Wednesday, October 31, 2007

VtES Clan Newsletters in October 2007

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.
Yes, that's two Ahrimanes newsletters in one month! And most interestingly, the only ones for October at all!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vessel Pro/Con

With the release of the VtES expansion "Lords of the Night" the master card "Vessel" has been introduced. While some consider it the new "Blood Doll", others deem the card to weak in comparison to "Blood Doll". Here's the summary of the situation from my point of view:
Vessel [LotN:PA2/PG2/PR2/PS2]
Cardtype: Master
Cost: 1 pool
Master: trifle.
Put this card on a vampire, and you may burn a Blood Doll in play (if any). During this vampire's controller's untap phase, he or she may move 1 blood from this vampire to his or her pool or from his or her pool to this vampire.

  • May burn a "Blood Doll" when "Vessel" is played.
  • Is a trifle, not a regular master card.
  • Effect to move blood from/to a vampire can be used during untap.
  • Costs a pool.
  • Cannot be used immediately.
The later drawback means that a blood gain starts as late as two turns after "Vessel" has been played. Compared to "Blood Doll" this is kind of weak. There are some decks/vampires which can profit from the early blood transfer, i.e. "Danielle Diron" or "Jeremy Talbot". It can also save you from being ousted when down on one pool and a "Fame" or an "Anarch Revolt" is in play, since you can order these effects during your untap phase.

So the question is the pool cost and the late break-even worth the advantages the "Vessel" has to offer. In general I think not, since the late break-even is bad especially in mid-game and more so in the end-game.

But I think what will decide the fate of "Blood Doll" and "Vessel" is something different. The issue at hand is that if players start playing "Vessel" more often than "Blood Doll", the later players will be forced to use them as well. If on the other hand, the "Blood Doll" players are more numerous, the "Vessel" might be considered too costly, and you'll see them only once in a while.

So essentially this is kind of a self-full filling prophecy. And only time will tell the fate of these two cards ...

Lock, Stock and Five Smoking Cards

Everybody knows that smoking is not advantageous to anyone's health. Whoever needed confirmation for that, should take this picture, made during the Brazilian VtES Nationals 2007, into account!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Results Czech National VtES Championship 2007

Copied from October 28th, 2007 the Czech National VtES Championship was held in Prague, Czech Republic with 41 players attending the final tournament. The final standings were as follows:
  1. Tomas "Vomicz" Vomacka (CZE) -- 4 VP GW -- Ahrimanes Wall
  2. Olivier Perez (SUI) -- 1 VP -- Speed Shamblers
  3. Milan "Wocas" Kosek (CZE) -- 0 VP -- Laibon Ravnos Breed & Vote
  4. Petr Michalik (CZE) -- 0 VP -- Steroid Princes - Eurobrujah
  5. Jakub Hrbacek (CZE) -- 0 VP -- Weenie Tremere + Gargoyles
Congratulations to Tomas Vomacka for his win of the Czech Nationals. The winning deck has the been posted in the usenet newsgroup here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New VtES Storyline Coordinator

A little late, so this not quite news anymore, Ben Swainbank succeeds Robert Goudie as VtES Storyline Coordinator.

Thanks, Robert, for the tremendous fun we had when battling "Nergal", or trying to take control of "Reverend Adams and the Millennium Cult".

The only bad news is that we do not get a new Storyline Tournament in 2007 anymore. So I guess we'll just have to wait until 2008 for a new challenge und new fun.

Here's the original message from "White Wolf" as published on October 20th, 2007:
The Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Storyline Events have been popular with fans of the CCG since their introduction in 2002. Combining new game mechanics with a compelling narrative, Storyline Tournaments have allowed Vampire players to experience and influence key events in the World of Darkness. The Storyline series was initiated by Robert Goudie, who designed and organized the events over the last 6 year from Semsith's infiltration of Baltimore to the rise of the Millennium Cult. This year, Robert is passing the torch to a new Storyline Coordinator, Ben Swainbank.

Ben has been an avid V:TES player since the game's inception in 1994. He's a regular among the Boston playgroup and a familiar face on the tournament scene. A member of the V:TES Hall of Fame, Ben traveled to the the European Championships in Paris and Budapest, and appeared at the final table for the North American Championships in 2002, 2005, and 2007.

Beyond the tournament table, Ben edited the Malkavian Newsletter 2001-2002, was a coauthor of the Vampire The Eternal Struggle Player's Guide, a contributor to Player's Guide: Kindred Most Wanted, and designer of the Internal Recursion draft format. His storyline credits include two Boston BYO Storyline Events, and the Millennium Cultist Epilogue.

The storyline series will return in 2008. Methuselah worldwide will find new challenges, new opportunities, and new dynamics within the Eternal Struggle as the story unfolds. The anarchs will rise to challenge the established order. The challenge will be met. Will the anarchs survive and thrive or will archons, contract killers, and trophy-hunters put them down?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sad, But True

Sometime ago someone posted this Full Frontal Nerdity cartoon in the german VtES forum. So sad, but also sooo true.
(c) by Aaron Williams(Unfortunately I couldn't convince "blogspot" to make a larger version of the cartoon image on this page, so you have to click on it, to see the full size version).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Breed & Boon

(c) 2003 by White Wolf Inc.In the VtES tournament scene you currently see a lot of "Breed & Boon" decks. When researching for this article on Lasombra's TWD archive there were alone for 2006 and 2007 more than a dozen decks based on this strategy. The basic strategy is to have a large number of minions. which are calling "Consanguineous Boons" to bloat, and finally to "swarm bleed".

How to win with them
Your first objective is to create quite a number of small vampires, whether they are called "3rd Tradition: Progeny" and "Embraces" or "Tumnimos" and "Waters of Duat" depending on your actual deck. After a while you start to bloat by playing "Consanguineous Boons". After this these decks are nearly unstoppable due to the large amount of pool they control; often exceeding the starting pool of 30. The key to these decks is the way how they push the vote through. Usually this done by the vampire's title, but more efficient is the use of cards which stack votes or multiply votes with the number of vampires of the same clan the player controls. e.g. "Foundation Exhibit" or "Alamut".

Direct defense against bleed decks is always almost non-existent, the deck relies on the ability to bloat faster than a bleed deck is able to remove the pool. Combat defense is also usually quite light or non-existent, often consisting only on number of discipline-less cards like "Dodge". Vote defense is usally quite strong, since the cards used for pushing votes through can often be used also in defense against opponent's political actions.

