The latest VEKN-made set has just been released, and I have to say that I’m impressed. The only other card games that I know of that have produced cards after official support has stopped are games whose art assets come from movies or TV shows. Games like Star Trek CCG and Star Wars TCG. When I first learned that VEKN was going to produce more VTES cards, I assumed that the cards either would have no art, or art covered under a creative commons license that was simply “borrowed” for VTES. I never expected commissioned art, and I certainly never expected good art. The fine quality of the art has certainly been the biggest surprise for me in all the VEKN sets. Much of the art is far better than what White Wolf was using back when they were selling the game!
Anyway, in celebration of Anarchs Unbound being released, I wanted to do a set review, and I decided to start with the crypt cards mostly because they’re easier. I think it’s a lot easier to judge the quality of a vampire than the power of a library card. To judge a vampire, you simply ask if they have as many disciplines as they should and if they don’t you ask if their special ability is equivalent to the number of disciplines they lost to acquire it. There are a few other factors like if other vampires in their crypt grouping share their unique set of disciplines (what I would call crypt support), and how well these vampires will augment current deck archetypes, but in general I think vampires are easy to judge. Library cards on the other hand are tough – it’s difficult to figure out how good they are without seeing them in action. I honestly think this has been one of the major problems for the anarchs – their 3-way discipline cards are just so new and strange that the designers never really had a feel for how strong or weak they were. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll cover the new library cards later. For now, sit back and relax as I talk about the art and power level of each crypt card in Anarchs Unbound!
Appolonius Adv, 10 Cap Brujah, Group 1 – dom CEL FOR POT PRE
Independent anarch: Appolonius gets +1 bleed for each titled vampire controlled by the target of the bleed.
[MERGED] Baron of London: Appolonius can enter combat with any minion as a (D) action.
Art: I really like this one – the pose and angle seem very appropriate, and I even like the crazy expression on his face. The background is interesting without being distracting. A solid addition, indeed!
Power: Finally, an Appolonius that will actually get played! His base version is a Primogen with an optional press each combat, +1 bleed, and the disciplines of a 6 cap vampire. He’s be quite strong as an 8 cap, and pretty competitive as a 9 cap, but as a 10 cap he never ever sees play. The present version is much more appropriate for a 10 cap vampire, although I’m not super excited about the inclusion of Dominate, especially since he has a very nice bleed bonus built in. This isn’t so much a problem with the power level of the card as it is a wish that Dominate was not handed out as a way of boosting weak clans. The inclusion of superior Fortitude, on the other hand is very nice, and he’ll even find a bit of crypt support with vampires like Brachah, Richter, Crusher, and Jimmy Dunn.
Salvador Garcia, 7 Cap Brujah, Group 4 – pot pro CEL PRE
Independent anarch: While Salvador is ready, cards requiring an anarch cost you and anarchs you control 1 less blood or pool.
Art: Wow, very nice use of light! The red at his back strongly reminds me of the red light in Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodlines located just outside the blood bank. I really enjoy this art.
Power: The discipline spread of a 6 cap along with a universal blood and pool saving special ability? Yeah, I’ll take that. You only have to play a single pool-costing Anarch card to pay for his extra ability. Anything after that is pure savings. Now there aren’t a ton of anarch cards that cost blood, but paying less for Gear Up or Grey Thorne seems pretty awesome. He also has some decent crypt support in groups 3 and 4 if you want to use his Protean (for some surprise aggravated damage, perhaps).
Ariane, 3 cap Brujah, Group 5 – cel pot pre
Independent anarch: Ariane gets -1 stealth on undirected actions.
Art: Very much in keeping with World of Darkness. It’s not my favorite art of the set, but it fits and works very well.
Power: This vampire trades 1 capacity for -1 stealth on undirected actions. This means that you won’t really be using her in political decks (no loss there), but she also has problems equipping and recruiting. I suppose that isn’t a huge disadvantage, and she seems to fit into the anarch model of wanting multiple inferior disciplines to be able to play a wide range of different the 3-way cards. It’s hard to make the low-capacity vampires exciting, but Ariane is a potentially solid addition.
Gengis Adv, 3 cap Brujah, Group 3 – aus cel pot
Independent anarch: If Gengis is blocked by a titled vampire, he does not untap as normal during your next untap phase.
[MERGED] Gengis gets +1 level of Auspex [aus] and Celerity [cel].
