Thursday, April 23, 2015

Phoenixville, PA Kotei Tournament Report [L5R]

So, I attended the Kotei last Saturday, playing my Spider Swarm deck.  I didn't do particular well... but then again, neither did any Spider player :).  There ended up being 51 players, and I believe 7 of them were Spider.  I did have some hopes for some Spider clan success here.

Anyway, let's talk about my deck first.  Like I said, I went with a Spider swarm deck, trying to get gold turn 1, gold plus a guy turn 2, and then 3-4 guys turn 3, ideally attacking on Turn 4, and using great battle actions to win the battle, and hopefully take a province.

My deck:

The Hidden Bastion of the Spider

3 Famous Bazaar
3 Kumite Grounds
3 Lonely Dojo
3 Shinomen Marsh
3 Slave Pits
1 Temple of the Heavenly Crab

2 Daigotsu Hachiko
3 Daigotsu Konishi
3 Daigotsu Onosaka
3 Daigotsu Teruo
2 Goju Saido
3 Hiyamako
3 Kokujin Dairu
2 Minikui no Oni
3 Ninube Shiho

3 Colonial Conscripts
1 Ring of Earth
1 Ring of the Void

2 Blind Honor
3 Contentious Terrain
2 Discretionary Valor
3 Ideological Differences
2 Incapacitated
2 Inspired Leadership
3 Overwhelming Offense
2 Palm Strike
3 Relentless
3 Strength in Subtlety
2 Sudden Movement
2 Versatile Army
3 We Are Not Yet Beaten
1 Wedge
3 Your True Nature

I feel like there's not too much here that's a surprise.  I tried running a lot of Kharmic cards, in order to clear out Holdings from my provinces after I had the gold I needed, and to replace situational cards in my hand (like We Are Not Yet Beaten). The Temple of the Heavenly Crab was a holdover, it didn't really provide me any benefit, but I figured there might be a slim chance I'd want the gold on my opponent's turn.

I ran a few things that were just in preparation for things I thought I might see at the tournament.  Mantis is doing really well, so I added 3 We Are Not Yet Beaten in order to give me some ability to weather the Ranged attacks.  Wedge was in there in case I had a situation that an Oni could take a province on his own.  Discretionary Valor was included in case I over-committed to an attack that my opponent was going to let through, so I could pull the Oni back.  Everything else seems pretty standard for this sort of deck, although I do wish I had run some different options.  For instance, Okura is Released over the Palm Strikes might have won me my last game.  And Discretionary Valor ended up being so useless that I wish I hadn't included it at all (maybe switch in another Blind Honor).

I also would drop one of my Daigotsu Teruo, probably for another Hachiko.  In MULTIPLE games, my first personalities were two of Teruo, and that's definitely not what I want in duplicate early game.

Anyway, onto the games.

Game 1: Jon Ackey (Spider) from Oklahoma
Jon is apparently a Phoenix player, normally, but had forgotten his cards, and was using the Spider starter.  Sitting down, I was feeling pretty good- my deck has to be better than a STARTER deck, right??

Well, yes, but only barely.  I took a province early-ish, and he took one of mine.  Then, in a battle two turns later... he beats my army.  Now, he didn't have much on the table, fortunately, and I didn't lose much, but the tide was definitely turning.

Fortunately for me, he was running the starter deck, with its 20-ish holdings, and eventually he got stuck flipping too many holdings in a row to recover, and I ended up taking the game.

Clearly, Jon was a VASTLY better player than I was, but was just hindered by what he had available.  Regardless, I exit round 1 with a win, and I'm at 1-0.

Game 2: Devin Bell (Phoenix) from New Hampshire
Devin was playing a Phoenix Honor rocket, with Yung Sensei to help smooth the gold curves and get the cards he needed quicker.  Basically, we was shooting to cross 40 Honor before I could take all of his provinces, and using as much send home as he could pack in the deck to stall me enough to do so.

He gets an okay start, and I get way too much gold, and my only early personalities are two Daigotsu Teruo, so don't end up taking a province until turn... 5?  Unfortunately by then, he's almost crossed, and I'm forced to attempt to take his final three provinces in a single turn on turn 7 or so.  I take one without any opposition, and Devin makes me spend my hand to take the second one.  With nothing available to me, I don't have the tools to take the third one, and Devin crosses at the beginning of his turn.  I'm at 1-1.

I know Nathan (a meta-mate) was running The New Order to handle this matchup, but I had hoped I'd be able to get going quick enough to put pressure on him.  Not to be today, sadly.

Game 3: J. Gerachi (Spider) from New Jersey
Unfortunately, I can't read my scribbles, so I don't remember his first name.  He was running a Spider deck, using Taitaken Sensei, weapons, Tairao, and Goju Kumoru to create mini battles to attrition down my army, giving him free reign to attack.

This actually ended up being a tough battle.  Fortunately, Relentless and We Are Not Yet Beaten carried a lot of my load.  He started a battle, attempted the Melee attack, which I negated, would use the Fear to leave me with one fewer attacker, which Relentless would counter, making my Personality and extra +1F.  This would leave him with one fewer defender, and exploiting that two turns in a row left him low on provinces.  He finally flipped into two holdings, and the momentum was irreversibly in my favor, giving me the win, putting me at 2-1.

I actually really liked his deck though, something to this effect is something I may give a try in a few weeks, when I have some of the cards I'd need for it.

