Fly No More

I’m kind of out of touch with V:TES discussion.  It’s hard to embrace the new go to place of vekn.net because the scheme is really hard on the eyes (changing it is more painful) and because I just don’t have the same level of interest.  I did look around lately, so I saw the question about expectations at the NAC, not a lot of posts.  I did try to find some blog about Week of Nightmares but couldn’t find anything.

So, I can still make predictions in the absence of any sort of results.  There’s definitely a sense that Girls variants and Stickmen are overrepresented as winners in the last year or so.  In the past, I might have done the deck by deck analysis to really see what has been winning recently, but in lieu of going to that much effort, I’d note that Giovanni have done well in 2011 in larger tournaments and I feel like Dementation and Imbued decks are threatening.

As to what I’d expect, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of these various archetypes, except maybe Dementation, at the NAC.  While I’m hesitant to say that there is greater diversity of deck archetypes at major US events, I do think that there’s evidence that suggests that frequent winners in Europe will play the same archetypes repeatedly, embracing what is considered the strongest archetypes rather than eschewing them.

What I would expect is Animalism.  If asked maybe a year ago, maybe two or three, what I’d feel was the most troublesome archetype, I would probably have said weenie Animalism.  It was already a go to metagame choice before Deep Song was printed, and Deep Song only made it vastly more efficient.  While hardly perfect and while there are a number of matchups the archetype isn’t fond of, it wrecked enough decks while having a good enough game against enough of the field, that it seemed a prime choice.

I wouldn’t say the same about weenie Animalism today, but I would say Animalism is even stronger.  Why?  Decks like this one:

V:tES ECQ @ GothCon 2011
Gothenburg, Sweden
April 23, 2011
37 players

Erik Torstensson’s Tournament Winning Deck

Deck Name : girls will find aids (68-rörelsen)
Author : Isak Bjärmark Esbjörnsson and Erik Torstensson
Description : Five minutes with Enkidu.

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 7 max: 11 average: 8.91667
————————————————————
4x Aksinya Daclau     9 ANI FOR PRE PRO cel tha     !Gangrel:4
2x Cybele            10 ANI DAI OBF PRE SER THA     Baali:4
2x Nana Buruku         8 ANI POT PRE             Guruhi:4
1x Enkidu, The Noah    11 ANI CEL OBF POT PRO for     !Gangrel:4
1x Nangila Were     9 ANI POT PRE obf ser         Guruhi:4
1x Gustaphe Brunnelle     8 ANI DOM POT obf         Nosferatu:4 primogen
1x Talbot         7 ANI NEC PRO for         Gangrel:5

Library [68 cards]
——————————
Action [1]
2x Deep Song
1x Entrancement

Combat [20]
9x Aid from Bats
7x Carrion Crows
1x Target Vitals
2x Taste of Vitae
1x Terror Frenzy
1x Canine Horde

Event [2]
1x Anthelios, The Red Star
1x Dragonbound

Master [31]
9x Ashur Tablets
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
1x Fame
1x Giant’s Blood
2x Haven Uncovered
2x Information Highway
5x Liquidation
1x Lilith’s Blessing
7x Villein
5x Zillah’s Valley
1x Pentex Subversion
1x Jake Washington
1x Golconda: Inner Peace

Reactions [4]
1x Guard Dogs
1x Rat’s Warning
2x Lost in Translation

The evolution of Girls decks is interesting.  Compare with this deck:

Swedish National Championship 2010
Örebro, Sweden
September 11, 2010
44 Players
3R + F

Erik Torstensson’s Tournament Winning Deck with 1,5 VPs in the Finals

Deck Name : Girls will find…
Author : Erik Torstensson
Description :

Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 9 max: 11 average: 10
————————————————————
4x Cybele                 10 ANI DAI OBF PRE SER THA          Baali:4
4x Aksinya Daclau         9  ANI FOR PRE PRO cel tha          !Gangrel:4
1x Adana de Sforza        11 CEL OBF POT PRE PRO aus inner circle Brujah:4
1x Lutz von Hohenzollern 11 AUS DEM OBF PRE pot     inner circle Malkavian:4
1x Mistress Fanchon       11 AUS CEL DOM OBF THA VIC inner circle Tremere:4
1x Rafael de Corazon      11 AUS CEL DOM OBF PRE     inner circle Toreador:4

Library [82 cards]
————————————————————
Action [4]
1x Entrancement
2x Intimidation
1x Unleash Hell’s Fury

Action Modifier [16]
2x Aire of Elation
1x Approximation of Loyalty
1x Cloak the Gathering
2x Elder Impersonation
1x Enkil Cog
2x Faceless Night
1x Into Thin Air
2x Lost in Crowds
2x Mirror Walk
2x Perfect Paragon

Combat [4]
4x Majesty

Event [2]
2x Anthelios, The Red Star

Master [48]
9x Ashur Tablets
1x Blind Spot
1x Coven, The
1x Direct Intervention
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
1x Fortschritt Library
1x Giant’s Blood
2x Golconda: Inner Peace
2x Information Highway
2x Jake Washington (Hunter)
8x Liquidation
1x Metro Underground
1x Misdirection
1x Monastery of Shadows
1x Parthenon, The
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
7x Villein
1x Wash
5x Zillah’s Valley

Political Action [4]
1x Ancient Influence
1x Banishment
1x Political Stranglehold
1x Reins of Power

Reaction [4]
1x Guard Dogs
2x Lost in Translation
1x Rat’s Warning

Same player, same region, same sort of broken core strategy that abuses masters, very different support module.

