Monday, September 30, 2013

Romance of the 9 Empires

In my recent post I wrote about Gamers 3: Hands of Fate. In this movie Romance of the 9 Empires is the imaginative CCG that Natalie loves and Cass comes to like as well. Cass won the World Championship 2012 held at that year's Gencon. AEG is the producer of the game in the movie (and you can probably see why^^). Anyway they decided to take this imaginary game and create it for real. So a new product was released by AEG. It is the 15th Anniversary World Championship Edition of Romance of the Nine Empires. It contains the top 5 decks from the tournament and some extra cards so the decks can be tweaked a bit.

I decided to buy the box and see if the game is actually playable. Not so many information could be found online about the game itself but anyway I wanted to try it myself and see. I decided to buy it off ebay instead of Alderac store due to issues I usually have with AEG store and the high shipping costs (even though they send extra booster packs to compensate). A week later a courier brought the box to me.

I opened the box and looked inside. There are rules (and a warning that you should not learn the whole set of rules at once), the top 5 decks, additional cards and tokens (counters). I sleeved the decks and was ready to play a game...but I needed to figure out how to play it. So how the game is played in short? If you know Legend of the Five Rings or Legend of the Burning Sands you won't have much problems understanding the game. If you don't know one of these games prepare for a long and crazy introductory game (I suppose it will be long. That's what was happening when I was showing L5R to other people not having much experience with TCGs/CCGs).

There are few ways how to win the game. Either via Military - where you have to destroy all opponent's castles, Renown victory - where you have to reach 50 points of glory to win or Starvation - when a player does not have any food at the end of the winter phase he loses the game. What is quite special is the fact that players do not take turns but rather actions in one turn. At the beginning of the game an Ordained player is chosen. This player takes the first action in that turn. At the end of the turn the other player becomes Ordained. Each player has one deck containing at least 55 cards (unlike in L5R where there is Dynasty and Fate deck). A player starts a game with a Stronghold and one property in play.

Stronghold has a faction (heroes in the deck need to have that faction keyword, there are nine factions in total), starting glory, some ability and gold production. The starting property just produces two gold. Players also start with several castles in play. The number of them can differ (but players will start with 5 castles). Each castle has a point value that cannot exceed the one that is printed on the stronghold and hold food - the second resource in this game. Unlike Gold food can rarely be generated and can be mostly just spent.

There are four phases in the game.

Spring phase which is basically the untap step.


Summer phase in which a player can buy heroes or properties, attach cohorts/items/spells to heroes or attack (and of course play/use Summer abilities ).

During a Battle the attacking player chooses any number of his units to attack one or more castles in play. The individual battles are taken at the castle (and the castle can be destroyed during the attack). The rules of presence and relevance apply in the battles (a card has to have a legal target and a hero need to be present at the castle in order to play battle actions (or the battle action moves the hero there).

Autumn phase in which a player can raid - steal food from opponent's castles. In this case only one hero can be assigned per castle -or play/use Autumn abilities.

Winter phase is the clean up step more or less. Food is redistributed here, 4 cards are drawn (each player has to discard to his maximum hand size). Conditions for losing or winning the game (unless military) are checked here as well etc.


In Battle there is one player action that is quite important and that is Engagement. Any player can tap any number of cards (using their strength) in a unit to deal damage to the opposing army. The other player has to absorb that damage by burying cards with strength equal to the damage dealt. The absorption by a hero can be raised by discarding a card from the player's hand. To some attacks heroes can be immune. For example 2 Strength Hero won't be able to destroy a 3 Strength hero. The defender can also absorb the damage by discarding food (but 1 food equals 1 damage) or by destroying his castle (the castle absorbs all the remaining damage, so the defending army can survive this way).

The game in general is actually good. I like the art as well. The limited number of cards makes it easier to play (unlike if you start playing a new game and there are cards from several different sets with 160-250 cards per set). The rules can be quite a lot for those not used to similar games. So far we haven't played that many games but those we played were quite fun. The games can be pretty frustrating as one misplay can cause a player to lose the game pretty fast. There are cards I already don't like and cards that seem to be really good so I'm looking forward to the expansion announced (Arcane Fire that will let you play as Arcanix wizard or Tuatha Duelist). And of course there are many references to Legend of the Five Rings since fans and backers of the Gamers 3 project created the cards.

The only downside of this game are the token cards and counters. I just managed to lose both of those... (even though I still have my tokens/counters for Warhammer: Invasion these just disappeared).

For more info visit

Monday, September 16, 2013

ทรูมูฟ เอช " การให้ คือการสื่อสารที่ดีที่สุด " TrueMove H : Giving

This is actually an advert for telecommunication services but it certainly says something (let's ignore that it is an ad). People should be aware of other people on this planet. Sometimes a small help can save someone. Many people could help if they would simply sacrifice a bit of their wealth or time but they don't do it. Wish more people would be doing that.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gamers 3: Hands of Fate

Gamers is a 'movie' that shows how an RPG session can go. There are many parodies like this usually in spoken form so seeing it on a screen is a bit different. It is something that you can show at conventions, among gamer friends but is not intended for the general viewer. Gamers 2 is more of a movie but is still rather non-gamer unfriendly. Gamers 3 is an exception. It is still a movie from gamers for gamers but it is done in a way that general public can watch it as well. It gives insight to how a gamer geek community actually looks like...

