This deck archetype is built around the Gangrel ally Renegade Garou. The deck is around for a long time, you can easily build it with Jyhad cards only (if you don’t mind omitting Unmasking and perhaps On the Qui Vive). The deck is quite strong, since it offers both good defensive (with Raven Spy and Earth Meld) and offensive capabilities (with Renegade Garou and Form of Mist). On the other hand it’s very vulnerable when and if for whatever reason the Renegade Garous are killed or stolen by another player. Playing the deck does not result in an auto-win and making 2 GW 8 VP in the first three round of a tournaments easily, in fact it’s not so easy to play, especially surviving the initial setup is crucial.
How to win with them
The deck has two main angles:
- the first is recruiting the Renegade Garous and later attacking key minions from your prey (preferably) or your predator (if needed).
- the second is building up a solid wall with permanent intercept which other players cannot overcome eventually.
There are several options how this deck archetype can oust its prey. It can either use the “traditional” way combat decks oust, that is Fame or Dragonbound. Alternatively if the deck actually leans more to the wall type, it can use Smiling Jack. Or if anything else fails, just bled constantly with a multitude of minions, especially when playing with Jacob Fermor who gives all werewolves you control +1 bleed.
The Renegade Garou has some distinctive advantages over other allies:
- he has an additional strike, so even if the opposing minion can dodge (e.g. Carlton van Wyk or Mylan Horseed (Goblin)), he’s going to be hit a second time.
- he regains one life at the start of your turn. So a Vagabond Mystic helps to recover more quickly, but is not required if the Renegade Garou got hit for only one damage in a given combat.
- his built-in-maneuver can be used to either go to long range if you want to protect the werewolf from short range carnage, or go to close if the opposing minion wants to evade the werewolf’s damage.
- his ability to rush minions is at +1 stealth, Most other allies with an inherent attack do not have +1 stealth when entering combat, so the Renegade Garou can pick his fights more reliably and isn’t blocked that often by chump blockers.
Recruiting the ally is usually not a big problem. Either you can use Earth Control to get comfortable +3 stealth on the recruit action in total, and even if blocked you can play Form of Mist to continue the action with +1 stealth, or you use Form of Mist right away when blocked at +1 stealth.
The most difficult challenge for this deck is to compensate somehow for the 5 pool spent for (each of) the Renegade Garou. You can either use your vampires to bloat with Blood Dolls or Eco Terrorists, or you can try play Consanguineous Boon or Autarkis Persecution (after playing Gangrel Justicar and Cryptic Rider, for example). Either way you need to make a fair assessment whether you can afford an extra Renegade Garou in a given situation or not. Overspending can easily results in being ousted right away, due to the lack of proper bleed or vote defense early in the game.
For 5 pool you spent you will get a vampire with 5 discipline points otherwise, so the strategy of the deck should make good use of this costly investment. Often a backrush or two with the Renegade Garou puts your predator in his place, and should keep him occupied for while.
While the rushes performed by one or two Garous should preserve you from the greatest threats by your prey or predator, you need to build the wall simultaneously. The second angle you need to pursue is to build up enough intercept to become a proper wall, which allows you to control both your prey and predator. This intercept is usually provided by Raven Spies and the media locations (KRCG Newsradio, etc.). Cats’ Guidance or Sonar are only used on occasion, since their number is rather low in the deck and they provide only limited intercept.
This decktype has diversified bleed defense. Early it is most vulnerable against bleed decks, since the permanent intercept is not on the table in sufficient quantities and there are often not enough Garous on the table to keep all bleeding minions under control (a.k.a. torporize or kill them). During the middle and end-game the Renegade Garous usually have a bleed deck under control, and the remaining bleeding minions can be stopped by vampires with permanent intercept and playing Earth Meld for additional blocking capability.
Another angle is the bloat capability of the deck, with a Blood Doll or two and the Eco Terrorists in play, the deck can bloat for 2-3 pool per turn. That is not much compared to real bloat decks, but enough to keep the bleeders at bay for a couple of turns. Turns that a single Garou can use to backrush or your grand-predator can use to put pressure on the bleed deck.
The main defense against a political deck is intercepting the vampire how tries call the vote. Here, a Raven Spy and the occasional Cats’ Guidance should provide the necessary intercept. You should be aware that if you have a vote deck with stealth trying to harm you, that you probably cannot block all of them, so you should block the most damaging ones only like Parity Shift or Political Stranglehold. On the other hand, you can use the Renegade Garou, again for rushing the vampires who provide the votes for passing the political actions. You should use the few Delaying Tactics and Direct Interventions only if the situation is dire, or if somebody is damaging you considerably, e.g. with Anarchist Uprising or Can’t Take It With You.
