Article for the V:TES CCG by Mike Nudd, originally published in Scrye 8.3
V:TES CCGVEKN Interview
Scrye 8.2 - Ventrue antitribu
Scrye 8.3 - Tzimisce
Scrye 8.4 - Lasombra
Scrye 8.5 - Brujah antitribu
Scrye 8.6 - Final Nights
Scrye 8.7 - Voting Strategies
Scrye 8.8 - Combat Strategies
Scrye 48 - Bloodlines
Scrye 49 - Harbingers
A quick flick through the cards provided with the Tzimisce starter deck will quickly reveal the combat-orientated nature of the clan. Two of the clan’s native Disciplines – Animalism and Auspex – lend themselves very well to intercept, and the third Discipline Vicissitude provides a myriad of useful abilities.
The Tzimisce thus rely mainly on intercept to get them into combat. Once in combat, the Tzimisce probably have the greatest choice of pre-range combat cards over any clan, using Drawing Out The Beast to trap foes at short range, Carrion Crows to cause more damage, Song of Serenity to reduce opponent’s damage, and Horrid Form to both raise Strength, and to prevent damage. By mixing in Skin Trap, they can also prevent their opponents from dodging. Inner Essence is another great card, which can be used for blood gain, and to pay a card cost.
The Tzimisce have two surprises in their toolbox of damage-dealing effects. The first is Blood of Acid, which can seal the fate of many a vampire, particularly if you first increase their strenght by playing Drawing Out The Beast. The other is Breath of the Dragon, which can safely be played at long range by using Chiroptean Marauder to maneuver. You also need not fear strike: combat ends tactics, as by mixing in Telepathic Tracking, you can begin another round of combat.
The Tzimisce’s main problem is the lack of damage prevention. When facing off with another combat deck, the Tzimisce will often go down with their opponents in a blaze of glory. If you choose a combat strategy, pack plenty of Leather Jacket, Flack Jacket and/or Taste of Vitae cards. If you burn one of your vampires, or you find one under threat of diablerie, then you can save your minion by playing Reform Body.
If you would rather avoid combat, then the Tzimisce have their own strike: combat ends effect through the card Meld With Land. In fact, although it may not seem likely, the Tzimisce can be used to play a perfectly viable stealth-bleed strategy. The Changeling and Plasmic Form cards can be used for stealth, and you can gain permanent bleed through Tasha Morgan, J. S. Simmons, Laptop Computers, a Tier of Souls, or the particularly deadly Pulse of Cainaille (at superior). You can even apply further pressure via an Army of Rats. You should note that three Tzimisce vampires come equipped with Dominate, and therefore you could increase your bleeding potential further by mixing some Dominate cards into your deck.
If you want to try something a little different, then consider increasing the number of allies and retainers in your deck. As well as the two bleeding retainers noted above, you can also use Revenant cards for intercept, and a Guardian Ghoul or two to protect your locations. In addition, Animalism gives you access to Wolf Companions. Any or all of these could be exchanged for a War Ghoul, which can be particularly nasty. If you are worried about these playthings being stolen by your enemies, then mix in some Lobotomys to be safe.
Also bear in mind that the Tzimisce include a good number of titled vampires, and thus it may be worth keeping a few votes in your deck. You can even mix in a few Telepathic Vote Counting cards to procure the votes of your opponents. In addition never forget the all-important blood gain. Always have plenty of Minion Tap and Blood Doll cards on hand, and perhaps mix in Slave Auction, and Festive Dello Estinto too, or even Powerbase: Montreal for extra pool.