So, with the order of LotN Starters having arrived, we had a session to try them out. Overall, the afternoon was quite fun.
In the first game, I played the Assamites, and starting, bleeding Simon, playing the Followers of Set, bleeding Adrianna, playing the Giovanni, bleeding Kevin with the Ravnos. Simon swept the table there, although I was able to burn two minions of his.
This game was rather frustrating for me - Simon got out both Tutu the mummy, and Nakhtorheb, giving him two minions who could untap a turn. I was eventually able to burn both Tutu and another small minion, but in each case, it took a couple of actions to setup. Also, given the Settites S:CE options, the Assamites struggled to be effective. I weirdly only drew 1 Master card, and no untap at all. Adrianna had a couple of good combat combos, but suffered from drawing too much equipment, and wasn't really able to get the Giovanni deck going forward too well. Facing multiple acting minions also didn't help at all. Kevin wasn't able to get the Ravnos deck going, and generally struggled for useful actions throughout.
In the second game, I played the Ravnos (starting again), bleeding Simon with the Giovanni, bleeding Adrianna with the Assamites, bleeding Kevin with the Settites. Kevin and I each gained 2 VPs, with Kevin ousting me after I ousted Simon and Adrianne.
Kevin managed to pull both Tutu and Nakhtorheb for the Settites again. Fortunately, I was able to pull Durga Syn, whose "do not tap for blocking allies and younger vampires, and also had some good luck with drawing untap, but spent much of the game struggling to generate forward momentum due to needing to defend against Kevin. Adrianna struggled with her crypt draw, and ended up bring out 2 ten-caps, while struggling to really impact on Kevin's vampires. Simon was able to pressurise Adrianna quite successfully (striking for 7 in one combat), and, had he ousted her, was probably quite well placed to sweep the table. However, I was able to prevent Simon's lunge succeeding with a Ignis Fatuus, and, thanks to a round of several blocks of Kevin's minions, was able to draw week of Nightmares. The additional bleed allowed me to oust Simon and Adrianna in quick succession, but, despite the 12 pool gained, I then ran out of untap. Kevin, despite being down to only 4 pool (IIRC) was able to bleed through me at an alarming rate (I lost more than 10 in a single turn), and I was unable to generate the stealth needed to get the critical bleeds through.
Overall, the results were not that surprising. All the starters are hurt by having only 6 distinct vampires in the crypt. The Settite starter is the best balanced of the lot, and can generate some quite scary amounts of bleed. The untapping 10-cap is horrible, and is probably the best vampire in the expansion. The Giovanni deck has promise, although is a little light in Dominate (both in the crypt and cards in the deck), and is probably equipment heavy. It also seems an odd choice of deck to have the most votes (3), given the single titled vampire in the crypt. The Ravnos crypt is weird, having only 1 vampire with superior Animalism, although Durga Syn's non-tappiness is very useful (although having a 9 blood reserved as a blocker does suck). The deck struggles with the rather diverse scattering of Chimestry options, and I found the deck really struggled until I got "Week of Nightmares" out. Also, not seeing the Path hurt me, since I spent a lot of blood on Chimestry cards without ever recovering it. The Assasamites needs the most work, undoubtedly. The crypt is a little unbalanced cost wise (2 of the 6 vampires are 10 caps), and the deck needs a clearer focus than it currently has.
Still, I'm happy to have copies of the decks, and the investment looks to be well worth it. The extra potence cards from the Giovanni decks will be very useful, even if I don't put together a good Giovanni deck.