Over it’s lifespan of now 25 years, the backsides of VTES cards have changed quite noticeably. To give you can overview of the most significant changes, here’s a summary list:
- Originally the game was produced by Wizard of the Coast (WotC), and the first release (back in 1994) has the Jyhad card back with the deckmaster logo (trademark).
- With the name change in 1995 to Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, the card backs also change to reflect the change. So the card back shows Vampire The Eternal Struggle with the deckmaster logo (trademark).
- Another year later (1996), WotC published the Ancient Heart expansion, the card backs changed again, but ever so slightly), changing trademark (TM) to the registered use (R) addition to the “deckmaster” text. This combination is what you see on the majority of the VTES cards.
- In 2006, the new publisher White Wolf released the Third Edition, but a lack of quality control on either the publisher’s or the printer’s side led to upside-down (or left-right) change of the backside. That is, if you turn a regular VTES card to its back, the Vampire The Eternal Struggle text is on the right side of the card back, and if you turn a Third Edition card around the same text is on the left.
- The last change to the card backs happened, when Black Chantry became the latest publisher of VTES. With the ties to Wizard of the Coast severed, the deckmaster series text was dropped altogether, leaving the Vampire the Eternal Struggle text along with lone trademark ™ text in the lower right of the card back side. (I am assuming the trademark actually refers to the Jyhad tri-snake logo now).
In addition these obvious changes, there are some more (or less subtle) changes:
- For example, the Ancient Heart card back colors are more saturated, e.g. the the crypt card backs have a slightly reddish hue, which you can more easily spot if you put cards from different editions side by side.
- While technically not a card back difference per se, the first printing of the 2019 Sabbat Precons also has slightly rounder corners compared to previous expansions.
Overall, one can say, that the VTES card backs have changed quite considerably, making somewhat of an issue when players using cards from various editions with different card backs, which is the case almost all the time. While the tournament rules do not explicitly require players to use card sleeves in tournament, it is recommended by the VEKN. Section 4.1 of the VEKN tournament rules state:
If cards with distinct backs are used in the same deck (e.g., Jyhad and Vampire: The Eternal Struggle cards, or upside-down 3rd Edition cards and right-side up cards, or mis-cut cards, or cards without the Deckmaster logo) are used, in order to prevent a significant advantage, all cards from the different sets, printings, etc. must be of sufficiently mixed card type, unless they are all sleeved with opaque sleeves (recommended).
Also in major tournaments (national or continental championships) the organizers require opaque (non-transparent) sleeves for the decks used in the tournament.
|1995 — 1996||WotC||VTES, DS, AH||Vampire The Eternal Struggle||Deckmaster ™|
|1996 — 2018||WotC, White Wolf||Sabbat, SW, .., HttB||Vampire The Eternal Struggle||Deckmaster (R)|
|2006||White Wolf||Third Edition||Vampire The Eternal Struggle (upside-down)||Deckmaster (R)|
|2018+||Black Chantry||LK, Anthology, SP||Vampire The Eternal Struggle||(tm)|