The Problems of the Tremere in VTES, Part II

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

The Problems of the Tremere Clan in VTES, Part I

Vampire: the Eternal StruggleOne 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

Hats off to Barrick

I don’t believe in the health of the stock market at large. It has further to fall in my opinion. Nationally it seems we are being feed the idea that the worst is behind us in terms of this financial crisis, and that reassuring message seems to have gotten people back into the stock market. It’s a classic suckers rally that is only going to end badly for investors. Paradoxically, the modern investment mantra of “stocks for the long haul” and using diversity as a means of protection is just going to guarantee that the average investor will feel the full weight of this next leg downward. Gold, on the other hand, has a bright future.

I’ve made a great deal of money trading shares of Barrick Gold (ticker symbol ABX) over the past twelve months. It’s a company I follow quite closely. I feel its one of the few great investments available in the stock market as it allows for you to gain leveraged exposure to the rising gold price while at the same time holding a stock that is paying you dividends. While the oblivious investors of the world are foolishly plowing their money into stock market index funds without the slightest clue as to the fundamentals of their underlying investment, I believe, as Henry Ford did (and Warren Buffet does) that its perfectly alright to put all your eggs in one basket provided that you “watch that basket.” Barrick is my egg basket and I watch it quite closely.

Earlier in the year, I took apart their financial projections and put it into an Excel spreadsheet. My own estimate as to what the company would earn was Continue reading Hats off to Barrick