Sorry for this article’s delay – I spent the weekend at a local gaming convention running VTES demos and just got home today. Anyway, while I’ve written a couple of articles looking at the most successful clans to analyze their strategies, today I want to flip around and take a look at the bottom of the list. At present, I have sorted all the tournament winning decks from 2008 through the end of 2015 into lists according to clan. That’s 1716 decks. Even if you cut out the 488 decks don’t meet my criteria for being a “clan deck,” one would still expect that each of the 40 clans (including Caitiff, Bloodlines and Imbued) should have almost 31 decks in the archive. None of the clans tied for the five worst spots manage to get even a fifth of that. Let’s take a look:
- 0 wins: Abominations & Nagaraja
- 2 wins: Caitiff
- 3 wins: Blood Brothers
- 5 wins: Nosferatu Antitribu & Salubri
- 6 wins: Gargoyle & Harbingers of Skulls
It’s no surprise to see Scarce clans like Nagaraja and Salubri do poorly. I’ve chosen to define a clan deck as having >50% of the crypt (and at least two different crypt cards) belong to a single clan, and it’s rare to see decks that feature multiple different Scarce vampires of the same clan, especially when there are non-Scarce vampires who work quite well with the Scarce ones (think Giovanni with Nagaraja). It’s also no surprise to see that nobody has successfully jammed two different Abominations into the same deck – there are only four of them after all! Caitiff have no common disciplines and no clan cards, meaning that it is very difficult to make a deck from them. Even the Pander get Legacy of Pander, which encourages you to pack as many of them together as possible. The Blood Brothers and Gargoyles are very strange clans almost entirely based around combat, which has documented problems winning games.
The unexpected clan for me on this list is the Nosferatu Antitribu. There will always be a worst major clan, but it’s shocking to see just how poorly they’ve performed. They’ve been outdone by Scarce clans (True Brujah have 7 wins), almost all the Bloodlines (which range from 6 to 31 victories), every Laibon Clan (the least successful of which has 13 victories), and even the Pander (with 7). Ouch. The next worst major clan is the Brujah Antitribu who are 2.5 times more successful (12 wins). While all of this might lead one to think that the Nosferatu Antitribu clan disciplines of Animalism, Obfuscate, and Potence are simply doomed to failure, their Camarilla brothers – Clan Nosferatu – have 34 victories, proving that it can be done.
Rather than write about why the Nosferatu Antitribu have done so poorly, I want to focus on what (if any) potential the clan has. What hidden gems are buried in those Sabbat warrens? And how can we use them to build successful Nosferatu Antitribu decks?
Nosferatu Antitribu Crypt Cards:
The heart of any clan is their crypt cards. And while having a large variety of vampires means that you have more choices for deck building, I think that one of the keys to being a successful clan is a good smattering of mid-capacity (5-8) vampires with multiple disciplines at superior. So let’s take a quick look at the 41 Nosferatu Antitribu vampires and which clan disciplines they have at superior. Note that in the chart below, the capacity of each vampire in a given category is contained inside the parentheses.
|Group 2||Group 3||Group 4||Group 5|
|OBF||0||1 (6)||3 (5, 5, 5)||2 (3, 4)|
|POT||1 (4)||0||2 (5, 6)||0|
|ANI OBF||1 (6)||0||1 (7)||0|
|ANI POT||2 (5, 7)||0||2 (6, 10)||0|
|OBF POT||2 (5, 7)||0||2 (7, 9)||0|
|ANI OBF POT||4 (6, 8, 10, 10)||6 (7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9)||2 (8, 10)||1 (9)|
I think that most clans focus on different disciplines in different crypt groups (for example, the strong focus of group 1+2 Ventrue on Presence is shifted to Dominate in later groups), and that does seem to be the case for the Nosferatu Antitribu at least to a degree. Groups 2 and 3 are largely focused on vampires with all three clan disciplines (10/23 vampires fit into this category!), with a secondary focus on superior Potence (only 2 vampires with superior disciplines lack it). Groups 4 and 5 are much more spread out with all three disciplines being highlighted in some way, and vampires with all three clan disciplines at superior are much more rare (3/18). Obfuscate is likely the focus of this crypt group combination as it receives a lot of inexpensive support (there are 5 vampires with capacity under 6 that have OBF).
This all boils down to the fact that the Nosferatu Antitribu (especially groups 2 and 3) are outfitted with a large number of quality mid-cap vampires. Group 2 and 3 are better if you want to stick to all three clan disciplines, with group 4 and 5 focusing on small vampires with OBF.
Nosferatu Antitribu Library Cards:
The other major thing that separates one clan from another is their selection of clan-specific cards, and the Nosferatu Antitribu are blessed with some really great ones, as well as saddled with some really terrible ones. Let’s take a look:
- Information Network: There are only three clans in the game that have been given an intercept location: Assamite, Nosferatu Antitribu, and Ravnos (which comes with a capacity restriction). It may not be game breaking, but it is the cheapest form of intercept available, and it pairs very nicely with the intercept that the Nosferatu Antitribu can gain through Animalism. The only sad thing is that the designers appear to have given this to the Nosferatu Antitribu in lieu of a Stealth location like The Labyrinth.
