In earlier times – when the Malkavians had the clan disciplines Auspex, Obfuscate, Dominate – the archetypical bleed deck was based on Malkavians with Dominate & Obfuscate. With the release of the Sabbat expansion the Malkavian antitribu took over this role. Although Dementation lacks some of the versatility (in areas other than bleed) Dominate offers (e.g. Deflection, or Govern the Unaligned), Dementation has its own merits. Cards like Kindred Spirits offer basic bleed capability and pool gain, while other cards can provide stealth like Deny or Confusion. Furthermore Kindred Spirits also offers the possibility to bleed any other player at the table, not only your predator. So this gives the player additional potential for dealing and cross-table interaction. Today the Malkavian antitribu Kindred Spirits bleed deck is one of the most successful and most feared decks in the VtES tournament scene. Another name of the deck is Fast Eddie, since Eddie Gaines is the smallest vampire with Dementation which can bleed for 2 in its turn 2, showing how fast and effective this deck delivers damage to its prey pool.
Remark: Although this deck archetype often uses a mixed crypt of Malkavian antitribu and Malkavian I will often relate to this deck’s vampires as Malkavian antitribu for avoiding more complicated sentences.
How to win with them
The basic idea is to bleed heavily and often with low- to mid-cap vampires in order to oust your prey quickly. The deck has virtually no build-up phase, since all it really needs are vampires with Dementation and Obfuscate for the offense and Auspex for the defense. So immediately a Malkavian antitribu is influenced to the controlled region and he he can act a turn later, the vampire starts bleeding. Usually the bleed action is Kindred Spirits plus an additional bleed modifier like Confusion or Eyes of Chaos to apply 2 to 4 damage to its prey pool.
This behavior is not different from any other Stealth Bleed deck like the Setites Presence & Obfuscate or Ravnos Chimerstry bleed decks. The real strength of the deck stems from the two extra features beside the “ordinary” bleed that Kindred Spirits offers.
- First, the one extra pool gain, when the bleed is successful, is crucial. This allows the deck to gain 2 to 3 pool each turn during the midgame just by bleeding. So the deck does not need to waste actions or extra card slots to pool gain like most other decks need to do.
- Secondly, the ability to bleed any other player at the table is incredibly strong. There are only two other action cards that allow this, Night Moves and Cat Burglary, and there the maximum bleed damage is limited to 1. There are a also very few vampires who can perform this kind of action, but they are widely distributed among the different clans. The ability to bleed backwards and cross-table with Kindred Spirits has two usually two implications. On one hand, you can bleed backwards if your predator is threatening you too much (e.g. he’s playing a Rush Combat deck), and therefore you’re able to backoust him and eliminating the threat. On the other hand, you can negotiate deals better with this ability, e.g. you offer to oust your grandprey in exchange that your prey will self-oust himself afterwards. (If he really sticks to this kind of deal is a different matter).
This deck wants its bleed actions to be successful, and as consequence almost of the different variants of Obfuscate and Dementation stealth cards are used, even more exotic ones like Domain of Evernight. Since you are prevented from using the same action modifier twice during a particular action, there is this need to diversify. Wall decks (and this usually includes permanent intercept) can be a problem since the amount of Stealth is not enough to overcome the intercept generated by the wall deck. Here you have to deal with your grandprey for example, that you’re helping him to oust his prey, while he helps you (by voting/rushing/blocking) your prey.
On the other hand, often the worst problem is that experienced players which are the prey of a Kindred Spirits deck sometimes resort to the tactics not to block your actions, i.e. you cannot play your stealth cards. This leds to a Stealth card hand jam quite fast, resulting in measly bleeds which only damage your prey’s pool by 1 or 2. To avoid this it is mandatory to pack some cards which allow you cycle your hand fast enough (see master cards below).
The master card section can be quite short, the deck usually needs only:
- Sudden Reversal or Wash to prevent pool gain by its prey.
- Dreams of the Sphinx or Barrens to get better card flow/selection.
For blood management Blood Dolls or Vessel are used; Minion Taps only if the vampires are bit larger. Sometimes master cards useful after a quick oust are added, e.g. Last Stand, Gambit Accepted or Momentum’s Edge, but this depends on the flavour of a particular deck variant. Other cards frequently employed are Pentex Subversion, Secure Haven or Giant’s Blood for obvious reasons.
Sometimes the deck uses some allies as defense (and very occasionally as offense as well). Favorites are Muddled Vampire Hunter and Carlton van Wyk, or even Escaped Mental Patient who blocks and then use Rötschreck to send the opposing vampire to torpor. Usually the Escaped Mental Patient is burned when he makes his hand damage aggravated, but playing Rötschreck prevents this.
The deck relies on the Auspex bleed bounce namely Telepathic Misdirection and less often My Enemy’s Enemy. In fact the bleed bounce is part of offense, since you’re either forcing your prey to commit resources (blocker, bleed reduction or bounce) or you’re reducing your prey’s pool when he decides to take the damage from the redirected bleed. The Malkvian antitribu vampires might block bleeding vampires from time to time but only if they have enough blood (and not enough pool) and/or if they expect no significant combat abilities by the acting vampire.
Vote defense is often two-fold. First the Malkavian antitribu like Korah or Stavros are relatively cheap vampires with vampires given the Malkavian antitribu some leverage during political actions. On the other hand the usual combination of Direction Intervention or Delaying Tactics is frequently use to cancel the political action/referendum. Some variants of this archetype totally disregard vote defense relying on their speed and ousting power instead.