Game 4: Austin Richardson (Unicorn) from Tulsa
Our game group just got a Unicorn player, so I didn't have the experience I needed for this matchup.  I believe he was running the Conspiracy sensei, which had me confused and a bit excited.  Heck, I thought, I'll always have people coming out, there's no way he'll win doing that.  Thankfully for him, however, he wasn't much concerned about the number of people I put out.

He'd put out cavalry guys, put a weapon on each, and start taking provinces.  I defended as long as possible, but when I got him into a decisive battle, he edged me out, and that ended up giving him the win.  I badly need more practice against Unicorn!  So, I'm now at 2-2. 

Game 5: Tanya Segee (Dragon) from New Hampshire
I believe Tanya ended up winning Top Dragon on the day, which is awesome.  She was playing what I believe was a Kensai deck.  I saw this because unfortunately, it seemed to have misfired.  She didn't get a very good gold start, and after aggressively pitching to fix that, she ended up getting more gold than she needed, and not enough bodies to get the job done.  The first attack I made, she defended with someone just to kill Ninube Shiho, but I still managed to take the province (a fair trade).  I think the next province she let me take undefended.  From there, she just couldn't get enough going in time, and gave me the game, putting me at 3-2.

Game 6: Jeff Sarkisian(?) (Scorpion) from Boston
My poor handwriting strikes again, as I can't read the last name I wrote down.

Anyway, this ended up being the quickest game of the day.  Jeff was playing Scorpion dishonor (trying to drop me to -20 honor), which is made really easy by all the cards in my deck that make me lose honor myself.  I knew from the first turn that this was going to be tough, but I hoped to get a quick start, and with enough momentum to take all his provinces on whichever turn he put me under -20.

I started off getting gold... but my first personalities were again two Daigotsu Teruo.  This cost me a whole turn of momentum, and panicked, I recruited Minikui no Oni, causing me to lose 7 Honor (I had to use a Slave Pits, to make it even worse).  Doing some of my opponent's job for him just make it even easier, and he bottomed me out next turn.  I didn't even take a province! Down to 3-3 for me.

From here, I couldn't make the cut, which was disappointing, and to lose it to a deck that's really an auto-loss for me anyway was a bitter pill to take, but figuring I could still win top Spider (I was the highest ranked Spider at this point, based on table placement), I looked forward to my last game.

Game 7: Larry Wojcik (Unicorn) from New Jersey
Well, again- the Unicorn practice would've been nice.  I actually did as good a job as possible defending, but he got such a good start, and had plenty of momentum, that I couldn't stop him.  The final battle was close, but I had too many dead cards in my hand to win it, and ended up getting crushed.

So, I finished the day 3-4.  I didn't play a single Mantis player all day, which is no surprise, as they were all at the very top of the standings (the top four in the tournament were all Mantis, a great sign for the current level of parity in L5R at the moment).  Nathan, who I play with, managed to take Top Spider (I believe he was stuck playing one of those top Mantis players in the first round), and I believe I ended up placing 31st (to Nathan's 27th).  Overall, not a great showing by me, but I was pretty darn close to being Top Spider, which is still good.

Anyway, after a brief break, I'll try out some new Spider decks, and try out random decks for the other clans, and get ready for next year's Kotei season.

Friday, April 17, 2015

At Phoenixville Kotei this weekend [L5R]

So I'll be going to the Phoenixville Kotei tomorrow, a large L5R tournament where I hope to lead my dear Spider clan to victory.  More likely, I'll just go and have a good time without too much success.

Last year, I attended my first ever Kotei in Atlantic City, running a Big Dude Spider deck, and vastly outperformed my expectation, going 4-2 during Swiss before being bounced in the play-in round.

This time, I'm running Spider Swarm, which I have a lot less experience playing (my tempo for the deck is a bit off), but is different than the other Spider deck being taken by a member in my playgroup (more Big Dude focused).  I suspect I'll do alright though, 3-3 or 2-4.  We'll see.

Anyway, I'll have a post next week about my results and the deck I took.  Hopefully it'll be filled with lots of wins, but even if not, I'll still post about it :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

First Dragon Ball Z games, and tournament report

I have a lot of nostalgia about the whole Dragon Ball Z franchise, so its no surprise I've been buying some cards for the newly released DBZ CCG from Panini America.  Unfortunately, I've been struggling to find opponents, but thanks to a Heroes and Villains release tournament at Squabbles Trading Cards in Glen Burnie, I was not only able to play the game.... but I was able to learn it!

Anyway, let's talk about the deck I took.

Trunks, Inquisitive
Trunks, Resolved
Trunks, Energy Charged
Trunks, Young Super Saiyan
Saiyan Empowered Mastery
1x Confrontation
1x Saiyan Power Up
1x Time is a Warrior's Tool
1x Trunks' Sword Stance
3x Saiyan Enraged
2x Visiting The Past
Energy Combat:
3x Saiyan Diving Burst
3x Saiyan Energy Toss
3x Saiyan Focus
3x Saiyan Multi-Blast
3x Saiyan Pinpoint Blast
3x Saiyan Supreme Block
Physical Combat:
1x Saiyan Acute Rapid Slam
3x Saiyan Clothesline
3x Saiyan Direct Strike
3x Saiyan Driving Punch
1x Saiyan Elbow Drop
3x Saiyan Face Stomp
3x Saiyan Flying Tackle
3x Saiyan Gut Kick
3x Saiyan Left Kick
1x Saiyan Light Jab
3x Saiyan Surprise
3x Saiyan Wrist Block
3x Trunks' Sword Slash

I'm fairly certain this isn't anything unique.  Basically, Trunks has great Power Stages, and can trigger many of the Saiyan bonuses.  Given the high Power Stage, he's really effective at Physical Combat.  This gives him an advantage against decks focusing on energy attacks, because they won't have the stages to sustain combat, as well as against physical-based decks, because they'll be running at a lower Power Stage.  At least, that was my thinking.

