Bloody Fast

We were talking at dinner after playing Sunday about something when I noted that tool up actions for Assamites were not productive.  Specifically, Succulent Vitae (an action modifier but one that requires a hunt action) and Retain the Quick Blood are both conceptual failures.

Assamite decks, in general, lack time.  Forcing them to use up more time to be productive down the road is unhelpful.  As to why they lack time, no real bounce, sketchy intercept, challenges to multiacting.  I used the example that a “Retain the Ventrue Blood” card that took an action and got counters for blood costs from Dominate/Fortitude/Presence combat cards (obviously, lacking the combat card limitation would be insane) that slowly returned would be great.  Great not because it would make Thoughts Betrayed more playable or Armor of Vitality/Hidden Strength or Presence combat ends that much stronger but great because the Ventrue who plays the card would just Freak Drive after playing it.  Or, if no Freak Drive, then Deflection, Parity Shift, Second Tradition, etc. would all keep the Ventrue deck alive long enough to see the card pay off.

As I’m working with indie decks more than normal at the moment with Experiment #2 running, I got some extra inspiration to come up with some card ideas.

As always, I don’t know every card idea someone has come up with (I mostly ignore the vekn.net card idea submissions, for instance), so it’s always possible someone came up with these already.

Tasty Vitae
Combat
C = 0
Only usable at the end of a round of combat.
<qui>: This vampire gains an amount of blood equal to the amount of blood or life lost by the opposing minion to damage during this round. A vampire may play only one Tasty Vitae each round.
<QUI>: As above, but this vampire gains an additional blood.

Some of the inspiration for this came from pointing out that Wake With Evening’s Freshness is a Thaumaturgy ritual in the RPG and how different the game would have been if only Tremere had real wakes out of the original set.  Taste of Vitae is an effect open to all, and Quietus is the blood discipline, so why shouldn’t Quietus get a strictly better Tasty?

And, yes, it was intentional to drop the line about not being able to play when being burnt or sent to torpor.  And, yes, this Tasty can feed off of allies, which is the far more important difference.

Good?  Um, yeah, just kinda amazing when you think about how much better than Taste it is.  That’s sort of the point, though – Quietus doesn’t need okay cards or cards that halfass addressing a weakness, it needs great cards, especially if the idea is to get people to play Quietus combat rather than the far better strategies of stealth bleed and stealth bleed + vote.

The Blood is the Life
Action
C = 1b
+1 Stealth Action.
<qui>: Put this card on this acting vampire.  The vampire with this card pays one less blood or pool to employ retainers.
<QUI>: As above, and the vampire with this card pays one less blood or pool for recruiting allies.

Quietus is a fairly silly discipline in the RPG.  Well, maybe if Thaumaturgy didn’t exist, it would make a bit more sense, though how a blood manipulation discipline makes an area silent is not entirely clear.  The flavor here is that the master of blood gains mastery over those things that have it, feed on it, or, in the name of simpler card text, have little to nothing to do with it, like wraiths.  Maybe it’s intimidation – “Serve me or enjoy heart attacks!”  Maybe it’s more subtle – “I’ve been feeling very Viagra-y lately without pills, must be that new dashing friend from the Middle East I’ve been hanging out with that’s got my blood flowing.”

A tool up, investment action that leads to value only down the line?  Yeah.  But, I thought it was interesting, anyway.  An alternative for a speedier card would be to make it an action modifier instead.

The Blood is the Life
Action Modifier
C = 0
<qui>: Play when employing a retainer.  The cost of the retainer is reduced by one blood or pool (to a minimum of zero).
<QUI>: Play when recruiting an ally.  The cost of the ally is reduced by one blood or pool (to a minimum of zero).

That does make a lot more sense, given my rant above.

Flavor matters.  Being distinct matters.  When it comes to disciplines, some are flavorfully fast and some flavorfully slow.  I don’t mean Celerity.  I mean that some disciplines would normally be used immediately and are better represented with transient effects, especially combat cards and reaction cards.  Other disciplines are flavorfully more of a “work at it a while” nature and that should be represented with more actions cards.  Potence is an obvious fast discipline, reflected well with only 9 action cards in the game.  Quietus could be categorized as such or not.  Dominate and Presence are “slower” in flavor, especially the former.  Both disciplines have a lot of action cards relative to other disciplines.

Anyway, two disciplines are obvious slowpokes – Thaumaturgy and Necromancy.  That the former only has 8 actions is criminal.  But, that’s a concern for another day.  Today, I’m more concerned with Necromancy.

As the recent vekn.net thread about Harbingers attests, while Giovanni have gotten awesome support in more recent years, Necromancy hasn’t.  Strange when you consider that the three other clans with Necromancy could all use help that Giovanni don’t need.

From a balance perspective, it’s okay to have slower, action-based investment plays for the Necroclans, as two of them have Fortitude to Freak and two have Dominate …

Giovanni have always been about allies and retainers.  But, what about Necromancy?  Kind of interesting that Necromancy has only one retainer.

Undead Bodyguard
Retainer
C = 1b
Zombie with 2 life.
<nec>: You may burn this retainer in combat to prevent up to 2 damage to the minion with this retainer.
<NEC>: As above, and when the minion with this retainer is in combat, the opposing minion takes 1 damage during strike resolution if range is close.

Harassing Wraith
Retainer
C = 1b
Wraith with 1 life.
<nec>: Harassing Wraith is immune to damage that is not aggravated.  The minion with this retainer gets an optional maneuver each combat.
<NEC>: As above, and the minion with this retainer gets an optional press each combat.

Original?  Not terribly.  One is very similar to Zombie, hopefully enough better than Zombie that it might actually see play.  The other is rather similar to Shadow of the Beast.