- Nosferatu Kingdom: Once again, the Nosferatu Antitribu are in excellent company. Only clans Brujah Antitribu, Gangrel, Nosferatu Antitribu, Toreador, and Tremere have access to these Powerbase: Montreal-esque cards. This belongs in every Nosferatu Antitribu deck.
- Vermin Channel: A +3 stealth bleed action for 1 blood is fantastic value, the problem is that the card has been given to a clan with easy access to stealth and no real access to action modifiers that increase bleed. Alone, it is a discipline-less inferior Night Moves that costs a blood. This means that the card really needs to be paired with some out-of-clan discipline or a lot of bleed-boosting equipment and retainers in order to really shine.
Niche, but useful:
- Courier: Any non-unique ally that can bleed and doesn’t cost pool is one to consider for an ally swarm-bleed deck. The fact that you can also potentially make people discard important cards is just gravy.
- Inside Dirt: It’s the new hip card on the block, but I honestly don’t know how good it is. You burn the edge for a bleed of 2 that can’t be bounced, or you burn 2 blood off a vampire. I suppose it could find a home in an OBF weenie bleed deck. In an environment when many people keep their blood totals low, the ability to force a vampire to hunt could potentially be powerful.
- Shanty Town Hunting Ground: Same old hunting ground, nothing special to see here – just a solid ability from a class of cards that is (in my humble opinion) underplayed.
Corner Case or Useless:
- Dirty Little Secrets: I’m unclear why this card was ever printed. First, it tries to encourage a strategy that has zero ability to ever oust your prey. Second, it relies on big bleeds, which the Nosferatu Antitribu have problems with, and if you are successfully pulling off big bleeds, you’ll oust your prey long before you run them out of library cards. Even I can’t imagine ever using this card.
- Gang Tactics: This card may have been useful back when Potence and Obfuscate lacked good maneuvers, but cards like Slam and Swallowed by the Night have made this card obsolete. The fact that you have to be blocked and that you have to use it when the action in announced help ensure that this card will never be seriously considered.
- Steam Tunnels: This card frustrates me because it helps convey the theme of the clan, but it provides an effect that is of questionable value at best! It is possible that looking at the top 3 cards of your opponent’s library will be useful, but I don’t know if it’s strong enough to include in a deck. I throw it in my decks, but I have a predilection for bad cards. Now if you could reorder the top three cards or discard one of them, then I think more people would consider running this.
- Using the Advantage: I like this card, I really do – it calls out to me to try to make a deck where I stack multiples of these and gain obscene amounts of pool every turn. But of course, it is extremely dependent on keeping the edge, and the Nosferatu Antitribu have no ability to actively stop others from getting the edge (which would require something like blocking with Eagle’s Sight), so I sadly think this card will never be included in a serious deck.
Ok, so what the heck do you do with them?
It’s clear that the Nosferatu have some decent crypt cards, and a few very good library cards, but the question is, how do you make these come together in a deck? The major obstacle is the Nosferatu Antitribu’s own clan disciplines: while Animalism is a very versatile discipline, Potence and Obfuscate are not, meaning that the clan fights well, has loads of stealth, and can summon a bit of intercept. These disciplines along with a number of excellent vampires with built-in rushing abilities (like Beast, the Leatherface of Detroit, and Black Annis) has funneled many decks towards stealth rush. But the win record of the clan along with my previous analysis of successful clans suggest that this simply isn’t a very successful tactic on it’s own. In short, the Nosferatu Antitribu don’t get enough from their clan disciplines to win regularly. So the big question is how can they shore up their deficiencies?
Option #1: Voting
Politics is potentially a great option for the Nosferatu Antitribu – it is a discipline-less way of dealing pool damage and it nicely compliments their stealth. But a political deck requires access to a fair number of quality titled vampires and/or plentiful temporary votes. Below is a chart of all their titled vampires who have 2 or more votes (Archbishops and above). The capacity of each vampire within a category is included in the parentheses.
|Group 2||Group 3||Group 4||Group 5|
|Capacity per Vote
|Archbishop||1 (10)||1 (9)||1 (8)||1 (9)|
|Cardinal||1 (10)||0||1 (10)||0|
||1 (7)||0||1 (7)||0|
*A quick note about group 2 before I move on. This group actually includes two Cardinals, but they are the base and advanced version of Youg-Sun. Only one of them has been included in the chart and calculations above. Clearly, this clan is not replete with good titled vampires, and those that are in group 2 and 3 are quite expensive. I don’t think there is a viable voting deck to be made from this group combination. But group 4+5 is a somewhat different story. The titled vampires either cheaper (like Lukas) or they have abilities that are strictly better (like Stohmann and Ysador the Foul) than their group 2+3 counterparts.
In addition, this group provides access to Joseph Cambridge who gets +1 stealth on political actions and is a fairly inexpensive Bishop. It also allows you to include Louhi – a Malkavian Antitribu Cardinal with superior Animalism and Obfuscate, along with an amazing ability. Finally, if you are willing to look outside of the Sabbat, you can include a number of excellent titled Camarilla vampires like Benjamin Rose, Baron Dieudonne, and Alonso Petrodon. Together, they provide an excellent array of titled vampires from which to make a crypt.
