OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 5 NUMBER 7 JULY 2002 ********************** IN THIS ISSUE ........ FICTION: The Mists of Ravenloft FREE NEW GAME PART 1: The Mists of Ravenloft EDITORIAL: The New Camarilla Base Set DECK: Michael Eichler's Gangrel antitribu bash-n-burn deck ********************** FICTION: The Mists of Ravenloft The doors and shutters of the old Gothic house yawned sightlessly across the green meadow, but Guillemot the thief, discreetly approaching through the screen of pine-trees to the left of the main door, knew better than to think it abandoned. "Parski li morti undort", the old romany lady had said back there, on the path, handing him the little wicker charm for which he had been glad to pay her a silver Pfennig, never doubting the accuracy of her words. The sun shone and oddly-marked bees buzzed lazily amongst the honeysuckle as Guillemot vaulted over the decayed fence-pale. Then, drawing a wicked wavy-bladed dagger he entered the house. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness Guillemot wondered about the purpose of his contract. Certain glass vials to be taken from the laboratory [he recited their description to himself, yet again] and a parchment to be left. Ah well, as the Lord Legbiter wisheth. He began to make his way up the stairs, moving his toes with an odd burrowing motion to minimise any possible creaks. At the top of the stairs, three doors, all locked, and a curious carved trunk. Guillemot began to pick the lock of the left hand door. As the lock clicked open there was a second, echoing click and the trunk began to open, neither quickly nor slowly. Instantly Guillemot slid sideways into the shadows from where he could watch as the dried anatomy of something began to emerge from the trunk, first two legs, then an arm and an unnaturally-mobile head, then the rest of the body. Humanoid it seemed, and yet with a motion uncannily insect-like. It scanned to left and to right, not seeing him and yet, somehow, knowing he was there. Then it shook its head and its eyeballs popped out, displaced by another pair from inside its head. The eyeballs on the floor began to slither around, to roll, to move in his direction, and then, with a terrible intensity, to fix their bloody gaze upon him. With a satisfied chitter, the creature from the chest scuttled towards him. The shadows gave with a horrible ripping sound as the creature's serrated hands cut through them, but Guillemot was no longer there. The creature became aware of this fact in the same instant that Guillemot dropped onto its back, slashing hard and deep with his dagger. And then, satisfied that it was really dead, he proceeded into the sunlit laboratory. ******************* FREE NEW GAME PART 1: The Mists of Ravenloft Ravenloft is a do-it-yourself strategy card game which i have invented, but not [or at least, not thoroughly] playtested. As regards mechanics Ravenloft is exactly the same game as VTES, but it is not compatible with it, for reasons which will become apparent as i describe it over the next few months. Its background is loosely-based on the originally-TSR, now WoTC D&D-compatible RPG of the same name, which is licensed to White Wolf under the d20 system. No challenge to anyone's copyright is implied by my serialisation of this game, which is provided free and for pure love of the VTES mechanic and Gothic Horror generally to this fine community. In Ravenloft the dark powers struggle with each other for dominance, and just like Methuselahs in the world of darkness they use others as their pawns in their intrigues: Vampires, Romanies, Lycanthropi and Human Adventurers may all be grist to their mill. Such creatures as may be broadly characterised as Monsters are Crypt beings who are brought under the control of the powers during the influence phase, just like influencing out vampires. Crypt beings are difficult to permanently kill, and to represent this for game purposes they work just like vampires in VTES, even though most of them are NOT vampires. Others, including Romanies and Adventurers, are allies or retainers. In the Ravenloft game there are fewer "clans" and "disciplines" than in VTES. The "Clans" are: The Undead Underdwellers Lycanthropi The "Disciplines" are Larceny [Thief Abilities] Glamour [Magic-user abilities] Vocation [Cleric Abilities] Battlecraft [Fighter abilities] And now for some sample cards. Guillemot, Master Thief Unique Neutral Human Ally Cost 4 pool 2 life 1 bleed 1 strength Guillemot has Grand Larceny, but may not use cards that have a blood cost symbol. Concealed weapon [identical to the new CE card] Dagger, Melee weapon, cost 0, damage strength +1. A minion with a dagger has Last Strike, ie every minion NOT armed with a dagger resolves its strikes BEFORE the dagger-armed minion[s]. [Ruling/Clarification: If a minion with last strike plays a card that gives it first strike, its strike resolves in the normal strike-resolution phase.] Hide in Shadows Action Modifier, requires Larceny Petty Larceny: +1 stealth Grand Larceny: + 2 stealth Guardian