Inheritance

October 25, 2009

In theory, Heirs to the Blood will be out soon.  Has me thinking of building bloodline decks.  Unfortunately, I’m bored with most of the bloodlines.

Why?

Ahrimanes

I’ve pretty much always been bored with Ahrimanes.  Spiritus is a workman’s discipline, but it’s so dull.  Animalism and Presence lack synergy.  The vampires don’t have any interesting abilities.  If High Top wasn’t unique, there might be something interesting to do with the clan cards.

Other than the tedious intercept combat variations, the evasion bleed deck was funny for about half a game, and voting is blah.

Need:  Not bleed, not stealth, not intercept, not combat, not untaps.  Something interesting to do with actions, like a non-unique ally (they are sterile after all, so no babymakers).  And, of course, the game needs an Animalism/Presence card that does something useful for the clans with the disciplines.

Group 4 is shafted with one vampire with no Animalism and another with no Presence and a 6 cap with inferior Spiritus.  Some group 5’s with clan disciplines or who share nonclan disciplines would help.

Baali

Interesting things to do, terrible vampires to do them with except the 10 caps and their mighty combo deck potential.  Not a fan of combo decks.

The clan cards are wild and crazy and not generally unplayable, except they require Baali.  They would be so much more interesting with noninfernal vampires.

Daimoinon just isn’t that strong.  Certainly not as strong as it should be.  Conflagration is okay but seemingly overrated.  The other two combat cards are way too narrow.  Sense the Sin has to do too much of the work and the inferior has synergy problems with the clan.

Need:  In terms of vampires, it depends upon how you envision using the clan, I like all clans being viable for clan decks, so I see them needing filler vampires who make it worth playing multiple Baali.  Daimoinon needs untaps, real combat defense to go with Conflagration, more cost reducers than Nergal, a better disciplineless bounce card.  Blood gain would be interesting, something like a Darkness Within card for Dai.

Blood Brothers

Painfully boring.  Sure, there are the joke decks – stealth bleed, voting.  But, every time I go to build a serious BB deck, I end up with the same archetype, an archetype with the same vast problem of being able to survive real predators.

Unwholesome Bond is so abusable, assuming nobody interacts with you all game, which happens all of the time in competitive play.  Rest of the stuff is vastly inferior to other cards in the game.

What’s up with the lack of clan cards?

Potence/Fortitude is an option, except they tend to suck in terms of having those disciplines at superior.

Need:  Non-unique ally that isn’t overcosted.  Reason to play more than one circle – there are already plenty of reasons to focus on a circle, assuming you find any reason to play them at all.  Pool defense (preferably) or bloat.

Daughters of Cacophony

Often my favorite bloodline.  One that I have thought has had the most options.  I’ve done those options.  Legacies of Blood didn’t open up anything new for them to do.  Melpominee, for some reason, has all of these cards based on capacity when the oldest Daughter is 8.  Better used in superstar trick decks.

Choir decks are best when you play no copies of Choir, which I’m fine with as it’s a completely uninteresting mechanic.  Tourette’s Voice and Death of the Drum sit out there with no support.  Voting gets old, in my case, old fast.  Without vote bloat or Dominate, pool retention is a huge issue.  Done the Dominate thing to death.

Need:  Reasons to care about Death of the Drum and Tourette’s Voice.  Since intercept is mostly out of flavor, stealth reduction would be something to support TV while getting into combat for DotD.  Fat Daughters would be useful, though out of flavor.  Clan card that did something different.  Where I usually hope for non-unique allies because playable ones are cool, I could see a unique one in their case.  Roadie would be a good title for a non-unique.  Demanding Producer could be unique.  Could do instruments as equipment, since burdening the game with a bunch of guitars, keyboards, et al would be inane, some unique magic, clan-specific harp would be more plausible.  A babymaker would make Choir fans happy but emphasizes too much the idea of generating tons of Daughters for their open ended cards.  Cards that key off of a Choir being in play might be interesting, but the reality is that DoC aren’t important enough in the game to completely develop the Choir mechanic.

