file VTES Philosophy

01 Mar 2014 16:20 #59528 by ICL
Replied by ICL on topic VTES Philosophy
Different players have very different styles of play, even accounting for better play and worse play.

Some players are constantly looking for deals and help. I've increasingly gone in the opposite direction. I may suggest things that are to my benefit, but, from my perspective (however biased that may be), they seem like things that are to the other player's benefit more than to mine. I wouldn't consider this good play, so why do it? Because I've played a very long time and a lot of games and I'm far more interested in interesting games than anything else.

Some are more interested in winning, some more interested in pulling off their deck's trick, some more interested in influencing games, etc. I've increasingly moved towards the camp of pulling off tricks, but, at the same time, I can't bring myself to ignore that the goal of the game is to win. I learned long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far ... I mean, in our galaxy, where the Centauri, Minbari, and Narn hang out, that not making a good faith effort to try to win the game undermines the point of playing the game and makes for bad experiences for everyone.

Because I find interesting games to be games where everyone gets to do stuff, I eschew cards and strategies that inhibit other decks from dong stuff. Sure, I played a First Tradition deck last year and will put rush cards/vampires in some of my decks (and be at a loss as to whether to use them), but, as an anecdote, it was funny to go out to DC recently and see a bunch of Chimerstry lockdown plays as I haven't seen that in ages locally, to a great extent because some of the players I play with most often don't have the cards but also to a great extent because I don't play Sensory Dep (I play Nightmare Curse for the inferior, well, I did nearly a decade ago).

This philosophy also prevents me from playing good weenie decks (should winnie only apply to good weenie ... hmmm). I enjoy weenie Necromancy and whatnot, but I can only recall once playing a good weenie deck (Dominate) in a tournament and very rarely standard weenie decks in casual play.

Then, I love CCGs for variety, so there's little point in my playing something I've seen a lot, whether I've ever actually played it myself or not. This leads to building lots of junky decks, and, to Brandon's point about not wasting people's time, that unfortunately does make for some bad games, but not everything that seems junky is, so it's not intended to be a F-U to other players.

That I think the playerbase consistently overrates the importance of deck strength overlaps with my interest in variety, so I have something of a personal banned list when it comes to tournament play. Sure, if I had a different number of tournament wins (like in the 3-4 range), I might be less discriminating. But, if I can win with Mercury's Arrow, why should I ever bother playing Govern?

Getting away from card/deck choices, which makes more sense for me to elaborate in a blog post, I just can't seem to play aggressively, anymore. I'm just so far into the "don't die and hope for an opening" weeds, certain decks I used to be able to manage more reasonably have become wasted on me.

An interesting area of how people play is spite. I don't really have a problem with my predator trying to oust me, so I don't feel spiteful from weenie hordes, big bleeds, and the like to the right. Nor am I surprised by the player to my left going backwards when I deem it reasonable to do so. My spite threshold can be crossed by certain tactical plays and by questionable backwards or crosstable activity.

I suppose more could be said, but, again, elaboration and exploration seems better in a different outlet.

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01 Mar 2014 17:51 #59530 by Legendre
Replied by Legendre on topic VTES Philosophy
How do I play V:TES?

I had to think about it a while, but after some reflection I think I can see at least four principles at work. One governs design, one governs play, one govern deck building, and one is sort of a hybrid of deck building and play.

First the hybrid: I like balance in deck design and deck selection. The game is not fun for me at all if any one player's deck is significantly better (or worse) than someone else's. Ahrimane or Tzimisce wall decks at a table where the highest stealth is 2 or 3? No thank you. SOMEONE (not necessarily the wall deck) needs to play/build something else. Bringing a Girls deck into a game with four Barbed Wire starter decks isn't going to be fun for anyone. Yes, the point is to win -- but what have you really won if you do something like that? Likewise, if the game is AAA, Girls, Enkidu diablerizes the world, and a strong Law Firm deck... just don't play your Final Nights Ravnos PreCon. Let. It. Go.

