Another old strategy article originally pusblished on Rustwurk in 2002. This time Gregory Williams gives you 5 tips how be a better VtES player, and you can learn some Latin, too.
- Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo. — “A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force, but by continuously dripping – (Ovidius, Ex Ponto).”
Simply put…Be patient! V:TES is a not a quick game by any means. Most games last two or more hours. Take your time and you will be a better player. If I had to choose just one tip to give you, this would be it. Patience!
First, remember not to rush your play. I can’t count how many times I have seen experienced players play a card before it was their time to do so, and therefore giving away cards in their hand and potentially changing their opponents card-play. Take your time and go through the stages of play. In combat, remember that the acting player plays his cards first…and let him. When bleeding, don’t immediately slap down a bleed modifier, even if you are sure you have enough stealth, it may yet be deflected. I see this mistake more among new players, but it occasionally happens with more experienced players. Furthermore, when you are being bled, let them bump their bleed before you deflect!!!
Second, don’t burn yourself out. Don’t go ‘balls out‘ on your prey when it means you leave yourself vulnerable to your predator. Every game is different, but, in general, you must remember that while there may be times when you can bleed your prey out, it may not be advantageous to do so. If you have to tap yourself out to gain 6 pool and a victory point (presumably your first), and this leaves you wide open to your predator and he bleeds you out…what did you really gain? One victory point doesn’t win the game. I have mostly seen this behavior in former Magic:TG players. They tend to focus more on the immediate kill and not the overall game. They end up going full out on their prey and more often then not, their grand-prey takes the game due to lack of pressure.
Lastly, Never give up! Quite often, when players get in a bad situation they tend to do stupid moves. Here’s an example: four players in the game. My prey looked poised to take out his prey (my grand-prey). So my Grand-prey, on his turn says, “Well, I am probably dead next turn…. so I will bleed with everything”. His prey (my predator) defends every bleed attempt. On my turn, I play an Anarchist Uprising[Worth 1 Vote. Called by any vampire at +1 stealth. Successful referendum means each Methuselah burns 1 pool for each minion he or she controls.] which kills both my predator and prey. My grand-prey (now my prey) has no vamps to defend with, so I bleed him out that turn as well. If he had left his vamps untapped, he very well could have managed to win the game. And I think he could have managed it too, since I had nearly run myself out of cards. The point here is, you never know what can happen in a game. Even when all seems bleak, play to win, you might just dig yourself out of whatever hole you are in.
- Fortuna caeca est. — “Fortune is blind.”
Don’t rely on the luck of the draw. Quite often I see players play cards hoping to draw into what they need. Sure it happens from time to time, but never often enough. Rely on what’s in your hand. Don’t bleed unless you have the stealth. Don’t ‘Bum’s Rush‘ unless you have the cards to do some damage. If you do end up drawing into more of the cards you need, all the better. Don’t make that bet unless you are willing to pay the price. Understandably, there are situations when sometimes you need to go for it. But remember Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.”
I know that some people might argue that if you build a good deck, then chances are that you would draw into what you need. Well, if you have built a good deck, then everything you need should be in the seven cards in your hand! Right? Truly, the situation dictates your actions, and every new game brings a new situation. Just don’t let your action be a wasted one. Make each action count and don’t rely on luck. That bitch is ever fickle!
- Semper paratus, numquam non paratus. — “Always be prepared, never unprepared.”
Read the cards! Know what cards are played and re-read them! I know, let me guess, you have been playing since 1994 and you know every card from every set, why should you re-read the cards, right? Because, the fact is that unless you have a photographic memory, nobody will remember every nuance from every card. For instance, what is Blythe Candeleria’s (Tremere) negative ability? Or Leon’s (!Gangrel) negative ability? What is the secondary ability on The Hand of Conrad? Do you remember them all? Maybe you do, but there will be cards that you don’t. Take a moment, remember tip #1, use patience, and read the cards that are played. When another player (even across table) plays a card and you can’t remember what it does, or you can’t think of what the card text is in your mind, verbatim, then ask to look at the card. Don’t let yourself get surprised. Even if the person is across table, if you play your cards right (pun intended) they will eventually end up next to you.
Also, don’t forget what cards are on the table. Quite often players forget about the Rumour Mill across table, or the Masquer Wraith, etc … that can give intercept to another and they get burned for it. Be prepared for that contingency and pay attention to the cards in play!
- Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur. – “That man is wise who talks little (know when to hold your tongue).”
Don’t give it away! So often I see players, experienced or not, do something so simple that hurts them so much ….. they show their hand to their predator. How many times have you looked over and …whoops… there is your prey’s hand looking you square in the face? Did you mean to look? No! But how can you not notice 5 red-bordered cards, and 2 gray-bordered cards staring back at you? Well, I wasn’t planning on bleeding, but since he has no wakes or intercept cards … well, how can I not! It seems such a simple thing to do, but you would be surprised at how much better you will play without your predator knowing all your secrets. Don’t show your hand.
Another silly thing I see players do is mention or hint at cards they have in their hand. Don’t mention a card in your hand unless it’s a strategy of some kind. Keep your secrets hidden. When you opponent’s know what’s in you hand, they change their strategy accordingly (sometimes this is to your advantage if you play it right). And as likewise mentioned in Tip #1, take your time and don’t play your cards too fast revealing cards before their time. Don’t it give away!
- Animis opibusque parati. — “Prepared in minds and resources (ready for anything).”
Always think they have it! What does this mean? Well, it is always better to overestimate your opponent than underestimate them. Play as if your prey has a Wake in his hand or a Deflection. Play as if your predator has a Conditioning and the stealth to get it through. Play as if the vote deck has the Kine Resources Contested and the necessary votes. I think you get my point. I am not saying that you should play as if you are afraid of what your opponents have in their hand. Just be ready for anything and expect them to pull off the unexpected. If they do, you will be more prepared for it, and if they don’t you will be pleasantly surprised. As I have said before, every situation is different and there are no absolutes, but it is wise to play as though you opponent has what they need in their hand. Prudence is the better part of Valor.
- Gregory Williams is the VEKN Prince of Providence and has been a VTES player since Jyhad debuted in 1994.