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Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (the game formerly known as Jyhad)

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04 Sep 2018 09:35 #281038 by Shellhead
(taken from the What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? thread:

Erik Twice wrote: Today I played a game I've long wanted to play and research for my writing: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle.

This is a truly great design, probably more than Magic and almost as much as Netrunner. It's a mutiplayer conflict game with no relation so any other game in its genre. It's a multiplayer cardgame with skill and negotiation. The flow of the game, the ideas contained are incredibly clever to the point I just came home and booted up my computer just to talk about it.

The issue is, the actual cards and development is nowhere as great. In fact, they are a huge mess.

Terrible, busy design layed on top of overly dark cards. Several barely-related abilities in each one of them and questionable choices like reflecting damage or untapping characters over and over. Politics is meant to be a large part of the game but you either have a lot of votes or you have none. Combat is a matter of throwing +1 cards, like fighting with a hand full of Lighting Bolts, Healing Slaves and Giant Growths in Magic. We talked, at lenght about all the flaws and problems the game has and yet we all had fun and I wanted to play another match.

Let's go back to its cleverness.

1) The game's core mechanism is the prey/predator system. You can only attack the player on your left and you are attacked by the player on your right. This doesn't seem clever, but it is. Normally in conflict games, when you fight you trade blows. Someone burns your granary, you kill their troops. Any advantage for you is a loss for your rival and any loss for your rival is a gain for you, because conflict is zero-sum and you are playing a two-player subgame.

Now, this is not true here. Here you can't nor want to attack the player who is attacking you. You want to defend against him and try to keep him from steamrolling you but te guy you want to beat sits to your left.

There are also a lot of cool subtleties about this. For example, you can tap all your vampires when defending against your predator, because your turn goes right after his. And you don't want to crush the player on your left because it would leave you defenseless against the player on your right.

Another amazing subtlety is the way you interact with all other players. I did not want my predator to do well, but I didn't want him to die, either, because otherwise the scary guy who is attacking him to win because I don't want to be his prey. And yuour prey's prey is a natural ally because you have a common enemy but he's also keeping your predator's predator in check.

I'm surprised nobody has copied this mechanism, it's that great.

2) Blocking. In this game you have vampires and they can perform "actions" like attacking, feeding on humans to gain health or play cards. But these actions can be blocked by another vampire. If he does, they fight, whether the action was blocked or not.

This is amazing. It's a very controlled, table-based "counter" with a hefty risk attached and that can be used aggressively. You can prevent dangerous cards from hitting the table, it enables negotiation, it makes the game interactive. Like combat, the resolution mechanism is weak. But the idea of blocking and the effect it has on the game is truly great.

Again, I'm surprised nobody has copied this.

3) The draw system is surprisingly strong. I've always believed that all card games should have card limits. Limitless games are not inherently broken but they are far less resilent to balance issues because if a card is great, well, why play anything else? Just jam a dozen copies and call it a day. I never saw a point to it either. Sure, you can make a game that is limitless but I never saw why.

Similarly, "replace the card you draw" systems have always seemed weak to me, because you end up playing weak cards just to play more and more of them.

And, on some level, this is true of V:TES. It is very much a game of jamming 12 copies of the same card and of playing cards just to play more of them. But it works. It works very well, even, to the point that I blame the poor card design over the actual mechanics of the game.

The reason it works is that cards are inherently narrow and you need to heavily manage them. At some point, you'll need to play a defensive card or try to block an action and if you have been burning cards nilly-willy you won't have them. You might have a dozen copies of Redirect on your deck, but you can only hold seven cards at a time so if you throw them away early on, you will eventually have a hand without them. This is a card game that

4) This is a multiplayer conflict game that sits in the extremely slim line that divides building and fighting.

Let me explain this. I've come to realize that the kind of "multiplayer conflict game" we want is kind of an utopic standard. We want a game where we build our position on the board and then use it to fight other players, but, by design, these two ideas make each other redundant. If a game has fighting and is centered on conflict, having an uninteractive building phase is unnecesary and if the game is centered on building, the fighting will become an overcomplex competition mechanism that works worse than a typical economic mechanism would.

