Official VEKN Nosferatu Newsletter for June, 2005.
So I put together a new Nosferatu themed deck for my next Nosferatu Newsletter, and was trying it out, finding it to be pretty effective. And then Jeff "The Lasombra" Thompson posts one that is pretty darned close a few weeks ago (except for one significant difference, to be discussed below), leaving me stuck--do I post the deck in my next newsletter and look like a bit off Jeff's deck, or do I come up with something new? Being a lazy one, well, I'm posting my deck. So here it is.
The Nosferatu are generally regarded as pretty good at fighting, what with all the Potence and all. The problem with decks that fight, however, is that most of their defenses tend to revolve around preemptive killing (i.e. not much intercept), and it is hard to oust folks just by killing them. Adding intercept for general defense often is difficult if you are focusing your crypt on Potence and a back up discipline (like Obfuscate, say), and ousting folks is difficult all around unless you have a lot of vampires who each bleed for 1 a lot. How does one get around this? There are a lot of ways, but one, certainly, is just to use Animalism. By focusing on the single discipline of Animalism, you have reliable access to intercept, both permanent and transient (which reduces the problems of defense needing to be preemptive *and* helps you stay alive longer, reducing the problem of ousting speed), as well as significant combat abilities. By stacking a few Animalism cards together, you can do a lot of serious damage against most opponents while avoiding getting killed by weapons and such.
Keeping all of this in mind, I put together the following deck, which works pretty well in competitive games, winning about as often as not.
"Bats with Birds in Their Mouths"*
1x Christianus Lionel, Mad Chronicler (6) ANI
1x Nigel, The Shunned (5) ANI
1x Devin Bisley (5) ANI
1x Calebros, The Martyr (5) ANI
1x Bobby Lemon (4) ANI
1x Tommy (3) ani
1x Shannon Price, The Whisperer (3) ani
1x Dani (2) ani
1x Mouse (2) ani
1x Gillian Krader (2) ani
1x Zip (2) ani
1x Lisa Noble (1) ani
Avg of 3.33
3x Blood Doll
2x Heidelberg Castle, Germany
1x Information Network
1x Metro Underground
3x Bum's Rush
3x Games of Instinct
9x Forced Awakening
3x IR Goggles
21x Aid from Bats
14x Carrion Crows
9x Raven Spy
8x Drawing Out the Beast
2x Cat's Guidance
2x Owl Companion
2x Army of Rats
1x Murder of Crows
1x Canine Horde
*(And when they echo-locate, they shoot birds at you.)
Right. A kind of absurd deck on first look, what with the 21 Aid from Bats and all, but really, the Aid from Bats is the main fuel rod that makes the deck engine go.
The crypt starts out with a horde of little weenie vampires with ani, and then a core of bigger vamps with inherent ANI. The crypt is tweaked up a bit bigger than it needs to be to facilitate having enough !Nosferatu to justify using the cheap and handy Information Network (which is cheaper and much less likely to be contested than KRCG). Christianus is big for the crypt at 6, but there isn't really a better ANI 5 to replace him with (Lord Ashton?), and the extra pool cost is paying for, essentially, an Elder Library anyway, so he strikes me as a reasonable choice. Calebros is also an always controversial choice, but as I look at it, this deck is completely without votes and vote power otherwise. If he keeps his title due to no one eligible to take it, being able to defend it, or people just forgetting, that is fantastic. If he does lose it, no big deal, as someone likely already had more votes than me anyway. The rest of the crypt is pretty straight forward--smallish vampires with ANI (hello, Bobby Lemon!) and super small vampires with ani. Yeah, if I wanted to minimize my ability to use Info Network, I could replace, like, Tommy with Spleen Three Frooks or someone to save a pool, but overall, it seems like a good one.
The Master selection is pretty standard. Not a lot of cards to avoid jamming up in a high cycling deck. Animalism masters to get reliable ANI on the weenies. Blood Dolls for pool gain. Two Heidelburgs so as to make it likely to have one--being able to stack 3 or 4 Raven Spies on one minion (along with some IR Goggles and a Owl) makes blocking incredibly easy. The Info Network for extra intercept, Fame for a bit of ousting power, and Metro Underground for some added defense capabilities.
In the main minion cards, the core is the crazy Animalism based combat engine--Aid from Bats/Carrion Crows/Drawing out the Beast. Aid from Bats is a very strong card, what with the maneuver and press at superior. Stack on a Carrion Crows and a DoTB, you are in a situation where your opponent can't press to end, can't use weapons, and takes 4 damage a round at long range that is almost completely unaffected by Dodge or Skin of Steel type damage prevention. With the huge number of Aids, you can regularly press and play another one, just to stack on huge amounts of damage while humiliatingly killing your opponent with, ya know, Aid from Bats. True, S:CE will foil this combat madness, but as the deck is defensively strong otherwise (what with the intercept and Forced Awakenings and all), killing folks isn't that vital (i.e. someone playing a S:CE at the wrong time when you can't counter it is unlikely to get you ousted like it is in a standard kind of Rush deck), and Owl Companions can help scout out for Majesties and whatever anyway, allowing you to save cards if necessary. The Rush actions are there for opportunistic combat and preying on the weak and again, unlike in most standard Rush type decks, the high opportunity cost of Games of Instinct isn't really an issue--it will be rare that an inability to play it at any given moment will cause problems, and if it pays off, it can gain you a lot of blood. The support cards consist mostly of useful permanents (Ravens, Owls, Rats, IR Goggles) that can get swapped around through the Heidelberg to best effect.
The obvious question is (especially in light of the similar deck posted by The Lasombra last month) "Why no Pack Alpha"? As mentioned in last month's Newsletter, I think Pack Alpha is a very solid card in some decks, but in a deck like this with significant combat that doesn't really mind getting blocked so much, they are probably unnecessary. Assuming I don't get blocked trying to recruit a Raven Spy, a Forced Awakening is just as good, if not better, than a Pack Alpha. Assuming I do get blocked trying to recruit, I'm likely in the same place I would be if I had the Raven Spy--in a fight with someone. Sure, in some situations, a Pack Alpha might be very handy (like where my prey is a super intercept/S:CE deck, and my predator is a high stealth S+B deck), but overall, I think the deck does fine without them, and adding them would require removal of something (Bats?).
The deck does pretty well overall--as discussed earlier, it can defend itself pretty well, and with 4 or 5 minions in play and maybe an Army of Rats, it can bleed folks out with reasonable speed (especially as it can usually block pool gaining actions by its prey), while due to its defenses, it is usually in no huge hurry. It'll have trouble against someone who flings a lot of Sewer Lids or has a lot of maneuver based close combat, or whatever, but I'll probably take them down with me a lot of time, so it is kind of a wash. Most other deck strategies aren't likely to 'cause unusual problems (although, like, a well placed cross table Shepherds Innocence could be problematic), giving this deck a good fighting chance in most seats.
That's all for Nosferatu Newsletter #51. Stay tuned for more exciting Nosferatu action in the future.
Adendum! A very similar version of the above deck won a 30 some odd person, 3R+F tournament at Origins 2005. You can see that version of deck archived in The Lasombra's Tournament Winning Deck Archive. Go Team Nosferatu!