So many things that can be looked at with a new set, let’s start with which bloodlines are winners and losers out of Heirs to the Blood.
Losers. But, then, they are always losers – the TWDA may recognize a deck with just five plus copies of a single vampire as a deck of that clan, but I don’t.
Referring 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 have been something interesting and provide some additional functionality to the clan. Charge of the Buffalo is just awful, New Moon Sigil has uses but doesn’t justify The Path of Harmony, and Spirit Claws is effort overkill.
I’m confused by why Visionquest has a drawback when it should have an advantage, like being a +3 stealth action or something. I’m all for leveling up bloodline disciplines, but I don’t understand why it’s so often so inefficient. The Path of Harmony does make sense for an evasive Ahrimanes deck; how many people out there do the evasive Ahrimanes archetype? Blessing of the Beast, besides having artwork I like (a rarity with this game, but there are a number of cards in this set), has a game effect with serious potential. Yet, how often does Mokole Blood, a better card since it can search or recurse cards, see play?
Sahana furthers the idea that group 4 is about Ani/Spi and Darlene even fits that build out of group 5. From that standpoint, I guess she rises above filler, though Darlene is questionable help depending upon how often you see Scourge of the Enochians in your metagame. Nor does Darlene help group 6 much presently as it looks like 6 is going back to being more of a Pre/Spi group. I really don’t understand Spirit Claws when group 2 is the only group with more than one member with Protean. Could have been an Ani/Pre, Ani/Spi, Pre/Spi, or any of a number of other possibilities instead.
No non-unique ally, but then, I don’t expect cards to be made that fulfill my idea of CCG logic.
Two questions: Will the Ahrimanes win more because of the set? Will they be more interesting? I don’t see significant impact in either. Losers.
Oh my. To rant or not to rant? That is the question. If there were like a dozen fewer disciplines and clans in the game and if infernal was a more widespread trait and if infernal wasn’t such a drawback, I might find the idea of introducing two new, non-discipline disciplines to an already overly complex game to be expanding it rather than convoluting it. If this sort of thing had been done maybe four or more years ago, I’d go off on how insipid it is to create overly narrow mechanics that only serve to take the game down a limited path.
Instead, I find the effects, even if they are rather similar to Daimoinon, for Maleficia to be amusing. Striga, I don’t so much get. Yes, I’ve played blocky infernal decks (yes, multiple ones). While intercept combat is a robust archetype, there’s something odd about making it more challenging with infernality.
I’m no Baali lover, there must be quite a few out there considering how often the Baali get love, maybe there’s just some sort of infernal contract at work with White Wolf/CCP, but I like them more than most(?) other clans. Daimoinon gets some interesting stuff. There are those who care about I Am Legion, a card I consider something that just breaks you even. I care way more about Infernal Servitor, not just because I like me my allies, but because I envision some swingy plays with immediate 3 bleeders and they don’t hurt that much at 1 pool.
Looking back at what I hoped for, I don’t see the combat defense, just more combat offense. You would think combat defense of the non-strike kind would be a bit easier to find in the game after all of these years as it’s generally pretty weak. While there’s pool gain, it’s coming at the cost of blood, where I was looking for more blood gain that could be used for combat or for converting into pool to offset infernality.
Tend the Flock does quite significantly by all appearances address the pool problems that come with general Baali decks (rather than combo decks). Veneficti is, of all things, prima facie, hard for me to believe, undercosted. I have unbad feelings towards both cards. Shatter the Gate is for those people who care more about living the dream, which is fine.
I do like what was done with the vampires. Presence and voting leads to pool gain. Condemnation: Mute doesn’t annoy me like other permanent, “screw with vampires” cards (like the other Condemnations). Synergy. Variety. The Protean angle with group 6 means access to Flesh of Marble to go with all of the combat options. I play cards like The Horde.
Do they win more? Eh, possibly just based on increased play, though there are so many toys here that they probably should win more. Do they get more interesting? Hell, yeah. Winners.
