Sorry for my recent silence – I just bought another player’s collection, and I’ve been spending all of my free time pouring through it. How he managed to find any of his cards is anybody’s guess, and it’s slow work organizing it. On the plus side, I’m rounding out my collection (hey, now I’ve got Villein!), and I’m building a truly massive pile of cards that have been marked for new players. Now I just need to find some new players to give those cards to! But more on all that later. Today I want to continue with my demo deck series.
Having now presented one combat-focused and one political-focused deck, I’d like to turn to the realm of bleed. Stealth bleed, to be exact. Yes, it’s time for those crazy Malkavians from the old days before they got their hands on Dementation. This is an interesting deck because I didn’t have to worry about how to put together a powerful deck, but instead I had to worry how I was going to hamper the deck from just annihilating everybody else at the table. Malkavian stealth bleed has been a major force at tournaments since 1994, which has given rise to the archetype’s name (Malk ’94). If you need to re-familiarize yourself with the guidelines I used when building these demo decks, you should check out the first article in this series, otherwise, sit back and enjoy Demo Deck – Malkavian stealth bleed.
|Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=2 max=7 avg=5.25)|
|2x||Didi Meyers||5||aus cel obf DOM||Malkavian:1|
|2x||Gilbert Duane||7||AUS DOM OBF||Malkavian:1|
|2x||Mariel, Lady Thunder||7||aus tha DOM OBF||Malkavian:1|
|1x||Ozmo||6||dom obf AUS||Malkavian:1|
|1x||Roland Bishop||4||aus dom obf||Malkavian:1|
|2x||Zebulon||5||aus dom pro OBF||Malkavian:1|
|Library (60 cards)|
|2x||Game of Malkav|
|3x||Govern the Unaligned|
|1x||Muddled Vampire Hunter|
|Action Modifier (19)|
|2x||Cloak the Gathering|
|3x||Lost in Crowds|
|1x||Veil the Legions|
|3x||Wake with Evening’s Freshness|
|3x||Swallowed by the Night|
Piloting Instructions for New Players:
How does the deck win? The strategy behind this deck is very straight-forward: your minions bleed for a lot, and they use stealth to prevent their bleeds from being blocked. Really, only three obstacles stand in your path to victory. The first is your hand – you have bleed cards and stealth cards, and you always want to have a good mix of both in hand. This requires that you discard whichever type of card you aren’t using (so if your prey isn’t forcing you to use stealth cards, you need to start discarding them). The second danger is that if you appear too threatening (by bleeding too hard), other players might unite against you. Finally, your big stealthy bleeds might get redirected away from your prey (this is something that vampires with Dominate or Auspex might do to you). In this case, you can play Spying Mission to prevent doing a lot of damage to your cross-table “ally.”
How does the deck survive? This deck is primarily geared towards offense, but it can block a little if it needs to. More importantly, you have the ability 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. Once you get into combat, your main defense comes from the guns present in the deck. These don’t do much damage, but they allow you to maneuver away from your opponent, which might be crucial. You can equip them normally, but you can also use Disguised Weapon to bring them out during combat, which saves you an action.
Play Test Notes:
This deck worked really well when I play tested it. The only thing I ended up changing was the combat package. Previously, it only packed Dodge, but IcLee suggested changing it to include Saturday-Night Special, which gives the deck something interesting to do during combat. The new player who got to play this had an incredibly unlucky crypt draw that featured only one vampire with Dominate, which prompted me drop a lot of the deck’s previous emphasis on Auspex. The crypt used to include a number of small vampires like Zöe, Aleph, and Victoria – all of whom are missing either Dominate or Obfuscate meaning that they make poor bleeders. Doing so raised the average capacity of the crypt, but should make the deck work a lot better. The question is whether the new crypt will make the deck too good. Only time will tell, I suppose.
How does it fit my demo deck rules?
Defense: Now that the deck doesn’t feature as many vampires with superior Auspex, the deck has a lot less blocking power than it used to. Currently the defense in this deck is mostly centered around Redirection for bleed defense, along with the occasional Spirit’s Touch to allow for surprise intercept.