Art: A blue vampire? Maybe he’s just very pale and there is blue light shining on his front…. But other than that minor quibble, I like it a lot. It’s also nice to see vampires doing something as opposed to just looking into the “camera.”
Power: I like the titled vampire theme that the anarchs are developing in this set. I guess this guys is one of those lackies who talks big, but when he’s really confronted by an actual titled vampire, he shrinks back. I’m a bit unsure if this drawback is better or worse than his basic version’s (which allows Brujah to temporarily steal him). I also like vampires like this that help bridge the gap between two clans (in this case Brujah and Toreador).
Marguerite Foccart Adv, 6 cap Brujah, Group 4 – aus pot CEL PRE
Independent anarch: Marguerite gets +1 strength in combat with a titled vampire.
[MERGED] +1 strength.
Art: The art is a little dark for me only because the frame is also dark. I think it’s a great piece of art on it’s own, but I’m not sure how well it works with the strong blue/black frame. Just another reason why the frames need to go (especially for the crypt cards).
Power: I was surprised to see an advanced version of Foccart because her base version is already so good – a standard 6 cap discipline spread plus a free +1 intercept against political actions. I suppose that this version’s special is trying to help compensate for her lack of superior Potence, which is fine. I think I prefer the intercept (plus I’m a sucker for the Camarilla), but both versions are quite strong.
Jenna Cross, 4 cap Caitiff, Group 4 – pot pre CEL
Independent anarch: Cards that cost blood cost Jenna 1 additional blood to play. Sterile.
Art: Again, I like Carmen Cornet’s art a lot. The face in particular is very well done, and I enjoy how it changes from being very precise and realistic, to being very abstract in the dress and background. My only (very minor) gripe is that she has a white light shining on her face and a red light at her back, just like Salvador Garcia.
Power: I really like seeing Caitiff with capacities greater than 2. It makes the “clan” feel like more than a random group of 1 cap vampires with no coherent theme. I’m a bit unsure why they made a Caitiff with the Brujah clan disciplines – I would have enjoyed seeing at least one be different. Her downside (which she trades for a single point of disciplines) is manageable, but it will require some specific deck building to work around.
Tori Longwood, 4 cap Caitiff, Group 2 – cel pot pre pro
Independent anarch: After the end of your minion phase, tap Tori if she did not take an action this turn.
Art: Well, I’m not really into overly sexualized vampires and so this art just doesn’t do it for me. Guess I’m just odd that way. Also, do her bra straps just vanish into her skin? I do like the background except for the strange blue circles on the right side. They must be coming from some light source, but the frame cuts them off (curse you frame!).
Power: She gains a free discipline in exchange for never being untapped at the end of the turn, which isn’t that big of a deal since she has no disciplines that would make her a decent blocker. She seems like a strong vampire, although I’m still a little concerned about Caitiff that just have Brujah disciplines – why not make them Brujah? I guess this is a lore issue rather than a design one….
Maldavis Adv, 4 cap Caitiff, Group 3 – for pre AUS
Independent anarch: Primogen get +1 vote in referendums called by Maldavis.
[MERGED] Baron of Chicago.
Art: Interesting, but not my style. Plus I can’t figure out what her shirt says. Agan Yo? Eagnn Yoy? Maybe it’s in a foreign language? (EDIT: Apparently the shirt says Regan Youth which is a punk band – I didn’t notice that she was wearing a jacket that cut off the words, I just thought it was the folding of the shirt.)
Power: Wow, Maldavis just got a lot better. Her base version’s downside was -1 bleed against players with Primogen and Primogen can burn 1 blood from her, but now her drawback only impacts referendums. Since she’s likely to be used in wall or intercept combat decks, I think her downside will almost never come into play. I would actually enjoy trying to put together a political deck that tries to turn her disadvantage into free votes by paring her with Primogen like Reginald Moore and Thomas De Lutrius.
Zack North Adv, 6 cap Gangrel, Group 1 – for pot ANI PRO
[MERGED] Once each round of combat, Zack can burn 1 blood to make the damage from his hand strikes aggravated that round.
Art: Damn, man – nice suit. His hair is also awesome, and I enjoy the background. My issues are about the combination of suit and forest scene, and the extreme contrast between his pale skin and red hair. But those are really minor complaints. Very nice art!
