Pulled Fang #9
Czech National Championship is traditionally called Pulled Fang and held by Jihlava players, conveniently located between Prague and Brno. I played an Enkidu Block deck in the 17-player tournament with a 0GW 3VP record. All three games were draws, and I was never ousted. I was very close to snatching a second game, but the time limit prevented me from doing so.
After several years of holding the Czech Nationals directly in Jihlava, the venue changed for the better. This year we played in a village pub in the countryside. The venue was excellent - spacious, comfortable, and providing all needed food and drink. The weather was also fantastic, so we could hang out outdoors in the garden between games. A really nice change of scenery after all the smelly cramped game stores and rented hotel meeting rooms.
Year 2020 is a year of COVID-19. The situation was seemingly stable and under control in the summer (it is spiraling into chaos at the time of writing this, at the end of October), so not many Czech players hesitated to come, but there was no international attendance.
The tournament had the usual structure: three rounds and finals. The players that did not get to the finals had an option to play an additional fourth round for fun and a chance to win a small prize (a Pulled Fang-themed metal enameled edge). Unfortunately, we had seventeen players, so three tables were four-ways. I played the Enkidu Block deck. My record was 0GP 3VP after three draws and never being ousted. I was close to a GW in a second game, but a well-timed Golconda also caused that game to hit a timeout. I am still a bit salty about that game because we hit timeout in a three-way situation where I already torporized everything else. The only ready minions on the table were mine. I literally needed just like five more minutes to win the game, which would also get me to the finals. Next time.
Deck: Enkidu Block
I prefer to play proactive, aggressive decks with ousting power! I hate block decks. I hate playing them, and I hate playing against them. One way how to learn to beat them is to play them myself.
The deck wants to establish table presence with permanent intercept, deny the prey all opportunities to bloat, but not torporize them too soon. The game gets stuck otherwise. The deck needs the game to get into a three-way with reasonable opponents as quickly as possible, then kill everything that moves and win the game. The deck is resilient against anything, helped by blatant threats and intimidation. Problematic prey should be eliminated if the new prey is a good three-way opponent.
A nice feature of this deck is that people are often afraid of rushes and do not realize the thing is, in fact, a block deck. You bring up the big guys, equip a few retainers, make people happy by not rushing… then block everything and kill everything.
Crypt (12 cards; Capacity min=1 max=11 avg=7.75) ================== 3x Enkidu, The Noah 11 for ANI CEL OBF POT PRO Gangrel antitribu:4 4x Anarch Convert 1 Caitiff:ANY 3x Matasuntha 10 ANI AUS CEL FOR PRO Gangrel:5 2x Aksinya Daclau 9 cel tha ANI FOR PRE PRO Gangrel antitribu:4 Library: 87 cards Master (24 cards) ================== 1x Ennoia's Theater 1x Fame 1x Jake Washington 1x Parthenon, The 9x Ashur Tablets 1x Powerbase: Montreal 5x Villein 1x Wash 1x Wider View 1x Direct Intervention 2x Dreams of the Sphinx Action Modifier (5 cards) ================== 1x Enkil Cog 2x Forced March 2x Instantaneous Transformation Combat (28 cards) ================== 3x Infernal Pursuit 3x Psyche! 5x Taste of Vitae 1x Claws of the Dead 9x Diversion 4x Drawing Out the Beast 3x Earth Meld Retainer (9 cards) ================== 1x Owl Companion 8x Raven Spy Reaction (20 cards) ================== 4x Forced Awakening 4x On the Qui Vive 7x Sense the Savage Way 3x Cats' Guidance 2x Delaying Tactics Event (1 cards) ================== 1x Dragonbound
The deck is supposed to love four-player tables, so I am slightly disappointed that I did not manage to get a single game win. The four-player tables are less likely to hit a timeout. They also usually go to a three-way soon, the environment where the deck should thrive. On the other hand, the symmetry can be deadly, and the seating affects the first thirty minutes of the game a LOT, more than in five-player games.
Dan (Giovanni) → Rosťa (Euro Brujah) → me 2VP → Simi (Lasombra PRE Politics) 2VP
I started slowly, and so did Dan, which set the tempo for this four-player table.
