What do I mean by Benchmark Card?These are the cards that I would want to compare new cards against. Some of them are "the staple cards" (middle-of-the-road power), some are examples of "nearly broken but not banned cards" (Pentex Subversion and Voter Cap are DEFINITELY here) and some are "much lower and they are useless". When I try create ideas for cards, these are some of the cards (or concepts) I test my creations against. [End Edit]
ActionsGovern the Unaligned.
This seems to be the benchmark bleed action. The only other bleed action I would posit as a benchmark would be Social Charm/Kindred Spirits.
Govern provides a 2 pool increase (by recycling 1 pool which was spent as blood) or a +2 bleed.
Kindred Spirits (and Social Charm) are both benchmark bleed cards to my mind because they are some of the more powerful free bleed cards. 2 bleed and +1 pool for no cost at Superior Disciplines.
Master CardsMinion Tap
I would rate this is a benchmark Master card in VTES. It has strong power (converting as much blood as desired into pool) but has a reasonable cost (1 MPA plus making vampires weak).
As underused as this card can be, I think that this is a lower bound for acceptable power for a Master card. This card (and it is far overshadowed by the opportunity power of Pentex Subversion) is reasonably, but not spectacularly priced, for the chance to lunge.
Dreams of the Sphinx
For general utility, few cards beat Dreams of the Sphinx. +2 hand size for a turn. +1 free pool via transfers. And the rarely used +1 pool for the Edge (which is completely overshadowed by the hand size option).
[Edit to address Pentex]
This card is basically close to broken. It's one of the few cards I really think should be banned. Playing this card can basically give someone a VP. I don't think this card should be played, and I don't think more cards should be made which for fairly minimal effort and not much investment, give someone a VP. [End Edit]
This is one of my benchmark reactions, mostly because I think Deflection is drastically overpowered. [Deflection] is one of the few cards people will consider when making crypt decisions regardless of the native disciplines of the deck. Players choose crypts to give them access to [Deflection]. That is telling. Redirection is slightly more powerful than Telepathic Misdirection, which is a strong card, but only because of the difference in cost. Generally Redirection seems to be a more balanced option.
Confusion of the Eye
This card is far towards the top of the power curve in my mind. The advantages given to Malkavians by this card is far too strong. The other clans with Obfuscate (Assamites, Settites in particular) have access to other ways to get similar results, albeit with more than a single card.
CombatTaste of Vitae
This is a fairly good benchmark for blood gain cards in combat. Some decks intend to use this (or similar blood generating cards) to later convert to pool (say via vampires like Nikolaus Vermeulen, Menele and Ayo Igoli). Others use it to get greater longevity from their minions.
Earth Meld is again, possibly the closest to broken of any of the combat cards. I still think it should possibly cost 1 blood.
Pushing the Limit
Pushing the Limit is probably a benchmark for a handstrike. [Edit] 1 blood to deal +3 damage with a hand or weapon strike is very good. Few cards should have a comparable damage output without some kind of drawback. [End Edit]
EquipmentWeapon: .44 Magnum
The benchmark in general for weapons seems to be:
1 pool for a 2 damage weapon.
+1 pool for adding a maneuver
+1 pool for adding a press or additional
+1 pool for +1 damage
+1 pool for aggravated damage
-1 pool for clan requirements
-1 pool for unique
-X pool for misc. penalties
.44 Magnum is a very solid weapon. It is it's own combat package. Far and away the mainstay of weapon combat. It does have some rivals in Joumlon's Axe, Baseball Bat and Ivory Bow. Ivory Bow is potentially under-priced, even though it is unique.
+bleed: Laptop Computer
Spend 1 pool to get +1 bleed... fair trade usually but the unique retainers are spiffy.
Vehicles: Sports Bike
I do think that the Sports Bike is a good benchmark. It's about in the middle. It gives intercept to clans who usually struggle blocking. It isn't conditional intercept. Its cost is fairly low (1 pool) and its only downside is that many of the clans with Fortitude already have a block discipline, so those clans who benefit most from the Sports Bike can't maintain forward pressure while grabbing the bike.
Bowl of Convergeance
The Bowl is Broken. More than the Heart of Cheating (which should be 2 pool and unique in my mind). You give an already strong blocking discipline a free intercept for the cost of an action AND the ability to gain cardless intercept for the otherwise paltry cost of 1 blood. Seems nuts to me.
Action Modifiers (Edited in later)Voter Captivation
Broken. This card is one of the only cards which gives disproportionate reward for risk. It also adds massive amounts of resource into the game. The game starts with 150 pool of resources (5 players x 30 pool) and one play of this card can result in commonly 8-13 pool of resources. That's an increase of approximately 5-9% of the initial resources for each Voter Cap played. It is easy for this card to create a net increase of 50% of the initial resources in a game throughout a game. Broken. The one card I really want to nerf.
This is at the top of the "bleed modifier" curve. I think there should potentially be a 'pool generating' Presence bleed modifier of comparable power (i.e. +2 bleed & +1 pool at [PRE] for 1 blood).
This card, and also to a lesser extent Will-o-Wisp and [Insert name of that irritating Maleficia card], are way towards the top of the curve. Anything that tends to deny interaction should be classed as high on the power curve unless it has some SERIOUS drawbacks (i.e. Day Op/Dawn Op/Daring the Dawn).
This card is solid. Above the middle on action modifiers.
Lost in Crowds
This is the top of the OBF-stealth curve. 2 stealth on any action for no cost. More powerful than this without serious limitations (and even Forgotten Labyrinth might be a little easy on restrictions) and its probably close to broken. [End Edit]