Friday, November 30, 2007

VtES Clan Newsletters in November 2007

Only two clan newsletters have been posted in the "" usenet newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.
I am a little bit astonished, that after the release of "Lords of the Night" there are no newsletter for the four Independent clans.

Otherwise, I am off to the German VtES Nationals in Ludwigshafen, Germany. I am hoping to cover the results of the championship during the weekend already, taking some pictures and posting the results as well as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You know you are addicted to VtES , when ...

In the old MAD magazine tradition of useless lists, here are the top ten reasons for being recognized as a VtES addict:
  1. You know what the abbreviation "IANLSJ" means.
  2. You know the URL of cards on VTES Monger by memory.
  3. You still know all the 11 rules of the "Prophecy of Gehenna" league by heart.
  4. You know why "Camille Devereux", "Raven" and "Camille Devereux, The Raven" are played as the same vampire actually.
  5. You only play decks with cards with the same background style "for aestetical reasons".
  6. You nearly made to LSJ's killfile (for the usenet newsgroup "").
  7. You are buying extra furniture holding for your card collection.
  8. You are buying not only prints of VtES cards, but the originals.
  9. You can calculate your final tournament rating in your head.
  10. You still play this game after 12 years of its existence.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For nitpicking rules mongers

From the VtES tournament rules for those actually who like calling the judge and like giving warnings to opposing players.
4.7. Tapped Cards
If a card must be tapped as a part of the game rules, it must be turned approximately 90 degrees from the normal position.
And for those who like to complain about complaining players, there's this section from the "Judges Guide":
152. Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Major
(A) A player repeatedly calls a judge and argues that an opponent should lose the game for insignificant procedural oversights.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Results of "Dark Cellars" VtES tournament (Utrecht)

These are the results of the "Dark Cellars" VtES Constructed tournament in Utrecht, Netherlands after 3 rounds + Finals. The tournament was played on November 24th, 2007 with 13 players participating. Here are the standings after the final round.
  • Peter B. -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 1 GW 4 VP -- !Toreador Obf Pre Vote+Bleed
  • Thomas K. -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 1 VP -- !Tremere Tupdogs
  • Ralf L. -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- Assamite G4/5 Stealth Bleed
  • Dietmar R. -- 1 GW 5,5 VP -- 0VP -- Giovanni G4/5 Shambling Hordes
  • Jeroen v. O. -- 1 GW 4 VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue Vote Old School
Congratulations to Peter for his undisputed victory in the final round. The decklist of the winner can hopefully be found in the dutch VEKN forum soon. (Currently I am not 100% sure about the VPs+GWs of the preliminary rounds). When you click on the pictures to see the large versions of them, take note that the pictures below are somewhat large (1.5 MByte each).

Left: The Joker, where the tournament was held.
Right: After the Thomas' Spell of Life has gone off, while the rest of the table are struggling to survive except Didi who sweeps the table later. (Round 1, Table 1).

Left: Michael's Aus-Chi wall controls the table, despite the Herman's Assamites and Peter's !Toreadors efforts to overthrow him (Round 1, Table 2).
Right: During the midgame Herman's Assamites manage to oust Michael's wall (Round 2, Table 1).

Left: One of the few timeouts, as Didi's Shamblers cannot break Herman's Assamites resistance (Round 3, Table 3).
Right: Peter's Toreador w/ Obf march for the win, after the Thomas' Tupdogs made their first (and last) VP (Final Round).

Results Polish National VtES Championship 2007

Copied from November 17th, 2007 the Polish National VtES Championship was held in Warsaw, Poland with 43 players attending the final tournament. The final standings were as follows:
  1. Tomasz Pietkiewicz (POL) -- 2 GW 11 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Imbued
  2. Tomasz Izydorczyk (POL) -- 2 GW 7,5 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Weenie Auspex feat. Saulot
  3. Michal Bugajski (POL) -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 0,5 VP -- !Nosferatu ANI POT combat
  4. Lech Jablonski (POL) -- 2 GW 6,5 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Lasombra Black Hand Nocturn deck
  5. Pawel Kukielczynski (POL) -- 2 GW 6 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Speed Shamblers Swiss Style
Congratulations to Tomasz Pietkiewicz for his win of the Polish Nationals. The winning deck has the been posted in the Usenet newsgroup here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Guide on Playing Fatties

In VtES especially new players are very keen on playing large capacity vampires who have a large number disciplines as well as one or more special abilities. The VtES slang for vampires with a capacity of 9 or higher is "fatties" (similar to the "Magic The Gathering" term for a large creature usually with five or more power and three or more toughness). (For additional VtES terms see Lasombra's list of VtES terms.) In this article I will give some reasons for and against playing fatties as well as some tips on playing fatties more effectively.

Reasons for playing fatties
  • (c) by White Wolf Inc.Discipline spread needed for the deck basic functionality (and cannot be provided for by younger vampires). For example, "Saulot" has a quite unique discipline spread with "dai AUS FOR OBE THA VAL". But most decks utilize a much smaller number of discipline usually 2-3 and rarely 4 or more.

    Playing "Matthias" instead of "Saulot" can be more effective, "Matthias" is out in two turn instead of three, he has +1 intercept and all the clan disciplines at superior, Saulot on the other hand has all clan discipline at superior and also superior "Thaumaturgy", superior "Valeren" and inferior "Daimonium", +1 bleed, +1 strength and a very useful special ability. So if you're not planning to play the extra disciplines, you're are usually better off playing "Matthias" than "Saulot".

  • Useful special abilities are often the reason for playing a fattie, and often the best reason too, if the special is going to be an integral part of the deck's strategy, e.g. "Durga Syn" doesn't tap when blocking allies or vampires with a capacity below 5, "Enkidu" has a built-in rush and +2 strength, "Nakhthorheb" has built-in untap during your turn, etc.

