Saturday, January 31, 2009

Memorable Quotes (Part 32)

  • "Can I have a rules book?"
  • "Why do you need one?"
  • "Well, I've got to learn to play some time."
-- Conversation between VtES player during GenCon UK 1998 tournament.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Did you know, that ... (Part 26)

.. when another player targets Walker Grimes with a master card (e.g. "Pentex Subversion" or "Fame") you don't have to pay an additional pool. In general you are not paying the cost of cards other players are playing, so there cannot be additional cost for you.

Reference: Usenet Newsgroup thread.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Protection From Everything

(c) by Wizards of the Coast 2009"Progenitus" is a new card from the next Magic: the Gathering expansion "Conflux". This card is good example why I am probably never going to play Magic. OK, I played it twice when a friend of mine showed it to me back in 1995, but this was after I started playing VtES. But still .. what about the color pie, Black vs. White, Blue vs. Red, a creature that requires all five colors? And then "Protection from everthing" .. how can you top a card like this? For me Magic has jumped the shark. I'm only waiting for the Ted McGinley card.

In the world of Magic "Protection from everything" means the following:
  • Progenitus can't be blocked.
  • Progenitus can't be enchanted or equipped.
  • Progenitus can't be the target of spells or abilities.
  • All damage that would be dealt to Progenitus is prevented.
Progenitus can still be affected by effects that don't target it or deal damage to it.

If VtES was more like Magic this would result in Caine .. a vampire with capacity 20, he has 5 votes, +5 bleed and +5 stealth and (naturally) has all disciplines at superior. He's also immune to aggravated damage and doesn't need to heal non-aggravated damage. If Caine is moved to the ash heap (from anywhere), he would be moved to your crypt instead.

So this is why I probably never gonna play Magic. That and the release frequencey, and the set rotation, and the cost, and Mythic Rares, and ...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poll Results: "Deck of the Year 2008"

After having presented twelve decks of the month in the past year here's the inevitable poll for you to pick the Deck of the Year 2008 (see sidebar on the right). Please observe, that the initial choice of these decks were driven not by any wanna-be-objective-here motivation, but by my (likely flawed) preferences for originality of deck design, for audacity to play such a deck in a tournament environment or for the skill to pilot such a crappy deck to the tournament win (or final).

So the winner for the Deck of Year 2008 is current leader in VtES world ranking list, Orian Gissler (aka TTC Master. Congratulations to Orian for building and winning with this deck. Unfortunately for Orian, there is no actual prize support for this "award" other than your five minutes of fame. Here are decks that made it the top three of the list:
  1. Khazarghoulator by Orian Gissler (FRA) -- a fusion of "Khazar's Diary" & "War Ghoul" decks.
  2. Enkidu Brinkmanship by Ira Fay (USA) -- "Enkidu" with "Raptors" enforces a "Brinkmanship".
  3. Assamite Anarch Council by Robyn Tatu (USA) -- The Assamite Anarch vote deck that later won two main events at the NAC 2008.
The complete results of the poll look like this:
  1. Khazarghoulator -- 38 (18%)
  2. Enkidu Brinkmanship -- 25 (12%)
  3. Assamite Anarch Council -- 24 (11%)
  4. Mummy Strength! -- 19 (9%)
  5. Lots of Babies -- 17 (8%)
  6. Nosfe-Rat-Tools -- 14 (6%)
  7. Nocturn Twins -- 14 (6%)
  8. Hektor Multi-Rush -- 13 (6%)
  9. Toreador Quintuple-A -- 11 (5%)
  10. Cats and Dogs -- 6 (2%)
  11. Children of the Damned -- 5 (2%)
  12. Akunanse Trophy -- 4 (1%)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Results "Nightmare after Christmas" VtES Tournament in Bremen

Here are the results of the "Nightmare after Christmas" VtES Constructed tournament in Bremen, Germany after 2 rounds and final. The tournament was played on January 24th, 2009 with 9 players participating. Here are the standings after the final round:
1. Philipp H. -- 1 GW 3 VP -- 1,5 VP -- Ahrimanes Toolbox
2. Wolfgang S. -- 1 GW 4 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Lasombra G3/4 Stealth Bleed
2. Hannes S.-- 1 GW 3 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Follower of Set Obf/Pre Bleed feat. Greta
2. Ralf L. -- 0 GW 2 VP -- 0,5 VP -- Brujah Antitribu Unexpected Coalition Vote
2. Alf B. -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 0 VP -- Tzimisce Horrid Form Wall
Congratulations to Philipp for his victory in the tournament.

