November 29, 2008

Overpowered...or over-reacting?

I've had a few chances to play against some more decks built of cards from the new Marvel Evolutions (which seems to be selling at a very brisk pace locally). In addition to the Weapon X deck I wrote about the other day, I've faced off against an Exiles and an X-Factor deck, both of which were quite interesting to see. I'll concentrate on the Exiles build, which I've taken to calling Shi(f)t 'n Abuse.

Since one of my main concerns is the power of MEV in relation to that of older sets, I've been playing predominantly Modern-Age decks against MEV-only builds. I want to see if non-Evolutions decks can compete, or even survive a match-up with the new-and-shiny mutant maniacs.

The currently favored Exiles build starts off by recruiting no characters for two or possibly even three turns, rather concentrating on building up shift counters on characters in their removed-from-game zone. The ideal play on turn one involves shifting 3-drop Blink into play with a counter. Each turn another card or two is shifted out of play and more counters are added. Finally, Blink is shifted into play on turn three, adding an extra counter to all the other shifted characters.

Turn four will probably see an Illyana, Shadowcat and Mariko drop to burn you and provide your opponent with a heavy character advantage. All of these characters will recover for free if you don't have any way to get into the hidden area to stun Illyana, so even if you do stun them all, it's basically for no net gain other than a little bit of stun damage. The reason I say stun damage is due to Blink!
I had a full board of characters and should have been able to maximize breakthrough damage until this card was flipped up. It is extremely powerful, because it essentially allows any character the opponent controls to reinforce any other. With Illyana sitting in the hidden area, she's a perfect choice for this strategy, as her text requires nothing other than she be unstunned. Between her power and Blink! you're stunning characters almost for no reason.

Come turn 5 more characters hit the board. I was facing down SIX visible characters (Mimic, Rogue, Cat, Mariko, Blink and Proteus) plus Illyana in the hidden, and had been burned for something on the order of 15 endurance. To add insult before injury, my hefty 5-drop character ended up leaving play thanks to Warp Shards. Now that I only had two characters on the board to face off against a veritable army...I was done for. I took over 40 points of damage that turn, only scoring a few stun-backs, all of whom simply recovered for free.

Score another amazing and painful defeat for MEV on turn 5. I think with a few different draws it could easily have been the end of me on turn 4. I'm pretty amazed at the power of Shift, but there is a small light at the end of this tunnel. While the Exiles are extremely powerful, they are also very dependent on a select number of rare cards. In order to be really effective they have to hit everything early, so there is a greater chance of disrupting it. Not to mention that the cards are looking to be highly sought after (and thus highly expensive) should keep the number of occurrences of this deck down a little bit.

Tune in next time for my thoughts on X-Factor.

November 27, 2008

Hunter + Deadpool = Dead

I just played my first couple games with MEV, against a Weapon X deck built with a focus on the new Shift and Hunter keywords. Now me, I'm not a crazy combo-creating type of player. None of my decks are overly tricky, but rather tend to rely simply on smashing my opponent into a bloody mess in new and interesting ways. Well, I have seen the future tonight, and his name is Deadpool.So here's the situation. It's the start of turn 5 and your opponent has a 2-drop Deadpool on the board. After drawing and playing a resource he plays a copy of Trouble with Clones (5-cost: To play, KO a Deadpool you control. Gain resource points equal to that character's cost. Spend these points only to recruit characters named Deadpool.) from his hand. Searching his deck he comes up with a Deadpool, Party Pooper. You think it's ugly now...just you wait.

So now he's sitting there with a 7-drop staring you down on turn 5. Waking you from your shocked stupor he declares your smallest front row character as being Hunted. As combat begins you feel yourself start to sweat, and maybe even pee yourself a little. Deadpool swings into the declared huntee, stuns them....and readies. Now you begin to breathe a little easier, as your hunted character has been stunned. You're going to get smacked down a little bit more, but being turn 5 you might still be able to pull something out of the fire.

Your opponent grins sadly at you, his poor, hapless, soon-to-be-brutalized opponent. Looking into his hand he shrugs, then flips up a copy of Weapon Plus Satellite up from his resource row. If you didn't pee yourself before, you do at this very moment. This 7-drop Deadpool swings not once, not twice, but three times...on turn FIVE.

