OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 5 NUMBER 9 SEPTEMBER 2002 ********************** IN THIS ISSUE ........ FICTION: Wolfen STRATEGY AND TACTICS: The new Camarilla base set and the !Gangrel DECK: Happy Camarilla-Edition Families Ventrue deck OFF-TOPIC CORNER: Spoof Gothic and other good new Games ********************** FICTION: Wolfen As night falls on the island of Corsica, a figure is plodding along the track that leads out to Capo Rosso, the strange granite lump at the end of the ridge upon which lies the pretty little town of Piana. A summer storm mutters and flashes out to sea, and by the intermiitent illumination of the lightning we seem to see the faces of robed spectres or tortured souls leering and screaming frozenly on the rock-face. But it's only the remorseless action of the tramontane and the mistral, shrieking down each winter from the mountains of Italy and France to batter at the rocks of Corsica, that has made these startling faces: the REAL evil is onward and upward, and that is where the figure now bends its steps. At length the figure reaches the top of the rock and looks upward at the ruined tower of the Orchinu. Built by the Genoese, it still stands after three centuries, though the plasterwork has crumbled enough now that it's an easy climb up to the second floor. Inside things are trickier and there's a certain amount of wriggling and squeezing through narrow spaces to be done before the second floor is attained. There, the figure draws a lock-kife from its pocket and cuts its own wrist, meditatively allowing the blood to spill on the stones. There's a hissing noise and the rock of one of the walls bulges, writhes, and then FLOWS; a second figure coalesces out of the liquid rock, totters a little and then bends down to suck greedily at the red pool on the floor. At length it rises, wiping its mouth and gazing around it with wondering eyes. "Sebastian." "Legbiter. Name of a Dog! It has been a long time, By My Faith!" "Indeed. And you are needed again. The Black Spiral Dancers are under-employed, a situation i want you to rectify." ***************** A few weeks later, Sebastian Goulet is threading his way through the stagnant pools of the Langstone Marshes on the South coast of England. Here the hulks lay at anchor waiting to take the human refuse of Britain to Australia; here the Mulberry Harbours lay in modules, waiting to be shipped to the Normandy beaches. But now it is a bird sanctuary, and a rubbish-tip on its edge is home to something else ....... The Den of the Black Spiral Dancers is a subterranean cavern, but you wouldn't know that from up above because you enter it through a dirty caravan with a satellite dish on the roof. In the early autumn moonshine Rends-the-Treehuggers is sitting on the step of the caravan picking his teeth; soon he is joined by Craps-on-Sidewalk, Paints-the-Lampposts, Snarls-at-Postmen and Buttons, who all yawn and stretch in a disturbingly-toothy fashion. Eventually, supper appears, born in the not-so-fair hands of Pack-Mattress, the clan's only adult female; term having started, most of the cubs are at the Springfield School for the Dangerously Insane. As they devour their bacon and eggs a car pulls up, and Sebastian Goulet emerges from it. The Werewolves watch him distrustfully as he approaches the caravan. "Whaddya wan', lick-boy?" "Sacred Blue! Have i not the honour to address the renowned Rends-the-Treehuggers?" "Yeah. Now YOU answer MY question." "Dear Sir, i wish to recruit you for the cause, the struggle, what you will." "It'll cost ya. We're expensive. But y'know, for some weird reason i kinda like you. Tell ya what : 25% discount, only available to you. Paints, Snarly, stand aside a bit and let the Frog-lick in." Sebastian bows, with a secret smile, and enters the lair. All the Black Spiral Dancers are impressed by the combination of his blue-gray face, barely-repressed savagery and cute French accent. Hmm, Pack-Mattress is openly DROOLING with lust. That could prove a problem later, but for now, there is his mission to attend to. ************************ STRATEGY AND TACTICS: The new Camarilla base set and the !Gangrel It will sound awfully churlish of me to say i wasn't expecting much of the Camarilla set but, from the strictly-newsletter point of view, i really wasn't. So it was a specially-nice surprise to find Sebastian Goulet, a city gangrel with indifferent cost/in-clan discipline ratio, but two excellent off-clan disciplines and two nice specials, included in the new set. Sebastian has cel pre pro DOM OBF, can burn a blood for +1 bleed, and pays one less blood or pool to employ/recruit retainers. One INSTANTLY thinks of the Black Spiral Buddy and the Shadow Court Satyr, perhaps giving the latter Disguised Weapon [shooting for Ivory bow or a Flamethrower later]; one imagines these allies rampaging around sticking folks into the bin so that Sebastian can superiorly Grave Rob them back again, with added Raving Goddness from the Werewolves and Blood Dolls for relatively-reliable pool-gain. Fun! But perhaps not the best use of his abilities, i suggest, particularly if one looks at what ELSE is in the set. That's right, it's my view that there is a LOT for the City Gangrel in this set and that one strategy in particular, namely politics, has been given a significant boost. In part this boost comes