“You are what your results say you are.”
We had a blast driving down to the City of Angels for President’s Weekend to do the four V:TES tournaments in two days thing. On the drive home, I was trying to explain with some difficulty (everything was difficult due to lack of sleep) that there is much more of a California V:TES community these days due to the evolution of the NoCal and SoCal scenes. Back when SoCal had a thriving community on its own, it didn’t need NoCal, and NoCal used to be a bit more predictable about tournaments. NoCalers still don’t travel much – a geographical reality of the US is that the West is not terribly convenient for those in other time zones and vice versa. There’s a reason Gen Con gets 40,000 people and Gen Con SoCal was rather horrid.
With less individual … vitality(?), certain players are making the trek up or down this state, and we have become far more familiar with each other and only breed so much contempt. My motivation to visit the Southerners isn’t just the weakness and/or monotony of Bay Area conventions on the three-day weekends and not just because I have a desire to play more V:TES tournaments but because I like hanging with the Southern Boys (though, if there were more Girls, that could only be a good thing – someone work on that).
We got a reasonable start Friday, largely dictated by when I could leave work. Got into Courtlyoil’s place 12:30AM. Talked for an hour or so and didn’t try some insane late night game.
Jann Berger’s “M” is for Masochism (10)
We had the dreaded 11, so Goudie sat out.
Ian (Free Sacraments) -> Brandon (Vent-new First Tradition) -> Julien (Aus/Cel/Tha/?) -> Matt (mono-Valeren) -> Aaron (Cel/Pot/Pre)
Ooh, combat. Everyone was ready to bust out combat for the first tournament. I actually had all four of the tournaments planned in terms of which of my decks to play. My thought was to go from most “fun” to most annoying over the course of the weekend since Sunday night’s event was expected to be the least attended and most “let’s get this over with”, which was completely not the case as we almost had attendance go up for every subsequent event.
I bring out Tara and Brandon still gets First Tradition off, which causes Matt, Aaron, and me to skip our turns, though that was just bad play on my part. I was trying to get some psychological advantage, but it cost me time to contend with Brandon’s vote control. I didn’t know it, but one of my early draws was going to be New Carthage, which got Washed when I played it but might not have if it came down a turn earlier.
Julien took one turn while Matt kept skipping. Matt’s Sticky !Salubri concerned Aaron, so there was fighting over there. I didn’t have a Second Tradition in the beginning but started drawing them and tried to contain Brandon. We did stop stacked First Traditions, but Julien was still screwed by Brandon having a bunch of dudes with Dominate. I got out Jann Berger after a time to stop having to pay for Sacrament of Carnage, but it was hard to land any against Majesty.
Aaron bled me some as I wasn’t inclined to fight to my right and try to keep Brandon from rolling to the left. Julien defended a bit. Matt took most of the beatings in his fights with Aaron’s Theo (adv) and Bianca. Brandon ran out of Majestys and got low on pool even though my offense was muted by not wanting to bleed into bounce. The First Tradition action had decreased his pool considerably as well and the recovery hadn’t really occurred. Brandon ousts Julien, then is down to 2 pool, and I surprisingly oust him after holding on a turn from Aaron’s lunge.
But, Matt had recovered, as no one had cleared his torpor region. Matt Codex of the Edenic Groundskeepersed away Aaron’s pool. Aaron ceased. In the endgame, mono-Valeren is just too much firepower of an Eldritch God (mostly due to Hide the Heart). Matt’s gigantic pool stack due to not being part of the First Tradition poolsuck meant I had to nuke all of his dudes and I only Decapitated a single time. I probably horribly misplayed masters at the end. I was trying to Ashur Tablets for the first time, but I could have had more pool if I Minion Tapped instead. Jann got torped but drank the Blood of Giants and came back only to see my lack of minion actions and lack of pool lead to Matt’s crushing victory. Ill omens became ill tidings, or whatever.
Mike (Akunanse No Secrets) -> Ian -> Matt -> Andrew (Samedi Enticement) -> Julien
All I really cared about in this game was ousting Matt. I had my doubts it would happen. Amusingly, his Valeren combat trumped my Sacrament combat … due to my relying on dodges to avoid hitback. I’m not that into combat already but having to account for not getting wrecked by Ivory Bow or other combat decks gets tiresome. Vengeance of Samiel means beatings against Side Strike, Side Strike, Sacrament.
