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...