OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL-ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 5 NUMBER 11 NOVEMBER 2002 ************************************ In This Cauld Hands, Warm heart Issue ..... FICTION: How Legbiter Took Over the World EDITORIAL: Why Groupings, and the new card layout, Are Good Things DECK: Boirds and guns: Rob Treasure's Blaise Deck ************************************ FICTION: How Legbiter Took Over the World History is only the outcome of the Jyhad, so its apparent randomness and lack of purpose is both real [in the sense that human aspirations and motives have virtually no impact on it] and unreal [in the sense that those of the undead do, random and whimsical though they may be]. If one could have gazed over the map of the world at the end of the seventeenth century, one would not have guessed that the Empire of New Portugal across the Atlantic, and the Island fortress of Britannia with its ancient Celtic customs owed fealty to a single dark power ... though the prevalence of heavy fortifications in both territories showed evidence of similar strategic thinking. And when the Russian Empire's eastward advance was halted by the ferocious resistance of the Flaming Crap Dragons, on a freezing Mongolian steppe it was this same thinker who, as night fell, began to push at the crust of bloodstained snow which lay over him, and eventually emerged into the dark. After nearly a century of sleep it was hard to gather one's thoughts, to hear the whisperings of one's spies - but eventually, gratifying enough. So Lisbon has fallen to the Quivering Messiah, and all Europe is under his sway? Well, Britannia's brochs still stand, and in thrusting at Europe, the forces that could have overwhelmed New Portugal have spent themselves. And now it is time to strike, with the instrument nearest to hand, laid there [for reasons we do not know] by another dark Power, Conor of the Red Eye .... the vigorous people of Manchuria. Legbiter's glittering eyes scanned to the east and the South, his form melted, and like a liquid cloud blown by a strong gale he sped towards destiny. The flags flapped and cracked in the cold wind from the North West around the elegant yurt where K'ang Si slept, alone and guarded. But no mortal guard could keep out the dark mist which oozed through the fabric of the tent and coalesced into the beautiful dream-maiden, who chuckled throatily as she stroked his hair and cheek. "Hallo again, my darling, i need you to do an errand for little old me .... so here's what you're going to do tomorrow morning ..... " She whispers in his ear, perhaps, but in any event her feral little muzzle is hard against the future emperor of China's face for some time ..... A few weeks and a lightning march later, the armies of Manchuria lay in a valley just out of sight of the weakest section of the great wall. Rocket batteries and cannons had infiltrated to within range of the fortifications, and at K'ang Si's nod and the clash of gongs, the gathering dawn was magnified by the flash and bang of the Manchurian artillery. To the sound of horns and gongs and accompanied by the waving of flags the Manchurians advanced; shrieking and wailing the Chinese fled, except for the paid traitors who opened the gates. Through those gates rode K'ang Si, and onwards to Empire .... supplanting the power of the Atomweaver, and enduring two hundred years. Britannia eventually fell to the French, and inroads were made into New Portugal, but in the end it was still Legbiter who ruled the world, for the moment. [Based on a game of History of the World which took place at this year's Zopfcon, certainly the closest game i have ever played. At the end of Epoch VI EVERYONE was on the same edge of the board, ie within 30 points of each other; and at the end, i won by ONE point ahead of Conor Key. Thanks to David Z, Ben, Jose and Prescott [the other players] for a terrifically tight game!] ********************** EDITORIAL: Why Groupings, and the new card layout, Are Good Things Perhaps the most talked-about innovations in the Camarilla Expansion set have been the introduction of the groupings rule and the new layout of the cards. Much of the comment about these innovations has been negative, and this negativity is clearly an international phenomenon. Here i want to explain why [IMO] these innovations are dam' Good Things, which will help the game to survive, grow and expand for many years to come. Firstly the new layout. There's never been a problem with the appearance of Jyhad/vampire cards. i got into this game as a collector, and i collected solely on the basis of card appearance. i thought and still think that Jyhad Trap was/is the finest image there has ever been for a CCG; and that the work of Anson Maddox, Mark Tedin, HA McNeill and Drew Tucker was superb, and nicely counterpointed by people like LA Williams, Byron