Keyforge, pt I

So Richard Garfield and Fantasy Flight Games are releasing a card game called Keyforge, colon no one ever gives a damn what happens after the colon.

It’s your standard, proto-Magic: the Gathering game. I guess when you invent the Customizable Card Game genre, people will care about what comes after the colon.

You play creatures and artifacts, tap them to attack and work to get enough points to win the game. It’s not a knock-off and I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it is. Creatures tap for points(amber) and they attack one another to stop your opponents from getting points. The rock/paper/scissors interaction of Magic removal is one of my complaints with it and I like this system. In the Battletech CCG, anything could be attacked—even ‘event’ cards.

Here’s all the tokens and accessories. Man, I hope that’s all of them.

You use amber to forge up to three keys—hence the name—and the third one wins you the game. It’s similar to Magic’s life system, but it’s probably a bit more interactive; the rules extensively cover creatures temporarily stealing amber and some cards’ effects depend on which of your keys have been forged. I prefer the card-based progress systems of Pokemon and Duel Masters, but that interactivity is good.

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The Most Toys

I fell off of making these and need to get back onto it, but even when I did make them more regularly, I never shared them here.

I think I scaled this one down too much for the amount of ‘growth’ I added for the white border. It’s a process.

I just got through watching season one of The Good Place on Neflix. There were enough .gifs and video clips on the internet that I knew the general beats, but even knowing most of the twists, I was really impressed with this show.

It’s a network sitcom. It’s got all of the characteristics of a network sitcom: bright colors, characters who kind of like each other and kinda don’t, and Ted Danson.

The premise is that our main characters–Elanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jianyu are dead. They and 318 other dead people go to a personalized neighborhood in The Good Place to enjoy eternal happiness.

The kink in that plan–at least initially–is that Elanor doesn’t belong in The Good Place. A clerical error gave her the points (karma, basically) of another person. And if she’s found out, she goes to The Bad Place.

Elanor isn’t evil; she’s just a bad person who’s embrace an life aggressive immorality and selfishness. When disasters that reflect Elanor’s shitty behavior beset the neighborhood, Elanor has to learn to become a good person before the neighborhood’s all-powerful architect, Michael, can connect her to the disasters.

In true sitcom style, the ring of conspirators in Elanor’s misplaced status widens and the situations get wilder, but the tension never releases: the season’s penultimate moment is an emotional roulette wheel of characters arguing over trips to The Bad Place to save each other.

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People talk about Patrick Stewart coming back to Star Trek. They don’t want a send-off for Captain Picard (We had one of those and it was called “All Good Things…” They want more TNG, just TNG for a million years. www.TNG.com.

That’s not going to happen and if we ever—god forbid—see the TNG cast together in some kind of production, it should be a really real super sendoff. My initial impulse for that was something grimdark; ‘Fall of The Federation’ or some bullshit like that. Everything breaks. The universe is reset. Everybody dies.

Because of course everybody dies. But that’s not want people want from TNG either. They want the people they like to be happy and to grow and change. The grimdark story is a lot easier to pitch, but it seems fair to start with the happy ending rundown and then say “but that’s not interesting” and do the stupid, grimdark lazy story.

So what’s that happy ending look like?

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I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Second Convoy Strike


I started in the south of a mesa environment with the convoy on an elevated road just north of me. The road twisted around and passed by a slope to the east of me. It was a direct shot for me, but the road was long enough I could beat the vehicles to it and interdict the convoy at a hairpin turn.

Destroying the vehicles and stopping the convoy were two different objectives, so I assumed I could physically stop them, possibly by destroying the cave at the very end of the road, north of the turn. I also had to deal with the escorts.

The escorts were led by a Griffin, with a large laser in its left arm. It entered sensor range with its left arm to me and since its main weapon was on its left arm, I took the opportunity.

Shadycator went east to intercept the convoy. The Shadow Hawk’s missiles would make it strong enough to take down vehicles and the Vindicator’s PPC would pack a punch for the heavier ones. Centaurjack moved in and hit the Griffin with everything they had, snapping its arm off.

But I split my Centurion and Blackjack across a rock formation. Three more enemy ‘mechs appeared, and with the Griffin, they pounded first the Centurion, then the Blackjack while I couldn’t focus my fire. My options were to pull back–away from Shadycator and my targets–or to fight with one ‘mech while the other joined it. The second option put my heavier ‘mechs in the position to support and regoup with my entire lance, so I took that.

