Wednesday, April 29, 2009

VtES For Dummies

Here are some books (soon to be published) which every new VtES player should read:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rustwurk: Why The Barrens?

Here's an old article by the esteemed Benjamin Peal, originally published on the Rustwurk website in October 2001. He writes about the usefulness of "The Barrens", but in general the article is about why card flow is so important in VtES. Since the website is out of order for long time I decided to re-post the article ...

Much has been made of the effectiveness of The Barrens on the newsgroup lately, so I figured I'd explain why I put it in every deck I build...
  • Stealth-bleed decks especially like the Barrens when some smart-ass pulls the "don't block" trick. With the Barrens, you can clear out the unneeded stealth cards quickly, and get to the happy bleed cards so you can smite the punk.

  • Dude, it's free. Who cares if they contest it? It's free.

  • It allows you to prepare for one more contingency. You'll typically be exposed to a fair number of different deck types over the course of a tournament. Account for everything that could possibly be thrown at you is impossible, but that extra discard per turn allows you to include another measure or countermeasure against a certain deck type without diluting your deck.

  • Even if you're not a fan of including that extra contingency measure, and prefer to stick to your guns and build the most efficient deck you can (trusting your assumptions of the metagame), there will still be occasions where you'll still have too much of one type of card and not enough of another type of card. Hand jam can strike anyone at any time. The Barrens can help maintain the proper ratio of card types in your hand.

  • It helps me play with more kinds of master cards in my deck. Don't need one? Cycle it out! It's not that I need the Barrens because I have so many masters in my deck. I have so many masters in my deck because I have the Barrens.

  • For that matter, it helps me play with more of any type of card in my deck. For card cycling to the extreme, check out my winning deck from DragonCon '99 on The Lasombra's site ( 2 Barrens, 2 Dreams, and 2 Books of Frag let me rapidly switch between bleed, combat defense, bleed defense, and intercept modes. With all three in play, I could have almost a whole new hand in one turn.

  • I typically use two in a deck so I can draw into it a bit more quickly. If I draw the second one, I use the Barrens to discard it. :) I typically don't need it in my initial draw. I rely on it more for that second wind in the middle of a game.

  • Ben Peal, Prince of Boston and contributing writer for Rustwurk, resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.
  • Monday, April 27, 2009

    Results Spanish (South) EC Qualifier 2009

    On April 25th, 2009 the first VtES Spanish EC Qualifier was held in Córdoba, Spain with 24 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
    1. Iñaki Puigdollers -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 4 VP -- Weenie Auspex
    2. César Ruiperez -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 1 VP -- !Ventrue/Ventrue Power Bleed)
    2. Esau Mejias -- 1 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- Stanislava Bleed/Vote
    2. Sergio Gracia -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue Lawfirm Group 4/5
    2. Tomás López Jimenez -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 0 VP -- Lasombra Black Hand Descent into Darkness / Corporal Reservoir
    Congratulations to Iñaki for winning the first spanish ECQ 2009. You can find the tournament winning deck in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup, and the final standings in the spanish VtES forum.

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Prize Support for German ECQ 2009

    Here's some of the prize support (at least the part I have assembled) for the German ECQ VtES tournament, that takes place on June 13th, 2009 in Bochum, Germany. The pictures are not originals, but prints of art originally created by Heather Kreiter, along with a card that features that same piece.

    Left: All three frames (with protective covers for the edges) together.

    Right: Unmada, Malkavian in his quest for pain extraordinare.

    Left: Karen Suadela, Brujah; more looking like a frakking Ventrue, but what the hell ...

    Right: Liquefy the Mortal Coil; still one of my favourite VtES artworks.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Did you know, that ... (Part 30)

    .. you can burn "Warsaw Station" to rescue a Nosferatu from torpor, even after an action to rescue or diablerize the above mentioned Nosferatu has been announced. In either case the action fizzles (no cost is paid for a rescue action), and the Nosferatu is moved to the ready region.

