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Evaluating New Blood: Ventrue

Black Chantry is releasing a new set of demo decks, New Blood.  Like First Blood, there are five decks with the same clans as the Fifth Edition boxed set: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere, and Ventrue.  Let's take a look and see how the Nosferatu deck measures up for new and established players alike.

New Blood: Ventrue

Black Chantry describes it as a "toolbox...capable of explosive turns." In a lot of ways, this deck will play like the classic Law Firm. Lots of actions and eventually something will slip through or possibly a lot of things. The lack of a political angle decreases this decks explosiveness.

As a Demo of the Game

As a demo of the game, this is going to be one of the harder decks to play properly. Turn ordering will be critical to achieve success. Using feints, allowing blocks to lock vampires, determining when to play which card, all of that is going to be tough for new players. Most will probably play what comes into their hand with little thought to the order of actions and, as such, may have some difficulty achieveing success. The deck does pack some strong cards and Dominate is forgiving of mistakes. The defensive package is just enough to keep this deck going and help set up that explosive turn.

Nothing stands out as problematic in this deck like the "Immortal Grapple" phase in the Nosferatu deck. So no worries for new players in that regard.

For New Players

This deck offers quite a few new cards for players that have gotten into the game with BCP.  (We'll talk about the brand new vampires in a bit.)
Dominate
This is probably the third best skill card in the game, mostly because Dominate works so well at inferior. You can bolt Dominate on and have good success. Regardless, new players need skill cards.
Fifth Tradition: Hospitality
The Traditions have always been really good. Fifth Tradition is no exception. Giving another vampire 4 blood is very strong. There's lots of blood cost in this deck, so blood gain is necessary. The only real problem here is that there's only one copy in the deck.
Fourth Tradition: The Accounting
Fourth Tradition provides another powerful effect. Used a lot in classic Nosferatu builds but less so with Ventrue because Govern is polyvalent. The advantage for Ventrue, however, is that you can do both in one turn with one vampire because of Freak Drive. Again, quantity is the problem here. New players will want many copies of this.
Mind Numb
World-class lock effect. Great for classic decks like Ventrue Law Firm. For new players, Ministry will really love this. You can't go wrong trading one action for two blocks. Slowing down your predator is also a good move. It can also leave them reeling by opening up a hole in their defenses.
Political Ally
This got a reprint? 2 pool, 1 life. Ummm, that seems like a waste of pool. To be honest, I'd love to see this guy have another life. Until then, Summon History decks here's another big bleeder for you.
Restoration
Finally. Another good source of blood gain. While not frequently used, this card is an excellent way to provide blood to vampires. Dominate can be especially expensive and we need to mitigate that cost somehow.
Slaughtering the Herd
Expensive, but good for landing a bleed in an ally-heavy meta. Mostly used as a splash card, so getting a copy here is perfect. Not sure that I've ever seen the superior played.
Social Charm
The little brother of Legal Manipulations. In most cases, I think I'd rather spend the blood to get that extra bleed.

What's Missing?

There are a few cards that haven't been reprinted that would have been good includes. I'm going to start with something I shouldn't: Hostile Takeover. This card needs a reprint and in the V5 meta is quite strong, but probably too much for a demo deck. Command of the Beast would offer this deck a way to bypass the limit on bleed modifiers and provide extra explosiveness. It hasn't had a reprint since Third Edition. Since the deck is designed to lock minions, The Sleeping Mind plays into that strength. Also with Organized Resistance, Deep Ecology, and Eyes of the Wild getting play in the post V5A meta, it provides excellent power in stopping those effects. While the lock-and-bleed style works well with Majesty, I'd have loved to have a few Catatonic Fear in the deck.

New Blood: Ventrue Mash-Up

With the First Blood decks, BCP released a How-To-Play download for it, which included instructions on making a "real" deck by putting two copies together.  While I expect BCP will do the same, here's my first cut at the mash-up.
Deck Name: New Blood: Ventrue Mashup
Author: Karl Schaefer
Description: More of the same, but doubled-up on the bead recovery cards:
Fourth Tradition, Fifth Tradition, Restoration, and Life in the City.
This will help mitigate the high blood costs of the deck.

