A Bolt From the Blue

Welcome back! It’s time for us to take another look the Evangelion Card Game, powered by the Chrono Clash system. Today is my final deep dive article into the colors, or factions, of the game. Each article examines at a single color – what it has to offer and speculates on tactics that could be employed against it.

As a reminder, my analysis is based off a complete list of the cards in this game that I made. The card list (and my analysis) can be found here. In this document, you’ll notice that I put battlers into one of four categories: EVAs, Pilots, Angels, and Other. Two of these categories are huge monsters – biomechanical EVAs or unknowable Angels, and the other two are humans – Pilots and Other. Pilots, for those new to the game, can come into play in two ways – as an independent battler, or as an “attachment” for an EVA. While piloting an EVA, the pilot adds its strength and special abilities to the EVA.

Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to Blue. My previous articles on Red, Green, and Purple are also available if you want to catch up.Read More »

Purple People Eaters

Welcome back! It’s time for us to take another look the Evangelion Card Game, powered by the Chrono Clash system. Today, I’ll be continuing my deep dive into each of the colors, or factions, of the game, taking a look at what each has to offer, and speculating on tactics that can be employed against that color.

As a reminder, my analysis is based off a complete list of the cards in this game that I made. The card list (and my analysis) can be found here. In this document, you’ll notice that I put battlers into one of four categories: EVAs, Pilots, Angels, and Other. Two of these categories are huge monsters – biomechanical EVAs or unknowable Angels, and the other two are humans – Pilots and Other. Pilots, for those new to the game, can come into play in two ways – as an independent battler, or as an “attachment” for an EVA. While piloting an EVA, the pilot adds its strength and special abilities to the EVA.

Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to Purple. My previous articles on Red and Green are also available if you want to catch up. Read More »

Ain’t Easy Being Green

Welcome back! It’s time for us to take another dive into the Evangelion Card Game, powered by the Chrono Clash system. Today, I’ll be continuing my deep dive into each of the colors, or factions, in the game, taking a look at what each has to offer and speculating on tactics that can be employed against that color.

As a reminder, my analysis is based off a complete list of the cards in this game that I made. The card list (and my analysis) can be found here. In this document, you’ll notice that I put battlers into one of four categories: EVAs, Pilots, Angels, and Other. Two of these categories are huge monsters – biomechanical EVAs or unknowable Angels, and the other two are humans – Pilots and Other. Pilots, for those new to the game, can come into play in two ways – as an independent battler, or as an “attachment” for an EVA. While piloting an EVA, the pilot adds its strength and special abilities to the EVA.

Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the color that might be the polar opposite of last week’s color. For those interested in checking out my previous deep dive into Red, you can check it out here. Read More »

Seeing Red

Hello and welcome back for more Evangelion Chrono Clash discussion. For those who don’t know, the cards in the game are separated into four different colors – Blue, Green, Purple, and Red. This appears to be solely for the purposes of deck building, since each deck is limited to two colors.

One of the first things I do in a game with factions is to understand the mechanical and thematic core of each faction, or in this case color. What does each color do that nobody else does? What is it unable to do? For some, this comes as a general sense developed as you play the game. For me, it comes by looking at numbers and spreadsheets.

The first thing I noticed about the game is that while images of all the cards were available online, there was no list of cards. So I made one, which will be the foundation of my analysis for each color. The card list (and my analysis) can be found here.

As a quick aside before we get started, in my analyses, I’ve grouped all battlers into one of 4 categories: EVAs, Pilots, Angels, and Other. Two of these categories are huge monsters – biomechanical EVAs or the mystical and unknowable Angels (its a bit jarring to see them teaming up, but whatever), while the other two are humans – Pilots and Other. Pilots, for those new to the game, can come into play in two ways – as an independent battler, or as an “attachment” for an EVA. While piloting an EVA, the pilot adds its strength and special abilities to the EVA.

