Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deck Archetypes: Gangrel Renegade Garou

(c) by CCP 2008This deck archetype is built around the Gangrel ally "Renegade Garou". The deck is around for a long time, you can easily build it with Jyhad cards only (if you don't mind omitting "Unmasking" and perhaps "On the Qui Vive"). The deck is quite strong, since it offers both good defensive (with "Raven Spy" and "Earth Meld") and offensive capabilities (with "Renegade Garou" and "Form of Mist"). On the other hand it's very vulnerable when and if for whatever reason the "Renegade Garous" are killed or stolen by another player. Playing the deck does not result in an auto-win and making 2 GW 8 VP in the first three round of a tournaments easily, in fact it's not so easy to play, especially surving the initial setup is crucial.

How to win with them
The deck has two main angles:
  • the first is recruiting the "Renegade Garous" and later attacking key minions from your prey (preferably) or your predator (if needed).
  • the second is building up a solid wall with permanent intercept which other players cannot overcome eventually.
There are several options how this deck archetype can oust its prey. It can either use the "traditional" way combat decks oust, that is "Fame" or "Dragonbound". Alternatively if the deck actually leans more to the wall type, it can use "Smiling Jack". Or if anything else fails, just bled constantly with a multitude of minions, especially when playing with "Jacob Fermor" who gives all Werewolves you control +1 bleed.

The "Renegade Garou" has some distinctive advantages over other allies:
  • he has an additional strike, so even if the opposing minion can dodge (e.g. "Carlton van Wyk" or "Mylan Horseed (Goblin)), he's going to be hit a second time.
  • he regains one life at the start of your turn. So a "Vagabond Mystic" helps to recover more quickly, but is not required if the "Renegade Garou" got hit for only one damage in a given combat.
  • his built-in-maneuver can be used to either go to long range if you want to protect the werewolf from short range carnage, or go to close if the opposing minion wants to evade the werewolf's damage.
  • his ability to rush minions is at +1 stealth, Most other allies with an inherent attack do not have +1 stealth when entering combat, so the "Renegade Garou" can pick his fights more reliably and isn't blocked that often by chump blockers.
(c) by CCP 2008Recruiting the ally is usually not a big problem. Either you can use "Earth Control" to get comfortable +3 stealth on the recruit action in total, and even if blocked you can play "Form of Mist" to continue the action with +1 stealth, or you use "Form of Mist" rightaway when blocked at +1 stealth.

The most difficult challenge for this deck is to compensate somehow for the 5 pool spent for (each of) the "Renegade Garou". You can either use your vampires to bloat with "Blood Dolls" or "Eco Terrorists", or you can try play "Consanguineous Boon" or "Autarkis Persecution" (after playing "CardName" and "Cryptic Rider", for example). Either way you need to make a fair assessment whether you can afford an extra "Renegade Garou" in a given situation or not. Overspending can easily results in being ousted right away, due to the lack of proper bleed or vote defense early in the game.

For 5 pool you spent you will get a vampire with 5 discipline points otherwise, so the strategy of the deck should make good use of this costly investment. Often a backrush or two with the "Renegade Garou" puts your predator in his place, and should keep him occupied for while.

While the rushes performed by one or two Garous should preserve you from the greatest threats by your prey or predator, you need to build the wall simultaneously. The second angle you need to pursue is to build up enough intercept to become a proper wall, which allows you to control both your prey and predator. This intercept is usually provided by "Raven Spies" and the Media locations ("KRCG Newsradio", etc.). "Cat's Guidance" or "Sonar" are only used on occasion, since their number is rather low in the deck and they provide only limited intercept.

Bleed defense
This decktype has diversified bleed defense. Early it is most vulnerable against bleed decks, since the permanent intercept is not on the table in sufficient quantities and there are often not enough Garous on the table to keep all bleeding minions under control (a.k.a. torporize or kill them). During the middle and end-game the "Renegade Garous" usually have a bleed deck under control, and the remaining bleeding minions can be stopped by vampires with permanent intercept and playing "Earth Meld" for additional blocking capability.

