The root of the game win is to destroy the prey’s pool and the obvious way to do it is to bleed. Numerous cards in the game can enhance bleed. d and r give very strong bleed decks, but a swarm of minions also get the job done pretty fast. ¾ of edible decks will kill their prey by bleeding it.
Bleed modifiers like Conditioning should be played after the prey has declined to block. This way, they are more likely to get through.
Limited and unlimited modifiers
Bleed modifiers are always "limited" if the card does not state otherwise, meaning one can play only one modifier increasing the bleed amount during a bleed action. However, a few cards provided non-limited bleed increase: Leverage, Command of the Beast and Quicksilver Contemplation are played, more expensive ones are not.
On the defence side, bounces (reactions that change the target of a bleed) should be played only after the bleed amount has been confirmed by the predator, after block has been declined. This way the modifier, if any, is likely to be redirected too. This is because once the predator confirms the bleed amount, he actually passes on his opportunity to play a modifier and do not get another opportunity if the prey does not play a reaction. Only a few cards allow to bounce bleeds:
- Lost in Translation (younger vampires or allies),
- d with Deflection,
- D with Redirection and Murmur of the False Will,
- A with Telepathic Misdirection and My Enemy's Enemy
- Imbued with Determine
And only a few cards can counter these bounces:
- Touch of Clarity (e) can counter d bounces,
- Hide the Mind (O), I am Legion (oy) and False Resonance (k) can counter A bounces,
- Contingency Planning can counter any bounce,
- Two Wrongs and Terra Incognita (Laibon) can counter bounces when being the target,
- Narrow Minds is often used to deter bounces, even if it may not be enough to prevent them altogether.
A bleed for more than 3 exposes the minion to the possibility of Archon Investigation. Because of this card, 3 has become the Archon limit: some decks will make sure to stay under it to avoid risking their minions, others will consider their minions expendable and get happily over it.
The other option to deplete the prey’s pool is to use political actions like Kine Resources Contested. The advantage of this strategy is the +1 stealth on the action. The disadvantage is that it is not directed: not only the prey but the predator can block, and the whole table can vote.
The terms of the referendum are announced once the action resolves. One can negotiate the vote as the action is announced, but only after blocks are declined and the action succeeds does one choose the official terms of the referendum — and eventually betray everyone. The terms must be stated clearly once the action resolves, if just to confirm the Methusalah holds true to its word.
In order to pass their referendum successfuly, Methusalah will try to achieve a vote lock, meaning they have more votes on the table than the sum of all other players votes. Multiple techniques can be used to this effect:
- Using modifiers or master cards to get more votes: r has the most options, but other disciplines offer good modifiers, like m Madrigal or ? Hall of Hades' Court, as do some clans like the Ventrue with Ventrue Headquarters or the Followers of Set with Ferraille.
- Using Praxis Seizure, Crusade or Fee Stake cards.
- Getting multiple big capacity vampires with a lot of votes out, like Inner Circles and Justicars. This is usually achieved using Zillah's Valley and Information Highway, together with Villein or Minion Tap.
- Using an effect to give votes to all members of clan, like Legacy of Pander (), The Eldest Are Kholo (), Foundation Exhibit (), Conductor () or Amaravati (). This needs to be combined with ways to bring many vampires of that clan into play, using actions like The Embrace or Master cards like Effective Management or Information Highway.
Aggressive vote decks will pass multiple votes in a single turn, but this has led to the use of Delaying Tactics as a defence. This means diversity in votes is needed to avoid loosing a whole turn of actions just because Kine Resources Contested has been delayed.
Damage dealing votes
Only a few votes deal substantive pool damage, and they often have restrictions. Some votes dealing less damage are not listed here.
- Kine Resources Contested
- Conservative Agitation
- Parity Shift (Prince or Justicar, only on a Methusalah with more pool)
- Neonate Breach
- Domain Challenge
- Ancilla Empowerment and Anarchist Uprising (both have the same effect)
- Reins of Power (Big capacity vampires)
- Reckless Agitation (Independant or Anarch)
- Lily Prelude (m)
- Revolutionary Council (Baron)
One can either choose to buff up attack or to keep minions and cards to defend oneself: the stronger the defence, the weaker the attack, so it’s a question of balance in every deck. Whatever the balance though, a deck power is fundamentally about « A&B », the number of Actions & Blocks in a single turn. In any case, the A&B must be as high as possible for the deck to be effective.
The most obvious way to increase A&B is to use wake reactions like Wake with Evening’s Freshness. Most decks use this technique, although some forward-only builds will not, for lack of decent defensive tools.
