Thursday, July 31, 2008

VtES Clan Newsletters in July 2008

Three clan newsletter have been posted in the "" usenet newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.
The Harbinger of Skulls Newsletter is particularly interesting for beginners since it contains a section how the different defenses against bleed work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Memorable Quotes (Part 18)

"Yes, Miss, this is the National Championships for V:TES, but this is the CCG, are you sure you're not looking for the role players?" -- comment from an unknown player to Robyn Tatu

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 20)

.. you cannot play "Freak Drive" after you played "Kiss of Ra"? Since the action ends immediately when playing "Kiss of Ra", it does not enter the resolution stage. The action is neither successful nor unsuccessful, so playing "Freak Drive" is not a feasible card in this situation.

The same applies to "Claiming the Body" (at inferior "Sanguinis"), to "Scry of the Heart Stone" (at superior "Visceratica"), and to "Unseen Hibernation" at superior "Abombwe") since they are all ending/canceling the action right away.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Deck Archetypes: Aching Beauty

The "Aching Beauty" deck archetype is based on the "Toreador" card of the same name. In essence it is a mixed bleed/political deck that uses the cards "Aching Beauty" & "Change of Target", and "Majesty" (to name the basic cards) to punish blockers. You don't see this deck as often in the finals of tournaments since other deck archetypes like "Inner Circle Vote" or "Kindred Spirits Bleed" are a bit stronger, but played properly it can be a real asset.

How to win with them

Unlike most other deck archtypes, this deck's vampires want to be blocked, since by blocking you're hurting the blocker's pool (or blood on vampires). The pool damage/blood loss is inflicted mainly by the two cards "Aching Beauty" and "Crocodiles Tongue". Both cards requirements can be covered by using mid- to high-capacity "Toreador" vampires, since "Aching Beauty" requires "Toreador" vampires, and "Crocodiles Tongue" requires "Auspex" and is only usuable against younger vampires and allies.

To maximize the effect, both "Change of Target" and "Majesty" are used. The use of these two cards allows a vampire to perform a second action even after he's blocked. So the acting vampire can often either
  1. perform the 1. action successfully if not blocked at all.
  2. perform the 2. action successfully, and punish the blocker for blocking the 1. action.
  3. perform no action, but punish the blocker twice.
Usually the two actions are one bleed action and one political action. Which one should you attempt first depends largely on the current situation and the cards in your hand. For example, if your prey has access to bleed bounce and is tapped out, you want to try the political action first, since this would require your prey to play an untap card and if he blocks, you can bleed more freely since the chance that he has another untap card is reduced now. If you have a "Parity Shift" on your hand and your prey has more pool than you, you will attempt the "Parity Shift" first, since if you bleed first he has likely less pool than you, rendering the "Parity Shift" useless for the current turn.

"Crocodiles Tongue", despite the restrictions to younger vampires and allies, is quite useful, especially when it mutates from a block punishing card to a block denial card later in the game when vampires are low on blood and cannot (or want not) spent blood for being able to block. If the designated blocker is an ally or vampire with one blood, the action cannot be blocked by this reacting player anymore, and if the blocker is an ally with two life, e.g. the popular "Carlton van Wyk", he has to sacrificed if the reacting player wants to block the action at all.

Another blood burner is the political action "Camarilla Exemplary" which forces the blocking vampire to burn a blood each time he attempts to block a vampire with "Camarilla Exemplary". This is an alternative to the other political actions like "Parity Shift" or "Kine Resources Contested".

A typical action sequence could look like this:
  • Anson with "Aching Beauty" attempts "Parity Shift".
  • Action is blocked by your prey.
  • Prey pays one pool for attempting to block.
  • Anson plays "Change of Target".
  • Anson attempts tries to steal "Nephandus" from its prey with "Entrancement".
  • "Carlton van Wyk" tries to block.
  • Prey pays one pool for attempting to block.
  • Anson plays "Crododiles Tongue".
  • Preys declines any blocks, since he doesn't want to lose a life from his precious Carlton.
  • Anson takes control of the "Procurer".
In the end you gained control of the "Procurer" and your prey lost two pool. One the other hand the whole action sequence cost you four cards and the action of one of your vampires. This is not a good ratio per se, but eventually it wears your prey down. And in this example he will be weary to block any crucial action of your's with "Carlton van Wyk" again, since this might be forcing him to burn Carlton if an vampire with superior "Auspex" attempts an action.

The buildup of the deck is rather slow. It takes some time to influence out the mid-cap/large cap "Toreador" vampires and giving them the necessary "Aching Beauties", although it is possible to start the action-block-untap/cancel action cycle without the "Aching Beauties", but that's only half the fun for your prey/predator.

One of the strengths of the deck is that the "Toreador" can bleed and vote quite good, since they have
A rather new addition to this decktype is "Ambulance" which lets you continue an action even after a successful block. If the action is then blocked a second time, the "Ambulance" is gone, but on the other hand your prey has lost another pool or more.

A general issue for the deck is the pool management, since "Aching Beauty" is a costly card. It makes no sense to use blood farming since your vampires are quite large, and the actions you want to take are either bleed or political actions. The main means of gaining pool are those of a large-cap vote deck, i.e. "Minion Tap" and a preferably a successful referendum with "Voter Captivation" in the following minion phase. "Giants Blood" is also very often included, but since there's only copy in your deck and one "Giants Blood" can be played per game, it's generally too unreliable.

When choosing vampires for the crypt, the Toreador princes and justicars are on the top list, usually "Anson" and "Anneke" leading the crowd of G1/G2 crypt. When focusing on these groups "Alexandra" and "Tatiana Romanov" are also often included. The other grouping would be G2/G3 (since the lack of good group 4 vampires for this deck), in this grouping "Alexandra", "Madame Guil", "Fleurdumal" and "Francois Villon" are first choices to pick from.

Bleed defense
The "Toreador" have generally two approaches to cope with bleed. The first option is to use "Auspex" for bouncing bleeds with "Telephatic Misdirection" (and possibly "My Enemies Enemy"). The second approach is to use "Second Tradition: Domain" for untapping and blocking the bleed attempts. Of course both approaches can be combined/mixed. Both approaches have their advantages, the first one gives your prey additional actions to block or to cope with. The second approach gives you both intercept and the ability to untap, enabling to make your deck successful with even two (or three) vampires only.

Vote defense
The deck relies here often solely on their inherent votes, and omit cards like "Delaying Tactics" or "Poison Pill". Some newer variants of the deck feature "Scapel's Tongue", since it is possible to use the card in the defense and in the offense to cancel another vampires votes.

Combat defense
Combat defense can be divided into two sections, combat defense when acting and combat defense when reacting. In the first case there both "Majesty" and "Change of Target" are used, "Change of Target" is often prefable since it prevents the use of cards like "Immortal Grapple" or "Psyche". Only in order to tap a previously untapped blocking minion, "Majesty" will be better, since it makes your acting vampire untap after the action, while it (usually) taps the blocking minion. Combat defense while reacting is provided with "Majesty" and "Obedience", although the later requires "Dominate" which only a number of "Toreador" have, but usually only at the inferior level. Both usuable for offensive and defensive means are "Majesty" and ".44 Magnum", the later are sometimes added in low numbers to the deck. The ".44 Magnum" is good since it gives indirectly/possible damage prevention due to the range, and it hurts the opposing minion. On the other hand if the opposing vampires has access to maneuvers it won't help much.

