Paying Taxes

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)
  2  Auspex
  5  Blood Doll
  1  Elysian Fields
  1  Giant`s Blood
  1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
  2  Information Highway
  2  Perfectionist
  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  Precognition
  2  Spirit`s Touch
  5  Telepathic Misdirection
  3  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (12 cards)
  7  Arms of the Abyss
  3  Entombment
  1  Shadow Body
  1  Shadow Parasite

Ally (4 cards)
  1  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
  1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)
  1  Ossian
  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.

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10 Responses to Paying Taxes

  1. Bill Ricardi says:

    No mention of First Tradition, the ultimate tax card? Getting taxed to take your turn is possibly the most harsh toke in VTES.

    I would say that the point of tax cards in general (and 1st Tradition in particular) is that your deck is prepared to deal with the tax, and other decks are not. Of course the tax had better either help to defend you or slow down the game in some way, because you’ll have a target painted on your back.

    • iclee says:

      I like comments because they remind me of glaring omissions. Yes, First Tradition is a huge tax card that probably should see a lot more play, though Scourge of Enochians hurts in that a good way to win off of First Tradition was to breed a bunch of dorks who overwhelm someone who doesn’t take a turn.

      For global taxes, sure. And, it’s global taxes I see being more common because they have so much greater impact. Disciplineless decks don’t care about The Slow Withering, etc. But, then my opposition to global effects in V:TES makes me want to think more about targeted taxes.

  2. Brandon says:

    This deck is missing Govern to get guys for cheaper and have a chance of ousting. If you want to increase the tax for your pred/prey, include Hunger Moon, Torpid Blood, and Dragonbound. Knock them into torpor with OBT/.44 combat and keep them there by blocking. If they do get out empty, they’ll be sitting there a long time hunting.

    • iclee says:

      Can argue that every deck not running Govern is missing Govern. I’m so tired of Dominate, which is why there aren’t any Dominate cards in here, which is why I was always trying to find a reason to play Matthew Romans. Otherwise, with Obtenebration, might as well just play a boring deck.

      There is a Magic article writer who often wrote about taking precons and modifying them. Something he stressed was not being a slave to your theme. Adding a bunch of bad* cards to a bad deck strikes me as being a slave to my theme, though you could easily argue that not playing Govern and Conditioning is doing the same thing.

      * I have never seen Torpid Blood do anything. I routinely see Dragonbound hurt the player playing it more than anyone else.

  3. Drain says:

    As a complete aside (since I didn’t find a mail adress that I could use for this): As someone who follows your blog I was hoping you would do an overview on the cards from the new set. I found the one you did for EK both engrossing and insightful.

    Sorry for the off-topic.

    Drain

  4. Brandon says:

    I was just looking at the discipline spread and thinking that with all that DOM on your high caps(and there are a lot of them), you might want to save some pool bringing out guys. If you didn’t want to go that way, maybe have more ways for your guys to gain blood. They’re not multi-acting so perfectionist is of somewhat limited use. Obtenebration stuff costs blood. Maybe the deck needs Charisma and Procurers? Something to help get blood through blood dolls while keeping enough blood on your guys.

  5. Andy(TorranceCircle) says:

    I’m not sure, are you saying that these tax cards are not useful? Specifically, Croc’s Tongue? I think this is a good card. I see it as a punisher card early and then as a block denial card later. What do you think?

    Another Tax card of sorts is Deploy the Hand! +3Fun, -3ousting power! I actually have a deck using this and Croc’s Tongue. Its very fun but as you said lacks a serious method for oust.

    • iclee says:

      Crocodile’s Tongue is a bad card. When I’ve played with the card, I’ve always discarded it. I’ve never been meaningfully affected by anyone else playing it. I’ve never seen anyone ever meaningfully affected by someone playing it. Much of the time it’s unplayable. Decks are better off taking out all of their Crocodile’s Tongues and replacing them with stealth cards since getting actions through is far more useful than randomly burning off some blood.

      Of course, the only evidence for anything in this game is the TWDA, and I vaguely recall seeing CT show up in some decks, so I’m sure someone could try to argue that the card is playable.

  6. KevinM says:

    Torpid Blood is a free, conditionless Gehenna Event, which is how it should be used. I’ve also seen it used in weirdly imaginative combat decks.

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