Article for the V:TES CCG by Mike Nudd, originally published in Scrye 8.7
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
The political element of Vampire the Eternal Struggle is something unique to the game, setting it apart from the other CCGs on the market. Although all Methuselah are forced to bleed their prey, each and every political action transcends this relationship, as every player may vote upon, and possibly be affected by the results of such an action.
Basic voting strategies (like their bleeding and fighting counterparts) remain simple in theory. To win, simply activate minions that have a high number of votes, and then proceed to whittle away your prey’s resources using political actions. It is in fact possible to kill off any number of Methuselahs through the use of politics alone, without even bleeding once. Unfortunately when you put such a strategy into practice you immediately run into a number of potential problems.
Firstly, how do you acquire a large number of votes? Obviously you need to control one or more vampires that have titles, or extra votes as specified in their card text. There are plenty of vampires that have votes, but unfortunately most of them are of high capacity – particularly the Cardinals, who are all of capacity 9 or 10. Bringing out a lot of big vampires can prove hard on your crypt, so you need to be careful, playing safe with as many sources of pool gain as you can muster. If things are going well you can even reap the rewards of political actions such an Ancient Influence, a Political Stranglehold, or a Consanguinus Boon.
The alternative to using big vampires with votes would be to use smaller vampires with no votes, but to call political actions to give them these resources at the earliest opportunity. The political cards Crusade CITY, Cardinal Benediction and Investiture are provided for this very purpose, and a quick ‘weenie’ voting deck to can find itself in a very strong position very quickly.
The next big concern regards your ability to get the political actions through. All such actions are called at only +1 stealth, and any minions with intercept can cause your action to fail, regardless of how many votes you have managed to acquire. The answer is, of course, to give the action more stealth, or to make it entirely unblockable.
But even if you can get your referendums called, and you have votes, what happens if one or more players have enough votes of their own to hinder you? Bewitching Oration and Awe, allow you boost your votes, and Telepathic Vote Counting can be used at superior to nullify the votes of one minion, but these may sometimes not be enough. Bribes can coerce other players into voting with you, but even failing this so it should still be possible for you to make the most of your situation.
The beauty of most political actions is that the terms (and hence the players affected) are both wide reaching and negotiable. If you are facing off with other voting players, then why not curry their favour by dictating terms with are advantageous to them as well as yourself? For example, the targets of the card Conservative Agitation are two or more Methuselahs of your choice. Why not split this to affect not just your prey, but also the prey of a voting counterpart? This arrangement to extend to any number of your actions, securing allegiances across the table as required.
This reasoning also applies in reverse as, if you are equipped with a large number of votes, then you can step in to influence the outcome of political actions called by any player, whether they like it or not. Alternatively, if you have voting superiority, you can dictate terms favourable to a player with a threatening non-voting strategy (e.g. ‘rush’ combat), both to appease them and to give you some breathing space from which you can consolidate your position.
Political actions also have many miscellaneous and advantageous uses. Banishment is a very powerful card that should certainly be included in all political decks. Templar can be used on fearsome vampires as part of a mixed voting/combat strategy. Peace Treaty will burn equipment, and there are many different votes that will cause vampires themselves to gain or lose blood.
In short, although a political strategy may seem the hardest to put into practice, it is perhaps the most versatile and adaptable method of play. The opportunities presented are myriad, and an accomplished political deck is very difficult to deal with indeed.