Ghoul Non-Unique Evil Undead Crypt Creature Capacity 2 Superior Glamour The Guardian ghoul may take no actions, only block. Argus Reaction Card, requires Glamour Petty Glamour: This minion untaps and attempts to block Superior Glamour: As above, and once during this action this minion may burn X blood to gain +X intercept. Back Stab Combat Card, requires Larceny Only useable when minion is equipped with a melee weapon and can strike with it. Petty Larceny: Additional Strike, which must be to use your melee weapon at +1 strength Grand Larceny: Dodge with an additional strike, which must be to use your melee weapon at +1 strength. Poisoned blade Combat card, Evil* Play when you inflict damage using a melee weapon, and this damage is not prevented. Burn the opposing ally or tap the opposing crypt minion and place this card on it: the opposing crypt minion must burn this card instead of untapping during its controller's next untap phase. *Evil; if this card is played by a good minion controlled by a Power, any other Power may search its hand, library [shuffling afterwards] or ash-heap and give that minion a Ravenloft Power card as an OOT master. When the number of Ravenloft Power cards on a minion equals its cost [in blood or pool] to influence or recruit, the last Power who played a Ravenloft power card on it gains pool equal to the number of RPCs on it, and this minion is removed from the game. More next month, and any contributions/critiques of proposed cards, mechanics etc will be gratefully received! ********************* EDITORIAL: The New Camarilla Base Set Previews of the new Camarilla Base set are going up on the White Wolf web-site, and even though only two cards have appeared so far they are generating a lot of spirited posts on the newsgroup. i don't wish to comment specifically on what i suspect are ephemeral controversies, still less to complain about the decisive moves [actual or rumoured] taken to reduce the power of Legbitery favourite deck-types such as ToGP and Betrayer [to the contrary, i approve of these changes, which reduce their power from absolutely brutal to merely competitive]. i do however wish to draw the community's attention to something for which i think we should ALL be grateful, whatever we individually think about any other changes in the rules and cards for this set, and that is the reintegration into tournament play of previously-banned cards such as Monocle of Clarity, and of Wallpaper cards such as Concealed Weapon. This was a complete, and VERY welcome, surprise to me - well done, Game Designers! Over the next few expansions i hope this policy will be pursued, the ideal being that EVERY card there has ever been for VTES will once again be made tournament-legal [even Return to Innocence], with whatever text-changes and compatibility-restrictions are required to maintain play balance. Madness of the Bard would probably be the trickiest: i suggest making it another kooky pool-gain card, eg when this card is played, everyone secretly writes down the name of a unique vampire in play. Show the names simultaneously. Any combination of players who each wrote down the same name gain one pool. ********************* It was great to see/play with Cameron Domer and Michael Eichler during June, and congratulations to Michael and to John Keech from our playgroup for their success in the UK qualifier! i'm also grateful to Michael for permission to post this !Gangrel deck which he played against Anklebiter's Kiasyd, Lady Legbiter's Tzimisce, and my Nosferatu Kagemusha deck the Friday night before the qualifier. i won that game [3 to me, 1 to Sarah] but that bald statement conceals some pretty exciting play and fluctuating fortunes - in short, this is a fine deck, which i now post without further comment [apart from its creator's]. DECK: Michael Eichler's Gangrel antitribu bash-n-burn deck Deck Name: Another "They are out to get us" conspiracy... This deck is a rarity for me as it breaks everyone of my standard deck making rules. It's only saving grace is it was made following Legbiter's Happy Families deck construction rules. The deck is a 6 discipline deck with 2 multi discipline sets as well. At this time the deck does seem to flow rather nicely, it still has some problems dealing with bleed decks (I hope to have solved this with a change out of two cards for two Forced Awakening cards) and forward momentum in the form of bleeding out it's prey. The deck is designed as a Bleed Combat deck, however, it has thrown all Rush actions out the window and basically dares other decks to stop it as it tries to move forward (fast enough) to give it victory points. It was designed with the intent of being played at Watsford, UK as David has apparently worked hard to give Watsford the reputation of being the V:TES Combat Capital of Europe. The deck's primary aim is to torporize it's opponents with either a Superior Shadow Feint or Superior Stutter Step The largest problem by far has been Pool gain and Blood gain on the minions. Legbiter and I are on different stances concerning changing