For example, I feel that Dune is the pinnacle of the conflict game. The players own practically nothing except a few troops and a couple cards and they are all used to interact with other players. Player powers are all about interaction, every possible move is related on some level to other players. The game is other players and the tools to beat them.

On the other hand, if you improved and iterated on Eclipse over and over you would end up with a typical engine builder, because the fighting is the lesser of its mechanisms.

I can only think of two games that sit in this middle and both are Francis Tresham designs. One is Civilization, the other is the 18XX series. The building cannot be replaced by conflict nor viceversa. They are one and the same which is one of the rarest things in all of boardgaming. The fact that these two are some of the better and most influential designs of all time show exactly how difficult it is to create a game like this. I'm told that the Pax series also falls into this small strip, which only speaks to its rarity.

And I believe V:TES does fall into that middle. You do have your own "stuff". You have your vampires, your cards, your management. You can play your actions better and plan ahead on your corner. But it's all under the lens of conflict. You cannot separate cleanly which parts are "building" and which ones are "conflict".

(If you have followed my comments, you can probably tell this is my personal kind of game)

5) Limited, zero-sum resources.

In V:TES you start with 30 blood and you lose the game if this total is reduced to 0. But these are not just life points, these tokens are also your money and you need to spend it in order to raise vampires and play some of the most powerful cards.

And that's a great mechanic. First, it means there's a very hard cap on what resources you can bring to the table, a sort of economic trade-off between survival and power. The more and bigger vampires you play, the less hits you can take and the more you need them while the less vampires you have, the more exposed your life total is. This is not a big deal early-on but in the late game the trade-offs become grueling.

In other words, this game builds a relationship between your life total, your available actions, your money and your board presnce. That's great and I can see much of the evolutive tree that would result in Netrunner here. Garfield games tend to be very concious about the way actions, draw and other basic facets work, which very few other designers pay as much attention to and which I think are a direct result of his maths background and study of traditional card games.

But the game is a mess. It truly is. I have never felt such a strong need to pick up my cards and redesign the game from scratch. I kept thinking about ditching the "Redirect" mechanic, about giving everyone a vote per vampire to fix the political subgame, about how the different symbols shouldn't be in black and white or how Star Realms's graphic design would be fantastic for this game.

Of all games I've played, this is the clearest flawed masterpiece. If they had released a second edition in LCG form, like Netrunner, I would have loved it. It would have been a ten for me. Except that it's not that easy to fix it as it was with Netrunner. It has very deep-reaching flaws.

Because the original Netrunner wasn't that flawed of a game. Sure, the balance was crap but there was not much to the core design that was wrong. Sure, traces were dumb, the bad publicity mechanic was uninteractive and the whole "noisy" fiasco was stupid, but the game didn't rely on any of those. The main design problems were the redundancy of some key cards (Icebreakers) that was fixed by splitting them into factions.

In comparison, V:TES would need a lot of work from the ground up. The whole combat system would need to be overhauled (Apparently, Battletech CCG is the same but improved), politics would need to be integrated and card design would need to be kept on a tight leash. But at this point, it's just a pointless dream. I can't believe I spent so many words writing this garbage. Where's my inspiration when it's time to update my blog? 1700 plus words. My typical article barely has six hundred!

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04 Sep 2018 09:36 #281040 by Shellhead

Shellhead wrote: Erik, I don't talk a lot about V:tes here, but I played it fairly regularly for over 20 years. I have easily spent more time playing V:tes than the entire rest of my 100+ board/card game collection put together. From that perspective, I think you did an amazing job of analyzing V:tes based on one play. I will comment further with respect to your numbered points.

1. The predator/prey aspect makes this one of the all-time great multi-player games. It successfully addresses leader-bashing and kingmaking without directly banning either. The voting element of the game helps break up the rigidity of the predator/prey circle by potentially encouraging odd combinations of players to cooperate in passing or defeating certain votes.