This is definitely the Achilles heal of the Kindred Spirits bleed deck. There are two approaches to tackle this issue. Some players pack a few combat cards to offer light combat defense (like Swallowed by the Night or Behind You). The other school of thought argues these combat cards dilute the offense capabilities of the deck, and any combat deck worth its salt will overcome this light combat defense anyhow. So their conclusion is to ditch combat defense completely and to strengthen the ousting power of the deck instead.
How to win against them
As a prey of Kindred Spirits bleed deck it’s a though job for any player/deck to hold their own ground, because the S&B deck is able put enormous pressure on its prey right from the start. The first and main task is to defend somehow against the massive bleeds of the Kindred Spirits deck. You can try to block, you can bounce or reduce the bleed, or you can rush the bleeding Malkavian antitribu.
Archon Investigation as well as Major Boon helps, but you need to draw them somewhat early. When burning a vampire you should try to maximize the damage to the Malkavian antitribu by trying to target a bigger vampire, e.g. burning a vampire like Dolphin Black or Korah instead of Midget. Protected Resources only helps in limited fashion, it slows the bleed deck down, but the number of bleeds for two will kill you eventually.
Blocking the Malkavian antitribu is only an option if you have access to a decent amount of intercept, since the Kindred Spirits deck has a lot of stealth. Starting blocking those vampires with no or inferior Obfuscate, since they can only add one stealth point per card, and are therefore easier to block. Also, you especially should be aware of Faceless Nights in the Kindred Spirits deck, that taps your vampires when played at superior Obfuscate after the action resolves, thus preventing you from blocking or bouncing the next bleed action.
If you do not have enough intercept, you can resort to simply not blocking, thereby denying and after a round or two the deck is jammed with Stealth . This requires some discipline to follow this strategy to end, and only works if you have enough pool (gain) at the same time as well as a grand-predator who is putting enough pressure on the Kindred Spirits deck. Also if your only source of intercept would be playing a KRCG Newsradio for example, it would really think about playing the card. It costs you two pool and very likely only lets your predator cycle his stealth cards more quickly.
You can turn these bleeds against you to your advantage, but for this either you’ll need a massive amount of bleed bounce cards or you’ll make enough pool damage yourself early one that a few selected redirected bleeds from your predator to your prey make the difference. Otherwise the bleed bounce must be timed carefully, i.e. only when the bleeds are making at least 3 damage.
Faced with this kind of aggressiveness, it is often advisable to go backwards yourself, that this you actively help your grand-predator ousting your predator. You might rush the Malkavian antitribu or put more damage to your predator than your prey during a political action like Kine Resources Contested or play Banishment against the the vampire which is bleeding you the most. A deal with your grandpredator is often advisable, since otherwise you might end up with a new predator whose dirty work you have done, but doesn’t show his gratefulness by not letting you act without pressure for a couple of turns.
If you cannot defend properly, and your offensive capabilities are targeted towards your prey, you have two choices:
- Either you are going all-out forward, trying to oust-race your predator. This option requires a deck that can oust fast. And if you’re not fast enough, the Kindred Spirits deck is having a field day ousting two preys in quick succession.
- The other option is to stay tight. That is you try not spend too much pool for equipment,locations, etc. you do not need for defense or bloating and try to gain pool by bloating. This works only if your grandpredator puts enough pressure on your predator, and is likely to oust him rather quickly, or at least before you die.
What can alleviate the general situation is having a strong grand-predator, which in turn is able to put at least some pressure on the Kindred Spirits deck. You need to remind your grand-predator that he must act against your predator, since otherwise the Kindred Spirits deck is – aiming for a quick oust – will gain 6 pool and 1 VP soon, making it even harder for your grand-predator to oust the bleed deck. Cooperation is the key word. E.g. your grand predator has a wall deck, so you might bounce a bleed to him, when he is able intercept and beat up the Malkavian antitribu bleeder.
As a predator
As a predator you must be aware of the back ousting capabilities of the deck by bleeding backwards with Kindred Spirits. Some players of this archetype tend to go backward quite aggressively when they are threatened or pro-longed pressure is applied to them. The worst error as predator you can make is a non-aggression pack with this S&B deck archetype. This gives the S&B the free hand to launch its deadly attack against its prey.
In the end the Kindred Spirits decks has little or no defense and relies mainly on its own ousting power and ability to bleed backwards. You should cooperate closely with your grandprey, even to the end that you offer him to oust his prey or at least offer him a couple of turns with pressure from your side if he helps you actively to oust the Kindred Spirits deck.
- Kindred Spirits — the namesake of the deck, bleed card, pool gain and threat potential all rolled up into a single card.
- Eyes of Chaos / Confusion— the two basic bleed modifiers.
- Spying Mission — used for responsible bleeding.
- Dolphin Black — the archetypal Dementation Stealth Bleed vampire, since she’s the smallest vampire with all three clan disciplines at superior.
- Dreams of the Sphinx / The Barrens — essential for card flow.
- Telephatic Misdirection — not solely used as bleed bounce but sometimes as intercept as well.
Notable Examples & Variations
As with other deck archetypes there are a lot of different variants around. Most play with the G2/G3 Malkavian antitribu while others choose to utilize the new and slightly bigger G4/G5 Malkavian antitribu. With the new G4/G5 Malkavian you can replace some of the Dementation with Presence cards, e.g. replacing Entrancement with Kindred Spirits in order to be more flexible when dealing with Ally-based decks.
