Thursday, January 31, 2008

VtES Clan Newsletters in January 2008

Only one clan newsletter has been posted in the "" usenet newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.

Chuck, Texas VtES Player

We all know that Chuck has counted to infinity, twice! So if Chuck is a VtES player, the following could be said about him. "Marandamir" on the VtES Presence forum came up with this list of important information:
  • Chuck can oust you simply by standing near you!
  • Chuck can oust you even when you aren't playing VtES!
  • When Chuck bleeds you for your last pool you don't get ousted... you get Chuck'd
  • Chuck doesn't tap cards, he stares at them and the table rotates 90 degrees.
  • Chuck doesn't play reaction cards, Chuck doesn't react, he knows what you are going to do before you do it (often because he told you to do it the turn before).
  • Chuck doesn't block actions, his minions merely wait for for the actors give themselves up.
  • Chuck can 'oust prey' as an unblockable action. He just never needs to use it.
  • If you have five pool and Chuck has five pool, Chuck has more pool than you.
  • Chuck can oust 2 Methuselah's with one bleed.
  • When Chuck is reduced to 0 pool, Chuck is not ousted. The only thing that can oust Chuck is Chuck.
  • Chuck doesn't sweep tables, he just ousts one methuselah and the other four faint.
  • Chuck can play "Game of Malkav" and select 10 pool.
  • Chuck has no predator as he is nobody's prey. Chuck's prey is every VtES player present, including judges and their children.
  • Chuck's bleeds cannot be bounced or blocked. They can only be accepted square in the face followed promptly by a "Thank you, Chuck".
  • If, by some incredible space-time paradox, Chuck would ever play against himself, he'd win. Period.
  • When playing cards Chuck doesn't pay attention to Errata. Cards do whatever Chuck says they to do.
  • When time runs out in a game with Chuck there is no draw. Chuck gets 5 VPs just for being merciful and allowing you to live that long.
  • LSJ doesn't decide on rulings for VtES. LSJ isn't even a person. He's a puppet that Chuck controls.
  • When Chuck is out of cards he doesn't withdraw from the game, he advances the game.
  • If you find yourself ousted in a game of VtES, you are obviously not Chuck.
  • A brown bear once tried to Revelation's Chuck's hand. At the shear horror of what he saw he turned white out of fear. Chuck then ousted him so hard he landed at the north pole. Hence the polar bear came to be.
  • Chuck can oust without minion's or VtES cards. He just taps the VtES game and everyone is ousted.
P.S.: Down in Texas Chuck's name is really Andy, but read the full story here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008 Continental Qualifier System

A significant change to the system how players qualify for VtES Continental Championships has been announced today in the internat. usenet newsgroup. The changes are:
  • The top 25% of given qualifier event are qualified. It does not matter anymore if any already qualified players are in the top quarter of a qualifier tournament.
  • If there are ties in the final standings of a tournament, all players that tie for a qualifying spot are now qualified.
While this simplifies matters for tournament organizers, it makes it effectively harder to qualify for a contintental championship. Furthermore in extreme cases the consequences could be:
  • No additional player qualifies in a tournament, since the top 25% of that tournament completely consists of already qualified players.
  • In a 5 player-tournament all five players qualify, since all finalists except the winner are in 2nd places, and are therefore qualified.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Twilight Rebellion"

(c) 2008 by White Wolf
"Nothing is safe!

The Anarchs seek to disrupt the resurgence of the Sabbat and Independents. It’s all on the line and the Anarchs have nothing to lose."
The next VtES expansion is named "Twilight Rebellion" and is a mini-expansion featuring 60 new cards. As usual for the mini-expansions, there are just booster packs, but no starters. On the other hand this means that there are no reprints in this set, only shiny new cards, most likely 20 commons, 20 vampires and 20 rares. The set is scheduled for May 31st, 2008.

The set's theme is the Anarch movement within the vampiric society, and continues the support for the Anarchs, that started with the expansion with the same name in 2003.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Results of the "Death in a Song" VtES tournament in Bochum

These are the results of the "Death in a Song" VtES Constructed tournament in Bochum, Germany after 3 rounds + finals. The tournament was played on January 27th, 2008 with 13 players participating. Here are the standings after the final round.
  • Ralf L.-- 2 GW 7 VP -- 1 GW 4 VP -- Fighting Dom Weenies
  • Sascha M. -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 1 VP -- Old School DOM/OBF S&B
  • Martin S. -- 1 GW 4 VP -- 0 VP -- High Cap DOM/FOR/CEL/PRO Bloat&Vote
  • Hardy R. -- 1 GW 3,5 VP -- 0VP -- Giovanni Powerbleed
  • Barbara W. -- 1 GW 3 VP -- 0 VP -- Ahrimanes Wall
This was the first tournament in Bochum with the changed tournament rules, where there's only a winner and four 2nd places in the finals. This change had real impact on the final, since no one was jockeying for the 2nd or 3rd third place. A full account of the standings including the tournament winning deck can be found in the german VtES forum (requires an account/login).

