Inheritance

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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8 Responses to Inheritance

  1. Azel says:

    the Scarce penalty i think has outlived its flavor usefulness. 3 clans are essentially hosed needlessly when a restricted crypt selection pretty much does the same effect.

    Heirs to the Blood is an opportunity to bring in some nifty allies and retainers, especially after Keepers of the Tradition. i thought KoT was a great chance to bring in new ghoul allies and retainers to show how much “polite” vampire society relies on them. but knowing my expectations and how they often result, i won’t hold my breath. i’m still halfway amazed that my Aye/Orun set idea was made, however perturbed that so many opportunities were passed up (Mundane/Pallid? 4 ADV Laibon?).

    i expect to be underwhelmed. still looking if anything will raise my DoC/Samedi deck into viability…

  2. Brandon says:

    Bloodlines with all disciplines other clans have are pretty boring and the Scarce penalty, while thematic, is just stupid. It’s not like there are so many totally awesome things that the scarce clans can do that they need to be held back. I agree that allies would be important to add for some more variety, plus some new, useful, and interesting cards.

    “nutpuncher” is a good description for a lot of cards, Eyes of the Dead for example.

  3. finbury says:

    I don’t have a problem with Scarce, honestly. Scarce is the game designer saying to you “look, you really need to splash these guys.”

    The problem is that there isn’t a good enough reason to splash. Upsides of splashing a bloodline are:
    – variety (which should not count).
    – access to bloodline abilities: clan cards, wacky discipline cards, vampire specials
    Downsides are:
    – you are vulnerable if your splashed guy (or guys) is harmed.
    – you are paying more to get less consistent access to disciplines, mainstream or otherwise.

    Right now, no bloodline discipline is as good as the solid mainstream disciplines (DOM, AUS, OBF, ANI, PRE are all better) and that no bloodline has clan cards as good as the solid mainstream clans (Ventrue, Toreador, !Toreador, Assamite, Ravnos, Followers of Set all have more going on.) So playing a bloodline is simply a poor value proposition.

    There may also be a style issue here; if you don’t like split-clan decks, this discussion really isn’t that relevant for you. But I think that split-clan stuff, it it wasn’t just clearly suboptimal, would add more variety to the game than a pure-clan approach. Simply put:

    if X is the number of major clans
    and Y is the number of bloodlines
    and Z is the number of overall strategies
    then (X + Y) x Z is the number of pure-clan concepts you can approach
    and X * Y * Z is the number of split-crypt concepts you can make

    Clearly many of these won’t be sensible combinations, but if the playing field were leveled, the latter would provide a more diverse range of options than the former.

    What to do to level the playing field? Well, first of all bloodline disciplines could be a LOT stronger. DAI, MYT, OBE, SAN, THN, VIS, and VAL are all harder to obtain than ANI, AUS, DEM, DOM, OBF; there’s no reason they shouldn’t be as strong or stronger. Similarly, if the purpose of outferiors is to make it easier to mix and match with regular clans, they should be as strong as regular card abilities, not less strong. Imagine what the bloodlines would be like if there were:

    Right Place, Wrong Time – reaction
    dom: Only usable when a younger vampire is bleeding you, after blocks are declined. Tap this reacting vampire. Choose another Methuselah other than the acting vampire’s controller. That acting vampire is now bleeding that Methuselah.
    tem: as dom above, but usable when an ally or younger vampire is bleeding you.
    TEM: as above, but usable when any minion is bleeding you.

    Putrescent Grapple – combat
    Only usable at close range before strikes are chosen. Grapple. A vampire may play only one Grapple each round.
    pot: Strikes that are not hand strikes may not be used this round (by either combatant).
    thn: as pot.
    THN: as pot, and the opposing minion gets -1 strength for the remainder of the combat.

    Venomous Approach – 1 blood
    ser: +1 bleed at +1 stealth
    dai: as ser, and minions with corruption counters get an additional -1 intercept against this action.
    DAI: as dai, and if you successfully bleed your prey, untap this vampire at the end of the action.

    Martial Cantrip
    A vampire may play only one Martial Cantrip per combat.
    THA: Strike: ranged. Steal 2 blood
    vis: usable before range is chosen. This vampire gets +1 strength for the remainder of combat.
    VIS: as above, but +2 strength

    Stuck in a Rut
    CEL: Only usable at the end of combat when both combatants are still ready. Begin another combat with the opposing minion.
    tem: press, or prevent 1 non-aggravated damage.
    TEM: as CEL, above

    Clan cards too – screw burn option, give the Daughters a Ventrue HQ, the Blood Brothers an Arcane Library, and the Harbingers a Market Square. And how about:

    Perch. 1 pool. Master – location.
    Play on a minion with Flight. That minion gets +1 intercept. A minion may only have one Perch.
    “I can see my house from here!”