Gargoyles

When Gargoyles first came out, I couldn’t believe Visceratika.  It would have been a sexy discipline for a clan that didn’t have two combat disciplines.  Combat ends, continue action, stealth – yeah, those are precisely what you need when you have Potence and Fortitude.

There’s all sorts of interesting things to do but not the vampires to do them, except in annoying Tupdog decks.  The slave mechanic annoys me as I really am not interested in Tremere/Gargoyle decks.  I like my crypts to have all of my disciplines (and Flight).  Independent Gargoyles is doable and grafting Dominate plugs one pool defense hole, but really, lots of combat potential with sketchy intercept on vampires that are above 4 cap is weak sauce.

Besides, Potence and Fortitude are boring disciplines.  Visceratika and Flight would be much more exciting if there was bleeding or voting or bloating or permanenting going on.  All of which can be done for the short time before you get ousted.

Need:  Vampires in group 5 that are worth playing.  Good disciplineless bounce card.  Cost reduction of Visceratika, more cost reduction for their incredibly expensive cards.

Harbingers of Skulls

They seem like they wouldn’t be bad, until you go to play them.  Pool defense is there, multiaction is there, bleed is easy to find in the game.  While bleed is easy to find in the game, group 2 HoS aren’t cheap.  Group 4 HoS are better than I thought but of mixed sects and have discipline holes.  The big problem I see these days is that Necromancy is no longer a stealth discipline.

Back in the day, Necromancy was even kind of stealthy with just Spectral Divination.  But, intercept started showing up everywhere and Necromancy didn’t advance in the path of stealth.

So, HoS have to worry about generating pool damage and getting actions through.  No meaningful offensive combat in their disciplines.  The Aus/Nec card was a waste – should have done something cool … and good.  Clan cards are surprisingly weak.  I rarely get any value out of either Erebus Mask or Lazarene Inquisitor.

The specials drew a lot of attention for my groups once upon a time, but they are all over the map.  Agaitas is fine for people who like combo, but I’ve never gotten any value out of nuking weenies, everyone having Necromancy, etc.

Need:  Stealth or combat.  Thing is they lack a unique discipline, so anything in disciplines tends to help better clans more.  Nec/For card would make sense.  Better Aus/Nec card would make sense.  Playable Aus/For card would be interesting, especially if it had something to do with voting to prevent helping !Ventrue, Stickmen type decks.  Reason to do blood denial would go with Lazarene Inquisitor.  They have their own discipline in the RPG, so there must be something to draw upon.  Maybe a Nec card with a clan requirement.

Kiasyd

I’ve always struggled with how the Ahrimanes have been more successful than the Kiasyd.  The former I see being Tzimisce-lite, the latter being a Lasombra variant (less vote, less breed, more fight).  I can only chalk it up to people not finding the Kiasyd more interesting.  Dominate plus stealth?!?  Who woulda thunk?

I’m bored with the Kiasyd as well as I’ve run out of new things to do that would be remotely interesting.  Cards that do stuff and The Crutch* does not for an exciting cavalcade of possibilities make.  It’s too much like so many of my other decks.

*  Dominate

Need:  Changeling allies, one that’s not unique.  Further separation from Lasombra, like more fight or something.  Expensive Mytherceria cards so that cost reduction actually means something.

Nagaraja

Yes, I’ve played Nagaraja decks, couple of times at least in storylines.  Just pointless.  The “wow, we’d be better as Giovanni” clan.  The LoB clan cards do nothing for them, which is sad.

Need:  Remove scarce rule from the game.  Reason to play existing clan cards.  Good Aus/Nec card that separates them from Giovanni.

Salubri

I want to like them.  I was a huge fan in the RPG, but then, I like Fortitude in the RPG.  Spirit Marionette is obnoxious.  Too many Obeah cards are silly.  I don’t know that anyone else has ever played a Peacemaker deck, certainly, there’s no reason to.

Renewed Vigor just doesn’t thrill me.  It’s great and all, but it’s a dull mechanic that we saw with Fifth Tradition back in the day.  I don’t like playing obnoxious decks, yet there’s little else to do offensively besides SM.