In some ways, I had a favorable start, having time to get Adana and Jann both in play. On the one hand, the Akunanse didn’t bother me a lot (getting an Ivory Bow, though, because of course someone else gets it in play) conceptually. I didn’t even really care if Mike went forward. But, it got kind of dumb with how many bleed permanents Mike put out and his incessant need to prevent me from ignoring him. Julien actually had time to do things, so his Cardano and Al-Ashrad were around. Andrew did his Book of Going Forth by Night, Off Kilter, Freak Drive, bleed for 2 with The Baron and Reg dancing, which was scaring Julien and somewhat concerning Matt.
Matt just played his Valeren sleaze deck and offended all right thinking people’s sensibilities with Hide the Heart.
I got a lot of Resist Earth’s Grasps. I would bleed at one stealth and got through a lot, which caused me to desire bleeding for 2 or 3 at stealth more. I got off a set of Ashur Tablets. The one window for ousting Matt was that Julien had Parity Shift and could have Shifted Matt given my six votes, but I didn’t see how that was nearly as good for Julien as Shifting Mike to oust him and gain 10 pool. Mike expected me to threaten Julien into doing my bidding, but I liked Mike being gone with his standing seven bleed and lefty politics, and it’s my own fault if I can’t take Matt out with my deck.
And, it was my fault. Just couldn’t get there from here, with Matt going no lower than five pool. He Sense Deathed backwards some, one of which saved me from being ousted when I was in full “need one VP before time” mode and had no shields up to protect my three pool. By playing combat cards, I drew into On the Qui Vive and Second Tradition. While I Decapitated one of Matt’s dudes, it was more the Increased Strength, Increased Strength, Sacrament of Carnage for 7, cancelled by Deathseeker, Sacrament of Carnage for 7, Side Strike, Sacrament of Carnage for 7 (against empty Uriel), Taste for 7 that was the one time the deck lived the combat fanboy’s dream.
Robert S. (Osebo intercept combat) -> Aaron -> Darby (turbo War Ghoul) -> Matt -> Brandon
Four combat decks and Brandon. Mono-Valeren as top seed. Of course Matt won with the clearly best deck in the history of V:TES.
Jann Berger “N” is for Nimble Feet (12)
By gaining one player, we gained two.
Matt (Stanislava Force of Will) -> Darby (Goratrix wall) -> Ian (InJest) -> Robert G. (Toreador vote)
Goudie and I don’t play against each other all that much, but, seemingly, every time it happens it involves my being his predator and bringing out only vampires with Dominate. That one time during the 2007 Week of Nightmares, every one of my Lasombra had DOM, but one of his Saturday Night Specials shut down my deck … because sometimes I do play nutpunchers in tournaments.
I keep speaking of the unimportance of deck strength. It’s actually not that simple, though the exaggeration is for the effect of trying to get people to focus on becoming better players for any decks they may play and to not blame their decks for their losses. Now, I have various qualifiers to this view, one of which is that a deck must meet a minimum threshold of viability. InJest probably doesn’t meet that threshold. Oh, it’s not that far away, as it does play Deflection and Majesty and a bunch of other good cards. It just horribly lacks ousting power.
So, this game highly amused me for how Robert felt a desire to Banishment backwards … repeatedly. Feel the dread power of Melissa Barton and her Blood Doll. Dr. Jest did annoy Robert with his constant random discards, plus I hadn’t given Obfuscate to my Ventrue, yet, though Jazz did have DOM/FOR pretty quickly. I also got to interact with Darby through his table actions of Powerbase Montreal and Barranquilla. I could never get through, not even to Kine Dominance Barranquilla away from him, which would have been hawt. Matt put out an early Renegade Garou and kept rushing Robert’s Anson, but Robert was made of Majestys.
I did use Jazz’s ability twice so that I could pitch the Edge on Robert’s votes to give Melissa blood. Yeah, the deck is woefully inadequate when it comes to meaningful actions. Matt didn’t bleed until he finally bled for 8 and Darby bounced to me when I was bounce deficient and my 5 pool proved inadequate for preventing the scouting phase to begin.
On the one hand, I was amused by the fear that a Dr. Jest deck could instill. On the other, I wasn’t a credible participant in the game, even if one bounce would have given me a chance in the game. Those of us who weren’t as smashed as Matt talked about what would have happened if I did have a Deflection, but it wasn’t that important.
