Along with my normal house stuff like clothes and books (so many books), I had to pack up and move a shitload of games and gaming related materials. I have… a lot of gaming stuffs, some of which I haven’t physically seen in years. It’s a bit ridiculous really.
The first thing I did was drag a bunch of old World of Darkness books to sell them. I kept the core Vampire and Werewolf books for nostalgia, but for some reason I had a ton of those books and we played maybe once–and it sucked. Owning these was likely due to RAGE and JYHAD fandom for the most part.
Speaking of which, I have a massive Shadowfist collection (for good reason), but I also have a massive VTES and Jyhad collection, large amounts of RAGE, On the Edge, Blood Wars and still have my tiny MTG collection (most of it) from back in the day. With Netrunner, I really can’t see playing any 2-player CCG’s other than that, yet it’s difficult to part with a mere stack of Legends of the Burning Sands or Legends of the Five Rings cards let alone a massive set like VTES— I just don’t know why: we no longer play these games.
I did find some stuff that I forgot I had, or forgot how MUCH.
Mojang was sold to Microsoft for a lot of money recently and while that should be actually GOOD for Minecraft, what about this other game SCROLLS? The one that caused such a dust up with Bethesda Software a year or so back (with the awesome challenge to settle LEGAL differences with Quake 3 Arena!!!). The game has been in beta for awhile (open like your sister’s legs) and last week it actually came out for everyone at FIVE BUCKS.
So this is a goddamn online CCG. You get a basic deck of cards and can ‘buy’ more with in-game gold that you earn by playing. It’s a typical model that everyone is using these days with all these fucking iOS FREE games and Blizzard’s Hearthstone. While the economic model for getting cards is sort of lame, really this isn’t different from any type of regular CCG like Netrunner, EXCEPT for the fact that you can get more cards by just playing the game. This means if you spend FIVE BUCKS and play, potentially you can get a ton of cards without spending any more. This is my plan.
The key thing here is if the game sucks balls and is just a semi-magic clone with +1 /-1 effects that are super boring. Since Magic itself has this same model of buying in game cards, if you really are going to play one of these games, you better play the best one. Since there isn’t one of these games out for NETRUNNER, I would say SCROLLS is probably one of the better games. I have not wasted money or time on Blizzard’s IP cash-in trash Hearthstone game but per Lord Lobo after 10 minutes in SCROLLS he mentioned it was “Way better” than Blizzard’s feeble offering.
Anyway, after about 7 games, this is what I think in BULLET LIST form.
I like the MAP a lot. It’s got this Heroes of Might and Magic vibe plus DREAMBLADE (which I’m waiting for my kids to get old enough to play). It puts context around playing cards instead of just this amorphous mass of cards on the table. Protecting a location is also very SHADOWFISTY, and that’s good.
The interface is quality. Mojang ain’t fucking around here. There were a couple things a bit wonky (like starting in windowed mode) but during the game it’s very nice.
Cards do interesting stuff. I really think the drive for GAME BALANCE has fucked up modern CCG’s a bit so the mechanics boil down to +1/-1 like Hearthstone. It’s sort of like how Diablo 3 didn’t take ANY chances with any powers PROC’ing because that would rely on some luck and not raw DPS. This made diablo 3 a really shitty and boring game (except for the sound effects).
The factions are generic, but the little miniatures on the board look cool. Each faction is named for a single word– GROWTH, etc. and the cards in each have pretty generic feel to them. When you’re used to JOHN FUCKING BLANCHE and ERIC SABEE art all over the place, it’s hard to get a woody about a faction that has some wolves and stuff in it. The ‘miniatures’ though are sweet.
I’m interested in the tactical depth possibilities. The main thing about a 2 player CCG is if it’s fun to play even if you are getting fucking schooled repeatedly (since this is how you learn). Netrunner is WONDERFUL in this way because it’s always a bit of a nailbiter at the end. Shadowfist is just nearly always fun to play regardless of who wins.
