Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

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Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
(previously Jyhad)
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle library card back Vampire: The Eternal Struggle crypt card back
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle's library and crypt card back designs
DesignersRichard Garfield
PublishersWhite Wolf Publishing
Setup time~ 5 minutes
Playing time~ 1–2 hours
Age range13+

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle (published as Jyhad in the first or "Limited" edition and often abbreviated as V:TES) is a multiplayer collectible card game published by White Wolf Publishing. It is set in the World of Darkness[1][2] and is based on the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game.[3]: 6 

Publication history[edit]

The game was designed in 1994 by Richard Garfield and initially published by Wizards of the Coast and was the third CCG ever created, after Magic: The Gathering and Spellfire.[4][5] 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".[6] The release consisted of 438 cards sold in 76-card starter decks and 19-card booster packs.[3]: 6  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.[7]

White Wolf published The Eternal Struggle: A Strategy Guide to the Jyhad in 1995,[3]: 6  and Wizards published a player's guide Darkness Unveiled in August 1996.[8]: 12 [9] After the 1996 Sabbat expansion, Wizards of the Coast abandoned the game, and in 2000 White Wolf took over development.

White Wolf announced that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle would cease production on September 10, 2010.[10]

On April 24, 2018, Black Chantry Productions, a fan-run organization, announced the company has obtained the license to produce Vampire: The Eternal Struggle and return the game to print. They produced expansions that were made available for free as PDFs and new sets of physical cards.

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).[6]


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, V:TES 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 V:TES, each player takes on the role of a Methuselah, an ancient and manipulative vampire,[11] 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.

As in most other collectible card games, each player designs his or her own deck. Each deck is built with two components:

'Crypt' - amber-backed cards representing vampires (and in some cases mortal allies) that the player may control during the game.[11]

'Library' - green-backed cards generally representing assets or actions to be taken during the game..[11] Most cards in the library can only be used in conjunction with vampires once they have been brought out from the crypt.

Sample setup of a two-player game.

Each player starts the game with 30 "pool", which represents the player's influence. If a player's pool is reduced to 0, the player is "ousted" and eliminated from the game. The object for each player is to oust their "prey" (the player seated on their left) while defending themself from their "predator" (the player seated on their right).[11] Each time a player is ousted, their predator gains a victory point and 6 pool, with a bonus victory point for being the last surviving player in the game; when all but one of the players have been eliminated, the player with the most victory points wins.

On a player's turn, they direct their minions to perform a number of actions and attacks, which other players' minions may intercept or interrupt. A player must spend their own pool in order to bring vampires out from their crypt or sometimes to play cards from their hand (as indicated on the card). 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 player's pool).

Gameplay offers many options for alliance or betrayal. Due to the fact that being ousted nets the predator 6 pool, and thus makes him stronger and more dangerous to the next prey, it is not uncommon for players to suddenly start helping a player in a weak situation, or gang up on a player who seems to be getting too strong. This makes forming and shifting alliances part and parcel of the game. Short-term deals and trade-offs (with very fluid terms) are typical, and bluffing is also often used.

Games can take anything from half an hour to three or more hours (for a 5-player game).[11] 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.

Playing styles[edit]

There are many ways to win in V:TES, 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[12] 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) that pose a threat.
  • Political - this deck is geared to take advantage of the political system built 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.[13]
  • 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.[12]

Distinct nature[edit]

What sets V:TES 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. V:TES 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. There is even a whole type of card called "political action" cards, which are designed with this in mind. When a player plays one, a referendum is called in which each player can cast votes, either by using votes granted from cards in play (typically from vampires with a "title" such as a Prince or Bishop) or by playing cards from hand, and the results of the referendum can affect all the players - though which players benefit and which players get hurt are all up to how the votes are cast.

Sets and expansions[edit]