Both do play into the idea of making Necromancy more relevant in combat.  The latter is perfect for all of those Torment the Soul decks people have been wanting to play.  The timing on the Undead Bodyguard is kind of ugly – “I burn it between resolution of the strike and resolution of the damage to gain both effects.  I can do that, right?”  Maybe, that’s why Zombie works the way it does.

Anyway, not every one of these ideas was equally inspired.  I’m less concerned with the specifics than I am the concepts of making “fast” cards for Quietus that support Quietus combat decks (as annoying as such decks might be) and “slow” cards for Necromancy that have more relevance in tournament play.

Though, the Necromancy ideas really aren’t that helpful.

Necropotence
Action
C = 1b
+1 Stealth Action.
<nec>: Put this card on the acting minion and put one Defilement Counter on this card.  The minion with this card can burn a Defilement Counter instead of paying the cost for a combat card.  Burn this card when it has no Defilement Counters.
<NEC>: As above, but put an additional Defilement Counter on this card when it is put into play.

A bit cuter.  What’s the point of this?  Not Burning Wrath or The Death of My Conscience, though maybe those would happen.  Breath of Thanatos and Mercy for Seth aren’t that costly, so it doesn’t help Harbingers swing, though Hidden Strength for infinite is something and King of the Mountain … well, I don’t know if anything will get people to play King of the Mountain.  It’s really intended to make Compress less overcosted, maybe even get some of the other crummy Thanatosis cards to see play, while making Groaning Corpse better, which just doesn’t bother me all that much.

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5 Responses to Bloody Fast

  1. Brandon says:

    I could see Necropotence in a Giovanni allies deck, especially Shamblers. Play Path of Bone and get a free Shambler for two actions instead of one. Could also use it to get weird allies that you’d never want to actually pay for. FoS could use it for some mummies…. I like it.

    • iclee says:

      Necropotence only affects combat cards. The intent is to promote combat from the Nec clans rather than promote things they already want to do.

  2. Azel says:

    First off, ahh, a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m of the similar opinion that QUI & NEC need better things to do. A big problem with gearing up is the loss of action, and I think just adding the “untap at the end of action” clause could fix plenty. Necromancy just need better things to do — or a way to open up targeting of cards it already has.

    Oddly Assamites have quite a few followers, so ally & retainer stuff is a great direction. Your act mod The Blood is the Life is strictly worse at basic than Jack of Both Sides, but the superior is interesting (naturally you meant pool instead of life, FYI). Why don’t you combine the issue of recovering the gear up action with the recruit/employ idea?

    Manly Vigor
    action modifier
    1 blood
    qui: Only usable at the end of a successful action (after resolving the action). This vampire untaps.
    QUI: Play when employing a retainer or recruiting an ally. The cost of the retainer or ally is reduced by two blood or one pool (to a minimum of zero).

    Can’t play it twice in a recruit/employ action, but is otherwise niiice.

    Necromancy has a lot of dead cards because of targeting, that’s an area that can be worked on. And it definitely needs more allies or retainers to play with. Recursion already blew up the play environment and hilariously Necromancy has nothing to do with it. So might as well brainstorm wild design.

    Remembrance
    Action
    Employ
    This vampire untaps if this action is successful.
    nec: Target an ally, vampire, or retainer in any ash heap. It is now considered burned from play since your last turn.
    NEC: Wraith with 1 life. Remembrance is immune to damage that is not aggravated. The minion with this retainer gets an optional maneuver or press each combat.

    • iclee says:

      One of the advantages, by the way, of an action that simulates Charisma over action modifiers is that the action only needs to be done once and doesn’t need to be in hand at the time of the employ/recruit action. I think that’s why I envisioned The Blood is the Life as an action. I was really going more for Charisma. It’s also stackable, which is interesting and makes additional copies less dumb.

      To fix the problem of action modifiers being awkward timingwise and to use your thought about untapping, how about TBisL being an action that is free, untaps the acting minion, and burns when used? That it burns helps justify running a decent number of copies, where the original was something you only wanted to do a couple of times. That it untaps addresses the wasted action problem, as you point out. Also, by burning, you don’t get a crazy permanent cost reducer effect.

      • Azel says:

        Hmm, yes, stackable. That does change things considerably. Let’s add up your alterations and take a look!

        The Blood is the Life
        Action
        +1 Stealth Action.
        This vampire untaps if this action is successful. Burn this card after this vampire’s next employ or recruit action.
        : Put this card on this acting vampire. The vampire with this card pays one less blood or pool to employ retainers.
        : As above, and the vampire with this card pays one less blood or pool for recruiting allies.

        Hmm, so far I like it. The No Repeat Action rule really keeps it in check. Stacking, though eventually powerful, has diminishing returns as the game rarely goes beyond 14 or so turns for a single player.

        I’m surprised you decided to nix the blood cost, but now looking at it I think it’s a brilliant adjustment. Previously the blood cost essentially read as a wasted action for any allies or retainers costing blood, because the final result was a push. Now with that cost gone, and the action recovered, there’s a net gain — which, true, could have been represented by an act mod.

        However, like this and remembering that it’s stackable makes things more interesting. And with the burn after first use clause it really tamps down on power creep. That and NRA rule I think are enough. The card has enough asset to warrant being a discipline card, but doesn’t step on on the toes of Jack of Both Sides, Charisma, Sunset Strip or other such discounters.

        The only weirdness I might add is turning this into a hunt action because of what you mentioned about the RPG. It’d be thematic, and would help with Succulent Vitae. But I fear that might be pushing it, making the card too busy.

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