  • Useful other permanents or traits like votes or permanent bleed modifiers also enhance the usuability of the large cap. vampires. Primary example are the "Inner Circle" members, especially "Arika" and "Stanislava" with their inherent +2 bleed and 4 votes and cool special abilities.

  • The high capacity is required/favourable for certain cards, Examples:
    Adding fatties to deck should then only be done if you really use these types of cards somewhat often, or to give a counter examples, it doesn't make sense to play multiple copies of "Gwendolyn" if you play a single "Ancient Influence", but nothing else that takes advantage of her capacity.

  • High cap vampires can better withstand combat and other troubles like "Temptation" or "Form of Corruption". This is usually a weak argument since you often use "Minion Tap"/"Vessel"/etc. to pull blood from the vampires to your pool, a lot of minion cards cost blood from the vampires as well. During the course of a game the blood on a vampire is reduced anyway. So a vampire with a capacity of 4 and 3 blood, can often be beaten up as easily by a combat monster as a vampire with a capacity of 10 and 3 blood.

Reasons against playing fatties
  • Fatties are very slow to influence out of the uncontrolled regions into the ready region. This is a serious disadvantage in the early game where influencing a fattie takes 3 to 4 turns, while both your prey and predator can do anything they like. This can doom your own game right from the start, when you're being bled in the early and your pool buffer becomes so thin, that you run out of space to maneuver. In an extreme case I have seen, a predator playing weenie bleed as bleed its prey playing "Cybele" for more than 20 pool (killing him course) in turn 3, the round where Cybele moved to the ready region.

  • The lack of actions that a fattie has compared to 3 weenies with the same total pool cost, is another significant disadvantage. For example, 3 weenies can bleed, take control of "Powerbase: Montreal" and hunt in the same turn, while your fattie can only do one of these actions without further support.

  • Some players like to play certain fatties because they are "cool" or they have read in WoD clan novel about them. This is usually the worst reason for playing a particular vampire, VtES is not a roleplaying game, but a competetive multiplayer card game. Without a sound deck with a well-rounded crypt and library, playing a deck for flavour reasons and it perfectly fits into the "World of Darkness" background, the game is doomed for you. It is an entirely different thing if your friends and you agree to build and play theme-based decks, but don't do this in a competitive environment.

  • Playing fatties is often a synonym for a star vampire deck; this is a deck where the main means of winning, is a single vampire with his unique abilities which powers the main "engine" of your deck. A good example is an "Una" deck, which solely uses the reduced costs for "Fortitude" cards to play 40+ "Freak Drives" for free.

    The disadvantage with playing with a star vampire is, that these decks are very vulnerable with regards to this vampires. "Pentex Subversion", "Sensory Deprivation" or "Protect Thine Own" (when playing Non-Camarilla) are killer cards against a star vampire, and often against fatties in general as wells, since these decks simply cannot afford to lose these vampires. Also if you are not playing combat by yourself, you will need some kind of protection against it. This can be a "Secure Haven" or an abundance of "Obedience" or "Majesties".
Support and requirements for playing fatties

So there are a couple of things you need to do in order to support playing big caps effectively:

  • You need pool gain, usually by pulling blood of the vampires. The usual way is to use the classic cards like "Minion Tap", "Blood Doll" or most recently "Vessel. This will help you either bring out additional vampires or to increase your pool buffer against attacks from your predator.

    Other ways often of generating extra pool include ways which take advantage of the size of the vampires, e.g. the political actions like "Honor the Elders", "Ancient Influence" or "Reins of Power", or actions like "Govern the Unaligned" or "Enchant Kindred".

  • It is also vital for the fatties to regain blood lost earlier either due to "Minion Taps", etc. or by playing cards or suffering from combat damage. The widely used classic for this purpose is "Giants Blood", but since it can only be played once a game, you shouldn't rely on it. Another classic is "Voter Capitivation" for political decks, since it is not limited to a specific amount of blood that can be regained and and you can regain up to 2 pool directly. Combat decks often use "Taste of Vitae", more generic ways of accomplishing a "refill" of the vampires are "Restoration" or "Entrenching".
Multi Actions
Playing fatties is not a good thing per se nor it is a bad thing either. When playing fatties it should be really worth it in terms of disciplines and special abilities. Also make sure you can bloat enough (regain enough pool) to compensate the expense for the fatties. Optimally your minion can either multi-act and/or react/block more than once, otherwise you will often be outbled or out-vote by mid-cap or small cap vampires, which have a lot more actions at their deposal than the fatties.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Toreador Grand Ball

(c) by White Wolf Inc.The Toreador Grand Ball (TGB) decktype is around for quite some time now. Essentially it is a political deck, which uses the "Toreador Grand Ball" to make the political actions like "Kine Resources Contested" and "Parity Shift" unblockable. Another alias for this decktype is "AAA" or "Triple-A" for the three main vampires it features, namely "Anson", "Anneke" and "Alexandra".

How to win with them

The TGB deck lulls the table into the belief, it is utterly harmless and it won't do anything. In a way this is true, until the deck has had its required setup, then the first TGB hits the table, and the vampires start voting.

The main action to keep the deck alive is "Parity Shift"; if you have an aggressive S&B or Combat deck as predator, then you need to take down the aggressor first, and then turn to your predator. The deck is also a master of deal negotation, since with the help of "Parity Shift" and/or "Anneke's" special ability it is able to deal damage quite effectively cross-table or block actions crosstable. The description of Erol Oenguen's TGB deck was "Survive and make a deal with someone who can oust." and that exactly was this deck archetypes strength: it had table control. All of the "AAA" trio of vampires has it's own superior asset:
  • "Anson" provides a second master phase action,
  • "Anneke" can block cross-table, and
  • "Alexandra" can untap a "Toreador" during it's player's minion phase.
Another neat "trick" is having multiple TGBs in play, but effectively you only need to not to untap only one of your "Toreador" vampires. And even that can be circumvented by "Alexandra's" special ability. The deck not only generates large amounts of pool by "Parity Shifts", but also with any other vote, by first (nearly) emptying the vampires with "Minion Taps", and then refilling them with "Voter Captivation" later own.