Power: Wow, this vampire went from being unplayable to being very solid. He’s especially nice in group 1, which has a distinct lack of mid-cap Gangrel with superior Animalism. He really helps that group get away from just being about Fortitude and Protean. His merged text is also quite interesting – at that point, he’ll be able to strike for 2 agg at will, meaning that he will be pretty tricky to deal with.
Crow, 5 cap Gangrel, Group 5 – for pro tha ANI
Art: I feel like this art is very much in keeping with previous VTES cards, but I’m not crazy about it. To be fair, that is mostly the fault of the dark frame (get rid of the frames!).
Power: I really wish that all the 5 capacity vampires with 3 inferior and 1 superior disciplines had a minor special ability. It would help to make them as useful as those with 1 inferior and 2 superior disciplines. That said, Thaumaturgy is a very interesting choice for the Gangrel, and Crow will find decent crypt support in groups 4 and 5 including vampires like Jacob Fermor and Frere Marc. Plus he fits nicely into a weenie Animalism deck, so he’ll certainly find a home.
Danielle Diron Adv, 7 cap Gangrel, Group 3 – aus cel chi for ANI PRO
Independent anarch: If Danielle is ready during a referendum, she can burn 1 blood to get +1 vote.
[MERGED] Baron of Berlin.
Art: I still really like Carmen Cornet, but I’m glad that this doesn’t have the red/white motif that the last two had. One of the things I enjoy so much about these pieces is the abstract background and hazy images you get from it. Very nicely done!
Power: A very interesting vampire to make an advanced version of. Her base version lacked two inferior disciplines, but had a permanent vote and she got 2 free blood if she was empty during your untap phase. So unless you really plan to make use of her new Auspex and Celerity, her base version is just better. Of course, turning her into a Baron who can gain an extra vote is pretty nice – especially for a vampire without a vote-push discipline.
Vulture, 7 cap Gangrel, Group 2 – for pre ANI POT PRO
Independent anarch: Once each turn, and ararch vampire you control can untap after successfully equipping with a vehicle from you hand.
Art: It’s nice to get a different style from time to time, and so while this isn’t my favorite piece of art in the set, I quite enjoy the stylistic difference. I’m just unsure what the brown tentacles coming from her neck are supposed to be. Some sort of animal trait…? (Edit: Oh, I guess those are feathers, which makes a lot of sense… don’t know why I didn’t see that!)
Power: Well her special is free, making her a very efficient vampire. That having been said, there aren’t that many vehicles to equip, so her special might not get that much use. I’m guessing that she was designed to compliment the new Brunhilde and her Valkyries.
Dancin’ Dana Adv, 6 cap Malkavian, Group 1 – dom obf AUS CEL
[MERGED] You get +1 hand size while Dancin’ Dana is in combat.
Art: I love her ostentatious outfit, and how different it is from the “typical” vampire attire. Nicely done, and sure to draw attention.
Power: Wow, Dancin’ Dana can finally be played! Her base version was just horrible and came from a time when design felt that +1 strength and +1 bleed were of the same value. It’s also interesting to me that the current design team was able to make a very strong mid cap Malkavian in group 1 and yet not help the Malk ’94 deck archetype. Very well done! I’d expect to see her paired with Toreador more than the Malkavians.
Philip van Vermeer IV, 7 cap Malkavian, Group 2 – dom pro AUS DEM OBF
Independent anarch: You and Philip can play cards requiring a Ventrue as if he were a member of that clan.
Art: Wow, I love this one! It simultaneously looks like Philip is putting his head through a pane of glass and that it’s his mind that is cracked. A very cool way of showing a Malkavian. Major coolness points.
Power: Another free ability, but I really question how often you will want to play Ventrue cards with him. He really doesn’t pair well with the Ventrue (given that the only discipline overlap they have is his inferior Dominate). But I guess you can’t expect too much from a free ability. His superior Dementation likely means that he will be paired with Malkavian Antitribu since there is only one other group 2 Malkavian with Dementation. It’s hard to complain about a solid midcap vampire with all superior clan disciplines, but I’m just now wowed here.
Sundown Adv, 6 cap Nosferatu, Group 3 – obf pre ANI POT
[MERGED] If Sundown is ready during a referendum, you can discard a political action card to force a vampire to abstain.
