Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preview for "Lords of the Night" has started

Finally the preview for the next VtES expansion "Lords of the Night" has begun. And it was about time, for about two weeks I've been checking the preview page two times daily. You can check the complete preview page at the White Wolf homepage here.

(c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.The first preview card is the Setite vampire "Nakhthorheb". A hefty 10-cap without any out-of-clan disciplines or any title, but the special ability almost(?) makes it up for it. The untap once per minion phase is great, as well the ability to bypass minions with corruptions counters. So the combo goes: place "Corruption" on a minion, use "Forgotten Labyrinth" if necessary. Next, untap and go bleeding, oooh you cannot block anymore. Or even better than "Coruption", use the new "Revelation of Ecstasy" card (see card text below). Another combo would be playing "Legal Manipulations", and followed by an "Enticement". Only the +1 strength seems to be little off, I would have preferred a title (1 or 2 votes) instead.

Also the "Game Trade" magazine has featured a preview article with some new information, at least more realible than that from the french "Mana Rouge" magazine some weeks ago.
Izhim abd Azrael [LotN:V]
Cardtype: Vampire
Clan: Assamite
Group: 5
Capacity: 9
Discipline: pot CEL QUI OBF THA
Sabbat. Seraph, Black Hand: Cards that require Quietus cost Izhim 1 less blood. Weapons cost him 1 less pool or blood. (The blood curse does not affect Izhim.)
Artist: Torsten Nordstrand

Brute Force [LotN:C]
Cardtype: Combat
Discipline: Potence
Do not replace until after combat
[pot] Strike: make a hand strike at +1 damage or a melee weapon strike at +2 damage.
[POT] Strike: make a hand strike at +2 damage or a melee weapon strike at +3 damage.
Flavour text: "The best way out is always through" Robert Frost, "A Servant to Servants"
Artist: Brian Leblanc

Revelation of Ecstasy [LotN:X]
Cardtype: Action
Discipline: Serpentis
+1 stealth action
[ser] (D) Tap one of your prey's ready minions.
[SER] As above, and place a corruption counter on that minion. If the number of your corruption counters on the minion equals or exceeds his or her capacity or cost, you may burn those counters to take control of him or her.
Artist: Jon DiBartolo

Reckless Agitation [LotN:X]
Cardtype: Political Action
Cost: 2 blood
Requires independent vampire with capacity above 4.
Allocate 6 points amont two or more other Methuselahs. Successful referendum means each Methuselah burns 1 pool for each point assigned.
Artist: Brian LeBlanc

False Resonance [LotN:X]
Cardtype: Action Modifier
Cost: 1 blood
Discipline: Chimerstry
[chi] Cancel a reaction card that requires Auspex or Dementation as it is played (no cost is paid).
[CHI] +1 stealth, and once this action, this vampire can burn 1 blood to use the "" effect above.
Artist: Alexander Dunnigan

Khazar's Diary (Endless Night) [LotN:X]
Cardtype: Action
Clan: Giovanni
+1 stealth action.
Put the Diary in play, or add a counter to one in play. When a unique minion in play is burned, add another counter. While this card has seven or more counters, Giovanni get NEC and may take a +1 stealth action to put a minion from any ash heap into play to represent a wraith ally with 2 life, 0 strength, 1 bleed and +1 stealth.
DRAFT: [nec] Hunt for +2 blood.
Artist: John Bridges

Monday, August 27, 2007

VtES Clan Newsletters in August 2007

Three clans newsletters have been posted in the "" newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Lords of the Night" Launch Event

On September 26th, 2007 White Wolf releases "Lords of the Nights", the next "Vampire: the Eternal Struggle" expansion. A launch event is held in Bochum on the following weekend, here are the details:

  • Sunday, 30 September 2007
  • Doors open 10:00 h (Pre-registration required)
  • Start draft 10:30 h
  • Start first round ca. 11:30 h
Round system
  • 3 rounds, no final (time limit: 2 h each)

The tournament uses a Pre-Release format like this:
  • each player randomly draws one starter deck
  • players are free to swap unopened starter decks amongst each other
  • everybody has 5 minutes to look through his or her starter
  • then we have a booster draft with 4 booster packs
  • players get 15 minutes to build a deck (min. 12 cards in crypt, 40 - 90 cards in library)
Entrance fee
  • ca. 10-12 €, to be confirmed - the costs for 1 starter, 4 booster packs & prize support

Please note: The location is a pub, so you may not bring your own food and drinks.

Please help us to order the right number of starters and boosters, and pre-register until September
7th via email to me or a post in the German VEKN web forum in this thread.

You can also view this information in german, on the german main VEKN page

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bleed Defense w/o Bounce

Sometimes you would like to build a deck in VtES which should be able to win, but it's not an intercept deck, nor does it have it access to bleed bounce (i.e. no vampires with either "Dominate" or "Auspex"). So the question is how does it defend against power bleed or stealth bleed? A (more or less) well-known bleed defense module is the following combination of 6 master cards.
The defense works in different ways. You need to play the "Major Boons" on a bleed for one, and then let the poor hapless target of the boon take the bleed for, let's say 5 or 6 from your predator. The "Archon Investigation" and the "Retribution" are deterrents for big bleeds, the "Dummy Corporations" for actual bleed reduction.

