OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL-ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 6 NUMBER 2 FEBRUARY 2003 ************************ In this hemispherically-heart-cockle-warming issue ..... FACTION: True Tale of a Vampire [a dramatised-but-factual account of microbiological vampirism] CLONING OR EXPLOITING OTHER PEOPLE'S DECK IDEAS: THREE EASY PIECES [cloning techniques, and a sample deck]. ************************ ************************ FACTION: True Tale of a Vampire The Bloodlover  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 . 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 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 . 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.  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].  Actually it's not really known how the DNA gets into the cell. The mechanism suggested here is plausible but not necessarily right.  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. 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. ************************ CLONING OR EXPLOITING OTHER PEOPLE'S DECK IDEAS: THREE EASY PIECES. 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 http://deckserver.net/jol/; 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  [13%, raise to 8] Blood Doll Blood Doll Dreams of the Sphinx Creepshow Casino Heidelburg Castle Heidelburg Castle Temple Hunting Grounds + Temple HG VOTES  [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  [13%, raise to 8] Form of Corruption Legal Manipulations Psychic Veil Psychic Veil Summon the Serpent Summon the Serpent Temptation + Enticement or Charming Lobby ACTION MODIFIERS  [38.9%, raise to 23] Aire of Elation Awe Awe 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  [3.7%, keep at 2] Priestess of Sekhmet Priestess of Sekhmet COMBAT  [3.7%, raise to 3] Staredown Staredown +Staredown 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!