Nana Buruku should have settled in everyone’s minds (but I’m sure didn’t) that multiple master phase actions is broken.  Here’s a vampire without a number of the benefits that Anson has provided lo these many years who still has shown up in a variety of winning archetypes as the key vampire at the higher levels of play.  Add to Aksinya and Cybele a third ANI vampire, and one sees how easy it is to bolt a combat module on to crazy bloat and recursion.

And, what a combat module it is.  Anything can win.  We see that.  But, would anyone want to run weenie Potence or Celerity guns into Aid From Bats + Carrion Crows?  So, it doesn’t beat combat ends.  It doesn’t need to.  Eventually combat ends runs out (ignoring Henry Taylor or whatever).  The massive power that Majesty has always brought to the table is that whatever the deck was doing that wasn’t getting out of combat was harsh to one’s pool.  Girls decks are kind of decent at pool gain.  Bloat enough to play a game of attrition and 1+2+press+1+2 is enough damage to tear up minions.

I’ve thought about how to counteract Animalism decks and the answers come up wanting far too often.  Sure, against weenie Animalism, stealth vote is nice but how well does it do against “oh, my deck also has Lutz”?  Combat ends has the problem I mentioned of only being good enough if the deck can be ousted fast enough.  Opposing combat can be a big annoyance, especially ranged agg, but then, what does your combat do for you against stealth bleed, stealth vote, etc.?  Can’t really avoid getting into combat when Deep Song is around.

To abuse masters or to try to stop master abuse?  While I might not expect much in the way of Girlie decks at the NAC, I’m sure people will still try to abuse Ashur Tablets, Liquidation, the two together, and whatever else.  Join the club?  Or, try to Monkey Wrench (grossly underplayed card) the club?  I just don’t have any confidence that a deck can run enough Suddens and/or Washes to ensure winning the metagame.  Answers aren’t as good as threats and the threats in a deck with 6+ Ashur Tablets feel pretty much infinite.  Even if the Tablets never go, the amount of effort put into stopping that likely means everything else happens which is not a “win”.

Though, there are deck archetypes that are fearsome enough without having to stop a lot that I can see decks such as Dementation bleed with 4+ Suddens try to be anti-club.  Not really anything new, I was suggesting just such a build back when Gen Con still had major V:TES tournaments and played such in 2001.

V:TES is a multiplayer game.  So, sometimes, it’s a matter of playing something that with a bit of help, the problem decks go away.  There’s this deck http://thelasombra.com/decks/twd.htm#2011iecqbi that doesn’t stop masters (other than with Le Dinh Tho) or much of anything else.  It basically bleeds … a lot, with LDT possibly being an annoyance.  Girls and Stickmen are anywhere from reasonably resilient to big bleed to absurdly happy to see it, and there’s a lack of tech in here to tap Aksinya, nor is there Trochomancy tech, but think about an actual game where this sits as a predator to a Girls deck or a Stickmen deck.  In addition to being relentless in attack, what if this deck’s predator doesn’t want Girls or Men around?  There’s enough bounce to create a two predator situation and that should be enough, everything else being equal.

What I run into when I play in crossregional metagames is a lot more intercept than I’m used to.  Interestingly, Girls, Giovanni, Dementation, and other successful archetypes aren’t terribly blocky.  I’d expect to run into enough intercept, especially weenie Auspex (awful against Animalism but just horrid to deal with) or fat Toreador, at the NAC that I’d need to adjust my thinking away from my normal deckbuilding style, which often fails miserably against significant intercept.

Likely, even if I had gone, I wouldn’t have made much of an effort to metagame my decks.  While I could have looked for tech, like when I ran Mercy for Seth in my Harbingers vote deck years ago or Ambulance and merged Sebastian Goulet last year, I need a certain level of amusement in my decks.  I don’t know what I would have built, since I pretty much ignored the NAC when I realized I wasn’t going, but I think I would have spent less time on trying to kill Parity Shift (my most recent goal) than trying to figure out how to survive winged animals and get through outrageous bloat.

Probably just means some lame Parity Shift deck will win.  … sigh.

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2 Responses to Fly No More

  1. elotar says:

    Good gues with ani :)

  2. Brandon says:

    I’m beginning to think that the correct way do sudden the Girls is to go after Liquidation. Without having a bunch of cards in the ash heap and that three pool, they will function a lot more slowly. If you run the Uncoiling, even better!

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