Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tutoring New Players: Predator is Right

This is, in my own view, the Second VTES Lesson to learn. Predator is to the Right. This must be learned AFTER Prey is Left. All in all, if VTES players learn one lesson... Prey Is Left should be it. Predator is Right comes with clear daylight gap in between.

Predator is Right
Predator is Right encompasses two main ideas: Remember to Defend and Remember Who You Must Kill. Remember always that a Predator who can Defend is better than a new Predator.

Remember to Defend
This is kind of simple: The player planning to kill you is sitting on your Right. This is the person who will want to spend their resources hurting you. This is also the person you want to manage with the least resources neccessary. But you must remember to defend. There are basically two main defences: Intercept & Bloating. There is a secondary defence: Combat.

Intercept is the basic defence. You leave minions untapped, or have 'Wakes' (Wake with Evening's Freshness 'WWEF', Forced Awakening or any of those similar cards), and you have intercept to block actions that will hurt your chances. This is the key thing: You do not need to oust your Predator, in fact you almost never want to oust your predator. You want a predator who is an effective defender and an ineffective attacker; so you can't kill them.

But remember Lesson #1... Your Prey Is Left, so playing a deck with 40+ Auspex Intercept Cards is unlikely to get you to oust your prey.

Learning just what you need to intercept takes time, experience and blocking many actions you never needed to worry about. The usual things to block (and as a prey you should consider regularly but not frequently blocking these) are Bleed Actions and Vote Actions. Blocking Bleed Actions should be an obvious statement, so I'll leave it alone. Blocking Vote actions is nearly always worth it and the only person with a greater desire to block vote actions is your Grand Predator (because your Predator is their Prey). Most decks playing substantial numbers of votes oust and survive by vote actions; that is their primary ousting method and can often serve as their defence method. Even 'benign' votes must be in there for a reason and you should consider if it is worth your resources to stop these 'benign' votes; there is always a motive for your Grand Predator to block a vote action.

Sometimes it is in your advantage to not block bleeds, particularly if your predator has a high-stealth deck. It facilitates hand-jam on your predator and limits their ability to be an effective attacker but is less likely to affect their ability as a defender.

Bloating to defend is basically the VTES version of a Cold-War Arms Race. You may bleed me for 4 this turn, but I will gain 8 pool so that in the end I'm better off than I was and certainly better off than you were. It can be very effective, but its also a complex game of Chicken you are playing with your predator. Decks that bloat the most effectively tend to be Vote Decks because they have easy ways to recoup blood & pool (Voter Cap), have actions that can generate significant pool (a number of votes provide large amounts of pool) and it connects directly to their ousting method. Other bloating decks tend to use swarms or a variety of cards which put blood into the uncontrolled region. Most of the time, these decks are fairly susceptible to Intercept.

Combat Defence is basically a Big Stick Threat. You promise a certain level of flat minion destruction, likely on your predator's main attacker, if the current level of pool-damage continues. This usually leads to one of two results.

Aggression Response: Your predator thinks that your threats are hollow or that you will not be able to carry out sufficient destruction to stop them from ousting you. So instead of waiting and being a little bit more patient and a bit more defensive, they decide that their best defence is to mercilessly and summarily execute you from the game. This is the main approach for Stealth Bleed and Powerbleed decks. It is also the response from Bruise & Bleed decks because they will feel confident about surviving combat.

Defensive Response: Your predator bunkers down and hedgehogs/turtles/walls up/etc. The threats are real, to them, and likely to be effective, on them, and so it is better to protect them self and wait for you to expend your resources on your prey before attempting to kill you. There are many players who enter this frame of mind and never leave it. This is a huge mistake. Remember Lesson #1 of VTES: Prey is Left. Surviving is secondary to getting the most VPs - you can be dead and still win. You want them to make this decision for at least a little while.

Strange Defences
The common "Strange Defence" is nicknamed the Salmon Method in Sydney. This is where a player decides that ousting each of their predators in succession is the way to win. It is a very very very difficult method to win with. You are attempting to ensure that every player other than yourself gets 1VP at most. If you perform this correctly on a 5-player table, you oust two players backwards and then when there are 2 other players obliterate every minion on the table so you can claim the remaining 3VPs. This ties into the Combat Theory of 3 Methuselahs.

Kindred Spirits Defence. This is where you stealth bleed out your predators, in the same way as the Salmon Method, but instead you aim for pool not minions.

Minion Theft. This is a Serpentis based defence and to a certain extent Obeah. Using Temptation or Spirit Marionette, you use your Predators Minions to kill your prey, leaving you in the middle with comparative Safety. This can also be done now with Taunt the Caged Beast, particularly if your prey or predator has a vampire such as Hektor, Basilia or any other permanent agg-hand strike minion. +Strength minions can also be used since their basic strike is still potent.

Remember Who you Must Kill
The Methuselah Level
Every resource spent on your predator is one you cannot use to fulfill Lesson #1: Prey is Left. It is your predator's unstated goal to have you expend resources you can't afford to spend on them while they survive it and oust you. Every non-defensive card you must play on your predator is a card that could have been used to oust your prey.

The Minion Level
A minion with +1bleed needs to be killed more than a minion with +1 intercept. It's that simple most of the time. If you need to punish an aggressive predator, do so and do it on the minion that will cause you the most pool damage in the short-to-medium term (since basically every minion will cause pool damage worth worrying about in the long-term). So if you're looking to take out minions, choose those that will hurt you the most and savage them brutally. Leave your predators defensive minions alone, you want your predator to live and survive against their predator.

Predator is to your Right. A Predator that can defend themselves is better than a New Predator. Every powerful card you play on your predator is unable to be played on your prey. Kill the right Minion or the right Methuselah... don't just kill everything. Wasting predator resources is better than wasting yours. Remember to Defend...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Deck: Brutal Orun Cannon

After last night I felt I should post another of my "Harmless until Proven Deadly" decks. My Brutal Orun Cannon deck is one of those...

This deck did a pounce bleed for 13 and killed it's prey. It is very fragile to Votes and fairly fragile to bleed. I do need to tweak this further, but any changes will leave the core Bleed/Bloat module alone.

Deck Name : Brutal Orun Cannon
Author : Juggernaut1981
Description :
Orun Pounce-Bleed Deck.
Just keep on taking probing actions (Nangila Rushes, bleed, etc...) drop some moderate combat (Crows + Bats for 3 and then let the combat end, or Majesty). If there are persistent blockers, rush them or bleed and do your best to suck all the blood off you can and try to use Carrion Crows + Aid from Bats, Press, Majesty in the next round to untap and allow you to take some other action or wait. When you see your prey is wide open, if you have the Oruns set up... declare the King-Bleed (Brutal Influence starts at 2, +1 for each Orun you tap, +2 from Iron Glare at [POT][PRE]) and hope it lands. You can also effectively bloat with Brutal Influence by not only bringing out minions for free, but over-filling them by 2 so you can spend your transfers to take the two back into your pool.

Top 3 largest bleed actions taken by this deck: 15, 13, 12. It's got a whopping king hit, you see it coming with a marching band and an army escort... but if that sucker lands... *fuh-slam*.

Funniest Moments: When people call Ancient Influence or Reins of Power. I've bloated 18 pool from Ancient Influence (8cap + 8 Oruns = effective 24cap) and had my predator suddenly kill his own referendum when he realised that the Reins of Power he was calling would oust my prey (8cap + 10 oruns = 28cap...)

