Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle's library and crypt card back designs
|Publisher(s)||White Wolf Publishing|
2-5, preferably 4 or 5
|Setup time||~ 5 minutes|
|Playing time||~ 2 - 3 hours1|
|Skill(s) required||Social skills2|
1 Game time varies greatly depending on the number of players and the style of decks played.2 Game offers many options for alliance or betrayal. Short-term deals and trade-offs (with very fluid terms) are typical. Bluffing (appearing stronger or weaker) is also often used.
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, published as Jyhad in the first or "Limited" edition and often abbreviated as VTES, V:TES or V:tES, is a multiplayer collectible card game set in the World of Darkness. It was published by White Wolf Publishing.
The game was designed in 1994 by Richard Garfield and initially published by Wizards of the Coast and was the third CCG ever created. As Garfield's first follow-up to his popular Magic: The Gathering collectible card game, he was eager to prove that the genre was "a form of game as potentially diverse as board games" In 1995 the game was renamed from Jyhad to Vampire: The Eternal Struggle to increase its appeal and distance itself from the Islamic term jihad. After the 1996 Sabbat expansion, Wizards of the Coast abandoned the game, and in 2000 White Wolf took over development. Alongside Magic: The Gathering it is one of the oldest collectible card games.
White Wolf announced that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle would cease production on the 10th of September, 2010.
Richard Garfield noted that the experiences he had made with the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game had helped him to improve his design of the game. In an interview with Robert Goudie, Garfield particularly notes dedicated multi-player (3+) rules, a lack of "land cards", and a more rapid card drawing mechanism (cards normally being replaced instantly after being played).
The game is set in the World of Darkness, drawing mainly from the Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game. After the events of Gehenna ended the official World of Darkness storyline, VTES is considered a sort of alternative reality of the setting, as it continues though White Wolf publishes no further official products for the roleplaying game.
In VTES, each player takes on the role of a Methuselah, an ancient and manipulative vampire, who is not itself present in the struggle, but acts from afar. Each Methuselah will try to eliminate all others by nullifying their influence and power. To that end, the Methuselahs will control and manipulate a number of minions (mostly younger vampires) to attack and destroy the other Methuselahs' resources.
The game is ideally played by a group of four or five players, but it can be played by any number of players from two up. Group play with more than six players is rare, as an individual's turn can easily take two to three minutes, causing a slow game for all. Two-player games (and to some extent three-player games) also suffer from lack of opportunity for the kind of inter-player alliances and treachery that are a large part of the game.
'Crypt' - containing cards representing vampires (and in some cases mortal allies) that the player may control during the game.
'Library' - containing cards generally representing assets or actions to be taken during the game.
Most cards in the library can only be used in conjunction with vampires. Some cards have no cost in resources to play, in other cases to put a card in play it must be paid for using 'pool' or the blood on his vampires. Pool represents the player's influence, and if it is reduced to zero the player is out of the game (each player starts the game with 30 pool). Therefore, players continually have to make decisions based on how much they want to invest into assets in play and how much to retain to stay alive, especially against other players capable of sudden dangerous 'bleeds' (direct attacks on the players pool).
Each turn one player directs his minions to perform a number of actions and attacks, which other players' minions may intercept or interrupt. Each player attempts to 'oust' (remove from game) his 'prey' (the player to his left) while defending himself from his 'predator (the player to his right). This continues until only one player is left on the table. Ousting one's prey is worth one victory point, and being the last person left at the table is worth an additional victory point. However, ousting one's prey also nets the player 6 pool, and thus makes him stronger and more dangerous to the next prey. This is one of the reasons why other players may suddenly start helping a player in a weak situation, or even gang up on a player who seems to be going for a 'table sweep', making shifting alliances part and parcel of the game.
Gameplay offers many options for alliance or betrayal. Short-term deals and trade-offs (with very fluid terms) are typical. Bluffing (appearing stronger or weaker) is also often used.
Games can take anything from half an hour to three or more hours (for a 5-player game). In tournament play and in some informal games, a time limit may be imposed, after which all remaining players receive half a victory point in addition to any they may have already received. Standard time limit for a tournament game is 2 hours. Game time varies greatly depending on the number of players and the style of decks played.
There are many ways to win in VTES, though they all depend on eventually wearing down your prey's pool. Some of the most common styles, as described in official player's guide are:
- Bleed / Stealth Bleed - this deck concentrates on causing as much pool loss as possible, either as quickly as possible, or by bleeding heavily during a moment of weakness. It usually has some way of ensuring that bleeds are more likely to slip past the defenses, the classical way of which would be playing 'stealth' cards.
- Combat / Rush - this type of deck is based on attacking opponents vampires, rendering them incapable of acting, or destroying them outright. After the defense has been whittled away it then starts bleeding normally. It also defends itself by attacking individual vampires (mainly of its own predator) which pose a threat.