I won't bother explaining the deck.  First, it's not terribly difficult (that's why I played it!).  Second, in some places, its a hodge-podge of cards, because I only had a single copy of some rares I wanted, or didn't really know how to value certain cards.

Anyway, let me at least make mention of the decks I played against (I don't remember my opponents' names, unfortunately).

Practice game 1, against Orange Goku.  He started the game by throwing out a lot of drills, and I quickly went into combat.  After doing so, I had managed to sit Goku on 0 power levels, and then every turn I kept doing so, causing him to concede.  I basically entered combat every chance I could, and after getting Trunks' MP level up, I had pretty good control of the game.  I learned quite a bit as well, as the wording on the cards is not easy to understand when starting out.

Tournament game 1, I played the same player, who took Saiyan Nappa.  I believe I went first this game, and recklessly entered combat, despite having only a single attack in my hand (I wanted to use Trunks' Sword Stance).  What a disaster.  Nappa is really good at throwing down some damage, and I quickly was outgunned.  Not to be deterred, I continued to foolishly enter combat, only to keep getting beat.  I end up losing handily.

Tournament game 2, I play against a Black Nail deck.  It feels like the game is going pretty well for me, but then there's just too many great Physical Blocks that destroy my momentum (including Nail's Heritage).  Once that pressure was removed, I couldn't get that momentum back, and I end up losing, although at least it was pretty close.  I've not given much thought to either of the Namekian MPs as of yet, so it was pretty crazy seeing one of them in action.  Eesh.

Practice game 2 was against one of the guys playing in the Finals (I don't know what his final result was), I think.  He was playing a Namekian Gohan deck, that tried to get to Level 4, and win MPVV immediately after that.  We trade blows, but my Trunks, Resolved lets me set up a great turn of beating, ending with a Saiyan Clothesline, which really takes a chunk out of my opponent's deck.  At the end, he only has three Dragon Balls left in the deck, giving me the win, although it was very close.

Tournament game 3, I play against Black Krillin.  I'm feeling pretty good about this, because I have been able to keep my opponent's Power Levels low, which hurts energy decks.  This guy, man, he must have been packing like 60 blocks.  Every single I attack I throw at him gets blocked, and in response, he gradually wears me down, until I'm finally destroyed.  I say gradually, but it was not an overly long game.  I did get pretty smoked, haha.

So, there you have it.  0-3 in the tournament, good enough for dead last.  With that said, I learned a lot about the game, I learned a lot about the cards, and I actually feel a lot more comfortable trying some new decks, and hopefully building some better ones.  We'll see.  At the moment, I have two decks built- a Red Tenshinhan deck, and a Blue Krillin deck.  Both are unplayed, and both will probably have to wait another week to be played, but I'm definitely excited to try them out.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Various Faith and Fear Previews [Doomtown: Reloaded]

I'm a big fan of Doomtown: Reloaded, partially because I was a big fan of the original CCG, and partially because it's such a great game.  I figured I'd take a look at the few spoilers released so far from the upcoming Pinebox (similar to a Deluxe) Expansion, Faith and Fear.

We know that we are getting a new Outfit card for each faction, so thankfully we do have a spoiler for the new 4th Ring one- Oddities of Nature (spoiled on

I always find myself struggling early game with Ghost Rock in Fourth Ring, and starting the game with one fewer Ghost Rock definitely sucks.  However, the Noon ability on this card makes getting that income back pretty easy... but again, the original Outfit card was ALSO easy to get Ghost Rock from as well as card cycling.

So really, the benefit is going to come down to how legitimate Abominations are post-Faith and Fear. Booting an opposing dude while producing Ghost Rock is a pretty damn good ability as is, since you'll have Abominations floating around Town Square anyway to get the extra influence, and being able to Boot opponents there will limit their actions, shut down some game plans, and will generally be annoying.  If you have enough manpower (Abomanpower?) there, they aren't likely to try to waltz through Town Square anyway, which will leave them vulnerable upon trying to get to your side of the board to contest deeds.

Abominations have pretty good bullet ratings so far- The Ghostly Gun and Tyxarglenax are Stud 2, and even the weakest of the Abominations is a Draw 1 (for 2 cost and no upkeep), so having them around in Town Square will actually be pretty scary.

Summoning can get some more into play for even cheaper... yeah- I can definitely see this working.  Now we just need to see what support for this is in the Pine Box!

From here.  It's already dangerous enough to cheat in a shootout.  Do we need more awful experiences when we cheat??  The 8 of Spades is pretty helpful- many of the cards with that suit/value aren't ones I use a lot, and although this effect isn't as back-breaking as say, Coachwhip, but it is a nice replacement for like a Bottom Dealin'.  You'll have the ability to choose either cards that are necessary for their hands' success, or hopefully cards that seem to be vital for their deck, which would generate you Ghost Rock.  I could see this seeing some play.