Ok, with that categorization note out of the way, my next four articles will be going through the colors one at a time, looking at the cards to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. The articles will proceed in no particular order, and I’ll start with Red.
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Chrono Clash and Evangelion

Well, I’m back. My old readers are likely to be disappointed that this isn’t a new Vampire article, but a discussion of a new game also brings in new readers. To those who are new: welcome! And to those returning: welcome back!

I have a long history with card games that indicates that I have a problem. You see every few years, like clockwork, I dive into a new game. I went through a long period of getting into dead games – Star Trek CCG, Horus Heresy by Sabertooth, the Lord of the Rings by Decipher, Middle-Earth CCG, WARS TCG, the list goes on and on. Getting into these games after they had effectively died meant that they were cheap (which was good!) and that I had nobody to play with (which was bad!). Ultimately, they taught me that a game can only hold your interest so long if you never get a chance to play.

This lead me into a period where I would dive into games that were not dead: Legend of the Five Rings (AEG and FFG versions), Android: Netrunner, and Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, to name a few. The higher cost of an active card game meant that I rarely dove in all the way, but I got to actually play the game, which meant that my interest was held for a longer period of time. And thus, we come to the topic of discussion today. My latest card game fix. The Chrono Clash System.

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Arkham Horror vs Lord of the Rings

I suspect this post will come as something of a surprise to my regular readers. It is, after all, my first real post on a topic other than Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (which is, for new readers, a multiplayer collectible card game with a lot of social deduction, alliance making, and political backstabbing). However, I have always said that this blog was going to be about gaming in general and not necessary focused on any specific game.

As I’ve gotten older, my tastes in games have shifted somewhat, and I find myself becoming more and more interested in the relatively new genre of cooperative card games. This blossoming love springs partially from practical reasons. If I go too long without diving into a card game, I start to get the itch again, and this has caused me to briefly fall in love with a number of games (usually dead CCGs) over time. Examples include VS System by Upper Deck, the Horus Heresy CCG by Sabertooth Games, Star Trek CCG 2nd Edition, Star Wars CCG, and it’s successor WARS TCG, all by Decipher Games, and so many more. The difficulty with all of these games is that without an opponent, the game can’t be played. I’ve owned a few card games that I was never able to play against a real opponent. But this problem simply doesn’t exist with cooperative card games. Since the game itself is your opponent, you can play anytime. To a cooperative card game, an active community is a boon, but for a competitive card game, it is a requirement.

My love for these games also springs from the strengths they bring which competitive games often struggle to achieve – a focus on narrative and characters. Since the game itself is the opponent, it has little choice other than to tell you a story. Sentinels of the Multiverse, for example, lets you play out a climatic showdown between an arch-villain and a team of super heroes, complete with derailed trains and imperiled bystanders. Since these games usually puts the players in the role of hero (or at least main character), it naturally focuses the narrative arc on who the players choose to be.

Plummeting Monorail

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Rising from Torpor for New Players

Greetings Methesulahs,

Well, my last post promised more articles once I finished my move, but obviously this was a promise not kept. Oh, I’ve written a few half-baked articles that were never finished, but I could never bring myself to get them into a publish-worthy state. The dual facts of a new job and no local playgroup for VTES has really made it difficult to find the motivation to think deeply about the game. I haven’t given up hope of starting a VTES community here, though. I’m planning on attending some local gaming conventions in the fall, and am intending to run VTES demos there. Perhaps preparing to run those will reinvigorate my motivation to write new articles.

But a mere update on my lack of articles wasn’t the reason I have temporarily risen from my long torpor. Rather, I wanted to talk about new VTES players. Although this blog hasn’t really been active, people keep reaching out to me to get demo decks to try out the game. One group was even trying to start a VTES league in Canada! In total I’ve sent out a total of 53 demo decks to people in five different countries (as of 6/24/17). This blog also gets regular visits to the pages dedicated to individual demo decks, the ironically named “Quick-start” guide (which consists of 4 long articles), and the new player FAQ. The point is, there are players out there who want to learn and play VTES. Maybe not a lot, but they exist.

