Las Vegas V:TES Qualifier Report

V:TES (Vampire: The Eternal Struggle CCG) tournament reports, while infrequent, will be a staple of this blog.

So, miniqualifier Saturday morning [2/7/09], 2 rounds and a final, where the winner gets qualified for the North American Championships, followed by the qualifier, 3+F, where the top 25% qualify and get qualifier t-shirts.

The number of people and the quality of the players was extremely good for a regional qualifier not held at a major convention like Origins or Gen Con.  The first tournament had 27 players, the second 26 (Pete Oh felt too sick to play the second).
T1, R1
Mark Loughman (Ishtarri anarch) -> Dennis Lien (Khazar’s Diary) -> Jeff Thompson “The Lasombra” (Ariadne) -> Brad Cashdollar (Lasombra Mind Rape) -> Ian (Nagaraja bounce)
There wasn’t a lot to the story of this game.  Mark was completely ineffectual as a predator to Dennis and the table started turning on Dennis too late to stop Khazar’s from going off and him sweeping.
For me, there were only a few things.  I brought out Marino Reymundo Vasquez who immediately got Mind Raped.  I Villeined for 9 to empty him, so Brad could only hunt with him.  Marino later got blown up to Society of Leopold.  I brought out Le Dinh Tho who got Mind Raped but all he did was discard a card from my hand that didn’t matter a whole lot.  Francisco Polonia bled me for 5 and I Archoned him.  I brought out Augustus Giovanni, who couldn’t get Mind Raped and he got the Bowl of Convergence, so I think I successfully Obedienced Moncada.  Mark got low on pool since he was also ineffectual as a prey.  It looked good for 1 VP, but Brad passed an Ancient Influence so that he could survive a bit longer and Mark got out of range by the time Dennis turned the corner with his dozen wraiths.  Dennis was in a dominant position at all times in the game, but I was worried that with Jeff’s Tension in play that Mark could finally get going and take him out in a couple of turns.
Keep in mind that Mark is a former US Champion or something and in the V:TES Hall of Fame.  He rebuilt his deck at the last minute, so he thinks the deck just wasn’t built properly.
T1, R2
Fred Scott (weenie Protean anarch) -> Ian -> Matt Morgan (!Brujah anarch rush) -> Simeon “Sim” Nagel (Celerity guns rush) -> Matt Strehlow “Rehlow” (Luna Giovanni w/ Princes vote)
I wish I could say something more interesting about this game.  Fred transferred out too many guys which made him easy to oust by vote bleed.  I was sad.  For several reasons.  One was that Fred had just tooled up with J.S. and Tasha and my deck has 20 bounce cards.  Another was that we estimated the cut line to make the finals at 1 table win and 5.5 or 6 VPs with 1 & 5 maybe getting someone there.  With Fred gone, the most I could get was 1 & 4.
Because I was getting enough pressure from Rehlow, I decided to try to lunge against Matt to gain some pool rather than do my usual futzing around doing nothing to my prey.  My deck doesn’t handle a vote predator well.  I bled for 11 into Morgan’s 12 pool and was not enthralled.  Earlier in the game, Morgan and I had come to an agreement that I would do trivial crap like Le Dinh Tho going anarch (shield me from Morgan’s Anarch Revolts if he ever played any) and hunting at 0 stealth (every 0 stealth hunt in the game went unblocked … and rightfully so).  At 1 pool, Morgan had to rush backwards 3 times which encountered 2 Obediences and an Autonomic Mastery to see only taking a hit for 1 on the third rush.  Morgan died the next turn.  I let Sim go after Rehlow’s dudes while I tried to rebuild my position.  Rehlow again put too much pressure on, so I had to oust Sim.  The endgame was just kind of dumb in a hilarious way as Rehlow had no offense left and I kept discarding cards from his hand with the hated Le Dinh Tho, but they were terrible cards like Cryptic Rider.  Before Rehlow got decked, I bled him out for 4 VPs.
T1, Finals
David Litwin (Marcus Vitel & Lasombra) -> Ruben Feldman (Council of Doom) -> Ian -> Dennis Lien -> Matt Heslin (Black Hand Auspex w/ Dominate)
This was likely a far better game to watch than to play.  Yes, I made the finals.  A lot of players had 1 & 3 or 1 & 4, so I got in on tournament points with Dennis’s 1 & 5 making him top seed.