Ian -> Julien (Alamut) -> Aaron (FoS vote) -> Matt
Four games, four Wedgeys. Sure, Matt’s bleeds just enabled me to oust two players, but his Aranthebes, The Unmasking, Underbridge Strays, and my not being able to bounce in the endgame meant I had no game. I really should have worked with Aaron to oust Matt and go heads up of vote deck against Dr. Jest deck (I did have Ventrue Headquarters in play). Two VPs was less than sufficient for finality.
Andrew (Dementation SB) -> Robert S. (Ventrue Grinder) -> Darby? -> Robert G. -> Mike (Tzimisce SB)
Andrew ousted Scythe and had good minions and good pool. But, Mike took him out with a bunch of bleeding. Mike won with 1.5 based on being higher seed.
The other thing during the day was two pickup games. One involved my Biothaumaturgic Experiment deck that did an excellent job of reducing my pool. I did discover a great way for putting pressure on my prey by playing a free three stealth Magic of the Smith to get free unique equipment, such as Bowl of Convergence to contest with.
The other game was a seven player game where I played Descent into Darkness and once again never seriously threatened my prey.
It’s go time, time to whip out Dementation stealth bleed.
Jann Berger’s “O” is for Ossian (13)
Dennis (Guillaume) -> Darby (The Art of Dominate) -> Ian (Dementation toolbox) -> Brandon (!Gangrel SB)
I made some mistakes. Would they have mattered? Seemed unlikely. Dennis couldn’t go forward as that would have just accelerated the recursive Govern, Conditioning action of my predator. Brandon could go forward, though that helped kill me, as there were only so many wakes in my deck.
I did get a great draw, getting Anarch Convert to Anatole to Carlton to Theron. Darby’s Appius just came out too fast because of Zillah’s Valley. Though I Prison of the Minded him, it didn’t stop the nation of Domination from inflicting itself upon me. The best I could do was Sleep of Reason Ermenegildo, but that led to one of the mistakes. Brandon mentioned diablerizing The Rake, and I tried it with the Convert just because I thought it was vaguely amusing to tap one of Darby’s guys. But, that was pointless, as I could have used the Convert on defense to force Darby to stealth every bleed on his next turn, and Brandon Loki’s Gifted The Rake to empty, anyway. I also meant to attempt to block Darby’s first bleed with Carlton, but players were playing not slowly enough for me to remember that and it was easy for Darby to The Art of Memory back a Conditioning. Tactically, not good; on the other hand, my remembering to use Anatole and generally doing my own stuff right was technically solid. I was going to probably gain six pool on my next turn if I somehow didn’t die.
Of course, since my deck was toolboxy, I guessed 15% of it was worthless in that game, as this tournament was all about the stealth bleed decks, and combat cards are kind of crap when you don’t actually fight anybody. That I got to play as long as I did and take as many actions as I did made this game not bad for all that I had no hope in it.
So quick I could run to get food and go to the scouting phase long before everyone else.
Jeff S. (Cel/Pot/Pre) -> Ian -> Robert G. (Dom/For bleed, disciplineless combat) -> Edward (!Brujah)
Edward had no hope, even though Jeff could rush Robert. Jeff quickly rushed his new predator. With no predator of my own, I got to tool up with the Ivory Bow and Ablative Skin on Anatole. My deck was so perfect for this tournament as I had bleed defense for stealth bleed and combat defense for beatage. Jeff crippled Robert, who I couldn’t affect because Robert avoided undirected actions like the plague. But, Jeff went down to three pool to have a third minion to try to oust me and Robert Daring the Dawned for a second VP. There was a single turn I was vulnerable before Robert had zero game.
Oh, I guess this time I was Robert’s predator and didn’t have DOM on all my guys. Well, at least they all had DEM. Two VPs yet again not enough for finality.
Darby -> Andrew (Kiasyd SB) -> Mike (Week of Nightmares) -> Robert G. -> Dennis
Everywhere bleeds. Bounce helped Andrew take out Mike, especially with Mike taking a bleed for six he could have blocked. Robert discarded Deflections from what I hear to go hard on Dennis but couldn’t take him out. Andrew was an action away from taking out Dennis, but Darby got him and won.
In a pickup game, I played my very Ianlike Nosferatu with Auspex deck and was once again the first player ousted.
Jann Berger “P” is for Projectile (13)
Goudie left, but we gained Aaron.