Another variant uses the Archbishop or Priscus title of the mid-cap Malkavian antitribu to be able to play Creation Rites to gain additional minions to bleed or used as chump blockers.
- Got Confusion? by Pat Lusk — basic version of the deck.
- Mad Dancers by Gines Quiñonero — uses Danse Macabre and The Call to gain extra pool and/or bring out additional vampires.
- Cholinesterase Inhibition by Darby Keeney — Art of Memory is used for improving its hand cards.
- Malki de Presencia by Alex Parcero — adds a streak of Presence, especially a number of Entrancement and Majesties have been included.
- Bleed Like Me, Responsibly by John Alston-Campbell — by including a huge number of Telepathic Counters can frustrate his predator like hell; also a higher number of Spying Missions prevents “abuse” of bleed bounce by your prey.
- Miami Vice by Romain Naïm / Kamel Senni — uses Fabrizia Contreraz to bring Creation Rites into play.
1. Rodolphe “Krid” Danac (FRA) 2 GW 8 VP — Followers of Set w/ Dominate
2. Orian “TTCMaster” Gissler (FRA) 2 GW 6 VP — 1,5 VP — Una Freak Show Rush Combat
2. Jérôme “PcGeol” Goyet (FRA) 2 GW 9 VP — 0 VP — Ravnos Embrace Carnival
2. François “Raspy” Pouyat (FRA) 2 GW 8 VP — 0 VP — Blanche Hill Spirit Marionette
2. François “Mister Vé” Vabre (FRA) 2 GW 7 VP — 0 VP — Courier Flash Grenade
Congratulations to Krid for his win of the French ECQ 2008. You can find the full standings and the finalists decklist including a tournament report on VEKN France (in french) or the Usenet newsgroup (in english). On another webpage on VEKN France there are some pictures from the event.
Obviously this is not Golconda. Golconda is a state of enlightenment vampires strive for. Golconda is not an oil painting created by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte.
Quote from Wikipedia:
“The piece depicts a scene of identical men dressed in dark overcoats and bowler hats, who seem to be falling like rain or floating like helium-balloons (though there is no actual indication of motion), against a backdrop of buildings and blue sky. It is humorous, but with an obvious criticism of the conventional effacing of individuality.”
Hmm, on the other hand these bowler hat guys seem to be pretty enlightened, maybe they are vampires also!?!!
Here are the results of the latest poll on what the readers of this blog like to receive as prize support during VtES tournaments.
- Special promo cards — 10 (14%)
- Booster packs — 14 (20%)
- Something VtES related (Edge, card protectors, …) — 15 (21%)
- VtES Original Art or Prints — 14 (20%)
- Some other vampire related stuff (Books, RPG stuff, ..) — 3 (4%)
- Sex. Drugs. And Rock’n’Roll — 8 (11%)
- I play to win — 4 (5%)
- I do not care about prizes — 2 (2%)
The least you can say is that people want to have prize support, but the different wants are somewhat equally distributed between the different VtES related prizes.
On the White Wolf website you can find more information about the Twilight Rebellion launch events that take place during the weekend after the “Twilight Rebellion” mini-expansion is released, that is on May 28th, 2008.
Basically the launch event is a booster draft tournament, where “White Wolf” proposes to use the “Twilight Rebellion” and “3rd Edition” boosters from the “Twilight Rebellion” launch kit. The organizers of the tournament are then encouraged to send feedback of the tournaments back to “White Wolf“, which is compiled into a news story about the launch events afterwards.
Also the contents of the launch kit have been detailed further; the kit contains:
- 2 booster displays of VTES Twilight Rebellion
- 2 booster displays of VTES 3rd Edition
- 12 Nergal (Advanced) promo cards
- 1 laser-etched Edge Marker from Dragonfire Lasercrafts
I expect the official previews of “Twilight Rebellion” cards on the “White Wolf” to start during the mid of May.
Lately a number of questions came up regarding Autonomic Mastery, 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: Can I play “Autonomic Mastery” at long range?
A: No. The card text explictely requires that it can only be played at close range.
Q: How is damage resolved when playing “Autonomic Mastery” (at superior)?
A: After both strikes have been announced, both of these strikes resolve at the same time normally, but afterwards the combat ends immediately, i.e. there is no press step or chance to play additional strikes. On the other hand you can still play cards like “Claws of the Dead“.
Q: Can I play “Claws of the Dead” before/after playing “Autonomic Mastery” (at superior).
A: Yes, you can but since the damage from your handstrike is reduced to zero, there is no aggravated damage to apply. Therefore you also cannot play “Rotschreck” since you intended to strike for zero damage. The same applies to “Autonomic Mastery” strikes that are modified by “Target Vitals” or “Target Head” for example, the cards can be played, but have no effect since the initial damage is reduced to zero.
Q: Can I play “Disarm” after the opposing vampire has played “Autonomic Mastery” (at superior)?
A: Assuming you hit for one or more damage, and since the opposing vampire due to the “Autonomic Mastery” hit for zero damage, you can play “Disarm” on him, since the card is played at the end of the round of combat.