(c) by White Wolf Inc.Bleed defense
The deck's bleed defense is quite simple, yet effective. It uses "Telepathic Misdirection" to bounce bleeds of and/or "Second Tradition: Domain" to block it. The amount of intercept can often be enhanced by "Eagle's Sight" or other "Auspex"-based intercept cards.

Vote defense
Usually no special vote defense is needed here, since the TGB deck has a lots of votes to offer, A TGB deck might pack either the classic "Delaying Tactics" or even better "Scalpel Tongue", since it can turn around both a vote that you call yourself or a vote that is called by your adversaries.

Combat defense

TGB's combat capability is defensive in nature, with an abundance of "Majesty", and sometimes with sprinkles of "Obedience". Also "Secure Haven" is often seen in this deck type. Some deck variants also feature "Concealed Weapons" and ".44 Magnums" to be able withstand other combat decks more consistently and even provide hitback against ally or weenie decks.

How to win against them

(c) by White Wolf Inc.Once the deck is built-up often having multiple high cap. vampires out, it is difficult to oust, even more so it has then generated a considerable pool buffer.

So early pressure is mandatory, but you need to be aware of the deck's capability to steal "back" one's pool by playing "Parity Shift". The victim of the "Parity Shift" is often, especially early in the game, its predator, not its prey.

If the deck is low pool, especially after putting itself deliberately down for being able to play the "Parity Shift", it is vulnerable to "Delaying Tactics" and even more so "Confusion of the Eye".

It is mandatory, for both the prey and predator of the TGB deck, to remove the name-sakes of the deck. This is true even if the TGB player can recycle TGB from the asheap and play it as a second master phase action in the same turn. The reasoning is that if he uses two master phase actions to retrieve and play a "used" TGB, he cannot use it for playing and/or retrieving other vital master cards. And without the TGB the Toreador are either blocked during actions or they don't try anything funny at all.

Key Cards
One of the key cards used to be "Anarch Revolt", but due to the fact that you can get "immunity" from the "Anarch Revolt" by making one (or more) of your vampires an Anarch, it is no longer one of the favourite cards of a TGB deck.

Notable Examples & Variations
  • Classic TGB deck /w multiple copies of the "Triple-A" vampires
    • Toreador Grand Ball by Kamel Senni -- the basic version.
    • Anneke+Anson by Ruben Van Cauwenberghe -- another basic version, but w/o Alexandra.
    • Erol Triple-A by Erol Oenguen -- focusses on blocking and table control.
    • AAA by Marc Desaulniers -- an aggresive version with more KRC.
    • Masters of the Grand Ball by Teemu Sainomaa -- an updated version w/ some newer cards added.

  • "Alastor" variant --here the main vote is Alastor, and the deck mutates into a Rush combat deck during mid-game.

Coupe de Paris
Paris, France
February 28th 2006
23 Methuselahs

Tournament winning deck
Created By: Kamel SENNI

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 17, Max: 42, Avg: 7,75)
4 Anson aus dom CEL PRE 8 Toreador
2 Anneke dom AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
2 Alexandra dom ANI AUS CEL PRE 11 Toreador
1 Francois Villon chi obf pot AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
1 Dorian Strack cel AUS 4 Toreador
1 Delilah Easton pre 2 Toreador
1 Isabel de Leon AUS 3 Toreador

Library: (88 cards)
Master (46 cards)
2 Blood Doll
6 Dreams of the Sphinx
2 Fortschritt Library
1 Giant`s Blood
1 Legendary Vampire
8 Minion Tap
1 Parthenon, The
1 Pentex Subversion
2 Sudden Reversal
1 Temptation of Greater Power
7 Toreador Grand Ball
5 Visit from the Capuchin
9 Zillah`s Valley

Action (6 cards)
4 Dominate Kine
2 Entrancement

Action Modifier (12 cards)
3 Aire of Elation
2 Approximation of Loyalty
7 Voter Captivation

Political Action (12 cards)
1 Anarchist Uprising
1 Ancient Influence
2 Ancilla Empowerment
3 Banishment
3 Parity Shift
1 Political Stranglehold
1 Reins of Power

Reaction (6 cards)
3 Obedience
3 Telepathic Misdirection

Combat (4 cards)
4 Majesty

Ally (1 cards)
1 Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)

Event (1 cards)
1 Anthelios, the Red Star

Monday, November 19, 2007

German VtES Championships

Copied from the German National VtES Championship 2007 is only two weeks away, I was wondering who the past champions were. After a little bit of research in the german VEKN forum and the Usenet newsgroup here's the list of the winners of past german championship tournaments. Note: prior to 2005 the German European Championship Qualifier (ECQ) and the National Championship (NC) were held during the same tournament event.

  • German ECQ 2007 -- Olivier Perez (SUI)
  • German NC Constructed 2007 -- Ruben Feldmann (SUI)
  • German NC Limited 2007 -- Benoit Moyen (FRA)
  • German ECQ 2006 -- Erol Oenguen (GER)
  • German NC Constructed 2006 -- Robert Fängler (GER)
  • German NC Limited 2006 -- Thomas Gschwandtner (GER)
  • German ECQ 2005 -- Andreas Nusser (GER)
  • German NC Constructed 2005 -- Johannes Walch (GER)
  • German NC Limited 2005 -- Thomas Gschwandtner (GER)
  • German NC/ECQ Constructed 2004 -- Ruben Van Cauwenberghe (BEL)
  • German NC Limited 2004 -- Emile Bosman (NED)
  • German NC/ECQ Constructed 2003 -- Stéphane Lavrut (FRA)
  • German NC Limited 2003 -- Erol Oenguen (GER)
  • German NC/ECQ Constructed 2002 -- Luk de Ron (BEL)
  • German NC Limited 2002 -- Tobias Pohl (GER)
  • German NC/ECQ Constructed 2001 -- Jan Van Den Eede (NED)
  • German NC Limited 2001 -- ???
  • German NC/ECQ Constructed 2000 -- Fabian Sosna (GER)
  • German NC Limited 2000 -- ???