White Wolf releases V:TES 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 contain 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 the 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 August 16, 1994 437 437 11C, 4V, 3U, 1R
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Base (none) V:TES September 15, 1995 436 6 11C, 4V, 3U, 1R
Dark Sovereigns Expansion Gothic window DS December 15, 1995 (173) 173 8C, 4V, 3U
Ancient Hearts[14] Expansion Eye of Horus AH May 29, 1996 (179)[15] 179 6C, 4V, 2U/R
Sabbat[16] Expansion Calligraphy S Sabbat October 28, 1996 (410) 340 16C, 5V, 5U, 2R
Sabbat War Base Inverted spiked ankh SW October 31, 2000 437 (300) 77 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R or
4C, 3V, 3U, 1R[s 3]
Final Nights Expansion Broken ankh FN June 11, 2001 386 (162) 170 7C, 3V, 1R
Bloodlines[17] Expansion Ankh on red blood spatter BL December 3, 2001 (196) 196 7C, 3V, 1R
Camarilla Edition[18] Base Ankh CE August 19, 2002 547 (385) 115 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Anarchs Expansion Combined CE/SW Ankhs Anarchs May 19, 2003 260 (132) 128 7C, 3V, 1R
Black Hand Expansion Handprint BH November 17, 2003 286 (136) 145 7C, 3V, 1R
Gehenna Expansion Stylised Clock Gehenna May 17, 2004 (150) 150 7C, 3V, 1R
Tenth Anniversary Special Foil "10" Tenth December 13, 2004 190 10 --
Kindred Most Wanted Expansion Gun KMW February 21, 2005 314 (150) 162 7C, 3V, 1R
Legacies of Blood Expansion Split ankh (black) LoB November 14, 2005 461 (300) 236 7C, 3V, 1R
Nights of Reckoning Mini expansion Plus with circle NoR April 10, 2006 (60+17)[s 4] 60 6C, 3V, 1R, 1X[s 4]
Third Edition Base Tri-snake biohazard Third September 4, 2006 537 (390) 160 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Sword of Caine Mini expansion Bundle of swords SoC March 19, 2007 (60) 60 7C, 3V, 1R
Lords of the Night Expansion Crown LotN September 26, 2007 295 (150) 175 7C, 3V, 1R
Blood Shadowed Court Special Silver Ankh BSC April 16, 2008 100 0 --
Twilight Rebellion Mini expansion Tri-snake on Red Star TR May 28, 2008 (60) 60 7C, 3V, 1R
Keepers of Tradition Base Castle tower KoT November 19, 2008 457 (398) 176 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Ebony Kingdom Mini expansion Split ankh (white) EK May 27, 2009 (62) 60 4C, 3V, 1R, 3C[s 5]
Heirs to the Blood Expansion Three blood drops HttB February 3, 2010[20] TBA (168) 168 7C, 3V, 1R
Danse Macabre Mini expansion (PDF) Fanged Skull DM October 5, 2013[21] 34 34 --
The Unaligned Mini expansion (PDF) Broken Column TA October 4, 2014[22] 72 72 --
Storyline Rewards Mini expansion (PDF) (none) SR February 21, 2015[23] 13 13 --
Anarchs Unbound Mini expansion (PDF) Burning ankh AU January 17, 2016[24] 42 42 --
Lost Kindred Mini expansion Bleeding eye LK June 10, 2018[25] 41 41 --
Sabbath Preconstructed Expansion Small Ankh SP February 16, 2019. 125 8 Set of four decks.
Fifth Edition Base set Small Ankh V5 November 30, 2020[26] 495 49 Box set of five decks, with rulebook, pool counters, and Edge token.
Kickstarter Mini expansion -- KSU Sep 2021 -- -- Four card bundles: Anarchs Unbound, Danse Macabre, The Unaligned 1 and The Unaligned 2.
  1. ^ The total cards include the cards from booster and starter, the number in brackets only include those from the booster packs.
  2. ^ The new cards include cards from booster and starter packs.
  3. ^ First printing had 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R; which was subsequently changed for second and subsequent print runs into 4C, 3V, 3U, 1R.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ 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.[19]


In a review in issue #10 of Pyramid magazine, Scott Haring stated that while Magic: The Gathering created the collectible card game market, Vampire: The Eternal Struggle established it as a "legitimate game category".[11] He also stated that the game had "pretty good" art, but that the numerous icons would take time to learn.[11]

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle was a very popular card game in the 1990s,[27][28] outselling most other collectible card games on the market at the time, although behind Magic: The Gathering in sales.[28] A common criticism reported from players was its slow play speed. An article in the first issue of InQuest stated that the game is "complicated and takes a while to play" but can be "fiendishly rewarding".[3]: 6 

Steve Faragher of Arcane magazine gave the game a score of 7/10, calling it the most "intriguingly political" card game he had played, and praising its storytelling atmosphere. He appreciated the higher play speed that came with the Vampire: The Eternal Struggle re-launch's revised rules, although fellow Arcane staff member Jon Moore still found the game slow to play.[27]

Martin Klimes reviewed the Ancient Hearts expansion for Arcane magazine, rating it an 8 out of 10 overall.[29] Klimes comments that "There is now pretty much always a good attack you can choose, and almost always a choice of defences against it. Ancient Hearts will add significant interest to your games, which is all you can ask of any expansion."[29]

Jennifer Clarke Wilkes reviewed the Sabbat expansion in the December 1996 issue of The Duelist, stating that as an expansion set it is "remarkably helpful" but that it "falls a little short of its goal" as a standalone set.[16]


In 2004, Inquest Gamer Magazine picked Vampire: The Eternal Struggle as the all-time best multiplayer collectible card games.[30]

In 2006, Inquest Gamer Fan Awards called the Third Edition expansion the 'Best CCG Expansion'.[31]


  • Rollespilsmagasinet Fønix (Danish) (Issue 5 - November/December 1994)[32]
  • Review in Shadis

V:TES Online[edit]

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. 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.


