OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 3 NUMBER 9 SEPTEMBER 2000 IN THIS HARVEST FESTIVAL ISSUE ...... THE COLLECTORS [Fiction] ABROAD THOUGHTS FROM HOME [My VTES holiday snaps, if you like] DECK: Pot/Dom bleed 'n' bash THE COLLECTORS In the humid evenings of late summer the collectors are out, with their white sheets and mercury vapour lamps, their killing jars and their pins. Up here in the Farlington redoubt there's a particularly good spot where significant rarities can be had. Pure melanic Autographa gamma, since you ask, two or three of the little fellows so far this year. Of course, you can capture those in daylight, too, and what a year it's been for the diurnal lepidopterist! The best clouded yellow year in unliving memory! O yes, i too am a bit of a collector, you know. No-no, nothing like that, i have to observe this ridiculous masquerade nonsense these nights, you know. At my age, i have to watch my heart. Don't want the archon of Wessex to have any excuse for putting a nasty pointy bit of wood in it, do we? Alright, here we are, this big dew-pond is the place. Just watch this! i bare my arm and will my blood to flow into it. Within minutes the arm is covered by greedily feeding mosquitos. i watch benignly as they fill themselves and drift off into the night. It's the third night i have done this and now the little ghouled insects move with an alien intelligence. Their simple brains are filled with one purpose - to feed and return. As for me, i will just take my ease on this mossy bank and wait, with my mouth slightly open. Time to gloat over the cricket and do the Times crossword. 3-1 in the end, but what a fight the Windies made of it! They'll be back, but i wonder if we will ever see the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose again. Hmmm, one across likes like "Put One's Foot In It", which would make one down, let's see, o yes you're right, it's "Playpen". Should be able to finish this in a quarter of an hour. Meanwhile, all over the suburb people are slapping arms and legs and cursing at the unusually-resilient and voracious mosquitos. Global warming, they will say, but we know differently. The first little visitors return and obediently deposit their cargos between my lips. Delicious! Ah me, what a pity that summer couldn't be longer. Perhaps, after all, i will retire to the tropics. A hedgehog trundles through the grass and pauses to look at us, then disappears into the hedge. Watching it go, i realise why, in the end, i will never leave England voluntarily. ABROAD THOUGHTS FROM HOME Firstly, thank-you to those who made my recent trips to SE USA, Portugal and Manchester so VERY much fun. This obviously includes everybody i played against and everyone who organised stuff but above all David Tatu, Richard David Zopf + Amy Dietz, David Pontes, Ron Spencer, Tim Avers and Anam Sheader. Gentlemen and Ladies, i owe you all! Tim, next time i'm in Atlanta i will Hunt You Down and FORCE you to play VTES with me. Bwahahahaha. The main purpose of all this gadding about was to have good games against good players but i also wanted to test out some theories about why we in the UK seem to be so totally out-of-step with the other Jyhad/VTES sub-communities. Some obvious long-hops which can be quickly smashed away to the boundary are:  They REALLY are good players out there. But y'all knew that, anyway. i won 2/3 games [7/15VP] in SE USA when i was playing my fierce decks [generally got caned, otherwise, ESPECIALLY when playing my clones of good US decks], and got 4th place in the Lisboa tourney when i really shoulda won - own fault for SUICIDAL final seating-order choice against the advice of my friend Luis Duarte. All, however, were tough games, even the EXTREMELY silly 6-player in which Zopf's Giovanni and my Cappadocians kicked each other with COMPLETE disregard for the normal predator/prey dynamic [Family stuff, You Wouldn't Understand!]. Furthermore, they KNOW how to build and run the decks we usually use - Robert Grau and i had an interesting discussion about How to Abuse Happy Families [and i sure hope the anti-paedophile brigade aren't monitoring this Newsgroup] - it's just that that's Not the Way They Play.  It's not that we have a weird metagame. UK fierce decks work abroad just fine provided they are being run by somebody who is neither drunk [or anyway not COMPLETELY drunk] nor suicidal. And you don't need to be a UK player to run one successfully, as proved by Chris Shorb in the recent LA tourney.  You still need a fierce deck to beat foreigners. i played with several toned-down versions of fierceness [standard HF toolbox stuff] and got thoroughly beaten-up when i did. Eventually - HF decks are pretty resilient, even the fun ones. Now for the non-obvious stuff, and i think somewhere in here are buried Deep Truths about Jyhad style but unfortunately i cannot see what they are. i definitely formed the impression that there are two ways to build and play VTES decks - the way it's done on the South coast of England, and the way it's done everywhere else i've been. If you are in UK, the experience of many Gencons is that you HAVE to construct and play the South coast way to compete - this year our final had four South coast players [in descending order of final ranking, Rob Treasure, m'self, Jon Cooper and Barney Baker] and one respected visitor in the form of Niki Sehmi [5th] who, BTW, has his MA fine arts exhibition soon in London. This was out of a field of 30, including two good continental players [David Pontes and Xavier Abad] and loads of people from