I tried to make some pictures from the tournament, but since I fumbled with the photo flash of the camera, all of the pictures I took turned out to be way too dark. My apologies

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mr. Peal's Beast Within

(c) 2008 by White WolfThis seems to be the first glimpse of one of the upcoming VtES expansions this year. White Wolf's release schedule for in 2008 for VtES looks roughly like this:
  • April 2008: "Blood Shadowed Court" -- 100 card collector's set of Camarilla Edition vampires (reprints).
  • May 2008: "Twilight Rebellion" -- 60(?) card mini-expansion (boosters only) featuring the Anarchs(?).
  • Q3/Q4 2004: (Camarilla set) -- full expansion with new Camarilla G4/G5 vampires.
Most of this is currently very vague information based on information from White Wolf's Live Journal, internet card shops, etc. and of course a heavy dose of speculation!

And yes, that's Ben Peal as a vampire pictured by Lawrence Snelly ... my guess: Ben is the first real Anarch vampire!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 5)

.. if "Valerius Maior, Hell's Fool (ADV)" or "Arnulf Jormungandrsson" do not need to block successfully an action to prevent, that action modifiers of the named disciplines (in their cardtext) are played, the attempt to block is sufficient?
So, if "Valerius Major attempts to block a hunt by "Arika", and fails (by not playing any intercept), she's still not allowed to play "Obfuscate" modifiers to give her additional stealth after "Neighbour John" has attempted to block subsequently.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Deck Archetypes: Powerbleed

(c) by White Wolf Inc.The basic strategy of a Powerbleed deck is to bleed his prey successfully with only few actions, but with high amounts of damage in each action. This can be ranging from +2 bleed ("Govern the Unaligned") to +7 bleed ("Govern the Unaligned" plus "Command of the Beast" plus "Conditioning") actions. On the other hand these bleeds are usually at no or low stealth. Instead the decks uses cards which don't allow other minions to block these bleed actions. This technique is called block denial. This lack of decent amounts of stealth differentiates these decks from the "Stealth & Bleed" (S&B) bleed decks. This article mainly covers the "Giovanni Powerbleed" deck archetype since this is the most prominent and successful type of the "Powerbleed" breed and most of the principals also apply to other "Powerbleed" variants.

How to win with them
The key to winning with "Powerbleed" is to bleed consistently and always with the aim not only to land a successful bleed, but a bleed at +5 or more. There are are a large variety of cards, but "Dominate" is the first choice since besides having a large number of bleed modifier cards, it also offers with "Seduction" one of the crucial block denial cards. The second choice of discipline is driven by the need for the second block denial card.

The crypt is then chosen by the question if a particular vampire features these two disciplines: a vampire below 5 should have both disciplines, between 5 and 6 at least one at superior (and the other at least inferior), and 7 and above both disciplines at superior.

The deck usually has two things to consider, how to prevent its prey's minions from blocking and how to cope with bleed bounce.

(c) by White Wolf Inc.Block denial tactics
One of the early goals of the deck is to prevent your prey having more than 2 minions. The basic idea is that in this case you can easily use your two main block denials cards ("Seduction" and "Call of the Hungry Dead" or "Seduction" and "Elder Impersonation") to prevent any of the two minions to block your bleeds. This also shows the deck's main offensive delivery mechanism, try to deny your prey's block attempts.

Here's a rough overview over block denial cards in VtES. Roughly they fall into two categories. Those which must be played in advance usually have a stronger effect, but may be wasted. The second category can be played in response to block attempt, but often have lesser effects, e.g only work against allies or younger vampires.
As you can see the combination of "Dominate" & "Necromancy" provide two unconditional block denials, which build the foundation for the "Giovanni Powerbleed" as both are "Giovanni" in-clan disciplines.

If your prey spends 10 to 15 pool, you can oust your initial prey in turn 4 to 5. The problem is usually the next prey who had some time to build with low or no pressure from its initial predator (your initial prey). In order to outbleed him you need usually a higher number of minions or heavy use of master cards that tap your preys vampire like "Anarch Troublemaker" or "Misdirection". The fairly new "Blind Spot" might also fit into this category, though it is only applicable against younger vampires.

(c) by White Wolf Inc.A neat trick is to play multiple copies of "Anarch Troublemaker", which you play first, then use it to tap two vampires from your prey. During the next round(s) you play your next copy of the "Troublemaker", thus contesting it with your prey. Since your prey is under a lot of pressure and has often no pool to spare then, he is likely to give the contest up, and you can use the new "Troublemaker" in your next turn. Rinse and repeat..

Other cards used for avoiding successful blocks are "Dawn Operation" or "Day Operation", but both come with the cost that the vampire playing it is going to torpor after the action.

Dealing with Bleed Bounce
If your bleed is being bounced to your grandprey, this usually isn't a huge problem, since you do not use stealth (or at least not much of it), so your grandprey should be able to block this. Only you must be aware that your grand prey might fear you already, even if your still its grandpredator, so having a "Strike: Dodge" or "Strike: Combat Ends" at hand is quite helpful. Also sometimes these decks contain cards like "Change of Target" to prevent the wrong target to be bled.

