Monday, September 02, 2013

Vampire : the Evaluated Situation - The Asian Continental Championship 2013

The day of 31st August, in the year 2013, Gamersaurus Rex, Singapore.

After a very stressful night/morning the previous day, where I rushed to prepare a viable deck for the tournament, I did manage to wake up early enough to arrive at Gamersaurus Rex (which, incidentally, is really near my house). YY and Fei, Hidetoshi-san were already there, and soon Fad and Aaron arrived too. Unfortunately there was some delay in opening up the shop, so Hidetoshi-san had to complete his breakfast outside and Aaron and me went to get a drink in the nearby mama shop.

Eventually we got all these sorted out, all our Philippines and Japanese friends arrived, as well as 9 Singapore Methuselahs. A total of 18 Methuselahs for this event, despite the discontinuation of the game - pretty impressive, ya? The struggle is ETERNAL!

Unfortunately for me, waking from torpor after so long, I have lost pretty much the majority of the memory I had for the game, therefore, this account of the battle would be a little hazy, and had to be very focused on what I did, rather than a bird's eye view of the situation.

Hopefully this would all go away in time and I can recall all cards at a glimpse again~ :)

Also, apologies to all my Philippines Methuselahs one more time, the blood is thin with me that day and many names eluded my memory - someone must have played Memory Fading Glimpse on me, so please pardon me if I could not recall all the names correctly of my esteemed opponents. 

Round 1
Arserio's Toreador Vote, bleeding
Fei's Toreador Bleed, bleeding
Troy's Blood Brothers, bleeding
Lucine's (Louie) Euro Brujah Beat Bleed, bleeding
My Saulot Puppeteer.

This is the first time that I played my Saulot deck after constructing it the night before, and I borrowed quite a couple of Neutral Guard (and even a Saulot!) from Bann. (many thanks to Bann, without them the deck couldn't have worked)

Was pretty rusty in this game, and it was really stressful for me since I was sitting downwind of a Brujah combat deck. Remembering the days back in Philippines where beating up people was the hobby of some of the Methuselahs, I was very careful in always holding combat cards in hand, just in case.

Arserio was in a prominent position in the early game, quickly calling out Anson and Alexandria (and somebody else), having a vote lock of sorts. Fei's vampires were contesting with Arserio, and therefore couldn't really match the game as Arserio had early Info Highway and Zillah's Valley to quickly stocked up his vampire pool.

I quietly brought out Saulot and Jephta Hester, and since Louie had a vampire that gets +2 Bleed if the prey owns a Ventrue, I quickly discarded Lana in exchange for Eurayale with my Wider View.

Troy and Louie were having quite a bit of fun beating up each other, watching 2 POT deck in combat was actually pretty enjoyable from a distance. Arserio quickly dispatched Fei and was pushing to destroy Troy's Blood Brothers. My Spirit Marionette kept his vampires' blood count low, and Anson was eventually torpored by Troy's Brothers and Grave Robbed by Louie! That broke the vote lock, and Spirit Marionetting Alexandria allowed me to kill off Arserio, giving me my first VP.

However, the Brujah soon succumbed to the relentless attack of the Blood Brothers, and a most deadly and stressful sparring happened between Troy and me, with both our pool being quite low when YY called the time - the Brothers didn't have enough enter combat cards, and the few that he executed didn't get through my Anesthetic Touch. Our table actually started a little later than the others, and should have played for another 5 minutes, but I was relieved when the time was called and forgot about that extra time (I think Troy did too, it was a most demanding 20 minutes of play), and showed my hand to Troy. I did execute what I would do if there was time (there was actually, coz it was my turn). My Dreams would have given me the Conditioning to kill Troy off.

Troy offered to let me execute it, but I think it was totally unfair for him since I wouldn't have known that the next 2 cards included a Conditioning, I had every possibility to be eliminated as well. So I declined and everybody was happy~

My VPs after Round 1
1.5 VP

I think there was a lunch break after this, or was it after the next game. Can't remember, but we went to Aston's for a good lunch at some point, and came back to an extremely crowded GRex for the rest of the games. To be honest, it wasn't the best environment for a Vtes battle.


Round 2
Keith's Giovanni Asset, bleeding
John's (from Philippines) Malgorzata, bleeding
My Saulot Puppeteer, bleeding
Ayukata-san's Al-Muntaquim beat bleed,, bleeding
Troy's Blood Brothers.

I was actually pretty concerned at the beginning, sitting in between 2 totally combat capable decks that could bypass my defence easily. But the game went off quite to my advantage. Ayukata-san's early aggressive attack disarmed one of Troy's Blood Brothers, and a mistake in blocking Mylan's bleed allowed an Anarch to diablerize the torpored Blood Brother, putting troy at a distinct disadvantage.

Meanwhile, after taking one of my predator's vampire's blood, John had to deal with the numerous Giovanni attacks, which always Flash Grenaded his vampires and further removed his capability to really threaten me, the !Tremere were effectively removed from the equation in my consideration as Malgorzata ran out of crypt vampires to use her abilitiy to bloat. John focused primarily in defending, and Keith's attacks weren't too deadly as he also focused on using his Ventrue Assets to bloat his vampires.