Wake & unlock reactions
A few cards provide wake or unlock effects during the opponents turn, letting locked vampire react to and intercept actions.
- On the Qui Vive
- Wake With Evening's Freshness
- Forced Awakening
- Eluding the Arms of Morpheus
- Second Tradition: Domain (Prince or Justicar)
- Eternal Vigilance (titled Sabbat)
- Under Siege (titled Sabbat)
- Rat's Warning (i)
- Guard Dogs (i)
- Eyes of Argus (A)
- Predator's Communion (W)
- Read the Winds (AI)
- Speak With Spirits (Z)
- Sense the Savage Way (Big capacity I)
- The Mole (i Anarch)
- Netwar (k Anarch)
- Angel of Berlin (Imbued)
Another easy way to increase A&B is to use a weenie crypt: many small vampires for more actions and blocks. Their lower capacity mean they are less powerful individually, but the higher A&B is worth it.
Other methods to get more minions also increase A&B, like recruiting Allies or using breed cards like The Embrace to create new vampires.
The last way to increase A&B is to use modifiers to engage in multiple actions with a single minion. This strategy is called drive in honour of Freak Drive, one of the most played card to achieve this. Because the NRA (Non Repeatable Action) rule states that no action card can be used twice in the same turn by the same minion, this strategy has to be combined with a matching diversity in actions.
Only a few cards allow a vampire to unlock during the turn and undertake multiple actions.
- Freak Drive (F)
- Forced March (cf)
- Instantaneous Transformation (CJ)
- Truth of a Thousand Lies (S)
- Zephyr (C)
- Domain of Evernight (!)
- As The Crow (^)
- CrimethInc. (j or q Anarch)
- Seraph's Second (Black Hand)
- Tattoo Signal (Seraph)
The choice and order of minion actions is important. A common strategy is to bait, beginning with the most mundane actions, up to the strongest ones. This forces the opponent to ponder what to block: too early and a devastating action could get through unopposed, too late and one could stay sitting for a big action than never comes.
The other side of the medal is the gambit strategy: engaging in the heaviest action first in order to entice the opponent to keep a wake or an unlocked minion for an even uglier action that will, in fact, never come.
The key to victory is to get a hand fit to oust one’s prey in the turn. Building this hand, then assessing the right moment to play it and lunge for the Victory Point is key. If the prey survives, they can rebuild their pool. Moreover, the rest of the table will tend to gang up against the predator. As a prey, one should take care to conceal its defensive capabilities — or lack thereof. As a predator, one should try to asses the number of wakes, bounces, delays, etc. available on the prey side.
Stealth and Intercept
The key between offence and defence is the management of stealth and intercept. Many disciplines give access to stealth and intercept.
One level of intercept is enough to block hunts, votes, equipments and recruitments. Therefore, some decks include a limited number of permanent intercept cards like WMRH Talk Radio.
Carlton Van Wyk, Ponticulus () and Harzomatuili (Cardinal or Regent) deserve a special mention: they include a permanent intercept bonus plus their combat abilities is great and allow them to hinder the opponents all by themselves.
Permanent intercept cards
Only a few unique cards give permanent intercept to any vampire, most of them master cards.
- KRCG News Radio
- WMRH Talk Radio
- Wall Street Night, Financial Newspaper
- Channel 10
- London Evening Star, Tabloid Newspaper
- The Rumor Mill, Tabloid Newspaper
- Club Zombie (expensive)
- Aranthebes, the Immortal
- The Anarch Free Press (Anarch)
- Market Square ()
- Information Network ()
- Ponticulus ()
- Saatet-ta ()
- The Unmasking (Allies)
Other cards give permanent intercept to a chosen vampire.
- Mr. Winthrop
- Sport Bike
- Phased Motion Detector
- Guardian Angel
- Bowl of Convergence (a)
- Raven Spy and Raptor (i)
- Abbot (Sabbat)
- Atonement (Small capacity vampires)
- Razor Bat ()
- Defender of the Haven ()
- No Secrets From the Magaji (Magaji)
- Corpse Balloon (v)
- Revenant ()
- Sight Beyond Sight ()
- Shaman (Laibon)
- Kumpania ()
- Ephor ()
- The Ancestors Talisman ()
On the other hand, whatever level of intercept one manages to achieve, stealth specialised decks often include some block denial modifiers atop normal stealth. O Elder Impersonation, N Call of the Hungry Dead and £ Blanket of Night are the only full-purpose block denials of the game. However, D gives access to Seduction which is still a strong denial, even if it is less efficient against wakes. Many disciplines give access to lesser block denials that only work against allies and younger vampires, but they are less used.