Another addition to Giovanni based-decks is "Le Dinh Tho", which's special ability allows him to look at another's (read: "prey") hand and force him to discard one of hand cards (read: "bleed bounce") as a + stealth action. This of course greatly helps to make those big bleeds land where they should.

This decktype lives from its forward momentum, if it loses the momentum it usually cracks fairly fast under pressure from predator (and sometimes prey). The deck is not quite good in defending against particular threats, and usually relies on speed rather than durability or long-term success. This is often its main weakness; if for some reason the forward motion against its prey is slowed down, the deck often fails, due to its inability to defend against an aggressive predator or a prey that is able to attack it predator.

Bleed defense
The bleed defense is almost always exclusively bleed bounce, the deck even uses this technique to an offensive extent. "Deflection", "Redirection" and the new "Murmur of the False Will" as "Dominate"-based bounce cards are usually used for this.

Vote & Combat defense
Both vote and combat defenses are usually light, a couple of "Delaying Tactics" as well as some "Strike: Combat Ends" like "Majesty" or "Spiritual Intervention" are in this deck type. Not so often "Powerbleed" decks pack some hitback like "Entombment" or "Breath of Thanatos", but also not likely more than 2 or 3 of those.

How to win against them
Most other decks have difficulties defending against a Powerbleeder, since they usually put a lot pressure on its prey. So bringing out the typical number of minions (for a particular deck) is often not possible, due to the heavy pool loss during the early game. On the other hand, the "Powerbleed" deck has problems if you have three or minions, or if you can untap frequently in order to block. Usually you need at least three minions to be able to effectively block the powerbleeder's vampires.

(c) by White Wolf Inc.Also quite helpful is to have access to resources (minions/ retainers/ locations/ etc.) which provide +1 intercept, since this is usually the max. amount of stealth a powerbleeder's minion can generate, e.g. a "Guardian Angel" (although it costs two pool) is a good investment against a powerbleeder. The most effective cards against this type of decks are "Eternal Vigilance" and "Secrets from the Magaji" since they provide a reliable untap capability. The later card is somewhat tricky, since "Secrets from the Magaji" is burned when a block fails. So you have to try to block with other minions first, and saving the block capability of the "Secrets" for the last block attempt, when (hopefully) the bleeding minion has already played its block denial cards.

If you're block capability is limited, either due to lack of minions or lack of untap cards, you have three options:
  • You try to put pressure on your prey by bouncing the powerbleeder's bleed actions, but this usually requires large amounts of bleed bounce cards (at least 8+ cards on 90 cards total. Since most decks are not packing that much bleed bounce, it is often not viable solution.
  • You can try to gain (speak: bloat) more pool than your predator can remove by bleeding each turn, e.g. by playing "Consanguineous Boons" and/or "Voter Captivations" frequently or cards like "Govern the Unaligned" en masse. This is also not often not viable solution for the problem, since it explicitly assumes, that this part of your strategy anyway, and assumes your grand-predator is able to oust his prey fast enough before you're ousted.
  • One of the best strategies against a powerbleeder is usually to backoust him. Due to its enormous amount of pressure a powerbleed deck applies on its prey it is very often advisable to go upstream against it. So if your deck can go backwards, it should do so, and aggressively too, even to the price of ousting your predator. This strategy is a must for a Rush combat deck, or a Vote deck without enough bleed bounce or bloat, since otherwise the pool loss by the power bleeds is too much to endure for more than 3-4 rounds.
As prey a "Powerbleed" deck is relatively welcome, since it has no real way of holding onto its predator. It tries to outrace its predator by ousting its prey fast, and thus gaining momentum. The only problem is if you're using a bleed strategy yourself. "Powerbleed" usually packs a lot of bleed bounce, since it helps tapping out its prey vampire, and at best (or worst) the grandpredator is ousting the powerbleeders prey.

The weakness of the deck is that it lacks a proper defense against both vote and combat, and it cannot hold out for long, if pressure is applied to it and it cannot oust its prey at the same time. But both combat and vote decks should be aware that they shouldn't wait too long to take actions against the "Powerbleed" deck, since otherwise its grandprey is gone very soon.

