Greetings fellow Methuselahs
Using my specially light-safe travelling coffin I have been to Warsaw. Poland, the blessed land of bison grass vodka and walrus-mustached union leaders, and it delivered once again when it comes to pleasant conflict with other Elder Kindred. Organisation was flawless (except for the traditional Archon trouble), accommodation was excellent and vampiric conflicts were exiting. Good times!
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 SUMMARY
Congratulations Ivan Chebunin of Belarus, the new European champion! He won the most prestigious of the five tournaments that were played during August 24-26 in beautiful Warsaw, Poland.
On Friday: The “Last Chance Qualifier” gathered 108 players. Not really a last chance qualifier as in old times, but a big standard constructed tournament with a special twist: the finalists also qualified for EC Day 2. Winner was Enrico Destefano of Italy, playing a Giovanni Khazars Diary swarm deck. Congratulations Enrico!
On Friday: Immediately after the LCQ final, another final was played: the very prestigious VTES European Grand Prix (VEG) final, with the five players that had gathered most points on the VEG tour of Bologna, Mechelen, Madrid, Budapest and Helsinki. The VEG Champion of 2018 was Mika Nurmikolu of Finland, playing a Goratrix wall deck, scoring the win with a well-timed Life Boon. Congratulations Mika!
On Saturday: After the traditional National Coordinators meeting, EC Day 1 began. It was also this year an open event - no previous qualification needed. 125 players turned up for this battle ...
... which after about 10 hours was won by Bram van Stappen of Belgium, playing a Cybele & Aksinya MMPA bleed deck. Congratulations Bram!
On Sunday: Polish Nationals 2018! 72 attendees felt the urge to become the Polish champion in this standard constructed tournament. Winner was Randal Rudstam of Sweden, playing an Ahrimanes “Deadly Kittens” rush/wall deck.
On Sunday: EC 2018 Day 2. The 50 best of Day 1, all of course terribly nervous, clashed together in a crimson cloud of bloody carnage. Only one was left standing: the great Ivan Chebunin of Belarus, his claws clutching a Toreador Jost & Rebekka bounce’n’ bleed deck. Congratulations Ivan! (See interview below.)
Another spectacular happening from the EC weekend was of course the first appearance of non-print-on-demand VTES cards from Black Chantry. Lost Kindred, Keepers of Tradition reprint bundle 1 and bundle 2 were for sale, and will continue to be at various stores from now on. More information about that soon!
Many thanks to head organizer Radoslaw Szewski and all his crew for a wonderful weekend, and thanks all who turned up. Hope to see you all and many more next year in Paris!
Both the EC and the VEG circuit were sponsored by Ultra Pro.
INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH: IVAN CHEBUNIN, EUROPEAN CHAMPION 2018
Congratulations Ivan, and thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you. First question: the EC is a 2-day event. How did it go day 1? What deck did you play that day?
- All three days I was showing pretty stable result - 1 GW and around 5 VP. Day 1 I was playing Followers of Set stealth-bleed deck based on Serpentis. I really like that deck. It is fast, but doesn't have real defense and in the third round I got really stuck with my crypt.
How did you choose deck for Day 2?
- I've had three options - Lutz with friends, Salubri and an AUS/PRE bounce/bleed deck with Jost & Rebekka. After a discussion with my teammates (especially with my wife) the decision was made for the AUS/PRE-deck. I've had not enough confidence in other decks I guess. Analyzing decks that I encountered I think I made the right choice.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of that deck? Any prey or predator you like and don´t like?
- It's not easy for me to speak of this deck properly because I've borrowed it from TWD and just made some changes. So this question should be transferred to Otso Saariluoma, who built the “original” (by some bitter irony he was my grandpredator in the final!).
From my point of view my preferable predator is mid or high-cap stealth bleed. Best prey would be a deck that can't really bounce or handle Majesty.
