OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL-ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 5 NUMBER 8 AUGUST 2002 ************************************ In this lazy-days-of-summer issue ..... EDITORIAL: The Camarilla Expansion and Rating Changes FICTION: Death of a Princess OBITUARY: Marianne Bishop, 1961-2002 DECK: Goodnight, Sweet Prince SUPPLEMENT: Legbiter's Holiday Survival Guide ************************************ EDITORIAL: The Camarilla Expansion and Rating Changes Most of the last month's Newsgroup discussion has been about one or other of the above topics and so far i have contributed close to nothing to either of them. This is because i ALMOST whole-heartedly approve of both. In fact, i DO whole-heartedly approve of the new set from what i've seen of it, and not just, or even mainly, because i played a part in forcing a change to one of the cards [Temptation of Greater Power, silly, and no i WASN'T a playtester]. In fact i think the new set embodies something i have been arguing for right from the start of my NG career, namely the primacy of the need to make the game more accessible to new players. i'm thus very happy with the changes to the appearance of the cards, the simplification of some of the rules, and the minor adjustments to the relative power and rarity of certain key cards. Would i have done anything different, had i been a game designer? Obviously i don't know, but i would certainly have tried a bit harder to break the Soul Gem. Probably i would have failed - i suspect, nay, KNOW the identities of many of the game designers and playtesters. They are solid people, who can both read about other people's decks and build their own. i expect they worked hard on the Soul Gem, and came to the conclusion that it is still a trick card whose positive effects in potentiating amusing off-the-wall decks outweigh its negative effects [it's REALLY boring to be just sitting there once a turbo-Arika or Baron deck starts to do its thing]. As for the ratings change, this was LONG overdue and is ALMOST entirely welcome. It was virtually impossible to maintain accurate ratings with the old formula because you needed a complete and chronologically-accurate record of ALL the players in EVERY tournament ANYWHERE. And even if you had that, what the ratings told you was whether or not people had won their last two games, modulated slightly by whether or not they had fallen under the gravitational influence of Rob "Black Hole" Treasure. The new system is MUCH better, but i still have two caveats; firstly, i don't think it is good that a person's rating can fall if they go to a tournament - we should ENCOURAGE people to go to tournaments, NOT penalise them for it: secondly, i think the system will still show some artificiality in the ratings - it will still be the case that if i play tournaments exclusively with the family pets i will have a VERY high rating [unless i play Tremere, of course], and it will still be the case that EVERYONE who regularly plays with Rob will have an artificially-low rating. However, the regional tables already recognise this problem and it will now be possible virtually at a glance to spot whether someone's rating is meaningful or not. *********************** FICTION: Death of a Princess Eventually Juliana Priest did come back to fairy-land for good, and she was buried on a green hill overlooking the part of the country she loved the best. A small sapling marked her grave, and when our eyes were dry from over-weeping i wrote the following on a post-it and stuck it to the little tree: The rustle of silk is discontinued; the leaves Scurry into heaps, and lie still; And she the Rejoicer of the Heart is beneath them: A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.* Soon the wind will catch it and blow it away, but she would have understood. *********************** OBITUARY: Marianne Bishop, 1961-2002 Marianne Bishop, who has died at the age of 41, was a remarkable person gifted with amazing powers of insight and analysis. These she deployed in the social world to such effect that it was impossible for her to be deceived by people: and had she lived [and acquired a measure of self-esteem, which would also have been a condition of her survival], i think that through the use of the same skills she might have become the very best card player there has ever been. But she was still learning the rules of Jyhad/VTES when she was overcome by one of her periodic bouts of depression, and she hanged herself. Her memorial is the story of Juliana Priest from the January or maybe February 2002 NL, which i, and she, thought was an accurate portrait of her character, and from which it will be obvious that i personally was very fond of her. If there is a lesson from her life it is perhaps that to see too clearly is not always a good thing; and more prosaically, that clinical depressives really, REALLY need to take their happy pills [she was too proud and obstinate to do so]. She is survived by her husband Rick [from whom she was separated] and their two children Tom and Georgina. ************************* DECK: Goodnight, Sweet Prince Marianne looked like a Romany and she was a bit of a job-gypsy, so she was almost as keen on the Ravnos as the Kiasyd [fairies were her great love]. Before her death i had promised to try to build her a Ravnos / Kiasyd deck but i never did, and to be honest, cannot see how to. The closest thing i can offer to a deck in her memory is therefore this new version of an old idea - to use Goodnight, Sweet Prince on your OWN crypt, and then to possess out or redeem the lost souls of the vampires you discard in this