Well, I’m going out of town starting tomorrow, so I won’t be able to moderate comments, post replies, or modify my Brujah demo deck (thanks all for your comments) until next week, but I didn’t want to leave everybody hanging. So before I go, let me present my demo deck for the charismatic, domineering and resilient Ventrue. As you can see, I won’t be sticking to alphabetical order! If you need to be refreshed on the guidelines I used to build this deck, check out the first article in the demo deck series. Anyways, this deck has gone through a number of iterations, but what is presented here is the version that I currently carry with me. As I run more demos and collect more feedback, the deck will undoubtedly change still more, and I’ll make sure to post the updates as they happen. So without further ado, allow me to present Demo Deck – Ventrue Bleed and Vote:
|Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=3 max=10 avg=6.75)|
|1x||Democritus||10||aus cel for DOM PRE||Ventrue:1|
|2x||Emerson Bridges||8||pot DOM FOR PRE||Ventrue:1|
|1x||Jazz Wentworth||5||dom for PRE||Ventrue:1|
|1x||Queen Anne||10||aus obf DOM FOR PRE||Ventrue:2|
|1x||Ranjan Rishi, Camarilla Scholar||5||for DOM PRE||Ventrue:2|
|2x||Sir Walter Nash||7||DOM FOR PRE||Ventrue:1|
|2x||Timothy Crowley||7||ani dom FOR PRE||Ventrue:1|
|1x||Violette Prentiss||4||dom PRE||Ventrue:1|
|Library (60 cards)|
|1x||Uptown Hunting Ground|
|Political Action (10)|
|1x||Command of the Harpies|
|6x||Kine Resources Contested|
|Action Modifier (17)|
|1x||Kiss of Ra, The|
|3x||Wake with Evening’s Freshness|
|2x||Rolling with the Punches|
Piloting Instructions for New Players:
How does the deck win? This deck lets you initiate a multi-pronged attack against your prey, allowing you to pick the strategy (bleed or politics) best suited to the immediate situation, or to combine them for devastating effect. That being said, this deck features almost no stealth or ways to intimidate players into not blocking you. Instead, the deck relies on taking many actions so that some get through. This is mostly accomplished by taking an action, and if blocked, playing Majesty during combat which ends the combat and untaps you. This allows your vampire to take another action, but the defender is left tapped. Note that a vampire can only bleed once and can only take one political action per turn.
How does the deck survive? While the Ventrue lack a reliable way to block, they have the powerful capability to change the target of a bleed to another player using the Redirection reaction card. You will want to play these to maximum effect: first try to block the bleed, wait to see if your opponent adds stealth to their action, then declare that you do not block and see if your opponent increases the bleed with an Action Modifier. Finally, redirect the now enhanced (and stealthed!) bleed to your prey and let them deal with it. You can also gain some pool when you take a political action and successfully pass the referendum by playing Voter Captivation. If you find that you are having a difficult time passing votes, just wait until you have a Bewitching Oration in your hand, or make a deal with players who have votes – offer them something in exchange for their votes!
Play Test Notes:
When I played this deck, it did extremely well, and it was only prevented from sweeping the table because it ran out of cards! I forgot how fast you can burn through a 60 card deck when you are multi-acting. However, the quick cycling also means that I needed to cut back on master cards to allow the deck to flow better. New players were a little confused about whether the deck was supposed to be a political deck or a bleed deck. Their suggestions were mostly aimed at making it one or the other (which I think is a bad idea). They did note that if you lost vote lock, things could get very tricky – I think this is actually a very good observation because the other demo decks feature more titled vampires than most decks include in an attempt to allow everybody to do something during political actions. This places more strain on vote decks and forces them to have more votes than usual to establish and maintain vote lock. For this reason, I upped the number of titled vampires in the crypt from 6 to 8 (making it the highest average capacity deck in my demo series), and threw in another Bewitching Oration. I think the Ventrue now stand an excellent chance of passing their votes, and my concern has shifted to any to other political deck at the table. Finally, I’ve removed Force of Will – it was universally thought to be a bad card by new players, even after it was explained that the card allowed a tapped vampire to act . Clearly new players care a lot about the health of their vampires!
