OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 3 NUMBER 6 JUNE 2000 IN THIS GLORIOUS FIRST OF JUNE ISSUE …… 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] RUNNING YOUR PREY OUT OF CARDS - A VIABLE STRATEGY? [follow-up to last month's deck idea], FICTION: GILBERT'S BAD NIGHT 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 boy?" 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. CARD LIMIT COMMENTS 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. RUNNING YOUR PREY OUT OF CARDS - A VIABLE STRATEGY? 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 month!