Ashur Tablets made an entrance in Keepers of Tradition, and introduced ash heap recursion to VtES like never before – even though it was out there (mainly as a niche for Giovanni), not even Fox Mulder could believe hard enough in it to make it a mainstream strategy. The tablets arguably make any deck type better, but require a specific set of vampires to support them. With BCP-produced options we can take a look at how Ashur Tablets might imbue a stealth-bleed archetype – not unlike anything that can be done with preconstructed decks – with a powerful twist.
So, let’s take a spin in Arcadia, and see if we can take Isanwayen back home. Now I’ll tell you how to play Ashur Tablets.
What is the deck and why is it good?
Ashur Tablets and Liquidation form the core of many contemporary Multiple Master Phase Action (MMPA) decks, because they offer a means of pool gain without dependence on minion actions, as well as the ability to cycle in and out cards you most need during the game.
On their own, Tablets do little. Rather, they have to be built on foundations of support vampires and cards. The dominant options for them are Anson from group 1, and Nana Buruku and Cybele from group 4. When browsing the TWDA, we can find that the archetypes they represent are numerous, ranging from combo to vote and combat. It has been said that Ashur Tablets make any strategy better.
In addition to those mentioned, bleeding has always been a solid recipe for winning. In this deck we will try to get the most out of the often proclaimed “best card” of VtES: Govern the Unaligned. Isanwayen is our choice for MMPA options and minion actions. Our friendly neighborhood extra-terrestrial cannot hold his own in the political game, nor does he have disciplines for combat; Dominate is his best bet of ousting, and Ashur Tablets one of the most robust tools for survival.
Before going any further, a crucial question has to be asked: will adding Ashur Tablets make me win more? Not necessarily, is the correct answer. The best decks that utilize Ashur Tablets and Liquidation are made to maximize their effectiveness, and in a deck that adds them in smaller numbers (six in this case) they only add an ability to morph the ratios of your deck mid-game (along with some solid pool gain). There are no guarantees the deck presented here will be strictly ‘better’ than getting a Parliament of Shadows or two and going to town with that excellent product.
Will this slow us down? Hells no! The tricks and fundamentals of VtES that apply specifically to this deck are too cool to pass up. I refuse to miss such an opportunity. Let’s dive in!
How do you play it?
If you took a look at our last hand-holding article on the Unnamed, you will find the general strategy for VPs and the eventual GW works here as well: your Prey is to the left. Each kill gives you a VP, and it all leads to a GW. Each bleed deck will approach this seemingly simple strategy differently, however. It all boils down to three different aspects: how many vampires will you have bleeding, at which turn of the game will they start bleeding, and how will they deal with bounce.
This deck will attempt to build a “Govern Chain” and start pushing bleeds through once you have a critical mass of minions influenced for half the price or for free. It plays differently from a star-powered bleed deck like the Unnamed, which keeps up a constant pressure of bleeds throughout the game. The strategy is simple enough to lay down, but we have written out a chapter below on chaining for your convenience. The goal is to build up a nuke and pour the waste on your prey once you see an opening.
This – govern-chain powering up a nuke and dropping it once ready – is how we oust. How we survive is governed by Ashur Tablets, Liquidation and Deflection. Ashurs and Liquidation are useful in rebuilding your deck mid-game, which is discussed below in more detail, but their added benefit of pool gain cannot be overlooked. Deflection keeps you covered against cross-table bounces and larger bleeds from your Predator.
The last piece of the puzzle for bleeding archetypes is bounce avoidance. There are no great ways to go about this in this deck, but look out for an opening in the opponent’s wall of minions. Once they’re locked, they’ll bounce less. If they try to house their bounce in their hand for your lunge turn, it means they won’t be pushing forward much – a lose-lose scenario for them (which, sadly, does not always mean a win-win situation for you). Misdirection will help with your lunge, especially if one follows a bounced bleed or two your Prey had to manage with.
Now that we know how we’ll survive through sheer bloat from our masters and bounces, and how we will try to make ousts with unrelenting force turns of massive bleeding, we will go through the specifics of chaining Governs and Ashur picks in the following sections.
