[Classic] Pinnacle – Each Set

From presence.vekn.org, we get this thread (one of the few I actually started for reasons best gone into some other time) – http://presence.vekn.org/viewtopic.php?t=1520&highlight=

For quite a long time, something would get me to thinking about what the best cards in recent sets were. I decided to take the time to try to come up with my thoughts on the best crypt and library cards added to the game from every set (well, except 10th). Anyway, since I bothered, I figured I’d share, with a few comments.

Jyhad/Vampire – Anson; Blood Doll

Once upon a time I would have said WWEF

Dark Sovereigns – Arika; Heidelberg Castle, Germany

Quite the drop in library quality from the base set.

Ancient Hearts – Muaziz, Archon of Ulugh Beg; Dreams of the Sphinx

Even after some major errata, there are still a number of juicy library cards. Vampires aren’t nearly as exciting.

Sabbat – Meshenka; Direct Intervention

Sabbat War – Lucita; Chiropteran Marauder

Don’t feel that strongly about Lucita with the Dolphin Blacks, Calibans, and Omayas of the world.

Final Nights – Gabrin; Week of Nightmares

Bloodlines – Matthias; Shroud of Absence

Camarilla Edition – Rachel Brandywine; Baltimore Purge

I wish I could say someone else, but my sense of results produces Rachel.

Anarchs – Nadima; Aranthebes, The Immortal

Bunch of underplayed cards from this set. On the library side, Gambit Accepted is likely the most underplayed.

Black Hand – Owain Evans, The Wanderer; Iron Glare

When I first looked at the set, I thought Specialization. Still think it gets underplayed, but Iron Glare seems to win out over some narrower cards.

Gehenna – Una; Perfectionist

This hurts. There are a number of vampires that seem to get overlooked, like the Giangaleazzos of the world. Though I put Seal of Veddartha in the top three (uh, four? when the Heart got printed) equipment in the game, Perfectionist is in the set.

10th – Carlton Van Wyk

Kindred Most Wanted – Mata Hari; Tumnimos

Seem to see a lot more vamps from this set than Gehenna, though Gehenna’s are much stronger. Another set where strong cards seem to get underplayed, like Dual Form and From a Sinking Ship.

Legacies of Blood – Tupdog; Tangle Atropos’ Hand

Nights of Reckoning – Travis Miller; Edge Explosion

Maybe not really worth trying to make choices from this set as cards are so interrelated.

3rd Edition – Keith Moody; On the Qui Vive

Sword of Caine – Hagar Stone; Veil the Legions

From a hard decision, to an easy one.


Feeling kind of lazy to study every pick, so just some focus on obvious(?) mistakes.

Meshenka better than Jost Werner?  Jost shows up in a lot more decks, and I’d hazard without looking a lot more TWDs.  Meshenka falls into the camp of being more impressive in isolation, which so many high caps fall into, leading to, IMO, their constant overrating.

Lucita hasn’t stood the test of time.  But, then, none of the SW first-timers have stood out that much. There’s only 27, but a fair number of good ones.  Dolphin Black would probably be it.  As for Chiropteran Marauder, if one were to take the quantities played into account, I can still see it winning over Powerbase: Montreal and The Coven.

Rachel or Carna, The Princess Witch?  Eh, maybe Carna.  Good 10 caps in Camarilla Edition in general.  What about Maris Streck, the most obnoxious vampire of them all?  Still would tend toward Carna, who is more essential to a number of decks than the other two.  Baltimore Purge doesn’t see much play … I think that has more to do with rarity and obnoxiousness and that BP decks are surprisingly hard to build than how any of the other cards are better.

It’s interesting how rare Aranthebes is, but it’s obvious that it hasn’t stood the test of time.  Lot of Anarchs set cards are much better now as anarchdom has proliferated, but the obvious card here is Life in the City.

Banjoko better than Owain?  Banjoko has gotten key help, but I can still see an argument for Owain.