How to win against them
The hardest decision is usually which actions to block when a "Toreador" with an "Aching Beauty" or two is acting. You cannot possibly block all of them since damages your pool far too much. If you have access to bleed bounce, bounce the bleeds boosted with "Legal Manipulations" or "Aire of Elation". If you have votes, do not block the political actions and try to make the following referendum fail. In general, you should decide how much the block and and a potential follow-up action might cost you. For example, a bleed for three is less damage than a block attempt against an "Aching Beauty" and a following "Kine Resource Contested".

Rush Combat is the greatest weakness of the deck, since in these decks both "Psyche" or "Immortal Grapple" are included which foil the decks main combat defense "Majesty". The "Toreador" also often does not feature a "Secure Haven", since it frequently plays master card on his own minions and a "Secure Haven" would increase their cost each time for a given vampire. Intercept combat decks often have hard time against an "Aching Beauty" deck since it is very costly to consistently block the Toreador, and often the "Change of Target" and "Majesty" have a reverse effect on your wall deck.

If a "Toreador" vampire has been dunked to torpor, it is often the best option to diablerize him, especially if there are one or more copies of "Aching Beauty" on that vampire. Blocking the rescue attempt is often not a viable option, because the "Toreador" vampires then play their usual game here by announcing an action, and if blocked play "Majesty" or "Change of Target".

Most vote decks can compete with the "Toreador" in terms of vote, but often it's important who actually calls the vote and can play vote push cards like "Bewitching Oration" or "Awe". Most vote decks have access to a decent amount of bleed bounce, but since the "Toreador" will try to bleed consistently this can be problem.

When playing a "Stealth Bleed" or "Powerbleed" deck as a predator of an "Aching Beauty" deck, your chances of ousting are quite good, but you have to be aware of two things. First they can bounce usually quite well, so keeping a "Spying Mission" at hand or bleeding at no stealth can be crucial. Secondly, since your chances of ousting are good, your prey will likely go backwards and try to oust you with "Parity Shift" and "Kine Resources Contested". As a prey of an "Aching Beauty" deck, you'll have to outrace the "Aching Beauty". Bounce any bleeds bigger than 2, try to play "Delaying Tactics" or "Direct Intervention" against the most damaging votes.

Key Cards
  • "Aching Beauty" -- main deck card; hurts the blocker's pool when an action is blocked.
  • "Change of Target" -- enables your vampire to perform multiple actions per turn if blocked.
  • "Majesty" -- Offensive/defensive combat card.
  • "Crocodiles Tongue" -- block deterrent for allies; wears down blocking vampires.
  • "Ambulance" -- makes a blocked action succesful or let's your prey pay another time for the "Aching Beauty".
Notable Examples & Variations
  • "Aching Beauty" by Ferenc Vasadi -- basic allround variant; Winner of EC 2007.
  • "Fork-Tongued Socialites" by Robert Scythe -- with a high count of "Camarilla Exemplary" and "Crocodiles Tongue" punishes blockers extra hard.
  • "Quintuple A" by Johannes Walch -- strictly speaking not a pure "Aching Beauty" deck, but adding Ambulance is stroke of genius.
  • "Masking The Unblockable" by Sten During -- focuses on "Toreador" with "Obfuscate" to make use of "Mask of 1K Faces" after blocks are declined.
Sample Decklist
Lock: Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
May 28th, 2006
13 players
2R + F

Tournament Winning Deck

Deck Name: Blocking is Pain, We Bring the Pain
Created By: John Bell
Description: Fairly straightforward; stacking Cam Exemplary, Archon, and Aching Beauty followed up with Croc Tongue punishes blockers. Getting a .44 further adds to the misery late game.

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 31, Max: 43, Avg: 9.33)
3 Alexandra dom ANI AUS CEL PRE 11 Toreador
2 Anneke dom AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
2 Francois Villon chi obf pot AUS CEL PRE 10 Toreador
4 Anson aus dom CEL PRE 8 Toreador
1 Tatiana Romanov cel pre AUS 7 Toreador

Library: (90 cards)
Master (24 cards)
8 Aching Beauty
1 Giant`s Blood
9 Minion Tap
1 Art Museum
1 Secret Horde
1 Parthenon, The
1 Toreador Grand Ball
1 Archon Investigation
1 Direct Intervention

Action Modifier (31 cards)
7 Voter Captivation
7 Change of Target
4 Aire of Elation
7 Crocodile`s Tongue
6 Bewitching Oration

Political Action (17 cards)
4 Camarilla Exemplary
2 Archon
6 Kine Resources Contested
1 Banishment
2 Parity Shift
2 Ancilla Empowerment

Reaction (5 cards)
5 Second Tradition: Domain, The

Combat (8 cards)
8 Majesty

Equipment (4 cards)
4 .44 Magnum

Event (1 cards)
1 Anthelios, the Red Star

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Top Ranking Non-Unique Equipment

(c) by White Wolf Inc.Here's the list of non-unique equipment in VtES that are most frequently used in tournament winning decks. The number shows the number of decks where the equipment appeared (at least once) on Lasombra's TWDA (as of 13/June/2008).
  1. .44 Magnum -- 97x
  2. Leather Jacket -- 80x
  3. Sport Bike -- 78x
  4. Laptop Computer -- 54x
  5. Sniper Rifle -- 44x
  6. IR Goggles -- 43x
  7. Flak Jacket -- 27x
  8. Assault Rifle -- 20x
  9. Flash Grenade -- 16x
  10. Unlicensed Taxicab -- 14x
  11. Flamethrower -- 13x
  12. Deer Rifle -- 12x
The good, old .44 Magnum leads the field, closely followed by two other allrounders, the Leather Jacket, and the Sport Bike.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Origin of Words (Classic Edition)