“If your design goal is unpreventable, un-S:CE-able aggravated damage, you’re trying too hard.” — John Eno
1. Kristian Willenbacher (GER) — 1 GW 6 VP — 4 VP — Dem Stealth Bleed
2. Ralf Weppner (GER) — 2 GW 9,5 VP — 1 VP — Ahrimanes Bleedish Toolbox
2. Sebastian Meurer (GER) — 2 GW 7,5 VP — 0 VP — Akunanse Wallish Toolbox
2. Herman Jacobs (NED) — 1 GW 5 VP — 0 VP — Una Freakshow feat. Eurayle
2. Pierre “Stone” Tran-Van (FRA) — 1 GW 5 VP — 0 VP — Mid Cap Ventrue Law Firm Swarm
Congratulations to Kristian Willenbacher for his win of the German ECQ 2008. The winning deck, the finalists decks & and tournament report has been posted in the german VEKN forum and the Usenet newsgroup. Also Stone posted his tournament report (in french) on VEKN France.
Here are some of the pictures taken during the German ECQ 2008, that was held on April 19th, 2008 in Frankfurt a.M., Germany.
Left: The calm before the storm. The players registering and waiting for the 1st round to start.
Right: Robert’s Assamite receives a call, while Christopher is trying to figure out, how to oust Ralf’s Ahrimanes.
Left: Round 1: Johannes’ Potence Weenies have taken care of Hardy’s Giovanni. The other Johannes is skeptical how he can oust Didi’s Malgorzata deck.
Right: Round 1: The table in full motion with Sebastian, Dennis, Mart, Stefan and Andreas.
Left: Round 1: Herman’s Una Freak Drive truck fully loaded and sweeping the table.
Right: Round 3: Wall-to-Wall: Lukas’ Tzimisce Wall vs. Sebastians’ Akunanse Wall w/ Bleed.
Left: Round 2: Christoper’s Cel/For/Pre Vote deck and Mart’s Pro/Ani Wall struggling for the win.
Right: Round 3: Yuri, Didi, Georgios and Dennis arguing …
In reference to the “Legacies of Blood Top Ten” list made by Greg Williams in January 2006, I would like to show you a similar list, namely the top ten of the “Lords of the Night” expansion, at least from my point of view:
Top Ten Library Cards
- “Reckless Agitation” — finally a new political card that is a real alternative to “Conservative Agitation” or “Kine Resources Contested“; also nice to see that the requirement is an independent vampire making thus an incentive to build and play such a deck. Also nicely balanced with the cost of 2 blood and the inability to play the card once it’s a one-on-one sitatuation at the table.
- “Monster” — Multi-Rush without “Freak Drive” (or “Fortitude” in general)! This card is a must of every Rush deck worth its salt. Put it on a vampire with a built-in rush and you’ve got a multi-rush engine.
- “Khazar’s Diary” — this card together with “Spell of Life” make the basis to build a deck around it. Play some “Khazaar’s Diary” and use some cheap allies, which can be burned easily, and you’ve got yourself a viable deck strategy.
- “Target Vitals” — this is the card that nearly made “Potence” obsolete. The +2 damage is the same as for superior “Undead Strength” or an “Increased Strength“. The only real disadvantage is the ability of the opponent to cancel the effects of the card, but hey, it does not require any disciplines.
- “Murmur of the False Will” — this one is a very strong combo card. It combines the bleed capabilities of “Threats” with the bounce ability of “Redirection“. Whereas normally you need to discard the “Dominate” bleed bounce cards in a heads-up situation, you can now use (or cycle) them in these situations.
- “Preternatural Strength” — finally a new non-strike “Potence” card, and it also gives a permanent +2 strength to the acting vampire. Gentleman, we have a winner. Sure you cannot combine with Torn Signpost, but on the other hand you do need to play one now you’re strength is increased by +2.
- “Camera Phone” — cheap bleed equipment. Although it is not combinable with a bleed action like “Computer Hacking” or “Govern the Unaligned“, but what the heck, it’s for free!! This card we will see very often, and it will replace “Laptop Computers” almost completely.
- “Loss” — a strong bleed card for “Quietus. With this card “Bruise & Bleed” or “Stealth & Bleed” becomes a viable deck strategy for the “Assamites“. Before this “Assamites” had to rely on non-clan disciplines like “Presence” or “Dominate“.
- “Mesu Bedshet” — made for building a crypt machine deck: make a transfer of crypt cards to your uncontrolled with the chance to gain two blood. Combined with “Enchant Kindred” it can make bring out a 4 cap vampire from your crypt to your controlled region in a single turn without spending any transfers at all.
- “Vessel” — the “Blood Doll“-killer it’s was dupped early after the card text of “Vessel” had been spoiled. After six month of seeing the card played, I am not so sure anymore. What looked in the first place as an overpowered card, it is finely tuned instead. The advantages (trifle and removes a “Blood Doll” from play) are in balance to the disadvantages (costs a pool and can only be used in the next turn).
Top Ten Crypt Cards
- “Nakhthorheb” — the star vampire for new era “Followers of Set” decks; his build-in untap along with he him unblockable by minions with corruptions counters, make him a formidable vampire. Even though he “only” has his three clan-disciplines at superior!
- “Vasiliy Vasilevich” — a “Ravnos” with +1 bleed with “Chimerstry” (i.e. access to stealth), who untaps after a succesful bleed? ‘Nuff said.
- “Jamal” — though he’s a “Assamite” on the “Red List“, he has three extras on the positive side. 2 votes, +1 bleed, and +1 strength when battling Camarilla vampires is nothing to be ashamed of.
- “Guillaume Giovanni” — gives the player +1 handsze for each location you control; play him with “Therbold Realty” and bulkload of locations like “Storage Annex” or even “Slaughterhouses“, and your handsize can easily increase to 15 or 20.