In terms of the design of the game and the sorts of cards I think are best, I dislike significant swings, so I don't like cards that have really stark, acute, powerful effects -- pretty much at all. The main reason I think Pentex Subversion is a crap card is that it can swing the entire table balance in a single play. I don't mind large-ish swings as the result of combos... but one card shouldn't be able to shut down someone's game. A friend of mine once said that the sort of games that I really liked were games where you could say, "Almost nothing happened this turn." I'm also not that into counters like the DI's (in part because I don't think cards should be so powerful that these sorts of counters should be necessary). Sudden seems fine to me, because Master cards tend -- rightfully so -- to be more powerful than other cards and I don't mind them cancelling each other out.

In terms of deck-building, I like variety, and I'm a big fan of toolboxes. That's not to say that every deck needs to have both stealth and intercept -- I've got plenty of decks that have only one or the other. But I really enjoy having one-offs of things that might come in handy, but which can be Barrens-ed out if it turns out that they're not relevant. (Think cards like Subdued by the Blood, Crimson Fury, Set's Call, etc.) I've only got a very few super-specialized decks -- one based on Night Moves, Telepathic Counter, and Ascendance; one based on Vermin Channel; one based on Cryptic Mission and Hunting denial; one based on one-caps with Computer Hacking and Laptops; and a sort of degenerate Gremlins deck. And even the Gremlins deck has some combat support and a few things like Slaughtering the Herd.

Finally, in terms of Play, I'm a big fan of incentives and deterrence. I like putting my neck on the block and forcing my Prey to help me. I'm a fan of cross-table rushing that guy who just dumped 2 points of KRC on you, just to impress upon him that he shouldn't do it again. While I understand that it's my Predator's job to kill me, I see nothing wrong with explaining to him that an early bleed for six is going to result in my giving my Prey free reign for a while as I punish him for his temerity. And I like it when stuff like that happens to me. VTES is great in part because the game itself gives you the tools to enforce a sort of "Order of Moderation" on the table. I've seen a few games in my playgroup where a Villein is played, and the Methuselah who plays it is warned by three of the other players that if they play a Giant's Blood on that vampire, they will be receiving the next three or four bounced bleeds. Sometimes the Giant's Blood gets played, sometimes it doesn't. But there are incentives and threats and deterrence at play -- and that's what I love about this game.

There's a lot more to my "VTES Philosophy" -- obviously there'd be more to anyone's than could fit into a forum post -- but that's at least a start.

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03 Mar 2014 01:53 #59582 by Haze
Replied by Haze on topic VTES Philosophy
A long time ago I read some random magazine article about Pokemon TCG strategy. I didn't play the game that much, certainly not competitively, but it kinda stuck with me.

The article was about a certain card in the game, which was basically like Lucky Blow. at that time in the American metagame it was considered terrible, such a small temporary effect, not good for card advantage. but in the Japanese metagame it was extremely popular, and their tournament players wondered why you WOULDN'T play this card.

the reasoning behind using this card was that Pokemon's battles tended to be predictable, plans made turns ahead of time. one could look at the current table state and figure, "He needs 3 more hits to kill my guy, so I can keep my guy out for 2 more turns before I have to retreat." playing the Lucky Blow took advantage of this mindset by turning those 3 turns into 2. plans and schedules turned into dangerous traps. Lucky Blow was one of the few sources of hidden information in the game, and so it made game wins.

obviously, VTES has a crapload more hidden information with action modifiers and reactions everywhere, from multiple directions. but as a game goes on, and information about each deck comes into the light, the table sometimes seems to set into a predictable groove. players make assumptions. you can take advantage of that and change a game's situation, if you prepared just right. you don't have to play a toolbox, just one or two curveball cards can disrupt everyone's plans.

this is probably why Pentex Subversion is still good. even when you know everyone plays it, it's still a surprise. it's one of those cards I'm talking about, but not the only one.


to use a completely different analogy, I've practiced capoeira for years. it's fair game to pull out a concealed straight razor in the middle of a fight. in fact, it's encouraged. also: colluding with a spectator so they distract your opponent, other tricks like that. don't literally bring a weapon or collude during VTES games, do it in spirit.

