About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.

Decked! #23: Night of the Avatars vs. The Deck with No Name

The series of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game matches from Brap’s Magic continues with the avatars of Nyarlathotep, piloted by Rod, going up against Ray’s alliance of the Syndicate and the Order of the Silver Twilight. This is not the deck from Decked! Tech, but maybe, possibly was inspired by that brainstorming session.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube to catch the whole series of games from Brap’s Magic, and more live-on-tape card game fun.

Decked! #22: Night of the Avatars vs. The Black Network

We kick off the latest Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game tournament hosted by Brap’s Magic with Rod’s first foray into the new avatars of Nyarlathotep from The Thousand Young coming up against Carlo’s Criminals decks. This is a change-up for both players. Carlo has played Yog-Sothoth mill decks in competitions to date, and Rod’s largely played human factions, so they’ve both switched to opposite sides of the fence, playing to different strengths than they normally do.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube to catch the whole series of games from Brap’s Magic, and more live-on-tape card game fun.

Decked! #21: Project MILL vs. Toxic Fungi

Wrapping up this Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game tourney series from Black Moon Games, we see Carlo’s mill deck, packed with Yog-Sothoth’s nastiest discarding tricks, turn up the heat against the mi-go and their allies.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube to catch the whole series of games from Black Moon Games’ tournament, and more live-on-tape card game fun.

Decked! #20: The Moon God’s Shield vs. Toxic Fungi

Black Moon Games‘ recent Call of Cthulhu tourney rolls on as Ray’s mono Cthulhu deck tries to play the slow game against Tyler’s mi-go synergies, using Pervasive Toxemia as a tax on committing characters to attack or defend stories. Thanks to Black Moon Games for hosting this Cthulhu LCG tournament and supporting the local game community.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube to catch the whole series of games from Black Moon Games’ tournament, and more live-on-tape card game fun.

Decked! #19: Forward the Foundation vs. Toxic Fungi

This game of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game comes from a recent tournament hosted by Black Moon Games in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Rod brings the law and order of the Blackwood Agency and its allies to the table, while Tyler advances the otherworldly plots of the alien mi-go, intent on disseminating a space plague among the peoples of earth.

Subscribe to Decked! to catch the whole series of games from Black Moon Games’ tournament, and more live-on-tape card game fun.

Michael Jordan as the MVP of Unknown Armies

Githyanki Diaspora has an interesting interview with Jim DelRosso about Unknown Armies, in which Jim mentions that he substituted Michael Jordan for Alex Abel as the person behind the New Inquisition:

Basically, Alex Abel is set up in the text to be a popular figure in the mainstream consciousness; the “reveal” that he’s running TNI is supposed to be a surprise. But it doesn’t work in a game because he doesn’t exist outside of UA’s fiction: he exists only to run TNI. Getting players to be surprised by that fact is like getting them to be surprised that billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is actually Batman. You’d either have to try to subtly introduce him to the narrative over time, or just ask them to pretend to be amazed. Neither seems fun.


So I went looking for a different Alex Abel.

Scroll down about halfway to the section on how Jordan became the man who decided “to just beat on the pinata of the occult until answers fall out,” which includes a timeline of Jordan’s meteoric success and sometimes curious career changes over the 1990s and 2000s, and how they make sense within the context of Alex Abel’s aborted ascension to the Invisible Clergy and his burning need to discover what he unknowingly lost that day. It really is spectacular, and just the kind of backfilled secret history that makes Unknown Armies the role-playing game of Tim Powers novels.

So Long, And Thanks for All the Cards

Earlier today, Fantasy Flight Games announced that Mark of Madness would be the final expansion to Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. This is, of course, a huge bummer, especially coming on the heels of the announcement that the winner of Worlds would get to design a card for Call of Cthulhu, implying there would be a product of some kind in which the card would be included. Instead, it turns out the world champion gets a print run of their card to hand out to friends and family. Maybe this year’s champ will entertain the notion of accepting self-addressed, stamped envelopes from players elsewhere.

None of this affects the game or the cards, of course. The game’s still fun and the cards all do exactly what they used to. I hope to keep playing with my friends, the way it’s always been. We’ll have to work a little harder to get together without the prompting of a local store, wishing to make their money back on a prize kit, and deckbuilding will slow down, but we’ll still play.[1]

Call of Cthulhu was my first deep dive into card games of this sort. I played Magic in the early 90s. I dabbled in Netrunner. But the Cthulhu LCG is where I dove in deep and didn’t look back. I’m going to spend the next couple months deciding what I’m going to do next with the living card game model, or any other flavor of card game.[2] I’ll cop to feeling a little burned — though certainly the writing was on the wall for a long time now — but I haven’t yet seen another game on the market with a similarly appealing blend of theme and rules density as Call of Cthulhu. Right now, I can’t picture getting into another card game nearly as enthusiastically as I did with Cthulhu.

[1] In fact, with the end of the structure of organized play for Call of Cthulhu, surely that means there’s no more restricted list. Welcome back, Y-Train!

[2] And what this means for Decked!, in fact. Right now, the options look like carrying on unphased, finding a new favorite card game, or a massive format change.

