One of the search terms that showed up lately on the statistics page of this blog was “how to build a political deck vtes“. So because apparently players are interested in this question, here are some hints for building this type of decks.
The first question for any political deck is “what type of political action card you want to use as main utility of your deck?” The standard (and most of the time most effective) card is, of course, Kine Resource Contested (often abbreviated as KRC). Even if you want to use mainly KRC, you should always consider some alternatives in addition. This is mostly because of Delaying Tactics, which is very, very often the main defense of non-political decks. As per card text, Delaying Tactics cancels the currently ongoing referendum, and not only prevents the acting vampire to call a referendum this turn again, but also prevents (more importantly) any of your minions from attempting the same political action again this turn. So, if you use KRC as your only political actions, your opponent can prevent you from playing any KRC in a given turn by using Delaying Tactics on your first KRC. But luckily alternatives to KRC are numerous, examples are
- Parity Shift — very likely the most potent pool damage inflicting card for political decks, since it results in significant pool swing, instead of “only” inflicting pool damage. Requires a Prince or Justicar, but that usually something not unheard of in a political deck.
- Conservative Agitation — better when there 5 players at the table, worse than KRC with 3 or less players,
- Neonate Breach — better when you’re prey/predator are controlling small cap vampires,
- Reckless Agitation — way better than KRC in terms of damage, but requires an Independent vampire and costs two blood, and is not usable is the heads-up game..
So usually when play 12-15 vote cards, and 12 of them designated to be KRCs, I would strongly recommend replacing 3-5 of them with of them with Neonate Breach and Conservative Agitation.
But your deck does not need to make KRC your primary political action (or inflict pool damage directly at all). There is a plethora of political actions you can build political decks around like Banishment, Alastor, First Tradition, Reversal of Fortunes or even Free States Rant. Or you want to gain pool with politics in the form of Consanguineous Boon, Autarkis Persecution or Honor the Elders, while building up your army of vampires.
Votes & Titles
Once you’ve settled the political focus of your deck, you need to decide how you want to pass these political actions in a referendum. Which in simple terms means, where do you get these votes? Basically you have three different types of sources.
- The first and foremost option is to use titled vampires in your crypt. There are some really cheap low- to mid-cap vampires (5 or below) which have a title, but this usually comes with a significant drawback, e.g. Kisha Bhimji has -1 stealth on all non-hunt actions. So reasonably you have to look at vampires of capacity 6 or above. If you’re looking at the number of votes you’re getting for a title, please forget about Primogen, Bishops and the like, unless the vampire’s special is awesome (e.g. Orlando Oriundus). One (extra) vote is simply good enough for any political decks. In these times, when the combo Zillah’s Valley and Villein has become so rampant, sometimes the 2 votes of a vampire has for being a Prince or Archbishop are not good enough. I am not saying that you only focus on the vampires with 3 or 4 votes, but you need some kind of answer if your prey or predator puts a vampire with 3 or 4 votes (Inner Circle, Cardinal, etc.) into play.
Instead of bringing titled vampires into play, you can also try to give your untitled vampires a title like Kholo, Cardinal or Justicar. This option is usually only used to full effect when using weenie decks, where you call these political actions early on when there’s no or little resistance. In the later course of the game, trying to get a title is often not successful, because the other players don’t like to shift the vote balance away from them, even if you’re (temporarily) allied with you. The exception to this experience are the Justicar political actions because everyone (but you foremost) gain an extra vote for each clan member you control, and the Kholo cards, because these are action modifiers/reaction cards can be played without a referendum.
- Another source of gaining are minion cards which allow you to gain more votes in a given referendum. These types of cards are usually known as “vote push” cards. Vote push cards are often, but not exclusively associated with Presence. Examples for these cards are Awe, Animal Magnetism or Unholy Radiance. Often this type of cards help you win a tight vote, or let’s you gain extra blood via Voter Captivation. But almost all of the time, a deck is doomed for failure if you’re exclusively relying on vote push. Either your opponents gain more permanent votes than you can overcome on a regular basis, or you often simply don’t have the vote push cards in your hand for making that particular referendum successful.
- The last type of cards which help you during a referendum are permanents, mostly these are master cards. Cards like Ventrue Headquarter or Black Throne give you a fixed number of votes. While the aforementioned cards are reasonably to very good, the real stars are the vote multiplier permanents, that is those cards which give you a variable number of votes depending on the number of clan vampires you control or the number of counters on a given card. Examples for these cards are Foundation Exhibit, Alamut or Power Structure. You can see the strength of these vote multiplier cards, because whole deck types have been built on these cards alone.