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rules for the Imbued

Rolling Horse, BerlinWhile the complete rules for VtES are on White Wolf's website here, the rules regarding the "Imbued" are not included anywhere in the rulebook. They are only available here on the Nights of Reckoning page or on the five different rule cards that came with the NoR boosters. The official NoR page by White Wolf also contains a number of rulings with regards to specific cards and their interaction with the Imbued, whereas an Imbued FAQ is also hosted by the Hunter-Net. So, as sort of a reminder, here are the rules for the "Imbued".
  1. Imbued -- What are Imbued?
    Rule: Imbued are new crypt cards. An Imbued is considered a mortal ally, not a vampire. Imbued have 1 strength and 1 bleed, by default. Their cost is also their starting life, and it is specified on each card individually (like capacity). They have creeds (like clans). They have virtues (like Disciplines, but only one level). When they have zero life, they are incapacitated (like torpor) instead of being burned (see 5 below). Any "burn ally" effect will still burn an Imbued, however.

  2. Conviction -- How do we do what we do?
    Rule: Conviction is a new card type. It is played in the untap phase, so it is an "untap" card, not a master or minion or discard (event) card. During your untap phase, you may play 1 conviction on each of your Imbued. You may play these conviction cards from your hand or from your ash heap. When an Imbued enters play with no conviction, he may gain 1 conviction from your library, hand or ash heap. In addition to their own effects, conviction cards may be spent (burned) to pay the conviction costs which some cards require. Each Imbued has a limit of 5 conviction. Any conviction gained above five is burned instead.

  3. Power -- How are we different?
    Rule: Power is a new minion card type, only playable by Imbued. An Imbued may get a power as a +1 stealth action, like equipment or retainers. The Imbued untaps if the action is successful. An Imbued may not have two copies of the same power. Some effects or powers are "always on". Others have a card type icon (action, combat, etc.) indicating when and how the effect can be used. To use one of those effects, you must tap the power card (and pay whatever cost the effect requires). Standard rules for using such effects apply (e.g., a reacting minion must be ready and untapped). "Always on" effects are still on while the power card is tapped.

  4. Terms -- How do we define the world?
    • Imbued: a new minion type which counts as a mortal ally.
    • Monster: any vampire or non-mortal, non-animal ally or retainer.
    • Conviction: new card type.
    • Power: new type of action.

  5. Incapacitated -- What happens when we are injured?
    Rule: When an Imbued has no life, he is placed in the incapacitated region (controlled but not ready). Effects which are not usable by an ally being burned are not usable by an Imbued being incapacitated. Any minion may burn an incapacitated Imbued and take his equipment as a (D) action. If that action is successful, then each ready Imbued may burn 1 conviction to inflict 1 unpreventable damage on that acting minion. An Imbued may leave the incapacitated region and gain a life (not to exceed his starting life) by burning 3 conviction during his untap phase. Note that an Imbued gains a life (not to exceed his starting life) if he leaves the incapacitated region by any other effect, as well.
© 1990-2006 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Copyright White Wolf Publishing, Inc.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Results of "Blood Agony" VtES Tournament

These are the results of the "Blood Agony" VtES limited (draft) tournament in Dreieich (near Frankfurt), Germany after 3 rounds + finals. The tournament was played on November 11th, 2007 (during the Dreieich Convention 2007) and sadly only 9 players participated. Here are the standings after the final round:
  • Robert F. -- 4 VP + GW -- Lasombra Bleed & Vote
  • Mart K. -- 1 VP -- !Ventrue/ Tzimisce Horde
  • Joscha D. -- 0 VP -- !Tremere do evil things
  • Ralf L. -- 0 VP -- !Gangrel Wall(ish)
  • Christoph M. -- 0 VP -- !Toreador/!Brujah Combat
Congratulations to Robert for his win of the tournament. More pictures taken by Christoph from the tournament can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Disciplineless Combat Cards from LotN

(c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.There are a number of new disciplineless combat cards from "Lords of the Night" (LotN). With the new expansion also the new term/mechanism "Aim" was introduced, which allows to modify pending strikes in a new way, but the cards need to be played when choosing a strike. I'd like to discuss the usefulness of these new cards, with some extra attention to allies like the "Imbued" and the traditional allies, "War Ghouls", "Shambling Hordes" or "Nephandus Mage".

The new combat cards from "LotN" without any requirements are:
Target Vitals
"If any damage from this strike is successfully inflicted on the opposing minion, he or she takes an additional 2 damage from this strike, and he or she cannot press this round. The opposing minion may discard two combat cards to cancel this card. A minion may play only one aim each strike."
This is quite a good card, it gives 2 additional damage when this strike is succesfully inflicts damage. e.g. you can easily enhance the aggravated damage of a "Crusader Sword" or an "Ivory Bow" by two. It makes not the 2 additional damage aggravated as well, but it has now the potential to burn a vampire instead of sending him just to torpor only.

It also works quite well with decks which use "Traps" to beat opposing minions down, since it prevents the opposing minion to press this round against the "Trap's" press, helping to seal your opponents fate. In fact it is also very good with decks which deal want to deal damage in the second round, e.g. "Thaumaturgy" decks with "Blood to Water" or "Walk of Flame".

