Eden Storyline – Santa Clara

Yesterday, we had our first Eden’s Legacy event – http://white-wolf.com/vtes/index.php?articleid=1157.  I was quite pleased.

First, having five players from Castro Valley/Hayward show up was huge, not just for the numbers but for the refreshing attitude that tournaments are a good thing, an opportunity to be part of a larger community of players.

Second, people metagamed for the storyline rules.  Far too often, I see players just bring some normal deck and put no thought into how to leverage the special rules to one’s best advantage.  What a wasted opportunity to think about the game considering that people don’t really need to metagame in standard constructed play around here.

I hear the !Brujah are doing well and they certainly need help, not that winning storylines really means jack, but we can pretend it does.  So, I considered playing them, but with a bloodlines set coming out soon, I also thought about reminding people that bloodlines are functional currently (with a few exceptions) and I’m always for promoting the more obscure clans.

I ended up building three decks before the tournament.  One was to lend out, so I didn’t stretch very far – Kiasyd.  One was insanity – Abomination rush.  The one I ended up playing was a ripoff of a Harbingers deck I played in this year’s qualifier.  The one that got borrowed was the Abomination deck and somehow he got a VP.

There were several features of this event I focused on, but one that had a lot of resonance was bleed reduction.  I don’t play bleed reduction much.  I don’t think it’s that good since it doesn’t oust my prey like bleed bounce does.  I also just have a general aversion to strategies that make games last longer since we have such a problem with games timing out.  The beauty of bleed bounce is that it doesn’t preserve the amount of blood in the game.  Specifically to metagame to these rules, three of the four Motivations require having the edge, so not letting the edge go to one’s predator is actually important.

For the Kiasyd deck, that was easily achieved with Folderol.  It’s too bad it didn’t see play as it would have been interesting to see how many Folderols went crosstable.  For the Harbingers’ deck, it meant a bunch of Telepathic Counters and Ancestor’s Insights …

… So, Laibon get a searching mechanic and searching is broken, so it would be kind of lame not to check out what it would mean to have easy search.  Top off with Motivated by Knowledge, yet another broken mechanic, and the synergy is all there.  Group 3/4 Harbingers have Laibon, two of three of those Laibon can play Ancestor’s Insight and TC for mucho bleed reduction.  Freak Drive is a natural complement to Perfectionist to maintain blood to burn for card draws while Mina’s special might go off.  While, Necromancy provides a means of recursing cards discarded in the pursuit of knowledge.

What was amazing, especially after playing a round, was how little people were interested in the Codex of the Edenic Groundskeepers.  I won off of the back of this one card, sweeping my first round game, coming back from 1 pool in my second, and getting the last two VPs in the finals because of numerous bleeds for 4 and 5.

Round 1:

Jeff (my Abomination deck) -> Ian -> Eric (Malk94) -> Andy (Guruhi rush)

With a ludicrous deck as my predator, I was never successfully bled the entire game by my predator.  With a huge table threat as my prey, Andy had no choice but to rush backwards all game.  What was amazing was how long it was before Eric started doing any pool damage.  A bit less pool and Andy would have been toast.  Instead, I got through Eric without having to expend too many resources and Heidelberging the Codex killed Andy and Jeff.

Round 2:

Brandyn (Lasombra bleed) -> Oliver (Lasombra vote) -> Brandon (Nos weenie Obf) -> Ian

This was a brutal game, especially for the typical NoCal environment where everyone would rather stop people from being ousted than oust folks.  Brandon hit on one of the ways I think the environment can be broken – weenies.  Oh wait, the normal game can be broken by that.  Well, he had Motivated by Jyhad to nearly double his bleed output.  Course, what he should have done was grab the Codex right away as that’s what I would build a weenie deck to do for this event.

Brandyn and Oliver contested a vampire for the second straight game, but it almost didn’t give me the table as I was being pounded.  On the other hand, I had the deck to deal with Brandon’s.  Bleed bounce wouldn’t have done much, but bleed reduction kept me alive.  What completed the keeping me alive was Oliver bouncing some bleeds into Brandon and then ousting him right before Brandon would oust me as I had burned through my reduction.  I dropped Brandyn with a Codex bleed on a Strange Day and the endgame was a tense affair with my finally being able to pay for Heidelberg and bleeding Oliver out with some bleeds of 2 and ending the game with zero blood on my four vampires.