2. Good point about the potential negotiation around blocking. An acting player sometimes provokes a negotiation between his predator and his prey over which of them will try to block the action. And sometimes the acting player might even negotiate with a potential blocker by talking about their current (weak) position in the overall game. Alternatively, the acting player might try to intimidate the potential blocker.

3. The draw system is better than most games, because you immediately replace cards as you play them. This means that a player doesn't necessarily lose momentum as his turn continues, regardless of how many minions he has in play. Certain stronger cards are offset by not allowing for an immediate redraw. And V:tes never needed a four-card limit rule like Magic, because opportunity costs offset the potential for loading up with too many similar cards.

4. I never thought about V:tes in those terms before, but I see your point about the balance between building and fighting.

5. The resource management is brutal in V:tes. If you bring out too many vampires, you are vulnerable, especially to a stealth/bleed deck. But if you horde your resources, you won't have enough vampries to protect you or to perform actions.

Combat in V:tes is daunting for a new player, but eventually you get used to the sequence of the phases of each round of combat. This complexity opens up the game to a very in-depth simulation of combat and offers some interesting tactical decisions.

The imbalance in voting is another important design decision by Garfield. Weenie decks could have ruined this game, except that most of the cheap vampires have zero votes. That gives players an incentive to also play with some expensive vampires, or maybe a mixture of cheap and expensive.

The cards are potentially a mess, because nearly 100% of all V:tes cards ever published are still playable, even in a tournament. But Garfield first published V:tes in 1994, just a year after Magic. So he was still working out some ideas and left a legacy of awkward wording and some corner-case cards. That's potentially a problem for any CCG, with specialized rules on every card, but many games phase older sets out of competitive play as time goes by.

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04 Sep 2018 09:36 #281041 by Shellhead

dysjunct wrote: I played JYHAD for a couple of years back when the CCG glut was real. I don’t talk about it because discussing it on a forum where Shellhead is a regular poster is like discussing kung fu in a room where Bruce Lee is casually hanging out.

Anyway, great game, needs a limited format treatment for sure. I don’t have much to add except that this is the only CCG I ever saw where random people at my work bought the cards because they loved the art and the theme. They weren’t goth or game nerds, just normal folks who thought the cards were cool.

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04 Sep 2018 09:37 #281042 by Shellhead

Colorcrayons wrote: Not only does shellhead play my fave CCG of all time, Mythos, but my second fave too. I really need to get off of my ass and play.

My Vampire group in the 90's really struggled with this game, trying to play it with the dinky rulebook that WotC provided with their CCGs at the time. We never encountered another group that played Jyhad, so I doubt we ever grokked the rules as completely as we should have.

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04 Sep 2018 09:38 #281043 by Shellhead

Erik Twice wrote:

Gary Sax wrote: Jesus, Erik, what a post. Front page?

Well, it's just a first-game impression, I don't think it's ready to be published hahaha. I can see the flaws coming in much stronger the next time I play and I must be reminded that, yeah, this is a CCG and decks still cost 50€ each despite the game being dead. But I truly appreciate it, thanks :)

Shellhead wrote: From that perspective, I think you did an amazing job of analyzing V:tes based on one play. I will comment further with respect to your numbered points.

Thanks a lot Shellhead :)

The imbalance in voting is another important design decision by Garfield. Weenie decks could have ruined this game, except that most of the cheap vampires have zero votes. That gives players an incentive to also play with some expensive vampires, or maybe a mixture of cheap and expensive.

This is true and my Republic of Rome love doing the talking. I kind of think all decks and players should be able to partake in the negotiation game, even if it's with just one vote and the ocassional political card.

In a sense, I see that the ideal decks for this game would all be aggro-control ones focused on tempo, small advantages and a well-rounded plan than going all-bleed or all-political. Of course, easier said than done.

