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.