    Reference: VtES Usenet Newsgroup

    Results Great Lakes (Ohio) NAC Qualifier 2009

    On April 18th, 2009 the VtES Great Lakes (Ohio) NAC Qualifier was held in Columbus, Ohio with 23 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
    1. Mark Loughman 1 GW 5 VP -- 3 VP -- Carna Wall /w Smiling Jack
    2. Evan Lloyd -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 2 VP -- Assamite swarm bleed w/Alamut & Reckless Agg.
    2. Kurt Kopp -- 3 GW 12 VP -- 0 VP -- Gangrel PRO/DOM Bleed
    2. Brad Cashdollar -- 2 GW 5.5 VP -- 0 VP -- Toreador G1/2 Block w/ .44s
    2. Will Kristoff -- 1 GW 5.5 VP -- 0 VP --Tremere THA/AUS/pre/dom Bleed
    Congratulations to Mark for his win of the Great Lakes (Ohio) NACQ 2009. You can find the winner's decklist and a tournament report in the VtES Usenet newsgroup.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Visuals of VtES Promo Cards 2009

    Here are the visuals of the eight new VtES promo cards (including "Rogue" that eluded me in the past few weeks):

    Left: Abactor -- nice card for those vampire immune to blood hunts.

    Right: Fourth Cycle -- Another weenie (and imbued) hoser card, but the use is rather limited due the requirements of two Gehenna cards in play.

    Left: Rogue -- way too situational for a deck; might be worth including into trick decks, e.g. one including "Undying Thirst".

    Right: Marakech Codex -- this is a game winner card. I would consider this an auto-include for any wall deck, since they can defend it and will profit greatly from using it.
    Left: Salt of Thoth -- interesting card for Tremere decks which want to protect their locations, but do not want to spend too many resources for doing so.

    Right: Rubicon -- again, like "Rogue" too situational for general purpose use; almost all the time a dead card in your hand.

    Left: Inceptor -- very interesting cards, which inspires players finding powerful and/or interesting three card combos.

    Right: SchreckNET -- another very good card for the Nosferatu, especially for a Nosferatu Royalty deck, where passing votes is one of the cornerstones.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Results French (North) EC Qualifier 2009

    On April 18th, 2009 the first VtES French EC Qualifier was held in Paris (France) with 36 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
    1. Orian "TTC Master" Gissler -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 2 VP -- Guillaume Giovanni Puppeteer
    2. Rodolphe "Krid" Danac -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 2 VP -- Weenie Presence Vote
    2. Antonio Cobo Cuenca -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 1 VP -- Ventrue Group 1/2 Vote [spanish version]
    2. Lucas Bonroy -- 2 GW 9 VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue Group 3/4 Vote
    2. Romain Naim -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- Council of Doom New School
    Congratulations to Orian for winning the french ECQ 2009. You can find the tournament winning deck and final ranking in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup, as well as a detailed report of the tournament on TTC Master's brand new VtES blog.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Results "Praxis Seizure: Cologne" VtES Tournament in Cologne

    Here are the results of the VtES constructed tournament "Praxis Seizure: Cologne" in Cologne, Germany after 3 rounds and final. The tournament was played on April 19th, 2009 with 24 players participating. Here are the standings after the final round:
    1. Marc-Etienne -- 2 GW 6 VP - 3 VP -- Group 1/2 Celerity Gun
    2. Jeroen -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 2 VP -- G3/4 Malkavian Bleed
    2. Lukas -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- G1/2 Nosferatu Royalty
    2. Jörg -- 2 GW 6 VP -- 0 VP -- Gangrel Renegade Garou Rush/Intercept
    2. Michael B. -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 0 VP -- Dominate/Protean Bleed feat. Christopher Houghton
    Congratulations to Marc-Etienne for his victory in the tournament; so now he's qualified for the EC 2009! You can find the tournament winning deck and a tournament report in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup.

    Left: The Brave New World, the game/card shop in Cologne where the tournament took place.

    Right: The floor before the start of the first round.

    Left: Round 1 Table 3 with Lukas' Nosferatu Royalty vs. Didi's Gangrel Royalty vs. Joscha Anarchs.

    Right: Jeroen being already very smug about his impeding game win.

