Nice weekend. Even though it was pretty busy and at times exhausting, I had a lot of fun. We headed out Friday evening to Janne’s summer place, packing some VTES tournament decks and lots of card trade folders. Sauna and swim in the lake (about 10 C, brrr), was nice – first lake swim this summer for me.
Anyway, after an soundly slept night at the cabin and some breakfast, we headed to Turku and the EC qualifier tournament. Lots of people there (56 players I think), with people coming from all over Finland.
All in all, I did poorly; only got 0,5 VPs due to a timeout – a combination of my deck not being quite good enough (yet) for that tournament environment, some bad luck, and some mistakes on my part. On the other hand, all the games were lots of fun and the general atmosphere was nice and relaxed. I also got lots of ideas to improve my deck, which is also good.
I was playing my Serpentis/Temporis Temptation machine, which might have been a mistake (or not, hard to say). The first game started up very nicely and I was just about to get to speed when my predator (who had looked about to get ousted by a Lasombra s+b deck) suddenly played Palla Grande and I found myself facing 5 minions, all of which bled for 2 at stealth. In hindsight it was obvious, but I really didn’t see that Palla Grande coming. I had also overextended myself a bit, should have played a bit more conservatively. Oh well.
The second game had me in a nightmare position: predator was a pure Obf/Dem stealth bleeder, and prey was a Tzimisce intercept wall. Between a rock and a hard place, I managed some delaying action (partly thanks to some nice Banishment action from across the table), and almost managed to hold on enough for my Temptations to activate on all of my predator’s vampires (which might have changed the situation a slight bit). Almost doesn’t count, and I got ousted. No real mistakes on my part here, it was just a really crappy starting position for this deck.
The third game went on the longest and gave me my meager half VP (which almost became 1,5 VPs). It also uncovered my stupidest mistake: I had misread a certain Temporis action mod and hadn’t noticed that it also requires Auspex. Head, meet wall. Since my bleed power was based on that card and it was suddenly partly unusable (bleed reduce still worked), I was badly lacking in forward momentum. My predator was Teemu’s Imbued deck, which went on to win the whole tournament – and to my suprise my deck did pretty well against him, staying in the game until timeout. However, because of my lack of bleed power I was unable to oust my Dominate bleed + voter prey, even though I had him on the ropes and he was down to 2 pool when the game ended and I had Temptations ready to activate on his minions; had I gotten my turn, I would have ousted him without problem.
This game also had me do all sorts of mistakes, some stupid and some sort of understandable:
- I forgot to take pool from the edge twice. Stupid.
- I forgot to put Temptation counters on the cards once. Slightly stupid, but no big deal in that tactical situation.
- I totally forgot about Carlton’s special ability (burn Carlton to burn diablerist), and went on to diablerize Marcus Vitel so I could get his Helicopter. Poof goes Hesha, next round. Annoying, but I don’t blame myself that much for it – not many people remember that special, and at least it got rid of both Vitel and Carlton.
- I tried to steal one of Teemu’s Imbued with an Entrancement, even though I fully knew that he had the Conviction card that prevented stealing. No idea why I did that, total brain fart. Stupid waste of an action and an Entrancement that I could have used to bleed.
Sigh. The good thing is that I probably won’t make the same mistakes again soon. Some different ones, sure…
Kudos to Teemu for excellent play, as always, and especially for playing Memories of Mortality on my Synesios. Due to the card wordings, it actually prevents Touch of Pain also, which Teemu realized when he played it and I found out when I tried to use Touch of Pain. Nice (well, not nice for me, but a clever thing to realize).
Janne also did pretty poorly (1 VP total I think), so we decided to call it a day and head back towards Helsinki instead of staying to watch the finals.
The next day I slept pretty late, did some stuff in the garden, and then headed toward town with Janka. We tried to go to see Footlight’s student show (some friends had an acrobatics performance there), but it turned out we had the wrong place; we were at Aleksanterin Teatteri when we should have been in Hakaniemi. Duh. We didn’t have time to make it across town, so we went to Plan B and walked to see the remnants of the “World in the Village” festival, had a few drinks at the Kaisaniemi terrace, and finally walked to Jäähalli to see Placebo in concert.