Lasombra accelerated a lot, immediately started pushing and Dan barely held. My
hand was clogged with combat, and I had no
Raven Spies for some time. Fortunately,
the Brujah predator did not exploit the four-way symmetry; I think I would be
in more trouble if they pressured me more strongly. I took advantage of that
and developed my board. I tried to catch the Lasombra off-guard and block
important political actions, but he always had enough stealth and eventually
ousted his prey with politics. Things got better for me in the three-way - the Brujah
had much better defense, and Lasombra had to spend more blood. Still, I did not
navigate the game well and could not prevent ousting the Brujah. The two-way was
all mine with a permanent intercept and Lasombras mostly out of blood.
2VP and a draw is a good start to the tournament, but in a four-player table, it is a loss. Despite that, I do not think I could play much better - Simi had a solid start, and I simply did not have the means to slow him down in time.
Aahz (Baali Politics) 0.5VP → Vápno (Tzimisce Block) 1.5VP → Čik (Gangrel Bleed) → me 0.5VP
I got up
Enkidu, the Noah, but the predator was a bleeder,
and I was cursing my crypt for not giving me
Aksinya Daclau instead. I received
some heavy bleeds with
Robert Carter but eventually the predator ran out of gas
and I stabilized. Aahz had a seating from hell, sitting with politics between two
block decks. I put
Fame on one of his vampires, but because he sat on a ton
of pool, I did not torporize it, just reduced its blood. Eventually the Fame was
kicked down by the Tzimisce and because he had a
Contagion on another vampire,
whole table started burning two pool per turn.
I decided to go for an oust and beat down all his vampires, but the oust was prevented
Golconda. He wanted to play it on his prey but was talked
(unfortunately, correctly) into playing it backward instead. The pool buffer given
by Golconda slowed me down, giving Vápno space to oust his prey. I beat him into
a pulp afterward, leaving no minions on the table but mine. Still, it was too late,
and we hit a timeout (kudos to all players not even attempting to stall).
The thing I was missing is more ousting power for the late game - an
This was the game that I was supposed to win.
Vrbi (Gargoyle Bleed) → Me 0.5VP → Vápno (Tzimisce Block 1.5VP → Fox (Saulot) → Dan (Giovanni) 1.5VP
I started really slow. I could not pressure Vápno, but he did not take advantage of it and primarily built his board, allowing Fox to go forward. Fox crippled Dan hard, allowing Vrbi to go forward without any need to watch his back. At first, I expected Gargoyles to mostly block, but it was a heavy bleeding weenie deck with a lot of combat, so I had to go all-in on defense. The midgame was long and mostly going nowhere: we were beating the shit out of each other with the Gargoyles, neither of us really gaining anything. Vápno pressured a bit. Fox crippled Dan but could not oust him, and Dan survived.
Eventually, Vápno managed to shoot Saulot and a second vampire to torpor and, because he had the vote lock, diablerize everything. This crippled Fox, who sat on a heap of pool so Vápno could not oust him quickly. Dan took advantage of it and rebuilt very fast, to the point of me underestimating how powerful he could be. I got overexcited in one of the Vrbi’s rounds and blocked things I did not need to, kicking vamps down in the process, and Dan ousted Vrbi afterward. Somewhere in the meantime, Vápno ousted Fox. I was pretty lucky that we hit timeout, I do not think I would be able to survive Dan for long, so I gladly took the 0.5VP in a game without a GW.
This was a game in which I could hardly achieve more. Being a prey to a bruise-bleeding deck with fortitude means that we both spend a ton of resources in vain. This was aggravated by Fox crippling Dan too much, giving Vrbi a ton of space to go forward. If that didn’t happen, I would have more room for some offense, but I do not think the game would go much faster in that case, perhaps more like the opposite.
This game was captured on video with a Czech commentary on the Jihlava by Night Youtube channel. The game was not the most entertaining VtES game ever, but the other rounds and finale are also captured there and well worth the watch.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed by my performance. I should have definitely
achieved more. While I think there is nothing I could have done in the third game
to get a GW, the first two games were both winnable. The second one definitely
was! It was a helpful lesson in playing this deck. While it is comfortable to build
the board and survive, I need to steer the game more aggressively to not get
stalled too much and not let one player become too strong. I am thinking
about improving ousting powers at least a little - possibly with
TWDA also shows Łukasz Ho Thanh
plays (and wins) the variant of this deck using Andre Leroux, but I am not sure