How to win against them
This deck is hard to counter, if not stopped right from the start. After a while it can chump block most rush attempts with newly created weenies, it has created such a large pool size that bleed or vote decks have difficulties to remove that pool.

Best suited against a "Breed & Boon" deck is an intercept combat deck, since it can effectively block the breed actions early in the game, and the bloating actions in the late game. Also quite good are power bleed decks since their able to bleed for large amounts of pool in a short time frame.

If possible, you have to remove the key cards that enable the vote multiplication, i.e. "Foundation Exhibit" or an "Arson" against " Alamut". Killer cards against these decks are cards that affect large number of minions, e.g. "Dragonbound" or "Perpetual Care" for combat decks, or "Anarchist Uprising" or "Ancilla Empowerment".

Key Cards
Basicially these decks need three kinds of cards as their back bone, the "Con. Boon, a card to create new vampires of the same clan and one card which gives an additional vote for each vampire of that clan.
Notable Examples & Variations
The variation of this deck archetype is quite immense, it covers quite a number of clans, all four sects and different ways of creating additional weenie vampires:
The newest addition to this happy family of decks is the Black Hand variant meshed with the Toreador antitribu's "Palla Grande". The really "bad" thing is when the "Watchtower: The Wolves Feed" hits the table. Not only they are bleeding you +1 (due to the "Palla Grande"), but also at +1 stealth!!

Example Decklist
French Championship 2007
Caves de Saint-Sabin, Paris, France
September 30th, 2007
72 players
3R + F

Deck name : Army of Allah
Author : Florian Prosper aka Blondin, 2007 French Champion
Description :

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 11, Max: 31, Avg: 5,16)
1 Basir qui 1 Assamite
2 Ali Kar obf qui 3 Assamite
2 Kamau Jafari obf QUI 4 Assamite
1 Janni cel for obf qui 5 Assamite
1 Michael diCarlo obf qui CEL 5 Assamite
1 Vardar Vardarian cel pre OBF QUI 6 Assamite
1 Olugbenga ani cel OBF QUI 7 Assamite
3 Amaravati ani chi DOM OBF QUI 8 Assamite

Library: (70 cards)
Master (15 cards)
4 Alamut
2 Archon Investigation
2 Blood Doll
1 Coven, The
2 Khabar: Community, The
2 Pentex Subversion
1 Underworld Hunting Ground
1 Yoruba Shrine

Action (20 cards)
12 Embrace, The
2 Psychic Veil
6 Web of Knives Recruit

Action Modifier (15 cards)
3 Cloak the Gathering
1 Cryptic Rider
3 Faceless Night
3 Lost in Crowds
2 Spying Mission
3 Veil the Legions

Political Action (14 cards)
8 Consanguineous Boon
2 Conservative Agitation
4 Kine Resources Contested

Reaction (3 cards)
3 Delaying Tactics

Event (1 cards)
1 Uncoiling, The

Combo (2 cards)
2 Swallowed by the Night

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Texas Draft Rules

Bringing the "Duffin Draft" rules to the next level is to play it on VtES tournament level format (although unsanctioned like "Duffin Draft" is). The "Texas Draft" rules have been initially posted by Ethan Burrow in the usenet newsgroup "" some time ago here. A "Texas draft" mini-tournament should be finished quite fast; I would expect it to be played in less than 2 hours; approx. 20 minutes per round and an additional hour for the final round
  • "Texas Draft" is played as 3 rounds + finals.
  • Each player needs 3 boosters, one for each of the 3 preliminary round.
  • The first 3 rounds are played with the regular "Duffin Draft" rules with one booster per player; e.g. 12 pool each player; 4 pool for ousting; everyone can use a discard phase action to reshuffle your ashheap into your library if your hand is not at maximum
  • After the first three rounds the finalist are determined in the usual way.
  • The final is played as "Swainbank Draft" with all the cards drafted in the previous rounds. You can always use a discard phase action to reshuffle your ashheap into your library if your hand is not at maximum.
Alternative Rules: Play 5R+F if time permits or play 3R+F with "Double Duffin Draft" rules, i.e. two boosters are drafted instead of one, in that case you can drop some cards to minimum 7 crypt and 40 library cards.

I would like try this format some time in the near future, and I am still looking for an opportunity (i.e. in another tournament as a side event) to do so.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Combo Cards & Card Efficiency

Card efficiency has two sides in VtES. These two sides can be summarized by the following two questions:
  1. How many cards do you need to accomplish a particular feat (e.g. bleeding for 4)? This can be done by two "Computer Hackings" or one "Intimidation". So in the VtES game, "Intimidation" is more "card efficient" than "Computer Hacking", since "Intimidation" only requires one card and one action instead of two of each when using "Computer Hacking". This doesn't mean "Computer Hacking" is bad card, since "Intimidation" requires a Discipline ("Presence) whereas "Computer Hacking" can be played by virtually any minion.

    When testing this type of card efficiency you can use the "1 blood = 1 pool = 1 action = 1 card" paradigma. A disciplineless card usually meeting this paradigma, i.e. "Lucky Blow" deals an extra point of damage (though with a drawback), "Computer Hacking" offers a bleed action a +1 bleed. Cards with requirements should meet the paradigma when used on inferior discpline level and exceed it when used on superior discpline level to be an average card.

  2. How many cards do you need to cope with a given game situation? With the limited handsize in VtES it is always good to have versatile cards, which can be used in radically different ways. So your able to handle two (or more) situations without the need for drawing extra cards.

    This versatility can be accomplished most easily by combination ("combo") cards. In the narrow sense a combo cards are cards which are two alternate cards types at the same time, e.g. "Scapel Tongue" can be used either as "Reaction" or as "Action Modifier" card. In a broader sense (which I will use from now on), a combo cards is card which can be used in two different ways in terms of what it tries to accomplish. E.g. "Govern the Unaligned" used at inferior or superior "Dominate" is an action card. On the other hand it can be used to your prey and or to generate blood on a crypt card. So in the definition I gave above, I consider it a combo card.
Combo cards are usually quite strong cards, since the above mentioned capability to cope with different situations, although usually this versatility comes with price: the effects achieved with the superior version are often weaker than on comparable non-combo card.