It is also a very interesting addition to use with "Catatonic Fear", where you effectively use a "Strike: Combat Ends" to avoid any sort of hitback, while dealing 3 damage to the opposing minion.

Target Head
"The strike does +2 damage. The opposing minion may discard a combat card to cancel this card. If any damage from this strike is successfully inflicted on the opposing minion, he or she cannot use any additional strikes or presses this round, and you may set the range for the next round. A minion may play only one aim each strike."
Somewhat similar to "Target Vitals" this is generally not a bad card for all kinds of Ally decks, since it provides a generic +2 damage (not only to hand strikes) and the additional benefits for the card (no presses, no additional strike, setting the range for the next round) are also quite good. It is a little better than "Target Vitals" in the damage dealing department, since it is added to the damage immediately, not only to if the initial damage is inflicted. E.g. if you use a handstrike against a "War Ghoul", "Target Vitals" deals no damage, whereas "Target Head" deals effectively two damage.

The only real and significant drawback is the easy way of canceling the card which only requires one card instead of the two. So it would be a good addition against decks which feature "Cel Gun" decks or those which use additional strikes on a regular basis, but these decks usually feature a lot of combat cards, and ditching just one of them, is too easy to comply to.

Target Hands
"The opposing minion may discard two combat cards to cancel this card. If any damage from this strike is successfully inflicted on the opposing minion, he or she gets -1 strength this action, and you may destroy a weapon he or she has. A minion may play only one aim each strike."
Generally good against equipment based combat, also it is a fair addition to "Animalism" decks or other decks that can deliver damage at long range. With regards to Ally decks, it's good for "Nephandus" decks, since they have built-in 1R damage. They can kill a minion with Gun without the use of "Memories of Mortality", since they can (usually) survive the initial strike with the ".44 Magnum" or a "Desert Eagle", but would die against the "Blur" or "Psyche". If the Gun does more than two damage, it's still good since the offending and usually expensive Gun is gone as well. Discarding two combat cards from your adversary's hand when they cancel "Target Hands" is not good, but it deprives your opponent from combat resources in future combat, possibily leading to a hand jam.

Target Leg
"The opposing minion may discard two combat cards to cancel this card. If any damage from this strike is successfully inflicted on the opposing minion, he or she may use maneuvers or presses only if they require Obfuscate, Thaumaturgy or Flight this action. A minion may play only one aim each strike."
One of the weaker "Target" cards, since it does no additional damage and only prevents the use of maneuvers or presses (with the expection of certain disciplines), albeit for the rest of the action, not just the current round.

Forearm Block
"Strike: prevent 2 damage from the opposing minion's next hand strike this round (including any currently-resolving hand strike). If another round of combat occurs, this minion gets first strike on his or her initial strike that round."
Hmm, I am wondering if this is useful at all. It offers additional way of preventing damage, so it is an alternative to "Glancing Blow". It could be useful in a deck where an ally has no damage other than this card, but has a "Ghoul Retainer" recruited and some sort of weapon equipped. The ally could then prevent more damage than with "Glancing Blow" (or maybe in addition with it), which the "Ghoul Retainer" strikes with the equipped weapon. It also might be used with minions (like "Vagabond Mystic" or "Repro Man") how have 0 strength, where nothing is lost when they do not use their handstrikes, and using "Forearm Block" makes them harder to kill.

The problem with the card is that it neither offers a press to easily use the first strike ability in the next round, nor offers it protection against all kind of damage dealing strikes, only against hand strikes. The card would be good for first preventing damage, then pressing into the next round and hitting with first strike, but then why not use "Quick Jab" in the first place?

Quick Jab
"Strike: hand strike (at strength damage) with first strike. If more than 1 damage is inflicted with this strike, ignore the excess."
The second really good card beside "Target Vitals", it helps all kind of combat decks which can send an opposing vampire into torpor, but have problems with hitback. So it's good for aggro poke (i.e. decks that hit exactly for one aggravated hand damage), which lack (or want to neglect) damage prevention. Examples for this are "Gangrel" with "Wolf Claws" or "Claws of the Dead" or "Tzimisce" with "Chiropteran Marauder".

Useful with "Succubus", "Harzomatuili" or any other ally with aggravated hand damage. It's not very helpful with most other allies due to the reduction to just one damage.

When ranking these cards, this would be my list and explanation for the ranking:
  1. Target Vitals -- great extra damage, great for decks using "Traps" or "Weenie Animalism".
  2. Quick Jab -- very good for aggro poke.
  3. Target Hand -- good against weapon decks, also useful in "Trap" decks, or Weenie Animalism.
  4. Target Head -- great advantages, but too easy to cancel.
  5. Target Leg -- effect is just to weak compared to other "Target" combat cards.
  6. Forearm Block -- to restricted in the prevention part, "only" gives first strike for the next round two and no press is included.
Basically I like these new cards, they can incoporated into a lot of combat decks, rounding up the combat. The only disadvantage I see to them is that they are disciplineless, maybe they should require a discipline like "Celerity" ("Quick Jab"), "Auspex" or "Fortitude" ("Forearm Block").

