Thanks to Sam Marsh’s Ahrimanes Clan Newsletter at least one clan newsletter has been posted in the “rec.trading-cards.jyhad” usenet newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.
This deck archetype is around since the Final Nights expansion and therein Week of Nightmares have been released. Another name the deck has is Ravnos P*rn due to the artwork on the Tumnimos. The deck is essentially a quite simple Breed & Bleed deck based on the Ravnos clan, which uses Week of Nightmares for enhancing its bleed capability. The deck is often based only on cards requiring Ravnos or Chimerstry only; the other clan disciplines Animalism and Fortitude are rarely used.
How to win with them
First of all the deck uses Embraces to get a sizable number of Ravnos for being able to go forward. Early only the larger number of minions are used to gain pool by hunting and playing Tribute to the Master. Other deck variants use Tumnimos instead of Embraces, both variants having its distinctive advantages.
- An Embrace can be played by any vampire, while a Tumnimos can only be played by Ravnos with a capacity above 4.
- An Embrace does not have any disciplines, while a Tumnimos have the basic level of Chimerstry and can gain another discipline (card) when put into play from your hand.
- An Embrace is a capacity 1 vampire, while a Tumnimos is a capacity 2 vampire (3 if a master discipline card is played on them).
The deck tries to stay inconspicuous until the middle game; it wants to make it prey spent pool, and even wants it to make its prey pool, so that it is able to oust its first prey quickly, and maybe even oust its grandprey in quick succession.
The main line of defense is the use of Sensory Deprivation to literally deprive both the vampires of their ability to act or react consistently. This defense is applied against all kind of decks like Rush combat, Stealth Bleed or Vote decks. The rather high cost of the card is payed by playing Ravnos Carnival before, where you get a number of blood counters equal to the number of Ravnos you control which can be used to pay action cards.
The vehicle to make these actions happen are the various action modifiers based on Chimerstry that provide Stealth. Although the amount of Stealth is rather limited compared to other disciplines like Obfuscate or Obtenebration, this is made up by the fact that all of three cards are having secondary effects which are quite versatile.
- Fata Morgana — also used a bleed modifier.
- Mirror Image — provides a Strike: Combat Ends and the option to continue an action if blocked.
- Occlusion — provides stealth that costs nothing, as well as a Strike: Dodge.
Later in the game, preferably when at least one player has been ousted, the Week of Nightmares is played. Since only one Week of Nightmares can be played, the timing of its play is crucial. With the current amount of Washes played, you’ll have to be sure that nobody is going to play Wash against it, e.g. you’ll have to observe the table very closely if another player may or may not have a Wash in his hand. Also it only makes sense to play the Week of Nightmares if the negative effect of the Week of Nightmares will not take place in the remainder of the game. So either the time limit of the game is rapidly approaching and/or the other players are low on pool (ten or less). This is needed, so the Ravnos horde with the enhanced bleed can overwhelm one or two players in a very short time (4 turns or less) in order to secure the game win. Technically sometimes the Week of Nightmares is not really needed, since the Ravnos have usually both the number of minions in play as well as the bleed capability with Fata Morgana or bleed equipment like Treasured Samadji.
Probably the most condensed & focused version is that shown in the deck list below built and played by Stefan Ferenci. Deck variations with focusing on Group 3/4 (G4/5) can also use the special ability of Paul Forrest, who can give a Ravnos +1 bleed for the current action.
Another version of the deck uses Consanguineous Boon for massive pool gain where Eldest are Kholo are used for making the referendum successful. This version has limited crypt choice since Eldest are Kholo requires Laibon Ravnos to get the full effect of the card. Luckily the Embraces or Tumnimos created by a Laibon Ravnos are belong the Laibon sect as well.
In all three areas the defenses of the deck are quite light. This is intentional in order not to dilute the offensive capabilities.
This is definitely the Achilles heel of the deck. If bleed hard early in the game, the deck’s only response is to play Tribute to the Master or to play Sensory Deprivation on the bleeding vampires. If you don’t get them quickly enough, you’re dead as a Dodo.
The decks vote defense is limited to Delaying Tactics and Eldest are Kholo (if played in the Con. Boon variant).
The defense is here is two-fold, one the hand both Occlusion and Mirror Image (which also double as stealth modifiers) are used as Strike: Dodge and “Strike: Combat Ends”. On the other hand the sheer number of vampires in play should guarantee that the deck is able to go forward, even if two or three vampires are in torpor. Safety in numbers is the motto here.
How to win against them
Beating this deck is not as it looks like in the first place. This is mostly because there often lots of Ravnos in play and the offensive/defensive qualities of Sensory Deprivation. In the early and mid-game the deck is somewhat passive, only playing Embraces and hunting. If you can try to block the action that brings the Embraces or Tumnimos into play, but you should keep in mind which of the other Ravnos can play Sensory Deprivation, this is the act you have to block (or cancel). Have in mind that there are only there different stealth cards the deck features, each of them giving +1 stealth, so the maximum stealth the Ravnos can use by playing cards is +3. If you only casual intercept, I wouldn’t bother to try to block or save it for blocking the important actions.