The concert was ok, but not great. The song selection was ok; Janka liked it but it was missing many of my own favorites and concentrated on their newest album which is ok but not my favorite. The biggest problem, however, was the volume. Either by mistake or by some misguided purpose, everything was turned up way too loud, and Molko’s distinctive voice tended to get drowned under the distorted wall of guitar and drum; the end result was a sonic mush, much of the time. Earplugs would have been a good idea. Some nice moments, though, I really like their version of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”, and at times things rocked nicely. Mostly, however, I much prefer them on CD compared to this. Nine Inch Nails proved last time that you can do a wall of sound without everything getting distorted into mush, at precisely the same concert venue. For generally melodic stuff like Placebo, I think going the “this one goes to 11!” route is/was a mistake.
In any case, it was a fun day and it really felt like summer in many ways. When the concert ended the heavens opened, with a major thunderstorm and heavy rain crashing down. We got a taxi after some small hassle but were still soaked. Soaked and not minding it much, since the rain was warm. Another sign of summer, I guess.
Been playing and designing decks for VTES a lot lately, largely thanks to the upcoming European Championships Qualifier tournament, to be played this weekend in Turku. The top 25% of the players there get EC qualifications, we’ll see how it goes. I’m going to the EC in Gothenburg in any case, if I don’t manage to qualify now there’s a second chance in Tampere this summer, and of course the last-chance qualifier at the EC itself.
The EC will be full of quality playtime even if I don’t qualify at all, the side tournaments should be pretty fun too. Perhaps even more fun that the EC itself, where people tend to play very, very seriously. So, I’m not too bothered by the qualification or lack thereof. Would be nice, of course.
Still haven’t decided on a deck, at the moment I have three candidates:
One is a fun Serpentis/Temporis toolbox, with a lot of multifunction cards and a pretty solid core strategy (which I’m not revealing here :). A bit slow, but it should be able to keep others guessing since it uses some fairly nonstandard strategies. Won’t instantly die to any one deck type, but a good rush deck would probably kill it dead, as would a fast power-bleeder. Doesn’t look too intimidating until it gets rolling, which can be good. Not sure if it has enough forward pressure – I’ve added some after my last playtest, but…
The second is an aggravated damage -oriented affair that makes heavy use of Sebastian Goulet in both of his incarnations. Dominate bleeds + bounce, with aggro-poke for defense and intimidation. Vulnerable to votes, and to anything that can kill off Sebastian of course – losing him would put a major dent in my plans. Needs a bit of setup, but I’ve tweaked this to hopefully get off to a faster start thanks to ideas I got from the other players after my previous game with this (thanks, guys!).
The third one is the latest incarnation of my anarch Daughters of Cacophony vote deck (“Anarchy at the Opera”), which I also played last EC. This version features better card and vote flow (one hopes) but otherwise keeps the same idea – lots of actions, lots of votes, some amount of toolbox. Dangerous if it gets going, but can have a hard time establishing vote dominance and a good intercept deck can seriously hurt this one… I have some amount of stealth, but it’s not a true stealth voter deck.
Lock and load agents, Delta Green: Eyes Only became available last night. As noted before, this is a limited run of 1,000 copies. I ordered about an hour after the announcement was posted and my order number was 101. Dennis said that it’s “selling like hotcakes”, despite the hefty shipping & handling costs – $30 s&h to Finland, which results in a total price of $70 for the book. Ouch. Becomes a bit less “ouch” once you realize that because of the strong Euro vs. weak, puny and generally inferior US$ that “only” amounts to about 52 euros. Expensive, but doable. Getting hold of this book once the 1,000 copies sell out will involve eBay, luck and lots of cash; I’ll happily pay 52e now.
In what is obviously a global conspiracy to hike up my credit card bill, Greg Stolze’s Reign also became available this week through Lulu print-on-demand, with two different options for cover art (I like the red Solis design best, myself). Also available as hardcover, and to top it off I understand that Lulu offers semi-reasonable shipping costs for us EU folks nowadays. Heroically, I resisted the temptation, I don’t want to cram anything more on my Visa this month.
For those of you going “what the hell is ‘Reign’?”, it’s Stolze’s new rpg using the ORE/Nemesis engine and focusing on politics and social dynamics in a fantasy setting – in other words, it has crunch that will let the players (try to) take over and run kingdoms. Could be very cool.
