Outferior Disciplines II

Greetings Methuselahs,

Last week, I discussed outferior disciplines and my belief that the effects exist specifically to support crypts that mix bloodlines with so called “ally” clans.  After all, if the outferior was simply a way to allow you to cycle the card out of your hand if you didn’t have any bloodline vampires out, they could simply be given a Burn Option.  I went through the five clans that the VEKN are going to focus on during the upcoming set, and the unique discipline associated with those clans last week.  Today, I’ll do the same with the remaining bloodlines and their unique disciplines.

To recap, I’ll be giving each discipline two grades – one to represent the choice of outferior disciplines (and how much these disciplines are useful to ally clans), and how powerful or useful those outferior effects are.  The best cards will be those whose outferior discipline is held by an ally clan, and whose effect is at least somewhat desirable.  I confess that I missed the power level on some outferior effects last week, but the commonality among these cards is that their outferior effect is situationally good enough to be included in decks without the bloodline discipline.  While it’s great that outferior effects like Transfusion see play, I will be basing my review on the degree to which the outferior effect encourages mixed crypt decks.  Alright, let’s get started!

 

Ahrimane:

Feral SpiritWith Animalism, Presence, and Spiritus, the Ahrimane find their natural ally in the Guruhi (ANI, POT, PRE).  The Guruhi help to strengthen their ties to the Ahrimane through Sobayifa who is the only non-Ahrimane in the game with Spiritus.  However, the game also includes a number of cards like Feral Spirit and Spirit Claws that attempt to link the Ahrimanes to the Gangrel / Gangrel Antitrubu.  This link is also seen in the choice of out-of-clan disciplines that the Ahrimanes have: 4 have at least basic mastery of Protean, and there are 3 who have either Celerity, Fortitude, or Obfuscate.   This access to Obfuscate also ties them a bit to the Nosferatu / Nosferatu Antitribu – there’s even one Ahrimane who has Potence!

Given these allies, I would assume to see a few outferior cards for Celerity, Fortitude, and Obfuscate, and a lot for Potence (to help out the Guruhi) and Protean (to solidify the link with the Gangrel).  Below are the disciplines picked by White Wolf for Spiritus cards:

  • Animalism (6)
  • Auspex (1)
  • Celerity (2)
  • Fortitude (2)
  • Obfuscate (2)
  • Protean (1)

I’m a bit surprised to see so many Animalism cards (especially considering that there are no Presence cards), but I’ll let that slide.  As expected, there are a few outferior cards for loosely connected disciplines (CEL, FOR, OBF), but the real shocker is that the two disciplines most closely aligned are either missing (POT), or represented by only 1 card (PRO).  Admittedly, Bloodlines came out before the Guhuri existed, but why was no card with a Potence outferior effect published in Heirs to the Blood?  The only real mystery discipline here is the lone Auspex card.  I’d give the choice of disciplines a B.  They hit a lot of the right points, but let me down on some crucial areas.  I’d highly suggest any future Spritus cards focus on Potence and Protean for their outferior effects.

Then we come to effects.  By my estimation, there are 5 cards that possess effects strictly inferior to what the outferior discipline provides, 5 cards that provide effects on par with the outferior discipline (although some of these are pretty weak – burn 1 blood for +1 intercept for PRO and ANI, both of which are given intercept with a downside, but these are steep downsides!), and 4 cards that provide totally new abilities (some like Nose of the Hound are handy, but others like Vulture’s Buffet are extremely situational).  I’d give the outferior power level a C.  Passing, but not exemplary.

 

Baali:

Blessed with the powers of Daimonion, Obfuscate, and Presence, the Baali will naturally look to the Followers of Set as allies.  In addition to sharing two disciplines, there are 2 Baali with access to Serpentis.  The majority of Baali are fairly high capacity, meaning that they have a number of out-of-clan disciplines which open up other (albeit tenuous) allies.  There are 5 Baali with Potence, which puts Brujah / Brujah Antitribu and Nosferatu / Nosferatu Antitribu on the table.  The Baali even have limited access to Animalism (2), and Celerity (3), which helps strengthen those connections.  The final tenuous connection is with the Toreador / Toreador Antitribu due to the number of Baali with Celerity or Auspex (3).  But really, the natural ally here are the Followers of Set.

So I’d expect to see some amount of Potence (4 tenuous ally clans + several Baali), a tiny amount of Animalism, Auspex, and Celerity, and a huge amount of Serpentis.  Let’s see what Daimoninon actually has (ignoring the Maleficia and Striga cards):

  • Auspex (2)
  • Chimestry (1)
  • Obfuscate (2)
  • Potence (1)
  • Presence (2)
  • Serpentis (3)
  • Thaumaturgy (1)
Hey look, it's a really bad version of The Eternal Mask!
Hey look, it’s a really bad version of The Eternal Mask!

