Almost September with the Leo time of the year having closed nearly a week ago, yet I can hardly short the sign of a second post.
It’s been my pattern to do two posts for each astrological sign. One focuses on RPGs, which is where I think there’s the most benefit to thinking about astrology. The other talks about V:TES. It’s not surprising that I talk about the CCG I still play when talking about a CCG. But, the question is: why talk about CCGs at all when it comes to astrology? How is astrology inspiring or aiding playing games like CCGs?
In past posts, I have tried to show how astrology can be an inspiration to look at the game, or at least the deckbuilding part of the game, differently. In my mind, the Aries post was the best of these. I have a certain style when it comes to V:TES, but I tire of doing the same thing all of the time. The Aries inspired deck was completely against my usual style. Now, I’ve built similar decks in the past to that deck, but they are rare, so it’s helpful to have some sort of inspiration to do the rare less rarely.
So, what of Leo and V:TES? Where’s the intersection?
I don’t have a grand, brilliant essay on how Leo can inspire or otherwise aid me in building decks or playing the game. I do have a couple of highly unrelated thoughts.
The first thought has to do with thinking about what clan is very Leoish. The one that sticks in my mind is Ventrue. Leo and “noble” are relatively synonymous. But, do I really want to build a Ventrue deck or even really talk about how to build a Ventrue deck? Nope. Good Ventrue decks are ubiquitous. It’s easy enough for someone to peruse the tournament winning deck archive by clan – http://thelasombra.com/decks/clan-twd.htm – to find a plethora of examples of quality decks.
So, if not Ventrue a deck, what about Ventrue? Certainly, talking about the thematics of the clan is more of a RPG thing.
With so many successful Ventrue decks, including recent ones that are very old school in how they are built, I got to thinking about weaknesses. As successful as the Ventrue have been, there are plenty of other clans and non-clan strategies that have been comparably successful. So, the clan must have weaknesses. What are they?
Within the clan’s disciplines, there are many, many powerful effects. Dominate is the best bleed discipline and one of only two disciplines with bleed bounce and “won” my contest in https://iclee.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/gemini-i-zodiac-i/ for most versatile discipline out of the original 10. Presence is “the” voting discipline and has Majesty. Fortitude has Freak Drive and a bunch of other cards nowhere near as good as Freak Drive. Obviously missing are stealth and intercept.
Intercept is routinely addressed with Second Tradition. Stealth can be addressed by going with the fairly popular Ventrue w/ Obfuscate build(s). But, is stealth even needed? Ventrue Law Firm in its most iconic form doesn’t rely on stealth, maybe getting a bit from Bonding or whatever. Between Majesty and Freak Drive, the Ventrue can just overwhelm block attempts with number of actions. Non-stealth evasion (or punishment) comes in the form of Seduction, Perfect Paragon, The Kiss of Ra, etc.
So, it doesn’t sound like there are any massive weaknesses to exploit. So, we look for smaller ones.
Many Ventrue decks take advantage of multiaction ability, titled crypt options, Ventrue Headquarters, and synergy with cards that require Princes/Justicars by voting. The magnitudes of effects from vote cards are much higher than most other plays, whether it’s Parity Shift, Anarchist Uprising, or whatever. But, there are strong answers. Delaying Tactics can junk up a turn immensely. Scalpel Tongue, admittedly likely to only be played by another vote deck, is quite a vote killer. Even casual intercept may block an important vote. And, that’s something to keep in mind – while any vote coming out of the deck may be quite game changing, unlike playing against a weenie vote deck, there probably aren’t a lot of them.
I don’t want to get much into defending against bleed from a Ventrue deck as it can be much like defending against bleed from a Giovanni deck or just general bleed defense strategies.
What of the Ventrue’s defenses against its predator? Presence, Fortitude, and Obedience can deal with nearly any offensive combat. Dominate and Second Tradition do well to handle bleed. Titles, Ventrue Headquarters, Second Tradition all do well to contain voting. So many tools. Any deck can be overwhelmed by sufficiently aggro decks. Even a deck with 15 Deflections is not going to have one in hand all of the time to deal with a stealth bleed deck swinging for 3-6 with every bleed action. Weenie decks are pretty good at ripping apart anything that isn’t itself a weenie deck.
Small weaknesses. How about Obedience not being any sort of defense against allies? There’s only so many combat ends and damage prevents to stop the Shambling Hordes, War Ghouls, or whatever. Second Tradition is mighty but it’s not a guarantee, whether due to not being able to get above 2 intercept to block a stealthy deck or due to block fails or more esoteric plays. Actions do often get through against Ventrue. Bleeds aren’t the greatest threat as they run into bounce. There are the “mess with you” actions of Sensory Deprivation, Derange, Charnas the Imp, Shadow Twin, et al that can disrupt the Ventrue deck’s flow. There are the non-bleed, non-vote pool damage plays, as rare as they may often be, such as Choir (yes, it’s a joke of a strategy, but it qualifies) or Enticement.
In terms of where Ventrue decks can be exploited, there’s also the difficulties that naturally arise from trying to do various different things. This is highly dependent upon the player of the Ventrue deck playing the deck optimally (and building it well in the first place). Nevertheless, disrupting aspects of the deck can make the player’s life quite difficult. Blocking votes may jam the player on vote push. Delaying Tactics may jam the player on Voter Captivations. The patient player can likely wait out short term troubles and explode with uberness when the coast is clear, but that’s no worse than having the deck be in uber mode all of the time.
Of course, not all Ventrue decks try to do many things. “Vignes” (e.g. http://thelasombra.com/decks/twd.htm#2k9nycqualifier) is a straightforward Ventrue build.
What’s the second thought? Remnant of the Endless Storm, of course. While a werewolf in the CCG, I’m pretty sure it’s a wereLeo, er, werelion. Is it a Timmy/Johnny card or just a Timmy card (see http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr11b for what these mean)?
If I ever get around to playing it in constructed (I drafted two in one event and never played either), I’ll probably play it for humor value. But, what about trying to get real use out of it? There are only so many Magaji in the game. I don’t see it with Osebo, who already have combat covered and aren’t likely to get excited by the pool cost. Ishtarri can bloat well enough to handle the pool cost. Akunanse can use it to supplement an intercept combat strategy by having an enforcer to tactically pick off problems. Guruhi have historically had a problem getting their cool stuff (Founders of the Ebony Kingdom, The Guruhi Are the Land) to pay off, and adding a 6 pool cost dude is not on focus except maybe as a supplement to an Ananasi Vampirephile deck (I really need to do a new version of one of these), but it does have that enforcer appeal to take out annoying blockers (other than the likes of Carlton) to help Guruhi get actions through. Assamites would be interesting – stealth to get Remnant into play, mix of ally and vampire combat strategies to wreck minions.
I’m sure there are plenty of the same old boring combo things that can be done with fat allies, but for zaniness, I kind of like the idea of mixing Malks in with Magaji to do Malkavian Time Auction on Remnant (and having some way of stealing it back, such as Far Mastery). That goes right into my thought of rebuilding an Assault Rifle (AK47, whatever) and Time Auction deck (hit people with Illegal Search and Seizure if they annoy you with your Auctioned off weapons).