This card seems to have limited utility.  First off, it's competing with Coachwhip and Ambush, both fairly popular cards, in the suit/value slot.  Second, there are two uses for this card- first, to try to Boot your opponent's dude to stop abilities, and second, to try to send certain ones home.  In the first case, you're looking at Booting, say, Wendy (stud 2) or maybe a Remy, but who else is used that this really effects?  Getting Wendy booted isn't going to be terribly easy, although modifiers will help.  I don't know.  I feel like I'm unlikely to start a shootout if I have Wendy and am facing a 3-stud somewhere, and if you started it, I've already used Wendy.

In the second case- normally I'd want to send home their best shooter... but I'd need to have a higher bullet rating than them, and at that point, why not just shoot it out?  Alternatively, I could send home a ton of weaker shooters, but then I'd be leaving my posse booted and unable to capitalize on my victory.

To me, it will be useful in only very specific cases, and that will probably mean it won't be included in my decks.

Finally, we have Maria Kingsford:

Great art!  And I should mention that there are great stories for Maria and Swinford Finds Trouble on the Alderac web site.

I think we'll be seeing a very strong Sloane Huckster theme coming once this box is out (I mean, stating the obvious, I know).  We've had a few pieces so far (Jonah, Morales), and combined with them, they have a very solid core of Dudes that want to get bounties, get into fights, and throw around a lot of Hexes.  She's also a great value, at only three Ghost Rock, so could easily be in a starting gang, working to get the board set up for Sloane to dominate and win mid-game.  I can't wait to see what else comes out for them, but a Sloane Huckster deck will definitely be on my list of decks to try out!

FFG Regional Locations and Dates announced!

Really, you could just read the article here.

I went to a Store Championship for Warhammer 40K: Conquest earlier this year, and although I only did okay (6th out of 13), I had a really good time.  I'd love to play in some Regionals this year!

Looking at the list, these seem to be the most likely targets for me:

  • May 2nd:
    • Call of Cthulhu in Monroeville, PA
  • May 16th:
    • Call of Cthulhu in Morgantown, WV
  • May 24th:
    •  Game of Thrones in Rockville, MD
  • June 13th:
    • Imperial Assault in Glen Burnie, MD
  • June 20th:
    • Netrunner in Philadelphia, PA (not likely, as this is the day before my birthday).
  • June 27th:
    • Warhammer 40K: Conquest in Rockville, MD
  • July 18th:
    • Game of Thrones in Morgantown, WV
    • Star Wars in Glen Burnie, MD
Of course, the chances I'll make all of these are basically zero.  I'd like to try to make a few though, and once I can figure out which, I'll be sure to mention it and start planning for it on here.

Old Hollywood Announced [Android: Netrunner]

Article here

This is the fifth pack in the SanSan cycle, which we should see the first pack for soon.  Let's see what it has to offer:

We get a close-up of that Identity in a sec, but that Shaper card is interesting.  Fan Site is a resource that reads: "Whenever the Corp scores an agenda, add Fan Site to your score area as an agenda worth 0 agenda points." 

Obviously this card seems meant to power things like Frame Job and Data Dealer... neither are which are in Shaper, and are both two influence cards.  Fan Site is only one influence though, so that does create some interesting choices.  Perhaps a Valencia deck could use it to really keep the pressure on the Corp, even when they manage to score something?  Data Dealer is a great card... but generally only gets used in rare cases that you get a Shi.Kyu stuck to you, or if you're playing Iain Stirling, or something.  I guess we should expect some other cards in this cycle that allow us to spend/lose agendas, but as it stands, I'm not sure I could find space for it yet.

Now we're talking.  NBN has almost always been a very fast advance sort of faction, and I guess this would still fit that role.  You won't have to auto-lose to the runner getting a major Medium run on R&D (since NBN decks have slightly higher agenda densities with all one and two point agendas).  You could also install multiple 3/2s on the later turns with the knowledge that at least ONE of them will be scored (unless it somehow gets trashed).  If you're running Fast Advance, it's certainly possible you'll get to five quickly... then drawing an Agenda, Fast Track, installing two agendas could quickly win you the game, probably just as the runner is fully set up.  I quite like it.  I also like that I could run a much poorer agenda density in this sort of deck, because having several agendas in my hand isn't necessarily a disaster.  I'll definitely be giving it a try.

Apparently a 'Sensie' is a movie that will provide a more full sensory experience?  I don't know.  The Agenda itself seems alright.  3/1 isn't so bad, but I imagine this is one you'd try to trick your opponent into stealing, perhaps to attempt to get a 5/3 pushed through.  I feel like that may be tough to bluff though- NBN ICE isn't notoriously good at stopping things.  Perhaps as an early game trick though, I could throw a 5/3 behind a Tollbooth (or Wraparound, if I'm lucky), try to get this stolen, and end up doing pretty well.  Combined with the above, they could give me this bonus basically for no additional pain to me, if there are other agendas they steal beforehand.  Or, install two 3/1s, and they access this, and you score the other one for practically nothing.  Overall, not bad.

I like this one a bit more.  Money is good.  4/2 is fine.  And again, if you manage to get them to steal another agenda first, you're getting 5 credits practically for free!  I can't hate credits in NBN.  Something I'll definitely consider given a shot to in some builds, but probably not a strict fast advance build (NAPD Contracts is better for that role).

