Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary (Part 2): GenCon UK 1998

Here's another gem from the past, James Coupe's report of the VtES tournament during the 1998 GenCon UK. Take note that there was still no game win rule, certain cards where not banished, and decks not as focused as they are nowadays.
Now, let's see if we can get something down in writing before I pass out.

Tournament started at twelve midnight Saturday night in the DCI tent. Except that they decided to move out of the DCI tent into a building that you actually had to walk too. *sigh* How inconsiderate of them..... But still, the tournament started at midnight which wasn't the best of times for anyone really..... Bloody well clashed with the Rocky Horror Picture Show too, damnit.... If this happens next year, heads will roll.

The tournament started with 17 people. After the first round, two people dropped out (so I don't have their names since I was working with the third round score sheets) and Chris Llewellyn (whose name I have probably completely mis-spelled and for which I apologise) was roped in to play, or was it Andy Thorn? It may well have been, thinking about it. This gives us more than the number of people for the Battletech Nationals which is a moral victory, even if they get bloody loads better prizes. *sigh*

Okay, so three rounds of play followed by the final. The unlucky players who didn't qualify for the final were:
  • Paul Louch, 0VP, 0VP, 0VP (1st round, second round third round)
    Playing a deck which mixed the Malkavians and Tremere to dubious effect (note the victory points total) but which looked like it could have done well if it had got a better table position. Muddles was often brought out to pling at other vampires and torporise them. Heh.
  • Barny Baker, 0VP, 2VP, 1VP
    A weird little deck. Seemed to love Vanessa with Obfuscate, Didi Meyers and people like that. Played about with Sneak and Bleed but included Fortitude for damage prevention and a little Auspex too. Very unlucky table position in the first round (prey of Peter Raphial) meant that he got bled a lot, and I still had to attack his vampires to stop them coming through onto me. A nice deck, and a good evolution of the S&B style to allow for combat defence though.
  • Matt Siejka, 1VP, 0VP, 0VP
    Suicide Day-Op deck. Lots of big bleeds with Conditioning etc. using Day Ops to force them through, but it suffered because it hadn't planned for blood gain to get the vampires back out of torpor, leaving it vulnerable to, well, anything.
  • Niki Sehmi, 0VP, 3VP, 0VP
    Potence Fortitude type vampires. Played about with Big Nosferatu and Suhailah. Suffered in the first round due to a mis-application of the No Repeat Actions rule by the two players involved, which could have netted it the last two victory points. Unfortunately, the game was packed up by the time either of them realised and Matt was forced to rule that the game had to stand since they couldn't set it back up.
  • Chris Llewellyn, 0VP, 0VP, 0.5VP
    Matt Green's Temptation deck. Steal your vampires and RAH! A very nice deck which has cropped up at tourneys invigilated by Matt Green before in the side games, and which goes through constant evolution I believe but a lot of fun to watch. Classic play of the game had to be when Chris stole a copy of Emerson Bridges with Temptation and then called a Disputed Territory to steal Emerson's real owner's Elder Library. Super humour. Chris also has credit for most amusing quote of the tourney
    • "Can I have a rules book?"
    • "Why do you need one?"
    • "Well, I've got to learn to play some time."
  • Baz, 3VP, 0VP, 0.5VP
    A deck which I didn't see but which I am assured was a fairly standard Malkavian Madness Network bleed type deck. It obviously did well in the first game, but the last game (as with all the other players with 0.5 VP in that game) was very nip and tuck and a little drawn out, time wise.
  • Alan Gates, 0VP, 1VP, 0.5VP
    A fairly standard Ventrue vote deck. In at least two of his games, though, he completely failed to establish any real voting presence and seemed to not call votes because of that when a more sensible option may have been to call the votes to cycle them. He was also singularly unable to secure the help of other people on the table which screwed him over.
  • Stephen Wright - 1VP, 1VP, 0VP
    A standard big Ventrue deck. Large voting vampires (which gave Alan hassle) and big bleeds, Fifth Tradition, Day Ops and things like that.
  • Andy Thorn, 0VP, 0VP, 0VP
    Assamite "Annoy thy neighbour" Contracts and the like which allow the killing of vampires etc. Screwed in one game, though, when he tenderised his predator who then didn't have opportunity to rescue it before *his* predator wiped the floor with him. Oops.
  • James Coupe, 0VP, 1VP, 0VP
    A Brujah, Brujah Antitribu combat deck. Badly constructed (I don't have the Torn Signposts etc. I need for it) and badly played, because I'm crap at combat. It was just what I felt like playing though. I only got a victory point by Life Booning my predator. *sigh* I really must try and be good at Jyhad one day. As Matt Green said, "James could be good if he spent more time building decks instead of memorising the errata." *sigh*
