Nephandus: Starter and Strategy
Posted January 31st 2019 by Rahvin
The following article has been cross-posted from Information Highway.

So the new Tremere Antitribu starter has been revealed! And as there is no new card in it we can freely talk about it.

This will also be the occasion to talk about the Tier1 archetype that is at the heart of that preconstructed deck : Antonio d’Erlette and his Nephandus (Nephandi? Nephandii? Who cares?).

Because, as goes the famous saying that I’ve just made up :

The Tremere Antitribu have 3 Disciplines: Dominate, Tupdogs and Nephandus!

You’ll notice the new layout on all illustrations below, thanks to Black Chantry for the courtesy.

[caption id="attachment_4540" align="alignright" width="214"] Hello, I break you even more![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4539" align="alignnone" width="215"] Hi, I'm broken![/caption]

Nephandus is one of the best allies in the game, arguably the best one (maybe now tied with the Emerald Legionnaire…). The reason for that being that for a meager 2 pool he can strike for 1R, press and to that again, all the while reducing all damage by 1. In other terms, he doesn’t care about “hands for 1” strikes. He also can bleed for 1, has 2 lives, and on top of all that he can burn a vampire in torpor as a D action to gain 1 Life. Oh, and did I mention he’s non Unique?

All this quite good enough already, and the Nephandus were already played in days of old. But there was still the question of recruiting them, which became increasingly difficult as the game got more casual intercept. This was remedied by Antonio d’Erlette, who can recruit them without an action during your Influence phase. Nice! Yeah, more than that…

The D’Erlette / Nephandus archetype is one of the strongest ones currently available. Making a preconstructed out of it was a bold move, and we’re sure to see them even more often… To the risk of having many concepts of the main vamp, so maybe that will refrain some competitors. Time will tell.

Let’s have a look at that preconstructed deck!

I) The Crypt

5 Antonio d’Erlette
1 Ember Wright
1 Frondator
1 Janine
1 Keith Moody
1 Lectora
1 Mosfair
1 Saiz

A pretty classic crypt for the deck. 5 Antonio is great, you’ll need them (no more, and less is risky). Let’s not that it is G3-4, as opposed to G4-5 for the other starters. This is why we have no new vamps in it (or vice versa).

In the most competitive versions of the deck we see 2 intruders : Tupdogs to help cycle, and the Imbued Béatrice Oracle171 Tremblay, who helps bleed and block and is considered an ally too. Both come in 2 copies, and Antonio’s clanmates are reduced to Esoara, Keith Moody and Saiz. But although they do bring something to the fold, you’ll find the deck perfectly playable with the starter crypt.

II) The Library


Master [13]
1 Dreams of the Sphinx
1 Fame
2 Frontal Assault
1 KRCG News Radio
2 Sudden Reversal
1 University Hunting Ground
3 Vessel
2 Wider View

I’m glad to see a Dreams and 2 Frontal here. A Haven Uncovered would have been welcome, but it’s an easy to find common card (or used to be, now everything is fixed but it means old players will have loads to give).

Of course the modern competitive version revolves around Ashur Tablets, but such a deck wouldn’t have been possible as a preconstructed, and that card is way too complicated to handle for beginners. So that’s a pretty good Masters module.

Action [9]
6 Computer Hacking
3 Harass

Probably the module I like less, as the Nephandus are never played with either card. This being said, it gives useful cards for new players, so in that way this is good. I would probably ditch them if I were to play the deck, but beginners can try this as it is and see if it speeds the deck or hinders it.

Ally [10]
1 Carlton Van Wyk
1 Gregory Winter
8 Nephandus

Gregory isn’t needed, Carlton is great, and 8 Nephandus is just the right amount, but… Insane for a starter deck! Until now I owned only 5, and I was among the lucky ones… So yeah, insane!

Action Modifier [9]
3 Conditioning
6 Mirror Walk

None of those are in the classic deck, but then the Conditioning might make a diff. Maybe too many Mirror Walk even for that version, but then once more it’s a great card to own. And we see plainly that Black Chantry is proposing a new take on the deck, with more bleed even for the !Tremere. It might be less strong than the original but easier to play for beginners.