If you are not planning to bleed by yourself, e.g. you're ousting by means of "Fame"/"Dragonbound"/etc. or voting, you may also want to include one or (better) two "Protected Resources" instead of the "Dummy Corporations" or the "Major Boons".

Another alternative defense against stealth-bleed is the discipline-less "Keep It Simple", but you need at least some minor intercepts cards in order to use it effectively. E.g. you play a couple of "Elder Interventions" or "Pack Tactics" in your deck to be able to reduce any bleed that has more stealth then by 3, which is quite a number, by using "Keep It Simple" as followup.

See also this article from the Storage Annex website on the topic of non-bouncing defense, although this article describes how to build up an decent intercept defense (read: "wall") against Stealth Bleed decks.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Drafting Priorities

Over my - admittedly short - VtES drafting experience I came up with the following priority list for drafting. Of course I adjust my behaviour to the expansions that are drafted. For example, 3rd Edition has an abundance of equipment to draft, so I lower the priority of drafting those.
  1. Pool Gain -- Tribute to the Master, Enchant Kindred, Kings Rising, Consanguineous Boon.
  2. Untap -- Zillahs Tears, On The Qui Vive, Danse Macabre.
  3. Permanents -- Combat Shotgun, Laptop Computer, Guardian Angel.
  4. Ousting -- Conditioning, Kindred Spirits.
  5. Stealth -- Lost in Crowds, Rapid Change.
  6. Intercept -- Enhanced Senses, Instinctive Reaction.
  7. Combat -- Pushing the Limits, Claws of the Dead.
In terms of drafting vampires I tend to draft small- to mid-cap vampires, since pool management is usually a problem (i.e. the ability to "recover" the blood from the vampires to your pool). But I pay special attention to the vampire's special abilities. "Malgorzata", being a 9-cap vampire, has a great special for draft -- being able to (indirectly) generate 4 pool with a built-in +1 stealth action.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Celerity Gun

(c) 2006 by White WolfCelerity Gun (Cel Gun) is a deck archetype in Vampire: the Eternal Struggle. This deck type has been around for a long time, since there is an abundance of small- to mid-cap vampires with superior "Celerity". It uses the combo "Concealed Weapon" and ".44 Magnum" to equip with these guns during combat. Cel Gun is a classic Rush combat deck, that is its vampire take actions to attack the opponents vampires directly, i.e. by using "Bum's Rush" or "Haven Uncovered". The deck ousts mainly by inflicting damage through "Fame", "Tension in the Ranks" and/or "Dragonbound".

How to win with them
Threaten your predator into submission (i.e. he doesn't do anything against you). Usually you should be careful what kind of predator you let live. You need to kill a Stealth-Bleed/Powerbleed deck right away. When playing against Vote decks, you might need to kill one or two vampires w/ titles, to reduce the ability of the vote deck to dish out damaging votes. Toolbox decks or other combat decks which combat abilities you can trump, are no or only a small threat. Usually it's a good idea to show your strength by crippling one or two vampires of your predator, so he's both intimidated and busy while defending against his predator.

(c) 2006 by White WolfAfter having dealt with your predator, gun down your prey's minions next, reducing the number of minions he has, and try to reduce his pool by utilizing "Fame", "Tension in the Ranks" and/or "Dragonbound".

Pool management is critical in this deck, since it usually has little or no pool gain. Usual source are blood dolls, vampires are filled up again by using "Taste of Vitae". You pay little for your 3 to 4 minions, but the guns are costly, and these you definitely need. So if have 4 vampires with an average capacity of 4, you will spend an additional 2 pool per ".44 Magnum" which brings you down to 6 pool which is already really close to being ousted. So my general advice is, that you shouldn't influence out a minion unless you are able to pay a gun for him.

Crypt Composition
Generally there are two choices, either you use all avaible small- to mid-capacity vampires that have superior Celerity or you also add vampires with inferior Celerity and add some Celerity skill cards. The former version has the advantage that you need no additional setup, but on the other hand the average capacity is increased slightly. The later variant suffers from the need to setup and that it can use the Celerity combat cards not to it full extent, but the vampires are cheaper to influence.
Typical choices for both variants include "Sarah Brando", "Victor Tolliver" and "Jimmy Dunn", since they are cheapest vampires with superior Celerity (and without any disadvantages). Since all these are from group 2, you can go either with additional vampires from group 1 or group 3, depending on your preferences.

How to win against them
If you are the predator of a Cel Gun deck, then you have two choices:
  • either try to oust the Cel Gun decks faster than it kills your minions
  • make a non-aggresion pact to buy time for build-up
Ousting the Cel Gun deck fast without getting hurt is not easy, since the Cel Gun deck is fast itself. It only needs to bring out small- and mid-cap vampires, and can start attacking rightaway. Ask for help from your grandprey, when one of your minions is going down in torpor (and they usually will go down).

