Call of Cthulhu LCG: Even Death May Die

Call of Cthulhu Sleeper Below box art.Fantasy Flight put up what I hope is the last Sleeper Below preview before the box hits distribution channels. And interestingly, two of the cards featured seem to have been designed as a response to the Yithians’ discard pile shenanigans from The Key and the Gate. Even Death May Die exhausts to snipe cards as they enter a discard pile, putting them right out of the game. In fact, it seems like it would even work against cards going from the deck straight to the discard. If so, that would be extra frustrating for Yog-Sothoth decks that want to expedite cards getting into the discard.

The Bone Sculptor complements that proactive stance. It can take a character out of the discard, give you temporary control of it, and then exile it completely. It’s a little costlier though, requiring a domain with resources to cover the cost of the borrowed character.

The third featured card, The Stars Are Right, we’ve seen before. It’s a gamble on the controller’s part. They get to put a Dormant character into play temporarily, but if they can’t attach it to a story card with no success tokens belonging to the controller, the Dormant character is removed from the game.

I’ve been resisting the spoiler thread over at CardGameDB, because I like flipping through a pack and seeing cards I didn’t know were coming. But between these previews and what’s begun trickling out through others asking questions and designing decks, my resolve is weakening. Sleeper Below is still on the boat, according to Fantasy Flight’s schedule. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out.

The Game with No Name Math Trade at Carnage

I am pleased to hear that Matt Golec has again stepped up to coordinate the no-ship math trade at Carnage this year. He’s done the legwork the last four years, and every year the selection of games gets wider and more appealing. The math trade’s a little funny in that the hot and heavy part comes before the convention ever happens, when everyone fills out their want lists, then anxiously waits for the news of how the algorithm determines who trades what. During the convention itself, it’s a pretty sedate “pick up what you scored, drop off what you traded away.”

One math trade, I scored a pair of Call of Cthulhu starter decks, which sent me down a path to the living card game incarnation, which I’m still enjoying today. So I’m always hopeful that I’ll stumble on some unregarded gem that I wind up really enjoying.

Most of what I have to offer in the trade are role-playing books. I can’t recall if I’ve ever successfully swapped any of them, but I’ll keep making them available. This year, I’m also going to take a hard look at the card and board games on my shelves, and figure out what I’m likely never going to play again. That number is probably going to be higher than I want to admit.

Fall-loha 2014 on September 27th

Fall-loha 2014 graphic, yellow letters with autumnal leaf.Green Mountain Gamers return to the Burlington area for Fall-loha 2014, their annual autumnal game day, on September 27th. This year, they’re classing up the party by hosting it at the Windjammer Inn & Conference Center in South Burlington, convenient to the greater Burlington area, the interstate and some pretty good food nearby. It’s a free event, though a suggested donation of $5 is gratefully accepted to offset the costs of hosting the day.

It’s always interesting to see the turnout at a Green Mountain Gamers event, because it’s usually half people I know, and half newcomers. And in Burlington, my own stomping grounds, those newcomers may turn out to be from around the corner. Last year, that’s how I discovered the existence of Brap’s Magic, a new local game store. This year, who knows who I’ll meet?

I’ve been on a Sentinels of the Multiverse kick lately, so I’m hoping to play that, especially since my friends scored me two alternate hero cards at GenCon: Dark Watch Mr. Fixer and Super-Scientific Tachyon, which I will receive at the game day. I’ll have my Call of Cthulhu decks, too, of course. Doomtown, too, if there’s interest.[1]

Green Mountain Gamers always put on a good time, so I’m really looking forward to this game day — and the shorter commute.

[1] When did I turn into such a card-flopper?

[RPGBA Blog Carnival] The RPG Blogging Community

rpgblogcarnivallogoThis month’s RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Mark over at Dice Monkey, looks at the RPG blogging community:

What does the RPG Blogging Community mean to you? What are some blogs you read that you think should gain more recognition? What are your tips for being part of the community? These are all topics you can look at on your own blog as part of the carnival. Make sure to link your articles here on this post.

To me, the blogging community is a fairly nebulous idea. When I first got the notion to start Held Action, I was a passive reader of blogs via RSS feed. I skimmed, and rarely clicked through to articles to comment or browse further, unless the feed only showed excerpts. That’s still the case, for the most part, though the number of blogs I read has diminished, if only due to writer fade or broken feeds. The drawback to passive consumption via RSS is you don’t always get word that someone’s changed their feed or web host.

When I started blogging in earnest in 2009, I did all the recommended things to increase engagement. Held Action syndicated on, and later, I made an effort to make relevant comments on other blogs, showing appreciation or asking questions. Twitter was then, and remains now, an endless firehose of fragmented thoughts that one can only glance at from time to time.

After a while, it turned out that active participation in a community, plus keeping up a regular blog, is really time- and attention-consuming. The reward for the effort was also more minimal than I would have liked, to be honest. We reach out to be reached out to in return, at least in part.

Since then, my engagement has tapered off. I still watch mailing lists like RPGBA and rpgpodcasters. I look forward to updates from blogs like Destination Unknown and its cavalcade of satellite identities and My Dice Are Older Than You because I feel like I’ve got a connection with the writers themselves, rather than only sharing an interest in role-playing games. Bonus points when they’re an actual friend like Geoff. In contrast, I glance at posts from Illuminerdy because they touch on secret history and conspiralunacy, but there’s no personal connection to the contributors.

The trend I’m seeing in my experience is that strong online relationships follow from strong real world relationships. It may be otherwise for other people, but I note a correlation between people who connect in the real world — even if once a year at GenCon or some other gathering — and continue that connection online through blogs, forums and other social media.