If Sensory Deprivation has been played on one of your vampires, you need to kill (either torporize, banish, ..) the Ravnos how played it earlier. If you cannot do it yourself (or you want to spare your resources), try to convince your counterpart (grandprey or grandpredator) to do so.
Another action you have to take is to remove any Path of Paradox being played by the Ravnos. The card although looking inconspicous it helps save the Ravnos a lot of blood, they need to bloat or pay the more expensive cards like Embrace or Sensory Deprivation.
Save a Wash for the Week of Nightmare to come, but do not rely on the illusion that the Ravnos are finished then, they are not by a long shot. The sheer number of them accompanied by the amount of stealth and the bleed modifiers like Fata Morgana can still overwhelm your defenses. After a Week of Nightmare do not ever forget to move a counter from the Week of Nightmare to a Ravnos. In a heads-up situation this might not make a difference, but on a 4 or 5 player table is certainly does. Also try to remember, that while the Week of Nightmare is in play, each of the Ravnos also has +1 strength. So when consider blocking or taking actions against them, take this into account.
When trying to oust the Ravnos as your prey, try to do so in a turn or two, otherwise the Ravnos player will go backwards with a Sensory Deprivation.
- Week Of Nightmares — the namesake of the deck archetype, used a killer card to finish off the table.
- Sensory Deprivation — the main offense action card used as defense against various threats.
- Tumnimos / Embrace — the cards providing the Ravnos Weenie horde used for overwhelming its prey.
- Ravnos Carnival — used to pay for the Sensory Deprivation and/or Embraces.
- Fata Morgana / * Occlusion — the main combo cards with Stealth.
Notable Examples & Variations
- Week of Nightmares by Stefan Ferenci — very focused version.
- Zigeunerfasching by Andreas Nusser — uses a huge number of Embraces, and neglects the stealth modifiers thereby.
- Ravnos Mass Embrace Carnival by Christian Chenard — similar to the above deck, but features a large number of master cards (40+).
- Matthew 7:15 by John Bell — uses Edged Illusion instead of Sensory Deprivation.
- For Gypsy Queen & Country by Robert Thompson — rather toolboxy variant with Animalism & Fortitude combat.
- Nosferatu — 23 (20%)
- Toreador — 21 (18%)
- Malkavian — 15 (13%)
- Ventrue — 14 (12%)
- Tremere — 13 (11%)
- I hate the Camarilla!!! — 9 (7%)
- Gangrel are no longer Camarilla. — 8 (7%)
- I have no favourite Camarilla clan. — 4 (3%)
- Brujah — 4 (3%)
- Gangrel — 2 (1%)
- Caitiff are not a clan, but they still rule! — 1 (0%)
The participation in this poll was best so far with 114 votes totals. Somewhat surprisingly (at least for me) the Nosferatu won, after a long head-to-head race with the Toreador. The Ventrue, while starting strong, lost momentum during the poll and came in only at the fourth place.
.. when the “Agent of Power” discipline card is used as a placeholder for another card, e.g. “Shock Troops” or “Legion“, then its text doesn’t apply? This includes both the unique part and the “burn next at the end of your discard phase” part. So there could be several copies of “Agent of Power” in play representing vampires, and they would not burn at the end of your discard phase by the card text of “Agent of Power“. [LSJ 20071001]
Apologies to Dionne Warwick and her song “Heartbreaker“, but this has got to be said:
I got to say it and it’s hard for me
You got me cryin’ like I thought I would never be
Trust is believin’ but you let me burn
How can I trust you when it’s your turn
And I …..
Get to my next turn and you never call
Trust should be everything or not at all
And it don’t matter what ever you do
I made no VP out of trustin’ you
Only to find any dream that I follow is dying
I’m cryin’ after the game
I could be searchin’ my deck for a card everlasting
Feeling no hate, when will we play again
Why do you have to be a dealbreaker
Is it a lesson that I never knew
Gotta get out of the spell that I’m under
My trust in you
Why do you have to be a dealbreaker
When I was doin’ what you want me to do
Suddenly the one VP I ever wanted has passed me by
This game may end
Not you and I
My trust is stronger than the universe
My soul is cryin’ for you
And that can not be reversed
You made the rules and you could not see
You made a game out of hurtin’ me
Out of my mind
I am held by the power of you
Tell me when do we try
Or should we say goodbye
Oh, why do you have to be a dealbreaker
Is it a lesson that I’ll never learn
Suddenly everything I ever wanted
My trust in you, ooh….
Here are also the answers of the questions of the fifth quiz along with the percentage of correctly given answers for each question. To avoid spoilers I have inked the answers black, so that they are “invisible” unless you mark the text below:
- B. “Pander” is the only clan in the above list.
- E. “Web of Knives Recruit“.
- E. All of the above have an Advanced versions.
- A. “Blood Shadowed Court” consists only of reprinted cards.
- C. There are 6 starter decks in the Camarilla Edition expansion.
- C. Richard Garfield is the creator/designer of VtES.
- D. The “Hell Hound” is a ghoul.
- C. “Enkidu, the Noah” is the full name.
- A. 6 Camarilla, 10 Sabbat, 5 Independent, 4 Laibon is the distribution of clans.
- B. “Basir” (Assamite) is the only unique 1 cap. vampire without being a Caitiff or Pander.
