Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter


In this hemispherically-heart-cockle-warming issue .....
FACTION: True Tale of a Vampire [a dramatised-but-factual account of
microbiological vampirism]
techniques, and a sample deck].

FACTION: True Tale of a Vampire
The Bloodlover [1] Men call it, and though we may not know how many angels
can dance on the head of a pin, several thousand Bloodlovers can be on one.
But they do not dance, or feel; they do not lust or love, and it is not
blood but the essence of life they absorb. At their scale the particles of
water are like sticky peas through which they drift, borne on the random
whims of Brownian motion.

Without excitement, without design they drift, divide and die: and death is
what they prey on, whether caused by them or not. When the Bloodlover
approaches a dying cell it experiences the leakage of life-stuff from its
victim. It is completely covered with tiny proteinaceous talons which
clutch at the medium, closing on the strands of life-stuff, anchoring them
to the outside of the thin membrane surrounding it. Soon it is coated with
its victim's decaying genes, and could we look closely at the scene we
would see that its membrane is actually a patchwork of tiny segments, each
rotating like the tracks of a tank, moving material from the outside of the
cell to within [2]. Born on these submicroscopic conveyers we would see the
gene-strands disappearing into the membrane, and if we could follow them
inside we would find the Bloodlover's tiny fangs[3] busily chewing away at
the captured DNA, breaking it down into fragments large and small. Most
fragments are born away to fuel the life of the Bloodlover, but some of the
larger ones are not: instead, the Bloodlover's fangs cut holes in its own
DNA, into which these newly-acquired strands are placed [4].

This is the way of the true vampire - rather than turning its victim into a
copy or slave of itself, it absorbs its victims' life in pieces, enslaving
and preserving some fragments, destroying and digesting others. Without a
sigh or a scream the victim dissolves into nothingness and the Bloodlover
moves on, not seeking, not dreaming; only, and with horrible persistent
determination, BEING.

[1] In latin: the Linnean binomial is Haemophilus [= "bloodlover"]
influenzae, and the organism is one of a group of bacteria that can become
"transformed", that is to say they can absorb DNA from other [dying]
organisms, and more generally from the environment. Sometimes this DNA is
preserved as an integral part of the bacterial genome, which means that
sometimes the genes on it can be expressed [the DNA needs to come from a
related bacterium for this to happen, because the bacterium can't read
REALLY foreign genes].. The American Microbiologist Avery's 1944
exploration of this phenomenon proved that genes are made of DNA, thus
paving the way for Franklin, Watson and Crick's revolutionary work of the
early 1950s, upon which all subsequent molecular biology is based. The
"thousands per pin head" thing assumes a millimeter-sized pinhead [the
bacteria are about one micron across].

[2] Actually it's not really known how the DNA gets into the cell. The
mechanism suggested here is plausible but not necessarily right.

[3] These "fangs" are not, or at least not all, set in anything we would
recognise as mouth-like; rather, they float freely within the cell. Why
they don't eat up the Bloodlover's own DNA is an excellent question, which
i will answer if anyone is interested - or you could just look up
"restriction-modification systems" in any molecular biology textbook.

[4]This bit is highly simplified, not to say misleading. There are a LOT of
steps and in fact there may be more than one pathway by which foreign DNA
becomes integrated within the Bloodlover's genome.

A recent and recurrent theme on the newsgroup is the pros and cons of
cloning other people's decks. Because i have rather strong personal views
on this matter [i am in favour of cloning] i can't really do justice to
both sides of the argument, so that is not the purpose of this essay.
Rather, i want to share my experience of cloning, and especially i want to
look at the three techniques i have used when cloning other people's decks.

i'ld better start by saying what i personally mean by cloning. i define
cloning as the process whereby, having encountered someone else's good deck
idea, you try to imitate it for yourself.

In the simplest case, which we may term CLASSIC  CLONING, you do this by
copying a deck-list from the net or from a friend, and then you make the
deck yourself. This is what i did for example with Ben Peal's
Bratislava-winning Gargoyle deck "The O-line". i actually didn't have all
the cards i neded to make an exact clone, but i did a SMALL amount of
judicious substitution to compensate for that and the deck worked just
fine; i personally have yet to actually win a game with it but Sarah, for
whom i made the deck really, has won with it and likes it. When you use
this technique it really helps if you have seen the deck in action, but at
the very least you need to have good playing notes from the creator.