Now if your opponent has been extremely lucky and has another copy or three of Weapon Plus Satellite sitting in his resource row, think about that. Worst case scenario he is hitting you six times. Let's do the math: 6 x 17 = 102 damage with NO pumps. Granted, that is absolutely worst case scenario...but it is still amazing. It makes me smile at the prospect of playing it, and cry at the friends I lose by playing it against them. If there ever were a case for more rigorous testing I'd say this is it. A simple addition of, "Use this power only once per turn." would have made it far less broken. And yes, I truly think this is broken.

And for the record, I didn't come up with this combination. It was my opponent's deck. I merely pointed out that he could do the whole thing more than once, using multiple copies of Weapon Plus in his resource row. Because really...when you're doing that much damage who really cares about KO-ing a resource? It's not like you're going to need it on turn six. Who am I kidding...what turn six?! Happy gaming! :D

November 22, 2008

Heroclix no more...not likely

There are a lot of comic book fans out there addicted to 'plasti-crack', also know as Heroclix. I got into clix about a year and a half ago. After asking around in the city and online I had found, much to my disappointment, that no one was playing VS here. My love of comic books being what it was, I decided to look into Heroclix to get my comic-gaming fix.

Recent announcements by Topps have stated that they are ceasing production of the Heroclix product line and looking for someone to take it over. Of course, gamers being what they are, gloom and doom talk exploded throughout the interwebs...with conspiracy theories, economic debates and ideas for saving the game flying around all over the place.

What does this have to do with VS? Well, I'm not really sure. It might positively grow our player base, if clix really does stop going. Some people might be willing to make the switch simply to fill that comic-related gaming addiction. Others might simply walk away from gaming altogether, and the rest might just keep playing with the figures they have. I know I will be, regardless of what happens to future production.

As to that, I seriously don't see the Heroclix license not getting picked up by another manufacturer. The biggest hurdle overall will be what Topps (they own WizKids these days) is asking for it and what it includes. There were rumors out that WizKids had recently renegotiated the DC character agreement which would make a big difference. If those are included in the deal and Topps brass aren't asking for too much, I'm sure we'll see clix again.

A lot of posts I've seen on various VS forums almost seem to be hoping that clix will die. Personally I hope that doesn't happen for two reasons. The first is a selfish one: I like the game. I'm not that great at it and do find it to be more complex than VS, but it's fun to play. Second, I think having more than one comic-related game on the market is good for everyone. To a point of course. Not everyone likes card games, and not everyone likes miniature strategy games. But we all love comics, which in the end, is what it's really all about.

I mean, what's not to love about me getting to smash someone's X-Men with Darkseid, Alpha Flight, Green Lanterns or Superman? Cards or miniatures, whatever characters are in play...superheroes and villains smashing each other silly is the way to go.

Another huge tourney, and I had to miss it. :(

But at least it was for a good cause, and a good time. I recently started working with a new company and we had a team of team-building night out. Dinner, drinks, the new Bond flick, and more drinks. All on the company dime...oh yeah!

Roy sent me a brief tournament report (thank you!), and I was surprised, but happy with the results. It sounds like our numbers continue to grow. We had another 13 player night. THIRTEEN! And that's not counting another regular plus myself who were unable to go. I know I've gone on about how much I love the people in our hobby league group, but that's still just awesome. Granted the lingering effects of the beer I drank may be increasing my euphoria a little bit, but that's still pretty damned impressive.

So here's my report, based on what I heard about (any sensationalism is entirely my doing, blame the beer):

The final match after three rounds of preliminaries was Roy's Hidden Injustice Gang deck (I've played this thing and it's REALLY nasty) vs Will's X-babes deck. Will doesn't often play in the tournaments, but frequently stops in the store to chat and trade while we do. I'm really glad that he decided to enter his deck in, and win a tournament for the first time in the bargain! I've been beaten many-a-time by that X-Babes deck (see an earlier post I made this month), and I can't think of a finer match up to take Roy's IG stuff down.

Both players hit their curves until turn 6 which was called last turn due to time. With Will sitting at 6 endurance and Roy with only 2, Will won a mitt full of MUL cards and a couple packs. Fun was had by all!

