Tuesday, July 31, 2007

VtES Lords of the Night Release Date

Finally the release date of the next VtES expansion "Lords of the Night" (LotN) has been announced, it's September 26th, 2007, about four weeks later than initially expected. So the preview on the White Wolf website will likely start in early September then.
Also new is the fact, that the official release date is not on a Monday, but on an Wednesday. As a corollary, the pre-release events are scheduled for the following weekend, that is starting from September 29th.
Quite a nice touch is, that the winner of the European Championship, which takes places in early August 2007 in Gothenburg, Sweden, receives a LotN booster display immediately. Although the winner has to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to prevent an early spoiler about the contents of the set.
You can read the complete press release on the White Wolf website.
Update: Oscar Garza had named problems with timely shipments of the pre-release material as reason for the new schedule in the international newsgroup.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Duffin Draft Rules

Since the event of the VtES 3rd Edition we started in our local playgroup to play Duffin Draft from time to time. Duffin Draft is a cheap, fast and fun variant of regular drafting. The rules were invented by Joshua Duffin (hence the name). Here are the rules:

A. Drafting
  • Each player provides 1 eleven card booster.
  • Normal booster draft follows, i.e. take 1 pass left.
  • Repeat until out of cards.
  • You must play with all of the cards you draft.
  • If you fail to draft any vampires, you will be ousted quickly.
B. Changes in play
  • Each player has 12 pool.

  • If a player is below hand size and has an empty library, he may use a discard phase action to reshuffle his ashheap into his library (draw up to hand size).

  • A player gets 4 pool for ousting his prey.

  • Each player has unlimited transfers in his influence phase.
Addendum: Double Duffin Draft
  • This is small extension to the "single" Duffin Draft rules. Each player provides two boosters; the first pass is to the left, the second to the right.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Deck: Sun Tzu and the art of magic

Currently I am very fond of my version of Emiliano Imeroni's Mage Mafia deck. The deck features the ally "Nephandus Mage" both as offensive and defensive card, the rest is decoration. Maybe I like it because it's quite successful, or because it's hard to oust, or because you can put quite a bit of pressure on your prey. Or all of the above. For the next VtES tournament in Gelsenkirchen I wanted to play a modified, more aggressive version (in terms of combat) of it, also trying to reduce the deck size to a get more streamlined version. But I am not quite sure yet if I am going to play the deck on Sunday. But alas, here's version I have in mind:
Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 15, Max: 28, Avg: 5,25)
1 Keith Moody DOM 3 Tremere Antitribu
2 Mosfair cel dom tha 4 Tremere Antitribu
1 Janine aus dom tha 4 Tremere Antitribu
4 Antonio d`Erlette dom for pot THA 5 Tremere Antitribu
1 Esoara aus for pot DOM 5 Tremere Antitribu
1 Carmen aus dom THA 5 Tremere Antitribu
2 Malgorzata pre AUS DOM THA VIC9 Tremere Antitribu

Library: (78 cards)
Master (20 cards)
4 Blood Doll
1 Channel 10
2 Direct Intervention
1 Dreams of the Sphinx
2 Fame
2 Haven Uncovered
1 Hungry Coyote, The
3 Memories of Mortality
4 Wash

Action (13 cards)
2 Ambush
1 Aranthebes, The Immortal
3 Bum`s Rush
2 Govern the Unaligned
2 Harass
3 Magic of the Smith

Action Modifier (6 cards)
6 Mirror Walk

Reaction (14 cards)
7 Deflection
3 Delaying Tactics
2 On the Qui Vive
2 Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (12 cards)
2 Fake Out
4 Molotov Cocktail
6 Trap

Ally (8 cards)
1 Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
6 Nephandus (Mage)
1 Ossian

Equipment (3 cards)
1 Heart of Nizchetus
1 Ivory Bow
1 Sengir Dagger

Event (2 cards)
1 FBI Special Affairs Division
1 Unmasking, The

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rant: On Card Banning & Nerfing

In VtES there is constant chatter about which card to ban, about what clan is waaay to strong, etc. pp. One of most replayed discussion is on "Protect Thine Own" (PTO), a political vote called by Camarilla Inner Circle member or Justicar, which burns a non-Camarilla vampire, if the vote is successful. Every now and then a newsgroup (or forum) discussion pops up with the same arguments over and over again, and usually those chime in, who have done this in past.

Although I can understand that certain cards are definitive strong cards (I have my own black list as well as others), the discussion is somewhat going to far, and much too loud and emotional. In addition, when you start nerfing cards, where do you stop? First it's PTO, then "Memories of Mortality", then "Parity Shift", ... next it's "Govern the Unaligned", ad nauseum. Finally we're all playing "Lucky Blow", "Computer Hacking" with discipline-less 2-cap vampires, then we're all even.

LSJ, designer of VtES in the last years, final judge and Lone Star, has had a good sense in the past when to ban card (and which) and how nerf a card. Good examples for these is the ban of "Succubus Club", "Kindred Restructure" and "Dramatic Upheaval" as well as the nerfing of "Anarch Revolt". The later creating a whole new deck strategy, i.e. your vampires going Anarch, then throwing down "Anarch Revolts" and finally beating up the Anarch-wannabee vampires of opposing players (starting with his prey of course).