Left: The tournament venue, the bar "Mono" in Bremen.

Right: At Table 2 in round 1 quite a lot torporizations & diableries could be observed.

Left: The final battle between the Tzimisce at table 2, the War Ghoul faction vs. Horrid Form faction.

Right: Arguing going on table 2 in round 2 after the Ahrimanes have ousted the Brujah antitribu.

The Gentle Art of Deal-Breaking

More than 8 years ago James McClellan (aka Legbiter) wrote this insightful piece on the making (and breaking) deals in VtES. The original piece appeared in the Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter October 2000, and it was later republished on Xian's VtES website.
The Gentle Art of Deal-Breaking by James McClellan

A recent topic of conversation on the newsgroup was all about making and breaking deals, the extent to which retaliation was wise and should be taken, and so on. I don't think any real consensus was reached but some quite interesting points were raised and an entertaining time was had by all, or at any rate by me, especially when I came across the post which said that sometimes deal-breaking should be mandatory. And since the not-so-gentle Rob Treasure has been talking about the related matter of agitation in his excellent Ventrue Newsletter I thought I would just say a few words more about how to make and break deals in VTES.

I'd better preface my remarks by saying that this is one area of the game where not only do I lack the basic skills but I even know that I lack them. I well remember being dealt out of victory in the first final my ToGP deck got to when Rob, my predator, somehow persuaded Pierre, his predator, that his [Pierre's] interests would best be served by a cross- table rush against me. I think even Rob felt a bit guilty about that one and in fact we tied the final, Rob winning the tournament overall on his performance in the heats. However, not being able to do something is no excuse for not commenting on it, as any follower of English cricket or football or whatever is well aware, so here is what I think about making and breaking deals.

Never make a deal that isn't going to give you a solid advantage. Usually this will mean an advantage in the game, and by VTES rules it may not involve non-game components, which basically means no bribery, but there are solid reasons for making deals which give you no VP for the game. The best example of a deal of this kind is one which buggers up a deck you can't deal with so that, for instance, it doesn't get to the final. There are others, but I'm not making this point to go over the ground of what isn't or is a legal deal in Jyhad: I'm making it because if your deals aren’t good for you then you are being stupid, and that means you will get used by more-skilled players. If your deals always blow up on you then don't make deals at all; the other players may think you are stupid not to make any deals, but if you make crappy deals then they will know you are stupid, which is much worse. A good way to do this is to pretend that you have forgotten how to speak whatever language you normally use; alternatively you may find that you urgently need to go to the bathroom whenever the subject of deals comes up. Learning an uncontrollable stammer, brought on by the stress of deal-consideration, can also be a good tactic.

Never break a deal unless it gives you the game right away. Again, I'm not making a moral point here, and in fact I'm not even making a new point. If you break a deal but leave your opponents alive they will get a chance to retaliate, which will bugger you up and, much more seriously, make you look stupid. If you break a deal and win you will get some sour looks and may lose important chances to copulate with attractive members of the individually-preferred but usually opposite gender, but nobody will think you are stupid for breaking the deal. In short, your reputation as a Good Player will be enhanced, and this may actually make it more likely that people will deal with you in the future - or as Machiavelli put it, it is better to be Feared than Loved. All of which leads on to the final point I want to make:

Be wary of making deals with stupid people. If somebody is a poor deal-maker it's quite likely that they are also a poor card-player and deck-builder, which means that even with the best will in the world they may not actually be capable of fulfilling their side of any proposed deal. On the other hand, you can sometimes make quite spectacularly brilliant deals [for you, anyway] with people who are poor at dealing, especially if they have cross-table abilities like politics or combat in their deck, and even more so if they think VTES is an RPG in the same sense as VtM. As Rob hints in his newsletter, the way to do this is often to start off by coaching them [in-game, of course] on how to play their deck properly, and then once you've helped them to some modicum of success you propose or even better acquiesce to some utterly ridiculous deal.

