file A proposition to change Lilith's Blessing and Anthelios

12 Dec 2012 12:35 - 12 Dec 2012 12:35 #42723 by Kraus
Hi!

I have been talking about VtES and its future a bit with the people here, and one of the topics for discussion have been VEKN, its potential effect on the game and, obviously, the reprinting of the game. To have a wee comment on these topics before cutting the chase, I'll just say I'm really excited about the possible Print on Demand (POD) concept. Let's hope we'll have some news on POD as soon as possible - and let us hope it'll be positive news. Many have concearns about the lost value of cards they've just invested hundreds of euros in, and it is a valid concearn; just one that I feel is an understandable and a necessary evil at this point.

Enough about that though. The follow-up conversation for our discussions usually involves the power level of the game and what could possibly be done about it after POD. This here might raise a couple of eyebrows on the forums; obviously everyone realizes there has been countless issues of non-fruitful conversation, argues and arguments about which cards could, should or might need errata, which are game breaking and all that. I personally feel that even though discussion itself might not be fruitful, or that it has not been in the past, it is not ill policy to bring points of view into public, and to those who eventually decide about the future of the game (that is, VEKN itself).

If you don't want to read the whole text, here's the spoiler of my conclusion: Errata Lilith's Blessing so that it's Unique, and ban Anthelios, the Red Star, from tournaments.

I'm going to discuss two issues: Lilith's Blessing and Anthelios, the Red Star, and their impact (respectively) on the game and deck build variety if POD should become reality. Before I go there a couple of potential hypothesis should be considered: how will POD affect deck building in ways not possible before, and the recent discussion about meta and bloating.

We can consider it a fact that POD would enable many different deck building possibilities that were not possible before. Many very powerful, but sadly rare, cards like Villein and Enkil Cog would become common place in every players' collection. I see this as a positive change. The starting threshold for beginners would reduce significantly when the rarer, but still rather vital for tournament play, cards would become available. How does the lack of, say, Villein appear in the present tournament meta then?

Arguably one of the effects of this is that many starting players attempt to play a wider take on deck archetypes, including combo, combat and wall decks. Not everyone has access to clearly more powerful vampires like Arika and Mistress Fanchon at the moment, but this will change after POD. We suspect that many of these more powerful vampires will suddenly see more tournament play.

This would not matter much if not for one of the more powerful, and arguably less-interactive, of archetypes presently dominant in the game: Master Phase Action spam (MPA). Bluntly put MPA decks like Anson, Huitzliopotchli or Nana Buruku play more or less like solitaire. They have a clear dominance over the game on a single area of play - one against which there are next to no counters. A Sudden Reversal doesn't really matter at all against these kinds of decks because of the sheer amount of MPAs, as well as for one card: Anthelios. While before a well played Sudden or Wash could matter in the game, an Anthelios powered MPA deck will (almost) always be able to counter a counter against that deck.

This would not be much of a problem without cards like Pentex Subversion or Golconda. These cards alone (with Anthelios) make a (non-counterable) strategy out of supportive cards.

Of course there are always ways to out-play these decks, but the amount of customizability during game (when compared to, say, Necromancy, which was arguably supposed to be the deck-recursion tool for the game) outmatches everything else in the game. I do not think that was the goal of the cards or the game when these cards were printed. Ashur Tablets already enable deck recursion for MPA decks. Anthelios adds insult to injury and finally makes the decks slightly overpowered - and even if not exactly overpowered, if the rest of the table is willing to out-play the deck (on the rare occasion), they leave very little reactive opportunities for the rest of the players. This results in a loss of interest-factor within the game.

With this I argue that Anthelios is not exactly needed for the game and it in fact worsenes the game in general unlike many other card. I don't think that anyone wants to see their vampires put to Pentex every turn even if it is removed. Just do the math - Anthelios in game, three master phases per turn and a Pentex in the MPA deck's Ash Heap. Even if it costs two pool for each play, the combo enables a strategy that requires very little effort, strategy and consideration in deck building - something that penalizes any other deck archetype.

Lilith's Blessing is next in the line. Lilith's Blessing has been an odd bird ever since it was printed for legal play. It is doubtful it went under necessary play test, since its effects with Villein effectively results in free vampires put into play. Everyone knows how this trick works. This combo is even easier to pull off with MPA decks, which I already discussed.

How will this affect the game in general, then? If basically every vampire you influence out is free, then what would be the reason to play anything else than bigger capped vampires? What would be the reason to play anything else than Villein + Lilith's Blessing for your bloat module?

We cannot really answer this questions with ultimate certainty, since it is largely a question of meta. We can specualate, however. Up until now those reasons would have been, for example, the lack of required cards for the game. This threshold will (luckily) abolish with POD. The results of this might not be as positive, however.

The main problem for this 'free vampire' phenomenon is Lilith's Blessing. Most of the general, and free-for-all, bloating mechanisms in the game have been always at least to a point conditional: all powerbases have a mechanism implemented within them that allow others to steal, abuse or wash off the effects of said Powerbase, The Coven travels around the table and even Lilith's Blessing has the condition of once-per-vampire and the requirement of 0 blood on the subject. However, this requirement is easily nullified by Villein. Thus, now that one card (which is already widely used in many decks) trumps the condition of Lilith's Blessing, it is left largely without a condition.

To add a condition to the card for its powerful effect, I would propose a simple errata, something on the lines with what VEKN already did with Villein: make the card unique. This would make it more in line other cards with a bloat-effect. Even Coven is unique, even though it circles around the table. Players would now need to fight for the card, and the card with Villein would not be a source of main bloat anymore, but a tool for additional blood gain and keeping beat-up vampires from bloating.

