Aaron C, and the allure of ancient protagonists.

“I got into Jyhad in 1994, as soon as it was released. I had played a little of Magic: the Gathering already, but was a big fan of the World of Darkness which I was role-playing at the time, so it seemed like a natural fit for my tastes. I loved it immediately, and went in with some mates in a joint collection.

I found that Jyhad was a great way of simulating part of the World of Darkness that was often spoken about but was rarely covered in actual play. The Vampire RPG spoke about Methuselahs with their endless machinations and plots, but that didn’t come out in a typical roleplaying session. Richard Garfield nailed the design by focusing on that angle, giving the player the role of these ancient protagonists. The wheeling and dealing of table talk fleshed out the ‘Great Game’ power dynamics and this role gave a rationalisation for having vampires of varying power and other allies under your command. I just loved being able to play an ancient Kindred like that.

The scene has gone through its ups and downs here in Adelaide. I used to play in another group before kids arrived for a time, then had a break but got back into it when one of my best friends, Steve S, lamented not being able to play and use his collection. That steeled my resolve to revive the game in South Australia, and for two or three years we had an era of regular weekly play. We chose the The British Hotel as our haunt, one of South Australia’s oldest pubs (est. 1838). There were some odd looks from a few regulars, but patrons would often come over and have a chat to see what it was all about. I styled myself as the Archbishop of Adelaide, rather than the Prince; I figured it suited a place known as the City of Churches.

Unfortunately, people started to move away interstate and we lost too many of our regulars. Steve moved to Victoria and my cousin, Tim S went to New South Wales. VTES’s strength as a multiplayer game is also its weakness. It’s relatively inaccessible for new players, and needing 4-5 people to have a good game can be quite restrictive – getting just the right numbers is always a logistical challenge. I think we could probably rally the troops here and get the odd game together, but I at this stage we don’t have anyone playing to my knowledge. I’ve been out of the game myself for about five years. My outlet is now a regular boardgame night, and every three to four months I take a weekend away to play boardgames with this group.

I always appreciated how VTES’ designers did a really good job of limiting powercreep in expansions. I admired that, in that it was a collectable game that didn’t require you to spend all your money to keep up and be competitive. Even a base set weenie swarm deck will give the table a shake.

I enjoyed both casual games and tournament play. Casual games would give a chance to muck around with flavour, tricks and RPG elements, while the competitive scene was for incredibly intense and rewarding play. I enjoyed the finely tuned deck crafting, the skilled opponents and error-free play that was required to advance to the finals.

When I did play, Toreador was my preferred clan. The combination of Auspex, Celerity and Presence is toolbox heaven. I was probably better known for my table talk than any particular deck, however. I found I could influence players to do things in their best interests that also just so happened to be advantageous to my own. It was important to not be a zero sum negotiator, and understand what others needed or what they were trying to achieve.

I’ve played a shit-ton of games, and nothing I’ve played manages to handle multiplayer dynamics as elegantly as VTES. Table talk, predator-prey relationships, cross-table balance – all those things working together are just beautiful game design. Long may Vampire: the Eternal Struggle continue to endure and thrive!”

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