Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Point of View: Candidates for Card Bans 2009

After playing in the EC tournament (without much success though) I believe I've found some candidates which are in my humble opinion have a good chance of making it to the list of banned cards for the VtES tournament season 2009. The candidates of which I think one or two will be banned in 2009:
What makes a card getting banned? The simple answer is the card is overpowered or, to use another commonly used term, broken .. but really means broken? The best explanation what defines a broken card (in any card game that uses individual deck building) I found on the internet is the following:
"A card can be considered as broken, when every deck (in a particular format) is either running the card, or is having to prepare to deal with the card."
Let's have a look at the three cards that I think have a rather high probablity of being banned next year. I am not advocating the ban actively, I merely observe that these cards fit the description or have led to severe abuse in the past.
  • (c) by White Wolf"Heart of Nizchetus"
    The "Heart of Cheating" (as it is called in some places) fits the first part of the above definition perfectly. It makes just any VtES deck better, so it's an auto-include in my humble opinion. There are three steps that lead to the "disaster" of being overpowered:
    • first drawing (up to) three cards,
    • then deciding which cards to keep,
    • and finally not wasting them by placing them under your library.
    And all this for one equip action (truly good when using "Magic of the Smith") and the expense of only one pool.
    Former Pro player and Magic the Gathering writer Zvi Mowshowitz has declared "Black Lotus" as the best artifact of all time, claiming every deck in the history of Magic is better with a "Black Lotus" in it. So you can rightfully say "Heart of Nizchetus" is the "Black Lotus" of VtES; although "Heart of Nizchetus" is not nearly as costly as "Black Lotus".

  • (c) by White Wolf"The Unmasking"
    This card fits the second part of the above definition for broken cards. When building any deck you always have to consider that there will be an "Unmasking" on the table. So you always need to include cards that either provide you with actions at +2 stealth (in total) or means to handle allies (i.e. kill or steal them). For example the Ventrue Law Firm" deck in its classic form is nearly unplayable in a major tournament, since it cannot overcome the +1 intercept on a regular basis. "Seduction" and "Dawn Operation" this decktype uses are also not applicable, since "Seduction" does not help against a horde of allies which all have +1 intercept, and "Dawn Operation" does not work at all against allies.

    Compare it with any other cards that gives permanent intercept. Either these cards

    "The Unmasking" is way more powerful than these cards:
    • it's not tapped for use,
    • it applies to all allies at the table,
    • it does not cost anything when played (neither pool nor any virtual cost like handsize reduction),
    • it does not cost anything used.

  • (c) by White Wolf"Anthelios, the Red Star"
    Another favourite during the EC 2008. Pack an "Anthelios" and a "Parthenon" or two and you have an powerful recursion engine. And a dreadful one too, you can recycle (and play later) a "Direct Intervention" each and every turn, or retrieve a "Toreador Grandball" that has just been removed and played it in the same turn. The problem with the card is that (together with the second master phase) it offers too easy and too powerful a recursion engine. The problem here is not "Direct Intervention" (or any other master card) that can be recycled, it is the card that powers the engine.
But maybe I am totally mistaken, and no card is banned in 2009, or maybe "Shoulder Drop".

Further readings


Manituan said...

I think that 1º tradition or Judgment: Camarilla Segregation are more overpower that unmasking or the heart. I think that´s cards won´t belong to this game.
Anthelios is a good card. All the table may use it and the unmasking too.

sk. said...

Heart of Cheating: Certainly not worth banning. If all you say is true, everybody would play it - and it's unique. Also the equip action can be blocked, it can be stolen, destroyed etc. I also think the benefit is slightly overrated: If your deck is focused, it works (almost) as well without it, if it's toolboxy, the Heart forces you on a turn by turn base to decide what you want to do (because the three cards got to the bottom, therefor becoming largely useless in the short run).