Despite the fact that I would have stopped (at least for a little while) at the 5th VtES quiz, some of the Polish VtES players came with yet another VtES quiz. And boy that was a difficult one, I only got 3 out of 10 correct answers.
“But let me be clear .. stuff like: ‘You don’t bleed me and I won’t rush you.’ That’s not a DEAL, that’s Extortion.” — Robyn Tatu
1. Jakub Barański (POL) — 2 GW 7 VP — 3 VP — Nosferatu Progeny
2. Michal Pepliński (POL) — 2 GW 6 VP — 1 VP — Ventrue (G4) Directorate Assembly
2. Bartłomiej Chrobak (POL) — 1 GW 6 VP — 1 VP — Gargoyles w/ Hatchlings
2. Aleksander Idziak (POL) — 1 GW 8 VP — 0 VP — Setites (G2) Free States Rant
2. Michał Kochanowski (POL) — 1 GW 7 VP — 0 VP — Akunanse Toolbox
Congratulations to Jakub for his win of the Polish ECQ 2008. A discussion of the tournament (regrettably in Polish only) can be found in the Polish VtES forum. For decklists check the links in the ranking above.
Back in the good old days — the “Golden Era” of VtES — it was easy to separate the men from the boys (sometimes called “Real Men” and “Quiche Eaters” in the literature). During this period in the mid ’90s, the Real Men were the ones who played “Brujah” and “Gangrel“, and the Quiche Eaters were the ones who played “Ventrue” vote or even worse “Malkavian” Stealth Bleed.
Real Men had a hard time getting enough “Immortal Grapple” (which was a “Rare” card then) to beat the crap out of the Quiche Eaters playing “Ventrue” decks w/ “Majesty” for free. Back in the old days, you could bleed a dozen of times with the same minion, “Return to Innocence” was not banned, and your nut friend could drive the table crazy with playing “Madness of the Bard“. But Real Men don’t complain though, they are just trying to oust their next prey.
Time changes, after all, new clans and new sects have seen the light of the moon, and LSJ has taken over VtES development. Now Real Men have to deal with three-way anarch cards, ridiculous Imbued, fricking Gehenna events and “Quietus“-based bleed actions.
But still — during the 14th year in a world of VtES — Real Men prevail and are the role models for new players and still the enemy for the Quiche Eaters. After reading this article you will know why Real Men will still be playing VtES when White Wolf has closed down, when the Quiche Eaters have left the game and when MtG’s 110th edition is published.
The easiest way to tell Real Men from the rest of the VtES crowd is by the decks he plays. Real Men don’t need the abstract concepts or game theoretics — like card flow, table control or tempo — to get their preys ousted. All they require to have fun and win is a deck of cards, 30 pool, a prey to their left and a beer.
- Real Men like to play decks with Jyhad-backed cards only.
- Real Men play w/o bleed bounce. They like too much seeing vampires burned by “Archon Investigation“!
- Real Men play rush combat decks. Straight forward bleed and vote decks are for quiche-eating VtES players.
- If a Real Men plays a vote deck, he uses cards like “Sabbat Threat” or “Might of the Camarilla” to oust his prey.
- Real Men do not play with weenies, they play 10 caps without AUS or DOM, but with FOR,POT and ANI …
VtES players tend to categorize decks and try to predict the mythic metagame before playing a major tournament. All this mumbo-jumbo and fancy talking about how Imbued destroyed the game balance or that you need to deny the Stealth Bleed the ability to cycle their Stealth by not blocking their actions, distract the players from their real task, destroying their prey (and predator if necessary). You see, what always helps is violence, naked pure violence only combat-based decks and disciplines like “Potence” or “Quietus” provide. Some quick observations on Real Menand violence:
- Real Men play hardened, violent rush combat in causal games.
- Real Men play hardened, violent rush combat in draft games.
- Real Men play hardened, violent rush combat in tournaments.
- Real Men play hardened, violent rush combat in storyline events.
- Real Men do not need to justify playing hardened, violent rush combat — the need is obvious.
As we can see, the determined Real Man can always spread violence among his opponents in any format or game environment. How this is achieved does not matter, it can be a Warghoul deck, Potence-Fortitude or even Celerity Gun, anything that can inflict at least 3 damage in a combat round. It also proves Peter Bakija is a Real Man.
- Real Men use “RPG Launcher“, “Drawing out the Beast” or “Well-Aimed Cars” in combat.
- Real Men play “Frontal Assault” when attacking when he’s controlling Enkidu and his prey 10 minions with “Presence“.
- Real Men do not oust by bleeding but by playing cards like “Predators Transformation” or “Perpetual Care“!
- Real Men aren’t afraid to oust their predators, or even cross-table.
- Real Men play “Direct Intervention” when they’re down on one pool. Better than being ousted by a Stealth Bleed deck.
The Edge & other tools of the trade
Another way of looking at Real Men playing VtES is take a look at the equipment like the Edge (not the U2 guitarist, you dummy) or pool counter Real Men use. Real Men do not use over-the-counter equipment like the glass counters (received for winning a tournament), or the Edge you can order from “White Wolf” on the web.
- Real Men use an antique coin, a World War I shrapnel, or an animal skull as Edge.
