Jyhad Deckbuilding Basics
JYHAD DECKBUILDING BASICS
Players who are new to V:tES often wonder how to put together an effective
deck that is capable of winning games. There are many diverse strategies
that are tried and tested winners, however many of these are not accessible
to a new player who has limited card resources. I have endeavoured in this
document to compile advice for players in building a good deck without
relying on hordes of rare cards. Keep in mind that this advice is mostly
based on my own personal experience playing V:tES and not necessarily useful
for all environments.
The first thing you should consider is what you would like your deck to do.
Win, certainly... but how?
Generally, there are three core strategies:
Each has a direct or indirect way to attack your prey's main resource, their
pool. It is important that players understand that they have two main goals,
ousting your prey (all of them, in succession) and more importantly, NOT
being ousted yourself. Thus, you must be able to both defend your pool while
simultaneously attacking your prey without mercy.
A new player will generally not have enough cards to put together a deck
that focuses entirely on one of the core three strategies. Nevertheless, a
coherent and effective deck can be built using readily available common
There are many other deck types than the three listed here, but from the assumption that you
are new to the game, it is probably best to keep to the basics for now.
There are several components to a deck... the crypt and the library, which
can be further broken down into master cards and minion cards.
CRYPT AND CAPACITY
A crypt should almost always contain exactly twelve vampires. More are
allowed, but unless you expect to get more than twelve vampires out in any
given game (ie. a weenie deck) there is no reason why you should ever exceed
twelve. If there is a vampire that you feel is integral to your deck, do not
be afraid to include more than one copy of it. If you absolutely *rely* on
that vampire, include at least four... ensuring that you will almost always
get him/her in your starting inactive region.
A good rule of thumb for the crypt is to keep the average capacity of your
vampires between 4 and 5. I usually try to keep the average as close to an
even 4 as possible. If you consider that your starting inactive region will
contain exactly four vampires, you should be able to get all four out. At an
average between 4 and 5, this means you will be spending between 16 and 20
pool to bring out your vampires most of the time. This leaves you a nice
cushion of 10 - 14 pool to keep yourself alive or pay for useful cards.
Smaller vampires have a significant advantage over larger vampires. Conisder
this scenario: Player A has two vampires of 4 capacity each. Player B has
one vampire of capacity 8. Granted Player B's vampire no doubt has more and
better disciplines than both of Player A's vampires. However, two vampires
can take twice as many actions as one. Since all vampires have inherent
abilities, such as bleeding, hunting and calling most votes, this becomes
significant. A horde of ten 'weenies' can all bleed for one. A vampire of
ten capacity may be able to stop one or two of those weenies but will be
hard pressed to stop *all* of them. Player A can use one vampire to take
actions and leave another for blocking. Player B is limited to a choice of
either acting or blocking (most of the time--there are exceptions).
It is certainly possible to make an effective deck based around a large
capacity vampire, but be careful. Another problem with larger vampires is
that they often have disciplines that end up being redundant. A vampire with
superior AUS, CEL and PRS in a deck that focuses on all three disciplines is
a fine investment as you know they will be able to use all three to their
full potential. A vampire in the same deck that has inferior AUS, CEL, PRS,
FOR, POT, OBT, OBF may seem better but are you really going to be able to
use *all* of those disciplines effectively?
However, many of those vampires will also have access to votes or a special
ability that makes up for their cost. If this is the case, you should
probably focus on that vampire as the main focus and fill the rest of your
crypt with vampires that complement him/her while keeping the average
capacity at a reasonable level.
Contrarily, the smallest capacity vampires, usually Caitiffs or Panders,
have disadvantages that may make their cost seem less useful. Uriah Winter
who goes to your prey if he/she has more pool seems a bad investment to a
deck that needs to keep its minions. However, ultimately you are only
investing 1 pool in a minion who can bleed, diablerize, call votes etc.
Some of the caitiffs will usually have a discipline that complements the
deck you are making. Some disciplines are more useful than others in this
regard. Potence and Presence have useful cards that will not empty your
vampire of blood when you play them. Others are harder to use unless you
have the blood to support them such as Protean or Viscissitude.
The trick is to remember that weenies are cheap and expendable. A focused
weenie horde deck will not care if it loses one or two vampires. If three
one capacity vampires are burned, the Methuselah spent three pool; less than
being bled with Conditioning at superior.
If you choose to use large vampires, there are some cards which will help
you play them effectively. Minion Tap will let you effectively pay much less
pool for a large vampire. If you play Lazvernius (ten cap) and play Minion
Tap for seven blood, that means you basically only paid three pool to play
him. Since most vampires can still function with much less blood on them or
hunt for more if needed, this is usually the best way to go. Similarly,
Blood Doll can accomplish the same thing albeit much more slowly. At the end
of this document I will list other cards that are often used in conjunction
with different types of decks.
