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Vampire: The Eternal Struggle» Forums » Variants

Subject: Fixing crypt contestation rss

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L. Scott Johnson
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Premise:

Being put into a position to contest a crypt card (esp. a costly crypt card) is debilitating to a player's game, and the rule designed to mitigate that (the ability to spend two transfers to move a counter from an uncontrolled card to your pool) doesn't go far enough, and the extra bloat made possible by that rule may not be best for the game.

Possible solution for discussion:

Of the counters on card in your uncontrolled region, keep separate track of those that come from your pool and those that come from elsewhere. For example, the counters from your pool could be placed on the uncontrolled card while those from elsewhere (e.g., from Govern the Unaligned or Powerbase: Montreal) could be place above the top of the card.

Cards become controlled as normal (i.e., when the total number of counters, above and on, equals or exceeds the vampire's capacity).

During your influence phase, you could move any counters on an uncontrolled card to your pool and/or move them "above" any of your other uncontrolled cards (without spending any transfers). Counters above the card cannot be moved.

So once you find yourself in the position to contest, you can freely re-arrange the pool you had invested toward controlling the vampire to other vampires (so you don't have to choose between a costly contest and the loss of turns of influence at the beginning of the game).

And, when yielding, the counters on the yielded card are not burned, but instead are placed "above" any of your uncontrolled vampire(s) (in case someone begins an early contest with you).

If a vampire in play is returned to your uncontrolled region, the counters on it remain "on" it.
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The Lasombra
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At first blush, this adds a lot of bookkeeping for little return. I like the contestation avoidance benefit, but am not sure whether or not it is too much work for too little return.

This would certainly put decks that rely on adding counters on uncontrolled minions for pool gain in a lot of hurt (see also: Smiling Jack decks).

For a significant number of decks, there will be no Govern/Founders/Fourth Tradition/Enchant/Travis Miller type of actions to add counters above the minions. For an even greater number of decks, there will be no way to add counters above the minion with the master cards like Arcane Library/Art Museum/Ecoterrorists/Gang Territory/Nosferatu Kingdom/Church of Vindicated Faith.

For decks that don't use these cards, there will be little or no change to their game.

Cards that might interact poorly with this change (i.e. will require clarification on their targets or benefits):
Cairo Int'l Airport
Gemini
Gisela Harden, The Winnower
Kaymakli Nightmares
King's Rising
Lázár Dobrescu
Memory's Fading Glimpse
Paul Six of Swords 29 Moreton
Paulo de Castille
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
Solomon Batanea
The Trick of the Danya
The World's a Canvas

Crypt cards that would be impacted, but in an understandable way (i.e. they would all place blood 'above' the targeted minion):
Ayo Igoli
Casino Reeds
Haakon Mortensen
Malgorzata
Mary Anne Blaire
Menele
Nikolaus Vermeulen
Ugadja
Zayyat, The Sandstorm
Saulot, The Wanderer

Library cards that would be impacted, but in an understandable way (i.e. they would all place blood 'above' the targeted minion):
Arcane Library
Art Museum
Bay and Howl
Belonging Grants Protection
Brutal Influence
The Call
Clotho's Gift
Convergence
Coroner's Contact
Dreams of the Sphinx
Ecoterrorists
Enchant Kindred
The Eternals of Sirius
Flames of Insurrection
Founders of the Ebony Kingdom
Fourth Tradition: The Accounting
Gang Territory
Govern the Unaligned
Grooming the Protege
Heartblood of the Clan
Honor the Elders
Inspire
Karavalanisha Vrana
Kaymakli Fragment
Khabar: Loyalty
Little Mountain Cemetary
Mbare Market, Harare
Mesu Bedshet
Nosferatu Kingdom
Powerbase: Montreal
Powerbase: Zurich
Public Trust
Recruiting Party
Reunion Kamut
Scouting Mission
Social Ladder
Street Cred
Summon the Serpent
Tomb of Ramses III
Undue Influence
Unwholesome Bond
Wasserschloss Anif, Austria
Watchtower: Greatest Fall
Zillah's Valley
 
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L. Scott Johnson
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A agree about the nature of decks affected and the nature and severity of the effect on those decks.

But it doesn't seem like a lot of bookkeeping. You simply have the counters "on" or "above" the card in question. No additional bookkeeping.
 
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Ginés Quiñonero-Santiago
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I think this new rule will not fix the problem you describe, because it does not address the problem that, if your star vampire is contested, it does not really matter where you can move the pool invested on that vampire, since your crypt and your library are both built around that vampire, and therefore your deck cannot work without him or her.

As I already proposed on the newsgroup, I think the solution to the high capacity vampire contestation problem comes from allowing limited use of the vampires being contested by their "controllers", at a cost, obviously.
 
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L. Scott Johnson
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Damnans wrote:
I think this new rule will not fix the problem you describe, because it does not address the problem that, if your star vampire is contested, it does not really matter where you can move the pool invested on that vampire, since your crypt and your library are both built around that vampire, and therefore your deck cannot work without him or her.


The problem I describe is not one of star vampires, but yes, I agree that the rule will not make the problem of two decks at the same table each singly focused on the same star vampire both having a less good chance of winning. Nothing will fix that.

Quote:
As I already proposed on the newsgroup, I think the solution to the high capacity vampire contestation problem comes from allowing limited use of the vampires being contested by their "controllers", at a cost, obviously.


At a much larger cost in complexity and reduction in strategic contesting.
But in any event, it is easy enough to create threads to discus all sorts of variants.
 
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Drake Coker
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Hmmm, unless the procedure has changed in recent years, the player you are trying to help here already has the advantage: if he brings out the vampire once he knows it will contest, the opponent has to pay the contesting cost first. Coupled with the event being fairly uncommon in the first place, I'm not sure it's worth trying to fix.

So, my first thought is... leave it alone.
 
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L. Scott Johnson
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Olvenskol wrote:
Hmmm, unless the procedure has changed in recent years, the player you are trying to help here already has the advantage: if he brings out the vampire once he knows it will contest, the opponent has to pay the contesting cost first. Coupled with the event being fairly uncommon in the first place, I'm not sure it's worth trying to fix.

So, my first thought is... leave it alone.


Uncommon it is. That's true.

It is also needlessly harsh in its effect when it does occur.

Sure, one player can choose to begin the contest if he thinks it's in his best interest. That may just be making the best of an already severely bad situation. Or it may be making lemonade. Usually, it's the former. And then this rule might help: it would make the player who already has influence on a vampire not to be forced into contesting.

Additionally, there is the other player. The one who didn't have the choice in the matter. The rule also helps keep his game from being wrecked "out of the blue" simply for losing the uniqueness lottery.
 
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Drake Coker
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Rulemonger wrote:
Olvenskol wrote:
Hmmm, unless the procedure has changed in recent years, the player you are trying to help here already has the advantage: if he brings out the vampire once he knows it will contest, the opponent has to pay the contesting cost first. Coupled with the event being fairly uncommon in the first place, I'm not sure it's worth trying to fix.

So, my first thought is... leave it alone.


Uncommon it is. That's true.

It is also needlessly harsh in its effect when it does occur.

Sure, one player can choose to begin the contest if he thinks it's in his best interest. That may just be making the best of an already severely bad situation. Or it may be making lemonade. Usually, it's the former. And then this rule might help: it would make the player who already has influence on a vampire not to be forced into contesting.

Additionally, there is the other player. The one who didn't have the choice in the matter. The rule also helps keep his game from being wrecked "out of the blue" simply for losing the uniqueness lottery.


All true, but...

The "issue" here is you might be placed in a very difficult or even unrecoverable situation due to luck.

But, that's true in VTES for many reasons: your deck develops poorly, you get a bad draw into the crypt, your predator happens to have the right kind of deck to defeat yours or simply got started faster or *his* predator is getting hammered, etc. Luck plays a huge, often overwhelming, factor in any one game. Why try to fix a relatively uncommon case of it?

If contesting is a big enough problem, then I would simply suggest removing the concept of uniqueness between decks (i.e. you can't put out duplicate copies, but your opponents can). Or if you can't bear the thought of not contesting hunting grounds, then alter uniqueness for vampires.

I guess I'm saying I really, really love VTES, but I'm not sure it needs any more rules

 
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Ron D
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The way I see it, Crypt Contestation was necessary early in the life of the game, but it may not be necessary at all now. When there was just the Jyhad set, the possibility of Crypt Contestation kept people from over-relying on certain vampires (usually Gilbert Duane or Anson) and it was a calculated risk to try to get them in play. It helped to keep the game varied and interesting by adding a real reward to playing the less popular clans and vampires - you had less chance to contest.