Finally, we have:

Meh.  If I'm hoping to trash a lot of R&D, I'm likely playing Noise.  If I manage to get all three copies of Spoilers in play, I'm trashing 3 cards for every agenda they score.  They probably need 3-4 agendas to win, so 2-3 chances to trash things.... feels like a 'meh' to me.  This seems pretty good against NBN Fast Advance, in particular, where they likely can't defend Archives effectively... but such a deck will have Jackson Howard since its in-faction.  I don't know.  I'm sure I'll see this played against me plenty (some of my opponents get very excited about trashing R&D cards- it's part of the reason something like half my games as Corp have been against Noise), but I don't know that I'll bother.

Great spoilers overall though- some new NBN tech to look forward to, and some hints of new deck archetypes coming up.  Pretty excited to see it come to be!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Great Devourer Announced! [Warhammer 40K: Conquest]

Article here.

As I've been telling people, it made the most sense for the first Deluxe Expansion for Conquest to be solely a Tyranid one- adding Necrons in would dilute the Tyranid card pool too much, and with Tyranids unable to take allies, they needed an earlier start than the Necrons.  As such, I'm pleased to see FFG announce that the first Deluxe will indeed be Tyranids (with a few other cards from the other factions).  So let's have a look at the cards:

Man, lots going on here.  First, the Tyranids are introduced, obviously, and come with a new type of unit- the Synapse unit.  In the 40K game, Synapse units are there as a means to extend the will/control of the Hive Mind, and better direct the individual units on the ground.  Now, having Synapse units die in the tabletop game wasn't a particularly good thing- something I hope has some parallel in the tabletop game.  Here, all we know is that the Synapse unit will work like a second warlord, with different effects, depending on the unit (five Synapse units included in this expansion).

We also know the Tyranids will do something with infesting planets, which will trigger additional effects, like with the Hunter Gargoyles.  These infestation tokens can be removed by winning a combat at such a planet, so the effect is reversible, at least.  We're not told specifically if Tyranids have a different win condition (they aren't interested in Tech, Strongpoints, and the like, the article specifically calls out).  I wonder if the Infestation idea will tie into their victory condition, if they even have a different one.

The Termagant is a new token unit that can get bonuses from cards with the Hive Mind specialization, as seen on the Termagant Spikers.  Having Tokens that gain new abilities is really cool, and I think that's a great place for additional design space for the Tyranids.

We also see a hint of another Specialization on Roghrax Bloodhand: Bloodthirst, which seems to trigger when an opponent's unit has died in a combat at a planet.  Another cool way to do things- this doesn't really add new Keywords to the game, but instead gives a way to add related abilities to a variety of cards that could be interacted with later (say, a card that turns off all Bloodthirst specializations for a turn).

For the Tyranids, it's a bit too early to tell how good their cards will be without both their rules and many more examples of their cards.  The Warlord/Synapse pair previewed is certainly exciting enough, but it's still going to be several months until we see these on the table.  So far, they seem to be a bit light on Command Icons, but we definitely don't have the full picture yet.

Pathfinder Shi Or'es seems like he'll be a good help to Tau. Three Resources for a 3/3 with 1 command icon is a pretty good deal.  His ability will be nice in a Shadowsun deck, where you're able to recur Attachments, but may actually be of some use in an Aun'Shi deck too- even dropping an Ion Rifle off him lets me put out a total of 9 Armorbane damage in one combat, which is terrifying.  I could see him having a place, without a doubt.

Seraphim Superior Allegra is both a joy and a disappointment to me.  First, she's going to be incredible for that support heavy AM build that they seem to be trying to push.  Putting Catachan Outpost on her, having her attack, and having that Catachan Outpost available again is REALLY effective.  And there's no shortage of great Supports that could see play in a deck using her (at 4 cost, using this to power Staging Ground would help offset her cost, as well!).  She's going to see play, without a doubt, I think.

I'm a tad disappointed, however, because she's the first Sisters of Battle army unit out there... and they didn't give her any traits.  No Sisters of Battle (or Adepta Sororitas) trait, no Order of Our Martyred Lady trait (based on her uniform).  Nothing.  Just Ecclesiarchy.  Perhaps I was wishing too much, but as a former Sisters of Battle player, I would definitely have loved to see some love for them.  Her inclusion is a start, but I would have loved more.

Various FFG news updates [Lord of the Rings]

Eesh, I get sick, go to a convention, and get busy, and I immediately slack off on posting.  Well, I'll work to correct that.

So let's see what's come up new from FFG on the Lord of the Rings front since the last time I've posted.

Now May I Make a Right Choice. This covers Boons and Burdens from the upcoming Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion. 

Let's look at these Boons, first:

As mentioned in the article, these all key off traits from some of the Boons you receive from the Black Riders quests. Really, there's not a dud amongst these- Intimidation works really well with some Tactics builds I've toyed around with, for sure, resource generation from Leader of Men is always nice, and Forewarned gives an ability that will frequently come in handy, given the nasty Shadow effects we've been seeing.  Hands of a Healer feels a tad weak, partially because it requires you to exhaust the attached hero to use it, and partially because there's plenty of good healing options out of Lore as is.  Also, there are currently no heroes with the printed Healer trait, meaning you'll have to depend on the results of the previous Saga adventures to get a chance to use it (whereas the other required traits are actually printed on some heroes).  Still, having the ability to get healing in a non-Lore deck would be pretty interesting.  

The Burden listed in the article, Poisoned Counsels, is nasty.

And you should read the article to see how you get it, basically at the beginning of one of the quests, you'll be given a choice to immediately go into battle, or to spend a turn preparing (and getting a free Ally into play).  If you take the latter choice, this gets added to your deck, and drawing it would be just about disastrous.  Eesh, that's going to be a tough choice.

