When I was in Stockholm last year on the occasion of the VTES EC 2014, one of the Swedish players, Randal, showed me a VTES deck game. Actually it’s not a game, but rather a thought experiment. The game is about if and how you can win a game of VTES with a given setup of decks.
To conduct the thought experiment, you first have to build a deck of 40-90 cards. But instead of regular VtES cards, each card represents a particular deck (e.g. a Ventrue Lawfirm, Malkavian antitribu Kindred Spirits or Tremere Wall deck). For that purpose, you just use a slip of paper with the name of the deck type, which is pushed on top of a regular, sleeved VtES card. The actual game is done by laying down a card representing your deck (the one you’re currently building, or you just played the week before, etc.). Then you draw four cards from the deck and lay down the four cards (each representing a different player with a deck) face up in a circle. This represents a game of VtES with you and four other players struggling for the victory.
With this 5 player table laid out, answer the following three questions:
- Do you think you can win this table?
- How do you think will the table develop (e.g. who is ousted in which order, which direction will each player go (backoust?), ..)?
- If you could choose any position for your deck between the four other decks, which position would be the best for you in order to win the table?
The game has no real goal, you cannot “win” it. It just helps you to answer (at least two questions):
- How can you win a a given table (e.g. how do you need to influence/manipulate) the table that you emerge as winner?
- The second question is if your deck is tournament viable. If you lay out the decks for three consecutive tables, can you score one game win (or more)? If not, it may be just bad seating (that’s happening from time to time) or your deck just isn’t good enough.
My deck deck consists now of 80 decks roundabout. These are not all different decks, but there a number of duplicates (e.g. Ventrue Grinder or Kiasyd Stealth Bleed) to reflect the likelihood of encountering certain deck types more often in tournaments. The PDF containing the paper slips for the decks I use is available on Dropbox.
Here’s an example of such a randomly drawn table setup:
My deck is a Gangrel Renegade Garou deck (which isn’t really a tier-1 deck), but can often still hold up in a game. Then from left to right, Ravnos Vote deck as my prey, Tremere Wall as my grandprey, Malkavian antitribu Kindred Spirits as grand predator and Tremere Big Cap Vote deck as my predator.
- Getting a VP is reasonable, making the GW less likely.
- The Tremere Big Cap deck will have a hard time surviving the Malkavian antitribu onslaught. Either way the survivor of these two decks will be heavily damaged. In the mean time I should be able to squash the Ravnos using Fame and Dragonbound. But then there’s the Tremere Wall before me, which most likely will have mopped up either the Malkavians or the Tremere Big Caps.
- I would say the position left of the Tremere Wall deck may be best. It would allow me to either kill the Malkavian antitribu or the weakened Tremere Vote deck first, and then hopefully in concert with the Tremere Wall deck to kill the Ravnos afterwards. But crucial is perhaps that I am able to recruit two Renegade Garou without having the Tremere being able to block the recruit actions.