    Left: The final table with Jörg, Michael, Marc-Etienne, Lukas and Jeroen.

    Right: The Marc-Etienne's winner deck moments after he had ousted the helpless Malkavians, diablerizing their own minions when trying to avoid damage from Dragonbound.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Release Date for "Ebony Kingdom"

    The release date of the next VtES expansion "Ebony Kingdom" (and the release of the expansion itself) has been announced officially, and it's May 27th, 2009.

    You can read full news article on the White Wolf website. There is also a short mentioning of the Ebony Kingdom expansion in Game Trade Magazine #110 with similar content as the above mentioned WW article.

    Memorable Quotes (Part 39)

    "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle." -- Sun Tzu in "The Art of War"
    This is so true for VtES. Not only should you know, how your own deck is working, but also how other decks are working. And this best achieved by playing the different decktypes yourself. Even if you loathe Stealth Bleed or a Weenie Presence Vote deck, having played these decks makes you understand the strength and weakness of the deck, and makes you a better player eventually. More quotes from The Art of War are available on WikiQuote.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Results Swedish EC Qualifier 2009

    On April 12th, 2009 the Swedish VtES EC Qualifier was held in Gothenburg (Sweden) with 37 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
    1. Erik Torstensen -- 2 GW 6.5 VP -- 4 VP -- Guillaume Giovanni Powerbleed
    2. Henrik Klippström -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 1 VP -- Weenie Potence Computer Hacking
    2. Adam Esbjörnsson -- 2 GW 5.5 VP -- 0 VP -- Mid-Cap Auspex Wall
    2. Hugh Angseesing -- 1 GW 7 VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue Antitribu Block/Bruise/Bleed
    2. Ola Hansson -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 0 VP -- Ventrue antitribu For/Dom Bruise & Bleed
    Congratulations to Erik for his win of the Swedish ECQ 2009. In the international newsgroup you can find final standings as well as the finalist's decks.

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Clan Hoser Cards

    Due the lack of proper filters/search capabilities and the likely need when building an Imperator deck here's the list of VtES cards that handicap a (vampire of a) particular clan:

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    VtES Promo Cards 2009 (Part II)

    Here are the four new VtES promo cards, which are part of the VtES Tournament Kit 2009:
    Cardtype: Action
    Clan: Nosferatu
    +1 stealth. Unique.
    If this Nosferatu's capacity is 6 or more, he or she untaps. Put this card in play. Whenever a referendum succeeds, you may tap this card to look at any Methuselah's hand.

    Cardtype: Master
    Unique master.
    Put this card on a vampire of capacity 1, and put three cards from your hand, ash heap or library on this card, face up but out of play. This vampire may play other copies of these cards as if he or she had the Discipline required (if any) at superior.

    Cardtype: Action
    +1 stealth hunt action.
    Gain 5 blood. After successful resolution, a referendum is called to call a blood hunt on this vampire (independent of the action, just as if he or she had committed diablerie).

    Salt of Thoth
    Cardtype: Reaction
    Clan: Tremere
    Cost: 2 blood
    Usable by a tapped Tremere. Cause a (D) action targeting a location you control to fail and put this card on that location. You may burn this card to cause a (D) action targeting this location to fail.

    VtES Promo Cards 2009 (Part I)

    Here are the four new VtES promo cards which are part of the VtES Draft Kit 2009 (although I haven't seen the cardtext of "Rogue" yet):

    The Marrakech Codex
    Cardtype: Master
    Unique Master.
    Tap to look at and reorder the top four cards of your library. Any vampire may steal this card for his controlled as a (D) action.

    Cardtype: Action
    +1 stealth action. Requires a titled vampire.
    (D) Burn a younger non-titled vampire who has burned one of your non-Red list vampires since your last turn.

    The Fourth Cycle
    Cardtype: Event
    Requires at least two other Gehenna cards in play.
    When this card is played, burn all Gehenna cards and conviction cards, and send all vampires with capacity 3 or less in torpor. No Gehenna cards may be played while this card remains in play.