I'm excited to get this box in my hands (and Lost Realm as well), and I'm especially glad my group has started showing interest in playing more of this- we're actually planning to play The Hunt for Gollum in the next couple of weeks- an old quest that I've already beat a few times (mostly solo), but one that the newer players in my group are excited about.

This is the second pack from the Angmar Awakened Cycle, and there's, naturally, a lot of cool stuff in here!

There will also be a new Lore hero, new Ent-focused cards (for Tactics), but I have to say, this new mechanic of triggering off the victory display (as evidenced by Keen as Lances) is just too cool.  Leave no Trace seems like an okay card- it's not amazing in any sense, but it's going to be nice in multi-player games to trim some of the worst cards from the encounter deck, but knowing that me and everyone I'm at the table with is going to be able to use Keen as Lances for CHEAP after two Leave No Traces is nasty.  NASTY.  This is just another case where talking to your team pre-game will come in handy, especially if these quests are as great and involved as the most recent ones from FFG have been anyway.

Anyway, lots of new cards showing up, and still lots of reasons to be and stay excited about Lord of the Rings!  Now to just play more.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My games played for week ending 2/21/15

This felt like a bit of a slow week for gaming for me, and I certainly am not in the habit of taking great notes when I play, but I wanted to at least have some mention of what I've played this week.

Monday, Ben and I played Warhammer 40K: Conquest on OCTGN.  This was primarily so that I could learn the OCTGN interface, but it was also fun to play a game, of course.  I ran my Ku'gath Plaguefather deck, and Ben ran his current Eldorath deck.  I ended up losing, and probably should have mulliganed my opening hand.  I struggled out of the gate, and then struggled to get anything going, leading to a pretty handy defeat.  Lessons learned!

Tuesday, I played a game of Netrunner with Rob- I ran my Blue Sun deck against his Valencia Keyhole/Eater deck.  Early game went quite happily in his favor, and he got to three agenda points pretty quick (partially due to Notoriety).  I finally managed to get set up, was able to manage the Bad Publicity with Eliza Mills, and start scoring agendas.  However, he finally managed to get a Keyhole out and made some runs on R&D, which did grab a few agendas.  However, he didn't have a convenient way to access Archives.

I finally managed to score my last agenda points, and Rob informed me he had a Hades Shard in his hand, which would have given him a way to access Archives, and a Notoriety he thought he could pull off.  The game ended with a final score of 7-3.

Following that, we played two Lord of the Rings games, with me teaching John, Ben, and Brendon (Rob also played, but he already knew the rules, so wasn't being taught), using the decks posted here.

First, we played the Passage Through Mirkwood in a 4-player game.  Went pretty easily- I was playing Tactics, and grabbed Ungoliant's Spawn when it came up, and was helped by Ben dropping a Forest Snare on it, which let me kill it at my leisure.  So we easily won it.

We then played Journey Down the Anduin in a 3-player game, with Brendon taking the Tactics deck.  Once again, an early Forest Snare kept the Hill Troll from wrecking havoc, and our early game was fine... until the locations started piling up.  Thankfully, a Northern Tracker played by me (now running the Spirit deck) popped up and started clearing them out, and we had a few very favorable Encounter Deck draws.  Things were going well... until we reached the third stage of the quest, and two copies of The Necromancer's Reach came up, and I was basically completely exhausted.  Ugh.  I ended the turn with only Dunhere and Eowyn on the table, both badly damaged, and plenty of new Enemies on the table.  Thankfully, some careful management let us deal with the enemies, and finally beat the quest.  Definitely a close call!

On Thursday, I played two games of Legend of the Five Rings (L5R).  With the new tournament (Kotei) season starting again soon, I figured it was time to start getting my decks a bit more stabilized (prior to the release of Twenty Festivals next month) so that I can prepare.  I brought a Spider swarm deck, running a lot of 3-5 gold cost Personalities, and lots of efficient Strategies to handle particular decks in the meta.  In addition, many of these cheap Spider personalities have Battle actions, which lets me stall a bit in the battle, and hopefully get into a position I can use the Strategies later in battle to win it. 

Anyway, the first game was against Naj's Phoenix deck, which used Fortifications and send home actions to try to delay me from winning the game long enough for him to win by honor.  The early game went pretty well for him, as I launched my first attack on turn 4, but he managed to keep his province safe (at a cost of two cards from his hand).  The second turn, however, I successfully take a province, and at this point I had so many bodies on the table he couldn't draw enough ways to stop me, and soon conceded.

Second game was against Kyle's Unicorn deck.  I start the game getting pretty gold screwed, only getting a Kumite Grounds to bolster my economy, whereas Kyle was up and running by the second turn.  He recruited a personality (an infantry personality, critically), and a Bring Them Forward. I get more gold on turn 2, but Kyle loads up on Followers, and takes one of my provinces Turn 3.

My Turn 3 sees me recruit a Daigotsu Teruo and a Kokujin Dairu, the former of which I immediately use to get my hand overfilled.  He attacks again, seeing only a single 3F personality... and I proceed to use a few fear and bow effects to weaken his personality.  He responds by dropping more followers on the Personality... and I finish by sending him home (twice) using Ideological Differences.