Why bring this up? Because I think our community needs resources for new players, which includes ways to get cards into their hands. This is particularly true now when sealed product is almost non-existent. One of my first articles on this blog was about the scarcity of cards, but things have only gotten worse since then. Most of the sites I identified are long sold out of boosters and starters. This was one of the main reasons that I started getting (often buying) collections so that I could package them as demo decks and clan support packs for new players. Sadly, my ability to provide this service is diminishing. Earlier this year, I took a few days and put together every single demo deck that I possibly could with the cards at my disposal. When one card ran out, I would switch to a similar card that would fulfill the same role, but eventually even some of those ran out, or appropriate replacements could not be found. It’s amazing what 53 demo decks (plus my current stock and the 14 decks that I keep for demos) will do to your supply of Blood Dolls and Wake with Evening’s Freshness, for instance.

It is encouraging that the Inner Circle appears to be aware of this need, and they may be taking steps to get cards printed specifically for new players. But the fruit of their efforts are likely to be a ways off. So in the meantime, I am asking the community to send me links to places where new players can go for cards. If you know of a resource for new or used cards, or if you are willing to offer cards from your own collection to new players, please leave a comment below. Let’s make sure that we can continue to offer cards to players who want to join our game!

Known Resources for Cards:

  • I still have a modest supply of demo decks, and I still have plenty of good cards to put together useful clan support packs.
  • If you live in Germany, VTES ONE still offers his excellent Reasonably Priced Decks.
  • Preston Poulter sells his Barbed Wire Project decks on Ebay.
  • “self biased” on the VEKN forums has put together some excellent and free print-and-play demo decks.
  • Fantaspiel still sells sealed cards, and they have a good selection, but they only ship to (certain?) parts of Europe.
  • Occasionally somebody sells their collection on Ebay.
  • EDIT: Ankur Gupta also sells decks suitable for beginners as well as curated bulk card sets that sound very akin to my Clan Support Packs. He also has some sealed boosters and starters that would be of interest for new players. You can contact him by emailing agupta.cs @ gmail.com – just include VTES in all caps in the subject line!

 

Until next time, may you continue to welcome new players into our community!

 

Spring 2016 VTES League

Greetings Methuselahs,

My first VTES League recently came to an end.  It was a blast to organize and run, and I think it was extremely successful: 23 different players from all of the San Francisco bay area (and a few from more exotic locals!) participated in the League which stretched from the beginning of April through the end of June.  During these three months, an impressive total of 49 games were played (meaning about 4 games every week!).  These included tournament games, casual constructed games, and even some cube draft.  Each game was carefully tracked and League points were awarded each player.  As I explained in my article announcing the League, the point of the League was simply to encourage people to come and play the game.  I did not want to force players to bring tournament-ready decks to casual games.  Accordingly, players got a lot of points just for showing up and playing, with relatively few points being given for Victory Points or Game Wins.  But today it’s time to look at the results, and announce the prizes!  Let’s start with the results:

League Points: Games: Victory Points: Game Wins:
Mark Jasper 161.5 28 42.5 9
David Corson-Knowles 155.5  29 33.5 6
Brett Schofield 114 25 13 1
Ian Lee 87.5 14 26.5 5
Kate Hanley 74 14 15 3
Kenneth Davenport 62.5 13 8.5 2
Eric Schultheis 57.5 14 1.5 0
Alex Orzulak 55.5 12 6.5 1
Zach Eulberg 49.5 12 1.5 0
Paul “Lev” Japser 43.5 8 9.5 2
Brandon Haas 36.5 8 3.5 1
Stephan Topfstedt 30 6 5 1
Jeff Kuta 26 6 2 0
Brad Nozik 21 3 7 2
Richard Phillips 21 4 4 1
Chris Shorb  20.5 4 3.5 1
Andrew Haas  10.5 2 2.5 0
Eric Haas  9.5 2 1.5 0
Geoff Benson 8 2 0 0
Rob Wanat 8 2 0 0
Jeff Yin 8 2 0 0
David Anderson 5 1 1 0
Jeff Philips 4 1 0 0

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Danse Macabre Library Review, Part II

Greetings Methuselahs!