Key Cards
(c) by White Wolf Inc.Notable Examples & Variations
There are quite a number of variations on this theme, and the distinctions between the different variants are blurred, since for example an "Edward Vignes" deck may include "Mind Numb" (typically used in a "Tap & Bleed" deck), or a "Lasombra Powerbleed" might pack some "Daring the Dawn" for the surprise.
  • "Giovanni Powerbleed" -- makes pressure from the start & tries to oust fast.
  • "Lasombra Powerbleed" -- similar to the Giovanni Powerbleed, but using "Obtenebration" instead of "Necromancy".
  • "Edward Vignes" -- a Ventrue mid-cap powerbleed deck that ousts when the prey is low on pool and/or has tapped out, e.g. by using "Anarch Troublemaker" and/or "Misdirection". The deck usually plays the waiting game. It essentially does nothing against its prey, lulling it into a false sense of security. In the beginning it just bloats and tries to influence out a large number of minions. The deck is somewhat more durable than the typical "Powerbleed" since it packs more than defensive cards than the "Giovanni Powerbleed" decks.
  • "Daring the Dawn" -- this is actually a different deck archetype ousts by playing "Force of Will" and "Daring the Dawn" to land successful bleeds, although sacrificing low to mid-cap vampires. Often used with "Movement of the Slow Body" to rescue themselves from Torpor after the bleed.
  • "Tap & Bleed" -- this is also essentially a different deck archetype; instead utilizing the the block denial technique the "Tap&Bleed" deck tries to cards like "Mind Numb" or even "Spike Thrower" to tap opposing minions for at least a round, so it can bleed heavily without being blocked or using copious amounts of stealth. On the other hand it shares some characteristics with the "Powerbleed" archetype like the low stealth and the high amounts of bleed.

Sample Decklist
Crusade: Atlanta, Georgia
November 17th, 2001
Tournament Winning Deck played by David Anderson-Dávila

Deck Name: Giovanni Power Bleed
Created by: David Anderson-Dávila
Description: Bleed with "Seduction", "Call of the Hungry Dead" and the occasional "Sleeping Mind". This combo should shut down even the most dedicated intercept decks. Use "Obedience" and "Spiritual Intervention" for combat defense. Use liberal bleed bounce to enhance the defense.

Crypt: (12 cards) [Min: 16, Max: 30, Avg: 6]
2 Andrea Giovanni DOM NEC pot vic 7, Giovanni
1 Carlotta Giovanni dom NEC obf POT 7, Giovanni
1 Chas Giovanni Tello DOM POT 4, Giovanni
1 Enzo Giovanni ani DOM NEC pot tha 8, Giovanni
2 Gillespi Giovanni aus DOM NEC POT 7, Giovanni
1 Gloria Giovanni DOM nec 4, Giovanni
2 Isabel Giovanni DOM NEC pot 5, Giovanni
1 Pochtli cel dom NEC OBF POT 8, Giovanni
1 Rudolpho Giovanni NEC 3, Giovanni

Library: (80 cards)
Master (11 cards)
1 Anarch Troublemaker
5 Blood Doll
1 Jake Washington (Hunter)
1 Morgue Hunting Ground
1 Path of Bone, The
2 Sudden Reversal

Action (13 cards)
4 Govern the Unaligned
1 Haunt
4 Scouting Mission
2 Slaughtering the Herd
2 Summon Soul

ActionMod (28 cards)
4 Bonding
6 Call of the Hungry Dead
3 Change of Target
3 Foreshadowing Destruction
6 Seduction
3 Sleeping Mind, The
3 Threats

Reaction (16 cards)
3 Deflection
3 Obedience
3 Redirection
7 Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (3 cards)
3 Spiritual Intervention

Ally (1 card)
1 Leonardo, Mortician

Equipment (2 cards)
2 Leather Jacket

Combo (6 cards)
6 Spectral Divination

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 4)

.. you can't use "Dreams of the Sphinx" to move blood counters from the Blood Bank to an uncontrolled "Imbued"?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Poll Results: "Will you buy the upcoming "Blood Shadowed Court" collectors set?"

Here are the results of the latest poll on your opinions whether you're going to buy the upcoming "Blood Shadowed Court" collectors set or not.
  • I'll buy anything VTES anyway. -- 6 (17%)
  • Excellent Idea! I am in need of these Camarialla vampires. -- 14 (41%)
  • No need, but I'll buy a set or two. -- 7 (20%)
  • Since it's reprints only, I won't buy. -- 7 (20%)
So there's a clear majority of those buying (59%) vs. those who are more reluctant to buy (41%).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dragon's Breath Rounds

So that's why "Dragon's Breath Rounds" are causing aggravated damage to vampires ... all the time I wondered why!

Thanks for the link to the guys on the #vtes IRC Channel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 3)

.. if the base damage of strike is aggravated, all damage added by other cards or effects are aggravated as well? On the other hand, if you add aggravated damage to a non-aggravated base strike, the base strike does not become aggravated. This may seem of no importance at first glance, but when it comes to damage prevention or immunity against non-aggravated damage this can play a significant role!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Deck Archetypes: Nephandus Mage

Mage Ally decks have been around in the VtES scene for quite some time, either featuring "Nephandus", "Talaq, The Immortal" or "Thadius Zho", or all in one deck, since these are cards from earlier expansions like "Ancient Hearts" or "Sabbat", but with 3rd Edition's "Antonio d'Erlette" and his special ability this decktype got quite boost. The deck is a toolboxy deck, since it can rush & intercept and bleed & block deck, and has later in the game excels with strong permanents, with which it can dominate the table.