Well, most of the disciplines selected make sense.  The standouts are Thaumaturgy (although there are a few Baali with it, so maybe), and Chimestry.  No idea what they were thinking there.  They’re also missing Animalism and Celerity, but like I said, those were from rather tenuous ally clans, so I don’t mind their absence.  The representation of each discipline isn’t even that bad.  I would have liked to see more Potence and Serpentis cards, but what are you going to do?  The choice of disciplines gets an A- from me.  It’s a pretty exemplary but slightly flawed selection.  I’d suggest that any future cards try to use Potence and Serpentis cards (especially since the Serpentis cards all suck horribly – more on that below) as their choice of outferior discipline.

Looking at the power of these effects, I’d classify 4 of them as being strictly inferior, 5 as being on-par (although some like Ignore the Searing Flames are “on-par” but still horrible), and 3 as providing a new ability.  Of course the “new ability” provided by Psychomachia is a more limited version of the discipline-less card Change of Target that costs a blood.  Boy, I’m excited now!  I’d like to give Daimonion a passing grade, but the fact that every single Serpentis card is horrible is just inexcusable.  Serpentis is the out-of-clan discipline most connected to the Baali, meaning that these cards should be the flagship for the mixed deck archetype.  The only excuse I can conjure is that all the Serpentis outferior cards were designed prior to Lords of the Night, which was when Serpentis went from a mediocre discipline to a potent one.  But even given that, I have to give Daimonion a F for the outferior power level.

 

Daughters of Cacophony:

Fortitude, Melpomonie, and Presence afford the Daughters two potential ally clans in the form of Ventrue and Ishtarri, both of which share Fortitude and Presence.  The Ventrue are particularly strong candidates for allies as they share a focus on voting.  While most Daughters tend to be pretty focused on their clan disciplines, there are two members of group 6 who have Obfuscate, which might allow them to ally with the Followers of Set.   However, the Daughters also have a number of cards that reward people for playing as many Daughters as possible, so the clan is in the awkward position of both wanting allies (to make up for their extremely limited crypt selection), and wanting to stay pure in order to take advantage of cards like Bastille Opera House and Conductor.  But I suppose it’s not a bad thing to try to support more than one archetype per clan.

So given their possible allies, I’d expect to see a lot of Dominate (for the Ventrue), and Celerity (for the Ishtarri).  Maybe a little bit of Obfuscate and a touch of Serpentis.  Below is a list of the outferior discipline present on Melpominee cards:

  • Auspex (4)
  • Celerity (3)
  • Chimerstry (1)
  • Presence (4)
  • Protean (1)
Wow... Presence can burn the edge for 2 votes.
Wow… Presence can burn the edge for 2 votes.

Again, the designers include a lot of cards with an outferior discipline also possessed by the bloodline.  I don’t think that’s necessarily a horrible idea, but I’m puzzled that there are so many of them, and that certain disciplines are arbitrarily ignored.  In this case, there are plenty of Presence cards, but no Fortitude.  Celerity is present at nice levels, but Dominate is completely (and mysteriously) absent.  In it’s place we get a bizarre array of cards from Auspex (presumably to provide a connection to the Toreador?), Chimestry (which 1 Daughter actually has), and Protean (yeah, I got nothing).  So half of the cards belong to disciplines that make very little sense to my mind, and Dominate is completely missing.  At best that’s 50% success, which I’m willing to give a D in this case.  New cards should really consider using Dominate as the outferior discipline.  It’s hard for me to suggest making more Dominate cards, but that seems to be what’s needed here.

By my count, the outferior discipline include 4 that are strictly inferior, 4 that are on par, and 5 that are new abilities.  These include giving Change of Target to Chimestry (which is reasonable, but seriously, why is Chimestry here?!), and giving Auspex two cards that tap minions.  Of course one is a +1 stealth action and is free and the other is costs blood, has no stealth, and only taps younger vampires.  So… yeah.  Mixed bag indeed.  It’s also frustrating to see that many of the useful cards belong to Auspex, which I’m still puzzled to see.  Overall, I’d give the power of these outferior cards a C.  Some of the cards have decent effects, but in general they don’t actually do their job of encouraging mixed crypts.

 

Kiasyd:

The Kiasyd are intimately linked to the Lasombra in both lore and discipline spread.  But it’s hard to find other clans that the Kiasyd might be able to ally themselves with because they essentially have two unique disciplines: Mytherceria and Obtenebration.  That means that any other clan could at best share Dominate with them.  That having been said, the Kiasyd (particularly in group 2) have quite a bit of Auspex, meaning that the group 1/2 Malkavians or the Ventrue Antitribu might be a good match.  They also have several vampires with Necromancy which opens the possibility of pairing with the Giovanni and Nagaraja.