If you are playing a slower or toolbox deck, you need to convince the Cel Gun deck player not to attack. Promise a non-aggression pact for a couple of turns in order to build up. Then try to horde cards for a one or two turn oust, but make sure that the Cel Gun Deck is weakened (low on pool or does not have any rush cards in his hand) when striking. Usually the Cel Gun will attack immediately if you decide to go after him.

Silver bullets against Cel Gun
  • "Centralized Background Check" -- increases the cost of weapons by one, i.e. making the "Concealed Weapon" card unplayable when used with ".44 Magnum".
  • "Peace Treaty" -- makes the Cel Gun pay for its weapon a second time
  • "Canine Horde" -- destroys equipment w/ first strike
When playing a combat deck yourself, it depends largely on the type of combat you are playing. If you are playing short-range combat with little or no maneuvers you are doomed. If you are playing long-range combat yourself, or can prevent damage regularly, you might succeed against Cel Gun.

If you are the prey of a Cel Gun deck, your best hope is that you an aggressive grand predator, which puts the Cel Gun into defensive, i.e. Cel Gun is rushing his minions, rather than yours. Try to help your grand predator, i.e. rescue his minions from torpor if possible.

(c) 2006 by White WolfKey Cards
Notable Examples & Variations
  • "Celerity Gun" by Iñaki Jimenez -- basic version of the deck archetype.
  • "Guns and Butter" by Colin Riggs uses also small cap vampires, sacrificing the superior Celerity to speedy influence and reducing the its vampires cost.
  • "Marbellous" by Skaffen uses "Flesh of Marble" for damage reduction, but requires Protean (usually inferior) in addition, which narrows down the vampires usuable in the deck.
  • "Weenie-Cel-DesertEagle by Dominic Bédard -- uses "Desert Eagle" and "Flash" (to compensate the missing maneuver).
  • Second Guess Corral by Ben Peal -- adds an Auspex angle to give the deck a better (bleed) defense.
Sample Decklist
Legal Manipulations Tournament Winning Deck
Washington, D.C.
October 5th, 2002
13 players

Deck Name: Guns and Butter
Created By: Colin Riggs

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 16, Avg: 2.50)
2 Antoinette DuChamp cel pre 1, Caitiff
1 Carter cel 2, Toreador Antitribu
1 Kanya Akhtar cel 2, Assamite
2 Nik cel 1, Caitiff
2 Parmenides CEL qui 4, Assamite
2 Sarah Brando CEL 3, Brujah Antitribu
2 Victor Tolliver CEL pot 4, Brujah Antitribu

Library: (87 cards)
Master (13 cards)
3 Blood Doll
3 Celerity
2 Dreams of the Sphinx
3 Fame
2 Haven Uncovered

Action (23 cards)
1 Arson
14 Bum's Rush
8 Computer Hacking

Combat (43 cards)
2 Blur
8 Concealed Weapon
2 Nimble Feet
13 Psyche!
8 Pursuit
5 Side Strike
5 Taste of Vitae

Equipment (8 cards)
8 .44 Magnum

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Using Trophies?

In one of last week's V:tES games I saw another player, Martin Varga (a slovakian player working for a fortnight in Germany) using the "Trophy"-cards in his deck, and although the setup was quite slow, the deck was actually working and indeed very strong in the end game. The main trick was to use the combination of "Amaranth" & "Trophy: Diablerie" to diablerize the opposing vampire in combat without having to fear the following "Blood Hunt".

As this deck concept looked like fun to play, I will have to look at this deck type and try build one my own. Maybe not for use in the regular league games, but definetly in the fun games later that evenings.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Deck Building Priorities (by Bram Vink)

A couple of months ago Bram Vink, a V:tES player from the Netherlands, posted this article about deck building priorities in the internat. newsgroup. Since I found quite interesting, although I don't agree with all of its reasonings, I would like to repost it (having it modified the layout/highlighting only):
First, you have to decide on a purpose for your deck. This consists of 2 obvious parts:

First and foremost, and the only truly required part, which should always be considered first:

Ousting your Prey
This is divided in two different portions:
Damage Portion (or payload) - what makes your deck better at ousting than midcaps bleeding for one?
There are only two truly viable options:
  • Votes - Effective, hard to counter, but requires decent setup. (actually having votes)
  • Bleed - Innate, card efficient, requires no initial setup, but needs more in the way of delivery system. Either a lot of vampires, or added bleed are good options.

Effectivity Portion (or delivery system) - what makes your deck difficult to hold back?
  • Overwhelming - Like bleed. Innate, requires little setup and is very cardefficiently boosted by some very strong cards ("Anarch troublemaker", "Pentex Subversion", "Mind Numb", "Change of Target"). Relies on overwhelming your prey with more actions than they can block. Cardefficiency is reduced by the need to play combat - either to ensure minion advantage by destroying your prey's minions, or to ensure you prevent yours from being destroyed. Is very safe to use in combination with heavy bleed (modifiers).
  • Stealth - Not very card efficient, but very very effective if not properly countered. Card efficiency is increased because acting vampires have no need for combat. Effectively countered by deflecting if coupled with bleed. Makes it tricky to play with bleed, or if you have to play combat for intercepting or selfdefensive reasons.
If your deck does not have one of these, in each category, no matter how slight, your deck needs looking at, and will 90% of the time do better if you add the cards to meet these requirements. Keep in mind there are many ways to interpret the 'overwhelming' delivery system.

