Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How would you change VTES? (Part 1)

After this thread (here) I got to thinking about how I would have systematically restructured the language of VTES.  Some good starts were made early on (Strength is a good one), but there could have been many more.

Move should be a keyword.  For myself, to distinguish it from steal, any "move" effect requires the target to be there.  So for instance "Move 3 blood from this vampire to ((target))" requires the "this vampire" to have at least 3 blood.  It then makes future rulings simple.  You cannot move what is not there.  You cannot move more than what is there.  And so on.

Steal is a keyword, but generally only used for strikes (there are some other abilities that suggest it like the Chimerstry cards which take equipment).  Steal should have one major functional difference to "move": Steal does not require the target to exist.  I can attempt to steal 4 blood from a minion with 0 blood, it will get me nothing.  I can attempt to steal equipment from a vampire with no equipment, it will get me nothing.  I can attempt to steal more blood from an uncontrolled vampire than is sitting on the uncontrolled vampire.

Transfer should be excluded to only transfer points, actions during the influence phase (which should possibly just get renamed the Transfer Phase) or move blood counters to uncontrolled minions and so any card which "transfers" would target an uncontrolled vampire that you control.  (Heidelberg Castle would only use the word "move", Nikolaus Vermeulen would use "transfer").

Heidelberg Castle, Germany
2 pool
Master: Unique Location.
Tap to move any amount of blood, equipment and/or retainers between any two ready vampires you control. Cannot be used during an action.

Nikolaus Vermeulen
7 cap, POT ani for obf
Camarilla. Prince of Brussels: During your untap phase, you may transfer 1 blood from Nikolaus to a Nosferatu in your uncontrolled region.

Blood & Life
Honestly, I can't see why blood counters and life counters should exist.  We can call all of them "blood counters" and have the properties of Vampires, Allies and Imbued change how the minion reacts to these counters.  Allies should continue to be printed with "life" to help distinguish them from Imbued or Vampires BUT when the counters are there on the Ally they are called "blood".

"Would be"
There are a handful of odd windows, a number of them seem to exist around the "Successful but not yet resolved" concept (see: Spying Mission, Truth of 1K Lies, Obedience).  I suspect that cards that use this "would be" window need to have a keyword or key-phrase and should state if the action itself was successful but its effects were negated.
"Only usable after block attempts are resolved but before (point X)." is clunky but clear.  I don't want to suggest a word like "Interrupt" because of its MtG FILO-Stack concept.  There should be something simpler, but then we may lose versatility in that simplification.

I am actually all for the concept of obliterating the Tribu/Antitribu divide and just creating vampires from alternate sects from the same clans.  There MAY however, be excellent reasons for keeping some such as Ventrue Antitribu who have effectively become a bloodline because of their change in disciplines (trading PRE for AUS) but then it may just be that Sabbat Ventrue get given AUS instead.  But those offshoot-bloodlines would be the clear exception (and honestly !Ven are the only one I can think of which really deserves its own clan-status).

Damage Keywords
Damage should come with a 'category'.  There have been problems with "Which damage is Environmental Damage?" with various cards over the time.  I think one of the simplest advances VTES could make is to make environmental damage a category of damage like "aggravated".  This would errata a number of existing cards and require one structural change (i.e. Damage that is not 'environmental' must come from the 'opposing minion') but would simplify the procedure for ruling on these cards and give greater predictability to the interactions between cards.  Also, cards which can be used to deal damage before the Determine Range step MUST include Ranged damage if they are to be counted as 'ranged' damage (or the reverse case) so that their interaction with other cards is clear.

Carrion Crows would now read (assuming it is left as environmental damage which is a separate beef of mine):
Carrion Crows
Only usable before range is chosen.
[ani] The opposing minion takes 1R environmental damage each round of combat during strike resolution. A vampire can play only one Carrion Crows each combat.
[ANI] As above, but for 2R environmental damage.

This would mean it is now far simpler to read Street Cred, Pulled Fangs, etc .  Any damage labelled environmental would not count for these cards and all other damage would.

What to do with Dominate...

Dominate has the priviledge of being basically the only discipline I can think of that people regularly consider grafting into any deck where it does not 'naturally' occur.  They will alter crypt selection, add in discipline masters and dilute the bulk with weenies.  All to gain access to basically 3 cards: Deflection, Conditioning, Govern the Unaligned.  Interestingly one of the few feared Gangrel decks of old is the Gangrel w/ Dominate deck; this is telling enough.  One of the vampires people consider the most broken, is one which mimics a Dominate ability (Askinya Daclau).  So obviously any change to Dominate needs to address this potential imbalance in power. Of course the Dominate-Lovers-of-VTES-Association would scream me down from the rooftops about how I was destroying the game and causing VTES to constantly time-out and never lead to a victory... but really. How many qualifiers have we all attended to see 'Weenie DOM', 'Weenie DEM' and 'Powerbleed' falling all over the place. If we want more diversity in our VTES, then we have to be willing to either power up the others (which will probably mean powering up combat unless we want VTES to become an elaborate Ro-Sham-Bo like I found MtG to be) or to suck some of the power out of Dominate.