- Political - this deck is geared to take advantage of the political system inbuilt into the game. It concentrates on having as many votes (usually via powerful vampires) on the table as possible. It is then able to call and pass its own political actions, which classically include those directly damaging its own prey.
- Build - this deck attempts to survive during the early game while it builds up to later on control the table via these accumulated assets, be they vampires, large amounts of reserve pool, votes or other cards. It is usually combined with another style.
- Intercept / Wall - This deck, often combined with the 'Combat' or the 'Build' style, tries to intercept the vampires of the prey when they act (and then likely attempts destroying them). Alternatively, it may be a defensive deck slowly building its strength for the late game, using its intercepting abilities to stop itself from being ousted in the meantime.
- Toolbox - this style attempts to be able to do as much as possible of all the styles above at the same time, mixing its cards. It is often a 'Build'-style deck at the same time.
All the above deck types have various weaknesses, the most glaring being that a deck should theoretically be able to do ALL the above well, to take advantage of evolving game situations, and to counter other styles it may come up against. However, if it uses this 'Toolbox' approach too strongly, it may spread itself too thin, and end up being incapable of following through.
What sets VTES apart from most other collectible card games is the strong group play element. In general a player will concentrate on the player to his immediate left, his prey, and a player who succeeds in ousting his prey receives a strong boost by gaining 6 additional pool. This boost of resources might possibly enable him to eventually "sweep the table" (gaining momentum with every kill) and oust every other player. Thus there is a tendency for players to help weaker ones to frustrate the stronger players' dominance. This ensures that most players stay in the game longer, instead of the playing field being reduced quickly to those with the best cards and the greatest skill.
These conditions create a game where players are almost always interacting with the other players for both short- and long-term goals instead of simply waiting for their turns. VTES is a game of negotiation, skill, and deck-building. Deals and alliances, both for the moment or for the whole game, can play a big role. A whole classification of cards, political cards, are designed with this in mind. When a vote is called each player can cast votes, either by using votes granted from cards in play (typically from vampires with a 'title' such as Princes & Archbishops) or by playing cards from the hand.
Sets and expansions
White Wolf releases VTES cards in base sets, expansion sets and mini expansion sets. The main difference between these are the size of the set and the number of reprints.
- Base sets contain booster packs as well as a number of pre-constructed starter decks (ranging from 3 to 6). The starter decks contain 89 cards (with 77 library and 12 crypt cards) as well as a rule booklet. The booster packs contain 11 cards (in newer sets, often with 7 common, 3 vampire and 1 rare card, but refer to the table below). The base set should provide a new player with a number of cards to be able to build a wide variety of decks. A base set usually contains a high percentage of reprinted cards from earlier expansions.
- Expansion sets contain booster packs and may contain a number of pre-constructed starter decks. The distribution of cards in boosters and starters is similar to a base set. They feature also a particular theme. New players are usually not able to build a large number of different decks with only cards from this expansion's boosters due to the lack of basic cards provided either in the starters or in a base set. The number of reprints is low and usually restricted to the pre-constructed starter decks.
- Mini-Expansion sets contains only booster packs and the number of cards are restricted to 60 new cards (20 rare, 20 uncommon and 20 common cards).
All expansion sets from Dark Sovereigns expansion onward are identified by an expansion symbol printed in the upper right corner of cards. In newsgroups and on web pages character codes are used to identify each set, usually an abbreviation of the expansion's name.
|Expansion Name||Type||Symbol||Code||Release Date||Total cards[s 1]||New cards[s 2]||Booster distribution|
|Jyhad||Base||(none)||Jyhad||16 August 1994||437||437||11C, 4V, 3U, 1R|
|Vampire: The Eternal Struggle||Base||(none)||VTES||15 September 1995||436||6||11C, 4V, 3U, 1R|
|Dark Sovereigns||Expansion||Gothic window||DS||15 December 1995||(173)||173||8C, 4V, 3U|
|Ancient Hearts||Expansion||Eye of Horus||AH||29 May 1996||(179)||179||6C, 4V, 2U/R|
|Sabbat||Expansion||Calligraphy S||Sabbat||28 October 1996||(410)||340||16C, 5V, 5U, 2R|
|Sabbat War||Base||Inverted spiked ankh||SW||31 October 2000||437 (300)||77||5C, 3V, 2U, 1R or
4C, 3V, 3U, 1R[s 3]
|Final Nights||Expansion||Broken ankh||FN||11 June 2001||386 (162)||170||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Bloodlines||Expansion||Ankh on red blood spatter||BL||3 December 2001||(196)||196||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Camarilla Edition||Base||Ankh||CE||19 August 2002||547 (385)||115||5C, 3V, 2U, 1R|