Dennis (Sylvie) -> Ian (Ass Smiling Jack) -> Fred (Dom/Mask) -> Brandon (Pre bleed) -> Aaron (Aus/For Sawed-Off Shotguns)
When I think of Malk94, I don’t think of Fred’s archetype. His archetype is pure forward with Mask of a Thousand Faces. Dennis rushed Brandon’s Dorian Strack because it looked like Brandon could bounce his way forward. I bled Fred. I bled Fred but should have been in bed. I bled Fred but should have been in bed and couldn’t get into combat to Concealed out a shooter of lead.
Aaron put up a valiant stand against Fred, torping Mariel with a Shotgun. Dennis tooled up. I let Dennis tool up even though I really didn’t want to. I was 95% in the camp that Fred taking out Dennis was optimal for me as I’d get two VPs in the endgame, but Fred brought Dennis to one action from dead, and my Selective Silence/Taste of Death on Sylvie only gave me one turn before Dennis’s permanents owned me. I just didn’t feel justified in helping Fred make Dennis dead as I was an ineffectual predator and deserved to have to work for more than one VP, even if I knew it was going to be tedious. My decisions were mostly of the “do I concede this turn or next turn” type.
Fred -> Andrew (Masika Madness) -> Ian -> Jeff P. (Aus/Cel/Nec)
This was the “stop Fred show to give Jeff the game” game. Jeff was mean to me a lot given that my game consisted of preventing Fred from taking the table from Jeff, not being with the rest of the group when I told them one of my old email sigs was “I’m not very tough. I cry a lot. And, the tears won’t stop flowing.” I did drop first turn Smiling Jack, per the plan, it got to 3 counters, and I made the key decision to let Jeff take it out. Would it have changed anything to defend it? Who knows?
I couldn’t draw a .44 to save my life … um … I did draw the anti-Fred tech, making it a guarantee Jeff would take the table. No, not the five Black Sunrises in my hand, not the various Nests of Eagles that could reduce by 3 all of his minions’ bleeds after Fred lost Greger. But, before that, I should note that Fred’s crypt draw was atrocious. The only one he drew with DOM was Ingrid Russo, who doesn’t belong in that deck. Andrew blocked two bleeds early with Quicken Sight, which was amazing. I threatened being able to block with zero intercept multiple turns.
Anyway, Fred got lower on pool, and I drew Extremis Boon. Jeff wouldn’t give me any pool when he was my predator. I just don’t know what the world is coming to.
Brandon -> Julien (Living Lolita Loca) -> Fred -> Mike (Nos Thrown Gates) -> Jeff
The most interesting thing to me was how Julien could have played this game. He could have cut a deal with Mike and tried to bloat enough to stop Brandon’s all forward strategy. He could have tried to reduce his pool so that he got ousted as soon as quickly as possible after ousting Mike for a hoped for 2/2/1 split with Jeff … because Julien was top seed playing my 2001 tournament winning deck. Instead, the predictable happened given Brandon’s forwardness and Mike’s backwardness, and Julien got murdered in the endgame against Jeff, with far too much time for Julien to win on time.
Fred? Fred was dead. LLL just murders his style of all forward deck. In concept, Fred should have had happy feelings against Mike, but Fred got a slow start.
I don’t feel bad that my deck lost. Jeff’s deck was very cool, at least in its crypt. I felt bad that Julien was so close in this game and just had no chance in the endgame, where I counted up Jeff’s pool, minions, and .44s and counted 45 pool worth of stuff on his board. He never had a predator, so Julien, who couldn’t get a turn to rest after killing Fred or Mike, was well shed.
We had to drive back from the con so that I could get to work at a reasonable time today.
Great stuff. Most thanks to Courtlyoil for putting us up. But, it was great to see and speak with Darby. Never played against Scythe as he couldn’t make the Sunday events, but it’s good to see the SoCal gang. As mean as Jeff P. was, he won with fun. Everest continued to provide me with food substances of the sort I seek.
Oh, why did I start this post with that quote?
Four tournaments, two tables in one and three in the others. I had zero table wins and played in zero finals. Does this mean I wasn’t the best player? The fishiest fish of them all.
Actually, on the drive down, I commented that it would be interesting if I did well, which would reinforce having done well the previous trip, or did poorly, suggesting that the previous trip was fluketastic. A middling convention would have been fairly boring.
Finally, I tried to find the HoR folks at the con, but I just couldn’t figure out where particular RPGs were being held.