1. Will Eisnor, GA X-Girls, 4/0
2. Roy Madill, MA Hidden Injustice Gang, 3/1
3. Matt Swend, GA Spider-clones, 3/1
4. Scott Mooney, GA Skrulls/Inhuman, 3/1
5. Jon Nash, GA Hellboy buff, 2/2
6. Daniel Lapointe, GA Thunderbolts, 2/2
7. Jordan Lapointe, GA Shield/GL, 2/2
8. Bryan Hons, GA X-men Assembled, 2/2
9. Benjamin Burndorfer, MA Warbound, 2/2
10. Harry Osborne, GA Darkseid's Elite, 2/2
11. Braden Lucas, GA X-men, 1/3
12. Vern Townsend, GA New Gods, 1/3
13. Colin Smith, GA JLA, 1/3

I'm glad everyone had a good time. Our next will be sealed with Marvel Evolutions! I can't hardly wait. But, please bring a deck just in case Pascal's shipment is late or anything.

November 20, 2008

Is anyone actually reading this?

For the most part, I keep this blog for two reasons...the first one is for myself. I like talking about my favorite game, posting ideas and reports about our local Hobby League / gaming group. The second is obviously for the people in that group. I thought that it would be helpful to have a site that everyone could easily check that had information about the upcoming tournament date and format, since not everyone can make it to every event.

So for anyone who reads this thing, feel free to pipe up. Leave a comment, whether you play Vs here in Calgary or not. I'd love to hear from you. Give me some ideas on things you'd like to see, article topics, deck ideas, stuff you love or hate about my writing...whatever.

November 17, 2008

Super Awesome-tacular

I've been meaning to post for a few days, but with the realms being was I. Not enough to not play any cards, but it saddened me. I was able to fill my need for Vs talk via the boards on the Kamiza's site, and those over on TCGPlayer. For anyone interested in the game I heartily recommend both communities. I think there is a lot of overlap, but that's actually a good thing in my mind. It goes to show how tight-knit our players are on a global-level. It's an amazing thing to see something like that come out of a shared love for a simple game.

As for playing, things are still going really strong for me here. A week ago, I was able to organize an impromptu sealed tournament with five players, including myself. It was only the second time I've been able to play sealed, and I absolutely loved it! We had two players (including myself) playing with packs from Marvel Team-Up, one player with Marvel Knights, one with Infinite Crisis, and another playing World's Finest.

As we had an odd number of players and a limited time-frame, most of us were only able to get two rounds of play in. I went 1-1 with my Spider-Friends / Marvel Defenders one loss coming from an Underworld / Defenders team up. Jason pulled the extra-sweet combo of Samantha Parrington (foil no less) and the 7-drop Hulk. I might have been able to survive long enough to squeak out a win, but I made an unfortunate (ie: STUPID) formation mistake that let him smack me around.

Will's deck was a little shaky, but he was playing with DC cards for the first time, and was able to make all of his games go VERY close...against poor draws and scary match-ups. I think Roy was the only player to go 2-0, playing a strong Marvel Knights deck. I may be wrong in that though, as Jordan's Team Superman deck looked like it had some insanely good pumps in it. Playing and trying to see what was going on in the other games is obviously not my strong suit, so if I've made a mistake please correct me or...try not to throw too many vegetables my way.

Besides the sealed play, I was able to get a few games in on Thursday as well. Luck wasn't with me that night, as I only recall winning 1 of my 4 games. It was good fun nonetheless, and Scott was able to fill a few slots from my trade list with older rares. They were, as always, much appreciated.

Topping things all off was Saturday evening. Trilogy Gaming Club has moved to a new location, so I had to swing by to check it out. It looks awesome. There is probably three times the gaming space of the old store, and Pascal has put up not one but two HUGE displays for VS. One is a Batman standee directly across from the main door, standing on the top wall, slightly in shadows (as Batman should rightly be). The other is a Superman poster on the far wall. It's really great that he's done that, as I certainly didn't ask for the support. The more visibility we have in-store the better. I can only help us bring in more players!