So that’s enough points for now. if you want to dip your toes in, there is a demo of the game, but at 5$– what the fuck. For the next two weeks or so (some of you know how my attention span is for games) I’ll be playing quite a bit. My username is: ajdghlkajhclkA. Not joking. I had to try 3 times to find a name that wasn’t taken (littlemute? seriously??) and it became a random string of letters.
Steve the Burger and Fries was the winner of this year’s World Championship at Gencon of Shadowfist. He played with a Purist/Architect deck (below) with write up.
Total Cards: 51
Feng Shui Sites (10)
Martyr’s Tomb (2)
Gambling House (2)
Foundation Characters (10)
DNA Mage (5)
Other Characters (10)
Dr. Timbul Damiri (3)
Shards of Warped Reflection
Nerve Gas (2)
Expendable Unit (2)
Uncontrolled Mutation (2)
Pocket Demon (2)
IKTV Special Report
Material Transendence (2)
Evil Brain in a Jar (2)
Rise of the NeoBuro (2)
Here’s how it all played out……I needed to get some tuning in before the tournament, so the night before, we played 4 games, all 3 man with Matt and Mouth. After taking serious beatings from both of them in 3 of the games, and barely eeking out a less than impressive victory in the 4th, we looked at slimming the deck down a bit. I ended up taking out 3 vivisectors and 2 Paradox Gardens, and adding an IKTV special report.
So I rolled into the tournament far from confident. There were nine players, so It was three-man the whole way….another problem for my less than fast deck….
Game 1 (Monarchs, Jammers)
The Jammer deck got off to a very fast start, getting out 3 big maques and a horde of other monkeys early, all helped by my first hitter destroying himself on an uncovered Temple of Angry Spirits. I was being run off the table. The Jammers burned for power 3 times, and with the monarch deck starting slowly as well, I just couldn’t get going. There seem to be a lot of new cards with monkey designators, and there were hordes of token characters all over the place. I managed, through a combination of my opponents’ unwillingness to just end it & a few denial cards, to hold off an outright win, and we were timed out. Looked like the end of the road for me, with a permanent spot at the losers table.
Game 2 (Monarchs, Hand)
The Monarchs followed me to the losers table, along with a hand deck. I had a horrible start in this one (no architect resources), but was helped by the fact that the Monarch player was using resources to smash the hand player with early events and attacks. Now most of those events were cancelled by Confucian stabilities, but none-the-less, my opponents were stymying each other, and I was able to recover a bit. Another strange thing was that the Hand player had two revealed proving grounds, which didn’t help him. Anyways, it was time for his Iron Monkey to cause problems, but alas, a nerve gas smoked him with no power gained or sites taken. Even with Rise of the Neoburo out, I had 3 or 4 turns in a row where I could not draw any hitters, so I just played sites. Finally, with the table cleared, an exposed proving ground with 1 body, and only 1 fighting characters in play, I went for the win with a mathmagician(!?)……and a cellular reinvigoration……..very silly, but it worked, and I had a chance again with a win under my belt.
Game 3 (Jammers, Lotus)
The monkeys were back, I had a new Lotus opponent, and my deck had not yet shown any signs of getting out any of my combos. Again, the Jammers were out quickly, but we held him down a little to prevent that overpowering start. The lotus looked to be well positioned with a hitter out and one of my sites burned for power. Then, he tried to play spirit wrack on a Jammers character, and had his hitter smoked by who’s the monkey now. This allowed me to get Damon Winter out, and load up on cards. He was smoked, but Bonechill followed several times, thanks to Dr. Timbul, and I settled on toasting a big maque, and turning into a size 14 hitter. Along with rise of the neoburo and material transcending the reverend Adam Wither into a useless edge, I gained some traction. This game ended with time being called also, but I scored good points.