over Amaranth to Ritual of the Bitter Rose at this time. Legbiter feels the Amaranth is the way to go with the deck for action conservation, while I am starting to believe RotBR is the way to help the some of the Blood gain problem the deck faces. Comments on ways of improving the deck are welcome. Note: If six disciplines sounds a bit much, try it and see how it runs before making judgement. Crypt 2x Darrell Boyce (6) CEL OBF PRO (Sab) 3x Omaya (7) ANI AUS FOR pro (Sab) See special 2x Zachary (7) CEL for OBF pre PRO (Sab) Tariq (7) AUS cel FOR OBF QUI (Ind) See special 2x Gunther (7) ANI aus for pro (Cam) See special Ellen Fence (8) aus CEL OBF PRO (Sab) See special Fatima al-Faqadi (8) aus CEL for OBF QUI (Ind) See special Library Masters - 15 cards 2x Minion Tap 3x Blood Doll 2x Celerity Auspex 3x Gangrel Conspiracy Dreams of the Sphinx (1 pool) Vulnerability Barrens, The Direct Intervention (1 pool) Equipment - 4 cards 2x Laptop Computer (1 pool) Sengir Dagger (2 pool) Ivory Bow (1 pool) Non-Discipline - 11 cards 2x Amaranth or Ritual of the Bitter Rose Sanguine Instruction 2x Pack Tactics (1 blood) 6x Forced Awakening Animalism - 6 cards 4x Guard Dogs 2x Tier of Souls Fortitude - 13 cards 2x Freak Drive (1 blood) 3x Restoration 2x Unflinching Persistence 2x Rolling with the Punches 2x Force of Will (1 blood) Skin of Steel Auspex - 10 cards Pulse of the Canaille (3 blood) Revelations (1 blood) 2x Telepathic Misdirection (1 blood) Spirit's Touch 2x Enhanced Senses My Enemy's Enemy 2x Precognition Obfuscate - 3 cards 2x Disguised Weapon Sacrificial Lamb (3 blood) Celerity - 9 cards 3x Flash 2x Blur (1 blood) 2x Acrobatics (1 blood) 2x Stutter-Step Protean - 13 cards 6x Claws of the Dead (1 blood) Shadow of the Beast (1 blood) 2x Carrion Coffin 2x Flesh of Marble 2x Form of Mist Celerity/Obfuscate - 5 cards 5x Shadow Feint (1 blood) Animalism/Auspex - 2 cards 2x Read the Winds (1 blood) At this time the vampires within the crypt have certain delgated functions that I felt are necessary to the deck's function without going over the "artificial" rule of no more than 3 identical vampires in the crypt. This is to prevent the tiresome all Omaya pull at the start of a game or anyone else for that matter. Ellen has been in my pull at the start of every game using this deck. She has actually been worth her weight in gold and I am seriously considering placing one more into the crypt at the expense of another vampire. Ellen's ability to perform directed attacks helps make up the loss of any rush actions within the deck. Zachary has seen less action, but his fortitude capability is not to be discounted. Omaya is seen as the primary interceptor of the deck as she has access to both the standard auspex intercept cards, but also the Read the Winds cards as well. Her ability to have more "Wakes" in the form of Forced Awakening and Guard Dogs makes her invaluable. Darrell is the standard bad-ass who's sole function in life is to bleed and fight if stopped. 'nuff said. Tariq is here for both his Diablerie capability (and immunity) and his Rush capability. His lacking in Protean is a small concern and the change out of one Celerity card for a Protean card is not being considered. Tariq with a superior Celerity is more useful with to the deck than a Tariq with inferior Protean and inferior Celerity. Aside from that, Tariq does have access to weapons. Fatima is here to act as support to Tariq as she already has superior in both Celerity and Obfuscate with her outstanding special (if a weapon becomes available). Gunther is the real question within the deck. His untap ability is a necessary evil that works well with his access to Auspex. However, replacing one Gunther for one Ellen may be a necessary move to give the deck more flexibility at the expense of 1 additional pool. The deck is not to have any minion that exceeds eight capacity to help facilitate a 2 turn bring out. The lack of any real rapid minion bring out cards is a very real concern, but deciding what needs to go to make room is a real issue. The ability to burn torpored minions and getting away with it alive is the primary aim of the deck. This is being attacked from several different sides. Vulnerability, Gangrel Conspiracy, Sacrificial Lamb, and Tariq are the different methods within the deck aimed at making it all possible. Michael Eichler ********************* And that's it for July! Golly, only another 6 weeks to the Camarilla Edition .... and frustratingly, i'll be in Corsica for the pre-release events, and at my cousin's sort-of-wedding [Bengali Acht] for the next Watford tourney. Never mind, my pre-order will be waiting when i get back, and maybe there's a games shop in Ajaccio - Orpheus, anyone, do you know for sure? Maybe even have its address? And now, back to HeroClix which, i increasingly think, could be the basis of a fine skirmish PRG [the premise being that the clicks are great, but you don't HAVE to use them - you could do it all on a card]. However, this NL is quite long, creative/whacky and OT already, so see you all in August!