Study In Strength

One of the most striking differences between Magic and various other CCGs, including V:TES, is the difference in philosophy when it comes to mechanical flavor.  Magic has block mechanics, set mechanics, cycles, subtle and not so subtle themes, mechanics that synergize with each other or work against each other, and so forth.

I’ve been thinking of taking a look at a particular V:TES set and seeing one sort of internal mechanical coherency it achieves, but then, I remembered thinking about how odd + Strength is in V:TES and wanted to take a deeper look at it.

Since V:TES draws from the RPG for flavor, it’s easy to understand what + Strength represents.  V:TM characters have attributes and disciplines.  A high Strength character may have no Potence dots or a low Strength character may have many.  Dots in Potence is handled by level of the Potence discipline for a given crypt card, with the level varying by relative number of dots – a 12th Generation with 3 dots in Potence and no more than 1 in anything else might very well have POT where a 5th Gen with 4 dots in Potence and 5+ dots in 5 other disciplines may have no Potence in the card game.  So, a crypt card with + Strength very feasibly can have no Potence, inferior, or superior.

Conditional + Strength, I see, as being different.  Where a straight Strength bonus represents a character with a lot of dots in Strength or, possibly, superior unarmed/melee combat skills, conditional Strength along the lines of “+1 Strength in combat with a Follower of Set” or “+1 Strength in combat with a Camarilla vampire” represents to me a character who has a hate on for these sorts of opponents – a rage that causes the character to expend extra effort, for instance.

By my count, there are 69 crypt cards with unconditional + Strength.  Five have +2 Strength.

Group Total
1 10
2 24
3 9
4 18
5 8
Grand Total 69

I tend to think of group 1 being the place where + Strength is relatively common.  In reality, group 2 is where there’s more variety.  But, that makes plenty of sense.  Group 2 has vastly more clans than group 1.  By percentage:

Group STR+ Total Per%
1 10 116 8.6%
2 24 392 6.1%
3 9 237 3.8%
4 18 427 4.2%
5 8 163 4.9%
6 0 33 0.0%
Any 0 1 0.0%
Grand Total 69 1369 5.0%

More what is expected.  Interesting that with how massive group 2 was that group 4 (with Imbued, with Laibon) exceeds it.  Of course, what we really want to know is how it breaks out by clan, since how prevalent it is overall is fairly arbitrary.

Clan Total
!Brujah 2
!Gangrel 2
!Malkavian 1
!Nosferatu 5
!Salubri 2
!Toreador 2
!Ventrue 5
Abomination 2
Ahrimanes 2
Akunanse 1
Assamite 5
Baali 2
Blood Brother 1
Brujah 5
Follower of Set 2
Gangrel 7
Giovanni 4
Imbued 1
Kiasyd 1
Malkavian 1
Nosferatu 3
Osebo 1
Ravnos 2
Salubri 1
Samedi 1
Toreador 2
Tremere 2
Tzimisce 2
Ventrue 2
Grand Total 69

Kind of a long list to make heads or tails of what the numbers mean.  How about how non-bloodline Sabbat clans have 19?  Sabbat have two of the five clans with 5 or more +STRs.  That’s not that interesting.  What is interesting is that it’s !Nos and !Ventrue and not !Brujah and !Nos.  Then, Lasombra have zilch, nada, none.  This is criminal even if Strength and Potence are two different things.  There’s still an affinity for each other.

Meanwhile, in the Camarilla, 22 total, owing no doubt to the group 1 bias.  Though, I include all Gangrel in Camarilla even if it isn’t a Cammie clan anymore.  Speaking of which, Gangrel take top honors with 7 +STRs.  Brujah are a respectable second, Nos third, rest behind.  Putting aside the Gangrel for the moment, we see an affinity between Strength and Potence.  Then, there’s the Gangrel.  I have a sense that Gangrel get + Strength more often in order to be able to burn vampires with agghands.  Or, maybe, it’s because in the source material, the outdoorsy clan would be the one that has the most physically capable vampires.

Of the independents, Assamites are crazy high, with 5 +STRs.  Certainly a much more effective combat strategy than Quietus to pair + Strength with Celerity.  Are the Giovanni really that much more musclebound than the Lasombra (4 – 0)?

One would think that living in the wilds of Africa would lend to greater strength than the cities of Europe and the US, but no.  One Akunanse, one Osebo.  Guruhi, anyone?  Interesting that two leader clans with Potence as an inclan – Lasombra and Guruhi – only get conditional +STRs, which really don’t count IMO.

Can ignore the one Imbued with + Strength and talk a bit about bloodlines.  First, they are respectable given how few bloodline vampires actually exist.  Ahrimanes do rather well, though you can’t play them together.  I guess you can argue the outdoorsy theme, again.  While True Brujah having none doesn’t bother me a whole lot, Gargoyles having none just seems absurd.

Potence Level Total
inferior 9
none 35
superior 25
Grand Total 69

Finally, tablewise, taking a look at how + Strength and Potence correlate interests me.  This table doesn’t manage that since it doesn’t compare correlation to other disciplines, but I think it’s interesting, anyway.  There are a lot of +STRs with no Potence.  We know that when we think about examples, but it says something about the game.  Also, 21 of the 69 are from clans that have Potence as an inclan discipline.  So, while about 50% have Potence, only about 30% are from Potence clans.

This is great and all, but it’s just numbers.  What does + Strength buy you in terms of competitive edge?

It’s often useful, as we see with how annoying Weighted Walking Sticks are.  Weenie Potence, blood intensive combat decks, and a bunch of other decks are not excited by being hit back for two just because of some random special ability.  Not 1.5/2 points good like it was valued when designing group 1 vampires.  Better in some cases than others.  With Potence, need only Immortal Grapple to be beat-y; Disarm becomes easy.  With Celerity, very beat-y.  With Protean or Vicissitude, burn-y.  With Fortitude, grind-y.  With Thaumaturgy, Blood(Rage/Fury)-y if not all that efficient.

Doesn’t help as much if you don’t control when you get into combat, of course.  Also, less relevant to deck design when you can’t put various vampires together because of grouping.  Tremere are a perfect example of vampires with great discipline crossover – neither with Potence but both with Celerity! – that will not play together.  Group 4/5 does have a THA +STR crypt, if a hideously expensive one, but Cassandra has little to do.  There’s quite the group 1/2 capacity 6 or less crypt for +STRs, though it’s not terribly focused disciplinewise … Anarchdom?

I don’t rate + Strength as being all that, unless you get into superstar decks, like Laz, or incredibly efficient combat monsters, like Lambach.  But, even with my lesser interest in combat, I find it amusing to have native beats.  Effective or not, it can be endearing, shall I even say, “cute”?

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