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Subject: Blue Moon for LackeyCCG(an alternative to CardTable) rss

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Joe Stude
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Hey Neph. I've been talking to you a little bit over on OO, but thought I'd crosspost parts of my response there over here so that anyone interested in playing Blue Moon online can get a little more info on their options. That said, on with the show. This is a LONG post.



Having played with CardTable before exclusively and being kinda overwhelmed with the complex look to Lackey on a cursory glance, I was pretty skeptical about it. However, noting how much work Nephrinn's put into the Blue Moon plugin for Lackey, I decided to invest some time so I could really see how much Lackey had to offer. Here are some notes on my experiences with it:

1. Trevor (the author) just released a new alpha version of the program yesterday which supposedly fixes some issue(s) with the deck builder. There's a link to it in the second post in this thread:

http://www.lackeyccg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=129

2. This plugin was just completed yesterday, so it's actually quite a mess trying to download all the individual update files. A much easier solution would be to offer the entire plugins/blue moon directory as a zip file with paths included. I did also notice the option for an automated install - does this currently work with the Blue Moon plugin?

3. Very nice work from what I can see so far. The scans are fantastic, much better looking than the art Card Table sports. To boot, CardTable can only zoom in to a text popup, whereas in Lackey you can see the high-res scan so clearly you can even read the flavor text. This is probably the most impressive thing to me about the Lackey plugin so far. There's one thing that doesn't appear to be present, though: the dragons. I'm wondering if it's such an unusual mechanic that Lackey might not be able to handle it. Any ideas?

4. Interestingly, the plugin includes all the images and descriptions necessary to make decks, but not the decks themselves. I spent quite a bit of time digging around before I realized this, surprised. Once you've created a deck in the Deck Editor, you need to hit the "Load to You" button (also in the Deck Editor) to have the program load the deck for you for actual play.

5. I created a consolidated Vulca deck as a test deck. A nice touch: when creating a deck, moving your leader card to the "Starting" tab includes him/her in the deck file, but separates them from the rest of the deck when first loaded for easier play.

6. Once I got the deck loaded, I played around with the table settings and other stuff. Having your draw deck with the cards all fanned out vertically instead of stacked is a bit strange - is there any way of straightening that into a pile? How about any easy way of counting the cards there? (It's important to be aware how many cards you and your opponent have in your draw decks when you're nearing the endgame)

Overall it took me quite a while to figure out how this thing worked, and I haven't even played a game yet. Being a pretty technically competent person, it makes me think getting this properly set up might be really difficult for someone less technically inclined.


Anyhow, that said, now that I've really checked this out, I'm hoping you'd be willing to download CardTable with the Blue Moon plugin, check it out, and tell me what you think about it in comparison to Lackey. The link for that is here:

http://www.blue-moon-liga.com/modules.php?name=Downloads

For you and for anyone else who's interested in playing Blue Moon via CardTable but hasn't really delved into it yet, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Options -> Username allows you to change your username.

2. The big open space is the play area and the smaller spaces below are where your hands go. No matter what you do to cards in your hand, your opponent will only ever see the backs of the cards.

3. There are no specific sections for discards or your draw deck. Most of the time people set these up in the main play area in the same position you'd set them up in relation to the game board in the basic set.

4. To load a deck, open File -> Deck Select and choose a deck. Voila, the deck appears in your hand. The deck files are designed so that your leader (the card with the light blue backing) will be on top when the deck is first loaded - just pull him into the play area. If you're connected to someone else, the decks won't appear until both players have selected their decks.

5. Once you and/or your opponent have selected your decks, go back to File -> Deck Select and load dragons.ctd. This will load the dragons into your hand, where they can then be dragged out into the main playing area, then later manipulated for keeping score.

6. Dice rolls, coin flips, and other such mechanics are available through the Action menu.

7. Right-clicking on any card or stack of cards will bring up a context menu for all the operations you will need to perform on those cards (flipping, straightening stacks, etc). There are some important hotkeys for these that will make life a lot easier:

f = flip a card over
s = straighten stack (careful with this - any cards touching will go into the stack)
To drag a stack instead of a single card, hold down the Ctrl key before you drag.
h = arrange stack horizontally (useful for arranging the cards you've drawn quickly in your hand)
Shuffling is a little strange in Cardtable. To do this, hold down Ctrl-S and while holding that, hit the C key. You should see some red lines pass through the deck if this worked.

Let me know if you decide to check it out and what you think of it.
 
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Karl
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For what it is worth: The Blue Moon Online League plans to switch from Cardtable to LackeyCCG once Lackey is considered stable. So Lackey is supposed to become the 'official' tool for Blue Moon online play sooner or later. Not having any relations to that project I dunno about the state of progress however.
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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A bit off on a tangent, but can Lackey handle two (or more) players playing from a single deck? Please say "yes"... cry
 
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Joe Stude
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Lots of stuff to reply to here.

