From time to time, I overhaul the VTES decks I have ready to play. I do this mostly to make room for new decks, and be able to construct new decks without “borrowing” cards from existing decks. There are usually 20 to 28 decks ready to play and these include typically 6-8 decks, which I consider “under construction” in the sense that after the initial deck idea and build these decks need a constant review and update after playing them in order to make them work effectively. Although sometimes a few run-of-the-mill cards are missing (like Unmasking, Villein or Dreams), because they are in a lot of decks I play, these decks are typically 70-90 card decks which I can just grab and play in our regular playgroup or take to tournaments.
This last category of decks I usually disassemble during the deck overhauling, and make some mental notes why they didn’t turn out to be tournament material, or at least as good as I think the idea behind it was initially. This time I want to share some the sentiments about the decks and why the deck failed most of the time. Usually during this time of the year I do the final travel preparations for the VTES European Championship and prepare the decks for the EC, but since this year I can’t attend the EC (because of job obligations on that weekend), I have time to deck reworking earlier than usually and share some thoughts on the decks.
- Assamite Anarch Attack — the deck is one of the Nightstick decks I was experimenting earlier this year. The deck uses various Contracts, Shakar and/or Steely Tenacity to get in combat, and Nightsticks (& other melee weapons) and Diversion to beat down opponents. So you can see, it has various angles with Assamite and Anarch and Black Hand tech. The biggest issue is that the combat is too ineffective for a rush combat deck with mid-sized vampires. With this rush setup (and only little block/intercept capabilities, you need to beat down opposing vampires in the first (or at least second rush) attempt. And in this, the deck fails. Simple Strike: Combat Ends or Damage Prevention is often good enough for the prey/predator to survive combats. In addition, the deck suffers from the many limitations of its cards, e.g. White Lily can’t use Steely Tenacity (at qui), so she’s the one that needs the Shakar. But with Shakar you can only rush younger non-Black Hand, and so on … And since there’s little other defense (read: no significant amount Dominate/Animalism/Auspex) in the deck, the deck is often ousted, before it can do the same to it’s prey.
- Hell-for-Leather Aggro Poke — this deck was an attempt to make good use of Hell-for-Leather, a card I have used in other Anarch combat deck sin the past, but in these decks, Hell-for-Leather was always only 1-3 times included. Now I wanted to play a deck with 10+ copies of the card. I often shy away from aggro poke deck, because you often need to play damage prevention as well to be able to afford the card inflicting aggravated damage, and you need to have a more or less reliable way to poke the other vampires to torpor. Hence, choosing Janey Pickman as main vampire and a random assortment of smaller vampires as side-kicks. The deck works reasonable well, since it also has a decent wall angle, but the whole approach was too toolboxish, and far worth I often encountered allies deck, against the deck can do very, very little. I remember on time, when I was up against Ossian and after a second ally hit the table, I was sure, I couldn’t oust my prey.
- Funeral Chainsaw — I wanted to make good use of the new Funeral Wake card,. Initially I build/played a Followers of Set/Giovanni ally crossover deck with a random assortment of mummies and wraith. Turned out not to that good, missing the right cards for the right clan more often than not. Because the wraiths turned out to be more fun to play than the mummies, I decided to turn the deck into a Talbot’s Chainsaw wielded by Tye Cooper or Ambrosio, the Ferryman. The basic idea is solid, and once Tye or Ambrosio have equipped the Chainsaw, the rush actions and the untap provided by Funeral Wake (to block afterwards) is pretty. The issue with this deck is the setup. Most of the games, I was either looking for the equipment or the ally, and when I had both in play (or at least in my hands), I was already so low on pool, that I really didn’t have a chance to survive my predator, let alone oust my prey.
- Uta & Malgorzata — This is a Tremere antitribu toolbox where I wanted to use Uta’s Rush ability and Malgorzata pool gain ability combined with the usual Tremere anitribu and Sabbat goodies. Unfortunately, it took very often too much time, until I had Malgorzata (1st) and Uta (2nd) in play. Once setup with the equipment and other permanents, it’s quite good at blocking and applying pressure both its prey and predator. But during this time, your prey often is free to do whatever it pleases. Also Malgorzata’s special ability is not that good, if you can’t constantly get new vampires in your uncontrolled region, a few Effective Managements help, but it usually takes 2 to 3 terms in the mid-/late-game to be able to use Malgorzata’s special ability.
- Evermore — This Nosferatu antitribu is an evolution of Ben Peal’s 2005 Nevermore deck with the addition of some never cards like Under Siege and Abbot. The deck works reasonably well most of the time (a Raven Spy and a weapon is available early most the time), but seriously lacks punch for removing pool, thus painstakingly slow in ousting its prey.
- The Unnamed — As the name of the decks suggests, this is a star vampire deck, namely the Unnamed .. if not disturbed early on, the deck can generate a fair amount of blood and can also inflict serious pool damage when bleeding with the Unnamed and the Infernal Servitors. The problem I have with the deck is that I am probably not suited well to playing these kind of active superstar decks. I think I worry to much what might happen to the Unnamed when he’s getting blocked, etc., so I am probably not as aggressive as the deck needs to be.
- Royal Meat Grinder — This deck was my attempt at the Grinder-style deck with the G4/5 Ventrue. The deck is effective as it looks like, but because I have played my fair share of Ventrue antitribu Grinder decks, I was bored with this deck, very fast. Next, please!
So what’s the typical reason why a deck fails? I think, that there are basically two reasons for one of these decks to fail. Either it has too many moving parts, that is the number of cards I need in hand (or in play) is too large, and I cannot pull off a certain card combination early in the game (or not often enough in a given game).
The other reason is, that the deck lacks proper ousting power. Especially with the rise of Villein as a household card in many, many decks you have to remove more pool than it used to be 4 or 5 years ago. And if your deck doesn’t have the means to stop the Villein and/or remove the pool, you’re simply screwed.