Official VEKN Nosferatu Newsletter for December, 2003

So having just done pretty well in a Black Hand pre-release tournament with the Nosferatu Antitribu deck, and wanting to take the deck apart to use the components, I'm putting up the December issue early.

Sadly, the Anti-Nosferatu are just cooler than the regular Nosferatu. Maybe it is the "Stick it to the Man!" aspect of the Antitribu clans, or maybe it is just that the Anti-Nosferatu keep getting the good stuff that the Nosferatu should be getting. Where the Nosferatu got Sammy, Tiberius, and Sebastian Marley, the Anti-Nosferatu got Agatha, Olivia, and Beast. Where the Nosferatu got Spawning Pool, the Anti-Nosferatu got Nosferatu Kingdom. And where the Nosferatu got the highly sketchy Camarilla edition Nosferatu starter deck, the Anti-Nosferatu got the much better Black Hand Anti-Nosferatu starter deck. The Black Hand Anti-Nosferatu starter, thankfully, is much better than the Camarilla version in terms of both sealed play value and general card utility--where the Camarilla starter didn't really have any powerful/choice cards that made buying the starter worthwhile, the Black Hand starter is full of good cards that will likely make the Anti-Nosferatu starter fly off the shelves.

What is in the Anti-Nosferatu starter, you might ask? Well, here is a run down, with notes about how to use the deck in a sealed play environment.

-Yong-Sun, Advanced (10) THA, POT, OBF, ANI, aus, Cardinal, gets +X bleed where X is the number of vampires in target's ash heap.
-Teresita, The Godmother (7) POT, OBF, ANI, for, Black Hand Seraph. +1 intercept vs Camarilla vampires.
-Ingram Frizer (6) OBF, AUS, pot, ani, Black Hand
-Christianus Lionel
-Tock (4) pot, obf, pre

Not a bad crypt, overall. The obvious weirdness is that the crypt includes Yong-Sun advanced, rather than the reprinted Yong-Sun, which is apparently a printing error (i.e. Advanced Yong-Sun was supposed to be regular Yong-Sun). While this isn't a huge issue in terms of sealed playability, it is a drag in terms of playing Yong-Sun advanced (who *really* wants to be merged with his original version) in constructed decks, and will make getting original Yong-Suns difficult (if only I had speculated and cornered the market before the set was released...) If playing this crypt in a sealed event, you might want to pull out both Yong-Sun and Calebos and replace them with smaller vampires if possible, like Tarbaby Jack (8, POT, ANI, OBF, ser, dom, Black Hand, +1 transfer) or Mateusz Gryzbowsky (8, POT, ANI, OBF, +2 strength, -1 damage with ranged strikes) if you can find them in boosters. Ingram is certainly a vampire with possibilities (if only she could be combined with Sheldon...), but doesn't really add much to the crypt other than her Black Hand possibilities, so she might be better replaced with someone smaller/more utilitarian if possible as well (although having extra Black Hand members in this deck is defenitely important).

Master cards:
1x Shanty Town Hunting Ground
1x Nosferatu Kingdom
1x Steam Tunnels
1x Creep Show
1x Vox Senis
2x Shakar
2x Blood Doll
2x Fame

An *infinitely* better selection of masters than the Camarilla deck--some good pool gain possibilities, the Shakar's give the deck some significant combat capabilities, and the dual Fames are absolutely fantastic, in terms of play value. The Creep Show is kind of a wasted slot, especially in a sealed game, where there don't seem to be that many Dodge or S:CE cards in general, and would probably do to be replaced/removed. The Steam Tunnels isn't that useful either, but certainly can't hurt (especially as it is free). Vox Sennis is a handy master than can be put in play to give each Methusela an extra vote in each referendum, or can be played as an OOTM to gain 3 votes in a referendum, which is certainly useful in a sealed environment. Overall, no a bad selection that really only needs minor tweaking for maximum playability.

