Given the recent announcement that the next VEKN set will focus on certain bloodlines, I’ve been thinking a little about them. Having only recently acquired enough bloodline cards to really build decks, I’m not at all qualified to talk about what each clan does or does not need (for a great article about this written just prior to the release of Heirs to the Blood, check out this post on IcLee’s blog). But a series of posts on VEKN.net got me thinking about the purpose behind the outferior effects on bloodline cards, and how much the current cards meet those goals.
Although I don’t know the stated reason for the introduction of outferior effects, but one obvious benefit is that they allow bloodlines to be mixed more easily with other clans. Sure, only some of your crypt can use the strange and wonderful effects offered by the new bloodline discipline, but the rest of your crypt can at least use the card, allowing you to cycle it. This prevents the card from ever being “dead” in your hand. I see this as being particularly critical for the Scarce clans who were clearly designed to be used sparingly. If this was the major reason behind the outferior effects, then it stands to reason that the disciplines chosen for outferior effects would fit a clan which shares other disciplines with the bloodline. For example, if you were designing a card for the Salubri, you might notice that they share two disciplines with the Ventrue Antitribu (Asupex and Fortitude) and conclude that a great outferior discipline for an Obeah card would be Dominate. Such a card could be played by your Salubri for a more potent effect, but would still be useful for any Ventrue Antitibru in your deck.
To my mind, this consideration – allowing bloodlines to get additional crypt support from other clans – is the most important. It’s clear that some outferior disciplines were selected for flavor reason. The outferior abilities often relate in some way to the effect offered by the bloodline discipline, and there seems to have been some attempt made to select a discipline in which that effect would make sense. For example, the majority of reaction cards (especially those that offer intercept) present in bloodline disciplines use Auspex (the king of reaction cards) as their outferior discipline. And while this makes some degree of sense, I think that it serves no particular purpose in the game. It forces the card to either only be played for the bloodline discipline effect, or it gets included in decks that can’t use the bloodline effect just for the outferior effect.
But the selection of discipline is only one part of the equation. The other is the power of the effect. If the outferior effect is strictly inferior to what the outferior discipline can already accomplish, then there is no reason to play with this new card. Consider Aura Absorption – it’s outferior discipline is Auspex, and it’s power is to allow you to burn 1 blood for +1 intercept. Any random Auspex card is vastly superior to this! Is the flexibility of the outferior discipline really worth a whole blood? Or would this card be functionally identical if it didn’t include any outferior effect? I suggest the later – that the card would be played exactly like it is today if it simply didn’t include the outferior effect. Having powers that are so weak as to become meaningless is a failure of the purpose of the outferior system.
In summary, my ideal scenario is that the outferior discipline be one that is possessed by an “ally” clan (meaning a clan that shares 2-ish disciplines with the bloodline), and that the effect of the outferior ability be at the same power level as basic effects already offered by that discipline. So how did White Wolf do with the existing bloodlines cards? I’ll start off with the clans that will be focused on in the upcoming VEKN set, and in a future article I’ll cover the other clans. For each, I’ll give a letter grade for both discipline choice, and the power level of the outferior effects. Let’s get started, shall we?