Given these potential ally clans, I’d expect to see a lot of Potence outferior effects (which would help tie them to the Lasombra and Giovanni) and some Necromancy and Auspex.  Let’s take a look at what White Wolf decided to give Mytherceria cards:

  • Auspex (3)
  • Dominate (3)
  • Necromancy (2)
  • Obtenebration (3)
  • Potence (3)

Basilisk's TouchThis list actually looks pretty good!  Dominate and Obtenebration are obvious selections, and I’m pleased to see that Potence is heavily featured.  Necromancy and Auspex both make sense, although I would have expected them to be less focused on.  Overall, the selection of outferior disciplines for Mytherceria cards seems exemplary.  I’m forced to give it an A.

Looking at the power of the outferior effects, I’d classify 6 as strictly inferior, 5 as on par, and 2 as new abilities.  But the strictly inferior are just insulting.  Basilisk’s Touch provides Potence with the same basic effect as Torn Signpost, but it can only be played when in combat with a younger vampire.  Oh, and it costs 2 blood.  Yeah, that card essentially has no outferior ability.  Scarlet Lore is almost as bad – it gives Necromancy an action to move a card from ash heap to the top of your library as a +1 stealth action that costs 2 blood.  The effect is reasonable, but the cost ensures that it will never be used.  And this was a rare in Heirs to the Blood, so nobody can say that White Wolf got better at designing outferior effects as time went on.  Really, the only saving grace here is that the Dominate and Obtenebration outferior effects are actually pretty reasonable.  Absorb the Mind even gives Dominate access to Dodge (such a shame that it never gets played)!  They messed up the Potence cards, but getting 2/3 important disciplines right ain’t bad… I guess.  I give Mytherceria a C- for outferior effect power.

 

Salubri:

The Salubri are our first Scarce clan, and as such, pairing with other clans is of particular importance.  This puts far more emphasis onto the outferior discipline effects.  Fortunately, with Auspex, Fortitude, and Obeah, the Salubri have many natural allies including the Harbingers of Skulls (1 Salubri even has Necromancy), Salubri Antitribu (2 Salubri have Valeren), and the Ventrue Antitribu.  Given these allied clans, I’d expect to see quite many Obeah cards with outferior effects in Necromancy and Dominate, and maybe Valeren (if the developers felt like stretching the mold).  I don’t see that other discipline would of much value.  Let’s look to see what White Wolf decided to put on the Obeah cards:

  • Animalism (2)
  • Auspex (2)
  • Celerity (1)
  • Dementation (1)
  • Dominate (3)
  • Fortitude (5)
  • Necromancy (1)
  • Obfuscate (1)
  • Presence (2)
  • Valeren (1)

Cleansing RitualWow, what a mixed bag.  Auspex, Dominate, Fortitude, and Necromancy are all good choices.  But it’s a bit surprising that there’s only 1 Necromancy card.  It seems like the developers kept overlooking the Harbingers of Skulls.  It’s also nice to see a Valeren card to allow the two halves of this clan work together a bit better.  That’s 12/19 cards whose discipline make sense.  But them we get to the rest.  Animalism, Celerity, Dementation, Obfuscate, Presence.  It’s like they took all the clans who had Auspex or Fortitude and tried to give each of them a card.  Will 2 Animalism cards really allow the Salubri and Gangrel to mix?  Unlikely.  Likewise for the Celerity/Presence cards and Toreador?  Again, I’m not seeing it.   In general I think the choices were good, but some are really stretches of the imagination.  I’d give the selection of outferior disciplines on Obeah cards a C.

The power of those effects is actually a bit hard for me to figure out because so many (11/19!) provide unusual or new effects for the discipline they appear in.  And these “new” abilities are all over the map and include Cleansing Ritual which gives Dominate the ability to give 1 blood to another vampire you control as a +1 stealth action… and it costs a blood.  New?  Yes.  Usefully?  No.  Another example is Heaven’s Gate which allows Necromancy to spend a blood to prevent 1 damage to an Ally in combat.  It seems pretty neat, and in a world without Glancing Blow, it could actually see some play.  From the 8 cards that provide usual effects, I’d say that 1 of them is strictly inferior, and 7 are somewhat on par (many of which involve untapping younger vampires).  So lots of new abilities (which range from horrible to situational but interesting), and a few on par effects.  I’d give that a C+.

