Archive for April, 2008

Custom VS Hijinks: Experienced Versions

Posted in VS Ramblings on April 30, 2008 by omnicresence

Having played other collectible card games prior to VS, I have sometimes wondered if certain elements of these other games could be translated or interpreted in some form in VS System.  One of the most flavorful concepts that I have seen is the idea of overlaying more “Experienced” versions of unique characters to represent character growth, both physically and in other aspects, which was most prominent in the card game Legend of the Five Rings and has also been seen in games such as Pokemon.  Such a concept seemed like a perfect fit for VS thematically, since the heroes, villains and supporting cast of the Marvel and DC comics universes have, in most cases, developed a rich and eventful history that almost always involves an evolution from a certain origin story to the sum total of what the character is today.  Superman wasn’t always the Metropolis Marvel, Wolverine wasn’t always the best there is at what he did, and the Hulk had a long, convoluted road to travel before becoming the mighty king of Sakaar (albeit briefly).

From a game mechanics perspective, however, the concept of overlaying experienced versions is rather more difficult to balance out.  The tight curve employed by VS, where characters a resource point cost apart tend to be significantly different in stats from cost 3 upwards, makes it impractical to allow the overlaying of higher drop versions even if the resource cost between versions is only one resource point.  By way of example, if I had a 3-drop Batman and wanted to do an overlay of a more “experienced” Batman on turn 4, I would effectively have two 4-drop sized characters on turn 4 simply due to the overlay.  If I decided to do it again on turn 5, I would be entering turn 5 with two 5-drops and a 4-drop (assuming no losses), for the mere cost of my 3/4-drop and a couple of cards from hand.  As such, the overlay would end up being superior to other resource bypass mechanics such as Substitute and Press, with less setup necessary to facilitate the effect.  While I suppose this would make the Legend characters much more desirable to play, all that curve breaking would get degenerate in a hurry.

Besides, I felt that an Experienced version of a VS character ought to be earned by the player, perhaps requiring some level of active participation on the part of the inexperienced version of the character to work towards becoming more proficient at his craft.  Also, I figured that VS was ripe for some radical new keyword that actually did something on its own (Evasion, Reservist, Substitute) rather than simply put a name to a certain class of powers (Leader, Backup, Vengeance).

Enter the highly experimental keywords Rookie and Veteran.

Basic Training

As we all know, a rookie is someone who is new to his chosen discipline, maybe showing tremendous potential but needing to hone his abilities to really take advantage of his giftedness.  In VS, the Rookie keyword represents that stage in a character’s life, but also reflects his or her inevitable ascent to a status of greater renown (or infamy).

As a mechanic, what Rookie does is allow the character with the keyword to accumulate Experience counters.  Every time a character with Rookie:

a) Stuns an opposing character (once per turn?  not sure);

b) Uses an activated power (once per turn); or

c) Exhausts to pay the cost of a non-ongoing plot twist effect (once per turn)

the Rookie character gains one (1) Experience counter.  An Experience counter can be removed from a Rookie character once per turn during the combat phase to give the character +1 ATK or +1 DEF during an attack.  From a flavor point of view, the character has gotten a little better over time at what he or she does, and can use his or her improved skill to gain a slight advantage when fighting an opponent.  It’s not much, but it isn’t meant to be more than just a minor edge anyway, and sometimes the difference between winning or losing hinges on having that extra +1 ATK or +1 DEF, which the Rookie character will almost always have waiting to be unleashed.  As an example, let’s go with one of DC’s most popular coming-of-age characters, Batman’s original trusty sidekick, Dick Grayson.

Rookie characters aren’t meant to be strictly worse than their non-Rookie counterparts; after all, the independent advantage created by Experience counters is weak enough not to imbalance the character.  Robin here seems just about average for his cost, and maybe even slightly better to his Concealed status.  He also gains an Experience counter whenever Batman shows up on the player’s side, which is also not a significant advantage, and is appropriate flavor-wise.

That’s all well and good, but eventually, all boys have to grow up.

Graduation Day

Experience counters grant one more benefit, which goes to the heart of the overlay mechanic.  During your recruit step, you may remove a ready Rookie character you control with X Experience counters from the game.  If you do, you may put a Veteran character card from your hand with cost X or less into play with the same name as the Rookie character you removed.  Use this ability only if you control X or more resources.

