Favorite VTES Sets

Extremes are so much easier.  Tell me to rank every HoR mod I’ve played from favorite to least and I could get 5-10 in at the top and 5 or so at the bottom and the middle would be pain.

On vekn.net, I brought up the idea that we don’t really know what people like.  With niche CCGs, what attracts players, what drives them away, what retains them?  You can go off of sales of sets, but that’s so misleading.  Something I have experienced is that a crappy set sells badly and the next set’s print run is smaller, so, even when it sells out and people yum on it, its sales aren’t necessarily all that.

A lot of people don’t share my opinions.  I guess that’s okay.  I would dread being around me all of the time, unless the other mes were fe- …  Let’s not bother going there.

As a voice, if one so often ignored even when I’m involved in making a CCG, I will voice my favorite sets.

Blood Shadowed Court is not a set.  10th Anniversary is.  The e-sets mean nothing to me.

#1  Sabbat

So, here’s the thing.  I am large, potentially huge, on variety.  I get bored quick.  To me, CCGs are one of the greatest inventions of humanity in at least the post-Atlantis days or the last 137,000,000 million years (counting from Earth 7’s dimension), whichever is more exponential.  Yes, environments get stale because lots of cards don’t do anything remotely interesting, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more decks that could be built for any given CCG than decks I have ever built for all CCGs ever.

I was playing in a Jyhad only group.  Dark Sovereigns was out.  I ignored Ancient Hearts since my group wouldn’t allow it.  Sabbat came out.  I had to go for it.  I may not make a good Tzimisce nor do I understand what it is about Vicissitude I used to like so much in the RPG, but, hey, Tzimisce and Obtenebration and !Ventrue and whatever else.

Red cards.  Jyhad graphics are pretty crap.  Can be goth if you want, but, maybe you also want to not be swirly gray and green.  Reaction cards in blue are eyepain, but red?  Clint Langley.  One player I used to play with said he didn’t like Thrown Gate, et al, because “it burns”.  Mmmmm, burns.

More clans, more disciplines, clan cards, some better ideas for how cards should work and a lot of worse ideas for how cards should work.  Non-unique allies that actually did something.

I was so much less jaded back then.  I was excited by all of the possibilities.  I would play Sabbat only decks at cons for a bit, having just Forced Awakening to not die, and I was cool with that.  I also built some rather horrendous decks … not on purpose.

#2  Bloodlines

In many ways, I think Bloodlines ended up doing a disservice to the game, but that’s in hindsight and after numerous possibilities for evolving the game differently.

It was certainly not perfect.  Perfect would have been better outferiors, no scarce rule, Thanatosis cards that actually went with a clan that should never be in combat, Visceratika cards for a clan that should get into combat, Shroud of Absence as an uncommon, infernal rule where you pay 1 pool for any number of infernals, Razor Bat that cost less than 2 pool (this was partially our fault), Nagaraja and Harbingers having something interesting to do, no idiotic mill theme, etc.

But, the variety.  Oh, the variety.  Final Nights was both a huge success and a huge failure.  It made three of the indies viable where they were kind of crappy or extremely crappy prior.  It produced an incredible amount of supreme coasters.  But, it mostly just made existing stuff better.  Bloodlines made new stuff.  Also pretty much killed The Kiss of Ra as a metagame play as Fortitude was everywhere, not a bad thing itself.

I may bias my views on sets by how I don’t think bloodlines actually make for a better game, but I’m not picking sects.  I’m picking sets.

#3  Sabbat War

At the time, this would not have rated to me as highly for the obvious reason that it’s supersimilar to Sabbat.  It didn’t reprint some cards it should have, the !Ventrue precon is awful, and it did print some cards that rank in the top 20-50 cards I’d eliminate from the card pool.

But, it did remedy some things missing from Sabbat in the reprints – WWEF, Deflection, Minion Tap, etc.  It was Sabbat with some of Jyhad’s important stuff.  It may be a bitch to have so many clans in one set, and one of the things I hated about it when it was new was not including !Trem, which was one of my preferred clans, but it feels much more akin to what a base set should be like while having a bunch of cool cards.

