Justin S, and unforgettable cursing.

“My introduction to Vampire: the Eternal Struggle was pretty random.  I was stumbling through a hobby shop and found the VtES Third Edition 4-player introductory set, which had the sketch art cards in it and a ‘learn to play’ CD. I had a few high school friends who’d played a bit of Vampire: the Masquerade, so the setting was recognisable and I was real keen to try it, given I’d played a bunch of other card games. I gave it a shot along with Björn, Andrew and Jerry, and we divided up the cards between us (I started with Tremere antitribu).

Those first few games were weird – we really didn’t have a great handle on how the game worked. I remember looking at On The Qui Vive and thinking it was garbage. But we tracked down the local Prince at the time; Bjorn and I went to his house and jammed our first proper games there. I still remember Jim P absolutely beating the piss out of us with some Assamite pile – it was the best deck we’d ever seen at the time.

The game seemed impossible, but we were pretty hooked. A few weeks after our first match, we were all in. It wasn’t all that long before we were at a point where Bjorn just rocked up to a casual night with an Imbued deck because he had quietly bought a box earlier that day. A few days later, we had all followed suit.

We played a lot, and it wasn’t long before we jumped into our first tournament. I will never forget it. Stuart J (aka. Stujah) had some stupid deck that made giant unblockable bleeds. He was bleeding Bjorn, who was bleeding me and I was bleeding Jim. The entire game Jim was getting narky with Stujah, asking him to be careful because he would clearly get his bleeds bounced, and Jim had no flick.

After about an hour, Stujah fired off some giant, 15ish bleed, unblockable. Sure enough, it ended up on Jim’s face and Jim just blew his top. Stujah trying to explain why he had no Spying Missions was just gold.
Jim: ‘Fuck you, Stu.’
Stujah: ‘I had to bleed, Jim, it is what the deck does.’
Jim: ‘No, seriously. I don’t want to hear it. Fuck you, Stu.’
He shook everyone’s hand except for Stujah. It was brilliant and is one of my fondest memories.

My first favourite deck was Tremere – I always tend to gravitate to grindy strategies in these games, and Carna was the first character that I loved. I played a lot of wall strategies – and although I played a pretty wide range of decks over the years, I think I ended up being most associated with walls. I’m probably best known for my Auspex Weenies. It’s my deck of choice – it was a wall, but being weenies, it had inbuilt defense against combat and, at the same time, had a decent amount of forward pressure. My pet peeve are wall decks that have no win condition aside from Smiling Jack, and I think the way I play them means there’s a decent amount of forward movement.

VtES isn’t like any other game I’ve played. The mechanics are a hot mess, and it is absurdly complicated. But there’s a few elements where they really bottled lightning – and as a result, so much of the brilliant gameplay happens between the players through tabletalk and the table balance. For comparison, I played a bunch of Game of Thrones card game. It’s brilliant, a really great game. And it had a multiplayer format… that had absolutely no flavour to it. That game had none of the charm that VtES has – they managed to make a multiplayer game that had very little genuine player interaction.

While I haven’t played for a while, I love getting out to VtES tournaments for two reasons – one big, and one small. The small reason is, generally speaking, you don’t have games with people playing decks that lack a win condition. It still happens, but generally, people don’t turn up with a half-thought-out pile. That lifts the quality of the game.

But the big reason I miss tournaments are the other players – it’s such a great opportunity to catch up with an awesome bunch of people.”

Carna, the Princess Witch (The Camarilla).
Art by Ken Meyer Jr.

2 thoughts on “Justin S, and unforgettable cursing.

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