- “Durga Syn” — a “Ravnos” does not tap for blocking vampires below 5 (similar to “Justine the Elder“) can easily build the basis for an intercept deck. Give her a “Sniper Rifle” and you got yourself a one man wall.
- “Gwen Brand” — a capacity 3 “Ravnos whose discipline combo is unusual for a “Ravnos“. But her special ability let’s her explode once she gains the 4 counters after a Gehenna event has been played.
- “Lorenzo Detuono” — a “Giovanni” with a special ability to take control vampires (or allies) he sents to torpor. Also a candidate to build a deck upon.
- “Sajid al Misbah” — though smallish, he’s special ability for not paying for “Quietus” cards makes the difference. Good luck he has superior “Quietus“, too.
- “Giovanni del Georgio” — a vampire who can single handedly ruin the strategy of Imbued deck, by removing the Convictions from an Imbued player’s ash heap. And he’s gaining 3 blood from the action, too. You can also use his special for paying for “Shambling Hordes” or just for bloating.
- “Lady Constancia” — a capacity 10 “Giovanni” with two votes, and a most interesting special. She’s capable of drawing cards from the ashheap, albeit only as a discard phase action while burning the “Edge” and discarding a card at random.
But where’s light there’s also darkness (or was it the other way around in the “World of Darkness“). Some cards when shown in the preview or spoiled on the Usenet newsgroup wasn’t as promising as it looked in the first place.
- “Bundi” — this equipment looks nice in the first place, but is way too expensive for the advantage gained. If you want additional damage play “Preternatural Strength” instead, it cannot be stolen, or it’s use prevented by “Drawing out the Beast” or “Terror Frenzy“.
- “Autonomic Mastery” — the preview talked about the fabled “Strike: Combat Ends” that works even under “Immortal Grapple“. Yes, this card does it, but it is only usable on close range and only in combat with a younger vampire (or ally). What the card is good for is burning an opposing ally like a “Warghoul” or “Shambling Hordes” which are otherwise often hard to kill for “Dominate“-based decks. On the other hand there’s still “Far Mastery” …
- “Lost in Translation” — granted it is bleed bounce with any discipline requirements, but the card itself has too many restrictions to see widespread use, and it costs two blood. So it only makes sense to play the card in deck with high capacity vampires with no access to “Dominate” or “Auspex” in an environment where you see bleeds of 4 or higher on a regular basis.
In summary “Lords of the Night” is the most interesting expansion of the past years, offering a wide variety of new and interesting cards and a whole bunch of ideas to build decks upon.
1. David Wittmann (HUN) — 2 GW 6 VP — 4 VP — Hektor Multiact Bitter Rose Ritual
2. Adam Horvath (HUN) — 3 GW 11 VP — 1 VP — Omaya Wall
2. Csaba Gregus (HUN) — 3 GW 9,5 VP — 0 VP — !Tremere Ally
2. Richard Glasner (SLO) — 2 GW 10 VP — 0 VP — Saulot Daring the Dawn Spirit Marionette
2. Balazs Palffy (HUN) — 2 GW 9 VP — 0 VP — !Toreador Embrace Palla Grande
Congratulations to David Wittmann for his win of the Slovak ECQ 2008. The winning deck along with a tournament report was posted on the Usenet Newsgroup. The local VtES forum (though in Slovak) contains some pictures of qualifier t-shirts, cool stuff with reference to the next Anarch-based mini-expansion Twilight Rebellion. Definitely worth a look!
… you cannot tap “Heidelberg Castle” to swap equipment when it is about to be destroyed by “Unnatural Desaster” (or any other similar “instant effect”, e.g. the special ability of the “War Ghoul“). Also you cannot tap this location when it is destroyed by “Arson” or changes controller by playing “Disputed Territory“, but this is due to the card text of “Heidelburg Castle” which allows no tapping of the card during an action.
There has been some minor adjustments to the release dates of the next two VtES expansions “Blood Shadowed Court” and “Twilight Rebellion”
The collectors set “Blood Shadowed Court“, containing the 100 group 3 vampires of the “Camarilla Edition“, is now scheduled for April 16th, 2008. The new Anarch mini-expansion “Twilight Rebellion” is released on May 28th, 2008.
“The most important and relative advice … is to play a deck [you] are very comfortable with. When a player can play a deck he knows really well, he can focus much easier on all sorts of interactions in the match as opposed to working extra hard to not make blatant errors with his own deck.” — Jason Imperiale (MtG Pro Player)
Good advice for all tournament players. Experienced and new, MtG and VtES.
Here are the results of the latest poll what the favourite deck strategy of the readers of this blog is:
- Rush Combat. — 8 (11%)
- Wall/Intercept Combat. — 8 (11%)
- Stealth Bleed. — 3 (4%)
- Power Bleed. — 2 (2%)
- Politics. — 10 (13%)
- Ally/Imbued. — 3 (4%)
- Weenie. — 3 (4%)
- Toolbox. — 18 (25%)
- Decks based on specific cards like “Spell of Life”. — 10 (13%)
- I have no favourite strategy. — 7 (9%)
Not surprisingly for me the winner are the toolbox decks has won. Although there is great difference what people like to play and what they actually playing at tournaments. For example Stealth Bleed is much more popular in tournaments than this poll might suggest.
