Quite the hiatus from posting. So, taxes were due not long ago in the US, which got me to thinking about “taxing” in V:TES.
The concept of taxing is simple enough – making things more costly than they normally are. Such cards have been around a long time. The one I usually think of from the game’s early days is Bureaucratic Overload.
Bureaucratic Overload is actually a pretty good example of a typical level of usefulness of a tax card. While mildly annoying, Bureaucratic Overload is like many of these cards in that it should have zero game impact. Other masters that show up with a cursory scan include Chanjelin Ward, The Damned, Mundane, Regarhagan’s Hold, Burden the Mind, Centralized Background Check, etc.
Among other card types, there are the other Holds, Condemnation: Betrayed, Greater Curse, Seeds of Corruption, Shadowed Eyes, Crocodile’s Tongue, Safe Passage, Kuta, Masquerade Enforcement, Extortion, Terror Frenzy, Kduva’s Mask, Orb of Ulain, San Nicholas de los Servitas, Narrow Minds, The Slow Withering, and so on and so forth.
Leandro is the best known tax vampire among veteran players. Pariah (and the likes of Walks-With-Might) and, of course, infernal minions tax yourself.
Besides cards that tax as a side effect of doing something useful, such as Kduva’s Mask, there’s little reason to play most of these cards. It doesn’t really help to cause someone to pay one more to bleed you if you still get bled for 5. Blood denial as a strategy is so much less effective than other strategies at winning tables that I have a hard time imagine metagaming against it.
There are a few plays that make sense:
Leandro – The tax is probably not going to be as important as the 4 votes, 3 bleed, and disciplines.
Narrow Minds – I think this card is way overplayed and a terrible idea as bounce is what makes this game playable; if I were going to tax something involving bleeding, it would be increasing the cost of cards that increase bleeds. However, it’s the most common tax I see these days as people see little drawback to throwing it into decks that don’t bounce.
Centralized Background Check – If you really, really want to stop decks from playing Concealed Weapon + .44 Magnum, then it begins to sound less sketchy.
The Slow Withering – Part of the event package of Blood Weakens, The Slow Withering, and Veil of Darkness that can disrupt many common decks greatly.
Getting past cards that are good for other reasons and cards with global effects that have enough impact to justify a single card slot, are there strategies around taxing that are remotely of interest?
To answer that question involves another question: how much time do you have in your environment? By time, not talking about minutes but, rather, turns. Taxes hurt more the more often someone has to pay them. A fundamental problem with a card like Condemnation: Betrayed and now with Greater Curse is that infernalism wants you to do the opposite – shorten the number of turns the game goes – as the infernal tax keeps hitting you. An environment with mostly fast decks is going to see the taxer being overrun by somebody.
So, you have a slower environment. What’s the advantage over playing even something like combat (which will remove counters faster and more consistently)? Subtlety? I don’t think so, in actual play. People don’t like feeling like they are being screwed with even if it’s trivial.
Really, the only reason I can see for tax strategies is the same reason for playing a lot of unusual strategies – they are unusual. Whether it’s the challenge of attritting or the need for variety, someone will find a reason. Speaking of someone, so I need to build my Shadowed Eyes deck.
Deck Name: 100314 Shadowed Eyes
Created By: Matthew Romans
Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 22, Max: 38, Avg: 7.66)
2 Allanyan Serata ani AUS CEL OBT PRE9 Toreador
2 Andrew Emory aus dom pot OBT5 Lasombra
2 Anton de Concepcion aus ANI DOM OBT POT9 Lasombra
2 Bruce de Guy AUS DOM FOR OBT10 Ventrue Antitribu
2 Matthew Romans pot AUS OBF OBT7 Pander
2 Onaedo aus pot DOM OBT6 Lasombra
Library: (75 cards)
Master (17 cards)
5 Blood Doll
1 Elysian Fields
1 Giant`s Blood
1 Heidelberg Castle, Germany
2 Information Highway
3 Wider View
Action (6 cards)
6 Shadowed Eyes
Action Modifier (4 cards)
2 Shroud of Night
2 Tenebrous Form
Reaction (26 cards)
2 Eyes of Argus
5 Eyes of the Night
3 Forced Awakening
4 On the Qui Vive
2 Spirit`s Touch
5 Telepathic Misdirection
3 Wake with Evening`s Freshness
Combat (12 cards)
7 Arms of the Abyss
1 Shadow Body
1 Shadow Parasite
Ally (4 cards)
1 Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1 Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
1 Young Bloods
Equipment (5 cards)
2 .44 Magnum
1 Bowl of Convergence
1 Camera Phone
1 Ivory Bow
Combo (1 cards)
1 Fae Contortion
As with many of my decks, inane or not, there’s no real plan for ousting here. Also, I’m not entirely sure why Gregory Winter isn’t in here … or some Villeins. This very well may fail my test of “making a good faith effort to build a real deck”, which is why I might not ever actually pull the cards for it. On the other hand, until I see the card in action, it’s hard to judge what I should do instead.
p.s. After I wrote this, I realized that by mentioning a card like Crocodile’s Tongue I open up some confusion on whether cards like Aching Beauty, Dominion, Archon, and Donal O’Conner are tax cards. I can see an argument that the effects are the same. There is a line that seems to exist between taxing and punishing, and I tend to view these cards as punishment cards, but whatever. These sorts of cards are generally better. In particular, as a strategy, Aching Beauty can be functional.