Giovanni Newsletter Vol 3.1, n° 2

This Newsletter will come as follows :

1. Edito : a September to remember...
2. Fiction : The Third Plague of Marseille Part II
3. Our Storyline performances
4. My Giovanni Month (an analysis)
5. An Anarch NecroVote deck ?
6. Until next time...

1. Edito : a September to remember...

Oh my, what a month !!!

The Legion Storyline struggles have put the Giovanni higher than ever. I have been playing 3 different Giovanni decktypes in 5 different tournaments. So obviously this newsletter will be very Storyline oriented. As for the Anarchs, I didn’t have much time to test my idea, but still will display it here (time rolls fast, and Black Hand is almost upon us…). Dunque, this letter will be kind of inhabitual : I won’t underline any vampire, and will sum up and comment what happened this month, from external (global results) and personal (the tournaments I played) points of view. Please read on...

2. Fiction : The Third Plague of Marseille Part II

Gary “The Eye” Cataldo was beginning to get a little worried. He had been followed since leaving the Elyseum, and he had a good enough idea of who it was. Changing directions hadn’t helped, nor had running, and he knew that few persons in town could both be very discreet and very fast. Normally, no one would have dared to harm the young caitiff, for all knew he was an informant and, for some obscure reason, “protégé” of the Prince, but the damned Giovanni was away on some family business, and nobody could protect him now. So he tried to walk casually, although a little too fast, in the deserted street or Rue Sainte, hoping to reach the crowded piers of the Vieux Port before it was too late. Suddenly, he ran and turned the first corner he met, only to find himself in a dead-end alley. The Assamite then chose to reveal himself.

“-You shouldn’t have offended me”, the young assassin said.
- I knew you would say that, answered Gary. But I am not sure why you say it. Do you really mean what you say ? Or do you mean to say that you shouldn’t feel offended ? I only said the truth, although maybe not in a way which would flatter your unstable ego, but...
- SHUT UP !!
- I knew you would say th...”

Whether the sentence was cut off by the impact of the Son of Haquim’s foot in the caitiff’s belly, or by the zone of silence now surrounding them would be hard to determine. But Gary Cataldo landed in the trashcans behind him, while the young killer withdrew a dagger from within the folds of his djellaba and drew near, a sadistic smile upon his face. The caitiff looked up at him with a stare that could have been deemed both worried and uncaring, but then his gaze turned sideways to inspect the matter that was all around him. No mistaking that smell or that texture. It was ashes. Vampire ashes. The shape they outlined almost perfectly matched that of the undead body now lying in them. The assamite saw that, too, and stopped dead in his tracks. Seeming not to care anymore about his enemy, The Eye, still lying on the ground, began investigating what was beneath him, and found a closed letter. “To His Majesty Villon” was written upon it. He rised up, and faced his foe, who looked if possible even more puzzled than himself.

That was when the shadow of the nearby cathedral seemed to expand, engulf all in sight, and suddenly plunge upon them. At the moment of his death, an eye opened on Gary’s forehead. And, dying as he had lived, while silently screaming his lungs out, he thought one last time “I knew they would do that”...

3. Our Storyline Performances

As I write these lines, nothing is sure, but it looks like we have won the Storyline tournaments by a landslide. Also, I don’t have all the winning decks or even decktypes yet, so it would be hard even to comment on the exact nature of our victories. But all this will be done in due time, in a future Pantheon page of (Gallery section). Here is what I feel I can safely say right now :

- I am very, very proud of everyone who played Giovanni during these Storylines, no matter if you won, made it to the finals or just tried your best : thank you for doing all you could for your favourite Clan !
- The Giovanni appear as some of the best bleeders in the game ; but they also can bloat, bruise, recruit, and all of these contributed to their victories. Let us hope that the card we should gain will help us with some other approaches to the game.
- One of the factors was that Sabbat nobody, repeat : NOBODY at all (except themselves) wanted the Malkavians or even the Ventrue to win the Storylines, so people who didn’t usually play or even like Giovanni either played them or helped them. Good for us, as usual being Independents means more ability to secure alliances and manipulate third parties… ;-)
- I have the vanity to believe that, maybe, having our own site (and a little incentive…) contributed to motivating the troops. We can only regret that our Assamites friends didn’t meet with the same success despite the wonderful Path of Blood site ( and the great bounty offered by Alamut. But then, everyone knows how hard it is to win with this Clan… On the other hand, it just proves one thing : money can’t buy popularity. Augustus can. ;-)

