Friday, September 29, 2006

Unique, and proud of it!

Well, that didn't take long.

After posting here and on the CloutUS Forum regarding the use of a 3rd party organized play website, and to some extent, their system, the results were clear:

No Deal.

I'm happy about. To some extent, it validates what I've been doing for the last year. CLINCH is being embraced by Clout players, and with new promo prize chips due out in January, the new Marvel set due in February, plans for the next Clout genre just starting, and talk about what we want to do with fantasy AFTER the next fantasy expansion is released next year, it's all good.

I should e-mail Al and tell him that after consulting with the fans and the rest of HCG, we're going to support our OP program on our own.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Unique vs Efficient

I spoke with a fellow named Al a couple of days ago. Al represents an Organized Play website called Creative Gaming Events

To make a long story short, CGE seems to provide OP services similar to Wizard of the Coast's DCI, including rankings, event calendars, reporting, and the like. In short, it duplicates every other OP program ever done.

If we were to use CGE (and with Marvel on the way, I'd be foolish not to consider it!) it would mean:

Players would probably need ID numbers.
TO's would have to send reports via the website.
I would automatically get reports of new events being "sanctioned", and would use those reports to send out kits.
Whether we used it or not, there would be a rating/ranking system similar to other games.
Clout would be listed with the other participating games, perhaps gaining additional exposure.
Clout would be included in marketing targeted at member gamers. I was assured this was an Opt-in/Opt-out messaging.

CLINCH and the CLINCH Medallions would still the be the central mechanism for Clout OP. By automating the 'sanctioning/reporting' part of OP, I can keep the rest of our interactions relaxed and personal, the way I like things, even as the game grows larger. I'm honestly worried that the current system (simple, but labor intensive) won't be sustainable if Marvel is the success we expect it to be.

They also have some additional tools on the way in November, which I spec'd out for the HCG website, but we decided we couldn't afford. I'll keep the specifics to myself, just in case it's not public info, but it's cool.

All that and I'm still not at all comfortable with the idea of homogenizing Clout's OP program. I don't want to dive in and then realized it's not working and have to shift gears again.

Assuming we can keep the system going as-is (I think we can, really), what's more important. Remaining Unique or Becoming Efficient?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mixing it Up

What a great Monday of tournament reports. Great? Reports? In the same sentence? Yep!

Fngrz ran a rochester style event in Nebraska. All the booster packs went into the middle and were drafted from the one common pool. The games used 27 point, multi-factional stacks.

Mattimao in South Carolina ran a 3-stack tournament. I'm pleased to report it went well. I want to run one at Gen Con SoCal, though I haven't registered any of the events as such.

Blkthrn in Tennesee ran a team event. Again, it went well.

This weekend, Pirate King is running his Halloween event (you saw the poster a few posts ago.) with just Goblins and Undead.

Some of the formats will work, others won't. Right now the forum's talking about Big Games, more points, more chips. I can't wait for the event report when the first Big Game is reported.



I love it. I've been waiting all summer and I wasn't disappointed. Now I'm watching Studio 60, which I'm liking too, but as nobody flies or teleports, it'll be tough fo rit to match up.

If you missed it, don't miss it again. The real world, now. A very few people have super powers, and a very few people know (or suspect) it. The people in question all have real world problems that super powers don't help with. Oh, and the heroin addict guy who can paint the future has painted a picture of a mushroom cloud destroying New York just prior to overdosing.

I can't wait for the next episode!


Saturday, September 23, 2006


We all have Jirel to thank for this, the Clout Wikipedia entry.

Now, I'm a big geek for web-tools, particulary ones that I can apply to Clout. This one is special in a couple of ways. First, as per the rules of the Wikipedia, it's neutral. Now, it may surprise people, but I LOVE that. It's hard for somebody like me to (or anyone at HCG, I think) to step back and be neutral about Clout. I know it took a couple of tries, but Jirel really hit it out of the park, getting the gist of Clout across in text, which I can tell you isn't easy.

Could it be better? Of course. Everyone who's savvy enough to read a blog like this one knows that Wiki entries can be modified by anyone. Check it out. Make it cooler. Keep it neutral. Expand the entries that relate to Clout (like Goblins, for example).