(I used to visit other capoeira schools that would do everything scripted, by the book. they'd freeze like deer in headlights if I mixed things up just slightly, they had no idea how to improvise)

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03 Mar 2014 03:01 #59583 by ReverendRevolver
Replied by ReverendRevolver on topic VTES Philosophy
Im intriged.

Was the pokemon card defender/pluspower?

But, principle is quite relatable, vtes has DI and such cards. A well placed amaranth can swing momemtum permanently, and a well timed pentex (to play or contest) can change a table immidiately. Due to plans and as a result of those plans, a deficiency of other plans oftentimes.

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03 Mar 2014 05:13 #59585 by Juggernaut1981
Replied by Juggernaut1981 on topic VTES Philosophy
I've been getting very good mileage from Crocodile's Tongue and I think soon I will have to play, in person rather than just on Lackey, my Public Vilification Deck which has done well.

I think that general tactic I would called "Screwing with others Arithmetic". It's things like:

- exploiting a text on someone else's minion
- packing a card which is less expected (like Reduce cards)
- trying to set up conditions later where you can take complete advantage (Banishment, Crocodile's Tongue, Domain Challenge, etc)

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418
www.halflingcaravangames.com.au/

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03 Mar 2014 06:20 - 03 Mar 2014 06:21 #59587 by Kraus
Replied by Kraus on topic VTES Philosophy

to use a completely different analogy, I've practiced capoeira for years. it's fair game to pull out a concealed straight razor in the middle of a fight. in fact, it's encouraged. also: colluding with a spectator so they distract your opponent, other tricks like that. don't literally bring a weapon or collude during VTES games, do it in spirit.

(I used to visit other capoeira schools that would do everything scripted, by the book. they'd freeze like deer in headlights if I mixed things up just slightly, they had no idea how to improvise)

I really like this analogy, and can relate somewhat with ~3-4 years of capoeira myself. Thankfully we had a (somewhat small, though) group (no school, the closest schools around here are in Helsinki) where the leaders taught us the importance of improvising from the start. I've noticed the same thing you've as well, though - if it's only sequences people train, it's the only thing they know.

The same goes with VtES, or any gaming for that matter. I find it weird when people play bleed decks, loudly announce "It's a bleed deck!!1one", and do nothing, nothing at all other than bleed. Same goes for combat.

That nothing that I mentioned includes 'doing nothing', which they don't do. Often, I've found, those very dedicated decks would benefit from a turn or two of doing only one small bleed instead of just going in for the sake of it, or maybe reverting to blocking against something not-all-THAT-stealthy instead of just going rush-rush-rush. Doing nothing is definitely doing something; it's buying time, getting the heat off your arse, letting other get the focus, bluffing your prey into thinking his safe for a while.

Just doing what 'the deck does' is not playing the game. And repeating sequences is not playing capoeira.

Neither is repeating Parker licks to a harmony really improvising. Improvisation in music is something very similar to this actually as well. Some music schools have been known for teaching the players to mimic licks and phrases straight from jazz theory books and transcriptions. A couple of mates went down to Amsterdam to join a jam, and they were pertty dumbstruck by how (albeight well-played) repetitive they all sounded. I wonder what would've happened if this pianist friend of mine would've gone to stage, as he's known for taking things a bit to the extreme when improvising.

Then again, it takes some time for a musician to learn how to act when stuff doesn't go like planned; from "WTF is happening?!" to "This is weird. I wonder what's happening, and if I should react to it somehow." I mean, especially if taught to go by the (any) book.

So yeah, I think one of the philosophies I could think of right now is: play the deck, don't let the deck play you.

"Oh, to the Hades with the manners! He's a complete bastard, and calling him that insults bastards everywhere!"
-Nalia De-Arnise

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Last edit: 03 Mar 2014 06:21 by Kraus.

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