Playing Montano Baltimore Purge
By Rudolf Scholz
Of course, there have been Baltimore Purge decks before the appearance of Montano, e.g. with Arika, Stanislava or Ambrosio Luis Monçada as star vampires, but in comparison Montano offers better options: he is a Lasombra T, an 11 cap vampire, he pays one less for Obtenebration $ cards and, probably most importantly, can burn 1 blood to give any of his controller’s minions +1 stealth; plus he has superior Dominate D and Fortitude F. This makes Montano the perfect engine for abusing Baltimore Purge, Graverobbing and Mind Rape. Since he has access to Freak Drive, he is able to pull off each of these cards himself in just one turn, and maybe even more effects, e.g. a superior Govern the Unaligned, a bleed for Enkil Cog or a vote. It is a blood-thirsty engine, which I personally prefer to feed with the help of Heidelberg Castle and diablerie.
In my opinion, it is quite important to make Montano enter the ready region in round 2 of a game: The fewer the number of enemies’ minions, the less they can act or react. You hope to get some kind of setup done before actually starting the « show ». To achieve this you have to rely on a high number of crypt acceleration cards, especially on Zillah’s Valley. Yet a deck with a high number of Master cards that wants to play a lot of action cards and modifiers tends to encounter problems regarding the card flow. This is why I try to get Montano equipped with a Learjet as soon as possible.
Okay, this tremendous « (try to) rule the world » deck is regularly the focus of all players at the table. Nocturns help to guard Montano, and a few Deflections might keep at least the heaviest bleeds away from you. Usually, you have to be very fast with doing what you want to do, or an evil fate awaits you instead of your opponents.
Here is the list of the deck that won me the Don’t Cry for Pentex Lackey League Finals in 2019. I won’t discuss here whether specific cards miss or the numbers of specific cards are optimized. A lot of that depends on taste and the metagame. This deck is both fragile and very powerful, and it is definitely not a deck for beginners. It is especially weak against (stealth) rush decks, because you run a non-combat star vampire deck, or any kind of weenie deck, since you cannot control large numbers of vampires via Baltimore Purge. It helps a lot if there are slow decks with big and « tasty » vampires around, but the deck can be resilient enough to stop a Predator’s Dementation e bleed deck dead in its tracks.
Obviously, it makes a difference if someone knows about your deck’s archetype and thus about its evil intentions. You should always try to talk if necessary, since there will be other decks as evil as yours at the table, and the mark of being the table threat is a matter of perception. Don’t boss around.
In case someone tries to interact with you, do so, if it makes at least some sense. If you play your first Baltimore Purge, cross-table buddies will ask if you are going to harm their vampires even more or they might even ask for a torpor rescue. Usually you have to decline both, since you do not have spare action, but you could generously leave them the choice of which vampire will be torporised by the Baltimore Purge if they controlled more than one vampire. Having a friend at the table or non-hostile cross-table buddies will make a huge difference. Depending on the vampires your buddies play, you might have to go for them anyway.
Later in the game, when your deck has already done some damage to the table, try to make sure the literal card house falls apart in your favour. Encourage players to resist their predators even though their situation looks helpless. Offer them half or full VP, and stick to that deal if you can. I know that some players oppose withdrawal deals, but bear in mind that many of them are tournament legal, for example if you will have 3 VP, you can do whatever you want with the rest. Some players might try to threaten you by announcing to self-oust if you do or do not do this or that. You should ignore this posture in general.
How to Win
Maybe Montano Baltimore Purge (MBP) can be compared to a rush deck, combined with the high risk, high reward component of a Baali E bleed or vote deck. You have to decide where and when to play Mind Rape and Baltimore Purge. You are going to offset the table balance, and you want to make sure you don’t get ousted and that any threat to Montano is eliminated.
A nice setup to start the « show » is Montano with a Learjet and a midcap assistant (Aurora Van Brande is very nice, since she has superior Obtenebration £ and both Dominate d and Fortitude f). Try to get through both a Baltimore Purge and a Mind Rape on a player who already controls 2 (!) vampires, preferably your Prey or your Predator, thus the mind raped vampire can diablerise someone and burn by the mandatory bloodhunt, which eliminates two vampires.
Always remember to use the Learjet if you have any cards in hand that do not help you in achieving your goals. But do not use it just because you can, because then you will run out of cards before you make the GW. Usually, you don’t get all of the table's VPs, but you don’t have to in order to win.