Friday, September 22, 2006

Roll 'Em!

If you don't get it, I can't explain.
Found on Boing Boing

Goblins vs. Undead in California

More from PirateKing. If you're in California, I wouldn't miss this one!

Free at Last!

I'm 100% caught up with my e-mail for the first time in months. In a few minutes, something new will appear, but as of this second...I'M FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Honestly, as long as I've got a normal 5 day, 40 hour, work week I don't have any problem keeping up with things. It's those darned conventions and holidays. Just so everyone knows, besides the forums I don't work on holidays or weekends anymore. I will burn out if I overdo it. It's really important to me that I continue to love my job, and I do!

Speaking of conventions, Gen Con SoCal is my next trip. In addition to the show, I'll be taking my first vacation since joining Hidden City Games. Me, my wife, and my 5-year old will partake of Disneyland prior to the convention. Disneyland, in case you wondered, is my favorite place in the entire world. Happy Dance!

Keep those e-mails coming. I CAN handle it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cultural Connections

Thanks to Yehuda for getting me thinking about this.

As I've been saying for a while now, community is everything. Part of any community is its culture. With gaming, the culture comes from mainly from the sort of players who like the game. To some extent, people like me can stress aspects of the game, and have a *minor* impact on the culture. Really, our job is to guess what the game's culture will be and try and accomodate it. If we guess wrong (and I think we did, at first) we then change our strategy and try again (which I also think we did.)

What is Clout culture?

Take a Stand - You play the game standing up. It doesn't really say that in the rules anywhere, yet people gravitate naturally to a standing positition. It even bothers me when people try to play sitting.

Playmats - As much as we tried in the beginning to avoid dictating the size and type of play surfaces, fans have really embraced the playmat as "the way" to play. Who are we to argue?

Fun vs Competitive- Playing Clout should be straight up fun, win or lose. This is something we've tried to stress from the very beginning. It's why CLINCH is more a collector's hobby than a ranking system. It's why there are up to 7 winners of every tournament, by faction. Also, the physical nature of Clout makes it hard to adjudicate. By relaxing the stakes, people are less likely to cheat and less likely to grouse about honest mistakes. Still, judges must do their best to make sure everyone is playing correctly!

Open Formats - This ties to the Fun issue. More and more, tournament organizers are writing me with different Clout formats they'd like to try, and asking me if it's okay. My goal: Get across that folks don't need to ask. The answer is always, "give it a shot, tell me how it went!" This isn't Magic: The Gathering. The stakes are low and if you're taking the time to run a tournament, you can call the shots. If it doesn't work, you don't need me to tell you. You'll know. As the tournaments grow larger, wacky formats will be tougher to pull off, but I hope folks keep trying them. Also, as the need for intro events starts to wane at cons, I can start replacing them with alternate format games.

Inclusive vs Exclusive - We know that every fan of Clout and every Venture Team member makes the game stronger (with hobby games, bigger IS better.) We all work really hard to make sure players know they can tell us what they think, and if they're right, we'll do what we can to act. When the game first started, very few players sent me their comments and opinions. I assure you, that's no longer a problem. =-)

There is a lot more, and I'm a bit sheltered from the kitchen tables and gaming stores where most of the games take place. As Clout culture grows, so will our community. I hope we can avoid yelling "BANZAI" before each tournament, though.

What is special about your local Clout Culture?


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yes, I read them!

And this is a good one.

A Venture Team Demo Report:

"The most memorable moments of the evening were due the Clout chips failing to remain on the table, not just the play area, but off the table, across the floor, under tables, under chairs, under people, and the immediacy of players to chasing after them in all manner of ways. The chips have a knack for thwarting even the most prepared of players, in advance of a player cutting them off at the path, the chips decidedly swerved in other directions and avoided their stalwart chasers. Finding themselves eventually exhausted, they were usually retrieved successfully as they rested from their run. I speak from experience as well as witnessing the events. Between the surface of the play area propelling them in certain directions at somewhat high velocities, the texture of the carpet lent to the chips taking paths not foreseen. It was at times as if they had minds of their own. Players had as much fun chasing chips as throwing them. I kid you not. "



Monday, September 18, 2006

Clout Formats

Hidden City Games doesn't want to tell you how to play. We'd rather not tell you how big the play area should be. We really don't want to tell you what makes a good play surface. Heck, there's four different range increments on the measuring tape (and we didn't use any of them for playtesting...we used 2" range increments.)