In summary, therefore, I suggest that making and breaking deals is a skill. Deploying this skill is part of your growth as a VTES player, and you need to do it right, or not at all, because your reputation as a skilled player is of tremendous long-term value to you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Anarchs & Alastors" Storyline: Aftermath

Ben Swainbank, VtES Storyline Coordinator, has posted the aftermath story written by Daria Patrie for the Anarch & Alastors storyline event. The storyline event tournaments around the struggle between the Camarilla Alastors and the Anarch faction took place from August to November 2008, and you can find the individual results and finals standings on Google docs. The overall winner is the Anarch faction with "Yazid Tamari" as their key vampire.

The next storyline event named "Rise of the Imperator" is already on its way, but details on rules and dates have yet to be released.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did you know, that ... (Part 25)

.. you cannot play "Freak Drive", if that "Freak Drive" is drawn as replacement for a card that has the "Do not replace until end of action" clause on it (e.g. "Arson" or "Gramle"). This is because the action has ended and there is no longer an opportunity to play the action modifier.

On the other hand, you can play "Freak Drive" if the card is drawn as replacement for a card that has the "Do not replace until after combat" (e.g. "Dodge") clause on it, since the action hasn't been concluded yet.

References: Usenet Newsgroup/Monocle of Clarity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Harrod vs. Josef von Bauren

With the VtES expansion "Keepers of Tradition" and the emergence of the new Inner Circle members the obvious question has to asked: Which is the better Nosferatu Inner Circle? So watch in awe the eternal struggle for supremacy between "Harrod" and "Josef von Bauren":


  • In-Clan Disciplines: OK, both have exactly same in-clan disciplines, but if you use Ultra-Pro card protectors with the holographic dot in the lower left corner, you cannot see Harrod's superior "Potence" anymore.
    Winner: Josef.

  • Out-Clan Disciplines: Harrod fits into a lot of decks, he shares all in-clan disciplines with both the Toreador and Brujah, all the while Josef is only practically usable in a Caitiff deck. The only good thing, both choose the path of creativity by abstaining from the so-called power disciplines like Fortitude, Dominate and (superior) Auspex.
    Winner: Harrod.

  • Capacity: A clear win for Josef. He has less disciplines than Harrod and therefore you can put more Master: Discipline cards on him.
    Winner: Josef.

  • Grouping: Only Harrod can be in the same (legal) crypt with "Frederick the Weak", and they both share inferior Presence. A winning team Josef cannot join.
    Winner: Harrod.

  • Special Ability: Josef's special ability allows him to discard a card at random from your opponent's hand. How much better is Harrod's special ability! He can pick the crypt card he can look at. Easy "Brainwash" targets!
    Winner: Harrod.

  • Permanent Bonuses: Josef has +1 stealth and +1 bleed. Sounds good for a split second, but as soon as "Mary Ann Blaire" hits the table, Josef is stuck with bleeding for 0 (at +1 stealth). Nice work.
    Winner: Harrod.

  • Power Combos: Big cap vampires need power combos, and Harrod's a shining example for playing these combos. For example, when Harrod is in combat, he can counter an "Immortal Grapple" with "Charismatic Aura", so he has dibs on playing "Immortal Grapple" himself. Where's the Potence & Dementation multi-discipline card Josef can play?
    Winner: Harrod.

  • Artwork: Look at those ghastly hands on Harrod, and you know a winner. Josef's redish/blueish background makes him look like he's from a Magic (a.k.a. the other game) expansion.
    Winner: Harrod.

Winner: When you compare the points both vampires have scored, you see that Harrod has six points, while Josef has two points. So the clear wi..loser is Clan Nosferatu.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memorable Quotes (Part 31)

"Use Law Of 5 and you'll be fine." -- TexasJusticar on how to make sure that your star vampire shows up in your starting crypt.
Reference: The Mathematics of Crypt Draws thread.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Results "Hashashin's Creed" Storyline Tournament