My Blackjack took a pounding and hugged its heat curve tightly until the Centurion caught up. I took a lot of structure damage to keep up the damage output and I’m not sure if that was worth it in retrospect.

Meanwhile, even sprinting was barely enough to get Shadycator to the hairpin turn before our enemies. If they’d arrived later, instead of being able to focus fire on each vehicle as they passed through a chokepoint, they would have been in a line abreast and been able to focus fire on my guys.

It was still ugly. The Shadow Hawk arrived first, destroying an enemy vehicle that had already passed the chokepoint before being blindsided by a Manticore. The Manticores I went up against in the Quick Extraction didn’t seem this big, intimidating, or well-armored. I’d walked my Shadow Hawk too far forward and given the other two vehicles line of sight to fire on it through the chokepoint. It had taken some fire in its mad dash over and after a volley of SRMs from the SRM Carrier, it was downed and looking tattered.

The Vindicator’s timely arrival didn’t seem to dent the Manticore’s armor and Centaurjack was on the ropes too far away to help. In an act of desperation, I jumped the Shadow Hawk onto the Manticore–and killed it–but my shot up little Shadow Hawk lost a leg and fell again. Between the falls, and the SRM volleys, its pilot, Graceland, was also hanging by a thread.

The Vindicator took a clutch shot against the SRM Carrier to save its friend…and missed. The next round saw the SRM Carrier unload a full salvo of SRMs into the side of my downed Shadow Hawk. It was impressive to watch…and lethal to experience. Graceland did indeed move on to a land of grace.

An untimely spread of LRMs from my Centurion landed through a break in the road’s cover and eliminated the SRM Carrier. The mop-up was easy and cathartic, but the damage was done.

Graceland was dead. He’d been with me since the start and was my second plankowner to die. The contract covered repair costs, but between pilot damage and ‘mech refits, the 50 days of downtime were going to put VanVelding’s Marauders into the red for that mission.

In retrospect, I should have tried to move my entire lance to the east. Centaurjack could have guarded the six of Shadycator and both could have shifted to support the other as necessary. Ultimately, I made the choice to move in on the Griffin’s vulnerability on turn one. I tried to have my bone and get the bone from that dog in the lake too.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Capellan Kiddie Pool of Sacrifice

This was a base destruction mission. Not that I’m still bitter about my base defense mission, but this base had turrets.

I was on an elevated position with a slope headed up from the right. Again, I’m not bitter about anything, but I checked extra-hard and there was only one broad slope up to my position. The base was in a circular depression below me.

I set Behemoth and her Shadow Hawk back and let her sensor lock turrets while I hit the them with indirect LRM fire from my Centurion and Vindicator. My Blackjack guarded the slope.

After a while, some enemy reinforcements arrived. A pair of Commandos charged, one by one, from the valley. I tagged and LRMed them into oblivion. An enemy Centurion followed into the valley while a Griffin ran up the slope. I shifted back from the edge of the valley and all four of my ‘mechs obliterated the Griffin while cutting the Centurion out of line of sight.

After the Griffin was down, I shifted back to the edge and found the Centurion had its back to me. A few direct-fire shots later and the enemy ‘mechs were down.

The dropship then came down into the LZ and there was one turret left. I didn’t know if the turret could fuck things up for me by shooting my dropship, so I scrambled to finish it off. It was a complete inversion of the Capellan Amphitheater of Death from earlier; I had the high ground and utterly destroyed the opposition and took almost no damage in return.

It was a good day, ‘Tater.

Mission: The First Convoy Strike

I’d never had a convoy destruction mission, but it guaranteed a few vehicle kills. Soft–albeit moving–targets and maybe some escorts. Worst case scenario, I could blow up some civilian vehicles and then run.

The environment was a desert with whirling sandstorms. I wasn’t sure if the storms were actually soaking up my laser shots or if they were just rendering glitches, but my mostly-energy loadouts and the fast, small enemy ‘mechs made the first few rounds of combat embarrassing.

A Locust, Spider, Panther, and Jenner were small enough that I thought I could put them down with three of my guys and send my Shadow Hawk to take down the vehicles. That strategy fell apart after my Centurion received its second devastating backshot and my Shadow Hawk was almost knocked down by the weapons of a convoy comprised entirely of combat vehicles.