  1. ^ Kaufeld, John; Smith, Jeremy (2006). Trading Card Games For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-04407-1.
  2. ^ Owens, Thomas S.; Helmer, Diana Star (1996), Inside Collectible Card Games, p. 66.
  3. ^ a b c d "Product news". InQuest. 1995. pp. 4–8.
  4. ^ Savage, R. Hyrum (2007). "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 345–347. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
  5. ^ Miller, John Jackson (2003), Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide, pp. 248–249, 607–618.
  6. ^ a b Garfield Reminisces on the Jyhad Archived December 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (interview with Richard Garfield, by Robert Goudie, July 2001. Retrieved January 10, 2008.)
  7. ^ 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 March 26, 2010.)[dead link]
  8. ^ "News & Notes". InQuest. No. 1. May 1995. pp. 11–12.
  9. ^ Butcher, Andy (June 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. No. 7. p. 67.
  10. ^ White Wolf press statement Archived September 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Haring, Scott (November–December 1994). "Pyramid Pick: Jyhad". Pyramid. No. 10.
  12. ^ a b Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Player's Guide - Goudie, Robert; Peal, Ben & Swainbank, Ben; White Wolf Publishing, 2005
  13. ^ Beaulieu, Stephen (February 1997), "Intercept: Beyond the Basics", The Duelist, no. #15, pp. 76–77
  14. ^ Hannes, Jeff (September 1996). "On deck: Ancient Hearts". Inquest. No. 17. p. 42.
  15. ^ "Ancient Hearts", The Duelist, no. #12, p. 71, September 1996
  16. ^ a b Clarke Wilkes, Jennifer (December 1996). "The Sabbat hits the street". The Duelist. No. 14. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 69–73.
  17. ^ Ricardi, Bill (December 2001). "These vamps don't suck". InQuest Gamer. No. 80. Wizard Entertainment. p. 26.
  18. ^ "Year of the damned". InQuest Gamer. No. 79. Wizard Entertainment. November 2001. p. 24.
  19. ^ "V:TES Ebony Kingdom Booster Pack Sorting". White Wolf Publishing. Retrieved August 6, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "White Wolf's announcement on the publication delay". Retrieved October 15, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Danse Macabre". October 5, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Unaligned". September 27, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  23. ^ "Storyline Rewards". February 20, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  24. ^ "Anarchs Unbound". January 17, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  25. ^ "Lost Kindred". May 5, 2018. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  26. ^ "Fifth Edition". Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Faragher, Steve (December 1995). "Games Reviews". Arcane. No. 1. pp. 64–65.
  28. ^ a b Sumner, Mark C. (February 1996). "To dice or not to dice: Everyway and Dragon Dice come up with completely different answers". Realms of Fantasy. p. 74.
  29. ^ a b Klimes, Martin (August 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. No. 9. pp. 70–71.
  30. ^ "Inquest Gamer picks Vampire: The Eternal Struggle as all-time best multiplayer CCG". Archived from the original on May 13, 2007. (from the White Wolf Publishing website)
  31. ^ White Wolf wins Inquest Gamer Fan Awards Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (from the White Wolf Publishing website)
  32. ^ "Jyhad | Article | RPGGeek".
  • Andrew Greenberg, Richard Garfield & Daniel Greenberg, Eternal Struggle: A Player's Guide to Jyhad (White Wolf Game Studio, 1994, ISBN 1-56504-163-1)

Further reading[edit]

  • Godfrey, Wayne (Summer 1994). "Jyhad". The Duelist. No. 2. pp. 50–52.[1]
  • Hannes, Jeff (May 1996). "Expansion reviews: Dark Sovereigns". Inquest. No. 13. p. 44.
  • Baur, Wolfgang (August 1997). "Crusade!". The Duelist. No. 18. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 78–79.
  • Carnes, Shawn F. (February 1995). "Jyhad: a neonate's introduction". Scrye. No. 4. pp. 4–5.
  • "Vampire". Scrye. No. 8. July–August 1995. pp. 98–104.
  • Strategy in Scrye #68

External links[edit]