Ten Things I Think I Think #7

Thoughts from April 17, 2012 – April 25, 2012

Board Game Geek, more L5R RPG, Lords of Waterdeep, ESWOTBWDAMS, Colossal Arena, and Kotei decisions – it’s been a varied couple of weeks here at Strange Assembly!

1)      A silly thing, I know, but it’s always disappointing when you write a review for a non-hotness game, post in on BoardGameGeek, and then see it swept off of the “Recent” list before you can get enough thumbs to make it over onto the “Hot” list – at which point the review is mostly lost to the ages.

2)      According to Great Clans, the answer to the question of “why haven’t the other Clans just gotten together and wiped out the Scorpion” amounts to a very long way of saying “no good reason.”

3)      In its background, Rokugan is an inherently patriarchal society, but we virtually never see that it ongoing story or the CCG – female samurai, for example, inherit titles just as readily as male samurai (I can’t recall an instance of an older female sibling being passed over on the basis of sex, for example).  You’ve maybe got the occasional reference to samurai-ko being treated slightly differently as far as needing chaperones or giving a vow of chastity, but I can’t actually recall a particular instance of that.  This is all because, even though this setting is a faux-dark/middle ages sort of society, the real version of which did didn’t even slightly treat women as equals, the story is written and read by modern folk, and I think we mostly don’t want to read about how characters who are supposed to be heroic are sexist (and I imagine this would be especially true of female fans).  Why then, if the anti-female sexism is scrubbed from the setting (which I’m fine with), does the setting still contain multiple examples of blatant anti-male sexism?  There are three Great Clan families that explicitly preclude men from holding the highest positions of power (and the men of the Utaku are particularly hosed, living in a Clan that is focused on cavalry and not being allowed to ride a horse into combat).  Maybe that’s interesting if it’s a contrast to a sexist mainstream Rokugan (which is a role that your usual mythical female-led societies play – real society was male-dominated, so it was this great curiosity to propose a female-led society), but as noted above, that mainstream sexism doesn’t actually show up in the story anyway.

4)      Lords of Waterdeep is really good.  If you have any interest in non-heavy, Euro-style games (aka, games about resource engines), you should check it out.

5)      On the other hand, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre is just bad.  Yes, yes, I know that there will be some who find the simplistic gameplay to be acceptable, the awful Rob Zombie-esque art to be appealing, and the not-at-all-funny card names to be funny.  But the game is still bad.   Sorry Mike.

6)      Colossal Arena, an old Fantasy Flight Games Silverline game by Knizia, is a betting game about battling monsters (place your bets, then try to make sure the creatures you backed don’t get eliminated).  The theme is pasted on (it was a horse racing game before it got its battling monsters re-brand, and the horses were probably a better fit), but the game play is decent.  With a short playing time, it’s a game that has been reasonably interesting to both us gamers, and my non-gamer family members.  And it’s cheap, so if you’re like me and want to be able to rope random friends and family into games, it might be worth looking at.

7)      Superior Reach?  Tireless Efforts?  Rumors Travel?  Readied Steel?  Peace?  Weapon #13?  Whatever else I’m forgetting at this particular second?   So many contestants for those last few spots . . .

8)      How is it that there are only two EE-legal Fire Shugenja (three if you count Mahatsu), but seven Spells that look for a Fire Shugenja?  Yes, Embers of War is going to add another two Fire Shugenja (one Unique), but still.

9)      It’s three releases away, but I’m already itching to get my hands on the Second City box set for the L5R RPG.

10)   Make sure to say hello if you see us at the Knoxville Kotei this weekend!

17 thoughts on “Ten Things I Think I Think #7

  1. Enjoy Nashville. Homework is lame.

    I would also humbly suggest that the lack of -any- LGBT anything is kind of disappointing. If an -incredibly- mass market game like Mass Effect 3 can have lesbian and gay relationships in it, I think something as niche as l5r really needs to catch up. A game from EA should not be pushing boundaries more than l5r. You know, I’d be willing to write a column about this.

    Also, the Scorpion make no sense as designed/written etc. HINT: If everyone knows you are the bad guys, and you offer little to no carrot, you are going to get destroyed.

    1. Regarding LGBT content, there’s an apocryphal story about John Wick having wanted to include gay samurai in L5R but wasn’t allowed to include that. He then went on to make Orkworld, an RPG about homosexual orks.

  2. 3, Which is the third male-precluding family? Utaku, Matsu, …..?

    6, Thanks for bringing up Colossal Arena, I’m very fond of that game. It was what kindled my interest in the wider world of boardgames, having previously been all about the CCGs. A winning combination of betting, bluffing, deception, secrecy and plain old screwage.

    8, I found this to be problematic when I was introducing a friend to the game recently. He picked the Phoenix demo deck, which contains several spells that look for fire, and other elements besides, but no fire shugenjas. I’m sure he’s not the only new player to have found this a little odd.

  3. 3, Which is the third male-precluding family? Utaku, Matsu, …..?

    Every family in the Crane Clan where everyone looks female.

    1. The real answer is:

      The Moshi is a matriarchal family who discriminates, unofficially but effectively, against its male members.

        1. In fairness, of our four cards previewed today the two most naked ones were both men, and the Moshi was decently dressed. The Mantis are equal opportunity stripperific these days.

  4. 2. I like to think it’s because they would reveal all their long held blackmail before they went. Thus causing the empire to fall into chaos

    3. Moshi is the third

    7. Peace, always peace. And weapon 13 should be blade of champions.

    8. I don’t mind at all. I just traded one of them for 3x magistrate’s stipend. Good times.

    9. Can’t wait as well. So much goodness there.

    1. The testimony and evidence of those Foul Traitors to the Empire™ (as they would no doubt be labeled in the process of their destruction) wouldn’t have that much standing, I think.

      At least the clan is better than it used to be.

  5. Galena, Moshi is the third family, unless I’m mistaken.

    Yes, Lords of Waterdeep and Colossal Arena are pretty great.

    As I predicted before we even started playing, you hated that game and from what I gathered Jay really enjoyed it. You are entitled to your [incorrect] opinion, of course! 😉 I may provide a full write-up, as you vastly under-sell the game. It’s definitely not a “Chris” game, but I think it does what it’s attempting to do very well. In a nutshell, if you like Metalocalypse, you’d probably enjoy the art/humor of the game.

    And pffft, the weird thing about the fire spells is that they’re in the Crane starter. It’s not that weird, though, when you realize they gave you PK in a limited environment.

  6. 8) Also frustrating: the fact that Kunji, a bird apparently made of fire, does not have the fire keyword. I have repeatedly had to point out to my non-phoenix player opponents that Kunji is not fire and their reaction is always “Why is he not fire!?!”

    I personally, want more phoenix fire shugenja so I can burninate things properly.

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