Illusionists

Ravnos.

Today, while a day of Independence, is not a day in which I envision speaking upon some sort of Independence theme but, rather, about Ravnos.

Why Ravnos?

A coalescing of thoughts and comments.  In no particular order, here are some reasons to speak of Ravnos, now:

1.  I haven’t played them much in a long time.
2.  I like Chimerstry a lot.
3.  Animalism – Join it with Ravnos or humiliate it with Ravnos?
4.  Sensory Deprivation isn’t fun, but that’s because it’s evil.
5.  Someone mentioned Nightmare Curse.
6.  There must be other tech in Chimerstry’s wide range of effects.
7.  I miss Gabrin.
8.  Ezmerelda amuses me.
9.  When did Week of Nightmares stop being broken?
10.  If we ever have a tournament that qualifies for the TWDA …

I’ve been claiming that Ravnos Trapparition has been a good metagame choice for quite some time.  Just like winnie Animalism murders winnie Auspex, Trapparition should as well … while murdering winnie Animalism.  Draba is not reliable, but it’s an answer to stealth vote that a lot of decks don’t have.  Week of Nightmares provides the ousting power boost to actually oust folks.

This was before Nana “I’m not a Prince with PRE and Dominate, yet I’m still clearly broken” Buruku manifested.  While the popular crop of Animalism decks may not get trumped in every fight by Crows + Apparition since Aid From Bats can be used to press to end, leading to minor trades in enough cases, Animalism beats and Apparition should make Ravnos a metagame combat trump, with the worst thing I envisioning being Ashur Tablets recycling trumping the Ravnos deck when it runs out of cards, but that’s so corner case a scenario that I’m not going to worry about it.  Alternatively, the Ravnos can dispense with fighting Murder with Murder [of Crows, poetic license, not suggesting the card will be key].  Double Apparition is still immunity, though what leverage it’s providing is questionable.  A Trapparition deck sans Crows with Canine Hordes and Target Vitals to eviscerate all equipment in play is amusing, if card inefficient.  And, of course, there’s the trumpiest (if not perfect) play of Illusions of the Kindred.  As expensive combat defense, it’s kind of paranoid, so there should be some sort of beatings to come out of the illusions.  No, not Horrid Reality, that’s just going to die against decks that don’t fight.

I loathe Sensory Deprivation as the point of CCGs is to play cards, not sit around doing nothing.  On the other hand, I quite like Nightmare Curse.  As the person responsible for two-thirds of the Nightmare Curses in the TWDA with only that well known hater of all things Ravnos David Cherryholmes responsible for the other third, I can claim to be the undisputed expert on all things Nightmare Curse (and how to win tournaments with awful Ravnos decks and …).  Double inferior is why you play the card.  Double inferior is fun because it doesn’t stop people from playing and might do pool damage.  I’m huge, potentially big, on “might do pool damage” plays.  Actually, the Chi version is reasonably useful, the entirety (I think) of its use by DC’s deck, and makes the card not require doing a lot of crypt distortion.

But, anyway, as cute as NC is, Sensory Dep is more brutal since it’s easy to play at superior.  It’s interesting that the card seems somewhat forgotten.  Many claim that they see bigger vampires these days.  Well, the bigger they are, the more they hate lockdown effects.  While I can’t likely bring myself to make SD a focus of a deck, I can bring myself to play 1-3 as a good stuff play.

Army of Apparitions.  I’ve never been that excited since it doesn’t say anything about redirecting a bleed from me to my prey, but I’m sure it was playable.  Now, though, how does it fit the meta?  All sorts are whipping out Marconius Faerie Wards decks, but FW works against bleeds, which is way more than having a minion you control being targeted.  But, let’s see.  Votes to annoy voting decks and a means to stop being rushed by winnies with Animalism.  Just a question of how warped the meta is, I guess.  It’s not like 3 votes may be enough, though one can save up to play two for 6 votes, I suppose.

I’m amazed at how little press Draba gets.  While it may require a bit of setup, permacept and Draba blocks things that only AUS blocks.  It’s such a random hose on crosstable actions where Auspex rarely is.  Sure, I like more defensive Ravnos builds to the once prevalent Clown Car decks, but I can’t be the only one who thinks Ravnos are kind of good at blocking.

Fantasy World only costs 2 blood (assumedly 1 or zero with Path/Gabrin).  But, does it do anything?  It’s another way to tap Aksinya, though it shouldn’t affect the discarding master power if she untaps from Rats’.  It’s interesting to see whether it matters.  I have rarely played it because I think it’s too random whether it does, but maybe, random is okay if it hits often enough for hard enough.

Fata Amria – I do actually know what the card does, I just think too often what that is is nothing.

Ignis Fatuus may not have gotten any press in ages, but it did once seem to get more attention than Draba.  Not sure why, but it’s also a highly interesting effect.  Maybe not that useful if your main concerns are Girls, ANI, DEM, stealth Parity Shift, or whatever, but interesting.

