Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Tzimisce

Lars Sveengard here is intended to do a few things...
1) From the online genealogy he was Black Hand, a Dominion AND an Archbishop.
2) I wanted to build a vampire that would cause hassles for MMPA decks, particularly those in front of you.
3) Tzimisce are the thing I'm kind of building at the moment.

A Tzimisce: Razkoljna

So, I decided to create a Tzimisce from Eastern Europe (by just using the name on the Genealogy Sites that are out there).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Venue Announcement Claws of the Dead June 16th

After looking for a suitable venue for a low fee, I've finally found one that will potentially become the home of the Blacktown Sydney Playgroup Tournaments... The cafe has good food, highly rated coffee and has appeared in guides to coffee in Sydney (  As a long term buyer of their coffee beans... the coffee... its goooooooooooood.  Plus, we can probably order our drinks while we're playing without having to stop play!
Because we are at a venue selling food and drink, please don't bring outside food and drinks.  They sell plenty of great stuff here and can cover a wide variety of dietary issues.  If you're not sure, ask them in advance.

Claws of the Dead

Saturday 16th June
10am Registrations, Round 1 begins ASAP.
3R + Final
$5 Entry

Mars Hill Cafe
331 Church St Parramatta
(Directions below are from Parramatta Train Station... you just walk to the pedestrian mall and keep walking down the left-hand side of Church St)

View Larger Map

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Three-Player Rule of Combat GWs: The Early-Game

After reading a post on Inferior Babble (here) I was reinspired to talk about the idea that has been around Blacktown VTES for a while...

The 3-Player Rule for Combat Decks
Where possible, the Combat Deck must, with the least use of resources possible, collapse a table to 3-players and ensure that no other player can gain any more VPs.

This was basically confirmed over on Inferior Babble (without a lot of backup theory etc) but I am happy to know that our experiences were 'right'.

So how does all of this work in practice?
There are really only three paths that the Combat Deck can take to victory:
  • Abivalence
  • Cut out the Deadwood
  • Choose your Enemies


This is simple.  You do very little. Present a low-profile. Don't draw attention.  Provide enough threat to be a credible predator and prey but otherwise... let people oust their prey under their own steam.
  • It requires no resource expenditure on your part.
  • Players will tend to be less aware of you, since you are not really taking actions designed to draw attention to yourself.
  • It draws out as much of the resources of the two remaining players (when you enter the 3-player End Game) as possible.
  • You have no real influence over how many VPs are held by other players.  The people ousted are the people ousted.
  • You have not had any influence over the opponents you will have in the End Game when you need to clean-sweep them both.
Personal Recommendation
This is the least desirable option.  You are trading a low-profile for no influence over the End Game.  Combat Decks are End Game Oriented, so taking no actions as investments to the End Game seems rather foolish.

Cut out the Deadwood

This one is less simple, but easier to do.  You basically buy some short-term influence by destroying resources of other players who are presenting little threat to their prey and are obviously going to be ousted sooner than yourself.  For instance, a player has a moderate-intercept deck as their prey and none of their actions have been successful, their minions are on low-blood and their predator is having a fairly easy run on ousting them.  At this point, your decision is to help kill the player who is getting blocked and not really providing any pressure on their prey.  This accelerates the game towards the End Game.
  • The game will more quickly reach the 3-Player End Game you desire.
  • You have a 'smokescreen' to cover up your intentions.  You can 'blame' that person on destabilising the table, on letting another player get easy VPs, on providing no pressure on another player... etc, etc, etc.
  • You will be able to provide evidence of yourself as a credible threat to other players.
  • You are trading a weak player for a strong player in the End Game.  This can work to your advantage, but it is increasing the risk factor to your successful 3-Player Sweep.
  • You are giving other players (and probably your prey) 6 pool.
  • You are NOT choosing your opponents based on their relative capability against your deck, but against their ability to affect their current prey/predator.

Choose your Enemies

This one is almost as simple as the Ambivalence strategy.  You watch, wait and then see which decks has no real defence against your combat method.  Then when you know which players cannot counter your combat, you destroy their prey/predators so that you are left being the Big Man fighting the two wimps.
  • You are ensuring the effecitveness of your combat in the End Game.  Your strategy should be dominant and obviously so.
  • You are actively bringing the game to the 3-Player End Game.
  • You are providing evidence of your credible threat.
  • Usually this strategy comes with a great big red and white circle pattern on your chest.  You will become a table target.
  • You are not contolling the flow of VPs, so you may be closer to a 3-2 split than a 3-1-1 split.  This increases your risk of failure.
  • You are making a bet about the contents of someone's deck that may not have had to deal with significant combat, so you may have just picked a perfect enemy rather than a perfect victim.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pie-in-the-Sky #1: Combat Rulings

Okay, as many of you have no doubt seen across various posts at various times I have some real beefs with the core structuring of the sources of damage.

1) Outside the Hourglass + Disarm = counts
2) Streed Cred + Carrion Crows = not counted
There are other easy examples, but I want to stick to those two for now...

