V:EKN Caitiff Newsletter, September 1998

There has been some recent discussion about what is more important pool,
blood, or minions.  Being able to determine which resource is most
important at any given moment is something that is learned over the
course of a great many games.  I think this might shed light on the pool
and blood aspect at least.  

I've been working on an article for a month or so that was going to show
that the cardless hunt and bleed were the "base" minion actions by which
all other actions should be compared against.  Much like I did with
Ascendance for the Master Phase.  During this time I was playing an ARC
system game and examining its basic mechanic as well as Jyhad's basic
mechanic.  The ARC system is essentially the playing card game "War"
except that the "highest card wins" battles only take place when the
attacker taps.  In some ways the Jyhad mechanic is similar except that
each individual battle causes both cards to lose a single point
(exchanging hand damage) and eventually (after many battles or multiple
rounds of battle) the card with the most blood on them wins the battle. 

Oops, I'm getting off track.  Anyway, it was around this time that I
realized that the basic mechanic of Jyhad gives some advantages to the
small capacity vampires. [All this to somehow tie my article to the
Caitiff newsletter?!]  Caitiff are great at exploiting the
inefficiencies and poor play of other players.  Their inherent
advantages allow them to move fast and take advantage when another
player overspends on larger vampires only to have a library that can't
efficiently use the skills they just paid for.  Well, read on and let me
know if this has enough relevance to count as my Caitiff newsletter for
September, 1998.

BLOOD AND POOL AS THE CURRENCY OF THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE

The basic currency of V:TES is pool.  It is what we spend to bring
minions into play, locations, equipment, and various master cards.  Its
depletion also causes us to be ousted from the jyhad.  The other
currency identified is blood.  Blood is used to keep our minions out of
torpor and to play certain cards.  I contend that there is a
relationship between blood and pool and that both currencies are in fact
equal. 

This basic truth of V:TES' game mechanic can be seen in this simple
experiment.  Imagine a two-player game in which one player has a five
capacity vampire with 5 blood on it and 2 pool.  The second player has a
two capacity vampire (with 2 blood on each) and 5 pool.  Players do not
have libraries.  Each turn a player has a few options.  They can bleed
their prey for 1 point, they can stay untapped and block the next bleed,
or, if they are missing any blood, they may hunt.  The game will end
with the player who played first ousting the other player.  

Volker bleeds, now tapped, 5 Blood    (Player B's Pool to 4)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, 2 Blood    (Player A's Pool to 1)

Volker doesn't bleed, now untapped, 5 Blood  (Player B's Pool at 4)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, Normal=1 blood, Volker=4 blood, (Player A's
Pool = 1)

Volker doesn't bleed, now untapped, 5 Blood  (Player B's Pool at 4)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, Normal=0 blood, Volker=3 blood, (Player A's
Pool = 1)

Volker bleeds, now tapped, 3 Blood    (Player B's Pool to 3)
Normal hunts, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player A's Pool at 1)

Volker doesn't bleed, now untapped, 3 Blood  (Player B's Pool at 3)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, Normal=0 blood, Volker=2 blood, (Player A's
Pool = 1)

Volker bleeds, now tapped, 2 Blood    (Player B's Pool to 2)
Normal hunts, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player A's Pool at 1)

Volker doesn't bleed, now untapped, 3 Blood  (Player B's Pool at 2)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, Normal=0 blood, Volker=1 blood, (Player A's
Pool = 1)

Volker bleeds, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player B's Pool to 1)
Normal hunts, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player A's Pool at 1)

**Stop here for a moment.  Notice that everything is now equal?  One
blood on each vampire and one pool for each Methuselah.

Volker doesn't bleed, now untapped, 1 Blood  (Player B's Pool at 1)
Normal bleeds, now tapped, Normal=0 blood, Volker=0 blood, (Player A's
Pool = 1)

Volker hunts, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player B's Pool at 1)
Normal hunts, now tapped, 1 Blood    (Player A's Pool at 1)

Volker bleeds and ousts Player B.

Player A's smaller pool was not important to the outcome.  The total of
the pool and blood was the most important factor. Admittedly, a smart
player knows that there are proper times for hunting, bleeding, etc. but
the result of such actions are exactly the same.  So, in the end, the
difference between Blood and Pool is just its location in the playing
field.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

During each game, fundamental decisions are made regarding the use of
our one starting resource-pool.  Pool is spent to purchase transfers
that are moved to inactive vampires. Up until the time the full
container takes a trip to the active region, the transferred blood can
still travel back into your pool.  However, once the trip to the active
region is completed, the rules do not allow you to reallocate that blood
back into your pool.

This is the most important decision in the game-how we choose to
distribute our pool.  How much do we hold back as pool and how much do
we wish to allocate for transfers (to become blood).  The Great Divide
that separates our blood and pool cannot be traversed by normal means
and the decisions we make regarding pool distribution are essentially
permanent.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Think back to our sample game for a moment.  Notice that the results
would have been significantly different is Player A had one 8 capacity
vampire and Player B had four 2-capacity vampires.  Even though the pool
and blood totals would be equal, the player with the most minions has a
distinct advantage that would allow them to win the game. In the
situation described just above, you'll notice that you receive 1 bleed
per minion and not one bleed per 8 pool spent.  If the game were to have
stayed in this crude stage the base bleed may well have been based on a
vampire's capacity. However, there was a good reason for not doing
this--"disciplines".  The increased disciplines (as well as the titles
and special abilities) available to the larger vampires more than
make-up for the numbers advantage forfeited to the smaller vampires.  On
the other hand, the larger vampires can only make up for this if full
advantage is taken of the library cards relying on those disciplines. 
This is probably why newer players gravitate towards playing with small
vampires and why an experienced player is more able to venture into the
large vampire arena.  Along these lines, it is much easier for a player
to commit 1 pool to the blood side of the Great Divide than to spend 11
pool for an IC member.  Since there is no retreat once the Divide has
been crossed, the decision to influence a large vampire is a dangerous
one.  

RULEBREAKERS

Of course I can't end the article without listing the cards that break
the rules regarding the Great Divide.

Rulebreaker #1 - The world famous Minion Tap.  Minion Tap allows you to
return as much blood as you like back to your pool.  This card allows a
Methuselah to overallocate pool for minions and then get back the amount
he feels he's overallocated.

Rulebreaker #2 - Blood Doll.  Blood Doll also allows you to move blood
back into your pool.  It adds the additional benefit of being able to
move pool onto the vampire.  Its permanence also allows a slow gain
situation to develop when combined with a Hunting Ground.

Rulebreaker #3 - Gird Minions.  Gird Minions allows an amount of pool to
be moved to any number of controlled vampires.  

Rulebreaker #4 - Tribute to the Master allows one blood to be removed
from each of your ready vampires and for it to be placed in your pool.

Robert Goudie                                                Editor
Official Caitiff Newsletter                  rrgoudie@earthlink.net
Vampire: Elder Kindred Network  http://www.white-wolf.com/vtes/vekn
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