When the total points were added up, John and Willow were 1-2, and I was tied for 3rd with Troy. There was some posturing back and forth about who should get in, and what the tiebreakers were. When no one could decide, John and Willow were ok with a 4-man final.
Game 4 (The final-Jammers-Troy, Monarchs-Willow, Architects-John)
What a game. I definitely appreciated playing with three very accomplished players, and I hope everyone wasn’t too annoyed with my constant fumbling and bumbling of the rules…..Things started with some early attacks that were thwarted. I attacked the monarchs with Bonechill hoping for a lucky site grab, only to reduce it to 1. The Architects were thwarted, but the jammers got the site. With the Monarchs kneecapped, I drew a nice run of cards, played secret pact, which allowed me to throw out Damon Winter. I attacked the Monarchs again, hoping for a squishy site, and found it, burning for power. Then I was able to play IKTV special report right away after that, and had 8 power before my turn started again. That was what I needed, as I played Rise of the Neoburo, Dr. Timbul, Material Transcended him, and played a Paradox Cube (copying Timbul) that turn. That definitely drew some attention. I was very lucky in that no one had edge hate cards, so my stacked Timbuls would remain for the rest of the game. Things went on with no one able to gain the upper hand for a while. An amazing 3 neutron bombs were dropped, and even more amazingly, all were cancelled. Eventually Damon Winter was smoked (along with several Gnarled Annihilators, Fakhir-al-din, and lots of monkeys), but replaced with Primus (and my whole deck was in my hand anyways). A few turns later and I was finally I was able to find the architect’s endless corridor turned, and sacrificed Primus, then returned him to play so no architect nasty cards could be played. I went for the win with 5 or 6 buffed monkeys able to block, but threw down a cellular re-invigoration that couldn’t be countered……and that was it!
I’m back from the con and it was good. I won’t be able to encapsulate my thoughts into a single post, and some of the topics DESERVE their own singular essays– so over the next few days I will try to decompartmentalize the madness. I was planning on posting DURING gencon itself, but other than the few pictures there just wasn’t time or sobriety to do so.
Hillfolk and the drama system experience
Sad news for Shadowfist
OSR stuff and Other RPG’s
Random stuff that looked cool.
Holy shit was it crowded. I’ve been there many years in a row (I think close to 20) and I have never, ever seen Gencon that crowded before. All the parking lots were full, the entire con area was packed with people. Normally you’ll see the same people around, the same security guards, the same cos-play nerds or larpers or insideout jelly doughnuts, but this year it was such a WAVE of humanity you’d never see the same people twice unless you went to the same type of regions in the gaming hall.
As this was Matt and Steve’s first time to the Con since it was in Milwaukee, I had some things to prove since I had been talking up Indy since it moved there– that it was and is far better than Milwaukee as a location for this large of a convention. Milwaukee’s downtown is pretty but let’s face it, it’s got shitty hotels and it’s dangerous at night right in the area of the new convention center. What’s more, though I didn’t remember this much, Matt said that Milwaukee never welcomed Gencon as a city much, only tolerated it.
Indy is different for sure, the bars nearby all go into full fucking nerd mode when the con starts with odd menus and drinks. There seems to be a Warmachine bar and a Pathfinder bar–likely some others. The people on the streets and in the attached mall (which is an actual mall, unlike the one in Milwaukee that is about as dead as you can get without being closed down) are confused by the gencon nerds, but not alarmed– they know there is a big ass nerd convention going on in the city and welcome it. There are random gaming posters in shops, taxi’s hang dice from their rear view mirrors and so on. All worshiping the nerd dollar descendant upon the town.
What’s more because the hotels are all connected (and quite nice) there is a massive and I mean massive party scene. Remember the White Wolf parties circa 1996/97 at the Hilton with the kickboxing and tons of beers and drinks and chicks? That’s going on every night of Gencon full on everywhere.