4. My Giovanni Month (an analysis)

In this month of September, I’ve been playing Giovanni in 5 tournaments (ranking from 8 to 68 players, average 30) including 4 Storylines and the Italian Qualifier for the E.C. ; I will comment the decks I had and the changes I made from one to the other, in the hope that it may be useful to some other player.

Storyline Lambach : Marseille (07/09), Carcassonne (14/09) and E.C. Qualifier : Modena.

In all these I played various versions of the Le Din Tho deck I had been playing thoroughly last year. Only, I tried some changes. The main combo in every version was Le Din Tho (3 times) and a Monocle of Clarity (2). Also indispensable for survival were 2 Leonardo, and extra bonus was 1 Brigitte Gebauer. Now for the variants.

In Marseille, major changes were : I cut down to 75 cards to render it more efficient, I took Carlotta out and replaced her with more Gillespi and Lia Milliner (thus lowering the crypt size in the intent of making it faster), I included 3 Anarch Troublemakers (thinking it would be great for unblockable no-stealthers like the Giovanni) and also put some Far Mastery (1 in this version I think) and Sleeping Minds (1 or 2) against the expected metagame (Tzimisce and Gangrel allies and Animalism untap, Second Traders etc.). Oh yes, I also included a second Dreams of the Sphynx.

So, by all rights, this deck should have been more efficient than any other version I’d played until now.

The results ?

Awful. It wasn’t really more efficient, and was a lot less interesting to play than the previous version. Here is what worked and what didn’t :

- More Gillespi wasn’t a bad idea, as lots of Camarilla play in the Storylines ; but Carlotta could have been useful in dealing with bad handjams.
- 75 cards was a bad idea : it would have needed more testing, but as it was I ended up with too few Deflections to deal with the 2 Setite predators I ended up with in this tournament. And it didn’t prevent hand jams.
- I am a much better polyvalent than monomaniac player : I like to be able to react to different situations, not just do the exact same actions and (lack of) reactions every turn. So this version really wasn’t me.
- The Far Mastery, although useless there, was a nice touch. The Sleeping Mind was mostly useless. I also realize now that the Possession never saw use, as I encountered either no one able to burn me or thorough burners (making the action useless or not allowing me to go back and fetch the card). But still, it can also serve if an Archon burns you…
- The Anarch Troublemakers were useless, but I didn’t realize it yet. In Carcassonne, I spent my time discarding them (too long to take effect, most of the time I needed faster effects, like Blood Dolls, Sphynx etc). In retrospect, if you want to go that way with the Giovanni, some Misdirections will be better despite the pool cost (in very straightforward and fast decks).
- The second Dreams was the best Idea I ever had.

Lacking the right number of Deflects, or a way to fetch them back, I died painful deaths at the hands of my FoS predators, and scored zilt (2 VPs in 2 rounds).

So in Carcassonne I went back to the 90 cards version. I still had no Carlotta, which spared me the space taken by the 2 Dominate cards I have to include if I have both her and Le Din Tho. I compensated with a Sargon Fragment. I put more reactions : 7 Deflections, 5 Wakes and 3 Delaying Tactics. I had only 8 Spiritual Intervention for all combat cards.

The deck worked wonders : I won. But I still would have been better off without the Anarch Troublemakers. The Far Mastery I used both to steal a War Ghoul (once in the prelims, once in the finals) and twice it was useless : in the first game I died the next turn, in the second I got the right cards and killed in the same turn. But it was fun !

