Ravnos, post-LotN

Ravnos have a special place in my heart, because it is the clan with which I won my first game, way back in the 90s. They have some of the most powerful cards in the game, albeit at very high cost. They suffered from mediocre crypt choices, having a few amazing vampires, but loads of crappy ones. With the release of FN they got the necessary tools to counter their card costs as well as the Week of Nightmares, which became a staple card. More support followed in the next sets, thus they are today one of the most successful clans.

The least I can say about the new Ravnos crypt is ... weird! First and foremost we have Gwen, who sucks unless you play aus/chi (then she sucks less), but if another players throws a Gehenna card, in four turns, she gets AUS/ANI/CHI/FOR, +1 bleed and +1 capacity! Then we have Neel, without chimerstry and Brian, the standard 4-cap with the 3 in-clan at inferior. Johann is yet another low-cap with auspex and a useless ability.
At mid-caps, Papa Legba can get at least +1 bleed for a blood to compensate his useless obtenebration and the in-clan inferiors. Returning to the auspex theme, we also got Anjalika, the only out of the six new vampires below 6-cap with a superior discipline! Vassily, follows the new anarchic trends, sporting six inferiors, without even animalism, but guess what ... with auspex! Jayakumar & Ganesh have two in-clan superiors, corner-case abilities, the later trading his animalism for superior dementation. Chavi is the first new vampire we got that I actually liked, he's solid with two strong abilities and a big target painted on his forehead (Red List)! Vasiliy follows on the same trend, solid disciplines and a free boosted bleed per turn, nice. Kiradin is the second new Ravnos with superior dementation and free additional strike, which could be useful in a mass/horrid reality gun deck.
Durga Syn is a powerhouse, with seven disciplines (ani CHI for / aus dom OBF THA) and two powerful abilities. I am absolutely certain that she will lead a variety of decks and with good reason. Marcia is solid, shares with Durga dom/THA and has all in-clan at superior. Lizette & Phaedyme are decent, if not overcosted and seem to me more geared towards combat, the later is also the third new vampire with superior dementation.

The discipline in the last two groups are now distributed according to the table:
CHI/chi -> 16+10
FOR/for -> 10+11
ANI/ani -> 9+12
AUS/aus -> 1+7 // only one with AUS !
DEM/dem -> 3+2 // worth it?
OBF/obf -> 3+2 // Veil the Tumnimos ;)
PRE/pre -> 2+3 // to do what?
THA/tha -> 2+2 // Magic of the Smith !
POT/pot -> 1+3 // prevent+disarm
CEL/cel -> 2+1 // Horrid/Mass Reality ?
PRO/pro -> 2+1 // interesting options
DOM/dom -> 0+3 // deflection is still very strong
and one each with obt, nec, qui, or abo // safely ignore these guys
When I compare the with the G23 crypts, I realize that now the high-cap got stronger and the low-caps are pretty much useless, but given that Ravnos have the best breeding card in the game, as well as multi-act, the new crypts should be on par with the old ones.

The clan cards have some interesting, though not game-breaking additions, like Kumpania, a solid permanent intercept master, that is not a location. Karavalanisha Vrana is somewhat expensive, but still useful. Talith is one more useless melee weapon we got in this new set. Mantle of the Moon seems to me unnecessary with all the stealth the clan has. Finally, Zapaderin is a big boost to breed decks employing high-caps, like Gabrin, Durga, etc.

Chimerstry got Fantasy World, yet another weak imitation of Sensory Deprivation. Mirror's Visage, one the other hand, is just amazing, keeping your minions safe form harm and ready to react at inferior, while offers stealth at superior. False Resonance is also a killer, since it hoses the intercept discipline (auspex)! While the last new action modifier Will-o'-the-Wisp, can stop minions from both blocking, but more importantly deflecting! Army of Apparitions at inferior is simply worthless, but the superior can be somewhat useful since it can stop alone a rush (or other harmful action), albeit at high cost. Finally, Sympathic Agony (which also requires fortitude) is corner-case.