Will and Sebastien were also hanging out at the shop, and we decided to make an evening of it; grabbing some pizza and beer and heading over to flip some more cards. I played several games against Will's X-Babes deck (piloted to near perfection by Sebastien)...winning only one. He was able to get 3 copies of X-Men Assembled out on one game, and all FOUR in the next. It was absolutely crushing to see a 14/15 (or something) 2-drop staring at me on turn 7. I just couldn't get rid of them.

Lastly, I have to give huge thanks to Will for spending a large portion of his evening sorting through his extra cards and dropping almost a DOZEN cards from my want-list on the table to me to take home. If there's one thing about our Vs community here that I would be inclined to brag about, it would be the generosity of our players. Everyone is always willing to step up and help each other out with trades, lending cards for testing, strategy and just plain being a great bunch to play with. You guys are great.

November 08, 2008

I am...the World's Finest

Well maybe that's a rather extreme statement, but I sure felt like it on Friday night! We had our Bring-Your-Own-Two-Teams tournament, and I ran my first-ever build of a Team Superman / Gotham Knights team-up deck. It was a lot smaller tournament than most that we've had in the past two months, but we had some great decks brought in. With only 5 of us playing we had time for every player to play against everyone else, which I really liked.

BYOTT World's Finest (65 cards)

2x DCX-023 Superman/Batman Robot (0)
2x DCR-212 Lois Lane (1)
4x DBM-006 Commissioner Gordon (1)
2x DJL-209 Kelex (1)
3x DWF-010 Krypto (2)
3x DWF-042 Batman (3)
4x DOR-007 Cassandra Cain <> Batgirl (4)
1x DWF-127 Catwoman (5)
1x DWF-025 Wonder Woman (5)
2x DCL-028 Superman (5)4x
4x DCL-070 Dick Grayson <> Nightwing (6)
4x DGL-159 Azrael <> Batman (7)
1x DWF-008 Kara Zor-El <> Supergirl (8)
1x DOR-020 Superman (8)
1x DWF-022 Superman (9)
Total = 35

Plot Twists:
1x DCX-005 Flying High
2x DSM-032 Man of Tomorrow
2x DOR-029 Fizzle
3x DWF-037 Iron Will
2x DGL-161 Blood in the Dark
3x DWF-036 Impervious
4x DWF-038 Soaring to New Heights
3x DWF-035 Home Sweet Home
4x DWF-060 Good Cop, Good Cop
4x DWF-059 Bat-Signal

2x DBM-012 Gotham City

The idea for this deck is a combination of plot twist negation, character recovery, and smashing my opponent on odd initiatives. As has seemed the case lately, it's a little card-heavy, but there are a few items that could be removed, namely single copies of Wonder Woman and Catwoman on 5, 1 Lois the 8-drop Kara and 9-drop Superman. That would put it down at an even 60 and should still likely run just fine, as I never needed any of those characters in my games.

My mulligan condition for each game was either a Batman in hand, or a way to get Batman. If I'm lucky enough to get Gotham City on the board I use it on my defending turns to draw cards, which can be used as discard for Batman's ability or my Fizzles. When Superman comes out on turn 5 he's never been smaller than 10/10 for me. With some Soaring to New Heights and Iron Wills to play, my entire board (always at least three characters on turn 5) can start to pummel my opponent. Dick Grayson is one of the beefier 6-drops I could find that was thematic, and I liked the Azrael <> Batman text for the times I might get stuck with even initiatives. With the amount of search, it hits very consistently and plays very well.

Round 1: Marvel Defenders / Warbound

Scott was able to get his Hulk set up on turn 5 and it was looking scary for me with all the readying and counter effects. Luckily I had a solid board with my Batman 3-drop, Superman/Batman Robot (boosted in for 4 resource points), Superman, and Krypto. With me on even initiatives...Hulk was swinging first. I was able to slow the pain with a timely flipped Flying High and Home Sweet Home from my resource row and survive the turn with three characters on the board. On turn six, four attacking characters and a couple of Soaring to New Heights shifted the game in my favor. On turn seven Scott had to under-drop and just couldn't survive my counter-attack.

Round 2: Teen Titans / Legionnaires

Harry's deck was a weenie build based on team attacking and cosmic effects like Legion of Super-Pets. I started off poorly and missed my first two drops, but from there I hit my preferred character every turn. Batman and my Fizzles proved to be extremely valuable in this round! With Superman getting +5/+5 or better for two turns in a row, it was all over for Harry on turn 6.