Still, I retreated up to a hill and pinwheeled my ‘mechs, a different one pounding the convoy each turn while the other three took down the escorts. It wasn’t harrowing, but it had some surprises. With the surprises of convoy strikes known, I felt confident taking my second convoy strike mission.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Hunchback and a Clown Car Full of Panthers

This mission wasn’t boring. I was supposed to sweep through a Capellan base and bust up their noses a little bit. I don’t hate Capellans, but I try to stay on the Magistracy’s good side and the Capellans weren’t hiring, so I tend to take a slightly higher-than-random number of missions against the Capellans.

Now the Taurians, I love fighting Taurians. Fuck those guys. I think those two Commandos were Taurians.

But this one is about Capellans. Base. Bloody nose. Lance-on-Lance. I deployed on a southern road with the base just north of me. The defenders were on patrol, as they often are in this game. There was a rocky peak just west of me and I parked my Shadow Hawk and Vindicator on that while my Blackjack and Centurion pushed forward.

If you’ve noticed the pattern, then we’ll just call those specific ‘mech pairs Shadycator and Centurjack.

Centurjack started getting sensor contacts and pulled back toward the forest on the west of the peak. Two Spiders and a Panther sprinted in, followed quickly by a Hunchback. The Hunchback’s AC/20 is a huge motherfucking weapon that, while short-ranged would fuck up any of my ‘mechs if it hit them. Even my (relatively) beefy Centurion.

I pulled back harder.

My Vindicator was at the front of the peak, which was really peak-y. That meant I had to move Behemoth down and closer to the front for her to get a shot in. I finished off the Panther and began pouring everything onto that Hunchback, taking every precision shot I could at its right torso to take out that gun. In return, the Spiders swarmed my Shadow Hawk and Centurion.

The Hunchback was disarmed, but at the cost of my Centurion’s main gun (its much smaller AC/10) and almost all of my Shadow Hawk’s armor. I pulled Behemoth back so she could continue providing fire support while staying safe.

Then the two other Panthers swept in. Panthers are light and based around a PPC. The PPC is a relatively big gun and I’d focused on the first Panther until a larger gun trundled into the picture. I’d finished it off quickly because it wasn’t heavily armored.

But now I was pushing the heat curve on my Blackjack, my Shadow Hawk was being harried by a pair of Spiders, my Centurion was minus its boom stick, and my Vindicator…well, my Vindicator was untouched but the situation was still tenuous.

My Centurion traded physical blows with the Hunchback until the Hunchback fell. It spent the rest of the combat chasing down smaller ‘mechs and taking wild, drunken swings at them. It occasionally offered up LRM shots when they were too far away to punch.

My precision shots recharged enough to eviscerate another Panther’s PPC, but I had to leave the back armor of my Blackjack open to a beating while it maneuvered to the other Panther’s right side (to increase the odds of a hit on its PPC-carrying right arm).

The Centurion eventually caught a Spider and took it down. The Vindicator took down the unarmed Panther. The Blackjack took down the armed Panther with a withering laser light show. The Blackjack then took down the last Spider, which had finally left the Shadow Hawk alone while it backshot everything in range.

The repairs costs were moderate. I had to replace my Shadow Hawk’s left side, the Centurion’s right arm, and patch up a lot of torso structure on my Blackjack. I don’t think I earned anything after repair costs. Worse, I had one of those upgraded AC/10’s on my Centurion. One with a “+” or two on it. That was lost with the left arm and I had to buy a new, regular, AC/10. I resolved to only buy special equipment that went on torsos and the head from that point forward.

It was the first of some slightly tougher missions that were coming up.

Deadpool 2

I tend to take notes while I watch movies. Then, I transcribe those notes here when I’m done. I recently watched Deadpool 2, so here it is. Text is what what written, information in [[double brackets]] are after-the-fact notes.

[[Like Keanu, I realized my notes on this are really short. It says something about me that “short notes” is some of the highest praise I can give a movie.]]


I’m sorry, the cast of Bridesmaids is WHAT? [[I watched at the Alamo Drafthouse, which plays old movies as part of events and just because, really, so they routinely show old trailers before the new trailers. It’s pretty cool I live near a theater that’s playing the original True Grit just whenever. Also, that Bridesmaids cast is bonkers-good.]]

