Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, published as Jyhad in the first edition and often abbreviated as VTES, V:TES or V:tES, is a multiplayer collectible card game set in the World of Darkness. It is published by White Wolf, Inc.
The game was designed in 1994 by Richard Garfield and initially published by Wizards of the Coast. After the 1996 Sabbat expansion, Wizards of the Coast abandoned the game, and in 2000 White Wolf took over development. It is thus one of the oldest collectible card games in existence.
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.
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.
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.
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:
All the above deck 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 casts 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.
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||New cards||Booster distribution|
|Jyhad||Base||(none)||Jyhad||August 16 1994||437||437||11C, 4V, 3U, 1R|
|Vampire: The Eternal Struggle||Base||(none)||VTES||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||Expansion||Eye of Horus||AH||May 29 1996||(179)||179||6C, 4V, 2U/R|
|Sabbat||Expansion||S in fracture||S||October 28 1996||(410)||340||16C, 5V, 5U, 2R|
|Sabbat War||Base||Upside-down ankh||SW||October 31 2000||437 (300)||77|| first printing: 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R|
subsequently: 4C, 3V, 3U, 1R
|Final Nights||Expansion||Twisted ankh||FN||June 11 2001||386 (162)||170||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Bloodlines||Expansion||Ankh on red wax seal||BL||December 3 2001||(196)||196||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Camarilla Edition||Base||Ankh||CE||August 19 2002||547 (385)||115||5C, 3V, 2U, 1R|
|Anarchs||Expansion||Combined CE/SW Ankhs||AN||May 19 2003||260 (132)||128||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Black Hand||Expansion||Black hand||BH||November 17 2003||286 (136)||145||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Gehenna||Expansion||Stylised Clock||G||May 17 2004||(150)||150||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Tenth Anniversary||Special||10th||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||Splitted staff||LoB||November 14 2005||461 (300)||236||7C, 3V, 1R|
|Nights of Reckoning||Mini expansion||Celtic cross||NoR||February 10 2006||(60+5)||60||6C, 3V, 1R +1 rule card|
|Third Edition||Base||Tri-snake||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||??||KoT||October 2008||(160+)||184+||??|
In 2004, Inquest Gamer Magazine picked VTES as the all-time best multiplayer collectible card games.
In 2006, Inquest Gamer Fan Awards called the Third Edition expansion the 'Best CCG Expansion'.
White Wolf, Inc. has allowed CCG Workshop to release the Camarilla, Anarchs, Final Nights, Legacies of Blood, Black Hand and Kindred Most Wanted sets for online play. CCG Workshop has also announced the release of the 3rd Edition set for 2007.
"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.