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Greetings fellow Methuselah
Our crypts might have gone cold, but luckily the blood is always keeping us warm. Welcome to this month's newsletter. Isn´t it interesting to have a look at what decks are played in other parts of the world? Below you have the great opportunity for you to become familiar with two different metagames, as we publish reports from both the South American and the Australian championships. We also advertise some cards and some events and talk to an artist. But first: Time to celebrate!

Happy birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VAMPIRE: ELDER KINDRED NETWORK 20 YEARS!
This coming month we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this organisation, V:EKN. In no less than two full decades hundreds of people have volunteered their time and effort to further Vampire: The Eternal Struggle in various forms, primarily by arrangeing tournaments. If you think about all those other collectible card games that have come and gone in these years, you understand what a fantastic accomplishment this is. We, the current V:EKN officials, want to thank everyone that has been involved in the organisation since the start, and we hope for at least twenty more years of Eternal Struggle!

One of the first V:EKN members was Robert Goudie, and he has written a text about how it all started, that we really recommend you all to read:

“By 1997, Vampire: the Eternal Struggle had already suffered through three torturous years of existence. Magic: the Gathering creator, Richard Garfield, had designed the game to improve upon the flaws he saw in Magic’s design and Wizards of the Coast was expecting to release another wildly popular game. Confidence was high at Wizards and they released the game with an absolutely massive print run of 170 million cards to avoid the shortages experienced with Magic’s first printings..." [Continue reading at Roberts Tumblr-page]


Anthology sale

ANTHOLOGY STILL FOR SALE
There are still a few (not many!) packs of Berlin Anthology left at the PDA web shop, so take the chance to increase your stock of Ashur Tablets, Enkil Cog, Monastery of Shadows, unique V:EKN-created cards and all of the other good stuff included in the set. If you have seen the second hand prices at Ebay, you know that $30 per pack is quite a bargain. Pool up with friends to save shipping cost!



Europe
MORE ABOUT V:TES EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT
We revealed the brand new European Grand Prix in last month's newsletter, and now there are some more info about the planned tournaments at an official VEKN.net-page: www.vekn.net/european-grand-prix

T
he Grand Prix sites 2017-2018 are:
- Bologna, Italy (9 and 10th of December 2017)
- Brussels, Belgium (February 2018 – date to be confirmed)
- Madrid, Spain (28th and 29th April 2018) 
- Helsinki – Finland (Ropecon, end of July 2018 – date to be confirmed)
- Budapest, Hungary (to be confirmed)

Keep an eye open for more info at separate threads at the VEKN forum - these threads are marked “VEG” in the subject line.

The Inner Circle member in charge of the VEG is Organized Play Coordinator Orian Gissler (aka TTC_master) - ask him or the announced local organizers if you have any questions!


SAC 2017
THE GANGREL REVEL AT SOUTH AMERICAN CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2017!
Report by Desso Alastor (V:EKN Organized Play Coordinator) and Lincoln Figueredo:
The "Land of the Sun" as is known Fortaleza, a large tourist city located in the state of the CE, was the scene of another South American tournament. Players from different states were present, among them Amazonas, Amapá, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. During the event, we stayed in a mansion with pool and individual suites, the impeccable organization was supported by Marcio Pinheiro (general organizer), David Orck (barbecue), Mauro (lunch), Renato Torres (t-shirts of the event), Fernandão (drinks), Elzo and Nilceu (awards).

5 tournaments were played in this event, being:
- Constructed (Boas vindas) – Champion Desso Alastor (SP)- 24 Players
- Classificatório SAC 2017-  Champion  Renato Torres (CE) – 27 Players
- Sulamericano – Champion  Elzo Benzaquen (SP), - 31 Players
- Limited JYHAD – Champion Marcio Rilley (CE) – 8 Players
- Classificatório SAC 2018 (despedida) – Champion   Márcio Pinheiro (CE) – 11 Players

Elzo Benzaquen
Elzo Benzaquen.