Buying all those followers leaves him no gold to buy Personalities during the Dynasty Phase, and on my turn, I recruit a Ninube Shiho, another small guy, and more gold.  Afraid of Shiho (a non-Cavalry personality can't avoid him!), Kyle doesn't attack next turn... but I do with everything on my next turn.  He defends with a few guys, and immediately Fears out Shiho to prevent me from dumping all his followers.  A long battle later, and with his hand nearly empty, I barely manage to break the province and take out his two non-Follower filled Personalities.  We're now at one province down apiece... and I finish the turn recruiting 4 (!) more Personalities.

Kyle, realizing that the tide is turning against him, decides to attack while Shiho was bowed.  I blow a few Battle actions that are already on the table, in order to 'draw him in' more (for instance, having him recruit his Reserve personality AND use the Fear effects he has on the table).  I then use Sudden Movement to bring in Shiho, use Shiho's Battle action to get the followers off of his personality... and handily win the battle.  With no army, and facing an ever growing horde, Kyle concedes.

Overall, a pretty good week of gaming!  Next week may not see me play as many card games, but the following week is sure to be filled with more!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Thousand Young Announced [Call of Cthulhu]

Read the article here.

Next Deluxe Expansion is for Shub-Niggurath, which has been pretty well known since Worlds, I think.  Some great looking cards:

Frenzied Ghoul looks super efficient!  2 for 2, 2 icons, and the ability to (likely) get more?  That could definitely find a place in a couple of decks.  Pervasive Toxemia we can only partially read... but it sounds like something in the 'have to wound a character to commit to stories' realm, which would be a headache to play around (and fun to BUILD around!)

Resilient is the same rule as Stalwart in Game of Thrones: When the character would leave play, put it on the top of the deck instead.  I feel like my experience isn't there to judge this card... yes, if you get to the point you can play it, it's a GREAT bargain, but eesh, 8 resources (even with some reduction) is going to take you a bit.  Still, I'll have to try it out, I guess.

Resilient will definitely be helpful with this guy- adding a free Character to a story is really nice... and with Resilient, you'll have Characters around, without a doubt.

Well.. that's going to be annoying.  He's cheaper to play with an Avatar out... and after he wins a story, you can sacrifice him (putting him on top of your deck) to put a character at ANOTHER story?  That's going to be really good, assuming the Avatars are worth using!  Oh wait, ALL the Avatars are Resilient??

Can't hate more support for Night!

There's also a link to an Avatar on the news page, but I get a Forbidden error when attempting to access it.

FFG has also changed up the layout of their website, so that probably explains not only the Forbidden notice, but also the fact that they haven't put up another description page of The Thousand Young.  I'll mention it whenever I see it put up.

Looks like good stuff though!  Also, they are adding at least more Mi-Go support, and who can complain about that?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FFG posts second Descendants of Isha preview

Right here.

Some great looking stuff here- I find a Neutral Inquisitor to be a bit of an odd inclusion, as the Inquisition seems like it should be under AM (given that they are already adding an Inquisitor warlord), but his ability seems like it'll be pretty handy for several decks, although its 4 cost might make it tough to afford in a rush deck.

The main event of the post is obviously Baharroth.  One thing I like about him is the Phoenix Lord trait.  I love traits in games.  Anything that works on traits, or supports trait themes is something I can get behind.  My hope, therefore, is that the Phoenix Lord trait actually MEANS something someday.

Everything about his signature squad seems great as well.  Cry to the Wind gives some additional flexibility to the deck, and will help make Death From Above more useful (might be time to try out that Mobile heavy deck).  The Signature Unit has two command, which is amazing!  And at three cost, with an ability to protect itself (Mobile...), it's a pretty good value.

I have to say, I'm quite pleased by what I see.  It's a new play style not only for Eldar, but for the game in general (or at least it's a much stronger version of the Tau/Eldar mobile deck that I've seen once or twice). 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Other LCG games?

I generally do my best to keep an eye open for other LCGs, and games like LCGs that are out there and available.

Here's the list of those I've found so far: Games that are LCGs or similar to them.

I own cards for almost all of these (lacking Fight Klub, because it had awful reviews, Guerra de Mitos due to lack of an English translation currently, and Siege Warfare, because its not out yet).

I'd love to hear if anyone else knows of any. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Decks to help teach Lord of the Rings

So this upcoming week, I'm going to be teaching Lord of the Rings to some of my friends, and I had the task of creating a couple of decks to teach the game.  I decided to build four decks, one in each sphere, using only the contents of two Core Sets and cards from the first cycle.  Primarily the addition of the cycle was due to the limited choices of Ally cards in the Core Set, primarily for Tactics. 

Anyway, I've posted the decks on cardgamedb, so I'll just link to them here:

Leadership Deck
Lore Deck
Spirit Deck
Tactics Deck

I think each of these does a good job of showcasing the strengths of the individual spheres, and start showing some different ways that players can interact with one another AND some of the subthemes in the game (the Tactics deck has a bunch of Eagles, and the Spirit deck has a fairly decent Rohan synergy, or at least as much as could be expected from them at this point in the game's release).

My hope is that these will be fun decks, and since they were all made using a fairly limited card pool, they will allow the players to see the variety of decks and strategies available to Lord of the Rings LCG players early on.

