Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Card Idea - Old Tricks

After thinking about the effect of Scrounged Secrets, I felt that it would be an idea to give 'Old Nosferatu' a new 'trick' for defending themselves along the same lines.  The entire idea behind the card is that these old Nosferatu have seen all of these tricks before during their time, they know what is happening and know how to counteract these old repeated tricks with a little effort.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Bruce Cup 2012

Well, on Saturday we had the annual Bruce Cup.  This was the 10th Bruce Cup... and many of the newer players got the chance to meet Matt Barnett's widow, Jen.

It was a great day, there were a variety of whacky trick decks there.  Anarch Gerald Winhelm, Malk/!Malk Madness and Blood Denial, Saulot Spirit Marionette, Werewolves of Doom (Black Spiral Buddies & Renegade Garous), etc.

The end results were:
"Most Matt Barnett-Like Deck" went to Will Allison for his Malk/!Malk Madness and Blood Denial Deck.  It basically consisted of any Dementation or Malk/!Malk card that would drain a minion of blood, The Ankou and the "Crazy Masters" like Malk Prank, Malk Game, etc.  It actually did fairly well and made it to the finals.

I won the tournament overall, in not quite glorious fashion... the 2h final timed out and I was the highest seeded in the tournament.  So consequently, I won.  It's the first tournament I've attended where no VPs fell on the final table.  It's a win, but honestly I was probably most likely to be ousted.  My hand kept on jamming and I lost all forward momentum, then played poorly when I was on 4 pool and had specifically tried to get Telepathic Counters to protect myself then tapped out my minion with AUS... so with another 30min in the final, I would have been ousted easily and my predator would have won.

My deck was a variation on the Shambling Veneficti deck posted on the blog earlier.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Inside Joke: Sugar Glider

Don't worry if you're confused about this... it's an inside joke for my playgroup.  "Mummy called this the Sugar Glider!".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Decklist: Shambling Veneficti

V:TES deck - Shambling Veneficti
Deck Name: Shambling Veneficti
Created by: Andrew Chirgwin
Description: Make Shambling Hordes from Veneficti. Also, oust by using other NEC + FOR style shennanigans and Soul Gems.
Crypt [12 vampires, average capacity: 6.5]
5x Phagian AUS NEC THA dom for 8 Harbinger of Skulls:4
1x Asguresh CEL NEC aus 6 Nagaraja:5
1x Macoute FOR NEC obf thn 6 Samedi:4
1x Sennadurek AUS NEC dom 6 Nagaraja:4
1x Zygodat AUS NEC pot 6 Harbinger of Skulls:4
1x Nicomedes aus for nec vic 5 Harbinger of Skulls:4
1x Solomon Batanea AUS FOR nec 5 Harbinger of Skulls:4
1x Thomasso Ghiberti NEC pot 4 Giovanni:4
Library [66 cards]
Master [17]
4x Ashur Tablets
4x Fortitude
1x Lazarene Inquisitor
2x Maabara
2x Slaughterhouse, The
4x Wider View
Action [12]
4x Force of Will
4x Possession
4x Resume the Coil
Action Modifier [16]
6x Call of the Hungry Dead
4x Day Operation
6x Freak Drive
Ally [15]
1x Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
6x Shambling Hordes
8x Veneficti (Mage)
Equipment [5]
1x Erebus Mask
4x Soul Gem of Etrius
Event [1]
1x Uncoiling, The
Crafted with: Anarch Revolt Deck Builder [Sat Jul 07 19:09:15 2012]

