Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter



FICTION: GILBERT'S BAD NIGHT [part two of a three-parter about a sealed-
starter deck game we played at louisa’s house last month]
CARD LIMIT COMMENTS [Not For the Tender Eyes of Matthew Green, unless he
is feeling UNUSUALLY benign]
month's deck idea],


Early June, and the first brilliant greens of the English summer are
beginning to fade. The Wisteria is past its best, the lilac sprays are
tipped with brown, and something has been eating the clematis. Among the
vampires too there is much amiss, and particularly so amongst the faction
of Lady Samantha - Dre, Roland Loussarion and Gilbert Duane, the Mad
Prince of Miami. Against them are ranged a motley crew, for Koko has been
joined by Elliott Sinclair, Zach North and Ramiel Dupre - two beauties
and two beasts.

Elliott has his own troubles. Somehow or other the Suffragen bishop of
Portsmouth has found out that the Great Actor may have other-than-
professional reasons for appearing only at night, and the Inquisition is
on his trail. "Really, darling, I can't WORK under these conditions!" he
rails. The make-up girl makes sympathetic noises but the remark isn't
aimed at her, but at the suited figure who sits smoking in the shadows of
the dressing room. "I know, old chap, I know. But the Show Must Go On,
for a Great Artist like yourself. I need you to create a little
diversion, and then if my plan works out, why, we won't have to worry
about the beautiful Lady Samantha for very much longer." Elliott sighs,
theatrically, dismisses the make-up girl and accepts the cigarette which
Legbiter offers him. "So exactly what does this diversion entail, old

While legbiter explains his plan its first part is already in operation.
Koko is stirring up trouble among the Mods and Rockers who flood to the
seaside every bank-holiday. An enormous running fight breaks out on
Southsea promenade and during it several precious ghouls of the Lady
Samantha's are badly injured. Roland is asleep and Dre gnashes his fangs
but does nothing - the young Nosferatu has proved a tough opponent in the
past. Ramiel Dupre is a different matter. His attempt to break up
Samantha's massage parlour business is blocked by Dre, and the two
vampires grapple inconclusively, though more damage is done to the
Toreador than to the Brujah.

And so by the time Legbiter has finished explaining his plan to the
Toreador Primogen events have already superceded it. Gilbert Duane is
making daisy-chains in the moonlit garden of St James's Hospital when
Zach North emerges from the rhododendrons accompanied by his faithful
wolf companion. Gilbert laughs lightly, throws a handful of stars into
the Gangrel's face and then smashes his head in with the Moon. At least
that was the intention, but alas they prove to be slightly out of reach.
"Yowza! That HURT!!! OUCH!!! Those were my best floral drawers, you
unspeakable canine creature! I'll hand you both your livers once I get
out of this impenetrably black place in which I seem to have got stuck! O
dear, AND they broke my daisy chain. That's the kind of pig ignorance
I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage."

In the dark place where broken vampires and daisy chains are kept the
voice of the conclave does not reach, and so by the end of the night
Elliott Sinclair is acclaimed as Prince of Boston.


Every year we get about two lengthy threads about card-limits - whether
we use them, whether we should, who does, who doesn't, and so on. Of
course, no-one can stop you if you want to use card-limits, and you will
have to decide for yourself if you want to use a CL, ideally after
reading at least some of what people have said in the past about the
issue, and ideally after trying both CL and non-CL formats.

I have to raise a tremulous talon here and confess to having a paw in
both camps. My primary playgroup is at home with Sarah, Michael, Andrew
and Garry. Garry, Michael and I also play in tournaments and we are
perfectly happy with aggressive non-CL decks. But Sarah and Andrew are
most emphatically NOT keen on this kind of play, and quite honestly they
WOULD NOT play tournament-quality VTES - we've tried it in the past and
it is just too quick and mechanical for them. Furthermore, neither of
them has the cards or the time to construct ferocious decks. That's why
at home we play with balanced and flexible decks which I've built for
home-use - and which turn out to be fairly but not VERY competitive at
other levels, too. These decks actually conform to 6CL by and large and
they ARE fun to play with.

I also play a couple of designedly-CL games fairly often - Magic is one
[with Sarah and Michael] and Pokemon is another [I'm kind of a combat
trainer for Michael, who is by some distance the Pokemon master of
Portsmouth]. Both these games are quite good [I'm mellowing towards
Pokemon now that Team Rocket has come out, having built a couple of quite
good decks now, and having played one of them against Robert Shread,
lost, and STILL enjoyed myself]. So I want to point out something which
so far as a I recall has NEVER come up in ANY of the long CL threads I've
read, and that is that CL card games also have fixed deck sizes. In fact
it HAS to be that way, because the whole point of CL is to limit the
probability that you will draw a grossly-overpowered card. In VTES
decksize is not fixed and this means that if two people are obeying a CL
but one builds a 60-card library and the other builds a 90-card library
then the 60-card bloke[ss] has a 6.6% chance of drawing their killer card
and the 90-card bloke[ss] has a 4.4% chance of doing so. And neither of
them is going to be doing much in the way of repeatable combos, as I will
show quantitatively once I have got my head round the contingent
probabilities of drawing hands containing particular cards [and got the
time to write the article]. This means they will miss much of the fun of
the game; a CCG without Combos is like a Beautiful Cheese with Only One
Woman, as Brillat-Savarin would so movingly have put it had he not died
some time before 1993.


My little piece about William Lee's raptor deck in the last NL provoked a
positive storm of comment about this, and other, strategies for running
your prey out of cards. It all got me thinking about why this strategy
doesn't work better. I think a main reason is that you always redraw your
hand in VTES - hand-destruction is a perfectly valid tactic in Magic, as
shown by an EVIL deck which I will post as a follow-up to this article
[and not in it, so that those of you who couldn't give a toss about Magic
don't have to expend precious ATP opening a text you don't want to read].

However, I think there is another reason why running your prey out of
cards is iffy, or rather two reasons. The first is simple and typically
was pointed out by Rob Treasure: Revelations is just better, because it
kills the key card AND tells you what your prey has got in redraw. The
second is more complex, probably deck-contingent and possibly wrong. I'm
just going to sketch the concept here, and if I can figure out how to put
numbers on I will write a fuller article later.

When you drop cards two things happen: you lose your hand [which may be
bad or good, depending on what was in it] and your total pool of cards
diminishes. This means that the probability you are going to redraw a
card you want actually increases, provided it was not represented, and
certainly not over-represented, in the hand you just dropped. I need not
mention Carlotta Giovanni's special ability nor Whispers of the Dead for
the point to be made that your prey losing cards may, or may not, be a
bad thing for them. That's a qualitative statement but I think it can be
made quantitative, maybe by the next NL.

No dubious deck ideas this month and nothing !Gangrelly either - just too
much work, alas, and all my deck-building time has gone into a couple of
weird decks which I'm not willing to publish here because I am going to
play one of them tonight and another in the tournament on Saturday. It's
All Your Fault for Reading these NLs - past experience has shown that an
uncomfortably large number of you do, and come prepared. See you all next