2007/10/03

Assamites (post-LotN era)

If it wasn't for the recent Alamut/Amaravati decks and the old "Tariq eats the World", the "clan of the assassins" would never have won a single tournament. Well, not anymore, Lords of the Night offers a lot of new cards to enforce old strategies (both successful and not), as well as opens up new possibilities. One thing is certain after this set Assamites will be at least showing up more than once in tournaments.

The crypt has some interesting addition or should I better say that the addition, actually now got a crypt to be added in. In whatever case, Alu & Sajid are good weenies for Alamut/Amaravati, as well as Hafsa & Layla in mid-capacities. Djuhah (one of my two all-time favorites from the RPG) seems more geared towards a non-combat Black Hand deck. Bakr is a wonderful combatant with his built-in rush at stealth and CEL/QUI. Monty Coven can find his way in a variety of decks, because apart from having all in-clan disciplines at superior he also has both dominate & fortitude. Izhim (at last he found his way into V:tES) is a powerhouse with THA (say Magic of the Smith) & pot, as well as a Seraph, who gets equipment discounts and spends less on quietus! Kabede is the second magaji of the clan and has AUS. Dmitri comes with built-in stealth and inferior Skin of Steel, also with AUS. Jamal and Thucimia also have a lot of potencial. The rest and less interesting are Evan, Sukainah, Bertrand & Kashan.

Now with 27 vampires in groups 4+5 the discipline spread is:
QUI/qui->19+7=26
OBF/obf->14+8=22
CEL/cel->14+7=21
AUS/aus
->2+7=9
PRE/pre
->1+5=6
FOR/for
->1+4=5
PRO/pro
->1+4=5
ANI/ani
->1+2=3
DEM/dem
->1+2=3
POT/pot->0+3=3
DOM/dom
->1+1=2
one each with NEC or THA at superior
one each with abo or chi or obt at infirior

New clan cards include: The Black Throne, which is good both contract-combat and voting. HL: Leadership which can remove (or at least diversify) the voting angle of breed decks. Omael Kuman is a nice addition with built-in range set. Finally the Nest seems more like a wallpaper, especially now that the clan has easy access intercept, bounce and "obedience".

Quietus is constantly changing over the years, from a failed combat discipline to a really characterless discipline that is now. This lack of character does not mean though that it became weaker, the opposite, now it is a very strong and versatile support discipline to both celerity and obfuscate. Loss is by far the most needed card that the discipline got in a long time, the inferior can be useful, but the superior is where the card really shines, providing the much needed ousting option. In the beginning, I really shunned Retain the Quick Blood (which also requires celerity), I thought it was inferior to the path, but after building a combat deck, I realized that celerity is actually more expensive than quietus, not to mention the versatility that it offers by practically reducing two disciplines, instead of one. Poison the Well of Life & Condemn the Sins of the Father are both cornercase actions and their use depends on the metagame. Blood Awakening is simply amazing, intercept at inferior and block denial at superior! Strike at the True Flesh was probably made to support melee weapons and by-pass grapples in either potence or fortitude decks, but still seems card intensive approach to combat.

Obfuscate got even more stealth, but also a controversial Obedience-clone. Conceal is OK, if you have no other option to deal with equipment and location, which usually shouldn't the case. Blithe Acceptance is semi-permanent stealth and also seems uninteresting. Hide the Mind is an auspex hoser, that can be quite useful in certain metagames.
Into Thin Air is just amazing, better than Lost, but with a sever hand limitation, to balance it, good design (since both card deserve their place in obf decks). Mental Maze is as Obedience but works additionally to allies, costs 1 blood and requires blocking (which is no problem any more for Assamites), now a lot of people point out that it is worse than its dominate counterpart and I tend to disagree, first of all it also can be used against allies (a severe limitation for Obedience), the cost is negligible compared to the potential loss of a minion and finally blocking rushes at +1 stealth, is quite easy now with Blood Awakening (which can be also useful when acting). All in all, it is very similar and quite useful for all non-combat decks.

Celerity's scope got a little expanded in this set, but still it remains THE gun-discipline (after losing the title of THE potence-companion to fortitude, since Disarms become more common then IGs & TSs). Precision offers a way to get rid of annoying cards (read: Deflection) by additionally doing pool damage at stealth (later is at superior). Resist Earth's Grasp is just wonderful and very nice companion to Flash. I don't really understand why people are so excited about Mercury's Arrow, especially Assamites have much better option when it comes to strike cards. AUS+CEL offers some god damn powerful offensive combat option, thus I see no place for Eyes of Blades (which also requires auspex), it would have been a decent defensive combat card given different discipline requirements.

