OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 3 NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2000 IN THIS ISSUE ....... THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM [FICTION] THE GENTLE ART OF DEAL-BREAKING [strategy article] TALBOT'S CHAINSAW DECK FROM DEREK RAY THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM [FICTION] From the topmost towers of Legbiter Hall you can look over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight, with the whole of Portsmouth spread out before you, glittering like an animated Byzantine tryptich. I especially like to sit here on stormy evenings, watching the orange and purple lightning flickering over the English Channel. Lady Legbiter won't let me smoke in the mansion so I tend to sit out here on the balcony ... I find the odd sly puff helps me to plot, y'see. And tonight I have company ... the gangrel antitribu have heard the rumours of impending war and we are having a council of sorts, the kind where everybody speaks at once and VERY LOUDLY and nothing much gets done. Sigh. Maybe I will give up being a chronicler and settle down to the quiet unlife of Cat-Herding. "What we REALLY need is more brethren, and a sharper distinction between ourselves and the Bumpkins." That's Zachary, of course. He is winding up Genevieve and Caitlin, but Samantha and Blaise are nodding in agreement. So am I, inwardly ... still smarting from the VERY many occasions when I've deployed my fractious troops against more-focussed clans and gone down like a tart's drawers. Country and City gangrel may have the same symbols in the corners but they are actually more different from each other than, say, the Toreador are from the Brujah, or the Malkavians from the Tremere. Perhaps we can still be friends once we are separated .... or perhaps not, but who cares provided we get to kick the !Ventrue and Tzimisce and not vice-versa, as happened last Saturday night. Luther stops scratching for a moment and turns to me. "Legbiter, what do YOU think? Did you get any solid information from the Infernal Powers That Be when you were in the States?" Indeed. I explain to the clan what I have found out, but since this is a secret gathering I can't let you lot know exactly what I say. Enough to create a rare moment of silence once I've finished speaking, anyway. A silence that's eventually broken by Shane Grimald. "Does this blazer make me look fat?" "No, darling, it just makes you look ambiguous, which is just one of the MANY things we LOVE about you. My dears, be content. The War is almost upon us, and it's up to us all, old friends and new, to make our mark in it. And now I'm hungry. Let's eat!" THE GENTLE ART OF DEAL-BREAKING [strategy article] A recent topic of conversation on the newsgroup was all about making and breaking deals, the extent to which retaliation was wise and should be taken, and so on. I don't think any real consensus was reached but some quite interesting points were raised and an entertaining time was had by all, or at any rate by me, especially when I came across the post which said that sometimes Deal-Breaking should be Mandatory. And since the not-so-gentle Rob Treasure has been talking about the related matter of agitation in his excellent ventrue newsletter I thought I would just say a few words more about how to make and break deals in VTES. I'd better preface my remarks by saying that this is one area of the game where not only do I lack the basic skills but I even KNOW that I lack them. I well remember being dealt out of victory in the first final my ToGP deck got to when Rob, my predator, somehow persuaded Pierre, his predator, that his [Pierre's] interests would best be served by a cross- table rush against me. I think even Rob felt a bit guilty about that one and in fact we tied the final, Rob winning the tournament overall on his performance in the heats. However, not being able to do something is no excuse for not commenting on it, as any follower of English cricket or football or whatever is well aware, so here is what I think about making and breaking deals. Never make a deal that isn't going to give you a solid advantage. Usually this will mean an advantage in the game, and by VTES rules it may not involve non-game components, which basically means no bribery, but there are solid reasons for making deals which give you no VP for the game. The best example of a deal of this kind is one which buggers up a deck you can't deal with so that, for instance, it doesn't get to the final. There are others, but I'm not making this point to go over the ground of what isn't or is a legal deal in Jyhad: I'm making it because if your deals arenít good for you then you are being STUPID, and that means you will get used by more-skilled players. If your deals always blow up on you then don't make deals at all; the other players may THINK you are stupid not to make any deals, but if you make crappy deals then they will KNOW you are stupid, which is MUCH worse. A good way to do this is to pretend that you have forgotten how to speak whatever language you normally use; alternatively you may find that you urgently need to go to the bathroom whenever the subject of deals comes up. Learning an uncontrollable stammer, brought on by the stress of deal-consideration, can also be a good tactic. Never break a deal unless it gives you the game right away. Again, I'm not making a moral point here, and in fact I'm not even making a new point. If you break a deal but leave your opponents alive they will get a chance to retaliate, which will bugger you up and, MUCH more seriously, make you look stupid. If you break a deal and win you will get some sour looks and may lose important chances to copulate with attractive members of the individually-preferred but usually opposite gender, but nobody will think you are stupid for breaking the deal. In short, your reputation as a Good Player will be enhanced, and this may actually make it more likely that people will deal with you in the future - or as Machiavelli put it, it is better to be Feared than Loved. All of which leads on to the final point I want to make: Be wary of making deals with stupid people. If somebody is a poor deal-maker it's quite likely that they are also a poor card-player and deck-builder, which means that even with the best will in the world they may not actually be CAPABLE of fulfilling their side of any proposed deal. On the other hand, you can sometimes make quite spectacularly brilliant deals [for you, anyway] with people who are poor at dealing, especially if they have cross-table abilities like politics or combat in their deck, and even more so if they think VTES is an RPG in the same sense as VtM. As Rob hints in his newsletter, the way to do this is often to start off by coaching them [in-game, of course] on how to play their deck properly, and then once you've helped them to some modicum of success you propose or even better acquiesce to some utterly ridiculous deal. In summary, therefore, I suggest that making and breaking deals is a skill. Deploying this skill is part of your growth as a VTES player, and you need to do it right, or not at all, because your reputation as a skilled player is of tremendous long-term value to you. TALBOT'S CHAINSAW DECK FROM DEREK RAY Derek Ray sent me a nice Gangrel/!gangrel talbot's chainsaw deck but unfortunately I can't get at it right now because deja seem to have trashed all my old mails as part of their move to a new server. Perhaps Derek will repost it to me, or slot it right into this thread: either way, I recommend the deck - loads of fun and quite worrying for a ToGP deck because, of course, taking over the chainsaw is generally a bad idea, since very few decks can use it without commiting suicide. Certainly it was one of the scariest decks I saw in America. Maybe Todd Banister's Assamites were scarier, or maybe it was the way he played them. OK, that's it for this month. Remember to order your Sabbat War. Get some extra for your friends, mum, dog and hamster. Lay in a few extra cases in the event of nuclear war - we could be underground in the dark for a LONG time, and the cards do wear out eventually. Spend ALL the money you can spare on Sabbat War. You can still buy food, but only if there are no soup kitchens in your locality. And I'll see you all in November, when just think how lean and fit we will all be from eating less and toting around those HUGE bundles of cards everywhere!