The cards are potentially a mess, because nearly 100% of all V:tes cards ever published are still playable, even in a tournament. But Garfield first published V:tes in 1994, just a year after Magic. So he was still working out some ideas and left a legacy of awkward wording and some corner-case cards. That's potentially a problem for any CCG, with specialized rules on every card, but many games phase older sets out of competitive play as time goes by.

What struck me was not so much that some of the older cards were a mess, but that so many of the newer cards were, too. It sems like the game is stuck, to use Magic terms, somewhere around Ice Age, with huge text blocks that could be reduced to a few keywords and flavourful little details that add little to the design of the card.

Like, apparently they just realized they can use "wake a vampire" for untap effects instead of whatever this is:



I don't even see a point to all this "it's like untapped but not untapped" nonsense. And that's not even the worst offender. In this game, when you do an action with a vampire, it's tapped. Well, cards apparently remind you of that fact. Or are forced to because the rules are terrible and don't make it part of the cost or because you can "try" to do an action but not do it and then don't become tapped. Seriously, it's such a mess it hurts!

dysjunct wrote: I played JYHAD for a couple of years back when the CCG glut was real. I don’t talk about it because discussing it on a forum where Shellhead is a regular poster is like discussing kung fu in a room where Bruce Lee is casually hanging out.

Hey, if I can discuss it after just one play, I think everyone can! :D

dysjunct wrote: Anyway, great game, needs a limited format treatment for sure. I don’t have much to add except that this is the only CCG I ever saw where random people at my work bought the cards because they loved the art and the theme. They weren’t goth or game nerds, just normal folks who thought the cards were cool.

Apparently, FFG looked into releasing it as a LCG (Garfield said so in an interview) after the success of Netrunner, but they never went through. I wonder why, though I suspect that being a long, multiplayer-only game with player elimination may have been the big issue.

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04 Sep 2018 09:38 #281044 by Shellhead

Count Orlok wrote: These are some great posts. I agree with the general impression that V:TES is a great game with poor development. People want to mythologize Garfield to an extent, but I think some of that development problem is there in the base set. The game was recently resurrected, but unfortunately it's player base is too old and too conservative to allow any changes that would substantively improve the game. I think to really be successful and worth playing again, it would need a clean reboot that would take care of some of the bloated text and severe balance issues.

What really bothers me, is that although the card pool is huge, there aren't really that many viable deck types in a competitive scene. Some of the disciplines (the vampire powers) are just too good and too efficient to choose other things. So where the game really thrives is not in a competitive but in a creative space. When I had a regular group, people would bring new decks each week and tweak and experiment with concepts to try and make them work. Not to win and dominate and take home the trophy, but to hold their own. It was extremely fun to play around in the design space and the politics of the game without getting too hung up on meta or balance or anything like that. I've bemoaned the fact before, but our group suddenly changed when a new player started and it killed it for me. He was a whiner and too interested in winning, and it just ruined that creative space and atmosphere I was able to participate in. When it came time to move across the country I sold my collection and haven't looked back much.

I messed around with a reboot version of the game using the Dark Ages RPG books as a guide. I still think that would be the way to go for the future, but as I said, the player base and the leadership want nothing to do with even the slightest hint of change or innovation. The game is perfect, didn't you know? (Cue eyeroll)

It's still my favorite game, but it needs to be rebuilt to be viable today. Anyone want to help me?

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04 Sep 2018 09:39 #281045 by Shellhead

Shellhead wrote: I would love to see a rebooted Jyhad/V:tes, but I spent a large chunk of my free time for two years working on a Kindred of the East expansion that never got published. Stu MacLeod wrote the rules and card text, and I taught myself Gimpshop so I could design cards and a whole new set of icons for Jyhad. I also looted a wide range of art and photos for placeholder images on the prototype set of roughly 400 cards. Stu lives in Australia, so our entire collaboration was done via email. Sadly, we submitted our prototype base set to White Wolf shortly before they pulled the plug on V:tes.

As mentioned above, Erik's post should be a front-page article and this discussion sub-thread should go with it.

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04 Sep 2018 09:39 #281046 by Gary Sax
Good call, I didn't think to split this out this weekend.