Friday, July 6, 2012

Decklist: Seterpenre's Dreamland

V:TES deck - Seterpenre's Dreamland
Deck Name: Seterpenre's Dreamland
Created by: Juggernaut1981
Crypt [12 vampires, average capacity: 6.08333]
4x Seterpenre AUS NEC OBF PRE SER 10 Follower of Set:5
3x Abdelsobek for nec obf pre ser 5 Follower of Set:5
1x Renenet OBF PRE ser 5 Follower of Set:4
1x Marla Kenyon PRE ser 4 Follower of Set:4
1x Sahira Siraj obf ser tha 4 Follower of Set:4
1x Ahmose Chambers obf ser 3 Follower of Set:5
1x Belle Equitone ser 2 Follower of Set:4
Library [86 cards]
Master [15]
4x Blood Doll
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
6x Fortitude
1x Giant's Blood
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Powerbase: Montreal
Action [26]
8x Dream World
2x Form of Corruption
4x Mesu Bedshet
6x Revelation of Ecstasy
6x Temptation
Action Modifier [20]
8x Cloak the Gathering
4x Forgotten Labyrinth
8x Freak Drive
Ally [10]
1x Gregory Winter
1x Impundulu
4x Puppeteer (Wraith)
4x Shambling Hordes
Equipment [1]
1x Bowl of Convergence
Reaction [14]
4x Confusion of the Eye
4x Ecstasy
6x Mental Maze
Crafted with: Anarch Revolt Deck Builder [Fri Jul 06 09:12:10 2012]

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How would you change VTES? (Part 3: Combat)


There are two different official versions of Combat, and from my own experience they are incomplete.  Every time you ask questions about how cards may interact in a phase, the first port of call is the Google-Groups rulings by LSJ.  I think that the raft of information out there should be compiled into either: All Rulings, CRR or The Rules.  Then we don't have to bombard new players with ruling after ruling after ruling explaining how they can't just read the cards to play the game (which is a HUGE issue for new players entering the game).

The CRR vs Rulebook

The CRR and the Rulebook don't agree on how many phases there are in combat.  Rulebook = 3, CRR = 6.  So, I think we could start by redefining a lot of how this works and creating a system that covers at LEAST the 6 steps in the CRR and also provides a way to create/rewrite old cards so that they are better keyworded AND easier to rule on.

A new Sequence for Combat

This is intended to be a KEYWORDED sequence of combat.  It will attempt to collapse the wide variety of 'windows' into the phases AND not drastically alter the function of any existing cards.  By creating this, we can use the existing framework (e.g. At the start of X cards must be played and resolved before During X cards and End of X cards must be played last and resolved before the next step) and have a consistent combat system for new players AND it would allow us to easily know which windows and what sorts of interactions there would be for new cards.  Giving them clear names and using those names explicitly will make the process easier for everyone.
  1. Start of Combat Step
    This is where effects like Mariel, Lady Thunder, Elysium: The Arboretum, Purchase Pact and so on would be played/used.
  2. Start of Round Step
    This is the step where Weather Control, Sniper Rifle, Carrion Crows and the like would be played.  There would also be no 'range' value at this point (so that we can eliminate the wierdness caused by things like Outside the Hourglass).
  3. Determine Range Step
    This step would remain basically the same.  The next change would be to put Immortal Grapple into this step, "Only playable at the end of the Determine Range Step if the range is close", instead of having it in its own window before declaring strikes.  Range has a value only after this step and the default range after this step is close range.
  4. Declare Strikes Step
    This step remains basically the same.  I would amend cards such as Claws of the Dead to state "Playable at any time during the Declare Strikes Step" which would make it playable after strikes are chosen but before damage is applied/resolved (which is how it currently plays).
    Note: this is one of the few places in VTES where there can be a 'stack' since the playing of a strike and its resolution are delayed.  This is actually contrary to parts of the CRR which, one in particular, states that "Cards are paid for and their effects resolved immediately" (Note: I do NOT think that this statement also confers that payment of costs occur simultaneously with card effects).
  5. Resolving Strikes Step
    This step is where damage would be dealt with and so on. 
    I would also make the change that First Strike actually acts before Strike: Dodge and Strike: Combat Ends and actually become First Strike.  This is a simple enough change, but it does weaken the defensiveness of combat (puts more power towards damage being dealt) and will no doubt be disliked by those players who think that minion vs minion violence is not part of VTES.  S:D and S:CE could also be played with First Strike and would have their 'normal' effects on those strikes (e.g. S:D w/ First Strike will avoid the effects from a First Strike strike but S:D on its own will not).
    Strike: Combat Ends resolves by moving the combat to the End of Round Step.
  6. Additional Strikes Step
    Additional Strikes Step gives minions the chance to gain additional strikes and basically repeat Step 3 & 4 for that minion.  If both minions gain additional strikes, they must use them at the first opportunity (i.e. you cannot gain 1 additional strike and your opponent gain 2 additional strikes and wait for your opponent's first additional strike to resolve) and both minions would repeat Step 3 & 4 for each additional strike they have.
  7. Press Step
    Minions press to have another round of combat occur.  If another round will occur, then after the End of Round Step the combat will move to the Start of Round Step.
  8. End of Round Step
    This step is where cards such as Taste of Vitae would be played.  They could keep the same wording they currently have "Only usable at the end of a round" but could easily be modified to "Only usable in the End of Round Step".  This is the point where Telepathic Tracking would be played (it can be played before or after cards such as Taste of Vitae and when this step ends would push the Combat back to the Start of Round Step.
  9. End of Combat StepThis is the last point in combat before the combat ends. This is the window where cards like Psyche! and Coordinate Attacks would be played.