The Protean circle. This helps how? Sure, Protean has stealth and intercept and combat ends and other. But, what problem specific to the BB does it solve? BB are easy to oust. Protean doesn’t help that. Meanwhile, the new circle is essentially missing two of its clan disciplines. Pro/San for the win? Let’s say that’s better than San/(clan disciplines). How many variations are there on it? BB badly need diversity of options, not just one more option.
The Sanguinus cards strike me as more of the same. More of the same isn’t necessarily bad from a competitive standpoint, but I’m not seeing the vast weaknesses of the clan being addressed. An additional problem I see is that doing productive things becomes too card intensive. Sure, you can Unwholesome Bond engine into Hive Mind and/or Slake the Thirst off of an inferior UB, while Clockwerxing your Kevlar Vest or whatever around, but it strikes me as playing lots of cards to achieve little that is any better than what was already possible. Either you can take actions to get blood counters fast enough to survive or you can’t.
Thicker Than Blood is interesting in concept. Acceleration is always good with engines. But, is this really any better than an Effective Management or an Information Highway? The timing on it is rough where those two cards are always going to help. With the right draw, I see it being saucy. I’m not so sure with a less exciting draw. It might move the clan away from uncontrolled blood to a controlled region blood engine.
I see incremental gains when something more was needed, and I don’t see them being any less tedious after everyone does their Protean deck. Losers.
Daughters of Cacophony
Starting with clan cards, I’m most interested in Member of the Entourage as it addresses the need for Tourette’s Voice to be more playable. Benefit Performance strikes me as unnecessary – Con Boon is just better. Command Performance is okay. There are a variety of things a DoC deck might want to do in one turn. I’m just not enamored with cards like this for clans that already can Freak. I have no greater appreciation of Harmony than I did on October 25th.
Fanfare for Elysium and Shattering Crescendo interest me. Lily Prelude just depresses me. I’m really surprised at how big the effects are on SC and LP. In the former case, it’s justified as creating a weak, new effect wouldn’t get someone that excited to try new decks. In the latter case, I’m already getting tired of voting. It’s just too swingy and voting is really far less interactive than other aspects of the game for all that it seemed to be something that was intended to be more interactive – the proliferation of clans with few to no titles made it less likely to have casual titles than in the all Camarilla days. Virtuosa can be added to the list of various “you can’t touch this [action]” cards, though it does synergize better since Voter Cap can recoup the cost.
Cryptwise, Scout is sexy. The increased use of decent looking backgrounds is a big plus, artworkwise. The only DoC with permanent votes out of the gate. Size to get more out of Concert Tour and the goofy Melpominee, “younger” cards. I’m not terribly fond of Evil [Jensen]. Filler. Hillanvale expands the DoC with Obfuscate motif, though evasion was never a problem I had with DoC. Hidden Lurker + Death of the Drum … still no competitive reason to play Death of the Drum.
Winners. Powerful cards weren’t really things I was looking for, I was hoping more for some sort of combatty strategy to emerge, but maybe those people who play boring crap like Ventrue might get pulled away, and who knows what chaos Shattering Crescendo might cause.
Voices of the Castle offers something valuable to fill a need. I can’t say as much about the other cards. As the Crow will often be better than Freak Drive, which suggests some goodness. Dive Bomb just feeds the idea of rushing, which just makes for bad decks.
Some of the cards are just amazingly bad and/or require playing master/slave decks, which might be what is intended with Gargoyles but has the established problem of really playing two different decks at once. The Path of Service, I see, for instance, being pretty much just worth the slots when doing a Create Gargoyle horde.
Grotesque is awful. As for the rest, it’s interesting, now that we have more !Trem slaves, to see a !Gangrel style problem arise. Slaves get split between two clans. While both of the clans have the same disciplines, it’s still complicating things. I’d like to see more free Gargoyles since slavery doesn’t interest me. But, the greater problem is always likely to be just how badass Tupdogs are when it comes to doing things to make Gargoyles more productive.
As it’s mostly more of the same and the good stuff is slight, losers.
