Your Vamp's unique abilities make her, in many ways, your best gang member. However, they also make her a unique liability. This article will attempt to address a few things you'll want to keep in mind as you examine the possibilities for your Vamp in upcoming games.
1. There are four basic strategies for using your Vamp. Pick one that's compatible with your strategy to win and stick with it. Don't rely on coincidence or die rolls to produce the outcome you want. The four strategies are:
a) Extortion: Hidden away in a low-mobility corner, your Vamp can generate $350 per turn on average. That may not sound like a lot, but it can easily amount to $3,500-4,500 over the course of a typical game. That's enough to replace two or three big payoffs from the Public in upgraded one-jump joints. This is an obvious match for cash collectors. The key is to get the Vamp properly situated in a remote joint immediately -- so that even those Red 1's and 2's on the die will produce value for your gang. (BTW, this advice is equally true for your Thug.)
b) Vampage: Seduce a new member into your gang every turn. This strategy is much harder since your Vamp will need to move every turn. As a consequence, enemy Racketeers will be your first marks -- until you have enough moves to both move the Vamp and at least two other pieces. You'll probably want an extra Racketeer as a safety margin. Once your Racketeer has all the needed moves (or more), it'll be time to pick off enemy Thugs. You'll have a better selection of targets if you stay in joints near subways (especially those with multiple exits); however, as your opponents see you going on a vampage, they'll naturally move into the interior of the city. You want to follow the gang members of the opponents doing best -- since you may as well make your seductions part of your effort to slow the leaders. This strategy is appropriate for joint and monopoly seekers -- since you'll need to survive shootouts and lengthen the game in order to win (and wouldn't it be nicer if your opponents had fewer gangsters to shoot you up with?).
c) Extort and Stop: This strategy begins like (a); however, at the end of the game, if you're doing well, your opponents will send multiple Cops after your Vamp. Keep her safe by moving her and flipping her back to non-criminal status. Finish your cash-collection with the less-expensive Thug or with Public moves. If needed, you can also seduce a key gang member or two to hamper opponents (or build up your gang to either resist or stop others too). Remember that seduction is the only non-criminal attack!
d) Seduce and Extort: This strategy begins like (b), but then moves into extortion once your Racketeer level is at least six. This gives your gang the movement to manipulate the Public while your Vamp now collects cash. This is particularly effective with multi-entrance, upgraded joints that the Public can orbit or if your joints are all in one area of town.
2. Your Vamp is your most expensive piece to replace. A single Thug earns the same $350 average per turn, but costs only $350 on average to replace. The Vamp will run $1,050 on average. Losing a Vamp can be a death-knell for a cash strategy -- even worse if such a loss comes early in the game. As a result, the Vamp should take precedence when considering which Cops to move out of the way or when it comes time for her to abandon an extortion racket.
4. When missing your Vamp, consider the cost of waiting to purchase. For waiting to be effective, you'll have to roll at least TWO less on the red die next turn. After all, you're giving up the $350 earnings each turn. That means, if you can afford it, that you should recruit a Vamp on any roll of 1-2 and seriously consider it at 3-4.
5. The worst time to lose an extorting Thug is at the beginning of the game -- since it takes a turn to recruit and another to move the piece back into position. Vamps can target single enemy Thugs early to penalize cheap, cash players (and boost her own gang at the same time, of course). This is particularly true if the enemy gang will be waiting for a low black die before recruiting the Thug again!
6. The Vamp's attack is unique. Not only does your gang become stronger, but the target gang becomes weaker. Every other attack (except using Cops) generally weakens your own gang in the attempt. However, because the "hits" generated by a Vamp attack are low (always just one loss), the Vamp's attack is most deadly at the start of the game when resources are more scarce. Late game, single losses are easily brushed off by players collecting joints (who don't have anything else to do with their money anyway) and usually not enough to stop a cash winner.
7. If one opponent is getting too far ahead, consider declaring a key area a "Red Light District" where all Vamps will collect to coordinate the elimination of an enemy Racketeer. A cash player with few joints (perhaps even just one or two if Cop raids have removed any) is particularly vulnerable to this approach, since newly recruited pieces have few places where they can appear. If all of those places are under Vamp scrutiny, the new piece can often be eliminated before it can ever move. Three-time Godfather Pitt "Sluggo" Crandlemire was eliminated using this technique in the 2001 PBEM final despite having nearly $13,000!
8. Remember that seducing a rival Gangster is often a much better deal than extorting. If you extort for an average of $350, then picking up your fifth Thug (at a face value of $500, never mind the Black die multiplier) is a considerable profit -- even without regard to the injury inflicted on the enemy. Not only that, but you can use a seduced gangster immediately (gaining an extra move with the right Racketeer multiple, ramping up your attack strength, or bringing a missing Thug back to extort). On the other hand, recruits arrive after your move is over.
The unique characteristics of your Vamp make her an especially potent threat. How you wield that threat may be the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.