Animalism got three good new cards (Underbridge Stray, Sense the Savage Way & Flesh Bond), but none of them is especially useful to the Ravnos since they can already do everything they offer, but most importantly there are only nine ravnos with superior at an average capacity of 8,34! The situation with fortitude is somewhat better. Armor of Vitality can be a nice companion to Apparition. Hard Case is also an effective way to stay safe from combat, especially for a clan that excels at blocking. Bestow Vigor & Undying Tenacity seem more or less wallpaper to me.

There also some clan/discipline-less cards that fit well with the clan. The new weapons AK-47, Kpist m/45 & Bundi could find their way along with old ones in a Mass/Horrid Reality deck, as well as the Ambulance to deal with those annoying Imbued! The new untaps Fillip & Eluding the Arms of Morpheus are also nice additions, especially the former. Finally, you can now deflect bleeds without relaying on dominate with Lost in the Translation and if you don't, you can hose it with Narrow Minds.

Now, it's time for some advise to the new players who got interested in the clan and want to play with it. Despite the fact that Ravnos have a lot of solid cards, there also a lot missing and some of them will be very hard to find. First of all, the bulk of the rest of the G4 Ravnos can be found in in Kindred Most Wanted, along with Tumninos (thankfully a common), as well as Shilmulo Tarrot (in a rare slot). From Legacies of Blood you can pick Tsunda and Eldest are Kholo, but unless you want to begin collecting Laibon and bloodlines, it would be wiser to trade for these cards. Of course, Third Edition offers a lot of useful cards, along with nice trade options. If you can find the old starter from Final Nights it would be a huge boost to your collection, since it has a lot of strong cards that weren't reprinted. Unfortunately, Gabrin & Draba can be found only in the boosters, so trade is the only option for them.

With the same constrains I used for Assamites and Setites (2xStarters and 9 drafted boosters), it is very hard to make a competative deck. The one below though, should be decent for casual games, even capable of winning, depending on the opposition.

Crypt [13] (average: 6.16)
1x Lizette
1x Durga Syn
1x Kiradin
1x Vasiliy Vasilevich
1x Chavi Oraczko
1x Ganesh
1x Jayakumar
1x Vassily Taltos
1x Anjalika Underwood
1x Papa Legba
1x Brian Thompson
1x Gwen Brand
1x Neel Ramanathan

Master [12]
1x Fortune Teller Shop
1x Park Hunting Ground
2x Path of Paradox, The
2x Ravnos Carnival
4x Vessel
2x Week of Nightmares

Action [4]
4x Edged Illusion

Equipment [3]
1x Bundi
1x Talith
1x Treasured Samadji

Retainer [5]
5x Raven Spy

Reaction [18]
3x Eluding the Arms of Morpheus
3x Fillip
6x Ignis Fatuus
2x Instinctive Reaction
1x Lost in Translation
3x Sense the Savage Way

Action Modifier [18]
2x False Resonance
3x Fata Morgana
2x Forced March
2x Freak Drive
3x Heart's Desire
3x Leverage
1x Mantle of the Moon
2x Zapaderin

Action Modifier/Combat [6]
3x Mirror Image
3x Occlusion

Combat [24]
6x Apparition
6x Carrion Crows
6x Indomitability
3x Mayaparisatya
3x Soak

The idea is to block as often as possible your opponents, reducing the blood on their vampires and finishing them of with Edged Illusions. Albeit, there isn't enough intercept and no way to counter S:CE. The deck packs also a decent bleed threat. If your metagame sees a lot of low-caps or breed decks, it would be nice to use all four Durga Syn from the starters. Against heavy intercept, increase the stealth by removing transient intercept. Finally, if your metagame sees a lot of rush switch the Carrion Crows with Army of Apparitions.
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Autumn Season Impressions

One month has
almost pasted since the first series aired. I watched at least one subbed episodes of almost every anime (airing at night, I just skip the morning shows for children), but for most I watched 2-3. I ordered them first by air day and then by starting air date, leaving the series continuing from previous seasons last. So here we go ...