- Real Men use an bullets, coins, or knuckle bones as blood counters. Glass beads, plastic toys, or cutesy clay roses are out of question, these are goods for trading with the natives in the ancient times.
- If they have use card sleeves due to different cards backs, Real Men use uni-colored card sleeves (black or red are acceptable), nothing fancy or none at all. Otherwise they are going commando.
- Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! plastic boxes are the worst when it comes to storing a Real Men’s deck. Preferred are the 10th Anniversary tins or anything else made from metal or wood.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
To give more insight into the mind of the Real Men look at the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (btw, a Real Men’s movie) of VtES cards in a “Real Men’s” opinion:
- The Good ..
- “Torn Signpost” — smashing other minions with wooden objects, great!!
- “Breath of Dragon” — nothing ventured, nothing gained; preferably played at short range, adds to the thrill.
- “Disarm” — great picture, great card effect, nuff said.
- “Undead Persistence” — Real Men have the guts to play this with “Enkidu“.
- “Black Metamorphosis” — Real Men hit hard, multiple times!
- The Bad ..
- “Kindred Spirits” — bleeding .. with pool gain. Wimp!
- “Night Moves” — Bleeding at stealth, mucho stealth, afraid of getting caught, or what???
- “Zip Gun” — play thingies for children. Real Men use “Desert Eagle” or “Mark V” if they have to rely on equipment.
- “Forgotten Labyrinth” — more stealth for the weak and weary.
- “Temptation” — … and the rest of these stealing/loaning cards. You cannot rely on your own likes?!??
- “Change of Target” — can’t make your mind up, huh??!?
- And the Ugly ..
- “Lorrie Dunsirn” — what great combination of disciplines, but what an ugly picture.
- “Mercy for the Weak” / “Save Face” — the names of these card say it all.
- “Mummify” — So underwhelming weak, that it’s even a little bit funny.
- “Crimson Fury” / “Weakness” — ever seen these played?
- “Appolonius” — a 10 cap Brujah without superior “Potence“??
Real Men have to see the true potential in cards. For example, a card like “Week of Nightmares” seems to be a card for Quiche Eater at the first glance, but if you take a closer look to see the potential. Give the “Ravnos” “Tumnosis” “Potence” when recruiting, then play “Week of Nightmares“. In the following turn play a “Frontal Assault“, and attack! During combat the “Ravnos” use “Trap“, “Torn Signpost” and “Apparatition” to kill anything. If any opposition is left, then go bleeding.
What of the future? While the past has seen the rise of despicable “Imbued“, “Pander Con. Boon” decks or cards like “Veil the Legions” or “Dream World“, there is still hope. While Real Men still play VtES and can be the role model for new players not all is lost. And LSJ doesn’t seem to have lost focus on the needs of Real Men when he designed new cards like “Preternatual Strength“, “Cobra Fangs” or “Monster“.
There is still hope, if Real Mencan provide the necessary ideals to the young and needy:
- Real Men do not need to make deals. Their decks are strong enough to win on their own!
- Real Men do not have look into an opponents ash heap. They know!
- Real Men do not need to withdraw. Ever.
- Real Men do not wear high heeled shoes.
- Real Men do not need two 2 hours to win.
- Real Men arrive for the 3rd round, and still win the tournament.
- Real Men might or might not know their girlfriend’s/wife’s name. He does, however, know the entire all disciplines of all vampires ever printed (and the artists who painted the pics).
And there’s yet another “Week of Nightmares” (before the NAC) to come, where “Real Man” meet buddies, drink beer and play VtES. What an unlife!
- Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche
- Real Progammers
- Real Men Don’t Play GURPS
Here’s the fifth (and preliminary) last quiz of 10 questions on VtES (off-site on “Quibblo“) on some (random) VtES related topics. It’s just for fun, no prizes to score. Just try not use a deck builder program or card database program for solving the questions. It’s definitely more challenging/fun that way.
Here are also the answers of the questions of the fourth quiz along with the percentage of correctly given answers for each question. To avoid spoilers I have inked the answers black, so that they are “invisible” unless you mark the text below:
- A. “Anarch” is a trait, not a sect. [86%]
- D. 2 (“Jayne Jonestown“) and 11 (“Enkidu“) are the capacities of the youngest/oldest Red List vampire. [45%]
- D. “Nights of Reckoning” was the first mini-expansion. [62%]
- E. “Akhenaten, The Sun Pharaoh (Mummy)” has no requirements. [79%]
- B. “Edge Explosion” is banned since 01/Jan/2008. [90%]
- A. “Barbaro Lucchese” is the only group 3 Baali. [76%]
- E. “Priority Shift” reverses the “Red List“-status of a minion. [86%]
- A. A “Hawg” (for 0 pool) gives a press to kill “Mylan Horseed (Goblin)” in the second round. [28%]
- B. “Wall Street Night, Financial Newspaper” is a promo card. [100%]
- C. “Taste of Vitae” is played after the press step, but before a combat round ends. [45%]
On the VtES Blog Charlotte by Night the “VtES 2008 Nossies” have been awarded to the winners. Here’s a quick overview of the results:
- Best Card — Target Vitals.
- Best Vampire in a Leading Role — Nakhthorheb.
