The Ministry got some sweet new toys in the 5th edition discipline revamp.
The Platinum Protocol gave them a
consistent stealth bleed capability on a single card, which can be made more potent with
Revelation of the Serpent
efficiently. A deck with a stealth-bleed backbone using these two cards can use several multi-act options, most of which
are also very efficient. The Revelation modifier itself can unlock the bleeding vampire for the cost of burning two
corruption counters placed on minions conveniently by the Protocol. The latter card alone enables
Dabbler, which *
also* has a second blood-gaining mode when there is no utility in unlocking after the first action. Lastly, anarch
vampires with Protean have access to
CrimethInc. which unlocks a vampire after performing a successful
anarch-requiring or anarch-making action.
The new Ministry also have a very reasonable crypt: it is possible to build a deck crypt of good midcap vampires without using vampires with clunky disciplines. There are two good Barons. Such crypt can easily provide three good minions in play, all of which can spend their first action bleeding for three on stealth, then unlocking and doing something else.
The remaining question for the stealth-bleed backbone is what should be the second action (the one done after a minion
bleeds first). With obfuscate and
Opium Den, I do not need to worry about delivery, so it can be pretty much anything.
The stealth-bleed nature of the deck has a weaker defensive side and, unlike the dementation stealth-bleeds, does not
bloat while doing its primary job. Hence, it is probably a good idea for the second action to be something that makes
the deck more resilient. As an inspiration, Dan Gargulák’s tournament-winning deck
used allies such as
Carlton van Wyk or
Cry Wolf to defend,
Enchant Kindred to bloat, and
Reckless Agitation for
more ousting power.
I decided to experiment with the Baron angle of Ministry and included
Fee Stakes. Access to more barons enabled
Bait and Switch for bleed defense and made political actions more reliable to pass, especially the high-impact
ones such as
Reckless Agitation or
Deck Name: Dabblesnakes Author: Petr Muller Crypt (12 cards, min=20 max=30 avg=6.17) ======================================== 2x Nonu Dis 8 for OBF PRE PRO Ministry:6 2x Vivian VI 7 obf tha PRE PRO baron Ministry:6 2x Crystal Lynn 6 OBF PRE PRO Ministry:6 2x Elisha Tucker 6 cel obf pro PRE baron Ministry:6 2x Jenny Silver 5 obf PRE PRO Ministry:6 1x Aluc Romas de Leon 5 aus obf pro PRE Ministry:6 1x Doctor Morocco 5 cel obf pre PRO Ministry:6 Library (79 cards) ------------------ Master (13) ----------- 1x Anarch Railroad 1x Carfax Abbey 2x Club Illusion 2x Dabbler 1x Dreams of the Sphinx 1x Garibaldi-Meucci Museum 1x Opium Den 2x Vessel 2x Villein Action (22) ----------- 5x Enchant Kindred 2x Entrancement 1x Fee Stake: Boston 1x Fee Stake: Perth 1x Fee Stake: Seattle 12x Platinum Protocol, The Ally (1) -------- 1x Saatet-ta Political Action (4) -------------------- 1x Eat the Rich 2x Reckless Agitation 1x Revolutionary Council Action Modifier (23) -------------------- 2x Cloak the Gathering 6x CrimethInc. 4x Enchanting Gaze 2x Faceless Night 1x Into Thin Air 1x Lost in Crowds 6x Revelation of the Serpent 1x Veil the Legions Action Modifier/Combat (2) -------------------------- 2x Swallowed by the Night Reaction (8) ------------ 5x Bait and Switch 3x On the Qui Vive Combat (6) ---------- 4x Earth Meld 2x Form of Mist
I want to directly attack my prey’s pool by sustained increased bleeds at stealth; ideally, I should do at least three
such bleeds per turn. The key card for bleeding is
The Platinum Protocol which is a bleed for two at one stealth. The
permanent locations (
Anarch Railroad) allow sustaining bleeds at stealth without
spending cards. Bounced bleeds can further increase my bleed pressure.
I want to use high-impact political actions
Reckless Agitation and
Revolutionary Council as finishers. I should
usually have at least two or three barons on the table, so it is not impossible to have a vote lock, but these actions
can also be traded with other players when necessary. The
Revolutionary Council is not used in a Death-Star Cannon
fashion because the deck does not breed well and will rarely have more than three or four vampires. Instead, the Council
should be used to remove annoying locations and equipment from the table, with the pool damage as a nice bonus. I want
to play the Council only after the bleeds are done, my vampires have unlocked, and there is no better “second action” to
play (or when there is some essential target to remove from the table).
Eat the Rich is a nice one-of that can be
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum: sometimes it will be good, other times not so much.
Having access to Barons allows me to reliably use
Bait and Switch to bounce bleeds, so I should prioritize always
having a Baron and ensure that I either have a wake or keep one untapped at the end of my turn. I should prioritize
having more Barons on tables with political threats: it should not be a problem to have three Barons, which is usually
enough to maintain reasonable vote power to deal with anything other than a dedicated political predator.
Enchant Kindred provide a modest cushion after I bring out three vampires and pay for some master cards
but rarely outbloat the more aggressive predators. I want to be an aggressive deck myself, so like most stealth bleed
decks, I want to keep gaining pool via ousting.