How to win with them
The deck is a somewhat typical ally deck, but with a twist due to "Antonio D'Erlette's" special ability. Since the recruitment of the "Nephandi" is happening quite fast and cannot be blocked (if Antonio's special ability is used) the deck is usually quite fast from the start.

Basicially none of your vampire need to act, since recruiting the allies is not an action, and all of the work could be done by the "Nephandi". Nonetheless you should either bring out two vampires at first, and then using Antonion's special ability, since you need a mixture of both vampires and some "Nephandi". If the chance of being blocked is low, you should (also) try to recruit the "Nephandus" manually. Either to save transfers early in the game, or to bring out two (or more) "Nephandi" later in the game.

The "Nephandus" is one of the most versatile allies in VtES. As for the basics, he can bleed (not a default for allies!), can strike for 1R and has 2 life. But then the specials kick in! Most importantly, he can reduce the damage from each source by 1, so a vampire using a ".44 Magnum" inflicts only one damage to the mage, and would need an additional strike to kill him in the same round. In addition he has a built-in press and finally the ability to gain life when burning a vampire in torpor (as a (D) action).

The same versatilty can be found in the deck, which makes it quite strong:
  • One of the offensive capabilities include a Rush combat package with several (D) actions to enter combat, and the use of "Trap" to torporize opposing vampires. Some deck variants even pack "Molotov Cocktails" to be equipped with in round 1, if no trap is played in the first round, or in a later round when a "Trap" has been played. This is done in order to first empty the opposing vampire from as much blood as possible, and then trying to burn him with a final strike using "Molotov Cocktails".
  • The second, equally important part is the bleed component which uses "Computer Hacking" for the allies, and if the path is cleared for unopposed bleed actions, the Tremere antitribu vampires bleed using "Conditioning". Other versions of the deck replace the "Computer Hackings" by "Empowering the Puppet King", which makes the damage done by bleed more unpredicatable for your prey.
  • The deck has some permacept with the "Unmasking" and usually one or two intercept locations, so it can block a number of +1 stealth actions per turn.
  • Also the deck uses "Magic of the Smith" to (more or less) safely equip with a number of the strongest equipment cards in play, namely "Heart of Nizchetus", "Bowl of Convergence", "Palatial Estate" or sometimes "Sniper Rifle", and even if the action is intercepted, the "Mirror Walk" (at superior "Thaumaturgy") prevents that combat occurs.
  • Later in the game, the "Nephandi" will do most of the work, while the vampires (supplied with a "Blood Doll" or "Vessel") are mostly hunting, preferably while the "Hungry Coyote" is out, to establish a constant pool gain.
Another nifty trick is the combination of Antonio's special ability and "Heart of Nizchetus". While the "Heart of Nizchetus" puts cards under the library (in other decks then never to be seen again), "Antonio's" search for a "Nephandus" let's you shuffle your library afterwards and thereby puts the cards you might need in a turn or two back to the top of your library.

Prior to 2008 one of the deck's strength was the ability to utilize "Memories of Mortality". Either to bypass a potential blocker, when a "Nephandus" was bleeding w/ "Computer Hacking" or to attack the vampire with the "Memories of Mortality" and torporizing him in the subsequent combat. With the official ban of "Memories of Mortality" the decktype is considerably weakend. It is now much harder to withstand the onslaugt of an opposing combat deck, for example a Rush Combat deck with "Beast, the Leatherface" or "Enkidu, The Noah".

As alternatives to "Memories of Mortality", the deck could use "Pentex Subversion" or "Anarch Troublemaker", but still that's a rather inadequate replacement.

Bleed defense
"Deflection" and other bleed bouncing cards based on "Dominate" are the decks primary defense. In need the deck can also rush it's predator's minions and try to put them down with the "Nephandus" & "Trap" combo.

Vote defense
This is to some degree the deck's weak point, this deck archetype plays a few "Delaying Tactics" and can intercept political actions if the stealth is not increased, but if the opposing deck is capable of reiterating political actions at +3 stealth this deck archetype is in trouble.

Combat defense
In the past times the deck relied on the "Nephandus" special abílity to reduce damage and ultimately on "Memories of Mortality", With the "Memories of Mortality" the deck has to reconside its combat defense "Pentex Subversion" only partially helps since it is unique. Possibilities for adding extra value to the combat capabilities are "Target Vitals" and/or "Glancing Blow".

How to win against them
There are several weaknesses in the deck you can exploit. Due to the toolboxy nature of this deck archetype, it's generally not doing extraordinarily strong in each of the three departments (combat/vote/bleed), so any dedicated deck shouldn't encounter problem in its area. Decks on the other hand, which deliberately missed either bleed or combat defense will have trouble against the "Nephandi".

For combat decks decks it is the first goal to kill "Antonio d`Erlette" early in the game, since he's the heart of the deck. Without him recruiting the "Nephandi" takes considerable more time and effort. This task is more easily accomplished by rush combat than by intercept combat decks; since either "Antonio d`Erlette" uses his special ability for actions or uses "Mirror Walk", he's quite hard to battle when reacting only.