In Italy I tried something a little different, much closer from the original version present on my site : back with 3 Carlotta and 2 Dominate Master, exit the Sargon. 1 Gillespi left just in case. 3 Hich Ground added. Kept the 15 reactions and the 2 Dreams + Barrens. In the first game, I used Le Din Tho’s power for dealing, although he never actually did anything for anyone else. He helped me discard all I needed from my prey. He was great.
In the second game, I was alone at the table with 4 fighters !! Only my Blood Brother predator had any intercept and some rush, so I used Le mainly for bleeding, with the occasional discard of Immortal Grapple. The Hich Ground saved my ass from a few more Grapples. But on the whole, his power wasn’t needed at all in this game.
And in the last one, I didn’t have him at all (and Leandor prevented me from paying each turn to try to get him). But careful play was enough to kill all but one (damned Dramatic Upheaval…). I discovered to my dismay that Leonardo can’t pay for the new Delaying Tactics, but never regretted including them. In conjonction with Le, they are even greater : once you know the guy has a card that could really harm you (like a Banishment, Dramatic, Protect etc., not a KRC he will get soon anyway) you can get it from his hand !! And don’t get fooled if he discards it at his turn : he may just have another one (eventually ask with the Monocle)… In this tournament I did good (10nth on 68), and would have done much better if Fate hadn’t put my own town’s more dangerous player as my predator in round one.

But there, I am through playing this deck : had all the fun I could with it.

Comments on the Le Din Tho / Giovanni bleed deck as a whole :

Le Din Tho is great in a Giovanni bleed deck : his special takes an action to use, but it will ensure that your bleeds get where you want them, and that you won’t get burned by thourough bleeds ; also good for discarding Assamite contracts. Also the only thing you have to deal in this type of deck, except maybe for Leonardo’s action and the Delaying Tactics.

But despite common belief and recent results, Giovanni Responsible Bleed is far more complicated, and maybe less efficient, than simple stupid stealth bleed : you have to take care of your blood, planify each of your actions carefully where other just have to stack their bleed and stealth cards. I think the Giovanni really make the difference in bleeding when they face good, prepared opponents packing Deflections and Archons. But much to my dismay, I have seen much more straightforward bleed decks making bleeds between 6 and 7 with each minion each turn and never be efficiently countered. I guess the metagame still has to evolve. And when it does, the Giovanni will be ready for it. Still, I never consider any non-responsible bleed deck (whatever the method, see to be a viable option. So long live to Giovanni Bleed !!

In Nice, I tried a Shambling Hordes deck. I did absolutely nothing with it in 2 rounds. I could argue that it was due to a stupid ally who helped killed me in the first game, an inexperimented player who didn’t finish the Setite (yes, him again…) when he could, etc. I could and it would be true. But full truth is : I just don’t succeed in playing Giovanni SH. Either I don’t get them out quickly enough or I become too apparently dangerous and get the whole table on me. I think the SH decks lost a lot with the errata on Meat Hook, but anyway I seldom had good results with them (although grat fun in mimicking the advancing zombies, “In your heaaaaaaad…”) when faced with players who knew what they could do. I’ll try them again with Samedi this time, but do not expect it to become a tournament deck. At elast not in my hands.

In Lyon I expected some fight (although not as much as what I knew the players were doing outside of tournaments). It is there that I maybe had the more fun, and good success (in the prelims), with a very toolboxy Krassimir bruise’n’bleed deck. Core of the deck was : 24 fight cards (8 Lapse, 6 Disarm, 10 Thrown Gates), 6 Domain of Evernight (THE toolboxy-est card ever), 4 CotHD and 4 Spiritual Intervention, 14 bleed cards (1 or 2 more would have been better) ; 3 Graverobbings, 1 Possession and 1 Daemonic Possession, 2 Leonardo, 1 Sargon and 1 Ivory Bow, 16 Masters (including 2 Haven Uncovered) and 13 Reactions, and there was my deck !! Well, thanks to Carlotta and the Sargon Fragment (absolutely terrible on Krassimir), I made it to the finals with the best ranking, me who had come with this deck for fun ! Unfortunately, in the finals, I didn’t get my Krassimir in 8 vampires !!! I had to settle with helping my Giovanni ally by harming my prey as much as I could while resisting to my predator. And as the Giovanni won, I had the satisfaction of thinking that maybe my choice to get what could have been the most difficult place at the table in order to be his ally was useful, and that I helped him a little towards victory !! Anyway, outside a Storyline I will never go for less than 4 Krassimir in a deck really needing him (the classical “just bleed” version doesn’t need him as badly, I won without him). Or you have to include that stupid “Stranger among Us” in 3-4 copies, which is a shame (if only they could be discarded for free if you control a Scarce vampire…). But this deck is really very fun to play, and it looks like I am better at stupid decks than at apparently very efficient ones. Carlotta is on the brink all the time, but as Krassimir can make up for her actions with Domain of Evernight she is worth it. Love this deck, although I wouldn’t play it in big tournies where I really want to win.

