The Ventue Lawfirm deck archetype is along with the Malkavian Dominate/Obfuscate Bleed deck of the oldest existing (and successful) deck types in VtES. Lately the Ventrue Lawfirm has seen a tremendous comeback due to the new crypt choices that came along with the “Keepers of Tradition” expansion. The name derives from the Ventrue appearance as politicians and lawyers, and their ability to set and push a political agenda.
- .. bloat with Govern the Unaligned, Enchant Kindred, Voter Captivation and Parity Shift,
- .. bleed with inherent bleed modifiers (e.g. Queen Anne or Arika) or the Dominate and Presence based actions and action modifiers, and
- .. push political actions through like Parity Shift, Kine Resources Contested and Banishment using the Presence-based action modifiers, inherent titles and other permanents.
The basic game plan of the deck is a three stage approach:
Early in the game cards like Govern the Unaligned, Enchant Kindred, etc. provide extra influence to speed up bringing vampires to the ready region. For the same reason (and because deck’s crypt is composed of mid- and high-cap vampires) the deck packs a few (but not too many) Zillah’s Valley and Information Highway. At the same time Villeins — or previously Minion Taps — are used to regain pool that has been spend on vampires. This is usually the most critical phase for the Ventrue Lawfirm deck, a failed Villein that is canceled by Sudden Reversal or Parity Shift that is suspended by Delaying Tactics can bring down the Lawfirm deck to very low pool level.
In the middle game the decks purpose is to befriend with another deck crosstable that has also vote power, in order to help each other oust their respective prey. During this phase the deck is mainly keen on voting since it now has considerable vote power by either permanent titles, Presence-based action modifiers (like Awe or Bewitching Oration) and finally permanents like Ventrue Headquarters.
In the late game with three or less players the deck’s goal is to overrun the other decks by sheer number of minions/actions. Often the extra pool gained by ousting players or Parity Shift is used for bringing new vampires in play. So it is a common sight that the Lawfirm deck has 3 to 5 mid- to high-capacity vampires in play during the late game.
Two other building blocks for a successful Ventrue Lawfirm deck are Freak Drive for multiple actions, and Second Tradition: Domain. Second Tradition: Domain is often the only wake-type card, and gives the Ventrue princes the ability to stop a Bowl of Convergence or Carlton van Wyk from being put into play. It’s not so good against a bleed action, if you want to actually bounce a bleed to your prey, since you first have to block, which don’t actually want to happen. And even if you manage to bounce the bleed then it has cost you two blood effectively.
In the past, the best choice for crypt were the group 1 & 2 vampires since they provided a large variety of mid- to large-capacity vampires with titles (2 votes or more), to be exact there are eight Ventrue that fit the profile. The core vampires are Sir Walter Nash, Timothy Crowley, and Emerson Bridges on the lower and Arika on the upper range.
With “Keepers of Tradition” and the advent of the group 4 & 5 a competitive selection of titled Ventrue vampires is available, but the average capacity of these nine vampires is somewhat lower than those of the group 1/2 vampires. In addition, the G4/5 Ventrue have number of useful specials most G1/2 Ventrue lack. Also, there are number of Toreador titled vampires like Montecalme and Epikasta Rigatos and even some Sabbat vampires like Carolina Vález and De Sade who fit into the crypt almost perfectly (although only the last vampire has Fortitude though).
Nothing really exciting here, just the plain old Deflection, which today is complemented by Murmur of the False Will, and the bloating capabilities as described above. Also if the prey is being too strong, you have also the means with Parity Shift and Kine Resources Contested to oust your predator.
The inherent titles, mostly Prince and Justicar titles, as well master cards like Ventrue Headquarters (and, less often seen, Elysium: Versailles) are the main vote defense. Very rarely you can see Delaying Tactics as vote defense. Also vote decks often don’t have access to too much stealth, so blocking with Second Tradition: Domain can also prevent the referendum from taking place.
The combat defense can be quite diverse in the deck with all three disciplines being used. First and foremost is Majesty and to a lesser extent other Presence-based “Strike: Combat Ends” cards. This also allows the Ventrue, if blocked, to perform another action, e.g. voting after bleeding, or move blood on a vampire in the uncontrolled region via Govern the Unaligned or Enchant Kindred. Majesty is almost always included in the deck in abundance, so 10 or more Majesty are not an uncommon sight. Other combat defenses are not that regularly seen. A good option is Obedience, since the Ventrue have a quite high average capacity. so it’s somewhat likely that the acting vampire is younger. On the other hand, Obedience can only be used when reacting (and not against allies), so the number of this card shouldn’t be too high in comparison with Majesty. Fortitude damage prevention like Rolling with the Punches or Soak are sometimes added, especially if one expects a somewhat combat heavy environment.
How to win against them
Blocking early on Enchant Kindred and Govern the Unaligned can be crucial, since this denies the Lawfirm deck its much needed buildup. When the deck has three or even four of its rather high capacity vampires on the table, it’s hard to stop them with all the multi-actions capabilities (via Freak Drive or Majesty) available.
When playing a bleed deck, you neither need to go all-out with bleed actions (which is more likely), or you need to remove the bounce cards via Revelations (or Precision) If you’re bleeding only once or twice a turn, the Lawfirm deck can easily bounce one or two bleeds, and recoup the lost blood with Voter Captivation and/or Villein. Swarm Bleed with weenies or allies on the other hand is something the Lawfirm deck does not like, since the Deflections won’t help that much, and continuously bleed with 4+ minions each turn can wear the Ventrue deck down, especially in the early part of the game.
A combat deck that wants to have a chance against the Lawfirm either needs an abundance of attackers, e.g. weenies or allies, so that the large numbers of Majesty or Obedience won’t work, or a way to deal with strike combat ends. Usually these are Immortal Grapple, Psyche and Telepathic Tracking.
Other vote decks usually have a hard time against the Lawfirm deck, since the Lawfirm deck has high number of permanent votes. You can overcome this obstacle with vote pushing cards, but eventually you either need to obtain the vote majority over the Ventrue, or take out the Ventrue deck entirely. Both ends are not easy to accomplish and you might want to team up with another player at the table who also has some permanents votes.
In general there are two distinct distinct type of decks that the Ventrue Lawfirm doesn’t like, which are
- .. wall decks with abundance of untap capabilities (like Weenie Auspex) or cards that allow to react as if untapped like No Secrets from the Magaji.
- .. combat decks that can work around “Strike: Combat Ends” frequently as stated above.
- Kine Resource Contested — the bread & butter vote for the Lawfirm.
- Voter Captivation — pool gain and refill for the vampire.
- Ventrue HQ — secondary source for permanent votes.
- Majesty — primary and often only combat card.
- Deflection — basic bleed defense.
Notable Examples & Variations
- “Ventrue Lawfirm” by Sergio Gracia — basic version with G1/G2 Ventrue (see decklist below), but includes some newer cards like Heart of Nizchetus and Scourge of Enochians.
- “Bridges, Coleman and Nash” by Antony Coleman — also with G1/G2 Ventrue, but more bleed orientated.
- “Neo-Lawfirm” by Alex Ek — based on G3/4 Ventrue.
- “Ventrue 2009” by Juan “Juanxo” Oyarce — based on G4/5 Ventrue.
- “Arika & Friends” by Denes Kocis — G2/3 Lawfirm with Obfuscate support.
The most notable variant is the one with the addition of the Obfuscate discipline for the additional stealth when calling a political action. This narrows the crypt down to the g2/3 Ventrue with Obfuscate, but there are at least four usable choices, that is Arika, Queen Anne, Markus Vitel and Catherine Dubois.