This is a typical scenario: In your unlock phase Montano goes to torpor, and so will every other vampire in the game of your choosing (well, one per player). If you were able to put a second Baltimore Purge on Montano with the help of an out-of-turn action provided by Enkil Cog, the table might already be at your disposal. Now everything depends a bit on whether you have a Heidelberg Castle in play and if you have Freak Drive and Graverobbing in hand.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t forget to take control of the vampire with Mind Rape.
- The assistant vampire should rescue Montano to make sure that he can take the maximum number of actions.
- Montano's stealth providing special works even while he is in torpor.
- Diablerize as many vampires as you can, or steal them with Graverobbing. The vampire with Mind Rape should preferably die during a bloodhunt referendum, and if it is a vampire with Fortitude f, he might even bring more destruction to your opponents before doing so.
- Cards you should never discard unless you are sure about the other decks at the table: Shadow Body (Combat Ends), Deflection (against bleeds) and Nocturn (against rushes and bounced bleeds).
- The timing of the additional action with Enkil Cog can be tricky: if being unlocked makes Montano a target, let him act in your Prey’s turn. The same is true if another vampire at the table might play and contest Enkil Cog himself, which might spoil the whole game for you. If you can afford it and want to keep people guessing what your additional action might be, wait until the end of your Predator’s turn – but remember that he or she might take actions afterwards. And bear in mind that you could play Sudden Reversal on a Direct Intervention while acting out of turn.
Gaining pool is one of the bigger issues of MBP, which is why some players add Golconda or Villein to their Montano deck. Govern down is highly recommended, and an Ancient Influence might make your day, especially when your prey has no more ready vampire. Reins of Power is seen here and there, but Political Stranglehold looks more reliable. Ousting your first prey is highly recommended. Always be on guard: a bleed bounced to you or a Mind Numb on Montano could already be fatal.
Now please take a look at my report of the finals where the above-mentioned decklist together with my decisions (and the decisions of the fellow players) allowed me to be victorious.
Don’t Cry for Pentex Finals – 2019.
Seating and starting player position were random, so I had only the double-edged advantage of being top seat. My starting hand shows useful cards and two Zillah's Valley, both of which "ignite". At the end of the second round (!) Montano arrives and can enter the scene at the beginning of the third round, which also gives me a Heidelberg Castle, meeting the following resistance:
Martin Schumacher 🇩🇪 23
Diogo Pratas 🇵🇹 22
Slaven Nikolic 🇭🇷 24
Hellgie Tod 🇫🇷 22
Me 🇩🇪 13
Without Freak Drives and stealth worth mentioning, I play a Mind Rape on La Viuda Blanca. Successfully. I pull out a Freak Drive and decide to make a bleed because I have Enkil Cog on hand. Get blocked. Get Kassiym Malikhair out to assist Montano. This brings me to 9 pool.
Martin Schumacher 🇩🇪 19
Diogo Pratas 🇵🇹 18
Slaven Nikolic 🇭🇷 20
Hellgie Tod 🇫🇷 18
Me 🇩🇪 9
I need pool, but no pool gain is in sight yet, and I am accordingly worried about being bled by direct bleeds or bounces. I can play Enkil Cog, The Signet of King Saul and Learjet, then the machinery stops again. La Viuda has to leave her blood to Montano. A Nocturn and Kassiym make up the defense. I am at 7 pool. Heart of Nizchetus for Martin. Diogo plays Mind Numb on Johannes Castelein (lucky me), bleeds and continues to build up. Hellgie brings Mustafa, The Heir into play. I hardly remember the details of the 5th round. The Capuchin appears, with Martin a third A Weenie and Channel 10 (that can become something ...), Diogo comes on 4 vampires and plays Mind Numb on Mustafa. Hellgie cannot do much.