Stealing allies is always a good idea against ally decks, though you will usually need to perform the action at +2 stealth to be successful due the deck's permacept. Overall, you a need a way to get rid or bypass the "Nephandi", since they provide the muscles of the deck. This can be by combat dealing more 2 (or preferable 3 damage) per strike (or other damaging effect), by stealing allies or by making the player "paying" for the allies using "Anarchist Uprising", "Kindred Segregation", or the new "Permanent Vacation".

Key Cards
  • "Antonio d`Erlette" -- the heart (and start) of the deck as he's enabling the reliable recruitment of Nephandi.
  • "Nephandus (Mage)" -- the muscles of the deck fighting, bleeding and intercepting the opponents.
  • "Magic of the Smith" -- used for getting reliably the equipment.
  • "Memories of Mortality" -- after the ban of the card the deck has to find a somewhat adequate replacement, which will be hard to come by.
Notable Examples & Variations
Usually the deck variants differ in how much combat and how much bleed cards the deck actually has. Sample Decklist
Deck Name: Mage Mafia
Author: Emiliano Imeroni
Description: Nephandus deck based on Antonio d'Erlette (BloodBath 2006 version).

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 3 max: 5 average: 4

4x Antonio d'Erlette 5 THA dom for pot !Tremere:4
1x Esoara 5 DOM aus for pot !Tremere:4
1x Janine 4 aus dom tha !Tremere:4
1x Mosfair 4 cel dom tha !Tremere:4
1x Ehrich Weiss 3 dom tha Tremere:3
1x Ember Wright 3 aus dom !Tremere:3
1x Keith Moody 3 DOM !Tremere:4
1x Lectora 3 aus tha !Tremere:4
1x Saiz 3 aus dom !Tremere:3

Library [80 cards]

Action [10]
1x Aranthebes, The Immortal
4x Bum's Rush
5x Computer Hacking

Action Modifier [6]
1x Conditioning
5x Mirror Walk

Ally [11]
1x Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
9x Nephandus (Mage)
1x Ossian

Combat [15]
3x Dodge
2x High Ground
4x Molotov Cocktail
6x Trap

Equipment [2]
1x Heart of Nizchetus
1x Sport Bike

Event [2]
2x Unmasking, The

Master [20]
4x Blood Doll
2x Direct Intervention
2x Frontal Assault
2x Information Highway
1x KRCG News Radio
5x Memories of Mortality
1x University Hunting Ground
1x WMRH Talk Radio
2x Wash

Reaction [14]
6x Deflection
7x On the Qui Vive
1x Poison Pill

Sunday, January 13, 2008

VtES Rules: "Therbold Realty" Q&A

(c) 2007 by White Wolf Inc.Lately a number of questions came up regarding "Therbold Realty", so here's a short "Questions and Answers" summary for the card. Most of the information is taken from the Usenet newsgroup "":

Q: Can I use the effect of "Therbold Realty" more than once each turn?
A: Yes, since you're not required to tap the card for using its effect.

Q: Does "Therbold Realty" reduce the blood cost of "Palatial Estate" (or any other equipment cards, that becomes a location when in play)?
A: Yes, it does reduce the blood cost of the "Palatial Estate".

Q: If I have "Therbold Realty" and "Parthenon" in play, and then someone uses "Zoning Board" to shuffle "Parthenon" back into my library, do I gain 2 pool or 1 pool?
A: You gain only 1 pool.

Q: Can I play "New Management" on another's players "Parthenon", if the controls "Therbold Realty" at the same time?
A: Yes, since the Parthenon costs 1 pool.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Special VtES EC Qualifier announced

During the "International Festival des Jeux", an important french game fair, a special European Championship Qualifier tournament for VtES is held in Cannes (France) on February 16th, 2008. On the next day (February 17th, 2008) an additional EC Mini-Qualifier tournament is also held there. During the four days of the game fair there will be extensive VtES demos and games in order to promote the game.

You can read more details about these two qualifier tournaments and the event in general here and here.

"Blood Shadowed Court" (Update II)

(c) 2008 by White Wolf Inc.
"The Camarilla court is a dangerous place to do business. Take care how you handle these regal fiends. Royalty does not preclude savagery."
The next VtES product named "Blood Shadowed Court" is not a new expansion, but a collectors set. This set will feature new deluxe packaging and new artwork for "Marcus Vitel", the rest of the vampires will have the same artwork, but they are updated to the latest crypt layout. The set is scheduled for April 30th, 2008, contains 100 Camarilla Edition vampires and will be sold for $9.99 (approx. 7-8 €) per set.