How would you change VTES? (Part 2)

Blood & Pool "Gains"

There is a moderate amount of controversy over blood gain, pool recursion and pool generation in VTES.  Pool is both your longevity and your purchasing power.  It is a liquid asset which fluctuates.  Many people have devoted some serious brain-power to analysing the blood-pool relationship and I'll just hijack some terminology and define it quickly.

Blood Gain: Putting blood counters from the blood bank on a minion that has less blood than its capacity.
Pool Recursion: Reclaiming the blood on vampires back into your pool (i.e. recurring the pool you have used).  Think of it as the blood equivalent of card recursion.
Pool Generation: Gaining pool from the blood bank via whichever means.
Effective Pool Generation: Gaining an effect which is as good as gaining pool from the blood bank. (e.g. Govern the Unaligned @ DOM is 1 pool recursion and 2 effective pool generation).

Also, for the purposes of this "resources" includes: cards, actions and pool.  The reason for including actions is that most commonly in VTES there are a limited number of rounds (usually around 12) and that most minions act once-to-twice during those 12 rounds.

So onto the thoughts...

Blood Gain

Most blood gain is actually fairly balanced.  There are the "hunt bonuses", "blood from nothing", "super-hunts" and "activity bonuses". 
Hunt Bonuses are cards like Hungry Coyote; you gain an additional reward from your hunt action.
Super-Hunts are cards like Abactor, Restoration, 5th Trad, Renewed Vigor; in a single card they provide a much more significant blood level change.
Activity Bonuses are cards like Perfectionist, Sociopath, etc; you gain blood by taking the actions you already intended to take.
Blood from Nothings are cards like Life in the City, The Rack, Palatial Estate, Hunting Grounds, Giant's Blood; your minions don't need to do anything to gain the blood once the card is in place.

Hunt Bonuses
Most of the Hunt Bonus cards are balanced.  There are some crazy abuse-decks out there that rely on Hunt Bonuses (Hesha Pool Hunter, Kyoko Hunts you All, Rabbat Bloat) but in general they are balanced.  They are often fairly resource intensive, particularly in actions and cards (many of the more abusive tricks require Temptation to really push them over the edge).  I have very little problem with these, I doubt there are many players that do.  And they are usually combined with Blood Dolls/Vessels or sometimes Tribute to the Master to perform a mix of pool recursion and some pool generation.

There are a fair number of 'super-hunts' out there: Abactor, Restoration, 5th Trad, Renewed Vigor, Vulture's Buffet and so on.  Most of them are fairly balanced, require specialist minions (e.g. Princes, Bloodline Vampires, etc) or Fortitude (I think that blood generation should be an aspect of Fortitude at least as much as damage prevention, but I do think that Freak Drive might have been a bridge too far but it has been around since time-blot... so that horse has truly bolted).  Few people have issues with Super-Hunts because of the card requirements; this adds in opportunity costs and card resources costs.