When building a VtES deck, you have to take certain decisions, including how you want to defend against the most common offensive strategies, i.e. bleed, vote and combat. One (perfectly reasonable) decision is to ignore a particular defense, e.g. you can bloat more than your predator can probably bleed you. or you want to take an indirect defense approach, e.g. playing rush combat, “Banishment” or “Sensory Deprivation“. I’d like to discuss in this article which defenses are available against vote decks and their political actions.
The term “vote lock” often used during VtES games, means that a certain player has the vote majority at the table, i.e. this players controls vampires with titles or other permanents (like “Ventrue HQ” or “Powerbase: Madrid“) which grant him in total more votes than the sum votes of the players control. So it’s possible for this player to call any “Political Action” (PA) and usually he doesn’t have to use any action modifiers to make any PA succeed. On the other hand no other player can make a referendum succeed without using action modifiers or the help of the player who has “vote lock“. Achieving “vote lock” is the state that any deck that uses PA (as its main offense), and every other player should try to prevent other players from gaining “vote lock“.
Blocking & Intercept
One reasonable defense against PA is to block them. This is usually harder than blocking bleed actions due to the inherent +1 stealth a political action card provides. In addition a political action is by default an undirected action (even if there’s just one actual target for “Parity Shift” or “Banishment“). There are a couple of cards that give additional stealth on either non-bleed or undirected actions like “Forgotten Labyrinth” or “Creepshow Casino“. So in order to consistently block PAs you usually need some permanents that provide intercept like “Raven Spy” or “WMRH Talk Radio” or vampires with a special ability that grants +1 intercept like “Carna the Princess Witch“.
The strategy becomes problematic if the political action is taking place crosstable, where blocking requires “Eagle’s Sight” or “Falcon’s Eye” or “Anneke’s” special ability. This defense becomes unplayable if you face a “Toreador Grand Ball” deck, since this decks uses the TGB to make their PA unblockable. The same applies to other cards that deny block, i.e. “Beast Meld” or to a lesser extent to cards like “Seduction“, “Call of the Hungry Dead” or “Strange Day“.
In summary, intercept is a quite good answer to vote decks but there are a few holes in this defense which can make the intercept/wall deck look bad.
One of the most effective anti-vote strategies is to control titled vampires or other permanents which give yourself or your vampires votes during referendums. The biggest problem with this strategy is that most titled vampires have rather high capacity and they must fit in your deck strategy as well (unless you’re playing a vote deck yourself). There are some rather good examples for vampires who good ratio of capacity vs. number of votes, there are “Korah” (a 7-cap Malkavian antitribu Priscus), “Rake” (a 6-cap Brujah prince) or “Calebros, The Martyr” (a 5-cap Nosferatu prince, whose title can be stolen).
The votes of these vampires help you immensely within the political game. Even if you cannot prevent a particular referendum to succeed, a certain number of votes makes you be player within the referendum. If no player has vote lock, other players may need your assistance or might decide not to harm you; e.g. if a “Kine Resources Contested” is played if you’re not the prey of the calling player you’re often not assigned a single point of damage since the acting player fears that you might vote against the referendum. And when this kind of votes are called and you have permanent votes, you should kindly remind the calling player of this fact.
Among those cards that give your or your vampires permanent votes are “Ventrue HQ“, “Alamut“, “Powerbase: Madrid“, “Foundation Exhbit” or “Legacy of Pander“, all of these are requiring vampires of specific clans or sects. Most powerful are those that either give the vampires a high number of votes per se (like “Ventrue HQ” or have some sort of multiplier effect like “Foundation Exhibit” which gives each non-titled “Toreador antitribu” an additional vote.
If you have achieved vote lock over another player (or the whole table), do never assume that votes cannot be passed at all. The use of action modifiers that give transient votes (for the duration if the referendum) usally can easily turn the tide, this especially true for those vote modifiers where blood can be exchanged for votes, e.g. “Awe” or so-called multiplier cards, which double votes of vampires like “Hall of Hades Count“. Also if your vampires with the most votes is put to torpor or is banished, the vote lock can be reduced or even lost.
Where this defense falls short is when the table seating is particularly bad or if the vote is automatically passing. The first case is usually when your sitting between two vote decks, and both of them have a vote lock over you, i.e. the sum of their votes is greater than yours. In this case you can only try to gain time by pointing out that your prey or predator will be in hopeless situation after your are being ousted, since then your predator has vote lock over your prey (or the other way around). The second case is somewhat cornercase, there are few cards that a make vote automatically pass without any prerequisite, e.g. “Dia de los Muertos“, the other cards like “Cryptic Rider” or “Charming Lobby” require a previous vote by the same player has passed earlier. And that requirement has to be negated.
All in all, if your having some votes this helps a lot (although as with most defenses/offenses) this is not a flawless defense. Even if playing a vote deck yourself – where your offense also becomes your defense – you should consider adding some defensive cards like “Scapel Tongue” or “Confusion of the Eye“.
Canceling Political Actions
Canceling PAs is one of the most frequently seen defenses, since the two most important cards, “Direct Intervention” and “Delaying Tactics“, do not require any discipline or clan. Even if it does not actual prevent the PA to be played ever again or forces the player to discard the PA, canceling the PA gives the defending player room to breathe and the opportunity to move along with its game plan. This is most effective against the “once-per-game” political actions like “Ancient Influence” or “Political Stranglehold” than the staple votes “Kine Resources Contested” or since even if the PA is canceled, it is considered played nonetheless and therefore cannot be played a second time during that game.
Both cards have their distintive advantages, and although more player would name “Direct Intervention” as the stronger cards, “Delaying Tactics” has its merits as well:
- “Direct Intervention” is a master out-of-turn card, so you can only play at most one between your turns, while you can play multiple “Delaying Tactics” between your turns.