A lot of words in the World of Darkness (and often in VtES as well) stem from greek or roman mythology or biblical references. Here's list of words that are used in VtES and a short explanation of their meaning and origin. The texts for the explanations are taken from Wikipedia.
  • "Anathema" -- Anathema (Greek) meaning originally something lifted up as an offering to the gods; later, with evolving meanings, it came to mean:
    1. to be formally set apart,
    2. banished, exiled, excommunicated or
    3. denounced, sometimes accursed.
  • "Alastor" -- In Greek mythology, Alastor (English translation: "avenger") was the personification of familial feuds. He was also associated with sins that pass down from parent to child. As a genius, or spirit of the household in Roman mythology, he incited people to murder and other sins.
  • "Archon" -- Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem a??-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch and hierarchy.
  • "Antediluvian Awakening" -- The word antediluvian (syn.Prediluvian) (Latin for "before the deluge") is used to describe a period of time that preceded the Great Flood of Noah as related in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
  • "Auto-Da-Fe" -- The phrase auto de fé refers to the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment (that is, after the trial). Auto de fé in medieval Spanish means "act of faith". The phrase also commonly occurs in English in its Portuguese form auto-da-fé.
  • "Camarilla" -- A camarilla is a group of courtiers or favorites which surround a king or ruler. Usually, they do not hold any office or have any official authority but influence their ruler behind the scenes. Consequently, they also escape having to bear responsibility for the effects of their advice. The term derives from the Spanish word, "camarilla", meaning "little chamber" or private cabinet of the king. The term also entered the German language and is used in the sense given above.
  • "Cunctator Motion" -- Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (ca. 280 BC-203 BC), called Cunctator (the Delayer), was a Roman politician and General, born in Rome around 280 BC and died in Rome in 203 BC. He was consul five times (233 BC, 228 BC, 215 BC, 214 BC and 209 BC) and was twice dictator in 221 and again in 217 BC. He reached the office of censor in 230 BC. His epithet Cunctator (akin to the English noun cunctation) means "delayer" in Latin, and refers to his tactics in deploying the troops during the Second Punic War. His cognomen Verrucosus means warty, a reference to the wart above his upper lip.
  • "Curse of Nitocris" -- Nitocris (Greek ??t?????) has been claimed to have been the last pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty. Her name is found in the Histories of Herodotus and writings of Manetho but her historicity is questionable.
  • "Gehenna" -- Gehenna (hebrew) is the Jewish hell or purgatory. In Judaism hell is a place of purification and fire for the wicked, most being punished there up to a year but some for eternity.
  • "Herald of Topheth" -- Topheth (to´feth; ?????; ha-topheth; etymology uncertain) most probably is connected with a root word meaning "burning" - the "place of burning"; the King James Version, Tophet, except in 2 Kings 23:10. The references are to such a place: "They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire" (Jeremiah 7:31). On account of this abomination Topheth and the Valley of Hinnom should be called "The Valley of Slaughter: for they shall bury in Topheth, till there be no place to bury," the Revised Version margin "because there shall be no place else" (Jeremiah 7:32); see also Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:12, Jeremiah 19:13, Jeremiah 19:14. Josiah is said to have "defiled Topheth" as part of his great religious reforms (2 Kings 23:10). The site of this shameful place would seem to have been either at the lower end of the Valley Of Hinnom, near where Akeldama is now pointed out, or in the open ground where this valley joins the Kidron Valley.
    Also see this website which explains how this valley was renamed Gehenna, meaning hell. "Then it became the place of abomination, the very gate or pit of hell."
  • "Hierophant" -- The role of the Hierophant in religion is to bring the congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, "the holy", and phainein, "to show." In Attica it was the title of the chief priest at the Eleusinian Mysteries. A hierophant is an interpreter of sacred mysteries and arcane principles.
  • "Kaymakli Barrier" -- Kaymakli Underground City is contained within the citadel of Kaymakli. First opened to tourists in 1964, the village is about 19km from Nevsehir, on the Nevsehir-Nigde road. The ancient name was Enegup. The houses in the village are constructed around the nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. The tunnels are still used today as storage areas, stables, and cellars. The underground city at Kaymakli differs from Derinkuyu in terms of its structure and layout. The tunnels are lower, narrower, and more steeply inclined. Of the four floors open to tourists, each space is organized around ventilation shafts. This makes the design of each room or open space dependent on the availability of ventilation.
  • "Tithings" -- A tithe (from Old English teogoþa "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a Jewish or Christian religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Memorable Quotes (Part 17)

"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." -- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 19)

(c) 2006 by White Wolf Inc... you if you save a red listed ally you control by playing "Left for Dead" your opponent cannot collect any Trophy cards, since the ally is not actually burned? On the other hand, if that ally (with the "Left for Dead") is attacked (e.g. via "Harrass") until your next untap phase, he burns automatically and the attacking minion can collect Trophies.

References:" thread.

"Anarchs & Alastors" VtES Storyline 2008

Details about the first part of this year's VtES Storyline event named "Anarchs and Alastors have been disclosed. The storyline article on White Wolf's website contains the prologue story, information about the VtES Storyline League rules and ordering info for the Storyline pack. Basically the league is a draft format in five rounds/league games. Before each round six cards with Anarch, Alastor or Red List background are auctioned, and can be included later in the draft deck. The auctioned cards are all already published cards, but the Storyline pack includes also two new promo cards (or more likely a number of copies of these two cards).

Also check the usenet newgroups thread where already some questions (and answers) regarding tournament revelant issue have been answered.

Results Great Lakes (Michigan) NAC Qualifier 2008

On July 12th, 2008 the VtES Great Lakes (Michigan) NAC Qualifier was held in Flint, Michigan with 10 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
1. Raymond Harnack (USA) -- 3 VP -- !Brujah Boon/Breed)
2. Mark Petersen (USA) -- 1 VP -- Terrifisto turns Nocturns into War Ghouls
2. Tom Duncan (USA) -- 1 VP -- Tariq and Fatima bring Assault Rifles to the party
2. Devin Crane (USA) -- 0 VP -- Toreador Grand Ball / Vote
2. Eric Chiang (USA) -- 0 VP -- Auspex / Intercept midcaps with equipment
Congratulations to Raymond for his win of the Great Lakes (Michigan) NACQ 2008. You can find the winner's decklist and a tournament report in the Usenet newsgroup.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Follower of String

Inspired by the interviews of some american VtES players, published some months ago on the White Wolf website, I conducted an interview with Italian VtES player. Emiliano has played in a lot of different european countries (and not just in tournaments), mostly because he has lived in many of them. But with further ado here's the questions and answers with Emiliano:

Name: Emiliano Imeroni
Year of Birth: 1977
Occupation: Researcher in theoretical physics (string theory)
Residence: Brussels, Belgium

Question: Describe yourself ... What's your current occupation? Where do you live right now? ..
Answer: I am a postdoc (researcher with fixed term contract) at the Université Libre of Brussels, Belgium. I am a theoretical physicist: my research is in string theory, a theory that aims to unify all forces of nature into a unique description. I have moved around quite a lot following postdoc jobs. I did my PhD partly in my hometown Torino, in Italy, and partly in Copenhagen, Denmark. Then I moved to Swansea, Wales, for another two years. I have lived in Brussels since last October. And I have met VtES players in all these places and more.

Question: How did you get to VtES? For how long do you play it?
Answer: I entered the world of CCGs sometime in the late nineties with the long forgotten game "Doomtrooper", enticed by a friend I used to roleplay with. The same friend introduced me to VtES at the end of 2002: he brought me to the weekly game night in Torino and gave me a nonsense Thetmes deck to play straight away. I understood nothing and was ousted in minutes. Luckily Camarilla Edition had just been released so I could easily buy core cards for a more gradual approach, even if the first deck I built was a completely hopeless Malkavian stealth bleed... with neither dominate nor dementation! In any case, since then I have kept playing wherever life brought me.

