Official VEKN Nosferatu Newsletter for March, 2004

So there have been a lot of Black Hand decks floating around the internet lately, which makes me feel kinda silly for posting yet another one, but I was planning on doing so this month before they all started showing up, and in the name of continuing my unprecedented (ok, maybe Legbiter has set an earlier precedent) Newsletter onslaught, I'll post this one anyway.

So a some folks have been moaning about how the Black Hand expansion is just another Anarchs expansion in that it is single focus, difficult to pull off, and not really competitive. The strong showing of various Black Hand decks in recent tournament play indicates that this isn't really true, and the number of Black Hand based deck variations that have been showing up in print (including Goudie's deck published in a recent issue of InQuest) show the solid strategy options for Black Hand decks.

The following deck is based on (or shamelessly lifted from) a deck I saw Ben Peal playing at Totalcon in Boston this past February (and apparently, Ben Swainbank was playing a very similar deck in the same tournament), although as I didn't see it that closely, I'm not sure how similar it really is. By focusing on Black Hand advantages (Reunion Kamut, Bloodwork, Ministry) and the obvious discipline overlaps, I have put together a deck that revolves around the gender ambiguous Ingram Frizer and his/her discipline combination.

"Really! I killed Marlowe!"

1x Tarbaby Jack (8) POT, OBF, Black Hand
2x Teresita, The Godmother (7) POT, OBF, Black Hand Seraph
1x Kazimir Savostin (7) AUS, pot, Black Hand Seraph
3x Ingram Frizer (6) OBF, AUS, pot, Black Hand
1x Quira, The Bitch Queen (6) AUS, OBF
1x The Colonel (5) AUS, obf, Black Hand
1x Roger Farnsworth (4) OBF, aus, Black Hand
2x Piotr Andreikov (2) aus, Black Hand

4x Blood Doll
3x Corporal Reservoir
1x Watchtower: The Four Ride Forth
1x Watchtower: Chosen are Called
1x Visit of the Capuchin
1x Information Network
1x Remover

10x Reunion Kamut
10x Bloodwork
2x Art of Memory
6x Ministry
8x Wake with Evening's Freshness
6x Telepathic Misdirection
6x Spirit's Touch
2x Aura Reading
10x Swallowed by the Night
6x Cloak the Gathering
6x Thrown Sewer Lid
6x Marijava Thuggee

A fairly straight forward deck with good defense including both bleed bounce and strong intercept possibilities, reasonable offense with Bloodwork and horde bleed possibilities from the Thuggees, some combat capabilities in the heavy maneuvers and Sewer Lids, and the always very useful free pool/transfers of the Reunion Kamuts.

The crypt, again, seeks to focus on Obfuscate and Auspex with a splash of Potence, meaning the Ingram Frizer is the best possible vampire for the crypt. By mixing in various Black hand members who have AUS (for bleed bounce) and Obfuscate (for extra sneaking about), you end up with a reasonably slid crypt. Quira, while not Black Hand, has a good discipline spread for the deck (with her AUS/OBF), gets +1 bleed, I always thought she was cute, and I just got a copy from the Tatus, and having 1 non Black Hand vampire in the crypt is rarely going to be an issue from the Reunion Kamut front.

The Master selection is fairly light, but contains standard Blood Dolls, which are always good, the surprisingly useful Corporal Reservoir, and useful support cards, like The Four Ride Forth which is fantastic in a deck that wants to keep a strong defense up without compromising forward momentum.

The bulk of the deck consists of the strong Black hand cards--Reunion Kamut, allowing you to get out vampires quickly and cheaply early and rack up extra pool late; Bloodwork which is often simply "bleed for 2 at +1 stealth"; Ministry which gives a very strong intercept potential, especially as Sabbat vampires are as popular as they are currently; a couple Art of Memory as they double as, generally speaking, either 2 more Reunion Kamut or 2 more Bloodwork. The Auspex angle provides more intercept, the always strong bleed bounce, and maneuver possibilities. The obfuscate provides, ya know, stealth, but also more maneuvers (allowing your vampires to avoid a lot of close range unpleasantness as well as fling the occasional Sewer Lid) and Cloak lets you provide extra stealth to your non obfuscate enabled Black Hand pals. The Thuggees are a remarkably potent addition to a Black Hand deck, and possibly one of the strongest allies in the game--at only 2 pool, you get a minion that is hardy (3 life) and incredibly useful--they bleed for 1, can use obfuscate for stealth, and their inherent poking ability becomes very influential late in the game. Their inherent disadvantage (tap them all if you have more Thuggees than Black Hand vampires--mind you, this is Black Hand vampires you control, not *ready* Black Hand vampires) isn't really an issue when all but one vampire in your crypt is Black Hand--you can reliably get 3 Thuggees in play, and even more if you are feeling saucy.

Overall, this deck is remarkably well rounded, and plays pretty well (it is currently batting 2-0 in 4 player games). It'll have trouble with persistent ranged combat, but should stand up well against most other deck types.