  • Andy Schipelbaum, 1VP, 0VP, 0VP
    A big Assamite backed up by weenies. The Assamite helps to get through any real opposition you have, and then the weenies just bleed you out. It never really got off the ground, though.
And the finalists were (in this seating order):
  • Peter Raphiel, 4VP, 1VP, 4VP
    A bloody bastardisation of a deck I had on me and everything. Kept the bleed from the Ventrue I had and made it more weenie. Weenie Presence and Dominate really, mainly based around bleed. Vampires like Gloria, Igo and Gideon were essential to the deck.
  • Jon Cooper, 3VP, 0VP, 1VP
    Make no mistakes. This *wasn't* a Malkavian Antitribu stealth and bleed deck. It was a Malkavian Antitribu deck with some stealth in it. And it also had some bleed in it. And Enchanted Marionette. And a couple of comas as well. Hannibal, Virgil (we couldn't decide if was John Wayne, from Thunderbirds or wrote poetry but still) and Korah, I think - the 7 capacity Priscus with inferior Animalism. All three tended to turn up, with little-uns like Boy Toy and Yorik who were put up to be cannon fodder for Paul Louch's Muddles and so forth. Okay, so it was a dirty stealth and bleed deck.
  • Will "Kung Fu" Lee, 0VP, 3VP, 3VP
    A *really* weird deck. Madness Networked actions with Malks for stealth and bleed, backed up by equipment such as a .44 Magnum and Leather Jacket. At least it meant that he got to upgrade the green water pistol to a *proper* gun. And then it brought out a little Tremere Antitribu and a Succubus. Weird. Obviously a very effective deck, though, just not one which seemed like it *should* have worked, just from describing it. Again, this was S&B going for the combat defence angle. Obedience was around as well as the Succubus having fun with you and the equipment too.
  • Rob Treasure, 2VP, 2VP, 3VP
    The Lazverinus "All Skills, All Stars" Deck. A hell of a lot of different things going on in the deck. Perhaps a little luck from time to time with the draws but played astoundingly well so that he always had what he needed against you at the right time. I have to say that it confused me when I first saw it. Bloody weird deck, it looked. I thought it was weenie Gangrel but still. But it has bruise and bleed, and intercept and bounce and everything.
  • Chris Booth, 2VP, 3VP, 0.5VP
    A Brujah deck which screwed me up in one of the earlier rounds. Brujah so it had enough combat to hit out when it needed to, using the little princes especially to create Third Traditions as more cannon fodder. A few of the fun bleed actions too - Legal Manipulations etc. I know a few people *did* comment that the deck and the player may have been more than a little responsible for the 0.5VP third round. A little too much pedantry, even in the face of the Judge, Matt Green, backed up by the 7/7 rulings about cards (a copy of which I'd made sure to bring along with me), and it wasn't like we'd just thrown them on him - he was aware that they existed when he arrived at GenCon. Nothing that could really qualify as deliberate time wasting, but that's how it felt in some people's point of view.
First ousting was Chris Booth by Rob Treasure. His vampires were destroyed and then he was bled out quite quickly. Second ousting occurred around the table with Peter Raphial ousting Jon Cooper with his weenie presence-dominate deck. There, it was very much of a race to see who could oust their prey first simply because Jon's deck couldn't easily deal with being bled itself. Peter Raphial then fell to Rob Treasure, having his vampires lightly tenderised followed up by a pretty good bleed to oust him. Rob was himself ousted by Will using a NEW Return to Innocence. All of 7/7 and new 23/6 was in force. With Rob and Will tied for 1st place on two victory points each, the final tiebreaker is the number of victory points they had already accumulated. Rob had seven, compared to Will's six, earning him a couple of Sabbat boosters more than the rest and an, apparently, very nice Clint Langley piece of artwork from Vampire: The Masquerade (I don't know - as I write this, it shouldn't have been presented to him yet).

Highlight of the tournament for me was getting to explode at an American who dropped out after the first round. I just got very exasperated with him telling me (not even in a game) that he could steal the blood of his Powerbase: Mexico City and that the new ruling had screwed it up (which, of course, it hasn't, it's just been made to preserve the intent of the card). "No, you can't, it would have been a directed action at yourself which would have been prohibited." "No, it was at the card, not me." "Yes, a card you control therefore an action at you ." I believe Andy Schipelbaum noted that I was one of the only Jyhad players in England who understood this. What was quite good was then hearing this American in his first round asking very basic rules questions and then coming out with something like "So who's making up these rulings then?"

