God, has it been a while?
The obvious answer: Yes. Yes it has.
I think I wrote a wee paragraph about my fears of this blog, and writing in general for that matter, getting lost in the lack of time, interest, my fears of failure or something similar. The former has gotten me this time. The latter is not that far off either, but that's a cronic dilemma I am going to face every now and then - and most likely until the end of time.
I titled this post with two different topics. The first one, "Divided Interests", has to do with my lack of time. The lack of time presently is caused by the Conservatorium. Actually, I think I should add that to my list of education I'm working with at the moment.
At the start of September I realized there was something amiss with my life. Or something like that. I couldn't exactly tell if something was missing, I was doing something wrong, or if I just needed to pursue something of my own; possibly I needed to justify the existance of my flute in the corner. I had been thinking of starting playing seriously again for the whole Summer, but it didn't occur to me before the last minute that I really, really needed to do something quick, or else I'd never be able to pick up music again for real.
So, a quick poll in Facebook resulted in my friends pretty much carrying me (mentally) to the last minute audition to get in to the Pop/Jazz department, and it seems the school was happy enough to take a flautist in. I knew it then, and I sure as hell know it well enough now, that it had nothing to do with my skills, but more with the fact that there hasn't been anyone playing anything else than guitar, bass, piano or drums in the Pop/Jazz department for years. Singers excluded, obviously. There're plenty of them.
Anyways, with me struggling with university, desperately trying to find courage to start my BA thesis, and banging my head against a musical wall with my (godamned...) flute, I was near just letting this blog go, and admitting a failure.
But sheesh, if I gave up on my hobbies, how easy would it be to take a next step and give up on my studies when it didn't go as planned with the first attempt?
Pretty easy, especially if I know myself well enough.
So, failures aside, let's move on to the topic you're actually interested in: VtES. We'll also discuss the second part of the title: Serious Newcomers.
I have been craving to get a word out some way. Let's just spill it out: the Autumn has been an utter, major success. There has been a lot of talk in, for example, VEKN about the game dying and only the most faithful of gamers continuing playing. The cards might've been forgotten in the backs of stores, gathering dust and eventually forgotten. We should ask our local distributer, Fantasiapelit, what's the situation now.
As far as I know, 10th anniversary boxes and Blood Shadowed Court vampire packs have been now sold out in Finland. There are no more !Nosferatu starer decks from Black Hand set in the stores. In addition to this, I know very well where they've all gone: to our new embraces here in Joensuu.
I could count roughly 10 new players who've started playing in here since last June. Half of them were friends or friends of friends who I recruited personally, and the rest are friends of those friends. I'm not entirely sure how large a stock of vampire cards Fantasiapelit has, but if the rate with which our embraces have been buying cards keeps up, I'm not sure how long the cards will last.
The boom hit some people a bit more seriously than others, though, and I am still very surprised by how much money some people put into the game. A fellow I've known for a long time, but who got really into the game just recently, spent roughly 100 euro to buy a tournament winning deck from eBay, just to try it out. The deck included cards like Dragonbound and Parity Shift, as well as plenty of Eyes of Argus. This other guy, whose understanding of card values has been largely affected by years of Magic the Gathering, started the game off by ordering cards from eBay to build a Ventrue voter. The value of the stack of cards sum up at 150 euro.
Cards like Monastery of Shadows sold at 40 euro, people ordering six copies of Black Metamorphosis from eBay -- just double check the value of these cards from eBay!
My tone of writing should not be misunderstood, however. I am more than glad that people have taken the hobby seriously. I just hope that these relatively few individuals will not scare off our other newcomers, who have not invested serious amounts of money into the game from the start. In my opinion a random stack of 3rd ed or Jyhad commons to boost two or three well picked starter decks will be enough for almost any player. Others, however, see things differently, and obviously have the money and commitment to invest in more powerful stuff.
As the prince of the city the obvious success has been the recruitment of many new faces, who in part have given a lot to the community by recruiting friends of their own. We also held a successful tournament with a whacking 14 player attendance. This is more than Helsinki had for their latest casual tournament. Now, the next challenge will be keeping the less active players in the circles, and making their life a bit easier. At the moment our older, more experienced players are more than happy to welcome new challenge and serious decks for a change, but to keep the city from dividing into two (or, in the worst case scenario, one group plus dozens of people who just tried it out), I'm afraid it once again falls on my shoulders to make sure gaming is interesting even for the less active parties. It is easy to get left behind, and lose interst in the game if you are beaten to a pulp or ousted in ten minutes every single time.
The atmosphere of arms race is what worries me the most, however. I was always a fan of playing with what I got, and trying to get by. It forces you to interact, and to learn the game better. Sometimes I wish I could just start anew, with two starters or something, and relearn the game. The first years were so much fun.
There is also the fact that people have started to evaluate cards by their eBay values and rarity, not exactly by how useful the card is to them in person. This creates situations where cards are being withheld just because they are valuable in the internet, even if the owner would not exactly need them for any of their decks.
The reasons for these two phenomena are clear, and not to be shunned, banned or critizised. Personally, however, I am not too happy about the turn of events and atmosphere. I am one of those people who try to get by with a bit less, rather than a bit more, and I cannot say I feel exactly at home in the current environment.
Anyways, things are definitely better than they have been in some time. I actually got to write a post. Secondly, we have plenty of new players. Thirdly, we have some serious competition in our town again. Lastly, we are now discussing if the next Finnish Championships should be hosted by us instead of the South of Finland!
And, seriously, how cool would that be?
Thanks for reading, and 'till next time! A lot is happening in here, and I just wish I could write some about everything. There is a lot to say about our decks, how the beginner decks have started to evolve, about player interaction, codes of behaviour and how to deal with people in the same group you just don't agree with all the time.
Probably next time something about jazz? I'm reading this book with these chord progressions, and --
Okay, okay, sorry. Until next time!