Conception

I was going through archived V:TES decklists to see if there were any particular decks I wanted to have built in time for next week’s tournaments.  Besides the fact that I have way too many decks written out that I’ve never built, I got to thinking about a particular type of deck.

Concept Decks.

A Concept Deck, for my use of the term, is a deck designed to highlight something specific that could be done but probably shouldn’t be done, i.e. played.  The concept in the Concept Deck is one that will be annoying, tedious, noninteractive, have awful interactions, etc.  I’d put pretty much any V:TES deck that wants to play Brainwash in this camp.

For me, a relatively common example is a “4cl” [note quotation marks to differentiate from 4cl] deck – a deck that only plays four different cards.  While I’ve played a “2cl” deck before, twice I think, they lack any concept of producing a fun game.

Concept Decks are decks I have virtually no chance of ever actually playing, yet they live on as deckbuilder constructs, as theoretical constructs, to point out a feature about the game.

Well, that’s the case with V:TES.  With two-player CCGs, where I’m not concerned about ruining games for a group of people and am much more inclined to ruin games for a single opponent, I’m much more inclined to play Concept Decks.  Hyperspeed decks in B5 were born of the concept of how much can Conscription be abused.  Oh, wait, B5 was a multiplayer CCG.  Okay, let’s say I’ve learned something over the years about the idea that games are supposed to be fun and not just exercises in personal satisfaction.

What’s bothersome is just how many of these sorts of decks I have written.  It distracts from my figuring out legitimate tournament decks (legitimate being used rather loosely, in my case).  I started a file to rate decks I had notated as tournament decks – yes, it took me forever, but I started putting a notation in deck names to notate decks I’d consider for tournament play versus ones I wouldn’t.  I’d check each decklist for various pro/con features to give a rating.  It was easy to skip Concept Decks once I opened them, but I didn’t necessarily know what a deck was until I opened it, wasting precious clicks.

Admittedly, though, not every Concept Deck is off the table.  My “I play no cards” deck concept, which I’ve yet to build the deck for, might still be on the table.  Probably not but maybe.  My “No Decisions” deck totally needs to see play, if I ever figure out whether I have enough copies of cards to play it.

Or, does it?

I’m increasingly ruling out decks that make a good faith effort to do something not moronic from ever seeing play, just because they seem boring.  Boring, to me, is possibly different, since I’ve played hundreds of different decks – I’d guess 600 by multiplying 50 different decks in a year by 10 years of regular play and topping off with 100 decks to cover years of less regular play, borrowing decks for different things, and whatnot.  Going through some of these decks, I see decks that don’t have enough interesting features.

What are some interesting features I look for?

Crypt cards I have never played, very rarely played, played less than I should, or have never played in combination.

Library cards I’ve never played that are important to the deck.  Library cards I’ve never played in large volume or as key plays in a deck.  For instance of a hypothetical deck, a Car Bomb deck would be something I’ve never done.

Increasingly, I’m looking for strategies that are more enjoyable for myself or less unenjoyable for my opponents.  I’m becoming less enthralled with the idea of intercept decks, for instance.  While, unfortunately, the metagame seems inclined to uberstealth when a deck is stealthy and uberintercept is needed to stop such annoyances, being able to stop everything is dull.  Then, vote decks are annoying, so, while I have plenty of vote ideas as vote bloat is the only way certain decks are likely to survive, I’m increasingly skipping over various vote builds.

Nope, it’s all about stealth bleed.  Stealth bleed is fun for everyone.

Problem here, though, is I don’t have that many stealth bleed decks written that aren’t Concept Decks.  Sure, there are the various Celerity stealth bleed deck builds waiting to see play.  But, Obfuscate and bleed is pretty “been there, done that”, Obtenebration too, Vicissitude as well.  Necromancy and Thaumaturgy suffer from the paired with Dominate affliction.  Actually, looking at how many TWDs I have with Presence, Presence plus stealth is also something to eschew.  Dementation, in a stealth bleed deck anyway, is exceedingly dull, but it’s been so long since I’ve done that, it’s maybe worth it.  Certainly, limiting myself to Dive into Madness for bleed adds legitimacy.

Force of Will is kinda cute, kinda not.  Potence bleed is just so blood intensive, though, actually, the real problem is that it’s a deck that likely produces poor table interaction.  Serpentis is actually not something I’ve done in tournaments, so there is that.  Quietus bleed is dumb, rather go with Assamite bleed and save the Quietus for blowing up Jars of Skin Eaters.  Daimoinon bleed doubles as intercept, which is more interesting to me.  Melpominee bleed is far too common in our meta right now.  Sanguinus and Valeren, bah humbug.  And, so it goes.

While likely of very little use to anyone else, maybe this post will cause readers to think about their criteria for what makes a good deck to play versus just what comes to mind.

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