V:EKN Clan Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter, May 1999 OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL-ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 2 NUMBER 5 MAY 99 IN THIS ISSUE ....... VILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT [fiction] SEALED DECK STRATEGY AND TACTICS [introduction and appeal for information] CCGs AND CHROMOSOME STRUCTURE [outline of a research project] DECK CORNER [A plug for Greg's NL, and a bit more petrol for the New Orleans conflagration] VILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT Maynight in Oxford .... the chestnut-blossom is out, and so are the Legbiters, resplendent in evening dress, and drifting home from a, erm, select little gathering in one of the ancient colleges that preserve much of what is good, and more of what is evil, about our little island. They stop on Maudlin Bridge, looking carefully around to be sure they are unobserved, and then they slide over the parapet and into the muddy Cherwell with barely a ripple. Silence falls. Beneath the surface a brief contest of wills takes place before the Tench sidles off to find a new patch of weed to lurk in. Dammit, it's only for one night after all, and i WAS here before him .. about 6 centuries before him, if the truth be told. Ahah, here they come .... back from the ball, drunk as the proverbial lord. In fact a lot of them are lords, though i must admit i prefer the ladies. They wash more thoroughly, if you MUST know. ICHABOD!!! Caine is great! There is a tremendous splash on my right, and a flurry of girlish limbs and white silk. Carefully, o so carefully i glide through the water, and there, just where the skin is thin over the femoral artery, i BITE. Ah, scream and thrash away my dear, this will only take a minute or so. Down we go into the darkness, and a couple of pints later i release her and up she comes, weeping and spluttering, to be drawn into the arms of her white-faced friends. Those who are not trying to rescue Lady Legbiter's catch, that is. o dear, i DO hope she hasn't killed it AGAIN. She does get so INVOLVED with the dear kine, know what i mean? Ah good, here he comes, still twitching a bit at least. Pretty boy, too, he WAS lucky tonight! Sitting on the bank in the darkness i make a call on my mobile phone, and along comes the ambulance, quick as a wink. Lady Legbiter glides out of the water and together we watch as the panicky humans fuss and fiddle. Now perhaps they will pay attention to their tutors' wise warnings about all the broken glass in the old river. I certainly hope so, so that next year there will be fresh young things for us to feed upon. Ah, the ancient rituals of summer! Doncha just LOVE them? Birds begin to tweet cautiously as we worm into the earth, and the day creeps remorselessly over Europe. SEALED DECK STRATEGY AND TACTICS I treasure a complete collection of Arcane, a CCG/RPG magazine which folded after just over a year. Issue 2 contains an interview with Richard Garfield in which he reveals that he never expected Magic to take off in quite the way it did - the implication being that he never expected the power cards to become a big problem, simply because they were DESIGNED to be rare, and he never imagined that people would be STUPID enough to fork out the huge sums of money required to accumulate multiples of them. Now of course he is a wiser, and a richer, man. Anyway, this brings me to the theme of the next three, apparently unrelated, sections of this newsletter. i reckon that sealed-deck CCG play is the purest form of the art, and closest to what Garfield had in mind when he designed CCGs. Issues like card limits, one-trick pony decks and tedious power-play simply don't arise in this form of the game. And while i enjoy constructed-deck tournaments i have to say that in the end i view them as window-dressing for the game .... most of what i regard as SERIOUS CCG play takes place in the sealed-deck format. We seem to lack a set of strategy/tactics articles for sealed-deck play, and over the next few months i would like to fill this gap. First, however, i want to be sure that it exists, so please feed back to me any sources you know of that cover this area. Also, i am interested in contributions from other people on their experience of sealed deck play. For example, i tend to have a LOT of master cards [up to 20/55] in my sealed decks, a fact which greatly surprised David Tatu. i also go for combat and intercept in preference to stealth and bleed, and pack a lot of equipment and as many votes as i can manage. Tactically i cycle cards like mad and take big risks - many's the game i've won from being on 1 pool. In Portsmouth at least this is a successful strategy - i have won every sealed-deck event i've been to except for the one where i had to leave early in order to go to the Dracula ballet at Sadler's Wells. But is this how people play elsewhere? Please let me know what you do! CCGs AND CHROMOSOME STRUCTURE As many of you know in real-life i am a molecular biologist. i work on DNA structure and function, and so does Sarah [Lady Legbiter]. Over the easter holidays we got talking about the striking similarities between CCGs, especially Jyhad, and chromosomes, and we wonder if there is an interesting research project here somewhere. In particular, we think there might be insights into speciation and selective breeding lurking in the mechanics of Jyhad. Here is the basic idea. We think that Vampire clans are like species. We think that disciplines are like chromosomes. Chromosomes have "controller" genes [master cards] and servitor genes [minion cards]. You can have multiple chromosomes or only one, and the chromosomes can be long or short. Initially we would like to test the following propositions about the game and the biological systems which we think it reflects. • Long games favour multiple disciplines [long-lived species have many master - servitor sets/chromosomes]. We would like to test this theory by setting up a series of games with 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 pool, and in each one we would pit decks that had 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 disciplines against each other. We will then plot the number of turns the game lasts against the number of disciplines in the winning deck. • Breeding is for losers. I'd like to set up a series of games in which the winning decks stayed the same, while the losing decks randomly exchanged half their cards with each other. I want to know whether this makes the losing decks better or worse - the control, obviously, is to keep ALL the decks the same. • Selective breeding helps initially, but ultimately leads to mediocrity. We would like to set up a series of games in which the winners "bred" with the winners, and the losers with the losers, and we'd like to compare the results from these games with those from a different set where "mating" was random. We'd like to start these off with a totally random mix of cards. So, obviously that's a big project and we need a LOT of help with it. I have a list of people who've kindly expressed an interest and over the next few weeks i shall be contacting you individually about what i'd like you to do in the way of help. Strikes me that this could be a nice little side-game for the losers in tournaments, for example. Perhaps I shall bring along some decks to the next Portsmouth tournaments and try to get people to help me with the project there. DECK CORNER This month i have a MASSIVE creative block but thankfully it doesn't matter, since Greg Faulkner has posted a very jolly Gangrel/gangrel anti deck in his newsletter. I recommend it to you! Also, i've been reading Sorrow's and Ethan's interesting posts about the New Orleans tournament and i prolly ought to raise a tremulous talon here and confess to being the author of THE cheesiest weenie Misdirection/dom deck in the history of jyhad. Check dejanews for its full depravity, but don't blame me - the devil [believed to be a euphemism for Xian] made me do it. And while i don't want to get involved TOO much in your transatlantic quarrels i will just say that we had a spate of weenie dom and pre decks [the latter sometimes voting and sometimes bleeding] for a while over here, but frankly they don't function anymore in the heavy intercept-combat environment that's come about through the emergence of Steve's and Will's Tzimisce decks and Rob's and my Malky intercept/OOT rush-combat decks. Alright, talk to you all again in June which should be on time.