For those of you going “who the hell is Greg Stolze?”… you’re reading the wrong blog entry, sorry. Move on now, don’t block the view.
In probably-not-related news, Jerry Falwell is (finally) dead. The world just became a slightly better place, and the warm and sunny weather today just might be a side result. You never know.
Added later: Lulu.com has a promotion with really cheap EU shipping, but in order to get that you have to pay in euros, if you pay in dollars you get charged the normal price. For Reign, “cheap” here means 1,99e and “normal” $13.62. Don’t ask how I found that out. Just… don’t.
Strap on your ice skates and head towards the smell of brimstone, the Delta Green reprint is now actually available from Arkham Bazaar (and probably some other places as well). I didn’t want to risk missing out on this one, and ordered a copy as soon as I got word via the Delta Green mailing list. Huzzah!
In related news, Dennis & the guys are preparing to accept orders on the upcoming Delta Green: Eyes Only opus. Reprinting all 3 of the long-out-of-print DG chapbooks, with new art and some new material, this is high on my “MUST BE MINE!” list. Especially since it will be a limited print run due to contract reasons, and getting hold of it after it sells out will be… tricky (and will probably involve a wetworks squad and some ninja zombies).
I love the fact that Pagan and the Delta Green guys are all experimenting with new ways to publish books. With niche products like this, which have a high demand within their niche, print-on-demand and stuff like the ransom model of financing are coming into their own; they make it possible to publish things that would not make financial sense via the traditional channels. Which is nice.
The only bad part is that you have to be “in the know” to actually get the books. More and more, things like this are “Internet orders only”, you won’t find them in normal game stores and will probably never even hear of them unless you frequent various web forums, mailing lists and whatnot. That’s the price you pay when the middle man is cut off.
Update, later: I just got word that Fantasiapelit is getting a batch of the Delta Green reprint books, arrival in 2 - 2.5 weeks from now. So if anyone local is interested, no need to order from abroad, just check out the Fantasiapelit “new arrivals” section.
So, the net connection moved ok. Obviously. Not visible to the outside, there is still a glitch: it’s hooked up via the most inconvenient wall socket available in the house. Apparently we have a lot of old landline connections running to our house, and of course the default one was not the one we would have wished. I called Elisa and asked about moving it, and the guy at the help desk said it’s something any electrician can do at our end (via the house company phone distribution box). Hmm. So right now we’re at trying to figure out who has the key to that box. Stay tuned.
The May Day snowboarding/skiing expedition to almost-Lapland (Ruka) was fun. It got of to a slow start; on Saturday we “only” spent 3+ hours on the slopes before calling it a day, and then on Sunday there was a near-storm – strong winds and snow whipping past. The good chair lifts were all closed due to wind, and all that was left was some of the anchor lifts. Since I hate anchor lifts on a snowboard and since there was a storm alert given, we only did a few slopes and then decided that the sane thing to do was be inside. Spent the rest of the day with books, card games and the Playstation. Monday turned out to be beautiful, with sunny skies and nice snow, we left for the slopes at around noon and got back around 6pm – a nice day, and my legs were starting to complain (in a good way).
After that it’s been a slow return to normal life, which is nice. The last few months have been quite a whirlwind, some quiet life is very much appreciated right now. The new place is still a bit of a mess, but it’s clearing up one box and shelf at a time. I’m trying to do some (even small) amount of organizing each day.
Right now, I’m looking at a calendar which actually has a lot of empty space in it. Empty space good.
Phew, we spent a staggering 11 or so hours cleaning up the old place. It’s amazing how much work there is in really cleaning a (fairly) big house, especially since removing all the furniture exposes all those places where our normal not-that-great cleaning has never reached. I’m sure that civilizations have risen and died in those piles of dust…
Anyway, that job is done, and a big thank you to the people who were over to help. The house now contains just this server, which will move sometime Thursday.
So note: this site, along with swordschool.com (on the same server) will go offline sometime this Thursday, probably in the evening. The Elisa guys have said that they will activate the new connection at the new place on Friday, but it’s anyone’s guess whether or not that will happen on schedule – in addition to which, Janka & I are heading off to the wild North for some snowboarding on Friday, so it will probably be up to our housemates to set up the network. That, also, may or may not work.