Dave got shut down pretty early.  He got very low on pool briefly then gained tons but was never a predator.  Ruben correctly identified that bleeding was bad for him (unless he wanted Dennis out of the game) as I was pitching bounce through much of the game, so he was heavily restricted on what he could do.  Dennis got only a mediocre set up, playing the later stages of the game with only around 8 minions and Khazar’s never triggering.  Heslin and I blocked a number of recruit ally actions to slow Khazar’s.  Heslin was not so good at first, but then got into a strong defensive position, but never threatened Dave again after Dave started rebuilding his pool.
Being psychic (an injoke for those who don’t know what I mean), I figured Ruben would oust me and Dennis when he felt like it and the rest of the VPs wouldn’t matter a whole lot.  I bled Dennis for 2 when he was at 2 and couldn’t block, so Heslin stepped in the way with Eagle Sight gaining intercept from Ruben’s Maris Streck.  Well, there went my chance to gain any VPs.  Heslin figured I was somehow a greater threat with 2 minions than his predator with 8, which is kind of flattering.  I tried getting Dennis a couple of more times, but an On the Qui Vive by an ally gaining intercept from The Unmasking stopped a 3 bleed, and Ruben Suddened my Pentex Subversion on Dennis’s only untapped vampire on another turn.  My deck betrayed me as time was running down and Ruben was forced to bleed, though Murmur of the False Will – my most prolific bounce card – was useless against him, and he bled me out.  Of course, the reality was that I pitched too many useful bounce cards earlier in the game in a vain attempt to oust Dennis not figuring that Heslin preferred Dennis as a predator to me.  Ruben got the only oust and time was called.
T2, R1
Ruben Feldman (Legacy of Pander) -> Vladimir Segdiev (weenie Dementation) -> Ian (Tzimisce intercept combat toolbox) -> Simeon “Sim” Nagel (see above) -> Cameron Domer (Lasombra Baltimore Purge)
Cameron’s quote at one point is “I look forward to this game ending so that I can play real V:TES” or the like.
My explanation of this game to people was:  Before I took my first action, my pool doubled.  From 1 to 2.  It could have tripled if Ruben weren’t so greedy.  I never took an action.
Ruben turn 1 brings out Royce.  Vladimir brings out Boy Toy.  I transfer 2 to Corine Marcon and 1 somewhere else.  Sim transfers.  Cameron Info Highways and transfers 6.  Ruben plays Kaymakli Nightmares to stop anyone from getting a voter out quickly, which made perfect sense for him but utterly fucked me (not that I was likely to survive my predator anyway) as it set my getting my first vampire in play back by 2 turns.  I hope Vladimir doesn’t put a Dementation skill card on Boy Toy, but of course, he does and blees me for 4 and brings out Eddie Gaines and Gillian Krader.  I transfer 4 to Sascha Vykos (advanced).  Ruben tries a Legacy of Pander and I discard the one vote card in my deck to shoot it down.  Vladimir bleed me for 6 and brings out Persia.  I bring out Sascha.  Cameron brings out Moncada.  Vladimir Pentex Subverts Sascha and bleed me for 11 of my 12 pool.  Cameron burns the Pentex.  Ruben Con Boons off of Charming Lobby for Tzimisce to double my pool and Con Boons Pander to gain 4 for himself.  Vladimir tries Pentexing Sascha again and I Wash, so he Misdirects it instead.  I On the Qui Vive to block Boy Toy, who generates stealth, I Eagle Sight, Boy Toy generates another stealth, I send him to Sim.  I Eyes of Argus wake to block Persia.  She generates a stealth, I DI it [illegal play, by the way].  She generates another stealth and I show a Wake as I collect my cards.  I could have Waked and played Eyes of Argus for intercept, but I don’t recall whether I didn’t do that because I had no combat cards in hand to cycle or because I thought I’d be more likely to cycle into intercept or bounce by using Eyes first.
Somehow Vladimir didn’t win.  I didn’t watch the rest of the game, mostly because it wasn’t going to be interesting, partially to scout other decks and watch more interesting games.  I heard he got Cameron down to 2 before Ruben won.
