Vampire the Masquerade Vendetta is a Vampire the Masquerade (VtM) board game where rival vampire clans battle for supremacy in a secret war over Chicago. The game is designed for four or five players, with three and six-player variants. It features some incredible cyberpunk visuals and some subtle, but well-thought-out mechanics. So let's pick a side and go to war in the shadows.
In Vampire the Masquerade Vendetta, each player chooses one of the seven available clans to take to war. Each has a unique deck with a different playstyle.
- Brujah - Focus on high power and heavy damage.
- Gangrel - Manipulate blood tokens to keep your opponents guessing about your deployed power.
- Malkavian - Can use cards additional from random places with unique effects.
- Nosferatu - Gain unique effects from withdrawing, staying mobile on the board with knowledge of their opponent's cards.
- Toreador - Their cards gain power as the size of their alliance increases.
- Tremere - Have access to high-level blood gain and loss cards, running a fine line between going into a frenzy.
- Ventrue - They force your opponents into skipping phases and making choices they don't like.
Vendetta is a technically very simple game but has some very interesting scope for strategy. Each turn, players play cards on locations to try and win the ally card at that location. The player with the highest power there wins and gains the ally. Cards can be played either face up at a location, and some cards have triggered effects that will benefit that, or face down with effects that can happen during the resolution phase.
Card power can also be boosted with blood from your pool, which you gain each turn from the allies you have, but running out of blood causes you to go into a frenzy, and feed on one of your allies to gain the amount of blood from their drain value. Draining an ally means that you may get fewer victory points for them when determining the winner, and will also make you lose access to any special abilities they may have. When you go into a frenzy, the ally you drain is determined at random, and you may drain a vampire ally, which in the vampiric society, is considered a sin, and costs you victory points at the end of the game.
If you do drain a vampire ally though, your own power increases, and you get a diablerie token, which can be used each turn to gain and add blood to played cards beyond the usual limit of three, for some big power pushes. Be careful though, because gaining three diablerie tokens automatically loses you the game.
Each game of Vendetta only has three rounds. Which keeps games punchy and also plays well into the card draw mechanic that works very well. Each clan has nine cards in their deck. And every player begins with their clan's unique Hunt and Ready cards, leaving seven in their deck. Each turn, players draw two cards and choose one of them to go into their hand and the other to the bottom of their deck. Cards in your hand are yours for the game and return to your hand after each round, and as there are only three rounds, the card you put back into your deck won't be seen again (unless you're playing the tricksy Malkavian).
Each turn, you will gain one more card, and each round, all but one card will be played from your hand. You will also be learning what cards your opponents have in their hand as the game progresses, so choosing your own card becomes a tactical choice about what you might immediately need, and what you may need to outplay or power your opponent later (unless your Brujah, then just pick the highest power value).
The components for Vendetta are incredibly well designed. Aside from the bright cyberpunk visuals and clear writing, cards are tucked into different places around your clan board to leave only the information you need showing. The game's characters also feature popular board game media personalities, members of the development team, and high-tier Kickstarter backers. The components themselves are also very tight, keeping it a light, easily transportable game that matches its rapid playtime. The rulebook does a great job of introducing the rules, and the background of the setting, whilst keeping it light for new players.
Vendetta features two advanced upgrades, relics, and location cards. Relics are drawn at the start of the game and give you a permanent ability, and location cards are placed under each location, giving it a random effect to keep games varied. Both of these upgrades, along with the time to learn each of the available clans, gives Vendetta a lot of replayability out of the tight product.
The Bottom Line
Vampire the Masquerade Vendetta is a very well-designed light, but great strategy game. Each of the seven included clans feels thematic and unique. The component design is fantastic, and the mechanical choices are subtle but well-thought-out. Rules are available for three to five players, with a six-player tag-team option, which might not suit those looking for two-player games. Vampire the Masquerade fans will find a lot of love in the well-captured clans, and those new to it will easily be able to get behind the theme, without any prior knowledge.
Get This Game If:
- You want a fast, light, but high on strategy card game.
- You want a game that captures well the unique aspects of the VtM clans.
- You want a game that plays very well with three to six players.
Avoid This Game If:
- You want a two-player game.
- You really don't want a game about vampires.
The copy of the Vampire the Masquerade Vendetta used to produce this review was provided by Asmodee UK.