On the prey's side, Star vampire decks are very vulnerable to Spirit Marionette. Taking Al-Muntaquim, and his AK-47 from him with Saulot, I no longer worried about the combat of the Trujahs, and an early Spirit Marionette with my predator's Paul Cordwood netted me a 5 bleed with Conditioning (with the Stealth given by his ability! Lucky!). Ayukata-san soon fell to my bleeding and I got my first VP in the game.

Troy was sufficiently weakened at that stage, and I made a deal with John to torpor one of Keith's vampires by Spirit Marionetting him and forcing him to hunt, therefore torpored by the !Tremere. The rest of the game was relatively easy for me as all of my remaining preys no longer possessed the ability to handle my attacks.

My VPs after Round 2
6.5 VPs + 1 GW

Round 3
Round 3 was a 4-player table.
My Saulot Puppeteer bleeding
YY's Ventrue Bleed, bleeding
Louie's Brujah Beat Bleed, bleeding
Fad's !Malkavian Breed Vote

For a start, I hate Pentex Subversion, and I hate YY~ :)

With an early Heart, I was able to quickly decimate YY's position, until he Pentex-ed me. Meanwhile, Louie was doing alright in damaging Fad, but wasn't able to push in for the kill. At the point of Pentex, both YY and me were trying to convince Louie to pick a side, either by burning the Pentex, or by not burning it. My offer to Louie was that, burn the Pentex, I will proceed to kill YY, and wait for him to kill Fad, and then we face off. 

As far as I see, Louie had no chance ousting Fad if he had to face both YY and Fad, whom together had a vote lock, and a Black Forest Base owned by Fad gave him the pool gain needed to handle Louie. Louie didn't see that, and by the time he realised it and attempted to help me, it was too late. he couldn't block Fad's OBF actions, and he did not have the vampire count to defend against YY.

Louie made the critical mistake of NOT taking any deals, thus not benefiting from a most advantageous position that he had. He was soon ousted by YY, taking damage both from Fad's vote and YY's bleeds without me doing anything to stop YY from bringing out even more vampires.

The Pentex was of course eventually burned, but it was too late for me.

I then offered Fad to oust me after I reduced YY's pool to as low as possible, and then allowing Fad to kill me. In my heart I was hoping that YY made some stupid mistakes (or Fad did), and die from random pool damage, but I think there was really a little too optimistic of me, there was also, however, the added advantage that if Fad got the game win, then YY would not have 2 GWs, and that would definitely help me in getting into the finals.

So my Saulot did his thing, and YY have got no chance against me 1-1.

My VPs after Round 2
6.5 VPs + 1 GW

The Methuselahs into the finals were (in order of standing, from 5th to top) were:


(I think)

The final was an epic battle, very few mistakes were made, everybody played really well, and everybody had a chance of winning, right up to the end, there were no dominant "we are just waiting for him to kill" thing until only the 1-on-1's very very end.

An exceptional battle worth recording in a separate post~ preferably by somebody else, since I did not record the battle (like Hidetoshi-san did~ :)) and was quite focused on the game.

But it was one of the best (if not the best) game that I ever played~

So, hopefully, 
~to be continued~

(づ ̄3 ̄)づ 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Skirmishes in the Dark : 30-08-2013

The Night of 30th August, in the year 2013, Gamesaurus Rex.

Well, it's been a while.

And there we have a new Asian Championship tournament coming up this Saturday, most of the Methuselahs participating in the tournament are beginning to feel the need to stretch our finger muscles a little, and to recall how to conduct the Jyhad properly. 

Arriving at Gamesaurus Rex around 630, because YY said he was going to be there 630-ish, I arrived to find Aaron and Fad already there, sitting in the darkest possible corner of the place, despite 90% of GRex being empty at that time - thus was the strength of love between a free power socket and a yearning laptop.

At around 7 we finally got to have some dinner with YY and Bann (with Shuhan) at Astons. After sustenance was out of the equation, we sat down and started my first game in 6 months or so.

Gee, how I missed Vtes.

Randomized Seating:-
Fad's Malkavian Antitribu Vote, bleeding
YY's Ventrue bleed, bleeding
Bann's Nameless Solitaire, bleeding
My Rule in the Dark, bleeding
Aaron's Tzimisce Wall.

Now with the info of the cards no longer residing well in my memories, I can no longer remember who's actually doing what~ so I'll be selfish and just focus on what my immediate environment is like.

I brought out Murat as my first vampire, but was really dismayed when YY played a Scourge of the Enochians. Looking at my 3x Third Tradition in my hand, and a weenie vampire in my crypt, I thought to myself - ohoh~

My only other viable vampire was Sheldon, and I brought him out after Murat. These 2 fellas were pretty much the only 2 guys I worked with this game, despite the deck supposedly being a swarm deck with tons of weenies and lots of Progeny. Well, the Scourge basically removed that option.