(c) by CCP 2008Another angle is the bloat capability of the deck, with a "Blood Doll" or two and the "Eco Terrorists" in play, the deck can bloat for 2-3 pool per turn. That is not much compared to real bloat decks, but enough to keep the bleeders at bay for a couple of turns. Turns that a single Garou can use to backrush or your grandpredator can use to put pressure on the bleed deck.

Vote defense
The main defense against a political deck is intercepting the vampire how tries call the vote. Here a "Raven Spy" and the occasional "Cats Guidance" should provide the necessary intercept. You should be aware that if you have a vote deck with stealth trying to harm you, that you probably cannot block all of them, so you should block the most damaging ones only like "Parity Shift" or "Political Stranglehold". On the other hand you can use the "Renegade Garou", again for rushing the vampires who provide the votes for passing the political actions. You should use the few "Delaying Tactics" and "Direct Interventions" only if the situation is dire, or if somebody is damaging you considerably, e.g. with "Anarchist Uprising" or "Can't Take It With You".

Combat defense
There are a couple of options this deck in the combat defense department. Either you can avoid damage by playing "Earth Meld" or "Form of Mist", but the later should really be used on actions that you need to succeed like recruiting a "Renegade Garou" or employing a "Raven Spy". On the other hand the Gangrel have the capability of hitting back with "Claws of the Dead" or similar cards, often resulting in torporizing the opposing vampire. But in the end the deck relies more on the built-in combat abilities of the "Renegade Garou", and the combat package is more orientated towards defense than offense. Therefore one of the most dangerous opponents of this deck archetype are combat decks like Celerity Gun decks which often trump this deck's combat capabilities.

Crypt Composition
(c) by CCP 2008The crypt's composition is driven by the need of having Gangrel preferably with superior "Animalism" and/or "Protean". The small- to mid-capacity Gangrel of group 1/2 fulfill the criteria with ease. "Camille Devereux, the Raven" (or her incarnations), "Chandler Hungerford", or "Mirembe Kabada" form the backbone of the "Gangrel" crypt selection for this deck. A couple of small capacity vampires (often only with single "Protean") complete the crypt. There are a few new options with the Gangrel from group 3/4, with "Gunnar", "Dr. Allan Woodstock" and most importantly "Jacob Fermor". The later can be the reason for switching the crypt to his new Gangrel, since his special ability give all werewolves you control +1 bleed.

How to win against them
Bleed decks must try to put pressure from the start, so that ideally the Gangrel player cannot afford to play a Garou (or one at most). But even with only one Garou in play, you need to finish the Garou deck up quickly, since it will get harder and harder to overcome the wall the Garou deck will buildup over time. Even a single vampire with, let's say, two "Raven Spies" can be a major pain for a stealth bleed deck since that vampire is able to block multiple times with "Earth Meld" in a given turn.

The performance of combat decks against the Garou depends heavily on the type of combat decks. A "Celerity Gun" deck usually has no problems handling the Garou, provided they can have an extra maneuver against the Garou to stay at longe range, and have an additional strike to finish the Garou off. Close combat decks (based on massive damage) need to have maneuvers (or the occasional long range damage card (like "Earthshock") because of the built-in maneuver of the Garou, which he will use to stay out of trouble. The worst performance have combat decks that rely on aggravated damage like aggro poke decks (e.g. Tzimisce with "Chiropteran Marauder" or Gangrel with "Claws of the Dead") since they are not able to kill the Garous.

With the current abundance of allies around ("Shambling Hordes", "Nephandus", "Carlton van Wyk", etc.) one or two copies of "Entrancement", "Far Mastery" or other cards that allow steal allies are usually no wasted card slots in most decks. So losing control of "Renegade Garou" is something this deck archtype needs to consider. Stealing the Garous is one of the most crippling effects one can exert on a "Renegade Garou" deck. If your opponent manages to trade (in combat) one stolen Garou against another, you have not only removed two very annoying minions from the other player's control, but also applied (indirectly) 10 pool damage to you.

(c) by CCP 2008The deck is very difficult to oust once it established a solid base on the table, for example two "Renegade Garous", an "Eco Terrorist" and a couple of "Raven Spies" employed by the Gangrel vampires. If you are not able to oust the Garou deck early on, it can be an alternative to make an non-aggression pact with the Garou deck, until your hand improves and you're able to lunge in one or two turns, when the Garou are not able to put your minions down in a single turn.

