The Aching Beauty deck archetype is based on the Toreador card of the same name. In essence it is a mixed bleed/political deck that uses the cards Aching Beauty & Change of Target, and Majesty (to name the basic cards) to punish blockers. You don’t see this deck as often in the finals of tournaments since other deck archetypes like Inner Circle Vote or Kindred Spirits Bleed are a bit stronger, but played properly it can be a real asset.
How to win with them
Unlike most other deck archetypes, this deck’s vampires want to be blocked, since by blocking you’re hurting the blocker’s pool (or blood on vampires). The pool damage/blood loss is inflicted mainly by the two cards Aching Beauty and Crocodiles Tongue. Both cards requirements can be covered by using mid- to high-capacity Toreador vampires, since Aching Beauty requires Toreador vampires, and Crocodiles Tongue requires Auspex and is only usable against younger vampires and allies.
To maximize the effect, both Change of Target and Majesty are used. The use of these two cards allows a vampire to perform a second action even after he’s blocked. So the acting vampire can often either
- perform the 1. action successfully if not blocked at all.
- perform the 2. action successfully, and punish the blocker for blocking the 1. action.
- perform no action, but punish the blocker twice.
Usually the two actions are one bleed action and one political action. Which one should you attempt first depends largely on the current situation and the cards in your hand. For example, if your prey has access to bleed bounce and is tapped out, you want to try the political action first, since this would require your prey to play an untap card and if he blocks, you can bleed more freely since the chance that he has another untap card is reduced now. If you have a Parity Shift on your hand and your prey has more pool than you, you will attempt the Parity Shift first, since if you bleed first he has likely less pool than you, rendering the Parity Shift useless for the current turn.
Crocodiles Tongue, despite the restrictions to younger vampires and allies, is quite useful, especially when it mutates from a block punishing card to a block denial card later in the game when vampires are low on blood and cannot (or want not) spent blood for being able to block. If the designated blocker is an ally or vampire with one blood, the action cannot be blocked by this reacting player anymore, and if the blocker is an ally with two life, e.g. the popular Carlton van Wyk, he has to sacrificed if the reacting player wants to block the action at all.
Another blood burner is the political action “Camarilla Exemplary” which forces the blocking vampire to burn a blood each time he attempts to block a vampire with “Camarilla Exemplary”. This is an alternative to the other political actions like Parity Shift or Kine Resources Contested.
A typical action sequence could look like this:
- Anson with Aching Beauty attempts Parity Shift.
- Action is blocked by your prey.
- Prey pays one pool for attempting to block.
- Anson plays Change of Target.
- Anson attempts tries to steal Procurer from its prey with Entrancement.
- Carlton van Wyk tries to block.
- Prey pays one pool for attempting to block.
- Anson plays Crocodiles Tongue.
- Preys declines any blocks, since he doesn’t want to lose a life from his precious Carlton.
- Anson takes control of the Procurer.
In the end you gained control of the Procurer and your prey lost two pool. One the other hand the whole action sequence cost you four cards and the action of one of your vampires. This is not a good ratio per se, but eventually it wears your prey down. And in this example he will be weary to block any crucial action of your’s with Carlton van Wyk again, since this might be forcing him to burn Carlton if an vampire with superior Auspex attempts an action.
The buildup of the deck is rather slow. It takes some time to influence out the mid-cap/large cap Toreador vampires and giving them the necessary Aching Beauties, although it is possible to start the action-block-untap/cancel action cycle without the Aching Beauties, but that’s only half the fun for your prey/predator.
One of the strengths of the deck is that the Toreador can bleed and vote quite good, since they have
A rather new addition to this decktype is Ambulance which lets you continue an action even after a successful block. If the action is then blocked a second time, the Ambulance is gone, but on the other hand your prey has lost another pool or more.
A general issue for the deck is the pool management, since Aching Beauty is a costly card. It makes no sense to use blood farming since your vampires are quite large, and the actions you want to take are either bleed or political actions. The main means of gaining pool are those of a large-cap vote deck, i.e. Minion Tap and a preferably a successful referendum with Voter Captivation in the following minion phase. Giants Blood is also very often included, but since there’s only copy in your deck and one Giants Blood can be played per game, it’s generally too unreliable.
When choosing vampires for the crypt, the Toreador Princes and Justicars are on the top list, usually Anson and Anneke leading the crowd of G1/G2 crypt. When focusing on these groups Alexandra and Tatiana Romanov are also often included. The other grouping would be G2/G3 (since the lack of good group 4 vampires for this deck), in this grouping Alexandra, Madame Guil, Fleurdumal and Francois Villon are first choices to pick from.
The Toreador have generally two approaches to cope with bleed. The first option is to use Auspex for bouncing bleeds with Telephatic Misdirection (and possibly My Enemies Enemy). The second approach is to use Second Tradition: Domain for untapping and blocking the bleed attempts. Of course both approaches can be combined/mixed. Both approaches have their advantages, the first one gives your prey additional actions to block or to cope with. The second approach gives you both intercept and the ability to untap, enabling to make your deck successful with even two (or three) vampires only.
The deck relies here often solely on their inherent votes, and omit cards like Delaying Tactics or Poison Pill. Some newer variants of the deck feature Scapel’s Tongue, since it is possible to use the card in the defense and in the offense to cancel another vampires votes.
