“The Final Nights have twisted the nobility of the Keepers clan, turning them into the aristocrats of that diabolical sect. Their legacy of shadows eclipses the light thrown by their packs ritual fires. But are the Lasombra truly the esteemed leaders of the Sword of Caine or do they simply abuse it to serve their own ends?
The Lords of the Sabbat.” — Clanbook: Lasombra (Revised)
During last year’s European VTES Championship, I had one conceptually very interesting deck to play against. Unfortunately it is one of those decks that is very, very frustrating to play at the same table, .. and I am not talking about Malk’94 or Weenie Dementation. The deck I was up against was a Baali/Striga deck which used a lot of Scobax (and I mean a lot), to control the table and eventually to halt any action at the table.
I am ranting against this type of decks, because VTES (as a multi-player game) is a game which has a lot of social interaction, which makes a huge part of the game. And what these types of decks do, is monopolizing the game time and hamstringing any interaction in one way or another. A game of VTES lasts up to two hours, giving each of five players 24 minutes of (active) playtime on average. This is not entirely true, because players are ousted earlier, when it’s not your turn your participating as well. e.g. by attempting to block or casting your votes in a referendum, but you get the point. But what these anti-social decks are doing is taking away game time from you and you co-players.
I have listed the decks I would consider falling into this category. Your mileage may vary, but these are the decks I have seen so far ..
- First Tradition — When used excessively, it only let’s the player of the First Tradition play his turns. He has build his deck around this, and compensate for the loss for the First Tradition (e.g. by using Parity Shift). The other decks, especially those without heavy bloat, usually must very soon or even immediately skip their turn.
- Reversal of Fortune — This deck reverses direction every other turn, and leaves only himself and his prey (or predator) play.
- Una Freakshow (or anything similar, e.g with Gerald Windham) — This deck does not let you skip turns, but rather prolongs its own turn for an unreasonable amount of time. I have seen players taking easily 30 to 45 minutes for one turn, which in one case I remember, made the other players leave the tables and get some drinks and food in the meantime.
- Scobax Denial — Once setup (which doesn’t take to long), plays 2-3 Scobax each action (mostly of his prey and predator), to eventually disallow his prey/predator to take any (successful) action.
I am not arguing for a ban of these cards (at least not at the moment), since actually you don’t see too many of these decks, but rather appeal to the VEKN design team (and to a lesser degree the playtesters), to have this kind of abuse in mind when looking at new cards and ideas. What happens when half of your deck consists of these cards, how can this card be abused, is it a problem if there’s recursion involved, etc. On the other hand, a lot of these cards can be easily fixed if they have some kind of limitation, e.g. if Scobax could only be used once during an action, or only against certain types of actions, the card would be reasonable.
In 2004, 11 years (and one day) ago, White Wolf had a VTES developers chat with Mike Todd as moderator and Steve Wieck and L. Scott Johnson as guests. They were answering questions which VTES players could ask via chat. Here’s the transcript of the hour long chat as initially published on the White Wolf website (and later republished on Charlotte by Night.
Mike Todd (May 18, 2004 5:54:52 PM)
About 5 minutes or so until we start. :)
Mike Todd (May 18, 2004 5:56:37 PM)
And as another reminder, hold your questions until the chat actually starts. :) I’ll be dumping the question queue until then.
Steve Wieck (May 18, 2004 5:59:06 PM)
Hello everyone. For those new to these chats please let me explain a couple things.
Steve Wieck (May 18, 2004 5:59:21 PM)
L. Scott Johnson and I (Steve Wieck) will not see all of your posts. All of you will not see each other’s posts. All of your questions and comments go through the moderator (Mike Todd).
Steve Wieck (May 18, 2004 5:59:36 PM)
Mike will sort the questions and comments and post them to the chat for everyone to see. Scott and I will answer the questions as Mike posts them.
Steve Wieck (May 18, 2004 5:59:50 PM)
Please ask lots of questions or make comments, Mike will post and we will answer as many as we can.
Steve Wieck (May 18, 2004 6:00:01 PM)
In addition to your questions, Scott and I have 5 items to announce during the chat today. While we make the announcements we will answer questions about the announcements and also continue answering any other questions you have.
Lately, there was an inquiry on Facebook (can’t remember if it was VTES Brazil or VTES World) about a comprehensive list of past VTES Clan Newsletter. But apparently there isn’t anymore directly accessible with the demise of The Lasombra’s VTES website (and the Clan Newsletter Archive) at the end of 2015 .. or at least they’re not easy to locate. There a few websites where you can find the newsletters though, namely
- Usenet Newsgroup rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad on Google Groups
- Wayback Machine for The Lasombra website (use the latest snapshot is from Dec/2014)
- Yahoo Group VTES Newsletter (from 2002 onwards)
What are the VTES Clan Newsletter? The Clan Newsletter were posts on in the Usenet Newsgroup rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad (now archived on Google Groups rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad) each dealing with a specific vampire clan and topics relevant for playing that clan. Typical topics included:
- Vampire Fiction
- Deck Designs
- Clan Strategy
- Discipline Overviews
- Card Overviews
The first clan newsletter appeared in 1998, and after a short while quite a number of clan newsletters appeared every month in the newsgroup. As you see in this article on the publication frequency, the heydays of the clan newsletters were the years 2001 to 2004 with an average of 7 or more clan newsletters each month. The last (so far!) Clan Newsletter has been published in April 2010.
