June 29, 2008

Upcoming Event: Characters Crazy

This is an idea I got last year when reading some articles over on www.VsSystem.com. I can't remember the author who mentioned it (sorry!) but I thought it sounded like an interesting challenge: No plot twists.

That's right, you have to build a deck that includes only characters, locations and equipment. No plot twists can be included in your 60-card build. I think we're going to see some really unique ideas with this one.

Marvel Universe set review (sorta)

It's been a good two weeks. I've played more Vs. in that time than I probably have in the past 3 or 4 months put together. We've got a few new players who are really into learning the game and older players are playing more often. It's all good stuff, because the more games I get to play, the more fun I have!

I've had a chance to play with and against most of the main teams in Marvel Universe. I'll cover each one below based on my play experiences. Of course they all have their pros and cons, like any other team previously. A lot of my testing gets done with decks made entirely of commons, to get a feel for what the teams can do if a person only has a few packs to work with. Any uncommons or rares that get added in after that are even better. So let's get started.

Avengers: This team has some amazing rally effects. Coupled with the sheer volume of reservists and leader cards available you can really do some crazy stuff. With a few good rally effects you can have a mittful of cards in your hand and shouldn't miss a drop after turn 2 or 3. You'll also have plenty of cards available to pay discard costs, or use as power-ups.

SHIELD: Of the main teams this is the only one I haven't played against except in team-up decks. These guys really seem to center around your army characters. You'll need a good number of soldiers to make things happen, but if you can get it to work it's good times.

Crime Lords: This team can seriously burn you with a lot of effects, centering mainly on the various Red Skull cards. Master Man is a stand out as well I think. If you play it carefully you can lose characters every turn and still keep growing while bleeding your opponent to death.

Thunderbolts: I think so far this is my favorite team to play. They have some fantastic mechanics to keep their characters on the board, and they almost all get better the longer they stay around. I've seen the 2-drop Beetle <> Mach sitting on the board with eight +1/+1 counters on him. An 11/9 2-drop is insane!

Warbound: While it has been said many times already, I think this is definitely going to be the deck to beat for a while. If you can hit the combination of Brood (4), Hulk (5), and Hulk (6) with his boost on turns 4, 5, and 6 you've got something really tough to beat. Since almost all of these powers are triggered effects and not payment powers or plot twists, they're very difficult to negate. If you boost in Hulk on turn 6 you have a 19/19 body who is only a location or Archangel-discard away from having flight, and anyone he stuns gets sent to the KO pile. That's just nasty.

The other smaller affiliations: Nextwave, Negative Zone, Illuminati (yes, I know not an affiliation, but it works about the same), and Alpha Flight are largely unexplored by me thus far. I'd dearly love to make an Alpha Flight deck. I think they have a very interesting mechanic, but I simply can't figure out what other team they would work well with yet. Sasquatch fits in well with the Warbound, but he's not really a good replacement for the 5-drop Hulk. I'll have to do some more testing with the smaller TAs to see what will work out.

That's it for now. Please post or email me any comments!

June 22, 2008

Release Celebration Report

Ah good times, good times.

We had eight players in for the tourney and everyone seemed excited about the prospect of playing our first sealed games. As an aside, we've only been playing here in Calgary for about 7 months, me having started the group back at the end of November last year. I was expecting around a dozen, because we had 14 for our DC Legends release event back in December. We didn't have DCL cards for that one, so it ended up being a constructed event...but back to more recent gaming.

Everyone cracked packs and furiously set about building their decks. I saw some copies of nice rare cards in a few of the players piles, but in the four games I played, I didn't see many of them on the table. I think it was more that they didn't fit in that well with the other cards than that they were bad ones. I know that I had a few in my deck that I was never able to use...

I ended up constructing a Crime Lords / SHIELD deck, as they had the most characters which would allow me to build a decent curve. I had actually had two team ups, and based my deck around the 3-drop Red Skull, followed by a 5-drop Master Man, then Genis-Vell for a turn six win on evens. I should have written down my full deck list, but didn't think to do so before I dropped the cards in with the rest and started sorting on Saturday.

In the first round I can't remember what I played against, but I think it was mainly Thunderbolts. Once I brought out my Red Skull things started going downhill for my opponent Roy. I think we both made a few mistakes, but mine were just smaller/luckier. This was a VERY close game, with me winning by only one point of endurance.

Round two I was up against Jordan, who was playing Avengers. His smaller guys just couldn't keep up and his draws were poor. I had drawn well into my curve and got my team-up, which allowed me to make it to turn five with only losing my 1-drop. I was able to recruit my 6-drop Mar-Vell to burn him for 9 and then stop his stun-back with a Grudge Match on my Red Skull. This left me with a full board left to defend against an army of flight-less small drops. The game was over.

Round three I was up against Brian. His deck was amazing for a sealed deck. It wasn't team specific, but it kicked my butt all over the place. I remember seeing Bishop, the common Speedball and Spider-Woman (evasion/invulnerability) and the finishing touch...Norman Osborne. The details of this are hazy due to the severe beating I took, but needless to say I lost spectacularly.

The final round I played against Colin. He was playing mainly Thunderbolts, but wasn't able to draw into many decent plot twists, and was unable to get rid of either my Red Skull or Master Man. By the time Genis-Vell came out his Karla Sofen and smaller characters couldn't stand up. I felt bad that he'd drawn so poorly, but it happens to us all at times.