Activity Bonuses
Activity Bonuses are almost exclusively the domain of Archetypes.  Perfectionist, Sociopath and Capitalist come immediately to mind.  Again, there are very few of these that cause problems but there is one key one that comes to mind which causes problems: Voter Captivation.
Voter Captivation
Voter Cap is the most problematic activity bonus card.  Vote decks will be taking vote actions constantly as their primary ousting method.  This card has the potential to not just act as pool generation (at PRE) but also as blood generation (at pre & PRE).  This is well and truly at the top of or beyond the power curve.

Blood from Nothing
Most of the 'blood from nothing' cards are master cards.  Mostly HGs, The Rack, The Coven, and so on are not considered problematic.  Life in the City has never really appeared on anyone's "Overpowered card list". Giant's Blood and Lilith's Blessing are the ones which have been the recent targets.  And in my mind, the problem with these cards has been with their interactions.
Giant's Blood, while dramatic, is not really a huge issue.  It's always been 'dramatic' when combined with pool recursion (e.g. Minion Tap, Villein, Blood Doll, Vessel).  With the introduction of Villein, most decks found it worth putting both cards into a deck so they could potentially have a free minion and the blood of that minion for free as well (ignoring the opportunity cost and 1 trifle + 1 MPA).  With Lilith's Blessing, this trick because varied with a discipline card which has given the Weenie deck some more roids, as you can get around the problem of superior disciplines in your Master Phase (without the usual opportunity costs) and recur the cost of the minion.

Pool Recursion

Pool Recursion is the classic way of reducing the effective cost of minions.  Minion Tap and Govern the Unaligned have been around since date-blot in VTES (just like Voter Cap...). There is a reason why most starter decks ever printed in VTES (after the original sets) contained copies of Blood Doll.  It's just a solid generally useful card which allows some micro-management of your pool and minions' blood.  I still suspect that Vessel is strictly inferior to Blood Doll (and that Vessel's only advantage is its Silver-Bullet function) and know that many will disagree with me.

I am firmly of the opinion that most of the problems with Pool Recrusion come indirectly from the "Blood from Nothing" cards and Voter Captivation.  The classic Cap'n'Tap deck (Call KRC, Voter Cap to refill, drain the minion low with Minion Tap in the next MPA) is not only stable but basically adds a very strong pool recursion trick with a 'bottomless' source of Blood from Nothing.

Pool Gain

Most actual Pool Gain (e.g. take counters from the Blood Bank directly to your pool) requires:
  1. A bleed action (Kindred Spirits, Social Charm, Legal Manipulation) OR
  2. A political Action (Political Stranglehold, Autarkis Persecution, Consanguineous Boon, etc)
Now few people have issues with these cards.  I suspect that realistically Kindred Spirits is undercosted (it gains pool at inferior where most of those pool-gaining bleeds require 1 blood and/or Superior disciplines or Bloodline disciplines like [dai]); so I'd be tempted to make it cost 1 blood.

Pool gain, I don't really have a problem with it.  There are the Pander, Weenie [pre] decks and a few other things that can potentially exploit Con Boon, but the entire deck sets up for that and I don't want to obliterate deck-archetypes but level the playing field between most decks and add some 'across-the-game' yardsticks.

Powerbase: Montreal (and the Clan PB:Ms) are solid cards and often stolen/contested when the appropriate decks appear.  PB:M is pretty balanced in general and is often used as 'bait' to force interactions, which is just fine by me. 

The Clan PB:Ms could be used more 'strategically'.  For those clans with traditionally few ways of defending (e.g. Assamites, Gangrel-Anti, FoS) they could benefit from a little 'balancing' with a Clan PB:M.  At the moment, its mostly Sabbat Clans (except the 'Camarilla' clans Gangrel, Toreador and Tremere) who gain the benefit of these and I suspect it is because they were the 'weak clans' in the earlier sets. 

Effective Pool Gain

Again, Effective Pool Gain is easy to identify. Public Trust, Enchant Kindred at PRE, Legal Manipulations at DOM, Undue Influence and so on.  Few people have issues with these either.  Most of them cost or have quite a few requirements.  The only card I think worth attention is Govern the Unaligned and I think that it possibly should have just been Scouting Mission and not its current printing.  If it stayed as it is, I don't mind.