There are a couple of options this deck in the combat defense department. Either you can avoid damage by playing Earth Meld or Form of Mist, but the later should really be used on actions that you need to succeed like recruiting a Renegade Garou or employing a Raven Spy. On the other hand the Gangrel have the capability of hitting back with Claws of the Dead or similar cards, often resulting in torporizing the opposing vampire. But in the end the deck relies more on the built-in combat abilities of the a Renegade Garou, and the combat package is more orientated towards defense than offense. Therefore one of the most dangerous opponents of this deck archetype are combat decks like Celerity Gun decks which often trump this deck’s combat capabilities.
The crypt’s composition is driven by the need of having Gangrel preferably with superior Animalism and/or Protean. The small- to mid-capacity Gangrel of group 1/2 fulfill the criteria with ease. Camille Devereux, the Raven (or her incarnations), Chandler Hungerford, or Mirembe Kabada form the backbone of the Gangrel crypt selection for this deck. A couple of small capacity vampires (often only with single Protean) complete the crypt. There are a few new options with the Gangrel from group 3/4, with Gunnar, Dr. Allan Woodstock and most importantly Jacob Fermor. The later can be the reason for switching the crypt to his new Gangrel, since his special ability give all werewolves you control +1 bleed.
How to win against them
Bleed decks must try to put pressure from the start, so that ideally the Gangrel player cannot afford to play a Garou (or one at most). But even with only one Garou in play, you need to finish the Garou deck up quickly, since it will get harder and harder to overcome the wall the Garou deck will buildup over time. Even a single vampire with, let’s say, two Raven Spies can be a major pain for a stealth bleed deck since that vampire is able to block multiple times with Earth Meld in a given turn.
The performance of combat decks against the Garou depends heavily on the type of combat decks. A Celerity Gun deck usually has no problems handling the Garou, provided they can have an extra maneuver against the Garou to stay at long range, and have an additional strike to finish the Garou off. Close combat decks (based on massive damage) need to have maneuvers (or the occasional long range damage card (like Earthshock) because of the built-in maneuver of the Garou, which he will use to stay out of trouble. The worst performance have combat decks that rely on aggravated damage like aggro poke decks (e.g. Tzimisce with Chiropteran Marauder or Gangrel with Claws of the Dead) since they are not able to kill the Garous.
With the current abundance of allies around (Shambling Hordes, Nephandus, Carlton van Wyk, etc.) one or two copies of Entrancement, Far Mastery or other cards that allow steal allies are usually no wasted card slots in most decks. So losing control of Renegade Garou is something this deck archetype needs to consider. Stealing the Garous is one of the most crippling effects one can exert on a Renegade Garou deck. If your opponent manages to trade (in combat) one stolen Garou against another, you have not only removed two very annoying minions from the other player’s control, but also applied (indirectly) 10 pool damage to you.
The deck is very difficult to oust once it established a solid base on the table, for example two Renegade Garous, an Eco Terrorists and a couple of Raven Spies employed by the Gangrel vampires. If you are not able to oust the Garou deck early on, it can be an alternative to make an non-aggression pact with the Garou deck, until your hand improves and you’re able to lunge in one or two turns, when the Garou are not able to put your minions down in a single turn.
- Renegade Garou — namesake of the deck; both used for offense and defense.
- Earth Control/Form of Mist — both cards are the means of performing successful actions.
- Raven Spy — main source of intercept along with the media locations.
- Earth Meld — main combat defense for the Gangrel.
Notable Examples & Variations
- Shape and Gnaw 3.0 by Jörg Alten — Basic version with mid-cap group 1/2 Gangrel.
- Dog Soldiers by Tony Wedd — Big cap Gangrel; bloats with Blood Dolls & Entrenching. Also uses Alastor & Assault Rifle.
- Garou by Night by David ‘Metropolis’ Oros — Mid-cap Gangrel; bloats with Autarkis Persecution & Parity Shift.
- Renegade Garou by Karl Gustavsson — Small-Cap Gangrel; bloats with Parity Shift.
- Gangrel Prince Pool Gain & Garou by Stuart Pieloch — Big cap Gangrel; bloats with Fifth Tradition and Minion Tap.