Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
Vtes Grelarge Vtes Tanlarge
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle's library and crypt card back designs
Designer Richard Garfield
Publisher White Wolf, Inc.

2-5, preferrably 4 or 5

More players possible, but cumbersome
Age range 13+
Setup time ~ 5 minutes
Playing time ~ 2 - 3 hours1
Random chance Some
Skills required

Card game strategy

Social skills2
1 Game time varies greatly depending on the number of players and the style of decks played. 2 Game offers many options for alliance or betrayal. Short-term deals and trade-offs (with very fluid terms) are typical. Bluffing (appearing stronger or weaker) is also often used.
World of Darkness
Vampire series
Vampire Settings

World of Darkness Clans
World of Darkness Concepts

Old World of Darkness
Vampire: The Masquerade

Clans & Bloodlines
Masquerade Society
Cainite History
Vampire Lore

New World of Darkness
Vampire: The Requiem

Clans & Bloodlines

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

Mind's Eye Theatre

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, published as Jyhad in the first or "Limited" edition and often abbreviated as VTES, V:TES or V:tES, is a multiplayer collectible card game set in the World of Darkness. It is published by White Wolf, Inc.

The game was designed in 1994 by Richard Garfield and initially published by Wizards of the Coast.[1] As Garfield's first follow-up to his popular Magic: The Gathering collectible card game, he was eager to prove that the genre was "a form of game as potentially diverse as board games"[2] In 1995 the game was renamed from Jyhad to Vampire: The Eternal Struggle to increase its appeal and distance itself from the Islamic term Jihad[3] . After the 1996 Sabbat expansion, Wizards of the Coast abandoned the game, and in 2000 White Wolf took over development. It is thus one of the oldest collectible card games in existence.

White Wolf announced that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle would cease production on the 10th of September, 2010 [4]

Richard Garfield noted that the experiences he had made with the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game had helped him to improve his design of the game. In an interview with Robert Goudie, Garfield particularly notes dedicated multi-player (3+) rules, a lack of "land cards", and a more rapid card drawing mechanism (cards normally being replaced instantly after being played).[2]

Setting Edit

The game is set in the World of Darkness, drawing mainly from the Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game. After the events of Gehenna ended the official World of Darkness storyline, VTES is considered a sort of alternate reality of the setting, as it continues though White Wolf, Inc. publishes no further official products for the roleplaying game.

In VTES, each player takes on the role of a Methuselah, an ancient and manipulative vampire, who is not itself present in the struggle, but acts from afar. Each Methuselah will try to eliminate all others by nullifying their influence and power. To that end, the Methuselahs will control and manipulate a number of minions (mostly younger vampires) to attack and destroy the other Methuselahs' resources.



The game is ideally played by a group of four or five players, but it can be played by any number of players from two up. Group play with more than six players is rare, as an individual's turn can easily take two to three minutes, causing a slow game for all. Two-player games (and to some extent three-player games) also suffer from lack of opportunity for the kind of inter-player alliances and treachery that are a large part of the game.

As in most other collectible card games, each player designs his or her own deck. Each deck is built with two components:

'Crypt' - containing cards representing vampires (and in some cases mortal allies) that the player may control during the game.

'Library' - containing cards generally representing assets or actions to be taken during the game.

Vampire Jyhad Game Setup

Sample setup of a two-player game.

Most cards in the library can only be used in conjunction with vampires. Some cards have no cost in resources to play, in other cases to put a card in play it must be paid for using 'pool' or the blood on his vampires. Pool represents the player's influence, and if it is reduced to zero the player is out of the game (each player starts the game with 30 pool). Therefore, players continually have to make decisions based on how much they want to invest into assets in play and how much to retain to stay alive, especially against other players capable of sudden dangerous 'bleeds' (direct attacks on the players pool).

Each turn one player directs his minions to perform a number of actions and attacks, which other players' minions may intercept or interrupt. Each player attempts to 'oust' (remove from game) his 'prey' (the player to his left) while defending himself from his 'predator (the player to his right). This continues until only one player is left on the table. Ousting one's prey is worth one victory point, and being the last person left at the table is worth an additional victory point. However, ousting one's prey also nets the player 6 pool, and thus makes him stronger and more dangerous to the next prey. This is one of the reasons why other players may suddenly start helping a player in a weak situation, or even gang up on a player who seems to be going for a 'table sweep', making shifting alliances part and parcel of the game.

Gameplay offers many options for alliance or betrayal. Short-term deals and trade-offs (with very fluid terms) are typical. Bluffing (appearing stronger or weaker) is also often used.

Games can take anything from half an hour to three or more hours (for a 5-player game). In tournament play and in some informal games, a time limit may be imposed, after which all remaining players receive half a victory point in addition to any they may have already received. Standard time limit for a tournament game is 2 hours. Game time varies greatly depending on the number of players and the style of decks played.