Question: What do you like about VtES?
Answer: First, the people: I have been welcomed by fellow VtES players wherever I travelled, and got to know a wide range of interesting and enjoyable people. Of course, I also like the thrill that I feel every time I build or play a new deck, knowing that, thanks to the inherent social complexity of the game, the next game will be a different story from anything I have played before.

Question: Do have a favourite clans/decks/strategies?
Answer: I used to identify Tremere as my favourite clan (and Aisling Sturbridge as my favourite Vampire), but in retrospect I haven't played many Tremere decks. I used to have a penchant for wall decks, but now I try to change decks and strategies all the time, and even if most decks I build are sketchy at best, this keeps my interest high. However, experimental evidence shows that I tend to play a hell lot of Obfuscate in all my decks lately, while I hardly ever play Lasombra or Tzimisce. Diversity in building decks has also increased a lot in Swansea, were most players didn't buy cards or build decks, so I had to provide interesting and challenging decks to almost everybody.

Question: What do you think a player needs to win a tournament (beside a deck, of course)?
Answer: I think the ability to "read the table" and play the right card at the right time are crucial. This is also the reason why I will never be a great player - I play too instinctively and I tend to get nervous or excited depending on how the game progresses. I notice that people who really know how to play this game can win even by playing just a card or two, but at the right time.

Question: What was your greatest moment in your VtES Life (not necessarily as a player)?
Answer: There have been many. I remember when I reached my first final in a qualifier, in Essen in 2004. I was overwhelmed: it was completely unexpected! The final turned out to be a very subtle game, in the hands of two old-school Belgian players, Jo and Ruben, with a very attentive and silent public around. I had no chance, but it was a lot of fun. Then, as far as overall atmosphere goes, my first experience at Gen*Con Indy was probably the best. Finally, from the point of view of personal feelings, I also fondly remember my "farewell" tournament in Utrecht in 2005: someone (remember?) even brought me a nice booklet, the "Xenophobe's Guide to the Welsh", as a gift ;-)

Question: You have lived and played in a lot of different countries. Are there any noticable difference of playing/deck styles in the different countries (e.g. Italy, Netherlands, UK)?
Answer: Definitely. In Torino, for example, breaking a deal is considered almost unethical, so my initial playstyle developed somewhat "rigidly". Sometimes I feel that in Italy there are many excellent players but the overall scene is a bit, so to speak, self-referential. I improved a lot in Utrecht, where the small playgroup features very good quality players, free to experiment with dealing and dealbreaking, and where I started playing in tournaments with people of different nationalities. The British scene is again very different, and taught me a lot, with a few players (such as Hugh and Ant) who are way above anyone else, then a huge gap and then may people competing at the same level. Belgium used to have a very strong playerbase (with a mania for table control and lots of timeouts), but now all the old players have "retired" and most of the new ones have very little tournament experience. I love all this diversity, it makes me like the game even more.

Question: Do you have any preference when it comes down to playing Constructed or Draft formats?
Answer: I like constructed, but I would like more attention devoted to draft, because I remember some of the funniest moments of my VtES life as being linked to draft events, particularly at Gen*Con Indy, or a very big draft tournament in London when I lost the final, as usual, to Ant Coleman. I also love having draft games at home when I open new cards. In fact, one of the funniest periods in my playing career was when the Utrecht playgroup created "draft piles" from a bunch of unused cards to play draft games.

Question: How do you organize your cards? Do you have an inventory of cards? Do you use a deckbuilding utility? Which one?
Answer: I don't have an inventory, but all my cards are sorted by type and then organized in alphabetical order. I keep them into VtES display boxes, while always postponing the adoption of more rationally organized boxes. As for deckbuilding, I have used ARDB since the beginning of its existence, also because I am a Mac user and basically there aren't any valid alternatives. Unfortunately, with the release of Twilight Rebellion, the unmaintained Mac version of ARDB has encountered problems. One of my dreams is to create from scratch a deck builder application specifically for Mac (and iPhone?), but I am no programmer and I don't think I will ever find the time.

Question: Does your study of Physics affect your deck building / playing style in VtES or is it a total separate thing?
Answer: This is an interesting question, I have never thought about that. can definitely say that some mathematics knowledge can help (for instance I use some statistics formulae to compute ratio of cards sometimes), but as for direct influence... I wouldn't say so. Besides, of course, my "Follower of Strings" create-a-clan deck played at Gen*Con, where I depicted all the big shots of my research field as vampires, of course with dementation (and even recklessly showed the cards to one of them)!

Question: You hosted the Welsh ECQ qualifier, the Dutch ECQ Qualifier, the Belgian ECQ Qualifier ... What's with this multi-national thing? What's your motivation to do all this?
Answer: Well, the first motivation is quite egoistic: I like to play wherever I am! And I like organizing tournaments, a bit because I am a sort of control freak, and mostly because I love it when people can meet, play and have fun also thanks to your work! I don't like much to stay out and judge, though - I think multi-judge rules should be extended to qualifiers, at least to the small ones. Qualifiers apart, though, from the point of view of organization things in Belgium are turning out to be much harder than ever before: with the old players having entered "Golconda", creating a playgroup in Brussels looks almost impossible!

Question: Last words?
Answer: Thanks for having me here, I really enjoy your blog, it's one of the nicest VtES resources around!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Top Ranking Unique Equipment

(c) 2006 by White Wolf Inc.Here's the list of unique equipment in VtES that are most frequently used in tournament winning decks. The number shows the number of decks where the equipment appeared (at least once) on Lasombra's TWDA (as of 13/June/2008).
  1. Ivory Bow -- 161x
  2. Palatial Estate -- 63x
  3. Heart of Nizchetus -- 49x
  4. Bowl of Convergence -- 49x
  5. Crusader Sword -- 32x
  6. Sengir Dagger -- 20x
  7. Enchanted Marionette -- 19x
  8. Sargon Fragment -- 15x
  9. Treasured Samadji -- 14x
  10. Changeling Skin Mask -- 13x
  11. Seal Of Veddartha -- 13x
  12. Femur Of Toomler -- 12x
Equipment that provides aggravated damage is certainly in high demand with 4 cards of those in the top twelve. "Ivory Bow" leads by far, but I guess "Bowl of Convergence" and even more so "Heart of Nizchetus" will gain it. The "Crusader Sword" is sign for the success of "Imbued decks in tournaments.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Results Texas Qualifier NAC 2008

On July 12th, 2008 the VtES Texas NAC Qualifier was held in Austin, Texas with 17 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
1. Preston Poulter (USA) -- 4 VP -- Cesewayo No Secrets
2. Eric Leal (USA)-- 1 VP -- Tremere/!Tremere Weenie Wall/Bleed
2. Taylor Lane (USA) -- 0 VP Obfuscate Weenie Bleed
2. Alex Gifford (USA)-- 0 VP -- Anarch Daughters Vote
2. Jason Tretter (USA) -- 0 VP -- !Brujah Hektor War Party Thrown Junk
Congratulations to Preston for his win of the Texas NACQ 2008. You can find the winner's decklist and a tournament report in the Usenet newsgroup.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Go Anarch or "How to make an Anarch"

With the release of the "Twilight Rebellion" expansion three new ways of making vampires Anarch (and Independent) have been introduced (five if you also count the draft effects). Time to review the different approaches in terms of effectiveness and playability.