I should take any opportunity to steal a defensive ally with
Entrancement; one blocking Legionnaire,
Carlton van Wyk
or anything else at least minimally good in defense plugs one of the weak spots of the deck.
The deck likes the situation where it can race with a prey that also has no choice but to go forward. In the ideal case,
it will win the race and oust the weakened grandprey fast afterward. When it loses the race, the six pool is often not
enough to keep the prey alive for too long because the deck can deliver quite a lot of damage on its good turns: it can
easily bleed for six to nine and follow it up with a
The modest amount of Baron titles makes the deck a medium voting power on the table. It can usually overpower tables
without a dedicated political deck, although the lack of
Propaganda of the Deed limits its lunge capability. On most
political tables, it should be able to broker a deal or two and avoid receiving collateral damage from others’ political
I want to be fast and aggressive, so it helps when there are decks with a slower setup on both sides of the table. Opponents who attempt to block at least occasionally make the deck flow better by allowing it to play more cards, but a dedicated wall deck is often a long-term problem. In such cases, it is critical to have at least one (but better both) location that provides permanent stealth. Otherwise, the deck runs out of stealth cards fast.
To function correctly, the deck is somewhat sensitive to having access to many cards at any moment. For each action, I
Platinum Protocol with either a
Dabbler minion or a
CrimethInc., possibly with one or more stealth cards, and
finally a “second action” card, such as
Enchant Kindred or a
Fee Stake. I have seen failure cases where my hand got
stuck with too many cards of a single type; such cases are difficult to recover because of a lack of card flow.
V5 Ministry decks seem to be popular at the moment, and because their crypt is so limited, the risk of contesting is high. Contesting a vampire is backbreaking.
Having played the deck for some time now, it is a low-floor, high-ceiling deck, depending on whether I draw the
high-impact master cards soon, especially
Club Illusion. The first one is critical, and I am convinced
the deck needs more; I would happily play four in the 80-ish cards. Having the
Club Illusion on the table increases
ousting power but also makes it necessary to have a blood-bloating solution, such as
Nonu Dis or
Carfax Abbey. Not
drawing these cards soon enough can lead to some underwhelming results.
Ministry are now recognized as primarily a stealth-bleed clan, which some preys will backoust without remorse. Even the ones that do not will likely focus a lot on defense. They will not overextend or leave shields down at any given moment. This means that the first oust is usually the hardest and takes a bit of time, giving the grandprey space to potentially dominate the table. The deck does not have a plan B when being aggressive is not a good option: there are not that many resource-building actions the deck can take.
Lastly, as discussed in Survivability, the deck only has modest pool gain and will rarely operate with a huge pool cushion. This makes it vulnerable to decks that can produce a significant amount of damage.
The deck only has a modest defense against combat in the form of protean strike: combat ends cards:
Form of Mist and is therefore vulnerable to
Immortal Grapple and
Psyche!. It has no offensive capabilities in
combat. It should be remembered that
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum has an often-forgotten “elysium for Anarchs” mode that
can end combat with an enemy Anarch vampire.
Dabbler: the namesake of the deck, combos with
Platinum Protocolto enable consistent multi-act capability
The Platinum Protocol: bleed for two at stealth is a primary oust mechanism, enables
Enchant Kindred: modest pool gain, makes it possible to play with three minions
Club Illusion: significantly increases ousting power
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum: recurses key cards needed at the moment, usually
Bait and Switch,
Platinum Protocol, or
I found the deck to offer non-trivial decisions about which vampires to influence out and in what order. There is no
star vampire, and different vampires are role-players; they are good under different circumstances. I prefer to have
three smaller vampires to two larger ones -
Nonu Dis is great, but it is not easy to influence him out together with
two sixcaps (unless you start with three
Enchant Kindred in hand). Having at least one Baron is essential to
Bait and Switch.
Fee Stakes can help later, but they are not entirely reliable. It is also helpful to keep
one small vampire in an uncontrolled region to not shut down
In the early game, the deck should usually go forward as aggressively as possible because the deck gains nothing by waiting and has limited opportunities for board setup and non-aggressive actions. In certain situations, it may be advantageous to not go fully forward. I only consider doing so when:
- I have a non-aggressive predator and do not need to race with them.
- I can spend time doing
Fee Stakeinstead of going forward.
- My prey will likely spend more pool without my early pressure.
That said, most players will still identify Ministry as an aggressive deck, so it may as well behave as such right from the start.
Many decks will defend by deflecting bleeds. With such predators, it is usually better to consistently bleed for a
lesser amount of pool, as low as two, even for several rounds in a row. They usually get frustrated and start using
them, then I start spending my resources to increase the bleed amount. Of course, always pay attention to the
situation of the grandprey. Try to bleed responsibly, but sometimes just bite the bullet and play the deck’s game; it
has no plan B. Do not be lazy and pay attention to the placement of the
Platinum Protocol corruption counters when
bounced around. All players are potential future prey, and a well-placed corruption counter can help out of nowhere
later in the game.
If possible, try to navigate the table, so that rush combat decks are ousted before the game goes into the three-player game. The deck does not have too many tools for that except for votes. Another feasible outcome is to get the three VPs in succession and then try my best in the two-player game: this is usually possible when my predator is a slower, wall-ish deck.
It is important to remember that the deck loses a bit of its offensive punch in the two-player game because Reckless Agitation does not work. It must target two other methuselahs, so prioritize using it while there are still three players at the table.