Wackowitz etc. But i personally found it quite hard initially to pick out the important points from a card, ie what kind of a card it was, what you needed to play it, and how much of what resource it cost. i find the new layout to be brilliant in this respect - all you need to know is on the green side-bar. At the top left is the card-type; no icon means master, otherwise the icon here identifies the type. In the middle we find the requirements - clan or discipline[s] required to play the card. Down at the bottom left we find out whether we have to pay blood or pool to field this card, and how much. Simple, functional, elegant - just what was required. Secondly Groupings. The new vampires [except for Elena Gutierrez] have a little number just above the text-box, on the left, and in the Camarilla Expansion this number is always two or three. Vampires from the Jyhad and VTES sets are all group 1. Vampires from Dark Sovereigns, Ancient Hearts, Sabbat, Sabbat War, Final Nights and Bloodlines are all group 2. By the Groupings rule, you may not in tournament play field a crypt which contains vampires whose groups differ by more than 1 - ie a 1/2 crypt is OK, and so is a 2/3 crypt, but a 1/3 crypt is not OK. Why was this innovation introduced, and what is its effect on old players and new? Simply put, this preserves old decks [or at least, their crypts] from obsolescence, whilst creating new tactical/strategic opportunites for those who choose to buy into the new cards [including, most importantly of all, a protected niche which allows new players to compete whether or not they have access to the new cards]. It is thus good for all four categories of players who actually exist in Jyhad/VTES. As i see it, these categories are:  The Shabby Genteel; defined as Old guys n gals with excellent collections but no money to buy into new sets - they benefit because their old decks still work/compete just fine, indeed slightly better, since some of their old cards that they didn't used to be able to field in competitive decks have been changed so that they can be, and some of their strategies [eg titled vote] work less well with a group 2/3 crypt than with a group 1/2 crypt.  The Ancillae, defined as new players who are trying to get into the best game on the planet nearly ten years after its release and on the ninth expansion. In the Camarilla expansion they find a set of 544 cards, easily collectable, and combinable with some readily-available expansions in toto, and with ALL library cards of all expansions except for the [shortening] list of banned cards, and the only useless card [chainsaw]. These players will find that they can build decks that compete with those of the old guys and gals, but that their decks will do subtly different things. Their Ventrue decks will not have so much raw voting power, but they will be better able to process matters to a vote. Their Brujah decks will also be less voty but more stealthy, and easier to integrate with the antitribu. Their Malkavian decks will accept antitribu more easily, be better at combat, but less good at voting and power stealth-bleeding. Their Nosferatu will mix better with other clans, and, erm, to be honest i don't yet have a feel for how the Nosferatu have changed, maybe not very much. Everyone's Tremere decks will be better and maybe the new guys will be best, but that's another story. New people will find it harder to field powerful weenie decks, but easier to stop such decks should they appear.  The Obscenely Wealthy aka Crack Cocaine Addicts who will buy and consume anything and everything that is produced for the VTES game. They get new cards! They get a whole set of new cards! Some of them have new pictures on! YAAAAH!!!! O, and they can even play with the things, if they wish, using the new library cards to spice up their old decks, and the new crypt cards to build new and subtly-different decks.  The RPGers, who get to play with characters they have read about in the WW books, and who can influence the Storyline of the RPG through their participation in the Storyline tourneys, principally by causing all the games they play in to time out as they drone on and on about their characters. Good thing that vampires have no excretory functions, otherwise i'm sure that some of these guys n gals would give you a plop by plop account of those. Would, o would that it were the case that one could make them go away simply by uttering the magic words booga-booga, as the Cleric may do in Munchkin. But i digress, and embrace all such players tenderly but gingerly, so's not to get impaled on their spiky dog-collars. How would things have been different if grouping had not been introduced? Categories 3 and 4 above would have been as happy as Larry still. Category 1 would have been screwed because their old decks wouldn't have worked anymore and they couldn't buy into new cards; Category 