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Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (the game formerly known as Jyhad)
Ken B. wrote: Ah, Brujah...Fist of Death, Blur, Pulled Fangs...POOOF
For the first several months that I played Jyhad, I only played Brujah. It was a great way to learn the combat system. I won many battles but lost every game. The first time I ever won Jyhad was with a Giovanni deck from the first expansion set. Giovanni had Potence, too, but also Dominate, which some players consider the best discipline in the game.
One thing the game lost over time was contestation of unique cards. Every vampire was a unique character, and many of the Prince/Archbishop titles could potentially be contested. There was even some unique equipment cards and a few unique allies. When you contested a card with another player, both of you flipped the card face down and paid a pool at the start of each of your turns. Soon, one of you would yield to the other and the winning player got to put it back in play. One time I played in a sealed deck tournament that only used the Jyhad base set. This one whiny girl in the tournament ended up contesting two vampires each with two other players, her predator and her prey (me). She broke down crying, and we didn't laugh until after she left.
I looked and the base Jyhad set had about the same number of cards as the core and two cycles. It's not a direct comparison (Netrunner has more useful cards than other the average CCG) but it shows how large these sets were.
Ken B. wrote: 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.
I'm told Magic sets are now much smaller than they used to be, too.
I realized how complex the game was yesterday, when it dawned upon me that most cards are multi-purporse.
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.)
Think about that. The actual cards are not only complex in and on themselves (Disciplines, clan, cost, type) but have two often unrelated effects. In practice, this means each card is equivalent to two different cards in another game. And, unlike other games, they are cards that don't sit on the table where you can read them but are often played from hand when you don't expect them.
There's also a fair amount of "roleplaying content" like small flavour abilities which I think is just poor design.
Huh, in my game we had a player with Army of Rats. I didn't notice it was practically the same thing.
Shellhead wrote: 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.
In my experience, while power creep to drive sales has sometimes happened, the vast majority of the time it's simply poor planning and a lack of rotation/division/metacontrol that causes it.
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.
Imagine the average power level of cards is 5 out of 10. You release cards aiming for that power level. However, some end up being a bit stronger, say, a 6. The average has increased, by natural mistakes and now it's 5.5. As time goes on and more and more cards are released, the power level shifts from 5 to a 6. And when it does, all the 5-power cards you release become useless. You have reached a point in which all good decks use above-average cards and have no need for less.
So, you either do something about it (Rotation, divide up the cards amongst different factions, etc.) or push the average level to a 6 instead of a 5.
You can also do something else, which is to push horizontally (More archetypes). But this is very, very hard to do and often ends up with complexity creep (More factions) or with the good-stuff decks just picking up the supposedly narrow stuff.
Netrunner is probably the game that has handled this the best, for a bunch of reasons:
1) The game is heavily mathematical. It's very obvious when a card is over the curve or makes another redundant.
2) The game is heavily divided into factions. There are 3 Runner factions and 4 Corporations. There's crossover, but it comes at a price and key cards are faction-locked. Some cards are also limited to certain playstyles or kinds of decks.
3) There are very few cards. The core set has 120 cards divided in two sides and then between 3 or 4 factions. If my search is correct, the game has a total of 1500 cards or so. This is very, very low for a cardgame.
Erik Twice wrote: I just wanted to say that I've come across several of Shellhead's and DJ Hedgehog's posts in VEKN.net and they were always some of the best comments in the forum.
Are the old forum posts archived somewhere? I haven't posted there in recent years, and when I checked today (after struggling to remember my username and password), it appeared that all the forum posts are from the last 60 days or so.
For example, this is a 2011 thread on Parity Shift balance.
First game could have been a nightmare. My predator was running that nasty 419 deck that I mentioned upthread. My prey was a very competent old-school player who happened to stop playing about 15 years ago. And one of the two guys across the table from me is such a bad sport that he was one of the reasons I stopped playing several years ago. But I was playing a decent Brujah deck that I hadn't played in a long time. Heavy combat, with lots of maneuverability and extra strikes with hard hits. It also had a light voting module that should have been wasted space in my deck except that nobody else was playing a voting deck that game. Using votes, I went against normal game strategy and hit my predator for a total of 13 pool loss, until he finally got ousted by his predator. Due to lack of pressure, my prey took down the bad sport, who was actually a very good sport tonight. At the end, my prey (now also my predator) and I battled to a standstill, exhausting our card decks. To avoid a long and potentially tedious endgame, we agreed to both withdraw, for 1 vp each. But he already had 2 vp, so he won. He was running a Giovanni deck that did big bleeds and a wide range of necromancy effects.
Second game was less engaging. I ran an imbued (humans who hunt monsters) deck with lots of weapons, Gehenna cards, and intercept capability. My predator was a very inexperienced Tzimisce player who didn't put any pressure on me. My prey was running an Assamite deck that was very focused on targeting an enemy vampire and then beating the hell out of it. He didn't have much intercept to stop me, so he instead targeted my vampires for attacks. But my downfall was a voting deck across the table that was incidentally hurting me with global effects.
Player one: experienced player running a Ventrue antitribu deck, running with the standard clan disciplines of Dominate, Auspex, and Fortitude. I didn't get a good feel for his strategy, because he got pounded so badly by player four.
