I’ve long been an advocate of trying to make powerful decks from a limited selection of cards. Such “commons” decks thwart the argument that a given CCG is merely the realm of the those who want to invest large amounts of money into it if they can do reasonably well against such decks. This was the reasoning behind my Barbed Wire decks that I made and still sell that mostly use Jyhad card stock.
Another VTES player, perhaps inspired by my Barbed Wire decks, made his own limited card selection challenge: Atom Weaver’s “Deck Bashing Challenge.” This challenge revolves around making as competitive a deck as possible by combining two starter decks of your choosing. While I like the idea, I do have a few reservations about the idea.
For one, starter decks in VTES are much like Magic: the Gathering and are set specific. If one were to find a great combination of starter decks to make an excellent general purpose deck, the starters you were using might be out of stock two years down the road and simply be of little use to the proposed newbie who needed it. Secondly, the starter decks all revolve around a certain strategy; by combining two of them, all you are really going to be able to do is refine that strategy a bit. The starter decks themselves are not toolboxy enough to really serve as the blank slate that I like as a deck constructor. Of course, one could combine two separate starters, but that runs into it’s own problems. Lastly, VTES is a game that has always favored certain strategies such as sneak and bleed or vote and cap. Starter decks, such as the Malkavian or Venture starters from Keepers of Tradition, will be quite competitive whereas working with the other starters from that set means that you will be building a deck that will simply never be as competitive. That’s just the nature of VTES and CCGs in general.
Continue reading Atom Weaver’s Deck Bashing Challenge
Recently a purchaser of my Barbed Wire decks off of eBay asked me to make an advanced deck for him. I put together a deck that was a longtime favorite tournament deck. I had worked on it with Paul Johnson of the Los Angeles VTES crew. Here’s the decklist:
7 x Stanislava, Gangrel Inner Circle Member, +2 Bleed, Allies can not block, retainers lose abilities in combat, DOM CEL PRO FOR ANI
5 x Ingrid Rossler, Prince of Geneva, +2 Transfers when ready, ANI PRO FOR dom
Golconda: Inner Peace x3
Dreams of the Sphinx x3
Storage Annex x2
Minion Tap x5
Parity Shift x2
Reins of Power
Earth Control x5
Forced March x8
Claws of the Dead x4
Earth Meld x4
Forn of Mist x4
Guard Dogs x5
Cat’s Guidance x4
Second Tradition: Domain x2
Rapid Change x4
Murmur of the False Will x7
This deck would be classified as a tool box by most VTES players because it does a lot of different things. Continue reading Gangrel Dominate Deck: Stanislava and Ingrid
The two playgroups in Texas that I have any experience with are the Dallas and Austin playgroup. At one point, when I first started playing in North Texas around 2005, both playgroups were of comparable size. Unfortunately, last year, the turnout and enthusiasm for the Austin playgroup began to wane. Come this year, it seemed that the entire playgroup had fallen off the face of the Earth. When asked who was going to be attending the Dallas Qualifier for North American Championship, Ethan, one of the players there, texted us, “Austin VTES is dead.”
That was unfortunate. VTES, like any collectible card game, isn’t much fun if there’s not a community to play with. With the failure of the Austin playgroup, Dallas stood as the only regularly operating playgroup in Texas that I knew of. Worse still, the Lafayette, Lousiana playgroup seemed to be following a similar fate. It’s understandable that CCG playgroups die, and quite frankly amazing that a game such as Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, which was originally published under the name Jyhad in 1994, is till being played at all. The vast majority of CCGs that came out after Magic: the Gathering have merely been splashes in the pan that died out shortly after introduction. I remember playing the CCG Netrunner, which was the third game published by Wizards of the Coast under the monicker “Deckmaster” and enjoying it a good deal, only to see if soon fade from play altogether.
Let’s face it. If Wizards of the Coast can’t get a CCG off the ground, it just doesn’t bode well for the viability of the genre. That’s not to say certain games don’t find an audience, they do. But the key seems to a small publisher finding, nurturing, and responding to the needs of a small market. In our case, the small market of VTES players seemed to be getting smaller by the month.
It’s can be discouraging to watch the player base decline. You start to wonder when you should just get out of the game altogether or find a new hobby. Of course, we in Dallas have also had some victories in attracting new players. So it’s not all doom and gloom. Still, I didn’t like seeing the Austin playgroup fall off the map.
Continue reading Tournament Report: Austin Qualifier, 2009
It was a challenge to try to make a playable Tremere deck from Jyhad commons. As I mentioned in my last post, the Tremere have to have some sort of combat package: it helps to get your bleeds through and you won’t have to block as many actions if you torpor/burn the minions you do block. The combat options for Thaumaturgy in the basic Jyhad set are limited to:
- Blood Rage or Blood Fury
- Theft of Vitae
- Walk of Flame
- Drain Essence
Walk of Flame is a powerful card, but it (like Cauldron of Blood and Drain Essence) requires you to make it beyond the first round of combat, and that requires some form of press based combat. I found from play testing that Traps worked quite well with the overall combat package. You could drain off the opposing vampires blood with a Theft in the first round and, if all went well, burn the opposing minion with a Walk of Flame in the subsequent rounds. That makes for a fairly threatening combat package. It can’t deal with a strike to end combat, but that’s something the Tremere are notorious for having a problem with.
Having decided on a rough combat package, the next step was in selecting the crypt. The Group 1 Tremere vampires include: Continue reading The Problems of the Tremere in VTES, Part II
One of my hobbies is the collectible card game, Vampire: the Eternal Struggle. It was the second collectible card game (after Magic: the Gathering) designed by Richard Garfield and put out under the “Deckmaster” label. Originally introduced in 1994, the game is still supported with new expansions today, which makes VTES on of the longest running CCGs outside of M:tG.
VTES was designed to be a group game. It doesn’t play well with only two players, and many players won’t bother with a 3-player game either. Four or (preferably) five seems to be the preferred number of players to capture the dynamics of the game. It has consistently been recognized as the best multiplayer CCG ever. That also means that it requires a decent player base in order for play groups to really thrive.
The economics of the game are also a bit unusual. Typically the first printing of a collectible are the most sought after and valuable. Not so with VTES. Wizards of the Coast, the company that introduced the game back in 1994, wasn’t sure how many cards to print for their initial print run. The only guide they had to go off of was how many M:tG cards they were selling, so they ended up printing a lot more VTES cards (which was originally titled “Jyhad”) that were actually demanded. The end result was that of all the VTES cards in circulation, the cheapest and most plentiful ones are the ones originally printed. Which is the opposite of what one would expect.
At the start of 2005, I challenged myself to do something with all these original printing Jyhad cards. You could practically get them just for the asking and it seemed a good opportunity for someone to do the classic business maneuver of adding some value to them by repacking them in a more desirable form. Of course, in the world of CCGs, one of the hardest things to come by is a good deck design. So I decided to design decks comprised almost entirely of original Jyhad card stock and make them as competitive as I could. Continue reading The Problems of the Tremere Clan in VTES, Part I