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 4 max: 9 average: 7.5

3x Nangila Were 9 ANI POT PRE obf ser Guruhi:4
3x Nana Buruku 8 ANI POT PRE Guruhi:4
2x Ngozi Ekwensu 9 ANI POT PRE VIC cel magaji Guruhi:5
1x Batsheva 6 ANI PRE obt pot Guruhi:4
1x Batsheva Adv 6 ANI PRE obt pot Guruhi:4
1x Fish 5 ANI POT pre Guruhi:4
1x Lumumba 4 PRE ani Guruhi:4

Library [79 cards]

Action [14]
8x Brutal Influence
4x Exile
2x Rampage

Action Modifier [8]
2x Edge of the World
6x Iron Glare

Combat [28]
9x Aid from Bats
1x Bestial Vengeance
4x Canine Horde
6x Carrion Crows
8x Majesty

Event [2]
2x Bitter and Sweet Story, The

Master [12]
12x Orun

Reaction [12]
4x Familial Bond
8x Rat's Warning

Retainer [4]
1x Raptor
3x Raven Spy

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sects around the World

Hey Everyone,

Edit: Please look at the Maps of VTES Sects Around the World Page and add comments if your country/state is marked as the wrong sect. Particularly if you have done a BYOStoryline recently

I'm wondering if there is a list anywhere that details, or at least suggests, which countries/cities/states are owned by which Sects. Some I know...

Western Australia: Anarch (Fee Stake: Perth)
Toronto Canada: Sabbat (Lots of Archbishops, no Princes)
Massachusets USA: Camarilla
Greece: Camarilla (Spiridonas)
China & Northern Asia: Kuei-Jin

But what about many other places? I'm planning to set up a little page and try keep across people's BYO Storylines to build up a map of how the Sects are going across the world. I need your help with this...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday Night VTES: Quotes

((picks up card)) "Not terribly useful, so I won't use it." - Will 'Captain Obvious' Allison

"He won't do what I want him to do, but if he doesn't do what I want him to do... ((Plays Golconda on Predator's main minion))" - Will Allison

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deck: Mother Hamster

After having a collossal brain explosion, I did put up another deck for Matin Tibor Major's Deck Request Challenge. The criteria were: Mata Hari, Blood Tempering x3, Blood Shield, Kevlar Vest, Talbot's Chainsaw...

Then I came upon an idea. What if Mata Hari was living off her own babies... or the babies of her clan? Carver's Meat Packing & Storage + Tumnimos results in a pretty little super-hunting-ground for Mata Hari or any other Ravnos I might bring out... Toss in a Week of Nightmares & Paul Forrest and you're set for a bleeding bloodbath. Keep the chumps alive with Apparition + WWS + Mass Reality and it's all starting to come up golden (at least so it seems).

Deck Name : Mother Hamster
Author : Juggernaut1981
Description :
Make babies. Chainsaw them. Live off their blood as you go on a bloody rampage around the table. Oh and kill by bleeding the bujeezus out of people with the Week of Nightmares using your comparatively cheap minions & The Book of Stealing Stuff (Karava-stuff-stuff-stuff). Paul Forrest is in to make the Week of Nightmares ESPECIALLY bloody and Carver's works well for filling him back up ready for everyone else to bleed again.

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 3 max: 8 average: 6.08333

3x Alexis Sorokin 8 CEL CHI OBF PRO for Ravnos:4
3x Mata Hari 7 CHI OBF aus for qui 2 votes Ravnos:4
3x Paul Forrest, Fals 5 chi for pre Ravnos:4
1x Vassily Taltos 6 aus cel chi dom for obf Ravnos:4
1x Brian Thompson 4 ani chi for Ravnos:4
1x Marion French 3 ani chi Ravnos:4

Library [70 cards]

Action [17]
3x Blood Tempering
4x Edged Illusion
2x Mass Reality
2x Psychic Veil
6x Tumnimos

Action Modifier [15]
7x Cloak the Gathering
8x Freak Drive

Combat [16]
8x Apparition
8x Weighted Walking Stick

Equipment [5]
1x Blood Shield
1x Karavalanisha Vrana
1x Kevlar Vest
1x Palatial Estate
1x Talbot's Chainsaw

Master [17]
7x Ashur Tablets
2x Carver's Meat Packing and Storage
1x Fame
2x Path of Paradox, The
2x Ravnos Cache
2x Ravnos Carnival
1x Week of Nightmares

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tactics: Winning with Combat - The 3 Player Rule

A while ago, probably about 8 months or so, a few of the guys at my local playgroup were debating the way you should win with a Combat Deck. Out this came the idea that a combat deck should allow and help a table get to 3 players as quickly as possible. The Three Player Rule for Combat. This is intended for PURE Combat decks with a sideline of bleed; i.e. Brujah Combat + Pre bleed or similar.

Why 3 players?
Why is it so important to get to 3 players as quickly as possible?
Getting the table down to 3 players means that you can easily rush your predator AND prey so that they'll not have any ready vampires or minions. Destroying a vampire in any combat is always to your medium-term advantage.

Also, once there are 3 players remaining, if you can demolish all of the other vampires, then you are able to get the remaining 3 VPs (Pred, Prey, You) and getting the GW. In a tournament situation, the GW is worth more than the VPs, so sacrifice the VPs of 2 players to get closer to getting the GW. It's the Play-to-Win in its more Machiavellian form.

How do you do it?
Choose your preferred prey/predator and help them into that position.

So, if your Prey is easy for you to mangle, let them go after their own prey with minimal interference.

If your GPrey would be a good predator, then you probably want to destroy your predator and mangle your original GPred... so that your GPrey can take out your GPred and become your Pred and the players in between get 1VP each.

The majority of it is ensuring that you don't give help when you want that deck off the table, aiding the decks you want to have remain on the table, mangle a vampire here, vampire there, don't go too aggressively cross table, play the players as much as the cards... and above all remember your goals-- Be 1 of 3 players left and the other two are combat weak so you can destroy them easily and bleed out the rest.

It's all in the complicated business of manipulating the table into containing the players you want it to have, and none of the players you don't want to deal with. You have to let VPs go, and preferably let them go so that people don't get 2 VPs if you can help it.

Pure Combat is, by popular opinion and the TWDA, a hard method to win tournaments and this technique is not really any easier. It's just a way to think about attempting to get your goal of a GW with a Pure Combat deck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Past Events: The Great Archon Investigation of Sydney

This is in no-way an official or even a generally used nickname for this particular event in the history of VTES in Sydney. It's just my view and the reason I'm telling you all is because this one event significantly changed the playstyle in Sydney.

Sydney Qualifier for the National Championships (2006 or 2007...)
(Sorry I've forgotten the year...)

We had around 25 players come out of their Havens to play in the Sydney Qualifier in a small CBD venue, near the Chippendale Boys. The Sydney Metagame had been seeing a fair amount of trick decks and Super-Bleeders. It was actually fairly common to hear bleeds of 4+ declared multiple times in a single turn. One of the rounds could only fairly be described as "The Table of Dominate".

The Table of Dominate
What made this table insane, and led to the demise of Powerbleed as a strategy in Sydney, was every player on this table was using a Dominate-Powerbleed style deck. Every deck had a significant number of Dominate Flick and a number of the decks contained Archon Investigation because of the Powerbleed metagame in Sydney.

A Methuselah declared a bleed for 4. This bleed was flicked around the table to that Methuselah's predator, who played Archon Investigation and burned a mid-to-high cap vampire on its first bleed action. Throughout the 2 hour game, 5 vampires were Archon Investigated and at least twice the Archon Investigation was played by the Predator of the acting vampire.

The Whole Day
In the whole day, at total of 7 vampires were investigated by the Archons and destroyed.