 

True Brujah:

And finally we come to the True Brujah.  As a Scarce bloodline, it is particularly important for them to find ally clans.  Potence, Presence, and Temporis allow them to pair quite nicely with the normal Brujah / Brujah Antitribu (get all the flavors of Brujah into one deck!).  Since there are 4 True Brujah who have Auspex (3 of which are in group 5+6), they might ally themselves with the Toreador / Toreador Antitribu.  The 4 True Brujah with Fortitude might pair with the Ventrue (one True Brujah even has dom/FOR!).  Finally, 2 True Brujah have Serpentis (and one also has Obfuscate) meaning that the Followers of Set might also work as allies.

So, given those many different potentially allies, I’d expect to see a number of different disciplines on Temporis cards, but mostly Celerity.  That would help bring them closer to 4 clans (Brujah / Brujah Antitribu and Toreador / Toreador Antitibu), and it fits extremely well from a flavor perspective.  Plus the bloodline vampires almost never use the outferior effects on one of their cards, so the fact that the True Brujah couldn’t actually use these effects would be a trivial drawback.  Otherwise, I’d expect a little bit of Auspex, Dominate, Fortitude, and Serpentis.  If you still had card slots left over, maybe an Obfuscate card or two.  So let’s see what Temporis actually has:

  • Auspex (1)
  • Dominate (2)
  • Obfuscate (3)
  • Obtenebration (1)
  • Potence (2)
  • Presence (5)
  • Serpentis (2)

Rewind TimeHuh.  No Celerity.  Not even a single card.  That’s a design and flavor failure in my eyes, and it’s absence really damages the ability of childe of Brujah/Troile to actually work together.  But let’s focus on what they do have.  Potence and Presence are obvious, and nice to see (although maybe a bit heavy on the Presence…).  Auspex, Dominate, and Serptenis were all expected and appear in low numbers.  Obfuscate appears as predicted, but in much higher numbers.  Maybe that’s to support a connection with the Nosferatu / Nosferatu Antitribu?  But Obtenebration?  Is that there solely to help Nehemiah pair with the couple of Lasombra who have Presence?  Seems possible, but unlikely.  So over all, the disciplines selected make sense, but the lack of Celerity is a problem.  I’d have to give the discipline selection a B-.  Decently well executed, but missing the main ingredient.

Let’s move on to the power level of these effects.  3 of them are simply inferior (giving Presence the ability to bleed at +2 bleed… for 3 blood.  Who thought of that?!), 5 are on par with basic effects on other cards, and 8 cards provide new or unusual effects.  As always, these new effects vary wildly in their usefulness.  On the upper end of the power spectrum in Clotho’s Gift, which gives Obfuscate the ability to take an action to decrypt at the cost of a blood.  This card is so useful that it’s often used in decks that can only play it for it’s outferior effect.  But most effects are situational at best (like Recurring Contemplation which gives Presence a Seduction-like effect for allies only), or downright horrible (Rewind Time allows Presence to reduce a bleed by 1… at the cost of 2 blood).  This one is hard – Clotho’s Gift is so good, but it really doesn’t encourage True Brujah / Obfuscate decks does it?  Looking at TWDA archive, there are a few examples which show True Brujah and Obfuscate minions, so maybe I judge it too harshly.  I’ll give the power of the Temporis outferior effects a B-.

 


Damn, that was a lot more work than I initially thought it would be!  Just one last thing to do before I leave this topic behind.  Which bloodline discipline made the best use of their outferior effects.  Well, let’s review my grades:

Discipline: Choice Power Average
Daimoninon A- F  C-
Melpominee D C  D+
Mytherceria A C- B-
Obeah C C+ C
Spiritus C+ C C
Temporis B- B- B-
Thanatosis B+ D+ C+
Valeren F D D-
Visceratika A D C+

Interestingly, no discipline got higher than a B- in the power category.  That’s a problem – if the outferior effects aren’t any good, nobody is going to use them, and I think it’s safe to say that this is where the majority of bloodline cards are at present.  One suggestion I have is to address this is to introduce outside superior effects (perhaps in place out outferior effects) where the effect provided is similar to the superior form of an existing card for that outside discipline.  Tremere and Gargoyles might work better together if a Visceratika card has a Theft of Vitae effect for Superior Thaumaturgy.  To be absolutely clear, I’m not suggesting giving normally superior effects to the basic level of discipline (as we’ve seen for the anarchs), but instead suggesting that a bloodline card could have an (outside SUP), (inf), and (SUP) effect.

The disciplines chosen for outferior effects are, in general, better.  Even those that miss the mark usually have ~50% of cards in what I’d consider reasonable disciplines.  That having been said, I think there are some holes that need to be filled, and strange disciplines not held by the bloodline or a clan with a strong connection (preferably 2 shared discipline) should really be avoided.

 


So, what do you think?  How have the outferior effects worked for you?  What would you like to see in the upcoming set?  Post a comment below!

Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced, and your allies get a chance to use your outferior effects,

Brett

 

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