So, what are my global conclusions after these experiences ?

- The Giovanni can win, we all knew it. The bleed version is the most efficient, but bruise’n’bleed also works ; allies are a very good backup, but hardly a way to win consistently, with some exceptions (in decks and in players), including of course the Shambling Hordes for those able to build / play them correctly, and in the appropriate metagames. The Giovanni lack alternative winning strategies, especially in storyline format. But all the “little plus” they have contribute to their success.
- Carlotta’s power must never be underestimated. Also must-haves in almost all decks : 2 Leonardo, 1 Brigitte, 1 Marcianna (although Lia Milliner is better for “just bleed”, but a deflector / bleeder at first turn who becomes an interceptor-helper later on is always worth her 2 pools (and who cares if she dies while blocking a rush on Carlotta ?!).
- The

5. Deck of the Month

My try at finding some use from the Anarchs to help Independants at voting. I don’t think this deck has any chance at winning in a real High-voting-profile metagame, but it can be fun ; also, if the vote doesn’t work, you can still bleed some, and maybe even go back and fetch the good cards.

Deck Name: Necrovoting the Bones
Created By: Orpheus
Description: An Anarch Necrospex vote deck.

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 23, Max: 32, Avg: 7,00)
1 Beatrice L'Angou aus dom MYT nec 5, Kiasyd
3 Bartholomew AUS dom MYT NEC obt 8, Kiasyd
2 Ian Forestal AUS DOM THA 8, Tremere Antitribu
3 Kanimana Belghazi AUS DOM NEC pro 7, Nagaraja
1 Raful al-Zarqa AUS dom nec obf 6, Nagaraja
2 Valois Sang AUS DOM nec tha 6, Tremere

Library: (90 cards)
Master (17 cards)
1 Anarch Free Press (The)
2 Anarch Railroad
4 Blood Doll
1 Creepshow Casino
1 Dreams of the Sphinx
1 Galaric`s Legacy
1 Legendary Vampire
1 Minion Tap
2 Seattle Committee
1 Secure Haven
2 Sudden Reversal

Action (10 cards)
1 Fee Stake: Boston
1 Fee Stake: Corte
1 Fee Stake: Los Angeles
1 Fee Stake: New York
1 Fee Stake: Perth
3 Pulse of the Canaille
2 Whispers from the Dead

Action Modifier (16 cards)
2 Bribes
6 Call of the Hungry Dead
1 Cryptic Rider
1 Emissary
6 Telepathic Vote Counting

Political Action (17 cards)
4 Conservative Agitation
1 Disputed Territory
2 Dramatic Upheaval
2 Firebrand
6 Kine Resources Contested
2 Meddling of Semsith, The

Reaction (13 cards)
4 Deflection
4 Telepathic Misdirection
5 Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (8 cards)
8 Spiritual Intervention

Retainer (2 cards)
2 Homunculus

Equipment (1 cards)
1 Sargon Fragment, The

Combo (6 cards)
6 Spectral Divination

This deck was last saved at 20:04:37 on 09/10/2003

6. Until the next time…

Well, I guess that’s it for now. You can expect the next Newsletter in about 2 months, after the French Championship and the first echoes from Black Hand. In the meantime, I’ll be updating with the official Storyline results and decks.

See you at the Mausoleums !