The deck´s strength is consistence – through the whole day I've had perfect balance of pressure and defense. It´s weakness is Immortal Grapple. And decks with a lot of minions could also be a problem I think. Also if there are too little pressure from the predator, the deck can be jammed on reactions, but that happens rarely.
So what about the Day 2 tournament - how were the preliminary rounds for you?
- First round was finished pretty quickly because my predator was a Potence-weenie deck. I've managed to perform 1 action but that was all for me.
The second round was better. I've played Scourge of the Enochians on the first turn that badly hurt my predator, and I've had manageable amount of pressure from Bram van Stappen's AUS-weenie. But still I was not able to oust my prey, everyone on the table was playing AUS for redirections and the table was developing slowly. Everyone got 0.5.
Third round I've had Al-Muntathir as prey. I agreed with my grandprey that we would block Summon History, and that completely shut him down. As a predator I had The Unnamed that also has helped me to oust prey quickly.
Next prey was weenie-Gangrel with Thing – also great for me, he couldn’t block my +1 stealth-bleeds and handle Majesty. By the time I get to my third prey (!Gangrel wall), he was out of resources, so it was easy. And with all that pool and a stolen Veneficti (Mage) it was not hard to oust The Unnamed.
The standings before the final was:
1. Marius Iscru (FRA) 1 gw 5,5 vp 132 TPs
2. Ivan Chebunin (BLR) 1 gw 5,5 vp 120 TPs
3. Otso Saariluoma (FIN) 1 gw 5 vp 162 TPs
4. Vincent Ripoll (FRA) 1 gw 5 vp 150 TPs
5. Kim Nilsson (SWE) 1 gw 5 vp 144 TPs
What was your thoughts when you sat down at the final table?
- My only thinking was that I should sit as far away from Otso as I can. He is the only one playing Potence, and that I can't handle. I didn't want to have Marius Iscru as my prey, but he sat down last.
And how did the final play out?
- The final played out totally unexpected for me. I've had a good crypt and opening hand. Again Scourge of the Enochians helped me, against Kim’s deck – she played with 2 minions for a long time.
But I was not expecting to oust Marius, I guess he was unlucky with his master draw – he played no Toreador Grand Ball during the game.
A turning point would be Otso burning Marius anarch cross table, which Marius replies with Banishment of Nana Buruku and Otso rushing Anson in return. At this point Kim couldn't stop me from ousting my prey and Otso had to oust Kim. Also Vincent playing Pentex Subversion on Enkidu have played a huge role in the final showdown.
Unfortunately I can't say that I've played perfectly and made no mistakes. But with a lot of reactions the deck allows to fix them. Just should not be in a hurry when playing it. Analyzing after the game I think that I didn't put enough thoughts into my last turns because time was running out and I didn't want to stall the game.
Do you think you have a special “style” of playing?
- I like to play pro-actively, decks with a lot of actions and little or no defense. So playing this deck required from me to change a bit my approach to the game. But it worked out - so all good.
Otherwise, what deck do you currently like playing?
- Currently my favorite decks to play are two Followers of Set stealth-bleed decks; one based on Serpentis and the other run obf/pre. Both plays kind of similar and trying to win with a lot of output damage and have little defense.
Thanks again for the interview Ivan, and good luck in future tournaments!
BLACK CHANTRY SUMMARY: AUGUST 2018
• The first non-print-on-demand products from Black Chantry are ready for sale! Lost Kindred and the two Keepers of Tradition reprint bundles first appeared at EC 2018 in Warsaw, but will be available from various stores soon.
• Hugh, Henrik and Vincent of Black Chantry attended EC 2018 in Warsaw, where they had the pleasure of meeting many players. The representatives met the National Coordinators for an hour long session. We will return with more information about the subjects discussed at that meeting later, but some highlights were a reconstruction of the VEKN board, release schedule for new products (see this entry in the July VEKN newsletter), proxy use, event marketing, an upcoming code of ethics and the location of EC 2020 (Helsinki has applied so far).