The table was vote heavy, with YY holding about 5-6 votes, and Fad another 4 or so. With the exception of Bann (until later), everybody had some say on votes. I quickly established an alliance with Fad to support each other's vote after Aaron's Anton played a Revelation at superior on table, effectively Fad was playing with an open hand for quite a while since Anton was pretty good with 2 on-board intercept in defending his Revelation. 

Aaron proceeded to bring out Stravinsky, leaving his pool at about 4 pretty much for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, The Nameless was having a good time perking herself up with Homonculus, a Contagion and eventually Enkil Cog, well, that made me pretty weary, and since I didn't really have much success in blocking Bann, my pool dwindle down rather quickly, and I resorted to using Fourth Tradition and a sad Consanguinous Boon to keep afloat.

The game progressed until Aaron and me were both down to 4 pool, and I knew that Bann will eliminate me during his turn. By then my Sheldon had Alastor on him with an Assault Rifle, and much thought was put into whether or not to rush the Nameless, despite her having more than enough blood to survive the attack. 

I took a risk and bled Aaron with Murat first, stealthing through Stravinsky with my Labyrinth for 1 pool. After that, with the support from YY's 7 votes or so, I KRC-ed Aaron to death, gaining myself 6 pool and a little more time.

Well, one round later, even with the gain of 6 pool, I was down to killing range from Bann again. But YY managed to draw a Banishment, and with a Obfuscate master discipline card that I gave to his 10-cap Justicar (could be Lucinde, didn't care), he banished the Nameless One! So despite having another 2 Baali on the table, Bann had to Golconda one and re-bring out the Nameless, giving me the extra time to bleed and oust Fad with an Old Friends.

My success ended right there and Bann eventually ousted me with his persistent Nameless bleeds. YY then proceeded to oust Bann with sheer minion numbers and a Pentex Subversion on The Nameless. 

I was one happy lucky fella - with every turn of near death saved by YY's superior draws. Bann was just speechless.

Final VP Count
YY - 2 VP
Me - 2 VP
Bann - 1 VP


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Skirmishes Shall Begin

YY is calling for a Monday night Vtes session at Gamesaurus Rex~

Any Methuselahs out of torpor that is receiving this message, please commence to Gamesaurus Rex tomorrow evening after dark, at 220A Upper Thomson Road. The Eternal Struggle is, afterall, eternal.

Looking forward to bleeding you guys.

(o.o)about bloody time. (pardon the language)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How I missed Vtes

Had 2 games with the guys at PIMP when Paul, the Prince of Manila visited our humble city on Sunday.

Oh boy, how I really missed Vtes.

Come on Inner Circles! Revive the game!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bloody Disciplines - NECromancy

Over here Necromancy used to be (and still is) dominated by the presence of Zombieboy, aka Keith, and his myriad selection of Giovanni packages delivering different experience of necromantic death to any who opposes his immediate objectives. And he's really good at it. Perhaps due to the reverence to his dominance (he's got the Iron Throne in Vtes on Necromancy), I have built very few Necromancy decks, the exception being my Baron Soul Gem (Nec being the key discipline afterall), a fun Hordes deck, and perhaps a couple of  trial decks here and there, but I've never actually built one based on this discipline seriously (afterall, Keith does it so well he Awed me every time he throws out a Giovanni deck)

Nevertheless, NEC is a powerful and rather unique discipline in Vtes, being very capable of achieving victory for the Methuselah utilising it in many different ways. And it is probably one of the most interesting discipline to look at due to their many strange and powerful effects, especially when they're dealing with the dead, undead, and the un-undead.

NEC truly shines in this field, not exactly in the way of having very efficient action but with a range of sometimes rather strange (and definitely one of a kind) actions that in the hands of innovative Methuselahs, can become the backbone of very effective (or hilarious but not really working) theme decks. I mean, think of the mighty Soul Gem deck, the Wake Up Sweet Prince deck, Divine Blockers, Ex Nihilio Bleed, Jar the Soul...

In fact, the actions are varied enough to warrant Methuselahs to take a look at the offers that NEC is giving out, as unlike some of the other disciplines, NEC, albeit sorta specialized in ash heap management, isn't the kind where you go "ya, good bleeding discipline", or "this one can fight!"; but will probably give you something like "mmm..."

Moreover, due to the many different clans utilising the NEC discipline (and they can be quite different), some of these actions work rather interestingly with some of them, for example, Lifeless Tongues is an action that is quite difficult to utilise with the Giovanni, but seems pretty at ease in say, a Harbinger deck that is able to defend the card.

Unfortunately that also means that NEC action is not a "plug and play" discipline.

Action Modifiers
Needless to say, Call of the Hungry Dead and Spectral Divination are the 2 most commonly seen modifier cards, and that they are pretty good - Call simply negates a block (similar to Elder Impersonation), and Spectral Divination is another of those multi-function cards (a little costly for 1 stealth or 1 intercept, but well, the Giovanni has the Path of Bones)

Trochomancy is also commonly seen in NEC decks, being a free bleed card, and simply will belong in a Harbinger deck that has space for it~ Honorary mention goes to Shroudsight that appears in many Diary decks.

