Political Necessities

At a point when we were in Los Angeles, Aaron and I were talking about his deck.  He has been working on a Followers of Set vote deck.  He was pointing out how often Confusion of the Eye and Delaying Tactics came up, especially from Bay Area players.

There’s a reason for that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  We played two games.

In the first game, a deck tried to get off a couple of Archons but both were DIed.  Of more importance was getting off Ancient Influence.  In the second game, a Parity Shift heavy deck easily rolled.

Voting is the least interactive and most game distorting facet of the game.

For the latter, it’s not nearly as crazy as the old days, when seat-switching was ubiquitous and “call a vote, burn a vampire” was legal.  But, you can’t give pool to people through bleeds or through combat or through equipping, bringing out allies, or nearly anything else except certain masters.  Those masters – Powerbase: Montreal, Powerbase: Chicago, Brothers Grimm, et al – tend to be slow and require effort on another player’s part.  Meanwhile, Con Boon and Parity Shift are solid ways to prop many a deck up.

Maybe not as common in a Scourge of the Enochians world (to the extent people actually play the card), but I’ve seen decks designed for tournament play that run only Anarchist Uprising and/or Ancilla Empowerment, as voting was the only feasible way to nuke winnie decks.  Often, the best way for a vote deck to win crosstable from a wall or tooled up deck is to bombard it with pool loss when it isn’t next to it.  Kindred Spirits is so powerful because you can go backwards or crosstable – it becomes awfully Social Charmy when it only goes forwards, if still better mostly for the easy stealth options and somewhat for the ability to gain pool off of the inferior.  Sure, rush or intercept combat can work on wrecking a predator, but vote decks can effortlessly shift from forward to backward or vice versa, as the situation calls for.

But, is anybody trying to argue the game distorting power of votes?

What someone might try to argue is the interactive elements of voting.  Even in Jyhad days, it was easy to find massive discrepancies in permanent votes, and that’s when everyone had Camarilla vampires.  Toss in indies, who tend to be vote suck, Sabbies, who tend to be less votey though they got some cheap dudes with some votes, bloodlines, virtually unvotey outside of Daughters, and discipline focused decks and you get vast discrepancies in the ability to influence votes.  Many, many of my decks have had zero titled vampires because, oddly enough, I like to play more than a small amount of the card pool.

Then, Surprise Influence, Dread Gaze, and all of the rest have the problem that Bewitching Oration is not symmetrical with Dread Gaze in actual play.  Vote decks can play terribly.  It could be that they get blocked over and over again in the case of Law Firm style, low stealth decks.  Or, they can be outvoted by random “I bleed with Inner Circle Member” decks.  Or, they can run into the few, relatively generic (well, two very generic and one reasonably playable) options for decks that don’t play a titled arms race or a massive intercept game – Delaying Tactics, Direct Intervention, and Confusion of the Eye.

It’s funny to think Delaying Tactics used to be free and allies could play it.  I guess I just didn’t see it back then all that much because people (I played with) didn’t feel the need to metagame against vote to the extent they do today, even though vote was more powerful when you could snipe VPs.

I used to argue that my primary reason for running DI was to stop seat-switching (toss in Protect Thine own, sure).  But, nowadays, every time I play OBF, Confusion of the Eye must go in.  Just far too many games where people sit around and watch Alastor, Parity Shift, or whatever make a game obnoxious.

Getting back to anecdotes.  In the first game, the deck calling votes had no intercept next to it.  Sometimes that plus vote control happens.  That deck had 5 votes in titles and the other decks had 6 votes in titles, but that didn’t mean any vote was contested, not even the bloodhunts from a couple of diableries.  In the second game, the stealth vote deck was calling votes at effectively four stealth.  It had intercept on both sides, including an Ahrimanes intercept combat deck in front of it, and that intercept meant nothing.  Vote lock and stealth – what sort of answer is someone supposed to have?

Any of the rest of the decks could have had Delaying Tactics, of course, or Direct Intervention.  The deck across the table had minions with OBF, so it could have had Confusion of the Eye.  None of those saw play on the Parity Shifts.  That game was fast and the only real interaction was due to rush (terrible interaction, but that’s a rant for another day).

I’d note that neither of the decks voting played Voter Cap and one of them wasn’t a vote deck.  Voter Cap only makes things sillier where massive amounts of blood turn into pool and then reappear.  Tables will often mitigate to the extent they can how much someone gains from Voter Cap, but a lot of decks have no ability to influence those amounts.

So, yes, DT and DI are rather the suck, as they don’t just slow down beastly decks but hamper workman decks, but, then, that’s sort of the nature of answers in CCGs – they tend to hurt less powerful plays more than more powerful plays as a side effect of giving players the ability to defend against more powerful plays.  And, CotE has the side effect of giving problems to decks that don’t own the votes and aren’t running votes that require titles.  But, I’d say a significant portion of uninteresting or flat out bad games come from runaway vote decks.

Now, there are other ways to stop voting decks.  Rush, Kindred Spirits, Bureaucratic Overload (I used to see this played, though it didn’t really do much), bleed for a lot, coordinated bouncing to the deck, etc.  So, it’s not like stealth vote is dominant.  I’ve considered it one of the elite archetypes in the game for a fair number of years, at this point, but that’s hardly unbalancing when you can run out an archetype with 94 in its name and roll over people.

Point being that this post isn’t about the nightmare pain of vote decks.  The point is that there are few answers for many a deck and decks that don’t run those answers tend to get abused when playing against voting decks.

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