There are more interesting cards for the clan in the set. First of all Monster is just amazing for combat decks, notice that you can untap up to three times (more with superior Eagle's Sight) by rushing and blocking prey/predator! PB:Z├╝rich is also very powerful for stealth/bleed hordes, since it is certain that no other player is going to be able to hold the edge, because you can certainly pass one bleed per turn. Ambulance is one more Imbued hating card from this set, but still it is going to see a lot of play in combat decks, as long as the imbued stick around. Bundi is a melee weapon that can be used along with IGs (unfortunately though it is card intensive, but still useful when you are playing with/against potence). Open Dossier is a good enhancement to contract mechanic by offering more intercept. Lost in the Translation is a very expensive redirection, but still useful when playing whiout dominate or superior auspex. Fortitude offer Hard Case (at infirior is as Narrow Minds) and Armor of Vitality (prevent 3 damage for one blood is very useful when facing a lot of animalism combat), both also come with anti-weapon-tech at superior, which is very useful especially when your gun deck faces another. Finally, dominate's Command the Legion is just perfect for Amaravati, to aid his swarm vote/bleed your prey to death.

The cards found inside the new preconstructed can be viewed here. But some important cards were not reprinted: Alamut, Yoruba Shrine, Blood Sweat, Lost in Crowds, Elder Impersonation, Forgotten Labyrinth, Disguised/Concealed Weapon, Flash, Blur, Psyche! So where does that leave a newbie, who want to begin playing the game and focus on Assamites? Let me answer frankly, in very difficult position. It true that with a couple of preconstructed he can still enjoy casual games, but there are several staple cards that he will need in order to win games (.44s, Blood Doll/Minion Tap, Psyche, etc). Most of these cards can be obtained from the Third Edition along with a lot of cards either for trading afterwards or to be able to play other clans/sects. Now the next problem is the crypt, many key vampires were printed way back in Kindred Most Wanted, namely Michael, Vardar, Joe, Antara and Amaravati. Unfortunately, the boosters of that set do not offer that many useful cards to the clan, so it would be much more effective to trade for them or buy them as singles.

For those interested in the Black Hand angle, they will need one box from the Sword of Caine mini-set, which contains most of the Black Hand goodies, but still they will miss few very strong cards, printed only in Black Hand, like Ministry, these though are very easy to trade. Also you can look into Legacies of Blood, both for Laibon-tech and bloodlines, but both aspects although interesting to try are not where Assamites are geared at. Finally, there are Final Nights and the old Assamite preconstructed, in these you will find Tariq (booster) and Alamut (preconstructed). This set is out-of-print for quite some time so trading seems the only viable option, but I must discourage newbies for trying to purchase staff this old, since they really hard to obtain and not as competitive as the newer stuff.

Below I have a deck that can be easily constructed with two preconstructed and drafting 9 boosters (or buying a booster box). It very weak, since it misses key cards, not available in the set (see above). But still it's the best shot a starting player has at staying in a game and if he lucky, he might even be able to grab a VP. Additionally, playing rush requires a good skills in making deals and very sharp perception of the tables status, adding to the difficulty for newbies.

Crypt [12]
1x Dmitri Borodin (10.Ass, AUS CEL NEC QUI obf)
1x Izhim abd Azrael (9.Ass, CEL OBF QUI THA pot)
1x Kabede Maru (9.Ass, AUS CEL OBF QUI abo pot)
2x Bakr (8.Ass, CEL OBF QUI dem pro)
1x Kashan (7.Ass, CEL OBF QUI obt pre)
1x Hafsa, The Watcher (6.Ass, OBF QUI aus cel)
2x Layla bint-Nadr (5.Ass, CEL OBF qui)
1x Bertrand d'Anjou (4.Ass, aus cel qui)
1x Sajid al Misbah (4.Ass, QUI)
1x Evan Rogers (3.Ass, cel qui)
Master [11]
2x Frontal Assault
1x Haqim's Law: Judgment
1x Market Square
1x Path of Blood, The
1x Quietus
1x Underworld Hunting Ground
4x Vessel
Event [1]
1x Dragonbound
Action [12]
8x Clandestine Contract
2x Khabar: Glory
2x Loss
Equipment [6]
2x Bundi
4x Garrote
Reaction [16]
6x Black Sunrise
5x Open Dossier
5x Rooftop Shadow
Action Modifier/Reaction [8]
6x Blood Awakening
2x Provision of the Silsila
Action Modifier/Combat [4]
2x Resist Earth's Grasp
2x Swallowed by the Night
Combat [32]
2x Baal's Bloody Talons
4x Gemini's Mirror
4x Khabar: Honor, The
8x Pursuit
4x Strike at the True Flesh
4x Taste of Death
6x Weighted Walking Stick