  • Cardless action -- although this a way to make an Anarch that doesn't require any card, it's definitely the worst one. It costs an action and two blood, if you do not control any ready Anarch (one blood, if you have at least one ready Anarch). Furthermore the action is only at +1 stealth and can therefore easily be blocked if not backed up with additional stealth. In short, it's costly, it's unreliable, so only if your others cards for making your vampires Anarch are showing up you should consider this option. The only good thing is that you can use "CrimethInc." to untap the vampire after the action if your vampires have "Protean" or "Quietus".

  • "Go Anarch" -- "Anarch" common -- this one is on the middle ground. It's an action and it's only at +1 stealth, but at least it doesn't cost and untaps after the action. Still it has the problem that without additional stealth this can be easily blocked. So basing an entire Anarch deck on this card (as means of making vampires Anarch) is too often unreliable, especially against more experienced players who will try to block this action to prevent your deck from functioning.

  • "Anarch Secession" -- "Kindred Most Wanted" rare -- while the above two actions can only be taken by non-titled vampires, this is the card for titled vampires to use. Although the newly converted anarch does not untap (as with "Go Anarch"), princes and archbishops have their titles converted into baron titles of the same city. Since this is the only way of making titled vampires Anarch (beside "Jack Drake"), it is the first choice if you want to base your Anarch deck on vampires with inherent votes (titles).

  • "Galaric's Legacy" -- "Anarch" Common -- before "Twilight Rebellion" "Galaric's Legacy" was usually the first choice in an Anarch-based deck, since it wasn't action (that can be blocked), and this master card is a trifle. Packing 6 to 10 cards (in a 80-90 cards) deck is enough to have Anarchs vampires early on. One of the drawbacks of this card is that the master can be canceled (by "Wash" or "Sudden Reversal"), but this does not happen often, since it is regarded as not too important (better save the SR/Wash for the "Fame" or "Pentex Subversion". The real disadvantage is that you waste a lot of card slots for making your vampires Anarch. Card slots that should better be used to make actually use of your Anarch vampires and their abilities.

  • "Seattle Committee" -- "Anarch" rare -- while clearly having a better effect than "Galaric's Legacy", since a single copy of "Seattle Committee" can be used multiple times to make a vampire an Anarch, the card has other drawbacks. First of all, it's not a good idea to include too many copies, since the card stays in play you only need one copy in play. On the other hand you want to draw the card earlier than later in the game, so this contradicts the fact that too many copies of the card are not good for the later card flow. Secondly, it's not a trifle and it's unique, so if there's another Anarch player at the table (which usually does not happen that often) there might be contest of the card.

  • "Twilight Camp" -- "Twilight Rebellion" rare -- is an interesting alternative to "Seattle Comittee". It offers slighty different mechanism on making Anarchs, because you can only make vampires Anarch when they entered play from the uncontrolled region. This inferior to "Seattle Committee", on the upside you can spent a master phase action to move one (of up to four) counters as blood to an Anarch. If you have used one or more "Seattle Committee" in your Anarch decks you should consider replacing some of them with "Twilight Camp".

  • "Anarch Convert" -- "Twilight Rebellion" uncommon -- this new mechanism was introduced with the "Twilight Rebellion" expansion. It allows you to make another vampire you control an Anarch by burning the "Anarch Convert" that has just entered the ready region.When using this effect, you can then decide which of the two optiosn you choose:
    1. get a pool; in this case you often used a crypt slot and a transfer point for the go-anarch effect.
    2. move a card from your crypt from your controlled region; in this case you have paid a pool and a transfer for the go-anarch effect.
    In the end you gain a versatile tool for making vampires Anarch, but at the same time you do not have to dilute your library with too many cards for achieving the same effect. Putting 4 "Anarch Converts" into your crypt, you have 83% chance of getting "Anarch Convert" in your starting crypt, thus giving you - with a slight delay (of one transfer point) - an Anarch very early in the game.

  • "Jack Drake" -- his special is that he can make vampires Anarch when they move from the uncontrolled to the ready region (similar to those of "Twilight Camp") and they burn a blood. The obvious drawback is that Jack must be moved first to the ready, then the younger vampires. In addition Jack as a vampire with his disciplines must fit into your overall deck strategy. On the other hand Jack's special also also (similar to "Anarch Secession") to become titled vampires Anarchs, but in contrast to "Anarch Secession", they all lose their title.(1) As an alternative you can move the younger vampires to the ready region first, and after Jack has done this as well, the first vampire can save a blood when going anarch (cardless), since Jack is already an Anarch. So Jack is not a bad choice for going anarch, but he doesn't fit into every Anarch deck due his capacity and discipline selection.
Draft Effect Cards
  • "Anarch Manifesto" -- "Twilight Rebellion" common -- is great way of becoming Anarch in draft, since not only you can become Anarch for free, any subsequent actions that require an Anarch, e.g. "Steely Tenacity" or "Keystone Kine" are at an additional +1 stealth. When combined with "Anonymous Freight" you can also increase the stealth on the equip action to +3 without having to think about any discipline or clan requirements.

  • "Garibaldi-Meucci Museum" -- "Twilight Rebellion" rare -- another great choice in draft, since along with two other useful effects (retrieving Anarch-requiring cards from the ashheap & ending combat between Anarchs), you have the effect of "Seattle Committee" for free.
While in the past "Galaric's Legacy" combined with copy of "Seattle Committee" was most often the best choice when you tried to play an Anarch deck, the question for the right card is now more complex to answer. "Twilight Camp" can replace or combined with "Seattle Committee". The two go-anarch actions (cardless and "Go Anarch") are still not the first choice, but in deck with "CrimethInc" it's at least worth a thought. The card that excels in making Anarchs is (in my humble opinion) the "Anarch Convert", because he offers a reliable way of doing so, with a reasonable cost/drawback.

(1) Technically they don't loose their title, the title is just dormant until their sect affinity switches back to their original sect.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One Year of Blogging

So this blog has a kind of birthday ... One year ago I started the blog since I was fed up with the White Wolf policy of releasing (or not) VtES related information. A good example is the current status of news shown in the VtES section. The top two messages are "Fall eQuarterly Fan Submissions Contest" and "White Wolf Warehouse Closed", all the while the announcement of the VtES Storyline Events 2008 is "hidden" in the VtES forum. The third post is actually VtES related (about change of dates for the 2008 VTES European Championship), but it's several months old now.

Including this post there have been 290 posts on this blog in the last 365 days. Usually in 5 days there are 4 posts on VtES related topics, which is good turnaround in my humble opinion. My favourite posts are usually those related to deck archetypes or strategy, but I am especially fond of those that highlight the more humorous aspects of VtES, like this:

Enough of the self-praise. Let's play a round of VtES (or two) ...

VtES Storyline 2008 Announcement

In the newsgroup and the White Wolf forum there's announcement regarding the V:tES Storyline events for 2008.

