Long review, average-length Audio Report

First, if it escaped your attention, Lee Valentine has an exhaustively thorough look at Ken Hite’s new Trail of Cthulhu RPG. If you’ve got questions about whether this latest complete game on the Mythos is the one for you, Lee probably has answers.

Second, our post-DunDraCon podcast is finally ready for your ears. Enjoy, and post your comments.

6 comments

  1. A few things, first, I’d like to bring Allan’s MagnetX review to everyone’s attention:
    http://ogrecave.com/reviews/magnetx.shtml

    Allan mentioned the game in the podcast.

    Second, Mike, my comments in blogs past re: tournament card players ALSO applies to casual players if they want deck diversity. Tournament players tend to play A LOT of their favorite game, and so want to be able to respond to the current metagame or just to try something different rather than bringing the same deck every week. That requires a critical mass of cards. 20 cards per month is a slow road to go down. Even your notion of being able to shop for specific groups of archetypical cards would require a critical mass of cards to give you any real options. Using the living card game model, it could take a while to build up that critical mass of options. And I doubt that retailers are going to make serious efforts to carry all of the releases continuously in any significant quantity. They’ll probably bring in a small quantity of each during the month of release, and will probably only restock a given month’s release upon request from a customer unless they have a really active player base for a given game. This has to do with the frequency of the releases and the amount of shelf space it would take to make up a solid display of each new release. I’m suspecting retailers will give front space to new releases and will toss releases past a month or two in a growing box or bin. The speed of the releases lead me to this suspicion. But I’m not a retailer, so who am I to say.

    Re: drafting specific players for a given position in customizable card game drafts — that’s a feature of Powerstorm. The game is non-random by the box, and every box has the same 24 packs. We call them draft packs because we foil-packed cards just to draft. The box collation is in a specific order, but you can mix them up intentionally and pull out three packs per player. Each pack contains a character and four cards associated with the character, another character and four cards associated with him, and four miscellaneous cards. You break out the two 5-card character-specific blocks and put them on the table. You put the four miscellaneous cards in “The Pool”. Players draft 5 card stacks (of a given character and their cards), one character at a time, until each guy has 6 character stacks. Then the cards in the pool are drafted individually. Then there are rules for supplementing the draft with general utility cards (like you’d supplement a Magic draft deck with land). Our company primarily supports constructed play, because this style of draft play requires a lot of knowledge of the card pool to make a decent team, but we do occasionally play draft with Powerstorm veterans. It’s fantastic fun, and lets you build teams that you wouldn’t see in constructed play. And it’s exactly what you were talking about: drafting a team, player-by-player, position-by-position.

    Re: Champions, I’ve bought 2nd – 4th editions of Champions, but I stayed away from FRED. I may come back to take a gander at 6th edition, if it looks a bit more approachable and is a bit less expensive. When I flipped through 5th it didn’t look like there were enough changes for me to warrant an upgrade. I’m certain there were a fantastic number of changes that I wasn’t aware of.

    Good podcast overall, guys.

    Lee Valentine

  2. Polarity is now sold in a box format rather than a bag format (the playmat is included in the box). Coincidentally I was looking at it (and buying it!) as I listened to your podcast.

  3. Matthew: excellent news r.e. Polarity. Fascinating game, that one.

    Lee: I wasn’t thinking that a piecemeal model of card sales would combine well with the Living Card Game model. As for LCG’s retail picture, I suspect you’re right – here we are a month and a half later and nobody even remembered it.

    The rest of you: dammit, people, there’s an ass-ton of good stuff in PowerStorm! Demand it from your retailer!

  4. Thanks for the plug, Mike. 🙂

    The reason I brought up Powerstorm is primarily due to familiarity. I was less trying to plug our game (though I guess I did that), and was more trying to point out that with a helluva lot of pre-planning and the right rules set, an entirely non-random collation is very draftable. You may need to bring some stuff from home (land, combat cards, or whatever the main ingredient is for the game), but most of the bells and whistles are still draftable from a non-random set.

    The mechanics we use for drafting in Powerstorm could, with the right rules and card collation, be ported to all sorts of games that have characters, or team positions to fill. Most CCG draft formats require drafting one card at a time, but I could envision a collation similar to ours for use in a baseball game. Imagine if you drafted a pitcher and 4 pitch cards at the same time, etc.

    With the right mechanics, what you need for a good draft is NOT randomization, so much as a critical mass of diverse card types. Non-random distributions are better for Rochester Drafts (i.e., all choices are visible at all times and players all draft from the same pool of cards) and they are probably worse for booster drafting (each guy picks a card from a booster and passes it around to the next guy).

    When you have a game that requires drafting key components (main characters in Powerstorm, players for a baseball team, etc.) then standard booster draft doesn’t work well, because you can’t plan far enough ahead. In that situation, even a Magic-styled Rochester draft won’t typically work, ’cause it has only one open booster at a time. For those situations, you want all the cards in the draft face up, and you ideally want to draft groups of related cards simultaneously to speed up the process.

    I think the LCG model is actually not a bad one, but I think what you hit upon Mike is probably more interesting. I think you suggested smaller themed release sets for picking out 2-3 themes to combine in one deck. This is a great idea, but primarily works best in games with smaller deck sizes that have fairly flexible deck stacking (like Knizia’s Blue Moon card game).

    I wonder if anyone has tried drafting Blue Moon (starting with one sealed deck and then drafting alternate cards). I bet it would be fun.

    Lee Valentine

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