Tupdog Will Have His Day

I actually didn’t realize the quote (from Shakespeare) went:   Let Hercules himself do what he may, The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
[1600-1 Shakespeare Hamlet v. i. 286]

Anyway, there’s something I struggle with constantly and that’s the disdain for the almighty Tupdog as a ubiquitous play.  I should post the text of the card.

Tupdog, 1, POT VIS, Gargoyle, 3, [LoB:C]
Sabbat. Tremere antitribu slave: Visceratika cards cost Tupdog 1 less blood to play. Tupdog may enter combat with any minion as a (D) action. Tupdogs are not unique. At the end of your minion phase, burn Tupdog and move the top card from your crypt to your uncontrolled region. Flight.

While there are a fair number of players who respect the power of this temporary vampire in decks built around it, it’s an amazing struggle to get players to incorporate it commonly into decks as a means of improving deck efficiency.

What sort of efficiency?

The first sort should be obvious.  Quite a bit of pain in V:TES deck construction comes from having the right crypt.  In my Jyhad days, I was happy to have crypts that were 2 copies of six different vampires.  Times have changed, lots of crypt options have been printed, and some decks can easily run 12 different crypt members.  But, then again, some can’t.  The number thrown around for when you need to get one particular crypt card in play is to run 5 copies.  Tupdog, and the newer Anarch Convert, act as cryptthinners without taking up precious master slots (Effective Management) or requiring successful actions (Clotho’s Gift, Mozambique Allure).  Any time I see heavy duplication in crypts without one or both of these cryptthinners, my mind boggles at what the deck’s builder is thinking.

But, there’s so much more to Tupdog.  Anarch Convert will see more play, not only because you get about 5 per box in Twilight Rebellion and about 2 per box of Tupdog in Legacies of Blood but because the Tupdog has a group restriction.  But, they aren’t really the same card.  Tupdogs are temporarily in play.  Both parts of that sentence are extremely important:  “temporarily”; “in play”.

The second part first.  People worry way too much about whether Tupdogs can take directed actions like bleeding, actually, they worry way too much about Tupdogs taking actions at all.  While I’ve called second turn votes on various occasions with Tupdogs and while they can do nifty things like rescue my torpored vampires or bring out allies or whatever, Tupdogs are random blockers.  More importantly, they threaten to be blockers. 

Furthermore, Tupdogs come out with blood on them, blood that can be moved with Heidelberg, blood that can be moved back to pool (paying for bringing the Tupdog out) with Blood Doll, Minion Tap, et al.  Stupid?  I won a tournament in which I Blood Dolled a Tupdog one round and Minion Tapped one another.

Speaking of Heidelberg, all of the sudden a Tupdog can effectively employ retainers and equip.

Why is it more important that they threaten to be blockers?  Because of the first part.  The temporary aspect of them is supposed to be a major drawback.  I can’t say it isn’t a drawback of some sort most of the time, but it’s also routinely an advantage.  Why?  Complete expendability.  Players do not want to waste resources messing around with a minion that isn’t disadvantaged by being beaten up.  Sure, if you can burn it, it won’t give the controller a free decrypt, but who wants to expend the resources required to burn something that was going away anyway?

The psychological and, yes, the mechanical benefits of throwing out a Tupdog as a potential blocker are huge.  If the Tupdog stops someone from rushing for a turn or bleeding for a turn, that should be worth far, far more than the 1 pool spent on it.  I find it common to time bringing out my Tupdogs to when my permanent vampires are going to be most vulnerable.  I can’t recall a single instance where someone beat down one of my vampires when there was a Tupdog ready to leap into the way.

And, sometimes, Tupdogs block actions.  I’ve had big bleeds bounced around the table get stopped by my 1 pool “Effective Management”.

I’m big on playing Anarch Converts, too, but I will make decisions on which groups to play because of the power of random Tupdogs.

Of course, Tension in the Ranks makes me sad …


5 Responses to Tupdog Will Have His Day

  1. John says:

    just to make you sigh in resignation, i’ll mention two subpar cards to accessorize your Tupdogs: Communal Haven Temple and Communal Haven Cathedral

    suddenly Tupdogs donate back their pool expenditures, and can block rushes, Temptations, and the like at +1 intercept. your Heidelbergs are now free to be in more productive Sabbat constructions.

  2. iclee says:

    The point, though, is that there isn’t any actual need to build one’s library differently to make one’s deck better.

    Someone wanted me to add an intercept location to some deck to get more use out of the Tupdogs. Why do I care if I get more use out of them? They already do way too many good things.

  3. Bill Ricardi says:

    A very good analysis. There’s no reason to build around Tupdog unless you’re playing the ultra powerful ‘Tupdog Descends into Darkness’ deck.

  4. John says:

    true, true, it’s just i like to mention subpar cards. ;)
    i usually don’t go by Tupdogs because i rare play in groups 3-5. but if i did he’d be all over that construction in a heartbeat. people can see the dial-a-crypt logic in Anarch converts; i don’t understand the logic skip over Tupdogs.

    it might be the assessment of “temporary,” as most players don’t want to lose something they already paid for. that and we do have a pretty crazy metagame. we see a lot of zero to low stealth actions, which favors chump blocking. just scrambling for a possible reason…

  5. KevinM says:

    There is a reason to build around Tupdog:
    my famous Cats & Dogs deck! :)

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