Art: More blue vampires?! Is this part of the World of Darkness that I just don’t know? I’m also a little confused about the background – is it a big office building with a bright street light shining on it, or some sort of computerized power grid? My favorite part of the art is that Sundown seems in the midst of going invisible. While that’s cool, it might not be very appropriate for a vampire with only inferior Obfuscate.
Power: He loses the ability to burn a blood for a vote and gets… nothing. It’s hard to complain because both his basic and advanced versions are solid mid cap vampires with two disciplines are superior, and access to Presence. His merged text is quite interesting, and I could maybe see his basic form in a voting deck where you use Epiphany to merge him. Maybe not.
The Medic, 6 cap Nosferatu, Group 5 – dem for OBF POT
Independent anarch: During your turn, you can burn the Edge to add 1 blood to an anarch you control.
Art: While not my favorite art, I think he is a very convincing Nosferatu, and I like his outfit quite a bit: the mask seems appropriate and the jacket looks incredibly realistic – I can almost feel the age of that leather through my computer screen!
Power: I love Edge manipulation abilities. I like it when the Edge is meaningful and when you can do things with it other than hope that you hold on to it. The lack of Animalism will give many pause, but he has some excellent crypt support if you want to use his Fortitude. His inferior Dementation might allow him to pair with some Malkavian Antitribu who have Potence like Fabrizia Contreraz and Marge Khan.
Victor Gerard, 7 cap Toreador, Group 2 – cel dom for obf AUS PRE
Independent anarch: You and Victor can play cards requiring a Camarilla vampire as if Victor were a Camarilla vampire. While Victor is a Baron, you and Victor can play cards requiring a Prince as if Victor were a Prince.
Art: I really like this piece, and while the lighting is quite dark, it matches the frame better than some of the previous examples. My one question is why is a little piece of his jacket that is just left of the button a different color (maybe it’s the liner on the inside of the jacket)?
Power: Is he an anarch, or is he a loyal member of the Camarila? I suppose that depends on who you ask! I really like the flavor of this vampire, and although I know nothing about him in the “official” lore, I can perfectly understand that this is somebody who is dealing with multiple factions to his own benefit. That having been said, I don’t know useful the ability is. I suppose once you make him a Baron, the ability becomes pretty good. His strange discipline spread will make him very appealing for anarch decks. I look forward to experimenting with him.
Desiree Narayan, Anarch Historian, 6 cap Ravnos, Group 6 – ani cel for nec CHI
Art: There are a lot of small elements here that I like. She is clearly a wanderer – she seems to be waiting for something (a bus, maybe?), she’s got her belongings with her, and she’s gazing into the distance. The book she holds is a nice nod towards her role as a historian. Neat use of lighting, too. The only thing that confuses me is what she’s sitting on. Is it the back of a bench? Or maybe a fence of some sort?
Power: Any vampire who sacrifices not 1 but 2 superior disciplines for inferior disciplines should get an ability. 6 cap vampires with three superior disciplines are extremely good, those with two superior disciplines are probably more normal and are frequently played. But a 6 cap vampire with only one superior discipline? I think she needs a special ability to convince people to play her. This is especially true because there are so few other group 5/6 Ravnos who have her out of clan disciplines: only 1 has Necromancy, and none have Celerity. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be using her for. Which is sad since she has great art and a fantastic name.
Irena, 5 cap Ravnos, Group 5 – ani for pre CHI
Art: Nice enough art, but it doesn’t stand out to me.
Power: Again, I’d like to see 5 cap vampires with only one superior discipline have a little special of some kind. The good news here is that she has some crypt support for her inferior Presence, including Devyn, Paul Forrest, and Tatiana Stepanova.
Javier Montoya Adv, 9 cap Tremere, Group 2 – ani cel AUS PRE THA
Independent anarch: During your minion phase, Javier can burn 1 blood to untap a younger ready anarch.
[MERGED] Baron of Barcelona.
Art: Wow, this art is amazing! The first thing that draws the eye is the light from the Zippo and the expression of weariness on Javier’s face. His dirty clothes help convey the hell that he’s undoubtedly been through in the process of converting Barcelona from a Camarilla city to an Anarch one. It’s hard to me to say too many good things about this one. Very nice!