Crypt (12 cards, min=22 max=30 avg=6.5)
=======================================
2x Alexa Draper    8  for pot DOM PRE   prince   Ventrue:6
2x Alice Chen      7  dom obf FOR PRE   prince   Ventrue:6
2x Kevin Jackson   7  DOM FOR PRE       prince   Ventrue:7
2x Amelia Locke    6  cel dom FOR PRE            Ventrue:6
2x Madison         6  DOM FOR PRE                Ventrue:6
2x Naomi Stewart   5  dom FOR PRE                Ventrue:6

Library (72 cards)
==================
Master (10)
-----------
4x Blood Doll
4x Life in the City
2x Misdirection

Action (22)
-----------
2x Dominate Kine
8x Enchant Kindred
2x Fifth Tradition: Hospitality
2x Fourth Tradition: The Accounting
3x Mind Numb
2x Restoration
1x Slaughtering the Herd
2x Social Charm

Action Modifier (16)
--------------------
5x Conditioning
2x Daring the Dawn
7x Freak Drive
2x Seduction

Reaction (15)
-------------
6x Deflection
3x Second Tradition: Domain
6x Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (9)
----------
6x Majesty
3x Soak

Fifth Edition-New Blood: Ventrue Mash-Up

Taking it a step further, let's take a look at what a Fifth Edition-New Blood mash-up would look like.
Deck Name: V5-New Blood: Ventrue Mashup
Author: Karl Schaefer
Description: A Law-Firm style build.  More multi-action.

Crypt (12 cards, min=21 max=29 avg=6.33)
========================================
1x Alexa Draper        8 for pot DOM PRE   prince   Ventrue:6
2x Alice Chen          7 dom obf FOR PRE   prince   Ventrue:6
2x Sybren van Oosten   7 dom tha FOR PRE   prince   Ventrue:6
1x Kevin Jackson       7 DOM FOR PRE       prince   Ventrue:7
1x Amelia Locke        6 cel dom FOR PRE            Ventrue:6
2x Horst von Brühl     6 aus pre dom FOR   prince   Ventrue:6
1x Madison             6 DOM FOR PRE                Ventrue:6
1x Naomi Stewart       5 dom FOR PRE                Ventrue:6
1x Oshri Dahan         4 dom for pre                Ventrue:6

Library (79 cards)
------------------
Master (13)
-----------
1x Anarch Troublemaker
5x Blood Doll
2x Misdirection
1x Uptown Hunting Ground
1x Ventrue Headquarters
1x Visit from the Capuchin
2x Wider View

Action (14)
-----------
2x Dominate Kine
7x Enchant Kindred
3x Intimidation
2x Mind Numb

Political Action (9)
--------------------
1x Ancilla Empowerment
4x Kine Resources Contested
4x Parity Shift

Action Modifier (21)
--------------------
2x Bewitching Oration
6x Conditioning
2x Daring the Dawn
8x Freak Drive
1x Seduction
2x Voter Captivation

Reaction (15)
-------------
7x Deflection
2x Second Tradition: Domain
6x Wake with Evening's Freshness

Combat (7)
----------
7x Majesty

For Established Players

Let's start with the new vampires.  They're attractive to new players, but may be the real gem for established players, especially those with large collections.
Amelia Locke
Her Celerity is going to give the group 6 Forced March friendship another member. Her R is going to be strong with any such pairing.
Kevin Jackson
A 7-cap Prince with all in-clans at superior. Yes, please. Not much more can be said. This guy will be the corner-stone of group 7 decks. He should come out ahead on the special-drawback. Brujah typically lack Fortitude, so Kevin should be able to stay up as Brujah slowly fade. Majesty can avoid the whole mess altogether. Honestly, it's a bunch of nothing-to-see-here.
There are a lot of useful reprints in this deck.  Mind Numb has only been reprinted as a fixed card in starter-decks.  Its presence here is welcome and probably is the best reprint in the bunch.  Fourth and Fifth Tradition are good reprints too.  As I mentioned above, it's a problem of quantity.  For most players, I expect they're pulling these cards for other clans.  The amount of Freak Drives in this demo deck is amazing: 5 in 55 cards.  That value alone makes this demo deck worth buying for even the most experienced players.

Mixing It Up with KoT Ventrue

Wile Kevin Jackson won't mix with the group 5 Ventrue, the cards here can help bolster several current decks like Law Firm and Stickmen.  Amelia can mix with the Toreador w/Fortitude.  Another solid PRE vampire for that build.  Unfortunately, you'll need to back away from Toreador-related cards like Aching Beauty as you'll be watering down the clan.

Nothing earth-shaking here in terms of new ideas. What ideas come to mind when you see these new Ventrue?

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