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Week of Nightmares 2023 Recap

That time has come (and gone) again.  The Week of Nightmares 2023 is in the books.  It was wonderful to see so many old faces again and meet so many new people.  Our tournaments were all in the high 20s/low 30s with the NAC topping 41 people.  This is quite a turn around from our first post-COVID events.  I can't wait for next year.

Several people from my local playgroup in Pittsburgh came and we want to bump up our numbers for next year.  Here's hoping other groups had such good experiences too.  I am looking forward to meeting more new folks next year.  I am very excited about the state of the game and its growth post-COVID.

This year my recollections are a bit fuzzy.  (I need to take notes.)  Some games have some memorable highlights for me; others not so much.  (Some of the delay here is that with the Archon stats I am able to remember a little more in most cases.)

Day 1: WoN event 1 - Creation Rites: Newark

I wanted to start the week off with something new.  I built a g4/5, weenie-Presence bleed deck with some British Museum tricks.  (You can actually watch an online final I won with this deck a week after Origins.)  I was able to only test it once prior to the Week of Nightmares and it worked quite well.

In round 1, I managed to pull a sweep.  To be honest, it was just fast.  Everything just clicked.  Nothing really stands out for me in this game.

In round 2, I was predator to a contested Hesha, contesting with my grand-prey.  This let me move in for the kill on my prey without much fear.  I snagged a second VP on my new prey who was severely crippled from the contestation.  The game bogged down for me after that, having to deal with vote and combat.

I made the finals.  I had a stealth-bleed predator, but managed to stay ahead of him.  I was able to oust my first prey and decided to pull out a fifth vampire.  I wanted the extra guy to get through my new prey's Lord Tremere (and friends).  Unfortunately, my needs were also my demise.  My cross-table ally assumed he'd be eating a lot of bounced bleed, so he called an Ancilla Empowerment to put me in range of my predator.  I was holding two Change of Target when this happened.  So I was a little miffed not being consulted on this.  I was ousted immediately thereafter.

Kelly, my grand-prey, won with a Lord Tremere deck.

Day 2: Command Performance: Columbus

I decided to try something different with the Banu Haqim.  It feels like most of the designs hit into three main groups: Hunger of Marduk, old Quietus, or some combat plus weenies.  I wanted to try something that didn't fit into those boxes and the new Camarilla Banu aren't blood cursed.

There were no VPs to be had in round 1.  There's a tricky balance when diablerizing vampires, especially your predator's.  I left him too weak and my cross-table (it was only a 4-player) went through him and then the rest of the table.

Round 2 was much better.  I was able to score a game win and 4 VPs at a 5-player table.  Honestly, at this point, I don't remember much about this round.

I got to the finals in third seed, mostly due to the strong showing of first and second seed, who had 2 game wins each.  My predator, Erik, who won the event, is from my local group, so I've seen his Brujah deck before.  Since I don't want to get Grappled, I decide to make my move early, in hopes that I could catch him without.  No dice.  Second Trad from me; Grapple from him.  My game was mostly over at this point as my only vamp is in torpor.  A rescue-hunt on my next turn.  A cross-table Fame hits me, which is just a god-send for Erik.  He's able to keep Grappling and mops up my vampires quickly.  Hard to win fights when you're holding 5 copies of the finisher, but none of the setup.

Erik's winning deck on VEKN.

Day 2: WoN event 2 - Märzen: Columbus

I have my own version of the Anarch, Nana Buruku, Animalism combat deck.  I still use Anarch Revolts as the ousting mechanism, in part because, I think it still works.

The first game was a slog.  I was able to score a VP, but the game was slow.  I had a chance at a win, but we just ran out of time.

In round 2, Mark (the eventual winner) is my predator.  I was able to get a little bit going, but didn't have any answers for the Inner Circles coming into play and the Banishment that came with them.  Poor Nana.  I should have spent more time rushing backwards.

Mark won with a Giotto clone.

Ben Peal Played

My DOM/OBT Art of Memory bleed deck.  He managed 3 VPs over two rounds, but had some issues with rush.

Day 3: WoN event 3 - Trophy: Library: Columbus

When Darby teased me with his deck getting British Museum into the TWDA before me, it was this deck that missed that opportunity a week prior to his attempt.  I played it a few times since that initial effort, tweaking it each time.  Today, I unveiled the improved version.

To be honest, I don't recall much of my prelim games.  I managed a game win on 2 VPs at a 5-player table in one of the two rounds.  That game win, being enough to push me into the finals.  Nothing really stands out about either game.  It's probably the finals tainting my memory of this.  That being said, let's hear about how this finals went down...