The SAC2017CE Champion was SP player: Elzo Benzaquen (#6010171) with a fully authored Gangrel deck! Follow this link of the deck list at the VEKN forum.

Congratulations Elzo! We had 31 players in the SAC competition, we expected 50 players but unforeseen events happen and it is not always possible to make all the players confirmed.

Below is the meta-game of SAC:
1 Elzo Benzaquen / Gangrel! + Embrace
2 Luis Otávio / Stanislava - Voto + Bleed
2 Fernando Carvalho / Mono AUS
2 David Orck / Baali - B/S
2 Fernanda Nunes / Mono AUS
6 Carlos Eduardo (Ganso) / Imbued - Brainwash
7 Renato Torres / Malkavian B/S
8 Fabiano de Souza Galvão / Tup Dog
9 Fabiana Polesi  / Kiasyd/Lasombra - B/S
10 Tiago Uchoa / Ventrue! Grinder
11 Jeferson Carvalho Ferreira / Turbo Nephandus
12 Joel Oliveira / Cailean block
13 Denny Paula / Setita Politico
14 Everton Biell / Arika + Marcus Vitel -  stealth politico + bleed
15 Giselle Rossetti / Malkavian! 17 Sudden + B/S
16 Fernando Cesar /  Baali - Nergal toolbox
17 Mateus Silva de Souza / Kiasyd - B/S
17 Mailton Silva / Giovanni shabling hordes
19 Mauro César / Setita Temptation
20 Marcio Rilley / Tzimisce - Horrid Form + Hush
21 Moacir Júnior  / Enkidu
22 Alexandre Koch / Tremere Rush & Block
23 Maria Vitória / Tremere! Grinder
24 Desso Alastor / Turbo Montano
25 Nilceu Galvão / Ravnos + Sensory
25 Bruno Patrício Pontes / Lohi/bola 8
27 Samuel Oliveira / Tzimise Wall
27 Joana D'arc Duarte / Baali - B/S
29 Alan Winther / Turbo Henry Taylor
30 Lucas Raphae / Malkavian! B/S
31 Moises Paiva / Gangrel Valkyrie Politico


Australian CC 2017

COMPLETE CACOPHONY AT AUSTRALIAN CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2017!


Report by Stewart MacLeod, Prince of Melbourne:
The Australian Continental Championships has been held on the first Sunday of October for many years, and this year was no different. It coincides nicely with public holidays across a variety of states, although the Grand Finals of the country’s two great religions... er, I mean football codes... are held on the same weekend, so turnout is occasionally depleted depending on which teams makes it into the finals.

Australia has been running a Continental Championship in some form or another since 2002. Despite the recent discovery of Zealandia, we’ve taken to calling it the Australia/NZ Championship in honour of our friends across the Tasman Sea, who frequently make the finals table or win the title. VTES in Australia and New Zealand face the dual challenge of relatively small populations and the tyranny of distance. Play groups are smaller than what may be encountered in other continents, and are geographically isolated. Our dedicated players from Townsville need to fly almost 700 miles to find their nearest playgroup, and travel 1,288 miles (2,073km – approximately the distance from Boston to Miami) to get to the Championships. Players coming from Wellington, NZ fly 1,600 miles over the Tasman Sea (2,575km – a bit more than London to Moscow) for their chance at the trophy.

The trophy itself is long-standing tradition. It’s known as the Matt Barnett perpetual trophy, in honour of a player who passed away several years ago (Matt has been immortalised in the game, with White Wolf kindly using his picture as Lord Ashton [Anarchs]). We’ve had nine winners over sixteen finals, with each name added to the trophy’s base as the years tick on. I must admit that when VTES went into a semi-torpor after the release of Heirs of the Blood I suspected that we’d never fill up the names, but I am very glad to be proven wrong on that front. Indeed, 2017 was one of our most successful years yet: at 35 players (including a couple of locals who had to pull out on the day due to sick kids at home), it was the second-largest Championship we’ve had, and only one short of equalling the 36 we got in 2007. The release of the Anthology Set was largely responsible for this spike in interest, and I want to thank Stephen Harris and Simon Reed for organising for enough copies of the Set to be shipped from across the other side of the world to arrive in time for the big day. One of our other players also designed custom VTES playmats for the finals table, while another donated a sealed box of Lords of the Night.