Friday, November 9, 2007

Next VtES Expansion: Uneducated Guesses

My arguably uneducated guess for the next VtES expansions is that
  • the next mini-expansion is released in late Q1/2008, featuring the "Laibon" sect again. 20 new vampires would reinforce the existing thin base of "Laibon" available and it would round up the latest "Lords of the Night" expansion,
  • the next expansion/base set is released then in somewhere in Q3/2008, featuring the "Camarilla" clans again. This is in my humble opinion about time, since effectively we are often still playing with group 2/3 vampires at best when playing with Camarilla clans.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

German VtES Championship 2007 in Ludwigshafen

The German 2007 VtES Championship will take place on the weekend of 1st and 2nd December in Ludwigshafen, Germany. We have a great and tournament proven space called "Das Haus" which has already seen many legendary qualifiers and championships. We expect a big attendance, a lot of foreign visitors have already announced their coming (France, Switzerland, Sweden, UK, Spain and more).
Saturday December 1st, 2007 „German Championship
Format: Standard Constructed
  • 10:00 - 10:45 Registration
  • 11:00 - 13:00 Runde 1
  • 14:00 - 16:00 Runde 2
  • 16:15 - 18:15 Runde 3
  • 18:30 - 20:30 Finals
Sunday December 2nd, 2007 „German Championship Limited Format
Format: Limited (most likely Booster Draft)
  • 10:00 - 10:20 Uhr Registration
  • 10:30 - 11:15 Uhr Begin Draft
  • 11:30 - 13:30 Uhr Runde 1
  • 14:30 - 16:30 Uhr Runde 2
  • 16:45 - 18:45 Uhr Runde 3
  • 19:00 -21:00 Uhr Finals
Kulturzentrum "das Haus"
(formely "Haus der Jugend")
Förderverein "das Haus" e.V.
Bahnhofstrasse 30
67059 Ludwigshafen

Entry fee
The participation is free of charge. Every player playing at least 3 rounds on one day receives two booster packs of a current edition. Players who participate in their first V:TES tournament ever receive a free starter.

The grand prize of the Constructed will be a hotel voucher for 3 nights in a fine Hotel in Prague at the European Championship 2008 (estimated value 300 EUR). The voucher is only redeemable at this occasion and only for participants of the event. This prize is sponsored by "Walch&Nusser".

The grand prize of the Limited is an original artwork from the current set.

The remaining finalists get the usual boosters.

Travel Information
Ludwigshafen (adjacent to Mannheim) is very easily reachable by train to Mannheim (esp. for France). Frankfurt and Baden-Baden airports are approx. 100 km away, so flying in cheap is also an option.

More Information
Anyone who wants to join us on the 1st or 2nd of December please go to the german VEKN site for registration and more information. It will help us in planning ahead and make a better event for everybody. If you are coming from abroad and you are looking for accomodation please e-mail Johannes Walch at "johannes at scram dot de".

You can also go the german VEKN forum to view the thread containing information about the german championship. The site requires a (separate) user registration.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Deck Archetypes: War Ghoul

(c) 2000 by White Wolf Inc.Another classic in VtES among the tournament winning decks is the Tzimisce "War Ghoul" deck. As the named suggests it based on the Tzimisce "War Ghoul" ally, the sturdiest ally in the game with 5 life, 4 damage and the ability to prevent one damage each round. This deck archetype has a long history in the tournament scene and a pretty successful one too.

How to win with them
The "War Ghoul" deck is basicially a rush combat deck using the "War Ghoul" ally as rushing minion instead of vampires like "Beast". The means to oust his prey are putting down your prey's minions first, then bleeding him out with "Changeling" or bleed-enhancing retainers like "Tasha Morgan".

The early aim of the deck is to bring out "War Ghouls" as fast as possible, and spend a lesser amount of pool to bring out only two, maybe three vampires early in the game. The best scenario is a turn-2-"War Ghoul" where "Horatio" sacrifices a "Jake Washington" to bring out the first "War Ghoul". The crypt is comprised of a number of weenie to mid-cap group 2 vampires notably "Horatio", "Lolita Houston", "Caliban" and "Corine Marcon", since they have a great cost-capacity efficiency (in that group).

The key question/issue is how to get the "War Ghouls" out without being blocked in the first place. There are two ways of achieving this, either by using permanents like "Unlicensed Taxicab" or "Creepshow Casino" or by using "Vicissitude" stealth cards like "Plasmic Form" and/or "Changeling".

The "War Ghouls" should then attack your predator's minion first, to make sure he's no real threat for you. After that you'll have change your focus on your prey. Beat up your prey's minions and then use your Vampires to bleed +2 either with the bleed retainers or cards like "Changeling" to oust you prey.

The "War Ghoul's" combat strategy is easy (and obvious), lay down a "Trap", hope your opponents doesn't play "Strike: Combat Ends" and then beat the hell out them. Variations of the theme include the use of a "Hawg" to press into round 2 of the combat, where a lone "Repo Man" fetches these vehicles from the library before. Sometimes the deck also packs "Memories of Mortality" to make combat against other combat monsters easier or to bypass obnoxious blockers on the way to real target.

Beside these above mentioned allies the deck also often features "Vagabond Mystic" to heal wounded "War Ghouls" as well as number of bleed retainers like "J. S. Simmons, Esq." or "Tasha Morgan". Of course all of these allies or retainers can be used as fodder for the "War Ghouls" if necessary.

Bleed defense
The deck has two ways of defending against bleeds. The first is to use the permanent +1 intercept from the "Unmasking" to block, although the "traditional" War Ghoul deck isn't an intercept combat deck, but a rush combat deck. The second way is a usually small number of bleed bounce cards based on the "Auspex" discipline.

Eventually the intercept defense is too weak and the amount of bounce cards too small, so the "War Ghouls" have to rush the minions of "Stealth & Bleed" deck and even more so those of "Power Bleed" decks early in the game, even to effect that it has to oust it effectively after all of your predator's minion are in torpor.

Vote defense
There is virtually no vote defense in this deck archetype, since the small cap vampires the deck features have no titles. The deck usally has a small number of "Delaying Tactics" to prevent the worst effects of votes, but again the main line of defense is to rush the voting vampires, being those from prey or predator.

Combat defense
The "War Ghouls" make up both the decks combat offense and defense. They are - as the other allies - immune to "Rötschreck", "Disarm", etc., can withstand some hitback, deal a whole lot of damage and can rush any vampire at the table.

