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. It has a lot of cards to end combat, but it also has some aggravated hand damage which can give your opponents pause about getting into combat with you. It has some political actions which it can call to great effect, but for the most part it seeks to redirect bleeds to its prey and, if needed, finish the prey off with a bleed for 6 at stealth.
More than anything, the deck is a reactive deck. It has 30 reaction cards (more than a third of the deck) dedicated to simply reacting to what other people do. Combine that with the stealth cards that you can play on your turn, and its very clear that the deck seeks to largely stay out of combat and spent most of its time simply reacting. The deck works best against a heavy bleed predator because it has a combined total of 14 cards to redirect bleeds as well as additional cards (Guard Dogs) that allow minions to untap in order to surprise would-be bleeders with last minute redirects. As such, this deck is excellent for tournaments when many competitors dust off their sneak and bleed decks to try to win the tournament.
In the absence of a strong sneak and bleed predator, the deck can still generate its own offense: the votes can cause quite a bit of damage and the Murmur of the False Will can be used to pump Ingrid’s bleeds to 2. A bleed of Stanislava for 3, plus Ingrid for 2 can wear down preys who are not prepared for bleeds at stealth. However, most preys will be packing their own bleed redirects, which thwarts this offensive. At that point, you have to either decide whether its best to try to block their minions with a few of your limited intercept cards and torpor them with the few aggravated hand damage cards you have, or rather whether you should just wall up and wait.
The deck can do a lot of waiting. It has a strong vote presence, so its a natural deck to include in a vote coalition which means a lot of cross table votes will do one point of pool damage to your prey simply to get your six votes. It has a lot of defense against combat decks, particularly ones that can’t deal with a strike to end combat, so it doesn’t have much to fear there, and we’ve already gone over how many defenses the deck has against a bleed deck. As such, if the time isn’t right to act, the deck can simply wait a few turns until the picture changes. Often, your predator may be ousted by a new aggressive sneak and bleed predator, or perhaps your grand prey will start torporing your preys minions. The situation can often change in a turn or two and then it will become a far better time to act.
Meanwhile, the deck actually has a great mechanic that it can use which it’s waiting: the tap and Golconda combo. The crypt is simply multiple copies of Ingrid and Stanislava. You should transfer up Ingrid first, and her additional transfers should help you to bring up Stanislava in 2 additional rounds. From there, you can Minion Tap Stanislava, to being her down to a low pool total, and start transferring up yet another Stanislava. When the time is right, you can Golconda Stanislava out of play during your master phase to gain 11 pool, and then transfer up another copy of her during your influence phase to start the process all over again. The can lead to some ridiculous pool totals if no one interferes with you.