Dominate flick is strictly the most powerful and clearly needs some kind of power-curve reduction.  I'd suggest that Deflection should require an additional blood and a tap at Inferior Dominate alone and restrict it to target your prey with the Superior Dominate change being the ability to choose any player.  I'd also suggest that Redirection costs at LEAST 1 blood and retain its current power.  Bringing Dominate Flick into comaparative power to Auspex flick seems reasonable.  This would then give Auspex the versatility option of reduction or flicking (and while people 'poo-poo' reduction it is a valid non-tapping way to end the flick chain on your terms - a concept I might delve into later).

Bleed Modifiers
Threats and Conditioning are powerful cards, but the catch with Dominate cards is their natural synergy.  Most clans with Dominate have access to ways to make blocks fail (not just stealth) that is not Seduction.  NEC clans have Call of the Hungry Dead. FOR clans have the variety of "Take a trip to torpor to make this work" cards.

OBT comes with significant stealth.  MYT comes with significant stealth.  THA ironically has little stealth and has historically relied on cards like Seduction to get through.

So on Bleed Modifiers, I'd probably leave this alone and make it Dominate's shining moment: the power to suddenly turn a small pool loss into a large pool loss.

Govern the Unaligned
I suspect this card would immediately become more balanced if it was printed as a Dominate version of Public Trust or similar.  I'd also keep Scouting Mission as it is.

There are more thoughts on all of this andI might spend some time in thenext couple of weeks thrashing it out further.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tournament - Claws of the Dead

Well, due to a quirk of numbers (and having less than 10 players) we decided to turn this from a proper rated tournament into a social tournament.

We had 7 people all up (including myself) so to push the numbers up to 8, we had one player take 'two positions' and then the first ousted player from either table would take over that position.

The final was:

James Bonham (Valerius & Uta Flames of the Netherworld Wall)
Brendan Healy (Guillaume Giovanni Real Estate Powerbleed)
Andrew Chirgwin (!Tremere Ally Wall/Blood Denial Deck)
Paul Azzopardi (Ventrue w/ OBF vote-bleed)
Claudio Gomes (!Tor Cel-Gun's Wall)

I was the first ousted from the final, due to a variety of things including a fairly average library draw (very few allies and no copy of The Unmasking), being in front of the Powerbleeder (and not drawing flicks!!!!) and getting Parity Shifted down to 11 pool by my prey basically because I was the only one who couldn't block the action.

There were a LOT of long negotiations and debates in the game, which contributed to the timeout, but the end result was 2VPs to Brendan Healy and 1VP to Claudio Gomes.

For those interested... the rough outline of the winning deck was a classic Dominate-Necromancy Block Denial and Bleed module built around having a 15-card handsize (or more) due to Guillaume Giovanni's cardtext.

I'll include the results from this in the Spider League results, but because of the 'fake player' I won't be reporting these results to the VEKN.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Claws of the Dead Round 1

Round 1 of Claws of the Dead...

Paul Azzopardi and James Bonham gain Game Wins in Round 1.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Decklist: Valeren Honour

V:TES deck - Valeren Honor This is my Valeren Honour deck.  It's an !Salubri Bleed'n'Bash deck.

Deck Name: Valeren Honour
Created by: Andrew Chirgwin
Description: !Salubri Bleed'n'Bash
Bleed using Rayzeel's Song + Burning Touch
Rush troublesome predator and prey minions
Combat: Aggravated weapons + Prevent
Sense Vitality instead of Rescue actions
Crypt [12 vampires, average capacity: 5.5]
2x Dela Eden AUS FOR VAL cel dom 8 Salubri antitribu:3
2x Uriel AUS FOR VAL ani obe 8 Salubri antitribu:4 bishop
2x Aredhel FOR VAL aus 5 Salubri antitribu:4
2x Langa VAL for 5 Salubri antitribu:4
2x Nkechi aus for val 4 Salubri antitribu:4
2x Rashiel for val 3 Salubri antitribu:4
Library [90 cards]
Master [16]
2x Blood Doll
4x Blooding by the Code
2x Mbare Market, Harare
2x Path of Lilith, The
2x Path of Retribution, The
2x Powerbase: Tshwane
2x Vast Wealth
Action [16]
8x Rayzeel's Song
4x Sense Death
2x Sense Vitality
2x Shadow of Taint
Action Modifier [10]
6x Freak Drive
4x Gift of Bellona
Action Modifier/Combat [6]
6x Burning Touch
Equipment [4]
2x Bastard Sword
2x Kerrie
Reaction [10]
6x Aversion
4x Hide the Heart
Combat [28]
6x Armor of Caine's Fury
4x Death Seeker
6x Skin of Rock
6x Sword of the Righteous
6x Vengeance of Samiel
Crafted with: Anarch Revolt Deck Builder [Wed Jun 13 10:20:07 2012]