Key CardsNotable Examples & Variations
  • "Dog Soldiers" by Tony Wedd -- Big cap Gangrel; bloats with "Blood Dolls" & "Entrenching". Also use "Alastor" & "Assault Rifle".
  • "Garou by Night" by David 'Metropolis' Oros -- Mid-cap vampires; bloats with "Autarkis Persecution" & "Parity Shift".
  • "Renegade Garou" by Karl Gustavsson -- Small-Cap vampires; bloats with "Parity Shift".
  • "Gangrel Prince Pool Gain & Garou" by Stuart Pieloch -- Big cap vampires; bloats with "Fifth Tradition" and "Minion Tap".
Sample Decklist
Tournament: Belgian ECQ 2008
Place and date: Brussels, May 4 2008
Number of players: 16
Winner: Jörg Alten
Deck Name: Shape and Gnaw 3.0 (Post-LotN)
Modified variant with cards from Lords of the Night

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 3 max: 6 average: 4.17
3x Camille Devereux, 5 FOR PRO ani Gangrel:1
3x Chandler Hungerfor 3 PRO Gangrel:2
2x Mirembe Kabbada 5 PRO SER ani Gangrel:2
1x Badger 6 FOR PRO ani pot Gangrel:1
1x Ramona 4 for pro Gangrel:2
1x Anastasia Grey 3 ani pro Gangrel:1
1x Ricki Van Demsi 3 for pro Gangrel:1

Library [65 cards]
Action [1]
1x Army of Rats

Action Modifier [4]
4x Earth Control

Action Modifier/Combat [1]
1x Rapid Change

Ally [6]
6x Renegade Garou

Combat [18]
1x Body Flare
1x Boxed In
10x Earth Meld
5x Form of Mist
1x Weighted Walking Stick

Event [2]
1x Dragonbound
1x Narrow Minds

Master [17]
1x Channel 10
2x Direct Intervention
2x Ecoterrorists
1x Fame
1x KRCG News Radio
1x Liquidation
1x Powerbase: Chicago
2x Powerbase: Montreal
1x Sudden Reversal
1x Therbold Realty
1x WMRH Talk Radio
1x Wall Street Night, Financial Newspaper
2x Wash

Reaction [12]
2x Delaying Tactics
2x Instinctive Reaction
1x Keep it Simple
2x On the Qui Vive
3x Sonar
2x Wake with Evening's Freshness

Retainer [4]
1x Mr. Winthrop
3x Raven Spy


Maegnar said...

I was just about to send you an email, asking for deck archetype posts, since the last one was in august :)

extrala said...

Writing the articles on the deck archetypes require quite some time, and I was rather busy the past few months.

Next to come: "Malk '94" and "Ventrue /w Obfuscate Vote".

Maegnar said...

Would be nice to see some Black Hand archetypes :)

TTC said...

Would not say that this is the archetype I like the most but... why not ehehe

In any case, the article is very interesting.

dcherryholmes said...

Another avenue for paying the exorbitant 5 pool costs is to run heavy amounts of Regeneration and Minion Tap. You can spice in Day Op/Daring the Dawn to really make sure the recruit actions go through, drop down into torpor and get MT'd if you didn't just drain them the turn they come out; by definition, you just threw a fresh Garou in front of diablerie attempts. With all the built-in stuff that Garous have, I felt I had room to back the operation with Crimson Furies, Movement of the Slow Body, etc. Force of Will actually works in this deck too (not a big fan of the card, generally) for some forward punch.

Sh0dan said...

I've been eagerly wanting to see White Nights Massacre being used in some deck for massive burnings, and while this may not be exactly the best archetype to use it with, I have no doubts that the Gangrel would be one of the clans to get better mileage out of it because of the Garou (though !Gangrels' Black Spiral Buddy and Sabbat cardinals' Harzomatuili are probably better if one can get them into combat consistently).

White Nights Massacre
Type: Event
During your next discard phase, you must burn this card, and you may either burn a vampire in torpor or, by tapping a ready werewolf ally you control or discarding a White Nights Massacre from your hand, burn all vampires in torpor.