Review: Renegade Games – Blood & Alchemy (Vampire The Masquerade: Rivals)

Blood & Alchemy
Blood & Alchemy is an expansion for the Vampire The Masquerade: Rivals expandable card game, developed by Matt Hyra and Dan Blanchett and published by Renegade Games.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Blood & Alchemy is the first expansion of the Rivals Expandable Card Game. It presents two new playing decks covering two new factions – The Tremere and The Thin-Bloods. More importantly, it presents two new major rule additions – Rituals and Alchemy. When considering Rivals, the base set faction decks are fairly straight forward in how they are played, taking advantage of the core mechanics and taking fairly linear paths to win the game (albeit in different ways). Blood & Alchemy doesn’t really seem straight forward; it’s more about playing the long game that it is about playing a linear game where you just keep driving straight to victory. With Rituals and Alchemy, you have to think about the end game as much as you have to think about your first moves as your first moves are likely more powerful as combos that grow in strength as the game plays.

Rituals and Alchemy are kind of opposing forces. Rituals bolster the Tremere to make them stronger while Alchemy aids the Thin-Bloods in overwhelming their opponent due to their inherently weak nature. This is why I say they are about playing the long game – both of them build up as the game continues, but you have to survive long enough for them to dominate. It’s not that they can’t win the short game as they have some tricks up there sleeve, it’s just that they become more and more effective as gameplay continues.

Interestingly to me, this is an approach I would not have expected for the first expansion, but then maybe it’s the best approach for the first expansion. Given that the core set is so straight forward in regards to the core mechanics, it actually makes sense to create an expansion that gives players the ability to flex their skills and not just be basing their moves on the luck of the cards they draw. Additionally, Rituals and Alchemy could easily be combined with other factions due to their long-term nature. Half of your deck could be devoted to the short game and the other half could be devoted to the long game. The only caveat there is that you have to be fairly lucky with which order the cards are drawn as it could backfire.

Regardless of how you approach this expansion, it’s a solid first expansion and I love the immediate deviation from the core mechanics to bring something exciting to your game table. In all honesty, this could be the draw some players need to get into the game for the first time. If they desire a lot more than the base game, then this is the start they need! I only hope other expansions build upon this momentum already created by pushing the mechanics into cool new areas!

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