Need:  Remove scarce rule from game.  Allies.  Lots of allies.  Maybe those ridiculous ally relevant cards will see play.

Salubri antitribu

I’m probably more associated with the dorks than any other clan, yet I like far better clans like Tzimisce and Daughters.  I just don’t play good clans in tournaments.

Things I’ve done with the dorks include Obfuscate stealth bleed, Necromancy casual Smiling Jack tap bleed, vote.  I’ve even built the god awful normal !Salubri decks that play Valeren and do melee weapon combat.

Need:  Valeren still sucks, needs useful effects.  Vampires suck, need vampires who have the clan disciplines.

Samedi

One of the few clans in the game that still interests me at the clan level.  The thing about Hag’s Wrinkles is that it just gets better with every new piece of playable equipment.  Plus, I rarely see people do anything interesting with Samedi.

Of course, Little Mountain Cemetery opens up some interesting possibilities that don’t involve Dominate.  Reanimated Corpse is so totally my kind of card, but I’m not interested in building Fletcher’s decks.

I could continue working on my Samedi vote deck as it’s kind of amusing.  Obfuscate makes things possible.

Unfortunately, group 4 Samedi are unbelievably awful, so it’s just more of the same group 2/3 (or just 2) stuff.  I can’t see how group 5’s will make 4’s playable unless there’s a 5er with the special “Samedi get 3 free levels of clan disciplines, so you know, you might have Fortitude and superior Thanatosis.”

Need:  Cost reduction, i.e. Path for Than, Than cards that are playable instead of the mindbogglingly bad ones that currently exist, reason Samedi would want to avoid getting smacked in combat, e.g. “Opposing minion gains +3 Strength for the remainder of combat and burns 1 blood each round.”, to justify Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust, For/Obf card, playable vampires.

True Brujah

Amazingly cool cards, horrendously awful disciplines for them.  No stealth, no intercept, no bounce.  Scarce penalty to make sure you get ousted as quickly as possible.

The Descent Into Darkness thing has never worked for me.  Almost nothing has worked for me except vote bloat in a deck that didn’t need Trujah for anything, even if I did get off Rewind Times and used Synesios’s ability to get extra master phase actions.

Just makes me sad to go to build Trujah decks as there are so many things I want to do and they all end up equaling doing nothing in practice.  The multiaction ability is a trap that leads to decks with way too many actions and not a coherent plan for winning.

Need:  Remove scarce rule from game.  Good disciplineless bounce card.  Stealth and/or intercept and/or evasion.

Because.

Why am I bored with the bloodlines?  I’m bored because I’ve built so many decks.  It’s hard to find things I haven’t done *and* that other people haven’t done too often (I hate building other people’s decks, don’t mind playing them, but hate building them).  On the other hand, there are tons of things I haven’t done with bloodlines, most of which are horrendous nutpunchers but some of which aren’t.

I hope that new cards address needs and don’t just add a bunch of wallpaper to the game.  The important thing is trying to dewallpaper old cards by making new cards that make the old much stronger.  Salubri allies – c’mon, how hard is that?  Not that crap like giving life to an ally is ever worth a card slot, but one can try.

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Libra II – Zodiac I

October 22, 2009

It would be easy to be inspired by real Libras at the moment.  Whether it’s a friend of mine who did a lot for me in recent years or a relative who did far more for me throughout my life.

Libra
“I balance”
positive: justice, intelligence, charm, gentleness, emotional balance
negative: laziness, procrastination, indecision, argumentativeness, pleasure-seeking, temperamental – Linda Goodman’s “Love Signs”

I can relate so well to some of these traits that, on the one hand, playing a Libra inspired character should be easy, but on the other, it might not be enough of a stretch to be noticeable roleplaying.

My Libra inspirations are/were both very congenial.  One was a great flirt, the other great to flirt with.  The problem with flirts in games I play is that the expectation or common situation is that of a character trying to form an intimate relationship.  People do flirt just because flirting is awesome in itself, but that sort of character may just end up confusing (other) players.