What damage is environmental damage?
I think this is a very core, and very simple decision, to deciding how all of these cards should work.  For starters, I think that environmental damage should be explicitly stated so on cards played by minions AND any damage which is caused by a minion directly involved in the combat or is caused by a retainer should be environmental (i.e. Not from the acting minion or opposing minion).

Ghoul Retainer = Environmental
Wolf Companion = Environmental
Mariel, Lady Thunder = Environmental

What damage is from 'this minion' or the 'opposing minion'?
  • If a combat card is played to generate the effect, then it is from the minion which played the card unless the card specifically states otherwise.
  • If a minion has an effect on their own cardtext, then it is from that minion and cannot be environmental.
  • If a minion has an equipment which does the damage (not a retainer) then it is from that minion and cannot be environmental.
Carrion Crows = From the minion (barring changes of cardtext)
Weather Control = From the minion (barring changes of cardtext)
Outside the Hourglass = From the minion (barring changes of cardtext)

What is the 'range' before the 'determine range' step?
This is tricky, but I think should be made very simple.  Any damage before range is determined is considered to be at long range since the damage would count even if the range of the combat is later long.  Ranged damage strikes can be used at close, or at long range, so therefore it seems more logical to insist that any damage done before range is determined should use long range.

What will this change?
  • Carrion Crows/Weather Control/Outside the Hourglass (unless it was edited) would count for Taste of Vitae AND Street Cred.
  • Disarm would need to be edited to only count Strike Damage (unless "people" are happy that someone can lose their arm to Outside the Hourglass and S:D/S:CE).  Similarly for Pulled Fangs.
The game would now have a simple internally consistent way to deal with effects on future cards.
  1. If it does not come from a minion involved in the combat, it is environmental.
  2. If the card does not state "environmental" damage, then it cannot be environmental.
  3. Effects from vampire text cannot be "environmental" unless they are not involved in the combat.
  4. Any 'before range' damage is counted as 'ranged damage' since its effect occurs even if the round of combat happens to be at long range later.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Australian National VTES Championship 2012

So, it was a great day, we had plenty of players (approximately 16 IIRC) and it made for an interesting day of VTES.  I'd decided a couple of weeks out, that I planned to use my "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Disciplines" Deck.  It had done well against some of the sleazier decks my playgroup will drag out when we want a 'quick game' (e.g. Las S&B, !Tor Vote'n'Bloat, Malk Kindred Spirits, Malk 'You will see the three bleed coming... at 4 stealth' and an obnoxious combat deck or two).  The deck itself is basically a swarm deck using Prince Titles (Rake, Volker, Praxis' and Justicar votes) to make a little swarm of baby Brujah that get most of their 'red cards' via 3+ Brujah Debates (there are also Pulled Fangs and T:Vs in there to really ruin the odd day if there is a really painful vampire on the table).  It bloats through votes and also breeding (Con Boons, Anathema + Archon and a few blood dolls around the place).  Defence is easy... 10x 2nd Tradition.  Sure it won't stop S&B sleaze from stealthing past me, but sending in a 1-cap which has 3 maneuvers, a handstrike of 4 + Target: Vitals and maybe a Pulled Fangs puts a dent in most S&B decks.  Especially since it isn't a huge problem to make another baby which can go forward while I devote a 1-cap Archon to keep my predator slow-enough.  The other effect is that it punishes disciplines: Blood Weakens, Veil of Darkness and Slow Withering.  I don't use any discipline cards in the whole deck.  There are clan cards (and I tell you now that this deck ROCKS if I can get a New Carthage on the table... *drools*) and they are really useful, but there are no discipline cards in the deck.

The Nationals went something like this...

I turned up on Table 1, my predator and cross-table brought out 7 votes between them before I got my chance to take a Brujah Justicar action... there goes the chance of getting a decent amount of early titles to then be able to push the rest through and get a little cadre of blockers and voters.  Also, most of my crypt is fairly small (6cap is the largest) and my cross-table was the, now famous, Sha-Ennu Deck (bleed for 6 + Will'o'Wisp to make it unblockable, then do it out of turn with Enkil Cog).   The Sha-Ennu deck demolished 19 pool off my predator in two goes around the table.  While I'd spent basically nothing on minions (about 8-10 pool), I couldn't do much when It takes Sha-Ennu (due to card text) 2 blood to make a 7-bleed unblockable and by then I didn't have the vote-power to also be able to push through those nice Con Boons or even Archons I could use to go upriver against Sha-Ennu and beat some of that Will'o'Wisp blood off (which had already been replaced via Giant's Blood so I knew that if I could get Sha-Ennu down that potentially losing an Embrace to diablerie was a tiny price for the 2 turns I'd be able to buy myself to get set up).  Ousted at the end of my own turn by Sha-Ennu bleeding for 7.  I had plenty of 2nd Traditions in hand at all times during this game, even when I was discarding them (or other more expensive luxuries like Nocturn Theatre).