Round 3: BPRD / Hellfire Club

Fast forward to turn 8. I have Supes/Bats Robot, Nigthwing, Azrael and Superman out as my 5, 6, 7, and 8 cost characters. Jon has the initiative with three hidden characters and a massive Hellboy sitting in his visible area. He was able to stun Azrael and Nightwing but not being able to attack around Superman to get my Robot, had to pass the attack to me. However, at this point Hellboy is even more intimidating, sitting at 21/20. So I'm faced with a choice, I could gamble and throw my 20/20 Superman into Hellboy and risk a power up or something, or I can team attack and ensure the stun. I opt for the team attack, resulting in a stunback on my Superman. But when the dust settled and the smoke cleared I had risen victorious with 0 endurance to Jon's -8. An awesome battle and a great game!

Round 4: Gotham Knights / Birds of Prey

My final round was up against Vern, who was a first time player at our group, but not a new player to the game. Unfortunately for Vern I was able to hit Krypto on 2, Bat-Signal for my Batman in preparation for 3, and draw into my 4, 5, and 6s. I had a character and endurance advantage by turn 6 with the all-Gotham crew only being able to stun my two smaller characters. Superman finished off Vern's last standing visible attacker, and with no one to protect him, Nightwing swung in for the coup-de-grace. To cement the beating, I flipped up two copies of Soaring to New Heights, a copy of Iron Will (matched by a one in my KO pile) for an additional 8/8. That was 20 straight to Vern's already-bloody mouth, but he took it with a smile, scooped his cards and shook my hand in defeat.

As for me...this was the first time I ever won a tournament in the year we've been holding them at Trilogy. I took home some of the Ultimates cards and two packs of World's Finest (hello foil Last Son of Krypton) as winner prizes. I also bought a few packs of Legion, and ended up with two cards I was still searching for, in Ion and Dark Superboy...and finally cracked a Mobilize!

To sum up: I'm really happy with my deck, absolutely floored by the consistent turn out of new and older players we've had recently, and grateful that we have such a supportive store to play at. I truly couldn't ask for a better gaming experience.

November 04, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice

As promised, here's the listing for my SHIELD Ultimates deck. I'll post up the cards first and then address how it's supposed to work.

Lightning Strikes Twice

3x MUN-094 Hank Pym <> Yellowjacket (1)
4X MUN-051 Beetle <> Mach (2)
3x MUL-019 Clint Barton <> Hawkeye (2)
4x MUL-020 Nick Fury (3)
2x MUN-064 Radioactive Man (3)
4x MUN-062 Lady Deathstrike (4)
1x MUL-005 Natasha Romanoff <> Black Widow (4)
1x MUL-030 Jean Grey (4)
4x MUL-008 Iron-Man (5)
1x MUN-118 Wonder Man (5)
1x MUL-029 Cyclops (5)
2x MUL-004 Captain America (6)
1x MUN-084 Ares (6)
4x MUN-101 Mar-Vell <> Captain Marvel (6)
1x MUN-096 Iron Man (7)
2x MUN-088 Carol Danvers <> Ms. Marvel (7)
1x MUL-018 Thor (7)
1x MUL-007 Hulk (8)
Total = 40

2x MUL-006 Subterranea
2x MUN-127 Stark Armory
1x MUL-021 The Triskelion
Total = 5

1x MUN-121 Hulkbuster Armor
1x MAV-035 Mjolnir
3x MUN-120 Extremis Upgrade
Total = 5

Plot Twists:
2x MUN-137 You're Under Arrest
2x MUN-134 Scarlet Spiders
2x DCL-262 Heroic Effort
4x MUN-314 Losing the Argument
4x MUL-017 Liberation Day
Total = 14

It seems like recently 66 cards has been the magic number of cards in the decks I've been building. With this deck having a few extra cards isn't actually a bad thing, since we're trying to remove around half of them by turn 7. The idea is to get Nick Fury, Jean Grey and Iron Man out by turn 5. If I can hit an Extremis Upgrade as well I'm likely able to keep all two of my characters going into turn 6. Being a burn strategy Mar-vell is my 6-drop of choice, and Thor my turn 7.