- “Direct Intervention” cancel the PA and puts the play card into the ash heap, the player whose PA has be canceled by “Delaying Tactics” can take the card back into his hand (and discard down to his handsize), and may play it in one of his next turn again.
- After a “Delaying Tactics” has been played, the player cannot call the same vote during the rest of this turn, and the vampire calling the vote cannot call another PA this turn. This is definetly an advantage especially if the voting deck did not diversify his PAs, e.g. he only packed “KRCs” instead of mixture of “Conservative Agitation” and “KRCs“.
- “Direct Intervention” costs a pool, while “Delaying Tactics” costs a blood.
Situated between the “Direct Intervention” and “Delaying Tactics” is “Confusion of the Eye” ; this reaction card cancels the votes of the acting vampire in any ordinary PA, while canceling those PA that require a specific title, e.g. more powerful PAs like “Parity Shift“, “Alastor” or the now banned “Protect Thine Own“. So regarding these votes “Confusion of the Eye” is more powerful than “Delaying Tactics” and similar to “Direct Intervention“.
Other cards with similar effects:
- “Promise of 1528” — ends an action (including a PA) that targets a Giovanni.
Another interesting choice of anti-vote cards are those which can cancel vampires votes. Most of them are only affecting the current referendum only, and there is a wide variety of cards with different effects, sometimes having an extra benefit.
- “Scalpel Tongue” — one of the most powerful card for canceling votes since it can be used both as action modifier or as reaction card.
- “Unexpected Coalition” — quite an interesting card, as it can also be used either action modifier or as reaction card, but can be reversed by another “Brujah antitribu” who votes differently.
- “Demonstration” — another powerful card as it is a permanent card which can cancel the votes of vampire.
- “Kindred Coercion” — very powerful since it can cancel the votes of large number of vampires, but usually considered to be too expensive or too defensive from most player’s point of view, since it costs a blood for each vampire affected and can also be used only in defense since it is a reaction card.
- “Conflict of Interests” — also cancel votes, but the requirement that the acting vampire must be of the same clan as the reacting vampire is way too restrictive.
- “Irregular Protocol” — forces the acting vampire to abstain from voting by tapping the reacting vampire.
- “Pulling Strings” — forces the acting vampire to abstain from voting.
- “Quicksilver Contemplation” — forces a younger acting vampire to abstain from voting.
In addition to these reaction (combo) cards there are a number of vampires which can cancel or even change votes of a vampire in a referendum. The later is most useful since this can really swing a referendum to your favour.
- “Ellison Humboldt” — can change the vote of prince.
- “Gravitnir” — cancel the vote of any vampire by paying a blood.
- “Michael Luther” — can change the vote of a Camarilla vampire by tapping himself.
- “Neferu” — can change the vote of a vampire with a corruption counter.
- “Quentin” — cancel the vote of any vampire by paying a blood.
The most efficient way of dealing with other vampires titles/votes is to strip the titles from these vampires or reduce the number of votes the vampire effectively use. While there are several PAs who can achieve this most of them are limited to removing a specific title, e.g. “Command of the Harpies” removes the Prince title from a vampire, or “Excommunication” removes the title of an “Archbishop”. Due to this restrictions most players prefer to include PAs that give one of their own vampires a title over PAs removing one from an opposing vampire.
The most efficient card is probably “Condemnation: Mute” which reduces a vampires votes by three, so that even an “Inner Circle” member or a Sabbat “Regent” has only one vote left, everybody else has no votes left. Played for the superior effect, for each successful vote (regardless by whom it was called) that vampire burns a blood, which is rather bad for the vote deck. Unfortunately “Condemnation: Mute” requires “Daimonium“, the discipline which is almost exclusively featured by the “Baali” (or at least infernal vampires).
The most extreme cards in this group are the Gehenna events “Fall of the Sabbat” and “Fall of the Camarilla” which in the end cancel the vampires titles of the “Sabbat” and “Camarilla” respectively while the Events are in play. But since both of these cards require three other Gehenna cards in play, you seldom see these cards in decks other than those which run a high Event card count anyway, e.g. Imbued or decks that feature few or no disciplines.
Punishing the Voter
One of most interesting cards are those which punish the voters by dealing damage to either the acting vampire or the acting player’s pool.
- “Elder Kindred Network” (Ventrue) — applies one pool damage if case of tie or one pool damage per vote the referendum was lost by. The most damaging vote but to cornercase to be an effective strategy.
- “Political Backlash” (-) — applies two pool damage if a referendum fails.
- “Poison Pill” (-) — applies the same amount of pool damage to the acting player as you are receiving.
- “Treachery” (Presence) — applies 1 pool damage to the caller (and anyone who voted in favour).
- “Touch of Pain” (Potence) — the newest and quite interessing addition, as the card can apply damage to any successful voting (or bleeding) vampire.
Other Reaction/Combo Cards
There are a number of reaction cards that give a fixed number of votes against (or for) a political action. These cards are often not played since they are often too defensive, unless there is a second effect of the card which has a different effect like “Covincraft” which can be used either as vote defense or bleed reduction.
- “Army of Apparations” (requires Chimerstry) — 3 for/against the referendum.
- “Covincraft” (Kyasid) – 4 for/against the referendum.
- “Dread Gaze” (Presence) — 2/4 for/against the referendum.