The Results
This has changed the face of VTES in Sydney for years. There are very few Powerbleed decks being used. Most commonly there are a number of mid-cap vampires bleeding for 3, Swarm Bleed with mild combat backup (Cel-Sticks CPU Hack, Deep Singing Weenies, etc) and a prevalence of Votes (particularly appearances by an Ayo Igoli deck around the Sydney Scene). Classic Powerbleed (Kiasyd, Giovanni, Lasombra & Malk94) have slowly vanished from out Metagame. We have seen some surreal trick decks, like a few Nacho-Cheese Bleeders (Nakhtoreb + Shennanigans), 10,000 Spirals (Black Spiral Buddy + Quick Jab & Sebastian Goulet), Mummies of the Inner Circle (Spell of Life + G2 ICs) and some others that are so outside the Metagame that people are unprepared.

After saying that, it is probably time for a mild resurgence in the Powerbleed Deck in Sydney. Partly why I don't play my Lasombra w/ Animalism deck much in social games. Might be time to sit down and try build a Song of Pan monstrosity...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tutoring New Players: Prey Is Left

I've decided I should probably write down something on tutoring new players, how I would go about it and how I have changed my ideas over time. So here are some of my key ideas for new players starting with: "Prey is Left"

I used to always play unfocussed toolboxes. I had a Brujah Deck that was Bleed'n'Bash with Sports Bikes, Media Locations, WWEF out the wazoo, some rushes... and so on. It was overly toolbox because I didn't realise I shouldn't be trying to build a deck that was able to do everything. It didn't really oust, it just waited 2 hours to be killed by its prey often.

Prey Is Left
Prey is Left. This is the prime piece of advice with Deck Building and play style.
Concern #1: How do I oust?

This comes before "How do I survive combat?" or "How do I gain pool?" or any other question.

We have had a number of players who don't seem to want to work with this idea. One in particular continues to play very very cautiously. He will often refuse to go left because he perceives that something that has happened before, will happen every time there-after.

My Prey is a Golden God of Combat
Thought: "I have seen my prey do Bad Things to the last vampire in combat. I don't want to act where they might block..."
Why you should remember 'Prey is Left': A Golden God of Combat will likely require a handful of specific cards to play that blistering combat that left your 10-cap in torpor on zero blood... The Card Gods will punish them if you have enough faith to remember what Mick Jagger said 'You don't always get what you want".

My Prey is a Golden God of Flick
Thought: "I just saw my last 3 bleeds get flicked. If I do it again, I will get flicked."
Why you should remember 'Prey is Left': The Golden God of Flick needs to have those flicks in their hand and the untapped minions with blood. Just keep on bleeding for 1, you'll get through and if it happens once, you can do it again.

My Predator is a Bleed Machine
Thought: "If I don't have all my minions untapped and ready to defend, my predator will oust me."
Why you should remember 'Prey is Left': Yes, mess your predator up. Do Bad Things (tm) to as many of their minions as you can manage... but do not forget that every card used backwards is a card you can't use on your prey. So by all means, obliterate a vampire or two but remember 'Prey is LEFT'.

My Prey is Back-Ousting Me
Thought: "My prey is going to smash me out of the game."
Why you should remember 'Prey is Left': Your prey is scared of you. This is a good thing. Maybe you've done too much of a good thing, but in the end, its a good thing. If you can survive this attack (or 2 or 20) then you'll be ready to take out your prey.

So, the take home message is simple: encourage your new players, and your old players, to remember three easy words "Prey is Left" and they'll probably play better VTES.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tactics: Harmless until Proven Deadly.

This is partly a deck-design tactic but also a playstyle. The idea is simple: Convince the table that you are not particularly dangerous, then turn around and break that assumption.

It's hard to do with certain deck types. Ventrue Lawfirm, AAA, BB's Combat, Tzim War Ghoul-tacular and other well known decks with clear powerful offence capabilities are much harder to use for this purpose. To exploit this you need decks that don't seem to have the raw power.

My own decks, some tested on JOL, that fit this category are: Mexican Sl*ts (when played less aggressively), Treaty of Bleedbach (AUS-SER-THA deck) & Nos Princes Hate you All are decks that I would fit into this category.

Treaty of Bleed or the Cryptic Treaty
The Treaty of Bleed deck utilises Sundevere & Tremere Vamps of moderate capacity in a hybrid deck of a Cryptic Mission Deck and a Corruption Counter-Revelation of Desire bleed module. The Crypt contains Sundevere (AUS SER THA others, +1bleed, opt burn 1 blood for +1bleed) and a collection of lower-priced Tremere (Martin Frankel, Valois Sang, Eugenio Estevez, etc). Treaty of Laibach is INCREDIBLY important to the long-term functioning of this deck, but with a number of copies, 7+ Ashur Tablets and Specialisation will allow you to burn through the cards you don't need right now to recycle them for later. There is an active Auspex Reaction module, primarily flick and bleed reduce; there is limited defence against votes other than bloating and some quirky hitback (Cobra Fangs in particular... bye bye Ossian...).

It also contains a number of other blood-denial cards and minions. Young Bloods, Impundulu, Gregory Winter, etc. These feed back into the third angle of the deck: Temptations, Form of Corruption and Heidelberg Castle.

Yes, I know that this is an 'unfocussed' deck in the sense it does many different things. But all of them are attempting to leverage the same synergy: Thaumaturgy removes blood, Corruption likes low blood and people don't worry too much about Corruption Counters.

The Cryptic Mission module facilitates the Corruption Module because of:
Weigh the Heart

Type: Action Modifier
Requires: Auspex & Serpentis
[aus][ser] +1 bleed. After playing this card, you cannot play another action modifier to further increase the bleed for this action.
[AUS][SER] Only usable as a (D) action is announced. If this action is successful, put a corruption counter on a minion controlled by the target Methuselah (after resolving the action).

You take Cryptic Mission and play Weigh the Heart, usually targeting a minion that is unlikely to ever be stolen by a card like Venenation (6+ cap). Many people do not block this action because it is mostly harmless. "What harm will there be in gaining 1 corruption counter on an 8cap?". Where this deck gets dangerous is when there are three or four corruption counters on your prey. If you can't Cryptic Mission, then a 1-bleed will often do the trick and again people tend not to block; it's even better if they reduce since the action is successful, triggering Weight the Heart, but it does no damage (and is once again, harmless).

Revelation of Desire
Type: Action Modifier
Requires: Serpentis
You cannot play another action modifier to increase this bleed amount.
[ser] +1 bleed.
[SER] Burn one of your corruption counters from a minion controlled by the target Methuselah to get +3 bleed against that Methuselah.

Play Advice: Start slow. Recruit an ally here. Ping a mid-to-large cap with Cryptic Missions, NOT allies (unless its an obvious main angle to your prey's deck) there. Probe-bleeds for 1, sometimes with Weigh the Heart. Always keep one or two minions untapped, so you appear defensive. Put Temptations on non-key vampires of your prey, not on their Main Vampire. Put the Form of Corruptions down only on a Speed Bleed predator until the middle game. Don't look nasty, just look wacky and unexpected and a bit bloaty. Remember: Cobra Fangs on your predator or prey is a nice trick to tangentially engage in a bit more Blood-Denial by forcing them to Rescue. (Plus playing Cobra Fangs at (ser) on your Prey's Ossian is always hilarious...)

Pros: 1) Placing the corruption counters tends not to be blocked. 2) This is a form of 'responsible bleeding' - you can't hit the wrong player for a bleed of 3+ because of the "against that Methuselah" clause. 3) Sundevere can land a bleed for 6 with a cardless action using 1 action modifier that costs a total of 1 blood. Heck any of your Tremere's (after their Treaty) can do this sort of bleed for 4...