Tournament formats are another area where people expect guidelines, or worse, rules. After running a lot of tournaments over the summer, I've come up with some basic formats that *I* think work best for me, at conventions. I like:

One-on-One tournaments. 3-5 rounds. Each round consists of a single game. The winner of each game gets 4 tournament points, the loser 0. If there's a tie, both players get 1.

Multiplayer tournaments (2-3 players). 3 Rounds. Each round consists of a single games. The winner of each games gets 4 tournamnet points, the loser 0. All other players get 1 point, including players who tie for first or last place. Match up as many 3 player games as possible each round, with the remaining games being 2 players.

I don't like 4 player games because they take too long, and unless everyone is playing 4 players, to many people end up standing around waiting for the slow games to finish. The odds that somebody plays out of turn and has the wrong number of chips at the end seems to increase sharply at 4 players, as well.

Does this mean I'm not running any other sort of tournaments? Heck no! Now that Clout is taking off, and I can go to shows where players with constructed stacks will be attending, I'm really looking forward to reducing the number of "starter" events I run, and replacing those events with some wackier stuff. Stuff that players wouldn't normally play. For now, we just run these games after hours, but I'm going to start scheduling them soon. If you have an idea for a tournament format you'd like to see. Post it to the forum. I see them, and I'm keeping notes.



I've started a debate regarding the chip, Animate Dead (or really, the ability Reanimate) by posting a Poll on the Clout forum.

It's good: Change Nothing.
It's bad: Change it.
It's really bad: Ban it.

Now, there've been zero votes for banning the chip. That makes me glad, because I don't want to go there. I want to change the Reanimate ability, so the cost of Animate Dead falls more in line with its effect. Please note that if any changes are to be made, Paul will be making them, though I certainly have some input.

One post related how changes, by themself, are a bad thing. I disagree. I like the idea that a game can be tinkered with, increasing the value of the 'game experience' with each little modification. Computer games do this seamlessly. One of Clout's biggest weaknesses (or is that Weaken's) is the lack of room on the chips, forcing all the abilities to be written as single word 'keywords'. Now it seems we can turn that into an advantage by making changes to the meaning of the keywords and leaving the chips alone. Essentially, errata free errata.

Now, we don't want to go overboard, but in moderation (say, changing Reanimate) I think we can make the game straight up better. This is just what I think. Because I want to know what you think, I started the Poll!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two Thousand Words, plus a few.

If this is what victory in Wisconsin looks like, I'll take two! Congrats my friend! Bonus points for winning with Goblins! Take THAT, Gangris!

Clout in SoCal! A great turnout for the Redbeard's Revenge Release event run by Zeb! Great job!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blame Canada!

Last weekend's adventure was the Canadian National Gaming Expo, and despite the fact that I didn't want to go (I'm back to being way behind again) it was a fabulous show. Not only was Clout the hit of the gaming area, but I met some terrific people. Eddie, JP, Dwayne (and his buddies but Dwayne's the only name I can remember!) as well as 50% of the Canadian Venture Team in Robert and a terrific Gen Con volunteer who showed up, learned Clout, and demoed for us, Gordy. I can't wait to see all of you guys again.

Not only did I meet some great people, but because we didn't have enough volunteers for the show locally, we decided to fly Amy (AIM), Ryan (Clouthead), and Craig (Saxoncross) up. Along with Robert, Gordy, and our road warrior Sean, the team was top notch. With all the enthusiastic Ventures-to-be, I doubt we'll need to fly folks into Toronto again.

The Expo was also pretty cool. I was too busy to do much, but passing by in the halls I saw Vern Troyer (Mini-Me), Alice Cooper, Christina Hendricks (Saffron, from Firefly), Morena Baccarin (Inara, from Firefly), and about 10,000 kids dressed in some top-notch anime costumes. Naruto is friggin' huge up there.