Arguably this might result in only certain kinds of decks playing Lilith's viably, or add an arbitrary factor to using Lilith's Blessing - a scenario where the first to draw Lilith's would gain the most of it, like Giant's Blood at the moment. It's effect alone is not that powerful, though, so the issue of chance is not as great here as with Giant's Blood.

The fact is, though, that recently I have found myself starting any deck's bloat module with 5 Villein and 2 Lilith's Blessing, with a touch of Vessel or Blood doll tossed into the mix. Anything else is extra, and I'm not really even bothering much with other options anymore since that combo seems like the most valid addition to any deck anyways, even combat. The most is arguably gained by Presence voters, however. In tournament environments it is doubtful this is a desirable direction we are heading, since big-cap voters are already a dominant archetype in the scene. It is by far unbeatable, but dominant in any case.

It would not be an argument valid enough if I would be the only one making these choices, but I have seen a large amount of these choices being made by our local players, as well as many players that got their decks in Tournament Winning Deck Archive (TWDA) over the past half-a-year.

The main argument against these two cards and the impact they have on the game in general is not that they are broken or unbeatable. VtES still remains one of those games that play largely on player skill, table talk and politics when decks themselves are on par with each other. The problem lies in the narrowed down array of valid strategies among decks, and deck types. If the most efficient way to bloat for any kind of deck is Villein + Lilith's Blessing, and the most efficient deck type to play those with is a presence voter, and the most efficient presence voter is a MPA deck, it's really not hard to do the math which kind of a deck I should be playing with for most effect.

I would rather see these two minor changes with major effects to diversify decks. Disinclusion of either card does not render any deck type unplayable, but reduces the effects of certain strategies, which are too dominant in too many kinds of decks. The varieties of which kinds of decks could be viably played would, I argue, be more diverse.

Yours

Petrus Makkonen
Prince of Joensuu
Finland


Please note that this essay does not reflect the opinions of our local gaming group as a whole, but rather portrays a single opinion.

"Oh, to the Hades with the manners! He's a complete bastard, and calling him that insults bastards everywhere!"
-Nalia De-Arnise

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Last edit: 12 Dec 2012 12:35 by Kraus.
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12 Dec 2012 12:48 - 12 Dec 2012 12:53 #42724 by Pendargon
Nicely said, i share same sentiment. But rather than changing lilith's , i am more in favor of banning it. The amount of blood that card can produce over the course of game is ridiculous, not to mention it almost completely shuts down all blood deprivations strategies, however odd or scarce they may be, and Smiling jack. Every deck seem to nowadays start with : add 2 pentex, and 2 lilith's blessings, and...

Edit: or instead of banning, maybe make it so that you HAVE to find a discipline card.

i would add 1 more change :

ashur tablets only return minion cards

:QUI: :POT: :OBE: :CEL: :OBF: :tore: :assa:
Last edit: 12 Dec 2012 12:53 by Pendargon.

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12 Dec 2012 12:54 #42725 by Klaital
You are barking the wrong tree there, its not Lilith's Blessing that is the problem but Villein. Lilith's Blessing is fairly mediocre card on its own. And the effect of removing liliths blessing for presence voters wont be that big, they will just villein for one less then. If you really want to do something about Lilith's Blessing, then make its effect happen in the untap phase, instead of master phase, like most other blood gain stuff. Although of course then nobody would use it anymore as it would just be crappier Jake Washington that takes an mpa to use. But overall, I don't really see any problem with Lilith's Blessing.

Anthelios on the other hand I would have nothing against getting the axe.
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12 Dec 2012 13:24 - 12 Dec 2012 13:24 #42726 by Chaitan
A more global change could be to remove cancelled cards from game. It would hinder washed Pentex cards from being returned to hand from any card retrival source, not to mention golconda has its built-in cancel function.

I like Pendragon's suggestion about lilith's blessing also.
Last edit: 12 Dec 2012 13:24 by Chaitan.

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12 Dec 2012 13:43 #42728 by Ohlmann

Klaital wrote: You are barking the wrong tree there, its not Lilith's Blessing that is the problem but Villein. Lilith's Blessing is fairly mediocre card on its own.


It's extremely far from being mediocre, simply because it allow you to exchange a MPA for a minion acting, by preventing a mandatory hunt. If only for that, it's powerful. Also, you conveniently forget that three blood is actually three time as much as one blood, and it does help a lot to make the minion make worthwhile things.

And then again, Villein is necessary for a lot of decks to exist. So if a card make Villein overpowered, the enabling card is to be axed, not villein. Except if another card/rule existed to make 10 cap reasonably costed.

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12 Dec 2012 14:33 #42736 by Ankha

Kraus wrote: Lilith's Blessing is next in the line. Lilith's Blessing has been an odd bird ever since it was printed for legal play. It is doubtful it went under necessary play test, since its effects with Villein effectively results in free vampires put into play. Everyone knows how this trick works. This combo is even easier to pull off with MPA decks, which I already discussed.

How will this affect the game in general, then? If basically every vampire you influence out is free, then what would be the reason to play anything else than bigger capped vampires? What would be the reason to play anything else than Villein + Lilith's Blessing for your bloat module?

If you remove the Lilith's Blessing from your reasoning, you get "every vampire you influence out" for 3 pool (which is cheap), and still can wonder about "the reason to play anything else than bigger capped vampires."

I don't think the 3 pool difference is a big deal in the equation.

Prince of Paris, France
Ratings Coordinator, Rules Director

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