I realize that wording is a bit complicated, but necessary to preserve the all-important game mechanic balance.  Yes, Rookies can eventually develop into combat-hardened Veterans, but they have to work for the promotion.  Moreover, to avoid the problems with resource acceleration, you can only put a Veteran character into play with a cost less than or equal to the number of resources you control.

Naturally, the Veteran version of the character has got to be worth all the effort spent training up that Rookie, which is why it seems appropriate for Veteran characters to be somewhat tougher or more powerful than other characters at the same cost.  To offset this, perhaps an additional rule would be that Veteran cards cannot be recruited normally from hand – they can only be put into play through the Rookie removal method.  They can still be used as power-ups, of course.  If this seems like too much work for too little reward, maybe the mechanic can be tweaked so that the Rookie removal will allow the player to search his deck for a copy of the Veteran card instead of having to possess the card in hand.

Or maybe the Veteran character can be nerfed a bit.  I haven’t decided yet.  I am leaning towards the solution above though, since it makes it more exciting to play Veterans by nurturing them from their Rookie counterparts than simply to recruit them.  Anyway, here’s an example of Dick Grayson, after years of kicking bad guys around with the Bat.

Should Veterans be allowed to continue accumulating Experience counters to be used in the conventional manner?

Lastly, I figure it would be helpful to have non-character cards that have a generic benefit for play in Limited, but have an additional effect specifically for Rookie characters.  Below is a hasty example of such a card.

I realize there’s only so much comic book flavor you can represent in a collectible card game, and if we wanted this much character development, we’d be playing a role-playing game instead.  Still, the idea of characters getting better over time due to activity rather than just sitting around waiting for your resource row to grow is highly appealing, and I feel that it would make for a more immersive play experience.

Until next time.  May your Galans eat enough planets to become Galactuses.

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The Science of Search, Part 7

Posted in VS Ramblings on April 29, 2008 by omnicresence

Locate Your Fate

Considered by most to be the finest DC expansion produced for VS, the Infinite Crisis expansion introduced the concept of Identity, finally providing relevance to the character alter-egos that appeared after the diamond in the name box on the character cards.

How did this affect the constantly evolving discipline of search?  Not much, actually.  Identity was an interesting mechanic from a flavor perspective, but did not significantly affect competitive VS play.  The Hawkman/Hawkgirl JSA search component was not much more refined than the original JLA Hawkwoman/Hawkman interaction, and relied on the same Ally abuse tactic to get the edge over the opposition.

Search tech in DCR was instead catapulted forward by what is today the most efficient search card in the game, period.

The White King came with a hefty drawback that was perhaps meant to balance him out and dissuade players from using him due to the risk he presented.  What the designers didn’t take into account was that a 6/6 3-drop with Concealed-Optional, being oversized and able to hole up in the hidden area for the rest of the game, was already very difficult to dispose of, without even taking into consideration the wealth of defensive and preventive options available to Ahmed’s Checkmate team.  Moreover, the power of Ahmed was truly phenomenal — for the cost of a simple activation, which could be performed at any time (curious, given that his team had a heavy Backup complement), Ahmed could not only search the player’s deck for any location, but also immediately place it into the resource row so that it could be used at once.  Between Brother Eye Satellite, Brother Eye and Checkmate Safe House, Ahmed provided character search, a massive ATK pump or limited KO pile recursion, a team-up and a turn-long DEF boost.  The vast assortment of locations now available meant that other toolbox mechanics, such as the ability to attack hidden characters, more KO pile recursion and static ATK pumps could easily be placed into the deck and yanked out by Ahmed when the occasion arose.  For practical purposes, Ahmed’s game text may very well have read “Activate -> search your deck for any character card and put it into your hand, or any non-character card and put it into your resource row” with no significant change in power levels.  Best of all, since Ahmed was a character, he could use his incredible search ability turn after turn after turn.  The peerless utility of Ahmed Samsarra has never been matched by another character since his introduction to the VS universe, and he may well be the best character in the game because of this fact.