Re: the league changing from CardTable to Lackey... I can understand it, since CardTable hasn't been supported since 2002 and is, admittedly, not entirely stable (it crashes out and sometimes encounters errors that completely trash the game going on).

Do you mean allowing two players to play a game, each using the same deck, or literally two players playing a game drawing from the same deck? I can't imagine that'd be highly utilized.

When reading your reply, Neph, I realized that each section DOES show how many cards you've got left in it. You can also toggle to the other player with the big arrow buttons so you can easily see how many cards are in their draw deck without having to ask.

Incidentally, right-clicking on your avatar to load your deck only works for loading a recent deck, not one you've created new or never used before. Also, amusingly, I found a sequence of events that, seemingly, breaks the avatar right-click functionality. Try this:

1. Start a solitaire game.
2. Load a deck for yourself by right-clicking on your avatar.
3. Load the same deck for the bot by right-clicking on its avatar.
4. After both decks are loaded, try right clicking on either avatar again. It won't work now.


Edit: Oh yeah, I just discovered something else that I actually posted about on the beta forum on lackeyccg.com: when using the new alpha version he posted on Jan 25, when you close the program down it's not killing off its attached process, which leaves 46 megs of physical and 140+ megs of virtual RAM attached to an orphan process. Every time you close and reopen the program (like if you're changing plugins repeatedly) it adds a new orphan to the stack. At 200 MB a shot, that's super nasty.
 
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Brad Durandetta
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Jowjow wrote:
or literally two players playing a game drawing from the same deck? I can't imagine that'd be highly utilized.


I think this is what sdiberar meant. My guess is the concern is over being able to play Lost Cities, a great 2-player game (also by Knizia and Kosmos) in which both players draw from the same deck. Between this and rummy variants, a feature where multiple people can control a single deck should be available in any generic card game software.

By the way, good job finding the memory mismanagement problem; those can be a pain.

Edit: Fixed redundancy.
 
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Joe Stude
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Ahhh, thanks for the info. Wasn't aware how Lost Cities plays and also don't really have that much experience with CCG software (other than CardTable the last 2-3 weeks and MTG: Apprentice from a long time ago).
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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The funny thing is how much CCGs have affected people's perceptions, so that drawing from a single deck is seen as unusual. Actually it's the normal state of affairs in card games. Take a typical game like Gin Rummy (or any other rummy variant I can think of at the moment) it's what you do. Bridge (whist etc.) don't draw from a deck but do deal out cards from a single deck. And so on for many other games, traditional (like these) or proprietary (Bohnanza for example).

Played cards are more tricky, there are games where you own the cards you've played (Canasta) but games where you play into other's areas (Gin Rummy, laying off) to games where played cards are collected (most trick making games) and games where all played cards are communal (Rummikub - they are logically cards) and complicated games (Bohnanza). Lost Cities is like many rummy games in allowing drawing from played/discarded cards (some of them) and so on. I have come across non-CCGs with individual decks (often speed games, a couple of perfect information games) but it's very much a rarity.

This has been a Blue Moon free posting. Normal service will return shortly.
 
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AxonDomini
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I just downloaded LackyCCG and will give the Blue Moon plugin a try. I just have to say that the LackyCCG Blue Moon website is HORRIBLE to read. Seriously - it hurts my eyes. Whoever can do so, please change the background/color scheme/ANYTHING to make it easier to read.
 
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Joe Stude
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Chris: That's exactly what brought on my rules posting regarding the Cool gang affecting what cards you're allowed to discard toward dragon attraction... what's convention for one is unusual to the next. For me, the concept of a card in play affecting the text on cards both in play AND in your hand is unique and rather alien. One of the things I like most about good board and/or card games is when they get you thinking "out of the box".

Jeff: funny enough, Nephrinn changed that today after implementing the dragons. Until that change, it was actually very readable. Have to agree Neph, the BlueMoon background makes it really tough to read.

Edited to note it's been fixed - back to a nice black background. Kudos.
 
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Joe Stude
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Yeah, I start feeling cramped as well from time to time, especially when playing Hoax and drawing up to 10 cards or so. I've been chitchatting with the designer of a particular game about porting this game to online play, but there are enough cards and little bits that go with the game that I don't think CardTable would work for it - there's just not enough space.

 
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AxonDomini
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After playing with the LackyCCG Blue Moon plugin a bit, I have only one concern that could be easily rectified (I believe).

In the Deckbuilder, there is no field that identifies which people each card belongs to. There is a field identifying the SET each card came from, but this is far less useful. Drowning Rainstorm (Terrah24), for example, is identified as an Aqua card. Knowing the Set is nice, but it is much more important to know that Drowning Rainstorm belongs to the Terrah people, since that is what determines wether or not those two moons on the card will count toward your moon limit.