But Rob's winning deck. He wants a cool name for it, but at 7 o' clock in the morning, the best we could come up with was the Lazverinus All Skills All Stars deck. Better name suggestions on a postcard please. The deck doesn't look much but what has to be taken into account is the calibre of the player, who knows exactly when to play and when not to, and ensures a good cycle of his cards to get exactly what he needs, when he needs it. Apologies if any cards are mentioned more than once, total the number of them if it happens. There are 86 cards in the deck, and 12 vampires.

Deck Name: GenConUK1998
Created By: Rob Treasure

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 13, Max: 35, Avg: 6)
1 Juan Cali aus for 3 Ventrue Antitribu
1 Ricki Van Demsi for pro 3 Gangrel
1 Cameron dom pot 3 Lasombra
1 Jimmy Dunn for CEL POT 4 Pander
1 Lisette Vizquel pro DOM POT 6 Lasombra
1 Dylan aus cel dom for pro 6 Ventrue Antitribu
2 Badger ani pot FOR PRO 6 Gangrel
1 Iliana tha DOM FOR PRO 7 Gangrel
1 Ian Forestal AUS DOM THA 8 Tremere Antitribu
2 Lazverinus pro AUS DOM FOR POT 10 Ventrue Antitribu

Library: (80 cards)
Master (15 cards)
1 Barrens, The
1 Blood Doll
1 Demonstration
1 Dominate
1 Dreams of the Sphinx
1 Fortitude
1 Golconda: Inner Peace
1 Information Highway
1 KRCG News Radio
1 Major Boon
2 Minion Tap
1 Rack, The
1 Rumor Mill, Tabloid Newspaper, The
1 Sudden Reversal

Action (10 cards)
2 Bum`s Rush
4 Govern the Unaligned
1 Masochism
3 Restoration

Action Modifier (8 cards)
2 Conditioning
2 Earth Control
1 Foreshadowing Destruction
2 Freak Drive
1 Threats

Reaction (15 cards)
4 Deflection
1 Enhanced Senses
2 Forced Awakening
1 Kindred Coercion
2 My Enemy`s Enemy
2 Spirit`s Touch
3 Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (25 cards)
3 Bone Spur
3 Disarm
1 Fists of Death
2 Flesh of Marble
2 Immortal Grapple
2 Indomitability
2 Resilience
2 Skin of Rock
3 Skin of Steel
2 Taste of Vitae
1 Thrown Sewer Lid
2 Undead Strength

Retainer (2 cards)
1 Homunculus
1 Mr. Winthrop

Equipment (3 cards)
1 Hand of Conrad
1 Ivory Bow
1 Signet of King Saul, The

Combo (2 cards)
2 Rapid Change

A beautiful deck to watch in operation.

What was surprising was the willingness to accept the 7/7 Rulings. The Southampton crowd (with no net access) had had copies from Matt Green, I brought copies along, and other people seemed to be aware that they existed, even if they didn't know the specifics.

Most people understood that the cards that were being fixed were being fixed for a very good reason - that they were overpowered. The previous year's GenCon UK (or EuroGenCon as it was then) had seen Tomb of Rameses III flying around with Return to Innocence's being used like they were going out of fashion. The new No Vote Pushing rules were embraced by most, though it was unfortunate that it rendered Rob Treasure's variant of a Legacy of Pander deck all but useless (it needed to guarantee that first vote with a push, and then never again). It would be doable differently, but it's always awkward. Again, I think people saw that even if it did slim down a few other deck strategies, it was necessary to balance out the Weenie Vote Push which was so prevalent. Other vote decks may be less powerful now, but they never stood a chance against Weenie Vote Push anyway.

A few alternatives to the fixes were mentioned. WWEF could have been altered to requiring you to attempt a block (you could still ditch them if the action was naturally at stealth though) or force you to play another reaction card or something like that. Also, a possible fix for Tomb of Rameses III was to make it clan specific. It only works on, principally because of their Middle Eastern and North African links, Assamites and Setites. Would have to be altered slightly to allow for that (well, restrict for that) but the arguments are there. 1) You keep the original card text to a great degree. 2) You make Setites and Assamites more attractive as a playing style, since you can get them cheaper and faster than other clans. 3) The card would still be powerful so many players who didn't want it weakened to wallpaper might be more happy. This is a view which I can see the good points of, and one which is supported by, two years running, UK V:TES champion Rob Treasure and the Southampton possy, and Matt Green has been known to advocate it also.

Well, that's all I can think of to babble about now. Can I go to sleep now?

James Coupe (Prince of Mercia) Change nospam to obeah to reply

Vampire: Elder Kindred Network

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