- Best Vampire in a Supporting Role — Carmen.
- Best Equipment — Camera Phone.
- Best Ally — Nocturn.
- Best Event — Narrow Minds.
- Best Art — Liquefy the Mortal Coil — by Heather V. Kreiter.
Read the full posting (w/ pictures of the winners) on “Charlotte by Night“.
Here’s something from the department “Useless, but interessing statistics” for VtES . When seeing the n-th question regarding “Mask of 1K Faces” in the Usenet Newsgroup “rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad“, I was wondering what are the cards with the most questions asked about? So for some cards that came into my mind I entered the search phrase “cardname author:lsj” for a number of cards, and voila! here are the results of the top five cards with the most rules questions:
The list is not representative and not exhaustive, I only checked about 30 or so card names. By the way, it seems to be important for the Google group search if you enter the card names in small letters only.
The Tupdog deck archetype has emerged after the Legacy of Blood expansion – containing the namesake of this archetype, the non-unique Gargoyle Tupdog – was released in late 2005. Since that time this deck archetype has won numerous tournaments including the Brazilian and Norwegian championships 2007. The deck is a rush combat deck /w some added bleed capabilities based on the Tupdog vampire. It is quite a unique deck type, since Tupdog vampires burn after a round of their existence, and new Tupdogs need to be influenced out every turn to keep the deck’s main engine going.
How to win with them
The Tupdog is quite a unique vampire type. It can just act for a turn, but has several distinctive features:
- they are non-unique vampires, i.e. you can have multiple Tupdogs in play.
- they are burned at the end of the next minion phase. So they have one turn to act, and may block one (or more) time(s). On the other hand for every Tupdog burned this way, another vampire is moved from your crypt to your ready region.
- they are Tremere antitribu slaves, i.e. they act freely (especially take directed actions) only if you control a ready Tremere antitribu.
- they have both superior Visceratika and superior Potence, which is quite powerful for 1 cap vampire, and Visceratika cards costs the Tupdog one less blood to play.
- the Tupdog has a built-in Rush ability, so cards for attacking other minions (e.g. Frontal Assault, Bums Rush, Haven Uncovered, etc.) are usually not needed.
The Tupdog crypt engine works like this:
- Influence out one or more Tupdogs in your influence phase.
- Between your turns you may or may not decide to block with the Tupdogs. If you decide that you are blocking and the Tupdog loses a blood while blocking, then he is forced to hunt and cannot attack/bleed at all during your next minion. So your decision to block, immediately can decide whether the Tupdog can do anything useful for the rest of his lifetime (i.e. your next minion phase) or not.
- In your turn you should careful consider what to your to do with your Tupdogs, since this is the only turn they can act. Leaving them untapped for blocking is obviously a waste of time. The only reason for not acting is that you have neither a ready Tremere antitribu (so they can’t take any directed actions) nor you have any reasonable undirected action (other than hunting) your Tupdogs can take.
- At the end of your minion phase all of your Tupdogs are burned, but as a result for each Tupdog burned another vampire is moved from your crypt to your uncontrolled region. This saves you valuable transfers, and usually you should be able to move the same number of Tupdogs to your controlled region as you controlled in your minion phase.
It is debatable what the “correct” ratio of Tupdogs and Tremere antitribu in your crypt is. While some players prefer a rather high ratio of 4:1 or even 5:1 (Tupdogs to Tremere antitribu), while others go as low as 2:1 or 3:2. The two different motives are: “how reliable is my supply of Tupdogs during mid- and endgame” vs. “how reliable I want to have an Tremere antitribu in my starting crypt“. What helps with the first goal is adding additional transfers via Information Highway or extra moves from the crypt to the uncontrolled region via Effective Management or similar cards. What helps with the second goal is including Recruitment into your deck (2 to 4 copies should do the work) since this lets you extract a Tremere antitribu right way into your uncontrolled region.
Personally I would recommend a ratio of 4:1 with a crypt size of 16 (with 12 Tupdogs and 4 Tremere antitribu. This only gives you the chance of 48% in your opening crypt, but with a Tupdog or two burned this chance increases dramatically to get one in the next one or two extra vampires from your crypt.
Another nice feature is that a vampire with superior Dominate (like Keith Moody) can use Govern the Unaligned to first put a blood on a Tupdog. Then you can transfer back two blood and still the Tupdog moves to the controlled region in the influence phase.
The rush ability needs, of course, some solid combat foundation which allows the Tupdogs to torporize or maybe even sometimes burn an opposing vampire or ally. The basic combat package consists of using Raking Talons for making the Tupdog’s hand damage aggravated and then using Immortal Grapple to ensure that the opposing minion cannot dodge or use “Strike: Combat Ends“. Everything is else is decoration, or let’s say, dependent of the combat opposition you are facing. The nice thing is that you do not need to think about a tight combat defense for the Tupdogs. The worst thing that could happen is that your Tupdog is burned in combat. But this only deprives you of an additional vampire moved from you crypt to your uncontrolled region. Useful additions of combat cards are Roll (maneuver), Crawling Chamber (maneuver/press/additional damage), Torn Signpost (add. damage), Earthshock (Ranged strike). Other cards one can think about including are Skin of Chameleon which can give +2 stealth to a “Tupdogs” rush action, making sure you can enter combat with the minion you would like to battle and not some chump blocker. Remember that the Skin of Chameleon does not cost the Tupdog, since he pays one less blood for Visceratika cards
Another feature of the deck is the ability of using graverobbing since the deck has the ability to both torporize opposing vampires (with the Tupdogs) and later Graverobbing them.