Secondary part your deck should have:

Surviving your Predator
You should strive to roughly include two of the following options (or like, one and a half of one, a half of the other. also you can pick twice - except for rush, which requires you to actually take out a vampire, which has generally adverse effects with the benefits)
  • Light Intercept - Being able to relatively often generate 1/2 intercept. (est. 10+ cards plus 5+ wakes)
  • Bounce - Being able to redirect bleeds to your prey (est. 6+ cards plus 3+ wakes)
  • Rush - Being able to selectively kill vampires controlled by your predator. (est. innate or 5+ cards)
  • Pool Gain - Being able to generate roughly 3+ pool/turn (differs too much to make an stimation)
If you cannot follow the above statement, it's my opinion your deck would be better off if it did. (ousting your prey midgame in ~ two turns counts as the last option)

Of course, that's a rough estimation. You can also go by the following statement: Your deck should be able to handle two +1 stealth bleeds for 3, each turn, while making actions yourself. Count a rush with sufficient combat as preventing 2 bleeds.

Action equivalents: evaluating effectiveness and efficiency.

Optimally, for action/action modifier cards the following is true:
  • 1 pool = 1 blood = 1 card = 1 action.
Cards or effects that can be considered above averagely strong have one of the following traits:
  • They give an increase of effect (either damage or gain) of more than 1 pool/blood per card, action, etc.
  • The card gives two wholly different effects that are both likely to be useful (versatility)
Of course some cards do not follow this theory, but it is a reasonable basic assessment of card strength. Some examples of very strong cards by this theory are:
  • "Kindred Spirits"/"Intimidation"/"Restoration": 1 action + 1 card = 3 pool/blood
  • "Govern the Unaligned"/"Entrancement": Very different effects which are equally strong, but follow above structure (perhaps superior govern is a bit better, as it also provides additional transfers).
Similar comparisons can be made for other action equivalent cards. (ie. J.S. Simmons: 3 actions + 1 card = 4 pool) - not too efficient without backup.

Action modifiers which pertain to these actions usually follow roughly the same principle. Some mechanics are not very translatable, but for most there's easily made a division between above average, and below average.

Basically this advice follows the short chain combat, but not completely:

You need combat that does roughly the following:
  • End combat and untap you - with a few maneuvers or ways to prevent damage.
Or the following:
  • Hurt your opponent for more than 2.
  • Give either: A maneuver with sometimes a dodge/prevent or prevent/dodge+additional with sometimes a maneuver
  • Periodically gains you 2 or more blood.
Or if you choose for overwhelm by destroying your prey's minions, or rush combat:
  • Hurt your opponent for more than 4 in a combat, while preventing yourself going to torpor, gaining blood, and having a counter to S:CE.
Card Usage
To optimally play your cards (as many as you can, to good effect) there are a few things blocking your way.

The big problem is, almost every card is only useable in very specific situations. This is why cards that are useable in multiple situations are so very strong.

You will have cards in your hand that will not be useable in the situation you are in. Worse yet, a lot of your cards will be such. These cards prevent you from getting the cards that you can use.

There's three ways around these problems:
  • First: You reduce the size of your library. Although you will have less cards to play, that also means you will have less chance of having X specific cards for a different situation in your hands. This also includes removing very situational cards from your deck, no matter how good they could be at some time. - Limited, of course, by losing because you run out of cards. Best way to find out what size would be best is just to play games and get a feel for it.
  • Second: You include handcyclers. "The Barrens", "Dreams of the Sphinx", etc. You name it, and it will be beneficial when you feel that it will let you play (cost+1) more cards effectively. I feel this is usually the case. This is also limited by losing because you run out of cards, and should be balanced carefully with decksize.
  • Third: You find ways to increase your handsize. This is clearly the best option, as it dramatically decreases your chances of clumping, while at the same time letting you have the use of more cards at the same time, covering more eventualities, and increasing the general effectiveness of your cards, without reducing the amount of cards you play. This option is limited only by availability.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Card Advantage in V:tES (Part 1)

Currently I am reading quite a number of Magic: the Gathering (M:tG) articles, mostly on the "Magic The Gathering" , even though I have neither played M:tG other than in demo round ten years ago. Nonetheless the articles especially on strategy topics proved to be quite insightful with regards to V:tES.

There are two distinct strategy terms named "Tempo" and "Card Advantage", which intrigued me very much, that are discussed frequently in M:tG articles:
  • "Tempo" is defined as having the initiative in a game, forcing the opponent to react to your actions, the player having "Tempo" dictates the terms/pace of the game. See this article.
  • "Card Advantage" (short: CA) indicates that a player is drawing more cards or holding more cards in his hand than his opponent. See this article.
I would like to discuss the later term, as it applies easily to V:tES as well.

The Differences
In V:tES Card Advantage is working somewhat differently than in M:tG, mainly because in M:tG a player only draws card once during his turn. So drawing any card other than during the mandatory draw in the draw phase is an advantage per se in M:tG.

