How to Convince Your Husband to Let You Go Off to Milwaukee For The Weekend With 4 Strange Men
My companions in Milwaukee:
Paul Johnson, Steve Bucy, Mike Courtois, and Robert Goudie.
Yes, miss, this is the National Championships for V:TES, but this is the CCG, are you sure you’re not looking for the role players?
The Girls Guide to VTES is inspired by the recent trip with my playgroup to the Nationals at Gen Con this past August. I’ve been playing with this group for almost 2 years and it wasn’t until the planning for this trip that I was forced to come to terms with the fact that they are all male and I … am not.
We’d never gone so far as farting contests or anything but I had never felt that my being of the opposite sex was an issue.
I was fine with putting down toilet seats and being called “dude”.
It started with Paul raising questions about the sleeping arrangements in Milwaukee, expressing concerns about my ‘comfort’ and ‘safety … I thought this was hysterical. We are all married, we have children … heck, I lived in a co-ed dorm in college … how dangerous could this be? I was explaining this outrageous concern to another of the group, Robert, who shyly echoed Paul’s concerns. Finding no satisfaction there I shared this hilarity with my husband:
“Listen to this … ha ha ha … Paul said he’s concerned that about what happens if we are forced to sleep on a park bench or something … isn’t that ridiculous?”
My husband was not amused. “Wha … a park bench? … No. No f-ing way. If you don’t have a hotel room, you’re not going.’”
He got on the internet and began hunting down a room for us, grumbling … “Next year, you should do this way in advance … ”
It wasn’t an issue that he didn’t know these guys very well. It wasn’t an issue that we would all share this room. It wasn’t an issue that we couldn’t afford this trip. But the idea of my sleeping on a park bench was unacceptable.
We arrived in Milwaukee and as the convention pressed on, and as I was the only female participating … (I’m reasonably sure about that, anyway … ) I began to be more and more aware of this femaleness.
During the 1st round of the Nationals, I got going so fast that I suddenly had the ire of the entire table. It also didn’t help that I had to call LSJ over for rulings and clarifications about 8 times. People were trying vote push, or replacing their Wakes, and a myriad of disruptive little STUFF and I was exacerbating my lousy circumstances by being a prigish tattle-tale. I also made some horrific errors.
Skip forward to the next two games where I ended up with 6 vp and wound up only 1/2 point out of the finals. As a matter of fact I was gifted IN to the final, but then there was a dispute where a guy demanded a recount, and they recounted, and I was out, but that’s a whole other article …
What had changed between round one and two?
I was the only one from our group that didn’t have a VP after the 1st game. I was letting them down. That one game was so awful, I was thinking, “Wow, this female thing sucks.” I went outside to chill and smoke a pack of cigarettes.
How could I turn this handicap into an advantage? I sat for a while, watching the few cars that Wisconsonites call “traffic“, and tried to distill my knowledge and experience of this game down to its roots. I needed a cheat sheet. A primer of bullet points I could remember when the going got tough. Something I could share with all girl V:TESers.
Here’s what I came up with:
Accept Presumed Inferiority
You are not only an oddity, you are inferior. Nothing personal, nothing anyone can control. Whenever I sit down to play with strangers I always feel a radiating relief from my predator and prey. So much sometimes that they seem to feel sorry for me, and give me some building room.
But, it’s a short distance between ‘building’ and ‘dangerous’.
The enemy is not a fearsome deck or that awesome player. It’s not even the time limit. The target for conquer in V:TES is emotion. It’s also why I play, so I have no great handle on this. All I know is that if someone at the table is crippled by emotion, I hope it’s my predator.
Sticks and Stones
I wouldn’t ordinarily suggest patting yourself on the back when some angry guy let’s fly with “BITCH!” from across the table, but in V:TES, it indicates that you are doing something right. It’s all about perspective. Look deeper than the unkind comment, because there’s a lot to be mined there.
At a recent tournament I was hounding a new-to-me player to hurry up with his turn and he turned to Chris, the innocent methuselah next to me, and barked, “She’s not your WIFE, is she?” I was delighted. It’s not often you can get a guy to inadvertently insult 2 of you! Outstanding.
Driven to Frenzy
Women are known for wild swings in mood. So, fulfill those expectations. Go there. You can be an aggro ball buster one minute and the meek and penitent the next, depending on what you need at the time. I’m pretty reserved and rely heavily on the meek and penitent approach. How can you be mad at me when I feel so bad? But, I have found that an occasional outburst can be effectively disruptive.
Play the player
With all the great decks and players out there … what makes someone consistently good? I thought about my mentors, my companions in Milwaukee:
How can Paul actually win with that piece of crrrrap … Why is it that all of Robert’s vampires are in torpor, yet he’s got that disquieting smile that seems to be saying that he’s letting you win?
Great players play their opponents and not their opponents’ decks. This is where I continue to grow the most. Being the newest member of the group they’ve actually had more time to scrutinize me, but I’m catching on. If Mike is despondent and says, “No, dude, my game is over … ” and you give him one speck of daylight? He’ll sweep the table. And when Steve complains the loudest, when he’s hurling cards at his discard pile and is looking at his cards like they are emitting a foul odor, know that he truly believes he’s on the ropes, but you should stay frosty.
When All Else Fails, Remember Where You are in the Turn
The situation is dire. You don’t have a bead on anything. This negotiation has gone on for 15 minutes and you hopelessly confused. Your instinct tells you it’s all gonna end in tears. EFF-it. Intercept the action, if you can, and get on with it.
And finally …
Approaching your husband about joining me next year should be easy. But if your husband has anything but supportive commentary, you’re just going to have to accept the fact that you chose him badly. You and I will have a nice long talk about it… in Milwaukee.
Robyn Merrill. 10/17/2000
Originally posted on VTES in LA (accessible on waybackmachine.org).