As a frequent holder of sixth place on the Archon spreadsheet, I was keen to turn my luck around this year and built a Harbingers tap-and-bleed number. Round 1 started off well, with my Le Dinh Tho able to discard key cards from my predator’s Arika Soul Gem deck, while my Tariq Eats The World grand-predator shutting down the big lady herself. My prey was an Anneke guns deck, and I was able to lunge near the end to oust both him and my grand-prey in quick succession, giving me the game win.

Round 2 started off as a more dicey affair. I had a Fida’i / Web of Knives swarm on my back and a Baba Yaga intercept deck as my prey, with an aggressive Presence-driven anarch bleed deck and an Assamite bleeder cross-table. With ten minutes left on the clock, all five players were down to a handful of pool – it truly was anyone’s game. Le Dinh Tho’s ability was once again critical, and I quickly realised that most players had few wakes or intercept in hand. Within a couple of turns, I steamrolled the entire table and got the full 5 VPs with barely a minute remaining on the clock. Thank you to Call of the Hungry Dead for block denial, I couldn’t have done it without you!

Round 3 didn’t go nearly as well. A bloaty stealth-bleeding Black Hand deck at my back kept me on the ropes, and my Giovanni prey put their Acquired Ventrue Assets to good use and never seemed to drop below 10-15 pool for the entire game. I was playing a little too safely, and the game went to time with only one oust (my prey, taking down a Dmitra & Scout stealth-vote deck belonging to NZ’s Simon Reed).

The final table was Khazar’s Diary > Nosferatu Archon bruise-bleed > Harbingers (me) > the aforementioned Dmitra stealth-voter > !Tremere power-bleed (first seed). I was second seed going in, and positioned myself where I did on the basis that the Giovanni were likely to swarm my defences and slow set-up, and there was little chance I could block the huge stealth generated by the vote deck. I was also conveniently placed on the potential Deflection chain, not that it often came to that.

The top-seeded !Tremere focused on Governing down for a couple of turns before launching their assault. The Giovanni quickly brought out a range of unique allies, but few counters appeared on the Diary. It looked likely that they were stockpiling their Deflections for the barrage of bleeds, and not cycling through to the cards they need to advance. For my part, I wasn’t drawing enough of my Dominate (either modifiers or flicks), and while I was able to get the Brujah down to 4 pool I couldn’t seal the deal. An early Ivory Bow + Leather Jacket on Unre was enough to make my predator nervous, but I wasn’t drawing sufficient Fortitude in hand to stop a sustained assault on my minions.

The first oust came 55 minutes in, as Dmitra, ably assisted by Scout Youngwood, launched a series of punishing votes against the antitribu sorcerers. The Giovanni only managed to score a few counters on the Diary, with their chance of forward momentum spoiled by the need to constantly use Sudario Refraction to grab Delaying Tactics to slow the Brujah advance. They eventually succumbed with around 10 minutes left on the clock, leaving the Brujah with 2.5 VPs, a game win, and their name on the trophy.

Simon Reed
Simon Reed.


This was Simon Reed’s second Championship victory, following up his 2008 win with Assamites. Overall, a fantastic day with excellent sportsmanship, an array of interesting decks and – most importantly - a chance to reconnect with friends from across the country who I’ve known for decades thanks to this great game.

Check out Simon Reeds tournament winning deck at the VEKN TWD forum thread.
 