To bring back the glory of the old times, I have started the blog VTES Clan Newsletter Archive, which is intended for republishing the VTES Clan Newsletters which were posted in the Usenet Newsgroup in chronological order. This is an ongoing effort, and will not be done in a month or two, also because I’m also reformatting the newsletter a little bit for easier readability. The Lasombra had an astonishing 861 Clan Newsletters archived (if I have counted correctly), and currently I have cleaned up and reformatted about 25 old clan newsletters, which is less than 3% of the overall number. So you can see the enormity of the task.
“From her first night among the Kindred, the neonate Tremere leads a double unlife. Bound not only by the traditions of the Camarilla but by those of her clan, the Tremere must find a place for herself in her own hierarchy and in the deadly world of vampires. Learn the magic of the Tremere and the rigors of earning status in the clan.
The Ways of Warlocks.” — Clanbook: Tremere (Revised)
After assembling the list of cards that reduces cost for cards requiring disciplines, I stumbled upon a list of allies that can use vampiric disciplines. All of these allies can only play these disciplines at inferior level, which significantly reduce the effectiveness, but once in a while it can prove useful addition, e.g. for the Infernal Servitors, the Tunnel Runners or the Rock Cats ..
- Ananasi Vampirephile— can play (basic) Animalism cards
- Tunnel Runner — can play (basic) Animalism cards
- Alia, God’s Messenger — can play (basic) Auspex and Obeah cards
- Nosferatu Bestial — can play (basic) Animalism cards
- Grey Thorne — can play (basic) Celerity & Potence cards (as Anarch)
- High Top — can play (basic) Celerity cards
- Samuel Haight — can play (basic) Celerity & Thaumaturgy cards
- Reanimated Corpse — can play (basic) Fortitude cards
- Marijava Thuggee — can play (basic) Obfuscate cards
- Talaq, The Immortal — can play (basic) Quietus & Thaumaturgy cards
- Herald of Topheth — can play (basic) Potence, Presence & Daimoinon cards
- Ghouled Street Thug — can play (basic) Potence combat (strike) cards
- (Blood Brother Ambush) — can play (basic) Potence cards
- Rock Cat — can play (basic) Potence cards
- Akhenaten, The Sun Pharaoh — can play (basic) Necromancy cards
- Nephren-Ka — can play (basic) Necromancy cards
- Rafastio Ghoul –can play (basic) Thaumaturgy cards
- Infernal Servitor –can play (basic) Obfuscate & Daimionon cards
- Impundulu — can play cards requiring Flight
A few allies have quite unique capabilities, when it comes down to playing cards requiring Discipline:
- Bima — you can choose a discipline card from your hand to put it on the Bima.
- Shadow Court Satyr (Changeling) — you put any combat card (including those requiring one discipline) on the Shadow Court Satyr, which he can use during combat .
In particular, I think the allies which can play cards requiring inferior Potence got a little bit screwed with the introduction of Target Vitals. Why bother giving an ally Potence, when the any ally is able to inflict +2 damage using Target Vitals?
But there are a few other means to enable allies to play cards requiring disciplines, but often these are restricted to the duration they can play these cards or the time when the ability to play discipline cards is bestowed.
- Bestow Vigor — can play (basic) Fortitude for the remainder of the turn.
- Ghouled — can play (basic) Potence cards after a mortal ally has been recruited.
- Pressing Flesh — can play (basic) Fortitude (after being revived).
- Leech — can play (basic) Potence cards for the remainder of the turn.
- Putrescent Servitude — can play (basic) Potence cards (after being revived).
These restrictions (along with the card slots required for playing these cards repeatedly) are usually the reasons why you don’t see these cards in VTES games very often. Although there a few decks out there which might be not tier-1 material for tournaments but still fun to play.
- Pressing Flesh by Samuel Guilbault— this deck uses Pressing Flash to bring back Escaped Mental Patients (although technically there are no Fortitude cards in this deck).
- Nephandi Leech by Roberto Venturi — as the name suggested the Nephandi are using Leech to suck life/blood and use Horseshoes to do further damage.
Please let me know, if missed any of these allies or cards that allow allies to play cards requiring disciplines ..
The Speed Shamblers deck archetype has had considerable success during the years 2006 to 2008 in the VTES tournament scene. With Amiel Feldman being the chief author of the deck, Olivier Perez has been the foremost player using this deck. Olivier’s tournament score card is quite impressive with tournament wins in the German and French ECQ 2006 and runner-up during the French Nationals 2007. With the rising popularity of Animalism combat decks and the ban of Memory of Mortality in 2008, the performance of Shambling Hordes decks in general have suffered quite a bit since then, but there not an unusual sight in VTES tournaments today.
The deck archetype is basically a Rush combat deck with the Shambling Hordes as its main weapon. The speed factor is due to the small deck size of 70 to 80 cards, and the recursion/tutoring technique from the Liquidation and Sudario Refraction.