So guys, state your point about certain cards (if you really need to), but then keep it down, play it cool, and don't start the same discussions over and over again ... and don't you think LSJ isn't watching quite a number of tournaments, the newsgroup and forums, to see if particular strategy is abusive or broken?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Popular Decks: Breed & Boon Decks

In the VtES tournament scene you currently see a lot of "Breed & Boon" decks. These are decks which first create quite a number of small vampires, whether they are called "Progeny" and "Embraces" or "Tumnosis" and "Waters of Duat". After a while the player starts to bloat by playing "Consanguineous Boon". After this these decks are nearly unstoppable due to the large amount of pool they control; sometimes exceeding the starting pool of 30. The key to these decks is the way how they push the vote through. Usually this done by the vampire's title, but more efficient is the use of cards which stack or multiply votes with the number of minions the player controls. Deck types include
  • Camarilla princes, especially with Nosferatu or Malkavian Royalty
  • Lasombra, based on "Powerstructure"
  • !Toreador, based on "Foundation Exhibit" and "Palla Grande"
  • !Nosferatu & Pander, based on "Unacceptable Appearance" and "Legacy of Pander"
  • Assamite Embraces, based on Amavarti's special ability and Alamut
  • Ravnos Tumnosis, based on "The Eldest are Kholo" and "Week of Nightmare"
The newest addition to this happy family of decks is the Black Hand variant meshed with the !Toreador's "Palla Grande". The really bad thing is when the "Watchtower: Wolves Feed" hits the table. Not only they are bleeding you +1 (due to the "Palla Grande"), but also at +1 stealth.

Example decks from a recent tournament:
Event name: Veiled the Legion
Location: Alès, France
Date: 5/26/2007
10 players
3R + F

Jerome Bauzon's Tournament Winning Deck

Deck Name: Unacceptable Boon
Created By: Moravagine
Description: Tribute to Mr. Peal

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 31, Avg: 4,25)
3 Greensleeves for pot ANI OBF 7 Nosferatu Antitribu
3 Lukas pre ser ANI OBF POT 8 Nosferatu Antitribu
1 Schuyler tha 1 Pander
1 Margarite obt 1 Pander
1 Kai Simmons cel 1 Pander
1 Jaggedy Andy pot 1 Pander
1 Olga Triminov vic 1 Pander
1 Feo Ramos aus 1 Pander

Library: (80 cards)
Master (18 cards)
7 Unacceptable Appearance
3 Blood Doll
1 Powerbase: Madrid
1 Direct Intervention
3 Obfuscate
1 Joseph Pander
1 Barrens, The
1 Coven, The

Action (9 cards)
9 Creation Rites

Action Modifier (24 cards)
2 Forgotten Labyrinth
2 Elder Impersonation
2 Spying Mission
4 Lost in Crowds
3 Cloak the Gathering
3 Faceless Night
4 Veil the Legions
4 Animal Magnetism

Political Action (25 cards)
8 Consanguineous Boon
9 Kine Resources Contested
5 Legacy of Pander
3 Conservative Agitation

Combo (4 cards)
4 Swallowed by the Night

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

5 Tournaments in 10 weeks

Attended five VtES tournaments in ten weeks, that's quite a number compared to my last years attendance record. The results were above average (from my point of view) -- making it into 4 finals out of 5 tournaments, although a tournament win was not among them.
  • Saturday, May 19th -- Tilburg, Netherlands -- 2nd place -- Nephandus Mage Mafia
  • Sunday, June 10th -- Karlsruhe, Germany -- 2nd place -- Out Of Laibon
  • Sunday, June 24th -- Utrecht, Netherlands -- 11th place -- Sebastian Goulet Toolbox
  • Sunday, July 15th -- Bochum, Germany -- 4th place -- Allies 'R Us (multi-deck rules)
  • Sunday, July 29th -- Gelsenkirchen, Germany -- 5th place -- Akunanse Bleed & Block
In the tournament in Bochum we used the multi-deck rules, since we were only 8 players. I can only recommend this if you're less than 12 players. I played some of my allies decks, including the "Lasombra Nocturne S&B" deck, an "Imbued" deck (/w Flash Grenades) and the already proven "Nephandus Mage Mafia" deck I played in Tilburg.

VtES Resources

There are quite a number of Web resources which have information about "Vampire: the External Struggle" (VtES), a trading card game published by Wizards of the Coast (later by White Wolf) in 1994.

Official site -- the official website promoting the game
Wikipedia entry for VtES -- basic information about the game itself and its expansions
Newsgroup about VtES -- news and discussion on VtES, host by Google groups.
The Lasombra -- a fan website and by far the most comprensive source of information

The Lords of the Night are near

All over the internet informations about the upcoming next VtES expansion "Lords of the Night" pop up. Although a definitive release date has yet been named (rumored is September 3rd, 2007), this increase in information snippets are indicators that the release date cannot be too far from today.

The french magazine "Mana Rouge" (Mana Rouge #21, July 2007) has published some information on some of the cards as well as on the contents of the starter decks.

Also the following artists have shown samples of the artwork of LotN: