2013 VTES Qualifier

It should be noted that we aren’t very organized about what we call a qualifier in this area.  With the latest qualifying rules, I’m not sure it makes any difference.  Nevertheless, we’ve had crazy high attendance in recent years for these December tournaments.  Not so this year.  Still, got 10+ people for both events and more tournaments is betterish in our tournament starved world.

Before getting to the point, though, I have to comment upon something related to my classic post earlier today.  I was looking for that tournament report because I keep getting grief from a local player about the deck I won with.  In finding that tournament report, I have found a treasure trove of glittery pyrite, a veritable motherload of comedic brilliance and insightful insights.  But, I don’t want to flood the market with classic posts, that will only shift the supply curve and drive the price down.  What to do?  What to do?  Well, fer sure, man, I gotta post “Yu-Gi-Oh! meets V:TES”, not because it shows that I was watching YGO in 2002 but because, every once in a while, I’m less lame.

Due to the end/beginning year timing, I think I’ll save that for this weekend, hoping that no technological failings by my computer, file cabinet, or whatever prevent sharing that bounty with the hoi pol-, I mean, one’s cherished faithful consumers of words.

So, Saturday was dramatic long before getting over to the Haas residence.  Work was such that I felt compelled to bore people with a rant or two.  Note that I am pro work, work is virtue, work advances society for the betterment of all, even the giraffes.

So, I offered to borrow other people’s decks, and two offered to build/lend decks.  First up was borrowing Jeff Kuta’s Dabbler deck.  Jeff may have gained much infamy in the V:TES community, but Jeff is a wonderful person that I’ve been playing in tournaments with for more than a decade.

Morning (12)

Round 1:

Eric S. (Deep Song/Earth Meld) -> Alex (!Salubri) -> Ian (Aus/Cel/Qui and some Obf Dabbler) -> Aaron (Obf/Pre vote)

All foursies, of course.  It became clear very quickly that I would have built the Dabbler deck differently.  Like, for instance, as an example, I would have had wakes that didn’t require Quietus since the chances of bringing out more than one dude with Quietus were slimmish.  Neighbor John looked defense scary, but I could never tap him until I got more minions out.  Nor was blocking Uriel all that fun as Uriel Walking Sticked to the Vitals Neighbor John and the deck actually has no combat cards playable by the support vampires.  On the other hand, I had Giant’s Blood and could get rid of that early before someone did something silly.  On the other other hand, I probably should have played it on Eric’s biggest dude because Neighbor John could just hunt back up once I had Dmitri Borodin ready to Black Sunrise everything.

To get ahead of myself, Dmitri was actually quite good for me.  He could stealth bleed at will in round one and made Hektor play an extra combat card before Amaranthing him each time they tussled.

So, I can’t really do much with my three Disguised Weapons and no actual weapons and my low pool.  Eric plays Anarch Troublemaker and used it to tap Alex’s Maldavis, which was incomprehensible to me.  Not only did that stop me from bringing out Bowl of Convergence for several turns, which I believe was in my hand when Uriel forced me to play with an open hand, but it just tapped one minion who was no combat threat to do nothing more exciting than get a couple pool worth of bleed damage in.  Nor did it target Uriel’s Weighted Walking Stick, which was far more important than Maldavis, though “far more important” is still “not important at all” as the likelihood of Uriel playing another WWS was high.

Eric does get a couple Raven Spy on one vamp and has his Companion to Owls vamp get Banishmented.  Life is not great far yonder, but it’s not the end of the world.  I pest Aaron by forcing him to Forgotten Labyrinth actions through.  Aaron reduces both of their pools to less than handfuls and eventually decides to simul-kill them to not have to deal with three intercept decks.  This lacks badness for me as it means I can still get the table win, and I’m finally drawing into cards I can play.  Also, Aaron only getting six pool is far less tiresome than gaining 12.  I get an Ivory Bow.  I get the edge.  I start torping dudes as Aaron is low on deck.  I Disguise a .44 to go to one pool to save blood on Dmitri in fights.  I torp all of Aaron’s dudes.  He does not have the stealth to get one killing action through.  My Smiling Jack even does one blood damage to Aaron!  Good ole Jack, slayer of stealth vote decks everywhere.

Aaron regrets not eating Neighbor John when he was momentarily in torpor.  Yup, that would have mattered, as the one thing John could do in the deck was Telepathic Misdirection for two intercept.  But, really, one more major stealth card and I was toasticus.  Instead, this overwhelming victory placed me in the finals while the deck’s builder was weeping uncontrollably in a pickup game or he was playing Derange/Sacrifice, one or the other.

Round 2:

Ian -> Eric H. (Kiasyd SB) -> Brandon (Hektor eats the world) -> Andy (who cares?)

So, our efforts to not get all of our vampires eaten by Hektor and friends were not successful, and Eric and I tried our best to self oust to improve out tournament positions.  Eric succeeded, which was also useful to me.  I miscalculated, having way too much pool and couldn’t self oust before Andy got taken out.  Though, it did give me good tournament points coming in third to last in this game.


On the other hand, I didn’t get to get away from Brandon, so it was going to be a pointless game for me.  Kenneth was top seed and spent time considering where to place himself.  My reply to his “I’ll regret my choice.” was “You’ll regret any choice at this table.”

Chris (Aus/Obf/Pre vote/bleed) -> Eric H. -> Ian -> Brandon -> Kenneth (Mary Anne Blaire & Ventrue)

Brandon’s decision was pretty much either to kill my only bouncer first or nuke Eric’s Dominate bleeders first.  He chose the former, so I had nothing to do in this game.  Bertrand d’Anjou could actually play more than one of the deck’s four disciplines, so he did play a few cards.  I even had a path to victory with five pool and just a 4-cap in play.  It was not a reasonable path to victory, so my game was all about impeding Brandon.

Eric helped impede the “I saw him eat seven vampires in one turn!” deck with a couple of crosstable Direct Interventions.  Dogs of War never came out, and Kenneth and Chris were allowed to play their games.  Though, Chris really didn’t like MAB reducing Rafael de Corazon’s bleed to one.

I held out for just the right amount of time to doom Brandon.  Somehow, Eric had enough minions left to get two VPs.  Then, without facing minion destruction, he ousted Kenneth, who somehow didn’t have the Deflections by the time Eric came around to survive, not that I was remotely paying attention by this point.

So, much later, I got to thinking about something.  I got to thinking about why I like intercept and bounce so much for defense, over such things as rush or prison plays.  Intercept and bounce allow people to play the game, both the attacker and the defender.  Walls suck.  Intercept plus mean combat sucks.  Neither of those are oriented to everybody playing the game.  Bloat?  Bloat sucks because it’s noninteractive.  Tactical rush is interesting.  Rush as a strategy is obnoxious as it’s intended to stop people from playing the game.  But, I don’t hate the Hektor deck as much as others do since there are so many hatable things in the game.  I’ve been around long enough to get weenie Potenced out of the game, to have my uncontrolled region annihilated or Brainwashed, to get Sensory Deprivation locked down and Derange locked down, to have my predator steal my vampire and have it bloodhunted away ensuring his predator two VPs.  Not every game is going to be fun.

The Hektor deck is taking advantage of a local metagame with virtually no hitback and limited defense.  In a more “Tzimisce” metagame, I think it becomes not remotely fun to play.


Round 1:

Eric H. (Santaleous and Serenna) -> Alex (as above) -> Eric S. (Trem Burst) -> Ian (Brujah Princes) -> Jeff (Recruitment Wolves)

This time, I was playing a deck Brandon designed.  He made the comment that it was the sort of deck I don’t play.  Sure, I avoid Camarilla titles because I avoid things way overplayed, just like I avoid Malk anything or Giovanni powerbleed or Shamblers.  On the other hand, I was thinking about it and though it was amusing that 36% (4 of 11) of my tournament winning decks play votes and Presence:  Daughters; Honor the Elders; fat Pander; Augustus & friends.

Also, Kenneth had to leave and Brandon graciously bowed out to give us 10 players.

With 12 Second Traditions, I recklessly reined in Jeff’s hordemaking.  This came to be not so fun when Eric S.’s Bursts of Sunlight dropped a couple of my dudes.  I couldn’t recover, not with my prey hoping for my demise.  Eric H. did have a turn where he could have helped me by either diablerizing two of the other Eric’s vamps or by rescuing them both and forcing them to pay (emptying them) or doing a combination of the two.  However, it wouldn’t have saved me as my predator used The Sleeping Mind to stop Second Tradition nonsense (I was tapped and empty, anyway) for his bleed of five.  I would have had more pool, but Jeff played Poison Pill on my only Parity Shift.

Jeff kept making dudes, but he had been relatively stymied.  Eric bled through the table.

My deck’s build was not the way I would have done a similar deck (in fact, have done similar decks), so I needed to get used to it.

Round 2:

David (Shattering Crescendo and bleed) -> Jeff -> Ian -> Andy (Masika’s Ball) -> Eric H.

Andy had sent me an email over a month ago in response to my comment about how people seem to hate borrowing my decks these years and how I could, instead, build decks for people or offer advice.  One of his ideas involved Masika, so I threw together a decklist while I was writing my email, and he said to go ahead and build what I had written.

In this game, I had better reasons to expend resources containing the Recruitment Exercise menace.  Eric bled David too hard for David to get off enough Crescendoes to wreck Jeff’s ready region.  I hung around for quite a while, Powerbase: Montreal helping.  But, my Parity Shifts, that kept looking to impair Eric’s path to victory kept getting Delayed by Jeff.  I had an awkward hand that had enough to oust Andy for a while but no way to deliver the goods.  So, yet again, oustage.  Andy couldn’t hurt Eric, and the game timed out.

Eric went in as not only top seed but the only player in the second tournament with a table win.  Second seed was Aaron (on roll off) with 2 VPs, then Chris with 2 VPs, and both of my predators getting in off of the power of ousting a deck with Parity Shifts and 12 Second Traditions.


Eric S. -> Eric H. -> Jeff -> Chris (Khazar’s Diary) -> Aaron (Bear Paw & older friends)

While I hardly need any more cards, first place got a set of Sabbat War rares, which is a lot better prize than usual, thus I wallow in misery behind my placid features.

Chris got the only oust.  Apparently, Eric H. was on the ropes, but I was playing a pickup game, so whatever.  Aaron had a very different description of Eric S.’s deck than what I saw.  I never saw Muaziz where he didn’t see a bunch of Bursts, so sure, Muaziz and Bursty friends.

In our pickup game, it went long.  I did get to have Hardestadt run around and do important stuff, like take The Rack.  I couldn’t deal with Brandon’s Thaumaturgy weenie swarm in the endgame.

That was cool.  More players is always nicer, but I didn’t feel like things were repetitive, like I’ve felt in some smaller tournaments.  That I would have built the Brujah Princes deck differently is a given, but that was some of the value of playing decks designed by others – playing different stuff.  I think I realized what it was about this deck that didn’t suit my style – it was overly reliant upon doing certain things, mostly Second Tradition, Majesty, and Parity Shift.  I got a Preternatural Strength in both games in play, but it didn’t matter because it had no combat support.  Masika with a gun would have owned me if I let him block and I don’t play Majesty.  The blood drain of Second + Majesty was only really compensated by Dmitra, and I never got her vote off in either game.  Esprit de Corps was in the deck, but I’m not clear on why, as it’s not terribly important for fatties or when the only combat support is pretty much Resist Earth’s Grasp, for, yet, more blood loss.

Still, the deck could have done oodles better if I hadn’t played it the way I did.  The card quality was extremely high.  The 4/5 Brujah crypt is just such a monster of efficiency, even though I never had three vampires in play at the same time.

Sunday afternoon, four of us did a two booster draft.  Five recursions available with our minimum 10 library, 2 crypt decks.  Brandon got a sweet crypt, with Porphyrion, Janey “I’m totally broken in limited” Pickman, and Papa Legba.  Andy got pool gain from Swiss Cut and Street Cred (off of the beatdown that was Bundi).  Aaron got Reckless Agitation and vote lock through Jamal, The Black Throne, and Scalpel Tongue.

What did I get?  Win.

Janey rushed the Red List Jamal and got Unholy Penanced for her trouble.  Jamal would eventually go down, but it was due to being worn down by Brandon and Andy using Red List rushes.  Brandon got ousted by a bounced bleed of two from Andy because, while I had two thirds of the bounce, Aaron had one third.  Reckless Agitation, obviously, was the softener uppener.  I was pro Aaron softening uppening first Brandon, then Andy, so my Jericho’s Founding was only ever tossed in favor of Recklessness.

With my three plus bleed cards – Heart’s Desire, Murmur of the False Will, and Leverage – and my Lost in Translation and my two Suppressing Fires, I ousted Aaron, who had used all five of his recursions.  The endgame was just a matter of my killing Andy the turn before he takes me out with our mutual unblockable bleed action (+1 stealth and/or Suppressing Fire).  I only used two recursions.  My lone Beretta made me unstoppable.

Is limited amusing?  Sure.  Do you get ideas based on cards you never see?  Sure.  It’s not that I dislike limited play.  It’s just that there’s a strong been there, done that feel to it for me as well as not having a lot of takeaway, even though I can point to this “event” supporting the idea that I’m a much better limited player than constructed player (because a single game and only four players does not in any way trigger small sample size issues), and there were all sorts of interesting things that happened in the game.

Thanks to Brandon for running, to Andy and Eric for hosting, to those who showed up to play, especially Aaron and Chris coming up from SoCal.  I’ve gotten so many deck ideas from mostly just talking about various cards, mostly cards to mess with Brandon’s Hektor deck.  Playing more makes me (at least) want to play more, though that’s kind of true of all of the games I prefer.

Congratulations to Eric Haas for winning one tournament and being top seed in the other.


One Response to 2013 VTES Qualifier

  1. Aaron C says:

    Conventional wisdom says that smaller decks are better. Conventional wisdom ain’t always right – my 77-card deck was too small to win that game! Indeed, I needed to generate 2 stealth with cards to play my KRC and oust you, but I had no more cards to draw. Moral of the story: stealth decks can run out of cards the same way that combat decks can.

    I wanted to try some different decks, but a heavy combat deck would have done really well on either tournament Saturday.

    Thanks to all hosts! Aaron

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