Here's the full text of Ben Swainbank's (White Wolf's Storyline coordinator) announcement:

The Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Storyline Series will return this summer.

An outlaw gang of anarchs, led by notorious Count Germain, has been traveling from city to city. At each stop along the way, they have flaunted the local authorities, violated the masquerade, and drawn more recruits to their cause.

Following the gang are rumors - rumors that Germain and his followers are chasing something, preparing for the Final Nights. The Camarilla are determined to stop the gang and silence the rumors. Rich rewards have been offered to those who can bring the gang down. Starting in August, Anarchs and Alastors clash in this limited format Storyline League.

The story continues in October at a special Storyline Event at the 2008 North American Championships.

The Noddist scholars of Montreal are the keepers of many relics and many secrets. None are guarded more closely than the Kaymakli Fragment. Some say its ancient text foretells the end of the Kindred. Some say it holds the key to their survival. Some seek to control it. Some seek to keep it hidden. Some seek to destroy it. The fate of the Fragment, and the city itself, will be determined when Kindred travel to Montreal and find themselves in the city of Black Miracles and Lies.

Then, next winter...

Faced with increasing threats from an anarch revolt, the deadly Sabbat, and their own internal strife, the Camarilla's Inner Circle have agreed to appoint a military commander. The new commander will have the mandate to enforce the traditions and maintain discipline, and will be granted broad powers to fulfill this mission. Who among the clans will have the power to seize this exalted position? Who will have the strength to keep it?

In the corridors of power, maneuvering begins. Who will have the honor, the responsibility, and the power to lead the armies of the Camarilla? Prepare for the Rise of the Imperator.

-Ben Swainbank
V:tes Storyline Coordinator
Looks like we are getting a series of three events later this year. Sadly it seems that the second one will only take place at the North American Championship 2008, which will be held in Montreal, Canada.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Memorable Quotes (Part 16)

"Great players play their opponents and not their opponents' decks." -- Robyn Tatu

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Did you know, that ... (Part 18)

.. you can use "Gramle" to search your crypt for an basic/advanced version of a vampire if the other version is already in play?


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Poll Results: "What's your favourite Thaumaturgy card?"

Here are the results of the latest poll on your opinions what the readers of this blog name as their favourite Thaumaturgy card in VtES. 55 VtES players voted in the poll:
  1. Magic of the Smith -- 18 (32%)
  2. Machine Blitz -- 7 (13%)
  3. Mirror Walk -- 4 (7%)
  4. Rutor's Hand -- 4 (7%)
  5. Walk of Flame -- 4 (7%)
  6. I loathe Thaumaturgy -- 3 (6%)
  7. Blood To Water -- 3 (6%)
  8. Blood Rage/Blood Fury -- 2 (4%)
  9. Theft of Vitae -- 2 (4%)
  10. Wind Dance -- 2 (4%)
  11. Biothaumaturgic Experiment -- 1 (2%)
  12. Burst of Sunlight -- 1 (2%)
  13. Cryptic Mission -- 1 (2%)
  14. Serenading the Kami -- 1 (2%)
  15. Shotgun Ritual -- 1 (2%)
  16. Weather Control -- 1 (2%)
  17. Eldritch Glimmer -- 0 (0%)
  18. Perfect Clarity -- 0 (0%)
  19. Soul Burn -- 0 (0%)
  20. Another Thaumaturgy card ... -- 0 (0%)
"Magic of the Smith" is very well liked (and for good reasons I presume), with "Machine Blitz" as second. I must admit I am little bit wary of the "Machine Blitz" result, and suspect foul play, since the polling engine is not really foolproof. So I guess "Mirror Walk", "Rutor's Hand" and "Walk of Flame" deserve the place of the runner-up(s) rightly.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Results South East Queensland AC Qualifier 2008

On July 5th, 2008 the VtES South East Queensland Qualifier for the Australian Championship was held in Brisbane (Australia) with 13 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
1. Steve McCroy (NZL) -- 3 VP -- Turbo Arika
2. Evor ??? (AUS) -- 2 VP -- Setite & Anson Stealth/Bleed
2. Julian Gatt (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Cailean Wall
2. Rolf Hiessleitner (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Malkvian Stealth Bleed
2. Andrew Daley (AUS) -- 0 VP -- Weenie Obfuscate Computer Hacking
Congratulations to Steve for his win of the SE Queensland ACQ 2008. You can find the final standings and the winner's decklist in the Usenet newsgroup.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top Ranking Retainers

(c) by White WolfHere's the list of retainers in VtES that are most frequently used in tournament winning decks. The number shows the number of decks where the retainer appeared (at least once) on Lasombra's TWDA (as of 13/June/2008).
  1. Mr. Winthrop -- 123x
  2. Raven Spy -- 107x
  3. J.S. Simmons, Esq. -- 107x
  4. Tasha Morgan -- 102x
  5. Owl Companion -- 40x
  6. Murder of Crows -- 38x
  7. Revenant -- 25x
  8. Homunculus -- 18x
  9. Marijava Ghoul -- 11x
  10. Shaman -- 10x
In the Top Ten the intercept- and bleed-providing retainers are obviously the most popular. And since "Animalism" provides the most retainers of all disciplines and is widespread among the vampire clans the "Animalism" retainers are also very well represented.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Origin of Words (Twilight Rebellion Edition)

As a non-American, non-native English speaker I usually have to look up what the cultural background of VtES cards are. I have compiled a more or less short list of cards from the "Twilight Rebellion" expansion which background is not self-explanatory (at least from my point of view). The information below is my best guess what's the explanation behind these cards, but since I have not asked LSJ himself about the cards' background, I am not 100% sure.

(c) 2006 by White WolfAnarch Manifesto

Anarchist Manifesto is a work by Anselme Bellegarrigue, notable for being the first manifesto of anarchism. It was written in 1850, ten years after Pierre-Joseph Proudhon became history's first self-proclaimed anarchist with the publication of his seminal "What Is Property?".

More information:


(c) 2006 by White Wolf"CrimethInc." is a decentralized anarchist collective composed of autonomous cells which act independently in pursuit of a freer and more joyous world. On of their mottos is "The Future is unwritten".
"CrimethInc." cells have variously published books, released records and organized large-scale national campaigns against globalization and representative democracy in favor of radical community organizing.
They say about themselves: "Crimethought is not any ideology or value system or lifestyle, but rather a way of challenging all ideologies and value systems and lifestyles - and, for the advanced agent, a way of making all ideologies, value systems, and lifestyles challenging." --

More information: CrimethInc. website

(c) 2006 by White WolfConstant Revolution

A revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, "a turnaround") is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Some Marxists ideologists, especially Maoists, believe that it is not sufficient just to overturn capitalism and establish a new government, but that a further constant revolution is required: a continual process of self-criticism is needed to correct mistakes.

