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Tabletop Game / Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

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Vampire: The Eternal Struggle — originally known as Jyhad, but changed to distance the game from the Islamic term "Jihad" — is a Collectible Card Game initially published by Wizards of the Coast and designed by Richard Garfield of Magic: The Gathering fame, released in 1994. Based on Vampire: The Masquerade, players assume the roles of Methuselahs, powerful vampires who are thousands of years old; while not being able to get involved personally, they direct their unwitting vampire minions to get rid of the other players by destroying their influence by "bleeding" the methuselah's "pool".

White Wolf took over the development of the game in 2000 after it was dropped by Wizards. Notably, after the Time of Judgement had passed and wiped out the rest of the Old World of Darkness in 2004, the game continued and was the only product of the old World still ongoing; the game was eventually transferred to CCP and finally ended in September 2010. Despite this, the game continues to be played and maintains a strong following, with official new card sets being created by the Elder Kindred Network fan group...

Until April 2018, when Black Chantry Productions licensed the game from Paradox and brought the game back into print with four new Starter Decks.

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle provides examples of:

  • Arms Dealer: One of the cards is named this. While in play, the Arms Dealer can take an action to allow the player to search his deck and place a weapon into his hand. Thus, while the player still has to pay for weapons, he can readily have an arsenal available to him.
  • Attack Reflector: Several cards exist to deal with bleeds, not by blocking them, but by aiming the bleeding minion at another player (usually the defending player's prey) and making the incoming bleed their problem.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: How Infernal vampires work mechanically. You have to pay a pool to untap them at the start of your turn, representing the extra influence required to keep them from running off and serving their evil demonic master (as opposed to you, their evil vampiric master). Many Infernal decks are built on finding creative ways around this problem.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Diablerie. Once you've gotten an opponent's vampire into torpor, you can diablerize them, burning them (sending them to the discard, or ash heap), getting any blood and equipment they have on them, and can search your hand, library (deck), or ash heap for a Discipline card to put on the diablerizing vampire, giving them a new Discipline or increasing the power of a Discipline they already have. Once that's done, the Blood Hunt is called (this is not optional). As it's a normal referendum, vampires with titles or other sources of votes cast their votes normally, for or against the Blood Hunt. If the vote is successful, the diablerizing vampire is burned immediately, No Saving Throw. The player whose vampire you just burned is probably going to take it personally, and most other players probably aren't going to turn down the chance to burn someone's vampire literally for free.
    • Making Abominations. It's an action at +1 stealth, but plenty of decks can generate a paltry +1 intercept (and the decks that would be interested in making Abominations probably don't have much in the way of additional stealth). The card itself costs 1 pool, and requires you to burn a werewolf ally to put Abomination in play (the ally itself probably cost a not-insubstantial amount of pool, too), making it a rather significant investment of the player's resources. If it does work, you've got a vampiric shapeshifting murder machine that can directly attack any player's minions.
    • Smudge, the Ignored. One of the few Caitiff from the first base set with a beneficial special ability, but he's 1 capacity (the lowest possible) and has no Disciplines. His special ability is to gain +1 strength (normal minion strength is one) the first time he diablerizes an older vampire. Diablerie itself is awesome but impractical, and few players are willing to let Smudge gain his +1 strength that way, considering there are many ways to further pump Smudge's strength as well as give him cool Disciplines to use to become an outright murder machine. Which means that poor Smudge, the Ignored often isn't.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
    • Methuselahs have "pool" instead of health or life. Justified, as methuselahs in the source material are extremely old and powerful vampires, unlikely to be easily killed, so pool represents their ability to influence the world at a distance.
    • Vampires have blood instead of life or health. Also justified, as vampires in the source material spend blood to heal injuries to their bodies as well as fuel their vampire powers (see Cast from Hit Points).
    • Only allies, representing non-vampire denizens of the World of Darkness, and in one expansion Hunters who can be controlled like vampires, have "life."
  • Car Fu: One of the attack cards is named "Well-Aimed Car", which involves picking up a car and throwing it at someone.
    "We'll discuss your breach of the Masquerade later..."
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • Players start with 30 pool, and they lose the game if they run out. However, they must spend pool to bring vampires into play as well as other assets, like equipment locations. So players need to balance bringing enough assets into the game to win without spending so much that they're vulnerable.
    • Vampire minions spend their own blood points to use certain cards.
  • Chainsaw Good: Talbot's Chainsaw is a brutally powerful weapon that turns the holder in a combat monster, but also forces the holder to attack another minion each round or damage himself.
  • Fur Against Fang: As in the source material, werewolves and vampires hate each other and tend to fight. Players can actually take control of werewolf minions, who are all very powerful in combat and can be used to attack the player's minions. Werewolf allies are implied to be outcasts from werewolf society, such as the Renegade Garou and members of the Black Spiral Dancer tribe.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The "Leather Jacket" equipment card, which completely prevents a single attack before being destroyed, making it one tough jacket, considering some of the attacks you can go through. By comparison, the "Flak Jacket" is usable every round, but only prevents one damage each time. (The newer card "Hell-for-Leather" has nothing to do with this trope.)
  • Glass Cannon: The Muddled Vampire Hunter, who does 4 damage with first strike, but only has 1 life. He can take down a vampire with 3 blood in one shot, but if the vampire somehow survives, the hunter is toast.
  • Kingmaker Scenario:
    • The game is designed around this. In multiplayer games, the rules dictate that a player can attack the player on his left on his turn, and only that player. Thus, a player needs to defend himself only from attacks by the player on his right. (Predator > Player > Prey, proceeding clockwise.) This leads to (and indeed, the game encourages) discussions, arguments, and deal-making between players, as a player can offer not to attack his target, leaving the target free to devote resources to attacking his own target, or the player can offer concessions to keep another player off his back while he launches a full assault. In addition, when a player is eliminated, the hunting order skips over him to the next player, making long-term planning a must. The "standard" is four-player games, making your prey's prey (and predator's predator) your "cross-table ally," who you want to be strong enough to put pressure on your predator so your predator has to devote resources to defending themselves, and thus not coming at you. But you don't want that cross-table ally to be too strong, because sooner or later, you'll be duking it out with them directly. . .
    • Also relevant is that the rules specify a way for a player to withdraw from the game without necessarily losing, though not to reenter. In fact, the first player out of the game could end up as the winner (though that's unlikely). The possibility of players having in-game motivations other than to be the "last one left" makes the game even more political.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A late expansion introduced Abominations (werewolves Embraced and turned into vampires), both as existing vampires of their own "Clan" and as an action card to transform a werewolf ally into an Abomination. It's a very difficult thing to pull off, but it's totally awesome if you do manage it.
  • Roguish Romani: The ally card "Gypsies," which receives +1 stealth on all its actions, is obviously based on the "thieving gypsy" stereotype of Roma people also used in early editions of the pen-and-paper game.
  • Vampire Hunter: The original set includes an ally called the "Muddled Vampire Hunter," who can attack vampires as an action, hits hard and attacks with first strike, making him pretty good at taking down weaker vampires. He's "muddled" because, as the player's ally, he's being unwittingly controlled by a vampire.
    • There are also characters from the game, Hunter: the Reckoning that appear in this game as cards.