In V:tES card drawing works differently, since
  • each player has fixed limit for the cards he's holding, that is handsize of 7 cards.
  • each player replaces any played card immediately.
  • in the discard phase the player can discard one card (to the ashheap (discard pile)) and redraws it from the library.
Of course there are exceptions of this, but there is always an explict card saying so, e.g. that you don't redraw a card until your next discard phase ("Mirror Walk"), or that card is increasing your handsize by one while you control the card ("Elder Library").

The Goals
So usually card advantage in V:tES is not about having more cards than the other players, but "only" having the right combination of cards at the right time. The aim in V:tES is not to draw "mindlessly" additional cards, since your handsize is limited and you have to discard a card for each you draw, but the cards you need during the next actions and turns. Since you are going to need often more than 7 cards in the next 2-3 turns, one goal is to establish a good card flow, that is you actually need the cards you redraw for the ones you just played.

Example: In your master phase you play a "Blood Doll" on one of your vampires, the next card shouldn't be a master card, since you have only one master phase action, and in the following minion phase you need action, action modifier, or combat cards instead. Drawing another master card for the one you just played effectively reduced your handsize by one until your next turn (master phase).

On the the other hand what you don't want to do is top-decking. Top-Decking is a situation in the game in which you must depend on the card you draw next from your deck, since the card in your hand do not help you in your current need.

Example: You're trying to block a bleed, which is at done at +1 stealth. All you have is a "On The Qui Vive", but no intercept. You play the "On the Qui Vive" and try block in the hope that the next card is the much needed card that provides with +1 intercept like a "Cat's Guidance" or "Pack Tactics".

... (to be continued)

Monday, August 13, 2007

French & UK National Championships 2007

The 2007 edition of the V:tES French Championship will be held on Saturday 29th and Sunday the 30th September, 2007 in Paris. It starts on Friday 28th with a welcoming party in the "Caves transylvaniennes" (an underground tavern). More details can be found here.

On the following weekend, the V:tES UK Nationals 2007 will be held in Reading, southwest of London, on October 6th, 2007. In contrast to the french championship you do not need to qualify for this tournament. More details can be found here here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Weenie Auspex

When you check on Lasombra's Tournament Winner's Deck Archive you see quite a lot of Weenie Auspex (WA) deck variations. Weenie Auspex is a deck archtype which features small cap vampires having the Auspex discipline (perferable at superior). The deck wins since it controls (at least) its prey and predator by blocking their key actions, and eventually ousting its prey either by the number of vampires out, permanent bleed modifier cards or by cards like "Smiling Jack".
Over the Hedge (c)2006 by DreamWorks
How does it win
Weenie Auspex wins by controlling the table and usually (more or less slow) attrition. WA's first objective is to remain the last player standing, and its second objective is to oust its prey before it gets any VPs. By reaching these objectives it has 2-3 VPs at most tables and therefore often a GW. What helps in this task is that WA looks inconspicuously at the beginning, especially for the novice player.

WA does not need to block anything (and it shouldn't), but only key actions of its predator and prey, as well as actions that will bring down the minions of its prey. The offense of these decks differs considerably. Some WA decks equip with bleed modifier retainer and equipment, and will try to bleed you more or less fast to death. "Heidelburg Castle" is a common addition here; it also helps to swap weapon/intercept equipment around. Another method is using a mid- to late-game "Smiling Jack", preferably when only one or two other players are around, so the WA deck is able to block all remove attempts.

How to beat it
This is a difficult task, as with all wall decks. If you play S&B or Powerbleed(tm) and are the predator of WA you are doomed, since the wall deck usually is able to either block you, or just bounce your bleed to your grandprey. You may succeed if you are persistent, but this is not an easy task to accomplish, usually you end upkilling your grandprey. If you play S&B or Power Bleed and you are the prey of WA, you are somewhat likely to make a VP or maybe two. Make sure you do not take unnecessary undirected actions, since WA will block them. On the other hand the WA deck will try to block directed bleed actions at crucial times (or when it thinks you are low on stealth) by using Eagle Sight. So in general you have to be aware that WA has the ability to block directed actions against your prey.

Vote decks that are either prey or predator of a WA deck are usually f...ouled up. Usually only the combo "Forgotten Labyrinth" and "Elder Impersonation" combo will work to bring your votes through. "Creepshow Casino" and other permanent stealth helps greatly, but the WA deck usually also plays permacept locations/equipment as well. In addition these decks usual have a second layer of defense by playing "Delaying Tactics" if for whatever reasons the block attempts didn't succeed.

Best of are the rush combat decks against WA since they can usually take down the WA deck's minions. But for that to succeed the rush combat deck has to find out how the combat of the WA works, and if he can trump that combat.

If you know you can't oust them if you become the predator or prey of the WA deck, try to kill it (or help kill it) cross-table.