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04 Sep 2018 09:39 #281047 by Shellhead

Ah_Pook wrote:

Erik Twice wrote: Today I played a game I've long wanted to play and research for my writing: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle.


1) The game's core mechanism is the prey/predator system. You can only attack the player on your left and you are attacked by the player on your right. This doesn't seem clever, but it is. Normally in conflict games, when you fight you trade blows. Someone burns your granary, you kill their troops. Any advantage for you is a loss for your rival and any loss for your rival is a gain for you, because conflict is zero-sum and you are playing a two-player subgame.

Now, this is not true here. Here you can't nor want to attack the player who is attacking you. You want to defend against him and try to keep him from steamrolling you but te guy you want to beat sits to your left.

There are also a lot of cool subtleties about this. For example, you can tap all your vampires when defending against your predator, because your turn goes right after his. And you don't want to crush the player on your left because it would leave you defenseless against the player on your right.

Another amazing subtlety is the way you interact with all other players. I did not want my predator to do well, but I didn't want him to die, either, because otherwise the scary guy who is attacking him to win because I don't want to be his prey. And yuour prey's prey is a natural ally because you have a common enemy but he's also keeping your predator's predator in check.

I'm surprised nobody has copied this mechanism, it's that great.


5) Limited, zero-sum resources.

In V:TES you start with 30 blood and you lose the game if this total is reduced to 0. But these are not just life points, these tokens are also your money and you need to spend it in order to raise vampires and play some of the most powerful cards.

And that's a great mechanic. First, it means there's a very hard cap on what resources you can bring to the table, a sort of economic trade-off between survival and power. The more and bigger vampires you play, the less hits you can take and the more you need them while the less vampires you have, the more exposed your life total is. This is not a big deal early-on but in the late game the trade-offs become grueling.

In other words, this game builds a relationship between your life total, your available actions, your money and your board presnce. That's great and I can see much of the evolutive tree that would result in Netrunner here. Garfield games tend to be very concious about the way actions, draw and other basic facets work, which very few other designers pay as much attention to and which I think are a direct result of his maths background and study of traditional card games.


The game Savage Planet: Fate of Fantos directly lifted these things. Possibly more, im not familiar enough with VTES to know, but the designer did say that VTES was a huge direct influence on the design of Fantos. Its a set deck and you draft cards from a central market instead of building decks CCG style. It also has a system where one player who holds the favor of the gods can attack anyone not just their prey, and you can freely negotiate around this (or anything else). Its delivering from kickstarter in the US in the next week or so, and I'm pretty excited to see how it pans out. I mainly backed it because I had vague memories of playing VTES way back in the day and enjoying it, plus the art in Fantos was good enough that I wanted to support it just for that.

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04 Sep 2018 09:40 #281048 by Shellhead

Erik Twice wrote:

Count Orlok wrote: People want to mythologize Garfield to an extent, but I think some of that development problem is there in the base set.

I agree that Garfield is often mythologized, which is not a good thing in and on itself but is particularly glaring because the man himself is very down-to-earth and more than willing to accept his shortcomings. At a glance, the original sets had all the usual designs problems Magic had at the time, and it does seem some bits are undercooked.

(Personally, I don't think Magic matured until Mirage was released. That's the first modern, well-made set in any card game, IMHO)

Count Orlok wrote: What really bothers me, is that although the card pool is huge, there aren't really that many viable deck types in a competitive scene. Some of the disciplines (the vampire powers) are just too good and too efficient to choose other things. So where the game really thrives is not in a competitive but in a creative space.

The guys I played with actually agree with that. They think the game doesn't work well in a competitive setting, partly because orf the imbalance you mention and partly because two players colluding ruins the table.

It's still my favorite game, but it needs to be rebuilt to be viable today. Anyone want to help me?

I would, but I don't think it would be very useful!