Updated impressions, after watching more episodes, are in orange.

... only Bamboo Blade ... shame it was a let down ...

Bamboo Blade
As I stated in the preview, I was practicing kendo, thus I became excited with this series. Unfortunately, kendo is the only thing that keeps me watching. The characters seem very trivial and shallow and sport-centered plots tend to be very weak. Another problem is the 3d CG they are using, it very poorly integrated with the 2d animations and stills. It gives me the impression that they made it just to have one.

Verdict (7 episodes):
watch -> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 4 episodes, I begun liking this more, the forth character (out of five) shows up, one turns out to be a total psycho and more. If it keeps up this way it might turn out to be really interesting.
Second Update: After 7 episodes, the kendo matches in episode 6 were great, as well as at the beginning of the 7th. Still the show is funny and thank god they dropped all the crappy 3d CGs. I guess this will continue for a second seasonsince it's half the the way and the fifth team member hasn't yet been introduced

Sketchbook ~full color's~
Slice of school life of the members of an art club ... no thanks! Though this is well done (animation, character design and VA), it's subject and structure are not within my personal sphere of interest.

Verdict (1 episode): drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

... detectives, demons, mysteries, alien-yuri ... and Genshiken!

Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
The plot is just rediculous and a rip-off several popular series! and that was not enough the character designs are very kitsch, bright colours for grotesque and ominous characters? very bad taste ...

Verdict (1 episode): drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Suteki Tantei Labyrinth
Very similar to Detective Loki - Ragnarok, but I never was excited with Loki, had a couple of good arcs and that was about it. This gave me exactly the same feeling, though since it is newer, thus technically it is much better animated.

Verdict (1 episode): drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Night Wizard
I was surprised by Night Wizard, I expected to mock it, but I actually liked it. Why? Because it offers a trivial series that I think I have watched countless times, but still it is very entertaining, especially when you don't want to put your full attention into it ;) The character designs are well made, though not innovating in any way. Characters are funny and fittingly voice-acted, but not original. Action is flawlessly animated, but sparse and easy to animate. The plot is enjoyable, but still very predictable.

Verdict (7 episodes): watch
-> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 7 episodes, it gets better and better, though the second half of the last episode was pretty lame, still it's generally fun to watch.

Blue Drop
All-female schools nowadays in anime contain:
traumatized transfer student, depressed alien commander stranded in earth, shy and hard working class rep, etc, etc. It's like the crew from Geneshaft joined MariMite's academy! The plot progresses slowly and despite it's unoriginal characters, the series IS interesting. Until now a lot of built-up is going on and we know next to nothing about the aliens, but seems promising. Animation is very good, both 2D and 3D, though the lack of high-paced action scenes makes this easier.

Verdict (7 episodes): watch
-> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 7 episodes, it's clear that this is going to be a shoujo-ai/harem, with some space fights thrown here and there. Maybe I make it sound worst than it is. Anyway it's still watchable.

Myself; Yourself
I try to avoid harem, date-sim adaptions, etc.

Verdict (0 episodes):
n/a -> drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 1 episode, I am amazed at my patience, I actually managed to watch the whole episode. DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE !!!

I must get around and watch this!

Verdict (0 episodes): n/a
-> n/a
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: I still haven't watched it =P

Genshiken 2
Genshiken has next to zero surprises, it picks up from where the OVAs left us, both in respect of plot and production quality. As the series progresses, though, it steadily loses its originality. Thankfully, Ogie's addition to the cast was a nice choice to counter that. On the positive side we got some character development since the first season.

Verdict (6 episodes): watch
-> excited
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: Episode 3 was amazing, Koshaka was cosplaying as ... nah ... I won't spoil it! The 4th episode resolved one of the most obscure relationships of the series, in a very funny way ;) After those two episodes I am getting excited about this season!
Second Update: And continues strong! Yaoi in the fifth and an embarassed Ogiue in the sixth!