So what were we up to? I got in late Thursday night and headed into the con messing around the crowded ass retailer hall until the 4PM Shadowfist tournament, which had a great turnout with 20 people. I didn’t make the finals this year– but I played a REALLY crap deck and still pulled out a very lucky win in a game. My other two Swiss games did not go well, but were fun. I got to see what seems to be the trend after the endless big bruisers returning from the smoked pile of years hence: endless big bruisers unturning and attacking over and over again. Otherwise there was a TON of Ascended on the table this year compared to last. I counted four decks including mine. After a poor showing in the last couple years for the transformed animals, that was great to see. Mouth got to the final with his Bonechill deck but came in second. We need to tune that fucker to win next year. Matt’s deck was just not up to par and Steve’s relied on Infernal Army– while a big scary site-taker, is still basically a thug and got targeted for events or taken over more often than not. Matt cornered some of the design team for Fist for awhile and gave them a probably undeserved earful about some of the issues with the game. I guess I’d be happy if the Architects were back in the game and they didn’t have so many fucking NERD cards!! Just slapping a nerd head on a previously created painting to fulfill a Kickstarter reward is not anyone’s idea of a card they want to look at. Fuckn’ A. What’s more, we encountered TWO decks where the player had centered their deck around a card with their picture on it. This was terrible. Otherwise, time will tell whether the new cards make a good effect on the game or if they are overpowered. It certainly LOOKS like the dragons got a big boost.
Other than Shadowfist, we got in a few games of Seasons– which is excellent! It’s in the Glory to Rome/Race for the Galaxy vein, but the dice/action mechanic put it into the fun zone. While I wouldn’t say it’s better than Glory to Rome, I would play it over Race for the Galaxy and 7 Wonders any day (though both of those are excellent games as well). Also we got in a horrible game of Eclipse where no one was attacking until the very end. While I love the game, we’ve played so much I need a break from that one for awhile.
Shit that I saw. My Little Ponies was fucking everywhere at the con. For good reason, it’s a good show, but I think next year it will fucking EXPLODE even more. There’s a CCG coming out that will likely be a Pokemon rip off (which is fine) that I’ll have to buy for my kids and I saw some odd mission based game. It’s certainly a franchise worth gaming up and while we look very much down upon the bronies from a high level and urinate– it IS a really good show for kids (and adults forced to watch it). Even though it’s about female multihued ponies, the plotlines are excellent and much better than sitting through a five episode fight in Naruto…
A line at Fantasy Flight. Yeah.. was this necessary? They have some popular games for sure but a line? I think they are doing good work with the Star Wars license but… I am so fucking sick of the Star Wars license….let it go away again for a few years so we can like it again– it’s just been beaten to death.
King of Tokyo– I think the game is finally getting it’s due after a cult release as I saw it everywhere in the con and there was both a massive playset (with child sized monster stand ups) and a massive tournament going on. This is a great game for beer and pretzels in the BANG vein and really good with the kids– even if they cannot read.
D&D Next? Where was it? Matt got the new book (which is chock full of art from the old sets) but I didn’t see anything special– especially compared to something like Lamentations of the Flame Princess–which is awful special (module called Fuck for Satan for instance). I don’t know where WOTC are going to go with this next– but it’s nice to see all the Basic D&D and AD&D books reprinted beautifully after all these years. Too bad AD&D fucking sucked.
Bolt Action. I tried this out last year and I think it’s starting to get some traction. There were five table setups this year for demos and the game looks great. I splurged and filled out my 1000 point brits with a Cromwell and another infantry unit. I feel it’s a mash up of EPIC 40K and AT-43 and that’s a good thing. So many tanks….
Here is my hoard of loots from the con.
