Review: Renegade Games – Shadows & Shrouds (Vampire The Masquerade: Rivals)

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

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Shadows & Shrouds is the third expansion for Vampire The Masquerade: Rivals and introduces two new factions – Clan Lasombra and Clan Hecata. These two new factions are quite opposite of each with one sticking to the shadows and the other flaunting their victories.

First up, Clan Lasombra (the Shadows), a faction who utilizes Agenda like currency. Clan Lasombra has a couple tricks up there sleeve – reach and agenda. Their first strength is the utilization of reach, allowing them to attack The Streets from the protection of their own Haven. Their second strength is how they take advantage of Agenda to not only further their own Agenda, but to gain advantages when performing actions. There is a catch though… you definitely need to have the right cards available to get the most of their use of Agenda. Thankfully, the deck can fall back on their first strength to protect them.

Next up, Clan Hecata (the Shrouds), a faction that relies on necromancy. Clan Hecata also has a couple tricks, and honestly not surprisingly one of them is in opposition to Clan Lasombra – torpor and wraiths. Clan Hecata gain advantages when sending their vampires into torpor… which is in contradiction to the reach ability of Clan Lasombra (because you can’t reach them when they’re not out on The Street!). Their second strength is their necromancy abilities, such as creating and attaching wraiths and cool rituals. The necromancy theme comes out in both method and mechanics.

There is a new rule added with this expansion – diablerie. It is the ability to consume a defeated vampire and gain their attributes and disciplines. This is quite the addition to the game, but may tip the balance of power a bit too much. I personally would not allow this rule until all players are quite familiar with the game.

Once again I find the opposing themes of these two factions enjoyable – one looks outward almost like a diva wanting to be noticed and the other looks inward to increase its strength by not being noticed. To match those themes, meeting your Agenda requirement coincides with these strengths – if you really exploit those strengths, you will steadily further your Agenda. One of the drawbacks I can see is the need to know what you’re going to do next, either by focusing on card combinations or making sure your actions benefit your next actions. When done right it can be a great reward; when done incorrectly, you may find yourself out of tricks to fall back upon.

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