Key Cards
  • "Bowl of Convergence" -- simply the best permacept equipment money, err... pool can buy.
  • "Heidelburg Castle" -- used to move around the permacept equipment and weapons or to move bleed retainer/equipment.
  • "The Rack" -- the classic pool gain for WA
  • "Pentex Subversion" -- removes the key/star vampire of your prey (or your predator if he becomes an annoyance).
  • "Smiling Jack" -- the one-card finisher

Notable Examples & Variations
  • "Little brother is watching you" (by Stefan Ferenci)
  • "Sabbatspex" (by Jay Kristoff)
  • "Chicken Eyes" (by Francois Morand) -- uses cheap "Saturday Night Specials" as weapons, and the occasional "Dragon's Breath Round" to kill a obnoxious opponent vampire.
  • "Princespex (by Martin Weinmeyer) -- uses "2nd Tradition: Domain" in addition/replacement of Auspex intercept. This requires larger vampires like "Ira Rivers" or "Anson", but combines the untapping effect w/ the intercept. This leaves room for additional cards like the strong "Parity Shift".
Sample Decklist

Deck Name: Jay's Weenie Auspex
Created By: Jay Kristoff

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 8, Max: 16, Avg: 3.00)
1 Franciscus aus 1, Caitiff
1 Brazil aus 2, Malkavian
1 Dieter Kleist aus 2, Toreador
1 Regilio aus obf 3, Nosferatu
1 Dan Murdock aus obf 3, Caitiff
1 Isabel de Leon AUS 3, Toreador
1 Zoe AUS cel obf 3, Malkavian
1 Dollface aus obf 3, Malkavian
1 Dorian Strack AUS cel 4, Toreador
1 Aleph AUS dom 4, Malkavian
1 Remilliard AUS pre 4, Toreador Antitribu
1 Idalia AUS dem 4, Malkavian Antitribu

Library: (90 cards)

Master (15 cards)
1 Barrens, The
1 Club Zombie
2 Effective Management
1 Fame
1 Humanitas
2 Information Highway
1 Pentex Subversion
1 Powerbase: Mexico City
1 Powerbase: Montreal
1 Society of Leopold
2 Sudden Reversal
1 Tribute to the Master

Action (7 cards)
2 Arson
2 Atonement
3 Revelations

Reaction (51 cards)
7 Eagle's Sight
5 Enhanced Senses
7 Forced Awakening
3 Melange
4 My Enemy's Enemy
4 Precognition
4 Spirit's Touch
3 Telepathic Counter
8 Telepathic Misdirection
6 Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (11 cards)
2 Concealed Weapon
1 Disguised Weapon
4 Fake Out
4 Read Intentions

Equipment (6 cards)
2 Ivory Bow
4 Sniper Rifle

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rant: What's missing

One thing that Magic: the Gathering has that Vampire: the Eternal Struggle hasn't is it's strong internet presence, there are myriads of websites, blogs, forums, etc. and at the top of it is the official website of M:tG. Of course the M:tG staff and the number of players is (at least 100 times) larger than that of V:tES, but the differences are appalling. "" offers (among other things) daily articles like:
  • beginners articles ("Magic Academy")
  • advanced strategy articles
  • reports from R&D ("Making Magic")
  • tournament reports
  • extensive previews of new editions
The official website of V:tES offers in comparison
  • a forum
  • announcements that a new expansion will be released in the near future
  • previews that typically reveal a dozen out of 150 cards with no discussion of the cards or theme or anything
  • irregular news about the big tournaments, that is usually only the continental championships make it.
So what we need for V:tES (as one of pillars of the game) are more and stronger internet appearances of the game, like this blog (hopefully) or Sten During "EC 2007" blog. There were other attempts like the "Storage Annex" or the "VtES Intel" blog, but unfortunately they were rather short-living or are only updated very infrequently.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

EC 2007 Blog

Sten Düring has updated his EC 2007 blog on the VtES European Championship 2007 and added reports of some as the events as well as a ton of pictures. If you are interested in the V:tES tournament sceene, go check it out.

Top 5 Vampires w/ Special Advantages

Here's my personal list of the top five vampires with special abilities. Ok, I excluded those vampires who share their ability with other vampires (i.e. Beast) or those with generic ones (i.e. Suzanne Kadim).

  1. Arika -- still "The Threat" if she hits the table, o.k. her special ability isn't usually the reason why you put her in your deck, but the overall package with the disciplines, bleed modifier and votes is just great.
  2. Anson -- not so often seen in the past year, but the two master phases are still to good to be true. Nearly as good is "Cybele".
  3. Henry Taylor -- my personal nemesis; when playing in our local V:tES league you always have to keep in mind "What do I do if my prey/predator is playing Henry and he has +2 intercept?", since Henry is a personal favorite of one of our regular players.
  4. Anneke/Maris Streck -- you can block anyone at the table (Anneke) or you can give someone enough intercept to block (Maris) and they both are Justicars ... good money for a good investment!
  5. Greta Kircher -- still one of the best special abilities against all those weenie and ally decks. Just needs her Rack (as Maris does).