T2, R2
David Litwin (Dem/Obf bleed) -> Ian -> Brad Cashdollar (The Eldest Are Kholo) -> David Berger (!Brujah bruise bleed)
A tease of a game.  I drew lots of bounce early on, so I was quite fond of my position.  I tooled up well with Wall Street, Heidelberg, Carlton, bleed retainer.  Brad was the huge threat that I wanted against Berger’s combat deck.  Berger had rush to pound some stealth bleeding ass.  I took a lot of bleeds I could have bounced to not be too threatening and didn’t transfer up Lambach to preserve some pool and be less threatening.  Brad dropped the Week of Nightmares on cue … and then played a crazy turn of go, stop, go, stop when he thought he could oust Berger.  He stealthed a Reckless Agitation through only for it to fail from table votes.  He bled a couple of times, but then decided to call a Con Boon that I blocked as I kind of wanted to oust my prey right away as I was around 4 pool.  He didn’t do quite enough damage to my liking to Berger as I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy fighting the better combat deck.  Litwin correctly never bled me for more than 2, so I had to do my own work and take an action to bleed to oust Brad.  Then, the next terrible thing happened as Berger ousted Litwin too quickly, meaning I couldn’t use Litwin to bleed my prey, Berger went up to 14 pool from 6, and I had to fight a better combat deck.
I dropped a War Ghoul who sat around and watched my vampires get annihilated.
T2, R3
Oscar Garza (Khazar’s Diary) -> Ian -> John Flournoy (Ravnos w/ Dementation) -> Fred Scott (Ahrimanes)
I wanted my hopes and dreams crushed quickly as I figured I had to sweep to make the finals.  They were crushed after not real long.
The early game was hot.  I didn’t care about John’s deck at all, though he did stop my early game Reins of Power which would have been sexy more so for gaining me pool than for doing much damage to my prey.  I put down Army of Rats and he ignored it.  Oscar got clipped some early on and Fred had 5 bleed on the table, so I figured Oscar was under control.  Oh, so wrong.  I figured Fred could find some intercept at some point, but John had looked at his hand early on and knew it was combatastic, so John dropped Week of Nightmares and bled Fred out.  Oscar got me by recursing stealth bleed (I know, crazy) and my not drawing into more bounce even using Sascha advanced’s ability as often as I could.  I was choked on combat at the end figuring I could get into combat with somebody and clear my hand, but my lack of any pool gain in the game meant I was playing at 4 pool much of the time.  John bled Oscar out with humongous bleeds.
As I tell people, Week of Nightmares’ real text is “If you put this card into play, gain 1.5 VPs.”
All in all, a sad showing which was more appropriate for my ability level.  I should have annihilated Oscar’s guys, but I thought Fred would get in on the intercept action or at least bleed for tons without dying which would have enabled me to play against my normal style and be aggro on my prey; my best results earlier in the day were all related to doing stuff.  1 & 6 was what people needed to make the finals.  The finals was:  Matt Morgan (!Gangrel w/ Presence) -> Ruben Feldman -> David Tatu (Masika and fat Toreador friends) -> John Flournoy -> Jeff Thompson “The Lasombra” (!Salubri).
Ruben got stymied quickly, Morgan got the only oust with John getting low and trying to lunge and Jeff somehow failing to oust Morgan.  But, then, there is a reason that Morgan is currently #3 in the world rankings for constructed (Ruben is #5 but the only player to make both finals).  I was playing a pickup game, so I didn’t watch much of the finals.  Jeff’s deck was great for this tournament as he had oodles of wake + bounce.  I would have been so, so, so better off playing the Nagaraja deck in the second event as the first event was mostly about voting and the second one was much more bleedy.
The only interesting tournament game to me was the second round of the qualifier.  The others were mostly unbalanced, while the finals of the miniqualifier was just kind of tedious to play.  Couple pickup games were more interesting than the others.  I bled at 4 stealth with a Brujah in the last game I played (10PM to midnight Sunday night).  In talking to Flournoy, I got an intriguing idea for how to change my Tzimisce deck as I think it doesn’t have a strong enough core.
Touristywise, we went out to Red Rock and people enjoyed that.  I only gambled with casino money and that was as boring as gambling has been for me since I became legal.  I hardly spent any time with Nat as he was tied up with a major gymnastics meet all weekend and got sick after many 7AM to 10PM days.  I revealed to a number of players how winning decks should be named, so look for Morgan’s deck for stylish pretentiousness rather than lame attempts at humor or describing what the deck does.

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