Random Walk Down Wall Street Night

I fully expect to ramble.  Disclaimer out of the way, here’s what I’m not going to talk about:  decks and cards.  I may have had lots of ideas early in January for decks and not so much in the way of ideas in late January, but I always think the value in talking about V:TES is in talking about play rather than decks.  Even other CCGs, where deck composition means so much more, metagaming is likely more constructive than how to build particular decks.

Playing the game has, of course, a variety of features.  I could try to organize this post better by doing something like “here’s how to lose” or “the five things that matter … your deck being fifth” or whatever, but I’m inclined to be more free form.

The Player’s Guide does well to speak of stances to take vis-a-vis one’s opponents.  There are a few I find rather common and rather surprising.

It is turn two, you’ve brought out Dom-dude, DEM-damsel, or PRE-provocateur on turn one, prey has no minions.  Bleed for 5.  Now, many will question this play.  Many will claim that the play depends upon cards in hand – after all, if nothing but bleed boost, why bother discarding it?  Deck archetype certainly has something to do with my reaction.  If you brought out any of these minions on turn one, reasonable chance of a weenie bleed deck.  Let’s pretend it isn’t.

I tend to get offended by this play.  What is the natural reaction of someone who loses 5 pool out of the gate?  Try to have 15+ pool at all times, which means bringing out fewer minions, staying untapped to block/react, rush backwards, whine incessantly to everyone about the table threat.

I’m not sure what everyone else thinks the point of the lunge is, but to me, it’s conservation of resources.  Hmmm … wrong thing to mention first.  Lunging should be mentioned after …

“The most efficient way to do pool damage to your prey is to have your prey transfer out more vampires.”

You have very possibly managed to cause your prey to spend 5 less pool on bringing out vampires, thus doing no net pool damage at all and allowing your grandprey to play with no predator.  That might not be all bad.  I tend to think in terms of five-player tables, where it’s typically counterproductive to have a strong grandprey, but a four-player table might see some benefit to it, though there’s a lot about four-player strategy I need to learn.

Now, I’ve considered an advanced strategy, based on how I see a decent number of games go, around pounding one’s prey as hard as possible, losing steam (probably in truth, but a little faking doesn’t hurt) to pass the “table threat” moniker on to someone else, then magically finding bleed cards (this is easier with bleed decks than vote decks) when people stop caring as much about you to explode with rage.  This would work better for me if I had decks full of bleed cards, but that’s fairly rare, so not one I can test very well.

Moving on.  There are some common traits to bad players.  One of them is playing within their own little worlds.  People who probably shouldn’t play the game include those who don’t pay any attention to anything anyone else is doing and just do their own thing.  That’s kind of extreme but happens.  More likely, moving along the spectrum, you get those who think they are playing some two-player game and battle all game with either predator or prey.  How often do you see someone destroy a predator and hand the game to grandpredator or destroy a prey and hand the game to the predator?

These aren’t terribly exciting scenarios to talk about.  What’s more interesting to me is the person who pays attention to predator and prey and none to the true enemy – those crazy people crosstable who are always trying to screw up your game.

The predator/prey dynamic is a robust one for multiplayer play.  It’s also a predictable one.  Sure, whether your predator is weenie rush, bleed for 5, Parity Shift, Ahrimanes wall, or whatever has an impact on strategy and tactics, but the goal is generally the same.  Not cripple you, though this seems to be a goal of bad rush/Temptation/whatever players.  Reduce your pool.  The more enlightened predator will hope you reduce your prey’s pool significantly while your pool bleeds out.  Meanwhile, the prey wants to have pool and be able to reduce your grandprey’s pool to oblivion.

But, what are your axe doing?  Again, 4-player vs. 5-player is relevant, but in both cases, what they are trying to achieve is harder to fathom and, yet, has a huge, potentially large, impact on your game.  Your beloved crosstablemate may want you beaten down, being all in favor of your predator maiming you.  Your beloved crosstablemate may think you aren’t doing your job as predator and think your predator could do a better job.  I’ve even been in weird situations where my prey threatened my predator with rushes because I kept bouncing my predator’s bleeds.  People crosstable are insane.

On the other hand.  Back in the day, the card pool and the playerbase were both much better suited for aggressive ousting strategies.  It was within that environment that I began looking around and seeing that I had to be deathly afraid of the psychos over yonder.  In recent years and by recent years I mean at least five, I wouldn’t say the same thing.  There are plenty with bad threat assessment skills, but sometimes, it really isn’t worth sweating over every little turn of a card.  Losing sight of the goal gets more tiresome than letting somebody build an unstoppable war machine because you can’t be bothered to form “table threat killing team”.

Winning the game can be simple, complicated, somewhere in between, and even random.

I don’t know that any particular style of play, from my overly passive one to the howitzers, makes for a better or worse game or achieves at a different rate.  I’d say tactics has something to do with it.

Speaking of tactics, I have a relatively new aphorism that I enjoy.

“Play the situation, not your deck.”

I get so tired of the answer to “Why did you do that?” being “It’s what my deck does.”  Are there decks with limited flexibility?  Can my Choir deck suddenly decide to wall up?  Yeah, I guess people build such narrow decks, and I understand that the player’s hands are tied.

Yet, it’s incredibly rare that your choices don’t matter.  Maybe the Choir deck can’t wall up, but it can stop going forward.  Or, it can bleed forward into bounce that goes crosstable.  And, that’s an extreme.  Many decks are far more flexible.

I noticed that at some point when I play that what my deck is designed to do ceases to be relevant.  The situation dictates my stances, how I try to use my cards, how I shape my board.  The tools might differ, and I rather hate the hammer that is rush because it makes decisions so much more difficult, but the game evolves and the player must adjust constantly.

Once upon a time, while the cards existed (Direct Intervention, Eagle Sight, Life Boon, Parity Shift, …), I didn’t expect it to be so hard to oust players.  Maybe it was an offensive philosophy.  Maybe it was fewer ways to get intercept or fewer rush decks.  Maybe it was less random crap and a lot more Govern + Conditioning/Bonding.  I might have some reputation for being a hassle to oust, but I find that everyone is more of a challenge to oust, which means that there’s a lot more tactical play required to manage a game to a productive outcome.

Darn, wasted this title on a post that wasn’t about Wall Street Night.  Oh well, not a lot I’d ever want to say about it besides that I’m not sure if it’s one of the best intercept locations or not.


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