The Shambling Hordes had been used in so many ways that I've lost count - dancing ones, bombing ones, those with grenades and those who bleeds...but in every incarnation they're just as deadly. One of the more commonly seen allies for a while. And no, I've never seen the Puppeteer Wraith in play before.

Not a lot of options, but actually pretty potent. Dead Hand is a good combat hand that bypasses FOR, in the hands of Giovanni with good POT focus and STR, this card can cause a lot of headaches to traditional FOR decks. Give superior NEC to Lorrie and see her decimate opponent's normally very resilient vampires. Breath of Thanatos is seldom, if ever, used as a modifier except in Wraith decks, but is an excellent combat threat. Spiritual Intervention is the best combat end card that NEC has, and commonly seen in most NEC decks that is not focused on combat.

Baleful Doll? Never seen before.

Honestly, haven't seen a block deck with NEC reactions, and since all the NEC reaction cards basically deals with Intercepts, there isn't much to see. Moreover, the functions of the NEC reaction cards are really quite disappointing.

The Masquer is actually a pretty good retainer, but due to its cost, and that NEC is not really that high on blocking deck's priority, it is not really seen in use.

All in all NEC shines mostly in their action library, with a range of action cards that people will remember after seeing them in play (effective or not), and has a lot of those wow factors. There are quite a few clans that has NEC as an in-clan or appears in their crypt choice common enough to be used - Giovanni, of course, the Harbingers, Samedi, Nagaraja and even the Settites and some Tremeres. Interestingly, each of the prominent NEC clans can use the discipline in seemingly slightly different, but surprisingly varied manners, seeing that some NEC cards fit in better with individual clans (or even vampires). 

And I'm always excited to see what Zombieboy will do with NEC in his next deck~


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Lyrics of the Night : Multiple Copies

One of the most challenging thing about building a deck is the number of copies of certain cards that you want to include in the deck. Granted, there are quite a good number of cards that is generally easy to decide - for example, few includes more than 1 copy of Giant's Blood, or Ancient Influence in a deck simply because they can only be used once in a game, and are rarely game changing, or completely essential to the operation of a deck (at least I've not seen that happening).

There are also quite a good number of not-so-crucial cards that are good to have, and because they are unique, don't normally see more than 1 copy in any one deck - good examples would be all the Hunting Grounds, the occasional Aranthebes or unique allies such as Carlton or Mylan. 

There are exception to the rule of Uniqueness though - not all unique cards are worth only a single copy in the deck. Of course, being unique simply means that any extra copy that you have in your hand when the same card is already on table are dead weight, which is a bad thing; the trade off is that you get to draw the card more frequently, preferably right in the beginning. This is a very common tactic - inserting multiple copies to increase draw chance, and very often seen with speed cards such as Information Highway or Dreams of the Sphinx. In the latter case, since Dreams actually do expire after you use it a couple of times, having extra copies is not necessarily a bad thing. There is also the existence of thematic decks that utilized interesting combos to cycle or exploit unique cards - Soul Gem is the prime example of those kinds of decks~

The issue of how many copies a card deserves to take up in a deck very much depends on what you want to do with it, how often, and how important its place is in the greater scheme of things. For example, a Thrown Gates deck have pretty much the whole deck dedicated to Thrown Gates because that's what it does and Thrown Gates is the most effective card that it wants to draw. Therefore a good number of card slots will be allocated to it.

A deck only has a maximum of 90 cards, and every card is an asset. (or at least should be) The allocation of these slots is therefore an important aspect of the Vtes greater game. 

I commonly allocate 4-6 for cards that I want to use, and up to 12 for cards that I know is very important to me. This ratio is only a guide, and due to the incredible number of cards that I want to include in every deck, there is never enough space. For me, I use these numbers as a reference:-

1 - unique cards, good to have, if never draw, fine, used also for surprise cards or meta cards. Example - Hunting Grounds, Giant's Blood, Mylan Horseed, Carlton Van Wyk, Crimson Sentinel, Entrancement.
4 - semi-important cards that I want to draw as a backup for situations - generally allocated to maneuvers or light combat defense cards. Example - Charismatic Aura, Engling Fury, Nocturn in a non-Nocturn bleed deck.
6 - cards I intend to use frequently but is generally more defensive and not completely crucial to the game, or doesn't expire easily, or is rather costly or risky to play. Example - .44 Magnum in a gun deck, Deflection, Awe, Preternatural Strength, Majesty.
8 - important card that is the backbone of the deck, or have multiple applications. Example - Freak Drive, Ambush in a combat deck, Immortal Grapple, Domain of Evernight, Swallowed by the Night.
10 or more - a must have card, expected to use frequently and aggressively, or requires a good number to be effective, or simply runs out very quickly. Example - Aid from Bats, Kindred Spirits, Gremlins.

