file Theory in VTES - Risk in VTES

09 Jun 2013 22:54 #49674 by Juggernaut1981

As a philosophical concept, that reducing variability is good, whether it be at the deck vs. deck level, having enough minions to function (something I find to be far more important these days), card draw, or whatever, is fine, but as people have said, players already take these things into account, and more experienced players typically take more of them into account.

The idea is this:
VTES, like insurance market sales and other games, is about 'trading risk'.

Insurance Market Sales (not personal individual insurance) and some of the creative share-trades are effectively complicated risk-based bets. Most of these transactions are effectively phrased as:

"I, Business A, offer you, Business B, this contract for $X to me, then if Condition 1 is met then I pay you, Business B, $Y1, if Condition 2 is met then I pay you $Y2, etc. When we reach the date DD/MM/YYYY this contract ends and we keep the balance of the monies paid."

In insurance terms, Business B is selling its risk to Business A. Business A is taking the risk that the conditions are not met or not met to the point where they pay more than the $X they were paid. Most share-hedge trades are share-based versions of this with the conditions linked to share prices. Business B is basically betting that repairing the damage caused by the Conditions in the contract is greater than the cost of the contract itself.


In VTES, these transactions are made between Pool, Minions & Hand/Draw. Metagame risk is an external factor to the transactions. Seating Risk is an external factor to the transactions. (Both Metagame and Seating basically set how 'even' the playing field is going to be. Note below about tournaments minimising metagame risk.)


Quantifying the risk would prove problematic, since you would need to assign values to things such as "Disciplines", "Capacity", "Transfer Points", "Blood Counters", "Pool Counters", "Hand Cards", "Library Cards", "Controlled Assets", etc. It is clear that 1 pool != 1 blood and 1 pool != 1 capacity and :dom::pre: != :DOM:. So the calculations required would be complex... this is why Actuaries exist :P.


In reference to the Barrens and to put it into a transaction/risk type analysis.

Barrens, The
Type: Master
Master: unique location.
Tap to discard a card from your hand (draw afterward).

Traditional Answer
It allows me to cycle cards, and cycling cards is 'good'.

Risk Answer
I am 'selling' the low value card in hand for a potential high value card. Over repeated transactions, I should come out ahead by reducing my 'Hand Risk' and the risk of having a high percentage of ineffective cards.

In effect, I am trading a current perceived low value for the chance at a high value. Which is also trading a high-risk card for a chance at a low-risk card.

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418

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10 Jun 2013 00:22 #49676 by kombainas

Barrens, The
Type: Master
Master: unique location.
Tap to discard a card from your hand (draw afterward).

Traditional Answer
It allows me to cycle cards, and cycling cards is 'good'.

Risk Answer
I am 'selling' the low value card in hand for a potential high value card. Over repeated transactions, I should come out ahead by reducing my 'Hand Risk' and the risk of having a high percentage of ineffective cards.

In effect, I am trading a current perceived low value for the chance at a high value. Which is also trading a high-risk card for a chance at a low-risk card.


Should it not be done in a more math-like way? E.g. a deck has X percentage of cards which can become cornercase and needs discarded in Y and Z cases. Deck plays A cards per turn on average. Therefore if X times A is greater than 1 (default discard phase action), you are building up a hand jam. So, every turn you accumulate X/A-1 dead cards. If the sum of X/A-1 reaches your hand size, well, you have won a hand jam! The Barrens work to change the -1 factor to -2. If you add a single Barrens and would normally reach hand jam by the middle of your deck you have 50% chance of avoiding hand jam. Add moar to decrease the risk!

X usually is stealth in S&B when noone blocks, same parts of a combo when other parts are missing, e.g. combat cards in a rush deck when no rush action is there. Certain deck mechanics affect the dead card count differently, e.g. combat card jam vanishes when that damn rush is drawn. For this reason alternative card cyclers can be more powerful than Barrens, e.g. Dreams of Sphinx effectively changes the -1 factor to -3 up to 3 times, giving up to 6 additional discards, which Barrens could reach only within 6 (!) turns. Additional benefit for combo decks from Dreams is that cards are not discarded immediately, thus you save your deckspace by those very 6 cards, you would have to re-draw if you would have played barrens to discard them.

This short analysis is of course case-sensitive both on deck construction and seating, but you can actually quantify yer handjamz! And ofc, it could be extended towards other cards, e.g. Elder Library, Storrage Anus, etc.

!malk! :OBF: :DEM: :cel: :cap6: Sabbat. If this vampire's bleed is successful, he laughs manicly and untaps.