Example of strong combo cards
  • "Murmur of the False Will" -- the new rising star in the world of combo cards. It offers a bleed +1 action modifier at inferior as well as a bleed bounce at superior "Dominate". What makes it strong is the fact that the other "Dominate" bounce cards do not offer this dual usuability and in a heads-up situation, the player needs to discard the card, since he can longer use the bounce effect of the card.
  • "Swallowed by the Night" -- can be used either as maneuver to get the desired range for the combat or to evade a specific range which is required by the opposing minions strike. Or as action modifier to make an action successful, i.e. entering combat or bleeding. So the card can be good choice both in a "Beast, The Leatherface of Detroit" Rush combat deck, as well as in Stealth Politics deck.
  • "Govern the Unaligned" -- the classic combo card (although both are actions); you can either make direct pool damage by bleeding at +2 bleed or generate indirectly 3 pool for yourself.
  • "Resist the Earth's Grasp" -- highly versatile card, since it gives the vampire using the card a maneuver and/or press in a combat at interior "Celerity" and a (relatively) +1 stealth.
  • "Sense the Sin" -- a +1 intercept reaction card and a bleed modifier for the "Daimonium" discipline.
Example of weak combo cards
  • "Random Patterns" -- although the card offers +1 intercept at inferior "Auspex" and "Dementation", which is ok, but the superior effect requiring superior "Auspex" and "Dementation" of giving the blocking minion only -1 intercept is just too weak. "Dementation" can provide +1 stealth alone and sometimes combined with another effect, e.g. "Deny" or "Confusion". This makes "Random Patterns" a sub-standard card.
  • "Purification" -- this is weak combo cards, although it offers two different effects to use, both of them (adding +1 life to an ally or causing a (D) action requiring "Presence" or "Dominate") are just weak or cornercase.
(c) 2005 by White Wolf Inc.Outferior cards
Cards requiring bloodlines disciplines have beside the usual inferior and superior usage of that bloodline discipline always an inferior discipline usage for one of the "common" disciplines. This effect is called the "outferior" effect/level. So if you pick a card for use in a bloodline based deck, you should consider the bloodline discipline effect first, but always take a look at the outferior effect.

Examples of good multi-discipline cards
  • "Hall of Hades' Court" -- actually has three useful effects, can give a vampire with "Dominate" two additional votes, can cancel a reaction card at inferior "Temporis" and doubles another vampire's vote at superior "Temporis". So quite a neat package afterall.
  • Clotho's Gift -- also a "Temporis" card which offers three different uses. At outferior ("Obfuscate") it offers a unique effect which otherwise only clan-based cards (like "Mesu Bedshet") or master cards like ("Effective Management") can achieve. At inferior "Temporis" the card serves as (indirect) pool gain, whereas the superior "Temporis" effect grants a conditional untap like "Homunculus" or "Metro Underground".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pictures of "The Crimson Sunset" VtES tournament in Bochum

Here are some pictures taken by Hardy Range on the occasion of the "The Crimson Sunset" VtES Tournament in Bochum, Germany on October 20th, 2007. Click on the photos to see the full size images (~1.2 MByte large each).

On the right: Showdown at table 1: Barbara is checking her hand trying to find out how her Ahrimanes Wall is going to stop Jörg's Noferatu Royalty deck.

The pictures on the left & right show the showdown between the Thomas' Enkidu Rush deck and Martin's (Schumacher) Tzimisce
Wall & Warghoul deck at table 3. Djordje is a little bit tired after his Arika deck felt the beatdown capability of Enkidu & Friends very early in the game.

On the left: While Martin (Varga) is enjoying the pub's culinary offerings, Sascha is still contemplating being ousted earlier.
On the right: The same table a few minutes before reaching the time limit. Is Didi's Anarchist Cel Gun deck going to make the Game Win?

"Blood Agony" VtES Limited in Frankfurt, Germany

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle - Tournament
Blood Agony: Frankfurt, Germany

  • Saturday, 11 November 2007
  • Registration ??:?? h
  • Start first round ??:?? h
  • Dreieich Con (RPG convention)
  • Bürgerhaus Dreieich-Sprendlingen
  • Fichtestr. 50
  • 63303 Dreieich, Germany
Round system:
  • 3 preliminary rounds + finals (time limit: 2 h each)
  • VEKN Limited
  • 9 Boosters (5 3rd + 2 BH + 2 SoC) are drafted
Entrance fee:
  • 3 euro + cost for the boosters (TBD)
  • Print of the "Blood Agony" artwork (see above) signed by Ron Spencer.
You can also pre-register (not required) in the german VtES Forum.

Results of "The Crimson Sunset" VtES tournament in Bochum

These are the results of the "The Crimson Sunset" VtES Constructed tournament in Bochum, Germany after 2 rounds + Finals. The tournament was played on October 20th, 2007 (during the Essen Gamefair "Spiel 2007") and 15 players participated. Here are the standings after the final round.
  • Jörg A. -- 2GW 6,5VP -- 1GW 4 VP -- Nosferatu Royalty
  • Dietmar R. -- 1GW 3,5VP -- 1 VP -- Cel Gun Anarch Revolt
  • Michael H. -- 1GW 5VP -- 0 VP -- !Malk Presence Bleed & Vote
  • Martin S. -- 1GW 4,5 VP -- 0VP -- Tzimice Toolbox War Ghoul
  • Martin V. -- 2,5VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue Voter Group 3-4
Congratulations to Jörg for his (nearly) flawless win of the tournament. The decklist of the winner as well as a tournament report (in german) can be found in the german VEKN forum.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Euro Brujah

(c) by White Wolf Inc. 1995"Euro Brujah" is a toolbox deck archtype which uses Princes of the clan Brujah w/ the "Dominate" discipline. The name is derived from the fact that the Princes used in this deck type ("Donal O'Connor", "Constanza Vinti" and "Volker") are all princes of European cities. This decktype is around since the early VtES expansion "Dark Sovereigns", and is quite successful every since. There are at least 7-8 decks of this archetype in "Lasombra's Tournament Winning Deck Archive". The popularity of this decktype has dwindled in the past few years, not because it has become weaker, but due to the fact that players have moved on to play decks with new tricks and new ideas.

