Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

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Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

(pop culture)

The success of White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade, the popular role-playing game created by Mark Rein-Hagen in 1991, suggested to Richard Garfield of Wizards of the Coast the possibility of its adaptation as a card game. As the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons had been a great success in the 1980s, so the card game Magic: The Gathering (also from Wizards of the Coast) had become the new phenomenon of the early 1990s. On the heels of completing Magic, Garfield met with Rein-Hagen, who had played Magic, and opened discussions of creating a vampire-based card-game version. Garfield’s staff began designing cards, and adapting the concept to the new format.

Originally released as Jyhad in 1994, a reference to the battles going on inside the vampire community, the new card game pitted several older vampires, called Methuselahs, against each other. These hidden figures who never show themselves manipulate the more public vampires of the contemporary vampire community in order to accomplish their goals, including the destruction of other Methuselahs. In the game, usually played at midnight, the Methuselahs seek the control of vampire society, which means using the minion which the player controls to destroy the influence of the other Methuselahs over their minions. Working through Machiavellian political action and using cunning in the face of various conspiracies, the successful player gains influence in the form of blood counters while others lose theirs. When a player runs out of influence (blood counters), he or she must leave the game.

Jyhad was slow to take off, in part due to its adult theme, and in part to some level of confusion in the original version. As with Vampire: The Masquerade, Jyhad required the new player to master the rather detailed world of the vampire including its vampire clans and their varying attributes and the nature of vampiric power. Thus, Wizards of the Coast redesigned the game, streamlining the rules for beginners, and reissued it as Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, with a 437-card deck. The deck include cards for vampires, the Methuselah’s primary minions; equipment cards to be given to the minions to increase their effectiveness; reaction cards to block another’s action; and political action cards, concerning the political ploys tried by a Methuselah. The cards used in play are also designed as artistic works, much as modern trading cards, and hence also function as tradable and collectible items. As with Magic, individual cards are designated as common, uncommon, and rare, and those more difficult to obtain assume an enhanced value.

As Vampire: The Eternal Struggle took off, Wizards of the Coast quickly issued three expansion sets: Dark Sovereigns (1995), Ancient Hearts (1995), and The Sabbat (1996). New expansion sets have subsequently been issued regularly, with some fifteen to date. The most recent, Ebony Kingdom, was released in May of 2009. Lists of cards and info on new expansion sets can be found at White Wolf’s webpage,


Campbell, Brian, ed. Darkness Unveiled. Clarkston, GA: White Wolf/Wizards of the Coast, 1995. 200 pp.
Goudie, Robert, Ben Peal, and Ben Swainbank. Vampire The Eternal Struggle Players Guide. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf Publishing, 2005. 336 pp.
Greenberg, Andrew, et al. The Eternal Struggle: A Players Guide to the Jyhad. Stone Mountain,GAL White Wolf Game Studio, 1994. 201 pp.
Haines, Jeff. “Strange Things in the Night.” Inquest 1, 1 (May 1995): 16–20.
Moore, James A., and Kevin Murphy. House of Secrets. Clarkston, GA: White Wolf Game Studio, 1995. 263 pp.