Abraham DuSable. Art in the New Blood set by Ken Meyer Jr.
Greetings fellow "Methuselahs"
Yes, I say that within quote marks this time. Because we are not bloodthirsty, power-mad, paranoid monsters. We are humans - all brothers and sisters, and it´s really time to start behaving accordingly. After a long period of pandemic, we are suddenly facing another kind of darkness. Just as if nothing has been learned from history, Europe is once again thrown into a war that most of us don´t even understand the reason for. It might feel frivolous to indulge in a game at this time, but it is what it is. Escapism. We do it, because we need it at times, because we are humans. Not monsters. Let us hope these dark clouds clear very soon. Stay safe.
THE FIGHT CLUB (PART 1)
By Aldo Fernández
Lately, and since I came back to the game, I realized that there is a problem with playing combat and playing against combat.
Many people ask me how to play combat decks, and many others ask me what they can do against them. The truth is that I do not have a magic formula for that, but I will try to capture my usually controversial thoughts in this article.
This article has been split in two parts: the first one explains how to play combat decks, and the second one how to play against combat decks. I hope it will be useful and you will like it.
PLAYING COMBAT DECKS
First of all, you have to know that, on the one hand, there are combat decks and, on the other hand, decks with combat, which is not the same.
And that is the main problem for people to understand how to play combat and how to fight against it, if possible.
DECKS WITH COMBAT
These are the decks that pack a significant amount of combat cards, even if that is not their main strategy, or their only strategy.
This type of decks contains 1/3 of combat cards (when taking fixed figures throughout this article, we will always talk about 90-card decks).
In other words, a deck with 25 to 30 combat cards cannot be considered a pure combat deck, but rather a deck that can fight, especially against those decks that do not have combat at all.
Let's take the Tremere toolbox deck as a classic example of a combat deck, with a fairly basic pack of what it can play, which could well be this:
4x Rego Motus
10x Theft of Vitae
4x Walk of Flame
2x Blood to Water
An effective combat with cards that, without being a tremendous threat, is very annoying: 10 combo cards granting a maneuver or a press, 10 strikes that steal blood, 4 prevention cards and 6 second round cards to surprise, if possible.
This combat does not torporize or burn vampires in a systematic or constant way, but it allows us to punish the vampire or ally who blocks us or whom we block.
When vampires begin to run low on blood, the stealing of two blood goes from being annoying to being very annoying, deactivating that vampire for a turn if emptied, and forcing them to hunt.
If we analyze this deck completely, we will see that it has more strategies in addition to combat. The above-mentioned combat pack could be perfectly integrated into the following deck:
Crypt (12; Capacity min=3 max=7 avg=4.75)
1x Ehrich Weiss 3 dom tha Tremere:3
2x Eugenio Estevez 6 dom for AUS THA Tremere:3
1x Masika St. John 3 THA Tremere:3
1x Valois Sang, The Watcher 6 nec tha AUS DOM Tremere:3
1x Blythe Candeleria 3 aus THA Tremere:2
3x Carna, The Princess Witch 7 AUS DOM THA Tremere:3
2x Aisling Sturbridge 5 dom AUS THA Tremere:2
1x Cohn Rose 5 aus dom pre THA Tremere:3
1x KRCG News Radio
1x Arcane Library
1x Academic Hunting Ground
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Direct Intervention
8x Govern the Unaligned
2x Magic of the Smith
2x Rutor’s Hand
Action Modifier (4)
4x Rego Motum
10x Theft of Vitae
4x Walk of Flame
2x Blood to Water
1x Ivory Bow
1x Light Intensifying Goggles
1x Sport Bike
1x Bowl of Convergence
4x Enhanced Senses
4x Eyes of Argus
4x Forced Awakening
4x My Enemy’s Enemy
4x On the Qui Vive
4x Telepathic Misdirection
2x Delaying Tactics
2x Eagle’s Sight
1x Scourge of the Enochians
As can be seen, this deck has an amount of combat cards that makes it possible for it to fight against those decks that do not fight, and, at a given moment, it has the power to face, in a timely manner, a combat deck, if you are attacked, for example, even though not consistently.
But this one cannot be considered a combat deck, because its game strategy is based on a toolbox strategy, where it blocks, bleeds and fights in specific ways.
There are many decks of this kind in clans such as the Tzimisce, the Nosferatu and the Nosferatu antitribu.
Its characteristics are as follows:
Limited number of combat cards: They do not usually contain more than a third of combat cards. Non-combat cards are not dedicated to combat. They do not usually pack Fame, Tension in the Ranks, Dragonbound and/or actions to enter combat with other minions.
Simple combat: These decks do not usually have the ability to empty and torporize vampires with ease, although they can send vampires to torpor more or less efficiently, especially those decks based on Vicissitude or Protean, which are not usually capable of emptying or burning vampires.
