Monday, September 24, 2007

"Luscious" Scott Johnson

LSJ ensuring he is prepared to deal with any judging issues of the NAC finals as Oscar looks on intently.

LSJ and Darby

LSJ and Darby take time during the finals of the NAC to discuss how VTES can help establish World Peace.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ben Peal wins

Top seeded Kevin Mergen, playing Dementation bleed, chose to sit Matt Wedge's Prey. Matt Wedge was playing a finely tuned Una deck. Ira Fay attempted to 2nd Tradition a key action of Una's but the 2nd Tradition was stopped by a Direct Intervention from Ben Peal. Ben clearly was not thrilled by the idea of having Kevin as a heavy bleeding predator. Ira was very unhappy and agreed to layoff Matt Wedge and split the table 3-2 (Matt taking 3).

Matt was burning or torporing vampires at will. He seemed to have a counter for everything. He had multiple maneuvers, flak jacket, Ivory Bow, Owl Companion, Hawg, the Helicopter (at times), Ghoul Retainer (uses bow while minion is immortally grappled). Matt had free Skin of
Steel to prevent damage.

Even though Matt could kill at will, he said he would need about 12 turns by his estimate to obtain the 3 vps (destroy all vamps and bleed through all of the pool) and then Ira would get his 2 vp. Ira continued to build up and increase his swarm. Ira could have ousted Matt but didn't. However, a couple of turns later on Matt's turn (AFTER Matt had already used a built-in rush he had in play), Ira let Matt know that he no longer thought that Matt had the ability to keep
their deal. Matt disagreed but Ira had essentially announced his decision to break their earlier deal. Matt began rushing backwards.

Most of the discussion revolved around getting on Matt's good side and working with him. Ben Peal and Ben Swainbank kept throwing barbs into the discussions to subtly work things in their favor. Ben Swainbank seemed frustrated and sometimes seemed the only sane person at the table and kept trying to get players to just focus on their own preys rather than making deals. Ben's best point was to point out that Matt and Ira's 3-2 split couldn't happen if another player was ousted out of turn.

Matt ousted Kevin Mergen using Mylan's bleed of 1 to finish him off. Kevin was hampered by a hand of jammed stealth.

Late in the game, Ben Swainbank brought out one of the Madness Network he had in hand. Ben Swainbank seemed to be working for a bleed oust of Ira. With all players that Matt attacked (aka Everybody!) being forced to play with an open hand, everybody was able to play with
almost perfect information.

Ira drew a Bonding and, with only minutes remaining, made a lunge at Matt only to find that Una's Blessing of Chaos prevented Ira from playing the card. The spectators gasped.

Matt lunged at Ben to knock down voters. Ben Swainbank lunged multiple times at Ira via the Madness Network but came up short due to Ira's deflections. Ben Peal played a Parity Shift and took 4 of Swainbank's pool. With seconds left Ben Peal played a KRC to take down Swainbank and then got Ira next. Matt Wedge was next to go.

Ben Peal 4VP

Matt Wedge 1VP

Kevin Mergen, Ben Swainbank and Ira Fay 0 VP.

For players who liked lots of table talk and shifting alliances, this was a great game. I loved it to death. Very intense and great play when they were actually playing cards. For some there was too much talk going on but most of the spectators were hushed and very impressed with the level of play. In fact, the game was reminiscent of Ben's last NAC win with 2 fighty decks as his grand predator and great grand predator and again lots of table talk. This time the talking was much more interesting because of Una's terrorizing.

I also noticed how well most of the players took their demise. They reacted almost the same whether they were bleeding for 1 or for 4, torporizing or being torpored, ousting or being ousted--save for Ira but he had his own thing going.

Congrats to Ben Peal and all of the finalists for a very memorable game.



Morgan, Moritz and Gibson watch the final.

NAC Prizes

The official Walk of Fame star, Danse Macabre print, $100 DriveThruRPG gift certificate, signed Leif Jones SE7EN comic, Lords of the Night starters and boosters, and the sealed box of the original Sabbat expansion. A hefty haul for the champion.

Matt Wedge and Una oust Kevin Mergen

Sixteen cards on Una. Her one capacity wingmen have a few more cards on them. Una and friends tap out to oust Kevin.

Picture on a Card

Larry does portraits of a lot of the players and they will probably make their way onto vampire cards in future sets. Larry sold a lot of original art and signed a lot of cards.