Player two: I started playing Jyhad the month it debuted in 1994, so I was the most experienced. I was playing the Harbingers of the Skull, with the standard clan disciplines of Necromancy, Auspex, and Fortitude. But I got hit with a couple of moderately big bleeds early in the game, so I only brought out one Harbinger plus a Gangrel antitribu and a Ventrue antitribu who happened to share the Auspex and Fortitude disciplines. My offense cards clumped near the bottom of the deck, so I did occasional 1-point bleeds with Necro stealth or intimidation with potential aggravated damage from Dawn Operations. The other players were confused by my spread of vampires and never really knew what to expect from my toolbox deck. I set up a couple of Slaughterhouses for an MtG Millstone sub-strategy. My Harbinger gave me the ability to draw cards from other player's decks, but my prey (player three) was using completely different disciplines, while my predator (player one) didn't need any additional hassle while taking a whupping from the very threatening player four. My offense involved setting up a vampire with the ability to bleed for 3 (Pulse of Canaille) with built-in +2 stealth (Mask of Erebus plus Ex Nihilo).
Player three: This experienced player had a Nosferatu/Brujah deck focused on a bruise/bleed strategy that used Potence to inflict the bruises. He would play a Fame on one of his prey's weakest vampires and then focus on putting that famous vampire into torpor. One of his vampires had a special advantage against Camarilla vampires, but the rest of us were only playing Sabbat vampires.
Player four: This player was fairly new to the game, and much of his deck was home-printed proxy cards, which are 100% legal in the current competitive play environment, at least until Black Chantry gets a playable chunk of new cards into circulation. He ran a Tzimisce/War Ghoul deck. The War Ghouls are expensive, but they can freely attack minions on the table, prevent one damage, and inflict four damage, which is enough to put down many vampires by mid-game.
Player four beat the crap out of player one early on, leaving me free to harass player three while cycling cards in search of my offense. Player four won the first VP, then found me to be a fiercely tenacious target, which is standard SOP for me. Due to a lapse of judgment, I missed a brief opportunity to take out player three before he beat down player four. Thanks to my Slaughterhouses, player three went into the endgame with zero deck, just a seven-card hand. But by that point, my vampires were worn out from fending off War Ghouls, and less able to endure a Potence beating. I was nearly finished putting together my offensive combo machine when player three ended my game and took the victory with 3 vp. It was such a tense game that player four watched all the way to the end even though he needed to get across town on slippery roads in less than an hour afterwards.
Which raises a couple of interesting points about the current state of the game, and a problem with any CCG that lasts long enough.
1. Vampire/Jyhad has been experiencing a modest revival in the last year, ever since Black Chantry got the rights to print and reprint cards for the game. But there are nearly 3,800 cards in the game, of which maybe 3 or 4 have been banned. And nearly all of the 3,800 cards are out of print, though they can be bought at some places online as either overpriced singles or large lots sold by former players. As a result, the current tournament environment welcomes proxy cards, as long as they are sleeved. They can even be printed in grayscale if someone doesn't have access to cheap color printing.
2. Though Richard Garfield designed a great base set, eventually issues were discovered with the wording of some of the cards. And subsequent sets also included some cards with awkward or unclear wording. And subsequent sets often reprinted cards with improved wording. So it's great to have this Amaranth site as reliable resource for current wording and also for screen captures of nice proxy cards.
I am still working my way through playing all my old decks, while taking notes about flaws to be addressed in each of them. Last night, I played a fun Gangrel deck that added in Potence for especially vicious aggravated damage. It also featured the Uriah/Betrayer combo. Nearly 100% of the vampires in the game are unique, so if two or more copies of the same vampire are in play, each owner must either discard that vampire or pay 1 pool during the unlock phase. Uriah makes it easy to force that type of conflict, and Betrayer makes it even worse for the prey.
First, let's get this out of the way: Black Chantry are going to release 4 new Starter decks and they look great. They are well-built, look pretty competitive and include a huge amount of staples at their proper numbers. They also include copies of rare or otherwise expensive cards and quite simply, they are one of the better-looking precon products I've seen for a game of this kind in a long while.
I was searching ebay for cards to build a first deck and I've now decided to just get these four precons instead. I mean, even if you plan to build your own deck this stuff is just great. 1,5€ for each Vessel and Govern the Unaligned, 0,50€ for each combat tricks add up fast and they are all second hand, probably old edition cards.
Regarding what you are saying the big issue is that, since VTES has no rotation and few bans, all the "mistakes" are kept forever into the game and end up defining it.
Note that the definition of "mistake" is very broad and a card can be a mistake without being broken. Govern the Unaligned and Parity Shift are both mistakes, as are many other cards that have a big impact on the metagame.
Between you and me, if I were Black Chantry I would have created a new set compatible with all previous cards but introducing some rules changes and a new starting point for legality. So you could either play the "eternal" format where all cards are available or the new "Standard" format with only the most recent cards. You know, like all successful games do.
You could take this chance to introduce a host of fixes into the game, like Magic's 6th edition did or Magic's new and improved mulligan rule.
BaronDonut wrote: It's been fun reading y'all's thoughts on this game. I've been curious about VTES for a while, but am flummoxed about how to get into it. Seems like these starter decks may solve that problem. Any other thoughts or tips on diving into VTES?
Starter decks are a great starting point. There are these four new ones coming out that you can readily buy, or you can go to ebay or other online sellers and buy older starter decks. There have been 44 other starter decks published in the past. All starter decks come with a rule book and are playable right out of the box. Some are pretty good decks, while the rest are a good starting point for building a better deck.
Proxy cards are now tournament-legal, and there is a very nice website you can get proxy cards. You can also build and archive decks there:
The ultimate strategy guide for the game, for both new players and old, is available as a pdf file for $9.99 USD at this site:
- The Game Room
- Collectible Games
- Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (the game formerly known as Jyhad)