New Cosmic Encounter expansion was probably the biggest score. I picked up another box of On the Edge (10$) and the On the Edge survival book which from what I’ve heard is EXCELLENT shitter-reading materials. Fist was cheap at the con this year. I scored a box of Empire of Evil and a box of Critical shift for 60$ total. If we are going to go Zman only for playing going forward, I needed these— and I still needed them. I was looking for some Blood Wars but it was nowhere to be found. Also, Dreamblade was in just a few nooks and crannies…if you were ever thinking of picking that shit up at all, the end is nigh and I bet in the next 4-5 years the prices for stuff starts climbing and climbing…
I did pick up some random stuff for Epic 40K– Razorbacks and Ork dreadnoughts. I’m itching to get that played again.
It was a great con, much better than last year when I had that coughing crud people had for a couple months at a stretch and hadn’t slept for weeks. It was all still a blur but that was due to self-imposed sleep deprivation and the demon drink. I hope Matt, Steve and mouth can come along next year as we could all get into some Roleplaying games in addition to the other crap, which was sorely missed. Even with 3 days at the con– it was not enough gaming!
Now we’re looking DIRECTLY down the barrels of Saints Row 4 and
Gencon, a whirlwind of a day and a half (usually) of everything gaming– you really feel like you are at the center of the gaming world for a weekend and in a lot of ways, you are. We’re going to have D&D NEXT on display, lots of stuff from Fantasy Flight, Ascension tournaments, a Shadowfist expansion around (for kickstarter people and lord knows whatever else is there for exposition and purchase.
This year I’m heading down Friday to hit the “Classic” Shadowfist tournament and there will be a ton of Wisconsin folks in there (by ton, I mean 6 or 7) expats and current residents of the horrible Walker “please international business, rape my state” regime.
Fist aside, I’d like to get in some games of Seasons, try out some miniature gaming (likely hit the AWESOME Bolt Action tables they had last year) and with Mouth, Matt and Fryburger all being at the con, this should be fairly legendary.
One thing about Gencon is that it’s very much what you make it. You could walk around and around the vendor hall the whole weekend and feel lonely and fat and just overwhelmed with all the shit there for sale and all the fucking people talking, but the real deal is getting in and playing games you’ve never tried before, playing with friends you see only once a year and talking shit about various nerds and their hobbies. Oh and drinking and ripping on star wars and getting fat.
List of stuff I’m looking for and going to play:
Various Dark Elf warhammer bits
Another box or two of On the Edge core
Lamentations of the Flame Princes modules (Fuck for Satan, the God that Crawls and Better than Any Man especially)
Visit Bully Pulpit and tell them Carolina Death Crawl is an awesome game.
Exalted – pester them about 3rd edition and then stand around and talk to my players about the 2nd edition campaign we haven’t touched for years but all jones for (except the combat)
Play some Cortex or FATE (to make sure we are doing it right)
Play some Lamentations of the Flame Princess (i.e. OD&D)
I’ve long been a proponent that Ascension is simply an exercise in random card drawing with a random outcome for the winners. We play this a lot on the iphone/ipad and while I could never imagine putting up with the complete mess of cards that this one likely generates (in comparison with the excellent iphone app that cleans all that shit up for you) but, I now have over 210 multiplayer games under my belt and I can say with 100% pseudo-statistical confidence: Ascension is a random game. Your percentage chance of winning any game of Ascension equals 1 (you) divided by the number of players. 3-man games you will win 33% of the time, 4-man games, 25%, etc. I am not a good player, but I’m not a terrible player either, I know what cards are good and will win you the game if grabbed early or grabbed late, but I don’t use any tactics, I don’t watch what other players play and I don’t really pay much attention except to execute a singular deck combo I’ve started at the beginning of a game (like draw lots of cards or kill tons of stuff).I’ve seen a lot of combos, but there are some I certainly have not seen. The fact is, regardless of 100% knowledge of combos, you don’t know if you will have access to those cards that you feel you need to win. That said, let’s look at my stats:
2 player: 42 wins, 44 losses. This is statistically 50%.
3 player: 16 wins, 47 losses: 26% wins. this should be near 33% where 1 out of every 3 games, I win! (yay!).
