This article completes the discussion on “Card Advantage in VtES” together with the first part published two months ago. The first part defined what “Card Advantage” (CA) in VtES actually is, and what the goals of CA are.
There are a number of ways to establish a good card flow, in order to get new hand cards which are better suited for the current game situation:
- cycle unwanted cards
- draw/discard additional cards
- search for desired cards
- increase handsize
The general concept of “Card Cycling” is playing cards just to get new, and hopefully better ones. Each time you play a card, you draw another one, which is good a good thing in general. Very simple: Playing cards gets you new ones. When having a hand jam, i.e. to many combat cards but no action card to enter combat, the one discard in your discard phase isn’t enough, you have wasted a whole turn of yours, and you discarded and redrew one measly card. So you have to take actions to be able to cycle cards.
Example: Your prey is down to 3 pool, but you only have two minions which can bleed each for one only. Your hand is full of combat cards, but no bleed actions or bleed modifiers. In order to better the situation, one of your vampires should start a fight, play some combat cards, in order to draw into a bleed card like “Conditioning” or a “Legal Manipulations“.
Sometimes you have to be creative when it comes to cycling, i.e. you are playing cards for the sake of cycling only. Typical examples for this include:
- Playing a “Minion Tap” for zero blood/pool or a “Taste of Vitae” for zero blood.
- A vampire hunts and plays a “Freak Drive” afterwards. In the end the hunt action had a net gain of zero (Hunt +1 blood; Freak Drive -1 blood), but you have cycled one card.
- A vampire plays “The Summoning” even though you do not really want to put an ally in play, since you cannot afford the cost right now.
But take care: sometimes it is not allowed to play a card that requires a second one, i.e. you cannot play a “Concealed Weapon” when you do not have a weapon equipment card in your hand.
There is a slight difference between drawing and discarding additional cards. When drawing additional cards, you first draw a number of cards from the library and then discard down to your handsize. When discarding cards, you first discard a card, and then draw up to your handsize. So drawing additional cards first is simply more advantageous than discarding additional cards first.
During discard phase you have an optional discard. You should always should check, if there is any viable card for discarding, by asking yourself the following questions:
- Can you play that card at all in your next 1-2 turns? Or don’t you have the requirements for playing it?
- Do you have multiple copies of the same card in your hand? Do you need all of them? How many are already in your ashheap?
- Do you have cards not needed in the current game situation? Nobody’s playing politics, so you can throw away your “Delaying Tactics“, or nobody’s playing “Immortal Grapple” so you might consider discarding your “Disengage“.
Example: You have two “Kine Resources Contested” in your hand, but your opponents have currently more votes (titles, etc). on the table than you do. You might consider, discarding one KRC in order to draw an “Animal Magnetism” or a “Ventrue Headquarters“.
There are a number of cards which allow you to draw/discard additional cards, such as:
- “The Barrens” — the clasic, allows to discard one additional card.
- “Fragment of the Book of Nod” — allows discard two additional cards, but can be stolen.
- “Powerbase: Los Angeles” — gives an additonal discard phase action, with an additional bonus for “Anarchs“.
- “Heart of Nizchetus” — draw up three cards, but do not discard the cards, but put the unwanted cards to the bottom of your library. Clearly the best card in the area.
- “The Admonitions — discard one card for controlling a Sabbat vampire, two for a “Black Hand” vampire.
- “Secret Library of Alexandria” — let’s you draw card each time you successfully bleed, requires Nosferatu.
- “Watchtower: Chosen are Called” — use a Master phase action to draw three cards; requires a “Seraph” vampire.
- “Learjet” — each time you draw to replace a card this minion played as an acting minion, you may draw an additional card.
- “Sascha Vykos (ADV)” — draw a card from your library whenever another Methuselah plays a master card.
- “Babalawo Alafin” — discard two cards in your untap phase.
- “Blackhorse Tanner” — once each turn, when you draw a card from your library, you may place that card on the bottom of your library and draw a new card.
- “Nehemiah” — during your untap phase, move up to two cards from your hand to the bottom of your library.
- “Deal with the Devil” — discard your complete hand at once; I have seen once play somebody this card about 3 years go. This card is clearly not selective enough in your discard choices to be considered a good card.
- “Flurry of Action” — draw two additional cards after bleeding succesfully; requires Celerity.
- “Distraction” — take an action to draw five additional cards; requires Celerity.
- “Hourglass of the Mind” — take an action to draw trhee additional cards; requires Potence.
- “Scrounging” — draw three cards, take two of them into your hand.
- “Pandora’s Whisper” — every other player may draw two cards from his or her library. You may draw five cards from your library. At superior you may place any of the cards on the top of your library instead of in your ash heap.