So sorry that this article is late – the holiday weekend kind of messed up my writing schedule.  Anyway, last week I started to review the library cards from the very first VEKN print-and-play set Danse Macabre which was released near the end of 2013.  The set focused on the Sabbat, home of all five of the five weakest clans in the game. Let’s take a look at the last six library cards and see what effect they’ve had on the game.  As a reminder, I’m rating cards in a bit of an unusual way.  Cards are rated on a 1-5 scale with 1 reserved for cards that have actively made the game worse (perhaps by supporting already very powerful archetypes), cards that have had little to no impact on the game will get a 3, and cards that open up new strategies or help define flavor in a useful and novel way will get a 5.

 

Recruitment-ExerciseRecruitment Exercise

Before I talk about this card, I have a confession to make: I don’t like the Black Hand. Splitting the Sabbat crypt between Black Hand and non-Black Hand was a mistake in my opinion (especially since you can’t be titled and be part of the Black Hand, putting high capacity vampires in an odd position), and I don’t understand what the trait is supposed to do. What sets the Black Hand apart mechanically? What might entice me to make a Black Hand deck? Well, I guess there’s untapping… but the effect that shows through most strongly is the fact that younger vampires can influence the allegiance of older vampires (as shown by Reunion Kamut). Now I have absolutely zero idea why this should be true other than it’s a strong effect and the Black Hand is a weak trait. Is the Black Hand known to be an organization where the neonates hold great sway over their elders? If you can’t define a thematic and mechanical core to a new concept you have for the game, you likely shouldn’t included it.

But the Black Hand was made, so let’s look at this card. It’s clearly a variant of the Nosferatu clan card Kindred Intelligence. The difference is that you gain a free counter on it if the crypt card is Black Hand. This is a little like Mesu Bedshet, which gives 2 blood, but only if the card is a younger Follower of Set at the cost of 1 blood from the acting vampire. Actually Kindred Intelligence was the only free “de-crypt” action card in the game prior to this card. But the real difference here is context. The Nosferatu have almost no way to get counters onto uncontrolled vampires, meaning that there is a limit to how many vampires they will be able to influence out. The Black Hand have no such restriction. Reunion Kamut ensures a plentiful supply of counters meaning that this card functions much better for the Black Hand than Kindred Intelligence ever did for the Nosferatu. Recruitment Excercise works so well that I think it’s a problem – it causes players to build decks where the vast majority of actions are dedicated to pulling out more vampires, putting very little pressure on their prey until they hit critical mass.  In short, the combo of Recruitment Excercise + multiple Reunion Kamut essentially means that the player is encouraged to play a little game of solitare until their force is built up enough.  Encouraging this sort of strategy is, in my view, a mistake.  The fact that 7 tournament winning decks since the beginning of 2014 (which is all of the winning Black Hand decks) have included this suggests to me that my conclusions are at least on the right track. I’d give this card 2/5 – it’s a very powerful card that helps a weak archetype, but it encourages a style of play that I view as being detrimental to the game.

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Danse Macabre Library Review, Part I

Greetings Methuselahs!