This game really brought out how annoying Motivated by Knowledge is.  Oliver had gone with Presence for Voter Cap to pay for card drawing.  Fortunately for me, he also tried to shoehorn in Laibon, so his vampires weren’t natively Presencetastic.  Still, I couldn’t stop the votes, so he had a blood engine to dig for useful cards, which meant there was rarely a chance I wasn’t going to run into a wake for my bleeds at negative stealth.


Eric -> Grant? (Giovanni bleed) -> Gerentt (Malk wall) -> Ian -> (Oliver)

Gerentt’s deck was truly a wall.  Oliver questioned my sitting in front of it, but he didn’t realize what a huge threat Eric was.  There were only two spots, in front of a wall that would mess with my tooling or in front of the only vote deck and behind the bleedmonster which would likely get a lot of pool before I’d get help from the table.  Gerentt never bled me, which was kind of annoying as I was choking on Eyes of Argus, TC, and TM.  I was afraid to discard bleed defense in case Eric’s bleeds or Grant’s got bounced around the table, but I don’t think Gerentt ever bounced a bleed.

I was yet again able to get the Codex, though Oliver at least argued that it was a bad idea.  Not sure why he cared so much since he had bounce.  I didn’t care if my predator got it, my prey got it, or my grandpredator (who I urged to take it) got it.  Eric getting it would have likely given him the game.  So, somebody needed to care.  I almost took it with a first turn Tupdog just to take it out of the game, but I figured I had a decent shot at it and my predator or grandpredator having it would have helped through bounce while my prey having it would have gotten the threat off the table.

As it was, Eric reasonably quickly got to the point of blowing his prey off the table, but as I hoped going into the finals, ran into the wall and sputtered while also keeping my predator busy enough to not block my actions.  This was hot for Oliver who had vote lock and a table without Delaying Tactics.  I went forward out of not drawing any toolup actions and Eric’s pool evaporated between Oliver and my bounced bleeds.  With Eric gone, Oliver was in a sick position for timing the game out.  Going forward, the wall stood fast and beat his guys down with Sniper Rifle.  Along with losing blood in combat, blood wasn’t coming back as none of Oliver’s vampires started with Presence, which was huge for preventing “I draw cards until I win.”  I kept swinging on Oliver, time was growing shorter, Gerentt couldn’t draw enough wakes to stay in the game.  Fortunately, there was still just enough time left as I figured Oliver couldn’t do much in his depleted state as his library was getting thin, partially from Zygodat milling, and his blood was thin, plus he couldn’t bounce in the endgame and had no intercept to stop mundane bleeds.  With about 5 minutes left, I finally ousted him.

Let me step aside and talk about winning since I never seem to get a chance to accurately explain my take on it.  Above, I say I was quite pleased and lots of folks would figure it was because I won.  And, yes, winning had something to do with it.  But, as I try to explain to people for why I could never be a great player of a competitive game, winning and losing, in and of themselves, do nothing for me.  Pleasure out of winning for me is derived from pleasure overcoming challenges.  It could be the deckbuilding challenge.  It could be the challenge of playing well.  It could be winning when winning is unlikely due to a sheer stubbornness to keep trying to win or, at least, not get ousted.  I don’t know that I played particularly well, oddly, my games, even with Motivated by Knowledge, weren’t that complicated for me most of the time.  I did survive and go on to victory in the second round through tight play, I guess.  The deckbuilding challenge was playing Harbingers and metagaming properly to the rules and what I expected out of opponents.  But, mostly, it was winning close games.  Winning easily is a complete bore, much like watching sporting events that are close are so much more entertaining than ones that aren’t.  On the other hand, if I’m going to lose, I’d rather get blown out than lose a game I think I can win.

I want to run another storyline.  I think there’s a lot of metagaming possibilities without too much obnoxious stuff to deal with.  I have some ideas for !Brujah decks, so maybe I’ll actually go through with that.  Still, really trying to abuse either the Laibon search of the Knowledge draw mechanics might be interesting.  Alternatively, blood denial might be cute in this format to screw with the Knowledge seekers.


7 Responses to Eden Storyline – Santa Clara

  1. Azel says:

    i am soo mad with myself for staying up so late playing Crusader Kings the night before. like getting lost with Sim City, you look at the clock and it says 9PM, you go to play for an hour, you turn back and it’s 8AM. total crash and burn. and i had an Guruhi Aye deck ready any everything…

    well, at least Laibon HoS won. i take comfort in that fact. i’m just saddened not as many people represented the Laibon on their big storyline debut. free searching mechanic, people! what more do you want? a pony? well, that’s what Dream World is for! :P

  2. iclee says:

    Lots of people playing in this event who don’t own lots of cards, who never got into Laibon stuff and don’t care much about getting into it now, which is reasonable considering how little support there has been for Laibon since they came out.