4 player: 13 wins 59 losses. So here we have it being statistically low at 18% of wins, it should be 25%. I’m thinking if we had a bigger data set (for me) it would even out.
So what I’m going to do in the next few months is try to get good at Ascension– if that’s even possible. Playing with all the cards in the game (on iphone) and actually paying attention to what I’m grabbing, what other people are doing to actually use some tactics.
I’d like to see all stats for all players that have ever played– I think that would be just as telling as the percentages likely match those above. So here we go, I will actively be trying to kick your ass at this point to try to disprove that this is just like a game of War– totally random winning.
A blast from the past– I found these bits about Shadowfist 2nd edition circa 1996 (hosted right here) a couple days ago and was filled with wonderment. A lot of these ideas are fair but a few seem crazy to me (multiple sets out of a box, starters that are fun to play). Collected from quotes from Jose Garcia himself in 1996, as we approach the same sort of situation it’s interesting to see the parallels (though Jose didn’t have Kickstarter to help limp things along for years until receeding back into the loam again).
That said I’ve got a long post coming on why the most recent kickstarter limped along (still made an outrageous amount of money compared to what they likely needed) and why none of my play group supported it (some were even more against it than I was) and with the crazy ass shit on the Yahoo message boards recently, it’s time to start writing the obituary again. So stay tuned.
Looking at the copyright dates from the original Netrunner makes me feel old. Very old. 1996 was a long long time ago and things have changed quite a bit with the hacking and, of course, with CCGs. While they were riding about as high as you could imagine a game for nerds would be in 1996, very few have survived. Most, like the original Netrunner, they died off after a short run or even one set (SUPER DECK!). We can count on one hand the number of CCG’s that are left and active; even the big names are now gone or changed over to the LCG format (Jyhad, Shadowfist). Yet MTG is alive and going very strong– so there is a market for collectible card games out there and Netrunner, now number 6 on Boardgamegeek.com, is scratching away at that itch–and it feels real good.
15 years is a long time–as I said, quite a few of the things that were friggin’ science fiction in the original Netrunner are a REALITY now, such as all the touch screen walls and iPads and whatnotall that we waste all this time with when we should be outside or cleaning the house. Going through the old cards, there are a few choice pieces of art, and the cards themselves are that old school thickness, but overall the design is dark and crappy and the art for the most part consists of a photo of someone that has been computerized (Codeslinger) or some Maya-driven 3d abortion (SeeYa). The beauty (and financial failure) of the original Netrunner is that you could have a bunch of fun with just two starters and two boosters– so much so that there was very little desire to buy anything else for the game. What’s more, the lack of any ‘clans’ type thing did little to inspire– there were just generic runners and generic corporations going at it. I think players with games like this with hundreds of cards NEED some sorts of divisions, however arbitrary, to sort things out for them.
In any case, I went in for the Fantasy Flight version of Netrunner, now an LCG, and I have had the opportunity to play it a few times. While I remember the old game as being solid, we only played it 20 or so times and never bought any new cards. This is the very reason Netrunner is absolutely perfect, probably THE most perfect, game for the LCG format. You will get a ton of play out of the base set and it’s seven potential decks (3 for the runner, 4 for the corps). Granted you have to switch out the neutral cards to make a complete deck, this is a small price for the asymmetric decks on top of asymmetric sides.
How is the new set? Frakin’ Great. The art and design is far better than the rather dark, cloudy cards from the ’96 version, the rules are cleanly and clearly presented. The big difference, and it’s a good’un, is that both the Corp and the Runners now have an avatar card of sorts that has some power or effect (like doing damage when an agenda is accessed). So you start by selecting your faction, then one of the avatars within that faction (i.e.: Wizzard or the Waylan Corporation). The runner side has actual people, and the corp has some different powers for the same Corp. You can surprise your opponent with your choice here, especially due to in my first few plays I forgot to even look at the avatar power before it bit my virtual buttcheek.