If you read this blog for V:TES stuff, can read my prior post for my top 5. Let’s go with the dark side, the shadow, the ill, the haflingification of the game.
Starting with the worst:
#1 Ebony Kingdom
Nights of Reckoning introduced the worst idea into the game, the most unfun decks, but it was trying to do something interesting. This set didn’t. This set is offensive.
It’s offensive in bringing in way too few vampires. It’s offensive in trying to fix Aye/Orun without consideration of how to fix the crappiness of Laibon (which is fixed by printing a bunch with Dominate – hey, that’s how most other things got fixed). It’s offensive in introducing two of the most moronic hosers I’ve seen.
It’s borderline offensive in not giving Abombwe far better cards.
Not every single card is bad. It has that going for it.
Oh, and it’s offensive for not learning a most basic lesson – additional master phase action is broken. We have known it was broken since whenever I looked around and thought about what was broken in Jyhad/V:TES.
#2 Nights of Reckoning
Some people don’t hate it. Not sure why. It’s not V:TES. It did one good thing – it caused people to metagame against all that is vile. Most V:TES sets don’t have that sort of shake up on the environment. Now, I’m sure there’s bad shake up even from a set about vampires.
Gehenna was the previous “Do you want me to stop playing this game?” NoR made Gehenna so much worse.
There are interesting vampires in this set. There are a bunch of cool cards in this set. Using the discard phase to play cards seems kind of cool.
Burn Gehenna and NoR becomes far less obnoxious.
Lesson for designers everywhere – global effects sound good but aren’t. Just say no to killing babies. Just say no.
#4 Kindred Most Wanted
There are interesting vampires in this set. There are some cool cards in this set.
I understand that it was trying to do something, something top down, something that made use of the IP, which is a major selling point for the game.
It made me enjoy the game less.
Drafting this set is dumb.
#5 Keepers of Tradition
This is why I’m infected with geniusness and so many others are healthier. This set is full of cards I don’t think should have ever been printed. That’s even more impressive when you consider how much of this set is reprints or innocuous crypt cards.
There are plenty of “bad” sets – Anarchs, Black Hand, Third Edition (for reasons that have less to do with the text on the cards), Sword of Caine, 10th Anniversary, Dark Sovereigns and Ancient Hearts (which I largely give a pass to for being when designers and players were much dumber about how the game worked).
KoT is a perfectly reasonable set full of bad cards. Cards I want to see gone from the game include: Villein, Ashur Tablets, Eyes of Argus, Deep Song, Dmitra, Lutz. That’s off the top of my head. I’m sure I could find some others.
What do these choices say about me?
Don’t execute on bad ideas. Don’t introduce stuff that takes you away from the core of the game. I know expansions need to expand. I know every niche CCG goes through the process of getting further and further from what the game was originally about. I know Gehenna was themed to tie into Time of Judgment.
Don’t invent. Reinvent. Take what the game is about and make it fresh. Take the Camarilla sect and stop saying it doesn’t need help because P/J cards are overpowered and give it Cammie things to do. Don’t just keep introducing mechanics that are insular, make crosspollination more common. Why don’t we have Tzimisce/Lasombra decks? Because they don’t share anything relevant. Yeah, you could find more titled minions by joining them, but each of the clans can get by or can call upon more friendly partners. Yet, there could be a “Leadership of the Sabbat” card that makes them playable together.
Babylon 5 could have played with existing or logical traits a lot, it didn’t. Instead, Nightwatch, Drakh, ISA, Techno-mage. Wheel of Time didn’t get much of a chance, but it could have focused more on Forsaken. We got tons of Aiel. I kind of get that, but Aiel versus Aiel just doesn’t feel global enough. Sure, White Tower was going to be the next set, which reminds me that I need to post some playtest info at some point.
Another takeaway is that I don’t care for power. Sure, I said in the last post that I’m not attracted to it. But, I’m almost repulsed by it. V:TES is a game of small effects when you compare against other CCGs. Upping the power level largely just further coasterizes a bunch of cards and removes deck diversity. There are so many masters in this game I find interesting yet hardly ever see because … it’s a phrase I invented … Good Cards Squeeze Out Bad. Okay, in this case, it’s actually Better Cards Squeeze Out Worst, but that’s less memorable and draws less upon my economics background.