file Harbingers of Skulls Strengths But Mostly Weaknesses

18 Oct 2012 01:05 #39392 by Dorrinal
Here is an attempt to add a little more ousting power to a Harbingers wall deck. It's based on the cards Smiling Jack, the Anarch, Army of Rats, and Constant Revolution. The concept is that a Harbinger of Skulls uses its powers to unleash a plague in the city. It begins destroying the institutions and resources of the Methuselahs, and left unchecked, consumes everything.

Outbreak! (Corrupt the Undead Flesh)
Harbinger of Skulls
+1 stealth action. Unique. Put this card into play. During your untap phase, put a counter on this card. During each other Methuselah's untap phase, he or she must burn X pool, where X is the number of counters on this card. Vampires gain 1 less blood by hunting. Any vampire may burn this card as a (D) action; Samedi get +1 stealth when attempting that action.

You'll notice there is no alternative to burning pool like on Smiling Jack; that's deliberate. Remember that this card has to compete with other offensive cards like Govern the Unaligned (!Ventrue), Deep Song and Presence bleeds (Ahrimanes, Toreador walls).


Corrupt the Undead Flesh - This ability causes the victim to be stricken with a horrible plague. Mortal victims of this ability are highly contagious and easily spread the disease to other mortals and to Vampires if their blood is taken. Kindred have a harder time spreading the disease but are effected by the weakness it causes all the same.


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18 Oct 2012 05:38 - 18 Oct 2012 06:19 #39402 by Boris The Blade
Last edit: 18 Oct 2012 06:19 by Boris The Blade.

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18 Oct 2012 13:29 #39431 by Dorrinal
Sorry to cross-post, I wanted to move specific card discussion to the other forum.

Does the suggested card address the weakness in Harbingers wall decks? Does it make them an acceptable alternative to: Ahrimanes, Toreador, Tremere, Tzimisce, and !Ventrue walls?


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18 Oct 2012 13:39 #39433 by Ohlmann
If we take the original suggestion, I find the "Vampires gain 1 less blood by hunting" part the most important ; in fact, I would be willing to play the card for that alone. (and maybe add a text to send to torpor vampire that have done a mandatory hunt but end up bloodless, a la pulled fang)

The rest of the card can be summed up by "a better army of rat". It does not give them a specific kick. So without the hunt restriction it would not address weaknesses. With it, it may justify adding HoS to blood denial deck, and it does give them a specific kick.

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18 Oct 2012 14:28 #39435 by ICL

I guess my point here is that the Harbingers of Skulls need to do perform a lot of gymnastics to make a less effective bleed deck.

Comparing anything to Dominate + Stealth seems like a losing proposition. Sure, could note that the Blessed Resilience deck doesn't care about Archon Investigation, being burned in combat, etc., but who is seriously going to argue that any bleed strategy outside of Kindred Spirits compares to Govern (+ Conditioning not crummy Threats) and Stealth?

On a different note, another problem HoS have is that they are so boring. Auspex - one of the most commonly played disciplines in the game. Fortitude - basic discipline. Necromancy - lot of weird effects, boring good effects. Clan cards - far less, for obvious reasons, than Giovanni, also far less interesting and powerful.

It's much like how Nagaraja don't rate compared to Salubri and True Brujah in terms of interest. In fact, there are only two Bloodlines bloodlines that lack a new discipline, and they share Necromancy. While Giovanni get tons of vampires and a boat load of clan cards, the not-Giovanni have to live off of the Necromancy scraps.

They started life as Sabbat, which means getting some Sabbat toys, which are mostly about untapping and blood gain. They found their Laibon cousins to gain Laibon toys, which is more interesting since there are fewer Laibon things to do in the game than Sabbat things. They could anarch up.

But, the pressure is on the vampires to have interesting specials to overcome the "I could just do this with someone else" problem they have. Agaitas is interesting. So is Phagian. Byzar. Nicomedes is just powerful. The rest, not particularly. While Nicomedes is the only one with a special that's particularly powerful.

The funny thing is that as much as ousting power is their problem, bleed boost is incredibly easy to find. Bleed equipment, bleed retainers, Computer Hacking, Leverage, Fiendish Tongue, Monkey Wrench, all options before you ever get to their disciplines, if not all in the same deck. Of course, they have an additional problem that, say, a clan with Obfuscate or Protean doesn't have, which is that they also aren't all that good at getting actions through. As has become noticed over time, Necromancy used to be an evasion discipline but doesn't really qualify as such anymore. Fine for inherently stealthy actions, fine with Dominate's support of Seduction/Bonding/whatever but hasn't kept up with the rise in intercept options, while Celerity and Thaumaturgy have closed the gap.

Anyway, I'm not sure the greatest problem is power. I figure they get little interest outside of mill decks because anything else is dull and could easily be done with others, even Giovanni with Fortitude can be more compelling than messing around with Aus/For/Nec, and anarchy isn't a whole lot of help for addressing the issues of this mix.

Again, an obvious route to go is to support Aus/Nec, since that addresses two boring birds with one stone. That doesn't distinguish the two bloodlines and can also be stolen by random non-bloodlines with those disciplines. Actually, a funny way to go would be Necromancy cards that specifically precluded use by a Giovanni as that also hits Samedi support (and does some weird things for others who randomly have Nec).

To get back to strengths and not so much weaknesses, one could always turn the weakness of being uninteresting around and have a HoS deck's strength be that you are playing with vampires others aren't interested in playing, so you get novelty points. Since there is no great strength, besides possibly survival, may have no idea what the deck will do - Concealed out a Sawed-off Shotgun has been known to happen, for instance. Get surprise points. I ground out a Hardestadt combat deck with the right mix of Zip Gun, .44 Magnum, and damage prevention in a HoS bleed deck. Maybe folks are just overfocusing their decks on their themes and not playing enough good stuff that synergizes with serviceable disciplines.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dorrinal, porphyrion

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18 Oct 2012 14:43 #39436 by Ohlmann
I do agree that the HoS discipline spread is nothing to write home about. To be honest, I tend to play them to complete :aus: :for: decks ; it's certainly one of the most mixable clan in my opinion.

I also agree that dom / obf is not something you can compare. Heck, even FoS want to eschew Presence, which is the second best thing in bleed compartiment, to play dominate instead.

It's much like how Nagaraja don't rate compared to Salubri and True Brujah in terms of interest.

Well, they completely compare with Salubri and True Brujah for me, as much as they can be compared. The three scarce bloodline have completely different approach :
* True brujah is a big-cap star clan. Often, you don't need significant non-True brujah support. They mainly play off temporis and their special
* Salubri, with the exception of Saulot, tend to either be support vampire (the Salubri that give blood to top his friend) or to need significant support (other auspex or fortitude mid cap). Obeah is their main selling point.
* Salubri are by design not playable alone anyhow ; in exchange, they have the funkier special you can imagine, and you alway build around their special, by design. They also are extra small, which further the point that you don't play multiples nagaraja together.

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