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    VtES Rules: "Enkil Cog" Q&A

    (c) White Wolf Inc. 2008Lately a number of questions came up regarding Enkil Cog, so here's a short "Questions and Answers" summary for the card. Most of the information is taken from the Usenet newsgroup "":

    Q: Does the vampire has to be untapped to use "Enkil Cog" to take an action?
    A: Yes. By default a vampire needs to be untapped to take an action. Exceptions are those (action) cards that say otherwise like "Force of Will" or "Movement of the Slow Body".

    Q: Can I use "Freak Drive" (or any other means to untap the vampire with "Enkil Cog") to take multiple actions in another player's turn.
    A: No, that vampire can't, as you need to tap "Enkil Cog" for attempting to take an action. Since "Enkil Cog" is already tapped, after you played "Freak Drive" the vampire is not able to take another action. On the other hand, if you find a way to untap "Enkil Cog", e.g. via "House of Sorrows", you can use "Enkil Cog" a second time in this or another player's turn.

    Q: After a vampire with an "Enkil Cog" has attemped an action in another player's turn, and the action card played that vampire is canceled (via "Direct Intervention"), and the vampir still attempt an action (even if "Enkil Cog" is already tapped?
    A: Yes, the vampire can still take an action (with or without using an action card). Although "Enkil Cog" is already tapped, the vampire hasn't yet attempted an action, because the canceled action card isn't an attempted action. Alternatively, you may also decide not take an action with that vampire, "Enkil Cog" is still tapped though.

    Q: What is the order of action when a vampire I control wants to take an action in another player's turn?
    A: The answer to this question does not only apply to "Enkil Cog", but also to "Madness Network". In general the acting player can act as normal in his minion phase. As he declines to take further actions, the second player (controlling the vampire with the "Enkil Cog" can take an action, and after resolving that action, the first player is free act again. This repeated after all players have declined to act. An example turn could look like this:
    • Player A whose minion phase it is.
    • Player B has a vampire with "Enkil Cog".
    • The opportunity to play an effect or pass: impulse.
    • A's Minion Phase:
    • A has the impulse.
    • A has minion S take an action.
    • ...
    • Action resolves.

    • A has the impulse.
    • A has minion T take an action.
    • ...
    • Action resolves.

    • (repeat until A passes the opportunity to declare the next action).

    • B has the impulse.
    • B has minion X take an action.
    • ...
    • Action resolves.
    • Between-action (e.g. "Heidelberg Castle")

    • A has the impulse.
    • ...
    • And so on until "all pass", ending A's minion phase.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Memorable Quotes (Part 38)

    "If you find you are falling into madness -- dive!" -- Malkavian proverb

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Deck Building Utilities (Update April 2009)

    A new version of the "Anarch Revolt Deck Builder" (ARDB) has been published in April 2009. Here's the update of the basic information:

    Anarch Revolt Deck Builder ("ARDB")
    Current Version: 2.9.0
    Author(s): Graham Smith (current project lead) / Francois Gombault (initial creator)
    Homepage: ARDB on Google Code
    Description: Layered Filters, multiple export functionality and a tidy interface are the top features of this program, somewhat newer than the FELDB it had a fresh start and gained soon popularity in the VtES community.
    • Card List & Inventory
      • complete card list with card texts
      • complete collection of pictures of actual cards.
      • great search & filter use, multiple, layered filters
      • card inventory can be kept
    • Deck Building
      • offers the basic functionality of deck builder
      • includes some statistical information about the decks as well as card drawing simulation
      • ability to store decks in XML format (*.xml), as text (*.txt), HTML file (*.html) or for use with JOL (*.jol) or for posting to internet forums (*.phbBB).
      • gives some advice on deck building based on the "Happy Families" theory
    • Other Functionality
      • can update card database from White Wolf website
      • little utility for creating proxy cards
    Cost: free software
    OS Platforms: Windows, OpenSuSe, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, (Mac OS X 10.3+)
    Expansion Updates: about 1 to 4 weeks after an expansion has been released.
    Expansions: all VtES expansions.
    Latest Posting: 03/Apr/2009
    Changelog: ARDB Changelog on Google Code

    Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Finnish National VtES Championship 2009

    The 1st Finnish National VtES Championship will be held on May 23rd, 2009 in Tampere, Finland.