Doomtown: Reloaded Video Tutorial

Gomorra Gazette put up a video playthrough of Doomtown‘s scripted tutorial:

This is wonderfully convenient because I was completely surprised to receive the Doomtown: Reloaded core set for my birthday. We’re giving it a try tomorrow night, so finding this couldn’t have come at a better time. If you’re watching without having bought the box yet, you can follow the text on the cards with the two sample decks available for download from AEG’s Doomtown website.

Forty-five minutes may seem long, but Alex and Andy take the time to explain the reasoning behind their decisions, which is really helpful to getting a glimpse at the strategy. For instance, if an opposing outfit’s character at your location is booted, they’re not a pressing concern, unless they’re joined by someone capable of making the call-out.

I’ve only had the chance to flip through the cards so far, so I’m looking forward to getting some games in tomorrow as we fumble through it all.

[Mummy’s Mask] Wednesday Night Ghoul Fever

“I like to think of my familiar as quantumly entangled.”
— Devin

The Half-Dead City cover art.After a night of rest in the temple of the old goddess Bastet, Raenar the archaeologist awoke to find a cat lying on his chest. This seemed like a good omen, so the party proceeded down Acrid Street into Lapis Dog territory, looking for the leader of the pack, Priest in Chains.

First, they snuck up on ghouls rooting through what turned out to be a buffet of sorts: a street fountain filled with rotting corpses. One ghoul fleeing from that exchange led them to the Lapis Dogs’ chief lair, as Priest in Chains himself descended to join the fray, after the Plundercats forced their way through the rear entrance.

Once Priest in Chains’ head and items of value were secured, the adventurers discovered living humans languishing in the inn. While Akhil and Mentu tended to them — conveniently taking them out of dealing with any “friendly” ghouls — the others returned up Acrid Street. A chance encounter with ghouls brought out the Walkers of Nemret. Tath tried to sell the Walkers on using Priest in Chains’ mask of Set to impersonate the dead ghoul and take control of the remaining Lapis Dogs, but the language and culture barriers defeated communicating such a complex concept through gestures.

After a last pass of Bastet’s temple, Plundercats LLC cleared out of the necropolis. The ghoul victims were taken to the temple of Pharasma for care. Their cut of the take from Acrid Street did not impress the surviving Sand Scorpions at all. Sad for them, but the fewer competitors in the marketplace, the better for Plundercats LLC’s bottom line.

GenCon Panels on Role Playing Public Radio

Role Playing Public Radio boasts an embarrassment of riches from GenCon this year. In addition to their own wrap-up episode, where you can see the very impressive banner that called listeners to the meetup, they captured Diversity in Gaming from the staff of Paizo and the Campaign Doctors. I’m looking forward to hearing Luke Crane vehemently disagree with almost everything Caleb says.

And because that’s not enough, host of RPPR Ross Payton produces Unspeakable!, where you will find two GenCon panels on Delta Green. I particularly dug “Lovecraft Meets Tradecraft,” which was half Q&A and half reminiscing among the Delta Green luminaries Glancy, Stolze, Detwiller, Ivey and Hite.

Call of Cthulhu LCG: Tragic Evaluations

There’s an Australian fellow who goes by the name Tragic, or TragictheBlathering, with a YouTube channel full of unboxing games, solo play throughs and general game commentary. Among his commentary are card by card evaluations of some of the recent Call of Cthulhu box sets. Take for example his video covering the Syndicate’s recent box, Denizens of the Underworld:

He’s also recorded evaluations of Miskatonic University’s Seekers of Knowledge, as well as for various packs from the Netrunner, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings living card games. The box set videos run long enough that I treat them like podcasts: play the video in a background tab while I do other things, and listen to Tragic blather, as it were. And he blathers well, with an insight that’s really helpful to anyone coming to card games of this type for the first time. I hope he records a video for the soon to arrive The Sleeper Below, as well. I really want to hear which cards he thinks are “bonkers” — which seems to be an adjective for which he and Jason Mantzoukas share an affinity.

Memory-Proof Rules

The odds of correctly plugging in a USB connector without peeking are 50/50. Therefore it will take you three tries to plug it in. Even when I peek, I still get it wrong oftentimes.

The same thing happens to me with game rules. It may be a blind spot, where no matter how many times the question comes up, I can’t assimilate the answer. The rule for characters going insane or unconscious in Arkham Horror is one case of this: remind me what counts as an item they can lose? With expansions, it becomes even more of a quirky corner case that rarely comes up as players opt to take a madness or injury, since they’re less directly debilitating than losing hard-won goodies.

Other times, a rule can go one of two ways, and my brain always picks the wrong way to remember it. Even when the information is written out right in front of me on a card, I get lost in the heat of figuring out to do and can consistently misread something until I throw it on the table and someone else points out that’s not how it works. I very consistently hamstrung myself in a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse a couple weekends ago because I misread Haka’s base power as doing 1 damage, rather than 2; and considering that’s his core shtick, it was a big goof on my part and very annoying to have pointed out after three or four turns of playing it wrong.

This week, playing Call of Cthulhu with Toby, I think I misread Fine Dining about seven times: “Sacrifice a character to choose a character with printed cost 2 or higher. That character gains (C)(C)(A)(A) and Invulnerability until the end of the phase.” About half of the times I looked at that card — and I had to keep looking, because I knew my brain was flip-flopping between two possible interpretations — I thought the sacrificed character had to cost 2 or greater, rather than the character benefiting from the icon boost. I think I threw that one on the table to play incorrectly only once, but I glanced at the text to double-check no fewer than a dozen times, easily.

This kind of brain fart comes with learning any game, particularly those with extremely fine grained rules and wording. Add on the hyper-modularity of games with pre-constructed decks, and it seems like I’ll be training myself to read every word and consider its meaning — and kicking myself when I forget to do so — for a long time yet.