• Meanwhile you can still order cards from DriveThruCards.com, where also Heirs of the Blood reprint bundle 1 and 2 are available. Each of those contain 120 cards previously published in the original Heirs to the Blood set in 2010. Focus are twelve bloodlines, but included are also some generic cards, for example Cavalier, Dabbler and Wider View. Check out each product page to see a complete list of the content of each bundle. Currently five products are available on DriveThruCards.com:
- Lost Kindred bundle
- Keepers of Tradition Reprint Bundle 1
- Keepers of Tradition Reprint Bundle 2
- Heirs of the Blood Reprint Bundle 1
- Heirs of the Blood Reprint Bundle 2
• Playtest of the next BCP product (a set of preconstructed decks) is being done as we speak, coordinated by Darby Keeney. If you and your playgroup are interested in playtesting in the future, please contact him – see this forum post.
NEW VTES BLOG: INFORMATION HIGHWAY
French players Serge, Maxime and Gilles has started a brand new VTES blog, pushing some great strategy articles: vtesinformationhighway.wordpress.com. For example, we can recommend the article “Choosing decks 101” for an archetype breakdown. Great work, keep it up!
Other VTES blogs we especially want to promote (as they were updated recently!) are Charlotte by Night, Hun Fragment and ICLee´s Gaming Blog and of course the fantastic VTES One.
Of course the VEKN encourage ALL blogging and similar activities about VTES. Maybe you too want to start a blog? And consider joining Dark Pack – check out www.white-wolf.com/dark-pack for information about that.
CLASSIC DECKS PART 2: AUSPEX WEENIE WALL
An article composed by Henrik Klippström, V:EKN Community Manager:
The Tournament Winning Deck Archive (TWDA) is celebrating 20 years, and once again we have the great honour to get comments on a classic winning deck archetype from two of the games true giants: Pascal Bertrand and Otso Saariluoma. Apart from many victories, Pascal is a former VEKN Rules Director and the judge at many large events, most recently EC 2018. Otso is the 2011 European Champion with 24 (!) tournament victories. Just last weekend he was in two finals during EC 2018.
As usual, we start out by examining a very early variant of the archetype. The oldest we could find in the TWDA is:
Deck Name: Siege of LinCon: The Big Eye sees you!
Author: Henrik Isaksson
Siege of LinCon: Linköping, Sweden
Tournament Winning Deck
May 11, 2002
Description: Intercept everything!
Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=1 max=4 avg=3)
1x Aleph 4 dom AUS Malkavian:1
1x Brazil 2 aus Malkavian:1
1x Dieter Kleist 2 aus Toreador:1
1x Dollface 3 aus obf Malkavian:1
1x Dorian Strack 4 cel AUS Toreador:1
1x Franciscus 1 aus Caitiff:2
2x Idalia, Prophet of Guadalajara 4 dem AUS !Malkavian:2
2x Isabel de Leon 3 AUS Toreador:2
2x Zöe 3 cel obf AUS Malkavian:2
Library (90 cards)
1x Arcanum Chapterhouse, Alexandria
2x Art Museum
2x Asylum Hunting Ground
1x Barrens, The
3x Blood Doll
1x Creepshow Casino
1x Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1x Powerbase: Montreal
1x Society Hunting Ground
3x Sudden Reversal
1x Unnatural Disaster
2x Vast Wealth
6x IR Goggles
4x Improvised Flamethrower
2x Ivory Bow
2x Pier 13, Port of Baltimore
3x Sniper Rifle
1x Muddled Vampire Hunter
2x Ghoul Retainer
1x Mr. Winthrop
6x Eagle's Sight
5x Enhanced Senses
6x Fast Reaction
12x Forced Awakening
7x Spirit's Touch
5x Aura Reading
2x Telepathic Tracking
About the archetype: Would you consider taking this deck archetype to a tournament 2018?