The reprint consists of the 100 CE vampires which belong to Group 3 (those which were "booster-only" in CE). This will prepare the release of the next VtES expansion which will likely contain group 4/5 Camarilla vampires. On the other hand this means no reprints of any "Dark Sovereigns" or "Ancient Hearts" vampires including the "Inner Circle Members". The list of reprinted cards then looks like this:
Update on release date and price. (09/Jan/2008)
Update on packaging & new art of "Marcus Vitel". (11/Jan/2008)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 2)

.. you can play "Conditioning" and superior "Foreshowing Destruction" on the same action, if the target of your bleed (usually your prey) has 10 or more pool? Since the card text of "Foreshowing Destruction" does not increase the bleed at superior "Dominate", when the target of the bleed has 10 or more pool, the "Conditioning's" clause, that no further bleed modifier can be played, is not violated, i.e. the bleed stays at +3. Funny thing is when the bleed is then redirected to player with less than 10 pool, and the bleed suddenly jumps up to +6 .. at least!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 1)

... as soon as you play a card on an Ally and the cardtext says "this minion can play [discipline] as a vampire", that Ally can pay cards requiring that discipline with his life, instead of blood (as per Rulebook [1.6.3])?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Deck Archetypes: Ahrimanes Bleed & Block

Ahrimanes Bleed & Block deck is one of the best toolbox decks around. It has won numerous tournaments around the world, including the EC2006. It draws it strength from the ability to intercept all almost anything while being able to put pressure on its prey by bleeding it and/or intercepting actions its actions.

How to win with them
Despite the fact that most players consider this deck a wall deck its approach is quite toolboxy when you look at the actual deck lists. The deck can intercept, fight and bleed, not as good as dedicated decks in these areas, but at least to some degree.

Although the "Ahrimanes" clan only has a small number of vampires to select from, the group 2/3 selection is quite sufficient. "Howler" is clearly the star of the deck; a built-in +1 strength as well as handy maneuver for an 8-cap vampire with all of the "Ahrimanes" clan disciplines at superior is a neat package.

The deck's main strength is its ability to intercept consistently. The "Ahrimanes" have access to permanent intercept like "Raven Spies" or "Guardian Angel" as well as transient intercept in the form of "Cat's Guidance", "Falcon's Eye", etc. More importantly the deck can also block crosstable (with "Falcon Eye"), i.e. it can block his preys bleed or tries to oust its prey in turn with any other (D) actions.

While the deck has some combat abilities, it lacks any decent damage prevention; it can only go to long range to avoid combat. The deck does not hit very hard, nor does it feature aggravated damage, but it offers consistently damage for 2-3 per round, usually with "Aid from Bats" and "Carrion Crows". So the deck usually doesn't put an opposing vampire to torpor immediately, but by prolonged combats or repeately battling the same vampires. "Nose of the Hound" is often used in addition, especially if the opponents vampire are hard to block (i.e. they are playing block denial or running high amounts of stealth.

One of the deck's strength is that is has a number of ways of ousting its preys. It can oust by bleeding using the Presence disciplines, it can oust by putting vampires to torpor using "Fame" or "Tension in the Ranks", or it can oust by putting a "Smiling Jack" into play and defending it.

Bleed & Vote defense
Since the deck any bleed bounce or reduction ability, the deck relies only on its ability to block bleeds. This is difficult in the beginning when it only has to rely on its transient intercept, which is usually not enough for a dedicated stealth bleed deck.
The deck lacks any votes, and therefore also has to rely on its ability to intercept in this section.

Combat defense
As the deck can dish out some damage as well, it has somewhat good prepared against combat decks. Against close combat decks the "Ahrimanes" do quite well as the number of maneuvers ("Nose of the Hound", "Aid from Bats", "Swiftness of the Stag") the decks has, are enough to go to (and stay at) longe range. Against long range combat deck, the "Ahrimanes" have significantly more problems. "Cel Gun" decks can usually be kept at bay with "Canine Horde" and "Carrion Crows", but against "Breath of the Dragon" or "Walk of Flame" the "Ahrimanes" go to torpor.

How to win against them
The deck is somewhat vulnerable at the start of the game, but properly build-up with "Raven Spies" and the permacept locations like "KRCG Newsradio" it is hard to oust. For example a "Stealth & Bleed" deck is often able to oust an "Ahrimanes" deck if it is its first prey, but has problems ousting it when it is the second prey.

You can exhaust the untap capability of the deck, if you have enough minions or means of untap (like "Majesty" or "Freak Drive"), but you have to be aware of the combat capabilities of the deck. The deck is also vulnerable to block denial or the combo "Forgotten Labyrinth" and "Elder Impersonation".

As in most decks how rely heavily on a certain vampire, "Pentex Subversion" or "Banishment" on "Howler" cripples the deck to some degree.

Key Cards
  • "Raven Spy" -- provides the basic intercept the deck needs for blocking.
  • "Falcons Eye" -- this the Animalism version of "Eagle's Sight" allowing to block actions ignoring normal restrictions.
  • "Speak with Spirits" -- this is the basic reaction card for this deck, as it both allows the reacting vampire to untap and may give the acting vampire +1 intercept.
  • "Carrion Crows" / "Murder of Crows" -- both cards are used for adding damage which cannot be prevented easily as it is not damage from a strike, but environmental damage.
  • "Enchant Kindred" / "Aire of Elation" -- these Presence bleed card are usually used for ousting.
  • "Nose of the Hound" -- usually a few of these rush action cards are splashed into the the deck.

