The Anson Master Cards (or short: Anson) deck) is, of course, based on Anson’s special ability to get two master phase action each turn. It runs an insanely high count of master cards, usually something between 30 to 50 master cards, but sometimes even higher than that. The Anson Master Cards deck has won a couple of tournaments, but since the text of Anarch Revolt has been revised, the deck archetype ceased to appear in tournaments. Nowadays other Toreador decks like Aching Beauty or Toreador Grandball archetypes are more successful in tournaments.
How to win with them
There’s a good reason why a player is (usually) only allowed to play a single master card each turn, that is master cards are (often) the strongest cards in the game. The Anson deck archetype is trying to exploit this strength by playing two to three master cards each turn. The third master phase action is usually acquired by putting Parthenon into play.(1)
The deck’s role during the game is mostly very passive; during its minion phase the deck almost never does anything, apart from calling an occasional vote like Parity Shift. In other player’s turn it resorts to blocking, but only to end combat with Majesty or Obedience. So how the’s deck going to win if doesn’t do anything or little while acting (or blocking)? The answer was Anarch Revolt.
The old version of Anarch Revolt dealt one pool damage to a player in his untap phase, while the new version does only so if you do not control a ready Anarch. Having a number of Anarch Revolts in play had much greater ousting potential before the card text was changed, especially if you could “defend” them by having the vote majority (with Anson, Anneke, etc.) at the table and playing Delaying Tactics in addition.
Delaying Tactics is quite o.k. when trying to keep at least one Anarch Revolt in play. This is because in a given turn the Delaying Tactics “protects” a particular Anarch Revolt to be removed by vote. But if you have multiple Anarch Revolts in play the vampires of the acting player can still try call referendum to remove the other Anarch Revolts in play despite a Delaying Tactics against the “first” Anarch Revolt played in the same turn. Check this thread in the Usenet newsgroup for all its gory rule details. With Anthelios, the Red Star and Anson it is also possible to retrieve the same Anarch Revolt that was removed since your last turn and play it in the same master phase.
So the main task is two play one, two or even three Anarch Revolts in same turn, in the mid- to long run not many decks can cope with that pool loss. To make things worse for the other players, you can retrieve the Anarch Revolts with Anthelios and replay them immediately with Anson’s special. This is very efficient, since you need your master phase actions for the many other master cards to play. But you can use the potential as argument, so other players are deterred from removing the Anarch Revolts.
Another angle to destroy its prey’s resources (read: vampires) can be Golconda: Inner Peace and Hostile Takeover (if some Ventrue is added to the crypt). Golconda can also be used to gaining pool by playing a Minion Tap on Anson first to empty him, and then burning him with Golconda to gain another 8 pool. Golconda is also good for defending Anson, i.e if he’s in torpor or if some nasty master card was played on him like Pentex Subversion or Fame. So burn Anson and bring out another copy of him this turn (at least a turn later).
The deck can deal moderately, there are a few options to help or harm players cross-table but not too many. Among these are Golconda and Hostile Takeover for removing vampires or Parity Shift for distributing pool. But most important are the Life Boons where you can give players enough pool so that they won’t get ousted by the wrong player.
The crypt is focused on Anson for he’s providing the extra master phase action (beside the Parthenon) needed for the deck. The second choice for the deck is Anneke since she’s also a Toreador, has a Justicar title and a great special ability (built-in-Eagle Sight). But the crypt can be filled up with a couple of different choices. Likely candidates are Democritus for contesting cards, Huitzilopochtli for another master phase action or Alexandra for extra votes (and possibly her special ability).
The deck has two options to deal with bleed, the first is using Anson’s (inferior) Dominate to use Deflection to bounce the bleeds. Telepathic Misdirection is only added if there are other vampires in the crypt who have superior Auspex. The second option is to regain pool as fast as the bleed deck applies damage to you. This is usually done by playing Minion Tap and Golconda and (if included in the deck) Parity Shift.