Let’s say you have a lot of Girls and rushy ANI decks to deal with.  They don’t block well.  Yes, I’m sure there are more Raven Spyrrific ANI builds, but let’s assume they don’t block well.  Mirror Image means getting actions through while the superior buys time against ANI.  Sure, MI has always been hot for Chimerstry, but maybe the meta play these days is to load up on them.  Replace Occlusions?  Occlusion doesn’t prevent being murdered by crows.

How good is Gabrin?  Good enough to be one of the five best vampires in the game?  If you look, hard enough, you will find a comment I made to that effect.  Sure, he had the best discipline cost reduction special in the game until Una (arguable) came along.  Sure, he has Dominate, but, then, so do about 436 other vampires.  Sure, The Path of Paradox steals some thunder, though it also synergizes well.  One has to understand the environment pre The Final Nights.  Lots of folks only considered FoS viable.  I added Giovanni to the list.  But, clearly, Ravnos were garbage before TFN.  Chimerstry had cards like Sensory Deprivation and Fata Morgana, but they were insanely expensive compared to what else you could do, and all of the indies had crypt problems.  Chimerstry was atrocious.  Then, The Path and Gabrin got printed.  Suddenly, at one less blood for every card, Chimerstry looked good; add in a few other good cards, like Mirror Image and Draba, and Chimerstry looks awesome.  Oh, and he has Dominate to go with a 6 cap and a 7 cap so that, you know, you have a Ravnos with Dominate deck.

Though, to be fair, Week of Nightmares is responsible for so many Ravnos wins.  Why isn’t WoN broken anymore?  Perhaps because of Scourge of the Enochians, though I hardly see the card played.  Perhaps because people started metaing harder against winnies, with random Anarchist Uprisings in decks.  Or, maybe, it’s still broken.  Midcap Ravnos dodge Scourge and still kind of like the one time Palla Grande.

Ezmerelda has Dominate.  Ezmerelda can play newer Chimerstry cards that only go on younger vampires.  Ezmerelda is a terrible Ravnos.  She’s not a terrible vampire, being a reasonable Ventrue, though the Ventrue don’t need her.  Have we seen little of her due to rarity?  Perhaps.  But, somebody out there must own enough to build decks.  I’m more interested in her after seeing what she can do in my Ur-Shulgi Has No Presence deck.  Living the dream is Villein for 10, Deflection, gain 11 on untap.  Have I mentioned recently that I won a game when my final opponent scooped to my bringing out Ezmerelda … contesting his?

I’ve played a fair number of Ravnos decks, not so much recently, probably because I got tired of newer cards I hadn’t played turning out to be uninteresting and not having a love affair for Mata Hari, though I have more Mata Hari decks to play.  What might be interesting is to try to keep my streak alive of winning every tournament I’ve ever played with a Ravnos deck, though, as with many tournament related aspects of my playing career, that requires that we actually have tournaments.  The thing is is that I really need to get into a crossregional meta where I think Trapparition is a strong metagame choice, something that eludes me as I fail to make the effort to travel.

Meanwhile, for those who fear the Girls, is there anything to be mined from the Ravnos?  They tap minions well.  They can do a ton of pool damage if willing to risk a Clown Car deck.  I think they give more trouble to stealth vote and ANI, which are two of the decks that have better game against Girls, which may only end up helping Girls if we had sophisticated enough metas to where enough decks of one archetype were played to shift entire tournaments.

Ultimately, whatever someone wants to hate on or not, I still see Ravnos being a largely forgotten viable option.

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3 Responses to Illusionists

  1. Brandon says:

    I’ve been working on some CHI stuff, particularly Ravnos with dominate. I think it would be a neat trick to bounce some bleeds around and reduce the stealth/bleed if needed. Sensory Deprivation and/or Nightmare Curse seem to be a good answer to the Girls, plus a bunch of other annoyances. Do people really try to trump the Girls, or just complain about them?

  2. Andrew Haas says:

    I think Ian is teching against some sort of worldwide meta-game since the Norcal meta-game is so boring. I really only expect that a few people in our area would ever play Girls decks.

    The cards you mention are not so much good answers to girls as just good cards in general. None of it really alters the core mechanics of multiple MPAs.

    • iclee says:

      I wouldn’t say the local meta is boring. It doesn’t exist. We’ve largely never had a local meta. I used to say the only things you could expect in our meta were a dearth of winnie decks and something else I’ve forgotten that was the absence of something rather than the presence of something.

      Sure, there are types of decks I’d expect from particular players, whether because they like them or because they are too lazy to build new decks such that the six year old deck is recognizable, but that’s not metagame defining. After all, you don’t even know whether those players will show up to an event, and we have so few events that usually new sets will have been released between events anyway – enough people change what they play from event to event that there’s no point to planning unless you are metagaming only to one particular player’s deckbuilding style.

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