December has come and I’ve been derelict in writing. So many things I should be writing. In addition to my appearing in December, so have V:TES previews of the Heirs To The Blood set.
Additional information is available at http://www.white-wolf.com/vtes/index.php?line=Checklist_HeirsToTheBlood [edited to VEKN.net] but I just wanted to do what everyone likes to do – comment on the new cards spoiled. Card images are from White Wolf’s web site.
The most common reaction to a new card is to overrate it. There were people arguing that Tortured Confession had uses when it was first spoiled. I easily fall into the trap as well. The trap comes from thinking about all of the possibilities and consider the best uses of the card. The reality, though, is often that a card’s best uses aren’t any better than what already exists.
I’d play with this card. It has three different uses, after all. But, I’m not into playing Baali rockstar decks. In those decks, cancelling Auspex becomes far more important while blood costs are more complex costs when doing Soul Gem tricks. Makes The Textbook Damnation more useful. Still, I’m not impressed.
Then, anything to do with combat seems to enthrall a large segment of the player population. Here we have someone who can easily Grapple + Disarm someone, Freak, and stealth through a built in Graverobbing.
Unfortunately, even with Presence – the second most useful out of clan discipline in general, I don’t see much use in anything like a good deck.
However, the second most common reaction is to underrate a new card. This comes from not having full information on sets. If Thanatosis stops being pathetic as a discipline, then maybe there’s some additional synergy in the disciplines that I don’t see. If not, I see people trying to build really bad combat decks.
Stars: ** (questionably, but Samedi seem to be underrated in general)
Combat … and combo. There’s a reason that Magic categorizes players into Timmy, Johnny, and Spike psychographic profiles. Johnny is the combo player, and while I tend to hate combo decks, I can appreciate the appeal of them (up to a point).
Choir is far too many players’ dream. It’s a linear mechanic in a game without a lot of clearly linear mechanics. It’s also boring as hell and completely awful as a strategy. On the other hand, Choir doesn’t need to be boring or awful. In my post about what I think Heirs should give, I consider developing the Choir mechanic by having cards key off of Choir.
As for this card, it’s a fascinating card for people who want to get deeply into probability in deck construction no matter how terrible a deck you may end up with. While it has been pointed out on the newsgroup that it not being a Choir has advantages with Freak Drive (Change of Target would work, too). It’s not itself a Choir and does absolutely nothing without Choirs. Cards like that tend to be truly awful. I don’t see how this makes Choir any better. Three actions to do 6 pool damage is just not that impressive. Sure, it can oust people. But, then, so does bleeding or voting. For all that decks prepare for bleed and don’t prepare much for these sorts of actions, relying entirely upon the combo is fragile where bleeding is not, and not relying entirely upon the combo means having to deal with one of the deck’s strategies being very awkward.
Nine capacity is far too often where we find horrendously designed vampires. This design is pretty bad. Great, Kiasyd with Animalism. That’s fine if there are at least two others with good enough discipline crossover. +1 bleed, blah. Look at top three cards, marginal. The history of the game has been to play high caps for their titles, their superior Presence, and their specials.
Stars: ** (Might be a weak Kiasyd, but Kiasyd have Dominate + stealth)
There so needs to be some cost reduction for Temporis. It would be amusing if Temporis got stealth or other evasion out of this set as that would make this card even worse. As it is, it’s an expensive comboish card that doesn’t do anything that wouldn’t be far easier to do with Obfuscate without paying any blood. Now, if it weren’t a bleed action but an action modifier (just like Flurry of Action should have been an action modifier), it would be hawt with voting (Voter Cap your other votes to refill the engine).
Lot of folks are commenting on the combo potential. It’s value add, sure, but if I squint at this card, I can ignore the completely unnecessary Necromancy and focus on a vampire who only has all of the best common disciplines in the game and the Freak Drive discipline. Sure, inferior Dom and Pre are not the hotness, but you are getting all sorts of overlap possibilities with other vampires, and there’s that +1 stealth thing. Presence (if loser Presence), Freak, quality specials, every bounce discipline – that seems more like a reasonable high cap.
Stars: *** (especially if I factor in having a terrible group number, so want to do half stars in these ratings)
It’s interesting how much the value of paths vary. The Path of Paradox is obscenely powerful. The Path of Typhon not so much. While Squirrel Balance is a strong card, and I’m sure there will be blood costing Spiritus cards in the set, this card is currently a waste of space. To change that will necessitate seriously good, blood costing cards.
Stars: * (in reality, it would be zero stars with what currently exists, but one must assume there’s a reason for this card)
Gargoyle cards just don’t make sense to me. Visceratika gets stuff you don’t care about mixing with Fortitude and Potence, Tupdog is ludicrous, etc. I’m struggling to see how this isn’t the anti-Tupdog – an awful card that has hardly any uses. It’s similar to Aabbt Kindred only somehow actually worse. The card would be properly designed by eliminating the (additional) drawback. Still, as a challenge it will peak the interest of people … like me.
Stars: * (it’s hard to give anything zero stars)
Wow, this is bad design. Openended effects are just conceptually bad as they may be open to breakage. If they aren’t open to breakage, it’s probably because what they do is weak. This isn’t weak. Yes, there’s a practical limit to how often you’ll untap even playing actions that untap you, a boatload of Freak Drives, and whatever. But, it’s a big limit. I actually don’t see it being so difficult to generate 20 pool off of this card. Now, whether the deck that does that is any good is a completely separate issue. The key with this card is either running a bunch of copies or searching it out. Any of Magic of the Smith, Vast Wealth, Sibyl’s Tongue, Inconnu Tutelage, Drop Point Network, etc. come to mind.
Stars: ** (building around it is questionable)
Bleeding successfully is easy, so that special will kick in most turns. The combat special is a reasonable deterrent. Whether it’s Flurry of Action, Dual Form, or any of the other ideas someone has mentioned on the newsgroup, it’s still playing a big vampire that isn’t game changing. No bounce discipline, no Freak Drive discipline, no Rutor’s Hand discipline, too many combat disciplines leaves me to wonder whether there’s significant help for Baali in the set or whether there is some sort of Protean theme to pursue with them.
Stars: ** (it could be so much worse)
What commenting on previews makes me want to do is go back and look at how I rated cards in the past and see how well my predictions for them turned out. Maybe a return to the Ebony Kingdoms post, though I still haven’t seen enough people play with EK to clearly determine what is what.