Result: Screwed by circumstance mostly.  I watched 7 vote come up onto the table (Sha-Ennu is a Regent) because of one player speed-influencing (Dreams turn 1 + 3 transfers, Dreams turn 2 + Zillahs + 4 transfers was more than enough) 11cap Sha-Ennu and my predator bringing out a Priscus immediately before I had my first non-titled minion take an action to become Justicar.
The opening hand I got for this game was good, but I would have loved it during the second game.

Table 2: Sha-Ennu was my predator this time. That was *fun*. Because I got bled by Sha-Ennu for 4+ while I had an Archon Investigation in my opening hand... it was an easy enough start... if it wasn't for the fact that I drew my breed actions and no vote actions... it was just wall-to-wall Third Trads without any Boons to provide the buffer it needed in the later parts of the game.

Result: I bought the time I needed, crippled the Sha-Ennu deck and I got 2VPs from a 5VP table.
The opening hand for this would have been far better in the third game. (It had the minions and I could have stopped buying crypt cards to breed in the third game, but unfortunately I needed the extra minions to get off the Justicar vote on the third table and that, combined with not being aggressive enough on my predator, cost me the game).

Table 3: AAA Prey, Vignes Predator.  This was always going to be a rough ride.  A block-capable of prey can be a real hassle for this deck and you have to choose your action sequence carefully to get through the actions you want.  The Vignes deck did what they do... "Please lose 3+ pool 3x this turn".  Since I spend little on minions, I can usually wear a turn or two of that kind of punishment and be okay.  The later actions, such as making 2 more minions, gaining a title and then having last-turns baby call a Con Boon usually get you through another turn and you can keep on setting up.  PROBLEM: Pool - about 12. Prey blocks the first Con Boon in hand (I would have gained 3 or 4 pool).  I call another Con Boon and get it DI2'd from the Vignes Deck.  This basically spelled the end.  In the next turn I turn around and negotiate an Archon vote through so I can go upriver on the Vignes Deck on the proviso that Archon doesn't rush forwards (which is fine by me, I planned to Anathema backwards anyway).  Ranjan Rishi takes a little nap and in the next turn I made my mistake which cost me the game... I didn't follow it up by smacking another minion into torpor.  My pool was about 6 at the end of that turn.  Two or so bleed were flicked and I was down to under 4 pool, I had myself down as a 50-50 chance of survival... it all depended on a Day-Op/Daring being in my Predator's hand... it was there. 4 bleed, no block possible... game over.  I drew into VERY few of my 2nd Trads and losing all chance of early-to-mid bloat really hurt.  I didn't admit to the others my mistake had been to not go hard enough backwards, but I knew I should have possibly gone "Salmon Method" around the table making deals with my prey not to stop my Archon votes which I could probably get agreement for while I had the Vignes predator (and then just keep on going up the river until I met my prey and then crater his minions and bleed out with the swarm).

Result: 0VP, first off the table.  This opening hand was good, but again would have been great for the first game of the day.

I spent most of the day feeling like I'd brought a knife to a gunfight.  I know the reliability of that deck, its a fair deal stronger than it performed on the day and it drew the worst I have had it draw for a long time.  It was really disappointing and I suppose I also underestimated the pure sleaze that would be there (in particular the Sha-Ennu deck which I was tabled with twice).  It's one of the few times I've walked away from a tournament and wondered if I wanted to keep playing tournament VTES.  Very demoralising.  I suppose I've been leaving off dissecting this tournament purely because of how much of a mental crush it was... A deck that I have had humming and can easily take whole tables (4 out of 4VPs) getting unceremoniously smashed in 2 out of 3 games and not really having much but a little luck on my side to get 2VPs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spider League #2: Claws of the Dead

There may be a venue change for the upcoming Spider League #2.

Claws of the Dead
Saturday June 16th 10am - Finish
THREE rounds + Final
$5 Entry

I need to check with Max Webber Library Blacktown... but here is the map.
A is Blacktown Railway Station. B is the Library.  The local shopping centre is literally just outside so it should be easy to get junk food for lunch.

View Larger Map

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Long time no see

Sorry everyone who reads this, and enjoys reading my ramblings lately.  I've been distracted by life.  I'm considering a major career change and potentially entering into being a small-business owner.  Also, with all of the chaos around the Design Team and this recent set development... there doesn't seem to be much I could say without taking sides and I don't really want to.  I have enough chaos in my personal life to be courting extra chaos with this recent conflagration.

  1. I hope the new set will not be majorly delayed by this.
  2. I want the VEKN to come out robust and able to handle itself well.
  3. I'd like it if there was less 'chirping' and 'dog-whistling' from a wide variety of people around the VTES community, but I don't get to change the world.
  4. I'd like my own playgroup to get back to its strength again (10+ every week) instead of floundering (5-7) under the chaos caused by factors beyond the group (two venue/time changes in January hasn't helped it at all).  It would be good to see some of the older faces back again... Mike Bailey, Marty Collins, Brendan Healy, Joshua Lemon... it's been a long time between bleeds.