Keeping the Set field is OK, but please add a field for People as well. Also, a field for the card # would be nice - i.e. the "24" in "Terrah24". The notation "Terrah24" or "Inter404" has become a standard for identifying specific cards, so it would be nice if LackyCCG supported this.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Jowjow wrote:
That's exactly what brought on my rules posting regarding the Cool gang affecting what cards you're allowed to discard toward dragon attraction... what's convention for one is unusual to the next. For me, the concept of a card in play affecting the text on cards both in play AND in your hand is unique and rather alien.


Actually the alienness, I think, is not as much as that. Consider Magic, the archetypical CCG. Now it is true that you don't affect cards which are strictly in hand, but rather in "limbo" between your hand and hitting the table. However in most regards this is not dissimilar (note that Blue Moon cards in hand which are affected are really only effected when you try to do something with them, in the limited number of cases where this applies). But Magic cards also hit the table and sit there as "permanents" where they produce and are subject to effects. Now it is true that some cards affect just cards in limbo (e.g. counterspells) and some affect just permanents (e.g. "removal" cards). But there are Magic effects that apply to both: as I recall (it's been a while) this applies to effects such as Protection and various other prohibition effects just to start with. This is not to mention various dual mode cards and all sorts of complicated cases in the game.
 
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Thanks for adding the ID field, it's a big help. Quick question - when building a deck, is there a way to select multiple cards from the list and add them all to your deck in one shot? So far I've had to do it one by one, but this is pretty slow going. Since the filters work so well, it would be nice to be able to just drag/copy all of the cards in the filtered library window to my deck. Am I missing something? I tried shift+click and ctrl+click but they don't work.
 
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Joe Stude
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Dearlove wrote:


Actually the alienness, I think, is not as much as that. Consider Magic, the archetypical CCG. Now it is true that you don't affect cards which are strictly in hand, but rather in "limbo" between your hand and hitting the table. However in most regards this is not dissimilar (note that Blue Moon cards in hand which are affected are really only effected when you try to do something with them, in the limited number of cases where this applies). But Magic cards also hit the table and sit there as "permanents" where they produce and are subject to effects. Now it is true that some cards affect just cards in limbo (e.g. counterspells) and some affect just permanents (e.g. "removal" cards). But there are Magic effects that apply to both: as I recall (it's been a while) this applies to effects such as Protection and various other prohibition effects just to start with. This is not to mention various dual mode cards and all sorts of complicated cases in the game.


IIRC, Magic lacked the mechanics that would allow you to discard cards from your hand to achieve a certain effect. Counterspells/interrupts and other cards in that vein would always prevent cards from being "cast", but could do nothing vs. cards that your opponent did not attempt to play.

However, it's been a long time for me as well and maybe I'm wrong. They HAVE released about 93846542869 more expansions since I quit the game.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Jowjow wrote:
IIRC, Magic lacked the mechanics that would allow you to discard cards from your hand to achieve a certain effect.


No, they had that (well before Blue Moon). I could dig out stuff to get details, but a relatively early expansion had cards with a discard cost as an alternative to a mana cost. Force of Will is a card name that springs to mind, but don't quote me on that.

Quote:
Counterspells/interrupts and other cards in that vein would always prevent cards from being "cast", but could do nothing vs. cards that your opponent did not attempt to play.


But we don't have that really either. Even the effects that apply to cards in hand only show up when you attempt to do something with them. Cards sitting in your hand, unplayed, unseen, are essentially immune to effects as the effects have no effect, so to speak. It's just that lacking a "limbo" concept, if a card isn't yet in your combat/support/etc. areas it must still be in hand. It's just that what is in Magic the (common) exception (cards which have an effect when they enter play, rather than while in limbo) is the norm in Blue Moon. Or at least that's one way of looking at it.

A critical example is the Flit mutant. Once that's played its condition is an impossibility, so its condition must be checked before it reaches the combat area. But there's nowhere else for it to be except in hand. So is its text ignorable? No reason to suppose not, and really counterintuitive if it can't be (or if only its first sentence can't be). So now we have an effect that applies to cards in hand. The question then becomes which effects apply to cards in hand, not whether effects can apply to cards in hand. I could go on to discuss other cases, but let's wait a bit (and let's move it to a better thread then).
 
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Joe Stude
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I did a bit of digging and discovered that Force of Will was in the Alliances set, which was two sets after Ice Age (which is where I officially quit being a fanatic). Ergo, this really WAS after my time and that's why I wasn't familiar with the dynamic.

Dearlove wrote:
Cards sitting in your hand, unplayed, unseen, are essentially immune to effects as the effects have no effect, so to speak.


