (draw 2 and choose, die again, draw only one, die again and you’re out!)

 

Pyssed up again.
Pyssed up again, post pestilence, pre shart.

Here were the first set of characters:

Sensless: MUTANT

Me: Black Knight

Okyo: Arcane Scion

Keneda: Scavenger

This was a LONG game, about 1.5 hours per player.  Why?  We got drunk and were at least slightly drunk the whole time– with the game initiated via a shot of Jeppsom’s Malort for all and then beers.  There was a lot of side saddle talk and wandering outside.  Luckily no pinners or it would have ended prematurely with unconsciousness.

Despite the drunkeness and length, there was some excitement at the table.  I’ve ripped on 4th edition despite it being my preferred edition of Talisman on account of it’s lack of deadliness,  mostly due to FATE points saving the day all the fucking time, but we had more characters driven into the mud this game than any recent games I can remember.   Cataclysm has some nastiness and by the third turn or so, an event came along and ripped all the fate from all players,  so things were very risky risky.

After fate was gone, there was TOADAGE.  The mutant met the wizard denizen and was promptly toaded. He lived long enough to land on his ‘stuff’ space and encounter the wizard again– and get TOADED again.  There was another wizard that finally put the hapless toad-mutant to rest–and was replaced by the Barbarian!

More Toadage ensued as my black knight was toaded by the same Wizard denizen as the Mutant and didn’t survive; becoming toad-meat for a giant spider.  A lucky draw got me the ELEMENTALIST.

Without FATE, we were all running weak and lifeless with no easy access to the chapel or city and naughty instead of nice denizens about.  Pestilence came at just the right time and took out the Barbarian and Scavenger for their trouble. Keneda was on her last character–the Assassin.

The mid-game was long– maybe 3 hours long and the arcane scion was slowly building up, but refused to go to the middle.  I got pumped quick with the Elementalist (not hard to do) and made a run for the middle, got lucky making it up but suffered badly at the Lich (replaced death on the STRENGTH side of the center region) and had only a single health going into the crown of command.

The command spell destroyed the Assassin and another character I can’t remember that replaced the Scavenger, but it wasn’t enough for my Elementalist, especially after the sharting.  Right before the final turn to get to the middle, Okyo gambled and lost and had to run to the bathroom.  He came back and despite the Elementalist at the crown of command, despite the humidity and Malort and Schlitz and underwear in the outdoors trash can, the Arcane Scion made it to the crown of command with a single life left as well and won the combat handily vs the Elementalist for the final win.

It was a good, albeit slow game.  Cutting out all the expansions was a really good idea for this one, as there was a ton of new stuff in Cataclysm. I think I’d like to play it a few more times with just that set, the base adventure deck plus

Since in Cataclysm, no one knows where to go to get stuff until the denizens come out, it’s tough to get healed, get fate and buy weapons/armor.  This is quite a shift from the old board where you know just where to go to get refilled.

a winner is you.
a winner is you.

Tobal 2 and Virtua Fighter 5

We played a surprising amount of both VF5 and Tobal 2.  I just couldn’t get the hang of Tobal again, even with Ill Goga and Gren and failed miserably.  My timing was WAY off.  Matt, however, was all over it with Epon whopping ass.

Despite my love for Tobal, VF is the better game, with a shocking amount of incredibly nuanced characters and simply the best fight engine there is.  It still looks GORGEOUS and caused a lot of yelling (same with Tobal) when the physics or throwing engines showed something spectacular (guaranteed throws and some of the reversals in VF are amazing to watch).  Fighters are a million times more fun when you are all sitting around playing, on a console or arcade machine.  This is why EVO and all those cons have such a strong following.  Playing online is OK, but face to face with the crying out and yelling is where it’s at.

epon-scene

I’d like to imagine this day was like a typical Saturday in 1996-2000 or so, before everything changed.  Those four years were (sad as it seems now) formative madness to the extreme.