Lately it came to my mind, how dependent we are on what we think or expect what a particular deck our opponent is playing in game of VtES. Currently I am playing an Ahrimanes bleed deck on a regular basis, and literally everybody is expecting a wall deck, even after I have bleed for 5 with Heart of the City and Aire of Elation. Although there are some block capabilities in the deck (mainly Speak with Spirits and Raven Spies) compared to a Weenie Auspex deck the block options are rather limited. And one road to success is to counter these expectations.
You can observe a similar phenomenon, if you are playing in a VtES league or play certain decks quite often (or over a prolonged time). Usually after the second or third time you play that deck, the other players will recognize it (by vampires played and/or distinctive library cards) and say things like, “it’s this and that deck“, and stuff as “it has no intercept“, “it can fight very well, but cannot bleed significantly“, etc. etc.
You can take advantage of these (sometimes) premature opinions, when you counter their expectations and have one or two variations of a deck at hand. This is similar to the module concept I have discussed a short while ago, but this time we make variations of the same deck by including a set of cards (instead of switching the same card module between different decks). As an example, I will show you two decklists for basically the same deck and the cards exchanged between the two decks.
What I did for that Ahrimanes deck was exchanging only the combat module, 8-10 cards in total (out of a 80 card deck).
It should make much of a difference for the deck’s purpose as a bleed deck, since usually I use the Aid from Bats for avoiding combat (rather than inflicting damage) and the Presence based S:CE cards do any equally good, if not better job for this.
The concept also works for slight changes, for example switch the two Direct Interventions in your deck to two Sudden Reversals next time. Again, the main purpose is to take away that sense of security the other players might and catch them off-balance. In the same spirit as for the modularity concept, you have to be careful not to change (or weaken) the main purpose of the deck.
On the other hand, a large scale variation doesn’t work for all decktypes or clans. The Ahrimanes in the example are very useful for the concept of deck variations, since they have somewhat flexible disciplines (Spiritus in particular) and you can build a variety of different decks types based on this clan, from rush combat using Nose of the Hound & Animalism combat to stealth bleed using Presence and Spiritus.