One of Ahmed’s most infamous search targets is itself a search card of sorts, notable for ushering the threat of equipment to new levels of abuse.

At first glance, Dr. Fate’s Tower may seem like a poor equipment search card, and you would be right based on this parameter alone, since it only searches for a particular type of equipment, the Fate Artifact (of which there are three).  Considering, however, that the three Fate Artifacts, when assembled, form the greatest equipment enhancement to a character in all of VS (+4/+4 with flight, range, untargetability, some deck sifting, and the Dr. Fate identity), and that the Tower is presently the only location card capable of searching for them without costing a player resource points or something similarly unpalatable, it becomes a far more potent deck component for Ahmed to work with.  More importantly, it has the added benefit of being able to transfer the Fate Artifact set to a new character during the build phase each turn, meaning that its hefty bonus never gets outclassed by the increasing size or numbers of your opponents’ characters.

Although its search aspect could only be used once, Ahmed could simply replace a “used” Tower with a fresh one, so that in the worst case scenario the Fate Artifacts could be assembled over a few turns.

Ahmed and the Fate Artifacts were and still are hailed as DCR’s most prominent contribution to VS, serving to reinforce once again the importance of search tech to the game.

Next:  Exploring the Galaxy

Iron Man Movie Day!

Posted in Movies on April 28, 2008 by omnicresence

Curiously enough, we here in the Philippines get to watch Iron Man a few days earlier than in another parts of the world, on April 30, 2008, which is set conveniently before Labor Day, so we expect the theaters to be flooded with film enthusiasts and comic book mavens alike to catch the feature length movie of one of Marvel’s oldest and (presently) most controversial heroes.

Iron Man is, to me, the Marvel/Avengers equivalent of Batman in DC/Justice League, as the one member of the group whose powers are not conferred by some supernatural origin or inherent in the character’s physiology, either naturally or through artificial enhancement.  Take away the suit and Tony Stark is just a man with excellent business savvy and astonishing intellect,  who would be even less effective in a fight than Bruce Wayne due to the latter’s martial arts background and constant workouts in the Batcave.  I realize that the Extremis upgrade has invalidated that premise somewhat, but it’s a fairly recent innovation that has not diminished the gripping humanity of the man in the iron mask.

More to the point, just as some people love the Batman character for the fact that anyone could be Batman if they had similar resources and some trauma-driven drive to combat crime, the same could be said for Iron Man, at least once technology catches up (if it hasn’t already been developed in some top secret military facility somewhere in the world).  I also appreciate how Iron Man’s constant struggle with alcoholism is a recurring issue in the comics, and handled realistically instead of simply being provided as a character flaw to make him more “interesting”.

Advance praise has been heaped on the movie by reviewers who were lucky enough to sneak into preview screenings.  So I’m keeping my expectations sober but also secretly hoping to be wowed.

I’ll be posting a review on the movie once I’ve watched it, so stay tuned.

The Science of Search, Part 6

Posted in VS Ramblings on April 25, 2008 by omnicresence

Finding your Enemies

The next couple of expansions represented significant strides forward in VS search technology, the latter of which introduced what is undoubtedly the most influential search card in the game’s colorful history.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  🙂

At last, the expansion DC fans had been waiting for had finally arrived, as Justice League of America featured the greatest assembly of heroes in the DC universe and their villainous counterparts, along with a number of interesting themes and improvements on existing themes.  No less awe-inspiring were the search cards in this set, which came in droves, and interacted with excellent synergy.  The now-famous Good Guys archetype, which relied on strong power-up/Ally effects and extensive search options, functioned mainly due to the following cards:

As close to a combat engine deck as one could get at the time, the Good Guys deck sported consistency that VS players could only dream of until then, assembling its plan of action with staggering diligence.  The 1-drops both searched for the 2-drop of choice, although Ted Kord was of course preferred for his ability to fish out equipment and re-use his ability each turn.  Hawkwoman was relatively easy to draw or search for with Hero’s Welcome, and herself searched for the prime 4-drop or equipment whenever a character powered-up.  It was a smooth short curve all the way to turn 5 or 6, the deck’s kill turns.  Kooey x3 was the clincher card, granting the Good Guys player access to his entire deck, either to search out an extra combat trick or power-up, or to get a one-of silver bullet card to deal with whatever was in the metagame at the time.  Rather than simply improve its odds with search tech, the Good Guys archetype actually won mainly through its search, devoting a full third (at least) of the deck to search in one form or another.  It was the Faces of Evil formula, but refined to be tighter in execution.