The first and most important defense against political decks, and in this deck’s case against the removal of the Anarch Revolts, are their permanent votes starting with those Anson, but also from additional vampires in the deck like Anneke. Furthermore the usual vote defense with Delaying Tactics and Direct Intervention works for this deck too. As detailed above Delaying Tactics can prevent removing a particular Anarch Revolt for whole turn, but it’s hard to protect multiple Anarch Revolts in play if you don’t have vote lock.
Majesty and Obedience are the cornerstones of the combat defense. Usually Anson or any other vampire with Dominate will stay untapped and if they got rushed, play Obedience to avoid combat. Since Anson only has inferior Dominate this untaps the acting vampire, but on the other hand he cannot perform the action again that turn (unless it was a hunt action or something similar). E.g. a rush combat deck needs to use a different rush card for that minion to attack again that turn, or a bleed deck cannot bleed with the same minion again that turn. Majesty is the second line of defense here, if Anson is tapped and cannot play Obedience. Majesty is also quite handy if Anson wants or is forced to take an action, which will not happen frequently.
How to win against them
Before the rewording of the card it was quite hard to beat deck. It has quite good pool gain, the Anarch Revolts are not easy to remove if you didn’t play a vote deck yourself, and combat decks have difficulties getting in combat due to Obedience and Majesty.
Good chances against this deck archetype which can deliver persistent pressure. For example a bleed deck can deliver consistent pool damage to the Anson deck and leverage the Anarch Revolts against their controlling player. Also Weenie Rush or Multi Rush decks can be quite efficient against a master card deck. Though a couple of combats can be averted by Obedience and Majesty, persistent attacking will led to torporizing Anson (or his companions). Only make sure to diablerize Anson when he’s in torpor, otherwise Golconda played on Anson will ruin most of your efforts.Intercept decks will have very hard time, the Anson deck will avoid taking any actions in front of an intercept deck. In case of the wall deck playing Smiling Jack, a Toreador Grandball can be used to remove the Smiling Jack.
Removing the Anarch Revolts seem futile, but if you can spare the action, and you are able to or convince the rest of the table to) remove the Anarch Revolts, you should do so. Yes, your opponent can still use two master actions and Anthelios to retrieve the card and replay it, but on the other hand then he’s not playing a Minion Tap and retrieve a Direct Intervention for example.
After the rewording, defense against the deck is often easy. Make an Anarch or two and you’re immune against the deck. The immunity clause on Anarch Revolt has spawned a different type of deck. The Anarch Revolt deck nowadays, have a couple of Anarch vampires and a small number of Anarch Revolts in play. In order to make the Anarch Revolts effective, they kill the Anarch vampires of their prey. But as I said this is another type of deck … Anyhow the Anson deck is not really capable of removing vampires in a reliable way, so the Anarch Revolts are not working anymore as reliable as before.
- Anson — his special is the key to the deck archetype.
- Parthenon — gives another extra master phase.
- Obedience / Majesty — combat defense, read: avoidance.
- Parity Shift Voter Captivation — basic combo to damage your prey and bloat at the same time.
- Minion Tap / Golconda — “Minion Tap” is first part of the bloat mechanism, while “Golconda” is the second as well as the failsafe if Anson is torporized.
Notable Examples & Variations
There are some variants of the deck, mostly there are slight difference in crypt selection, and if and which political actions to pack into the deck.
- The Master’s Voice by Rob Treasure — basic variant with Anarch Revolts and a few votes.
- Toreador master deck by Riku Niittymäki — omits the political actions, and can oust without taking a single action.
- Anarch Revolt by Kevin J. Wiebe — adds a “Dominate” weenie horde for extra bleed/ousting power.
- Anneke+Anson by Ruben Van Cauwenberghe — mixes the “Anson master card” deck with a “Toreador Grand Ball” deck.
(1) Take note that you do not get an extra master phase action with Anson or Rumors of Gehenna. In both cases you get two master phase actions, can even if you benefit from these two cards at the same time you still have “only” two master phase actions.