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

(c) 2006 by White WolfThe "Garibaldi-Meucci Museum" is the historic home of the pioneer inventor, Antonio Meucci, and legendary hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The museum is located on Staten Island (New York). Antonio Meucci was an Italian-born inventor who developed a form of voice communication apparatus in 1857. Many people, especially the Italians, credit him with the invention of the telephone before Alexander Graham Bell. Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political leader. Garibaldi contributed much to the independence of Uruguay and the political unification of Italy in the 19th century. He is considered an Italian national hero.

More information: Garibaldi-Meucci Museum website

(c) 2006 by White WolfHell-for-Leather

1. with all of one's energy, will, etc.; with wholehearted or reckless determination
2. at full speed or with great speed a hell-for-leather chase

Robert L. Chapman's "New Dictionary of American Slang" (Harper & Row, 1987, ISBN 0-06-181157-2) says: "hell-for-leather or hell-bent-for-leather" adv "from late 1800s British" Rapidly and energetically; all out, flat out. "You're heading hell-for-leather to a crack-up" [origin unknown; perhaps related to British dialect phrases "go hell for ladder, hell falladerly, hell faleero", and remaining mysterious even if so, although the "leather" would then be a very probable case of folk etymology with a vague sense of the "leather" involved in horse trappings.]"

The World's a Canvas

(c) 2006 by White Wolf"The World is my Canvas" is a promotion campaign initated by Nokia to promote the smartphone N82 in 2007. The concept of "The World is my Canvas" is to use GPS tracking devices to create positional art, i.e GPS drawings which are then made visible on maps or satellite photos. Stavros, self-proclaimed "Position Art Genius", is the advertising character of the campaign.
For another/the correct explanation see the comment below.

More information: The World is my Canvas website

(c) 2006 by White WolfMonky Wrench

The monkey wrench is an adjustable wrench, which is rarely used today. Its use has generally been replaced by the adjustable-end wrench, which has a compact head and so is more easily used in confined places.

Again, for another/the correct explanation see the comment below.

More information: Monky Wrench on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Memorable Quotes (Part 15)

"It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." -- Proverb
This proverb is especially true for VtES games. I have seen players getting VPs with no minions or pool damaging cards on the table, since someone played "Kine Resources Contested" and ousted the helpless player's prey to stabilize the table.

Monday, July 7, 2008

VtES North American Championship Qualifiers 2008

Here's a list of the past and upcoming North American Championship Qualifier (NACQ) tournaments for VtES, mostly taken from the WW event calendar.
Past VtES North American Qualifiers 2008:
  • North East Qualifier -- Providence, RI -- February 2nd, 2008 -- Winner: Ben Swainbank (USA)
  • Louisiana Qualifier -- Lafayette, LA -- April 5th, 2008 -- Winner: Robyn Tatu (USA)
  • Great Lakes Qualifier (WI) -- Madison, WI -- May 3rd, 2008 -- Winner: Luciano Mariucci (USA)
  • Quebec NACQ -- Trois-Rivières, Canada -- May 18th, 2008 -- Winner: Christian Chenard (CAN)
  • Los Angeles Qualifier -- Los Angeles, CA -- May 24th, 2008 -- Winner: Ira Fay (USA)
  • NYC Qualifier -- NYC, New York -- May 24th, 2008 -- Winner: Matt Morgan (USA)
  • Indiana Qualifier -- City, IN -- May 31st, 2008 -- Winner: James Messer (USA)
  • San Francisco Qualifier -- San Francisco, CA -- June 21st, 2008 -- Winner: Ruben Feldman (SUI)
  • Origins Qualifier -- Columbus, OH -- June 28th, 2008 -- Winner: John Newquist (USA)
All this culiminating in the North American VtES Championship 2008:

Results Origins NAC Qualifier 2008

On June 28th, 2008 the VtES Origins NAC Qualifier was held in Columbus (Ohio) with 44 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
1. John Newquist (USA) -- 3 GW 8,5 VP -- 3 VP -- Imbued w/ Flash Grenades
2. Matt Morgan (USA) -- 2 GW 9,5 VP -- 1 VP -- Assamite Anarch Vote
2. Ben Peal (USA) -- 2 GW 6 VP -- 1 VP -- Setites w/ Anima Gathering Wall
2. David Litwin (USA) -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- Nosferatu Breed & Boon
2. Sean Kern (USA) -- 1 GW 6,5 VP -- 0 VP -- Sonja Blue Unblockable Bleed
Congratulations to John Newquist for his win of the Origins NACQ 2008. You can find the full standings and the winner's decklist in the Usenet newsgroup.

Results Great Lakes Qualifier NAC 2008

On May 31st, 2008 the VtES Great Lakes NAC Qualifier was held in Indianapolis (Indiana) with 13 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
1. James Messer (USA) -- Ventrue Antitribu Bleed & Block
2. Bob Joseph (USA)
2. Jay Kristoff (USA)
2. Aaron Miller (USA)
2. Boris Zaretsky (USA)
Congratulations to James Messer for his win of the Great Lakes NACQ 2008. You can find the full standings and the tournament report in the Usenet newsgroup.

Deck Archetypes: Inner Circle Vote

(c) 2006 by White Wolf"Inner Circle Vote" is a powerful deck archetype based on the strength of the Camarilla "Inner Circle" (IC) members in general and its most prominent member, "Arika" (of clan "Ventrue"), in particular. The deck strength and ousting power is based on the inherent four votes of the "Inner Circle" title and the inherent +2 bleed each of these big cap vampires has. The deck primary offense are political actions like "Kine Resource Contested" and "Banishment" (and before its ban "Protect Thine Own"), where the bleed actions are usually only taken to finish off its prey or as a second action when the acting vampire was blocked, and used cards like "Freak Drive" or "Majesty" to untap. When other players realize that this deck is at their table, it often becomes a primary target since its power is widely feared (and rightly so).

How to win with them
The deck has a slow build-up, despite the heavy use of cards that increase transfers before/during the influence phase like "Zillahs Valley" or "Information Highway". The deck often starts as late turn 4 or 5, and in this phase is quite low on pool. During the first rounds after the inital vampire is brought into the controlled region it is mandatory to either have a pool gaining vote like "Ancient Influence" or "Parity Shift" passed and/or a "Minion Tap" played on this minion to regain 5+ pool.

After the initial buildup and bringing out a second (or sometimes third) "Inner Circle" vampire, the deck starts in the late midgame to become dangerous. Then it can use its voting and bleed power to full extent, often having vote lock at the table.

The deck use a wide variety of political cards, most prominently
Since most of the Inner Circle vampires have access to the "Obfuscate" discipline, "Obfuscate" stealth cards (usually "Forgotten Labyrinth", "Lost in Crowds" and "Elder Impersonation") are used to make the political action successful.

(c) 2006 by White WolfBleed actions are sometimes used to distract potential blockers, especially if the acting vampire can play a "Majesty" during combat or "Freak Drive" after the action, to perform a political action. One of the strengths of the deck is that a prey must be always aware of the fact that each of these large cap vampires can either bleed and take political actions to harm them. So the prey must take careful considerations what actions to block (or at least trying to block).

The deck uses either the inherent votes or, to a lesser extent, vote pushing cards like "Awe" and "Bewitching Oraction" to make the following referendum sucessful. A handful of "Voter Captivations" are used to refill the vampires and bloat a little bit.