Plus, hopefully it'll create new players, which is the most important thing!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ku'gath Plaguefather Aggro

Well, figured I'd actually throw a post out.  I've been playing a lot of Conquest, and generally as new Warlords come out, I give them a shot, so when the Scourge finally dropped, I immediately tried out Ku'gath.  The deck I've been running is this:

1x Ku’gath Plaguefather (The Scourge)

Army Unit (29)
2x Black Legion Heldrake (Core Set)
3x Chaos Fanatics (Core Set)
3x Heretek Inventor (The Howl of Blackmane)
3x Khorne Berzerker (Core Set)
4x Kugath’s Nurglings (The Scourge)
3x Shoota Mob (Core Set)
3x Splintered Path Acolyte (Core Set)
3x Vicious Bloodletter (Core Set)
3x Void Pirate (Core Set)
2x Xavaes Split-Tongue (Core Set)

Attachment (6)
3x Dire Mutation (Core Set)
2x Rune-Encrusted Armor (Core Set)
1x The Plaguefather’s Banner (The Scourge)

Event (10)
2x Fetid Haze (The Scourge)
3x Promise of Glory (Core Set)
3x Tzeentch’s Firestorm (Core Set)
2x Warpstorm (Core Set)

Support (5)
1x Fortress of Madness (Core Set)
3x Ork Kannon (Core Set)
1x Vile Laboratory (The Scourge)

This feels pretty standard for him at this point.  Some comments, however.

Black Legion Heldrake is one of those cards that when dropped, can completely change the game for your opponent.  Imagine having a Bloodied Warlord, and knowing that you need to win the next battle at a planet where the Heldrake is sitting.  That's an awful position to be in. What's nice about Chaos is that you can often get the Heldrake out!  Either winning at Yvarn (if it's available) will do it (Ku'gath can certainly win any planet he wants early game), or using the various cultists to play him from your hand at a discount.  Either way, despite its cost, the Heldrake does make it to the table.

People on cardgamedb seem to prefer the Ravenous Flesh Hounds to the Black Legion Heldrake, but I don't find myself wishing I had the Flesh Hounds in my hand when I draw the Heldrake.  There are corner cases where the Flesh Hounds would be better, however, but against some factions, the Heldrake's Flying will be nearly impossible to get around (I have yet to kill a Heldrake with Ragnar, for instance).

Chaos Fanatics, Heretek Inventors, and Void Pirates are generally used only for command.  Sometimes my opponent has put the Inventor at an early planet, but given the very Aggro focus of this deck, that's perfectly fine.

Khorne Berzerker is a late, but handy addition.  First, he's a prime target for the Rune-Encrusted Armors... but the huge advantage is that with Ku'gath, you can power him up conveniently.

Xavaes always seems to be worth it.  Put him down where a major battle is about to happen, and you'll generate so much economy you'll have no issues affording that Bloodletter or Heldrake.

For Attachments, I've considered dropping the Rune-Encrusted Armors for Promotion, because Chaos has such a difficult time at times with the command struggle.  But in every game I have draw it, the Armor has actually been a tremendous hindrance to my opponent, generally on the Berzerker or on Split-Tongue.  Two extra HP can be tough to prepare for (especially if I deploy it later in the turn), and the extra attack is a great bonus.  Dire Mutation is an amazing play as an Ambush, making it extremely difficult for your opponent to plan how much to shield on their most important units.  If they shield an attack to leave them at 1 health, and you attach Dire Mutation as your next action, you've ruined their day.

The Events feel obvious; almost every Chaos deck seems to run these.  Promise of Glory is basically just a type of economy.

For Supports, I have to say that Ork Kannon is an incredible, incredible boon to Ku'gath.  Your opponent may foolishly attack other Chaos units at the planet to avoid putting damaging on Ku'gath, which he could then transfer as (unshieldable) damage.  Ork Kannon not only provides Ku'gath damage to redistribute as 'gifts', but also puts additional damage on his units!  Win-Win!  I've also used them to drop Command units sitting alone at planets.  As I've mentioned, the Command struggle is tough for Chaos at times.

I had built this deck pre-Gift of the Ethereals, but I haven't made any changes to it after its release.  Some thoughts on cards I could include though...

Ammo Depot is one I have considered (and still consider).  In several games, I have dumped my hand VERY early in the game (usually to win a planet or two), and have resorted to top-decking.  This would help me keep that momentum going.  I feel like I would need to drop something to include this, however, and at this point, the best bet is the Fortress of Madness.  I may play around with that.

Despise does not strike me as particularly useful, as I have plenty of more direct kill options.

Goff Big Choppa seems like a great card, but I couldn't see using it here.  I do like having Armorbane, without a doubt, but I find the extra resilience provided by the Rune-Encrusted Armor is often a bigger help than the additional offensive punch.  Ku'gath can generally grind down opponents himself- I just need things to stick around long enough to help him.

Nurgling Bomb is a tough one.  I love it, as it is a very thematic inclusion.  However, I don't have so many Nurgle units to make it very one-sided (my Nurglings tend to get used only on the planet I need to win, or as a command unit), and the cost doesn't really make it attractive, even for its additional flexibility.

Rotten Plaguebearers are a better choice with Zarathur in my eyes.  They do add an additional aggro push to this deck though, so I may try swapping them in for one of the various command units I have.

Sslyth Mercenary. I don't find this card good in any deck, let alone this one.

Throne of Vainglory. One of the guys I play with is trying to build a deck around this card with some interesting results, but it's definitely not a card you can just throw in and expect to get a benefit from.  Not a good inclusion here.

Well, there you have it.  As I play more with this deck, and make changes to it, I'll occasionally update it.  In the meantime, I will probably post my Aun'shi deck online soon as well, since I've been trying to run him, as he is the newest warlord.  So expect that soon.