Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter


FICTION: Lure of the Serpent.
are sometimes Incredibly Nice to each other.
MY FIRST FINAL NIGHTS DECKS: [1] Legbiterized version of Sorrow's
will-they-won't-they Setites, and [2] Tweaked giovanni Precon,

FICTION: Lure of the Serpent.

It's some hours after sundown but the heat is still intense, and the
hot air rising from the pavements makes the lights seem to writhe,
almost like serpents. The portly figure in the linen suit draws on a
cigarette and sips at a tiny Turkish coffee, frowns a little and looks
at its watch. Its cold eyes scan the street. Where can they be? Just
then, two other figures enter the cafe, look around and then make
their way over to his table. "Good evening, Boyar" "Sorry for the
delay. They're everywhere, so it seems".

The ancient vampire regards its underlings with distaste. Their
clothes are awry, a strange sweet smell accompanies them and they wear
the silly smiles of the poor liars they are.

"Where's Anton?"
"We, ah, i think he may be a little bit later still."
"He has gone over."
"O no, respected sir, he will be with us soon, i'm sure."
"Do not presume to contradict me. Archbishop of Mexico City you may
be, but i am TELLING you that Anton has been corrupted by the Vile
Minions of Set."

Stravinsky and Caleban exchange glances. At that moment, a curvaceous
female figure enters the cafe and approaches the table. "Carnationsss,
generoussss sirsss?" Stravinsky turns, his face a mask of bestiality.
"Get you gone, demon!" As he makes to strike her she is suddenly over
by the door again, then out in the street. Stravinsky rushes after
her. Outside it is dark, and the lights seem to make it darker still.
His attention is gripped by something at the end of the street, and he
moves in that direction, turns a corner, and then another. He seems to
be following faint laughter or possibly the sound of finger-chimes.
Then somehow he is pushing aside a bead curtain and entering a cool
courtyard where a bearded figure in a summer suit is sprawled on a
divan. It sucks on a hookah and blows out the cool smoke. "Ah, welcome
at last, your grace! Please to be seated! Celine darling, pray attend
to our new brother's needs." From the shadows snake-vampires and
luscious female Setites emerge, along with Anton, his eyes glazed and
a foolish smile playing upon his lips.
It does not surprise the Boyar of the Tzimisce when, later that night,
a flute sounds in the darkness, stirring Caleban from his stupor. With
a muttered excuse he rises and goes out into the night. It has begun
to rain, and the hissing of the raindrops on the baking city mingles
with the sussurations of the snakes which seem to boil out of the
sewers. Caleban steps amongst them obliviously, as they writhe towards
the cafe where their now-defenceless prey awaits.

are sometimes Incredibly Nice to each other.

One of the most interesting things about Mike Nudd et al's recent
Watford tournament was the presence of, and strong showing by,
Continental European players. Some but not all of these players were
quite taken aback by the common UK tactic of table talk/manipulation
and the resultant table-splitting deals. Words like "Collusion" and
"Nepotism" were thrown around quite freely, and there was some
worrying and confusing discussion, now happily resolved, about the
possibility that a different playing style might be enforced in
upcoming continental tournaments.

Here i want to draw the attention of all VTES/Jyhad players to the
Hungarian mathematician Johnny von Neuman's Game Theory, and
especially to the way this theory has been developed by people like
Alexander and Maynard Smith in their attempts to understand how
apparently-altruistic behaviours can evolve under Darwinian natural
Selection. i'm doing this because i believe that, wittingly or not,
good VTES players who like table-deals are implementing some of these
ideas. For non-professionals it may be worthwhile to do a little
scene-setting first.

i don't suppose that Darwinian Natural Selection needs to be explained
to people here [you can email me privately if you don't know what it
is], but for this discussion it's worth emphasising the remorseless
amorality of the theory, an aspect which deeply troubled Darwin's wife
and to a lesser extent Darwin himself. Relentless and vicious
cut-throat competition is absolutely the name of the Darwinian game,
and therefore there's a problem when one observes
apparently-altruistic behaviour in nature.

Quantitative solutions to this problem became available thanks to Von
Neuman's work on the strategies of simple games like
Rock-Paper-Scissors and Prisoner's Dilemma. Essentially what you do is
to construct tables or matrixes showing all the possible gains and
losses to each player when different moves are made. Then you add up
the results for possible strategies, and by doing this you generally
find that there is an optimum strategy which will maximise your
winnings and minimise your losses [occasionally there is more than
one, and sometimes the multiple strategies can coexist, sometimes
not]. Such a strategy is called a Stable Strategy because any
deviation from it is going to lead to you losing. The crucial point is
that for cooperate-defect games like prisoner's dilemma, THE STABLE

Maynard Smith and Alexander have taken this basic idea and applied it
to issues like non-lethal fighting amongst animals, social grooming
and the like. A vast amount of work is involved here and it's not
possible to summarise it quickly, so i will refer those who want to
chase it up to a couple of books: Evolution by John Maynard Smith
[EUP, 1975], and The Descent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, BBC books, 70s
i think. But the bottom line is that despite their inability to talk
or hold cards in their furry little paws, any remotely-social animal
would recognise the UK-style table-splitting deal as completely
consonant with their daily experience of animal social life. Big
Fierce Creatures need to work together sometimes, not because they
like each other or want to help each other [quite the reverse!] but
because they NEED each other to maximise their own outcome from the
game of life.


