(Sorry for the delay in getting this report up on the blog. I just moved to a new apartment, and wasn't able to find my notes from this tournament until yesterday.)
Experience has taught me that by the time the last day of Origins rolls around, my brain will be the consistency of a poached egg and I won't be capable of maintaining the coherence of any long-term game plans required by an even moderately complicated deck. I don't find weenie bleed (or stealth/bleed, for that matter) to be as simple to play as a lot of people claim they are, but weenie Presence certainly burns a lower-octane brain fuel than something like Brujah bruise/vote or Assamite toolbox. I've also been curious to play it in a tournament, as it's not the kind of deck I normally play in a competitive environment. On top of all that, I had a fairly early flight to catch after the tournament was over, and figured that even if I did make it to the finals, the finals would probably end quickly for me, because I'd either win quickly or been ousted early.
Round One: Love Conquers All
me (weenie Presence) -> Pete (Chaundice) -> John (Blood Brothers) -> Will (Tremere with Presence) -> Bob (Setite toolbox)
For years, Pete had lamented the fact that he and I had never gotten to play a tournament game of V:TES with each other. (I assume he'd been laboring under the woefully incorrect belief that I'm fun to be around?) This year we got to play in not one but two games together, but in both of them, he got squashed before he had a chance to play much. There's probably in lesson in there somewhere, a lesson about how trying to be friendly with other humans inevitably leads to crushing defeat, and it would seem that I'm just the kind of heartless jerk to teach it.
Which is to say that I was extremely worried when Pete's first minion was a Tupdog, assuming that I'd sat down upwind of a deck which would effectively auto-trump my own, and which he would sensibly have to oust upstream once he saw what I was playing. After a few turns of no !Tremere appearing and landing some vicious bleeds in Pete's lap, I became less worried. After Chaundice appeared, it was too late for Pete to be able to fend me off, and he was ousted soon after.
John didn't do much all game, taking a while to bring out his first Brother, presumably because he was also wary of the 'dog horde. That didn't work out too well for him, because the end result of this don't-smash-my-guys strategy was that my minions completely outnumbered his by the time I was his predator, and he was quickly overwhelmed. Will and Bob had been playing their games, with Will building up a bit and Bob bleeding into me. I pretended that if I didn't look at Bob, he couldn't oust me, and that seemed to work out pretty well. He removed a bunch of my pool, but my cardflow was impeccable due to an early-game Bitter and Sweet Story, and it didn't take too much longer for me to clean up the table. A filthmonger is me!
With our game over so early, I had plenty of time to scout around to see what other people were playing, and saw both Una and Cesewayo wearing, as Jay put it, "hats bigger than Abe Lincoln's." Both of the decks looked pretty fragile at a glance, and I had plenty of ways to deal with just a single vampire who thinks he's buff enough to take on a whole table, so I didn't think that I'd see either of those decks in the finals and was confident that I could handle them on the off chance that one of them made it. I failed to remember how Aye interacts with Cesewayo, which might have been important, but I got a chance to see it close-up during my next round as a reminder.
Round Two: PTW Isn't Enforced In the Deckbuilding Phase
me -> Brad (Dmitra the Alastor) -> Matt (Cesewayo wall) -> Corey (Ferox multirush) -> David (Revenge of the G1 Primogen)
David's deck was awesome because it featured Appolonius as its star, with Helena Casimir and Natasha Volfchek as backups. This is why Villein is such a great card: it can make any deck good. Brad got out Dmitra and made her an Assault Rifle-toting Alastor, then proceeded to help me by playing four Psyches in a row so that I could alchemically transmute all the S:CE clogging my hand into bleed cards. Matt tooled up and prepared to weather my assault, and Corey bled for one a lot and discarded a combat card every turn. David beat on my pool pretty well with a bunch of bleeds (and I think a vote or two?), but I assumed that as soon as Corey drew into the rush he obviously needed, David would cease to be as much of a problem.
I ousted Brad around the time that Corey drew into some rush actions, simultaneously coming to a set of realizations which had me wondering if one game win would be enough to get me into the finals. The first realization was that Corey had no actual plan for how to win the game, instead relying on the hope that entering combat with vampires and burning them with a combination of Raking Talons and huge Potence strikes would somehow oust his prey. I had thought that everyone had realized at this late hour in the game's history that combat isn't an end in and of itself, but apparently I was wrong. I feel a analytical article about combat decks in V:TES beginning to coalesce in the basement of my mind, but I'll keep those thoughts tamped down until I've had time to sort them out more completely. Stay tuned for it.
