Article for the V:TES CCG by Mike Nudd, originally published in Scrye 8.2
V:TES CCGVEKN Interview
Scrye 8.2 - Ventrue antitribu
Scrye 8.3 - Tzimisce
Scrye 8.4 - Lasombra
Scrye 8.5 - Brujah antitribu
Scrye 8.6 - Final Nights
Scrye 8.7 - Voting Strategies
Scrye 8.8 - Combat Strategies
Scrye 48 - Bloodlines
Scrye 49 - Harbingers
Of all the starter decks from the Sabbat War set, at first glance the Ventrue antitribu deck is the hardest to play. While the other three decks are clearly very focused, the Ventrue seem to suffer from their apparent diversity. However, a deeper look reveals that this this is not actually the case, and with a little tweaking (using some of the other cards from Sabbat War), the Ventrue antitribu deck offers perhaps the widest range of strategic options.
Getting into comabt with your Ventrue is not usually an issue. The starter deck offer both permanent and transient (on-time use) intercept, and by adding some more yourself, blocking stealthy actions can be easy. The Ventrue deck does not offer any way of adding stealth to any of your own actions so you can also enter combat by allowing yourself to be blocked.
Once in combat, the Ventrue antitribu are not particularly offensive, but they make up for this with their access to Fortitude which allows them to prevent damage thrown at them by their opponents. Adding damage prevention to your deck is always a good idea if you expect to be blocked, and by playing Masochism you can even gain from your vampires being hurt. Alternatively you can use Undead Persistence together with Trap to put an opposing vampire into torpor. The Ventrue do not need to fear torpor, as Fortitude also gives them access to Rapid Healing and Regeneration. One way of making your Ventrue more offensive in combat would be to base your crypt around the vampires Lazaverinus, Kyle Strathcona and Vincent Day, then add some Potence cards to your library.
Luckily there are many ways of avoiding combat. If your predator bleeds you, you can 'bounce' him on using Deflection, Redirection or the superior version of My Enemy's Enemy. You can also reduce the bleed with Telepathic Counter. If you need to block, then choosea high-capacity vampire and play Obedience, or end combat using a Purchase Pact.
Instead of combat, why not consider a voting strategy? With the cards Kindred Manipulation, Telepathic Vote Counting and Demonstration, you can usually ensure that your chosen referendum is successful. You can also use Bribes to entice your fellow players into helping and you can use Private Audience to shut out any pesky non-Sabbat vampires. You can add Praxis Seizure or Cardinal Benediction to bolster your position early in the game and you can also use Powerbase: Madrid to give yourself even more votes.
Ensuring that your acting minions are not blocked is more difficult. The starter deck includes Seduction, but this only prevents one target vampire from blocking. You can tap another vampire using the Misdirection master card, but to guarantee your action use Daring the Dawn or the card effect on Sunrise Service. Although torpor is an inevitable consequence, as previously mentioned this is not something that Ventrue antitribu have to fear. An alternative more appealing to voting decks would be to call Sabbat Priest on your vampires so that your opponents think twice about blocking you.
The last major issue is blood/pool gain, and to survive you will need recoup the pool you spend on your minions. You can take blood back directly using Blood Doll, Minion Tap, or Tribute to the Mater. A Ventrue Investment is useful once you have several vampires out, and is perhaps superior to both the Short-Term Investment and Protracted Investment cards. Other good sources of blood/pool include Festivo Dello Estinto, Slave Auction, and Consanguinus Boon.