July 15, 2011

Dark Avengers Assemble!

As I mentioned last week, we're playing with Marvel Factions this summer. I'd like to formally thank banstylejbo over at vssystem.org for putting this excellent set together. We were looking for a follow-up to the excellent DC Universe set, and this has definitely filled the bill so far!

Back to my original thread of thought...Dark Avengers. Why the hell would I want to try Dark Avengers, out of all the other teams available in Marvel Factions? The reason is actually two-fold. The first part of it is that I've always have a fascination with the mini-teams that most set designers have made appearances throughout years. Fearsome Five, Infinity Watch, Birds of Prey, Doom Patrol, and yes even the Purifiers have all made their way through the VS meat-grinder under my piloting. Some have been team-ups, others mono-team, but almost always fun.

The second part of the appeal about Dark Avengers was the premise itself. While I have not actually read the stories, I find it a pretty intriguing concept: villains taking on the roles, and in some cases even the identities of known heroes! The fact that they have a rather unique texting concept is just added cheese to the plot-twist pizza.

So here's the list I have after a few plays through with the team.

Dark Avengers Assemble!

4x Veronica Hand (1)
4x Marvel Boy <> Captain Marvel (2)
4x Karla Sofen <> Ms. Marvel (2)
4x Daken <> Wolverine (3)
4x Green Goblin <> Iron Patriot (3)
4x Bullseye <> Hawkeye (4)
4x Venom <> Spider-Man (4)
4x Ares (5)
4x Green Goblin <> Iron Patriot (6)
4x The Sentry (7)

2x Quinjet, Dark Ops
4x Heroic Mockery
4x Snack Time
4x The Monster Within
4x Lift Off!
2x In The Maw of Darkness

If you're at all familiar with the set, you may be asking why I didn't include the team-stamped location Stark's Gallery. In my first build I did have it and played a copy of it in my resource row during my second play-test game. However, when I flipped it over and read just exactly how restrictive the text was, I immediately decided to remove it.

The characters double as plot twists while in your resource row, but with the added requirement that they be KO'd when revealed. This means that you will usually be replacing them with cards from your hand, and as such you run the risk of emptying your hand quickly of both plot twists and playable characters. Stark's Armory only allows you one card draw per turn, and it must be triggered during a reveal effect. The added cost of also discarding a card for the effect is just not worth running it.

Seeing that the deck was decently ranged, but light on flight without a Green Goblin on the board, I decided to add in a play set of Lift Offs in place of the Stark's Armory. This card grants flight to a character for the turn and nets me a card without requiring a discard. I also swapped in two copies In The Maw of Madness for two of the Quinjets. The quinjets are good but with the addition of Lift Off, I didn't want to run the risk of making it unplayable. Maw is a nice removal effect that is very difficult to counter, because the card goes into the resource row. Unless they are a reservist, or your opponent has a way of KO-ing and returning it to their hand, it's gone.

In terms of the characters, it is a bit of a shame that they have no working text while on the board except for Victoria. Her text is extremely beneficial, but I did run two games where i didn't recruit her and things played out ok. As she's the only character with concealed, she can prove to be a big liability if you aren't careful about it.

And finally, if I were to really try to take things to another level I would seriously consider adding a different 3-drop in place of Green Goblin, and a much stronger 7-cost character as a finisher. The problem with removing 3-cost Goblin is that you then need a team up, which his text will help you find. Losing Daken for an off-team 3-drop doesn't seem like a great trade off as he is a good attacker. The Sentry's effect is not good enough to want to run a full four copies of in the off-chance you can actually fire it off.

I'd love to see a few more characters printed with the Dark Avengers team affiliation in a future set just to give them a few more options, but they were surprisingly fun to play and I will likely keep this deck around.

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