December 4th, 2005

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Nightmare before christmas CCG

Welp, I played my first game of the NBC ccg today at a tourney. Kinda strange when you consider that the first full game that I would play would be in a tournament, but there really weren't any other options. I had only gone through maybe 1/4th of a full game in the demo version at socal and it's not like I know anyone local (or hell, ANYWHERE) that plays the game and has any clue what I'm talking about.

So anyway, the day started with the local boardgame meetup which was supposed to take place at 1pm. The tourney was going to start at 2:30 and I figured I coudl show up, maybe run a demo of KB with the updated steel booster deck I picked up from socal and if I was quick about it, make the tourney around 25 minutes away. Turned out that a bunch of newbies/semi newbies had shown up to the event so in the end I tried to run a basic game and still ran out of time. I ditched the game there with someone who knew how to play, telling them I'd pick it up next month.

By the time I got onto the road at 2:05, I knew I was in deep crap. The traffic was unbelievable due to the thrice blasted freaking christmas shoppers swarming the god damn malls and stores. To boot, mapquest was wrong about the god damn directions to the game store where the tourney was being held. Ever try to drive to a location by using the sun to determine the general direction you must be going in and just hoping you more or less run into the place you're looking for? That's what I ended up doing for what seemed like forever. I had to actually call up one of my sisters on the cell phone in hoboken and get her onto her laptop and get to a internet map site to try to be a navigator. The problem is I had no farging clue where I was, or at least what the name of the town was. All I could do was rattle off street names and local landmarks as she zoomed in and out and all over on the computer trying to figure out where the hell my car was. I really need to get one of those GPS mother fuckers with that thing that gives you preceise directions about where the hell you are.

In the end, she was able to track me down on the map and talked me to the store, at which point what was supposed to be a 25 minute journey (or less really) had turned into something more like 50. I had more or less given up hope that the tourney woudl still be an option but I figured I could at least watch and chat with Andrew, the game designer for the NBC CCG, who I had met in socal and would be running the event personally. Luckily, he had held off starting because there were a few other stragglers who would be late and I got to slip in and play. Of course, I played him in the first game since everyone else was paired up and got my ass royally handed to me.

The problem with never having actually played a game other than doing bits and pieces with myself, is that there were all sorts of intricacies I missed and the deck needed some fine tuning to say the least. We all played 4 games in a swiss style tourney and I won 2 and lost 2 (though one of the losses was a tie in points that went to a tie breaker) coming in 7th place out of like 10 people. Could have been worse I guess.

Even better though, for my 6 dollar entrance fee I picked up a booster pack in which I found an ultra-rare foil card (Odds of 1 in 9 or so). For coming in 7th I got three more packs and picked up yet another UR foil. Then just for participating I got to pick another UR foil. Any day you pick up 3 UR foils is a complete winner in my book. Now I just have to resist the urge to buy any more god darn booster packs/boxes. I've already dropped $138 dollars on this, $144 if you could the tourney. If I don't control the CCG addiction it'll swarm me under.
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You have chosen wisely....well, perhaps

So before I actually jumped into the NBC thing, I had been thinking about leaping into clout fantasy, another collectable game but with poker-like chips instead of cards. As much as I might rail against CCGs and other money sinks, I'm at core a collector. I went nuts collecting magic cards and then anime in the past and now board games and swag. Because of that, keeping out of CCGs is almost a defense mechanism since I know the dark path it leads to, but there's also a great thrill in opening booster packs and amassing rare whatchamacallits.

There were some advantages to choosing clout as a new game to get involved in. For one, I would be getting in on the ground floor. I've always regretted not finding out about MTG earlier and being able to pick up some of the rarer cards that are worth hundreds of dollars even now. It was also being put forth by a company started by Peter Adkinson, the owner of gencon which I figured meant that the game would have a lot of advertising and promotional clout behind it to attract new players.

In the end though, the downsides overwhelmed the positives and I'm quite glad that I decided not to dive in. There were production problems with the chips, requiring endless pushbacks to the release date. I couldn't get local game stores to even think of stocking the darn things, much less promoting them. The rarity breakdown for booster packs was unbelievable, requiring a purchase of something like 8 booster boxes before you even had a chance to complete a set. The game most closely resembled Pogs to the average gamer, and I can't think of a greater death bow. Lastly, I found I simply sucked at the game. It involved tossing the chips and then playing it out sort of like a mini-wargame of sorts. Whenever I tried to get the thing on the table during demos, it was most likely to spin and flop around to a random location or off the table entirely.

I was looking on eBay for NBC stuff and decided to do a search for clout while I was at it and it made be doubly glad I didn't get involved. There dosen't seem to be a real strong secondary market for any of these chips other than for promo and chase ones. You can usually judge the popularlity of a game based on the number of auctions on ebay and how many people bid. For a game backed with the people it has behind it, I was expecting more of a hoopla. Course, I'm not sure that I've made a great choice with NBC either, since it's certain to have less of a backing from a parent company willing to spend money and bully distributors. At the very least though, I like NBC. I figure by now I'd be bitching nonstop about clout had I decided to buy in.
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