Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ousting with Combat Decks

I'd like to explain here what options a combat deck (especially rush combat) deck has to make significant pool damage by hurting its prey's minions. I won't discuss the Bruise & Bleed or Bruise & Vote strategies, since they use bleed and political actions for pool damage, where I want to detail which cards can be used to damage a prey's pool damage directly when using a combat angle.

Today there is variety of cards in VtES which helps with reaching this goal, each with specific advantages and disadvantages:
  • (c) by White WolfFame -- The oldest card shown in this list, it is still one of the most viable cards for any combat deck. The card is more viable for a Rush combat deck than a Intercept combat deck, since the Rush combat deck will be able to target the famed vampire directly, while the Intercept combat deck has to wait for an opportunity to catch the fame vampire while acting. It is a popular strategy for Rush combat decks to rescue a torporized vampire, only to attack him again in the same turn.

    Pool Damage: 3 pool for torporizing a vampire, and 1 pool during the untap phase while the vampire remains in the torpor region.
    Pro: Significant pool damage when torporizing a single vampire.
    Con: It can happen quite often that the card will be contested since it so popular among combat decks. It can also backfire if you are low on pool yourself, since not only your prey is burning one pool during the untap phase, but everybody else as well.

  • (c) by White WolfTension in the Ranks -- This is usually a good addition to "Fame" in a combat deck, but as standalone ousting card it's just not making enough pool damage against most decks. Against certain decktypes "Tension in the Ranks" is simply devastating, for example a "Khazar's Diary" deck or a "Tup Dog" deck,

    Pool Damage: 1 pool each time a ready minion is burned or sent to torpor.
    Pro: Affects more than one minion, can be used not only against vampires, but also against allies.
    Con: Non-combat decks will remove that card by just just discarding two master cards. The effect can backfire if your vampires are low on blood and/or you're facing a combat deck as prey or predator.

  • (c) by White WolfDragonbound -- is the third major asset combat decks can use to eliminate its prey more quickly.

    Pool Damage: 1 pool for each vampire in torpor during the discard phase.
    Pro: Does the most pool damage continuously. Especially good for Intercept combat decks, since this forces the prey to rescue its vampires from torpor, which can be blocked and used to torporize another vampire.
    Con: The reduced handsize while the card is play is a significant disadvantage for combat decks, making a handjam with master cards (for example) more likely. The effect can backfire if your vampires are low on blood and/or you're facing a combat deck as prey or predator.

  • (c) by White WolfPath of Lilith -- targets only player which have been sent to torpor by non-Camarilla vampires. Unfortunately the damage generated by "Path of Lilith" is often too small/slow to outweight the disadvantages of the card (see below). If you have master card slot open, it may be worth a try, but the card should not be the main (or even sole) means of ousting.

    Pool Damage: 1 pool if the player has a Torture counter during his untap phase.
    Pro: Selectively damages players pool.
    Con: The pool drain for your prey is rather slow, and the card can usually removed rather easily by anyone with access to stealth. The other drawback is that it requires non-Camarilla vampires (which also rules out Ally combat decks) to produce Torture.

  • (c) by White WolfPredators Transformation -- since the card requires Abombwe it is rarely seen outside of Akunanse decks, but here it works wonders. Not only can it be used a stealth at inferior Abombwe, but it burns two pool when burning a minion not only in combat but also as (D) action, e.g. when diablerizing a vampire.

    Pool Damage: Two pool when burning a minion in torpor or as (D) action.
    Pro: Variable usage; hidden threat, not as visible as "Fame" or "Dragonbound".
    Con: Requires to burn a minion, not just send him to torpor; requires Abombwe.

  • (c) by White WolfHell-For-Leather -- is the newest addition, and somewhat similar to "Predators Transformation". Requiring an Anarch with Obtenebration it causes two pool damage, when torporizing or burning a minion in combat, and your own Anarch vampire is still ready. The only bad thing is that the other disciplines used for this card (Animalism and Celerity do not match very well with Obtenebration).

    Pool Damage: Two pool when torporizing or burning a minion in combat.
    Pro: Also usuable against allies; can be used multiple times in turn without much extra setup; only requires to torporize vampire, not to burn them..
    Con: Requires an Anarch with Obtenebration, so needs to some setup; poor crypt choice when trying find vampire with Animalism or Celerity in addition to Obtenebration
When compared to the beginnings of VtES there is now a wider variety of ousting methods available which directly related to combat . Not as many as most combat deck players wish, but it's a good basis. Combining several of those can inflict significant pool damage to your prey's pool without spending too many non-combat card slots. For example, a "Celerity Gun" deck can pack something like 2 "Fame", one "Tension in the Ranks" and one "Dragonbound" with diluting its main angle too much. For the future I would appreciate more discipline- or even clan-related cards that inflict direct pool damage when hurting other player's minions badly.


Alexandre, MCZ said...

of course, you forget to mention perpetual care.

extrala said...

I left out specifically the political actions like "Pereptual Care", or "Anathema" which can be useful for combat decks, since this requires an extra effort/angle. I just want to cover those means which a "pure" combat decks can utilize.

mattgreen said...

Leadership Vaccuum is playable.