|Anarchs||Expansion||Combined CE/SW Ankhs||Anarchs||19 May 2003||260 (132)||128||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Black Hand||Expansion||Handprint||BH||17 November 2003||286 (136)||145||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Gehenna||Expansion||Stylised Clock||Gehenna||17 May 2004||(150)||150||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Tenth Anniversary||Special||Foil "10"||Tenth||13 December 2004||190||10||--|
|Kindred Most Wanted||Expansion||Gun||KMW||21 February 2005||314 (150)||162||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Legacies of Blood||Expansion||Split ankh (black)||LoB||14 November 2005||461 (300)||236||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Nights of Reckoning||Mini expansion||Plus with circle||NoR||10 April 2006||(60+17)[s 4]||60||6C, 3V, 1R, 1X[s 4]|
|Third Edition||Base||Tri-snake biohazard||Third||4 September 2006||537 (390)||160||5C, 3V, 2U, 1R|
|Sword of Caine||Mini expansion||Bundle of swords||SoC||19 March 2007||(60)||60||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Lords of the Night||Expansion||Crown||LotN||26 September 2007||295 (150)||175||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Blood Shadowed Court||Special||Silver Ankh||BSC||16 April 2008||100||0||--|
|Twilight Rebellion||Mini expansion||Tri-snake on Red Star||TR||28 May 2008||(60)||60||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Keepers of Tradition||Base||Castle tower||KoT||19 November 2008||457 (398)||176||5C, 3V, 2U, 1R|
|Ebony Kingdom||Mini expansion||Split ankh (white)||EK||27 May 2009||(62)||60||4C, 3V, 1R, 3C[s 5]|
|Heirs to the Blood||Expansion||Three blood drops||HttB||3 February 2010||TBA (168)||168||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Danse Macabre||Mini expansion (PDF)||Fanged Skull||DM||5 October 2013||34||34|
|The Unaligned||Mini expansion (PDF)||Broken Column||TA||4 October 2014||72||72|
|Storyline Rewards||Mini expansion (PDF)||(none)||SR||21 February 2015||13||13|
- The total cards include the cards from booster and starter, the number in brackets only include those from the booster packs.
- The new cards include cards from booster and starter packs.
- First printing had 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R; which was subsequently changed for second and subsequent print runs into 4C, 3V, 3U, 1R.
- Each Nights of Reckoning booster had one rules card. There are 5 different rules printed on 17 different rules cards. These cards, although printed with a different layout and mostly abbreviated card text, are legal in both constructed and limited tournaments.
- Unlike the typical booster pack configuration (7C, 3U, 1R) the Ebony Kingdom Booster Packs have the same contents but in a different order: 4 Commons, 3 Uncommons (Vampires), 1 Rare, 3 Commons.
In 2006, Inquest Gamer Fan Awards called the Third Edition expansion the 'Best CCG Expansion'.
From December 2005 to the end of 2007 an online implementation of Vampire: The Eternal Struggle named "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Online" was available. It was developed and maintained by CCG Workshop. Using CCG Workshop's gatlingEngine, players could create decks and compete online for a monthly fee. White Wolf Publishing had allowed CCG Workshop to release the Camarilla, Anarchs, Final Nights, Legacies of Blood, Black Hand and Kindred Most Wanted sets for online play.
Developed and maintained by George Finklang since 1996, "Jyhad Online" hosts a series of VTES games over the Internet. Originally players emailed their actions to the players in the game, and other players responded with their reactions, with the deckserver dealing the cards. Each game was guided by a moderator who maintained the game page.
"JOL3", the new version released in 2005, uses a web interface. The deckserver still handles the decks, but the players can move cards and counters around through the web interface. Games can take place in real time if all the players are online.
Another alternative is LackeyCCG in which players create and share plugins for various CCGs and may create decks and play online without fees. A plugin for VTES is available and can be used to play VTES on this platform.
- Savage, R. Hyrum (2007). "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle". In Lowder, James. Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 345–347. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
- Miller, John Jackson (2001), Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide, p. 520.
- Garfield Reminisces on the Jyhad (interview with Richard Garfield, by Robert Goudie, July 2001. Retrieved 2008-01-10.)
- Ancient Influence - Peter Adkison Comments on the Early Days of Jyhad/V:TES (interview with Wizards of the Coast Founder and former CEO Peter Adkison, by Robert Goudie, February 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-26.)
- White Wolf press statement
- Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Player's Guide - Goudie, Robert; Peal, Ben & Swainbank, Ben; White Wolf Publishing, 2005
- "V:TES Ebony Kingdom Booster Pack Sorting". White Wolf Publishing. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- "White Wolf's announcement on the publication delay". Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Inquest Gamer picks Vampire: The Eternal Struggle as all-time best multiplayer CCG (from the White Wolf Publishing website)
- White Wolf wins Inquest Gamer Fan Awards (from the White Wolf Publishing website)
- Andrew Greenberg, Richard Garfield & Daniel Greenberg, Eternal Struggle: A Player's Guide to Jyhad (White Wolf Game Studio, 1994, ISBN 1-56504-163-1)
- Vampire: Elder Kindred Network (VEKN) (official V:TES players' organization)