In the final, the vote decks are stacked as my prey and grand-prey, but there is a good amount of Tremere vote as my grand-predator, who was balancing what was happening between the vote decks, based on what he could get out of it.  My predator is playing weenie-DOM, so I choose an atypical start.  Since I have 1 transfer I can get a side-kick on turn 2 and turn 3, delaying Giotto one turn until turn 4.  (Going straight for Giotto is a turn 3 move with zero sidekicks.)  This proved to be the correct move.  I am able to hold off the weenie storm and start building.  The vote decks are having no luck and being frustrated they made a weird back-oust deal, where they'd oust everyone backwards until the heads-up and then fight it out.  Needless to say this alienates the Tremere.  They only succeeded in ousting me, giving the weenie DOM 6 more pool and too much leeway, leading into his win.

See my predator's weenie DOM on VEKN.

Day 3: WoN event 4 - Dortmunder: Columbus

I played a g6 Spell of Life deck.  It's been quite fun to get running.  I haven't seen anyone try this grouping for Spell of Life.  The deck mixes in Cry Wolf for some early protection and/or back-rushing, if necessary.  CrimethInc. is used to unlock allowing me to run the deck on a single vampire if necessary.

In game 1, my prey was playing the unnamed and brilliantly DI'd the fifth Spell.  I didn't see the next one for another 25-30 cards.  In that time the unnamed ousted two people and had my predator on the ropes.  I was able to get the last Spell into play and mopped up first the vampires and then the pool.  I walked away with 3 VPs, feeling pretty good.

Round 2 was a different story.  I was the last VP of a table sweep by a particularly vicious Banu Haqim bleed deck, using Haqim's Law: Retribution.  Not much to say here; the game lasted less than 30 minutes.

I missed the cut off for the finals with this deck...again.  I've played it in two events now narrowly missing the cut off each time.  I know it's not top tier, but it's fun.  I'm sure folks will see this from me again.

I ended up judging the final, which was only difficult because the lighting got so bad.  It was a quality end-game with the critical error being the unnamed ousting Laz while he had The Coven.  That extra blood would have changed the game, giving the unnamed "free" unlocks every turn.  Darby ended up winning.

Ben Peal Played

My Choir deck for this event.  I've played it before in an online event.  Another fun deck, which has snagged the occasional game win, but Ben didn't have much success with it.  The Phantom Speakers proved useless for him, but I've been getting good mileage with them in the local meta.  It was clear that for most of the week the average capacity was higher than I had been used to seeing.

Day 4: WoN event 5 - Elder Library: Columbus

I guess a lot of folks have an unnamed deck (see also my prey the night before, etc).  Mine has a little extra flair as I added The Rising module to the deck to help suppress pool totals and make it easier to win.  The theory is that I can gain pool while others do not.  It's particularly good at suppressing master bloat.

In round 1, I was able to get the Signet, which prevented a lot of blocks from my prey's tooled-up Lord Leopold.  Combined with Blithe Acceptance, the unnamed was bypassing most other blocks too.  I was somewhat slowed by not getting the Enkil Cog for some time due to bounces and ended with 3 VPs.

The second game was mostly unremarkable in terms of interactions.  The unnamed was doing what the unnamed does.  The most interesting interaction was when I locked Aranthebes to catch my predator's Nergal with Unleash Hell's Fury.  I was mostly able to keep my predator at bay this game, which gave me the space I needed to grab 4 more VPs to snag top seed.

I won and have a decklist and report on VEKN for the final round.  I have to say that the game looked highly in doubt because of the DI on my Enkil Cog.  I waited (really I cycled) for a long time to find another one.  That slowness probably gave me the win at time.  If I had gotten to Darby's Gangrel wall sooner, do we end up in an endgame that I cannot win?  Maybe; maybe not.

Ben Peal Played

My Angelique Shambling Horde and Emerald Legionnaire deck.  He earned two game wins and was my predator in the final.  I think he particularly enjoyed the deck.  He managed to hang on with 1 pool for several turns in a row as time was winding down.  We'll see that deck again in this recap.

Day 4: WoN event 6 - Helles Real: Columbus

This is the first year that I decided to play the same deck more than once.  I was feeling really good about Pretty Hate Machine after its first showing on Sunday and was hoping to give it another go.  I felt Sunday's loss was due to cross-table vote damage.  (That trend will continue.)

In game 1, my prey had 1 transfer and a 10-cap.  This gave me way too much space to work with.  I manage to bleed big, taking 11 pool before Appolonius even made an appearance.  Using Mind Numb to lock him down, I remove 3 more beads.  The next turn I ousted him without Appolonius taking a single action.  Then offered to buy him a beer.  The deck continued around the table in workmanlike fashion.

Round 2 had a similar start as round 1 and Calebos, The Martyr took one action before Pentex came.  I ousted him shortly thereafter.  My grand-predator called votes and rushed me, giving me two predators.  I had a new unnamed prey that was actually quite blocky.  Only snagged a single VP, but that was enough to get me into the finals.