Deck recycling tech in Vtes is rather limited, so the exact multiples that you may need to sweep a table is the magic number that you need to prepare for. Having mental excercises on how each attack will consume cards is a good habit if you like to build Vtes decks a lot. I believe that there is no "most correct" number of each type of deck genre, simply because the immediate environment in every community is going to be different, and every person's playstyle will deviate a little. This number will eventually become clear after one toys with the deck for a while, and adapt to the people around him. Of course, this deck will have to evolve whenever a new expansion comes by, or sometimes even react to a particularly interesting or influential new entrant into the game~

And then there is the limitation post by the availability of cards - I would very much like to have 6 Siren's Lure in my Daughter's deck, but I simply do not own that many...

That is the unlife's reality man, sad, but true~


Saturday, November 05, 2011

At Your Disposal : Antediluvian Awakening

Let's be nostalgic and talk about a very old card indeed - the Antediluvian Awakening.

At first glance this seems to be a pointless card - since it damages everybody at a slow pace without giving the user any special treatment - all take 1 pool damage at untap phase (or burn a vampire of at least 4 cap to burn the card) - no questions asked. What's the point? I have yet to see a prey killed by Antediluvian because he is down to 1 pool and has no vampires to burn, but I have seen lots of times that an Awakening with longevity caused a hell lot of damage to everybody and ended up forcing one of the players to finally lose a vampire or die - this may not always be under the control of the original user of the Antediluvian Awakening, and more often than not, some random ally suffers the damage instead of the prey - really quite difficult to control.

Gone are the days before the appearance of Vessel, the Awakening is even more fearsome than, and can perhaps be used as a last minute killer, but now, most of the time you'll see the opponent losing 1 pool that is taken from somewhere.

But first thing first, this card does treat the user kindly. 

The prey will be the first to suffer from this card - 1 pool or 1 vampire. Sometimes this can be rather troublesome for the prey, and if timed well and with good judgement (or lucky), this card can cause incredible damage to the prey that he/she might not recover fast enough to survive the next round. 

Next, the appearance of the card is strictly at the choice of the user, nobody is forcing you to go wake the fella if you are the one with the lowest pool. Therefore in decks that does have the ability to survive the Antediluvian, this is a hell of a damage card that will hit the whole table.

Last, but not least, this card is used by many themed decks to burn his own vampires - usually as a trigger for some funky effects, such as the Soul Gem. When one needs to get rid of your own vampire in a hurry, this card is probably one of the very few that can help you do it without physically asking another of your minion to go diablerize the vampire in question (and will require that vampire to be in torpor first)

Meanwhile, with decks that are focused on quickly killing everyone, Antediluvian is a great way of reducing overall pool / minion counts on the table, regardless of who owns them. For fast bleed decks, some of them actually don't care who dies first, as long as somebody dies - and since the highest damage output is usually delivered by the bleeder, the prey is usually the one who cannot play the endurance game and has to let go of a vampire, opening himself up for more bleeding pain.

Combat decks can consider that too - since the damage will come from pool or blood, the combat deck will usually see an easier time against the prey - plus, combat decks really shines when there are less players on the table (less minions help too, which is the essence of combat decks anyway). Not to mention combat decks that actually do burn/diablerize vampires - that could even make sure that the prey doesn't have vampires to burn for Antediluvian.

Using Antediluvian Awakening will require the user to have some form of pool recovery that should be superior to all others - it can be as simple as "I kill first, always", or "Too many Vessels for you to count", or as complex as all those Golconda plus Villein combos. Regardless, if you're the one with the highest pool gain tech and everybody else is slipping, just watch the jaws of your prey drops when you From a Sinking Ship his last vampire when he's down to 1 pool. See how he die to the Antediluvian Awakening on the ship- darn funny.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Lyrics of the Night : Opening Game

When I was in Manila, I got into a discussion with Bann about the standard stance to take at the opening of a Vtes 5-players game. I was trying to share with him the concept of not going after the prey too much so that the dynamics of the table will move towards a more favourable path for one's eventual victory. Bann looked at me puzzled and told me : "Of course, and you've only figured it out now?" (not the exact wordings of course, but the geez is there~ :P).

Nevertheless, better late than never, and that last minute understanding of the play strategy went a long way in helping me in the Asian Championship. So I think that it deserved to be noted here, in case I go torpor again and needs to be reminded how to play Vtes properly when someone rescue me in the future.


I used to spend a good majority of my effort going forward at the beginning of the game, hoping to quickly reduce my prey to a pulp of digestible pool. For some decks this may be the only choice (talking about you bleeders), but even so, the pace might be able to be more controlled rather than a mad show of "die, prey, die!" activities. (Only the mad Sabbats do that)

I was thinking, if I take some time off my prey in the early game, say after I have my first one or two vampires, and concentrate in improving my survivability by, say, gaining pool, speed up influence, setup etc; my prey will have time to do his/her own thing and my predator will have to deal with a more defensive prey. What this usually translate to is that the prey will focus more on offence, especially if you give him/her a little deal of "not bleeding you more than 1/2" or "not entering combat with you next turn" - which are all good incentives for the prey to go forward. Meanwhile, the predator will have to look at your untapped vampires, or simply content with reducing the speed of your pool gain/asset accumulation.