Cons: 1) You get to do this about once or twice before people suddenly realise and turn on you. Hopefully you're set up already... or this will end badly. 2) Metagames with lots of Ashur Tablets can hurt this deck; being able to recurse the right balance of cards into your library is very important and a major part of playing this deck.

Nos Princes Hate you All
This is another variation on a Nosferatu Princes Deck. It's a combat variation that exploits Archon and Anathema. Yes, it contains Parity Shift (4 copies), KRC (4 copies)... but since you are not dropping them frequently, people tend to view the deck as more harmless than it is.

The primary mechanic is to wait for people to spend their pool, you included, then pick their more vulnerable mid-to-large cap minions to make Anathemas before you send in the Air Support Archons (Carrion Crows, Aid from Bats, Mighty Grapple for Handstrikes and spare Presses to continue). Explode one or two minions and suddenly your pool is much healthier and you can begin working on your next 7+ cap vampire.

Like all static vote decks, it suffers when it is in a heavy-static vote Meta; that's just how it is. So do what all VTES players need to learn to do best... Deal, Deal, Deal. Try to choose minions controlled by your Prey, but if needed choose your Predator; don't screw your Cross-table unless there is no other way for you to get the pool you need.

Like many Nos Princes deck it also requires setup time. If your setup time is rough (and it can be very rough), that ironically works to your advantage because people will let you have an Archon to terrorise your predator... and by the time they realise otherwise it's hopefully too late.

It's a G2/3 Crypt. Casino, Cock Robin, Nikolaus, Calebros & Sundown (ANI POT and a burn a blood for a vote ability... he also makes a nice Archon). They are just on the expensive end (7.75 cap average crypt) but with Nikolaus, Fourth Trads and Fifth Trads you can manage both pool and blood cost. Plus don't worry if you get low, one Anathema can net you 6+ pool and if you can back that up with a Parity Shift its even better.

Play Advice: Play it weak, play it grudgingly, play to let your predator cycle a little stealth and land a couple of bleeds on you... don't go after your prey early. You want to look like a predator that could have teeth but is too busy worrying about managing their own crap to be a table threat.

Pros: 1) Medium builder with a weak start; 2) Your weak start adds to your "I'm not dangerous" argument and is enhanced by letting your pool stray into dangerous territory (<=6 pool kind of dangerous); 3) Playing it easy and not letting your prey go without some pressure (bleeds for 1, Army of Rats, etc) convinces people that you aren't a useless predator... and someone they may prefer to have as a predator Cons: 1) Slow start... you can get annihilated by big bleed or swarm bleed in the early part of a game. 2) You can be out-punched without too much effort, but then that deck needs to be a dedicated combat machine... 3) People see Nos Princes and think Parity Shift.


The trick to this style of play is: Slow starts, build gently, appear competant but not dangerous. You want to give everyone a reason to keep you around and no reason to oust you (beyond being someone's prey). Convince the table that you'll keep some pressure on your prey, but that you are a very useful barricade for their Grand Predator. Then turn around and unleash. Open the full force of the secrets you've been keeping and go after your prey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tournaments: What should smaller areas do with their Nationals/Continentals?

This is an issue with more relevance to us in Asia, Australia & NZ and possibly South America. Sorry to those of you in Asia & South America, this will be very Australia-centric.

Particularly in Australia, we have a small-ish number of players (in comparison to other Countries) and they are fairly geographically spread. It's probably around $150AUD for the cheapest flights at the worst times to get between any of the East Coast cities (it's up to $400AUD to get from Perth to Sydney/Melbourne). That's without accomodation and while we're a friendly mob and will offer couches, etc... some of the Aussies just don't feel happy couch-surfing.

So, there are a few issues that are obvious for us:
  • Limited player bases combined with the "Multiple Qualifications" system means that regions tend to have a few number of players who Qualify multiple times.
  • Long Distances tends to mean that people are less willing to travel insterstate unless they have qualified already.
  • Distances can penalise some playgroups more than others. We're much more likely to get Aukland players at a Nationals in Sydney, than we would get players from Perth coming to Sydney.
One of the solutions I've heard discussed is to convert our Nationals into an Open Event, rather than an Invitiational. I actually like the idea.

Having a 3, 4 or even 5 round + final tournament over two days allows us to ensure that the players in the final are the best of the best. A variant of this is to allow an Open Event (2R+F) on Day 1, then the top 10-15 are then segregated for 2R+F on Day 2 and the remainders can play a social tournament or just a day of social games.

  • People can see a reason to come even if they might not make it into the Day 2 Event
  • People aren't speculating cash on flights, etc to come to a LCQ and then at most play for one day.
  • It is easier to reduce the per-player cost of venues, which is important if the event is held at something like a Gaming Convention.
  • Some people will feel that the event is less elite (in my own mind, that's almost irrelevant)
  • It doesn't match with the current VEKN Continental Champs requirements
  • In Australia, it would potentially only work well during University/School Holidays and I'd speculate AT another major event like a Convention (again to encourage people to make the effort to travel)
Personally, I don't think that making smaller Championships (like Australia and Asia in particular) a 2-day Open event will harm the credibility of the winner, or the validity of the event itself by having a restricted field on the second day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quotable Quote #1

"Hmmm... I'm all tapped out. That would be bad." - Will Allison
"This deck's defence is Bleed Faster..." - Myself

Decklist: Lasombra w/ Animalism

Originally this was going to be an Anarch Deck utilising Hell-for-Leather at ani & obt with some bleed thrown in and some Animalism retainers. After that deck failed horridly, repeatedly and consistently... I tossed out all of the Anarch-tech and turned it into S&B with Guard Dogs as a defence. It is fairly weak to votes, but it is hard to bleed. It's fairly good against combat, because of the King-Hit style combat module + Taste of Vitae. Bloat is fairly good and it is deliberately light on MPAs so you can utilise Nahir's Text; nothing like having a 9-card hand for the majority of the game. This is the deck I mentioned in my post on Suspense & the Unexpected.

Deck Name : Lasombra w/Animalism
Author : Juggernaut1981
Description :
Lasombra w/ Animalism

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 4 max: 10 average: 7.41667

2x Anton de Concepcio 9 ANI DOM OBT POT aus archbishop Lasombra:4
3x Nahir 10 ANI DOM OBT POT tha Lasombra:3
2x Conrad Adoula 8 DOM OBT POT ani cel Lasombra:4
2x Otieno 6 OBT POT ani dom Lasombra:4
1x Banjoko 5 DOM obt pot Lasombra:3
1x Dr Julius Sutphen 5 POT dom obt Lasombra: 3
1x Paulo de Castille 4 ani dom pot Lasombra:4

Library [76 cards]

Action [10]
10x Govern the Unaligned

Action Modifier [22]
2x Command of the Beast
4x Conditioning
4x Foreshadowing Destruction
4x Seduction
4x Shadow Play
4x Tenebrous Form

Combat [18]
6x Earthshock
6x Pushing the Limit
6x Taste of Vitae

Master [10]
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
2x Elysian Fields
2x Path of Night, The
2x Political Hunting Ground
2x Powerbase: Barranquilla

Reaction [16]
8x Deflection
2x Eyes of the Night
6x Guard Dogs

Crafted with : Anarch Revolt Deck Builder. [Mon Nov 22 13:40:46 2010]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tactics: Suspense & the Unexpected

I have just been reading this thought by ICLee on his Wordpress Blog (Reach in VTES) where he talks a little about "reach". It's all about how you squeeze those last few points of damage out of everything to kill your opponent (particularly from a MtFleecing perspective). But it leads to one of those things I remember doing myself early on... and something that seems to continually get me and others VPs.

