Inner Circle Vote is a powerful deck archetype based on the strength of the Camarilla Inner Circle (IC) members in general and its most prominent member, Arika (of clan Ventrue), in particular. The deck strength and ousting power is based on the inherent four votes of the Inner Circle title and the inherent +2 bleed each of these big cap vampires has. The deck primary offense are political actions like Kine Resource Contested and Banishment (and before its ban Protect Thine Own), where the bleed actions are usually only taken to finish off its prey or as a second action when the acting vampire was blocked, and used cards like Freak Drive or Majesty to untap. When other players realize that this deck is at their table, it often becomes a primary target since its power is widely feared (and rightly so).
How to win with them
The deck has a slow build-up, despite the heavy use of cards that increase transfers before/during the influence phase like Zillahs Valley or Information Highway. The deck often starts as late turn 4 or 5, and in this phase is quite low on pool. During the first rounds after the initial vampire is brought into the controlled region it is mandatory to either have a pool gaining vote like Ancient Influence or Parity Shift passed and/or a Minion Tap played on this minion to regain 5+ pool.
After the initial buildup and bringing out a second (or sometimes third) Inner Circle vampire, the deck starts in the late midgame to become dangerous. Then it can use its voting and bleed power to full extent, often having vote lock at the table.
The deck use a wide variety of political cards, most prominently
- Kine Resource Contested / “Conservative Agitation” — main ousting cards
- Protect Thine Own (before it was banned) — the ultimate vampire killer
- Banishment — to remove key vampires from prey or predator
- Political Stranglehold / Ancient Influence / Reins of Power — to gain pool/damage prey
Since most of the Inner Circle vampires have access to the Obfuscate discipline, Obfuscate stealth cards (usually Forgotten Labyrinth, Lost in Crowds and Elder Impersonation) are used to make the political action successful.
Bleed actions are sometimes used to distract potential blockers, especially if the acting vampire can play a Majesty during combat or Freak Drive after the action, to perform a political action. One of the strengths of the deck is that a prey must be always aware of the fact that each of these large cap vampires can either bleed and take political actions to harm them. So the prey must take careful considerations what actions to block (or at least trying to block).
The deck uses either the inherent votes or, to a lesser extent, vote pushing cards like Awe and Bewitching Oraction to make the following referendum successful. A handful of Voter Captivations are used to refill the vampires and bloat a little bit.
During the endgame the deck, if the player is not ousted, usually becomes the proverbial steamroller, crushing its preys often in rapid sucession, since everyone is more or less low and pool, and the continued political actions or bleeds are taking its toll.
The deck has the usual Dominate bleed defense cards in particular Deflection, since most of the deck’s vampires have superior Dominate and enough blood to play even multiple Deflections per turn. Some decks replacing some IC members with Princes or Justicars replace some (or sometimes even all of the bleed bounce cards by Second Tradition: Domain and Obedience/Majesty.
The vote defense is quite good, since both the IC votes plus the Ventrue Headquarters give enough votes to gain vote lock at almost all the tables. For this reason deck omits the traditional defensive vote cards like Delaying Tactics or Confusion of the Eye.
Since the deck isn’t very combat orientated, it has a mix of cards to avoid or end combat, Usually this is the classic mix of Majesty, Obedience and Secure Haven. So the deck often has problems especially against Rush or Intercept combat featuring Psyche or Immortal Grapple .
How to win against them
This is a deck archetype you do not want to leave alone for too long. Properly staffed with 2 to 3 Inner Circle members it’s very hard to stop, since it’s often not easy to block these minions and with 8 to 12 votes your opponent often has vote lock on the table. One disadvantage of the deck is its notoriety, which as a prey or predator of this deck you can turn to your advantage. Especially as a predator of the IC vote deck you should incite your grandprey to going backwards, since if your grand prey is not playing a fast deck, he will get too much pressure in the midgame to withstand.
As a prey of this deck you need to consider if you can oust your prey before the IC deck ousts you. And if not, going backwards against this deck is mandatory. You need to remove at least one IC, even considering a diablerie; you may even convince the table for getting away with this, since Arika (or Leandro or ..) is eeevvvil.
If the IC vote deck cannot regain the pool by playing Minion Taps on its big cap vampires, it usually gets into trouble. The Voter Captivations are still there, but the Minion Taps for 6 – 8 pool are the deck most important pool (re-)gain. So playing Sudden Reversal and Wash against the Minion Taps is definitely slowing down an IC deck, eventually maybe even killing it. Also helpful are Delaying Tactics against the once-per-game votes, since the IC player can discard them immediately, since they are considered played if the Delaying Tactics has been canceled them.
A fast stealth or power bleed deck can oust this deck quickly, especially if the Minion Taps are canceled by Sudden Reversal or Wash. But a bleed deck should be aware that the IC vote deck will either try to back-oust if too much pressure on it or may try to turn the pressure to its prey by playing bleed bounce (most often Deflection).
As rush or intercept combat decks, need to be aware of the numerous combat ending cards (like Majesty or Obedience) the IC members play. So either you need to rush/block consistently or in the case of Strike: Combat Ends you need the usual suspects of cards like Immortal Grapple, Psyche or Telephatic Tracking. Again diablerzing one of the IC members may be an option if the rest of the table is cooperating, and has more votes than the IC deck, once one of the IC members is in torpor.
- Information Highway / Zillah’s Valley — influence accelerator to minimize disadvantage of late big cap appearances.
- “Protect Thine Own — previously one of the signature cards of an IC vote deck, but with the ban of this card, the deck archetype is weakend considerably.
- Ancient Influence / Reins of Power / Political Strangehold — once-per-game votes for gaining pool and/or damaging other player’s pool.
- Banishment — after the demise of PTO the main weapon to remove vampires from the controlled region (at least for the current turn).
- Voter Captivation — pool gain and more importantly refiller for the vampires who have been emptied with “Minion Tap” before.
- Minion Tap — main pool gain/recovery.
Notable Examples & Variations
The deck has some variations, which mainly focus on crypt variation.
- The first one is a fusion of the IC Vote deck and the Ventrue w/ Obfuscate Vote archetype. A number of IC members particularly Gwendolyn, Harrod and Stanislava are replaced by high cap Princes or Justicars (often of clan Ventrue). This gives a better coverage of the decks main disciplines Dominate, Obfuscate and Presence. On the downside the replacement vampires like Marcus Vitel or Queen Anne lack a bit of power (bleed/vote) when compared to their IC counterparts.
- The second one exchanges a number of Inner Circle members with high cap vampires (often “Princes”) which have special abilities which make their inclusion valuable. One particular variant features Maris Streck for her intercept-giving ability and Huitzilopochtli for providing an additional master phase. Other possible additions include Anson or Anneke.
Sample decks for this deck types are:
- IC Vote by Ruben Van Cauwenberghe — basic variant with Parity Shift, Banishment and Protect Thine Own as main offensive weapons.
- Arika’s Stealthy Southern Baptists by Cameron Domer — variant with a large number of Obedience and Second Tradition Domain, lacking any bleed bounce.
- The Turd by Rob Treasure — highly successful variant with Anneke and Anson.
- Council of Doom by Vincent Ripoll / Kamel Senni — variant with Huitzilopochtli and Maris Streck.