Slave: Some minions are identified as slaves to a specified clan. A slave cannot take a directed action if his controller doesn’t control a ready member of the specified clan. Also, if a member of the specified clan controlled by the same Methuselah is blocked, the controller can tap the slave to cancel the combat and to untap the acting vampire and have the slave enter combat with the blocking minion instead. (from the VtES rule book).
The Tupdogs are subject to the Slave rules, i.e. they cannot take directed actions unless (in their case) a Tremere antitribu is present in the ready region. On the other hand if a Tremere antitribu is blocked you can use the Tupdogs to enter combat instead, and the Tremere antitribu is even untapped alongside. The slave blocking rule should be used before the Tupdogs are acting, in order to deter other minions from blocking. It can also be a viable solution of circumventing a Secure Haven. The opposing vampire with a “Secure Haven” will think twice about blocking a Tremere antitribu while you have an untapped Tupdog ready to start combat with him.
The deck usually has two ways of ousting. The first is to use cards the same cards as any rush combat deck would use, like Fame and Dragonbound, in order to directly profit from the Tupdog’s combat capabilities. Using Tension in the Ranks is obviously a bad idea, since you would burn a pool each time a ready Tupdog is burned or goes to Torpor. Note that Tension in the Ranks never lets you pay twice for the same Tupdog, since you do not burn a pool for torporized Tupdog (that is burned at the end of your minion phase, for example).
The second way of ousting your prey is by bleeding. So the Tupdog’s goal is to remove any blocking or bouncing vampires, before the Tremere antitribu start to bleed and try to oust your prey. Since you want remove any obstacles before bleeding relatively few bleed cards (actions or modifiers) are included in the deck.
The deck is not as easy to play as it looks like, since there a couple of obstacles to master:
- The new Tupdogs cost pool each time you bring new Tupdogs. So either you need a way to recoup the lost pool.
- Eventually you are running out of crypt and/or you’re stuck with Tremere antitribu in your controlled region. Both situations makes your deck vulnerable (the former more so than the later scenario), since alone the Tremere antitribu in this deck are quite weak without the Tupdog support.
- The deck has a bad reputation. Your deck is the aggressor at the table very early on, and your predator (naturally), your prey and even your cross-table “allies” may gang up on you. So should try to consider keeping a low profile at the beginning of the game, maybe spending your transfers for moving vampires from your crypt to your controlled region, and bringing out the Tremere antitribu first. I have seen preys of a Tupdog deck refusing to move any vampires to their ready region, since they claimed “that it doesn’t make any sense” to do so.
As any other deck with weenie/small cap vampires w/ access to Dominate the deck relies on Deflection for bleed defense and Delaying Tactics. The deck is also capable of using Yawp Court to prevent unpleasant votes to happen, using an untapped Tupdog to enter combat with the vote calling vampire. With the combat package described above the Tupdog should be able to torporize the opposing vampire with some certainty. For overly aggressive predators you should always consider backrushing your predator’s minion. At the start of the game it would be good to start with a backrush in order to intimidate your predator enough, so that he thinks twice about attacking your pool hard.
Despite the fact the Tupdogs are quite fearsome, the deck still need some sort of combat defense, not for the Tupdogs, but for the Tremere antitribu support cast. Remember, if you do not have a ready Tremere antitribu left, the Tupdogs cannot perform any directed actions.
As “active” combat defense you should use some Mirror Walks (at superior Thaumaturgy) to prevent combat even if blocked. As passive combat defense two copies of Secure Haven should provide enough cover against minions rushing your key Tremere antitribu. A good idea is also to include some light combat defense, especially cards that require Visceratika and support the Tupdog’s actions in some way, and provide a combat defense effect at the outferior version of the cards. Examples for this are Crawling Chamber or Rockheart.
How to win against them
Being the prey of a Tupdog deck is obviously no fun, since he can torporize your minions quite easily, unless you play a dedicated combat or get out an early “Secure Haven”. First of all you need to coordinate bringing out new vampires with your grand-predator. Otherwise the Tupdogs will down first the vampires on one side, and then on the other side. Also you need to encourage and support your predator, so that the puts at least some pressure on the Tupdogs.
The most obvious rule is to remove the Tremere antitribu from the ready region. Without a ready Tremere antitribu the Tupdogs can only take undidrected actions, which takes away their main rush/offensive capability. This can be achieved by blocking the Tremere antitribu or rushing them directly. Also Banishment works well since the Tremere antitribu used in the deck are usually in the weenie to mid-cap range.
Convince your prey that you’re a good meat-shield against the Tupdogs, and make an alliance with your grandpredator/-prey to oust the aggressor. Help each other by rescuing your own vampires or that by your grand predator. Nothing is more frustrating for the deck than the outlook of beating up the same minions over and over again.