Playing stylesEdit

There are many ways to win in VTES, though they all depend on eventually wearing down your prey's pool. Some of the most common styles, as described in official player's guide[5] are:

  • Bleed / Stealth Bleed - this deck concentrates on causing as much pool loss as possible, either as quickly as possible, or by bleeding heavily during a moment of weakness. It usually has some way of ensuring that bleeds are more likely to slip past the defenses, the classical way of which would be playing 'stealth' cards.
  • Combat / Rush - this type of deck is based on attacking opponents vampires, rendering them incapable of acting, or destroying them outright. After the defense has been whittled away it then starts bleeding normally. It also defends itself by attacking individual vampires (mainly of its own predator) which pose a threat.
  • Political - this deck is geared to take advantage of the political system inbuilt into the game. It concentrates on having as many votes (usually via powerful vampires) on the table as possible. It is then able to call and pass its own political actions, which classically include those directly damaging its own prey.
  • Build - this deck attempts to survive during the early game while it builds up to later on control the table via these accumulated assets, be they vampires, large amounts of reserve pool, votes or other cards. It is usually combined with another style.
  • Intercept / Wall - This deck, often combined with the 'Combat' or the 'Build' style, tries to intercept the vampires of the prey when they act (and then likely attempts destroying them). Alternatively, it may be a defensive deck slowly building its strength for the late game, using its intercepting abilities to stop itself from being ousted in the meantime.
  • Toolbox - this style attempts to be able to do as much as possible of all the styles above at the same time, mixing its cards. It is often a 'Build'-style deck at the same time.

All the above deck types have various weaknesses, the most glaring being that a deck should theoretically be able to do ALL the above well, to take advantage of evolving game situations, and to counter other styles it may come up against. However, if it uses this 'Toolbox' approach too strongly, it may spread itself too thin, and end up being incapable of following through.[5]

Distinct natureEdit

What sets VTES apart from most other collectible card games is the strong group play element. In general a player will concentrate on the player to his immediate left, his prey, and a player who succeeds in ousting his prey receives a strong boost by gaining 6 additional pool. This boost of resources might possibly enable him to eventually "sweep the table" (gaining momentum with every kill) and oust every other player. Thus there is a tendency for players to help weaker ones to frustrate the stronger players' dominance. This ensures that most players stay in the game longer, instead of the playing field being reduced quickly to those with the best cards and the greatest skill.

These conditions create a game where players are almost always interacting with the other players for both short- and long-term goals instead of simply waiting for their turns. VTES is a game of negotiation, skill, and deck-building. Deals and alliances, both for the moment or for the whole game, can play a big role. A whole classification of cards, political cards, are designed with this in mind. When a vote is called each player can cast votes, either by using votes granted from cards in play (typically from vampires with a 'title' such as Princes & Archbishops) or by playing cards from the hand.

Sets and expansions Edit

White Wolf releases VTES cards in base sets, expansion sets and mini expansion sets. The main difference between these are the size of the set and the number of reprints.

  • Base sets contain booster packs as well as a number of pre-constructed starter decks (ranging from 3 to 6). The starter decks contain 89 cards (with 77 library and 12 crypt cards) as well as a rule booklet. The booster packs contain 11 cards (in newer sets, often with 7 common, 3 vampire and 1 rare card, but refer to the table below). The base set should provide a new player with a number of cards to be able to build a wide variety of decks. A base set usually contains a high percentage of reprinted cards from earlier expansions.
  • Expansion sets contain booster packs and may contain a number of pre-constructed starter decks. The distribution of cards in boosters and starters is similar to a base set. They feature also a particular theme. New players are usually not able to build a large number of different decks with only cards from this expansion's boosters due to the lack of basic cards provided either in the starters or in a base set. The number of reprints is low and usually restricted to the pre-constructed starter decks.
  • Mini-Expansion sets contains only booster packs and the number of cards are restricted to 60 new cards (20 rare, 20 uncommon and 20 common cards).

All expansion sets from Dark Sovereigns expansion onward are identified by an expansion symbol printed in the upper right corner of cards. In newsgroups and on web pages character codes are used to identify each set, usually an abbreviation of the expansion's name.

