Vol.II No.11
**Special Awards issue**

Awards issue**

Apologies for the late newsletter but my news server (pubnews) went to the
wall and it's taken me a bit of time to sort a new one. Got me a new one
done now so here goes...

AGITATION NATION - Metagame analysis "you're not from round these parts are
you ?"
DECK OF THE MONTH #1 - Arika !
DECK OF THE MONTH #2 - 'We own you' by Cameron Domer


Greetings from the basement of the Ventrue Headquarters, Yes that's right, I
'm down here again in my comfortable rocking chair, seeking shelter from the
crossfire up on the surface. Times a' changing sports fans, the increase in
popularity and subsequent cross-cultural altercations at tourneys are
becoming commonplace. Bound to happen I suppose, doesn't make it any the
easier to deal with though.

The post Final Nights game seems to have settled down pretty well, the
independents have asserted a decent foothold in the ladder of power and
influence and the obviously useful / powerful cards have been established
(but not abused yet).

A rare treat this month with a 'special award' issue following the Watford
E.C. qualifier. Two submitted decks this month for your delight - the now
'infamous' Turbo Arika deck and Cameron's Weenie Ventrue Hostile deck from
US Gencon.

There has been a lot of passionate traffic on the group lately regarding
collusion, table dealing and national differences. I'll cover some of the
main points in Agitation Nation this month and attempt to reach some
non-confrontational conclusions (might have to use a bit of Fortitude there


AGITATION NATION - "you're not from 'round these parts are you ?"

Metagame analysis is one of the most unpredictable parts of VTES.
Pre-tourney predictions are a tricky thing to get right at the best of
times. All it takes is a few more combat / vote etc. decks than 'normal' to
make a tourney that players describe as heavy combat, heavy votes etc. As
metagames shift, decks change and the whole game swings one way or the
other. Everyone's interpretation of the game is different, as national
playstyles come into contact more often, the sorts of 'cultural' differences
we have seen recently will become more frequent.

The French guys who made the trek across to the Watford tourney (all good,
respected players in their own right) were taken aback by the level of
dealmaking and were not used to that 'type' of game. We over here in the UK
were conversely not used to the purely prey-focus style of play. This is not
to say that either game is better or 'more right' but it was interesting to
see on the one hand - the French guys encouraging prey-focus around the
table and on the other the UK players typically looking to the whole table,
trying to balance and use the other players to further their own needs. Both
styles have obvious (and not so obvious) advantages and disadvantages and I
argue that both have a place in the game.

The sort of situations that compound this difference is the 'combat decks
sitting together' scenario and wall / bloat decks that don't apply a lot of
pressure to their prey. These type of decks use lay low tactics to appear
innocuous (which can be frustrating for players committed to the predator /
prey relationship) until enough resources (vamps, pool, cards etc.) have
been accumulated to make a big push.

On a parallel with the above, the UK environment used to be shaken up by a
totally focussed deck. The game has levelled out a lot to handle focus in
the last 6 months but previous to that '100 % prey dedicated' decks caused
radical metagame shifts and a lot of surprise ousts.

Historically, the UK game does see a lot of shifts, you can see a S+B / Vote
bias at one tourney and a combat bias at the next a week later. I guess this
is one reason why the semi-toolbox* deck has become popular over here.
Reducing the Stone Paper Scissors effect to a minimum and still allowing the
deck to perform to a desired level is a real artform in deckbuilding. It
will be interesting to see what bias the Australian game takes, I should get
a fair idea as I'm playing in 3-4 different cities as well as in New Zealand
so I shall report back on my return in December.

With a lot more international tourneys springing up, players will have to
start a new level of metagame analysis. Making the trip to a foreign tourney
is often a real eye-opening experience and whilst it can be incredibly
frustrating, a lot can be learnt from different playstyles. As somebody
(might have been Bruce Lee :o) a lot wiser than me once said -

"The best style is no style at all"

If you have the ability to switch your skills to suit the environment and
take the best parts of every type of game you are IMO well on the way to
becoming a true master..

* by semi-toolbox I mean a deck that has a central focus but also
incorporates a variable amount of multi-use situational handling cards or


DECK OF THE MONTH #1 - Arika !