If I have the initiative I'm hoping to have at least 1 copy of Lady Deathstrike. Recruit Thor, activate to burn, sub in Deathstrike for Iron Man, bounce to ready Thor. Burn then ready him by subbing Deathstrike in for Mar-Vell. Leave him ready, and possibly equip him with Mjolnir and attack with him once. If it comes to turn 8, Hulk is a lot of fun to drop on the board. I've had him gain an extra +15/+15 in one game!

The deck is really character heavy. I'm very likely going to pull out the 1-drop Yellowjackets. I have never been able to recruit him, and he's not Ultimates so I can't search for him or use him to pay for Liberation Day. Hawkeye is there more as a plot twist, so that's fine. Radioactive Man almost never sees play because I want to get Nick in to start removing cards. Maybe Mr. Fantastic would be a better option. I might also need to swap the ratio of 4s around but I only have 2 copies of Jean. And lastly...only having 1 copy of The Triskelion is a huge gamble. If I end up removing it or a character card from the game, I can put myself into serious trouble.

It's certainly not a perfect deck, but it's been fun to play so far. I'm going to keep it as is until I can play it in a tourney and then see if my initial criticisms should be acted on.

November 03, 2008

I Love This Game

Over the past week I've built three brand new decks, including one for the upcoming BYOTT event this Friday. Thanks to convenient scheduling, I've actually been able to play test all three of them against several of Scott's formidable decks. All in all I'm really happy with them, and am actually trying to figure out what to build next. Of course I could always refine something that I've already built, but shiny-and-new seems to be winning out over tried-and-true with me right now.

Two of the three decks I'll share, but the other I'll keep under wraps until Friday arrives. The first deck that I built was a team I haven't played with since the release of DOR; League of Assassins. When DC Legends came out I was really excited to play with all the great cards in it, but looking back I really haven't built any decks centered on that set. I suppose one of the reasons would be that I wanted to build a JLA deck using my favorite characters (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc). Of course since most of those characters also happened to be rares it was made rather difficult. But anyway, back to my LoA deck.

The basic idea of my curve was to get Ra's al Ghul out on turn 4 to lock down my opponent from playing any locations and then beat them to death with Cassie Cain, Shrike and Nyssa Raatko. If it comes down to it I have Ra's again on turn 8. I've found the Mountain Stronghold to be a truly superb card, being both a search I can play on turn 1, and a way of giving my Ra's reinforcement.

Ra's is Gonna Get Ya (66 cards)

2x DOR-100 Josef Witschi (1)
4x DOR-108 Thuggee (1)
3x DCR-138 Talia (2)
3x DCL-214 Shadow Assassin (2)
4x DOR-109 Ubu (3)
3x DBM-015 Kyle Abbot (3)
4x DOR-104 Ra's al Ghul, Immortal Villain (4)
4x DBM-018 Ra's al Ghul, Eternal Nemesis (4)
2x DBM-016 Lady Shiva (5)
3x DCL-204 Cassandra Cain (5)
4x DCL-215 Shrike (6)
1x DCL-205 David Cain (6)
4x DCL-211 Nyssa Raatko (7)
1x DOR-106 Ra's al Ghul, The Demon's Head (8)
Total = 42

2x DBM-024 Ubu Encampment
4x DOR-115 Mountain Stronghold
4x DBM-023 Flying Fortress
1x DCL-222 Plague Zone
1x DCL-220 Lazarus Pit
1x DCL-218 The Demon's Quarters
Total = 13

Plot Twists:
4x DOR-118 Tower of Babel
4x DBM-027 Swing Line
1x DOR-116 Remake the World
1x DCL-223 The Demon's Head
1x DCL-226 Harsh Judgement
Total = 11

As you can see, it's a little character heavy. I'm pretty sure I can remove the Josephs and maybe one of each of the 4-drop Ra's cards. I could probably trim two of the Kyle Abbott cards off too, but that decreases my chances of hitting three by quite a bit. Since the LoA seem to be fairly light on range, it might also be a good idea to pull out two of the Flying Fortresses and put some range-giving equipment into the deck.

I'll post up my SHIELD deck tomorrow.