Labor Day Weekend saw two local conventions, including one I could have walked to. So, naturally, I decided to drive 350 miles to go to a local convention. It was all because of this new game I got into. I picked it up recently and decided I’d risk playing in a tournament and see what would happen. Conveniently, only 350ish miles away, there was a convention running not one, not two, not three, but one more than three tournaments for this game.
Vampire: The [something] [something] … I can never remember. It’s a card game. I should be more specific. It’s a customizable card game, like a living card game. Only, get this – it’s collectible. Yeah, there are all these super rare cards and you need them all to be competitive, so constructed decks likely run something like $1,000 or less.
What I like best about the game is that you can copy a deck off the web, webdecking is what I think they call it, and trounce the best players at will. In fact, in a few seconds or less of searching the web, I found the decks I wanted to play and ripped off all the tier zero decks that are owning the professional circuit.
Two others joined me for the road trip. I’ll refer to one of them as Directions Dude and the other as Doe Eyes.
We arranged to stay with Mike
Curtis Tortoise … damn Frenchies … Courtlyoil … hold on, I’ll copy and paste this from my memory … Courtois. He just got into the game, himself, and thought it would be cool to have some guys over to share webdecking ideas and to maybe pick up a few of the ultracommons that he was missing from his minuscule collection.
It was supercool for this complete stranger to offer to put us up. It did seem a bit sketchy when we got there and the cheerleaders with whips were just leaving, but hey, go cheap or go home is what I always say.
So, a quarrel quickly broke out over who was the best Inner Circle Member (ICM). The opinions were typically nonsensical with folks trying to justify their specious views by citing some deck archive. One doofus was so clueless, he thought Gideon Fontaine was an ICM. Like any of the actual ICMs have QUI/ABO and +4 Strength. I’m not sending that dumbass a Festivus card this year.
Saturday, we hit the con. Because these tournaments always start exactly on time, I had to rush to move over some cards from one of my decks to my tournament deck. One of these days, I’ll have to break down and pick up some singles from Overstock.com so that I have enough Minion Taps for all of my decks.
Anyway, we shuffle up (well, I’m not sure about the redhead with the big … sleeves). Because I know that cheating is rampant at this level, I go through my usual intense shuffle of my prey’s crypt and library and ask that others do the same. People stare at me hard for a moment, but what can you do? With all of the money and international travel rewards these events offer, who can blame people for trying to sneak in a fifth … or even sixth … copy of a card?
For this first tournament, I know I really want to qualify for the smaller tournaments on Sunday, so I play a deck that will ensure me at least one Victory Point each round. As a metagame play against Body of Sun and Mayaparisatya decks, which are all of the rage in Thailand and other parts of Africa, I run dodges and damage prevention, which, of course, forced me to play Celerity and Protean.
I don’t remember jack from these things. I’m usually horribly inebriated and more concerned about hiding my stash of Pernod-Ricard Perrier-Jouet from the con police. So, I hired someone to write his thoughts on my games, which I’ve edited to put into my own words. Why anyone still uses chalk and pocket blackboards I have no idea, but whatever, I only care about the chicks, the booze, and scoring big to make the pros.
Chris (Nana, Animalism) -> Gene (Black Hand Psychic Assault) -> Matt (Pre/Obf w/ Events) -> Shane (Mordechai) -> Ian (Mercury’s Arrow intercept)
I’m shocked when my prey whips out smaller dudes with Animalism and Nana Burlapsack. My online research suggests that just dies to my dodges and that Psychic Assault will rip him a new one. To avoid combat, Chris occasionally bleeds with Deep Song. He may have played stealth to get them through or not – I would have relied on Animalism block denial myself, but I do recall some crackpot suggesting that you can save card slots by bleeding at stealth. My predator brought out Mordechai and a Shambling Hordes and Smiling Jack. I was way too scared of what he could do with votes, so I tried to get everyone else to burn Smiling Jack, but they all wanted it in play and let it get to five counters.
I didn’t get Mitru in my crypt draw, so I figured I was toast. Instead, I had to go with my backup play of Adana, who proved yet again that she’s horribly broken and pretty much guarantees 1.5 VPs like this guy kept saying Week of Nightmares does. I really prefer Mitru because I like how nobody expects him to rush. With Adana, I kept hoping to draw into Fleetness rush, but failing that, would try to bait my predator into bleeding me so that I could cycle a wake and so I just kept tapping Adana to bleed.
Gene just didn’t get the optimal Psychic Assault draw and got ousted. I think Matt was doing some backousting tech, but I focus entirely on my predator and prey, so just don’t know nor care what is happening with my allies. I really want one of those t-shirts that shows an arrow to the left and the word “Prey” to remind the scrubs that you win the game by putting as much forward pressure on your prey as possible at all times. As soon as you let up, they will sit on 20-29 pool and make your day miserable.
After getting Gene, Chris hunted a couple of times. I know there’s a theory in the game that the more you hunt, the more you win, but I think that’s too European for my play style. Still, I’m worried that Chris is just tooling up to whip out some Song in the Dark action, so I take a chance and block that stuff. My backup plan (to my two Desert Eagles and Blur for hands of one three times) is Mercury’s Arrow and I cycle a few to torp Chris’s dudes. I was still guzzling my vino, so maybe this didn’t happen, but I think I played Fame on Nana and torped her. With four vampires in torpor, no Failsafes in play, and Smiling Jack, Chris couldn’t hold on. I went crazy on Matt at that point, knowing that his one ready vampire with one blood was enough to continue his backousting efforts. Something happened in the endgame that resulted in Shane getting ousted and I got my first win!
It was so tempting to try to arrange a table splitting deal and betray my partner. Now, I’m happy that I could restrain myself from playing like the pros. Suck it, pros! I’m saving the dealbreaking for the finals!