Combat defense can be divided into two sections, combat defense when acting and combat defense when reacting. In the first case there both Majesty and Change of Target are used, Change of Target is often preferable since it prevents the use of cards like Immortal Grapple or Psyche. Only in order to tap a previously untapped blocking minion, Majesty will be better, since it makes your acting vampire untap after the action, while it (usually) taps the blocking minion. Combat defense while reacting is provided with Majesty and Obedience, although the later requires Dominate which only a number of Toreador have, but usually only at the inferior level. Both usuable for offensive and defensive means are Majesty and .44 Magnum, the later are sometimes added in low numbers to the deck. The .44 Magnum is good since it gives indirectly/possible damage prevention due to the range, and it hurts the opposing minion. On the other hand if the opposing vampires has access to maneuvers it won’t help much.
How to win against them
The hardest decision is usually which actions to block when a Toreador with an Aching Beauty or two is acting. You cannot possibly block all of them since damages your pool far too much. If you have access to bleed bounce, bounce the bleeds boosted with Legal Manipulations or Aire of Elation. If you have votes, do not block the political actions and try to make the following referendum fail. In general, you should decide how much the block and and a potential follow-up action might cost you. For example, a bleed for three is less damage than a block attempt against an Aching Beauty and a following Kine Resource Contested.
Rush Combat is the greatest weakness of the deck, since in these decks both Psyche or Immortal Grapple are included which foil the decks main combat defense Majesty. The Toreador also often does not feature a Secure Haven, since it frequently plays master card on his own minions and a “Secure Haven” would increase their cost each time for a given vampire. Intercept combat decks often have hard time against an Aching Beauty deck since it is very costly to consistently block the Toreador, and often the Change of Target and Majesty have a reverse effect on your wall deck.
If a Toreador vampire has been dunked to torpor, it is often the best option to diablerize him, especially if there are one or more copies of Aching Beauty on that vampire. Blocking the rescue attempt is often not a viable option, because the Toreador vampires then play their usual game here by announcing an action, and if blocked play Majesty or Change of Target.
Most vote decks can compete with the Toreador in terms of vote, but often it’s important who actually calls the vote and can play vote push cards like Bewitching Oration or Awe. Most vote decks have access to a decent amount of bleed bounce, but since the “Toreador” will try to bleed consistently this can be problem.
When playing a Stealth Bleed or Powerbleed deck as a predator of an Aching Beauty deck, your chances of ousting are quite good, but you have to be aware of two things. First they can bounce usually quite well, so keeping a Spying Mission at hand or bleeding at no stealth can be crucial. Secondly, since your chances of ousting are good, your prey will likely go backwards and try to oust you with Parity Shift and Kine Resources Contested. As a prey of an Aching Beauty deck, you’ll have to outrace the Aching Beauty. Bounce any bleeds bigger than 2, try to play Delaying Tactics or Direct Intervention against the most damaging votes.
- Aching Beauty — main deck card; hurts the blocker’s pool when an action is blocked.
- Change of Target — enables your vampire to perform multiple actions per turn if blocked.
- Majesty — Offensive/defensive combat card.
- Crocodiles Tongue — block deterrent for allies; wears down blocking vampires.
- Ambulance — makes a blocked action succesful or let’s your prey pay another time for the Aching Beauty.
Notable Examples & Variations
- Aching Beauty by Ferenc Vasadi — basic all-round variant; Winner of EC 2007.
- Fork-Tongued Socialites by Robert Scythe — with a high count of “Camarilla Exemplary” and Crocodiles Tongue punishes blockers extra hard.
- Quintuple A by Johannes Walch — strictly speaking not a pure Aching Beauty deck, but adding Ambulance is stroke of genius.
- Masking The Unblockable by Sten During — focuses on Toreador with Obfuscate to make use of Mask of 1K Faces after blocks are declined.
May 28th, 2006
2R + FDeck Name: Blocking is Pain, We Bring the Pain
Created By: John Bell
Description: Fairly straightforward; stacking Cam Exemplary, Archon, and Aching Beauty followed up with Croc Tongue punishes blockers. Getting a .44 further adds to the misery late game.Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 31, Max: 43, Avg: 9.33)
3 Alexandra dom ANI AUS CEL PRE 11 Toreador
2 Anneke dom AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
2 Francois Villon chi obf pot AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
4 Anson aus dom CEL PRE 8 Toreador
1 Tatiana Romanov cel pre AUS 7 Toreador
Library: (90 cards)
Master (24 cards)
8 Aching Beauty
1 Giant`s Blood
9 Minion Tap
1 Art Museum
1 Secret Horde
1 Parthenon, The
1 Toreador Grand Ball
1 Archon Investigation
1 Direct Intervention
Action Modifier (31 cards)
7 Voter Captivation
7 Change of Target
4 Aire of Elation
7 Crocodile`s Tongue
6 Bewitching Oration
Political Action (17 cards)
4 Camarilla Exemplary
6 Kine Resources Contested
2 Parity Shift
2 Ancilla Empowerment
Reaction (5 cards)
5 Second Tradition: Domain, The
Combat (8 cards)
Equipment (4 cards)
4 .44 Magnum
Event (1 cards)
1 Anthelios, the Red Star