Non Discipline cards:
1x Blood Feast
1x War Party
2x Blooding
5x Ambush
2x Taste of Vitae
2x Pack Tactics
1x Laptop
1x Leather Jacket
2x IR Goggles
2x Marijava Thuggee
1x Courier

Some very good cards here, helping to flesh out the deck. The Thugees are good as back up bleeding minions (as they bleed for 1 and can play Obfuscate cards for stealth), the Bloodings are vital to insure that you can get mileage out of the 2 Shakars in the deck. The two IR goggles are handy, as most of the combat cards in the deck are ranged, and everyone loves Taste of Vitae. The 5 Ambushes are both one of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the deck--5 Ambushes gives the deck very solid Rush combat capabilities, but the conditionality of the Ambushes (only usable against tapped minions) can prove to be a significant hindrance, especially if you are trying to whack a Famous minion. The deck would have been much better served with Bum's Rushes or even Harass instead, but all in all, not bad. I'd probably be inclined to remove the Blood Feast and War Party as they are difficult to play, and while the Courier certainly combos nicely with the Steam Tunnels, it probably isn't going to be that useful overall.

Potence cards:
4x Thrown Sewer Lid
3x Throw Gate
2x Increased Strength
2x Mighty Grapple
1x Disarm
1x Brick Laying

Not an insignificant combat module for a sealed environment. Most of it is long ranged (making the Disarm, while always welcome, difficult to use), which is good against the !Tremere deck. Between the Potence and Animalism selections, the !Nosferatu deck should be able to dominate most combat situations in a sealed game, which is good, as this decks main way of scoring pool damage is going to be the 2 Fame cards. There aren't really many other useful combat cards in the Black Hand set to bolster the combat selection, but a few extra Brick Layings (to increase the utility of the Ambushes) could be useful.

Obfuscate cards:
4x Swallowed by the Night
4x Faceless Night
2x Elder Impersonation
2x Behind You

Stealth is at a premium in the Black Hand sealed environment, as the other three clans represented (!Toreador, !Tremere, !Malkavian) come equipped with Auspex. These obfuscate cards give the Nosferatu some reasonable stealth capabilities, but in general, they are going to have trouble sneaking by much, Luckily, if they are blocked, they can probably cause some significant damage to the blocker, so maybe they'll do ok. We also get 6 more manuver cards, again, good with the combat selection.

Animalism cards:
5x Guard Dogs
3x Carrion Crows
3x Cat's Guidance
3x Raven Spy
3x Drawing out the Beast
2x Song of Serenity
1x Owl Companion
1x Song in the Dark

The bulk of the deck is the Animalism section, which provides reasonable intercept, more combat offense, and a bit of combat defense. The 5 Guard Dogs give the deck a good amount of flexibility in the use of actions (and more manuvers), and between the Ravens, Cats, and Pack Tactics, the !Nosferatu can often stop the !Malkavians in their tracks.

What does one do with this deck in a sealed event? As it stands, the deck is pretty playable right out of the deck. Without some booster packs to adjust the deck, I'd be inclined to strip out 4 or 5 of the more fringe cards (Blood Feast, War Party, Creep Show, Courier), and just have at it. Assuming you have access to some Black Hand boosters to reinforce your deck, some useful additions include Vox Domini (OOT master that makes a vote fail), which can be a real life saver; an extra Blooding and/or Shakar to increase combat options; Remover to tap Ambush targets; Legwork, Ministry, and/or Watch Commander to increase intercept options; and Gemini's Mirror (especially the superior version) could make a huge difference in combat situations.

As opposed to the Camarilla Nosferatu deck, the Black Hand deck is definitely worth buying, if for no other reason than it comes with a Disarm and 2 Taste of Vitaes (two cards that you can never have enough of), but the Fames, Carrion Crows, and Swallowed by the Nights are also handy cards that you can also never have enough of, and Nosferatu Kingdom is a potent location that is reasonable to want multiples of.

All in all, a very satisfying deck with a lot of good sealed play options as well as good purchase value.