For the last iteration of our series, I want you to picture the following situation:
It’s been a stressful day, but you managed to do it: you made finals! In the poorly lit underground of the illegal bar where you are playing your last game, you observe your opponents. To your left, your prey is licking a knife covered in blood while staring at you. Your already know one of your allies, because he screamed at you in German for five minutes straight when you chose not to give him one pool with your parity shift. Finally, your predator is quite obviously something from another world, as seen with his black horns and the grey tentacles on his face. You didn’t know that the V:tES community was so inclusive.
Just when you are starting to focus, you receive a text message from Emma, the cute girl from accounting, asking you if you are free to go eat something tonight. Slowly but surely, your heartbeat starts to accelerate as you realize: you are the less experienced player of the table.
You hate to see that happen, right? Well, in this article, I’ll help you for those common situations where you feel you are the worst player at the table.
Before we start, I would like to deeply apologize for the delay of this article. Here I would put a sob story about how the anguish of the blank page coupled with the scary realization of my own mortality prevented me from writing but I don’t have such a story so I’m not going to do so. Feel free to yell at me the next time you see me.
– Don’t listen to people
V:tES is a game of manipulation and deception and well, most of the best players are very good at both of those. If they perceive you as a weaker player, and trust me, it’s very easy to spot a newer player when you’re experienced, they will try to take advantage of you. While obviously not everyone wants to make you their puppet before throwing you in the garbage can when they are done with you, manipulative people will still suggest poor deals (for you at least) or try to mislead you. I said multiple times in previous articles that having a good game plan is important and most of the times it includes killing your prey, which probably won’t agree with it. While you shouldn’t crash on someone for no reason, sometimes just going for it when you have the kill is the correct play, and I would even argue that it is most of the time.
So yeah, you should at least think twice before making a deal, and, as always, try to make a decision based on whether the deal is good for you rather than if the person suggesting it to you just has a big smile.
– Listen to people
You know that guy who told you one minute ago that you shouldn’t listen to people? Well, don’t listen to him.
The beauty about V:tES is that you have two opponents but also two allies. Well, they’re the kind of allies who will eventually try to backstab and kill you once they’re your predators, but, for the most part, they should be friendly enough. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need to make a decision, as most players will be understanding if they know you’re new. Just, you know, don’t go offering them a free GW just because they were kind to you. Exactly like with your parents, sometimes, it’s important to be ungrateful.
Also, I actually see most new players not talk enough or be afraid to make small deals (“I’m not blocking this but then you don’t block this specific action I will do”, “I won’t bleed you for one turn and you don’t backrush me”, etc). If you’re going to do something that will make someone angry (like playing a massive damage vote, playing an annoying event or playing a common unique master), most of the times it’s a good idea to ask your allies, as a sign of goodwill. Even if they don’t think you should do it, you can choose to do it if you really need it of course, but at least you showed that you were open to discussion which might be important later on in the game.
– Be confident that you can play to win
First, a word of advice that applies to like … everything in life (?): If you want something to happen, first you have to convince yourself that it’s possible. You can’t sit at a table expecting to get destroyed and then suddenly win out of nowhere. Sure playing with multiple national champions or finalists can (and will) be scary, but them being good doesn’t mean they win 100% of their games: this game might just be the game where your seating is perfect and you easily sweep through the table.
Early on, as I was still starting to play in tournaments of V:TES, I read the following principle (I think it was from TTC?) : “In a tournament, there will be one game where you can’t do anything, one game where anything can happen and one game that you should win”. Now, is it a statement backed with analytical evidence? Hum… I don’t know, maybe? (Probably not). Still, I think this is a good mindset to play with: even if you get wrecked in a game 1 or 2, you still have one game where you’re going to be in a good position to win and, remember that in most tournament you only need one GW to make finals.
Also, I want to emphasize that you should play to make as many VPs as possible. Unless you’re absolutely 100% sure you can’t make more than 1 or 0,5VP, you should aim for a GW and shouldn’t be satisfied by only killing your first prey by crashing on him. Sure, it might be more satisfactory on short term, but playing to the maximum of your possibles points will pay off in the long term.
– Think about table dynamics
Ok, this advice is less about actually winning the game and more about “How to prevent getting yelled at because you made a mistake”. When I say that you should be careful about table dynamics, it means that you should try to your best not to unstabilize tables, for example by putting your predator in full torpor or by offering an easy GW to someone else on the table. Obviously, this basically says “Think about being good at the game” but as a rule of thumb, trying to think about the table as a whole rather than just your own position is always a good idea. This is also the number one reason why I don’t advise a newer player to play a fight deck as it’s VERY easy to break the balance of the table when you can easily torporize people, and if you’re going to break this balance, you should be really sure about what you are doing.
Sure sometimes, it will mean that you need to make admittedly weirds deals, for example with your prey or your predator, but if it means stopping a Week Of Nightmares deck or a weenie DBR from sweeping the whole table, it might just be worth it.
– Don’t be too kind
Finally, this advice is one of the last I’ve incorporated in my games. I know that when I first started playing V:TES, I was afraid of being too agressive or making agressive deals that would sacrify allies. However, sometimes, very early on will be your best window to oust someone and you should absolutely take advantage of this, even if it means that person just won’t be playing V:TES this game. It also means that if you do something for one of your allies, it should be motivated by something other than sympathy. Of course, I’m not saying you should always maniacally laugh and insult the persons you’re playing with: you can be competitive and still be a nice person who likes puppies and baby penguins.
And … that’s it, we did it, we completed this series! You now have literally no excuse not to win the whole tournament. I very obviously hope to see you all in Paris for the championship (feel free to say hi if you see a short guy speaking English with an horrible french accent near a sexy italian bald guy) and, who knows, maybe you too can find l’amour à la française.