Vampires must occasionally feed on the blood of the living, Immediately after declaring an Action with a Vampire, roll a d6: On a 2+ the Vampire can carry out the Action as normal. On a 1, however, the Vampire must feed on a Thrall team-mate or a spectator. The Vampire may continue with his declared Action or if he declared a Block Action, he may take a Move Action instead. Either way, at the end of the declared Action, but before actually passing, handing off, or scoring, the Vampire must feed. If he is standing adjacent to one or more Thrall team-mates (standing, prone or stunned), then choose one to bite and make an Injury roll on the Thrall treating any casualty as Badly Hurt. The injury will not cause a turnover unless the Thrall was holding the ball. Once the Vampire has bitten a Thrall he may complete his Action. Failure to bite a Thrall is a turnover and requires him to feed on a spectator – move the Vampire to the reserves box if he was still on the pitch. If he was holding the ball, it bounces from the square he occupied if he was removed and he will not score a touchdown if he was in the opposing end zone.
The only way to recreate a powerful representation of what a Vampire player would be capable of was to give them a negative trait, which comes in the form of Bloodlust. The current version of the rules have made it lot easier to deal with than the original incarnation, though it is still one of the few ways a player can hurt someone on their own team. The changes now mean that you can only Badly Hurt your Thrall team mates when biting them, before there was no such limit meaning killing your team mates was possible. You also lost any declared action, being forced to take a move action instead. Now you can still perform that action and only have to change a Block Action to a Move one, with all the other possible actions letting you move next to a Thrall if necessary anyway.
That last change of not losing your Blitz, Pass etc. Action was a great help and gives you a much greater control over failing Bloodlust than before. As you can no longer lose that action, whereas before you may have chosen to Blitz with a Thrall if you were out of rerolls, you can now Blitz with a Vampire instead without fear of losing the Blitz action for the turn.
Coping with Bloodlust:
Dealing with Bloodlust then is much less of a problem that it was before but a lot of the strategy that was used previously still applies to the latest rules. The biggest thing to consider before taking any action with a Vampire would be where you want them to end up at the end of the action. As they may have to finish the action feeding on a Thrall, you want to make sure that you have a Thrall in an adjacent square to where you aim to get the Vampire. If you don’t do that and you fail Bloodlust, then you are going to have to change your plan to keep them on the pitch and avoid turnover. Your only other option would be to reroll the Bloodlust (or try Pro if you have it) and with a lot of Vampires on the team, that can be a frivolous use of rerolls.
Being forced to change your plan just because you neglected to move a Thrall first will leave you cursing yourself. Due to that learning to position your Thralls to work with the Vampires is the biggest single thing you can do to combat the effects of Bloodlust, either that or get some dice that have no 1s on them! You may need to think through your turn and the order you do actions to make this possible, or sometimes you might have to just risk it, should it not really be likely to get a Thrall where they are most needed. Those situations shouldn’t come up very often though and if they are you may need to rethink your strategy.
If you do get the Thralls positioned where you need, then failing the Bloodlust roll becomes less of an issue. You will still be able to do the planned action, just at the end of it the Thrall is going to become at least stunned. This will let you save the team reroll and take it out on a team mate instead. That doesn’t always mean you should just go ahead and do that, you will still be down a player for at least a turn so consider it wisely. You still need to move the Thrall there though, as even if you did reroll, you could still fail it a second time as well.
When you do fail Bloodlust though there are some criteria to bear in mind when choosing who to bite. Sometimes it will be very straight forward, such as if you needed to move the Vampire forward to score and there is only the one Thrall you moved forward in advance to bite. That leaves you with the only really sensible option, especially if you have to progress forward that turn.
Other times you will be able to move to a choice of Thralls to bite, usually during a Blitz or Move action. Be careful if you are doing as Pass, Hand Off or planning on using Hypnotic Gaze, these three things will prevent you moving any further after attempting them, so make sure you are adjacent to a Thrall before you roll! You will still usually perhaps have a choice of which Thrall you are next to though so the same criteria apply to some degree.
If you can bite a Thrall that is already stunned that is the first choice target you should usually go for. You can bite the same Thrall with multiple Vampires in a turn which means only one stunned team mate instead of potentially up to six. Obviously once they get knocked out or worse, then they are no longer an option. As you can potentially remove the Thrall you are biting from the pitch and possibly from the rest of the entire game, try to avoid biting your better Thralls if possible. A rookie Thrall is usually a preferred choice, though if you have any Journeymen or Mercenary Thralls (or even Igor) then biting them may actually be preferable to an already stunned, but better team-mate. Do note though, that you may end up have two stunned players instead of just the one, but you are doing that to hopefully avoid removing a better Thrall.
Again you need to weigh up how vital it is to keep a Thrall with Loner just standing where they are against the loss of losing a developed but already prone or stunned Thrall instead. Just because the Thrall on the floor is better, it doesn’t mean that you can just bite a standing rookie (or whatever) one instead, doing that might weaken your defensive or offensive play. As the worst you can do now is a Badly Hurt, you aren’t running the risk of killing a ST4 Thrall by biting them. Before you would never have done that but now sometimes that can be worth doing it if means you keep an alternative weaker team mate on their feet.
The last great way to avoid Bloodlust is to not take unnecessary actions with your Vampires. Just like in the One Die Block article I suggest that sometimes doing nothing with a player is the best thing they can contribute that turn. Likewise if a Vampire is in a particularly useful square at the start of your turn, then it will do you no harm to just do nothing with them that turn. If they don’t take an action then they don’t have to roll for Bloodlust, so they can’t possibly fail it!
Paying attention to what failing Bloodlust could mean for that Vampire and your team before doing an action, is the biggest thing to consider. Avoid those actions that can be avoided, make sure there is a Thrall where you are planning to head, consider which you can most safely bite if the worst happens. As you get later through each turn, you can more likely consider using a reroll if you can easily spare it. Just pay attention to what possible follow up rolls you might want the reroll for before you do use it! Bloodlust is the single biggest hurdle to doing well with Vampires, learn to handle it and the team will be a lot more successful than perhaps you first thought.