Notable Examples & Variations
Usually I try to list all of the different variations of the deck from "Lasombra TWD archive", but in this case I choose not. The reason for this that there are 15+ decks in the TWD archive, and the variations of the deck are usually only how much bleed vs. how much intercept is in the deck.
More intercept/combat orientated variants:
More bleed orientated variant:

Sample Deck
Event: European Championship (Day 2)
City: Turin (Italy)
Date: 26th of November 2006
Number of players: 40

Winning Deck by Anthony Coleman

2 Cynthia Ingold ani for pre SPI 6 Ahrimane Sabbat
4 Howler obf ANI PRE SPI 8 Ahrimane Sabbat
1 Juanita Santiago ani pre spi 4 Ahrimane Sabbat
2 The Siamese ani pro PRE SPI 7 Ahrimane Sabbat
1 Dani ani 2 Nosferatu antitribu Sabbat
1 Gillian Krader ani dem 2 Pander Sabbat
1 Zip ani 2 Ravnos Sabbat

2 Animalism
6 Blood Doll
1 Guardian Angel
1 KRCG News Radio
1 Pentex Subversion
1 Powerbase: Montreal
1 Smiling Jack, The Anarch
1 The Hungry Coyote
1 The Rack
1 WMRH Talk Radio
1 Fame

Action (11)
1 Aranthebes, The Immortal
1 Army of Rats
4 Engling Fury
1 Heart of the City
4 Nose of the Hound

Equipment (2)
2 Leather Jacket

Ally (5)
1 Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1 High Top
1 Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
1 Neighborhood Watch Commander (Hunter)
1 Ossian

Retainer ( 8 )
3 Murder of Crows
1 Owl Companion
4 Raven Spy

Reaction (20)
5 Cats' Guidance
5 Falcon's Eye
10 Speak with Spirits

Combat ( 18 )
6 Aid from Bats
2 Canine Horde
8 Carrion Crows
2 Pack Alpha

Combat/Action Modifier ( 8 )
8 Swiftness of the Stag

Event (1)
1 The Unmasking

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Comparison of discipline-less "wake" cards

There are quite a number of different "wake" cards -- named after the grandfather "Wake with Evenings Freshness" of this type -- with no requirements nowdays compared to times (back in the VtES expansion day) where players were restricted to "Wake with Evenings Freshness".
  • "Wake with Evenings Freshness" (WwEF) -- the classic card, but has the drawback of not being replaced until your next untap phase. This is also the reason you do not this card that often in competitive decks. Especially now when having the choice of playing "On the Qui Vive" instead.
  • "Forced Awakening" (FA) -- this is not a good card when you actually want to play a bleed bounce/reduction card or generally you are not able to block efficiently, since not blocking costs the vampire a blood after the action has resolved. On the other hand this card is the first choice for a intercept/wall deck, since it is replaced immediately and can be played multiple times for each vampire. The drawback isn't too bad for wall deck since it is expected that you can block most actions.
  • (c) 2006 by White Wolf Inc."On the Qui Vive" (OtQV) -- the legimate successor of "WwEF", since it does not punish failed blocks and is replaced immediately. The drawback is that a minion can play it only once until your next untap phase. This drawback can be critical, although in most cases it is not. Nonetheless for a dedicated wall deck, the card is only semi-suitable and should be mixed with larger amounts of "FA". Usually when playing this card you either want to block or you want to play a reaction which doesn't directly involve blocking (like Bleed Bounce or "Delaying Tactics"). Another advantage of the card is the fact that it is the only library card without any requirements which can make a tapped Ally block/react; there is "Angel of Berlin" for the Imbued, but this is limited to the number of Master Phase Actions (usally one) a player has. For an Ally it has the disadvantage that the Ally does not untap in your next Untap Phase, so this should be used only in emergency situations.
  • "Filip" -- this one is tricky, since it requires a second and older vampire (which can be tapped), to let the first react. And your are not always sure that this second vampire is really the one you want to react with. The only real need for this card is when you need multiple untaps for the same vampire, but you don't like the drawbacks of "FA", "WwEF" or "EtAM". All in all I find this card too restricting to be good (or better than the other discipline-less untap cards). A cornercase situation is the use for untapping vampires which cannot play reaction card by themselves (like "Lorrie Dunsirn") or due to some other card's effect.
  • "Eluding the Arms of Morpheus" (EtAM) -- this is the only card which really untaps a tapped vampire, but also forces him to block the ongoing action. This comes with the cost of one blood though. This definitely a card for those who can either avoid the cost of the card (e.g. "Nergal" or a "Tremere" with "Ankara Citadel") or those can directly benefit from the untap (i.e. an "Infernal" vampire, a vampire playing "Obedience" or "Deflection" at superior "Dominate") and stay untapped.
All in all I like the versatility of these reactions cards since each has its specific advantages and disadvantages, But there is no general statement which of the cards is the best reaction card in terms of reacting/untapping, each of them has their special area of use.