Harbingers of Skulls
Pretty sad clan cards. Din of the Damned is evasion not available to Giovanni, though whether that helps address the HoS lack of offense problem is hard to say. I do like the idea of rebuilding an exploding Skull deck and using Blessed Resilience to supplement Possession.
Nicodemes is underpowered. Mordechai’s Animalism doesn’t synergize with the rest of the clan. Obfuscate addresses a HoS problem and all of the 5/6 can bounce, a huge weakness of 2/3.
In general, I see more of a push towards Force of Will decks but not a whole lot actually going on. There’s just so little new for these guys. Losers.
Group 4 got a lot of help with Isanwayen’s efficiency. The Arcadian is solid (kind of gross in our recent draft, but then, offense was highly prized and intercept and bounce were scarce) and Wider View reduces the awesomeness of playing with group 3 for Tupdog.
The clan cards don’t do much for me. Great Symposium is a staple play, of course. Draeven has synergy with combatty decks, even Tinglestripe. Ravager is a waste of a master slot.
Mytherceria gets playable stuff, as usual; actually, nothing unplayable which is impressive. Still not really enough to want to have Myt cost reduction, but at least there’s some possible benefit to having that special addressing one of my hopes. Gremlins increases flexibility even more. How to abuse Scarlet Lore?
A clan with Dominate and stealth doesn’t need help, it needs variety. I see a decent amount of variety. Winners.
Wow, the vampires are bad. Of course, the intent isn’t to play Nagaraja decks, so each dork missing two clan disciplines is only really relevant to how they filler in weenie decks. Jozz still ends up being a coaster until the day when weenie Nec rises again. Anu is strong, of course, but that’s so boring. Can’t wait until the Cel/Nec combo has a reason to be played and Asguresh finds a home.
Ritual Scalpel, yawn. Losers.
Where are the allies?!? That’s all Timmy wanted for Christmas.
Oh look, evasion.
All of the group 6 vampires are studly, but then, Salubri tend to get studs and studesses. Can play four Salubri together.
As little as there is, with great help from the vampires, winners.
Combat ends for the win! Expensive combat ends, but … there’s a path. And, now, there’s Code of Samiel, too. One of the bloodlines that it makes a lot of sense to have a “hunting ground” for.
I asked for vampires with disciplines and they appeared. Kind of liked the Laibon angle that group 4 could work with, but whatever.
New stuff that opens up possibilities and helps, viable vampires, winners.
While I wouldn’t say the library cards did anything crazy, amazingly, there’s no unplayable card for a change and there’s some interesting things going on.
Morlock has an unfortunate group number, in that it would have been better to just write off group 4 as useless and put him in 5 or 6, well, 6 to get away from Toy. I’m curious as to what Angel will be capable of when 6 fills out. I’m pretty sure most folks have little idea just how good the group 2 crypt is (relative to what it could be, little to nothing is as bad as the Legacies of Blood Samedi collectively); it’s pretty sad that the standard can’t be maintained for this clan that is saddled with four disciplines, none of which are Auspex, Dominate, or Presence.
While there are some interesting things going on, how is Off Kilter better than Little Mountain Cemetery, how does Groaning Corpse change the combat equation meaningfully, why is it necessary to give a clan with Obfuscate a stealth card? I don’t hate what was done with this set, again, it’s stunning that there aren’t cards as bad as Putrefaction and Rigor Mortis, though Olid Loa is not far, but where are the difference makers to move away from overly focused Reanimated Corpse and/or Little Mountain Cemetery decks? Losers.
Why is that easy? As little as there is, that little includes stealth, a crazy search *and play* card, and perfectly reasonable vampires. I didn’t realize just how good Shalmath was until yesterday’s draft saw his player win off of his annoying as hell special’s back.
No, there’s still no free or 1 blood cost bounce card for these dudes, but bloat was always an option, one made much better by casual stealth to go with whatever other evasion was already out there.
Will they win a tournament (rather than five copies of Synesios winning a tournament)? Maybe they (and not just some five copy Shalmath deck) will.
Don’t expect to be bored … at least for a while.