  4. iclee says:

    I think you explain clearly why Scarce just makes the game worse, so I don’t understand why Scarce is okay. Nevermind how screwed you are if you are playing scarcies when other people play your clan.

    The thing about Scarce as a rule is that it’s redundant to there only being a limited number of vampires to choose from. I haven’t played a bunch with Raful because he’s any good, I’ve played a bunch with him because there are only three vampires to choose from for any particular Nagaraja deck. There’s no flavor element to Scarce, it’s just a hose job.

    • finbury says:

      Maybe I’m making a mistake in treating the four scarce clans the same way. They’re pretty different.

      Nagaraja don’t have good primary disciplines, but having AUS and DOM means they graft into a bunch of decks pretty reasonably. For them, I see Scarce as being somewhat useful for the game designers, in that it could let them create a stack of ‘raja with really powerful special abilities and not be concerned that they’ve just created an uberclan. Which could lead to some interesting places.

      Aboms don’t have a consistent discipline set, and of the ones we have so far, you wouldn’t want to run any two of them together, so Scarce is pretty much irrelevant for them except in that “you might get randomly hosed, or randomly hose someone else” way. And it adds flavor. So I think it’s OK there.

      Salubri and True Brujah are similar to each other, because the balance of the Scarce trait is tied to the power level of Obeah / Temporis. The relevant thing here is the type of effect that you’re getting from the discipline. For example, you probably don’t need every one of your vampires to be able to refill another vampire or bounce a bleed, but you might want any of your vampires to be able to play a combat or stealth card. So any analysis of what the scarce trait does here is based on what the discipline does at the time – which, for this expansion, is unknown. But there are three possibilities:

      1) if OBE/TEM gets cards that help your entire game, then Scarce doesn’t make much of a difference.

      2) If OBE/TEM get cards that help only the minion playing them, but are only as good as cards in other disciplines, then these clans will be still be unplayable.

      3) If OBE/TEM get cards that help only the minion playing them, but they’re strictly better than cards in mainstream disciplines, then Scarce becomes a useful balancing mechanic.

  5. iclee says:

    I generally agree, but I’d put it somewhat differently.

    Nagaraja are Giovanni who can’t play Giovanni cards and thus are strictly inferior to what they would be if they were Giovanni. Auspex is meaningless for them since there’s no reason to play Auspex/Necromancy and Auspex/Dominate is fairly redundant and common as hell. Le Dinh Tho is the only who gets common play because he’s decent disciplinewise for a 5 cap and has a solid (if overrated) special and his disad doesn’t come up as often for other people as it does for me. Sennadurek is Black Hand and has a special which is far more relevant than any disciplines besides AUS she has.

    It’s fair to group Salubri and Trujah together and focus on what they provide that’s any better than what can be gotten elsewhere. Renewed Vigor isn’t easily replaced nor is Spirit Marionette. One could claim the same for cards like Lapse and whatnot for Trujah, but the reality is that they have just awful discipline synergy even if Temporis has a lot more cards worth exploring than Obeah.

    There’s really nothing wrong with Temporis, except that it doesn’t meaningfully help Trujah. Temporis and Obfuscate? Temporis and Dominate? It’s the same problem with Visceratika mixed with Potence and Fortitude – it doesn’t matter what the effects available are if you can do better things more easily. Then, Trujah get unnecessarily hosed by not being able to play Celerity cards as that cuts into mixing them with the natural combinations. Not that those natural combinations are that hot, we are talking about the worst Camarilla clan and arguably the worst original Sabbat clan.

    Abominations are just ridiculous. You already can’t play more than two of them together at a time. They already have no clan disciplines (even if they do have overlap) and no clan cards. Nagaraja aren’t really a clan, mechanically, Abominations to that much more of a degree aren’t.

    There’s no way in which Scarcity balances anything any more than hosers balance anything. If something is bad, then there’s no point in making it worse. If something is good, randomly punishing it makes for games that randomly suck.

    I’m still failing to see what flavor is added that is in any way desirable. You can’t run more than 3 (2 with Abominations) “natural” scarcies together to begin with. Then, you have random hosery that seemingly has nothing to do with intent. Banish a normal vampire and you bring it out again. Banish a scarcie in a scarcie deck and it’s pretty much dead. Nevermind Mistrust, which is just a hilarious card to exist – let’s hose stuff that is already incredibly hosed by their own mechanics. Then, you get crap like The Path of Tears to address a problem that should never have existed in the first place. It’s a Tajdid situation and we know how much people complain about the blood curse, which is also supposed to be for flavor except some clans get penalized for their flavor and some get nothing for theirs, which isn’t exactly flavorful (and would never be fair even if it were).

    Really, none of the scarce clans should have been made, much better to use those set slots on developing the many, many underdeveloped clans and disciplines in the game.

  6. […] back to this post for all of the bloodlines – https://iclee.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/inheritance/ – let’s see what happened.  Got stealth, got intercept – two wasted cards that could […]

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