(Note: These are my ideas and tend to work for my own playstyle, but maybe by throwing the ideas out there we'll all learn more about the game we all play)

Suspense & the Unexpected

Suspense is the basic idea of keeping your prey just slightly on edge and your predator uncertain. Now there are plenty of ways to do this. The point of building a little suspense in them is so you can affect their mindset, get them off-balance and exploit any misplays made by those around you. It can be any kind of suspence, but the simple start of it is: if people are not always sure of what you might do, then they'll be more cautious for fear of finding out.

A couple of the more accomplished players from the Blacktown group have had different tactics for managing suspense. My own method is to play as if my own ousting is so far from ever happening I can take a nearly reckless disregard for my own position; some players have learned to identify when this might be a bluff but they aren't there yet. Another used to 'Cry Poor', where he would always turn around and claim how low his pool was, how beaten up his vampires were, how likely he is to be ousted any second, etc before he would then turn around and dump most of his hand into a killing lunge to get a VP and often table dominance. Another is a "Pointer" who would commonly highlight the potential of other players to soon win the table or provide "advice about who would be the most likely target for such and such a card". They're all a method for doing the same thing: maintaining some suspense between yourself and the others in the group.

One of my other preferred tactics has been the "Threat before Vote Terms are Declared", where you threaten imminent violence on the player who so much as deems to put that remaining point of a KRC anywhere near your pool... of course before you do everything to vote it down and then obliterate as many of that players vampires/pool. With the right deck, it works beautifully, especially my own !Salubri Bleed & Rush deck... nothing says "Don't do that again" like rushing and deal 7 undodgeable aggravated after cancelling a S:CE or a prevent card.

To illustrate the "Never play like you're about to die" kind of bluff, with one of my first decks I would regularly equip Allison Maller with a Sport's Bike and Bang Nakhs. In that deck Allison was my Speed Bump. An action was declared by my predator (like say... Hunt, or even less likely to long-term affect me but was undirected) and Allison would declare a block attempt. It didn't matter that I had seen him dump two GtUs forwards with Conditioning backups and he still had 2 or 3 other minions... the point to my Predator was "You better have a plan cause I'm happy to block this pointless action you're taking first...". It was even better if I had about as much backup for that statement as a wetted tissue. However, most of the older players from that group remember the game where Allison Maller blocked 5 actions in a row, using 4xWWEF and all sorts of Celerity Combat to stay alive. It's stuck in their mind and while I dismantled that deck years ago, I sometimes get the feeling that those guys still worry when they see all of my vampires tapped out; they always think I do it when "I have a Plan (tm)".

Other standard tactics are similar to those suggested in ICLee's post: the Unexpected
Many of my own decks have the Unexpected.
  • My Mexican Sl*ts deck has the because it utilises Zip Guns and Suppressing Fire as a way to bypass Chi-Walls using Draba. For every other wall-ish decktype it behaves like a mild S&B deck, but with someone using Drabas regularly the unexpected event is reducing their intercept instead of generating stealth. It makes you less predictable, less expected and while it can encourage a little defensiveness it can push that emotional button that can lead to mistakes. This deck also contains minimal combat: Unflinching Persistance, Thrown Gate, Zip Gun and that's about it. Expectations it counters: #1 Draba Always Works, #2 BB's = Combat Combat Combat, #3 Putting them in torpor works (read Redistribution again people...)
  • My Lasombra w/ Animalism deck has the unexpected because it packs some significant Potence beatdown for a deck that holds predominantly Dominate & Obt Sleaze Bleed. The other dirty trick it tries to utilise is using Animalism untaps so I can flick away with Dominate for as long as I want, and 2 +1 Intercept cards. It slams on through the usual Dominate bleeds like all Obt-Dom bleed... and then when someone is planning to smash you with a rush, it turns around and drops Earthshock or Pushing the Limit before reclaiming what it can with a Taste of Vitae to have that extra unexpected element. I'll probably post this thing up later. Expectations it counters: #1 S&B Doesn't do combat, #2 S&B without Auspex can't block votes, #3 A probe-bleed will sucker out wake so I can follow up with more bleeds.
Now the reason for including these is purely because people have expectations and by breaking them, hopefully early, they will be worried about what other expectations they cannot rely upon anymore. And that will keep suspense going on for a large part of the game and you can exploit that.
Losing Suspense is the big, big falldown of a lot of players. You either show yourself to be such an all-pervading threat that nothing but your immediate ousting will make the table comfortable, or a toothless tiger that can be dutifully ignored while people get on with the business of killing their prey. (Which may just be you). I used to do a horrible stunt on one of my fellow Blacktown players: repeatedly pester, usually in combat as his predator. There were a number of ways to provoke him but the result was the same: he would throw his whole game-plan out to recklessly assault his predator. It would often come close to having him lose the game, forget about his VP and set yourself up to probably gain a VP if you could survive the short-term blast from this player.

Losing Suspense also happens when you prove that your deck has precisely one trick, this is always the downfall of classic well-known decks or deck archetypes such as Malk94, AAA, Cybeleotron, etc. While these decks are stellar, reliable, and in their own way truly awesome they have been analysed, viewed, predicted and pulled apart. They hold no mystery and little suspense. You see Quira and Dolphin Black on the table with 1 Kindred Spirits in the ash-heap and it won't matter if the rest of the deck is a Malkavian Dementia + Derange trick deck, it will be labelled as Cheese-Bleed for the rest of the game because it is threatening and holds no mystery. Unless you can prove it is not resulting in suspense.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Create-a-Clan: Elvis Circle

Well, in the spirit of all things end of year and silly... May I present the entirely fictitious, non-canon, superfluous and rediculous....
Elvis Circle of Blood Brothers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vampires: Sennadurek

Sennadurek is relatively quickly becoming my next favourite vampire. The biggest advantage in this 6cap is the text. The disciplines, and what is there to dislike about [AUS][dom], are nice but that text has become a really valuable effect on almost every table.

Sennadurek & Superior Auspex
I have become a huge fan of watching my Grandprey take a 1 bleed, look at my prey's hand and untap a vampire with Superior Auspex. This can also be used in an unexpected way on your predator, if you have a moderate amount of bloat to compensate.

Deliberately taking a 1-bleed from a predator trying to suck out untap. They will untap your minion for you, and potentially give you a look at another player's hand. You can also then use Superior Auspex to do all of the good things Auspex does; flick, block and reduce. Plus it saves you at least 1 untap especially if you can drive down a credible bleed to 1 using another vampire that is untapped (Martin Frankel, etc, etc, etc) by whatever Anti-Bleed Jedi-Mind-Tricks you can get.

This then gives your predator the edge, you resist bleeding your prey (and instead take other forward actions on your prey) and then wait until your predator loses the edge. You then untap Sennadurek, look at their hand and know just what is coming.

Sennadurek & Black Hand
Then we get to the strange options. Like Sennadurek Rush combat (and being able to use defence). Nose of the Hound + Cold Aura + Psychic Assault + Target: Vitals (Optional Taste of Vitae)... Rush at stealth (preferably against say... blockers/flickers of bleeds. Can't flick if you aren't ready...) set the range to long with Cold Aura, then ping for 2R or 4R unpreventable.

Other Auspex cards can possibly be tossed in and there are Yasmin the Black, Selena, Kestrelle Hayes, Ash Harrison & Blackhorse Tanner who are also Black Hand and have Superior Auspex (Note: They aren't all in legal groupings). You can potentially dig around and use a mix of Reunion Kamut and GtU to get out your all-seeing Black Hand vampires on the cheap. I may draft up a deck on this theme, if others don't beat me to it.