- How to chain Governs
To chain Governs, pay attention to the Superior effect of the card: if successful, move three blood to a younger vampire in your uncontrolled region. This is deemed one of the most powerful singular effects in the game. The basic principle is to make a crypt out of vampires that can Govern down each other. The first vampire to influence out is always your largest vampire, which governs down the next largest, who in turn governs down the third eldest, etc.
In this deck we start with the highest capacity vampire Carolina Valez (9), followed up by Charles Delmare (8) and Arcadian (8), going down to the amazing Badr (7), who can govern chain to our star Isanwayen (6), and finally at the end of the chain we have Emily Carson (5) and Joao Bile (5). The chain does not end there, however, since we still have New Blood (2) and Anarch Convert to target with Governs. You might find yourself double-Governing Isanwayen by the end of the day with your two elder vampires for a practically free vampire.
Ideally, a Govern chain deck would have 12 different vampires, most of them of different cap. This is not feasible here, and to compensate for this we have a few tricks in case you draw weird starting crypts that don’t have clear chains to follow:
- Always start with the highest capacity: if it’s Badr, go for it. With careful management of uncontrolled region you always have something to Govern down to.
- Transferring back to your pool is valuable: you can Govern down to a Convert or New Blood, transfer the excess back, pop them up and get new options for your chaining next turn.
- Anarch Converts fill many roles: more often than not your vampires without titles are worth converting into Anarch with the Convert’s ability just to get a new crypt draw, and fill your squad with anarchs to battle Anarch Revolts. Sometimes you’ll notice it might be nice to have him up as the unique cap1 chum blocker that he is.
- Running out of options: Governing down is sort of extra transfers. Do not hesitate to use your proper transfers to buy a new vamp from your crypt if you’re in a deadlock.
You might be tempted to start bleeding early game with those powerful cards of yours, but resist the temptation. Isanwayen is almost crucial and shuffling through your crypt to find him might take a few turns, during which you’ll only Govern down. Don’t worry about discarding Conditionings and Bondings in the early game. You can always recur them back later. Which brings us to our next topic!
- How to recur with Ashur tablets
There are three major advantages to popping a set of Ashurs: gaining three pool, recurring 13 cards into your library, and cherry picking any card of those to your hand. Gaining pool is always good, but what cards should you recur?
As you’re about to get your first set (often you won’t have time for the second, but who knows), take a look at what happened around the table.
- If you’re facing, or about to face, a wall or deck heavy with intercept, take one part bleed, two parts stealth.
- If there is practically no intercept present, take one part stealth, two parts bleed.
- Always recur any lost Ashur Tablets, and prioritize Misdirection.
You’ll find few defensive cards (combat or reactions) in the deck. Generally, they are meant as one-off solutions to problems you’ll face. This is why I won’t advise recurring them as a rule. You’re playing to get VPs, and more stealth and more bleed are there to provide.
Ideally, cards get into the ash heap by being played (Governing down before Ashurs, bleeding with Govern after Ashurs to simplify), but Liquidation forces them there as well. What might seem like a drawback to gaining pool can be a boon with Ashurs. Do not forget to use your discard phase actions either.
Other Ashur Tablet decks threaten your sets, as per card text. If you see another vampire that allows MMPA, or if someone owns a Parthenon, be ready to lose yours if they get a better draw. A trick here might be playing one first, and cycling two more to your hand – slam them down together with Isanwayen’s ability to mitigate your possible losses.
Which packs do you need to build it?
Black Chantry is here yet again to provide the packs. The deck is built from the list of products available at the time of writing, so look out for upcoming packs that might work better for you than those listed here. The list of packs is a collection needed for a functioning deck of the represented archetype, which would without a doubt be made better with further investments, but returns are diminishing. Further purchases are not crucial to making the deck work competitively.
The bulk of the price goes to the Anthology 1 packs, which include Ashurs and Liquidation, the fundamental parts of the deck. The rest of the kit (bleed, stealth and bounces) are easily found from Parliament of Shadows (a strong, functioning deck in itself) and First Blood: Ventrue, and the Kiasyd to enable Ashurs are included in the Heirs to the Blood 2.
Prices are BCP MSRP prices.
- Anthology 1 x2 [40€]
The main ingredient in this dish.