I'm not sure I see it the same way (even if you're "right"). This reminds me of the "if you don't hear a tree falling in the woods, is it really there?" discussion. In this case, I think that the cards in-hand ARE affected (in the case of the Cool gang, having their printed values reduced to 0), even though the fact that they're sitting in-hand with 0 values means that the "effects have no effect", except for a deterrent vs. Charm/Beguile/Browbeat Dragon effects.

Otherwise, the question of which cards would affect cards in-hand was the point of the original post and I'm looking forward to seeing what other cases you come up with.
 
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I'm beginning to seriously reconsider moving to Lackey after a bunch of foolishness with Cardtable last night. One of my biggest issues with CardTable is its tendency to take the first character you type in chat (even if you've got your cursor clearly positioned in the chatbar) and interpret it as a hotkey. This happened at least 5-10 times to me last night, causing me to flip cards, rotate cards 90 degrees one way or the other, etc etc.

Playing a Flit vs. Khind campaign with me leading 4-2 last night, we got to the end of a very tense game when my opponent threw down a play that had me thinking I'd lost the game on the very last play. I started to type and the first key registered did *something* to his cards (in hindsight, I think it straightened them horizontally). At first I didn't realize he'd emptied his hand on the previous play and thought whatever hotkey the program kicked in had dumped his remaining cards-in-hand onto the table. Freaked out a bit, I apologized and told him I hadn't seen the cards and to re-arrange em while I averted my eyes. He did so, but between that and the entire stack of cards not fitting onto the table well (the character causing his other Gang to double was mostly hidden under the bottom edge of the play area), despite knowing (and having in-hand) what I needed to match him, I retreated, turning a win into a loss.

This is, needless to say, not something that would have happened in real-life play.
 
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I have to agree, having played that game with you last night. I also had a similar situation where the interface for Cardtable distracted me to the point of missing an easy win at the end. While I don't love Lackey, it does have some nice features that may make the playing experience a bit more smooth. I have a few consolidated decks made up in Lackey, so will be happy to try it out.
 
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You know, there is this nice button that reads "UNDO" in the upper right hand of the screen in CT. Perfect solution for the situation unless you hit end turn before. You cannot undo a 'previous' turn.
 
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Joe Stude
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Heh, have seen that button a million times and never thought about using it. Thanks for the tip - will try it out.
 
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Jeff and I spent a solid 45 minutes to an hour attempting to get a game going with Lackey and ran into nothing but functionality questions and serious stability issues. Some of the trouble was due to firewall port stuff and some due to us using different versions, but once I downgraded to the correct version we still continued to have problems. During this time we had the program crash on us no fewer than 4 times.

One of the crashes happened after we finally got connected and in a game together, when I noticed a card was in my hand that shouldn't have been. Checking my hand revealed a blank space instead of a card, and when I tried to click on it the program crashed. Another occurred when Lackey attempted to transfer the dragon data files from Jeff to me - it told me in the chat bar that it was requesting the files, but Jeff sent me an IM through Yahoo that as soon as it tried to do that it crashed on his end. We experienced so many problems that we never even really started a game, much less finished one, and we moved over to CardTable to get a couple games in.

Someone mentioned the Blue Moon league was planning to move to Lackey in the near future... I gotta question this, cus despite our newbie ignorance, this program REALLY doesn't feel ready to go.
 
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What he said.

I just want to add that IF this program can get stabilized, it will be great. Deckbuilding with Lackey is much easier than with Cardtable, and there are just so many great features for gameplay that I look forward to a future version that's more stable and respnsive.

Just a few features that I really like:
1- A "Draw 6" button for drawing a new hand
2 - The ability to send a card to the bottom of your draw deck. Great for the Aqua!
3 - Quick and easy shuffling - just press one button
4 - The ability to tell the program exactly how much earth/fire power you have out
5 - Managing your hand is a lot nicer. There's a button to draw a card into your hand, and it's a lot easier to see what you have in hand witout having to drag your cards around. I can have 22 cards in hand without overlap.
6 - Multiple filters for deckbuilding. I can, for example, filter out any card that is NOT and Aqua and any card that IS included in the Allies or Blessings deck, leaving me with only the cards that belong in a consolidated Aqua deck (minus the mutant).

The gripes, other than stability:
1 - It's SLOOOOW..... ridiculously unresponsive. Hopefully that's just a side effect of the background debugging or an easily remedied memory management issue.
2 - You have to enter the name of any deck you want to load manually. There are no file selection dialogues.
3 - The program tells you what deck your opponent has loaded. While fine for casual play among friends, technically deck selection should be secret until both players have chosen.

Other than that, it's a great program. Or, would be if we could get it to work.
 
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