Ideally, you should try to keep your deck as close to the minimum amount of
cards required. Unless you are playing a deck that cycles through cards so
fast that running out of cards is an issue, playing with 60 cards is usually
better than 90. This will of course depend on the nature of the deck, as
well as the nature of the playing environment. It is possible that a 90 card
deck may be less efficient than a smaller deck but it might also be more fun
because it covers more corner-case scenarios and contains 'fun' cards that
you want to try but would never take to a tournament.
Keep in mind that unlike many Collectible Card Games (CCG) in Jyhad there is
no limit to the number of one specific card that you can play. For example, in a 90
card deck you could include 90 copies of Eyes of the Dead, though this would make little
sense. Include as many copies of whatever cards you need.
An important consideration when designing a deck is what disciplines will be
used with it. Most decks tend to focus on the three core disciplines of the
clan that makes up the majority of the crypt. For example, a Ventrue deck
will likely focus on Dominate, Fortitude and Presence (DOM, FOR, PRS).
It is possible to combine clans with similar disciplines. The Malkavians and
Tremere both share Dominate and Auspex so in theory a deck could use both
and use any combination of Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate and Thaumaturgy.
In general, it is best to keep the amount of disciplines used at three or
less. Adding more makes a deck too unfocused and too likely to experience
'hand-jam' when the wrong cards fill your hand at the wrong time. An
occasional card could be added if you really think you'll find some usage.
For example, I will include a 'Disguised Weapon' (OBF) in a deck where three
or four vampires possess that discipline. I may never use it but if I really
want to get out a gun it may come in handy. The worst that could happen is
that the card would need to be discarded. Be careful with this line of
thinking however--Even the best cards of each discipline are not worth
including if only one vampire can use it and the chances of its usage is
slim. Such 'corner-case' cards should be kept to a minimum if possible.
Do not be afraid to go down to two or even one discipline in a deck. By
focusing on two of a clan's disciplines, you are able to ensure that you are
much more likely to get cards that will be useful. For example, you could
focus on the Brujah's combat-oriented disciplines of Potence and Celerity
and leave Presence out altogether (or include only a few). By doing this,
you will have less ability to bleed but more ability to kill... this kind of
focus generally pays off. If you attempt to do this, be sure that the
vampires in your crypt reflect this. It's no use having a five capacity
Brujah with 'PRS cel pot' when you can can have 'cel pot' for three pool.
Your crypt should always reflect your library (and vice-versa).
In general, you should strive for one out of every five to seven library cards (1:5 to 1:7) being
Master cards. In a 60 card deck, 9-12 should be Masters. In a 90 card deck, 13-18
should be Masters. In general this rule of thumb will serve you well. You
won't be as likely to jam up on Master cards nor will you be likely to play
many turns where you can't play at least one.
Master cards are more powerful than most minion cards and give your deck a
much needed boost. Although there have been decks that are made up entirely
of Master cards (do NOT try this at home... yet) you would be hard-pressed
to find a deck that contains NO Master Cards.
The Masters you select should reflect the focus of your deck. If you are
concentrating on a specific discipline, consider adding a few of its skill
cards. If you are focusing on a specific clan, include Masters that are
unique to that clan.
Another use of Masters is to make things harder for your opponents. Cards
like Sudden Reversal or Direct Intervention can prevent cards from being
played that would cause you aggravation (or cause your opponents success)
later on. A well-timed Golconda: Inner Peace will cause your opponent to
choose between losing a vampire or paying two pool. If used on your prey,
this ends up being a bleed for two most of the time.
In order to win, you must first survive your predator's attacks. Your
predator's goal is to oust you; by keeping your pool at a reasonable level,
you can stay in the game long enough to oust your own prey and ultimately
win the game.
Gaining one pool by having the Edge is unreliable at best. You should never
rely on having the Edge for one complete rotation of the table. This is not
to say that you should not bleed in order to get the Edge; you should... but
you should keep in mind that nobody else at the table wants to see you gain
pool when they could gain it for themselves. Most of the time, the Edge will
belong to someone else and therefore other means of gaining pool are more
There are a variety of ways to gain pool, each with its own cost and
benefit. Try out the various pool management cards listed at the bottom of
this document and decide which work best for the deck you make.
Keep in mind that some pool management cards need to be defended and you
should plan the rest of your deck accordingly.
Vampires need blood to be able to help your cause. While they can often
function with one or two blood, many cards require them to spend that blood
to activate effects that you want to play. In order to keep enough blood on
your vampires, you should consider several cards. Blood Doll works both ways
and therefore can be used to fill up an empty vampire, preventing them from
being forced to hunt. Hunting Grounds are available for every clan, and can
make a significant difference if played at the right time, though their cost
of two pool and vulnerability to anti-location cards needs to be considered.
The Hungry Coyote and Inbase Discotek are useful in that they allow your
vampires to hunt more effectively. The Rack and Palatial Estate help only
one vampire and need to be protected, however they provide free blood each
turn without the vampire having to take a hunting action.
