file Harbingers of Skulls Strengths But Mostly Weaknesses

12 Oct 2012 22:31 - 12 Oct 2012 22:38 #39006 by Dorrinal
In this post I will discuss major deck types relevant to Harbingers of Skulls, and why the clan struggles at being viable with any of them. My goal is to spark discussion about the clan and its strengths and weaknesses. This post is deliberately light on solutions; I hope that by identifying the weaknesses of the clan and the strengths of the archetypes, we can follow through with logical solutions - be they new deck ideas, card combinations, or even new cards.

Bleed

Harbingers: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=2752
Archetype: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=10149

Harbingers of Skulls can make a mean bleed deck. You may have even seen it: permanents like Pulse of the Canaille and Camera Phone, stealth, and plenty of Freak Drives. Unfortunately it doesn't win tournaments, unlike the archetypical Giovanni deck. What do the Giovanni have that the Harbingers don't?
- Lower average capacity.
- Govern the Unaligned produces minion advantage.
- Bonding and Seduction make them very difficult to block.
- Sudario Refraction is too good.
- Deflection is a leaner defense than Telepathic Misdirection (fewer untap cards required)
All of these advantages make the Giovanni deck faster and stronger.

Shambling Hordes

Harbingers: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=2798
Archetype: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=9225

At first glance, the Harbingers are an excellent clan for a classic Shambling Hordes deck: almost all of them have superior Necromancy and the blood to pay the cost. Once again, the Giovanni do it better thanks to lower-capacity vampires with superior Necromancy, Govern the Unaligned, and the combination of Liquidation and Sudario Refraction.

Harbingers of Skulls have some advantages, though. Crematorium provides a diablerie-free way to get rid of your victims - that's almost as good as Graverobbing. Restoration and Ghost-Eater can quickly recoup the cost of playing Shambling Hordes. However, the Samedi have the advantage in that respect because they have other strong actions - namely Little Mountain Cemetery, Off Kilter, and Reanimated Corpse - as well as the stealth to ensure they all succeed.

Shambling Hordes has been successfully combined with other strategies in hybrid decks. Mix Shambling Hordes with power bleed, and you end up with a bad Giovanni deck. Put a bunch in an intercept wall, and it's a bad Tzimisce deck.

Wall

Harbingers: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=8469
Archetype: www.secretlibrary.info/index.php?deck=view&id=2857

Their most successful deck type, based on TWDA entries, is an intercept wall featuring Mordechai Ben-Nun and Babalawo Alafin. The decks look a lot like the Ventrue antitribu grinder: 20-30 reactions, frustrating Fortitude-based combat, and a few bleed cards for a lunge. There are a couple of things the deck does well: Babalawo Alafin is great for flushing dead cards, and the deck is capable of defending Maabara and Shaal Fragment. Trochomancy not only provides the ousting lunge, it crushes decks relying on recursion like Imbued and Ashur Tablets.

Unfortunately the deck lacks a few advantages of the best wall decks, which prevents it from tearing up the tournament scene. Harbingers of Skulls cannot field the exceptional crypt that the Ventrue antitribu can - nor can they influence out extra vampires without Govern the Unaligned. Without Deflection keeping a single minion untapped, bleed defense is more difficult. Carna wall, another top-tier wall deck, does not have quite as good a crypt or combat cards as the !Ventrue - but it does have Magic of the Smith and some excellent master cards like Chantry and Arcane Library.

Politics

On paper, it's tough to see how to make a successful political deck with Harbingers of Skulls. They have no Presence nor any vote push in-clan besides Telepathic Vote Counting. On the other hand, they have a lot of tools at their disposal. Din of the Damned becomes playable in a deck that mostly takes undirected actions. Group 2 has a Priscus and a few good targets for Cardinal Benediction. Combined with Dia de los Muertos and the other Sabbat masters, and probably a few key Ventrue antitribu, they could make a viable deck - if only they had any good vote cards to play.

This is a good place to talk about their signature card, The Slaughterhouse. Combined with the political action Brinksmanship, you can oust your prey by decking them. But the deck is slow, unreliable, and often gives its grand-prey too much leash. It's also not very fun to be the victim once the library runs out. If a political deck becomes viable, Brinksmanship should be a part of that.

Harbingers of Skulls can access a variety of decks, yet fall short of all the archetypes. They simply can't produce the kind of offense required to reliably win games. With the right card(s) they could excel at one or more styles, and become truly competitive.

:trem:
Last edit: 12 Oct 2012 22:38 by Dorrinal.
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12 Oct 2012 23:33 #39007 by Juggernaut1981
My own Harbringers Deck was a Mill & Kill.
3 or 4 Slaughterhouses & Zygodat
Trochomancy
Auspex Reduce
Gun + Fortitude Combat
It also features Sennadurek (since any bleed on the table which moves the edge allows you to untap).

It is a slower deck and will let VPs fall from the table. It's never going to be a 5VP v 0VP table sweep sort of deck. But it is durable. It is weak against votes (purely because I didn't pack heaps of intercept) but could easily be enhanced by including some Auspex weenies to take actions like Anima Gathering (which helps with both defence and ousting). It's advantages are in disrupting the card flow of your prey purely by ditching somewhere between 2 and often as many as 8 cards each turn.

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418
www.halflingcaravangames.com.au/
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13 Oct 2012 00:19 #39009 by Dorrinal
I think we've all tried a deck like that since LoB, and I think we can all agree that it's a bit too slow and weak to be competitive. What does such a deck need to succeed?

:trem:

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13 Oct 2012 03:11 #39014 by brandonsantacruz
I think that with the HoS' free combat cards and built-in votes for group 2-3 (a bishop and a priscus) you have potential for a crypt machine that can eventually turn out votes. I have some in mind, but I won't go into specifics here ;) Sabbatness is also useful for them.

Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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13 Oct 2012 04:15 #39015 by Ashur
Yet the HoS got shit in HttB. Shaal Fragment is ok at best, and Din of the Damned and Threading the Path of Orpheus is unplayable. Can´t have been much playtesting going on.

"My strategy? Luck is my strategy, of course."
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13 Oct 2012 04:19 - 13 Oct 2012 04:25 #39016 by Dorrinal

I think that with the HoS' free combat cards and built-in votes for group 2-3 (a bishop and a priscus) you have potential for a crypt machine that can eventually turn out votes. I have some in mind, but I won't go into specifics here ;) Sabbatness is also useful for them.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Care to explain yourself and thereby actually contributing to the thread?

Ashur: Quite right, the library cards from HttB are awful. At least the vampires are good. I've identified a few areas where they can improve in the original post. What do you think? What do you see as their strengths and weaknesses? And what kind of cards would you have put into HttB instead?

:trem:
Last edit: 13 Oct 2012 04:25 by Dorrinal.

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