Official VEKN Nosferatu Newsletter for June, 2004

Yaa! A new expansion, which means new vampires! The Gehenna expansion is out, and along with a lot of cool new cards and a new, interesting game mechanic (i.e. Event cards), our Nosferatu pals get 4 new vampires to work with (well, ok, technically, 2 Nosferatu and 2 Nosferatu Antitribu, but I have historically viewed the two clans as interchangeable). This Newsletter, I'll look at the 4 new vampires, and in the next Newsletter, I'll be examining the cool new cards in the Gehenna set, in so much as they help/hinder the Nosferatu.

A quick word, before I begin, on the controversial decision to include Group 4 vampires in the Gehenna expansion. Regardless of whether or not Group 4 is a good idea (personally, I think it is both the reasonable and inevitable result of a Grouping rule, but neither here nor there), we have Group 4 vampires, and that 3 of the 4 new Nosferatu vampires are Group 4 means that if we want to use them, we have to say goodbye to most of our old standby vampires for crypts that include them. This is certainly possible, as there are, what, about 20 Group 3 Nosferatu and Nosferatu Antitribu, making crypt construction not that difficult, but certainly something that takes getting used to. Not having access to, say, Olivia, Beast, or Nikolaus Vermuellen for your crypt is a leap to make, but one that is hardly insurmountable (just like how when Group 3 came out, we had to leave KoKo and Duck behind occasionally), often worth the effort, and we can eagerly look forward to the release of new Group 4 vampires in upcoming expansions.

On to the vampires, remembering that I rate vampires with somewhere between 1 and 5 "*"s, where * is, like, Tusk and ***** is, like, Teresita:

Petra (5) OBF, ANI, aus, Camarilla. Group 4. Damage Petra inflicts on Baali is aggravated. A vampire burns an additional blood whenever he or she tries to press to continue combat with Petra.****

Petra is a really good new vampire. Any 5 cap with 2 in clan superiors is going to find a lot of use, and not only does Petra have 2 in clan superiors, but she also has two extra corner case, if certainly worthwhile special abilities. And compared to most other 5 point vampires, she seems to get them for free! Maybe she is borrowing them from poor ol' Judah. Yeah, she lacks Potence, which is why she only gets 4 stars instead of 5, but there are going to be countless OBF/ANI or single discipline decks she'll fit into. Her fringe Auspex (along with 2 of the other new vampires) brings Auspex into line as a solid secondary discipline for the Nosferatu, and Petra will likely see a lot of play in decks with weird Ingram Frizer. Her special abilities are nothing to sneeze at, especially as they seem to be free--the ability to do aggravated damage, while rarely likely to come up, will be gold when it does (especially is it is any damage, not just hand damage! Go, go aggravated bats!), and her anti-press ability, while hardly earth shaking, is just gravy. Put her in a ANI based block deck using Aid from Bats as defensive combat technology, and she'll likely do just fine in combat. All that, and she kinda looks disturbingly like Melissa Auf Der Maur. Umm. Melissa Auf Der Maur. Yeah. Petra is super.

Shahid (7) POT, OBF, pro, for, ani. Camarilla. Group 4. You may tap Shahid during any other Methuselah's untap phase to increase your hand size by X for the remainder of the turn, where X is the number of minions that Methuselah controls.***

Shahid has a really cool picture, a reasonable discipline spread, and a pretty handy special ability. But he lacks a title, like the similarly disciplined and aged Nikolaus, and his special ability, while providing a great opportunity for hand cycling, is only good during other player's turns, meaning it is probably best used in intercept/blocking type decks, and Shahid only has inferior Animalism and seemed to miss the Auspex boat in this expansion (meaning he'll be difficult to use in an intercept deck, where his ability is probably best used). I mean, yeah, his ability is good for just hand cycling when necessary, but having to leave him untapped for this when he is 7 point vampire, and as when he is tapped, he'll have trouble untapping and blocking things, he doesn't mesh together all that well. This being said, he fit well in a number of Nosferatu strategies as he has POT and OBF combined with the common Fortitude of his clan mates. Not real spectacular vampire, but not a bad one. I suspect he'll mostly show up as a fill in vampire, rather than a crypt star, but I could be wrong.

Skidmark (5) OBF, FOR, pot, aus. Group 4. Sabbat. When Skidmark is acting, you do not replace any cards you play until the end of the action. ***

Again, a really cool picture, and a solid deal as a 5 point vampire with 2 superiors, who always seem to have decks to live in. But Skidmark is also saddled with a very significant disadvantage--you don't get to redraw cards during his action. This means he probably doesn't want to be in a high cycle type deck, like a combat deck, but he'll do fine in reactive decks (keeping in mind that his disadvantage only comes up when *he* is acting), and as he comes with Auspex, he could very well work just fine as the key to some sort of FOR/aus intercept deck. While he does suffer while acting, he'll also do just fine in a low card combo deck, like, say, an Obfuscate/Fortitude bleed deck based on stealthy Force of Will actions--if you have a Force and a Lost in Crowds or something in your hand, Skidmark is good to go. The biggest flaw with Skidmark, however, comes from his being Group 4. With OBF/FOR, who does Skidmark want to hang out with? Yeah, that's right. The Samedi. But he can't, as the Samedi are all currently Group 2. This is sad, but as my pal Jon has pointed out more than once, any Samedi deck is vastly improved by removing all traces of Thanatosis, and as using Skidmark requires you to remove all Samedi from your Samedi based deck, your deck will only get better, really. Sad. But true.

Aeron (9) POT, OBF, ANI, pro, aus. Group 3. Sabbat Arch Bishop of London. Minions opposing Aeron in combat take an additional point of damage during strike resolution if the range is close. Once each combat, Aeron may burn a blood for a press.****

Unlike the other three, Aeron is Group 3, meaning she can fit into any number of decks you already have and hang out with all your old Nosferatu Antitribu. Also unlike the other three, Aeron doesn't have that sharp a portrait (sometimes I really like Ken Meyer, like with Gwendolyn, but Aeron seems pretty sketchy, for my money). This being said, she has a very solid 3 superior, in clan disciplines, as well as fringe aus/pro. Being a 9 cap, she needs to be pretty potent to be worth using, and she seems to fill that expectation--2 votes, an extra point of damage in combat, and a built in press. Add in her pro, and she really screams "Make a Combat Deck Outta Me!" Granted, her lack of Fortitude means limited multi-rush possibility, but she certainly could do well in a Sabbat political deck, maybe hooking her up with Eternal Vigilance to let her act and then block repeatedly with her ANI/aus and she certainly could go in a Nosferatu based wall deck with Petra and Ingram. Her combat abilities are certainly nothing to sneeze at, what with her effectively having superior, superior Potence. A pretty solid 9 point vampire, which is good, as you need to be pretty solid if you are going to be worth using at that capacity. Maybe I'll come up with a good deck for her in the near future.

Overall, not a bad spread of new vampires. Petra is fantastic; Skidmark certainly has some sort of deck that wants him; Shahid is very reasonable; and Aeron is pretty potent, if big. It seems likely that they'll be showing up in decks near you quite soon.