Combat [18]
3 Glancing Blow
3 Molotov Cocktail
3 Rego Motus
3 Target: Vitals
3 Theft of Vitae
3 Trap

Again, a very different dosage from the usual, where we only see Traps, Target: Bolloc… err, Vitals, and one Molotov Cocktail. But this should work out fine.

Reaction [17]

[caption id="attachment_4545" align="alignright" width="213"] Great card, great new art![/caption]

3 Deflection
2 Delaying Tactics
2 Eagle’s Sight
2 Enhanced Senses
2 Eyes of Argus
6 On the Qui Vive

I wouldn’t have bothered with the Eagle’s Sight or Enhanced, as the vampires here aren’t supposed to block (too dangerous) and have very little Aus. 6 OTQV is great to have, I don’t currently own half enough myself!

Event [1]
1 The Unmasking

2 would have been better, but 1 is already great and you’ll find more in the Anthology Set if needed (if you don’t have the cards in it I of course recommend getting some).

So all in all: a deck which is very different from the Tier1 we know, but which will be playable, and contains all the great Rares we need apart maybe from Ashur Tablets (which also are in the Anthology Set, so…).

III) The Tweaks

So, if we had 2 of those starters, and maybe a card or two more, what should we change to make it a bit better?

Here’s the proposition of Ezra and Orpheus:

5 Antonio d’Erlette
1 Ember Wright
1 Frondator
1 Janine
2 Keith Moody
2 Saiz

Master [15]
2 Dreams of the Sphinx
2 Fame
2 Frontal Assault
1 KRCG News Radio
2 Sudden Reversal
1 University Hunting Ground
5 Vessel

Action [8]
4 Computer Hacking
4 Harass

Ally [12]
1 Carlton Van Wyk
1 Gregory Winter
10 Nephandus

Action Modifier [3]
3 Conditioning

Combat [14]
2 Molotov Cocktail
6 Target: Vitals
6 Trap

Reaction [15]
6 Deflection
3 Delaying Tactics
6 On the Qui Vive

Event [2]
2 The Unmasking
(+1 Dragonbound if you buy the Tzimisce starter!)

IV) The Interview

Now, for all players old and new, I’ve asked one of our greatest competitors, Alain Greiner, what he thought about the D’Erlette/Nephandus archetype, a deck he’s played often and won several tournaments with!


Salut !

I think you’ve played the D’Erlette Nephandus deck quite a lot?

Yes several times indeed, I had made the choice to play it at all the Grand Prix of last year!

What were your results with this deck?

4 GP finals. Otherwise some tournaments wins, the biggest being the 2017 Nation’s Cup.

[caption id="attachment_4547" align="aligncenter" width="736"] Nation’s Cup finalists, Alain is 4th from the left[/caption]

How good do you think that deck is?

It is clearly a top Tier1 deck because it has answers to many situations. It’s one of the strongest allies decks. That’s what I like in it, its stability in various environments.

Can you give us your favourite list, and explain your choices?

It’s like asking for the Coca Cola recipe, you need to buy me for that! ^^

How should one play this deck? Please get as much into the details as you can.

You don’t need cards to play… It’s just insane! Impossible to jam, if you have 7 Masters in hand, no problem. Even you could play it. :p I have no merits winning with it, the deck plays itself or nearly so!

How should other players play against Nephandus?

It’s a very slow deck, you need to let it grow a bit and make it take aggro, it works every time.

What are the main weaknesses of this deck, the decktypes it fears most?

Swarm decks are a nightmare, if a deck has more minions than you it’s an ordeal.

If you make it to the finals with Nephandus, what are the decks you want as prey and predators, and the decks you absolutely will try to avoid?

I want Big Caps as prey and big bleeders as predator. I don’t want fast decks as prey and swarm as pred.

What do you think of the Piper version of the deck?

It’s very hard to

Anything more to add ?

The best is when your predator is Mr. Orpheus, at least then you can go forward.

(We were in that situation at the Belgian Championship finals; I’ll get you next time Alain!)

Thanks a lot, bleed you soon!