The second realization, that Corey had decided that I should be ousted, came to me in a thunderclap of insight when Corey tapped Ferox and announced that he was Rushing the Bum of one of my vampires. This would have been a completely reasonable course of action for him to pursue, had my prey not been playing a deck specifically designed to block every action ever directed at it. When I pointed out to Corey how unlikely it was that I would be able to oust Matt, he shrugged and said that he didn't want to see my deck in the game. That struck me as a...let's be polite and say "questionable" motivation if Corey was actually playing to try to win, but I really wasn't up for the back-and-forth that would surely ensue if I bothered to call over a judge, so I shrugged it off. I'm not sure why anyone would enter a competitive event if they aren't interested in competing, but I decided to file that in the Inexplicable Primate Behavior folder and not investigate it too closely.
Corey crushed all my vampires and David ousted me shortly thereafter with the power of Group One vampires. Every last one of them had +1 bleed, proving yet again just how totally overpowered those guys are. Matt then wisely waited for Corey to finish vaporizing David's vampires before doing the only rational thing possible when facing down a ravening lunatic with a face like a character in a Ralph Bakshi film seen in the depths of an acid frenzy, putting him down from a great distance with a ridiculously overpowered whale-hunting rifle. Corey exited the stage shortly thereafter, and Matt then deployed Smiling Jack to put David into a chokehold which he wasn't ever able to squrim out of.
Final Round: The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Unaverse
me -> Dave (Una) -> Bob (Setite toolbox) -> Merlin (Nehemiah vote) -> Matt (Cesewayo wall)
I was coming back from refilling my water bottle when I heard from across the room that seating was being chosen. I hadn't seen where anyone had chosen to sit or if it was my turn to pick my seat, but I yelled, "I'm preying on Litwin (ie, Dave)!" and headed for the bathroom. Apparently people thought that I was being my usual goofy self and making a little joke, because when I got back from the bathroom, they were all still waiting for me to pick my seat.
No, really, I wanted to prey on Dave. Thanks to a quick sweep and a quickish instance of being ousted, I'd seen what everyone at the final table was playing, and I didn't think any deck other than mine had the fast ousting power necessary to take down Una before she became insanely annoying. Also, I wanted to oust Dave before he had a chance to take a 45-minute turn with his deck, because I had a plane to catch.
Dave went first, which meant that we had two turns before Una hit the table and one more before she acted. I drew a Pentex in my opening hand, so I was confident that we could knock Dave off the table and then proceed with a normal game of V:TES. Unfortunately, Matt played his copy of Pentex on Merlin's Nehemiah, and I had to go into verbal overdrive to convince Bob to remove it, since I was spending all my actions hammering on Dave's pool as hard as I could. Happily, I was able to convince Bob that this was the right thing to do, and Una found that there was a van outside her apartment before she was able to take any actions.
Bob and Merlin and Matt all played their games while I was busy making mistakes that would prevent me from ousting Dave with the speed that I should have. Bob stole Merlin's Shawnda Dorrit with a Form of Corruption, which was bad because it took votelock away from Merlin. He was having enough trouble getting past the wall of Cesewayo as it was, and now he had to also come up with vote push in order to actually pass the votes that didn't get blocked. Bob stripped away most of Merlin's pool, but a timely pair of Villeins put Merlin back in the game with a fat pile of beads.
Dave had brought out three Pander, one of whom was Feo Ramos, which was just enough blockers to keep me from being able to oust him. I got Dave down to one pool, but then failed to remember that I could tap Feo using his card text and so played a Mind Numb on him instead. By the time the Mind Numbs had worn off, I remembered that I had access to a much easier way to tap Feo, but thought that I had to do so during my untap phase, so I missed another opportunity to oust Dave. Dave then convinced someone to remove the Pentex from Una, pointing out that being on one pool meant that he wouldn't be able to get the Ivory Bow and thereby oust the table. He did get a Shadow of the Beast and a Wolf Companion, which were enough to erase all of the vampires from my ready region except Dirk. Eventually I managed to land a bleed with Dirk and oust Dave.
Bob hadn't thought that I was the kind of person to play with two copies of Pentex in my deck, so I Pentexed his only untapped vampire and ousted him. Merlin then called a Reckless Agitation, and in spite of Matt being at five pool, chose to make me lose five pool and Matt one. I assumed that Merlin was attempting to backoust me and then take his chances with Matt, fearing my much-reduced horde of bleeders more than Matt's Cesewayo. I later emailed Merlin and asked him if that had been the case, and he admitted that what had actually happened was that he hadn't drawn the vote push to pass the vote without Matt's help. Damn you and your inconstant ways, Shawnda Dorrit!