How to win against them
One way of avoiding the "War Ghouls" in the first place is to prevent either the recruitment the allies/retainers, who are later fodder for the "War Ghouls", or the recruitment of a "War Ghouls" itself.

The first one is usually problematic since "Jake Washington" is a master card, and you need a "Wash" or "Sudden Reversal" to cancel it. When the fodder retainer/allies or the War Ghouls are recruited, you can try to block that, but you will need 2 to 3 intercept for blocking that because your opponent will use "Changeling" and/or "Plasmic Form" during the action. But most somewhat serious intercept decks should be able to block the "War Ghoul" recruitment.

Another way of dealing with the "War Ghouls" is to simply steal them from your opponent using "Far Mastery", "Entrancement", "Lure of the Serpent", etc. When trying to take control of anothers player's "War Ghoul" make sure you do it with a tapped one, otherwise the opposing player may just use the "War Ghoul's" special ability by tapping him and burning any one location on the table.

Combat-wise "Celerity Gun" decks are the Nemesis of the "War Ghoul" deck. The can out-maneuver the "War Ghoul" and kill it in a single turn using a ".44 Magnum" and a "Blur", these being staple cards in a "Celerity Gun" deck.

(c) 2000 by White Wolf Inc.If you play a combat deck other than a Cel Gun deck, try attack the soft targets first, e.g. the vampires. The vampires main defense is either to use the "Chiropteran Marauder" standalone, or a maneuver plus "Breath of the Dragon". In desperate moments your opponent will use the "Breath of the Dragon" also at close range, even at the cost of losing one of his Tzimisce vampire.

There are number of ways to deal with "War Ghoul" deck, but a whole lot of decks can't. Those who cannot deal with the "War Ghouls" directly have two options. The first option is to strike a deal "You don't harm me, I don't harm you" with them. This of course only works if you are the predator of the "War Ghoul" deck. The second option is to try to outrun the "War Ghoul", e.g. you can try to out-bleed your opponent faster than he can beat up your vampires, or to delay him by playing "Majesties" in combat and then backoust him using "Kine Resource Contested" or similar votes. But be prepared, the "War Ghoul" deck needs not that much of time for its setup.

Key Cards
  • "War Ghoul" -- what to say about this that hasn't been said above ...
  • "Jake Washington" -- the easiest way of getting an ally/retainer to sacrifice for the "War Ghoul".
  • "Charisma" -- as in other Ally decks this is a must to reduce the cost of the allies.
  • "Horatio" -- fun that this a a key card/vampire, but it is the fastest way of getting out a "War Ghoul".
  • "Trap" -- the main combat card for this deck archetype.

Notable Examples & Variations
  • "Classic" Warghoul -- described in detail above, often not a full 90-card deck, but only 60 or 70 cards large.
  • "EconoGhoul" -- developed by Ben Peal it uses the "Burn Card" option mechanism to effectivly reduce the size of library and thus being able to play a "War Ghoul" deck with quite a low number of those.
  • "War Ghoul Summoning" -- this variant has a splash of "Presence". It uses "The Rose" and the "Summoning" to fetch allies it needs from the library.
  • "War Ghouls in the dark" -- uses the G3/G4 vampires with "Obfuscate" to make the recruitment of the vampires more reliable.

Welsh ECQ 23/09/2006 [TWD]
15 Players
3 rounds and a final
The Rhyddings Pub
Brynmill Avenue
Brynmill, Swansea SA2 0BT
United Kingdom

Deck: Wild Thing War Ghoul
By Hugh Angseesing

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity average: 3.92
3x Lolita Houston 4 VIC aus Tzimisce:2
3x Horatio 2 vic Tzimisce:2
1x Caliban 6 ANI AUS VIC Tzimisce:2
1x Corine Marcón 6 AUS VIC ani Tzimisce:2
1x Devin Bisley 5 ANI AUS vic Tzimisce:2
1x Elizabeth Westcott 5 AUS ani cel vic Tzimisce:3
1x Rose, The 5 PRE VIC aus Tzimisce:3
1x Piotr Andreikov 2 aus Tzimisce:3

Library [76 cards]
Action Modifier [7]
7x Changeling

Action Modifier/Combat [8]
8x Plasmic Form

Ally [15]
1x Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1x Gregory Winter
1x Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
1x Repo Man
2x Vagabond Mystic
9x War Ghoul

Combat [8]
1x Dead-End Alley
2x Fake Out
5x Trap

Equipment [5]
2x Hawg
3x Unlicensed Taxicab

Event [2]
1x Dragonbound
1x Unmasking, The

Master [13]
3x Blood Doll
1x Charisma
1x Direct Intervention
1x Fame
5x Jake Washington (Hunter)
2x Memories of Mortality

Reaction [13]
2x Delaying Tactics
6x Telepathic Misdirection
5x Wake with Evening's Freshness

Retainer [5]
1x Ghoul Escort
1x J. S. Simmons, Esq.
2x Mr. Winthrop
1x Tasha Morgan

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Coping with Bleed Bounce

In VtES the term Bleed Bounce describes the technique to change the target of bleed action, i.e. typically are you being bled by your predator and by using a bounce card you "bounce" the bleed to your own prey. Examples of bounce methods/cards are:
(c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.Take note that some of these cards have restrictions and all reaction cards except "Deflection" taps the minion playing it, making it somewhat harder to use more bleed bounce in the same turn.

A problem for most bleed decks that are bleeding for larger amounts of pool (3+) is this bleed bounce technique. For bleed decks on the other hand, that are bleeding with lots of minions ("swarm bleed"), this isn't much of problem since the prey is running out of bounce cards quite soon. Since bleed bounce not only makes the bleed action not your problem, but that of your prey, and it also quite likely taps one of your preys minion, it is a very strong technique and you see these cards in quite a lot of decks, especially tournament decks.