How to win with them
The "Euro Brujah" deck is somewhat toolboxy in nature, since it offers a pretty good offense/defense capabilities in all three major fields (bleed/combat/vote). The deck can oust in a number of ways, usually either using "Fame" or "Tension in the Ranks" or by bleeding out its prey (after some or most of it's preys minions have torporized). A handful of political actions, namely "Parity Shift", are used as support. The deck is strong because it uses a number of cards which are strong by themselves, especially the "Parity Shift", "Govern the Unaligned" and "Second Tradition: Domain".
  • Bleed: Use "Conditionings" and "Govern The Unaligned" for hefty bleeds, although you should use the later for bloating in the first phase of the game. The decks main bleed defense are the "Second Traditions: Domain". If a Stealth & Bleed deck or Powerbleed decks manages to get through, use a "Deflection" to bounce the bleed to your prey.
  • Combat: The proverb "The best defense is a good offense" is definetely true for this deck. Typically "Euro Brujah" feature one of two different combat packages. The first one consists of "Torn Signpost", "Immortal Grapple" and "Blur" for short range combat; second one consists of the "Concealed Weapons" and ".44 Magnums" combo with an occasional "Blur" or "Pursuit" for long range combat. "Taste of Vitae" is used in both packages for recovering blood. Since your deck is not too focused on combat, you should try to threaten to block more often rather than try to block all the time.
  • Vote: Although this deck is not primarily a vote deck, it can usually get some political actions through with the permanents on the table or some negotations. Do not use the "Parity Shift" votes carelessly; Use it either if you lunge to oust your prey (usually as the first action in that turn), or if your down on pool to help you survive. Playing it very early in the game can easily lead to table hate/fear.
  • Defense: "Second Tradition Domain" is the decks first line of defense against all types of hostile actions. But since the amount of "Second Tradition: Domain" is not limitless, you should generally not tap all of your minions during your own turn. This also saves the blood you would have to pay for the untap effect of the "Second Tradition: Domain".
How to win against them
Though the "Euro Brujah" deck has a very versatile and strong offense and defense, it has weaknesses, although there are few of them:
  • When trying to bring through important actions against the "Euro Brujah" you need to have +3 stealth, e.g. a "Forgotten Labyrinth" does the job. The good thing is that the amount of stealth is quite calcuable, i.e. if there is no intercept location on the table, you can expect that the Brujah cannot generate more intercept than the +2 intercept "Second Tradition: Domain" is providing.
  • The deck is vulnerable against hitback in combat since it has no or low prevention capabilities. Prevention is usually limited to "Guardian Angel", "Sidelip" or "Leatherjacket". So if you can dish out 3+ damage or if you have additional strikes (and can survive the initial strike) or can produce two or more aggravated damage the Euro Brujahs are in trouble. The "Euro Brujah" also do not like opponents which can prevent damage (e.g. with "Rolling with the Punches" or "Skin of Steel") since it often relies on "Taste of Vitae" to recover blood lost in combat or spend otherwise.
  • The actions taken by "Euro Brujah" are usually at +1 stealth only. So if you have an "Unmasking" in play, you may chump block important actions like a "Parity Shift" with a "Procurer" or a "Shambling Hordes". The same goes for any other intercept location you may have in play, and a vampire which is likely to survive the combat. But beware: the Euro Brujah hit hard in combat!
  • If you can manage to push a vote through (e.g. with "Awe"), the "Euro Brujah" are not likely to counter this, since they rely on the permanent votes of the Camarilla princes. There is no "Delaying Tactics" to expect, though rarely you might see a "Scalpel Tongue" as response to a political action.
All in all the "Euro Brujah" suffer sometimes from the predictatbility, and their toolboxy approach.

Key Cards

Notable Examples & Variations
  • As mentioned above there are quite a number of "Euro Brujah" decks, sample includes
  • "Carthage Remembered" -- With the master card "Carthage Remembered" this deck mutates into a stealth & bleed deck, since it gives all Brujah Princes +1 stealth for bleed actions. The Princes are then also used for defending the card. Example:
  • "Brujah Debate" -- like "Carthage Remembered" this is a multiplier card, which needs the protection. The deck focuses on "Brujah Debate" as combat permanent card, not only to make the Brujah princes combat monsters but also Brujah small caps. "Progenies" can be used to further boost the benefits from "Brujah Debate".

Sample Decklist
Quebec Championship 2006
November 4, 2006
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
20 methuselahs

Deck Name : Blast from the Past
Author : Richard Blais
Description : EuroBrujah deck with a little spicy Beast. Not a strong actual archetype, but if well played you can manage Tournament Win and crawl your way to the top. By the way "Pentex Subersion" rocks. This card gave me the VP needed to make the final and win the tournament.

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity average: 7.17
4x Theo Bell 7 POT cel dom pre Brujah:2
3x Beast, The Leather 7 OBF POT ani cel !Nosferatu:2
2x Constanza Vinti 8 CEL DOM POT prince Brujah:2
2x Dónal O'Connor 8 CEL DOM POT prince Brujah:2
1x Volker, The Puppet 5 CEL pot prince Brujah:2

Library [90 cards]
Action [7]
1x Aranthebes, The Immortal
6x Govern the Unaligned

Action Modifier [4]
4x Conditioning

Combat [45]
2x Amaranth
5x Blur
2x Decapitate
5x Disarm
6x Earthshock
9x Immortal Grapple
7x Taste of Vitae
9x Torn Signpost

Master [14]
5x Blood Doll
1x Carver's Meat Packing and Storage
1x Celerity
1x Depravity
2x Fame
1x Giant's Blood
1x KRCG News Radio
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Rumor Mill, Tabloid Newspaper, The

Political Action [3]
1x Anarchist Uprising
2x Parity Shift

Reaction [17]
6x Deflection
4x On the Qui Vive
7x Second Tradition: Domain

Saturday, October 20, 2007

VtES on the Essen Game Fair 2007

The "Spiel 2007" is the world's biggest consumer fair for gaming which is hosted in Essen, Germany from October 18th to 20th, 2007. On these 4 days about 150,000 players are watching, playing and buying games from the approx. 700 exhibitors from all over the world.
Unfortunately the appearance of VtES is small to non-existent. "White Wolf" isn't present at the game fair at all, only its german distributor and publisher "Feder and Schwert". The only booth actually showing or selling VtES cards is that of the UK based "House Atreides".
Unfortunately this shows how much of a minority leisure game we play.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Results Brazilian National VtES Championship 2007