Otso: Sure, I´d take it to a tournament. I’ve been playing AUS-weenies (Malkavians with anarch tech) in tournaments more or less once a year since 2009 and I personally feel really in my comfort zone playing the archetype. The deck is really strong in what it tries to do and gives the player a lot of choices during the game. The deck does have some rock-paper-scissors type of matchups, however. I feel that I’d be incentivized to play this deck only if I have a strong hunch the meta would be favourable. This has indeed been my go-to deck probably 3 times in EC day 1 tournament and has yet to fail me getting to day 2.
Pascal: No, I don’t think I would bring a Weenie Auspex to a tournament today. The main reason is that I have won a tournament with that archetype, and I’m happy playing something else. I doesn’t mean I wouldn’t play a wall deck, but weenie Auspex is one of the few that I ticked.
However, I still expect seeing them from time to time, and building a deck must take into account this archetype. I enjoy playing against this deck, because it’s a well-known archetype that you’d know immediately, and this means every card you choose to cycle matters from the beginning of the game. I would consider discarding stealth cards twice if my grand prey was playing this.
I still think this deck could be an inspiration to new decks. The disciplines are getting stronger with every set, and similar versions, using Animalism or Spiritus already exist.
About the archetype: What do you think are this deck archetype's greatest strengths? And what do you think are their ideal prey and predator?
Otso: The deck (at least the versions with heavy bounce) thrives in aggressive bleed-heavy metas with little or no combat. As for the immediate predator the deck prefers to have a stealth-bleed deck with enough pressure on them to force them to go for their VP, however unlikely. Also, with the average cost of a minion in this decktype being so low, you get to do a lot of actions – bleed for one and building up. The deck comes out of the gates fast even against turn-two-explosion-kind of decks like Rock Cats and Pander vote and remains strong at the later stages too. With constant light pressure and the ability to have some control over your prey’s gameplan the deck has the ability to close out games well in 2 hours despite its focus on defense – given the right table. I rarely time out with this deck compared to higher-cap, more combat-oriented, walls.
Pascal: The weenie Auspex’s greatest strength lies in the hidden knowledge of how many wakes you have in your hand. As soon as that piece of information becomes public, your game gets much more complex, as your first objective will be to cycle. So, as long as you keep away from the Owl Companions, you’ll be fine.
The deck is very resilient in a pool-aggressive environment – bleeds, votes, mainly. It can bring quite some minions on the board, meaning a “good” prey would be a deck that can’t handle 3-4 bleeds for one per turn, and won’t keep vampires up to take blows for their Methuselah. A good example for this would be a low-stealth bleed deck. Think weenie DEM (no obf), or a low-stealth vote deck (Legacy of Pander).
Now, about the predators, this deck comes down to the “turn 1 spoils it all” syndrome. Once you’ve brought up Isabel or someone similar, everyone is going to assume BigEyes everywhere. And players are afraid of throwing away their cards when they don’t want to get blocked. This deck’s weakness is on the ousting side, not on the not-being-ousted side. A good predator is one that will (most of the time, unwillingly) help you oust your prey by launching heavy bleeds. At this point in the game, your body expression does all the trick, and if you manage to convince them you don’t have any wakes/bounces, you’re closer to getting VPs than if you convince them you are some immortal piece of flesh, stones, and cardboard. An ideal predator thus being something that will bleed heavily, and not too often. Something in the lines of Unnamed, or a Lasombra Dominate bleed deck.
About the archetype: What do you think are this deck archetype's worst weaknesses? Are there any especially problematic prey or predators, or other problematic issues?
Otso: The versions I’ve played are a lot lighter on combat options than the presented list and have even more problems against offensive combat. Decks with the ability to hit your minions through your .44 Magnum or Sniper Rifle combat package are definitely problematic. Sometimes you do have the ability to wear them down with greater number of actions and attrition, but combat-capable decks are for sure what you don’t want to see at your table.
Also the difference in sitting next to decks with zero intercept and even light intercept is huge. As long as you get to do your 1-stealth actions equipping, rescuing and hunting, you’re probably just fine. However, if either your prey or predator can choose to block your critical actions and reduce your minion count reliably, you’re gonna be in trouble. Voters across the table with incentive to kill you or voting predators with really heavy stealth might also pose some problems.