During the endgame the deck, if the player is not ousted, usually becomes the proverbial steamroller, crushing its preys often in rapid sucession, since everyone is more or less low and pool, and the continued political actions or bleeds are taking its toll.

Bleed defense
The deck has the usual "Dominate" bleed defense cards in particular "Deflection", since most of the deck's vampires have superior "Dominate" and enough blood to play even multiple "Deflections" per turn. Some decks replacing some IC members with princes or justicars replace some (or sometimes even all of the bleed bounce cards by "Second Tradition: Domain" and "Obedience"/"Majesty".

Vote defense
The vote defense is quite good, since both the IC votes plus the "Ventrue Headquarters" give enough votes to gain vote lock at almost all the tables. For this reason deck omits the traditional defensive vote cards like "Delaying Tactics" or "Confusion of the Eye".

Combat defense
Since the deck isn't very combat orientated, it has a mix of cards to avoid or end combat, Usually this is the classic mix of "Majesty", "Obedience" and "Secure Haven". So the deck often has problems especially against Rush or Intercept combat featuring "Psyche" or "Immortal Grapple" .

How to win against them
This is a deck archetype you do not want to leave alone for too long. Properly staffed with 2 to 3 "Inner Circle" members it's very hard to stop, since it's often not easy to block these minions and with 8 to 12 votes your opponent often has vote lock on the table. One disadvantage of the deck is its notoriety, which as a prey or predator of this deck you can turn to your advantage. Especially as a predator of the IC vote deck you should incite your grandprey to going backwards, since if your grand prey is not playing a fast deck, he will get too much pressure in the midgame to withstand.

As a prey of this deck you need to consider if you can oust your prey before the IC deck ousts you. And if not, going backwards against this deck is mandatory. You need to remove at least one IC, even considering a diablerie; you may even convince the table for getting away with this, since "Arika" (or "Leandro" or ..) is eeevvvil.

(c) 2006 by White WolfIf the IC vote deck cannot regain the pool by playing "Minion Taps" on its big cap vampires, it usually gets into trouble. The "Voter Captivations" are still there, but the "Minion Taps" for 6 - 8 pool are the deck most important pool (re-)gain. So playing "Sudden Reversal" and "Wash" against the "Minion Taps" is definetely slowing down an IC deck, eventually maybe even killing it. Also helpful are "Delaying Tactics" against the once-per-game votes, since the IC player can discard them immediately, since they are considered played if the "Delaying Tactics" has been canceled them.

A fast stealth or power bleed deck can oust this deck quickly, especially if the "Minion Taps" are canceled by "Sudden Reversal" or "Wash". But a bleed deck should be aware that the IC vote deck will either try to backoust if too much pressure on it or may try to turn the pressure to its prey by playing bleed bounce (most often "Deflection").

As rush or intercept combat decks, need to be aware of the numerous combat ending cards (like "Majesty" or "Obedience") the IC members play. So either you need to rush/block consistently or in the case of "Strike: Combat Ends" you need the usual suspects of cards like "Immortal Grapple", "Psyche" or "Telephatic Tracking". Again diablerzing one of the IC members may be an option if the rest of the table is cooperating, and has more votes than the IC deck, once one of the IC members is in torpor.

(c) 2006 by White WolfKey Cards
  • "Information Highway" / "Zillah's Valley" -- influence accelerator to minimize disdvantage of late big cap appearances.
  • "Protect Thine Own" -- previously one of the signature cards of an IC vote deck, but with the ban of this card, the deck archetype is weakend considerably.
  • "Ancient Influence" / "Reins of Power" / "Political Strangehold" -- once-per-game votes for gaining pool and/or damaging other player's pool.
  • "Banishment" -- after the demise of PTO the main weapon to remove vampires from the controlled region (at least for the current turn).
  • "Voter Captivation" -- pool gain and more importantly refiller for the vampires who have been emptied with "Minion Tap" before.
  • "Minion Tap" -- main pool gain/recovery.
Notable Examples & Variations
The deck has some variations, which mainly focus on crypt variation.
  1. The first one is a fusion of the IC Vote deck and the "Ventrue w/ Obfuscate Vote" archetype. A number of IC members particularly "Gwendolyn", "Harrod" and "Stanislava" are replaced by high cap princes or justicars (often of clan "Ventrue"). This gives a better coverage of the decks main disciplines "Dominate", "Obfuscate" and "Presence". On the downside the replacement vampires like "Marcus Vitel" or "Queen Anne" lack a bit of power (bleed/vote) when compared to their IC counterparts.
  2. The second one exchanges a number of "Inner Circle" members with high cap vampires (often "Princes") which have special abilities which make their inclusion valuable. One particular variant features "Maris Streck" for her intercept-giving ability and "Huitzilopochtli" for providing an additional master phase. Other possible additions include "Anson" or "Anneke".
Sample decks for this decktypes are:
  • "IC Vote" by Ruben Van Cauwenberghe -- basic variant with "Parity Shift", "Banishment" and "Protect Thine Own" as main offensive weapons.
  • "Arika's Stealthy Southern Baptists" by Cameron Domer -- variant with a large number of "Obedience" and "Second Tradition Domain", lacking any bleed bounce.
  • "The Turd" by Rob Treasure -- highly successful variant with "Anneke" and "Anson".
  • "Council of Doom" by Vincent Ripoll / Kamel Senni -- variant with "Huitzilopochtli" and "Maris Streck".
Sample Decklist
Blood Siege
Quezon City, Philippines
28 September 2002
Participants: 13

Deck Name: Turd Too
Created By: Johann Ong

Crypt: (13 cards, Min: 34, Max: 44, Avg: 10.00)
3 Leandro AUS cel dom OBF PRE 11, Malkavian, Inner Circle
2 Arika aus cel DOM FOR OBF PRE 11, Ventrue, Inner Circle
1 Alexandra ANI AUS CEL dom PRE 11, Toreador, Inner Circle
4 Anneke AUS CEL dom PRE 10, Toreador, Justicar
3 Anson aus CEL dom PRE 8, Toreador, Prince

Library: (83 cards)
Master (25 cards)
5 Anarch Revolt
3 Dominate
1 Elysium: The Arboretum
1 Giant's Blood
5 Minion Tap
2 Obfuscate
1 Parthenon, The
1 Secure Haven
2 Sudden Reversal
2 Temptation of Greater Power
2 Zillah's Valley

Action (5 cards)
3 Fifth Tradition: Hospitality, The
2 Judgment: Camarilla Segregation

Action Modifier (8 cards)
2 Awe
2 Cloak the Gathering
2 Forgotten Labyrinth
2 Voter Captivation

Political Action (13 cards)
1 Ancient Influence
2 Banishment
3 Dramatic Upheaval
3 Parity Shift
1 Political Stranglehold
2 Protect Thine Own
1 Reinforcements

Reaction (26 cards)
13 Obedience
11 Second Tradition: Domain, The
2 Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (6 cards)
6 Majesty