Category Archives: CCG

Happiness Jar #8 for 2017-04-09

Steve Jackson just released a newly-updated ”Munchkin Thingies”. As a result I was finally able to fill in some gaps in my Munchkin Compatibility Chart, and add in the recently Kickstarted Munchkin Shakespeare (we’re excited about getting our copy).

I’m also finally getting around to moving my files over to the desktop computer I built last summer, and it’s going pretty smoothly, in large part thanks to Box and Mega because they automated the transfer of nearly all of my documents. Going from 4 to 16 gigs of memory for Windows 10 is a dream – even more so since Windows itself is on a solid state drive (SSD), which I bought thanks to the advice of one of my best friends since high school.

Free Win7/10 tip I just learned: You can move your My Documents folder quite effortlessly by simply right-clicking on it in the folder tree in Explorer, clicking Properties, then the Location tab. That’s great because SSDs have limited read/write cycles, while mechanical drives can generally be re-used until something actually breaks. Thus if you can keep your software on an SSD and data files on a mechanical drive, your programs will run much faster, but without frequent saves wearing the drive out prematurely (my motto is “save early, save often” to avoid losing my work).

And we had several TCG-related happinesses over the past week: We got this Saturday’s Pokémon League Cup scheduled (with a Magic prerelease next week and Pokémon one the next), and I got to play in a sealed/demo for the Final Fantasy TCG. I can best describe FFTCG as Duel Masters or Kaijudo if they had been designed for adults rather than children. It moves the complexity scale a bit towards the Magic end, and even borrows some of its keywords (Haste, First Strike) and renames some others to make them better fit (Vigilance is “Brave”, Tap is “Dull”, Untap is “Activate”, etc.).

I can only make two relatively minor complaints about the game so far: the colors are too similar (Water and Ice are both blue, and Lightning is a very blue purple), making it hard to tell them apart, especially when foils get involved; and all of the power ratings end with “000” for no apparent mechanical reason – what I call the “Yu-Gi-Oh effect” or “Pokémon Effect”. In Pokémon every damaging move and every Pokémon HP is a multiple of 10, so you could erase that 0 from every card in the game and it would have no effect whatsoever. D&D 4e’s half-level bonus and 5e’s quarter-level bonus likewise serve only to make the numbers seem bigger even though they don’t actually make any difference mechanically since DCs and ACs go up right along with them.

But this is a Happiness jar, and that goes against the spirit of the idea, so I’ll get off my tangent now, and simply say that if you liked Duel Masters/Kaijudo but thought it was a bit too simplistic, or simply love Final Fantasy, give the game a look (they’ve got some great how-to-play videos. Even if you don’t play it, the cards are the highest quality CCG cards I have ever seen – and I owned an FLGS for three years! They are the same size as Magic cards, but significantly stiffer. If you were to look at the back of one without touching it, you would swear it was plastic, not paper. The art, of course, is amazing. So if you are an FF fan but don’t play card games, it still might be worth a look.

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April Tournaments and Pokémon Decklist Sheet

We are proud to announce Asheville’s Pokémon League Cup on Tax Day (April 15th for you those of you not dealing with taxes yet). One week later is the Magic prerelease for Amonkhet, and a week after that is the Pokémon prerelease for Guardians Rising. Naturally, that means there will be no League Challenge this month, but they will begin again in May.

As usual, I have updated my deck registration sheet, including Guardians Rising, which won’t be tournament legal until May 21. But I just made an interesting discovery: PokéGym has a fillable decklist you can fill out in your browser and print. If you do, please make sure it’s only one page, even if you have to double-side it. It’s not only good for the Earth, it reduces the volume of paper we have to store because we are required to keep the sheets for a while.

Munchkin and Pokémon Updates

I’ve spent most of the past month test driving Windows 10, and the month before that trying to repair my badly-broken Win7 that it has replaced, so I haven’t had much time for blogging, but I have updated several of my game aids.

This year for Small Business Saturday we decided to #ShopSmall by finally picking up Munchkin Steampunk at our FLGS, Hillside Games in Asheville, NC. As a result I was at last able to finalize its entry on my Munchkin Compatibility Chart.

I also updated the deck list sheet for Pokemon tournaments just in time for our Nature Season League Challenge this Saturday, and the Tech Season one on Boxing Day.

Thanks to my wife finally having a job after spending two years without one, we finally got normal-sized 3DSes as well as Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on eBay, prompting me to finish updating my Pokémon Pocket-sized Type and EV List.

Dvorakémon

I have finally gotten serious about learning Dvorak. More details on that later, but it means that for now it takes me a couple of days longer to write a blog post (I’ve already spent two days working on one about my Dvorak journey. prompting this quick one). Within a month, however, I should be able to type faster for longer, but most importantly, with much less pain.

In the course of re-creating my Pokémon deck list sheet I realized that making it into a form-fillable PDF is more work than I can handle. I therefore decided to simply make the ODT original available via DropBox.

Updated Pokémon Deck List Sheet

I have updated my tournament deck list sheet for the 2016 Play! Pokémon season. I am only about halfway done making a form-fillable version since I’m learning how as I go along. Since no sets will be rotating out of Expanded, I’ll have to do a major rebuild of that section of the sheet since I’m still having trouble getting OpenOffice to properly attach set symbols to cells so they aren’t left behind when I copy the table into Writer. That said, I hope to have the post-rotation form-fillable version available for our Mossdeep League Challenge.

Speaking of the Mossdeep LC, we are giving out door prizes at this event. Each registered player will get one entry, and anyone who arrives at the store with a pre-filled out deck sheet gets a bonus entry. Details can be found on the tournament’s facebook event. The overhaul to the Professor program is leaving us with fewer prizes than we had hoped, so we’re happy to accept donations if you have anything suitable lying around.

