A collectible card game (CCG) set in White Wolf's World of Darkness. Each player represents a Methuselah, one of the shadowy elder vampires who pulls the strings of younger vampires from the shadows. The game was originally called Jyhad. Originally owned by Wizards of the Coast, now owned by White Wolf.

Game Setup: Like most CCGs, you must buy cards in order to play. Original runs are out of print, but are often sold on eBay cheap; newer runs such as Sabbat and Ancient Hearts can be found in gaming stores. Again, like most CCGs, you must fashion a deck of cards before play.

Building A Deck: In V:TES, a deck consists of two piles of cards: the first pile is called the crypt, and consists of vampire cards, while the second pile is called the library, and consists of all other cards.

The crypt must have at least twelve cards in it; typically, it'll either have only twelve (to ensure drawing the wanted vampires), or it'll have a huge number (for a weenie deck where the idea is to bring out a lot of low cost vampires). Each vampire has a cost (in pool) to bring out, a list of Disciplines (vampiric powers) they can use, and perhaps some special ability. Most decks will have vampires with similar Disciplines (because it makes playing Discipline-related cards easier), but this is not always true.

The number of cards the library may have depends on how many people are playing, but eighty is a good number. Each card represents an item, a location, or an action that either you or one of your vampires can undertake. Just about all of the cards have a tangible cost; unlike in Magic: the Gathering where most cards are paid for in mana which regenerates each turn, most cards in V:TES cost you pool or one of your vampires blood, leaving you or your vampire weaker in the process. Many cards also require a vampire to have a Discipline in order to use them.

Play: The players sit in a circle. The optimimum number of players is five, but anything larger than two will work (two is good for learning, but not so much for playing). The person to a player's left is considered that player's prey; the person to a player's right is considered that player's predator. The object of the game is to oust your prey (by reducing their pool to 0), without being ousted by your predator. Ousting your prey gives you a point, and some more pool as a bonus. Since it does not matter who ousts a player -- the player's predator always gains the point and the pool -- short term alliances are common, but long term ones are not; you wish to help the your grand-predator (your predator's predator) enough to keep your predator from focusing fully on you, but not so much that your grand-predator will oust your predator and then become your predator. Similarly, committing too many resources towards attacking your prey leaves you open to attack by your predator, and playing too many cards that cost pool (or bringing out too many expensive vampires) can leave you low in pool, vulnerable to a lucky strike.

There are three main types of strategies in V:TES:

The game follows a rock-paper-scissors design: Bleed decks will beat bruiser decks which will beat political decks which will beat bleed decks...This is not always true, but close enough. For any strategy, there is a way to neutralize that strategy.

Good Points:

Bad Points:
  • Unless everyone you're playing with is good, the game can take a long time to play; two hours for a five player game would not be uncommon.
  • The game has a steep learning curve, especially if you don't know the World of Darkness. There are (at least) forty symbols printed on the cards that you need to know, and it takes awhile to learn them. Additionally, there are a lot of non-obvious rules, and it will take awhile to learn them, as well. Magic: the Gathering is simple in comparison.
  • For maximum enjoyment, you need other people who know how to play the game and play it well. These people are not always easy to come by.

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