- 6x Ashur Tablets
- 2x Liquidation
You want to play MMPA, this is what you come for. Arguably a third box of Anthology could be suggested, as more popular MMPA builds eventually will use more of both Ashurs and Liquidation, but this will get you well started.
- 1x Badr
- 3x Anarch Convert
- 1x New Blood
Our crypt choices were discussed in more detail above. These are the picks you’ll get from Anthology.
And… that’s it! If it feels like we get little value out of these boxes, fret not: the cavalcade of vampires in the set fills out many, many decks, and Ashur Tablets is a thing in and of itself.
- Heirs to the Blood 2 [22€]
A main source for Kiasyd.
- 2x Isanwayen
- 1x Arcadian, the
If we were to focus primarily on the Kiasyd, we would instead double up on Heirs to the Blood, and probably leave Anthology out of the picture altogether. In this case however we’ll settle for fewer Kiasyd, and use them only as support. They are a powerful clan however, make no mistake.
- 1x Great Symposium
A must-have single-use master in any and every Kiasyd deck.
- 2x Gremlins
Extra bleed with phenomenal numbers, but it lacks the Govern bloat effect. The main use for Gremlins is the ability to burn equipment. Minor gear you don’t have to worry about, but if you see an Assault Rifle, Helicopter or (especially) Bowl of Convergence, burn them with prejudice. But only after you’re done with your Govern chain!
- 1x Faerie Wards
Rushing allies are a thing in the meta of 2019. The Wards are a specific, while costly, counter to them. Keep an eye out for chances to use the outferior Auspex ability. Notice the discipline spread of Carolina Valez (and Anton de Conception, if you choose him in editing).
- Parliament of Shadows [20€]
The Parliament forms the foundation for the deck proper.
- 1x Carolina Valez
- 1x Charles Delmare
The Parliament has an astounding host of vampires, but it is diminished by our need of superior Dominate in this particular deck for chaining Governs. You could pick many vampires from here to be honest. These were chosen this time, but Anton de Conception and Luca Italicus could work for you as well.
- 1x Information Highway
- 1x Jake Washington
- 1x Political Hunting Ground
- 2x Villein
As is tradition, the master package bulks pool gain and reinforces blood gain. No surprises here, really. Notice that we use only two Villein – this is because one of the main problems of Dominate is that it can be very blood intensive. Villein here is a panic button.
- 6x Govern the Unaligned
We’ll get more later. Has the word “Govern” already made you sick, made your ears bleed? Good, get used to it. This is THE card of VtES.
- 3x Conditioning
Powerful, but costs blood. Bleeding for six feels good though, if you have a thing for numbers. And why wouldn’t you, you’re playing Dominate.
- 1x Mylan Horseed
Not only is he a changeling, reinforcing the Kiasyd theme, he is great in three ways: the unlock can be useful at times, he can bleed pretty safely, and most importantly he stops War Ghouls and many ally rushes on their tracks.
- 2x Blanket of Night
- 3x Shadow Play
- 3x Shroud of Absence
- 2x Shroud of Night
- 2x Tenebrous Form
- 2x Seduction
Oh boy, let’s go! Stealth in waves. One note about Tenebrous Form: it sails right past allies and Unleash Hell’s Fury, as they don’t have blood to spend for the block! Blanket of Night’s superior is only rarely useful, but if you’ll get the oust with it, all the more power to you.
- 2x Shadow Body
You’ll eventually get into fisticuffs in a game, and there is no fight you’ll win with the combat package we choose. Avoid the worst mishaps with Shadow Body. The special effect works with superior Govern. Good stuff.
- 4x Deflection
- 2x On the Qui Vive
The reaction package is scarce, I know. Any more will get in between your bleeds though and might mess up a perfectly fine ousting turn. Notice that while you chain in the early game, you’ll have unlocked minions to deflect with. Little need for wake effects.
Lastly, we’ll take some crucial end-chain vampires, options for Dominate and delivery masters from the Ventrue.
- First Blood: Ventrue [7€]
Crucial delivery, vampires and moooore Governs.
- 1x Emily Carson
- 1x Joao Bile
The end of your chain more often than not, notice that they do NOT have Obtenebration for stealth. You’ll have them mostly as bouncers, blockers and there to deliver the final blow once you see an opening. Say, with the help of the following card:
- 2x Misdirection
It can mean life or death to have your dedicated bouncer locked when you’re sitting on
Deflection, but no wake effects. Look for an opportune moment to lock up your Prey and bleed like ‘we did last summer’.