At what point does being argumentative as a character get confused with being argumentative as a player?  I find players are often argumentative, and I also find that in character arguments just bog games down with stuff I don’t care about.

Going back to something mentioned a while back in another post, subtlety in PCs or NPCs is likely a waste.  By definition, intended portrayals are missed or misunderstood.  Characters need to have defining characteristics.  Sure, hedonism could be taken to an extreme, but does that really translate into anything noticeable?  Actually, maybe it does with a character in my Conan campaign.  He (or the player) are argumentative, pleasure-seeking, lazy …  Regardless, too many of these Libra traits strike me as too subtle.  I don’t see a character with these traits blowing players away, which is kind of what makes for great RPG characters.

The extreme with Libra, of course, is to do that wacky Neutral thing from AD&D where, instead of being plausible and normal, the Neutral alignment was supposed to balance against other alignments in some sort of ultracontrary way.  Too much good, time to be evil.  Too much evil, time to be good.  More appropriate to a lunatic or to a supervillain (most of which should be lunatics), a character who is obsessive about balancing against perceived extremes would be notable.

Bumby, I hope to get around to more on these subjects.  I should really post something about mahjongg, the game that started me on the track to being a gamer.  A Libra had a big influence in my learning that when I was 7-8.  Maybe soon.


Libra I – Zodiac I

October 22, 2009

Libra
“I balance”
positive: justice, intelligence, charm, gentleness, emotional balance
negative: laziness, procrastination, indecision, argumentativeness, pleasure-seeking, temperamental  –  Linda Goodman’s “Love Signs”

I wish I had more time these days.  I’m actually quite partial to Libra, though I believe I only have one planet in it.

Balance

When it comes to games I don’t preach anything like I preach balance.  So, why bother ranting about how better game balance makes games better?

So, Heirs to the Blood is the next V:TES set and it’s a bloodlines set.  I considered the ludicrous idea of taking one of each original bloodline (no Abomination) and making a 12 vampire, 12 clan crypt – perfect balance of clans.  Fortitude should be the easiest crossover discipline.  Cool concept for a theme deck (my theme decks are almost always mechanical themes rather than flavor themes) and just painful in practice.

Enough with the joke decks.  Balance could be refering to a balance of elements.  Maybe a deck inspired by Libra should be toolboxy even in a way I’m normally opposed to, which is toolboxy without any core.  If I go down this path, I could say a balance of bleed, vote, and combat, except I’m tired of vote decks right now.  Could balance stealth and intercept.  Aus/Obf for … nah, been there, done that.

There’s trying to balance tables.  Some decks are much better for that than others.  Eagle Sight, voting, crosstable bleed reduction, intercept locations, etc.  The history of the game for me is one of no effort to table balance to one of too much effort to table balance.  Build a deck just to table balance?  Bah.

There’s always trying to find balanced cards, except that way seems a path of madness … ooh, The Path of Madness.

Going beyond balance as a theme, for some reason, I get to thinking about True Brujah when I think of Libra.  I note that there are at least two decks I wrote out and never built.  At least one is awful as it has no meaningful pool defense or bloat.  I have the hardest time getting Trujah decks to be functional.  The only time I ever had one that seemed to work I hardly played it and it was only running Trujah for some Free States Rant/Rewind Time action.  An interesting thought I just got was to build a balanced crypt of Trujah and Guruhi with Guruhi Animalism providing intercept and Trujah independentness providing independent voting while the two clans sharing two disciplines.  If I find some time, maybe I’ll remember to build this.

Actually, the whole idea of two clans, one doing one thing for a deck, and the other doing something else for the deck (probably offense from one and defense from the other) is always so appealing in theory, but I can never justify it in practice.  It’s too awkward when I consider how easy it is to find multiple elements out of one clan or a particular discipline mix shared by all.  For instance, finding bleed these days is simple, so any deck can have offense.

Of course, mashing two clans together to play the clan toys of each of the clans may make more sense in my card limit games.

This is probably the last day of Libra this year, at least in my time zone.  Procrastination rears its ugly head again.  Well, off to some pleasure-seeking sleep … as soon as I write part two of Libra.