  3. Azel says:

    what’s your thoughts on my idea to make Laibon sect as important as a base set like Sabbat or Camarilla? i think that since the source book, EK, allows for 3 out of the 4 big Independents (Assamite, Followers of Set, and Ravnos) and both of the Sabbat only big clans (Lasombra + Tzimisce) that a case could be made for expansion as a base set. Sabbat has 9 big clans, the Laibon could have 9 as well.

    i think it’d be an excuse for greater crypt diversity for those clans. however it would require another excuse to expand the Laibon 4 with a larger crypt selection. but the option to finally play other major Laibon clans beyond 3-4 vampires would be welcome for me. it’d also be a relatively convenient method to consolidate the current “Indie base set” we have floating around. Final Nights, KWM, and LotN are OK, but i find, outside of LotN, most to be lackluster in terms of improvements.

    put OBT + VIC and QUI + SER + NEC + CHI with ABO, and you have almost as many disciplines as the standard big 11 in a Cam set. add in ANI + PRE + CEL + FOR + POT as common connectors, getting around 1+2 cards in the set, and you have 12 disciplines as common circulation. leaves THA, PRO, DOM, DEM as more specialized disciplines and now the shoe goes on the other foot. suddenly Camarilla and Sabbat and Laibon become each individualized communities in terms of disciplines.

    oh i’m spiraling off into nonsense talk. but do you see an advantage in making Laibon a base set?

    • iclee says:

      I’m all for it.

      The Cam clans all get antitribu, kind of doubling their effective numbers. The indies got hosed for a while because of the lack of fully developed antitribu for the three clans that have them, but then, all sorts of crazy good cards got made for the indie clans so I don’t care anymore.

      Lasombra and Tzimisce have always had hot stuff, but the expansion of options is slow, far slower than other clans (like the indies). In particular, the Tzimisce currently need more to do.

      The beauty of Laibon, from a mechanical standpoint is that you have (as you say) Lasombra, Tzimisce, Assamites, FoS, Ravnos to go with the Laibon clans. You can fully develop African versions of existing clans that wouldn’t make a mess out of the game since it’s functionally similar to Sabbat versions of Cam clans.

      Also, Laibon is easy to grok as a mechanic. Adding another sect adds very little overhead to the game. Adding Abombwe is far less problematic than adding half a dozen bloodline disciplines.

      Meanwhile, the Laibon clans in the game are shafted by few crypt options and by a lack of broken stuff to compensate for some awful discipline combinations. Abombwe needs a serious power upgrade. Admittedly, clans like !Brujah are shafted as well by underdevelopment and a terrible discipline combination, so it’s nothing new. And, Laibon toys are at least interesting, more so to me than Sabbat toys.

      Yet, I find finbury’s view entirely reasonable. The players of the game who care about the theme just aren’t going to get as into stuff generated out of one supplement as stuff central or more central to the oWoD. I never bought the Ebony Kingdoms book because it had way too little new material.

      Anyway, I just don’t get why this game doesn’t develop existing stuff more. There are so many areas, from mechanics to sects to clans to disciplines, that could be mined.

      • Azel says:

        well, besides my one-man revolution for Laibon, and my desire for more Imbued and G1 ADV, i can’t think of what else is at the top of my “develop existing stuff” list.

        what’s on yours?

  4. finbury says:

    On tournaments:

    For me, that seemed like the most solid tournament we’ve had in a LONG time. I saw:
    – solid decks in multiple archetypes (stealth bleed, stealth vote, wall, weenie bleed, toolbox).
    – 12 people
    – new people
    – competitive, close games, both in early rounds and the final.

    I only saw one game time out, though I did see another come close.

    I made a couple of mistakes that I’m not happy with, and (although it’s hard to guess) the games were close enough that I’d probably have done better without the mistake. And I did play a deck that was overly ambitious in its construction. But I had a great time, and I’d certainly try to attend another event like that.

    On Laibon base sets:

    That’s never going to happen, simply because the Laibon aren’t that interesting a concept for most players.

    People get the Camarilla: immortal socialites with a stratified society, held together by traditions and customs that even they know are arbitrary, but that are the only defense they have against the monster inside each of them.

    People understand the Sabbat. Inhuman monsters who have embraced their inner demon, their internal hierarchy a violent parody of the Camarilla’s more civilized arrangement.