Their strategy is not based on combat: Combat is usually a consequence of either blocking, generally, or of taking aggressive actions that force the other Methuselahs to block them. However, these decks do not voluntarily take actions to enter combat.
They are the kings of the schoolyard: This expression is intended to denote that these decks are usually capable of intimidating all the decks that do not fight or are not combat decks, and that they cannot deal in a real and consistent way with combat decks.
Efficient combat with one or two cards: These decks do not usually have to play 4 or 5 combat cards each combat, but only a few that produce efficient combats (e.g., Apportation + Theft of Vitae, Chiropteran Marauder + Breath of the Dragon, Carrion Crows + Aid From Bats, etc.)
Their combat tends to be more efficient as the game progresses and the blood of the vampires is scarce. Since combat is not so efficient, it is difficult, as I mentioned, that they can empty or torporize vampires from turn 1 of the game.
These are the decks that purely base their strategy on combat. These decks are usually identified by a fairly typical pack of master and Gehenna event cards and by containing, almost entirely, combat cards, basing their strategy on eliminating rival vampires.
In my opinion, effective combat is one that sends a vampire to torpor empty or directly burns him or her. Everything else is ineffective for its intended uses.
These decks, and following 90-card examples, would have around 45/60 combat cards and the rest of the deck would be focused on enhancing combat, actions to enter combat with other minions, master cards, events…
If they are efficient and well built, they tend to send their rivals' vampires into torpor empty (so that, if any vampire takes actions to rescue them from torpor, they will have to pay 2 blood) or burn them directly. And that is why these decks are efficient.
The vampires that go to torpor with all the blood are usually rescued by their cross-table allies thus making the combat ineffective. On the other hand, these decks completely empty the opposing vampire or burn them directly.
This efficiency in combat, as well as the number of combat cards these decks contain is what makes the difference with the decks with combat.
Here you have the Count Germaine multi-rush deck that I have played several times to show that this strategy is viable:
Crypt (12; Capacity min=2 max=9 avg=5.5)
1x Justine Chen, Innocent 2 pre Toreador antitribu:4
1x Lorrie Dunsirn 4 for nec POT Abomination:4
3x Themistocles 8 pre AUS CEL FOR POT Brujah:5
1x Clifton Derrik 2 cel Brujah:4
3x Count Germaine 8 obf CEL FOR POT PRE Brujah:4
3x Dmitra Ilyanova 9 obf CEL FOR POT PRE Brujah:5
1x Giant’s Blood
5x Minion Tap
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Tension in the Ranks
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
2x Heroic Might
3x Big Game
3x Bum’s Rush
Action Modifier (10)
2x Forced March
8x Freak Drive
11x Immortal Grapple
6x Rolling with the Punches
6x Taste of Vitae
11x Torn Signpost
This is a deck with 50 combat cards out of 90, although 12 of them are Freak Drives and Forced March, so our deck is actually at 80 cards with 50 red cards among them.
You can see that the whole strategy of this deck is to bring out Count Germaine and start taking actions to enter combat and torporize vampires, and taking more actions of that kind on the same turn. It is a multi-rush strategy.
This deck works pretty consistently and/or burns multiple vampires per turn.
After playing the action to enter combat, we play Torn Signpost + Immortal Grapple + Pursuit in order to inflict 9 damage on the opposing vampire, with the optional and circumstantial Disarm and Decapitate.
We see this deck contains maneuvers, presses and prevention cards, which is a characteristic trait of this type of decks to make sure that they send vampires to torpor empty or burn them, in the first place, and secondly, that our vampires survive the fight.
We must always remember that people play Villein, Minion Tap, Vessel and Blood Dolls, in addition to the fact that vampires use their blood to pay many of the cards they play. Therefore, burning 9 blood consistently is more than enough to send a vampire to torpor with no blood.
Its characteristics are as follows:
Combat-based master and Gehenna cards: These decks pack copies of Fame, Haven Uncovered, Tension in the Ranks, Dragonbound.
Actions to enter combat and/or vampires with the ability to enter combat: Bum Rush, Harass, Big Game, etc. or vampires like Enkidu, Beast, Leatherface of Detroit, etc.
Vampires with combat Disciplines: Potence, Animalism, Celerity, Fortitude, etc.
The ability to empty or burn vampires in a single combat: These well-constructed decks are capable of emptying or burning vampires from turn 1.
The ability to prevent damage and use Taste of Vitae: These decks usually pack vampires with Fortitude or Protean (less effective than the former), who use those Disciplines to prevent damage, and who play Taste of Vitae to refill the vampires at the end of combat.
The ability to deal with strikes that end combat: These decks pack a considerable number of cards to counter strikes that end combat, since each action must count so that you can send the opposing vampires out of the Eternal Struggle (for example, Immortal Grapple, Psyche!, Dog Pack, Death Seeker, etc.)