Is there an argument for The Unmasking being better than Perfectionist?  Classic battle between magnitude of effect and variety of uses.  Both are gamechangers if one more obviously so than the other.

As unexciting as the crypt choice may be on power level for KMW, man, some of the library cards are sick.  Sudario Refraction is broken and has no close substitutes like Tumnimos, Web of Knives, and Waters of Duat have.

Tangle of Atropos’ Hand has not stood up, and it’s interesting just how little play it does see.  I own a good amount and I usually end up removing them from decks as they’ve proved to be more complex that you would think to attain value from.  No Secrets From the Magaji should be the obvious choice, nowadays.

Keith Moody was a case of my being quite wrong.  It was the choice with the most criticism I received.  My detractors could feel vindicated; I do find that he sneaks into decklists, though.  Again, maybe it’s a bias or maybe it’s how I measure value, but I go for versatility over magnitude of strength.  I thought Keith would be like Gideon Fontaine, who was arguably the best vampire in the game at one point.  Seriously, the only other vampire I saw played in as many different decks in my Jyhad days was … nobody, not even Anson.  Still, Anson is Anson and time has left Gideon behind in many cases.  Better than Keith?  Stick!!  Antonio d’Erlette.  Ermenegildo.  Neighbor John.  Stavros.  Arguably, Paul Cordwood.  Aksinya!!  And, yes, I’d probably argue Malgorzata.  Who is the best?  Antonio d’Erlette would be my choice.  Neighbor John is the most efficient and Aksinya also has game altering text, but Antonio alters the game in a crazy way.

Hagar is the wrong choice, but only because all of the SoC vampires are kind of blah or sucky.  Lubomira probably is the correct choice, but it’s hard to pick any of them.  As much as Veil is the best card, Nocturn has proved to be ridiculous and more key to its decks, and some of the other cards have shown more gravitas, such as Guarded Rubrics or The Uncoiling (though I’ve never seen this card do anything, people play it a lot), than one might have thought.   I hate SoC, a small set with narrow mechanics and dull vampires, but there are cards in it that matter, even if I do play Epiphany far less than I used to.

An obvious follow up to this is to look at the newer sets.  However, one of the things this revisit has stirred within me is the desire to study one particular set in more depth, a set like KMW, for instance.  I think far too many cards have been underplayed and underexamined in this game’s history.  I’m as much to blame as others for not really playing some of these sets out in a vigorous manner.  I keep talking about trying stuff and then build lots of similar decks because those are easy.

There’s something else I discovered when looking back at my old Presence posts.  The nature of my posts in different forums seemed to vary, and I believe I know why.  As I don’t see this being worth its own blog post, though I could bring in all of the other games’ forums I used to inhabit to stretch things out to my usual 1000+ words, I think it suffices to say that my Presence presence was much more antagonistic than in some other places, in part because I had grown tired of a few things.  One being that people would post decks, solicit advice, then criticize the advice without any sort of rational argument as to what was wrong with the advice.  Another was that new posts were almost always decklists, often with no commentary or even clarity on whether someone sought suggestions, when my preference is for more general strategic thought.  In contrast, the UK forum, where general strategy is more common, even if posts in general are less common, saw a much more thoughtful tone.


One Response to [Classic] Pinnacle – Each Set

  1. Brandon says:

    The google group has degenerated in the past year or so. It is too bad because I still consider it to be the best resource out there, I just can’t stand to look through the posts sometimes. Flamewars and decklists sprinkled with the occasional add or announcement is what I see.

    I find it interesting how the “power” of crypt cards has changed over time. The perception of something when it first comes out is inevitably wrong, but comparisons Gideon Fontane vs Keith Moody vs stick are intersting. Gideon was the first three cap with PRE and fits into a lot of decks that need basic vampires(or weenie presence). Keith is interesting because three caps with good bounce and the ability to govern down are impossible to come by(except him). Stick is a good side-kick, much like I expect that Gideon was. But he’s new and Gideon is old, so he sees a lot more play.

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