Protecting yourself from your predator (and often the other players) is as
important as winning. Several cards allow you the luxury of halting your
predator's advance without too much cost to yourself.
Against a vote deck, there are several tactics that are effective. Having
intercept ability can help you to stop votes before they get to the vote
stage; in this case permanent intercept (ie KRCG News Radio) may be better
than transient cards from your hand. Having votes of your own to discourage
hostile votes against you can often prevent needless suffering. The card
Delaying Tactics stops a minion from calling the vote at all, forcing them
to wait another turn before they can call another one. Often this can mean
you have one more turn to figure out how to deal with the card they were
about to play.
Against a bleed deck, pool gain and deflection are key concepts. If you are
able to gain pool faster than your predator bleeds you for it, you will have
enough time to deal with your own prey. Deflecting your predator's bleeds
(generally to your prey) is a great way to turn your enemies against each
other. Not only does your prey have to deal with an attack they weren't
expecting, you will also most likely have one less minion to block you when
you attack them on your turn. In this way, a defensive tactic becomes an
offensive one. There are also cards such as Protected Resources or Archon
Investigation, which have high costs but powerful effects against bleed
decks. Being able to intercept bleeds will sometimes be necessary, in which
case the abililty to untap or add intercept will come in handy.
Against combat decks, options are a bit more complicated. Depending on the
type of combat deck you are faced with, some cards become godsends whereas
others become hand-jam. Majesty or Earth Meld which end combat and allow you
to untap are ideal *unless* you are faced with an Immortal Grapple deck
which will totally nullify any Strike: Combat Ends effects. Damage
prevention is an option if your minions possess Fortitude. If they possess
Dominate, consider playing Obedience though this card can be hard to play as
it requires your vampire to be older, untapped and of course have DOM.
Master cards such as Elysium: the Arboretum or Purchase Pact can help but
only if both the 'rushing' vampire and your own belong to the same sect.
In general, the abililty to wake up and react to opposing vampire's actions
is very useful. A vampire can take an action and then wake to block,
effectively giving you the benefit of doubling your vampire's usefulness in
one turn. Wake with Evening's Freshness and Forced Awakening are stand-bys
for many types of deck. Both have a cost that needs to be considered
however. If you really need to cycle cards go with Forced Awakening. If
cycling is not an issue, but blood management is, Wake with Evening's
Freshness is more useful. Animalism users have access to cards that are
generally better (eg Rat's Warning) though limited to anti-bleeds. Since
much of the time large bleeds will be the most significant threat you will
want to block, these cards become a good deterrent that keeps your predator
on his/her toes.
Every player has preferences for hwo a deck should be divided. A formula
called 'Happy Families' provides a balanced approach to deck design. It is
well worth checking out. It is linked here:
Thought should be given to how many of each card (or type of card) you would
need in any given hand. If I know my deck will concentrate on heavy bleeds
with moderate stealth, it would not make much sense to include fifty combat
cards. Some players therefore decide what ratio they need beforehand and
select cards to fill in the blanks later. This has the advantage of giving
you the ability of defining the deck size from the start rather than
whittling it down to an acceptable (or legal) size later.
Mostly, deck composition is something that comes with experience, both
experience playing the game *and* experience playing that particular deck. A
deck should always be considered a 'work-in-progress' and be updated based
on its performance.
If you find that you end up discarding certain cards more than others,
remove one or two from your deck. Similarly, if you find that you wish you
had more of certain cards, try to obtain more. Mnay players on the newsgroup
will be willing to trade with you or at least point you in the right
I hope this document has been of some use to you. I would appreciate any
feedback you could offer that would help make it more complete. Please feel
free to email me at:
Here I have compiled a list of cards that are useful for specific types of
deck. Based on the type of deck you are building, the following cards might
be considered worthy additions.
AVERAGE VAMPIRE CAPACITY L:ESS THAN 5
Tribute to the Master
Discipline Skill Cards
AVERAGE VAMPIRE CAPACITY GREATER THAN 5
Minion Tap (usually played in conjunction with 5th Tradition: Hospitality)
Untap cards (WWEF, Forced Awakening)
Tomb of Ramses III
Elysium: the Arboretum/Purchase Pact
MORE THAN HALF OF VAMPIRES FROM ONE CLAN
Hunting Ground for that clan
Cards that focus on core three disciplines of that clan
LESS THAN FOUR VAMPIRES OF ANY ONE CLAN
Avoid cards that focus on that clan. They may end up jamming your hand.
Strike: Combat Ends (mostly Presence)
Damage prevention (mostly Fortitude)
Intercept cards (either transient cards such as Auspex or permanents such as
More votes than voter
Reactionary votes (ie Dread Gaze)
Telepathic Misdirection/My Enemy's Enemy (Auspex)
Rat's Warning/Guard Dogs (Animalism)
Elder Intervention/Pack Tactics
Short Term Investment
Powerbases (various cities)
Govern the Unaligned
Jyhad Resource Page
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Jyhad Deckbuilding Basics