Now, the game has more than enough variety. People don't build decks with Crypt Contestation in mind because the risk and reward have both been drastically reduced. The problem is that when the rare game occurs where it does come up, it often costs both players the game. When it happens now, it isn’t because three people at the table think that Ozmo is the easiest way to win, it just happens because of dumb luck.

Certainly there are certain archetypes more popular than others, especially in the tournament scene or in people’s particular meta-games, but even then, getting whacked by Contestation seems harsh. I once wound up at the final table in a tournament where three of us happened to be playing almost the same Library, but it just so happened that our Crypt selections were totally different. (One deck was 1/2 Toreador, another was 3/4 Toreador, mine was 2/3 !Toreador.) We avoided Contestation that game, but it was just as likely that two people would both have Group 3 Toreador. Would I have been satisfied winning because they contested one another out of competition? Would someone else at the table have really "earned" their win if two or three of us had contested?

At this point, Crypt Contestation doesn’t seem like a strategic thing, it just feels like luck. If it happens to you, you feel like you got screwed out of the running by pure chance. If it happens to your opponents, it just feels like a windfall.

I understand that there are thematic reasons to keep Crypt Contestation, but I really feel like that should be secondary to good game play. I don’t think there’s going to be some revolt about how "it doesn’t make sense" that there can be two of the same Vampire running around. If thematically, you feel that it is still necessary to represent the increased cost of trying to influence a Vampire that someone else already controls, try imposing an extra initial cost of one or two Pool and move on.

If you feel that back-transferring is too powerful, what about making a transfer from a Crypt card to your Pool simply cost three transfers? It avoids all the changes that putting counters "above" a Crypt card would create, but it slows the bloat possibilities to one per turn (or two with something like Info Highway). It still works, so it doesn’t completely invalidate an existing strategy, just tones it down. Honestly, this seems to work well whether or not you change or eliminate Crypt Contestation.

Finally, I understand that skilled player can and do manage to win games even when they do contest a Crypt card. However, I have also seen a player loose because he was playing a Star Vampire Deck (Tariq, in this case) and his Predator happened to also be running Assamites. The Predator was able to Contest Tariq while still running other minions and get his utterly castrated Prey. (Slowly, because he couldn't bleed hard, which just made it even sadder to watch the Prey stay in the game, hamstrung, for almost an hour.) I feel like Star Vampire Decks add something cool to the game, but they are already fragile enough, why have one more way for them to fall apart?

Also, I really like Contestation for Unique Library cards and Titles. I would hate to see that go anywhere or change.

- Some thoughts from a former Prince
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L. Scott Johnson
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Olvenskol wrote:
The "issue" here is you might be placed in a very difficult or even unrecoverable situation due to luck.

But, that's true in VTES for many reasons: your deck develops poorly, you get a bad draw into the crypt, your predator happens to have the right kind of deck to defeat yours or simply got started faster or *his* predator is getting hammered, etc. Luck plays a huge, often overwhelming, factor in any one game. Why try to fix a relatively uncommon case of it?


Because it can be improved.

Some things are inherent in a card game: luck of the draw, etc.
Some things are inherent in a TCG: facing the "wrong" opponent.

No need or desire to "fix" what the game is all about.

Some things, however, are not inherent and do not define the game.

The size of the penalty for losing the uniqueness lottery (a thing that is completely random and not a function of player choice -- players cannot meaningfully choose not to use unique crypt cards) is one example.

Without removing the concept of uniqueness, the game could be improved by making the effect of losing the lottery less severe.

Quote:
If contesting is a big enough problem, then I would simply suggest removing the concept of uniqueness between decks (i.e. you can't put out duplicate copies, but your opponents can). Or if you can't bear the thought of not contesting hunting grounds, then alter uniqueness for vampires.


No one is suggesting changing how library uniqueness works. That is both less severe and more under the player's choice than using unique crypt cards.

And having two players simultaneously control the same vampire (allowing Rake to block Rake, for example) is too much against the setting of the game.

Quote:
I guess I'm saying I really, really love VTES, but I'm not sure it needs any more rules


It doesn't "need" more cards, either. It hasn't need more cards since 1994.

And I'm just proposing a change (to influence and to yielding).
 
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