Pretty much HAS to be Philippe Lang's nuclear power Arika cycle deck, that
it's able jockey Francois has kindly mailed to me. Playing against it and
pulling it apart after the fact has certainly taken my card analysis and
deck building and to a higher (or lower) level.

Not since the days of old skool pre 7/7 Fame, ToRIII and Return to Innocence
have I been so scared of one particular deck. Looking back it is not quite
as all encompassing as I first thought and is 'fairly' easy to stamp on IF
(big if) you get it soon enough. If however you don't mess it up early in
turn 3-4 then the whole table is dead. Yep, I'd call that powerful :o)

One knock on effect of the deck will be the extreme prejudice cannon that
will now be permanently levelled at 'poor innocent little' Arika. I for one
will certainly consider putting some anti Arika ammo in my decks from now on
(hmmm. A simple Demonstration would do the trick methinks :o)

Anyway, here she is -

Prey silence ladies and gentlemen...

Hgghh humm.

I would, at this juncture like to present a very special award for
outstanding contribution to VTES sleaze and cheese, henceforth to be know as
the VTES 'SC' cross. [puts two nice, shiny, desirable pewter medals round
Philippe and Francois neck's to spurious applause and bottles / root
vegetables impacting on chicken wire]

A high accolade indeed ladies and gentleman, not to be taken lightly or
without extreme contribution to the 'S+C' area of our beloved game.

So without further pomp I give you -


Turbo Arika

Created by: Philippe Lang
Description: Sweep a table in turn four ? Let's try this eleven-card deck
(Crypt included)!!

Crypt: 20 cards [Min: 44, Max: 44, Avg: 11]
20 Arika (aus cel DOM FOR OBF PRE, Ventrue, 11, Inner Circle)

Library: (90 cards)
13 Awe
10 Conditioning
11 Daring the Dawn
5 Distraction
10 Force of Will
4 Forgotten Labyrinth
10 Freak Drive
5 Lost in Crowds
13 Praxis Seizure: Berlin
9 Soul Gem of Etrius

[No master cards... NONE. Ed]

Bring out Arika (3-4 turns)
Equip her with Soul Gem (add stealth if necessary)
Freak Drive
Call PS: Berlin (add stealth if necessary), Awe for all but two blood on
Arika. She then becomes a 12-cap Vampire...
Force of Will + Conditioning + INFERIOR Daring, bleed for eight !!
Arika burns, Soul Gem is activated, the next Arika enters play.
Repeat immediately, [on the same turn! Ed.] ad nauseum...
Use Distraction to build the combo if necessary. [IMO the master stroke of
the deck, just enough in to facilitate the combo and boost cycling whilst
being easy to cycle themselves.]


So there you go, a definitive chapter in the VTES annuls of washable sleaze
:o) Please do not adjust your set, next month we will be resuming normal
service with 'regular' decks.


DECK OF THE MONTH #2 - Cameron Domer's Weenie Ventrue / Hostile.

Cameron has kindly submitted his Ventrue deck which he played at US Gencon
against some stiff voting opposition by the sound of things..


Weenie Presence Vote (aka Cheese) and the current Metagame.
(my time at Gencon 2001)

This years Gencon was great.  Tons of people came out for Vampire, and a
ringing endorsement for White Wolf's patronage of the game was realized.  I
played the same deck in the Qualifier Tournement and (not to give anything
away) in the Shadow Twin tournement the next day.  First, the Deck:

We Own You (translated into l33t 5p34k of course)

Crypt: 12 Vampires

2 Gideon Fontaine       3 PRE
1 Itzahk Levine         3 pre cel
1 Roland Loussarian     3 pre for
1 Violette Prentiss     4 PRE dom
1 Courtland Leighton    4 pre dom for
1 Marriana Gilbert      4 PRE cel
1 Jazz Wentworth        5 PRE dom for
1 Ranjan Rishi          5 PRE DOM for
1 Rake                  6 PRE aus cel pot Prince
1 Sir Walter Nash       7 PRE DOM FOR Prince
1 Timothy Crowley       7 PRE dom FOR ani Prince

12 Hostile Takeover
4  Blood Doll
1  Ventrue HQ

13 Parity Shift
9  Praxis Seizure (glasgow, boston, barcelona, berlin, cairo, geneva, rome,
cleveland, athens)
1  Ventrue Justicar
5  Mind Numb
8  KRC
2  Con Ag.
1  Entrancement