Expansion Name Type Symbol Code Release Date Total cards New cards Booster distribution
Jyhad Base (none) Jyhad 16 August 1994 437 437 11C, 4V, 3U, 1R
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Base (none) VTES 15 September 1995 436 6 11C, 4V, 3U, 1R
Dark Sovereigns Expansion Gothic window DS 15 December 1995 (173) 173 8C, 4V, 3U
Ancient Hearts Expansion Eye of Horus AH 29 May 1996 (179) 179 6C, 4V, 2U/R
Sabbat Expansion Calligraphy S Sabbat 28 October 1996 (410) 340 16C, 5V, 5U, 2R
Sabbat War Base Inverted spiked ankh SW 31 October 2000 437 (300) 77 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R or
4C, 3V, 3U, 1R
Final Nights Expansion Broken ankh FN 11 June 2001 386 (162) 170 7C, 3V, 1R
Bloodlines Expansion Ankh on red blood spatter BL 3 December 2001 (196) 196 7C, 3V, 1R
Camarilla Edition Base Ankh CE 19 August 2002 547 (385) 115 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Anarchs Expansion Combined CE/SW Ankhs Anarchs 19 May 2003 260 (132) 128 7C, 3V, 1R
Black Hand Expansion Handprint BH 17 November 2003 286 (136) 145 7C, 3V, 1R
Gehenna Expansion Stylised Clock Gehenna 17 May 2004 (150) 150 7C, 3V, 1R
Tenth Anniversary Special Foil "10" Tenth 13 December 2004 190 10 --
Kindred Most Wanted Expansion Gun KMW 21 February 2005 314 (150) 162 7C, 3V, 1R
Legacies of Blood Expansion Split ankh (black) LoB 14 November 2005 461 (300) 236 7C, 3V, 1R
Nights of Reckoning Mini expansion Plus with circle NoR 10 April 2006 (60+17) 60 6C, 3V, 1R, 1X[s 1]
Third Edition Base Tri-snake biohazard Third 4 September 2006 537 (390) 160 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Sword of Caine Mini expansion Bundle of swords SoC 19 March 2007 (60) 60 7C, 3V, 1R
Lords of the Night Expansion Crown LotN 26 September 2007 295 (150) 175 7C, 3V, 1R
Blood Shadowed Court Special Silver Ankh BSC 16 April 2008 100 0 --
Twilight Rebellion Mini expansion Tri-snake on Red Star TR 28 May 2008 (60) 60 7C, 3V, 1R
Keepers of Tradition Base Castle tower KoT 19 November 2008 457 (398) 176 5C, 3V, 2U, 1R
Ebony Kingdom Mini expansion Split ankh (white) EK 27 May 2009 (62) 60 Unlike the typical booster pack configuration (7C, 3U, 1R) the Ebony Kingdom Booster Packs have the same contents but in a different order: 4 Commons, 3 Uncommons (Vampires), 1 Rare, 3 Commons.
Heirs to the Blood Expansion Three blood drops HttB 3 February 2010 TBA (168) 168 7C, 3V, 1R
  1. Savage, R. Hyrum (2007). "Vampie: The Eternal Struggle". In Lowder, James. Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 345–347. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Garfield Reminisces on the Jyhad (interview with Richard Garfield, by Robert Goudie, July 2001. Retrieved 2008-01-10.)
  3. Ancient Influence - Peter Adkison Comments on the Early Days of Jyhad/V:TES (interview with Wizards of the Coast Founder and former CEO Peter Adkison, by Robert Goudie, February 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-26.)
  4. White Wolf press statement
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Player's Guide - Goudie, Robert; Peal, Ben & Swainbank, Ben; White Wolf, Inc., 2005


In 2004, Inquest Gamer Magazine picked VTES as the all-time best multiplayer collectible card games.[1]

In 2006, Inquest Gamer Fan Awards called the Third Edition expansion the 'Best CCG Expansion'.[2]


V:TES OnlineEdit

From December 2005 to the end of 2007 an online implementation of Vampire: The Eternal Struggle named "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Online" was available. It was developed and maintained by CCG Workshop. Using CCG Workshop's gatlingEngine, players could create decks and compete online for a monthly fee. White Wolf, Inc. had allowed CCG Workshop to release the Camarilla, Anarchs, Final Nights, Legacies of Blood, Black Hand and Kindred Most Wanted sets for online play.

Jyhad OnlineEdit

Developed and maintained by George Finklang since 1996, "Jyhad Online" hosts a series of VTES games over the Internet. Originally players emailed their actions to the players in the game, and other players responded with their reactions, with the deckserver dealing the cards. Each game was guided by a moderator who maintained the game page.

"JOL3", the new version released in 2005, uses a web interface. The deckserver still handles the decks, but the players can move cards and counters around through the web interface. Games can take place in real time if all the players are online.

Lackey CCGEdit

Another alternative is LackeyCCG in which players create and share plugins for various CCGs and may create decks and play online without fees. A plugin for VTES is available and can be used to play VTES on this platform.

See also Edit


  • Andrew Greenberg, Richard Garfield & Daniel Greenberg, Eternal Struggle: A Player's Guide to Jyhad (White Wolf Game Studio, 1994, ISBN 1-56504-163-1)

External links Edit


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