So if you are playing a bleed deck yourself, you should consider how you want to cope with bleed bounce. In a heads-up situation it's no longer a problem, since there are no alternative target players for the bleed bounce left, but usually it takes some time and effort to get to this situation. In general there are three ways of dealing with the bleed bounce:
  1. you can ignore it.
  2. you can do something to avoid being bounced, i.e. active avoidance.
  3. you can try to reduce the effectiveness after being bounced, i.e. passive avoidance
In detail:
  1. (c) 2002 by White Wolf Inc.Ignore that a bleed has been bounced -- this is usually problematic stance since you may accidentally oust your grandprey giving your prey a VP and 6 pool. On the other hand it can be viable tactic in order to get to VPs in quick succession. For accomplising this your deck must be able to bleed w/ large bleeds in a short timeframe, so the defending player might not be able to scoop up enoough bounce cards to respond. As alternative you might be able to save your grandprey when his pool is down by playing "Life Boons" or "Major Boons". This of course only works if you're not the acting player ousting him in the first place. E.g. you're bleeding your grand prey, bringing him dangerously to a low pool size. When it's your prey's turn, he tries to oust your prey by bleeding, voting, etc. In this situation you play a "Life Boon" or "Major Boon" in order to save him from being ousted. When its your turn again, you try to oust your prey first, if lucky your grand prey as well as in the same turn.
  2. (c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.Actively preventing playing bleed bounce cards -- another way of handling bleed bounce is to prevent your prey's minions from playing bleed bounce card when being bled by your minions. There are several different ways of accomplishing this. "Narrow Minds" is a new Event card, which increases the cost of bounce cards by one blood, so it does not prevent that bounce cards are played directly, but may have the same effect especially in the long run.
    • Tap & Bleed -- only an untapped minion can play a reaction (i.e. bounce) card, so tapping your prey's minion is the most obvious way of preventing your prey using bleed bounce. There are quite a number of ways of achieving this, e.g. "Mind Numb", "Anarch Troublemaker", "Misdirection", etc.; in fact there is a deck archetype named "Tap & Bleed" which utilizes this tactics as its main strategy for ousting.
    • Bounce Card Removal -- there are a some cards (or special abilties) to remove individual cards from another players hands, but these are few like "Revelations", "Precision" and "Le Dinh Tho's" special ability. With regards to bleed bounce it is of course those cards you are trying to remove. As with Tap & Bleed this tactics usually requires an extra action (i.e. not-bleeding with this minion), but can guarantee that your prey cannot bounce this turn and is worth the effort. The means of bringing through this action are usually the same as for the bleed itself (e.g. stealth or block denial).
    • Prevent Use of Bounce -- another way of dealing with bounce is to prevent your prey's minion from playing bleed bounce, but usally their limited in use or expensive.
      • "Perfect Clarity" costs two blood and only prevents bounce cards being played that require "Dominate".
      • "Hide the Mind" only cancel "Auspex" bounce cards that have been played.
      • Maybe the best card is "Blind Spot" since it prevents a minion from playing reaction cards at all, but it is limited to younger vampires and the number of Master Phase actions you have.
      • Approximation of Loyalty requires a vampire with a capacity above 7 and it only works as against vampires below 7.
      • Hall Of Hades Count requires Temporis, which is limited to "True Brujah" or the use of "Spontaneous Power" or "Agent of Power".

  3. (c) 2005 by White Wolf Inc.Reducing the effectiveness of bleed bounce
    • There are very few ways of handling a bounced bleed after it hit the wrong target (i.e. your grandprey). Currently the only card that can do this directly is "Spying Mission", but also it one of the most efficient. It directly saves the pool of your grandprey, while preserving a permament bleed modifier for future use against it.
    • Somewhat similar way of nullifying the effect of bounced bleed is "Change of Target, where you cancel the action and you and your grandprey are not tapped for blocking either. Even better than "Change of Target" is "Tangle Atropos' Hand"; whereas "Change of Target" requires a successful block, "Tangle Atropos' Hand" only requires a block attempt by your grandprey after being bounced. The combat cards "Meld with the Land" (at inferior "Vicissitude") and "Psychomachia" (at inferior "Presence") untap the blocking minion of your grandprey after being blocked. So these two can be helpful as they do not wasted resources of your grandprey.
    • Another way of reducing the effectiveness of bounce is playing the various boon cards (e.g. "Life Boon" or "Major Boon"). This is limited to be played after or before your grandprey is being bled during your turn, since all the boon cards are master-out-of-turn cards, of course. The main intend here is to keep your grand prey alive, so you need not to worry about bounce bleed that much.
Playing against bleed bounce
There are a number of counter measures when you are the (frequent) victim of bleed bounce. The easiest way of handling bleed bounce is playing it yourself, but this assumes usually that you are playing either "Auspex" or "Dominate". When redirecting a bleed for the second time you should always consider if you are redirecting the bleed to your prey or to your predator. Especially the later option, meaning that you bounce back the bleed, is sometimes overlooked. There are a number of situations where you might consider the option of back bouncing a bleed, e.g.
  • your predator is playing more bleed bounce than you do,
  • your prey is likely to bounce the bleed back to you (since effectively he's being bled by his predator, for example),
  • your predator is way stronger than you would like to have him.
Another easy and efficient way of dealing with bleed bounce, is to use a "Direct Intervention" to cancel the bounce card. This is quite effecient since by playing a bounce card, your predator has already declined any blocks, he has to have another bounce card or another minion to play the same bounce card twice for the same action. But this reaction has to be considered carefully, since decks usually pack one or two "Direct Intervention", it costs a pool and your next master action is gone.

Other options, with a similar explanation is the use of boon cards especially "Major Boon", e.g if you can manage to play a "Major Boon" on your Predator, this will either force him to bleed not as hard and/or he'll be more cautious when bouncing bleeds to you.