Unmasking: I don't see your point to be honest. Sure, it nerfs the Law Firm, but that doesn't spell "broken". It is a strong intercept effect, but the fact that is needs allies makes it vulnerable to blocking the recruits and stealing or burning those critters. IMHO without this card most ally decks are not tournament worthy anymore.

Anthelios: Here I tend to agree with you. It's by far the strongest recursion tech in the game, with Garibaldi coming second. But I have to admit it's more a matter of taste than anything else: I think DI is the lamest card ever printed, and a DI (or the threat of it) every turn makes for lame games.

My point really is: These three cards are pretty high on the power curve, get played a lot and annoy a lot. But on the other hand people are not willing to prepare for them. Play the Law Firm? Where's your Uncoiling? Etc. pp.

As long as nobody is willing to commit a few card slots to (for example) location control (be it Arson or Sudden/Wash), which covers way more problematic cards than just the Parthenon part of the Anthelios engine, whining about the perceived brokeness of these cards is IMHO just that: whining.

xiannic said...

Veil of Darkness is far more horrible to cope with than Antelios or Unmasking. I'd certainly put that in my list. either that or more ways of dealing with events cards!

Anonymous said...

Anthelios would be my pick for most problematic of the three you suggest.

However, the question on my mind is: what about DI?

JH said...

We were talking about this article with some local players today and all of us agreed that none of these cards, or any other currently legal cards, should be banned. Heart is strong, but it's a card that can be stolen, destroyed, contested or blocked. Unmasking is strong, but allies are squishy and almost every one will be destroyed against any deck with even half decent combat. Anthelios is strong and abusable, but there are several ways it could backfire or be rendered otherwise useless. As for DI, it's strong, but anyone can play it.

extrala said...

Most of you are arguing that this or that card is not overpowered or it can be countered. Sure, there's always a counter with "Direct Intervetion"/"Sudden Reveral"/"Wash"/"Uncoiling" available. But that's not my point, my point is that in case of the "Heart of Nizchetus", that it makes any deck better, and in the case of "Unmasking", that (when building a deck) you always have to consider the existence of this commonly used card which will massively affect your deck when it is played. Therefore these cards (and maybe to a somewhat lesser extent also "Anthelios") are IMHO candidates for being banned from tournament play.

_angst_ said...

Not many vtes cards have been banned because they are overpowered. Most of them have been banned because they disturb the dynamics of the gam to much.

Heart of Cheating is incredibly overpowered and a playtest botch but I don't think it should get banned. It should get reprinted a lot though so every player gets the chance to use it.

Unmasking is very strong just as allies are. But still, it doesn't deserve a ban imo.

Anthelios is horrible though and should probably be restricted in some way or perhaps even banned. this card fulfills the requirement of disturbing the game in ways that cards like the succubus club and the seatswitchers did.

I'm surprised you don't mention Pentex Subversion or Khazar's Diary on your list.

Alex Ek

JH said...

Well, every one also has to prepare for Vessels which disruptively destroy Blood Dolls. They'll have to prepare for Parity Shifts, which can make a 10 pool swing. There are lots of powerful cards that you'll have to prepare for. Unmasking is just another example.

And not every deck is improved by including the Heart, as some really don't have enough actions to spare, or enough stealth to pull it off reliably. Until now I've included it in only 2 decks I've built, because in others it was just not worth the card slot it would've used.

As for Anthelios being disruptive... I've never considered it disruptive. You can't oust anyone cross-table with it, except maybe by some freakish accident. If Anthelios is disruptive, then I'd consider almost every other event also disruptive.

sk. said...

"But that's not my point, my point is that in case of the "Heart of Nizchetus", that it makes any deck better..."

Same can be said about Blood Doll/Vessel outside Imbued decks - shouldn't those cards be banned as well?

"...and in the case of "Unmasking", that (when building a deck) you always have to consider the existence of this commonly used card which will massively affect your deck when it is played."

So you have to take the existence of intercept into account? That shouldn't come as a surprise, because it's one of the basic mechanisms of the game!