I did not see a trailer nor read anything about Gamers 3 prior to seeing it so I thought that it would be continuing in the same spirit as the last movie(s) and that it would follow a Dungeons and Dragons (or Pathfinder) players playing their loved game. But that was not it (partly yes). The 'Hands of Fate' already suggested something different (and I thought 'card games') but I couldn't be sure what that would be until...

...I saw the first ten minutes. Natalie, a gamer girl enters a LGS and wants to enter a R9E CCG tournament. Cass wants to master the game so he could ask her for a date.

The story starts pretty simple - Cass wants to date Natalie and for that he can do thing A (master the game, thus prove himself) and get a thing B (have sex as reward). Natalie comes to the tournament so she can change the story in a game she loves - Romance of the Nine Empires. R9E, is a 15 years old game, that tells a story of 9 different "Empires". Each player chooses an Empire and usually sticks with it. The players can change the story in favor of their Empires if they win a storyline tournament (and they also get a card printed). And that is exactly what Natalie tries to do at this tournament where she meets Cass. It is not only about the story but also about what is going on in the metagame. The story aspect lovers want an original play style to be still alive (questing) but a new strategy that avoids the basic principles of the game (starvation) is taking over. That is where Cass comes in. He as a power gamer learns the game becomes pretty good at it and comes to GenCon to win the Worlds for Natalie. But all the storyline lovers count on him to save them from the dreaded starvation decks played by a fearsome cabal named The Legacy. (The Legacy players are a group of players that want the game to be 'another poker, another Magic' - they want a competitive game with cash prizes, they are not interested in the lore)

While all this is going on there is another story in an alternate world ... a fantasy story about princess Myriad that tries to save kingdom of Holden from a war against an army of undead. She can't stop the feeling that the events in Countermay repeat themselves. She finds later that her fate is controlled by something else ... something from outside her reality but she cannot quite grasp what that is.

This film actually has several messages and it shows them well (you'll find them) and I have to say that this movie made me think about more things as well.

As with any other Gamers - the movie is made by gamers for gamers. Everything is there, you can clearly see yourself - the gamer - in the movie. Talking about very very strange things public places (hydra genitalia), not being able to finish a campaign, hating the 'new' stuff that killed the old etc.

Even though you can think this is some kind of a love story it isn't. Both players are ... well ...'players' and gamers. The filmmakers are gamers and they did not spoil the movie with something like that. But watch it yourself.

I'm a girl (if you did not notice that before) and I've been playing these games quite a lot and I was often someone who does not belong there. When Natalie comes to the tournament and is harassed you may find this awkward but I know that feel. Probably all of us can. Cass also asks her why she cares when all those players are just teasing her and whatnot. We don't hear the answer in the movie I would not give one either. But later we hear Natalie share her frustration about the game. This clearly shows why she bears all that, because she loves the game.

It's been also about half a year from my last RPG session and quite a long time since I played my last game of Legend of the Five Rings. Our RPG group was incapable of meeting at one place at one certain date for a session and that meant the end of playing the game we all love or loved. As for the card game ... the community was divided in two. There were two groups - those who loved the storyline, the characters etc and those who simply played the game and enjoyed the mechanics (those where the 'competitive' players that did not really care about the story). I am part of the second group and always will but after seeing this movie I see it a bit differently too. I was one of the players playing a deck that provoked a very negative player experience making one of the other win conditions rather unplayable and I feel bad for it but I love the game very much and I would love to play it the best way one can.

With Gary's subplot we also get the message 'do not hate'. A fan of something does not necessarily need to hate something else (Chibi-chan destroying the Ninja Dragon Riders series). The same we see from Cass point of view. He always hated LARPers and card game players. But we are all gamers and we all come to conventions to have fun and enjoy what we like, there is no reason to hate.

What I like about Gamers 3 is the fact that it shows the fans and gamers in true light. There is a lot of jokes and hints that only gamers will understand, but general public can watch this. Yes, sure there is hyperbole one can say but it stays true. It shows the problems the communities have and just let's us think about them. The LARPers are shown as LARPers dress up and role play, that is something I would expect from gamers to do unlike showing something in a way that it looks pleasing and makes a point but hardly shows the reality as that is common in other movies (and usually sheds a negative light on gamers or the game itself).

After seeing Gamers 3 I was telling everyone about it. At that time I just told them to see it because it is another Gamers movie (even though being totally different) or because it shows how a Legend of the Five Rings community (and other communities) look like in reality. Nowadays though I recommend this movie for a different reason. It shows the problems there are in the fan community, it speaks to us and it shows us how we should behave and stand together. It also shows how I feel about certain card game now and why I want to quit it. Because I really feel like Natalie. I always kind of felt like this but it was only after truly playing Legend of the Five Rings that I realized that the way I want to play the game is very important for me. Without being able to play the decks I want I simply can't play the game.

If you haven't seen the movie yet go get it. 10USD is certainly worth it. It is something completely different from the previous two Gamers but it is still hilariously fun. It is a drama though (so you should keep that in mind) with a message even though you can just ignore it and enjoy all the comedy and fun (and the drama of course).

BTW the title of the movie also is well chosen and pretty much sums everything up.