And, of course, focusing on titled Sabbat vampires gives you access to what I consider to be one of the best anti-voter cards in the game: Private Audience. Denying Camarilla and Independent vampires the ability to vote is almost guaranteed to pass a referendum. Pairing this with Animal Magnetism and/or Old Friends should allow these Sabbat vampires to pass any vote they want to.
Option #2: Mix in another Discipline
If the Nosferatu Antitribu clan disciplines aren’t sufficient to bring victory, another easy solution is to simply add in another discipline. Below is a chart that includes all the out-of-clan disciplines possessed by Nosferatu Antitribu. The numbers in each box represent the capacity of the vampire with that discipline. Numbers with an asterisk (and bolded) indicate that the vampire has the discipline at superior.
|Group 2||Group 3||Group 4||Group 5|
|Auspex||7, 10||6*, 9||5, 5|
|Dominate||10||8, 9*||6, 10*||9|
|Fortitude||7||4, 5, 5*, 7, 7, 10*|
|Obtenebration||4||6, 10, 10*|
|Protean||9||5, 7, 9|
I think that you need at least four vampires within a group pairing to even consider making a deck that tries to rely on an out-of-clan discipline. This guideline quickly narrows the options to Auspex, Dominate, Fortitude, and Protean. While Auspex pairs nicely with Animalism to create a potent Intercept Combat deck, it is also a discipline that only really shines when you have it at superior (which gives you access to bleed bounce and other nice things). Given that the only Nosferatu Antitribu with superior Auspex only has inferior Animalism, I think they are better off leaving that deck concept to the Tzimisce. Likewise, there are zero Nosferatu Antitribu who have superior Protean, making it rather difficult to properly utilize it in a deck. What we’re left with is Dominate and Fortitude as options.
Although the Nosferatu Antitribu can only muster four vampires with Dominate (2 with superior), the discipline is so powerful that it should at least be considered. And if the group 1 and 2 Malkavians have taught us anything, it’s that the combination of Dominate and Obfuscate can be brutally efficient. Govern the Unaligned can help speed out minions and provide some pool gain (which will be pretty important if our key vampires are 9 and 10 capacity). Deflection provides some much needed defense, and Conditioning happens to pair really well with Vermin Channel, effectively turning two blood into a bleed of 3 or 4 at +3 stealth. In fact it makes me wonder if you could base a deck off Creation Rites (which lets you make 2 capacity vampires with inferior Dominate), along with cards like Blood Feast and Cheval de Bataille to help newly created vampires recover blood. Perhaps I’m straying too far into wonky deck territory with that last idea….
The more interesting option (in my opinion) is Fortitude. I was rather amazed as just how much of it the Nosferatu Antitribu have – 6 vampires have it at inferior (including a few low cap vampires), and 2 have it at superior (including a 5 cap vampire)! This set of vampires is also unified by the fact that all but one of them possess superior Obfuscate. The question is what do you do with an Obfuscate / Fortitude deck? Well, Fortitude provides access to a number of interesting effects including multi-acting. Even Freak Drive at inferior should be sufficient since this group has such ready access to stealth. The ability to multi-act really allows you to make the most of equipment, retainers, and allies.
One possible direction this could be taken involves the use of bleed enhancing cards like Camera Phone, Laptop Computer, J. S. Simmons, Esq., Robert Carter, and Tasha Morgan. These can be equipped from hand or from another vampire (or simply transferred using Heidelburg Castle, Germany) and then immediately used to make a bleed (possibly using Vermin Channel or even Force of Will). Multi-acting also pairs nicely with Intercept Combat decks, especially those that rely on permanent intercept. You can recruit cards like Raven Spy and Mr. Winthrop, and then either bleed or simply stay untapped so that you can block.
Option #3: Work with what you’ve got
Finally, you can just stick with the tools that the Nosferatu Antitribu already have, but just squeeze every last drop of value you can out of them. One idea along these lines is the Courier swarm bleed deck, which I’m honestly surprised hasn’t been done before. The concept is simple – influence out small vampires with superior Obfuscate, have them recruit Couriers and provide them stealth using Cloak the Gathering and Veil the Legions. Your vampire can regain blood through Shanty Town Hunting Ground, or by hunting with Hungary Coyote or Festivo dello Estinto. Both group 2+3 and 4+5 will work for this deck, but if you use groups 4 and 5, you gain access to vampires like Aaron Bathurst, Frank Litzpar, and Skidmark with Fortitude, which allows you to include Freak Drive. The question is whether a deck like this would actually be more effective than making new vampires with Creation Rites, giving them inferior Obfuscate and having them bleed using Night Moves.
So do you think that the Nosferatu Antitribu have any hidden potential? Do you have a successful deck that feature them? Comment below! And let me know if you’re inspired to make a Nosferatu Antitribu deck – personally, I’m putting together a political deck which I’m very excited about.
Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced and all your referendums pass without Camarilla intervention,