Here are the results of the "Hashashin's Creed" VtES Storyline tournament in Tilburg, Netherlands after 3 rounds and final. The tournament was played on January 18th, 2009 with 13 players from the Netherlands and Germany participating. The storyline was a Build-Your-Own (BYO) storyline centered around the Assamite "Janni" which the Methuselahs could hire to carry out contracts against other player's minions. You can find the introduction and the rules on White Wolf's BYO storyline webpage. Here are the standings after the final round:
1. Izaak -- 1 GW 5 VP -- 3 VP -- Nosferatu Royalty
2. Kathie -- 1 GW 6 VP -- 2 VP -- Akunanse Rush Combat
2. Rik -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 0 VP -- Malkavian Antitribu Stealth Bleed
2. Jelmer -- 2 GW 6 VP -- 0 VP -- Arika Obfuscate Bleed/Vote
2. Didi -- 1 GW 3 VP -- 0 VP -- Assamite Black Hand Toolbox
Congratulations to Izaak for his victory in the storyline tournament. Quite a surprise for me that neither the !Malkavian S&B nor the Arika Lawfirm deck managed to get a single VP in the final. Many thanks to Janni. When comparing the different sect's results during the tournament, the Camarilla not only won the final table, but the majority of the tables as well. According the storyline tournament rules, the advanced Janni would join the Camarilla then and would like as pictured above. You can find the full standings and a tournament report in the dutch VtES forum.

Left: The Theseus Denksportcentrum in Tilburg was the tournament venue.

Right: A view of the Theseus' interior during the tournament's third round.

Left: Table 2 during round 3 saw two(!) Akunanse decks (played Kathie and Hardy) fighting for the game win.

Right: Table 3 (also during round 3) saw many combats and a large number diableries committed as well.

Left: The final battle at table 3. Didi's Assamites vs. Rene's !Ventrue.

Right: The final round saw much arguing, but in the end the three finalists without bleed bounce decided the !Malkavian & the Arika decks had to go first.

Monday, January 12, 2009

VtES European Championship 2009

The plans for the VtES European Championship 2009 have been officially announced. The VtES European Championship 2009 will be held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain from November 13th to 15th, 2009. The event location is the Barceló Pueblo Park Hotel, a four star hotel in the heart of Palma beach, 6 kilometers away from the Son Sant Joan International Airport. The three-day schedule is the usual one, starting with the Last Chance Qualifier on Friday, and the actual EC tournament on Saturday and Sunday, though no details of the side events have been detailed yet.

Please note that currently not all relevant information is available, e.g. registration for the EC2009 is not yet open, and information about room reservations is not detailed yet. The newly launched EC 2009 website contains event information and will feature updates on the missing information soon.

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

Here's a little gem from the past when "Protect Thine Own" and "Kindred Restructure" were not banned, and you could play "Zip Guns" with "Dragon Breath's Rounds".
From: Jonathan Sushinsky
Subject: Results Crusade: Washington D.C. (Extremely Long)
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 10:15:10 -0800

Here are full results of Last Weekends Washington D.C. tournament.

The tournament was held on Nov 1st from 1:30 to about 7 at Guardian Comics in Waldorf, MD. If anyone wants the address or phone number let me know as our hosts were most accommodating and courteous.

The first game was scheduled to start at 1:00, but some registrants had some trouble finding the location, as it was a little out of the way. Even so at least two people showed up late, another one that had pre-registered never showed, and quite a few more who were expected never showed, but other than the low turnout everything went smoothly.

Due to the small number of registrants we ran three preliminary rounds of two tables.

Round 1
Table 1 was swept by Steve Holmer (the eventual winner of the tournament) Steve was playing a weenie with Zip Guns/ Dragon Breath Rounds/ and Computer Hackings deck. The other decks at the table were simply unprepared to deal with the relentless onslaught of the the gun wielding masses. (Steve's deck is listed in it's entirety at the end of this message.)

Table 2 was won by Jon Evers. His Presence/Progeny deck was able to do just about anything. Most of the Crypt were princes so he had Vote Defense, a fair amount of Auspex provided a bleed defense with Telepathic Misdirections and intercept against votes was a mixture of Second Tradition and Telepathic Misdirection. The decks combat consisted primarily of Majesty, but a smattering of Celerity (Acrobatics and Sideslip) enabled him to hold his own when a majesty was not present. His main offense was presence based bleed with a small amount of damaging votes. In the first round only one other Methuselah was able to gain any Victory Points. Dan's Lasombra/Vote/Dominate Bleed deck managed to finish off his prey before Jon Could oust him and sweep the table with his Princes and Embraces.

Both tables finished this round quickly helped in part at table one by Chris bringing out Leandro (all other Methuselahs must pay a pool at to influence), and at the second table by Brian's 2 Anarch Revolts early on.