Pokémon Deck List Sheet Despite OpenOffice Weirdness

Since I’ve been running Pokémon League Challenges (our next one is 20th Dec 2014), I’ve had no end of issues with deck registration sheets. For one thing, it takes ages before anyone uploads one after a new set releases. More annoying to me as TO (tournament organizer) is that all of the available sheets use American civilian–standard middle-endian dates, but the Pokémon website and tournament software both use the Internet-standard big-endian dates (fun fact: most countries in the world use little-endian dates, as I did above), so adding new players to the software is a bigger hassle than it needs to be – especially with my oft pain-fogged mind.

So it took me several months, especially since I had to track down the official abbreviation and set symbol for Phantom Forces, but I finally finished my own deck registration sheet. Further complicating things is a strange problem I was having with OpenOffice, but I’ll cover that in its own section later.

The first obvious difference you’ll see is that it has the set symbols and abbreviations for every set currently legal in both Standard and Expanded events, with a separate table for each format. That way you don’t need two different registration sheets if you run or attend events using both formats. At the WNC Pokémon League, for instance, we alternate the two formats from season to season.

As with everything I intend to be printed out by end users, I designed it to use as little as ink as possible. That’s why the table that lists all of the Standard-legal set symbols and abbreviations ends with several blank lines, intended to serve two purposes. The first is to eliminate the need to wait for me or anyone else to add new sets by giving you space to write in newly-released sets and their abbreviations as soon as you need them. Those lines also mean that copies leftover from past events will never go to waste since up to four sets released after the sheet was printed can be added to it.

It is my intention to upload a new revision every time there is a new set release or rotation, so the link above should always lead you to the newest version.


Now my weird OpenOffice issue. If you are only here for Pokémon and have no interest in the finer points of OpenOffice, you can skip the rest of this post.

If you work with complex documents a lot, you may be aware that OO Writer is terrible at formatting tables, so it’s much, much easier to make them in Calc and paste them into Writer. Fortunately, Writer is as much a low-end desktop publishing program as it is a word processor, so it handles the insertion of layered objects very well, especially if you put all of the individual components into separate Frames like I do. As an example, the deck sheet linked above has five frames in addition to the five embedded tables. My most complicated character sheet to date, for HackMaster 5e, has 16 distinct frames in addition to inserted Calc tables.

So what was weird? When I pasted the format tables into Writer the set symbols vanished. I belatedly remembered that you can’t link* in the images if you want to copy the table to another document. So I tried embedding* a single set symbol into Calc, then copied the table into Writer. As expected, it successfully copied the embedded image but not the linked ones, so I set about replacing all of the linked images in Calc. But when I pasted the final table into Writer, it still only pasted that first embedded image.

Because Writer is so bad at tables, I decided to just make the whole thing in Calc even though Writer’s Scribus-like features make some parts of the job much easier. As expected, managing some of the fiddlier bits of arranging various elements on the page in Calc proved to be a great deal more work than in Writer, but there didn’t seem to be any alternative – until, on a whim, I tried to copy Standard table into a different sheet in the same document and was pleasantly surprised when the images actually went along for the ride.

Naturally, my next move was to try to paste it into Writer, and it worked perfectly, so I went back to designing the whole thing in Writer. Even weirder is that up until then the set symbols would all move slightly every time I opened the spreadsheet. For some unknown reason, the first time the images stayed put upon loading was the same time that they also successfully traveled from Calc to Writer. They have remained in place ever since.

So my question for you OO experts out there is: do you have any idea why all of that happened? Specifically, why couldn’t I paste the embedded images? Why would they move around randomly? And why did they suddenly start behaving?

* There are two ways of adding images to an OO document: linking and embedding. A linked image is simply referenced by the document, much like Web hyperlinks, making the resulting document much smaller, but if the document is copied to another computer then the links break so the images don’t appear. Actually embedding the images makes the document more portable, but also larger.

D&D 5e Character Sheets Aplenty

In the course of making several characters and actually getting to play a session, I modified my original character sheet and made a couple of adaptations for specific purposes. As always, these can all be downloaded from my Scribd library, from the links below or on my Downloads page.

For the original I adjusted the placement and spacing of the top matter. My writing is fairly small, yet I still had trouble squeezing a few things into the space available. I also put the associated attributes and a space for the total modifier beside each skill. We use the first public playtest’s idea of disconnecting attributes and skills, but since most people play by RAW (Rules As Written), it occurred to me that I should include those.

DnD5.CharSheet

The first adaptation I made is customized for spellcasters. I moved the skill list to the former Character Notes section of the front page. Then I replaced the now-empty back page with my grimoire. That way the various spellcasting classes don’t need two sheets of paper until relatively high levels. You could also print page 1 on both sides of a sheet of paper, and thus get two characters per page; useful if, like us, you tend to make multiple characters for D&D Encounters.

DnD5.CharSheet (mage)

Speaking of the grimoire, I made two fairly minor changes to it. After realizing that not every spell needs the full space I provided, I halved the row height and then lightened the lines between ever other row. The result is that spells that need the full space still have it, but if some of your spells don’t need that much space you can fit more of them to a page.

DnD5.Grimoire.web

The final version is specifically designed for pre-generated characters. For it I simply copied the top section of the first page of the mage sheet halfway down the page, then filled the back page with just the guidelines. I did that so we could fit a character onto half a sheet of paper, partly to save paper and ink, but mostly because that’s all the space a pre-gen really needs.

DnD5.CharSheet (half-sheet)