The same Banu Haqim deck that wiped me out yesterday evening ended up be my prey in the final.  Revenge was mine, but I think that I acted too hastily.  My grand-prey was playing votes and had taken so much from the Banu Haqim that my oust simply gave him a free turn to go backwards on me.  I should have slow-played it and I also should have brought out Reginald Moore.  I didn't, fearing Eat the Rich, but took Reckless Ag damage instead.  If I had brought him out, perhaps I would have chalked up the win having one more vampire to bleed with.  Instead I was softened up for an oust by my predator, who won the event.

You can find Guy's winning deck here.  We finally have another winning deck with Inside Dirt!

Day 5: Origins - Thursday 1

I decided to give Giotto another shot, since I didn't like the weird back-oust deal that gave my predator the tournament win.  I was hoping that I could do better this time.

The first game went well and this is another game I don't remember much about.

The second game was a nail-biter for me.  My prey was splashing vote damage backwards early.  My grand-predator, knowing that he can't work through both his prey and me decides that helping oust me is going to make it easier for him.  I managed to torporize most of my prey's vampires with Path of the Void and some War Ghoul rushes.  The Unmasking is allowing me to handle his stealth actions.  My allies are barely able to hold off the ally-deck predator I have.  It's not great, but stable and making slow progress.  Eventually my grand-prey decides he needs to oust me too.  Fortunately, I was able to DI the Reckless Ag.  The following turn I manage to oust my prey, which gives me a little breathing room in the pool department, but not much.  I have to block several ally rushes on Giotto, finally giving up because continuing to block would oust me.  I managed to make it to time with 1.5 VPs.  It was tense.

So, Giotto made it to the finals again.  This time Brad was my predator.  We tease him that he either plays stealth-bleed or intercept-combat.  Today was the latter.  Since I take a lot of undirected actions, I was destined for a bad game.  I managed to last until about 20 minutes left in the game.  Giotto had been in torpor so long that I was partially checked out of the game and missed a critical DI opportunity on a Banishment that could have changed the game in my favor.  My prey, who had almost no pressure the whole game, wins.

See Norm's winning decklist on VEKN.

Day 5: Origins - Thursday 2

When Kelly Lyons interviewed me for his YouTube channel, he asked me who my favorite vampire was.  I picked Luke Fellows mostly because of this deck.  I have won with it previously and it's such fun to play because it's different from most decks.  I have had generally good success with it, only missing a single finals in the five events (including this one) that I've played it in.

The deck has a few changes since it won.  The biggest change is the addition of Learjet to help flush excess master cards.  Given that, I decided this needed another spin.

I wasn't too excited about round 1 when my prey flipped over an Imbued.  I mostly kept the bleeds light in hopes to be able to use Zurich.  Form of Mist was great in this match up.  I was fortunate that he spent just a little too much pool and once he did, I pounced.  After the Imbued were out of the way I worked through the table to grab a game win.

My predator in round two was the eventual top-seed, who was playing a good stealth-bleed deck.  I managed to grab a single VP before getting ousted.  Between gaining pool from Villein and Zurich pull back, I was able to stay ahead of him just enough for that VP.

In the finals, I was ousted pretty quickly.  I didn't see a single piece of equipment or a single retainer.  The first one was buried another 12 cards down.  Only two master cards floated into my hand and then into play, one of which was burned by Rewilding.  Bad draws happen and got me here.  Overall, I still really like this deck.  One of my favorites.  My predator took good advantage of my bad draw and worked his way to win.

Day 6: Origins - Friday 1

So, I decided to play Enkidu.  That's good, right?  Apparently, I can never play this cursed deck in events.  See my wailing and moaning from previous reports for details.

In round one, my prey was Mithras with some Cultists.  It was rather uninteresting as my prey lucked into his only skill card.  12-cap Mithras playing Obedience on Enkidu makes Enkidu sad.

If that isn't bad enough, round two was even worse.  I contested Enkidu.

At least I had a good lunch from North Market.

Erik won this one with Banu Haqim.

Day 6: Origins - Friday 2

My Setite Death Star finally won!  I've played this deck many times, usually making it to the final.  (Probably 7-8 finals with this thing.) Something would come up in the final and I was never able to seal the deal.  I had wanted to play this at some point this week, in part to determine if it were possible to do well with it in the V5 meta and in part because I just like playing the deck.  I almost talked myself out of playing it, but Darby told me that it was the one I really wanted to play.  He was right.

I scored game wins in rounds 1 and 2, putting me into the final in first seed.  I managed to come out victorious in a 2-2-1 split.  You can see the deck and read the tournament report on VEKN.