Larry and his friend whose name I forget (I just called him "Insurance Scam" since he posed for that one) hung out and had a good time with everybody. As most of you are aware, Larry uses portraits as a base for a lot of his art. In addition to the NAC finalists, Larry took pics of a number of other players and we're likely to see a number of them on future cards.

Mark Loughman looked like he'll need almost no Photoshop work to be ready for a card. Robert Scythe will need even less. Robert S. was hobbled by a cane playing basketball just before the start of the NAC and Larry took his portrait with Robert holding his cane and a drink from the bar. Robert with a drink. Imagine that. Who would've thought?

NAC Finals

Matt Wedge's Una deck is terrorizing the table. Kevin Mergen's Malk bleeder is already in torpor. Ben Peal played a direct intervention on Ira's 2nd tradition. Ira seems committed to helping Matt win. Matt has 14 cards on Una. Matt comes across the table and burns one of Ben Peal's Daughters. Matt also burns Ben Swainbank's Gregor Anderson. Matt seems to be trying to destroy all of the vamps at the table.

Larry Snelly Arrives

Larry arrives for the event.

F**k Una

Today Matt Wedge is driving the Una truck. He is at 2 pool and I have no minions. Matt tried to use Mylan to untap Una and Ben Swainbank blocked with a 2nd Tradition to end Una's turn.

Una must now destroy all of Swainbank's vampires to live. Matt drops to 1 pool because of the Judgement Cam Seg.

Finals of NAC Day 1

Jay Kristoff defeats Peter Oh to win the event near the 3 hour time limit.

Jay worked his intercept weenie deck to oust Peter. Peter used his Anthelios and Anson deck to recur his Toreador Grand Ball each turn. Jay would repeatedly destroy the Grand Ball. Jay was down to only a few pool near the 2 hour mark but was able to get and hold the Edge to gain pool. Jay also had a Procurer and some Blood Doll.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Drinking time

The entire line at the bar is full of VTES players. The world famous David Tatu is drinking whisky sours.


LSJ and Hugh and Matt Wedge play Wench. Hugh sounds funny when he tries to speak like a pirate. Instead of "Arrrrrrr" we got something that sounded like "GARR". I particularly enjoyed Hugh's opera voice.

NAC day 1 pics

More NAC day 1

The Art Show Opens

Most of the local's art collections are on display today. Thank you to Darby Keeney and Fred Scott for allowing us to display their collections.

Free Sir Walter Nash

Robert Goudie's Emerson Bridges does a superior Govern then Freak then scouting then freak then enchant to bring up a free Sir Walter Nash.

NAC day 1

Matt Wedge and Matt Morgan both play Imbued at the first table.

Friday, September 21, 2007

LCQ and draft

Hugh Angseesing dominated the table with his Nephandus Mage deck. Matt wedge's Stanislava got beat down and then grave robbed. Congrats to all of the finalists. Other finalists were Ben Swainbank who played madness network and Peter oh and Ira Fay who played and Enkidu deck.

Again, we played lords of the night draft with a couple of boosters.


Last chance qualifier final

Wow. Matt wedge is playing a stanislava soul gem of etrius deck. Ira, his predator, was attempting to raptor Matt's deck away. However, Matt's stani is immune to Ira's Raptors.

Matt has Ira foiled and Ira is willing to do anything for Matt. IRS says he is Matt's puppet. Pete Oh declares that this is the turning point of the game when Matt plays a PTO. Most of the players beg or threaten not to be hit. Matt votes down his own vote.

Mini Qualifier Winner

The Lasombra ousted Chris Shorb's Ventrue deck featuring Arika with only 15 minutes remaining to capture the win and earn himself a full box of Lords of the Night booster cards. Chris had already ousted Mike Courtois when Jeff's onslaught of Scouting Mission bleeds did in his last 8 pool. All players were very low on pool and a great number of Deflection and Redirection were being played all over the table.

Soon after Chris' ouster, Ian Lee lunged at Hugh Angseesing and was able to oust him. Jeff Thompson, who entered the finals as the top seed, held on to just a few seconds short of the win but Ian eeked it out with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock.

Congrats to Ian on the win and for who grabbing the last qualifying spot of the Week of Nightmares.

Friday begins Championship Weekend and the Last Chance Qualifier--usually the largest tournament in North America each year.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday evening mini-qual.