The security given to the prey will usually prompt him/her to bring out more vampires - this is probably one of the best ways to reduce his pool - made he himself do it - 4 pool a turn is way faster than most people can bleed. Granted, he'll have a new minion that you have to deal with - but well, very often, this one extra minion will not be a whole lot of issues when it comes to ousting him.

This forward movement of the prey will create a ripple in the game dynamics. By your prey going forward, your ally (grand prey) will generally suffer a little more - forcing him to commit more resources to defence and reduce his offensive moves - which will in turn reduce the pressure received by your grand predator who should then capitalize on the lucky break and go after your predator, reducing his ability to pressure you. So if you keep this balance properly, you should damage your prey just enough, but give him enough incentives to go forward and weaken your grand prey so that the grand predator will threaten your predator enough to leave you relatively safe. A couple of such turns will see you in a favourable position on the table.

This is of course a delicate issue and tend to change table to table and definitely from deck to deck and player to player. (Danz will upset the entire mechanics here, kill him first, no questions asked). One must be careful not to leave the prey too free to actually oust his prey without you able to oust him right away or at least quick enough. The moment the table goes down to 4 players this 5-player dynamics will change drastically and you must be able to adapt to it.

Again, if all goes according to plan, you should have enough on table threat to quickly decimate your prey's ability to oust your ally when you see that your ally can no longer survive without your help. Time the attack against the prey properly, as a bad timing will usually end up with you facing a happy prey with 1 VP. If that is done well, you will be left with a new weakened prey, giving you a very good chance of getting 2VPs plus 12 pool without much challenge. With those new shinys in hand you should be able to go after the grand predator now, and since your predator is usually in a more pressured position and therefore relatively weak, his ability to impede your attacks against your new prey will be severely limited.

That said, at this point it is often very good for your opponents to gang up on you, since VPs-wise they have very little motivation to not forge an alliance with each other. You can of course break this apart by offering your predator to kill you after you oust your prey, giving him 2 VPs while you take home 3 and the GW - it usually works, since that is most probably the best option for your predator at that point. If this deal can pull through, there is little chance for your prey to survive for long.

Not all deck types can practise this dynamics, and this is definitely not a static "always do this" strategy. I'm glad to say that Vtes doesn't have something so simple, and therefore variations or changes to this broad concept should be practised based on the types and genre of decks on the table, for eg, if you need the vote superiority and there is only another single vote deck on table, it might be prudent to help whoever it is to get rid of him first.

And of course, if everyone hates you then... you know~ 


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Singing a New Tune : The Big Blue Ones

Deck Name : The Big Blue Ones

Crypt [12 vampires]
2x Arcadian, The      
2x Pherydima            
2x Isanwayen          
2x Dame Hollerton      
1x Omme Enberbenight    
1x Roderick Phillips    
1x Leila Monroe        
1x Lucy Markowitz      

Library [90 cards]
Action [20]
  6x Govern the Unaligned
  9x Gremlins
  1x Scarlet Lore
  4x Song of Pan

Action Modifier [13]
  3x Conditioning
  1x Command of the Beast
  1x Empowering the Puppet King
  4x Shadow Play
  5x Stone Travel

Action Modifier/Combat [6]
  6x Fae Contortion

Ally [7]
  1x Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
  6x Nocturn

Combat [9]
  1x Darkling Trickery
  1x Entombment
  5x Oubliette
  2x Shadow Body

Equipment [1]
  1x Tinglestripe

Master [16]
  1x Capitalist
  1x Chanjelin Ward
  2x Dreams of the Sphinx
  1x Great Symposium
  1x Momentum's Edge
  1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
  3x Perfectionist
  1x Secure Haven
  1x Sudden Reversal
  2x Wash
  2x Wider View

Reaction [14]
  1x Covincraft
  6x Deflection
  1x Delaying Tactics
  1x Faerie Wards
  5x On the Qui Vive

Reaction/Action Modifier [3]
  3x Aura Absorption

This is my only Kiasyd deck, due mostly to my unwillingness to play decks that are not toolboxy in nature, I don't have a lot of interest in playing this deck - hence it was never truly proven in battle. The few times that I've played this deck it did pretty well though, never really won me any table sweeps, but consistently kills off a couple of preys all the time while making everybody rather spooked.

Primary Path of Ousting
Bleed. Need I say more? Gremlins with Song of Pan, and preferably bring out as many Bluies as you can afford, support with Nocturns. A typical round should see you bleed for 6 at least, and once you get up to 3 minions you will be happily bleeding for nearly 10 pool every turn - killing off your prey(s) rather quickly.

Secondary Path of Ousting
It doesn't exist in this deck.