Yeah, I guess I got over the lack of !Trem and Thaum.

I’d much rather draft this than recent sets.  !Nos get their time to shine, I mean, leap from the shadows, in the Sun, I mean, in the diffused light of streetlamps.

Does point out that I’m not more excited by other sets.

#4  Jyhad

The first set of anything gets cache because it sets the game that one chose to play.  Jyhad is huge to where lots of decks were possible.  I still find that I can build interesting all Jyhad decks.  I can whip out playable cards that people virtually never see.

But, is it as fun as Sabbat War?  A better environment, one with more consistent titled minions, perhaps, though Camarilla Edition came in and nerfed a bunch of Jyhad cards not a bunch of Sabbat cards.  We still see the power cards from Jyhad be prevalent, which isn’t so bad in the case of something fair like Enchant Kindred but kind of bad with the most powerful cards that are just oppressive when it comes to producing a more diverse environment.

#5  Twilight Rebellion

Yup.  I went here.  TR is the only good small set.  That’s not saying much when the other small sets are largely garbage or otherwise offensive, even Sword of Caine.

TR does not have strong cards.  But, it has interesting cards.  I’m thinking more the library cards.  I wish I could play with more of the crypt cards, but it’s rough to find uses for some of them.

Why don’t I like HttB more?  It just feels like trying to fix a problem in the game, where TR feels like it’s doing some quirky things … while helping make anarch decks more viable.

There are plenty of cards that I vastly prefer than the cards in TR, but TR feels like an expansion set, if something of a weak one.  Too many sets are trying to be a new base set or trying to make something suck less or introduce awful mechanics like Gehenna Events and Imbued.


V:TES is a bloated mess.  It has 30+ clans and 30+disciplines.  You can play in a game where no minion has any votes or in a game where the Framing an Ancient Grudge deck has to be nuked.

Tons of coasters got printed.  Plenty of things that should have been printed never made it.  New mechanics were often daft and the effort to make things better only made more crap (see the worst set ever made, Ebony Kingdom, from a design point of view).

There were more important sets than some of the above.  Final Nights was more important than Bloodlines or TR.

But, these are the sets I, at this moment in spacetime, believe I enjoy the most.

What does that say about me?

Variety.  Do something new and different, except when you are expanding upon things I already really like (SW from S).

Don’t concern yourself with power.  KoT is a powerful set.  Third Edition brought in some powerful cards.  CE brought in powerful vampires.  Lords of the Night feels powerful.

While TR was intended to promote anarchs, it’s not as much the anarch boost that I care about, outside of Anarch Convert, which I mostly use just to cryptthin.  Bloodlines brought in new mechanics.  But, the trend here is more “new without new mechanics”.  Yes, new clans and new disciplines are new mechanics, but they are qualitatively different from Red List/Trophy, Black Hand, and whatever.

Put another way, I feel a generalness to these sets.  There’s lot of interactions possible between stuff, even if you hardly ever bother mixing Ahrimanes with others.


One Response to Favorite VTES Sets

  1. brettscho says:

    It’s such a shame that new mechanics (Red List, Black Hand, etc) have largely flopped, because that seems to be a very nice way of expanding the game without needing to endlessly introduce new clans and disciplines.

    I agree that Sabbat / Sabbat War were some awesome sets – I obviously wasn’t playing back then, but I really like Vicissitude and Obtenebration and think that they were relatively well designed. While it could be argued that having them be very toolboxy lessens the mechanical flavor of the discipline, it also means that these clans are never totally shut out of part of the game (which seems to be the case for many clans – Brujah and Ventrue didn’t get to play with Stealth or Intercept, etc).

    I’m less impressed with Bloodlines, but that might just represent the fact that I haven’t really played with any of them. I should really change that. On the other hand, I really like Lords of the Night, but perhaps I’m falling prey to the “powerful = good set” mindset. Thanks again for this post. I’d also love to hear what you thought were the worst designed sets and why.

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