Jeff "the Lasombra" Thompson is playing Lasombra. This is his hand. Jeff replaced a shadow body with a redirection.

Pics from the mini qual.

Chris Shorb has Arika in play but only four pool. Hugh Angseesing is about to oust him.

LSJ and Ira Fay have arrived. Scott had a fancy salad from the hotel for dinner and washed it down with some 3 buck [up]chuck that the hotel bar was serving as a Pinot Grigio. Scott's eyes lit up at the sight of the DriveThru RPG gift certificate in the welcome bag.

Thursday mini qual.

29 players fought for a single qualifying spot during Kevin Mergen's mini qualifier. Nat called Kevin a pussy cuz Kevin needed to rest.

Drunken replacement judge, Robert Goudie jumped in to fill the judging void.

Thanks to Kevin for getting is setup and for offering his mini qualifier spot for the event.

Thurdsay 8-pack 3rd Edition Draft

Kevin Mergen was going to run a booster draft but changed it to an Internal Recursion format so that they could use only 8 crypt cards. The players used Third Edition booster packs.

The event finalists are Christian "Xian" Herro, Matt Strehlow, Matt Morgan and Fletcher Gibson, Jeff "The Lasombra" Thompson.

Shuttle bus info

Be sure to call the hotel when you land to request the courtesy shuttle bus. It will not automatically pick you up.

1 310 640 3600

Phased Motion

Where's Ben Peal?

Ben's mid morning arrival was delayed (it's a long story) and Kevin Mergen's 3rd Edition draft is delayed. Chris Shorb is running LSJ's Phased Motion variant at the same time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

True Love's [Other] Face

Can you feel the love? Hugh Angseesing and Paul Johnson toward the end of the free drinks period.

Wednesday Limited Event

A few additional players arrived and we played in another limited event using the new Lords of the Night cards. We booster drafter an equal number of Third Edition and Lords of the Night packs and did our best to build some good decks.

Two rounds without a final were played. Jeff "The Lasombra" Thompson gave each player that grabbed a game win, the opportunity to purchase Lords of the Night product from him at the event.

The treatment from the hotel continues to be fantastic. The adjoining meeting room was not due to be ours until tomorrow but since it is empty I asked one of the Sales Managers if they wouldn't mind opening it up a little early for us. Without another word spoken, the hotel staff began clearing the room from the previous night's event and then ushered in another 6 round tables.

Players finally get to see the full room and the amount of space we'll be taking for the rest of the week.


Hotel Pond

The Turtles, Koi and ducks are in a nice pond right in the middle of the hotel. Yum. I love sushi.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday PM - Mini Qualifier [Updated 9/19]

Sixteen players played in the Tuesday night mini-qualifier. Straight from the bar, these tipsy Methuselah fought for their life in the second constructed tournament of the week.

At one first round table, Darby Keeney's Imbued deck leads to lengthy discussions about how on earth these things can be stopped. With a lot of help from Matt Morgan, Fred Scott and another player, Darby was able to build up but never gained a VP. The table timed-out.
At another table, Los Angeles player Gene Martin obtained a table sweep using a Black Hand deck that made good use of Reunion Kamut and a lot of Auspex intercept.
In the 2nd round, Oscar Garza made a quick impact by sending Matt Wedge's Cock Robin to torpor with some unexpected agg damage. Oscar followed with a Graverobbing and got himself noticed by the table. Paul Johnson, playing a Ventrue voter deck (with some Dawn Op fighty-ness of his own) essentially ousted Oscar cross table. Matt Morgan picked-up the pieces and obtained a table sweep.
Brian Mortiz' Salubri Anti's eeked out a win against Gene Martin's Auspex Black Hand deck. Brian grabbed a game win and at least temporarily set himself as the fifth seeded finalist. Gene's extra VP in this game set him as the tournament's top seeded player and almost certainly ensured himself a qualifying spot.
In the finals, Gene was able to oust Matt Morgan and withstand the assaults of the other finalists to give himself the win.

Week of Nightmares Tuesday Summary

Whew. Busy day. So we began the morning with a Lords of the Night Pre-Release. We each received one of the four LoN starter decks and four booster decks. Each table was pre-arranged to have exactly one of each clan represented. Our vampires were table drafted and then we drafted the boosters by selecting a vamp from the booster and passing the remaining cards to around the table.

