“Weenie Animalism” decks, as the name of this VTES deck archetype suggests, are decks based on small (sometimes also mid-cap) vampires with the Animalism discipline (preferably in the superior version). The deck can be played as rush combat as well as intercept combat deck, but both use the same combat package consisting of a large number of Carrion Crows and Aid from Bats combat cards.
How to win with them
The deck’s strength lies in its cost efficient minions (and therefore often a sizable number of vampires), and a very effective combat package. There are quite a number of low to mid-cap vampires with superior Animalism, and Animalism on its own has some very efficient combat cards (see also Crypt Composition section below). Most notable in this deck archetype is the combat package consisting of Carrion Crows and Aid from Bats, of which the decks incorporates 10 to 20 each.
So the question is how to get in combat, so can you use all those Animalism combat cards? There are generally three ways of doing this:
- by bleeding consistently,
- by rushing other minions,
- by blocking other minions.
The bleed variation of the archetype usually used to use Deep Song for bleeding, and tries to lure the blockers into combat. This used to be Computer Hacking and Tier of Souls, but because the first is inferior to Deep Song in Animalism deck, and the second offers less versatility than Deep Song, you don’t see these cards very often in an Animalism deck anymore. This only works if you keep bleeding consistently with 2 to 3 minions per turn, since otherwise your prey can cope with the relatively low bleeds by bouncing them or just taking the pool damage. The bleed orientated decks also sometimes pack the bleed enhancing retainers (Tasha Morgan, J.S. Simmons Esq. and maybe even Robert Carter) and swap them around with Heidelburg Castle. Do not use Camera Phone for this purpose (or at least not that many), because you cannot use the Camera Phone at same time with Deep Song (both are actions).
The next variation uses rush actions to enter combat with other minions directly. Either the action cards having no prerequisite are used like Bum’s Rush or Ambush; but in the latest (official) expansions Animalism got its share of rush cards like Deep Song, Sense Death and Taunt the Caged Beast. Each of these rush cards based on Animalism have the disadvantage that the acting vampire can only enter combat with vampires (Sense Death even only with younger vampires). So the discipline-less rush cards should still be considered for this deck variation in order to be able to enter combat with allies (e.g. Imbued).
With Deep Song the Weenie Animalism deck now has the ultimate fusion of the two strategies. A vampire using the card can bleed at +1 at inferior Animalism, and at superior he can enter combat with another vampire. The superior version also has the advantage that the roles of acting and reacting vampires are reversed during combat. This can save cards when you know that your opponent is playing Strike: Combat Ends for example. For ousting usually Fame, Tension in the Ranks or Dragonbound are used similar to a Celerity Gun deck.
Played as intercept combat deck, the deck is quite similar to a Weenie Auspex deck. It uses small vampires to disrupt its prey’s game, and later tries to control the table with permanent intercept. But instead of relying on guns as main combat cards, the Weenie Animalism deck relies on the above mentioned two Animalism staple cards. In addition sometimes Murder of Crows is used to increase the environmental damage inflicted by Carrion Crows. In order to oust its prey cards like Army of Rats or Smiling Jack are used, though the deck often cannot prevent these cards removed in the early or mid-game, the deck does a very good defending these cards in the mid- to late game, when all of its permacept cards and other assets are in place.
The most important variation of the recent years, is the inclusion of Nana Buruku & Ashur Tablets to the deck. Nana Buruku is included because of her special ability, which allows to use two master phase actions each turn. The Ashur Tablets provide the means to recover the combat/rush/intercept cards you need the most in the next turns, and gives you some pool gain, which the deck type usually has little access to otherwise. It also allows you reduce the deck size to 75 to 80 cards.
There are other variants of this deck that utilize combat-able allies like Renegade Garou or War Ghoul, depending on the actual clans being used in the deck. This gives the deck an additional edge, especially since both aforementioned allies have a built-in rush capability.
In general, the deck archetype needs some skill to play, especially when to block and which vampires to rush is crucial for success.
The deck almost always lacks any bleed bounce, so the primary defense are the intercept provided by the Raven Spies or taking down bleeders with rush combat. Depending on the type of bleed deck (power bleed or stealth bleed), it can be important to concentrate the Raven Spies on one vampire, or to distribute them among an even number of vampires. Versus a powerbleed deck it can be enough to have three ready vampires, two of them with a single raven spy. Versus a stealth bleed deck you need to place all available Raven Spies on a single vampire (at least 3) to be able to block bleeders, and even that may not be enough to stop the bleeding vampire, e.g. when the acting vampire uses Elder Impersonation to bypass the blocker or if he can make the bleed unblockable (e.g. by using Strange Day).
