Wall pitfalls – an essay in Arrogance


For a long time I’ve been intrigued with Tzimisce Walls, because I constantly see people using decks that are not optimal, in my opinion. I’ve also seen some people using ideas that were unique to them and that I think could be incorporated in the whole of the concept. Two examples are Banshee Ironwail (a must in this deck in my opinion) and Sascha Vikos ADV (number one Tzimmy), as shown to me by Nuno Moure and Carlos Santos, respectively. It is astonishing to me how people prefer Lambach to Vykos ADV. I needed to learn how to play with walls, as I have never really liked it.

Sure, my Grinder or my Nephandi decks turn into walls more often then not, but to play with something that just blocks and cannot deal 8 or 10 damage to a pool in a turn was something I never liked. The first obvious choice was more Smiling Jacks. Then came the constant pressure with +1 bleed vampires. Besides the exercise to build and play, I felt so frustrated with players that are inexperienced and still are arrogant as wrestling stars or spoiled children, that I wrote the text bellow as a rant. 🙂

This was to release when and only when I would win a Tournament with the companion deck that I built while writing and reviewing this article.
I thought it would take months or years.
I won at first try. 🙂

Wall Pitfalls – an essay in Arrogance

People think that Wall decks are decks that must block all relevant actions and many times, Walls fail exactly because of this. The definition itself gives us a hint, think about it: walls stop things that go against them. They do not run in front of objects or persons to stop them.

Your deck is designed to block bleeds with 6+ intercept? So… you use 5+ cards to stop an action, plus what you need to resolve combat?
Sounds like the “CEL QUI combat Holy Grail Quest” (another story, for another post).

What is more important for you? Blocking everything? Enter into surprise combats like a ninja? Stop the table from doing exactly what YOU want?

Win the game?

First, we must define the pitfalls.

1. Arrogant Walls.

Man is yet to built a wall that has not been breached.

Enhanced Senses, Cats’s Guidance, Spirit’s Touch, Precognition, Eagle’s Sight, Forced Awakening, On the Qui Vive, Eyes of Argus… only THEN do you start thinking about Telepathic Misdirection and My Enemy’s Enemy… or, (Guinness forbid!) Delaying Tactics.

Why would you need space for this? You’ll block everything, right? Your deck is designed exactly for that: block.

Why deal with the two most common offensive actions of the game with only 1 or 2 cards, with the chance to hurt your prey on the process? It’s so much better to use 5+ cards to then fail because… you know… block denial is a thing.

The savvy player will wait for the time you’re clogged with useless intercept and combat, then tap you and oust you easily. Also, don’t underestimate the cross-table oust.

And don’t get me started on people not using Carlton Van Wyk or other Ally cards.

Fortitude is a common discipline, I hear.

2. No Wall blocks everything. None.

Walls are only as strong as the materials in them.

99% of the time when a Wall is ousted, it has junk in its hand. By junk I mean things that really don’t help it survive at that moment.

You would be astonished by the low percentage of times you actually need Precognition or Spirit’s Touch to stop an action. STOP is not BLOCK.

They are different verbs. Look it up on Google.

3. Total Retaliation or powertrip Walls

“OMG! OMG! OMG! Rötschreck is the best card ever! I’m gonna be such a boss!”

No. You are not. Bosses win games.

You will create a crater, then someone else will win your table. You are trying to play rush combat with a Wall setup; let’s call it “Less Stupid Combat” (flame on, trolls :D)

Walls stop players, not Minions. Wall decks are closer to Grinder decks than they are to Combat decks. As in biology, you can research the DNA of both types to see common ancestors (again, another post).


Yes, the above mentioned Master Out of Turn helps you survive ONE combat between your turns. What of the others?

If you have more then one “good combat”, you end up with more blood on vampires, more ousting power (to maybe win the table), more pool (to be less pressured to block Enkidu’s bleed for 2, or to get more vampires ready) and more permanent gear is more important that ONE combat being good.

Granted, on the one-on-one the card is good, but then it’s a “win-more” card.

Master Phase Actions are important. Also, The Rack works regardless if you can block AND aggravate in the same go.

Your Lambach dies the same way Isabel Giovanni does: as soon as they have one or zero blood on them.

Guardian Angel is better than Rötschreck.

Because Math!

4. Barbie builds a Wall

Walls are not meant to be pretty.

The more people painted the Berlin Wall, the closest it was to falling.

Don’t get distracted by the “I like this” or “I don’t like that” mentality.

You don’t like Vykos Adv? In this day and age filled with Masters, why would you stop yourself from having the perfect hand? There are many other such examples of people forgetting this is a mathematical system built to play the cards and the players.

Oh, you like Animalism. So cute.

Animalism brings nothing to a wall that has Auspex and a streamlined combat discipline like Vicissitude.

How much crap do YOU put in your decks “because it’s nice” or “fun”?

“But Tiago, this IS a game! It’s supposed to be fun. Don’t take that away from me, you arrogant bastard!”

Well, imaginary player, my job is not to help you have fun by using sub-par cards. You’ll have fun during 1 or 3 games, lose and resent those who actually win.

The rules say you need to play to win, the more chances you have of doing that, the more fun it is for everyone. If your main objective is not to win by the rules, you really don’t like V:tES.

But we digress (maybe I’ll address this subject in the CEL QUI combat post).

5. Sweeping Walls are not Walls

Walls are not brooms.

According to the Marin-Ribas Classification (another future post, I know), Wall decks tend to fall into the 3-player-game category.

Walls with Eagle’s Sight tend to be built by players that try to stop anybody from being ousted. This creates tension in the game, conflict between the players and über misplays. Also, tables time without a winner.

Charlie Sheen doesn’t like that.

A good Wall should win 80% to 90% of three player games it gets to, IF it uses the time up until that to get ready for it.

Of course smart players will see that from a mile away, but… Smiling Jack on the rocks is a nice drink to make bleed decks do your job for you.

6. Everyone must ask the Wall player about everything

Walls are cold. And don’t have an ego.

They don’t care. And neither should you.

This is not to say that you cannot say something about the order of who is ousted, but in the end, if you leave people alone, they leave you alone and see you as a lesser threat.

Walls are discouraging. Just by looking at your ready region, people should lose motivation to do anything bad to you.

Or using cards that are not threatening like Guardian Angel. 🙂

Lodin is good. Multiple Lodins is better.


Walls stop things that go against them. They do not run in front of objects or persons to stop them.
Man is yet to built a wall that has not been breached.
Walls are only as strong as the materials in them.
Walls stop players, not Minions.
Walls are not meant to be pretty.

Walls are not brooms.
Walls are cold. And don’t have an ego. They don’t care.


By Tiago Brum. Tiago Brum has been National Champion of Portugal in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He is in the V:tES Hall of Fame.

Author: Tiago Brum

Tiago Brum has been National Champion of Portugal in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He is in the V:tES Hall of Fame.

1 thought on “Wall pitfalls – an essay in Arrogance

  1. Great post! One year later and i’m still waiting your post about quietus combat 😉
    Also, in your opinion how many Guardian Angels are enough in a wall deck?

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