Action Mod:
5  Freak Drive
17 BO
[That's a whole lot of BO. Ed]
1  Aire of Elation

9  Majesty

On the first day I got 0 vps in three rounds.  In round one my prey's first
vampire was Anson, which my Grand Predator contested (having dropped a ToR3
on him first turn and then brought up a small Toreador)  I was looking good
at this point, got a prince, and started damaging my prey.  My grand prey
was a Malk bleed deck, and my predator was playing Brujah votes, but his
pressure wasn't overwhelming me, and I even managed to grab Constanza, who
RTFC, didn't have PRE.  I should have gotten two VP's, but misplayed,
leaving my prey in the game an extra turn to contest Alexandra with my Grand
Predator, who displayed more bleed than I had expected quickly took out the

Round two went similarly, again there were big voters at the table, and this
time I never even passed a Praxis seizure.  Second Turn Princes and
Justicars and I think a third turn IC.  The bloat at this table also shut
down my ability to Hostile to get vampires or hurt my prey.  The big cross
table voters gave my prey pool and took whatever minion I put up for sale.
I went fighting, but was overwhelmed.

Third round ALSO had a big cross table bloat deck, but this time my predator
was a sneak and bleeder, and my prey was IG rush.  I was whittling away at
the IG (without table votes again) when I was Dramatically Upheavaled and
got moved to less sunny climes.  Again no joy.

In my opinion the main failure of the deck was the speed at which the other
decks at the table got out votes.  Even if you get out Igo (say) with the
first transfer, the people across table can (and seemingly will) be getting
out Prisci and Princes with alarming regularity before you can call that
first Praxis Seizure.  Here's a for instance (assuming I'm going 4th,
because it happened a lot)

A 1+4 (Zillah) on oh... Sheldon or Polonia or Gratiano or Kyle

B 2+ 2 counters (ToR3) on Alexandra

C 3+ 4 (Zillah) on Arika

D 4 on Violette Prentis... yeah

E 2 each on Lupo and Koko

A gets a 9 cap with 2-3 votes
B gets an 11 cap with 4 votes
C gets an 11 cap with 4 votes
D calls a Praxis Seizure, with 5 votes, is lauged at.
E Drops POT on KoKo, kills somthing.

[Man, that was a harsh game for Weenie Pre. I find that Mr. Volker can be
your worst nightmare when playing a deck like this, he has all three
headaches - early votes, Pot and 2nd Trad capability. Ed]

This example is obviously extreme, but table votes get out quick, far to
quick for Praxis+BO to get a title, even on the second turn.  Even emptying
Violette with an Awe doesn't get a vote passed at the above table.  And no o
ne, but no one wants to see you get more votes on a Presence weenie,
especially once you drop that first Parity Shift.

Of course if the metagame isn't for large voters, then a deck like the one
above can do very well.  I got 7 VPs and made the finals on Saturday in the
Shadow Twin tournament, mainly because I never really saw the same level of
table votes.  Even in the final there was no firm vote lock, although many
of the decks had some votes.

A few notes on how to improve the above deck:
Some of the Freak Drives should be Day Operations, stupid Tzimisce.
Less BO's for a few Voter Caps, and an Awe or 2 if you have them.
Maybe add a little bleed bounce (deflection) for a few Parity Shift.

Cameron Domer

Ring-a-ring o'roses,
A pocketful of posies,
A-tishoo, a-tishoo,
We all fall down.

[Thanks a lot Cameron, quality analysis and deck commentary there]

I shall be of on my travels at the end of September, a huge thanks to
everyone from Australia and New Zealand who have extended invitations for a
few games whilst we're over there. In my absence (as I'm not taking a laptop
in my rucksack !) Special Agent Jon Cooper has agreed to take up the mantle
for the October letter and I reckon you can safely expect a combat bias in
that particular edition. I'm thinking of tapping up Barny Baker to do the
November one (although he doesn't know it yet :o) whaddya think Barn ? you
up to the task,  huh ?

So plenty to look forward to there then :o) Until next time, when all us UK
players will have played / survived Gencon 2001 in London, I shall bid you
all farewell.

Any submissions, comments, questions, abuse, rhetoric, prose, fetishist
material etc. mail to