Ten Things I Think I Think #4

Thoughts on L5R (especially the RPG), D&D/Pathfinder, and space-based deck-building games, from about March 12-17, 2012.

1)      Winds of Dismissal is ridiculous, especially against honor decks.

2)      So, I finally got the L5R RPG Great Clans book, and I’m reading the Spider section.  Man, those guys are basically everything the Scorpion with they could be, stealth/subterfuge-wise.

3)      Speaking of which . . . I also picked up The Imperial Histories and, right up front of the book, I noticed a passage that started with this quote: “A common problem with introducing and playing villains is that the GM can sometimes ‘fall in love’ with the villain and make him or her into the center of the game.”  Irony, thy name is Shawn Carman.

4)      I’m doing Episode 046, which is basically an hour-long semi-random discussion of things L5R, and I use the word “like” a lot.  If you made a Strange Assembly drinking game, and you took a drink whenever I said “like,” you would die of alcohol poisoning.

5)      There were issues with the launch of Celestials back in CE because most of the original set of Clan Kami Celestials were so good that players didn’t want to use anything else.  Now, in Emperor Edition, I wonder if Ryoshun’s Guidance is so good for a military deck that it will spend a long while crowding out other Celestials.

6)      Generally, I wish there was some way to get more Events/Regions/Celestials played.  They seem to be so often destined for life in the binder even when they are interesting simply because there are so many of them and so few slots in decks.  Mr. Reese, go make me a Dragon Stronghold that lets me pile stacks of Events and Celestials in my deck, and actually use them (and, also, don’t make it broken like Khol Wall).

7)      I bashed Katagi a couple of these ago, but Alex Nagelvort (he of winning two Kotei with Dragon Kensai) describes him as the best Personality in a Dragon Kensai deck.

8)      With the announcement of D&D5E, we’ve talked several times on the podcast about our lack of love for D&D4E.  However, while I think we all liked D&D3E (at least, I certainly liked it a lot), I don’t know if any of us ever really migrated over to Pathfinder.  Maybe it’s time to correct that.

9)      Eminent Domain and Core Worlds are both games with deck-building elements and space empire themes, and so they often get compared with each other.  I’m not really sure that they should be.  Eminent Domain seems to me much more a role-selection than a deck-building game, and is more like Race for the Galaxy than it is like Core Worlds.

10)   Still reading The Imperial Histories (which Shawn recently announced was going to get a sequel next year, complete with another fan competition to create a new era to be covered), and the Dawn of the Empire section includes a write-up of the Crane Thunder, Doji Konishoko.  This write-up includes a bit of her story I didn’t recall, which was that Matsu objected to the non-bushi being chosen as one of the Thunders, then drawing steel on the Crane, only to have the wildly unskilled Konishoko disarm Matsu.  Which just goes to show that Matsu primarily existed to be embarrassed by the Crane.

17 thoughts on “Ten Things I Think I Think #4

  1. Pathfinder’s awesome. Just saying.

    And I haven’t gotten my copy of Imperial Histories yet, but I remember the Konishiko/Matsu scene in the story from (I think) Dawn of the Empire. But I could be wrong.

    1. Sorry, the original version of this said the “Crane section” of Imperial Histories. Of course, there isn’t a Crane section in Imperial Histories, and the Konishoko story was in the Dawn of the Empire section. I realized that sometime in the middle of the night, but apparently too late! The original text has been corrected.

  2. 1: Yes. I do -not- see why they made the best honor control/dishonor card a shugenja card.
    5: Lots of bads still use other Celestials (although Mantis can keep using their ridiculous one, it’s good too).
    6: As long as The Second City and Brawl exist, playing other regions is rough. TSC is amazing.
    7: I’m just not seeing it. Paying 11 for an ugly dude just feels painful.
    I remember reading about 10.

  3. 1) Does Rhetoric counter that. Yeah you do need a straight, high-Chi Courtier sitting around, which I guess you won’t always have when you need it. I just like the idea of bouncing that back at them.

    2) Scorpion 2.0

    3) I don’t know what you mean 😉

    7) I’ll have to take a look at Alex’s deck, does he have a way to fish his weapons out and use 4 gold weapons, so he can drop two on the guy quickly for free or something?

    8) Pathfinder is pretty good and if you liked 3.5 I can’t see you disliking PFRPG.

    10) hahaha.

    1. Yeah, you can Rhetoric the Winds of Dismissal. Rhetoric is pretty wildly brutal for an honor v. honor (or dishonor v. dishonor) match, often producing 8-point swings whenever it is played. But at least it’s a one-shot. Winds of Dismissal will likely be a 5-point swing every turn.