Decked! Tech: Lock, Stock and Two Frothy Steins

In celebration of Decked! getting 100 subscribers on YouTube — thank you everyone who’s been following along, commenting, and sharing the game play goodness out there — we’re doing something a little different this week: Decked! Tech. Ray builds a deck live on tape for you, from his initial notion to weeding through all the possible cards to whittling down to a final fifty. Bear in mind this is an initial draft list, which we will test and come back with revisions.

Lock, Stock and Two Frothy Steins

Total Cards: (50)

Character: (20)
3x Lodge Barkeep (The Order of the Silver Twilight)
3x Clover Club Bootlegger (The Twilight Beckons)
3x Ol’ Lazy Eyes (Conspiracies of Chaos)
3x Keeper of the Silver Sphere (The Order of the Silver Twilight)
3x Tragic Celebrity (Conspiracies of Chaos)
3x Extortionist (Core Set)
2x Lookout (Lost Rites)

Support: (15)
3x Under Cover of Darkness (Denizens of the Underworld)
2x Sarnath (Denizens of the Underworld)
3x Guardian Pillar (Search for the Silver Key)
3x Elder Binding (Aspirations of Ascension)
2x The Seventh House on the Left (Kingsport Dreams)
2x The Plague Stone (Terror in Venice)

Event: (12)
3x Forcing the Truth (Curse of the Jade Emperor)
3x Intimidate (Secrets of Arkham)
2x Low Blow (Core Set)
2x On the Lam (Denizens of the Underworld)
2x Panic (Core Set)

Conspiracy: (3)
3x Unending Festivities (Terror in Venice)

Deck Created with CardGameDB.com Call of Cthulhu Deckbuilder

For this inaugural session of Decked! Tech, Ray starts with Lodge Barkeep. One of the more tantalizing entries in Call of Cthulhu‘s card pool, the Barkeep is cross-faction steadfast. He’s a Silver Twilight character that requires a Syndicate resource on one of its owner’s domain to play, and brings an exhaustion trick to the Silver Twilight faction. You could say the deck builds itself, but Ray makes some discoveries along the way that keep things interesting.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube and be the first to know when the testing session hits! And if we get to 200 subscribers, Ray’s already committed to building a Zoog deck for your entertainment, so that should be interesting.

Sharp-eared viewers may note that while recording, Ray initially dubbed this deck “I’ll Have What He’s Having.” Almost immediately after recording, Ray said, “I should have called it ‘Lock, Stock and Two . . . something.'” And thus the deck name you see today.


One of the grails of recording card game matches has to be the view of the player’s hand of cards. If you’ve ever watched televised poker — I watched a lot of Celebrity Poker Showdown during school breaks, I have to admit — you may be familiar with the camera angle built right into the table bumper, so that commentators and viewers can see what cards each player is holding.

Such arrangements are beyond the hobbyist at the moment, but Stephane over at BoardKit came up with an ingenious alternative, using everyday plexigas and smartphones, which he calls Cardglass. Stephane explains and demonstrates the arrangement in a pair of videos. Check out the introduction below, and then take a peek at his demo game:

Clever, right? With a video-capable smartphone laying on a pane of plexigas, each player can use the viewfinder to sort through their hand, which allows the commentators and viewers to do the same, no muss, no fuss. As Stephane and his demo partner note in their trial run, throw in a pair of privacy screens to keep the other player from accidentally glimpsing the phone’s screen and you’re good to go.

I’d love to be able to give this a try some day. Recording a Decked! commentary would change dramatically, as we could talk about the options a player’s perusing as they sift through their hand. Can they resource the optimal faction mix in Call of Cthulhu? What surprises do they have in hand the other person doesn’t suspect?

Mutation and Growth

Every so often, I get the urge to do something constructive, to make a web site or other web entity of some kind. Sometimes, I get to channel that urge to a useful end. I’ve developed or revamped three different convention web sites, and learned more and more about site design with each one — oh man, am I glad one of those sites isn’t really around anymore. I developed a podcast about tabletop games. I started up Held Action. I was on the ground floor with Green Mountain Gamers, which went from a blog and a Google Site to an independent social network. The point of this litany being that I can do stuff and it can make a difference to people.

Other times, I stifle the urge because it feels like there’s nothing new under the sun of the internet. In that mindset, ultimately content is content whether it’s served up on a blog or a content management system, a wiki or parceled out through status updates. If you don’t stand a shot of being at least moderately successful, why take the shot at all? Better to look for another one of those opportunities to plug into an existing effort and help improve that.

I have been in the middle of that thought process for the last couple days. What can I make that will give me a sense of satisfaction and engagement with other people? This blog has proven to be mostly for my own amusement — and in hindsight, that’s no surprise, because the ones that inspire community are one-in-a-thousand. Decked! has my attention at the moment, just as cranking out three posts a week, hell or high water, used to in the early days of Held Action, or Carnagecast‘s biweekly episodes. I’m sure that my interests will change with time, but I’ve got to say that Decked! has certainly been one of my most satisfying personal projects to date in terms of engagement. Views! Comments! Thumbs in the raised direction!

So when I think about what I want to do next, I wonder whether a blog is the best format. What other options are out there? Is this the chance to learn how to manage a Drupal installation, for instance? How can I even figure out the desires that I want to meet, and then how to fulfill them?

Or should I acknowledge this is the same old urge come around again, and look for an existing project that can use some extras hands, because it’s likely to benefit more people than only myself?