The second technique is CONCEPT CLONING, or, "In China, Men Can Make Water
Flow Uphill". This relates to cases where you have heard of a good idea [eg
The Baron with a Soul Gem keeps burning himself so's to bring out a whole
crypt of Possessive Necromancers [Matt Rehlow]; or, Tariq rushes and eats
the whole table [Trey Morita IIUC]], but you are not quite sure of the
details, or the deck-list you have doesn't work in your environment. In
this case you have to figure out what the essential features of the deck
must be, and to see whether you can implement it with your resources in
your environment. In this case it is less necessary and may even be
counter-productive to have input from the designer [but sometimes it is
useful - for example, Matt Rehlow helped me a LOT with my reworking of his
Baron deck: so did Rob Treasure and Matt Green].

The third technique is ASH-HEAP CLONING, which in principle can be
implemented in any form of the game, but is most easily conducted in Jyhad
On-Line, where all the decks, game moves and ash-heaps are on the net [at; long-time readers will recognise this as an old
idea which i first proposed and implemented back in 1998]. i'm currently in
the 2002 JOL tournament and happily executing this technique on all the
decks i am meeting, and on some others that i admire, including a very nice
!Gangrel deck which Jon Sushinsky is playing. It would be wrong to share my
conjectural deck-list for this just at the moment, because the game is
on-going, we are both still in it and i don't wish to make things easier
for the other players [FRIGHTFULLY on-topic though it would make this NL].
No such scruples attend the publication of the following conjectural
decklist of George Fink's Setite Voters, a formidable affair as evidenced
by its already having picked up a game win. All i have done to make this
list is to "collect up" all the cards in play or in the ash-heap for all
the games that George is in. The list appears below, and i have indicated
how i think the number of cards should be made up to 60 for the library,
and 12 for the crypt. Because i actually don't have enough spare Awes i
will probably replace one of them by a Charming Lobby and the other by a
Business Pressure when i build it, which could be in time for tonight's
game at garry's house if i get this, and my marking, finished on schedule.

George Fink's JOLT 2002 Setites - A Conjectural Reconstruction.
CRYPT [10 [raise to 12]]
Nepata x 2
Amisa x 3
Sir Marriot D'Urban
Celine Chevalier
Hadrian Garrick x 2
Khalil Anvari
+ Amisa x 2

LIBRARY [54 [raise to 60]]
MASTERS [7] [13%, raise to 8]
Blood Doll
Blood Doll
Dreams of the Sphinx
Creepshow Casino
Heidelburg Castle
Heidelburg Castle
Temple Hunting Grounds
+ Temple HG
VOTES [14] [25.9%, raise to 16]
Ancilla Empowerment
Ancilla Empowerment
Ancilla Empowerment
Disputed Territory
Domain Challenge
Domain Challenge
Free States Rant
Free States Rant
Free States Rant
Kine Resources Contested
Kine Resources Contested
Peace Treaty
Regaining the Upper Hand
Regaining the Upper Hand
+ Free States Rant, KRC
ACTIONS [7] [13%, raise to 8]
Form of Corruption
Legal Manipulations
Psychic Veil
Psychic Veil
Summon the Serpent
Summon the Serpent
+ Enticement or Charming Lobby
ACTION MODIFIERS [21] [38.9%, raise to 23]
Aire of Elation
Bewitching Oration
Bewitching Oration
Bewitching Oration
Bewitching Oration
Bewitching Oration
Cloak the Gathering
Cloak the Gathering
Cloak the Gathering
Cloak the Gathering
Forgotten Labyrinth
Forgotten Labyrinth
Forgotten Labyrinth
Lost in Crowds
Voter Captivation
Voter Captivation
Voter Captivation
Voter Captivation
Voter Captivation
+ Business Pressure, Lost in Crowds
RETAINERS [2] [3.7%, keep at 2]
Priestess of Sekhmet
Priestess of Sekhmet
COMBAT [2] [3.7%, raise to 3]

In summary i hope i've shown that cloning is not necessarily a stupid,
anti-creative or passive approach to deck-building, rather it is a series
of methods for finding out more about how the game works. It shouldn't
substitute for creativity and it doesn't; rather, it is one of the steps to
improving one's creativity. Finally and MOST importantly, cloned decks are
suitable for vegetarians ;-).

And that's it for February. May you all have a totally terrific Valentine's
day with the minimum possible attention from the Bunny-Boilers. See you,
and, hopefully, your bunnies in March!