If the deck features only a small number of Raven Spies, it is important to rush backwards and to take a vampire or two down, This reduces the immediate pressure and gives you time to get more Raven Spies and otherwise get your resources into play, e.g. permacept locations like KRCG Newsradio. This is most efficient against Stealth Bleed decks, since often don’t pack little or any combat defense.
Because the deck’s vampire seldom have any titles/votes, the vote defense relies on the same principles as the bleed defense. Basic defense is the intercept, rush vampires if you have not built up enough intercept yet. In addition a small number of Delaying Tactics help to give your deck enough time to build a proper wall with permanent intercept or take down the key vampires of your predator.
“Offense is defense” could be the motto of the deck. The combat package with Carrion Crows and Aid from Bats is a good against most combat decks, since the damage inflicted by the Carrion Crows are somewhat hard to deal with (i.e. to prevent). Especially if your deck can do it over and over again.
Probably the worst match-up in terms of combat is Weenie Potence deck, where the opponent has invested as few pool as your deck, and the opposing vampires often hit harder than your Animalism minions. The match-up against Celerity Gun combat is usually a close one. While the Celerity Gun minions can take down the opposing Animalism Weenie in a single turn easily, they have to fear Canine Horde and maybe Drawing out the Beast & Terror Frenzy on the other hand, though the later are not seen that often in a typical Weenie Animalism deck,
The best vampires for this deck type are those with superior Animalism and minimal capacity (5 or less). The best vampires around matching the criteria are Stick (capacity 3), Bobby Lemon (4), and Beetleman (4). Often these vampires appear two times in Weenie Animalism crypt, and the crypt then is filled with low cap vampires with inferior Animalism, and one or two 5 capacity vampires with superior Animalism. This gives the crypt a low average capacity between 2.5 (if using a majority of vampires with inferior Animalism) and 4.5 (if using a majority of vampires with superior Animalism).
How to win against them
The first step to winning against Weenie Animalism is to determine what variation of that archetype you are playing against, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
When playing against the intercept variation, you need to act quickly before the weenie vampires can employ enough Raven Spies to block (almost) everything you do. On the other hand the deck is quite predictable when calculating the amount of intercept a single vampire can have, since almost all the intercept is already on the table, except maybe +1 intercept in the form of Cats Guidance or a similar card. This is a major weakness when you compare the deck with a Weenie Auspex deck, where it’s almost impossible to calculate the amount of intercept the blocking vampire will have in advance.
When playing against the bleed variant, and you’re the predator of the deck, you won’t have too much pressure, since the main pressure is on the Weenie Animalism deck’s prey. But you shouldn’t take too much time for building up, since eventually this variant will also have its share of intercept on the table and may rush with Deep Song once in a while.
Probably the nastiest variant to play against is the rush version of the deck, especially if your deck is based on a star vampire, you only have few minions) or only limited combat defense. After a little while you might find most if not all of your vampires in torpor. A Secure Haven on your key vampire is pure gold in this kind of situation. In this case you definitely need assistance from your cross-table buddies, who need to rescue your vampires from torpor more often than not. Make an argument that each vampire they rescue is basically deterring the Weenie Animalism deck from their own minions. Also the rush deck isn’t able to handle cross-table rescue actions due to lack of Eagle Sight and such, but might be able to block your own rescue attempts with a single Raven Spy.
The main weakness of the deck in combat is their predictability. Besides the aforementioned Aid from Bats and Carrion Crows there are few extra combat cards (e.g. Canine Horde). So the deck usually has only one press and one maneuver in a given round of combat. If you want go to close range and play an Immortal Grapple, you’ll need very often only one maneuver (e.g. as provided by Slam). Also if you have a single press against the press to continue from Aid from Bats, that’s usually enough to end the combat.
- Aid From Bats — second half of the combat package.
- Carrion Crows — second half of the combat package.
- Deep Song — key card for both rushing and bleeding.
- Raven Spy — basic intercept ally.
- Cats’ Guidance — doubles as untap and intercept.
Notable Examples & Variations
- “Weenie Animalism Wall” by Rodolphe Danac — Wall/Intercept version.
- “Mon chien est mort à Montréal” by Mathieu Guimond/Christian Chénard — version with moderate rush and Underbridge Stray ally.
- “Do Not Feed the Animals” by Andrew Weston — Bruise & Bleed version with Computer Hacking.
- “Weenie Animalism” by Ferenc Vasadi — see deck list below.
- “Vår nya integrationsminister” by Erik Torstensson — the original Nana Buruku Ashur Tablets deck.