Other ideas...
Well Necromancy has 'fun' ideas, but other than making Masquers or Puppeteers, or maybe Ex Nihilo? I can't really think of anything nice for Necromancy Users that are not Giovannis.

If you have any good ideas for Sennadurek that I haven't thought of in the last few weeks, please add them in the comments. I am keen to hear from you all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Thanks to all of you who have been reading what I've been putting here. It's nice to see from the Votes and comments that this isn't just a long waste of time and key-strokes.
So thanks.
Feel free to Comment away on any of the posts... or on the ConFlict Sydney Site

Monday Night VTES: 15/11/10

It was another Monday Night VTES at our FLGS. We had a slightly lower turnout compared to usual with just 4 (including myself) turning up: Sutekh23, Marty the Man, James Fynan and myself. We had a new guy come along and play the first game with Sutekh23 keeping an eye over his shoulder. He had a go with my Sleazy Malks for Newbies deck. It's basically a fat wad of Kindred Spirits, Eyes of Chaos, Stealth Cards and a few crazy fun Malky Stuff (Malk Pranks, Muddled Vampire Hunters w/ Disciplineless combat, etc). It took a VP before I managed to get through it using my Trochomancy Deck (I am convinced that it needs something else but it did well with Martin Frankel and Solomon Batanea out early and an Anima Gathering for Solomon before bringing out Sennadurek... MAN Sennadurek is a nice vampire, that text is great).
After playing a few weeks as the predator of James' Unnamed deck, I'm convinced that a couple of cards in particular are really awesome and that the Unnamed needs something else in the tank than what James is giving it. Evil Eye is BAD(tm). We have a moderately combat-heavy social metagame (I was playing Martin Frankel Rush/Burst of Sunlight, Marty had Lorenzo Punch You To My Ready Region and Sutekh23 had my Theo Eats with Chopsticks deck) and Flames of the Netherworld + Evil Eye is a nasty combat defence module. I do think his Unnamed deck needs Homonculus and probably also needs either Perfection or to bleed using Forgery. The deck is basically Unnamed bleeds for LOTS with The Hordes, bloats 2+ pool (depending on Social Charms or Greater Curses or...) and then spends most of that bloated pool untapping. The Unnamed at least needs an alternative untap, OR, there needs to be more Path of Evils in there (or a better way to defend them). I think a Homonculus would end a lot of James' woes in having his deck crushed between flick and a bleedy-predator place. It also needs some kind of defence, even if it is Rush upstream using [dai] or [mal] or [str] or the Unnamed's own bad mojo (1 blood to get 2R Agg).
Things are going ahead reasonably with the ConFlict Charity Games Day. It will be really good if we get a big turnout from Sydney, at least amongst the VTES players. The Flames of War guys seem very keen to do a recreation battle, like the battle of El-Alamein or similar.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sydney BYO Storyline Jan2011

The Winter of Our Discontent
**** Chat History Log ****
Log Start: 10:15am 19 Apr 2010
paladine> look we need a leader. its time the prince either put up or shut up. i don't need those damned dogs in my haven!
miz_taken> you know i saw a werewolf in darling harbour, all the way down there! how does a werewolf stalk that far without the kine going crazy?
nexus> cam princes want their patch, not to keep us safe. we need a new leader.
pigsy> i'm sure they're aware and working on it, give the primogen time to decide
paladine> and will that decision be made before or after the next haven gets firebombed
miz_taken> the only thing worse than one of those dogs peeing on my rug would be one of them burning it! all the smoke damage to my sculptures and paintings!
pigsy> look, the primogen will do something about it.
*paladine has logged out of the chatroom
nexus> i get the feeling at least one person doesn't believe you pigsy
pigsy> some people can't be patient, even when they will live for millennia
miz_taken> but sometimes the wolves don't listen pigsy...look at taipan's place... firebombed and the primogen haven't said anything yet!
*ophid has loggen in to the chatroom
ophid> hey everyone how's your day going?
nexus> less safely since taipan's place got bombed
ophid> taipan wasn't there luckily, just lost his ghoul and some stuff
miz_taken> awww that ghoul was a pretty one... you don't find that many truly pretty mortals to make into ghouls...
ophid> paladine not around?
pigsy> nah some people don't have patience
nexus> and some people place a lot of trust in others too pigsy
miz_taken> if i wanted politics i'd hang around the labour party and the ventrue... i'm outta here boyz! seeya!
*miz_taken has logged out of the chatroom
nexus> so what do you think the bunyips will do next?
ophid> screw the bunyips, what about those damned bikies! i'm losing all my hard work there because of some stupid bunch of tribal migrants entering the mix!
pigsy> yeah cause we're never all about our clans and screwing up things around the place for others
*nexus smirks
ophid> not like those sabbat jerks are going to do anything but cause trouble anyway
**** Chat history log end ****
After the recent firebombing of a Haven in Sydney by Bunyips, the Kindred have become nervous. Bunyips are frequent through the National Parks around, and through, Sydney and it seems like they've been trying to eradicate the Kindred of Sydney. Travelling out of the city, especially down the coast to Melbourne or north to Brisbane, has been dangerous with the Bunyips working in packs to crash the car and shred any kindred inside. All of this has led to nervousness and fear amongst the Kindred of Sydney.
Some Kindred have do not believe that the Camarilla and Sabbat are out to protect the interests of the general Kindred. They believe that it is time to take power for themselves, possibly even establish a Free State.
Some of the Kindred believe that the powerful backing of the Camarilla and the Sabbat will soon be brought to bear with the result of sending a clear message to the Bunyips that the East Coast of Australia is not their's any longer. The ways of Kindred for hundreds of years has worked just fine; the Traditionalists don't see the need for change just swift action against the Bunyips.
Some of the Kindred believe that the Bunyips present an opportunity to destabilise the established order and keep any particular leader stepping into the power vacuum. It will allow them to increase their stakes in criminal activity, legitimate business and the all important information business. This is the particular goal of the Settites and Giovanni, but of course many other Kindred would be happy to increase their own power within the ever-tangled web of the Jyhad.
The final question is... Which faction will win? Anarchists, Traditionalists or Organised Crime?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Decklist: Dead Magic

**Warning** Totally untested and untried deck. I had the thought while at work today and just tinkered on ARDB to make this thing.
This is a Toolbox deck on the Wall-ish end of Toolbox. The blocking is intended to be more forward oriented, but of course all blocking ability is good defence.
CRYPT (12) Min: 5cap Max: 9cap Average: 7.3
3x Phagian 8cap AUS NEC THA dom for Harbinger G4
2x Marino Reymundo Vasquez 9cap AUS DOM NEC THA ani Archbishop !Tre G3
2x Yasmin the Black 6cap AUS THA dom pre !Tre G3
1x Paul Cordwood 8cap AUS DOM THA obf pre Bishop !Tre G4
1x Polly Kay Fisher 8cap AUS DOM THA for pot Archbishop !Ven G4
1x Ladislas Toth, the Torch 7cap AUS DOM THA for Archbishop !Tre G3
1x Jefferson Foster 6cap AUS DOM for tha Bishop !Ven G4
1x Frondator 5cap AUS dom tha Bishop !Tre G4
2x Abbot
10x Govern the Unaligned
6x Trochomancy
16x Apportation
8x Theft of Vitae
6x Weather Control
7x Ashur Tablets //In case some smart alec wants to Wash/SR one of them...
1x Black Forest Base
1x Crematorium
4x Tribute to the Master
1x Yawp Court
4x Sabbat Priest
8x Deflection
8x Eyes of Argus
8x Masquer (Wraith)
C&C away down below...