    Tampere is a central Finnish town which can be located easily either through railway from Helsinki, or a connecting flight from Helsinki airport directly to Tampere airport, and either a bus or a taxi from there. The airport is roughly 30 minutes away from the center of Tampere where the event will be held. Tampere can also be easily reached from Frankfurt-Hahn, London-Stansted, Dublin and Riga airports via Ryanair. Accomodation can be had from local players and or local hostels and hotels, ranging from 30 euros a night and upwards.

    Cost of event is 10€ per player, which will go towards prices and rent for the place. Prices to be announced. Read more in the announcement by the organizers in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup.

    Results San Francisco Bay Area NAC Qualifier 2009

    On March 28th, 2009 the VtES San Francisco Bay Area NAC Qualifier was held in Berkeley, California (USA) with 15 players attending the qualifier tournament. The final standings were as follows:
    1. Jeff Kuta -- Old School Malkavian S&B -- 4 VP
    2. Ian -- Laibon Harbingers -- 1 VP
    2. Andy Haas-- Malkavians with Dementation -- 0 VP
    2. Jeff Yin -- Followers of Set Mummy Ally -- 0 VP
    2. Brandon Haas -- Followers of Set Bleed/Corruption -- 0 VP
    Congratulations to Jeff for his win of the SF Bay Area Qualifier 2009. You can find a report and the tournament winning deck in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup.

    Bochum VtES League 2009: April 3rd

    Here are the decks of the Bochum VtES League 2009 from the meeting on April 3rd (prey is from left to right, from top to bottom):

    Left: Sascha's New Lawfirm deck, lacking a bit a vote power, but pounding on Hardy's deck.

    Right: Hardy's Spell of Life deck got never really into the game (as you can see).

    Left: Markus' KoT Toreador Starter deck after having entranced a Mummy.

    Right: Ralf's Rachel Madness Network, this time sans "Madness Network".

    Left: Didi's Lasombra Presence Vote deck, first didn't draw any votes, then often lacked the stealth to make the referendum take place.

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Coping with Strike: Combat Ends

    For VtES players playing combat decks the most annoying countermeasure of non-combat decks is using "Strike: Combat Ends". So one of the main questions for combat decks must be: "What can I do against Strike: Combat Ends?".

    There are four main cards against Strike: Combat Ends, which are quite effective and can be used easily. They are:
    • "Immortal Grapple" (pot) -- restricts strikes to hands strikes only, but requires the combatants to be at close range. The card is very good, but has it's limitations (close range) and needs some backup, e.g. access to maneuvers or cards that deny the ability to maneuver to long range. Also, since it doesn't force the opposing vampire to play the Strike: Combat Ends, you are most likely guaranteed to need another "Immortal Grapple" the next round/combat. On the other hand, it's the only card of the four that only requires a discipline at inferior level.

    • "Psyche" (CEL) -- starts a new combat after the combat ends. This one is probably the best, since it forces the opposing vampire to play the Strike: Combat Ends card, making it more likely you do not need a new "Psyche" during the next combat. Also it's cost free and not restricted to be used at close range like "Immortal Grapple".

    • "Telepathic Tracking" (AUS) -- continues the combat after the Strike: Combat Ends has been played (or the combat ends otherwise). Surprisingly you see this card not as often as "Psyche", though the advantages using the this card are almost the same. The only drawback when compared to "Psyche" is that it costs a blood, but on the other hand combat decks often play "Taste of Vitae" anyhow. The one reason I can imagine for the less frequent use is that Auspex is not combat discipline per se, and so you need an additional combat discipline to be truly effective.