As for the other players, I know there was an Avengers deck with hopes of bringing out the 8-drop Captain America, but didn't have the luck needed to make it...and a few mixes of Crime Lords and Thunderbolts. Amazingly enough, it seems no one drew enough cards to run Warbound, which I was fully expecting to see. My case of cards had arrived the day before the tournament, so Carrie and I had gone through a practice game of sealed. I had amazing luck and was able to team up Thunderbolts and Warbound and it simply wrecked house. In constructed I'm more than certain I'll see a Warbound deck or two, and may even be tempted to try one myself.

I really enjoyed the sealed tournament and I think the other players did too. We're talking about doing another one soon, but our next event is going to an interesting challenge...stay tuned for that.

June 10, 2008

Marvel Release Celebration!

Friday June 20th, 6:30 to 9:00pm

Each player will get 5 packs of the newly-released Marvel Universe set to create a deck from. This will be the first organized event in which Marvel Universe will be legal. Come down, crack some packs and play a few rounds in our very first sealed event!

Quick Review: Marvel Ultimate Battles

Before I left the shop on Friday night, I decided to grab a starter set of the new Marvel Ultimate Battles card game and a few boosters. The friend who had come with me to the tourney bought the same and we headed off to grab some pizza and beer before settling down to play.

The game is definitely intended for younger players, but that doesn't make it less fun. The set contains 12 different hero cards around which you build a deck of Ally and Action cards. The first player to knock out all of their opponent's heroes wins! After the first game spent flipping over the rule sheet a few times, we figured out things well enough that the following games proceeded at a furious pace. They were often over in less than three rounds.

Ultimate Battles has nice card artwork, fast gameplay and is great fun to play. There is room for some good strategy and strong themes to deck construction too. I'd highly recommend it as a game to get younger players started if you think Vs. might be a little too hard, or to someone who wants a game that plays fast and doesn't require a big investment.

I'll be bringing a deck or two with me to my VS events from now on.

Event Report: Beatdown Beauties

I often like to set deck building challenges for our players. It helps mix things up so that we don't see the same decks played night after night, and also encourages players to try cards and combos that they wouldn't usually attempt. For the last event I came up with something extremely challenging: Beatdown Beauties.

The format breaks down as such: each card in your deck must have a female character somewhere on the artwork. Card artwork with no characters are also valid for play.

I didn't have a chance to look at all the decks in detail, but I know we had an all X-Men (or should I say X-Women?) deck, an X-Men team-up (I wasn't able to catch what the other team was). Between rules questions and teaching a lonely WoW player how to play VS, I wasn't able to look at two of the other player's decks...so I apologize for not mentioning them here.

I provided two decks for use as well; one being a Darkseid's Elite / Underworld deck centered on endurance burn and Madeline Pryor on turn six to KO all of the opponent's board. Turn seven's endgame featured Kara Zor-El, Female Fury to stun all the attacking characters and then finish off with Madeline.

The other was far less synergistic, being a more straight forward team-attack deck. It was an Avengers/Spider-Friends pairing. The idea was to play Daily Bugle with and in order to reuse attack / defense pumps (Big Leagues anyone?). The rest of the resource row was characters in preparation for turn six. MOR Mattie Franklin powering up from the resource row and replaces all the extra drops, then bring out Elektra on turn seven. It worked alright for the player I provided it to, but would definitely need more work if played again.

Kudos to everyone who stepped up to the challenge!

And finally, some news!

So it's been almost a year since I put anything up on here...not for lack of happenings, more a lack of desire to write online. You never really know who's reading and what kind of weird things they may be thinking about you. Of course, I don't really care if someone out there in the wide, wide world of web thinks I'm strange, but I digress.

I've been working on a lot of things, work being one of them. A large portion of my non-work time has been devoted to my various hobbies. Gaming (that's the non-video kind for you young kids out there) has kept me sane when I'm bored or frustrated. It's also helping to keep me largely devoid of any disposable income as well, but it's a fair trade off.

I started playing Heroclix last May and try to play at least once a week. There are easily three or four places I could go to on various days of the week, but my dice still frequently choose to betray me in my moment of need, so I limit my disappointment accordingly. I dabbled briefly in Horrorclix as well, chiefly intrigued by the sculpts moreso than the gameplay, but unable to find regular players I elected to stop buying those with any frequency.

About three months ago I was visiting a friend who showed me an RPG sourcebook by the name of Dark Heresy. It was beautifully produced with lavish artwork and some amazing writing. The universe of Warhammer 40,000 was far more interesting than I'd imagined from passing by the Games Workshop outlets in the mall. I recently purchased a starter box of that game and have been diligently painting my crashed spaceship terrain pieces. I haven't played much yet, but after receiving a Chaos Battleforce box for my birthday, and a massive box of Chaos Daemons in the mail today I certainly intend to! Lots of painting to do...but it'll be worth it.

And now on to the crux of my sudden burst of typing.

Late in the fall of last year I was going through some of my items from storage and came upon my collection of Vs. System cards. I was reminded of what a fun game that was and decided to look into finding some local players. Alas, none were to be found...so I started on a quest to create some. After a few months of travelling around to various gaming shops in the city I found a supportive shop and set up a few game demos. Bi-weekly tournament soon followed, and now we have a solid player base of around 4-6 regulars, with another 8-10 players that drop in on occasion.

Since we've got a nice player base and people are playing both at the regular tournaments and in their off-time, I thought I'd start a little page to post about it. Since I already had this site set up, it seemed a natural place to start. I'll still post random musings on occasion, but the main focus will be on our player group, tournaments, events and deck ideas that I've seen or am working on.

Stay tuned!