There were many gasps as various cards were seen for the first time. Vessel seemed to be the card that generally met with shock. Players really couldn't see ever using Blood Doll again now that Vessel exists. That said, I drew a Vessel in the first round and couldn't play it because it costs 1 pool and, of course, I had only 1 pool. I discarded the damn thing and drew another as a replacement. Again. 1 pool.

Sometime near noon, Oscar (aka White Wolf) purchased a nice buffet for all of the players. We consumed massive amounts of sandwiches. Since the manager's buffet is generally chips and salsa and other finger foods, many players really gorged themselves on food.

At my first table, Paul Johnson, playing the Assamite starter really wrecked havoc on his prey and predator (Peter Oh). I was playing the Ravnos starter and stayed completely out of the game while Paul destroyed his Giovannia prey. Loss, was played to unlease hefty bleeds on the Giovanni. Clandestine Contract was played to wipe out the Setties on a few occassions.

My Ravnos tended to build up. I equipped with Treasured Samadji and was using a high-cap Ravnos who could burn a blood for +1 bleed. Soon Peter's Settites and Matt Wedge's Giovanni were ousted and it was my Ravnos vs. Paul's Assamites. I had a hand full of combat by then and was well equipped to fight it out. Paul and I were both low on pool and he had one last change to kill me. Paul's library was almost complete depleted. Yes, the Assamites almost decked themself in a limited format event. Paul needed to get one stealth or a "that vamp can't block" card in order to oust me. I had to block his bleed and hope he didn't cycle into the stealth. I played a mirror image in order to minimize the number of cards he could play. However, Paul played one of the new Aim cards and several other combat cards to draw the remaining cards in his library. He got the card he needed and was able to thwart my last blocker and oust me. 3 VP Assamites. 1 VP Ravnos.

My second round went poorly and Hugh's Giovanni swept the table. My understanding was that the Giovanni won the most games. Jeff "The Lasombra" Thompson was nice enough to run this event and offered each player who got a game win, the chance to purchase Lords of the Night before the release date. Woo hoo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Anarchist Uprising [Updated]

Paul Johnson attempts a puzzling early vote. Both Paul and Hugh are playing low capacity vampires. Paul is playing weenie Fortitude with Force of Will bleeds by vamps that dance in and put of torpor. Hugh has some group 2 and 3 Ventrue and !Ventrue. He has Ossian and Carlton in play.

Seven players are fighting for the qualifier spot available tonight.

[Updated] Hugh Angseesing won the Mini-Qualifier. The highest finisher that had not previously qualified was Peter Oh. Congrats to Hugh and Peter.

The Monday Night Mini-Qualifier.

The first four tables begin. We have already received our first complaint about the noise in the room. It seems that free drinks leads to unruly participants. Interesting discovery.

We handed out the welcome bags. Unfortunately for Hugh, the sunblock in the bag arrived a day too late.

Where are they?

This is what the room looks like when VTES players are getting free drinks.

Free drinks!

Players enjoy the free drinks at the first Manager's Reception of the week.

IN-N-OUT Burger

Mike Nilsen and I decide to get some local food for our guests. Hugh and Peter Oh will be enjoying the treat.


Well, we must be at the right place for a VTES event. Just next to the Barcelona Ballroom is the la Palma room and a very important meeting. I'm taking this as a sign of a great week to come!

The Early Birds

A half hour before the first event and these guys can't wait to start playing. Matt Morgan plays the first card of the week--a dreams of the sphinx.

Friday, September 14, 2007


So maybe the NAC starts for you next Thursday. Or maybe Monday or even on Saturday or Sunday. Well, for my wife it has been going on for a year.

This snapshot is of some of the crap in our living room and my bedroom and the foyer looks similarly trashed. I'm sure Mike Courtois' place is getting pretty cluttered about now too. I think our spouses will be happy to have us back.

I just got off the phone with the hotel and arranged for water service each morning. I hope we don't forget anything.

Leif Jones sent a package that arrived today. He threw in an original sketch that we will use as a prize. It also included a bunch of signed Theo Bell prints and some signed comics Leif inked. Again, more prizes.

So many details. I hope it will settle into some fun hang-out time with all of my friends who are travelling out here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Venue Upgrades

The ballroom where we'll be holding the NAC has been refurbished! The existing room looked great but with the improvements to the room it should be even better. The event manager invited Mike and I down for a nice lunch at the hotel restaurant and for a tour. I'll try and snap a few photos while I'm there. -Robert