Blogs and podcasts for other games feature a lot of card reviews and evaluations.  As each set comes out, the blogs and forums become abuzz with people debating the merits and flaws of the new cards.  Power, flavor, strategy, and so much more gets talked about.  For VTES, this is obviously more difficult – card sets come out only rarely (a little less than once per year), and our community is small enough that a new set generates only a small amount of conversation.  As an example, I can count the number of set reviews published for any given VEKN set on a single hand.  Yet, as a blog writer, I’d like to engage in more card evaluation.  Perhaps what I should do is start a series of articles on individual cards and possible uses for them, but today I’ve decided to step back in time to 2013 and the release of Danse Macabre.  It was the first VEKN set released, and it was designed to shore up the weakest sect in the game: the Sabbat.

dm_logoNow, I have a very odd love/hate relationship with the Sabbat.  I am baffled by them in the RPG.  They really just make no sense to me – it’s a sect that flagrantly breaks the Masquerade, but nobody knows about them (remember, monsters are a secret).  They rule with an iron fist and create armies of newly raised vampires who know nothing about their supernatural condition (shovelheads) to lay siege to cities, but humanity has no knowledge of them.  I guess they have legions of Lasombra with level 3 Dominate following their armies and making everybody forget their presence.  It’s clear that the entire sect was conceived of as “the bad guys” and flavor/beliefs were ascribed to them much later.  So in that sense, I really dislike the Sabbat.  But in the card game, I love them.  Why?  Because they are the underdogs.  Not a single one of the Antitribu clans are able to match their Camarilla counterparts.  Five out of five of the worst performing clans (if we ignore Bloodlines and Laibon for a moment) are Sabbat.  Most of the Sabbat clans that manage to rack up any number of wins are being held up by their mastery of Dominate, the only two exceptions being the Malkavian Antitribu (turns out Dementation is a pretty good replacement discipline) and the Tzimisce, who were the subject of a previous detailed article.

You need only look at the number of crypt cards available to the Sabbat clans to see that they are at a disadvantage.  They have three full crypt groups (although I’d hesitate to call group 4 “full”), and 1 group that is so small that it’s a wonder it ever gets played (group 5 currently has 3-4 vampires from each clan).  Compare this to the give full groups that the Camarilla boasts, and the four very full groups + 1 significant group that the Independent clans possess.  There are more Independent vampires in group 6 than there are Sabbat in group 5!  Underdogs, indeed.  And frankly, the Sabbat never has had a mechanical center or theme in the game (other than being the underdogs).  This is likely due to the fact that the game was designed as a Camarilla game, but the Sabbat has never managed to feel different.  It’s pretty hard to tell the difference between a Brujah and a Brujah Antitribu.

The point is, I’m drawn to underdogs, and the Sabbat certainly qualifies.  For this reason (and likely this reason alone), the Sabbat are my favorite sect in the card game.  So when the first VEKN set was announced as being the next Sabbat set, I was pretty excited.  Danse Macabre was the first time cards for the Sabbat had been released since the Sword of Caine expansion hit the shelves in March 2007.  The question is how good are the cards?  To what degree did they help make the Sabbat competitive, and did they provide a mechanical center or theme for the sect?  Well, I’d like to answer those questions today with a Danse Macabre review three years in the making.  Now, I’d like to go through the crypt cards, but the problem is that so much of the analysis for a crypt card relies on what else you could pair it with in the same group.  But since group 5 (which all the Danse Macabre vampires belong to) has 3-4 vampires in it, it’s extremely difficult to review them, so sadly I’m going to skip them for now.  Maybe someday I’ll swing back to cover the crypt cards (and to rant about how much I hate the fact that the Assamites rule the Black Hand, get a seat on the Inner Circle, and become the most powerful Independent clan… seriously White Wolf?).

Now I’m going to rate these cards on a somewhat unusual scale.  Since I have access to a lot of information about how these cards have impacted the game, I will rate cards on a 1-5 scale with 1 reserved for cards that have actively made the game worse (perhaps by supporting already very powerful archetypes), cards that have had little to no impact on the game will get a 3, and cards that open up new strategies or help define flavor in a useful and novel way will get a 5.  Got all that?  Well then, let’s look at some cards!

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