Today we turn to a clan whose identity in the role playing game has never really had the chance to shine in the card game. The Nosferatu are defined (in my own humble opinion) by two things: clan loyalty, and possession of secrets. Now, in a way, neither theme is unique to them, but the Nosferatu have their own spin on both concepts. Like the Tremere, their first allegiance is to the clan, not their sect or city. While both clans seek protection in numbers and solidarity, who they need protection from differs. The Tremere are widely mistrusted by the supernatural community – no vampire in their right mind would openly trust the blood sorcerers. But the Nosferatu need protection from everybody. Their appearance makes it nigh impossible for them to interact with mortal society, which makes blood that much harder to come by. And should they ever poke their heads above ground, the ensuing breach of the masquerade may well cause their death as the weight of the entire Camarilla comes crashing down on their heads.
Their second defining characteristic is the reason they are tolerated in the supernatural community. Similar to the Tremere – they’re just too darn useful. But the Nosferatu aren’t blood sorcerers, they have no access to strange and powerful magics. No, what they have is information. They’re sure to know a little about what the Prince is planning, and which Primogen might need a favor. Information about mortals and their institutions is even easier to come by, and the Nosferatu have plenty of it. So what do these clan loyal information brokers do in VTES? They hit stuff really hard and bring some nasty crows to back them up. Sigh. Not only is that out of character for them, but that tactic doesn’t win games in VTES. So I decided to go with something more sneaky and more sinister: politics.
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 – Nosferatu politics.
Piloting Instructions for New Players:
How does the deck win? Your primary weapon is the political actions that you can take. You have plenty of stealth, so your actions will rarely be blocked. The problem you may run into is scrapping up enough votes to actually pass your referendums, especially if you are forced to compete against another dedicated political deck. You lack a good way to increase your votes other than bringing out more titled vampires. In a situation like this, you will have to start making deals with other players who can offer you votes. Political actions are very flexible, and most of the ones in this deck can harm some players while benefiting others, so you may well be able to offer a player a nice benefit for their votes. You can also offer players Bribes to help convince them to vote with you. Once you pass one vote, you can use Cryptic Rider to ensure that your next vote (that others might not be so happy with) will automatically pass. Finally, this deck can bleed fairly well and can do so at stealth, so if politics aren’t working for you, start discarding your vote cards and just bleed!
How does the deck survive? First and foremost, this deck’s defense is gaining pool. You have a number of ways of doing this including some of your political actions, along with cards like Fourth Tradition: The Accounting which allow you to gain blood on uncontrolled minions (which you can either transfer back to your pool, or use to influence that vampire). Your secondary defense is Second Tradition: Domain – a powerful blocking option available only to your titled vampires. It has received an erratum, and its revised card text is below. If you get into combat, your only real option is Thrown Gate which only does a small amount of damage, but it lets you maneuver away from the opposing vampire, which may be significantly more important.
Second Tradition: Domain – Requires a ready prince or justicar. +2 intercept. Also usable by a tapped prince or justicar, even if intercept is not yet needed, to burn a blood to untap and attempt to block with +2 intercept.
Play Test Notes:
I’ll be honest – while this might be my favorite deck of the bunch, it scares me. If it sits next to another dedicated political deck, it might be dead in the water. And this is exactly what happened to me when I played it. That experience convinced me to cut some political cards to make room for some Computer Hacking and a few Laptop Computer. Now it should be able to at least do some stealth bleed if it gets backed into a corner, but I really need to play this deck again. This deck received generally positive reviews from the new player who tried it out, but I think she was mostly impressed by the flexibility of political actions as opposed to bleed actions.
How does it fit my demo deck rules?
Defense: This deck mostly focuses on gaining enough pool to absorb the damage done by its predator. It has a number of mechanisms in place to accomplish this – including Consanguineous Boon, Finding the Path, Fourth Tradition: The Accounting, and Bribes. If this deck has a weak or passive predator, it can gain a truly amazing amount of pool. In addition, really nasty actions can also be blocked to with Second Tradition: Domain, which remains one of the most efficient ways of blocking with intercept in the game.
Voting: As mentioned above, this is both the strength and weakness of the deck. If it’s the only political deck at the table, it will have a free reign to call and pass any political action it wants. But if it’s required to go up against another dedicated political deck, it will may have issues because its only way to gain temporary votes is Elysium: The Palace of Versailles.
Combat: The combat module is pretty simple – run to long with a Thrown Gate and hope that the enemy doesn’t have a maneuver, or long range combat. But your real defense is simply not getting into combat to begin with. In really desperate situations, you can also use Elysium: The Arboretum to escape nasty combats.
Pool / Blood Management: Assuming that this deck can get vote lock, it will have many ways of gaining pool, including all the methods discussed above. But even without vote lock, it still has Blood Doll, Minion Tap and Nikolaus Vermeulen to return the pool spent influencing vampires, and Fourth Tradition: The Accounting to create new counters on uncontrolled vampires, allowing the deck to influence out additional vampires, or to pull that back into their own pool. Blood gain is a little more problematic – hunting is really the only way the deck has to regain blood on minions. The hope is that you’ll never need to gain blood. But maybe the deck needs a Slum Hunting Ground.
Equipment / Location: Well, the deck is a little slim in this department – it can deal with locations using Disputed Territory (assuming it has vote lock, or is using a Cryptic Rider), but it lacks a way to deal with equipment. Unfortunately, politics doesn’t have a good way of handling equipment – Peace Treaty forces everybody to either re-purchase their weapons, or burn them, but this is a very risky proposal, and can often hurt your cross table allies.
How could it be changed by a new player?
Although the Nosferatu aren’t as popular of a clan as they once were, this sort of deck was once a significant force at tournaments. It’s usually referred to as a Nosferatu Royalty deck, and it’s popular enough to an excellent article about them has been written on VTES ONE. I highly advise that you check it out for some additional advice.
But I can say that this deck currently has elements of two distinct type of political decks, and you should probably pick one and stick with it. The first archetype is often called “Breed and Boon” – where the goal is to have as many vampires of the same clan in play as possible and then use Consanguineous Boon to gain a large amount of pool to help keep you alive. These decks often features some inexpensive vampires in their crypt (like this deck does), but they also rely on actions that make new vampires, most notably The Embrace and Third Tradition: Progeny. Such decks sometimes include Praxis Seizure cards that allow them to turn these newly made vampires into Princes. These decks oust through the use of some aggressive political actions and many small bleeds from their army of tiny vampires.
The second archetype is more aggressive, and relies on political actions that damage their prey – usually Kine Resources Contested and Conservative Agitation. They often rely on the extremely powerful political action Parity Shift to gain them pool when they are low. These decks usually eschew the small vampires that are featured in the first achetype, and focus on larger and titled vampires. These decks often include titled vampires from other clans (as long as they have Obfusacate), so Malkavian Princes like Gilbert Duane and Greger Anderssen often find a home in such decks. These decks also usually feature some way to get these large titled vampires out more quickly (this is usually called Crypt Acceleration), including Information Highway, Dreams of the Sphinx, and (with the right crypt) Zillah’s Valley.
Deciding which path (defensive or offensive) you want to go will dictate which cards you remove and which you add, but both decks could be benefited from adding Calebros, The Martyr to the crypt (he’s a very efficiently costed Prince, but older vampires can attempt to steal his title, so watch out!), and Forgotten Labyrinth to the library (it is perhaps the best stealth card in the game, and it’ s restriction isn’t a big deal in these decks). One copy of Conceal should likely be included in every deck with Obfuscate – there are simply too many nasty pieces of equipment in the game to not have a way to deal with 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,