    People even get the Anarchs – rebels who want to burn the whole thing down.

    Each of these three factions represents a rich vein of theme and story. You can always make new cards about the traditions and organization of the Camarila, the rituals and pack mentality of the Sabbat, and the never-ending struggle of the Anarchs. More, those cards will make sense to the players thematically, even if they haven’t memorized the source material. (Recall also that the source material is now completely out of print.)

    The Laibon are just some guys from Africa. Sure, there’s some stuff you can draw on there that resonates with people’s common knowledge of Africa – elephants and leopards, jungles and palaces, crowded markets, stinging flies, warlords and AK-47s. There’s also some stuff you can get away with on the basis of “they just do things differently there” – Hiding in the Open – or you can imply a couple of folk tales that nobody really knows – Binding the Night Walker, Taking the Skin. But at some point the thematics end up seeming arbitrary and weird.

    For example, I still don’t know, conceptually, what Aye and Orun are. I can remember their effects and what causes them to burn, but without that conceptual backing, remembering which cards are associated with which effect is somewhat annoying.

    No, I think the Laibon need to be a side-issue. I think there would have been some scope for an independent base set, if they’d chosen to roll the Gangrel in there and maybe promote another couple of clans to full Indy status, but with Gangrel in KoT I think the only base sets we will, or should, see for a while are Sabbat and Camarilla.

    • Azel says:

      hmm, that’s very true, Africa is such an unknown quantity to so many people…

      let me see if i can put their sect conception into as simple words, as you have done.

      Laibon are a confederate tribal society with a cyclical view of existence. the customs are not arbitrary and kine/kindred made, but eternal, and “god-given” from greater powers in the sprit world. the spirit world is intertwined with the human world and all beings have a share of both. age confers responsibility, which should work through mutual consent, force of personality, and communal wisdom. youth implies deference to the wisdom of the elders.

      Aye is humanity and the human world (literally translates to The World of the Living). the deeper your connection to it, the more humane control you have over your Beast, as well as access to live more like a human (even so far as walking around almost daylight, explaining Neebi, Dusk Work, Jua Vema, extra waking, etc.). it also shows your connection to the material world, which is why destroying minions, locations, or equipment reduces your Aye. you cannot have a strong understanding and connection to the material world if you can casually destroy it.

      Orun is beastial/godlike essence and the spirit world (literally translates to Otherworld). it is neither demonic or angelic in morality, it just is — but it’s always frightening or awe inspiring in presence. the more Orun you have the more deference people give to your opinions, you have influence (shown as votes). it also explains why others treat you as older; you are more imposing with each bit more of Orun understanding. you have greater connections to the spirit world, land of the ancestors, place of wisdom, guiding your imposing presence. which also explains why Orun is used to banish, generate influence, vote, quicken the flow of spirit energy and counter the use of others’ spirit energy on you (Exile, Brutal Influence, Unholy Radiance, High Orun, Supernatural Resistance). it also explains why gross displays of direct power show a poor understanding of the spirit. if you have to do-it-yourself against a non-mortal or use a gross display of pool damage, then you are not letting your spirit impose over others — you have no faith in your right to command, you have no faith in your connection to the spirit wisdom.

      does that make sense? it’s essentially Yoruba religion writ large when it comes to a lot of tenets. in fact, easily over 1/3 the terms are Yoruban. Aye and Orun are direct ports from Humanity and Spirit World concepts. Babalawo Alafin literally translate to “Diviner King” (Babalawo = father of ancient wisdom, Alafin = righteous leader of the people). Abiku means “children” explaining her childlike appearance. the examples are all over. VTES is surprisingly accurate.

      overall, the cosmology is a pretty similar theme throughout sub-Saharan Africa. the idea of good and bad being almost sublimely irrelevant (for we are all creatures that can fail); it matters more to be obedient to the traditions and to your elders/ancestors. leadership is more about maintaining the peace than exerting your will and getting more power. territorial battles means little (why princes/archbishops/barons are so alien), consensus and good oratory means more (why vote push is everywhere for Laibon). censure is more done by communal agreement (which probably explains the votes) and as a last resort by intercepting and then being violent (which explains less rush-tastic and more block-tastic).

      thematically, WW got this all right. i’m just sad that the tenets (and aye/orun) are on the rather weak side and that there’s little further clan support for the other clans that make up the sect. i’d think that latter could be fixed by upping Laibon to a full base set sect status.

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