Disciplines for Political Decks
Per se, your deck does not require any disciplines to make political actions work, but then there’s the discipline of Presence in VTES. Other disciplines also have cards to increase your votes (or decrease the votes of opposing vampires) in a referendum, like Animal Magnetism, Telepathic Vote Counting, or Hall of Hades’ Court as well. But in addition to these type of cards, Presence also has Voter Captivation, which quite nicely fills up the acting vampire after a successful referendum. This can can make all the difference between a successful vote deck and unprofitable vote deck.
On the other hand, there are quite a few non-discipline minion cards, which may help you passing votes. Both the Sabbat and the Camarilla have two action modifiers (Closed Session & Private Audience), which prevent another sect from participating in the referendum. Then there are Bribes and Cryptic Rider. Although the later is generally very effective, it often makes the other players were reluctant to vote with you in the initial referendum for fear what you may do with a second referendum (which would then be automatically passing then).
Clans for Political Decks
Theoretically you can build a vote deck with can clan, but since some clans are more gifted with access to votes & titles than others, these clans are more likely to be seen (and successful) in vote decks. When looking at the clans specifically you need to check if they have titled vampires, if they access to vote push (most likely Presence), and/or if they have permanent useful for vote decks.
This is what in the end makes Ventrue, Brujah or the Toreador antitribu such excellent clans for vote decks. They have a large number of titled vampires (often of reasonably capacity), access to Presence and a one or more master cards to enhance votes (e.g. New Carthage or Foundation Exhibit).
On the other hand, there are really hopeless clans like the Blood Brothers, Gargoyles, Osebo or Samedi, with no disciplines allowing vote pushing and no (or too few) titled vampires.
But even a single card like Alamut (ok, maybe two when you’re counting Amaravati as well) can make an otherwise hopeless clan (in the realms of politics) like the Assamites able to form a reasonable political deck.
Beside making the referendum a success, your vampires have to make the actual political action happen first. Basically this is no different than with a bleed deck. That is you can use stealth or block denial (e.g. Seduction) or some sort of Tap & Vote approach. But there are some advantages for the vote deck in comparison. First of all the political actions are generally at +1 stealth in contrast to the no-stealth default of a bleed action. The other advantage is that there are a number of cards which you cannot use during bleed actions, either because their use is explicitly forbidden during bleed actions, or they are only allowed during undirected actions. Two cards which belong to that category and you see frequently in vote decks are Forgotten Labyrinth and Creepshow Casino. So look out for those cards when building a political deck ..
Political Deck Examples
There are a lot of different political decks to be seen during tournaments, and there’s no single “best” political decks, so here are some examples of popular political decks, which have been successful in the past:
- The classic political deck is the Ventrue Lawfirm. The Ventrue clan has the access to a lot of vampires with titles, mid-caps to large cap vampires, has access to Presence, and final Ventrue Headquarters as additional vote source.
- Another popular political deck type are Breed & Boon decks. Basically you’re pumping up new vampires each turn and use some kind of vote multiplier like Foundation Exhibit to achieve vote majority. With the vote majority, you use Consanguineous Boon to generate pool to survive and/or get more vampires. In the end, you’re able to overcome your prey(s) by overwhelming him with the sheer number of vampires you control.
- In decks using Alastor, the political actions are not directly used for ousting other players, but enable the deck to deal with the opposing minions. Rushing with +1 stealth and an Assault Rifle is a very convincing argument.
- Of course, there are some one-trick-pony decks built around political action cards out there as well. The most prominent one revolves around Reversal of Fortunes. The deck manipulates the order of play to allow only his prey (or his predator) to play alongside. In his prey/predators turn, it then uses the Malkavian Network to call another Reversal of Fortunes which again switches the order of play.
- The last popular vote deck you see (although less frequently in the last few years) are the Weenie vote decks. These decks are based on 1 or 2 cap. vampires (often, but not necessarily with Presence) which early on call Praxis Seizures or Crusades to get titled vampires and then call more referendums. eventually overwhelming their opponents with 3-4 votes called every turn.
Hint: For the most part, I am assuming a 90-card decks when naming quantities of cards. If you want to use a smaller sized deck, then adjust the number accordingly.