One weakness, however marginal might also be, is that some people playing against you find getting the short end of the stick in the rock-paper-scissors game extremely boring for them and you might draw some table-hate and given the kingmaking position, they are probably not going to choose in your favor.
Pascal: One of this deck’s major weaknesses is the blood management. Indeed, as you are playing small vampires that will regularly enter combat, you should expect them to lose blood from time to time. And something you definitely don’t want is to enter in combat with no blood and no gun, which can happen when being blocked. This can be avoided with Hunting Grounds or Blood Dolls – or permanent combat modules such as guns with maneuvers.
But I think this deck’s main and biggest weakness lies in its lack of ousting power. A regular game being 2 hours, if you convince your predator that waiting for the game to end is a better play than trying to oust you, there is (unless you got the stars aligned) very little chance that you oust one prey, and even less that you’ll oust two. And, worse, people will first ponder for a good 5 seconds, then look at you and ask “Can I hunt? Can I Govern down? Can I recruit a +1 bleed retainer?” So, get this straight from the start of the game: time spent not playing the game is time lost in the game.
Of course, what you want to avoid is anything that will mess with your “I block everything” strategy. These behaviors are to be expected from Potence, Animalism, and, broadly, combat decks. They might not oust you very fast, but they’ll probably deny you any opportunity of ousting your prey. And if they are your prey, well, just think of it as a tough time to endure. You don’t lose a battle before you’ve started it, so try and find something to improve about your play in a game where your prey runs Carna and your predator Stick.
What are the most obvious changes you would do to this classic version presented above?
Otso: The deck is definitely a product of its time with 90 card library and heavy emphasis on permanents accumulating value over time – and denying them from your opponents (Arcanum Chapterhouse, Unnatural Disaster). A modernized version might be slimmer and have more focus on temporary fixes – like Pentex Subversion and Direct Intervention. The biggest problem with this list for me, however, is the complete lack of bounces, which denies one of your greatest strengths and one avenue to victory. On the other hand, I do rather enjoy all the combat shenanigans and options with this list – Rötschrecks, aggravated damage, Ghoul Retainers and fast reactions, even if I’ve found that go-to-long, shoot-for-two is perfectly reasonable combat trump in itself.
Pascal: My flavour runs Madness Network, which I love. This changes the crypt a little, and includes Victoria, and the synergy with her special ability. Apart from that, keep in mind that you’ll want to oust people. In this classic version, I think the equipment module should be updated, and feature more .44 Magnums. Setting the range is nice, especially against combat decks (Potence), but it won’t help you at all when Zoe bleeds for 1.
The whole aggravated module is too heavy and too expensive. So you’re sending them to torpor, but with no votes, what are your plans? Letting someone else rescue them, I suppose.
The reaction module is lacking a good 10+ redirections (Telepathic Misdirection, My Enemy’s Enemy) to help you remove pool from elsewhere.
Two cards I fancy in this deck should very much be included: Smiling Jack (it doesn’t only get you rid of imbueds) and an option I took, the Anarch way, with Constant Revolution.
How do you play a deck of the type? Do you play fast, slow, aggressive, talking a lot, not talking or what?
Otso: As always, it’s important to craft some approximation of a game plan according to the table and work toward your immediate and long-term goals. The more you play the deck, the faster you’ll be able to make the decisions how to use your resources. One beginner mistake might be playing too much of the blocking game and not going for the VPs – Smiling Jack might win you some games, but bleeding for one is a lot more reliable way to oust.
Pascal: People will talk, usually asking for your “permission”. That’s a lot of time lost. Play your game, don’t rush it, but keep in mind that your enemy is the clock. The less you talk, the less you unveil about your strengths and weaknesses. Here is what happened to me during the EC 2009 LCQ final, in Palma:
I was bleeding Michael’s Lasombra Nocturn deck, who was bleeding Caroline’s Miller Vote (and fight) deck, who was bleeding Marcin’s Princes with CEL and guns deck, who was bleeding Cesar’s weenie Auspex deck.