As a predator of the Tupdog you need to convince the other players at the table that your prey is the table threat (always a good thing), but in this case you can to capitalize heavily on the aggressive nature and bad reputation of the Tupdog deck.
Also you need to put pressure on the Tupdog decks pool. The less pool he has the less Tupdogs he can put into play. Also try to remove your opponents decks pool gainining capability, e.g. removing the vampire with the two Blood Dolls which hunts for two blood every turn with the help of Hungry Coyote.
Good cards against this deck archetype are Tension in the Ranks, since it is this deck’s nature to burn its own vampires. This can backfire if your combat capabilities are trumped by the Tupdog’s abilities, so this can be a very difficult decision dependening on situation at the table. Secure Haven can be used to preserve the integrity of a key vampire of yours. Unfortunately the Tupdog deck has also a Secure Haven included, with the consequence that it is quite likely, that a contest will take place during which the Tupdogs then can attack your. The real killer cards against Tupdogs is Gran Madre di Dio, since the card removes the single blood that a Tupdog and forces him to hunt the next turn, making him effectively useless.
- Tupdog — Need them. ‘Nuff said.
- Immortal Grapple / Raking Talons — the basic combat package of the deck.
- Graverobbing — steal vampires you have torporized.
- Conditioning — main bleed card for the Tremere antitribu.
Notable Examples & Variations
- Top Dog by Martin Tremblay — basic variant (see decklist below).
- The Hand of Tupdog by Boris Zaretsky — less focused, more toolboxy variant.
- Unnatural Disaster by Christoffer Arvidsson — basic variant w/ Unnatural Disaster as exotic extra for removing Secure Haven or Gran Madre di Dio, Italy.
- Wings and Shovels by Marc Desaulniers — stripped down version with Govern the Unaligned and Graverobbing as the only non-Master/non-Combat cards.
- Tupdog by Hugo S. Skarsten Larsen — more leaned towards Gargoyles in general w/ add. Gargoyle vampires in the Crypt and Create Gargoyle.
- Tupdog by Eduardo Kazan — large number of Tupdogs, but without Graverobbing.
- Me pareció ver un lindo gatito by Miguel del Valle — Mata Hari w/ Tupdog w/ Rock Cat variant; very unusual deck design.
“I just think your deck would be a lot of better with some “Eyes of the Dead” in it.” — Matt Morgan
On the VtES Blog Charlotte by Night the final voting for the “VtES 2008 Nossies” Awards has started. The “Nossies Awards” (introduced this year) honor the best new cards in VtES that have been released in the past year, that is the “Lords of the Night” and the “Sword of Caine” expansions.
Check the article and vote in the seven different categories until March 10th, 2008. You can make the difference!
Since there are new versions for both major VtES beckbuilder utilities, the “Anarch Revolt Deck Builder” (ARDB) and the “Fragments of the Elder Library” (FELDB), since the last weekend, I have updated the download information for both tools:
Fragments of Elder Library Deck Builder (“FELDB”)
Current Version: 2.4.1
Author(s): Balasz Kuno Kiss
Description: After the ELDB (“Elder Library Deck Builder”) was no longer maintained, the ELDB’s author David Andersion-Davila published the sources and FELDB was the result of the development with serious improvements over the old program.
- Card List & Inventory
- complete card list with card texts
- almost complete collection of pictures of actual cards, but not always the latest version of the cards.
- basic ability to filter and sort cards, this could be better, especially when compared to the ARDB.
- card inventory can be kept, but needs to be used carefully when updating to the next version or expansion.
- Deck Building
- offers the basic functionality of deck builder
- includes some statistical information about the decks as well as card drawing simulation
- ability to store decks in native format (*.eld), as text (*.txt), HTML file (*.html) or for use with JOL (*.jol).
- Other Features
- several import/export options for decks and inventories
- usually the quickest update after an expansion has been released
- can update card database from White Wolf website (indirectly)
Cost: free software
OS Platforms: Windows
Expansion Updates: about 1 to 2 weeks after an expansion has been released.
Expansions: all VtES expansions.
Latest Posting: 02/Mar/2008
Latest Changes (for version 2.4.1):
- typos in cardtexts have been removed
- fixed handling of decks including “Imbued”
- added pictures for “LotN” expansion
Anarch Revolt Deck Builder (“ARDB”)
Current Version: Version 2 RC 6
Author(s): Francois Gombault / Graham Smith
Description: Layered Filters, multiple export functionality and a tidy interface are the top features of this program, somewhat newer than the FELDB it had a fresh start and gained soon popularity in the VtES community.
- Card List & Inventory
- complete card list with card texts
- almost complete collection of pictures of actual cards, but not always the latest version of the cards. The card images are only working on Windows.
- great search & filter use, multiple, layered filters
- card inventory can be kept
- Deck Building
- offers the basic functionality of deck builder
- includes some statistical information about the decks as well as card drawing simulation
- ability to store decks in XML format (*.xml), as text (*.txt), HTML file (*.html) or for use with JOL (*.jol) or for posting to internet forums (*.phbBB).
- gives some advice on deck building based on the “Happy Families” theory
- Other Functionality
- can update card database from White Wolf website
- little utility for creating proxy cards
Cost: free software
OS Platforms: Windows, OpenSuSe, Fedora, Mac OS X 10.3+(?)