The crypt is purposely constructed to prevent overcrowding of vampires - you should be getting no less than 2 vampires in your opening crypt - most of the time you should get 3. Who these vampires are greatly determine how your deck will go - too many fat ones and you'll be a little slower. Granted, the capacity of the vampires in this deck is on the high side - but that has played pretty well for me sometime since I tend to like to bring out 2 Bluies at one time if I can afford it - creating maximum damage the moment it starts going. This will also kinda prevent the whole table to get spooked too quickly and let the prey get into a false sense of security. You see, the moment a Kiasyd hit the table the prey is going to go extra-careful. I find that losing even 3-4 pool to my predator in the early turns is affordable given the speed of killing off the opponent. Of course, if you see opportunities in bouncing high bleeds then by all means get a DOM vampire out asap.

None of the vampires are in a sense truly indisposable in this deck, anyone will do just pretty well except the 2 DOM weenies. All Kiasyds are blue enough to cause good damage to opponent. The 2 fatter yet less efficient Kiasyds only have 1 copy in the deck so they should not be too common.

With Fae Contortion you are not too afraid of Immortal Grapples, and therefore Oubliette and Shadow Body should give enough protection against most combat decks. An Entombment is there to surprise (not really, everyone seems to be ready for this) the opponent and deter the enemy from coming. Good to have since Scarlet Lore will allow you to get this card when needed.

Deflection. Period. There is a Delaying Tactics, a Covincraft, and quite a couple of cards to challenge D actions - such as Secure Haven, Faerie Wards and Chanjelin. This deck is actually pretty resilient against most attacks - its the matter of getting the right hand.

Surprise Elements
Don't need to. When you're blue everything is good. No need for surprises - they don't have time for that before they die.

Known Weaknesses
Persistent combat can eventually remove your vampires. Cards that incapacitate your vampires will always be problematic, especially in a grand scale - take Cryptic Mission or Edged Illusions for example. Heavy weenies of any sorts will also give you the creeps - be it weenie beat, weenie vote or weenie bleed, all is no good for this deck.

Also, this is not the fastest deck in the world, and not the most imaginative. Any other Kiasyd player on table is probably going to contest a good number of your vampires.

Playing this deck
Bring out Kiasyds, preferably 2 at one time unless you have lots of Governed the Unaligned in hand or your predator is too aggressive. Governed at superior to bring out smaller people - as many as you can - always remembering to use Nocturn at superior first if you can.

Bleed with Gremlins when possible, supported by Song of Pan, enhance as needed. Stealth through opposition. Rinse and repeat. Remember not to bring out a Kiasyd when you're playing Song of Pan.

Quite a straight forward bleed deck with good mix of defensive options. One of my better suited bleed decks, but still not a lot of fun to play. But when you need a fast game this is a good deck to bring to table, it tends to speed up the game quite a bit.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

One Clan to Rule them all : Kiasyd

After looking at MYT don't you just think that the Kiasyd's unique Bloodline discipline made them one of the most efficient stealth bleeders? In fact, I feel that they are so good that the only thing stopping them from taking over the bleeding scene is their relatively thin crypt choice - which is a problem shared by pretty much all of the Bloodlines. That said, the Kiasyd actually do have a reasonably good selection of top vampires to power their bleed strategies.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

The Kiasyds' disciplines are MYT, DOM and OBT, giving them an excellent blend of abilities to bleed, and to defend themselves when a combat deck targets them. They're probably amongst the top clans that can both stealth bleed and defend against most attacks efficiently - in the league of the Ravnos, Tremeres and the Lasombras. In this aspect I think that Kiasyds are superior to the other clans.

The Bleed engine for the Kiasyd is powered by both DOM and MYT, giving them options instead of simply relying on Governed the Unaligned. The mighty Song of Pan, at the cost of 1 pool and is actually a free action if successful, gives +1 Bleed to every Kiasyd. The down side of the card is actually not a big deal, since bleeding Kiasyds rarely have much issue failing a bleed - but do remember try not to influence out a Kiasyd during that turn (and definitely not Mylan - the little goblin will just die), it's pure unwarranted damage to those fellas. A single Song of Pan allows every Kiasyd to bleed for 3 at +1 Stealth with a single Gremlins card, probably the most efficient combo for bleeding in the whole game. (Undue Influence comes close, but instead of killing it simply help influencing or bloating, which IMHO, is inferior to Gremlins - killing should always be priority)

The Stealth delivery is extremely efficient with Gremlins plus MYT and OBT stealth, a little costly if most are OBT, but the combination of Gremlins and Stone Travel is already difficult to bypass, and there's no reason a Kiasyd deck should be lacking in Fae Contortion to add in that extra stealth for the older vampires. All in all, with MYT alone, a Kiasyd with basic MYT can get 2 stealth at bleeding, and at superior 4 stealth, all without spending a single blood. Add in OBT and only the most dedicated blockers have a chance at all.

But enough about the Kiasyds bleeding, everybody knows that their unlife is seriously threatened when a heavy stealth bleeder is working for the predator. What makes the Kiasyd doubly fearsome is their ability to withstand most countermeasures. 