The boys in my mental Planning & Strategery Department had already gone ahead to the airport to clear the way for me, but being top seed, I figured I'd try for a tactical self-oust to see if I could wrangle a tournament win from a 2-2-1 VP split. I told Matt that I wanted him to oust me, and he obligingly bled me down to one pool. I then proceeded to entirely screw up my next turn. I had a hand full of bleed cards, one Mind Numb, and some S:CE. Merlin had an untapped Melinda Galbraith, and neither of Matt's vampires was untapped. I should have bled Merlin and cycled as many cards as I could, hoping to draw a superior Majesty out of him so that I could repeat the process, all in the hopes of drawing my one Daring the Dawn for Aimee Laroux to burn Matt's Smiling Jack with, so that Merlin had the best chance of ousting Matt in the endgame. Failing that, I should have tapped all my vampires to attempt to take out Smiling Jack anyway, to at least tap as many of the Aye on Cesewayo as I could.
Instead of either of those correct choices, I played Mind Numb on Melinda at superior, thus ensuring that Merlin couldn't block, I wouldn't cycle more than one card, and Merlin would have an even harder time in the endgame than if I had done nothing at all. I also didn't bother to take any other actions before spending my last pool to look at another vampire and oust myself. That was extremely poor play on my part, so bad that Robb Dudock understandably wondered later if I was even playing to win.
I scrambled out of the convention hall and was given a ride to the airport by a disconcertingly polite team of Canadian men. While waiting for my flight, I bumped into Matt Morgan and Pete Oh in the airport, and both of those fine gentlemen were kind enough to keep their mockery of my ineptness friendly and gentle. I later found out that Matt won the tournament, surprise surprise, though I haven't yet heard a detailed enough account to know if not making my blunders would have turned the tide in Merlin's favor. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for my lack of skill, but also to blame Dave for playing an Una deck that he didn't even want to play, and Kevin Mergen for building it for him to borrow. Kevin gets a pass, because he goes to the trouble of making sure that the Origins tournaments are awesome every year, but shame on you, Dave! Next time I see you, you're going out an airlock.
Deck Name : Pretty Vacant
Author : John Eno
Description : Weenie Presence bleed, with a very few tricks.
Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 1 max: 5 average: 3.25
1x Shasa Abu Badr 5 PRE cel for Ishtarri:4
1x Antoinette Dubois 4 PRE for mel Daughter :4
1x Bethany Ray 4 PRE aus Toreador:5
1x Loonar 4 PRE cel !Toreador:4
1x Lumumba 4 PRE ani Guruhi:4
1x Marla Kenyon 4 PRE ser Follower :4
1x Reginald Moore 4 PRE primogen Brujah:4
1x Reverend Adams 3 PRE aus Caitiff:4
1x Aimee Laroux 2 for pre Daughter :4
1x Jayne Jonestown 2 PRE !Brujah:4
1x Justine Chen, Inno 2 pre !Toreador:4
1x Dirk 1 pre Caitiff:4
Library [75 cards]
2x Anarch Troublemaker
2x Antediluvian Awakening
1x Coven, The
2x Jake Washington (Hunter)
3x Life in the City
2x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Aranthebes, The Immortal
8x Enchant Kindred
5x Legal Manipulations
7x Mind Numb
2x Public Trust
6x Social Charm
Action Modifier 
6x Aire of Elation
3x Change of Target
1x Daring the Dawn
Action Modifier / Combat 
3x Force of Personality
1x Bitter and Sweet Story, The
Pretty basic stuff.
The Antediluvian Awakenings are great tech for keeping pool totals around the table low and for encouraging people who aren't my prey to go forward, both of which are exactly what this deck wants to see happen. If a vampire happens to get burned in order to kill the Awakening, that's great too.
The Legal Manipulations and maybe Social Charms should all be Public Trusts, as that way I can spend my transfers digging for new vampires rather than having to spending transfers to bring them out.
I would totally put a second copy of Bitter and Sweet Story in here if I owned one. It's a very powerful card for any kind of deck that intends on pressing the gas pedal to the floor for the entire game.
I think I'll throw a copy of Leverage into the deck, just to mess with peoples' maths. Also, Leverage allows Jake Washington to oust someone every once in a while, and that's really the key to winning with any deck.
(tournament report taken from my gaming blog at enoplay.blogspot.com)
CA - California
A thumb for the title alone!
I think I'll throw a copy of Leverage into the deck, just to mess with peoples' maths.
I played 2 Leverage in a kindred spirits bleeder in the last tournament I attended. It didn't really mess with people's math, but it sure helped to win games. This is a card that fits in almost any deck that bleeds multiple times in a turn. (+ you can play another bleed modifier after it)
johan museeuw wrote:
I played 2 Leverage
in a kindred spirits bleeder in the last tournament I attended. It didn't really mess with people's math, but it sure helped to win games. This is a card that fits in almost any deck that bleeds multiple times in a turn. (+ you can play another bleed modifier after it)
Yeah, that you can play it after another bleed mod is the "messing with maths" that I mentioned. I don't think Leverage is usually worth playing in a deck that can use more traditional bleed mods, since those are so much more powerful for their card slot, but throwing off your prey in terms of how much a single minion can bleed for can definitely garner VPs. More importantly, Jake Washington can oust people with it.