Maneuvers, cards that set the range, and presses: These decks contain a high number of cards with one of these three effects to prevent the opposing vampires from escaping without ending up in torpor or burned.
Low reactive defense ability.
Low bleeding ability.
Having analyzed both strategies, that of combat decks and that of decks with combat, we are going to analyze the main errors that I have seen over the years as a player.
Construction errors. Strategy: When building the deck, if we do not know how to come up with the right proportions of the cards, we have to include in order to do what we want to do, our hand will get clogged as the game unfolds.
It does not make any sense to rely on a 5-card combat strategy and put 5 copies of each in a deck intended to block and punish blocking (that is, a deck with combat), because we will not be able to cycle our hand consistently for us to be able to play those 5 cards in each block, or because there will obviously come a time when we will block and will not have any combat cards.
Likewise, it does not make sense in a multi-rush deck that our combat is based on hitting for 1 aggravated damage.
It is very important for us to have a clear strategy to achieve our goals, and build our deck with the appropriate combat module.
Construction errors. Proportions: We should not pack 20 aggravated hand strikes in a deck with combat, because we will not enter combat 20 times and be able to cycle the hand properly. And we should not pack only 4 maneuvers in combat decks, or play without prevention cards, because we will be absolutely inefficient and unable to be a real threat with our combat.
That is, for a combat deck to be efficient, the proportions of the combat cards contained therein should be considered very carefully and thoroughly.
Game errors. Table reading: If you do not know how to play your deck, you will most likely blame your deck (which may be well constructed) for the poor results.
Combat decks are selective combat decks, where their cards are used to punish certain actions or reactions at certain times, but not in a systematic way. You have to know when to play the cards, when to reserve them, how to cycle the hand so that it does not get clogged during combat.
In combat decks this translates into the famous "back-ousting", and since we do not usually know how to face a game without bleed redirections or reactions, we end up being afraid that they get ousted, and therefore we torporize all our predator’s vampires, thus playing the game upstream and being ousted without scoring any victory points, and giving the game win to another player.
Game errors. Inability to control the table: Combat decks tend to be extremely aggressive decks that usually get ousted cross-table in the early game, because of the fear they instill, especially to Methuselahs playing political or bleed decks.
And combat players tend to be either quite insular (torporizing every minion that comes out in front and behind them without looking at the entire table) or too aggressive (moving around the table to be feared, rather than to be respected).
Knowing that combat decks can usually go cross-table to be respected or to oust those threats that may exist in a game, we have to assume that when using a strategy with a few or no reactions at all, like ours, there are cards that terribly punish these decks: like Meddling of Semsith or Banishment. We have to know how to foresee that and play around it, either by negotiating or making cross-table decisions that, at any given moment, prevent us from being ousted from the game.
By controlling the table, we will have the capacity to keep the decks that pose a danger to us under control at the early stages of the game. For this reason, just as we can cross the table with politics, we can cross the table to balance it with combat decks.
Combat decks have great table control, and it is important to know how to play with combat or around it (that does not mean you have to indiscriminately enter combat cross-table).
In short, if our combat, both in decks with combat and in combat decks, is not adapted to what our strategy needs, is not well proportioned or is not well played, it will be usually difficult for it to work, or at least, more difficult than the rest of the strategies of the game.
Well, after analyzing combat, how should we play against combat? We will see that in the second part of this article.
RULES Q & A
Black Chantry Rules Director Vincent Ripoll answers some rules questions:
Q: Can I play Organized Resistance if I control a baron in torpor, since the card "requires a baron"?
A: No, the requirements of cards always apply to the minion playing that card, and only ready minions can play reaction cards (even if the card grants an effect to another minion).
Q: If I play Organized Resistance to unlock one of my Anarchs and that Anarch fails to block, does that Anarch stay unlocked?
A: Yes. There are two important categories of reaction cards: those that unlock minions (and usually force them to try to block) and those that "wake" minions.
The differences are:
a) "Unlock" cards leave the minion unlocked if they didn't manage to block whereas "wake" cards leave them locked.
b) "Unlock" cards allow only one successful block attempt (since the minion will be locked for successfully blocking) whereas "wake" cards allow them to block multiple times during an action (if it is being continued with a Form of Mist for instance).
c) "Wake" cards can also be played at specific moment when "unlock" cards cannot (see Glossaries on VEKN.net).
Those differences are important, that is why one must not unlock a "waking" minion (a common misleading play).
Q: I play The Platinum Protocol using Protean (among other Disciplines). Do I have to announce on which vampire the corruption counter will be put?
A: No, because the corruption counter is put as part of the resolution of the action (if the bleed is successful) and the target of the bleed may change during the course of the action. You have to wait until the bleed is successful to put the counter of a minion of your choosing (controlled by the target of the bleed).