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04 Sep 2018 09:41 #281049 by Shellhead

Shellhead wrote: Sunday afternoon: a sub-section of my old Jyhad/V:tes group is a close group of friends who play in the same rpg group. They picked up some of the new cards a couple of months ago and were ready to play some of the new cards. First game, I played my Tzimisce/!Toredor bruise/bleed deck. It's supposed to use of Pulse of the Canaille to make a couple of my vampires into big bleeders. Auspex leds me fend off the votes and stealth/bleeds, and the combat is guns+Celerity with the occasional aggravated damage strike from Vicissitude. Unfortunately, the Pulse and the guns clumped up towards the bottom of my deck, so my offense was weak. I fended off my original predator, Salubri/!Salubri, then had to cope with his Osebo weenie predator, who abusing a card that I had never seen before, 419 Operation. The card is not inherently ridiculous, but it is broken that the game allows more than one in play at a time. At one point near my demise, my predator had 8 of them in play. My Toreador prey actually helped me fend him off for a while. Second game of Jyhad was worse but fun. I played a (Vampire) Hunter deck with a bunch of apocalyptic Gehenna cards. The Gehenna cards sabotaged various vampire cards, forced the little vampires to hunt more, and eventually caused each vampire player to burn a vampire. I got ousted first.


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04 Sep 2018 09:42 #281050 by Shellhead

Erik Twice wrote: I love that it gets +1 Stealth, just in case it wasn't annoying enough.

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04 Sep 2018 10:35 #281058 by Shellhead
I stopped collecting Jyhad in 2002. I continued to play, but I was no longer concerned with obtaining at least one of each card in each set. I had the Jyhad base set, the rebooted V:tes base set, and six expansions, but decided to not collect the new Camarilla base set or anything after that. I did collect all 44 or so clan starter decks, and I continued to buy cards for playing purposes, plus I sometimes won card packs in tournaments. I stopped buying cards after the Hunter expansion in 2006. And thanks to a toxic player in the local play group, I stopped playing in 2010. I wasn't the only one who stopped because of that player, and maybe we should have set up an alternate play group.

There have been 29 sets of Jyhad cards published since it debuted in 1994, including base sets, expansions, mini-expansions, and even a few pdf-only official expansions. A total of 3,645 different cards, of which maybe a dozen were banned from competitive play. The great thing about all these cards still being legal is that I can still play all my old decks, and I don't need to know about every card in play to play competitively. The bad part is that there seems to have been some power creep that entered the game about a dozen sets ago.

Here's a specific example of power creep. That 419 Operation card that I mentioned upthread functions similarly to a staple card that dates back to the original base set, Army of Rats.




Both cards are +1 stealth actions, resulting in a card in play that causes your prey to lose pool. Both cards can be burned (discarded) as the result of an action. And that's where the similarities end. Army of Rats can be eliminated by an action taken by any minion, and it can only cause the loss of one pool per turn, no matter how many Army of Rats cards have been put in play. Army of Rats can be played by any vampire with Animalism, which is one of the eight really common disciplines, so a lot of vampires can play this card. 419 Operation is much more powerful, because there is no limit on how many of them can cause pool loss to your prey. The prey must successfully bleed his own prey to get the Edge and discard it to get rid of one 419 Operation card, and can potentially gain back pool if there is any on the 419 Operation card. And only vampires from a small African clan are allowed to play 419. But 419 becomes really abusive if the predator is running a weenie deck and many copies of 419, especially if the prey is not running a weenie deck.

In the game that I played in on Sunday, my predator was playing a deck with about a dozen 419 cards, and he had a bunch of cheap vampires in play. To make matters worse, my predator also had three cards in his deck that allowed him to recover a dozen cards from his discard pile and put them back in his deck. I was a good enough player to get rid of nearly a dozen 419 cards, but not enough to deal with up to 48 of them. On top of that, my predator also has several vampires ready to bleed me each turn. That card recovery card also seemed abusive, recovering a dozen cards when playing a game where legal decks consist of 60 - 90 cards. It was overwhelming and not at all like the game that I remembered and enjoyed. Even so, the 419 deck lost the game. He made it to the final two, but the strong resistance that I and another player put up was enough to deplete most of his deck at the end, and his final opponent was able to take advantage of that weakness before his own deck ran out.