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10 Jun 2013 00:24 - 10 Jun 2013 00:37 #49677 by Juggernaut1981
On Metagame Risk, Seating Risk and Tournaments.

The biggest dangers in Metagame are the "knife to a gunfight" scenario, "direct competition" scenario, "Mexican Standoff" scenario and "Silver Bullet" scenarios.

The Seating Patterns are an attempt to mitigate most of these risks except for the broad metagame problems. By reseating combinations and avoiding prior combinations, the tournament attempts to minimise Seating Risk for all players concurrently.

Knife to a Gunfight
You have brought a deck whose key mechanic is ineffective around the others. This can be things like:
  • mod-to-high stealth module and there are no real blocks offered by any player.
  • lots of bleed defence at a tournament with a high-count of vote decks
  • limited stealth at a tournament filled with wall decks

There is little you can do about this risk. Once you've made the deck choice, if the metagame counters your deck then seating changes and player-matchups will not affect your game. This is also not about seating matchups (i.e. meeting the one person in the tournament who counters me).

Direct Competition
You, and a significant portion of players, are using the same key resources. This would be seen as:
  • Everyone is playing Anson/Nana/Cybele for the MMPA
  • 50%+ of decks have 3+ Ashur Tablets
  • A number of players are using the same scarce clan
  • A number of players are running the same unique 'key card' (e.g. Parthenon, Bowl of Convergeance, etc)

This risk is again, something that either occurs or does not and depending on the level your deck strategy is dependent on the key cards/minions affects the severity of negative consequences.

Mexican Standoff
This is when two players are running the same tactic and are in effect holding each other in a standoff until one or the other makes their deck work.

Silver Bullet Scenarios
This is when your deck will be crippled by another deck-type. This is things like:
  • I have a low-stealth deck and my prey has a wall deck
  • I have a vote-deck and my prey is playing also playing a vote deck or an anti-vote deck
  • I am playing S&B and my predator is playing combat-rush

I'm sure we've all had those moments. But it is the risk that my prey/predator will have a direct counter-measure to my own deck strategy. This is not about bringing the wrong deck to a wider-metagame counter (i.e. being the only Combat Deck surrounded by Vote Decks filled with Charismatic Aura, damage prevent and Earth Melds).

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418
Last edit: 10 Jun 2013 00:37 by Juggernaut1981.

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10 Jun 2013 00:35 #49678 by Juggernaut1981

Should it not be done in a more math-like way? E.g. a deck has X percentage of cards which can become cornercase and needs discarded in Y and Z cases. Deck plays A cards per turn on average. Therefore if X times A is greater than 1 (default discard phase action), you are building up a hand jam. So, every turn you accumulate X/A-1 dead cards. If the sum of X/A-1 reaches your hand size, well, you have won a hand jam! The Barrens work to change the -1 factor to -2. If you add a single Barrens and would normally reach hand jam by the middle of your deck you have 50% chance of avoiding hand jam. Add moar to decrease the risk!

X usually is stealth in S&B when noone blocks, same parts of a combo when other parts are missing, e.g. combat cards in a rush deck when no rush action is there. Certain deck mechanics affect the dead card count differently, e.g. combat card jam vanishes when that damn rush is drawn. For this reason alternative card cyclers can be more powerful than Barrens, e.g. Dreams of Sphinx effectively changes the -1 factor to -3 up to 3 times, giving up to 6 additional discards, which Barrens could reach only within 6 (!) turns. Additional benefit for combo decks from Dreams is that cards are not discarded immediately, thus you save your deckspace by those very 6 cards, you would have to re-draw if you would have played barrens to discard them.

This short analysis is of course case-sensitive both on deck construction and seating, but you can actually quantify yer handjamz! And ofc, it could be extended towards other cards, e.g. Elder Library, Storrage Anus, etc.


You are forgetting that the card in your hand may only currently have a low value and at other points may have a high value. There are easy ways to show this kind of relationship. When your prey is a Vote Deck, holding Combat Defence cards is somewhat useless but holding intercept cards is valuable. If your Grand-prey is a Combat Deck, holding Combat Defence is valuable. So you are making a complex exchange on the present and future value of the card.

For a more concrete example:
Let's assume the card in hand is Flesh of Marble. You would like to have an intercept card, which currently has a chance of (x copies in y library cards)% of being the top card.
Flesh of Marble is EASILY cycled out of your hand IF you get into a combat. However, you gain no effect using it against your prey other than discarding it during normal play (i.e. playing it for no effect) which you could also do with the Barrens.
However, assuming there is another card, say a Master Card, which is not only unplayable at the moment but also unlikely to provide a significant positive benefit and there are N of those in the deck. By tapping the Barrens to discard the Flesh of Marble you are hoping that your chance of (X in Y) will occur before your (N in Y) chance will occur. If you use the Barrens to do it, then you cannot mitigate the (N in Y) chance further.

