Robyn Tatu was one of my earliest interviews. My interview technique has improved since then, so Robyn had to deal with questions that took too long to get to the point (I’ve edited them down for this post). The end result was an unfinished interview that’s lengthier than other ‘fragments’ I’ve been posting, but still only scratching the surface of what we could have covered. Consider this interview a companion piece to a much earlier piece by Robyn, archived here.
B: Can you tell me a little bit about your introduction to Jyhad? Was it your first introduction to the World of Darkness and/or collectable card games?
R: I started off in card games focusing on the collectable aspect. I collected, but didn’t play, Decipher’s Star Wars and Star Trek card games. I had a job as a phone operator and one day at work, a guy named Bill saw me sorting my collection and began to sell me on the idea of playing CCGs and Vampire: the Eternal Struggle in particular. I sat to play with him and a group of six other people one night I played a Sheldon Nossie tool box deck that he had put together. I thought the game was waaaay too long and said I would love to play again if the group was smaller (6 Newbies….brutal!). I was invited to play a three-player game the next weekend and I fell in love with V:tES from there.
I started playing in the late 1990s, during the long torpor between Wizards and White Wolf. This was the time when you could get Jyhad boxes for 5$ from Potomac – and being in my late 30s – I spent a loads on boxes for decks, boxes for cards and loads of cards. Soon, Bill and the other guy tired of the game and I went on the hunt for other people to play with and found Goudie and the LA group. I never turned back.
The thing that I loved about the game was the diferent skills you could combine to create a workable deck. I was also actually good at getting VP’s. That suited the local playgroup. The LA group were already heavily into world ratings when I joined (even though the game was dead, there was still a ratings presence on the DCI website) and had regular tournaments so their play was hard-core and intense from the first day I played with them. I won my fourth tournament with a 5th Trad/Minion Tap deck…Nossie with Suhaliah.
I remember one summer evening we sat down to pen a group letter to White Wolf and explain that we were passionate about the game and that our player base were mid to late 30 somethings who spent disposable income on gaming and were certain this game would find new growth and be an income generator for White Wolf. We were not the only group with this idea. I’m not sure if I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I did send an email to Steve Wieck at White Wolf. It put me on Steve’s radar. A good guy!
How’d the LA scene change and grow over the years?
The group was made up of several childhood friends (Mike Courtois, Robert Goudie & Steve Bucy) and then sprinkled with various locals that came and went over time. I like to think we became a more social group after my arrival. We spent a lot of time together playing V:tES, getting acquainted with the families, arranging cookouts, and eventually traveling to play the game. (We trekked to Gen Con several times.) I count these men as some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I met my husband playing Vampire! I would eventually leave LA for Atlanta and we played every weekend for several years with a good sized play group until we finally petered out in 2006. I was Vampire’s official ratings coordinator from 2000 until 2009 and David and I have been to nine different countries to play in Continental events.
Do you get much of a chance to play, nowadays?
I’ve not played at all in several years. I played Android: Netrunner for a while, but V:TES is king. I got the opportunity to overdose on V:TES at our new NAC venue, the Origins Gaming Convention. Last year, David and I played a lot of demo board games and didn’t play get to playing V:TES at all. This year, I plan on playing at least one V:tES event at Origins but I would like to have someone build me a deck. Deck building is an enjoyable commitment – but I’m so far out of the loop, I’ll need someone to let me borrow a workable deck.
What’s been your favourite expansion and deck over the years? Still have a soft spot for the Nossies?
The set that introduced the 5/6 Cam vampires (B – Keepers of Tradition) breathed new life into my decks. My go-to would still be a Nossie Prince style tool box deck. My vampire likeness was supposed to be a Nossie.
That’s right, you’re Helen Fairchild – did someone ask you to send a photo through to Larry Snelly, or was it a surprise from your perspective?
During the NAC in Los Angeles (2009?) Lawrence Snelly was a guest and for $150.00 you could get him to paint your portrait as a vampire. I said Nossie. Then later when LSJ began assigning art to cards, I ended up with an almost unplayable Group 6 – relegated to Anarch support crew…..Ahrimane!? Ahhh!. I was so offended. Years later, (2015) when I was dying in the hospital;,the entire player complement of Finland posted a group picture on FaceBook with a sign saying “Get well soon, Robyn”, and every single person in the picture was holding a Helen Fairchild card. Followed soon by Brazilian and American NAC group shots in posts. Now I totally own Helen. I have yet to build a deck with her.
So, when someone sits down next to Robyn Tatu at a table, what can they expect to see? Are you a table talker, prefer slow build-ups, or do you tend to go hard to the left and let the table dynamic sort itself out?
My play style depends on my stamina. I just hate the idea of messing up the game for everyone with some un-thought-through mistake. I try not to get involved in verbal table dynamics because it slows down the game. I have a list of games lost due to people gobbling up valuable time with jabber. Most players who are familiar with me know that I am fine getting to a three player game and I’m strongest in dual mode. That said, I’m a whiner. I was much better and more convincing in my early years, Then I started playing in Europe where ‘whiner’ goes over not-at all! It was there I discovered that table wins are owed to all 5 players in the game. My deck style varies. I am most comfortable with titled Cam vamps with 2nd trad, blood draining combat, and votes. I love “Prayer Cards” the ones you stick in when you hope to catch a dangerous player in a weak moment. But I”m also at home with a midcap Lasombra / or Malk Anti Hard Left style deck.