Honorable mentions: Cailean (the horror of short range combat), Helena (she's sooo cheap), Francois Villon (le bastard of weenie decks), Goratrix (great w/ Blur: "I steal 6 blood from you"), Malgorzata (pool gain machine), Valerius Major (you only think you have stealth), Antonio D'Erlette (who's blocking my recruits?) and I am sure you have also your own favorites.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Skullclamp or "What can go wrong, will go wrong"

I just read a highly entertaining article that describes how the Magic: the Gathering R&D department (affectionately known in the V:tES scene as "The other game") missed the power of a particular card named "Skullclamp" in the "Darksteel" expansion until it was too late. The story about the card itself and its (ab)use didn't interest me that much. But the story on how R&D misjudged the power of the card, and when they saw it, it was already to late to recall the "Darksteel" expansion, and they still they hoped to the bitter end, that somehow the players will cope with problem, is quite amusing.

Favorite quote from the article "You outnumber us several million to under 20."

I am very fond of the fact, that V:tES only has once in a while a card that really needs banning for the sake of the game. Speaking of which "Heart of Nizchetus", released in 3rd Ed., is a card which is to good to be true. We were talking about the card briefly after last weeks league game, and we agreed that we would this card even if it would cost 3 pool and even if would cost one pool each turn (sort of upkeep) in addition.

"I love the dead" and other misfortunes

Seeing the n-th Shambling Hordes deck, the latest called "I love the Dead" on Lasombra's TWD archive, especially the so-called Speed Shamblers variant, I would like to discuss the key cards of the deck, and some tips how to beat the deck.

Example decks can be found here
The key cards of the deck are usually:
  • Liquidation -- provides both pool gain and the ability to fetch the cards the Shamblers player needs right now by Sudario Refraction.
  • Parthenon -- Speed Shamblers is often play with less than 90 cards, but still a high count of Master cards (20+), so the Parthenon is essential.
  • Acquired Ventrue Assets -- the card to quickly refill the Giovanni to get the next shambler; better than a hunting ground since you can use more than one a single Giovanni at once.
  • Sudario Refraction - to gain/recycle those cards currently needed that may have been milled away by a Liquidation earlier.
  • Shambling Hordes - the Meat and Brain of the deck, chumps to kill key vampires, block weenies, etc. Get them early, get lots of them.
  • Unmasking & FBI Special Affairs Division - the Unmasking for the obvious intercept, the FBI for punishing especially other combat decks if they dare to attack one the Giovanni.
The Speed Shamblers deck is far from invincible, though if harrased it is often still the strongest deck at the table, since it is needs little setup, and can replace lost resource often quite easily. Here are some tips on how beat it:
  • Play "Wash" or "Sudden Reversal" on the "Parthenon" or the "Memories of Mortality".
  • Block the "Sudario Refraction"; remember you will usually need two minions with +1 intercept each to block. If you are a wall deck, block the Giovanni early and block them often. This is their Achilles heal: lack of stealth and other ways of bringing their actions through other than "Call of the Hungry Wolf".
  • Play "Sniper Rifle" or other long range weapons. Even two or three in a deck are enough if you can manage to wake often enough to block attacking shamblers. Good news is that you do not need stealth for block the brainless.
  • If you are a Rush deck, rush them first; the Shamblers if you can put them down, the Giovanni if you can get past the Shambler blockers.
  • If you are play a political deck, pack some "Approximation of Loyalty". The Giovanni playing the "Delaying Tactics" are usually mid-caps or weenies.
  • Talk to your crosstable buddy and your prey to get rid of the "Memories of Mortality". Profit from the bad image the Speed Shamblers have.
  • And most importantly: Don't get initimidated by the threats the Giovanni player is making, and do not let them built up!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Results EC2007: European Championship

Copied from results from the V:tES European Championship, which was played on August 3rd-5th, 2007 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The final EC tournament has been played on Sunday with 40 players participating. The standings of the final round were as follows:
  1. Ferenc Vasadi (HUN) -- 1,5 vp -- Big Cap Toreador Bleed & Vote w/ Aching Beauties
  2. Olivier Perez (SUI) -- 0,5 VP -- Imbued
  3. József Kuminka (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- Inner Circle vote
  4. Christoffer Arvidsson (SWE) -- 0,5 VP -- Tzimisce Wall with War Ghouls
  5. Erol Öngün (GER) -- 0 VP -- Julio Martinez Vermin Channel S&B deck
More on the EC including a whole bunch of pictures can be found on the EC Blog.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Results EC2007: Day 1

Copied from results from the V:tES European Championship, which is played on August 3rd-5th, 2007 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The qualifier for the EC finals have been finished on Saturday, 95 players played in this tournament of which 40 qualified for the finals. The standings of the final round were as follows:
  1. Ruben Feldman (SUI) -- 0,5 VP -- The Vignes Deck
  2. Ginés Quiñonero (ESP) -- 0,5 VP -- 14 Entrancement !Toreador Deck
  3. Erik Torstensson (SWE) -- 0,5 VP -- Aus Weenie With Some MotS
  4. Brian Moritz (USA) -- 0,5 VP -- Beckett and Stanislava Event Deck
  5. Olivier Perez (SUI) -- 0,5 VP -- Speedshambler
Two players, Ruben Feldman and Olivier Perez, made it to the finals in both this tournament and the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). An astounding replica of the events of the EC 2006 in Torino, where Ruben managed this feat also in both rounds (LCQ and EC Finals).