So you can use the Barrens, and take both your (X in Y) and (N in Y) chances concurrently and be in the position where you cannot compensate against the (N in Y) chance during this turn... OR you can attempt to enter a combat with another player (via whatever mechanic) and effectively discard the Flesh of Marble as a play-of-cards (taking the X in Y and N in Y chances concurrently again and having the Barrens as a backup option if the N in Y chance occurs before the X in Y chance).

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418

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10 Jun 2013 01:07 #49679 by kombainas
I did not forget it, just did not want to make the post long. I completely agree, that cards can and do come alive. This is when a re-draw part becomes important. If you have enough copies, you could have drawn a replacement by the time you expect you need it. If you cannot expect the re-draw versus time of need timing well, or you just have an uncertain timing (e.g. you hoard combat-ends against rush), these cards are just as dead, you effectively limit your handsize until they come alive. Then again, for card jam purposes it is important to evaluate, when hoarded cards cause failure of the main payload mechanism. In such cases cards increasing handsize are better than discarding cards, as you still keep the hoarded cards, while having larger leeway for maintaining the general card flow.

I believe such cases are somewhat more important for once-a-game (powervotes, giants blood) or perfect timing cards (OOT masters, Legendary Vampire, bounce/delaying tactics, general setup, rare combo) than crafting a handful of combat ends...

And yes, Barrens has that neatness, that it provides a discard action anytime between your untap phases. But does seem like a norm, that you would tap it before making a certain action (reaction, combat phase, etc.) or as a prayer discard-and-replace if your second best option would have been to use it before your untap phase. However, I believe this to be a rather minor feature, as it by itself would not mandate a card slot (to benefit from this reliably you would need to lack any of the cards needed and have more than half of your library filled with them). Ofc, it is satisfying to draw that one last S:CE you needed, but if you had to rely on like 1/9-ish chance just to survive a turn, it is not likely the benefit would really outweigh the risk. Even if you would succ. bleed for 9 because you survived before you die again, it still equates to bleeding for +1 effectiveness on average.

!malk! :OBF: :DEM: :cel: :cap6: Sabbat. If this vampire's bleed is successful, he laughs manicly and untaps.

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10 Jun 2013 20:20 #49704 by Juggernaut1981

While I think you hit on important elements of managing one's own game, I see difficulty with qualifying or quantifying what you are talking about.

As one example of what falls under risk management, we have the speed deck, often in the form of winnies, whether winnie Dominate, winnie Presence, winnie Computer Hacking, winnie vote, or whatever. It's a high risk play in that being blunted on offense generally means total collapse.

Contrast with winnie Auspex. Now, one could say it's extremely low risk, but that's only looking at it from the standpoint of it surviving. If we expand risk assignment to the risk of not winning the game, then it has the further risk of not being good enough at ousting.

Well as we know, Weenie decks are a bet on speed over strength. The comparable finance term would be "First Mover's Advantage". You buy cheaply, take the earliest actions and hope that this provides you with enough advantage to extend you to a winning position when your prey begins playing with more powerful minions. It also tends to be a risk-bet against the Metagame; their actions are usually almost independent of the current deck choice of their prey.

The 'risks' of your Weenie Deck then of course depend on what you are using as your Discipline.

Weenie Auspex is basically a wall of Expendable Goons. As crass as it sounds, it's a strategy like the Russians in Stalingrad... 5 men cross the river with 10 bullets each and one rifle between them. Who cares if you lose the first guy, someone will hold the gun and take a few shots... They tend to lose themselves to other defensive decks, rather than high offence decks. S&B is not a risk for them, another wall deck is. So Weenie Auspex is a risk-bet made against the Metagame primarily (i.e. the broader metagame will not contain a large number of blocking decks)

Weenie Animalism is basically a large number of expendable minions that can do all and be all... while not having devastating combat individually, as a swarm they are deadly. Their risk is usually in meeting a prey which can avoid their combat-teeth (Earth Meld Decks, Aus-Cel Gun Walls, Prince w/ PRE Decks, etc)

Weenie Potence is a bet that other players will fall for Sunken Cost Fallacies regarding their own minions. By basically demolishing their investment in minions, they are left with the choice between further investment (and creating more pool risk) or sinking actions into rescuing lost investments.

I was planning to go through all of them, but I ran out of time and brainpower at the moment.

:bruj::CEL::POT::PRE::tha: Baron of Sydney, Australia, 418

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