- “Hall of Hades Count” (Temporis) — doubles votes of a vampire in a referendum.
- “Loyalist” (Ventrue antitribu) — 3 against the referendum.
- “Madrigal” (Presence/Melnmipomee) – 2 for/against the referendum; also usuable as action modifier.
- “Mob Rule” (-) — burn blood to gain votes; also usuable as action modifier.
- “Surprise Influence” (-) — 2 for/against the referendum.
- “Wanderer’s Counsel” (Akunanse) — 1 for/against the referendum.
Also in comparison to “Delaying Tactics” they are often deemed to weak, since if you have no vampires with votes or other cards providing permanent votes, 2 or 3 votes often do not make a difference in a single referendum, especially if there is only one voting (or two voting decks acting in agreement) at the table.
- “Yawp Court“(Sabbat) — great for combat decks, especially rush combat decks, which are otherwise not able to block PA due the lack of intercept. Also helps interacting with PAs that are called cross-table.
- “Malkavian Rider Clause” (Malkavian) — as a reaction card makes the next referendum successful if the current vote is passed. This makes the acting player think if he should vote in favour of his own PA.
Although there is no “Golden Bullet” against vote decks, the number of “Silver Bullets” is quite large. The generic defense (and often considered best defense) consists of a combination of “Direct Intervention” and/or “Delaying Tactics“, but specific decks may rely on different means, e.g. a “Toreador” deck might pack some “Scalpel Tongue“, while a “Brujah antitribu” rush deck might use one or two “Yawp Court“. Decks that are voting themselves often can neglect specific vote defense cards, since their inherent votes provided by vampire’s titles or other permanents are defense enough.
Here are some pictures from our regular (bi-weekly) meetings in Bochum, where we usually manage play one league round and one not-so-competitive round of VtES. on each 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday of each month. The location we are playing in, is a pub called “Grunewald” which is located near the Bochum Ruhr University. You can find more information on your league with current standings and results from the past games in the german VtES forum.
Right: Picture of the “Grunewald” at night.
Right: Another 2nd round wth Hardy, Sascha, Oliver, Martin and myself (March 7th).
Right: Same table viewed from the other end of the table. This time with Michael and Didi also being visible (both April 4th).
Right: Ralf’s Kazarghoulator (with it’s 1st full VP this year!!!)
Right: Sascha’s Toreador Antitribu Wall w/ Guns & Palla Grande.
Right: Hardy’s Imbued Horde trying to prove you can win with Imbued even if key cards like “Edge Explosion” are banned.
“There is reason that all things are as they are, and did you see with my eyes and know with my knowledge, you would perhaps better understand.” — Bram Stoker in “Dracula”
A good quote to answer (silly) questions why you are doing something that may seem futile or stupid to other players.
1. Johannes Walch — 2 GW 7.5 VP — 1.5 VP — Quintuple A
2. Erik Torstensson — 2 GW 8 VP — 0.5 VP — Weenie Auspex
2. Anders Löf — 2 GW 7.5 VP — 0.5 VP — Dementation lockdown deck
2. Mathias Olsson — 1 GW 6 VP — 0.5 VP — Black Hand Assamites Bloat&Bleed
2. Robert Doktorow — 1 GW 4 VP — 0 VP — Weenie !Brujah Vote
Congratulations to Johannes Walch for his win of the Swedish ECQ 2008. On the international newsgroup there is a tournament report from the winner’s perspective (including his tournament winning deck) as well as another report from the local prince’s point of view including a link to the complete ranking of the tournament. Sten During has also posted a couple of pictures on his VtES blog as well as tournament report of his own.
A french player, Sébastien “Sreg” Duranton, put together a video coverage of the VtES EC 2005, which took place in Budapest, Hungary While there is no direct coverage of actual games, there is multitude of tournament impressions and interviews. Most the interviews are in English, only a few are in French since initially the documentary’s target audience was the French VtES community. Among the interviewed people are players like Kamel Senni, Stephan Lavrut (both from France), Otto Kukkasieniemi (Finland), Hugh Angeseeing (United Kingdom) and Frank Möller(Germany).
There are often questions regarding Jake Washington, 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: Can “Jake Washington” act the turn he’s been put into play?
A: Yes. Since he was not recruited, he can act during the same turn (in the minion phase) he was put into play (in the master phase).
Q: If “Jake Washington” is burned – either in combat or for putting 4 blood on a vampire or as cannon fodder for a “Warghoul” – does this results in a counter for “Khazar’s Diary“?
A: Yes. He’s a unique ally (while in play) and he has been burned, so this fulfills the criteria given on “Khazar’s Diary“, and therefore a counter is placed on “Khazar’s Diary”.
Q: Can you play “Compel the Spirit” (or similar cards) to bring “Jake Washington” back into play?
A: No. Since he’s not an ally while the card is in the ash heap, he cannot be named as target in the ash heap by cards referring to allies. The same applies to cards like “The Summoning” which targets an ally card in the library.
This month’s deck is the tournament winning deck played by Johannes Walch. The deck takes the already well-known Triple-A deck a step further by making a fusion of the classic Anson deck with an Toreador Grand Ball deck and a Triple AAA deck. Furthermore it adds “Ambulance” from the “Lords of the Night” expansion. Powerful as it might seem it is not so easy to play, good combo play and waiting for the right occasion is essentially for winning with this deck. “Parity Shift” and “Minion Tap” are used for pool gain, while “Aching Beauty” together with “Ambulance” and “Change of Target” punish blockers heavily.