Mark O, and enjoying the anxiety.

“I started playing Vampire: the Eternal Struggle in about 2014. I was living in Auckland at the time and saw a listing by Max on meetup. The Auckland group were really welcoming, even though Ke is a total savage during games (I love him regardless). I think I had beginners luck in winning a game quite early on (!Malk Obf bleed). I moved to Melbourne in early 2017, I’m a very casual player but love the World of Darkness fluff and the knife-edge tension of VtES.

The mood in Vampire: the Masquerade, the roleplaying game, is very similar to the card game. A life-and-death war of attrition, tenuous alliances, backstabbing, lose-lose situations. Maybe I’m playing it wrong though?

I really enjoy playing, but I’ve slacked off during the last few months. Nathaneal, Craig, Keith and Erin are really quite lovely (outside of being cut-throat bastards at the table). It’s great to meet the wider group at Championship events and I can’t wait to do it all again, hopefully with a few games of Mafia de Cuba afterwards again too.

There’s a real sense of camaraderie around the Championships; I had three people crash at my place at mine last year. I enjoy seeing the high level play at the finals table, where players at the top of their game can turn the table to their advantage. I played Hold ‘Em for a while and the great players are always those who can win even with a bad hand.

At these sorts of events, the enjoyable nervousness is supercharged, the social aspects of the game are magnified, and there’s a wider variety of decks being played. And I also have the dream that I might one day win a game against the veterans.

If I’m known for something, some would say it’s cross-table bleeding. I also love the Rico Black Hand bombs deck despite the clunkiness and high risk/reward factor. Other than that I’m honestly not experienced enough to have a signature yet (other than never ever trusting Ke again).

If it’s possible to enjoy being anxious, VtES is the game for it to happen in. The fact the game is still being played and supported is testament to its depth, even if that is at the cost of wider commercial appeal. That said, if the people I’ve met playing Vampire weren’t all brilliant I wouldn’t have stayed interested in it.”

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