It's possible that the final sets ruined Jyhad, or at least reduced the quality of the game. I understand why CCG publishers make the later cards more powerful or more efficient, to give players an incentive to keep buying. But when the game becomes unbalanced due to the increasing power of cards, it alienates the players who can't afford to keep using their bank account as a game component. The alternative to power creep is to phase out older sets from competitive play. That can also alienate existing players, but makes it easier for new players to get into the game, as they only need to understand the currently legal cards. Maybe that lack of um, new blood was the long-term downfall of Jyhad.

Jyhad was published by Wizards of the Coast until 1996, when they pulled the plug on the game. White Wolf got the rights to Jyhad in 2000, and kept publishing new cards until 2010. From 2013 to 2016, four more sets were published as pdf files that players could download and print themselves. I don't know who had jurisdiction over the game at that point, but the pdf cards are considered tournament legal as long as they are sleeved the same way as the rest of the deck. In 2018, Black Chantry got the rights to Jyhad, and published a new set last June, and also reprinted cards from the last two printed expansions. I picked up a set of the new cards and found them to be unremarkable, but that is probably preferable to an overpowered card like 419 Operation.
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04 Sep 2018 11:18 #281061 by Ken B.
All I can add to this conversation is that we played the living shit out of Jyhad, but Jyhad only. By the time they'd changed the name and all that, the group I was playing Jyhad with had disbanded.

The core set was large and robust. When the group was together, we played weekly at a comic/game shop. The shop owner also played and he'd close up shop for the night and many times we'd play the game until dawn, often going for coffee and donuts at 5:30 in the morning where we'd all be giddy from lack of sleep and making the world's dumbest jokes that were somehow hilarious under those conditions.

The base set was so large that there was a lot to explore. This group was together for just over a year and we never really got tired of playing it. And when we thought a strategy was solved, something new would pop-up. Someone was convinced that the Toreadors could not truly be competitive, until I designed a Masika/Talbot's Chainsaw deck that made anyone sorry they sat next to me because I'd intercept and chop them to bloody pieces.

It was definitely a product of its time in terms of complexity. As time went on in the CCG market rules got simpler and a lot of clunkiness we forgave in the 90s really went out of vogue. (Like...even *trying* to imagine Middle Earth: The Wizards coming out today is just...I mean....no. Not happening.)


It was a great mix of combat, politics, carefully managing your life force that had to be spent to recruit characters and get certain resources. It encouraged direct interaction and table talk.

Had the group stuck together (basically, the store owner moved to Florida, and as the only nucleus for that group, it immediately dissipated), I'm sure we would have found someway to use sleeves and keep playing the newer sets. Just wasn't meant to be. I wasn't about to dive in buying cards that I had no one to play them with.


It's a complex, layered game and great fun, provided you have the group that is willing to explore it together. I'm sure the bajillion possibilities and combos would blow my mind now, but trust me when I say that even the base game was enough to keep us busy for a year solid in a competitive group that played quite often.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, Gary Sax, Colorcrayons

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04 Sep 2018 13:24 #281075 by Shellhead
While we were playing last Sunday, I got nostalgic about the original Jyhad base set. Like Ken said, it was a great set to explore. After a few early games with friends who just had a couple of untuned starter decks, I found a competitive local group that met every Sunday afternoon at a local game shop. We typically had six or seven players per game, and three regular players were always a threat to win. Though every clan saw regular play when we playing the base set, the dominant ones were Malkavian stealth/bleed, Ventrue politics, Tremere bruise/bleed, and Toreador bleed/vote. That Toreador bleed was nasty because you often had to pay 1 pool just to block (due to Aching Beauty or some vote card), and then they could use Majesty or Change of Target to end combat and untap and then call a vote. I loved to play Brujah and Nosferatu, but combat decks have always had to work harder for the win. Gangrel was another combat clan, but we had one specific player who always and only played Gangrel.

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