      Regarding Katagi, Alex only had two 4G Weapons (both Nightingale Blades). Of course, the deck can always fish out of the discard pile, and I think that getting the discount on those was part of what Alex liked.

  4. If you like 3.5 then pathfinder is safe harbor. Its pretty much an evolution of that rules set where they decided “more is better” in most cases but did trim back some of the combat mechanics (unifying things like trip, sunder, grapple with one mechanic)

    I like it but I’m eager to see what 5.0/Next has to offer. Pathfinder is good but I feel like it needs a serious hair cut on the DMs side of the equation. You practically need a PHD in rules lawering to stat out a monster in pathfinder.

    Note: I write and Edit third party books for pathfinder through Open Design.

    Ryoshun’s Guidance is inarguable good, but its not a card I’ve found daunting playing against. With so many battle actions flying back and forth the best and worst personality in the battle eventually get neutralized and it comes down to the remainders, whatever they may be. It would be scarier once fate decks are depleted but i find it always gets used before that happens.

    I find stuff like the hidden temples (that holding that straightens people) much more troublesome or any renewable counter that thwarts my non-renewable fate cards.

  5. Yeah, I have the Pathfinder core book, and it looks like D&D 3.5, but probably just better (for example, I note that you get to customize even more, and it looks like it’s much more attractive to actually stay in a core class instead of there being no reason at all not to go into a Prestige Class). I was thinking about running the cast through one of Paizo’s Adventure Paths and then writing/talking about the experience. Have to see how the time/money works out on that though (so much to play/buy out there).

    1. The archetypes introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide (and other supplements) give you a lot with which to customize a character. Even more than it seems in the core book. (And if it helps, keep in mind there’s a lot of stuff made available for free on the net via the PRD if you’re limited on book budget)

      The adventure paths are very worth it, in my experience. Especially if you’ve ever found all of the math and such in running a 3.5 campaign to be a little, shall we say, obnoxious. I’m running the Carrion Crown adventure path right now (basically, if you liked Ravenloft, Carrion Crown is right up your alley) and my group is loving it and as a GM I’m very impressed with how much they set up for while also allowing a lot of room for customizing the story to the players and dealing with things going off the rails. And if money’s an issue, they come in individual modules so you can space out purchases if need be. And one module has enough material to last you a while, as they run on a slower XP progression than 3.5 did and each one covers a few levels’ worth of gameplay.

  6. I appear to be one of the few that actually really liked 4E, and liked it better than 3E. I just felt that overall, it was far more balanced than 3E was and as was pointed out, it was far easier to DM 4E than it was 3E IMO. Yes, it had its flaws and certainly had its share of growing pains, but the irony is that I think they’ve finally hit their stride with 4E over the last year or two of releases just as 5E is on the way.

    Now to be fair, I’ve never played Pathfinder and have heard positive things, too, and I like their Adventure Paths and such, but I played more 4E than any other edition of D&D and see no reason to change.

    1. My problem with 4E was basically just that it didn’t feel like D&D to me. Given what appears to be the heavy effort that they appear to have put into the math of the system, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was very balanced. It just couldn’t get past what, to me, was the disjoint between the title on the cover and the feel of the character classes, abilities, etc. This irrational sort of brand sentiment is probably also why I don’t own a stack of Pathfinder books, as I very likely would have jumped on the game right away if it had been published as D&D4E.

    2. I liked 4E, some parts of it I love. It has the best way of dealing with monster stats of any version of D&D. It also did really well at keeping the party moving in a quest in terms of rest and healing which made story telling easier. And as noted, it was really well balanced and great for teaching new players.

      But its biggest flaw was look and feel. It just felt vanilla much of the time and the rules were so strong and well defined they kind of killed player creativity at times. I didn’t expect that honestly but after a couple years of play it became pretty clear. The rules were just so strong they tended to capture everyone’s focus at the table, even with strong role players.

      The other problem was combat was too long and grindy. Fights were really interesting (most of the time) but they went on for hours for any large confrontation. It would take weeks to crawl through a very small adventure that was combat oriented.

      Having played a lot of old shool lately, games and the stories fly by at lightning speed compared to 4E and 3E.

      I loved 4E as a GM but didn’t care for it much as a player. As a player I loved 3E but as a GM and writer its a huge chore. 4E was also a pain to write for but more because of how WOTC handled the licencing than anything else.

    3. My distaste for 4e is a bit over the top, I’ll admit. Then again, it basically got rid of my favorite parts (goofy magic, magic items that didnt’ suck etc) and focused on my least favorite part (combat).

  7. I have officially converted to Pathfinder and I’m really enjoying it. Chris if you want to run through a game for the sake of the podcast, I’m your man.

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