Official VEKN Nosferatu Newsletter for June 1, 1999
Of the Nosferatu's three clan disciplines, Animalism is probably the least focused and least likely to be used as a basis for a deck. Not to say that you can't make a strong Animalism deck, but Potence and Obfuscate both are the backbone of strategies on their own, and Animalism is often viewed as sort of a catch all discipline, having a bit of combat, a bit of intercept, and a few other wacky abilities. Here is a look at some of the better Animalism cards and how they might be used in a Nosferatu deck:
Cat's Guidance: This is a strong card for any intercept deck that can use it, and is the very basis of an Animalism intercept deck. Its inferior ability, allowing you untap after blocking, will always be useful in an intercept deck, as you are going to be blocking often, and the more untap ability you have in an intercept deck, the better. The superior ability of +1 intercept is the only transient intercept available to Animalism, and will always be useful. In a Nosferatu intercept deck, you can easily include 12 or more of these cards, as they are easy to cycle and always useful.
Rat's Warning: A great card for decks that want to block, like an Animalism intercept deck. Between this and Cat's Guidance, the Nosferatu can block a close to an infinite number of actions while being completely immune to Misdirection. It only works against bleeds, so you'll also probably want to have a supply of Wakes or Forced, but in a generic Animalism intercept deck, I'd probably use more Rats than Wakes, as you know someone is going to bleed you at some point. At superior it provides a press, which isn't all that useful for intercept decks (unless you have the Spawning Pool out...), but certainly never hurts. The Sabbat version, Guard Dogs, provides a Manuver at superior, which might be more useful in general.
Raven Spy: A good, solid, addition to any deck that wants permanent intercept, and a necessary factor in any Animalism based intercept deck. Without access to a good amount of transient intercept, you are going to need to stack a few Raven Spies on one vampire to be able to stop any persistient stealth (and a good supply of Elder Intervention/Pack Tactics can help with this too...). The Sabbat version, Raptor, has a useful ability at superior (making your opponent discard a card), but the cost of 2 blood is pretty expensive. I'd probably stay away from the Raptors unless you are making some sort of "I make you discard your entire hand 'cause I have 7 Raptors on one vampire" deck.
Aid from Bats: This card never gets the respect it deserves. At superior Animalism, this card gives you a manuver, a press, and 1R damage, all in one convinient card. As an offense, yeah, it isn't that good on its own, but as a defensive card, it really can't be beat, and nothing is more humilitaing for an opponent than to be torporized by repeated bat attacks.
Carrion Crows: A pretty good damage stacking card that can be used in a multitude of deck designs. In an Animalism based combat strategy, it can stack well with Aid from Bats and do a good amount of damage at range. In a Potence based combat deck, it can provide some easy additional damage that works at range as well as close up, and isn't stopped by Skin of Steel. Very utilitarian. Imagine some sort of Animalism based intercept deck built around Aid from Bats, Carrion Crows, Murder of Crows, and Spawing Pool--barring your opponent playing S:CE (which is a pretty big assumption...), you are going to do a lot of damage with a minimum of effort to someone who is trying to bleed you.
Song of Serenity: The only transient damage prevention available to the Nosferatu in general, and as such, is usually pretty useful to have around. They will help immeasurably against the Gangrel, and work very well in conjunction with Drawing out the Beast to offset the extra hand damage you give your opponent.
Drawing out the Beast: An incredibly strong card for a combat deck--the Nosferatu Potence/Animalism combat deck using DotB and Immortal Grapple is a serious combat hoser. Your opponents can't manuver away from you to avoid the Immortal Grapple, and when you IG them, they can't do anything but hand strike you. This will completely shut down any type of combat or combat defense other than another close range Potence deck, Fortitude, or the Gangrel, but you don't want to be fighting them anyway. As DotB does a point of unpreventable damage at superior, and is completely stackable, the all DotB combat deck is a very card intensive, but not unheard of combat variant. Bum's Rush your opponent, play N+1 DotB, where N=the current blood your opponent has, and manuver to long range (with Aid from Bats...), and watch your opponent fall directly in to torpor, regardless of Fortitude, dodges, or S:CE (as DotB damage is unpreventable and happens at the end of the round, regardless of when that end occurs). A difficult deck to build, as it needs like 30 or 40 DotB cards, and can run out of steam quickly, but dangerous none the less.