Robert (Tzimisce w/ Pre) -> James (Corrupt Construction) -> Fred (Kiasyd bleed) -> Ian -> Doe Eyes (Animalism rush)
I played a Minion Tap. I drew Giant’s Blood. I figured more blood on my guys meant my Tastes would net me less blood, so I looked around for some chump and, on a whim, filled Velya up after Brandon emptied Robert’s vampire.
Fred was playing a hunt deck with casual bleed. I think he was playing stealth as well. James was the clear table threat as he was about to multirush with his Corrupt Construction, but fortunately for me, as my deck had a hard time dealing with close range ally combat, Fred Riddle Phantastiqued the CC and Robert Entrancemented it. Robert was driving me nuts putting out War Ghouls that Brandon just annihilated. Still, Robert did get a VP.
I wasn’t paying any attention to Brandon’s game, so I didn’t realize he had played most of his deck, as I kept trying to keep the bleed pressure up with Mitru and whoever else I had in play. My game was slowed some by James’s deck, so I would keep guys untapped to use my Channel 10 and Mitru’s Mr. Winthrop to block any crosstable nonsense. Fred also walled up, knowing that tapping at any moment might see James bleed like crazy.
Brandon and I contested Fame, but I hate being low on pool, so gave it up when I had under 15 pool. Brandon would tap out bleed Fred and rushed his Famous dude. Fred knew that blocking was pointless due to weenie Animalism’s top tier stealth module, so Fred dies, as everyone expected.
I had to hold on to try to get half a VP, but I got a few lucky combats in while Brandon had no cards left, and he conceded. Wow! If I were in his position, I so would have stalled by examining each of the cards in my hand really slowly and pretending I didn’t understand what Conquer the Beast did (I think that’s what he was choking on, I couldn’t be sure, say hello to Perrier-Jouet and Diet Pepsi cocktails, mmmmm).
I made the finals! I couldn’t wait to find a pay phone and ring my girlfriend’s mistress. The worst thing about my whole day was her response about the stick thing turning blue. She dropped the receiver before she could tell me which brand she bought.
As top seed, I went with the recommended strategy of placing myself between the two decks I hadn’t seen. The Devil you know is always harder to deal with than some random decks.
Fred -> Chris -> Mike C. (Week of Nightmares Tumnimos) -> Ian -> Directions Dude (Ventrue w/ Obf)
David brought out Arika, and we all tried to hide our laughing. Frickin’ newbs who luck into finals. I’m glad the community hates people who can’t take this game seriously. Chris had gone all forward in our earlier game, now he went all backwards, even though Fred’s Kiasyd were only likely to hunt and wall up. Mike made some Tumnimoses (good card, I guess, but kind of crummy art).
I was just doing my usual table chatter to unnerve the weak, when I just randomly threw out that Fred or Chris would get a VP, David would get two, and I would beat him in the endgame to win the tournament based on seeding.
What was so messed up was that Fred somehow got through Chris. Mike played a couple of Sensory Deprivations on Fred’s guys even though I was within nine or so bleed actions of ousting my prey – blew my mind that he was worried about Fred – he must have had at least five pool that the Kiasyd would have to eat through. I was clearly about to run the table. David got Fred – I don’t remember how, he might have rushed his guys with Ranjan, Arika, or Wilhelm. Mike dropped Week of Nightmares or, how like all the top players call it – Weak of Pleasant Dreams. I just ignored him, maybe stopping a bleed when I didn’t think he’d wreck me in combat.
David ousted Mike. I don’t remember why Ranjan was in torpor or burned. Wilhelm was in torpor. Arika tried some stuff, but she had no real way of getting any actions through. She did manage to take Mitru down in combat with Rolling with the Punches, when I foolishly didn’t read Psyche! correctly and just wanted to cycle them. David must not have noticed that he didn’t have more damage prevention in hand, as our three round combat did also put Arika into torpor.
Not that that mattered. The real problem was that David was transferring up another vampire. Fortunately, I cycled enough that I drew into a Fleetness. I wanted to play it with Mitru, since it’s free with him (his special was such a bonus). But, I think I made a rookie mistake and tapped him, so I had to use it with Adana. I’m sure I misannounced my action, by playing it at inferior to bleed for three at one stealth. I couldn’t have played it at superior, anyway, I guess since David’s new dude, whoever it was, wasn’t tapped. David had a bad draw with his deck and didn’t draw into Pack Tactics or Elder Interventions, so he had to let the action go through. I looked up and he was only at three pool! Holy ay caramba!! Adana bleeding for three ended up being the key play of the finals! Who could have imagined that?
We joked for hours about my calling my shot. I just threw out the least likely scenario I could and bam! It’s almost like I’m psychic or something. Wish that kicked in when I go to buy lottery tickets.
The prize support was even better than cash or a round trip to Chiang Mai. I’m working hard to fill out my collection, and the precons and boosters will get me some much needed stock, especially for trading so that I can get some extra Carltons as I’ve decided that two per deck just isn’t enough combat defense. Also got a ribbon from the con and dealer room dollars. Only a stuck up jerk would actually wear a ribbon that said first place. Problem with dealer credit is just that there’s so much stuff that I want so badly that I achieve paralysis by analysis issues and they have to drag me out of the room.
You know, that was just the first tournament, but I’m sure nobody is really interested in anything else from the weekend, and I can’t stand it when people write long, rambling blog posts. For all of you bloggers out there TL:DR for the win!! So, like, I have some Perrier-Jouet left, just heating it up in the microwave, so I’m out of here. Peace. (And, if you have an extra crib, get back to me in … uh, soon.)
And, remember, always webdeck if you care about winning. If you don’t bring the best deck to the table, you might as well go home and cry into your gun collection.