... fun-service day ...

Dragonaut - the Resonance
And thus we get the EVA-clone of the season from ... guess who ... GONZO! I will describe the package that this studio has offered countless of times. Badly integrated 3d CGs, unoriginal plot that tries at some point to be "artistic" and fails miserably and tons of fan-service, in the guise of humongous, bouncing boobs! Still, when their series are short and free time is available GONZO's EVA-clone are fun, though they never intend to be.

Verdict (7 episodes): watch (until it gets too annoying)
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: Exactly as bad as I expected, but in any case it is still watchable.

Goshuushousama Ninomiya-kun
Demons + ecchi can be a funny combo

Verdict (7 episodes): n/a
-> excited
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After five episodes I am getting excited with this show! It is funny has tons of fan-service and an interesting non-standard male lead. I must not forget to mention that it also has a MAID!!! Nothing really deep though, but great show to kill time and practice my japanese ;)

... by far the most exciting day ...

You're Under Arrest! Full Throttle
I really loved the original OVA (yes, the one from '96), but I haven't watched anything else, so this will also stack to the YUA queue, probably get around to watch them the coming summer.

Verdict (0 episodes): n/a
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Have you seen Air? the new Kanon? well Clannad is the same thing all over again! But after KyoAni made Haruhi, they went very high in my appreciation list, so I'll follow this and then troll SaiMOE '08 threads ;P
On a serious note, production values are very high, so this can be easily watched.

Verdict (4 episodes): watch
-> drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After the fourth episode, I dropped the series, it was just boring!

Shakugan no Shana II
Nice start, Shana picks up from where last season stopped ... almost, because Yuji never herd Shana's confession, which would have been a very interesting development, but then again, I didn't really minded the lame excuse! In any case Shana is back at last, so rejoice!

Verdict (6 episodes): excited
-> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After watching 5 episodes, I still like the new Shana, though am not as excited as before, basically the situation is pretty static after the appearance of Hecate in school. At least Wilhelmina plays more now in every episode so I get a second dosage of maids per week =P

American styled drawings ... suck! and I don't mean muscle-bound, leather/latex-clad lads, but minimalistic, NY-style people that look like french (sorry freedom) fries! This made my my eyes bleed!

Verdict (1 episodes - raw): drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Kodomo no Jikan
no plot ... loli, ecchi ... hentai ??? Well, this came out delayed and heavily censored, because a japanese teacher was pimping his students (so what's next in our upright developed society?). But I must repeat this a thousand times, pedophilia has nothing to do with anime, especially serious depictions of it (should I remind to everyone Koi Kaze or CCSakura)? Kodmo no Jikan is fresh, full energy and humor. But also has some serious moments (well handled), because of it's theme (pedos, incest and homos). All in all, if you are stupid, biggot, etc you won't like it! otherwise it deserves a try if you like the character designs.

Verdict (OVA & 6 episodes): excited -> excited
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
PS: I will rant about the hypocrisy and guilt of conservatism in the future!
Update: If it wasn't so heavily censored, it would have been my top pick for the season. It balances between fun and drama very well, treats its characters with detail, avoiding being too boring, my other problem apart from censoring it the absolute lack of plot until now, we only get to see interaction that do not progress the status quo along with flashbacks. Though still the series is very good. Oh and pass no judgment before the sixth episode.

Ghost Hound
WOW, is this the new Lain? The first episode was very promising ... I will come back to right more when I watch more, it started pretty late (18.10) and I can not expess anything more then my excitement before I watch more episodes.

Verdict (1 episode):
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

WTF? only shows for children? whyyyyyyyyy !!!

... I'm still undicided on this weekday's series ...

ef -a tale of memories-
Weird storytelling, but interesting directing. This is also based on a date-sim, but from what I find out it was about a collection of stories with different characters, completely irrelevant to each other. So this can be a major source for screwing the plot, but until then seems nice.