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Results EC2007: Last Chance Qualifier

Copied from

The first results of the V:tES European Championship, which is played on August 3rd-5th, 2007 in Gothenburg, Sweden have been announced. The first major tournament was the Last Chance qualifier on Friday, which gives non-qualified players a chance to qualify for the EC finals. 109 players participated in the EC tournament, the standings in the finals were:

  1. Olivier Perez (SUI) -- 1,5 VP -- Imbued
  2. Matt Morgan (USA) -- 1,5 VP -- Imbued
  3. Ruben Feldman (SUI) -- 1 VP -- The Vignes Deck
  4. Martin Major (HUN) -- 0 VP -- Spirit Marionette Deck
  5. Antonio Cobo Cuenza (ESP) -- 0 VP -- Anson Wall

Thursday, August 2, 2007

End of a season

"Finally Summer" - what name for a dark, gothic vampire game tournament, and the weather was accordingly -- it was raining all day. And the last of five tournaments I attended this summer.

Last weekend's VtES tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany was kind of successful, although I made it into the finals (but only barely), the final itself proved to be fruitless struggle against the inevitable.

1st round: Debbie (Dom/Obf/Tha) -> Ralf (Akunanse Bleed&Block) -> Sebastian K. (Anarch Bleed&Bloat) -> Markus (Old School Malk Bleed&Vote)

Debbie was underpressure from the start as Markus' Malk started to bleed merciless. Soon after Debbie was ousted, not after giving me some hefty bleed by herself, I offered Sebastian he could oust Markus, and then we would fight it out. Markus was the ousted quickly by the Anarch horde, but in between I could buildup my wall and after that the Anarchs weren't able to get through with more than +2 stealth (seldom +3 stealth), So I beat down Anarch after Anarch, and so Sebastian gave in, and I had a GW with 2 VPs.

2nd round: Tobias (Tzimisce Old School Wall) -> Thomas (Harbinger of Skulls) -> Sascha (!Brujah Bruise&Vote) -> Ralf (Akunanse Bleed&Block)

So I sat there between hammer (rush/vote) and the anvil (Tzimisce Wall), and I couldn't neither buildup nor block, since both preys and predators main vamps had built-in aggravated hand damage (Lambach & Hector). I tried to balance table by making Sascha burn Sascha Vykos in the blood hunt after a careless diablerie, but to no avail ... The weird end: Sascha's last vampire calls a KRC and kills everyone but Tobias, giving him the table.

3rd round: Ralf (Akunanse Bleed&Block) -> Barbara (Ahrimanes Wall) -> Matthias (Kyasid Toolbox) -> Markus (Old School Malk Bleed&Vote)

I knew I couldnt oust Barbara easily, since her deck is very robust. So I let her go, trying to built-up myself. Matthias largely dominated the game, since he was able to put down one of Barbara's Ahrimanes and also put after a short built-up considerable pressure on Markus. Markus was ousted easily without having a chance, since both Matthias and I had more than votes on the table than him. So Markus was ousted during the midgame, and Barbara followed (to my surprise!) quickly, since I was able to block her several times when she was trying to rescue one of her vampires the Kyasid had dunked, and I could outfight the Ahrimanes due to two Sniper Rifles my two Magaji had equipped. The rest was kind of boring, cause I couldn't go forward due to fighting capabilities of the Kyasid (one the Magji got dunked by Black Metamorphosis and two Earth Swords in a single round). But I could easily outbloat the Kyasid, since they weren't packing the bleed modifiers I had initially suspected. So 1.5 VPs and barely the finals with 1 GW and 3.5 VPs

Final: Martin (Nephandi Mage Mafia) -> Sebastian Z. (Giovanni Powerbleed) -> Ralf (Akunanse Bleed&Block) -> Rene (Ventrue Old School Law Firm) -> Tobias (Tzimisce Old School Wall)

My seating wasn't too bad considering I was 4th seed. But here comes the "inevitable" part of the story. Sebastian's Giovanni goes forward like hell, I can built-up due to miracle start hand including a "No Secrects from the Magij", "Sniper Rifle" and a "Guardian Angel". I beat up the Giovanni, Martin is mopping up the remains, and starts bleeding into me. In the mean time Rene's Ventrue, especially due to Arika's late appearance and their persistent actions, are able to put the Tzimisce Wall down, but oust them just barely. Martin plays in quick succession a "Memories of Mortality", "Pentex Subversion" and another "Memories of Mortality" on my three of my four minions, and I am dead as a Dodo. Rene follows a few minutes after. Since Rene, the only player other than Martin with a VP, was 5th seed before the final, I loose a place and am finally in the 5th place.

Anyhow, congrats to Martin, who had clearly the best deck this day (and is one of the top 3 players in Germany IMHO). All in all a good result for me with this deck. I played it only once before, and had packed no bleed bounce despite an otherwise bleedy environment I knew I would encounter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

VtES Clan Newsletters in July 2007

Four clans newsletters have been posted in the "" newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.