Noora Hirvonen
ARTIST IN FOCUS: NOORA HIRVONEN
Noora Hirvonen of Finland is not only the artist behind cards like Matasuntha, André the Manipulator and Nar-Sheptha, she is also a skilled V:TES player. For example, she played the final table at this years EC in Berlin. We asked her just about the same battery of questions as we asked other artists – no special treatment for anyone!

Noora, what are your background as an artist? Are you educated or self-taught?
- Being graduated last year from Turku Arts Academy with BA in Fine arts, one can say I have a classical training. I have dabbled with digital painting since high school, but I only started learning it in earnest when I was signed up to make two illustrations for the Unaligned. Being a pc-gamer, game art has always had an impact on me, and I had this idea of a proper tcg artist being a mad-skills-photoshop-wizard, so obviously I had to set that as my goal around the time.

Have we seen your work in other games, or at other places?
- Apart from V:TES-illustrations, most of my work is traditional and owned by private people, or buried somewhere in my stashes. My exhibition activity is quite low, since I am not a full-time artist, but maybe in the future I will embark on that path. There are some projects with more public interest on the way.

What artistical techniques do you prefer?
- I prefer expressive, colorist painting on large surfaces, but unfortunately my current lack of a studio space makes digital painting mostly the best option for working right now. Pencil drawings are the basis of my artistic work, but they seldom turn out to be more than treasured visual notes.

 

SisterArt by Noora Hirvonen.


Tell us a bit about the piece of art we are previewing in this newsletter. What technique have you used? How were your thoughts working on it?
- The illustration we're talking about now is part of a circle of vampires that I designed for the expansion, so I it would be hard not to comment the making of them as a whole, going back and forth between them in progress.
   I set up my friend to model for the circle of vampires, since I was unsure in the beginning if I would be able to keep the look of the character constant through all five of them. I took photographs with her and used them later for reference. This one is the first one, and it happens to have a photo collage as a background, altered with painting, which is unusual for me, but worked well enough here. The character I just drew on (with Wacom Intuos Pro and Photoshop) keeping the references close by. I googled a lot of piercings for ideas, but at the same time my friend was a perfect fit for the characters so she inspired me a lot overall.
   Also important to note is that when [V:EKN Design Team leader] Ben Peal asked me to make the five of them, he sent me a lot of funky references and underground Budapest music tips to work with, so I hope he is pleased with them!

What kind of motives do you prefer? What kind of assignments?
- Portrait illustrations are right up my alley, and I like to include quirky details to them. I feel like games in general need a broader spectrum of realistic characters, regarding but not limited to gender stereotypes, and I happily will contribute to that as sneakily as possible. I also do live portraits and colorist landscape paintings, which more of the mainstream interest. Making contact through art is what makes portraits so endearing to me.

Check out more of Nooras art at www.noorahirvonen.com


CALENDAR
Upcoming events:
Nov 4 - Nacional Portugal 2017 - Lisboa, Portugal
Nov 4 - Shores of Hydaspes (SER) 2017 - Belgrade, Serbia
Nov 4 - Nosferatu Performance Art Stockholm 2017 – Stockholm, Sweden
Nov 11 - Crusade Toluca 2017 vol. 2 - Toluca de Lerdo, Mexico
Nov 12 - Camarilla Conclave 2017 - Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Nov 18 - Island of Yiaros - São José, Brazil
Nov 26 - Liga "Nova Era" Brasil AP: Wormwood - Macapá, Brazil
Dec 2 - 5th Tölöö Grand Ball - Helsinki, Finland
Dec 3 - Loughman's Birthday IV: A New Hope - Heath, United States

For more information on upcoming events see the V:EKN Event Calendar.


CONTACT V:EKN
You can contact the V:EKN Inner Circle members using contact forms at V:EKN.net. Also follow the official V:TES Facebook page Vampire: The Eternal Struggle and the official V:EKN Twitter account @VEKN_VTES

"No one holds command over me. No man. No god. No Prince. What is a claim of age for ones who are immortal? What is a claim of power for ones who defy death? Call your damnable hunt. We shall see whom I drag screaming to hell with me."