    • "Thoughts Betrayed" (DOM) -- prevents the other vampire from using strike cards. There are two disadvantages to this card. First, the card is the most costly of the four mentioned in this section, and although you can recover the blood by playing "Taste of Vitae" you need to have the blood at start of the combat at your disposal. Second, combat can still be ended by cards in play, like "Flash Grenade" or a built-in Strike: Combat Ends like "Gotsdam, The Tired Warrior" has. Also, the card suffers from the same effect as "Telepathic Tracking"; since Dominate is not a combat discipline, it requires an additional combat discipline.
    Ranking the cards, "Psyche" is the clear leader of the pack, closely followed by "Immortal Grapple" and "Telepathic Tracking", and then with some distance, "Thoughts Betrayed".

    In addition there are several other that can achieve successes against Strike: Combat Ends, but they are more limited in use, often just because the above cards also prevent the opposing minion to play Strike: Dodge effectively.
    • Discipline Based
      • "Hidden Lurker" (obf) / "Fast Reaction" (aus) -- both prevent the opposing vampire to strike in the first round of the resulting combat. The main disadvantage is there that both cards require an additional untapped vampire. Also the opposing player will be more cautious after the first appliance of the card to block (or react), i.e. you may not be able to choose your combats as you like.

      • "Blessing of Chaos" (dem) - prevents Strike: Combat Ends that requires Dementation, Chimerstry, Dominate or Presence. As good at it sounds, there are several disciplines such as Necromancy, Obtenebration and Protean with access to Strike: Combat Ends are not covered by "Blessing of Chaos". The other issues is that Malkavian (antitribu), the main clan that features Dementation, are not known for their fighting capabilities, i.e. they lack proper combat disciplines like Potence or Protean.

      • "Lapse" (TEM) -- prevents any strike during the initial strike phase. Somewhat weaker than "Thoughts Betrayed", since the later card prevents the opposing minion playing Strike: Combat Ends during the complete combat. Otherwise it has the same dis-/advantages as "Thoughts Betrayed", only that the "True Brujah" have Potence as clan discipline which can provide the necessary punch for hurting the other combatant.

      • "Mind of a Child" (dem) and "Withering" (THN) -- prevent discipline cards from being played, and therefore stops all discipline based Strike: Combat Ends. "Mind of a Child" has the problem that it is way too expensive for a card, that can be removed by any vampire as a +1 stealth (D) action. "Withering" on the other hand suffers from the problem that you first need a combat to apply the "Withering" in which the opposing minion can play , and then you need a combat (or at least press) to make good use of the "Withering's" effect, since the card is burned in the opposing minions discard phase. Just to complicated to be truly effective.

      • "Skin Trap" (VIC) -- prevents the opposing vampire from striking if they fail to pay 1 blood. This is probably the weakest countermeasure, since the opposing minion can easily circumvent the effect by paying a blood. Only repeated use of the card can lead to desired countermeasure, i.e. when the opposing vampire is empty of blood.

    • Clan Based
      • "The Path of the Scorched Heart" -- prevents Strike: Combat Ends that require Presence. Since the restriction to only one discipline is too narrow, this shouldn't be the only countermeasure against Strike: Combat Ends. In the case of the True Brujah "Immortal Grapple" and "Lapse" (see above) are the likely candidates to fill the gap.

      • "Dog Pack" -- minions opposing the minion with this retainer cannot play Strike: Combat Ends. The biggest restrictions here are that employing "Dog Pack" requires a Gangrel and costs hefty two pool. Otherwise quite usuable in a Gangrel combat deck.

    • Minions
      • "Oliver Thrace" -- minions in combat with him cannot play Strike: Combat Ends. Very good feature, but restricted to just one vampire.

    • Other
      • "Rötschreck" -- does not prevent playing of Strike: Combat Ends. It simply ends combat in a different way, and sends the opposing vampire to torpor. The disadvantages are threefold, it restricts your combat to aggravated damage, is only playable once during another player's turn, and is utterly useless against allies. Otherwise very hard to counter.

      • "NSA Trio" -- during the first combat between an acting vampire and a blocking vampire each turn, neither combatant may end combat as a strike in the first round. This is the only (near) universal (read: affects all vampires in play) countermeasure, but decks relying on Strike: Combat Ends as combat defense will try to remove the card as soon as possible. So, though it is a good addition for combat decks, it should backed backed up with other countermeasures.