So be prepared for this server to be offline from this Thursday until next Tuesday/Wednesday. The break might be (much) shorter, but I can’t guarantee anything on that count. It might also be longer, if the bits refuse to move along the tubes that the Internet is made of.
In other words: until next Wednesday or so, text messages etc of “hey, orava.org/swordschool.com is down!” will be met with a resounding silence – partly because the answer would just be “no shit, Sherlock” and partly because we hope to be gliding/bouncing down sunny slopes on snowboards and other implements of destruction, ignoring stuff like that.
While cleaning, we moved the server downstairs, and it’s now been having network problems on and off. Today I replaces the ADSL cable and the network cable into new store-bought ones, it might have “just” been a cable problem. No idea what the real cause is/was, to tell the truth, could be anything.
make it easy, make this easy
it’s not as heavy as it seems
wrapped in metal, wrapped in ivy
painted in mint ice cream
we could be bouncing off the top of this cloud
(i put on my silver)
bouncing off the top of this cloud
well you can stare all day at the sky
but that won’t bring you back, that won’t bring you back
you say you’re waiting on fate
but I think we decide, I think we decide
where we take our lives
– Tori Amos, “Bouncing Off Clouds”
I’m trying not to be overly optimistic, but it’s starting to seem like the Tori I love is back. The official site now features three tracks that you can listen to online. “Big Wheel” I had heard before, it’s nice but not spectacular. But after that we get “Bouncing Off Clouds” and it’s wonderful. Wistful/sad/hopeful lyrics layered over a pulsing dance track, quite lovely – sounds a bit like stuff from the To Venus And Back era, it has the same sort of intense flow that “Siren” (another favorite) has.
The third song is the album opener, “Yo George”, which makes Tori’s opinion about GWB quite clear.
In addition, hereinmyhead has some live tracks from Dutch/German radio. “Almost Rosey” and “Beauty of Speed” sound great, the jury is still out on “Roosterspur Bridge”.
In a recent interview Tori has said that she intentionally reined herself in for the previous album due to her young daughter, she was afraid that her normal not-always-suitable-for-children stage/artist persona would be too much to handle. Afterwards, it has become clear that the daughter in question can quite well distinguish between mommy and the for-adults Tori, which resulted in the new album being a lot less restrained. By what I’ve heard so far, I think I’ll like this one, maybe a lot.
A big “thank you” to everyone who helped us move last Sunday! Everything went smoothly, which was very nice after an utterly exhausting Saturday spent in nonstop packing. On Sunday we had lots of people at both ends, so packing and unpacking the van was fast and relatively painless.
After the moving op we relocated to our patio / front lawn and had more than a few beers and suchlike. The new sauna was tested (works fine), as was the jacuzzi (also works fine, after some experimenting with the controls). Some extra comic relief was provided by our more-fluff-than-brains cat, who decided that the jacuzzi was a great place to drink from – and promptly managed to fall in. I didn’t see the actual performance, I got fetched from the sauna to dry the soaked and indignant cat, who would not let anyone else near. No idea if the shocking bath left permanent scars in the little thing’s little mind or if this will become a more regular event.
So now we’ve officially relocated, and are trying to force the house into habitable shape. The first morning was a bit weird, waking up thinking “where’s my shaver? where’s my toothbrush? where’s a clean shirt? why am I surrounded by boxes?” so I could go off to work without quite looking like a cave man. Things resolved themselves, eventually.
Last night we managed to unpack the last of the 100 “moving boxes” we had rented, so that’s one more step out of the way. Today I have a meet with a locksmith and in the evening I intend to go to the old place to do some pre-cleanup before our “real” cleanup on the weekend. Lots and lots of stuff still to do, but no panic with anything. Well, ok, fixing the sink in the second bathroom is fast gaining some priority.
The place is still a mess, but it’s slowly coming together. For some reason, Typhoon the fuzzy cat has decided that people need to wake up at the new place earlier than at the old; he now starts waking us up at around 8am. We try to sleep, but so far the cat’s persistence has won over eventually. It hard so sleep with a furry terrorist going “meeeeeeep!” right into your ear.