- 2x Blood Doll
Superior to Villein in many bleed decks, because you’ll be feeding pool back to the vampires, especially after a relaxing vacation to the torpor region. Your vampires will be starved for blood, always.
- 4x Govern the Unaligned
This brings us up to 10. At least you’ll be seeing these babies. A lot. Try not to get fed up with them clogging your hand. It’s a realistic problem.
- 4x Bonding
Doubles up as bleed and stealth, but most importantly doesn’t cost blood. Not staggering in power, but might be the final push to get that bleed through. Arcadian bleeds for three with two stealth with just this one card. Good numbers, no matter how you think about it.
Heirs to the Blood 2: 22€
Anthology 1: 2x 20e = 40€
Parliament of Shadows: 20€
First Blood: Ventrue: 7€
1x Emily Carson
3x Anarch Convert
1x Joao Bile
1x Arcadian, The
1x New Blood
1x Badr, Shadow of Granada
1x Charles Delmare
1x Carolina Valez
Library: 61 cards
Master (18 cards)
1x Great Symposium
1x Information Highway
1x Jake Washington
6x Ashur Tablets
1x Political Hunting Ground
2x Blood Doll
Action (12 cards)
10x Govern the Unaligned
Action Modifier (21 cards)
3x Shadow Play
3x Shroud of Absence
2x Shroud of Night
2x Tenebrous Form
2x Blanket of Night
Combat (2 cards)
2x Shadow Body
Ally (1 cards)
1x Mylan Horseed
Reaction (7 cards)
1x Faerie Wards
2x On the Qui Vive
Which cards to look out for in the future?
We are building the decks here both on budget, and only from BCP packs that have been either announced or released by the time of writing. That means some absolutely excellent additions might be out of our reach. Those cards might be coming your way sooner or later though, so keep an eye on these gems:
- Anarch Troublemaker
An absolute monster of a lunge card, that should guarantee you a kill when launched at an opportune moment.
- Parthenon, the
A must, and a staple in any MMPA deck. You’ll often see these in twos or threes in MMPA decks just to see one as early as possible. With your choice of vampire support you’ll get to cram through a set of Ashurs in one turn. Sick-a-licious.
- Song of Pan
- Chanjelin Ward
If you decide to (and why shouldn’t you) go full Kiasyd, I will have you know that they are famous for their great clan-specific and discipline cards. Many of them make Kiasyd slippery as a greased weasel, and an absolute nightmare to keep in check with combat.
- Aura Absorption
- Fae Contortion
- Earth Swords
- Stone Travel
Not only that, but their own discipline, Mytherceria, grants multi-purpose cards that are cheap and versatile. The deck presented above lacks much of that morphing ability to cater to different situations and replaces it with blood-intensive, raw power. Not bad, but not very Kiasyd either.
A multi-tool ally that wasn’t included in the Parliament of Shadows for some reason I never understood. A chum blocker against rushes, or an extra bleeder where you need one. An absolute legend.
So, there you have it. As a concluding statement, it cannot be stressed enough that just slapping on Ashur Tablets is not a winning strategy in itself. Spamming them might make a deck harder to oust, and the combo of Liquidation and Ashur Tablets is hella’ strong, but this particular deck does not do the ousting per se much better than just buying two Parliaments and mashing them into a dedicated bleeder or voter.
It does, however, teach you the valuable skill of Govern chaining (a staple strategy, and phenomenally efficient). Your controlled region is quickly filled with minions, every one of them capable of monstrous bleeds. Secondly, the notorious Ashur Tablets core is intriguing, makes you flex your thinking-muscles, and can make for some legendary plays that do – without a doubt – win competitive tables. Lastly, you’ll get to do all sorts of alienesque puns. I mean come on, Isanwayen is the E.T.
Don’t worry about getting lost in the Ashur-crowd. I have already taken you to their leader: it is, at the time of writing, Isanwayen, the only vampire BCP has printed that enables Ashur strats.
Hope you enjoyed it! Scotty, one ready for beam up–