Burn Option Card
Cards with the so-called “burn option” are cards which can be discarded during each player’s untap phase. This an effect designed for those clans where you usually pack only one or few vampires in crypt, in order to make the minion cards not an unnecessary burden. So if you do not have the requirements, you can discard them easily.
There are some decks, notably some of those created by Ben Peal, which use the burn card option to effectivly lower the size of your library in order to draw the cards one needs as early as possible. They pack the cards not to play them, but with the actual intend to discard them easily in order to draw into those cards needed early in the game. If this tactic is combined with some mechanic of card retrieval (especially “Waste Management Operation“), the deck is called often called a “Twister” deck. Here’s the orginal article called “Burn Option” by Ben Peal.
One of the most effective tactics is to increase one’s handsize which is usually limited to seven cards in VtES. This increases the probablity for certain card combos and the availability (read: flexibility) of cards in most situations.
There are not so many ways of increasing a player’s handsize, and the permament effects are usually restricted to +1 handsize for a specific card. Some discipline-requiring cards and a few vampires are an exception to this rule.
- Thucimia, Christanius Lionel, The Mad Chronicler — +1 handsize.
- “Kanimana Belghazi” “Nahir” — for each special counter on her, your handsize is increased by one.
- “Aristotle de Laurent” — increase the handsize by one for all players.
- Servius Marius Pustula — +X hand size for each player, where X is the number of ready vampires with capacity above 7.
- “Guillaume Giovanni” — increase the handsize by +1 for each location you control.
- Beckett (Advanced) — +X hand size, where X is the number of Gehenna cards in play.
- Luc — take an action to increase your handsize by three for the rest of your turn.
- “Dreams of the Sphinx” (DoTS) — a card, even though it costs a pool, and the effect only lasts for a turn, the card is widely played, since the boost of +3 handcards is great.
Often better than just increasing your handsize, is to just search your library for a particular card. In remembrance of the MtG card “Demonic Tutor” this technique is often called “Tutoring“. This technique is one of the strongest, since it practially circuments the laws of probability when randomizing a deck before play. It also helps reducing the cards you need for your game plan, since you can search it from your library, instead of hoping to draw it.
There are a couple of cards for tutoring in VtES as well, though they usually have some restrictions or requirements:
- “Eriyces Fragment — put a card from your prey’s library on the card, play the card as if from your hand; card can be stolen.
- “Sargon Fragment” — put a card from your ashheap to your hand; at undirected action at no stealth.
- “Sudario Refraction” — put 2 cards from your ash heap to the top of your library, discard 3 cards randomly; requires a Giovanni.
- “Sibyl’s Tongue” — get a card from your library; requires a Malkavian; cost is increased for each “Sibyl’s Tongue in your ashheap.
- “Drop Point Network” – get a minion card from your library; requires a Black Hand vampire.
- “Gramle — choose a card in play or in any ash heap by name and move it to your hand.
- “Magic of the Smith — choose an equipment from your library and equip with it.
- “Spirit Summoning Chamber” — search your library for a minion card that requires “Thaumaturgy“.
- “Mokole Blood” — search your library or ash heap for up to four cards that require “Serpentis” and place them on this card (face down).
Also you should always try to prevent the same for your opponents. As an alternative or in addition to boost your own Card Advantage, you can also try to deny your opponents Card Advantage:
- “Raptor” — reduces handsize by one in combat; multiple Raptors can reduce opponent’s handsize to zero.
When you run into a hand jam, try to get rid of it as fast as possible. Discarding cards in this situation is mandatory, card cycling should also be strongly considered if possible.
Example: You play a “Rush Combat” deck and you only have one “Rush” card like “Ambush” in your hand, and a bunch of combat cards, you can try to “unnecessarily” prolong the following combat in order to cycle into your next “Rush” card.
When in need of more than a certain type of card, it is often wise to stack cards. I.e. you do not waste your one copy of that card type, hold onto it and try to acquire more, by discarding or cycling other cards, until you have enough of the said kind.
Example: Your prey is down to four pool and has a minion with two “Raven Spies“, you have a “Conditioning“”, but only a single “Cloak the Gathering” in your hand. So have have to choices in order to succeed, either you are going to top-deck by hoping to redraw two stealth cards for your “Conditioning” and “Cloak the Gathering“, or you wait until you draw the additional +2 stealth by waiting, discarding or taking dummy actions to recycle cards.
“Card Advantage” is a vital technique for winning a VtES game. Applying the different techniques described abovem doesn’t guarantee the victory in a given game alone, but it you manipulates the likeliness of drawing the cards you need for winning.
So remember: The motto of the “Card Advantage” technique is:
“Drawing many more cards than your opponent doesn’t guarantee you’ll win, but it helps.“