I was looking through my Clan Breakdown of the TWDA, trying to figure out which clans were the “Great Clans” in terms of tournaments wins, but while doing this, I ran into a problem — what cutoff should be used to separate the most successful clans from the chaff? Ultimately, I settled for figuring out which clans were doing better than average. If you look at the wins racked up by all the major clans (so no Laibon, Caitiff, or Bloodlines) since 2008, the average number of wins per clan is 44.7, so any clan who has won more events is better than average, and makes the cut. Below is the list of these clans, in descending order of wins (from 2008 to present):
- Ventrue (90 wins)
- Giovanni (89 wins)
- Malkavian (75 wins)
- Ventrue Antitribu (69 wins)
- Toreador (64 wins)
- Tremere (60 wins)
- Lasombra (56 wins)
- Tzimisce (56 wins)
- Brujah (48 wins)
- Tremere Antitribu (47 wins)
- Gangrel (46 wins)
- Malkavian Antitribu (46 wins)
When looking at this list, I notice two things almost simultaneously. First — that all the clans with Dominate made it past the cut (well, except the Kiasyds, but they’re a bloodline), and they occupy the very highest positions on the list. Second – that all the Camarilla clans except the Nosferatu made the cut. The Sabbat is represented by two clans without Dominate (Tzimisce, and Malkavian Antitribu), and the Independents have no clans on the list who do not have Dominate. I think that both of these observations make a lot of sense. Dominate is the undisputed offensive and defensive master of bleeding in a game where the default method of ousting is bleeding. And the Camarilla has access to some of the best sect-specific cards in the game.
But I’m not very interested in pontificating on the awesomeness of Dominate (at least not today). What I want to examine today is what makes a clan without Dominate become a “better-than-average” (Great) clan. If we take the above list and discard all the clans who have Dominate as an in-clan discipline, we’re left with these clans:
- Malkavian Antitribu
And, of course, the big question is: what separates these clans from the below-average clans — how did they rise to the top without the power of Dominate? My first hypothesis for why so many Camarilla clans without Dominate had been elevated to Great Clan status was simply due to the number of crypt cards that these clans possess. More vampires mean more options, and a better chance of being able to bring together an optimized crypt for your deck, and I had assumed that the Camarilla clans possessed the most crypt cards. However, when I actually looked at the number of crypt card available to each clan (summarized in the chart below), I found my assumption was unfounded. While the Camarilla clans have many more crypt cards than their Sabbat counterparts, their crypt selection is roughly comparable to that possessed by the Independent clans (admittedly, having so many vampires in group 2 and so few in group 3 is a bit of a hindrance as it essentially forces group 4 to pair with group 5 rather than having a choice). If the Camarilla really was enjoying an advantage due to their wide crypt selection, this should be an advantage shared with the Independent clans. Since no Independent clan without Dominate made it on the list, I think it is safe to discard the idea that crypt selection is the determining factor for which clans become Great.
|Gangrel||75||Gangrel Antitibu||56||Followers of Set||62|
So if crypt size isn’t the determining factor, what is? To answer that, I’ll have to look at each clan in turn and figure out what allows them to win without the power of Dominate. And now is as good of a time as any to warn you, gentle reader, that this article began with modest aims which have swollen greatly. As a consequence, this article is long, for which I apologize. The other disclaimer that I should offer upfront is that I spend quite a bit of time categorizing winning decks from these Great Clans without Dominate according to how they win, but I have no strict criteria for what makes a winning deck a political deck or a bleed deck, or an intercept combat deck. I examined the deck lists of each deck, and made a judgment call on how that deck would be most likely able to acquire victory points. But this is significantly more difficult to do in some situations than others. How should a deck that needs to tool up with Alastor and Archon political actions, but which then switches to become a rush or intercept combat deck after that be categorized? So when I discuss each deck category, I’ve tried to point out all the variations that are contained within that header, but I want to emphasize that each category includes decks on the fringes that might be better categorized as a different type of deck. If you are willing to accept this rather lengthy list of caveats and addenda, then by all means, proceed!