Monday Night VTES 8 November 2010

I thought I'd just blog a little about our usual Monday Night playgroup.
Turning up were Paul Azzopardi, 'Sutekh23', Will Allison, James Fynan and myself of course. We also had a pair of Magic: The Fleecing players loitering around and we got a "buyers bite" from them both for next Monday. Woot.
Game 1
Myself (Harbingers Trochomancy)
Sutekh23 (A borrowed Theo Bell & Beast must Smash)
Paul (Malk/!Malk Auspex Bleed w/ stealth)
James (The unnamed + Hordes Bleed-zilla)
Will (A borrowed Martin Frankel says No)
My game was basically neutered, I didn't draw the cards I needed in the order I needed, I overspent on vampires, I didn't get the chance to really land many bleeds... it was just a slow death. Really need to tweak and reconfigure that deck; might post it later for commentary.
Sutekh23 got out Volker, then Theo Adv, then Beast and later Merged Theo. It was fairly brutal and nobody really stood a long-term chance against 2+ rushes per turn with a Tensions on the table and a Carvers Meat Packing & Storage. Lots of Earthshocks, hands for [buttload], Psyche!... you go to sleep now.
Paul's deck looks like it was designed after the Great Archon Investigation of 2006 (?). The Sydney Qualifier for that year's nationals was particularly rife with Powerbleed, Flick and Archon Investigations. On one table there were 5 vampires burned by Archon Investigation, 2 of those happened when a player brought out a vampire, bled for 4+ and was flicked around to his Predator who played the AI. Since then, the Sydney scene has had a lot more Bleed for 3 backed up with Rush or Intercept. This deck looks like a result of that event. Malk/!Malks get Pulse of the Canaille and bleed you for 3 at "LotsaStealth". Very much a by-the-numbers killer.
James has been toying for a while with this Baali deck. Partly he's needing to learn what it needs as much as getting used to how damned knife-edge a Baali deck can be. It's basically "Proper Baali" + Tend the Flock to get Hordes with Maleficia shennanigans. Bleeding with Greater Curses, using Barrenness, Evil Eyes, Psalm of the Damned and some Flames of the Netherworld for combat 'defence'. When he decides to lock'n'load a bleed they can come through at about 7-bleed with 3+ stealth and a Block Fails on top. Unfortunately for James, he tends not to play as aggressively as the deck probably needs to be; it really strikes me as a deck where the defence is... oust prey faster.
Will was using my crazy little Martin Frankel 'superstar' deck. It floats a number of Burst of Sunlight, Nose of the Hound and a lot of Auspex Reduce/Flick. If your predator is giving you issues, little Martin Noses somebody's Hound and then drops Burst of Sunlight sending everyone for a little holiday. You can then try Chantry Martin back out (if you have it) or fetch him the hard way so you can then use Martin to Reduce most bleeds down to sensible levels and back it up with some intercept. The other guys generally get to use the GtUs and the Blood Fury/Blood Rage (it was built at a time when Fortitude Combat was the norm in our playgroup).
James got Will before the Malks got James. Then it was basically a formality because a Rush deck with Red Cards in the tank should always crap over a 3-player table; and it did. Sutekh23 3VP, Paul 1VP, James 1VP.
Game 2
Myself (Guruhi Brutal Influence + Oruns)
Will (Szechenyi's Horrid Balloons, borrowed from me)
Paul (Ravnos miscellaneous shennanigans)
Sutekh23 (For-Pot-Cel Bundis & Pre bleed, borrowed from me)
James (Baali)
My Guruhi Brutal Influence deck is basically a wait and lunge type deck. You regularly make 1 bleeds, push them to 3 if you have the Iron Glares in hand and don't get blocked and if you do get blocked use Carrion Crows + Aid from Bats if you want to punish or Majesty if you want to wimp-out. Then when you have found out if your prey is wide open, smack the SNOT out of them with a Brutal Influence (last night had a Brutal Influence for 12 stick...). It utilises Nana Buruku, Nangila Were and has a support cast of Ngozi, Lumumba, Fish & Batsheva (basic & adv). If you get the right crypt, you'll have Nangila & Nana. Influence out Nana and load her up with Oruns, bring out Nangila and let her suck out blocks (using Rush + Majesty) before bleeding. Bloat out whole minions with BI & Oruns (you can bloat out a 7cap at most) and then when the time is right, BI for as much as you can, throw down an Iron Glare and if you kill toss an Edge of the World in for good measure (+4 pool, if this is the acting guruhi refill them & untap). It took out Will and died in front of the Ravnos.
Will was playing my Szechenyi Deck. It's a wall centred around Szechenyi Mother of Horrors, Corpse Balloons, Auspex/Animalism untap and Kraken's Kiss (it possibly should be DBRs, but I wanted to try bloat blood with Tzims...). Once you get a couple of Corpse Balloons it is nearly impossible to get a (D) action through against the deck. It ousts via Army of Rats and chump bleeds for 1 (+1 with a couple of Changelings). Problem for Will was Paul's Draba and prevent-type combat (with Guns and other Chi shennanigans).
Paul was playing Ravnos Shennanigans. Gabrin dropping Sense Deps, Ravnos bleeding for 2 at 3+ stealth, Drabas getting tossed around, Animalism allies, Dawn Ops and so on. It was moderately toolboxy but still had enough go-forward to make James feel a little pressured.
James was playing his Baali again and got Arishat instead of The Unnamed. It went okay but without the Unnamed's bloat it was spilling pool like crazy. He was considering doing all sorts of crazy stuff backwards, we as a group reminded him of the First Law of VTES: Prey & VP is LEFT. He found some courage part-way through the game and launched at Sutekh23 slamming him for a 5-bleed at the right moment to get the kill. He didn't get as many Tend the Flocks as usual and that hurt his bloat as well.
Sutekh23 had my slightly bizarro Bundi Fortitude Prevent, Forced March untap & Pre bleed Bruise'n'Bleed. It's got Count Germaine and almost everyone else w/ Cel, For, Pre... and Elihu. It could probably do with more Rush realistically... Note to self. He put some pressure on but spent a fair amount of time Enchant Kindred down. Didn't look like he got lots of the Forced Marches and certainly didn't get to unload combat. I didn't really punish him, but I didn't have to worry too much about him either.
End Results: Paul 3VP, James 1VP, Me 1VP

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cards that I'd Change and How

Hey all...
A number of you have probably noticed that when it comes to "What Cards Need Fixing?" debates on the Google Group, I tend not to fall into the same camps as everyone else.  Part of that I'd put down to the Playgroup I'm in, part of that I'd put down to just the way I think.  I thought I'd spend some time on this Blog to talk about some of the cards I'd fix, why they need fixing, where I think they need fixing and how I'd fix them.

First Cab off the Rank is...

Voter Captivation

Why fix Voter Captivation?

A few reasons pop into mind.  Voting is usually a primary ousting technique.  Few cards in the game reward a vampire acting towards the primary ousting technique and give both blood and pool.  Most that give blood, give 1 or 2 (Capitalist, Forgery, etc) or give 1 pool (Social Charm, Legal Manipulation, Kindred Spirits, etc).

The "Fill them Up" cards I can identify quickly (other than Voter Cap) are: Giant's Blood (1 per game), Festivo della Estino (1 per game) and Renewed Vigor (blockable action for a Bloodline Discipline).

So, assuming that the Vote Deck will gain Vote Lock by a comfortable margin, each Voter Cap is effectively 2 Ascendances + 1 Giant's Blood per action. That's significantly more powerful than the three other 'fill them up' options above.