Copied from October 13th, 2007 the Brazilian National VtES Championship was held in Vitória, Brazil with 18 players attending the tournament. The final standings were as follows:
  • Eduardo Kazan (BRA) -- 4 VP -- Tupdogs
  • Leonardo Vilella (BRA) -- 1 VP -- Tzimisce
  • Rafael Ramos (BRA) -- 0 VP -- Imbued
  • Miguel D'Avila (BRA) -- 0 VP -- Burner Tremere
  • Daniel Stefanutti (BRA) -- 0 VP -- Kiasyd
Congratulations to Eduardo Kazan for his win of the Brazilian Nationals. A report of the final including the winning deck has the been posted in the usenet newsgroup here and photos of the event can found here and here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Gone Bad" Or "Non-Rant on VtES Card Design"

On Magic Online the "Magic: The Gathering" head designer Mark Rosewater has written quite a number of articles defending either why there must bad cards, or why sometimes these bad cards even appear as rares. These are the articles which deal with rarities and so-called bad cards in MtG. Most of the arguments also apply to VtES.
I do not agree with all of Mark Rosewater's arguments, e.g. he argues that bad cards are good for community since it furthers the bonding between the players if they all complain about the same card. Hillarious argumentation... But I can see that the MtG designer has difficult task to perform when designing cards and assigning card rarities to an upcoming expansion.

What's making it so difficult, is that the card designer has to consider quite of number of different constraints/aspects:
  • overall game design, theme, distribution of power level between clans/discplines.
  • only a limited space for each rarity is available. In VtES this is even worse, since the "Uncommon" slots in a booster are usually taken by the Crypt cards.
  • business aspects, i.e. the company wants to sell as many booster displays as possible, i.e. they want to make the customer buy as many boosters as possible while not scaring him off or upseting him.
  • various demand/requests of players need to be matched:
  1. constructed players want new cards which can compete on tournament level
  2. draft players (although often to a lesser extent.
  3. collectors want to get all the cards without spending too much. Here also reprinting cards from a previous expansion with a different rarity are an issue.
  4. new players want reprints since there are several butter-and-bread-cards from expansion that are either expensive and/or no longer available. Seasoned players are usually not so happy about reprints.
  5. different player types; MtG has dubbed them "Timmy" (power player), "Johnny" (combo player), "Spike" (competitive player) and "Vorthek" (theme player). A full description can be found here.
From my (player's/collector's) point of view these are my criteria for rarities in VtES:
  • a good common card is a staple card, either that is commonly used in most decks or can be used in abduance in certain decks.
  • a good uncommon card that is either limited in usage, this can be clan requirement (or other requirement) or the cost of the card (e.g if costs more than 3 pool).
  • a good rare card is a unique like a retainer, ally, location or other master, or a card that goes into a deck only 2-4 times max.

If you look at the latest VtES expansion "Lords of the Night" in terms of distribution of cards across rarities it's quite o.k from my point of view.
Most of the staple cards like "Public Trust", "Mental Maze", "Camera Phone" are commons. The uncommons are those cards you might not need in high quantities ("Nightstick" or "Autonomic Mastery" or are for special usage ("Eternals of Sirius"). The rare cards are 50% unique cards ("Swiss Cut" or "Charigger, the Axe"). It seems as if some of the rares should actually be uncommons instead, like "Cobra Fangs" or "Preternatural Strength", but there wasn't enough room for it, so some of them had to go to the rare section instead.

Also if you look at the reprints in the starter you find many cards that haven't been reprinted in the lastest expansion or base sets. So players get a quite complete set of cards even if they started playing or buying recently.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

VtES Rules: "Bundi" Q&A

(c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.Next to the new VtES cards "Spell of Life", the new equipment card "Bundi" has also caused a lot of questions, mainly due to the fact that the strike when using the weapon is both a hand and melee weapon strike. I have assembled an "Questions and Answer" summary, taken mostly from this post in the Usenet newsgroup "" :

Q: Does strike with "Bundi" works when an "Immortal Grapple" has been played before?
A: Yes, since "Immortal Grapple" states, that in that round no strikes cannot be used, which are not hand strikes, and "Bundi" is a hand strike, it qualifies for use under "Immortal Grapple".

Q: Can I use additional strike cards like "Undead Strength" to further boost a strike with a "Bundi" when an "Immortal Grapple" has been played before?
A: Of course you can, "Undead Strength" (and other similar cards) explictely states, either "make a hand or a melee weapon strike".

Q: Can I use "Stutter Step" and then make strike with "Bundi"?
A: No, you can only choose one strike. Strike with "Bundi" or strike with "Stutter Step", but not both.

Q: If a vampire whichs hand damage is aggravated strikes with a "Bundi", is the damage of the "Bundi" also aggravated? Can the vampire choose whether it is aggravated or not?
A: The damage of "Bundi" is then aggravated automatically, since it is also a hand strike. No, the vampire cannot choose to a make a non-aggravated strike with Bundi, since the strike is always a hand strike and a melee weapon strike.

Q: When striking with a "Bundi", can the vampire modify his hand damage to be aggravated to make the "Bundi" strike aggravated as well, e.g. by playing "Claws of the Dead" or "Chiropteran Marauder"?
A: Yes, you can. The vampire's hand damage is aggravated afterwards, using "Bundi" makes a hand strike, so all the damage is aggravated.

Good use of "Bundi" can make those vampires which make additional damage with melee weapons (without an extra card) or those with build-in aggravated hand damage, and have the "Potence" discipline as well. So natural candidates would be "Jaroslav Pachek", "Elihu", "Thetmes" or "Hektor".

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Results Hungarian National VtES Championship 2007

Copied from October 7th, 2007 the Hungarian National VtES Championship was held in Veszprem, Hungary with 40 players attending the final tournament. The final standings were as follows:
  1. Jozsef Kuminka (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- 3 GW 10 VP -- Big cap Toreador bleed & vote w/ Aching Beauties
  2. Balazs Sebestyen (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- 2 GW 9 VP -- Weenie Anarch Auspex
  3. Ferenc Horvath (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- 2 GW 9 VP -- Tzimisce Warghoul
  4. Ferenc Vasadi (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- 2 GW 8 VP -- Nosferatu Vote
  5. Balazs Pahi (HUN) -- 0,5 VP -- 1 GW 6 VP -- Brujah Debate
Congratulations to Jozsef Kuminka for his win of the Hungarian Nationals 2007. A report of the finals including the winning deck has the been posted in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup.

