file Negative Experience with Den of Fiends for New Players

23 Aug 2020 22:58 #100589 by kschaefer

Yipe wrote: Over the past few weeks, I've been hosting online demos of VtES for different groups of beginners. Typically I have 4 players participating in a demo, but occasionally there are as few as 3. We've been using the 5 preconstructed decks from Black Chantry (4 Sabbat + 25th Anniversary)

First, congrats. It's really hard to showcase the game, especially right now, being limited to online play. That being said, if you're demoing, why not use the First Blood decks. They are more newbie friendly (to be honest the Sabbat starters demonstrate atypical game interactions, especially the Nephandus deck). If you want to use tournament legal versions, I recommend following BCPs two First Blood decks smashed together examples. These are available on the BCP website at the end of the play advice PDF. Furthermore, I'd give each player a few minutes to read that PDF before playing. That will give them a sense of what the deck does and make the experience easier and more rewarding.
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24 Aug 2020 03:31 #100590 by Yipe
Thanks for the tips and advice, I will take your suggestions into consideration. The links to the deck archetype guides and the articles on combing 2 First Blood decks were extremely helpful.

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24 Aug 2020 06:17 - 24 Aug 2020 06:21 #100591 by Tadori

Yipe wrote: Over the past few weeks, I've been hosting online demos of VtES for different groups of beginners. Typically I have 4 players participating in a demo, but occasionally there are as few as 3. We've been using the 5 preconstructed decks from Black Chantry (4 Sabbat + 25th Anniversary) and I'm running into a recurring problem:

The Den of Fiends deck has so many intercept and wake options that it can shutdown just about every action that its predator and prey attempt to perform. This level of denial is resulting in some frustration and negative first impressions toward the game because, frankly, it's no fun when you can't use your cards. It also doesn't help that the Tzimisce deck is the best at combat of the 5 decks (with Nephandus coming in a distant second).

For example, in our last demo the Den of Fiends player blocked 100% of the actions attempted by their predator (who was playing the Pact of Nephandus deck). Not a single action succeeded.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Or some easy-to-offer advice for the other decks/players that don't have enough stealth to escape the Tzimisce wall?

Of course, one option is to not allow this deck to be used in demos, but I find that to be a poor workaround. Intercept/action denial is a part of the game, so ignoring it isn't a long-term solution. Most of my players would see that as a flaw of the game and decide not to play.

Thanks ahead of time for your help!


I think you have to explain to new players how VTES works before you start the game. It has paper<rock<scissors construction and situation like that happen quite frequently, that you are sitting next to a deck that is a caunter to yours. The only solution you have is to negotiate with this deck owner or rest of the table.If players dont feel comfortable with this, they probably will not like vtes, because it's a big part of the game.
Last edit: 24 Aug 2020 06:21 by Tadori.
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24 Aug 2020 10:03 - 24 Aug 2020 10:12 #100593 by lip
I would agree with others here and advise you to use the First Blood decks for demos. The Sabbat precons are built to enable new players to come inside an existing playing group with a winning chance. If you plan to demo online, here are the "upgraded" First Blood deck lists on Amaranth:
If you want to keep doing demos with the Sabbat precons, you could consider removing Dean of Fiends and use Information's Highway's Ventrue Antitribu deck instead. Sadly, it's one more dominate Govern/Deflect deck on the table, which is a poor display of the game strategic variety.

If you want to keep all the decks, some advice for the players when sitting next to the Tzimisce:
  • Nephandus: Never act with Antonio, use his special. The Tzimisce will not be able to handle the mages indefinitely.
  • Parliament: If prey, negotiate passage before playing a vote. If predator, try stacking seduction and stealth, try not to lose stealth to something you know will be blocked and use combat ends instead.
  • Libertine: The hardest one. If prey, discard Art Scam, threaten back-oust with KRC if he does not let them through (Parliament should be OK with that whatever hist seat is). In all cases, reserve the use of Change of Target on Tzimisce wakes, Majesty on Tzimisce blocks. The most important thing is to get the Embraces through. Rescue vampires from torpor and hunt when necessary.
  • 25th: Should not be an issue. Use Form of Mist on normal blocks to force the wakes to wear down, try to have a combat ends if you think you can get intercepted. When predator, prefer Political actions to bleeds as they are harder to block.

General advice: Ask for cross-table torpor rescue. The prey and predator should work together to try and wear the intercept down. Also, the Tzimisce should negotiate with them and let some actions get through if he wants a win: he cannot block everything and he needs his prey to go forward, so he should choose wisely what to block. As prey, if the Tzimisce bounce a bleed to you, bounce it back to him to wear his intercept down.

Finally and most importantly: If Parliament, 25th or Libertine are Tzimisce grand-predator, they should consider ousting him with votes before ousting their prey. He cannot block cross-table votes as the precon lacks Eagle's Sight. You could even arrange the table to have one of them in that spot for demos. Having three players to handle will force the Tzimisce to negotiate with his neighbours.

To be honest, seasoned players playing with these 5 decks would probably have 25th as a favorite (most wins), probably followed closely by Parliament. Den of Fiends may be a bit frustrating, but this is not the strongest deck there. I hope emphasis on the importance of negociation and possibility of cross-table oust can help. Players will likely play and negotiate differently once they know how the decks handle: you can underline that after the game as it's in fact a bit part of it. Players adapt their play to their knowledge of their opponent's decks: a hope to overcome the obstacle of the Fiends in follow-up games may be a good hook for new players ☺︎.
Last edit: 24 Aug 2020 10:12 by lip.

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24 Aug 2020 11:12 #100596 by Palamedes
I mentioned it a long time ago, but... The First Blood Nosferatu deck is pretty bad, and has an almost 0% chance of winning in The First Blood environment if there is no Gustaphe Brunnelle in drawn crypt. With "upgraded" 12 crypt version, the chances of getting Gustaphe are even smaller, so it is necessary to insert at least 2 more Gustaphe in the crypt (remove 1 Benjamin and 1 Harold). Gustaphe is necessary to put constant pressure on threatening and/or "bounceable" vampires. Otherwise, the Nosferatu player will get tired of unsuccessful and miserable attempts to do anything useful. In most cases he will die first anyway, but at least he will have the feeling that he played something. :lol:

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25 Aug 2020 04:04 #100605 by Yipe
Great advice and highly detailed, my thanks! Our customers weren't interested in the First Blood decks at the start, but are now picking them up for variety's sake. I'm hoping we can use those for demos in the future.

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