Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deck Archetypes: Weenie Computer Hacking

No other deck archetype is more hated than the Weenie Computer Hacking deck, at least if you're the prey of it. As a prey of a Weenie Computer Hacking deck you know you need nothing short of a miracle to survive this predator (unless you play weenies yourself). But even then you're stuck with defending against this very aggressive predator.

One player named his deck of this type "Friendmaker" to sarcastically indicate his deck never makes any friends at all. Ever. The deck is a straight forward bleed deck based on its namesake Computer Hacking. It has generally little defense, and needs to oust its successive preys in as few turns as possible. The deck can only go downstream, and it has very little bargaining power, only relying on its own brute force approach. So if another player asks for a deal, usually the player can deny any deal (or he just lies through his teeth), since the deck needs to go forward fast and it can only go forward.

How to win with them
The mission statement of the deck archetype is quite simple: "Bleed. Every single action. Every single turn.". In practice it's a little bit different. The first few bleeds usually go unblocked, because of the lack of minions in your prey's ready region. But after the vampires get blocked (and they often will), they usually need to hunt, so you need to influence extra vampires beyond the initial four to increase pressure during the course of the game, etc.

In the beginning don't be shy to bleed hard and fast like there's no tomorrow, ditch the combat (or reaction) cards if your prey (or predator) doesn't have any minions immediately to get the bleed cards you need to oust him.

If you're influencing vampires, one important thing is, that you should always consider using your transfers to the maximum. For example if you have one 1 or 2 capacity vampire in your crypt left, and you have 4 transfers, you should consider spending the 4 transfers to move another weenie from your crypt to your uncontrolled region, in order to move two vampires at once to the ready region during your next turn. This effectively saves you one or two turn before bringing the second minion. This is quite essential for a deck that needs to move forward fast. For that reason, Information Highway is an incredible important card for the deck (and Effective Management to a lesser degree). For the same reason Dreams of the Sphinx is an incredibly good card, especially if your crypt mainly consists of capacity 1 vampires. It allows you to speed up moving new vampires to the controlled region and thus keeping the pressure on your prey.

The mid- and especially the end-game is not the easiest part for the deck. You have to have a superior number of vampires compared to those of prey and try to overrun your second and third prey. Since your second and even more so second prey now had some time to prepare in terms of moving vampires to their ready region and setting up other resources, it becomes increasingly hard to perform enough successful bleeds to oust.

Since defense is rather weak the best answer for the deck is still a relentless offensive. And this is when the deck often fails since the pressure from its predator becomes too much and/or the offensive breaks down when too many vampires are burned or set to torpor. So with the deck it's always do or die, and after the first prey it's more often than not die.

Crypt Composition
Every weenie without a severe disadvantage is eligible for the crypt selection. The smaller the capacity of the vampire the better, so either capacity 1 or 2 vampires will do the job.

Variations of the deck either use Obfuscate to be able to pass more actions, or a discipline which allows to enhance the bleeds, e.g. Dominate or Presence. When using these discipline the average capacity of the decks goes up, i.e. usually vampires of capacity 3 or 4 are used. This also immediately slows down the rate of vampires the deck is able to move into the ready region. So one it's one strategy to make the crypt consist half of vampires with the selected discipline and the rest regular capactity 1 or 2 vampires.

Bleed defense
If the deck has included some small capacity vampires with Dominate, bleed defense is comprised of a few Deflections. Otherwise the defense is the large pool the deck keeps by playing only small capacity vampires and by (hopefully) gaining pool for ousting in rather quick succession.

Vote defense
As with bleed the defense is very light. Just a couple couple of Delaying Tactics, maybe 2 to 4 of them, and the aforementioned large pool sack the deck sits on.

Combat defense
If any combat defense at all, the deck just uses a few Fake Outs and Dodges, but only in very small numbers in order to reduce the chances to clog on non-bleed cards.

As a player you can always count on having a (hopefully) small numbers of vampires in torpor. There is also always the question whether to rescue your own vampires or not (other players certainly won't). Usually it's not worth the action or you can't spare the blood, e.g. if you have one vampire in torpor and another ready vampire with two blood. When rescuing the vampire from torpor, the rescued vampire has to hunt, and the rescuing vampire has to hunt next turn. These actions (or at least two of them) could be bleed actions instead. So rescuing a vampire should only be done, when for example, you don't have the proper bleed cards, or you need get one vampire out of torpor to prevent dying from a Dragonbound. Otherwise it is often more efficient to leave the vampires in torpor, and just keep bleeding and moving more minions from the uncontrolled region to the ready region.

Some variations play (cheap) weapons like Wooden Stakes or Saturday Night Special, either to scare blockers or to keep their own vampires alive. While the idea is viable, it has the drawback that this takes up valuable space in the deck, and can lead to serious hand jams, especially since you need to play Concealed Weapons to save actions needed for bleeding.

Generally speaking the "Weenie Computer Hacking" is not a really good one (and maybe never was one). While it helps you securing one victory point or two most of the time, it's very hard to achieve a game win with the deck on a regular basis. Nowadays with Villein being played so frequently (or other pool gain via Liquidation/Ashur Tablets for example), it has become increasingly hard for this deck type to be successful. And if you look at the tournament winning deck archive, you'll actually find very examples of this deck type compared to but you'd expect.