about because of the change to Majesty. Majesty is now worse, but Earth Meld remains the same, and repeat actions that aren't politics or bleed or doing EXACTLY the same card-[including in-play-card]-based thing twice ARE now allowed in tournament play. But the other part of the boost comes from the collection of new vampires who have two of the City Gangrel disciplines and EITHER presence OR static votes, or both. Hrothulf, Ellison Humboldt, Lucian, Maxwell, Rachel Brandywine, Steve Booth, Suzanne Kadim and Tayshawn Kearns - to say nothing of reprinted Zoe, Victoria and Leandro, for whom we are grateful but who don't really create a new strategic opportunity for the clan. In short, the City Gangrel finally have their connections! ************************ DECK: Happy Camarilla-Edition Families Ventrue Deck. i bought three boxes of boosters and two of starters, and when i had finished sorting them i was 9 cards short of the full set. i kept one of the boxes of starters intact for casual play, and with all the cards i had left [except for most of the extra rares i had - i'm keeping an extra one each of those in the folder until i have traded up to the full set] i built Happy Family decks for the 6 surviving Camarilla clans. These decks are therefore ALL group 3 vampires, since the group twos are all in the starters and they all went into the collection. Last night we played a 4-way game in the pub and we each chose one of these CE Happy Family decks. i had the Tremere, Matt had the Nosferatu, John had the Ventrue and Mark had the Malkavians. John won with 3 VP and Mark got the other 1. Here is the Ventrue deck which i built and with which John won. CRYPT [13 vampires] Lana Butcher Gracis Nostinus Elena Gutierrez [ i ASSUME there should be a little 3 there] Catherine du Bois Lucinde Alastor Ilyana Ravidovich Marcus Vitel Diana Vick Katarine Kornfeld Edward Vignes Horatio Ballard Alan Sovereign Hrothulf LIBRARY [75 cards] MASTERS  Auspex Blood Doll Dominate Effective management Elysium: The Arboretum Fortitude KRCG News Radio Minion Tap x 2 Misdirection Powerbase: Washington, DC Presence Short-term Investment Uptown Hunting Ground Ventrue Headquarters DISCIPLINELESS  Conservative Agitation Elder Kindred Network Fifth tradition: Hospitality x 2 Fourth Tradition: The Accounting Kine Resources Contested x 2 Kindred Restructure Parity Shift Second Tradition: Domain x 3 Third Tradition: Progeny Wake with Evening's Freshness x 2 AUSPEX  Aura Reading Enhanced Senses Spirit's touch Telepathic Counter Telepathic Vote Counting DOMINATE  Bonding x 4 Deflection x 4 Govern the Unaligned x 4 Obedience Seduction x 2 FORTITUDE  Dawn Operation x 2 Freak Drive x 3 Restoration Rolling with the Punches Skin of Rock Skin of Steel x 3 Unflinching Persistence PRESENCE  Bewitching Oration x 2 Charming Lobby Dread Gaze Majesty x 5 Treachery Voter Captivation x 3 These decks played really well, even the Tremere - i made a gross error in not realising that Thingy Valois the Watcher only has inferior thaumaturgy, which basically destroyed my otherwise-sound position. We found that there were SUBTLE differences in the way these new Camarilla clan-based decks work compared with the old ones, but these added spice to the game rather than constituting a radical change. We all felt the change to Majesty and Second Tradition restored balance without nuking the clans who make heavy use of them. So overall very well done, Scott, great set and a tonic to the game. ************************ OFF-TOPIC CORNER: Spoof Gothic and other good new Games There's been a real explosion of good new games recently, and a surprising number of them are spoof Gothic Horror games. i personally amn't a big fan of Zombies!!! and i'ld even argue that Zombies!!! isn't the prototype of these games - Games Workshop's long-out-of-print Curse of the Mummy's Tomb is the same kind of thing but better IMO [none of which stops me from acknowledging that everyone else thinks Zombies!!! is great]. So it was in a moment of weakness that i bought When Darkness Comes, a game which is similarly-packaged and produced to Zombies!!! WDC however is a seriously good and quite original game, which can be played in lots of different ways, ranging from board/skirmish to role-playing; in Corsica we played this and VTES to the absolute exclusion of ALL other kinds of games, and the experience actually galvanised me into starting to paint my Gothic models again once we got home. Exactly WHY it is good is a little hard to put one's talon on, but it has something to do with needing to cooperate but not TOO much, and a rather cute Yahtzee-like method for resolving combat and the like. Also good are The Hills Rise Wild and GraveRobbers from Outer Space; Gregory House of Horror is grimly-cute though i can't yet decide whether or not i like it. Finally Wizkids new MechWarriors: Dark Ages is a wonderful two-player game, Michael and i both think so after only two "serious" goes at it. Naturally, i play the Highlanders, while Michael is the Steel Wolves. This game however only counts as Gothic because of the Dark Ages bit, a shade tenuous i agree. ************************** Apologies if this lands twice - Google and i are having a bit of a lover's tiff at the moment. And that's it for September, rather late i'm afraid and almost time to start on the October NL. Sigh. See you then!