The Palla Grande deck has won numerous VTES tournaments in the past and the essence of this deck archetype is still untouched since the early tournament wins. The deck is basically a Breed & Bleed deck based on Toreador antitribu vampires and the master card Palla Grande, which gives all Toreador antitribu in play +1 bleed while the card is in play (which is usually three turns). Early on the deck tries to build up, generating pool and bringing new vampires via The Embrace into play. After the initial build-up, that can last several turns, the deck then puts a Palla Grande into play, giving all of its Toreador antitribu vampires the above mentioned extra +1 bleed, and tries to overwhelm its prey with a superior number of vampires.
How to win with them
The deck is best summarized by the label Breed & Bleed. At first it brings out a few vampires and plays a number of Embraces and occasionally a subsequent Thin Blooded Seer. In addition the deck bloats with Art Scam and Tribute to the Master and/or Blood Dolls in the build-up phase. In the early and sometimes mid-game the deck tries to appear inconspicuous, all the while waiting for having enough minions (in comparison to its prey) and (hopefully) its prey going down lower on pool (e.g. by spending for equipment, locations or new minions).
If the deck has build up enough momentum, a Palla Grande is played, often preceded by Anarch Troublemaker in the turn before. So in the best case, the Anarch Troublemaker can be used to tap two potential blocker of its prey. Then the bleeding starts, this can be solely based on the Palla Grande, but the bleeds can also be enhanced by using Enchant Kindred, Entrancement or other cards requiring Presence. To avoid damage to the bleeding vampires a Dodge is often used instead of Majesty, since Majesty (although generally is the better card) cannot be played by the Embraces or the Thin Blooded Seers. More importantly the deck usually packs some Change of Target to protect key vampires like Jost Werner from being caught in combat or to draw out On the Qui Vive and the like.
The deck archetype uses extensively cards requiring Toreador antitribu. The above mentioned cards Palla Grande for boosting bleeds and Art Scam to generate extra pool as well as Patronage for untapping (actively) its own vampires.
The deck can also take a strong bloat direction by playing Foundation Exhibit (another card requiring Toreador antitribu) and then calling the referendum on a Consanguineous Boon. The first card to give all untitled Toreador antitribu an additional vote, which then helps to pass the Consanguineous Boon to gain large amounts of pool. In the 3rd Edition expansion another useful card for the deck was introduced, namely Black Forest Base, which also can be used to gain pool each turn. But this can also backfire if there’s no Foundation Exhibit is in play.
Group 2/3 has maybe the best vampires for this deck, small to mid-cap vampires, some with Presence (for bleeding and playing combat ends when in combat) or superior Auspex (for bouncing bleeds with My Enemies Enemy or Telepathic Misdirection). The obvious stars in the deck are: Jost Werner with his built-in +1 stealth on all actions, closely followed by Greta Kircher (who can reduce bleeds by younger vampires). But other vampires also give a bang for the buck like Sheila Mezarin or Remilliard, Devout Crusader.
The deck always tries to spend on vampires (brought into play from the crypt) as little as possible, since it has other ways of bringing a whole lot of minions into play. This leaves the deck a comfortable pool cushion to start with. Also the bloating done by Tribute to the Master and Blood Dolls is used as defensive provision. Surprisingly, not all of the different variants of the deck archetype pack Auspex based bleed bounce (Telepathic Misdirection) or, to a lesser extend, bleed reduction (Telepathic Counter) into their decks, not wanting to dilute the offensive capability of the deck and relying solely on their bloat capabilities.
As with bleed defense the deck relies on bloating in the first place. Delaying Tactics is also seen in some of these decks, but not as widely spread as one would expect in deck with no inherent votes/titles. Decks featuring Consanguineous Boon also rely on Foundation Exhibit, but this is rather weak defense since the card can be removed so easily.
Combat defense is very weak, only offering a handful of either Dodges or Majesties. Only the variant which sports Vicissitude has some pretty hefty hitback with Chiropteran Marauder and Breath of the Dragon. The deck usually tries to withstand the onslaught of a combat deck by its number of minions, but faced with Tension in the Ranks or Dragonbound, it’s hard to survive for the Toreador antitribu.
How to win against them
The first directive for stopping this kind of deck is, that you have to stop it before the wave (read: weenie horde) has been build up. One of the main weaknesses of the deck is the lack of stealth. All actions are at +1 stealth only (except when Jost Werner is acting), so persistent blocking is the way to go. If faced with blocking only a few of the actions, I would recommend to block either block the recruit or the hunt actions after the block in the early game, but this only makes sense if you can put the acting minion to torpor.
Playing Aranthebes, the Immortal helps to a certain degree, but usually the bigger vampires will then try to remove the Aranthebes first, before the horde of smaller vampires bleed then. If the Aranthebes stays in the game, the weenies still bleed for one when the Palla Grande is in play.
The real killer is Atonement, although it can be removed similar to removing an Aranthebes, the ability not tap for blocking younger vampires is helping a lot. Give the minion with the Atonement a .44 Magnum or Sniper Rifle and the Toreador antitribu will have a hard time.
What also slows the deck down, is packing a number of Washes or Sudden Reversals. When played against the Anarch Troublemaker or the Palla Grande it does not stop the horde of vampires from bleeding you, but they do it less effectively.
- Palla Grande — the eponym of the deck, adding +1 bleed to all Toreador antitribu while the card is in play.
- Embrace — a way to recruit more Toreador antitribu vampires, albeit not a cheap one.
- Change of Target — the key for acting without stealth, though it does not make the action successful, the card at least prevents a subsequent combat.
- Art Scam — basic pool generation for the deck without the hassle of having to pass a referendum.
Notable Examples & Variations
There are several variants to this deck. all adding a specific flavor to the basic deck archetype, ranging from stealth enhanced variants to those adding the War Ghoul ally.
- Basic variant Bleed & Breed variant — see description above.
- Jost on GHB by Bram Vink — basic deck version; similar to the decklist below.
- Second Chance to Embrace by Christian Chenard — the NAQ 2006 winning deck.
- Baratas Final Solution by David Magri da Silva — adds Gehenna Events to slow down other decks, since the deck itself plays no cards requiring disciplines.
- Palla Grande by César Brera — adds more reaction cards to have some defensive capabilities.
- Simply Irresistible by Gines Quinonero-Santiago — also has some defensive capabilities, but added a large number of “Entrancement” doubling as bleed cards as well as offensive against the popular ally decks in general and Imbued decks in particular.
- Palla Grande by James Messer — adds some allies (most notably a number of “Procurers”).
- Variant w/ Foundation Exhibit and Consanguineous Boon — uses these two cards for generating vast amounts of pool.
- ExhibitBoon by François Morand.
- Variant w/ Vicissitude — adds stealth modifiers as well as combat cards based on Vicissitude.
- Orgy of Flesh by Ethan Burrow.
- Variant w/ Vicissitude & War Ghouls — mixes the Palla Grande with the War Ghoul deck archetype to remove any blockers/bouncers before starting to bleed for real.