How to win against them
There are several silver bullets for slowing down a "Weenie Computer Hacking" deck, most of them added during the last few expansions:
  • "Aranthebes, The Immortal" -- the oldest anti-weenie card named here, it reduces the bleed of vampires with capacity of 4 or less by one. That is not much for a powerbleed deck, but a significant reduction for a deck that relies on bleed actions for 1 or 2. Even more so since the deck often only has vampires in its crypt which cannot remove Aranthebes.
  • "Gran Madre di Dio, Italy" -- this delays the weenies greatly, they come into the play tapped, loose a blood, and need usually need to hunt (barring Life in the City). In the end vampire of capacity 1 can only act two turns after he was influenced to the controlled region.
  • "Scourge of the Enochians" -- the great weenie killer of 2008. Even if only used by prey and predator uses it to destroy the deck's minions this one will surely slow it down significantly and eventually destroy it.
  • "Neonate Breach" -- another silver bullet against weenie decks, more effective than Kine Resources Contested in that your able to put the (four) pool damage to more than one opponent at the table.
If you're the prey of "Weenie Computer Hacking" deck you strongly consider back ousting your predator. Your predator is an aggressive one, he will not slow down nor is capable of redirecting his aggression elsewhere. So back ousting is always one option, and most the time even a good one, if if you have the means for it (most of the time this voting or rushing).

If you cannot back oust, you should save as much pool as possible (i.e. avoiding spending pool on master cards). To stop the "Weenie Computer Hacking" deck, you need to stop its minions by blocking them. So you should avoid unnecessary actions, e.g. equipping or hunting, which don't have an immediate benefit. If possible you have more minions to your ready region, but only if they are somewhat cheap or if you're able to recoup the blood from the vampires very soon thereafter.

As a predator, you usually have any easy prey, that is a prey which has no to little defense. But you need to hassle your prey constantly in order to prevent it from having more and more vampires in the ready region. This can be done in couple of ways, either by putting the vampires into torpor (i.e. by rushing them) or by damaging its pool. The later has to be done with significant force, that is one or two bleeds for one or two won't do since the amount of pool the "Weenie Computer Hacking" deck has is just too big (especially in the beginning).

In way being the predator of this deck type has its advantages. Your prey will be target number one on the table, and while he's most surely kill his first prey, he will often have problems ousting his second one, and that's the opportunity you'll have to exploit. You can ask for assistance of your new grand predator and maybe even your predator (when your prey is close to ousting its second prey).

If you're the grand prey of "Weenie Computer Hacking" deck you should always take into consideration that you will very likely get a new predator very soon. So if you have the means to harm your grand prey (e.g. by voting or rushing) even if that deck is not your predator then. Of course, you should ask for non-aggression by your doomed-to-be-ousted-predator in exchange for that (at least of the time being).

Key Cards
Notable Examples & Variations
Sample Decklist
Deck Name: The Friendmaker
Author: Kevin Scribner
Description: See also Jyhad Deck Archive

Crypt (Capacity min=1 max=3 avg=1.85; 13 cards)

1x Antoinette DuChamp 1 cel pre Caitiff:2
1x Brooke 3 dom tha !Tremere:2
1x Cameron 3 dom pot Lasombra:2
1x Christine Boscacci 2 dom vic Pander:2
1x Jing Wei 3 dom tha Tremere:1
1x March Halcyon 1 for Pander:2
1x Marciana Giovanni, Investigator 2 dom Giovanni:2
1x Mustafa Rahman 2 dom Tremere:2
1x Navar McClaren 1 ani Caitiff:1
1x Ohanna 2 dom Malkavian:2
1x Royce 1 dom Pander:2
1x Samson 2 dom !Ventrue:2
1x Smudge the Ignored 1 -none- Caitiff:1

Library (90 cards)

Master (30 cards)
4x Anarch Troublemaker
1x Barrens, The
4x Effective Management
1x Gird Minions
8x Information Highway
6x Misdirection
4x Parthenon, The
2x Tribute to the Master

Action (22 cards)
22x Computer Hacking

Action Modifier (8 cards)
4x Command of the Beast
4x Conditioning

Reaction (22 cards)
8x Deflection
8x Delaying Tactics
6x Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (8 cards)
8x Fake Out

Created with Secret Library v0.9.3. (Jun 12, 2011 18:43:30)


Ossian said...

Minor correction: Kevin Scribner's original "Friendmaker" deck was specifically Dominate weenies and made use of Deflection. More annoying than plain Computer Hacking Weenies. :)

Brandonsantacruz said...

This article could use some proof reading. I consider Leverage to be a great boon to weenie bleed decks just because they take so many bleed actions. If you can play 1-2 per turn, that prey is dead even faster. Leverage can even be used in combination with other bleed modifiers.

Matkov said...

This deck was very scary long ago when misdirection could tap X vampires. My friend played one and games usually lasted for 15 minutes with him getting a GW. That was the time when no real anti weenie card except of anarchist uprising was present.

Anonymous said...

I've used a quite bloody variant of this archetype were I combine the Computer Hacking concept with fortitude weenies and Trap/Undead Persistence. I'ts always a joy to see Rufina Solidad torporize a high-cap vampire or two ...

Juggernaut1981 said...

Another probably key variation of this deck would be the Deep Song Killer-type deck.

Weenie Animalism using Deep Song as the bleed card and sometimes a rush-clearing function utilising Crows + Bats.

Randy said...

No secrets + .44 Magnum or perma prevent also kills the deck (sure there is always pentex but then again there is always pentex somwere)...

Anonymous said...

Malkov, anti weenie Justine, Elder of Dallas has been around from day 1 :)

Just get her a maneuver (perhaps from a gun) and shell totally trump this kind of deck.

I can also attest the joy of using the fortitude variant, as most probably many of you can attest. It has been mutating throughout the years, but one older version at least can be found at the newsgroup searching with Winter War.

I think that since the deck tends to oust its first prey very promptly it hugely benefits from cards like Bitter and Sweet Story and Gambit Accepted. Sometimes you even get to use From a Sinking Ship, especially when you can bounce.


Joscha said...

I would include an Arnathebes in such a deck myself for contesting. With that you can make a surprising lunge for a Methuselah who thought to be save.