Q: Can I steal that minion right away if the number of my corruption counters on the minion equals or exceeds their capacity or cost of the minion when resolving The Platinum Protocol?
A: No, you need a card that explicitly says so, for example Cave of Apples.
Q: Ok, and what if I played Revelation of the Serpent and put a second corruption counter of the minion during the same action thanks to The Platinum Protocol, can I burn the two counters after resolution to unlock my vampire?
A: Yes. The counters are burned after resolution of the action, so after the second corruption counter is put on the minion. More about this: VEKN Forum: Timing of the oust, pool gain, VP gain and Life Boon.
Q: Does the vampire using Hunger of Marduk have the option to use the blood-stealing strike any time during the round? Specifically, if an additional strike is played, may the vampire elect to use the blood-stealing strike again? Or is the blood-stealing strike only usable once during the round?
A: The strike provided by Hunger of Marduk can be chosen and used more than once during the round. More about this: VEKN Forum: Hunger of Marduk and additional Strike.
Q: If I play Dust Up using Celerity, can I play another Dust Up using Celerity with the additional strike?
A: No, because each Dust Up using Celerity provides an additional strike counting against the limit. The first one is ok, but the second one cannot be played because of that limit (even if you don't plan to use it and just want to dodge a second time: you cannot apply only half of the effects of a card). You could still play another Dust Up using Potence though.
RECENT GREAT VTES CONTENT
• SuakuOZ 5th Edition upgrades: This is an awesome series in which two experienced Methuselahs discuss how to tweak the recent VTES preconstructed decks. The lastest episode when this is written is Fifth Edition The Ministry - check it out!
• Demogames at Festival des Jeux Cannes, France: Not volunteer content, but anyway, we need this kind of efforts to show VTES for new eyes. Awesome work by Events for Games February 25-27, just look at the booth above!
• El club del dado Unboxing: Yes, one of those Spanish unboxing videos again - but can we have enough of those? NEVER!
• VDB: Currently the best VTES deckbuilding tool?
BLACK CHANTRY SUMMARY: FEBRUARY 2022
• The upcoming New Blood mini-decks is at the printer. If all works well they will be in stores in late April. Preview art by the great Ken Meyer Jr at the top of this newsletter!
• The next batch of Legacy singles for Drivethrucards (Salubri, Tzimisce and Pander) is still worked on. Changing old cards to new wording templates is harder than you think!
• Both Anthology 1 and 25th Anniversary will be reprinted, as demand still is strong.
• The Fall of London set still needs work - it´s bounced between designers and the rules department to ensure correct wordings for the last changes, then there´s proofing time.
• Cards for later sets (Camarilla big capacity vampires, Sabbat, Hecata) are being worked on. Hopefully something will be ready for playtesting soon.
- Currently these Black Chantry products are available through Drivethrucards.com and other stores:
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
Den of Fiends Preconstructed Deck (Also Spanish, French)
Libertine Ball Preconstructed Deck (Also Spanish, French)
Pact with Nephandi Preconstructed Deck (Also Spanish, French)
Parliament of Shadows Preconstructed Deck (Also Spanish, French)
Anthology I bundle
VTES Card Creator (Drivethrucards only)
First Blood: Malkavian (Also Spanish, French)
First Blood: Nosferatu (Also Spanish, French)
First Blood: Toreador (Also Spanish, French)
First Blood: Tremere (Also Spanish, French)
First Blood: Ventrue (Also Spanish, French)
VTES Legacy Card Singles (Drivethrucards only)
Promo Pack 1 (Drivethrucards only)
Promo Pack 2 (Event promos only)
VTES "Parity Shift" playmat
VTES card sleeves
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Fifth Edition (Stores only)
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Fifth Edition Latin (Drivethrucards only)
Fifth Edition: Malkavian
Fifth Edition: Nosferatu
Fifth Edition: Toreador
Fifth Edition: Tremere
Fifth Edition: Ventrue
Promo Pack 3 (Event promos only)
Fifth Edition: Banu Haqim (Stores only)
Fifth Edition: Brujah (Stores only)
Fifth Edition: Gangrel (Stores only)
Fifth Edition: The Ministry (Stores only)
The big news in World of Darkness RPGs this month is the preview of Hunter: The Reckoning! Download the preview for free at www.worldofdarkness.com (just requires an account). This was discussed when Creative Lead Justin Achilli was interviewed at the online Renegade Con. In this was revealed lots of coming stuff, including a Vampire: The Masquerade starter set, a player´s guide and a sourcebook about Blood Sorcery and Thin-Blooded Alchemy! Check out the video for more information.
Don´t forget to subscribe to the World of Darkness News show for more news!
Upcoming tournaments for the coming month (booked so far) are in:
For details about these events, see the VEKN Event Calendar.
Remember: Online tournaments are possible - just check the box "Online tournament" when you add the event to the 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
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.