While i was getting my butt kicked in the UK qualifier at the end of
July i experienced a certain amount of good-natured ribbing about the
VERY pre-FN nature of my deck. All of which was fair enough, but i
HAVE been making and playing FN decks, and here to prove it are two of

[1] Legbiterized version of Sorrow's will-they-won't-they Setites

The idea for this deck came from something Sorrow [Chris Boget] played
against me when he visited us in June. i used my version successfully in two
Wednesday night games during July, managing on both occasions to take over ALL
my Tzimisce prey's vampires and then swarm-bleeding out my next preys
[3/4 and 4/5 possible vp]. Both times i was decked by the end, so 90
is not too big for this deck. On 2 other outings it [1] died horribly 
[prey's initial influence was Cailean, i was being dominate stealth-bled 
and didn't draw ANY Tributes] and [2] got 2/3 possible VPs in a game at home.

Deck Name: Embrace the Serpent
Created by: Legbiter, but inspired by Sorrow
Comments: If you block, i corrupt you. If you don't block i
swarm-bleed and
swarm-corrupt you. If you rush me i get killed. If you vote against me
i DT your
vote. If you bleed me i probably get killed but ecstasy and tribute
keep me in
the game longer than you might think. Focussed-degenerate and
therefore a Setite
clan theme-deck, if you like.

CRYPT [12 cards]
Lalitha 2
Celine Chevalier 3
Khalil Anvari 3
7 x Aabbt Kindred 4
2 x Nefertiti 10

LIBRARY [90 cards]
13 x Corruption
8 x The Embrace
Form of corruption
2 x Summon the Serpent
16 x Change of target
16 x Venenation
Opium Den
The Path of Typhon
8 x Serpentis
Temple Hunting Ground
9 x Tribute to the Master
4 x Delaying tactics
5 x Ecstasy
5 x Wake with Evening's Freshness

[2] Tweaked giovanni Precon, Atlanta-style.

One of the most interesting ideas to have come out of the Atlanta
playgroup recently has been the notion that you really want to keep
your library size as close to minimum as possible. As i understand it,
the logic is that by doing this you dramatically reduce your chance of
experiencing deck-clumping, and increase the chance that you will see
and be able to use any given card or combo in your deck. Of course,
for some decks this is a Bad Idea, eg weenie decks like the above
Setite affair. For others, however, it's a dam' fine plan, and here is
how i implemented it for my quite-successful Giovanni deck, which is
little more than a tweak of the precon.

CRYPT [12 cards]
Marciana Giovanni, Investigator 2
Mario Giovanni 3
Rudolpho Giovanni 3
Chas Giovanni, Tello 4
Francesca giovanni 4
Gloria Giovanni 4
Isabel Giovanni 5
Vittorio Giovanni 5
Gaspare Giovanni 6
Stefano giovanni 6
Carlotta Giovanni 7
Gillespi Giovanni 7

LIBRARY [68 cards]
Acquired ventrue Assets
Blood Doll
Dreams of the Sphinx
Elder library
Haven Uncovered x 2
The Mausoleum, Venice
Morgue HG
Powerbase: Rome
Command of the beast
Conditioning x 3
Deflection x 5 [could be replaced by 4 deflections and 1 Redirection
to make deck 4CL legal]
Far Mastery
Foreshadowing Destruction x 3
Govern the Unaligned x 2
Thoughts Betrayed
Jar the Soul x 2
Masquer [Wraith]
Spectral Divination x 2
Summon Soul x 2
Whispers from the Dead x 2
Burning Wrath
The Death of my Conscience
Immortal grapple
Increased Strength x 2
Thrown Gate x 4
Undead Strength x 4
Akhenaten the Sun Pharoh [sic], mummy
Bum's Rush x 3
Consanguineous Boon
Conservative Agitation
Disputed Territory
Leather Jacket
Leonardo, Mortician
Vial of Garou Blood
WWEF x 5 [could be replaced by 4 WWEF and 1 Forced Awakening to make
deck 4CL legal]

This deck plays pretty well, and last night i swept a 4-player at
Louisa's house with it, cycling all but 5 of my deck. As noted above,
keeping the library-size low has the additional advantage that the
deck is playable by those who like a card-limit; and furthermore, if
like me you are violently anti-card limit having a deck like this in
your collection is dead convenient if you run into a group that does
play by them.


OK, that's it for August. Soon we will be off to Portgual [22-29th]
where we hope to catch a few games with the Lisbon/Almeda crowd. Late
August/early September is UK Gencon, and Michael and i will certainly
be there for the sealed-deck and constructed-deck events, which almost
certainly means a late NL for September. And at the end of September i
will go to Paris for the last qualifier, and stay for the final if i
make it, or the losers tourney if i don't. So i'll be seeing a lot of
you soon, and looking forward to it immensely! O, one final thing is
that there might even be some !Gangrel content to the next NL. Seeya!