way. i haven't actually played this version of the deck yet, so this is tech-in-progress; i think it is better than the old versions which Xian and i developed long ago, i think it could be improved, but i'm not sure if it will ever be the basis of a competitive deck - which doesn't mean i'm not going to persevere with it. CRYPT [12 vampire cards]: Cardano Ezmerelda x 2 Ivan Krenyenko x 5 Konsantin Queen Anne Spider-Killer Wilhelm Waldburg LIBRARY [90 cards]: MASTER CARDS  Dreams of the Sphinx Fortune Teller Shop Giant's Blood Goodnight, Sweet Prince x 6 The Path of Paradox Redeem the Lost Soul x 6 Week of Nightmares MINION CARDS  DISCIPLINELESS  The Sargon fragment x 3 Wake with Evening's Freshness x 4 CHIMERSTRY  Fata Morgana x 4 Mirror Image x 4 Red Herring x 4 Sensory Deprivation DOMINATE  Conditioning x 5 Deflection x 7 Graverobbing FORTITUDE  Daring the Dawn x 3 Dawn Operation x 2 Day Operation x 2 Force of Will x 7 Freak Drive x 8 Hidden Strength x 3 The Kiss of Ra Skin of Steel x 4 NECROMANCY  Call of the Hungry Dead x 4 Possession x 6 Lots of cards are questionable in this and i'ld be more-than-usually grateful for feedback, given that i've never actually WON a game with a GNSP deck [only played it twice, to be honest, and NEVER played the above version, though something closely-similar did a BIT of its stuff last Wednesday in the Northcote Hotel, before being stomped by John Keech's Stanislava deck]. ************************** SUPPLEMENT: Legbiter's Holiday Survival Guide As i mentioned in the last NL i am going to miss the debut of the new set because we will be in Corsica from the 18th August to the 2nd September, and i'ld be AMAZED if there's a shop in Ajaccio that sells VTES. But we will take our VTES fun decks and it's also a chance to dust off some old games and to try some new ones. In so doing it's important to distinguish between beach-survivable and non-survivable games. Non-Beach games: Heroclix. Great game. i am going to make vampires for it, using ordinary models and cards to represent the clicks. But not for the beach; sand and water NOT good for little dial things, and HIDEOUS lost model scenarios possible "Whaddya mean, the sandcastle fell on Thanos and now you can't find him????" Not to mention the wind and its effects on the board. Did i mention that now i have all the Uniques except for Wasp, and that i have doubles of Thanos, Unique Cyclops , Unique Electra and Quasar? Well now i did. VTES. Wind again. 'Nuff said, really. Same goes for other card games we are taking namely Munchkin, The Works [cleaned-up non-collectable XXXenophile], Instinct, Lunch Money. Master Labyrinth, History of the World, Medina, Vinci. Great, complicated board games with lots of high-quality and mislayable pieces. NOT for the beach. Beach Games: Home-made [by Michael aka Anklebiter] Role-playing Skirmish game based on Warhammer Ancient Battles and Graeco-Roman mythology. Uses plastic 1/72 scale minis PVA-glued onto different-sized pennies or euro-cents, cheap dice and cheap and simple rule book. So the dinghy sinks, we can replace the whole show for under 40 quid. Surf Cricket: We have a little blow-up boat which we push out to otherwise-inaccessible beaches using our fins and snorkels; it carries games, food and sick or wounded members of the party. A fine game may now be had if one person [the batter] sits in the boat with a cricket-bat and attempts to stop the others [the fielders] from getting the ball into the boat. You will ask how we keep score. i will answer, who cares. It's something to do with length of innings, measured in balls, i believe. Climbing Genoese Watch towers: There are quite a lot of these in Corsica, precursors of the Martello tower - more precisely, "the" Martello tower WAS such a structure. They are solid despite being half-millenia old in some cases, and may be climbed into: you get good views from them, and good exercise getting to them. Recommended. Good games but not to be played on holiday: Flintloque. i've been tidying up my old games and doing a bit of new painting and i'm reminded of what a terrific game this is. And even cheaper, now the company that made it has gone bust. At Ramstein airbase there is a shop which sells pottery models of picturesque Lithuanian houses. They are meant for holding scented candles but they also make great scenery for Flintloque/Deadloque. Warcraft 3. Not really my cup of tea, but as a real-time strategy game this is excellent of its kind, and i did manage to overcome my scruples and complete it in the early hours of last Tuesday morning. i imagine that Michael will have done the same by the time we set out, but if not, this may come along in the laptop after all. Netrunner. Two player. We will be four. Ordinary cricket: The only beaches sandy enough so that we can play this on are too crowded to play it on. On our first Corsican holiday we learned this when Michael, age about 9, executed a fine hook-shot to just behind square leg, where it was BRILLIANTLY stopped by a sunbathing lady's nose. ************************** And that's it for August. O dear, no Gangrel-antitribu content and no Ravenloft cards, sorry about both of those omissions - but in the circumstances i hope you'll forgive me if i save these for next time, which will be a bit late due to holidays. In particular, look for the Gangrel-antitribu expansion to HeroClix. See you in September! *************************** *The poem is a translation of a Chinese lament and is quoted from memory, but i'm sorry to say i don't remember the name either of the original poet, or of the translator. It is in the Penguin Book of Chinese Verse, i am fairly sure.