First of all - combat decks tend to go straight for the stealth bleeders on table and pound them into oblivion. Ravnos fight with combat ends and sometimes even Apparition, which is very effective against combat decks, Lasombras have combat ends as well, combined with POT beat back and the fearsome Entombment. Tremeres have the incredible THA, but they lack in the stealth department. All of them, however, faced problems against the very common Immortal Grapple (Blood Fury is an exception). The Kiasyds have the Entombment option of the Lasombra, and can hit back quite well with Earth Swords if they want, making them dangerous both close and far. They also have access to OBT's combat ends and the Arm of the Abyss. The true power of the Kiasyds lie in Fae Contortion, which cancels Immortal Grapple, exposing the attacking vampire to Arms+Entombment, or simply combat ends. Also, Darkling Trickery disables most rapid gun decks and also provides maneuvers and/or presses for free. This range of combat options make a Kiasyd quite unpredictable in combat, and pretty safe against most beat decks.

The Chanjelin Ward protects the Kiasyds further - from Sensory Deprivation to Horseshoes or even simple Enter combat actions, the Ward cancels them all at the cost of a single blood, not to mention it costs the opponent's attacker another blood (a reasonably annoying problem for certain decks, like a Tremere Cryptic Deck, or even the Sensory Deprivation, which is already costly). Add in random damage prevention ability from their allies (which they don't actually need, but well, it's there in case the environment needs it) Though many Kiasyds are not too old, Faerie Wards do work for the older vampires in achieving the same results. Even the Goblinism can quickly pop a Secure Haven on your important vampire if that is necessary.

The other deadly ability of the Kiasyds is their ability to disable blockers. Riddle Phantastique, Redcap Wilder, The Grandest Trick can all achieve this function, with varying options and costs. Combine this with their already high stealth capability and you have a very difficult predator to handle.

The Kiasyds are not without defense against speed bleeders as well - DOM provides Deflection as usual, which is normally enough to handle most bleeding predators. Against high vote decks, Kiasyds have the random Covincraft to add 4 votes against whatever problem the vote is throwing at you, and the card kinda stand in for a -1 Bleed when no voters are on table. That said, offensive speed voters are possibly still the biggest threat that the Kiasyds will face since their defenses against votes are limited, and though they do have light Intercepts from MYT and OBT, most Kiasyd decks usually don't pack a lot of those.

The Kiasyd may not have the deep crypt of weenies that DOM vampires of other clans have access to, but the Great Symposium tried to make up for it. Granted, it can only be done once in a game, but when it does happen, the speed boost is simply incredible - it is 3 free transfer plus a Recruitment for no cost. (and the transfers can be freely distributed in anyway you like)

I'd also like to mention Scarlet Lore - which is a deadly though expensive card. Search tech in Vtes is severely limited, and the Scarlet Lore allows the Kiasyd to bring forward an important card for killing or defense anytime he wants against any situation - facing a potential combat monster next turn? Entombment. Need the extra boost to kill the prey? Conditioning. Need to face off a Parity Shift next turn? Delaying Tactics is yours during the discard phase. This kind of option is actually very useful, though it probably wouldn't happen too often.

The Kiasyd crypt had been greatly enhanced in the previous expansion HttB. The Group 4s (sigh for the Group 6s - not really useable in a pure Kiasyd environment, though you probably wouldn't be facing much contest if you use them) are pretty excellent now, even compared to the previously very cool Group 2s.

Quincy and Arcadian, the 2 linking vampires are all pretty good - one is a good weenie, and the other one is a powerful Elder. Depending on your likings, both of them are excellent addition to your Kiasyds. The Group 2s give you a straight 4 cap to 9 cap but lacks a coherent discipline spread for a bleed deck - too many of them without superior DOM (not that it matters very much now due to Gremlins, but Governed and Conditioning, especially Deflection are still important enough to warrant superior DOM). In this sense the group 4s are now superior in a bleed deck - not only do they have more superior DOM, many of their abilities are more synergistic in a bleed deck as compared to say, Bartholomew. Arcadian, especially, if you use Group 5s, is a deadly bleeder. Isanwayen, the little blue guy, is probably the best 6-cap in the whole wide world. Extra master phase is a good option, given that the Kiasyds can use it for Lilith's Blessing, Life in a City, Random Blind Spot, or even just Misdirection if you actually do remember that card.

The best defense against a Kiasyd bleed deck is still bounces. Since they do not have Spying Mission, this can work to their detriment if the prey bounces heavily. But hey, that's not very common.

To a certain degree, the Kiasyds do not enjoy the range of on-board assets that their companions the Lasombras have - and that the Lasombras have means to reduce blood cost on stealth cards that the Kiasyds also make use of. That is somewhat compensated with free stealth cards from MYT, and of course, Gremlins. This actually makes the Kiasyd quite a card-intensive clan, with too many options to choose from, which often confuses the deck-builder. I've seen quite a few not-so-efficient Kiasyds, and they do get card-jammed when the prey knows what to do. Of course, a dedicated Kiasyd DOM bleeder loses out on a lot of the Kiasyd's innate advantages in defensive options, but hey, killing fast enough is always a priority, right?