Correct Order of Play

Sometimes even seasoned VtES players discover that they have been playing the game wrong for years.
First there was the discussion in the usenet newsgroup in December 2006, that a player using a "Deflection" to bounce a bleed implictely means that he declines to block.
Secondly, there was a clarification also in the usenet newsgroup in February 2007, that the following order of play is an illegal play:
  • Player A: "I bleed for 1"
  • Player B: "I don't block"
  • Player A: "No modifiers"
  • Player B: "I don't react"
  • Player A: "Ok, I play 'Conditioning' for +3 bleed"
  • Player B: "Ok, then I play 'Deflection'"
The illegal part of the play is where player A plays a "Conditioning" after both he and player A passed earlier in the transaction.
If player A goes to bleed for 1, no block occurs, player A has the first opportunity to play a modifier. If he declines to modify the bleed, player B then declines to react, the transaction is over. Two "passes" in a row (i.e. player A doesn't play a modifier, player B doesn't play a reaction) closes the window and moves straight to the resolution step of the bleed action.
So if the acting player doesn't want to modify his bleed, but doesn't want to miss the opportunity to do so, he has to do so before he see's if the reacting players wants to react to it. If the acting player passes on playing a modifier and the reacting player pass on playing a reaction, the bleed is over and resolves.

"The Crimson Sunset" VtES Tournament in Bochum

"The lights shine clear through the sodium haze
The night draws near and the daylight fades
Ignore the voices, discard the day
For the brand new darkness, for the bright new way"

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle - Tournament
The Crimson Sunset: Bochum
The midnight tournament accompanying the "Spiel 2007" games fair in Essen. Details are also here.


  • Saturday, 20 October 2007
  • Registration 19:30 h
  • Start first round 20:00 h
  • Zu den Vier Winden
  • Hofsteder Str. 94
  • 44809 Bochum
  • Germany
Round system:
  • 2 preliminary rounds + finals (time limit: 2 h each)
  • VEKN Constructed
Entrance fee:
  • 3 euro
Please note: The location is a pub, so you may not bring your own food and drinks. You are expected to consume something on the premises.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Top 5 answers from LSJ in the Newsgroups

Here are my top five answers when LSJ is answering questions in the Usenet newsgroup and other forums:
  1. "I have not idea what this question is asking. But I suspect the answer is: card text."
  2. "Naturally, learning a game like VTES without reading the rulebook would lead to many oopsies."
  3. "Maybe I'll hold a game show at the NAC called "Correct or Crack?" for contestants to analyze rulings or fake rulings. :-) "
  4. "The latter. (That's three syllables! Monosyllabism is hard to achieve when given an either-or query.)"
  5. "Correct."
Special thanks to "acbishop" whose signature in the Spanish VtES forum was the inspiration for this list.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deck Archetypes: Imbued

(c) 2006 by White Wolf Inc.An Imbued deck is a deck archetype where the Crypt consists of Imbued hunters instead of the usual vampires. The library cards in the deck are often generic ones or specific for the Imbued (taken from the "Nights of Reckoning" expansion). Currently this deck type is quite popular and successful, and one can expect to see an Imbued deck in the finals of larger tournaments nowadays.
Often there are only nuances of differences between different Imbued decks, which one can easily see if you check Lasombra's tournament winning deck archive and compare those decks. The main reason for this is the limited card selection the Imbued decks have; the "Nights of Reckoning" expansion consists only of 20 crypt and 40 minion cards.

A typical Imbued deck looks like this (a.k.a. (Build-your-own-Imbued-deck-toolbox)):
  • Master cards (15 to 20 cards)
    2-6x Memories of Mortality
    1x Fortschritt Library
    4-6x Angel of Berlin
    1-2x Church of Vindicated Faith, The
    0-1x Rose Foundation
    1x "Milicent Smith" and/or "Society of Leopold" and/or "Pentex Subversion"
  • Action (1)
    1x Arathanebes
  • Ally (2 to 5)
    1x Carlton van Wyk
    1x Vagabound Mystic
    1x "Gregory Winters" and/or "Ossian" and/or "Wendell Delburton"
  • Event (5 to 10) -- "Unmasking" and "Edge Explosion" are mandatory; therefore often doubled; the "Fortschritt Library" is used to fetch an Event card when needed.
  • Equipment (5 to 10) -- the rest is often Laptop Computers, Flak Jackets, Sniper Rifles or .44 Magnums.
    1x Ivory Bow
    1x Crusader Sword, The
    1x Heart of Nizchetus
  • Power (10 to 20)
    4-6x Vigiliance
    1-3x Rejunvenate
    2-5x Champion
    0-4x Inspire
  • Conviction (20) -- somewhat equally distributed between the 3 different Convictions available.
  • Reaction (3 to 13)
    0-5x On the Qui Vive
    3-8x Determine

How to win with them
(c) 2006 by White Wolf Inc.Imbued usually have a build-up phase where they try to get their resources like equipment and Powers and secure their position. During the middle game, they start to put constant pressure on their prey, by bleeding and/or by intercepting their preys action. Most opposing decks fold under the constant pressure, since the Imbued have due to the cycling of the Convictions almost permanent intercept/stealth/bleed modifier. Also the permanents either in Master, Event or Equipment cards are a strong basis to draw upon.

Many cards do not effect the Imbued. This is a curse and a blessing at the same time. On one hand Imbued are immune to cards like "Obedience" or "Disarm", and Combat decks cannot draw blood from an ally using "Taste of Vitae". On the other hand, cards like "Ancient Influence" and "Reins of Power" are real killers against Imbued, since their prey gains pool, while the Imbued loose big time.