2 would have been screwed because just buying the new set wouldn't have put them in posession of all the cards they needed to compete - they would have had to buy old cards as well, at exorbitant e-bay prices. So this was a VERY clever way of keeping the old players, incentivising the new players, diversifying the game without breaking it, and STILL selling TUBS of cards. What is the future of grouping? i don't know but would be far from unhappy if it were extended set-by-set into the future, AND the past. i'm sure it is true, as the designers have stated, that the primary motive for grouping was not breaking the old strategies/crypts. But in fact, planned or not, grouping introduces a chronological direction to the game. Why is Cock Robin aka Horace Walpole suddenly the Nosferatu Justicar? Well, something bad happened to poor old Sheldon, Lord of the Clog, so the Nossies had to elect a new guy. O no wait! Here is Sheldon, back from the Undead and absolutely BRISTLING with rage at finding Cockers in his throne ..... it's Clobberin' time!!!! Who knows what else may happen in the future? Perhaps one or other of the independent clans will join the Sabbat .... hmmm tasty group 7 Sabbat Assamites. Perhaps in a Dark Ages expansion we will find group 0 and -1 vampires. Perhaps the time-line will be circular, so that group x will join up to group 1. Perhaps there will be True Brujah with "any" written in the grouping slot. i find all of this exciting and new, and cannot see how even the most conspiratorially-minded of Conservative Scumbag gamers could think ill of it. ******************************* DECK: Boirds and guns: Rob Treasure's Blaise Deck Here, thanks to Rob, is a startlingly-effective intercept combat deck based on a very useful !gangrel girly. There seems to be a lot of intercept-combat around these days, i saw several such decks at Zopfcon and even played one myself. i like the ani/cel background for the guns here, and think this might be the best way to use the new concealed weapon. Except where noted, all comments are the author's [ie Rob Treasure]. Deck Name: Boirds and guns Description: Uses Blaise, so I guess qualifies as a !Gangrel deck. A bit of a different wall / wear down deck, making use of CEL which I don't seem to be able to make up a deck without lately. Crypt should be 12, think I have tried versions with no Parmenides and no Jim. What do you reckon ?? [editor's note: maybe lose 1 Sarah Brando?] The deck has also had 5 Blood Dolls instead of a Heidelberg and I have been requested by a few people to try it with Raptors instead of Ravens :o) Not sure they can wear the cost though. I think 3 is just the right amount of Jacks. Just enough to start some sh*t and win the end game for you but not too many, eating slots and popping up at rubbish times. Can't recall what I ditched to get down to 90 ???? [editor's note - maybe one Forced, one pursuit? But i can see it is tight!] Army of Rats focus the Jack damage on your prey so they are well worth the 2 slots. Tried to slot in Dreams and Powerbase Montreal but there is just no room at the Inn. Enjoy playing it very much, has enough poke to take down a lot of combat decks [Editor's note: Rob's opponents when he played this first/most recently were Barney Baker, Martin Cubberley, Jon Cooper and Matt Green - pretty much the toughest competition you can get in the UK]. Terror Frenzy is a wondrous card. Minor for anti weapon and no back to close range and superior for card intensive combat decks. You CAN play Cats after a Psyche (despite popular belief) so the Cats really are essential to the deck, once you get a couple of Intercept retainers the Cats become wakes. Crypt: (13 cards, Min: 14, Max: 30, Avg: 5.54) ---------------------------------------------- 3 Blaise ANI CEL obf vic 7, Gangrel Antitribu 2 Anton ANI AUS cel obf vic 8, Tzimisce 1 Nettie Hale ani cel pre pro spi 5, Ahrimanes 2 Sarah Brando CEL 3, Brujah Antitribu 1 Parmenides CEL qui 4, Assamite 1 Jimmy Dunn CEL for POT 4, Pander 1 Volker CEL pot 5, Brujah, Prince 1 Ira Rivers ani AUS CEL pre 7, Toreador, Prince 1 Victor Tolliver CEL pot 4, Brujah Antitribu Library: (92 cards) ------------------- Master (13 cards) 3 Animalism 4 Blood Doll 1 Guardian Angel 1 Heidelberg Castle, Germany 1 Rack, The 3 Smiling Jack, The Anarch Action (2 cards) 2 Army of Rats Reaction (18 cards) 8 Cats' Guidance 10 Forced Awakening Combat (47 cards) 5 Blur 5 Carrion Crows 6 Concealed Weapon 8 Psyche! 7 Pursuit 6 Sideslip 5 Taste of Vitae 5 Terror Frenzy Retainer (6 cards) 1 Mr. Winthrop 5 Raven Spy Equipment (6 cards) 6 .44 Magnum ****************** And that's it for November! It's my birthday on Tuesday and Portsmouth Storyline is next Sunday - huzzah! - plus i have two new players. One of them wants to play a Baali deck, and good for him. See y'all next month, and quite a few of you on the tenth of this one. Bye!