Hey, actual previews already.

More Jurrasic Park. We’ve done this already. [[I’ll do this in my Avengers: Infinity War transcript, which I haven’t transcribed yet.]]

Johnny Knocksville movie again. Action Point. This is a good fit for Johnny Knoxville. It’s comfortable.

Please subvert this Spider-Man Movie under the…? Trippy. India. Has potential.

Upgrade-I like the high concept action movie. I am opposed to revenge movies, but, like, that’s the point of this one; revenge is a bad idea but this is the idea.

Deadpool 2

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I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want. All the depth is available, but optional. Also, points for this being posted on the sixth of June.

Mission: The Impossible Base Defense

So apparently, some pirates were going to destroy a friendly base. Sounded alright. I landed on the base with my back to the southern map border. We were on a mountaintop and the east and west approaches seemed clear. The north had a road coming up it, so I deployed around that, reasonably assuming that’s where most enemies would come up.

The Vindicator and Shadow Hawk held back. The Shadow Hawk had long since been configured to carry twin LRM 5’s, so it was a fire support ‘mech and rarely ever called up to bring its medium lasers and SRM to bear. By keeping those two back, they could respond quickly to threats that somehow got past my front line. Glitch in her Centurion and VanVelding in their Blackjack held the top of the road, ready to mix it up with anyone who came up and spot for friendly LRM fire.

I had expected some friendly military support from the mission description and I was irked that the buildings seemed to be at half-health. I conceded to myself that it did take me forever to tear down buildings on my base destruction missions so maybe the mission was just trying to make things fair on the AI.

That wasn’t true at all. One of my, admittedly optional, mission objectives was “lose no buildings to the enemy,” and on the first turn, a pirate Jenner blasted in from–fucking hell, I guess–bypassed my two forward guys and unleashed a volley of SRMs at a base building, instantly destroying it.

It died the next turn. In subsequent turns, LRM fire rained down to destroy more buildings, the Southern border of the map opened up to allow an enemy lance of Locusts and vehicles to land, and I learned I had missed an eastern road up the ramp (mea culpa).

My ‘mechs scrambled to play whack a mole and I wasted at least one turn shooting at Locusts instead of the similarly-armed, but more fragile vehicles they’d landed with. My Vindicator took the eastern ramp and my Centurion provided fire support everywhere with multi-targeting while my Blackjack charged down the northern ramp to clear out seemingly radar-invisible LRM carriers.

In the last round before the base was destroyed, I took down the last vehicle of the vanguard (by accident; I sure as hell can’t tell ‘vanguard’ from ‘reinforcements’ in this game) and that gave me a “good faith failure” after I was done embarrassing myself.

The team did well and we destroyed a lot of pirate vehicle crews who were fanatically, suicidally devoted to destroying a random periphery government base. I wasn’t sharp-eyed enough to see an eastern approach, but I think that pushing back the map and cutting the buildings to half-health were bullshit pulls on a mission that was challenging enough.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better lance composition to have dealt with three directions of multiple vehicles striking at soft targets, but I’m taking it on faith and mulling over a better way to approach those missions. I’ll also keep my ear to the ground on signs that a given mission might have vehicles instead of ‘mechs because that makes a huge difference.

Mission: The Artist and The Mountain

This mission required that I save an artist who’d pissed off some local religious idiots who wanted to kill them for the 31st Century equivalent of Piss Christ.

It was the inversion of the Quick Extraction from last week. A wedge of a mountain tapering towards the center of the map and ending in a confluence in three roads. Across those roads was the base holding the artist. My DZ was on the west side of the mountain. An optional objective base was on the east side of the mountain.

Vehicles were immediately visible on my radar. In the Battletech board game, vehicles don’t cover terrain well. Three of my ‘mechs carried jump jets so I opted to pull the vehicles in, pound them with LRMs a bit, then shift my ‘mechs over the mountain to the east. The vees would be abandoned on the west side, I’d have high ground against whatever was on the east and I’d mop up the first set of vees when they came around the mountain’s taper.

That’s what happened.

Sorry to cheat you out of a story. There was a Spider defending the optional objective, but I murdered it. Then the vehicles. But really, things are boring when they go according to the plan. The excellent, excellent plan.