  • You some need build-up time. Try to lay low in the first, maybe even the middle phase of the game, and try to generate some pool via "Church of Vindicated Faith" and "Travis'" special ability. Tool-up your Imbued with Powers and equipment, and try convince people that you deck is utterly harmless (this usually only works for player who haven't experienced the Imbued yet).
  • Conserve convictions whenever possible, e.g. check, if you can spend the "React with Convictions" or if you need them to fend off take-over attempts by "Far Mastery", "Entrancement" or similar cards).
  • When influencing out a new Imbued to the ready region always take a Conviction from your Library. You need to get the Convictions in your Ash Heap as fast as possible. On the other hand, if you have one or more Convictions in your hand in your discard phase, you should discard that conviction, especially if you have more than one Conviction in your hand. The only reason not to discard a conviction is when you have something in your hand, that you currently definetly do not want to play, e.g. a card that is already in play and that you do not want to contest, or card that you cannot afford in the next turns.
  • Your only runs a limited amount of "Determine" and you can only use the "Champion" Power on an Imbued only once per turn. So you should always check if you really need to cancel or particular thread or if this only a distraction from the real thread on your opposing players next action/turn.
How to win against them
  • The key to winning against the Imbued is to put constant pressure on the Imbued, since they if left alone for a turn or two, they can recover very quickly. Also depriving the Imbued of their permaments (Events, Master, equipment) is very effective, e.g. stealing the "Church of Vindicated Faith" using "Disputed Territory".
  • "Know thy enemy". A lot of players do not know what the Imbued are capable of, and equally important what they are not capable of. Know the limitations of their cards. "Determine" needs a "Visionary" virtue and an untapped Imbued and costs a Conviction. So if the only Imbued with the "Visionary" creed does not have any Conviction left, you can safely ignore any thoughts that the Imbued might cancel your political action or bleed with "Govern the Unaligned". "Champion" is kind of problem here, since the Imbued does need to intercept for using "Champion", but a particular Imbued can only do it once per turn and it costs them two Convictions.
  • The Imbued use only a few cards outside from what's already on the table. "Concealed Weapon", "Angel of Berlin" and "Determine" are often the only cards the Imbued play on another player's turn. So often you can calculate what's gonna happen if your minions acting on your turn. The Imbued are also quite predictable) when it comes down to stealth or intercept. They usually only have strong base stealth (usually +2 stealth on equip and Power actions), but almost never can boost their Stealth to greate amounts. Therefore a "Sport Bike" and an intercept location like "KRCG News Radio" are sufficient to block an Imbued, "2nd Tradition: Domain" also does a great job.
  • Try to put constant pressure on the Imbued deck and make him spend his convictions. Sure they can recover them, but on the other hand, the Imbued player can only put one Conviction on an Imbued per turn. "Edge Explosion" is a problem here, since it allows two Convictions on an Imbued per turn.
  • Intercept the actions to acquire Powers and Equipment if possible; the first also prevents the untap after a successful Power action.
  • The term "pillowfacing" describes the action where an incapacitated Imbued is killed by a vampire. Pillowfacing is necessary throughout the whole game, especially the key Imbued like "Jennie "Cassie247" Orne" and "Travis "Traveler72" Miller" need to be eliminated.
  • If you are prey of an Imbued deck, and a "Memories of Mortality" hits one of your vampires, try to persuade even your prey to remove the card when you go to torpor (or at least to leave it alone), since your "good meatshield" against the "evil Imbued" deck. Maybe that statement is even true.
  • If you are the predator of an Imbued deck, and a "Memories of Mortality" hits one of your vampires, you should be sure that the Imbueds (or their Allies) cannot burn your vampire when you put that vampire into torpor during your influence phase. After the Imbueds turn, your grand prey than should be able to rescue your vampire from torpor.
  • If the Imbued are frequent in your local metagame or you expect them to see at a tournament, put the Events "Uncoiling" and/or "Break the Code" in your decks. These two are killer cards against the Imbued, the Imbued decks _need_ their main Event cards like "Unmasking" and even more so "Edge Explosion". This is also the reason the Imbued decks have started to put "Not to Be" in their decks.
  • Generally pool gain is a problem for an Imbued deck, especially early in the game, since the Imbued cannot use cards like "Vessel", "Minion Tap", "Con Boon" or "Voter Captivation". Later on with the help of "Travis" and "The Church of Vindicated Faith" they try to secure a steady income to their pool. So if you hit their pool hard, either by bleeding or voting the Imbued is going to have trouble.
Key Cards
  • "Travis "Traveler72" Miller" -- the pool gain machine.
  • "Jennie "Cassie247" Orne" -- saves valuable convictions when saving other Imbued from the incapaciated region.
  • "Unmasking" -- provides the permanent +1 intercept for all allies, the basis for the wall part of the Imbued deck.
  • "Edge Explosion" -- event for receiving more than one Conviction per turn.
  • "Champion" -- used for threating to block everthing regardless of stealth/intercept.
  • "Vigilance" -- (almost) free untap for an Imbued.
  • "Memories of Mortality" -- used either for killing specific vampires or to by-pass blocking vampires easily. Hard to get rid for the affected vampire/player.
Notable Examples & Variations
Sample Decklist
Deck Name: Imbued are Broken
Created By: Gyula Erdos

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 13, Max: 21, Avg: 4,16)
2 Travis 'Traveler72' Miller DEF MAR 5 Martyr
1 Francois 'Warder' Loehr DEF JUD 3 Judge
2 Inez 'Nurse216' Villagrande INN 3 Innocent
1 John 'Cop90' O'Malley JUD VEN 4 Avenger
1 Jack 'Hannibal137' Harmon DEF JUD 4 Defender
1 Marion 'Teacher193' Perks RED JUD 4 Redeemer
1 Eric 'Shophet125' Franco JUD INN 4 Judge
1 Xian 'DziDzati55' Quan DEF INN 4 Defender
1 Jennie 'Cassie247' Orne INN JUD VIN 5 Visionary
1 Earl 'Shaka74' Deams JUD MAR VIN 6 Visionary

Library: (90 cards)
Master (18 cards)
6 Angel of Berlin
6 Memories of Mortality
1 Direct Intervention
1 Unity
1 Fortschritt Library
1 Pentex Subversion
1 Smiling Jack, The Anarch
1 Church of Vindicated Faith, The

Action (1 cards)
1 Aranthebes, The Immortal

Power (20 cards)
4 Inspire
6 Vigilance
5 Champion
3 Rejuvenate
2 Hide

Reaction (14 cards)
5 On the Qui Vive
9 Determine

Ally (3 cards)
1 Vagabond Mystic
1 Wendell Delburton (Hunter)
1 Gregory Winter

Equipment (7 cards)
1 Ivory Bow
1 Heart of Nizchetus
1 Crusader Sword, The
4 Laptop Computer