Verdict (1 episode):
watch -> drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After the second episode, I dropped the series, it was as boring as CLANNAD!

Kimikiss Pure Rouge
Yet another love-comedy/drama, with nice character designs, but pretty sandard plot, it's like hachimitsu to clover in high
school in almost every aspect, animation, character designs, humor and gives me a feeling that in a little bit I will include character development.

Verdict (2 episodes):
watch -> drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After the third episode, I dropped the series, it was as boring as CLANNAD and ef! I guess I am not in my date-sim/harem phase ;)

Shion no OU
If this was going to be about shogi, it would get boring soon enough, if it focused in mystery it could get very interesting ... so after the first episode I realize that not even the scriptwritters have chosen where to focus and until they do the result is weird. Technically, though, it is nice, so I'll tag along ...

Verdict (5 episodes):
watch -> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 3 episodes, I am still watching this combination of Monster and Hikaru no Go, only this time it's Shogi not Go. In any case, if the next couple of episodes are at the same pace I'll also drop this one.
Second Update: Apparently they decided that this is a sport/shogi show, too bad ... but I'll keep watching, since I try to learn shogi anyway.

... magic & fantasy ... and Minami-ke (wtf?) ...

Rental Magica
I'll confess that the nice character designs and moe'ness only, draw my attention. The back-story is a mess, but can and probably will be funny, as long as the scriptwriters don't try to turn serious. Only one series succeeded in this, Seto no Hanayome.

Verdict (6 episodes):
watch -> watch
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Second Update: The timeline is screwed up in a very bad way, whoever is responsible for the scenarios consistancy made a very bad job. But anyway, there is too much hype both around and in the show and this is what sustains it.

Prism Ark
Fantasy + H-game is a weird combination to begin with. The character designs and action were amazing in the first episode. Though storytelling was constantly going temporally back and forth, which by the way I liked, though if it continues it will get annoying at some point.

Verdict (2 episodes):
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Very nice designs, above average animation and funny. The humor is reminiscent of Azumanga Daiou, which I loved, though here we get a lot friction because the sisters have an age difference.

Verdict (6 episodes):
excited -> excited
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Second Update: Very good show, though it can never reach the heights of Azumanga Daiou.

Jyushin Enbu - Hero Tales
After the european fantasy, we get an oriental/chinese epic of the day. Art and animation were above average, but in what the first episode side was its trivial plot. In any case, probably production values will drop with time, but hopefully the plot will get some originality as the scriptwriters become more confident with their work.

Verdict (2 episode):
watch -> drop
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 2 episodes, I realized that children shows aren't limited in the morning zones! This turned out a pretty lame shounen show, as the titled hinted! So I dropped the series.

Sky Girls
I kind of feel guilty for liking this, maybe it's because I didn't take a good dosage of Nanoha this year (StrikerS sucked, big time). So here the lolis are mecha (exoskeleton-variant) pilots, instead of having magic girls, the don't butcher english language (which I found rather cute) and they are significantly fewer, which leaves room for some character development. All in all, it's fun to watch, but nothing special.

Verdict (18 episodes):
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
The last arc (Matsuribayashi) has begun, with no mysteries left, now we get to see the resolution. The previous arc (Minagoroshi) was just amazing, in all aspects, I really loved it and I'm really anxious to see how things end.

Verdict (19 episodes):
excited -> VERY excited
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN
Update: After 18 episodes (5th in Matsubayashi-hen), all pieces have been gathered, all mysteries revealed, all actors are in stage ... waiting for Hanyuu's manifistation as the final piece that will shatter the accursed fate of Hinamizawa. The last six episodes (19-24) will bring this wonderful series to its end!

Hayate no Gotoku
This gets better and better, as it explores more characters and their relationships. Humor is still fresh and production values remain constantly above average (rare for long series).

Verdict (32 episodes):
Reference: Official, AniDB, ANN

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