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How Variants Improve Skill: Applying What We've Learned

Well, that was a lot of decklists and a lot of minutiae. So, we're going to take a step back and review deck variants from a higher level.

Some Basic Tenets for Variants

Honestly, most of these apply to building decks from scratch too.

1. Understand what the original deck is doing.

It may be obvious, but you can't play the original or hope to create a workable variant without first understanding how the deck works.  How does it intend to oust?  How does it intend to survive being ousted?

Breaking down the deck into categories, similar to the way I broke down the variant comparisons will help you gain this understanding if you're struggling to sort it out.  Notice how some decks have polyvalent cards and how those cards end up in different categories.  That provides flexibility at play time.

2. Understand how you want to alter the original deck.

There are many possible ways to create deck variants.  Switching groupings, changing clans, V5-only, etc.  What goal to you have?  Do you have a favorite clan and would like to figure out how to make deck X work with it?

3. Create a rough draft and compare.

The comparison chart that I created for this series on variants is by no means complete, nor it is the only way to break down decks for comparison.  Find a comparison method that works for you and apply it to both the original and the rough draft.

Where are the decks similar?  You'll notice that my Death Star variants ended up with similar, but slightly different vote packages.  This was mainly because new votes, like Eat the Rich, had an important place role to play.  However, in general the packages were on par in expected damage.

Where are the decks equivalent? The original Death Star design had a lot of transient stealth.  I cut those stealth numbers in every design to focus on more permanent stealth options.  The net result is something close, but the lower transient stealth count means that the variants are much weaker in the stealth department until a permanent stealth option hits the table.

Where are the decks completely different?  Think about how the Daughters of Cacophony version used Conductor + Madrigal to refill the vampires that were making babies.  I needed ways to power the creation of more expensive childer.  The Ravnos version has a very solid bleed component because of the Week of Nightmares.  That angle could be leveraged more than it was.

4. Play and tweak.

Something that you should do with every deck that you design is to test it in play and adapt to the difficulties you encounter.  Your variant also needs to match your meta.  If the deck has too much stealth because you don't see much intercept or have the opposite problem, you have to adjust it.  Not enough vote power to push through your aims?  Make tweaks.

Ultimately, you may just decide that the original and your variant may not work in the environment that you play in.  Vampire: The Eternal Struggle is a world-wide game and is played very differently in some parts of the world versus others.

Even if you end up abandoning a design, you've gained knowledge and experience analyzing and building decks.  And that is what makes great deckbuilders: understanding, adapting, and constantly creating deck designs.


I thought I might end this series with a small homework assignment.  Take a deck that you like from the TWDA and create one or more variants of it.  Play with each variant (including the original) that you build and notice how the decks play slightly differently.  Most of all have fun with it.


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