Martin Schumacher 🇩🇪 14
Diogo Pratas 🇵🇹 12
Slaven Nikolic 🇭🇷 12
Hellgie Tod 🇫🇷 9
Me 🇩🇪 7
Time for Baltimore Purge. Freak Drive. Mind Rape on Johannes Castelein. (Hellgie: You're ousting me. – Sorry, it is a complicated situation with tough decisions.) Another Freak Drive, so I can act in Slavon's turn as well: it's going to be a Mind Rape on Gracis. Slaven's Capuchin plays an Emerald Legionnaire. Freak Drive. Afterwards, Capuchin bleeds (on Martin's suggestion that he should not hand Capuchin over to me unlocked in the case of Graverobbing), the bleed gets bounced to me by My Enemy's Enemy (well, great ...). Fortunately, I have a Deflection at hand. No block, bleed for 3 thanks to Bonding. Bounce to Diogo, and now the big question: to whom will he bounce? To Hellgie, who is then on 3 pool. Diogo ousts Hellgie in his turn which takes Anarch Troublemaker out of the game.
Martin Schumacher 🇩🇪 14
Diogo Pratas 🇵🇹 14
Slaven Nikolic 🇭🇷 12
Hellgie Tod 🇫🇷 0
Me 🇩🇪 7
The show begins. Montano takes Capuchin, Elizabeth and Ranjan with him. Dreams of the Sphinx, two additional cards. Kassiym rescues Montano from torpor. Freak Drive. Montano plays Graverobbing superior on Capuchin. +2 hand size, so 11 cards in hand. Freak Drive. Kassiym plays Ancient Influence, passes, finally some pool buffer. Gracis plays Banishment on one of Martin's two ready A weenies, passes, then blood to Montano. Thanks to Seduction, Montano diablerises Martin's Elizabeth and grabs the Heart of Nizchetus.
What follows now, is a brutal wearing down of the table by Baltimore Purge and diablerie actions. Montano's special of paying one blood to give one of my own minions +1 stealth proves to be an additional breaker thanks to the "infinite supply" of blood.
Without hurry I oust Slaven two or three rounds later. Diogo shows spirit and continues to play full forward, which grants me a new and shiny Gracis via Graverobbing. Of course I try to oust Martin, but he bounces twice and eliminates Diogo. German-German heads up. I have no library left, and there are still 30 minutes left on the clock.
I have 5 vampires, Montano, Kassiym and Ignacio as well as Capuchin and Gracis, the big ones also with a lot of blood. And yet I'm afraid I'll run into the wall now: 3 Auspex-Weenies supported by Channel 10 and also KRCG News Radio, and be "shot down" by guns or aggravated damage and lose the game. But it turns out differently, the fights are only "Hand Strike, one". So it's a constant race, a struggle for Edge and The Rack, also changes The Coven happy back and forth. Finally, a bleed for 3 by Montano ends the game, as the last blocker is overcome thanks to a Blanket of Night by Kassiym.
As you can see, I was lucky enough to be able to act with Montano from turn 3, despite the fact I was the starting player, but could not take much advantage of it. I could have been ousted by turn 5 or 6 when my Predator would have been able to take actions or to bounce the bleeds of his Predator to me. This is why I decided to play Mind Rape on my Predator’s unlocked vampire.
Turn 7 is a description of a typical turn when all the moving parts happen in the right order. Such a turn might take up to 20 or even 30 minutes, because of all the choices to make, especially using Learjet or not, and the actions to take. Afterwards the table balance should have taken a massive shift to your favour, but usually you will need another turn with Baltimore Purge and Graverobbing and diableries to assure your victory. If you can pull off a double Purge with the help of Enkil Cog, it is usually game over.
Tweaks and metagame choices
If you do not feel the need for speed to let Montano enter the game by the end of round 2, you get space in the Master cards section. Villein or Golconda, Direct Intervention or Dark Influences, and Monastery of Shadows or Elysian Fields are tempting options. Even The Coven might be beneficial, since you want to have blood on the vampires Montano diablerises.
You might want to play more than 5 copies of Baltimore Purge. Regarding Political Actions, adding another Banishment looks good. Reins of Power is double-edged if you do not manage to have your predators big vamps in torpor. Political Stranglehold would interact nicely with Mind Rape.
Zaire River Ferry is a suggestion by famous Martin Schuhmacher I have not given a try so far. Reaction cards like Obedience, On the Qui Vive and more Deflections can come in handy depending on the situation.
I consider Montano Baltimore Purge (MBP) to be a viable deck choice for larger tournaments, since you usually encounter a wider spread of decks and more decks which build up a few rounds. Big vampires are the “fish” you catch best, even wall stars since they are helpless once in torpor. I made especially good experiences with The Capuchin played by my Prey. The more combat you expect, the less MBP becomes appealing if you are looking for a somehow safe road to success.