Scotland, Wales, Nottingham, Watford, London etc, the newbies [at least to us] among whom ALL [interestingly enough] played what James Coupe and i have taken to calling American decks. "Focussed" would probably be a better adjective. The first two heats were pretty much standard Pompey tourney rounds for me [lost the first 3/2 to Will Lee taking out Ian Stubbington and David Pontes on the way - the other player was Steve Wright; i won the second 4/1 and John Eagles, Barney and Anam were my victims, but i had to give Barney a guy called Jode cos i couldn't trust him to ride out Barney's unblockable bleeds]. I only really got to look at the out-of-town stuff in the third heat when i found myself the only S coast player up against Xavier and two strong players from Wales and Nottingham plus a nice girl from St Andrews called Sarah. She was playing Gangrel and had 4VP going in to the third heat but i never got to see much of her deck, because she was rapidly sleazed out by my grand-predator the Welshman playing possibly THE most focussed weeny vote deck i have ever seen. In the process, and much to his disgust, Xavier [the Welshman's predator] took the dirt-nap, cursing weeny sleaze. Meanwhile i was exercising my own brand of sleaze on my Nottingham-based prey - master phase bleed for 22 through temptation of Greater Power [i know you think this is silly, Sorrow, but for complex reasons involving vote balance and minion taps this bid was actually justified!]. Finally after much clever finessing by all 3 players i got my Nottingham prey via Temptation and Parity Shift and then my Welsh opponent when a spectator pointed out that Navar McClaren can't actually block older vamps. 3VP to me, 1 each to the other two male Brits. So what is this Magical South Coast Trick? Unfortunately i have No Idea. It certainly isn't the case that we all have discussions from which we reach a consensus about how to build decks, nor that we share a common philosophy. A lot of my decks these nights are Happy Family affairs, but to my knowledge none of the other players down here uses the formula at all. I suppose our decks are generally multi-dimensional [at least some of the Southampton ladz use what Ethan calls modules], and one thing we all do a lot is table-talk, either lying outrageously about how weak we are or else exaggerating somebody else's strength so's to build alliances against them. Rob's favourite theory, and i must admit it's a good one, is that we have the equivalent of the 1980s Windies fast-bowling attack down here - a group of VERY strong players [including but not limited to Rob, Matt Green, William Lee, Steve Wright, Barney Baker and Jon Cooper] who are constantly [at least once a month] kicking the shit out of each other and everybody else amidst violent fluctuations of the metagame. But then, as i learned in my travels, the same is true of Atlanta and Lisbon, too. DECK IDEA: Anklebiter Goes Tactical [Pot/Dom bleed n bash]. i actually have TWO decks to talk about this month but one of them, kindly donated by Derek Ray, is in my email at work where i can't access it thanks to a broken cable. So that will have to wait till next month. Here is the one i currently have to hand. Michael aka Anklebiter has had a fairly dismal summer Jyhad-wise; 4 tourneys, no VP. It is clearly time for him to do something a bit different and so here is the latest deck i have built for him. Its excuse for being in this neswletter is that it contains Shane Grimald, who always seems to me the most enigmatic of the !Gangrel. Odd, too that his disciplines are exactly the same as those of Judah - most enigmatic [IMO] of my Other Favourite Clan the Nosferatu. CRYPT [12 vampires] Cameron 3 pot dom Ignacio, the Black Priest 4 pot dom obt Shane Grimald 4 pot dom ani Francesca Giovanni 4 pot dom nec Vittorio Giovanni 5 pot dom for nec Sabine Lafitte 5 pot dom aus tha Aurora Van Brande, Paladin 6 pot dom for obt Lisette Vizquel 6 POT DOM pro Anvil 6 POT dom tha pre CEL Gratiano 8 pot DOM OBT obf Lucita 8 pot DOM FOR OBT cel Emerson Bridges 8 pot DOM FOR PRE LIBRARY [82 cards] Masters  2 Minion Tap The Rumour Mill Sudden Reversal Direct Intervention Fortitude The Barrens Potence Dominate Elder Library 3 Blood Doll Dreams of the Sphinx Legendary Vampire Obtenebration Potence  6 Torn Signpost 6 Immortal Grapple 4 Undead Strength Mighty Grapple Thrown Sewer Lid Obtenebration  2 Eyes of the Night 2 Shadow Play Shadow Step Entombment Fortitude  3 Hidden Strength Superior Mettle Skin of Steel Daring the Dawn Dominate  Foreshadowing Destruction Far Mastery The Sleeping Mind Seduction 4 Deflection 4 Conditioning 4 Govern the Unaligned Dominate Kine Bonding Disciplineless  2 Delaying Tactics 5 WWEF 3 Bum's Rush 5 Taste of Vitae Atonement Leather Jacket Pulled Fangs This deck swept its first 3-player encounter, i wouldn't say with ease, but against two fairly competitive decks run by me [Nosferatu Kagemusha] and Lady Legbiter [Oxford University Press]. i then played it at our weekly pub game where it tied for first-place with Mark's obfuscate/presence vote/bleed deck in a timed-out 7-player game. Far Mastery should probably be Grave Robbing, but otherwise the deck looks ok. Alright, that's it for September. i'm currently swithering about whether to go to Paris or Watford in the third week - don't really fancy getting stuck/blocladed in France, MUCH as i love French cuisine, culture and girlies, but REALLY want to play in a Happy Families tourney. Suffice it to say that i will be seeing SOME of you before the next Portsmouth tourney in early October.