To reiterate a reaction I have had, contrary to those who complain about deckbuilding being hard for V:TES, I find it easy, absurdly easy, actually, these days.

To the point where I will never likely catch up to playing the decks I’ve created.  More specifically, I write decks out in FELDB that I will never end up pulling the physical cards for.  To try to be less confusing, I will say a written deck is “created”, where a “built” deck is one that has been physically put together and is ready to see play (I don’t play online, so physical play and play are synonymous).

I created five decks last week after Sunday’s play session.  I won’t play again until a week from now.  I estimate only two of the decks – 40% – will see me go to the effort to build.

Why am I bothering to mention any of this?

Because I want to explain something about the “reactive” process in the hope that it helps people build more decks faster, since variety is the selling point of CCGs.

I have an extremely reactive personality.  It’s why development suits me far better than design.  I don’t seek to create for the sake of creation but create out of reaction to a need or want.  In other words, I have a fix-it mentality.  CCG cards I design are not intended to open up design space but to fix something in the game.  Strategies I most strongly consider are intended to fix a metagame, which is probably why I enjoy metagaming so much.  Decks I build are typically intended to fix a strategy or specific card use.  For instance for one way this manifests, if the goal is to win with a clan and the clan’s forte is a garbage strategy, then abandon that strategy for one that is better.  Another way it manifests is simply efficiency of a design concept that someone else came up with.  I rarely apply this last to V:TES because I don’t see the value in efficient deck construction in V:TES – this was far more applicable to Babylon 5, Wheel of Time, Ultimate Combat!, and maybe other CCGs (though rarely Magic for reasons that are too involved to explain).

The first deck was in reaction to the discussion about power creep, more specifically Villein.  Though, even that really isn’t specific enough.  Someone said that there are no Lutz decks in the TWDA that lack Minion Tap and Villein.  So, I decided to build one.  The Call was an obvious thing to build around.  I might never build this deck since it’s just so boring, as most decks with Dementation are.  The masters I went with are funny, but that doesn’t carry a lot of weight.

That deck was created on Tuesday.  Four more decks were created on Friday.

I got to thinking about Freak Drive for something I don’t recall, which quickly became Fortitude + Obfuscate to get actions through.  Then, since I wasn’t trying to build a Samedi deck and wanted some sort of defense, I decided to do a search of vampires with AUS/For/Obf.  Interestingly, quite a few have Dementation, which was not pleasing.  Few of the card choices were interesting, so I got bored as I went along.  Deciding on the crypt was the toughest part.  I eventually dropped Tariq as I’ve played him previously in Aus/Obf and Aus/For/Obf decks and his “lose 4 blood” ability is an annoyance.  I also decided against a warped crypt of a bunch of titled Aus/Obf dudes that I would graft Fortitude to – Greger, Korah, etc.  While I may not think that highly of Fortitude, I still play it often and the other two disciplines are probably the two I play the most.  z … z … z …

Next, I keep wanting to play with Helicopter because I just don’t, so I searched for equipment-discounting vamps and decided Marie Faucigny, who shows up in a lot of my searches and whom I like playing with, was a starting point.  Magic of the Smith was a way to Helicopter up for my girl.  Alastor, of course, was always in mind.  As it happens, Aus/Obf/Tha makes for an amusing group 3/4 crypt (Marie being the only 3).  I decided to aim for Sabbatness and titledness.  Bunch of fat vampires meant accelerators, while my solution for lack of ousting power was a common one I fall back on.  Unfortunately, the Helicopter playing powers of the deck are terrible, tool up decks bore me, and intercept combat is too common an archetype for me these days.

Some search I was doing, maybe a search on HttB to see what sort of cards I haven’t played from the set yet, displayed As the Crow and Dive Bomb right there, in front of my face.  Got to thinking about As the Crow, which naturally led to Gargoyles with Serpentis.  This is the most likely of the decks to get made, even though I have terrible “luck” playing non-slave Gargoyles, there being so few of them.  Really should diversify the crypt.  Get bored throwing Forestal in Gargoyle decks, but he is an obvious support dude.

Finally, I was doing some search and Shell Break totally invaded my mind.  I did the usual search of unique allies to see whose shells I could break, and Cry Wolf howled.  After that, the deck created itself.  Using cards I don’t play (hardly) ever and being another variation of Giovanni combat makes this another likely choice for moving to the build stage.  Though, I’m kind of wondering how I block with just +1 intercept from Shell Break … might have to throw some Coterie Tactics* in for additional win.

*  It should be fairly obvious that many deck ideas come from doing searches.  Often, the ideas have nothing to do with what sort of deck I was originally thinking of building.  Interesting discipline mix on a particular vampire typically results in searching for others with similar mixes, for instance.  Coterie Tactics, an unplayable card but one that gets one thinking about if there’s any way to actually make it playable, came up when I was searching for cards with no requirements of various card types.  Basically, every search in a deckbuilder should produce deck ideas**, which is why deckbuilders are crucial to playing CCGs.

**  Many of which will suck.  But, it’s important to build decks that suck just to make sure that a card or strategy really does suck.  Just don’t play too many games with the same sucky deck as that will just annoy people.  Given my profound, totally not obvious, and in all ways brilliant advice on building more decks using a reactive style to deckbuilding, I’m sure that you will have far too many decks built to keep playing the same trite crap.


5 Responses to Reactionism

  1. Andrew Haas says:

    Funny, my problems with deck building occur after the “I have an idea” stage but before I actually pull the cards. Often my internal dialogue sounds like this “Oh, I wonder if I could build a deck that does X with Y? Hmm, let me put together a deck list…okay, looks like I’ll need about 10-20 cards that I don’t already own, I guess I could borrow them? No, its a huge hassle to proxy 1/3 of a deck. Or proxy them? No, I lack even a single copy of many, that’s not very practical.” At which point I either suck it up and pay out a bunch of money to ebay to get the cards (unlikely) or just shelve the idea and forget about building decks (likely).
    As much as I like Coterie Tactics I have a pretty good idea of exactly how effective that deck will be, once the mystery is gone the actual deck assembly process becomes a slog.

  2. iclee says:

    Can of course just substitute other cards for what you don’t have or just keep creating more decks. There are rare decks I don’t have the cards for or decks that take so much effort to get enough copies that I just substitute something else or don’t bother building the deck.

    For me, it’s like 15 minutes average to create a deck. Let’s say the harder to build decks average more like 30 minutes. If one deck doesn’t pan out, another will, and I still spent little time on it. It’s the physically going through piles of unsorted cards and making sure all of the sleeves are of the same type that is the time sink with deckbuilding.

  3. DeathInABottle says:

    I follow the exact same process, though I think I spend longer dreaming up each than you do. I had nearly 200 decks imagined on FELDB at one point before chopping most of the stuff i decided I’d never end up playing.

  4. Azel says:

    I think my issue is, though I have what feels like a lot of cards, I’m not truly a Mr. Suitcase. And I never got around to inventorying my collection into ARDB. Nothing I hate more than getting the card list, unpack the collection for the card pull, and finding myself short. (However the process to find substitutions afterwards is one I enjoy immensely. Go figure.)

    PS: Shell Break block w/ Car Bombs! It’s actually a not-crap card and pretty fun when used with wakes. That and its cross table value is entertaining. Cycling a wake? why not add a side of Car Bomb with that! =P

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