First, my apologies that this article is so late – the end of the semester is always a busy time for me, and this year has been particularly busy. Just know that the blog is still active and that the pace of content will pick back up soon. But enough logistics, let’s talk VTES!
Most of my VTES time in the last few months has been consumed by building and testing my demo decks. It’s been a special and interesting challenge to construct relatively simple and potent decks, partially because these types of decks don’t represent the decks that I usually build for myself. I have two weaknesses when it comes to deck building – I’m drawn to bad and underplayed cards, and I have a love combos. Just as an example, my first political deck (“Traditions of the Camarilla”) included at least one copy of all six tradition cards (yup, even Sixth Tradition: Destruction) along with Tradition Upheld. It tried to oust using First Tradition: Masquerade and it tried to pack enough pool gain that it could keep acting while the table was paralyzed. Yeah, it wasn’t a particularly strong deck, but it was my kind of deck!
So today I want to step away from my more polished forward-focused demo decks and talk about one of my wonky decks for a couple of reasons. First, the deck has simply been on my mind quite a bit of late, and second, I really want to take it to a tournament. I suppose I should explain why I want to take a sub-par deck to a tournament. We have two local tournaments (organized by Brandon H.) that are run annually around Christmas and my tradition (which goes back to when I first started the game) is to take one of my strange decks, and one good deck. Of course, my definition of “good” was rather different when I first started. Anyway, since I have a blog this year, I decided to publish my crazy deck and see if anybody has suggestions on how to make it better.
The desire to make this deck actually started a long time ago. As a new player, I was given a collection of cards, and the ones that most fascinated me were the ones with story behind them – unique cards like Smiling Jack, the Anarch, Crimson Sentinel … and the Bane Mummy allies. Now, I know nothing of the lore behind mummies in the World of Darkness, and I don’t have a particular affinity for Egyptian mythology or history. My interest in cards like Amam the Devourer, Qetu the Evil Doer, and Tutu the Doubly Evil One came purely from the fact that they were cool, flavorful cards that almost never see play.
Well, even I couldn’t find a use for the bane mummies until The Unaligned was released. I assume that In Memory of the Two Lands was designed to help Spell of Life decks, but it also (finally) gives a reason to play with the bane mummies allies. The original idea of the deck was to influence out small Followers of Set who would then Summon up whichever bane mummy was best for a given situation (including fallen mummies!). Given how expensive the mummies are, the deck also included several ways to gain pool including Enchant Kindred and Mesu Bedshet. Finally, it relied on Ophidian Gaze and The Unmasking for defense.
How did it oust, you ask? After amassing a small army of mummies, it would put Dream World into play at superior, boost the bleeds using In Memory of the Two Lands, and use Veil the Legions for stealth – transforming the mummies into stealth bleeders for a single turn. A multi-card combo supporting underpowered cards? Yeah, now that’s my kind of deck!
But the really strange thing about this deck is that this deck actually did quite well – it’s never failed to gain a victory point, and it’s won more than one game. The key, I think, is that the deck looks so innocuous – it’s hard for most players to imagine that a deck full of mummies could generate so much bleed at stealth in a single turn. The problem the deck had is that it couldn’t survive aggressive predators. So much pool is poured into the mummies that the deck doesn’t have a lot left for defense. A slow deck that also has problems defending itself is a recipe for disaster. It was clear that the deck needed to be changed.
Ultimately, I decided that the deck needed Dominate (which deck doesn’t?). Its addition not only opened up access to all the powerful Dominate cards, but allowed me to include Halim Bey. His discipline spread made him all wrong for the first iteration of the deck, but his ability makes him the perfect vampire to pair with the bane mummies. But before I talk too much about the current version of the deck, let’s take a look at the deck list:
How does the deck win?
The ousting strategy is very much the same as the original incarnation of the deck – bring out mummies and have them bleed at stealth using In Memory of the Two Lands + Dream World for bleed, and Veil the Legions + Halim Bey for stealth. Anarch Troublemaker and Revelation of Ecstasy can also help set up your lunge, particularly once somebody sees just how much bleed these mummies can dish out. I should also note that the deck is actually missing a single mummy: Akhenaten, The Sun Pharaoh. He got omitted because he hates Followers of Set, and because his role (high strength, low bleed) is better and more cheaply fulfilled by Nephren-Ka.
How does the deck survive?
Deflection provides a potent defense against heavy bleeds, and The Unmasking turns the mummies into decent blockers (particularly Tutu the Doubly Evil One who can untap to block). Carlton Van Wyk is simply too good not to include, particularly when you can Summon him up. On top of this, the deck does have some limited ability to bloat using Govern the Unaligned and Mesu Bedshet. In combat the mummies will either hit hard using In Memory of the Two Lands and Weighted Walking Stick, or they can Dodge. I’m unsure which Strike: Combat Ends option is best for my vampires, but for now, I’ve chosen Unholy Penance. Finally, any deck that runs allies needs a way to counter Entrancement – my deck does so simply by running Entrancement itself and packing a Direct Intervention.
So where does the deck stand?
In some ways, I think this deck is better, and in some ways worse. The improvements come in defense, and the extra stealth given to all mummies. The main problem is that the disciplines of the vampires and the library cards don’t match up nearly as well as I would like. The deck features both Dominate and Presence cards, but the vampires really only have one of those disciplines. Obfuscate is also pretty important, but only a single vampire has it at superior. This all makes the deck very dependent on getting specific crypt draws. Furthermore, I’m not convinced that the combat package is useful enough, and I think it might be necessary to thrown in a Secure Haven to protect Halim Bey. Finally, I’m nervous about running a deck that has no ability to move blood back to my pool.
Well, what do you think about this wonky deck? Do you think the combo is robust enough to trigger regularly? Will the inclusion of too many disciplines be this deck’s undoing? Please post your comments and suggestions below – help me get the bane mummies in the Tournament Winning Deck Archive (again)!
Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced, and your votes always pass,