Expansion Updates: about 2 to 4 weeks after an expansion has been released.
Expansions: all VtES expansions.
Latest Posting: 21/Feb/2008
Here’s another quick quiz of 10 questions on VtES (off-site on “Quibblo“) on some (random) VtES related topics. It’s just for fun, no prizes to score. Just try not use a deck builder program or card database program for solving the questions. It’s definitely more challenging/fun that way.
Here are also the answers of the questions of the third quiz along with the percentage of correctly given answers for each question. To avoid spoilers I have inked the answers black, so that they are “invisible” unless you mark the text below:
- A. “Ohoyo Hopoksia (Bastet)” is a werewolf. [76%]
- D. 10 new cards are in the 10th Anniversary Collectors Set. [90%]
- B. “Count Vladimir Rustovitch” has “Flight“. [83%]
- C. “Yavu Matebo” is not a Laibon and does not have “Protean“, therefore you cannot play an “Abombwe” skill card on him. The same applies to “Hukros“. [48%]
- C. “Nagaraja“, “True Brujah“, “Salubri“, “Abomination“, so there are four clans that have vampires with the “Scare” trait. [45%]
- D. “Weigh the Heart” requires “Serpentis” and “Auspex“. [52%]
- D. There are 7 Camarilla, 3 Sabbat, 6 Independent, 1 Laibon vampires with a capacity of 11. [69%]
- B. The “Gas-Powered Chainsaw” is a melee weapon, all others are merely “weapons“. [31%]
- C. “Otieno” && “Onaedo” do not profit from each other. [31%]
- E. “Mark of Damnation” and “Mark of the Damned” have the same artwork.[83%]
Here are the results of the latest poll what the readers of this blog think about the length of intervals between the release of VtES expansions:
- Faster! I can’t get enough! — 6 (10%)
- It’s o.k. generally. — 18 (32%)
- I’d prefer a slower pace. — 27 (48%)
- I don’t care so much, since I don’t buy everything. — 4 (7%)
- I’ll just buy singles anyway. — 1 (1%)
Although quite a number of players can live with the current release schedules (32%), there is an very large group (48%) which would prefer a slower pace. A few VtES fanatics (10%) would prefer even more releases, like in “Magic the Gatherung” where 3-4 expansions per year are the norm.
Lately a number of questions came up regarding Khazar’s Diary (Endless Night), so here’s a short “Questions and Answers” summary, for the card. Most of the information is taken from the Usenet newsgroup “rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad“:
Q: When I put “Khazar’s Diary” into play, does it receive one counter immediately?
A: No. When announcing the action you must either decide to put the card into play or you can add one counter to the card.
Q: Can I burn “Nocturns“, “Shambling Hordes“, “War Ghouls“, “Tupdogs“, etc. for putting a counter on “Khazar’s Diary“?
A: No, no, no! All of the above minions are not unique, and therefore are not eligible for adding a counter to “Khazar’s Diary” when burned.
Q: Can I put multiple “Khazar’s Diary” into play? Does each of them receive a counter when a unique minion in play is burned?
A: Yes, you can put multiple “Khazar’s Diary” into play, and yes, each of the copies of “Khazar’s Diary” get a counter when a unique minion is burned in play. On the other hand when choosing to use the action to put a counter on a “Khazar’s Diary” you’ll have to choose one target only.
But this gives you no additional benefit, after one of the “Khazar’s Diary” has seven or more counters, it doesn’t matter when a second one reaches the critical threshold of seven counters. The only situation where this may matter is when there are two different player’s in the game where both of them are playing a “Khazar’s Diary” deck.
Also adding more than seven counters to “Khazar’s Diary” is possible, but it does not give you any further benefit.
Q: Does it make a difference if a vampire is burned as part of diablerie or if an ally is burned outside of combat?
A: No, in both cases “Khazar’s Diary” gets a counter, it doesn’t really matter how a unique minion is burned, as long as it is burned, and not removed from game or moved by other means from the ready region.
Q: Does “Khazar’s Diary” gets a counter when a contested vampire or ally is yielded?
A: No, the unique minion needs to be in play when burned. Since a contested minion is not in play when he is yielded, he does not fulfill the requirement for putting a counter on “Khazar’s Diary” .
Q: When I put “a minion from any ash heap into play to represent a wraith” can I play “Breath of Thanatos” or “Shroud Mastery” as action modifiers?
A: No. You’re merely putting the wraiths into play, but you’re not recruiting them. Since recruiting a wraith is a requirement for playing both “Breath of Thanatos” or “Shroud Mastery“, you cannot use these actions modifiers for the inherent action provided by “Khazar’s Diary“.
Q: When I take an action to put an wraith into play by taking an ally or vampire from another players ash heap, is this a directed or an undirected action?
A: It is always an undirected action.
This nice tournament winning deck is quite an interesting fusion of the Warghoul and the Speed Shamblers deck archetype. And this is not all, finally it uses the disadvantage when you need to burn an ally or retainer when recruiting a “Warghoul” to fuel “Khazar’s Diary“. So theoretically in the end you should have a sizable army of “Wraiths” and “Warghouls” backed a number of weenie and mid-cap “Giovanni” and “Tremere“.