Voting: This deck is pretty light on titled vampires – only 2 princes. That’s not really enough to sway the vote in any significant way. Plus, this deck is going to have problems regularly blocking political actions, all of which means that it needs some other way to punish political decks. Poison Pill fits the bill perfectly. In a demo game, I watched the vote deck deliberately fail their referendum rather than take the pool damage.
Combat: This deck mostly relies on stealth to deal with combat – if you aren’t blocked, then you don’t have to fight! But many of the demo decks are packing Bum’s Rush, and this deck will occasionally block, so even this deck needs something to do during combat. That something is mostly going to be to maneuver away from the opposing vampire using cards like Swallowed by the Night, Saturday-Night Special, and Spirit’s Touch when blocking. Unless they have a gun, they aren’t really going to hurt you at long range. If running doesn’t work, Behind You! lets you dodge. Finally the deck has one proactive combat solution in the form of Muddled Vampire Hunter who can enter combat with enemy minions and easily put them into torpor (assuming they have 3 or fewer blood). I actually tried to avoid putting allies in these demo decks, but Muddled Vampire Hunter (aka Muddles) is just so flavorful and fun that I couldn’t resist!
Pool / Blood Management: Both Scouting Mission, and Govern the Unaligned have the ability to put blood from the blood bank on uncontrolled vampires, but these cards will most often be used for bleeding. There are also a few Blood Dolls that allow players to trade blood in for pool. Frankly, this deck is mostly going to replenish it’s pool by ousting it’s prey and gaining 6 pool. Currently, the deck has no way to get blood back onto minions other than by hunting. So far that hasn’t been a problem, but I may end up adding an Asylum Hunting Ground.
Equipment / Location: This deck has no way to deal with equipment. Yup, I’m breaking my own rules. But consider the limited options that Malkavians have: Conceal is an awesome card, but it’s rare, and I don’t have extras. Mesmerize is… ok, but again, it’s rare, and I own a total of zero copies. I even considered putting Anachronism in this deck (which I may still do)! I honestly don’t know what to give them to deal with equipment. Locations are easier – Dominate Kine might not be a great card (due to the 2 blood cost), but it is a good card and it’s easy to cycle. In the demo environment, you can guarantee that every deck has a few locations and several of them are tempting targets to steal, so I think it’s worth the blood cost. I’m honestly surprised that I don’t see more decks with one of these.
How could it be changed by a new player?
This type of deck is actually so popular that there is already an excellent article written about it on VTES ONE. If you’re looking for ways to make the deck better, that article goes into far more detail than I could possibly do here. I highly advise you go check it out.
But if you’re looking for just a few tweaks, I’d first suggest replacing all the Redirections with Deflections, and simply removing Spirit’s Touch. Second, most of these decks devote very few cards to combat. I’d keep Swallowed by the Night (because it’s also stealth), and Behind You! (a few dodges never hurt anybody), but I would replace Disguised Weapon and Saturday-Night Special with more bleed and stealth cards. Other substitutions that you could make include replacing Scouting Mission with more Govern the Unaligned, and Threats with more Conditioning. In both cases, you are trading a blood from a vampire for another pool damage, which is usually a good trade.
Finally, a really aggressive deck like this has two major fears: that their prey will gain lots of pool, and that their prey will bounce their large sneaky bleeds. The first can be mitigated by including several copies of Sudden Reversal which will allow you to cancel master cards like Minion Tap that move a lot of blood from a vampire back to your pool (I’d pull out the Dominate and Obfuscate master cards to make room for these). The second is trickier to deal with. Hide the Mind allows you to cancel Auspex reaction cards (including Telepathic Misdirection), but it does nothing against Dominate bounce cards. Narrow Minds is an event card (a special type of card that you put into play during your Discard Phase instead of discarding a card) that permanently makes all bleed bounce cards cost an extra blood. Both of these cards are rare, however, and moderately expensive (~$5), so I’d advise printing them out and playing with them for a bit before committing to buying them.
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,