Day 7: North American Championship

I decided to play my Arishat + Barons deck that I have previously won with.  I made a few last minute changes, including slotting in Protected Resources, which I assumed would have a big pay off today.  It really didn't.

Round 1 featured 4 players from Pittsburgh.  So, excited that our group has grown.  The competition was good.  Unfortunately, for me, I got nothing this round.  My predator bounced 6 or 7 bleeds at me, plus his bleeds,  None of the bleeds were really large and Protected Resources only saved me 1 or 2 pool counting its cost.  I didn't really have a chance to setup because of that pressure.  My cross-table was a vote deck too, Tzimisce, all with Cardinals or Prisci.  I can't get much done and my prey is actually out of range because he never saw his star (the unnamed) until it was too late for me.  That pool buffer really left me no chance.  Good news was a table split; one less GW to fight against.

In the second game, I see my only success for the day.  I am at a 4-player table, with Alex playing his NAC-winning deck across from me.  The deck has intercept and I am disinterested in being next to it.  My predator is playing Garou and my prey has Ventrue Princes.  I manage to obtain vote control and whittle my prey down to about 6 pool and Alex is at 4.  I decide, without the Edge mind you, to call Eat the Rich to oust Alex, giving away a VP, while doing 4 damage to my prey.  I wanted to get to the 3-player with Alex off the table, lest his intercept get the better of me.  My prey voted it down!  I spend another 30 minutes getting into a similar position and oust them both at the same time with a Reckless Ag.  Alex said later that he was out of intercept (at that point at least).  In the heads up, I steal the only Garou and rush down my predator.  Ousting with bleeds.  I don't mind giving away VPs like that if it's going to make my game easier.  If I was going to get into the finals, it would be on game wins, not VPs.

Except round 3 came and I wasn't going to get into the finals at all.  I was sandwiched between a Tupdog predator and a Mambo Jeanne prey.  Let's just say I don't get much done here.  I do oust my predator, hoping against hope that I can actually do something before Mambo looks backwards.  I couldn't.  Maybe, if I had different seating in this round I could have done something.  Maybe next year...

The day ended earlier than I had hoped, but a few of us went out for drinks (and dinner).  I discovered that I should not try to keep pace with Norm.

You can find Kelly's winning deck in the VEKN Newsletter.

Day 8: Origins - Sunday

I only had one deck in my deck box that was in playable condition after cannibalizing several decks for tweaks to my NAC deck and for others for their NAC decks.  Fortunately for me, Angelique is one of my favorite decks.  I've taken that deck to several finals and have gotten a win with a previous version.

Game 1 started off well.  Angelique was able to get me a Legionnaire and I had designs on a Shambling Hordes.  However, my predator played Vampiric Disease on her, so I Villeined her for 5, played a Blood Doll, and pulled another one back.  I wanted to remove the VD counter as quickly as possible.  I played right into the Consignment to Duat, which sent her to torpor.  I spent a good portion of the game hemmed up.  My prey had Kiasyd and ousted her first prey.  My cross-table was Nos with Creeping Sabotage, which finally made some space for me by torporizing Alonzo Montoya who had played the Duat.  At that point, I was able to rescue and get my game going.  I earned 3 VPs even though I walked into the three-player without one.  The Hordes cleared out ready regions making space for my Legionnaires and weenies.

For the next round, my former predator was now my prey.  This time I had Ivan Krenyenko behind me.  Ivan's first action was to rush Angelique, which was met with resistance thanks to a Horde.  A dead Horde and an FBI counter later Ivan was looking more peaked.  That, however, opened a window for a Horde to be stolen and a Legionnaire to become a snake.  After some more table shenanigans my prey has a VP; my former grand-prey, now cross-table is about to be ousted; my predator will be ousted if my cross-table isn't; and my prey is at 4 pool with a Famous vampire in torpor.  I played Pentex on the Set's Curse (yes, you read that right) and rushed Alonzo with my only Horde.  Alonzo was the only unlocked vampire and he had shown reduce.  This lets me bleed with Angelique, Pearl, and Mylan with Fame giving me the oust.  In the heads-up, I am able to make some more Hordes and that pretty much seals the deal.

I do win this tournament.  You can find the decklist and more details on VEKN.


Another really solid year for me for which I am thankful.  I appreciate the comments and feedback my fellow players give me and the competition that helps hone my decks.

Overall for the community we saw a lot of different players with wins this week, including several who earned their first ever tournament win.  Congratulations to:
Erik Albenze x2 (first win)
Norm Brown
Darby Keeney
Mark Loughman
Kelly Lyons (first win)
Guy Russo (first win)
Kelly Schultz x3 (including the NAC!)

The level of competition is just getting better.

Thanks to the folks at BCP for continuing the game we all love.  I am glad to be a part of it.


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