Round 2
Round two provided an interesting prequel to the final as Table 1 matched Steve's Weenies against Jon's Embraces. Steve was not able to bleed as Jon/with Volker (practically single handedly) held off the hordes of weenie bleeders through a mix of Wakes and Second Traditions. Jon's use of Majesties and Dodges kept his minions alive through the zip gun/DBR combats and Jon slowly ousted his prey and then Steve to win the Table with 3 Victory Points. Jon however was not able to put much pressure on his first prey until he had torpored most of Steve's weenies. His Prey, Ian, was thus able to oust the two other Methuselah's at the table before Jon could finish him off. Ian's deck consisted of a Basic Ventrue Fortitude/Dominate Bleed deck which took some time to build up, and was only able to this one game, but the use of unblockable bleeds for large amounts and the infamous Fame/Day Op combination gave him two Victory points before Jon could muster enough offense to oust him.

Table 2 was much less exciting, but Brian was able to win with a Dominate Bleed Deck which seemed to have more Reactions in it than Bleed. Combat Defense consisted of Obedience/ and the Elysium. His offense consisted of Dominate Bleed Modifiers using a tap and bleed method with Sleeping Mind and Seduction to keep from being blocked. This worked fine except against Dan's Lasombra who simply deflected the bleeds, and managed to gain another Victory Point. Brian's deck was helped by a few Misdirections, hostile Takeover's and Anarch Revolt's, but simply appears to have gotten a decent draw this round and was able to oust the table including helping to oust Dan's prey for him...Brian's deck is also listed following this post as I asked permission of all three finalists with VP's in the final round to provide me with the contents of their decks.

Round 3
Table 1 again had a very interesting game. Jon Evers did not gain any Victory points in this round, but he knew he was already in the final after his last two rounds. Although he didn't gain any Victory Points his deck kept the playing field even throughout the game as he helped out two methuselahs who hadn't yet received any Victory Points. Jon threw votes around seemingly without any real alliances and after a successful Dramatic Upheaval called by Phil's Malkavian Rider deck, Jon let himself be ousted and left Phil to do battle with Chris's Presence Vote Deck. Chris eventually won this round and managed to make it to the finals on the 3 victory points he gained this round alone.

At Table 2 there was very little resistance as Steve's weenies with Zip guns managed to secure another win and the top spot in the final. Dan's Lasombra deck also managed one victory point and a place in the final.

The Final
Steve had the most victory points in the preliminary rounds and chose to sit at position one at the table. Jon chose to prey on Steve from position five. Dan chose to sit opposite both. Chris decided he would rather have Dan as a predator than Steve so Brian was stuck sitting to Steve's left.

Steve imediately gets his weenies out and starts pounding away at Brians minions and pool. after only a few rounds Brian is about ready to succumb to the intense bleeding pressure when in shocking move Chris ousts Dan at position 3 with a Kine Resurces Contested vote. This is in direct response to a Misdirection and then a bleed of 7 by Dan's Lasombras. With Dan ousted Brian gains 6 pool and a victory point and a brief glimpse of recovery. At this point Brian has one victory point and plays an entirely defensive game though he complained constantly about not drawing any Obediences and can't seem to keep his minions out of torpor for this reason.

Jon meanwhile is having a hard time getting his deck going. He only drew one Progeny the entire game and couldn't amount much of an offensive without them. In addition his combat was weak this game and the weenies managed to put his princes in torpor whenever they got the chance. This proved to be Jon's downfall as Chris managed to outvote him and oust him fairly quickly.

Brian is ousted soon afterwards and the final becomes a race between Steve's bleeding weenies and Chris's mix of Blood Gain and KRCs. Steve's minions are just too much as Chris begins to run out of the cards necessary to mount any real attack. Steve finishes the game with a floury of bleeds and takes the first place victory.

I am now going to list the contents of the three decks who got victory points in the finals. If anyone wants to see the contents of any other players deck let me know and I will try to get that for you. Thanks to everyone that made Crusade :D.C. possible including the registrants, Guardian Comics, Eric Cagle and WoTC, and to all of the passersby who were interested in knowing what we were up to. Thanks. If any one has any questions feel free to post them or send me personal email.