The standard defences against voting are usually: intercept or rush-combat. 

One of the long-standing vote deck types that rarely seems far out of fashion is a TGB.  A single action modifier (the Voter Cap) and completely reverse the effects of a non-torporising combat (wasting probably 3-5 combat cards and possibly as much blood).

Voter Captivation is the only card that has the regular potential to provide 2 pool and at least 2+ blood to the acting minion.

This is separate to its now standard usage with: Minion Tap and Villein.  The Tap & Cap w/ Golconda decks, Large Cap Ventrue w/ Obf and Large Cap Toreadors (AAA Decks in particular), would now be much more limited in their ongoing bloat.  Minion Tap for almost all cannot be done again without the minion taking a number of actions and passing at least 2 political actions by 4 votes or more.

Where it needs fixing?

Voter Cap needs... a cap. 

As it stands, I can't see a reason why a primary-ousting vote deck that has Presence would NOT include Voter Cap.  Its Methuselah Survival (+2 pool reliably), Vampire Defence (refill with blood) and ability to waste significant efforts of Pred/Prey, especially combat, is far beyond most other cards.

How would I fix Voter Captivation?

Voter Captivation

Action Modifier

Requires: Presence

Only usable after a successful referendum.

[pre] The acting vampire gains X blood where X is the number of votes by which the referendum passed or 4, whichever is the least.

[PRE] As per above, except that you may move up to 2 of the blood that vampire would gain to your pool.

This not only puts a cap on the power of the card (at most 2 blood + 2 pool, or 4 blood) but also drags it back into a place where Final Loosening can effectively reduce the card to a 1 blood OR pool scenario. **Sidenote: I do think that Final Loosening should affect Voter Captivation, unlike the current Rulings.

My Conclusion

Minion Tap was never the card that needed nerfing.  Minion Tap is powerful, but it leaves the target low on blood which does make them vulnerable. Sure any vampire worth Minion Tap-ing for 6+ has a big list of disciplines on the side, but most vampires with 3 or less blood are in a potentially dangerous place.  Fix Voter Captivation and many of the Minion Tap decks that frustrated players for years will be curtailed.  Will fixing Voter Cap stop the Minion Slap + Golconda tricks? Nope.  That's what S&B, Cairo International Airport, Undue Influence @ [chi] and a long list of other "target the uncontrolled area" cards are for.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Deck List: Don't Travel to Mexico

This deck is also nicknamed my "Mexican Sl*ts Deck".  It works mostly by chip bleeding for 1s frequently and then turning around to make a huge lunge when the opportunity is there.  It has destroyed a player who left themself open on around 14 pool, assuming that was a safe level.  The only catches are that you usually need to spend a turn rebuilding after a kill to recoup the blood expended in the Walk of Elvis.  This deck was also an experiment in trying to make Supressing Fire viable, since a few people were dabbling with Draba-based defence.
Killing Blow: Computer Hack + Walk of Elvis for LOTS (usually around the 6-8 bleed mark)
Trick: Sneaking bleeds past with some light stealth from Shell Game, but getting the last bit of 'stealth' by using Zip Gun + Suppressing Fire to reduce the intercept of blockers.
Possible Future Versions: 2+ copies of Angelo and 4+ Sanguine Instruction to put SAN onto a few of the bigger girls.
Crypt (12)
6x Hermana Hambrienta Menor 2cap pot san -Loses 2 blood on influence
6x Hermana Hambrienta Mayor 4cap for pot san -Loses 2 blood on influence
Library (74)
8x Computer Hacking
4x Redistribution //It's part hunt and part Nod. Very nice for reclaiming Zip Guns on torpored Mexican Girls
Action Modifiers (22)
2x Change of Target //To suck out a little block just when you need it
6x Shell Game
8x Suppressing Fire
6x Walk of Caine //The Walk of Elvis, I'm still waiting for the Elvis Circle... Might have to Home-Brew that one...
Combat (26)
6x Soak
6x Thrown Gate
6x Unflinching Persistence
8x Zip Gun //Combat maneuver, can kill a retainer here or there, avoids grapples a little, allows you to play Suppressing Fires for zero cost...
Master (15)
2x Communal Haven: Cathedral
3x Dreams of the Sphinx //This is usually as good as a spare minion or half a minion + 2 cards when you need it
4x Fortitude //To keep you from being hurt badly by the Zip Guns mostly
3x Hungry Coyote, The //How else are you going to get blood on the Mexicans quickly?
2x Information Highway //4+2 Transfers = Pay 1 to see 1 and then bring out a Little Mexican
1x Coven, The //This refills a Mexican usually.

Deck List: Nosferatu Princes Hate You All

This is one of the decks I've made and never really altered.  Its second incarnation has basically been its last and even still, after people have had plenty of time interacting with it, it is still a nicely competitive deck.  The idea was always simple: Nos Royalty-style deck that was less about Parity Shift and more about nuking dangerous minions while also doing some moderate ousting.  It is a medium-time builder, if it survives the early game it tends to get on its feet and run away.  However, like most Nos Prince decks it suffers on a table with LOTS of static votes.  It is toolboxy, many of my decks are.

Tournament Results: 2GW 7VPs in the Sydney Qualifier for the 2009 Australian Nationals.  Not played in a tournament since.

Crypt (12)
2x Cock Robin 10cap ANI OBF POT aus for,  Justicar
2x Casino Reeds 9cap ANI OBF POT cel dem, Prince
1x Ellison Humboldt 9cap ANI OBF POT PRE pro, Primogen (if I owned another Nikolaus Vermeulen, Ellison would be out...)
2x Nikolaus Vermeulen 7cap POT ani for obf, Prince (AWESOME special text...)
3x Sundown 6cap ANI POT obf pre (handy +1 vote in a pinch, but also a nice comparatively expendable Archon if the combat scene is dangerous)
2x Calebros 5cap ANI obf pot, Prince

Library (88) //These spare 2 slots would potentially be filled with other defensive cards: Protected Resources, Archon Investigation, Sudden Reversal/Wash, etc.  Possibly a third freed up if you swap out the 2HGs for +1 Warsaw Station.

Masters (7)
4x Blood Doll
2x Slum Hunting Ground
1x Warsaw Station

//I'd probably consider dropping a HG for another Warsaw Station, but the HG + Nikolaus combo is a very nice way to constantly work on minions.  Mixing it with Blood Doll allows you to put blood onto Nik in preparation to put it to another Nos in your influence.  That can assist in lowering your pool to get you to Parity Shift range if you already have a Parity Shift in hand...

Actions (11)
3x Army of Rats //The constant pressure is nice and handy
4x Fourth Tradition //More minions is always nice
4x Fifth Tradition //It's not advisable to rush people without some blood.  Plus you can refill Nikolaus or Casino

Political Actions (16)
4x Anathema
4x Archon
2x Kine Resources Contested
4x Parity Shift
2x Snipe Hunt //To hose a weenie predator causing too many issues, or a weenie-dom prey, for a turn or two to give you some time to do something about them.

Retainers (2)
2x Raven Spy //Cock Robin likes birds...

Action Modifiers (12) //All stealth, just to make sure you get those rushes and political actions through
4x Cloak the Gathering
4x Forgotten Labyrinth //If you're bleeding, you're kinda doing it wrong
4x Lost in Crowds

Combat (26)
10x Aid from Bats
8x Carrion Crows
8x Mighty Grapple

Reaction (14)
6x Cats' Guidance
8x Second Tradition: Domain //After you have Anathema'd your predator, it is a good chance to catch them doing something you don't want them to do.  Doesn't take more than doing it once to provide a major deterrant for most players.