It’s interesting to see Cesar and I had different approaches regarding the crypt and the decks themselves. To sum up the game (of which a video remains somewhere), Cesar was crushed by Marcin, Michael couldn’t really perform an action, and Caroline [Note: now Kari] and Marcin were acting one against the other.
And the Smiling Jack, which I played on the first turn, hit 5, and then 6. This is about 40 minutes into the game, and we were playing at a great speed.
Michael went to lunge and out Caroline. She declined blocks, but all other players (that is, Marcin, Cesar, and I) were eligible blockers for Eagle’s Sight. The first two passed, and Caroline turned to me and offered to help me oust Michael if I blocked Michael’s bleed. At that point, Caroline clearly had enough votes to oust Michael – and Marcin too. I thought a bit about it. And then Marcin entered the conversation, knowing that if I kept Caroline in the game, he would be out of it very soon. So Marcin offered to play a Parity Shift on Michael, if I let Caroline die. I paused and thought. And Marcin added that he’d rush Michael – which was a removal of at least two blood, helping me a lot. And to convince me, Marcin threw in that the rush would be with Fame.
The fun part is that I didn’t have an Eagle’s Sight in my hand at that time. The less you say, the more they’ll imagine.
What about variants?
Otso: Well, my experiences with the deck are based only on the Malkavian version, which – for me at least – is derived from Yannick Gibert’s list. After this there has been some tweaking and tuning and some tech innovations like the addition of rushing allies by Pascal in his EC 2009 LCQ list, which have been absolute beasts, and probably highlight that there’s more to this archetype than “Intercept everything!” even if that might be the TLDR version of the game plan.
Pascal: I have linked two variants above which have been successful in a big tournament. Take a look, compare them, and analyze their different modules in order to find the one that suits your play style. Keep in mind that enjoying the game and ousting your prey(s) should always be your priorities.
Thanks Otso and Pascal for these thoughtful comments! There is not much to add for a simple editor such as myself, but if you are interested in this archetype, please also read Extrala´s article about it, and also have a look at the previous articles in this series, about Ventrue lawfirm and Kindred Spirits stealth-bleed.
V5 IS HERE!
By the time you read this, Vampire the Masquerade Fifth Edition should be available at game stores all over the world. If you have the slightest interest in roleplaying games, we really recommend you to pick up a copy, as it is a very good game and the book is unbelievably beautiful. If you can´t find it at your local game store, make it bring it in for you, or order it yourself directly from the distributor Modiphius. Also, check out Worldofdarkness.com where you now can find a V5 Quickstart scenario called "The Monsters" for free download. And watch more episodes of The Gentleman's Guide to Gaming!
September 2: Niver do Biel II - Fortaleza, Brazil
September 2: Homewood Demo Day! - Homewood, United States
September 8: Pulled fang #7 - Jihlava, Czech Republic
September 8: Spanish National Championship - Córdoba, Spain
September 8: War Party - Santiago, Chile
September 8: Constant Revolution Stockholm 2018 - Stockholm, Sweden
September 9: O Exorcista - São Paulo, Brazil
September 9: Zillah's Tears - Vantaa, Finland
September 16: Fall of Camarilla “Paulistão 2018” - São Paulo, Brazil
September 23: Keeper of the Samedis - Palma de Mallorca, Spain
September 29: The Battle of Bearbrass - Melbourne, Australia
September 30: Australia/New Zealand Continental Championships 2018 - Melbourne, Australia
September 30: Crusade: CDMX 2018 Vol.2 - Ciudad de México, Mexico
For more information on upcoming events see the V:EKN Event Calendar.
You can contact the V:EKN Inner Circle members using contact forms at V:EKN.net. Also follow the official V:TES Facebook page Vampire: The Eternal Struggle and the official V:EKN Twitter account @VEKN_VTES
"Those who do not move, do not notice their chains."