Event (6 cards)
1 Thirst
1 Unmasking, The
1 Edge Explosion
1 Anthelios, the Red Star

Conviction (21 cards)
7 Second Sight
7 Strike with Conviction
7 React with Conviction

Monday, October 8, 2007

Results UK National VtES Championship 2007

Copied from UK National V:tES Championship 2007 has been played on October 7th, 2007 in Reading, UK with 43 players attending. The standings of the final round were as follows:
  1. Anthony Coleman (UK) -- 4 VP -- Ventrue Law Firm G1/2
  2. Antonio Cobo Cuenca (ESP) -- 1 VP -- Edward Vignes deck
  3. Martin Cubberly (UK) -- 0 VP -- Ravnos w/ Dom Toolbox
  4. Graham Smith (UK) -- 0 VP -- Imbued deck
  5. Arthur de Lustrac (FRA) -- 0 VP -- For/Cel/Pot/Pre Multi-Hit
Congratulations to Anthony Coleman for his win of the UK Nationals. A report of the finals including the winning deck has the been posted in the usenet newsgroup here. Photos of the event made by Damans can be found here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Results Australian Continental VtES Championship 2007

Copied from Australian Continental V:tES Championship 2007 has been played on September 29th to 30th, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) has been played with 19 players attending on Saturday, 29th; the finals of the tournament has been played with 38 players attending on Sunday, 30th. The standings of the final round were as follows:
  1. Peter Rophail (AUS) -- 3 VP + GW -- Imbued Toolbox
  2. Keith (AUS) -- 2 VP -- !Malk S&B
  3. Ben O'Neil (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Gangrel
  4. Kevin Cameron (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Malkavian Vote/Bleed
  5. Leon Tranter (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Hexaped Deck
Congratulations to Peter Rophail, for his second win of continental championship after 2005. His decklist is archived on Lasombra Tournament Winning Deck Archive (TWD) as well as on the Sydney VtES homepage here. A full report on the tournament week (including the LCQ and the finals) has been posted here.

VtES Bikini Models

Some weeks ago after the Usenet newsgroup had been spammed (again) by some "Bikini Model" site owner, Petri Wessman and Wookie813 came up with two versions how a "Bikini Model" card for VtES should like:

Petri's version is an action modifier card, which reads like this:
Bikini Models
Action Modifier
[pre]: Only usable as an ally is trying to block. The block fails and that ally cannot block this action again this turn. That ally does no untap as normal during his next untap phase.
[PRE]: As above, but that ally does not untap as normal during his next two untap phases.
Flavor text: "Wow, check out those melons! I gotta get her phone number..."

Wookie813's version is an Ally card, which reads like this:
Bikini Model
2 Pool
1 life. 0 strength. 1 bleed.
Male minions cannot attempt to block Bikini Model. Bikini Model can tap a male minion as a (D) action at +1 stealth. Female minions get +1 intercept when attempting to block Bikini Model.
Flavor text: "Oh, shoot! I've got sand all over... be a sweetie and brush me off?"

Friday, October 5, 2007

VtES Program Updates

Faster than I would have expected all of the major programs used for VtES card handling and search have updated their contents to the "Lords of the Night" expansion.
  • The fastest of them all was Graham Smith, who has updated the card file for the "Anarch Revolt Deck Builder".
  • Balazs Kuno Kiss updated the FELB to version 2.4.0, not only with the LotN expansion, but also with the functionality to view the pictures of the cards. These have to be downloaded seperately here, beware this file is about 150 MByte large!
  • Also Ethan "I'm still maintaining this" Burrow has updated his online search tool, the Monger. Which is also quite useful for this site, since I am usually linking the card names to the corresponding page on the Monger's site.
  • Also "darkbob" updated his shiny new program "Simple VtES Builder" for Linux to the new expansion.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Short Chain Combat & More

David Cherryholmes coined the term & concept of "Short Chain Combat" (SCC) in a usenet newsgroup article. It is a concept that should help decks which use a light combat module, e.g. bruise & bleed decks or toolbox decks. It is not a formula for building dedicated combat deck, but IMHO gives some very good hints if a combat module is going to work or not.
The nucleus of the original concept is this (quoted from the original article):
  1. You must confine your combat to being just good enough, not uber.
  2. "Good enough" can be defined as doing 3 normal damage or 1 aggravated damage with two cards, and foiling at least one of the following:
    a) Dodge
    b) Strike: Combat Ends
    c) Hitback
    d) Damage prevention
  3. More elements (ie moving parts) can and should be included, but any two should satisfy 1) and 2) above.
If SCC is satisfied, the combat portion of your deck should be achievable in 30 to 40 cards, yielding about 15 combats or a total table loss of 45 blood, discounting the rescue costs that may or may not exist. This leaves about 10 more slots for cards that are good but need not be played every combat: weapons, "Concealed/Disguised Weapon", "Taste of Vitae", "Provision of Silsila", "Draught of the Soul", etc. Alternatively, you may use those 10 slots for light reaction/wake/intercept. Add approximately 20 action cards and 20 or fewer master cards and you have what should be a functional combat deck. Also note that the reduced card flow raises the "gag threshold" of master cards that a combat deck can acceptably play.
Examples of SCC packages
Non-Examples of SCC packages

Complimentary Short Chain Combat

Later Karl Schaefer extended the SCC tactics to the concept of "Complimentary Short Chain Combat" on the "Path of Blood" forum. Here's the base concept:
My theory is that you take two different SCC chains that have a common piece, for example "Carrion Crows"/"Aid from Bats" and "Carrion Crows"/"Scorpion Sting". What you have here are two different SCC chains that each use Carrion Crows. By combining the chains, you can add versatility to your combat without severely overloading your combat package.
Consider the following example where your prey is extremely dodgy and your predator does a lot of damage at close range. In any given combat, you can play "Carrion Crows", but for your prey you'd want to use "Scorpion Sting" and for your predator "Aid from Bats". By combining these two chains, you can effectively exploit multiple weaknesses as you encounter them on the table. In a situation like this, I might imagine the combat package would be something like:

Examples of CSSC packages