Challenge 1 – Saulot & Uriel

DeathInABottle made this comment in Friday’s post:

Any ideas for how to make a Saulot/Uriel combat deck viable? I’ve amassed a collection of Vitae Block and Blissful Agony, which is making me want to try Anathema – which is obviously way, way too complicated.

Here’s a take:

Deck Name:   Challenge – Blissful Block

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 26, Max: 44, Avg: 8.5)
2  Mordechai Ben-Nun                  ANI AUS FOR NEC8

Harbingers of Skulls
2  Neighbor John                      dom for AUS    5

Ventrue Antitribu
4  Saulot                             AUS dai FOR OBE THA

VAL11 Salubri
4  Uriel                              AUS FOR VAL ani obe8

Salubri Antitribu

Library: (90 cards)
Master (17 cards)
1  Animalism
1  Barrens, The
2  Dreams of the Sphinx
1  Fame
1  Giant`s Blood
1  Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1  Information Highway
1  Pentex Subversion
1  Rack, The
4  Villein
3  Wider View

Action (8 cards)
1  Lord of Serenity
2  Renewed Vigor
4  Sense Death
1  Unburdening the Bestial Soul

Action Modifier (10 cards)
9  Freak Drive
1  Repulsion

Reaction (19 cards)
3  Eagle`s Sight
5  Eyes of Argus
1  My Enemy`s Enemy
4  On the Qui Vive
6  Telepathic Misdirection

Combat (26 cards)
4  Blissful Agony
1  Eye of Unforgiving Heaven
2  Hidden Strength
2  Indomitability
1  Psychic Assault
2  Resilience
4  Target Vitals
5  Vitae Block
3  Weighted Walking Stick
2  Zip Gun

Ally (2 cards)
1  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1  Mylan Horseed (Goblin)

Equipment (6 cards)
1  Bowl of Convergence
2  Camera Phone
1  Heart of Nizchetus
1  Ivory Bow
1  Light Intensifying Goggles

Event (1 cards)
1  Scourge of the Enochians

Combo (1 cards)
1  Penitent Resilience

I was close to an 80 card version when I gave up and bloated it to 90.  Could be okay to test at 90 to get a better sense of what doesn’t work and trim back down.

Few things I don’t really like:  virtually no ability to stealth bleed a VP; lack of combat permanents; slowness.  The reality is, no matter what a deck is supposed to do, stealth makes ousting far easier, especially when you don’t have a horde of minions.  This has less stealth bleed going on than Robert Scythe’s Qawiyya & Saulot deck that I played last Labor Day.  That deck felt more coherent, maybe worth asking him for a decklist.  The combat is all over the place, trying to keep in mind both Animalism (the bane* of all other combat decks) and decks that try to ignore combat.  I’d actually be cool with far more Psychic Assaults as an anti-Animalism play, if that’s all I had to worry about.  Then, an aspect of my success in playing Scythe’s deck was Zillah’s Valley to speed out the two fatties, this deck tried to get some acceleration in but had to cut the second Info Highway and is already pushing things with the masters.

*  Not because you can’t build a combat deck that owns Bats/Crows but because the deck is likely, then, to suck at actually winning.  Increased Gates wouldn’t be horrible, and few Animalism decks seem to meta against guns to where we do see Anson guns a good amount, but it’s still tiresome to deal with the versatility of B/C.

What I do like is that I shoehorned in two +1 Intercept vampires.  With a bit of unlikeliness, Saulot can push enough blood to get a full boat of all four dudes in play.  But, even then, stealth vote is an atrocious matchup.  Some Enhanced Senses and Wall Street would help address that, as would Delaying Tactics, but then, the combat angle becomes even sketchier.  The defenses in this deck can make bleed miserable, which is par for the course for how I build “tournament” decks …

… Rule #1:  Don’t lose to stealth bleed …

Maybe this is why I don’t get annoyed by straightforward stealth bleed decks, like others do.  My decks can lose to them, but even if they do, so will the stealth bleed decks.

But, anything vote is very likely to be a greater problem.  Nevermind that just ousting one’s prey with this deck is a problem.  The second Camera Phone is not that thrilling when I think about how Heidelberg doesn’t synergize as much with multiples.  Lord of Serenity probably won’t work, but I identified that the 80 card version had serious problems with a blood counter death spiral as Taste makes little sense in a deck using Vitae Block; Renewed Vigor was another late addition to address that.  The Hungry Coyote was a thought, which might make more sense as I upped the number of Freak Drives from 6 to 9 when going to 90.

Then, does this really qualify for what was intended?  A key element with making decks better is to not be a slave to your theme, but does this even embrace the theme or does it just throw in some of those cards and hope that the rest of the deck pulls things through?  One key nod, which amuses me quite a bit, was to how Animalism factors in the deck.

Chaining Vitae Blocks off of Blissful Agony is sketchy, and it’s still not clear how great that is when you don’t either Fame yo-yo the vamp who gets his blood back or burn the vamp.  I replied that I thought Anathema might not be impossible, but, now that I think about how many things that can go wrong, Anathema would only make sense with a high, high risk deck that eschewed either combat defense or serious bleed defense or both.  Also, why Blissful Agony in such a deck?  Why not just go Salubri and P/J?  The double Vitae Block play is just so unreliable in such a deck.

Now, it could be made more reliable by having support vamps with VAL instead of the +1 interceptors.  Little dude Senses Death and Blissful Agonys over to a Vitae Blocker who passes the vamp along to the other Vitae Blocker.  But, what in the world does this plan have to do with winning?  Get some defense in a VAL focused deck from Hide the Heart, but still no plan for vote (barring DT, DI, et al).  Still no coherent ousting plan.

Could run more ousting power, but, then, I don’t see it doing its trick.  Note that a problem with combat decks is that, because they try to get into combat, they get into more combats than other decks and increase the probability of losing combats because of it.  Blissful Agony is certainly an out against Animalism when there are other players in the game, but B/C doesn’t run out, where BA does.


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