The Missing Link: !Ventrue Starter deck
Posted February 21st 2019 by Rahvin
The following article has been cross-posted from Information Highway.

Welcome to another starter deck review… well, sort of. A good amount of people were asking about which deck they should play if they wanted to complete a table of 5, with only 4 Black Chantry Sabbat starters. Being the kind human beings we are, we figured we would help you out!We wanted to keep the theme of the other starters intact and only choose between one of the remaining 4 Sabbat clans, which are !Brujah, !Nosfe, !Malkavian and !Ventrue. But which one?

!Malkavian is infamous for their midcap stealth and bleed deck. While it is indeed a powerful deck (that’s also relatively easy to pilot), it can be very frustating to play against so we decided against it.

!Nosfe, as well as !Brujah to a lesser extent, have seen very few competitive success and it was our initial intention to provide a deck that was as close as tier 1 as possible.

And, would you look at that, it so happens that a !Ventrue deck is tier 1!

Before we hop in, I just wanted to be clear about this list. It’s meant to be a watered-down version of a !Ventrue deck, in order to have a comparable power level with the other starters. It should also be noted that another archetype named Prince Grinder is very close to this one. It basically plays Camarilla Ventrue Princes and trades Auspex cards for Second Tradition: Domain (the absolute best Wake + Cept Card) as well as some numbers of Parity Shift (arguably the best vote in the game).

I/ The archetype

!Ventrue Grinder is a toolbox deck, which means it aims to do a little bit of everything. It uses Dominate to oust its prey as well as helping its development, Auspex to wall and Fortitude to survive combat, along with Weightened Walking Stick (WWS for short). It’s a resilient deck that has no really atrocious match-up, which makes it both pretty popular and successful in big tournaments. This is absolutely the kind of deck that I would encourage competitive players to play: I ended up playing the Prince Grinder version at both 2018 French National Championship and Day 2 of 2018 European Championship.

Most of the time, the deck game plan is mostly patient influencing of vampires with Superior Govern The Unaligned, while blocking (or at least threatening to block) important actions on the table. When the window opens for an oust, the common Dominate kill command of Govern + Conditioning, alongside some numbers of Daring the Dawn for unblockable bleeds, should easily put down a prey that was already weakened from all the bleed bounces.
Finally, prevent is the way !Ventrue Grinder handles fights, with usually 15 to 20 Fortitude cards, that also often double as very valuable press. Some numbers of WWS (often 4 or 5) complete the module and allow the deck to punish non-fighting decks that they succeed in blocking. The goal here is to grind opponents’ ressources, rather than just being really scary in combat, like Eurobrujah for example.

II/The Crypt

!Ventrue Grinder has a great crypt with some very strong vampires, the core being Owain « Don’t call me an hunting Ground » Evans, « Your Friendly Neighborhood» John and Blackhorse « Yes, I’m that good » Tanner.

Blackhorse Tanner:

Probably the most emblematic kindred of the archetype, boasting three disciplines at superior alongside a fantastic special. Blackhorse is a very important reason why !Ventrue Grinder is successful, as having access to card selection is even stronger than usual, in a deck with a little bit of everything.

Neighbor John:

+1 Intercept is a pretty good text it turns out, Carna being probably the most emblematic vampire with that little line of text. Sure, Peter might not have Fortitude or Dominate at superior but permanent light cept is always very good, at it can brickwall certain decks that rely on doing actions mostly at +1 stealth.

Owain Evans, The Wanderer:
Every inclan discipline at superior with a hunting ground effect would have been very strong already … and Owain’s text is even better than that. You should never overestimate the impact that small act of kindness can have on your “allies” on a table, and Owain Evans is a very good way to make friends.

It should be noted that when a deck wants to play Govern The Unaligned at superior during its setup, it’s very important that not all Vampires have the same cost, as you want to be able to use GTU at superior on younger vampires. Well, fortunately, all those vampires make for a good GTU chain!The crypt is typically completed with smaller vampires, having access to Dominate and, to a lesser extent, Auspex. Remember than even Dominate at inferior can represent a bleed for 5!

III/The list

This is what you came here for, right ?

Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=3 max=8 avg=6)

2x Blackhorse Tanner 7 AUS DOM FOR !Ventrue:3

1x Jefferson Foster 6 for tha AUS DOM !Ventrue:4

1x Jephta Hester 5 aus DOM FOR !Ventrue:4
1x Katherine Stoddard 4 dom for !Ventrue:3
1x Mariel St. John 6 dom pro AUS FOR !Ventrue:4
2x Neighbor John 5 dom for AUS !Ventrue:4
3x Owain Evans, The Wanderer 8 cel pre AUS DOM FOR !Ventrue:3
1x Ulrike Rothbart 3 dom for !Ventrue:4

Library (77 cards)
Master (11)
1x Anarch Troublemaker
2x Blood Doll
1x Demonstration
1x Dreams of the Sphinx
1x Erciyes Fragments, The
1x KRCG News Radio
1x Powerbase: Montreal
3x VesselAction (10)
1x Abbot
8x Govern the Unaligned
1x Slaughtering the HerdEquipment (1)
1x Ivory BowAlly (1)
1x Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)Action Modifier (12)
2x Bonding
3x Conditioning
2x Daring the Dawn
2x Foreshadowing Destruction
1x Kiss of Ra, The
2x Seduction

Reaction (20)
4x Deflection
2x Delaying Tactics
2x Eagle’s Sight
2x Enhanced Senses
4x Eyes of Argus
1x My Enemy’s Enemy
3x On the Qui Vive
2x Telepathic Misdirection

Combat (22)
4x Indomitability
1x Lessons in the Steel
4x Rolling with the Punches
3x Soak
2x Superior Mettle
4x Target Vitals
4x Weighted Walking Stick

As we’ve seen earlier, appart from GTU at superior early, wait for a window and oust your prey, it can be pretty hard to pinpoint an exact gameplan for !Ventrue Grinder. It’s especially pretty hard when starting out to know precisely what to block and what to let go through as, while the deck can most certainly wall, it’s by no mean a true wall. It can be tempting to intercept everything you can when you hand is full of reactions, only to find yourself wishing you kept some of them when you only have combat cards in hand.

Overall, the deck rewards patience and careful planning, which is very rewarding to play. Let us know how you like it!

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