While it would likely make more sense to write about our LA storyline experience, I have been thinking for a time about how poorly V:TES has marketed clans.
One reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I’m involved in L5R where clan identity is huge. The HoR3 campaign not only has polls about what clan one will play but what daimyo one will serve and, of course, what clan you are has mechanical impact in the mods.
Another reason is thinking about V:TES storylines. V:TES storylines have traditionally encouraged player identifying with clans over and above any internal interest. However, the obvious problem with emphasizing clan identity is that there are 38 clans in V:TES as compared with about 8 great clans in L5R or 7 clans from V:TM Camarilla or any other sort of reasonable number. Now, yes, there are a host of minor clans, Imperial families, and whatever in L5R and the 13 bloodlines and 4 Laibon clans are not on par with the other clans in V:TES (nor is Pander).
While events can be run that limit the variety of clans, that’s only likely to annoy people. Annoyed me when a storyline was Cammie losers only. Putting aside the problem, and it’s most definitely a problem as supporting more things in game dilutes sets, there’s still the lack of clan identity enforcement.
What are Brujah known for? Being saddled with the horrible combination of Celerity and Potence, sure, but lots of clans have bad discipline spreads. Out of Jyhad, they had allies. Terrible allies in most cases, but allies; yet they haven’t gotten a new ally since set #1. New Carthage is way better than Carthage Remembered. As with all clans, they get clan cards. They get access to Camarilla stuff, though they have far more non-Camarilla vampires than other Cam clans, which shows a bit of clan identity as rebels. In the end, I see them get played mostly because people like combat overkill.
What distinguishes them from !Brujah? Mostly that the !Brujah didn’t cheat by getting a bunch of vampires with Dominate and/or the ability to play Second Tradition and Parity Shift. Still have the terrible ally theme. Dogs of War and Unexpected Coalition give a bit of much needed identity that they originally lacked. Still, where’s the “I want to identify with this clan” feature? Sabbat clans are much worse about this than Cam clans, getting fewer clan cards and more often lacking signature clan cards.
And, so it goes. Those that strongly identify with particular clans will, but I don’t feel the pull for those that aren’t already inclined. In my case, sure, I avoid Cammies, but that has something to do with them being overplayed. My rooting for the underdogs leads to often playing clans I don’t find as interesting from a flavor standpoint.
But, why does any of this matter? I find the enthusiasm with L5R so much greater because one feels like one can champion a particular faction. With V:TES needing some enthusiasm, it makes me wonder whether there’s a better way to market the game, and the obvious way to get people to care is to help them care about individual clans.
Well, obvious, if you kind of ignore that there’s 38 clans in the game. There’s just no getting around this. Storylines or tournaments with special rules can restrict options, but you can’t take back the existence of the other clans. When I played official storyline events, I championed underplayed clans, usually bloodlines. I had plenty of choices.
Maybe there is no meaningful way to tie people into something like clan, any more than discipline or whatever else. Maybe focusing marketing efforts through this element of the game are impractical. What’s the alternative? We don’t expect any new cards any time soon, if ever. What can events do today that will make people want to feel more strongly about the game? I may not be the right person since I get so committed to the games I play and putting myself into the shoes of a prospective player is unfathomable. Still, would be nice if there were some way to sell the game to new players not just initially but once they start playing a bit.