The decklists Jon mentioned I have put up on Secret Library, the original one's are somewhat hard to read.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Did you know, that ... (Part 24)

.. that if a minion plays "Burst of Sunlight" and the opposing minion dodges, the damage is still applied to the minion that played the "Burst of Sunlight". That is because the damaging effect caused by the "Burst of Sunlight" to the first vampire is considered environmental damage and thus is not affected by the dodge of the opposing vampire.

References: Offical Rulings in section: Damage (Combat)

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

Monday, January 5, 2009

VEKN Tournament Rules 2009

The new VEKN Tournament Rules for the year 2009 have been posted by LSJ in the Usenet Newsgroup. The complete tournament rules for 2009 are not yet on the White Wolf website. The actual changes (compared to the rules of 2008), which are effective for each official VtES tournament from January 1st, 2009 look like this:
  • 2.9 Ousted players are not eligible to serve as judges at their tables in a multi-judge event.
So nothing earth-shaking here, and all my rants about what cards are going to be banned in 2009 are null and void.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Poll: Deck of the Year 2008

After having presented twelve decks of the month in the past year here's the inevitable poll for you to pick the Deck of the Year 2008 (see sidebar on the right). Please observe, that the initial choice of these decks were driven not by any wanna-be-objective-here motivation, but by my (likely flawed) preferences for orginality of deck design, for audacity to play such a deck in a tournament environment or for the skill to pilot such a crappy deck to the tournament win (or final).

There is no actual prize support for this "award" other than your five minutes of fame.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Results South American Championship 2008

Here are the results of the VtES South American Championship 2008, which was played on December 12th-14th, 2008 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The qualifier for the SAC finals have been finished on Saturday, with 28 players playing in this tournament. The standings of the final round were as follows:
1. Thiago Souza -- 2 GW 7 VP -- 3 VP
2. Leonardo Villela -- 2 GW 9.5 VP -- 1 VP
2. Eduardo Kazan -- 2 GW 8 VP -- 1 VP
2. Filipe Fiuza -- 1 GW 5.5 VP -- 0 VP
2. Angelo Amaral -- 1 GW 4 VP -- 0 VP
Congratulutions to Thiago for winning the South American Championship 2008. The complete standings of all events/tournaments during the SAC can be found in the brazilian VtES Yahoo group.

Deck of the Month: December 2008: Nocturns Twins

In December the list of decks to choose from was a little bit shorter because of the holiday season. The most interesting deck was the Nocturn Shadow Twin deck by Carlos Eduardo Ganso. Not that the deck list is so variable and innovative, but you have to have the chutzpah to enter a tournament with this kind of deck, and the skill to win with it. Note the lack of any Dominate bleed actions or modifiers, pure concentration on the "Nocturn" ally and the "Shadow Twin" action.
Bloody X-Mas Jundiaí
Center Cards Store
Jundiaí, Brazil
16 players
3R + F

Deck Name : Nocturns Twins
Author : Carlos Eduardo Ganso
Description :

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 3 max: 6 average: 4.25
2x Lucy Markowitz 3 dom obt Lasombra:4
2x Hester Reed 3 obt pot Lasombra:3
2x Leila Monroe 4 dom obt pre Lasombra:4
1x Banjoko 5 DOM obt pot Lasombra:3
2x Ermenegildo, The Rake 5 DOM OBT pot Lasombra:4
2x Andrew Emory 5 OBT aus dom pot Bishop Lasombra:4
1x Onaedo 6 DOM OBT aus pot Lasombra:4

Library [90 cards]
Action [20]
20x Shadow Twin

Action Modifier [4]
4x Shadow Play

Ally [21]
1x Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
20x Nocturn

Event [2]
1x Restricted Vitae
1x Unmasking, The

Master [17]
1x Elysian Fields
3x Fame
1x Fortschritt Library
1x Hungry Coyote, The
1x Momentum's Edge
3x Path of Night, The
1x Political Hunting Ground
1x Sunset Strip, Hollywood
5x Vessel

Reaction [26]
4x Darksight
8x Deflection
4x Eyes of the Night
10x On the Qui Vive

VtES Clan Newsletters in December 2008

One clan newsletter has been posted in the "" usenet newsgroup this month. Beside using a newgroup reader, you can also access the newsgroup by Google Groups.