Power: Well, he’s swapped out his prince title, his +1 bleed, and his special where he rescues vampires for 1 less blood for superior Presence and the ability to Freak Drive an anarch vampire once per turn. It’s a decent trade off under the right circumstances. One of the reasons I find him so interesting is that he swaps Dominate for Presence – something that a number of other Tremere do. He’ll be right at home with vampires like Pieter van Dorn, Cohn Rose, Yasmin the Black, and Rebekka, Chantry Elder of Munich. It would be fascinating to see a Presence Tremere deck, so I like this vampire for that reason alone!
Monica Chang, 3 cap Tremere, Group 5 – dom tha
Art: Very nice art, but I honestly think it’s more appropriate for a Camarilla Tremere (you know, one that actually has access to a Chantry). But that is a very minor point and it really doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the piece. The yellow light in the background is really necessary given the darkness of the Monica herself and the frame.
Power: Well, it’s hard to get too excited about a 3 cap vampire with no specials, but she fills a very important hole in group 5, whose youngest vampire was previously Tarrence Moore, a 4 cap!
Daliah, 6 cap Tzimisce, Group 4 – ani aus pot VIC
Independent anarch: When Daliah enters combat, she gains 1 blood.
Art: Interesting, and the tattoos scream anarch to me (which may say something about me, come to think about it…), but I don’t really see her as a Tzimisce. Maybe I have some unrealistic mental pictures in my head when it comes to the flesh crafters. It’s a solid piece of art, and I like it, I just think it would work better for a Brujah or some other clan.
Power: Well, group 4 Tzimisce are certainly about fighting, and Daliah fits into the theme very nicely. But I’ve written a whole article about how the themes of the group 4 Tzimisce have failed and they never win tournaments. In that article, I praised the group 5 Tzimisce made by the current Design Team, and claimed that they could help revitalize group 4/5 Tzimisce decks. I really can’t see Daliah helping in the least. At best, she supports a strategy that does not work. Her inferior Potence is almost certainly going to go to waste – there are only a few other Tzimisce with it, and most of them are very expensive (not the kind you would normally want in a combat deck), and none of them have it at superior. I honestly see Daliah as a big missed opportunity.
Boss Callihan Adv, 5 cap Ventrue, Group 3 – dom for pro PRE
Independent anarch: Callihan gets -1 intercept against Sabbat vampires.
[MERGED] Baron of New York.
Art: Really neat! I really enjoy the lighting on this one, and the stains on his clothes and face are really well done too. I just don’t think that the frame does this one justice.
Power: Another boring 5 cap with only one superior discipline. Oh wait, what’s this … a drawback? Wait, he gets a free drawback? That is the opposite of good! I mean, his base version had a drawback, but it was never clear why. Are group 3 Ventrue so good that they can’t have a normal 5 cap vampire with one superior discipline (note that group 3 is the least played Ventrue crypt grouping according to my TWDA clan breakdown)? I really don’t understand the penalty here. And when you merge him you get to combine his new penalty with his old one! He does a bit of crypt support for his inferior Protean, but it’s most vampires like Little Willie and Dylan who don’t have any superior disciplines. I suppose you could try to shove him into a deck with Hrothulf and Hardestadt…. Yeah, the new Boss Callihan is almost as much of a disappointment as his old version.
Louis Fortier Adv, cap 5 Ventrue, Group 4 – aus dom for obf pre
[MERGED] Louis gets +1 level of Dominate [dom] and Presence [pre].
Art: Although the style isn’t my absolute favorite of the bunch, I really enjoy when the vampires are doing something. Walking briskly with his coat billowing behind him certainly counts for me! Plus there is a lot of determination in those eyes. I’d move out of his way for sure.
Power: Well, if a 5 cap vampire with no superior disciplines is ever going to find a home, it will be among the anarchs. He is very flexible and should be able to really take advantage of the 3-way anarch cards. His merged text is also quite interesting, and it turns him into an extremely good vampire. If he’s willing to flirt with the Sabbat, he’ll find plenty of crypt support for his Ausepx among the Ventrue Antitribu, and there are even a decent number of Ventrue / Ventrue Antitribu with Obfuscate, so it won’t be that difficult to figure out a use for all his disciplines.
I have to admit that I’ve never reviewed cards like this before, and it ended up being a lot more work than I anticipated! I hope that you enjoyed reading my somewhat rambling thoughts about each vampire. Did you agree with me? Have I overlooked somebody? Post a comment below!
Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced and your actions to “Go Anarch” never be blocked,