file [New Player Report] Newbie Thoughts & 1st Impressions

10 Jun 2018 21:11 #88084 by LivesByProxy
Warning, this is a long post and a rambling one. Very stream-of-consciousness.

So I finally got 5 players (myself included) to play VTES. I had up to that point played about six games, three 3-player games, two 4-player games, and one 2-player game. This is how the 5-player game went.

I demo'ed the game with some people who had never played before, but 3 of the 4 were veterans of the local board-gaming community. They've played games like 7 Wonders, Agricola, Catan, Pandemic, Viticulture, Dominion, etc. etc. So mostly worker placement and deck-building games, but also some party games and abstract games. 3 of them had played Magic in the past but they all stopped because $$$.

I didn't want to dump all the rules on them from the start, opting to learn as we go and explain things as they arise, such as combat. I briefly explained the situation / theme of the game: we are ancient, millennia-old vampires known as "Methuselahs" attempting to undermine the power, wealth, influence, etc, of the player to our left - our prey. We do this by manipulating younger vampires who do not realize we are pulling their strings. I explained that the vamps have two basic actions by default - bleed and hunt, and described bleeding as "making trouble": spreading rumors, hacking computers, forging documents, theft, arson, etc etc. I explained the card-type symbols and explained that the Disciplines were vampire powers "that have no inherent effects, but are used to determine which cards in your deck that vampire can use." I had reference cards and little rule-books on hand for them to look through if they desired.

I (T) had a Brujah bruise-bleed deck. My prey (J) had Tremere/!Tremere, her prey (A) had Tor/!Tor Celerity Guns, her prey (F) had Malk/!Malk stealth-bleed, and his prey (V) had Ventrue/!Ventrue Politics with Weighted Walking Sticks, Majesties, & 2nd Tradition: Domain. I was V's prey. So the table was T>J>A>F>V.

I tried to make sure each deck had some combat package, like the Tremere having Traps and Cauldron of Blood, and Malk having some Obf Strike:Dodge, for example. Each crypt was skewed on the Mid-High Cap end, so we could all participate in voting, and I included a 1-2 strong political cards like Reins of Power and Ancient Influence in the Tremere Deck (J) and Toreador deck (A) in an attempt to spice things up. Also, I deliberately gimped the Malk deck/player by including groups 1,2,&3, so there were Malks with Dem OR Dom OR both OR neither. I figured if it were focused it would murder whoever was next to it.

How did the game play out you ask? Well... I handicapped myself by playing with an open hand and revealed crypt, so I could answer questions and demonstrate things better. I went 1st to demonstrate the turn-structure, making sure to repeat each step I went through, etc etc.

Eventually we got our vamps out, and the game progressed... slower than I would have liked, but we were getting there. I hoped that I could compensate for the slow game speed by taking my turns quickly, but it wasn't enough.

So this is how it went down: I bleed J for 1-2 each turn by explaining that if she blocked my vamps would hit harder than hers. I deliberately pressed into a 2nd round to turn on her Cauldrons and Walks of Flame, which hurt me a lot. J would try to bleed A, but the Cel Guns deck apparently wasn't drawing any guns, despite having 8 of them in the 80 card deck, and because the bleeds were never at stealth (I had no Thaumaturgy stealth cards), A got stuck with +intercept cards in her hand. She was also apparently very timid, worrying about staying alive, and so she exerted no pressure on F our stealth-bleeder, who unfortunately seemed to have plenty of +stealth and +intercept, but no +bleed. He was bleeding V the Ventrue Politics player who was actually getting Emerson Bridges and Walter Nash online thanks to his 1st minion being Helena Casimir and Govern at superior.

Around about the 1.5-hour point I noticed something wrong when J, A, and F all had out their phones as V took his turn. :( By the 2-hour mark we were all left with 4-5 pool when I bleed J for 3 thanks to having more bleeders than she had blockers and using Public Trust. Down to just 2 pool, she lunged at A and bleed her for 3 after sneaking through some Theats, putting A at 2 pool. J then proceeded to spend her last 2 pool influencing a faceless minion and ousting herself via suicide. A then tried to lunge at F to no avail since she had never managed to find a gun and had no stealth, so F just mostly blocked her, and then A did what J did and spent her last 2 pool influencing, ousting herself. I was a bit sad at this point because they had essentially implicitly admitted that they were bored, which was also evident by their expression during other players turns. :( So with both of them ousted I gained 12 pool, going up to 16 or so. The last few turns were me getting blocked by F's Malks as I slowly influenced out Adana de Sforza, putting me back down to ~4 pool. I think I've got the win as F's vamps are pretty Low-Caps and Adana has her passive +2 bleed. I lunge at F, get him down to 1. F uses all his Blood Dolls to get back up to 4, tries to bleed V who had consistently been healthy thanks to Govern acceleration, getting him down to 6. Finally, V who has 4 High-Cap vamps out, finally manages to cycle enough cards to find Conditioning and bleed me to death. F puts up a good fight but the writing was on the wall.

After the game, I asked what they thought about it. This is the feedback I got:
  • They liked the theme, they were glad the vampires were depicted as monsterous and not sparkly vampires, even though I described the Toreador as being "the beautiful, sexy vampires".

  • They thought some of the artwork was questionable, which it is but that it wasn't a deterrent. They thought Zebulon looked hilarious. XD

  • They said the game was slow but admitted that they had never played before so they were understanding. (In private J conceded that V always takes very long turns, regardless of the game he plays, its just how he is.)

  • They thought there was a lot of moving parts (complexity?) and admittedly I forgot to bring the reference sheets that was provided here on VEKN.

  • They said the heavy symbology didn't do the game any favors, which is fair, but these people also play worker-placement games with equally obtuse symbology at 1st glance, so I'm not sure how to take this criticism. :unsure:

  • They said they would be willing to play again, provided we started the game sooner in the day rather than late in the evening, so that's good... right?

What I could do / could have done better:
  • Tweak each deck's card ratios. Apparently I had way to much intercept in the Toreador and Malk deck.

  • Incorporate proxies for more variety of actions? :pinch:

  • Remember the damn reference sheets!

:gang: :CEL: :FOR: :PRO: :cap6: Gangrel. Noddist. Camarilla. Once each turn, LivesByProxy may burn 1 blood to lose Protean :PRO: until the end of the turn and gain your choice of superior Auspex :AUS:, Obfuscate :OBF:, or Potence :POT: for the current action.

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10 Jun 2018 22:34 #88087 by elotar
When there are one new player I usually give him toolbox, so he can try to understand all aspects of the game.

But if you got four new players maybe you should go other way: give them different extremely focused decks (you may ask, which part of the game they like the most, or try to deduce it).

Something like powerbleed, wall, rush combat and stealth politics? And some grinder for you, to not steal the "action".

And, obviously, stop fulling with your collection - print TWD's or something from French "best decks for each clan" archive. Optimised decks are much more fun to play, especially for new players who do not know how to play around hand problems.

:splat: NC Russia

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