How does it fit my demo deck rules?
Defense: While it’s true that Camarilla Princes usually defend with Second Tradition, I don’t have very many extra copies of that card, and there are other clans that need it more (like the poor Nosferatu…), so while it would be perfect for this deck, it isn’t included. Instead the deck focuses on the on the best defense Dominate has to offer – bleed bounce. Now, I have a lot of Redirection, and very few Deflection, so I opted to put in the former. This deck features a lot of superior dominate and old vampires so it shouldn’t really be a problem.
Voting: This deck packs a lot of titled vampires: 7 Princes and a Justicar. Plus it has Ventrue Headquarters and Bewitching Oration, if this deck has a political problem, it’s that the deck has too many votes!
Combat: Ah, the power of Majesty. I’m actually concerned that it trumps too many other combat packages. It forces me to include cards like Immortal Grapple and Psyche! to allow combat decks to get around it. But the balance between these cards is a fragile one. Give other players too many answers and the Ventrue player just gets hosed. Give the Ventrue too many ways to end combat, and other players might start wondering why anybody bothers playing combat-heavy decks. This balance is definitely something that I’m keeping an eye on. Right now, I think the real losers are the Gangrel, who want to fight, but have no way to prevent combat from ending. Their only saving grace is that they don’t have to play their important combat card (Claws of the Dead) until after they see if the Ventrue player has a Majesty or not.
Pool / Blood Management: The Venture really have a lot of possibilities here. All of their bleed actions (Enchant Kindred and Public Trust) can be used to accelerate out new vampires (or to just to gain pool!). The deck also features both Blood Doll and Minion Tap as ways to recuperate pool spent influences these large vampires. In all honesty, they should all probably just be Minion Taps, but I find that new players actually prefer Blood Doll, which allows them to remove small amounts of blood, rather than committing to pulling a lot all at once. Also Minion Tap can frustrate the other players – nothing is as disheartening as watching your prey gain 8 pool. This likely wouldn’t be a problem if every deck had a Sudden Reversal, but I don’t want to deal with out-of-turn masters, so that’s out. As for gaining blood, there is an Uptown Hunting Ground (which pairs nicely with Blood Doll), and Voter Captivation is perfect for completely refilling a vampire.
Equipment / Location: The Ventrue deal with all of their problems through political means (as they should). Command of the Harpies lets them wack anybody who tries to compete with them for vote lock, Disputed Territory allows them to seize assets, and Peace Treaty punishes players for playing with weapons. Unfortunately, Peace Treaty is at it’s best when your prey has weapons, so I’m tempted to remove this card, and just leave the deck without a dedicated card against weapons.
How could it be changed by a new player?
Well, I’ve actually already discussed a number of ways to improve the deck: replace Wake with Evening’s Freshness with Second Tradition, Redirection with Deflection, the Blood Dolls for more Minion Taps, and Peace Treaty with a different vote card (especially Parity Shift if you have it). But there are a few other suggestions that I could make. For instance, Command of the Harpies is pretty good if you know that most of the other titled vampires will be Princes, but there days there are so many non-Prince titled vampires that the card loses a lot of value, so I would remove it. Marijava Ghoul is another candidate for removal, especially if you want to focus on the political aspect of the deck. This card really shines in a deck full of small vampires (often referred to as weenies) who are bleeding with Presence.
So what can you replace these cards with? Well, the deck will really benefit from a few Freak Drives, which allows a vampire with Fortitude to untap after a successful action. That will allow a single vampire to have a successful bleed and political action in one turn! Another card worth considering if Legendary Vampire – it’s a master card that must be played on a vampire the turn after it is brought into play (so you have a very narrow window to play the card!), but it gives that vampire 2 additional votes and +2 bleed: the perfect combination for a bleed & vote deck that allows its minions to take more than one action a turn! Finally, I think that every deck should have 1x Sudden Reversal, which is one of the few cards in the game that will allow you to cancel troublesome master cards.
Well, what do you think about this demo deck? How would you change the deck to make it stronger? Post your comments below – I’d love to get your feedback!
Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced, and your votes always pass,