Not to be outdone by the forces of good, the Injustice Gang featured its own combat search engine concept, this time an off-curve army build, that bred army characters like rabbits on Viagra.

As a location searcher, Poison Ivy was the most versatile of the lot, not strictly confined to searching for 1-drop Army characters, which allowed her to operate far beyond the boundaries of the IG army infestation archetype.  It is important to note that the search costs for all of the characters above did not involve the discard of cards, which helped prevent the hand depletion problems typical of any deck that runs off-curve.

And then, we have the generic search cards of DJL, one of which being not quite as powerful as it looked, and another turning out to be a most flexible search option:

Secret Origins was, sadly, not the generic character search card VS players had been eagerly anticipating, since its search parameters were dependent on the cost of the opponent’s characters, which was problematic whether the opponent was playing curve (if you had the initiative, you could only search for a smaller character) or off-curve (as you could only search for a weenie).  It had its uses, certainly, but was too difficult to use reliably in actual games.

Straight to the Grave, on the other hand, brought any character out of your deck, regardless of affiliation (or lack thereof), requiring only a card that returned cards from your KO pile (such as Slaughter Swamp) to fish it out and into your hand to play.  It wasn’t as straightforward as other character search, but the two-card combo was recognized for its unlimited utility, and remains a top-tier search option even today.  It wasn’t the Holy Grail of character search, though, a distinction that belongs to the premier card of the following expansion.

Matches Made in Hell

The X-Men expansion featured a nifty trio of character search cards that, while somewhat team-stamped since they required the discard of a character card of a specific team, were actually rather flexible in the characters they could acquire.

Bloodhound, Join the Club and Sovereign Superior all gave the player the option to search not for a character of the team featured by the search card, but for a character with a particular keyword (Evasion, Concealed and Reservist, respectively) that just happened to be the featured keyword for the team.  This of course allowed the featured teams to delve outside of their roster for guest stars who would happen to be more effective than the on-team options depending on the situation, and facilitated team-ups between the featured team and another team that utilized the keyword heavily.  Thus, the Morlocks could be blended with the Spider-Friends, the Hellfire Club could play nice with the Marvel Knights, and the Brotherhood and the Avengers could work towards a common goal.

The greatest team-up search card of them all, though, even today, would be this card:

Enemy of my Enemy created shockwaves throughout the VS community as players immediately realized that, while perhaps the original intention for EoME was to provide team-up decks with a more reliable character search card that could find components from either team, the potential of this mighty card was far, far more outrageous.  Since EoME functioned as an “anti-team-stamp” searcher, players could stuff their decks with characters from as many different teams as they wanted to achieve a specific objective, without being bogged down by consistency concerns (since only Straight to the Grave was the only other card at the time capable of even coming close to EoME in that regard, and it required a KO pile returner to work).  While it was a godsend for top-tier players whose focus was simply to cram the best tech into one archetype, EoME had the unfortunate side effect of making team balance virtually obsolete for a time.  Prior to EoME, players had to figure in the strengths and weaknesses of each VS team, which ideally made for excellent metagame tension.  With EoME, players could throw characters from 12 different teams together and still assemble a winning deck.  In fact, the more diverse the team roster, the more effectively EoME could search.  Toolboxing had reached its pinnacle, team loyalty was a thing of the past, and the game would never be the same.

EoME will be rotating out of Silver Age come Marvel Universe, which should shake things up as much as its arrival a couple of years ago, as players will now have to cope with the lack of such an amazing search card to expand their deckbuilding horizons.  Time will only tell, barring the return of EoME in MUN, how the VS gameplay environment will evolve after mourning its loss.

Next:  Locate Your Fate

The Science of Search, Part 5

Posted in VS Ramblings on April 23, 2008 by omnicresence

Chosen by the Ring

(Wonder what the point of writing so profusely is when nobody actually knows my blog exists, anyway, and I don’t want to shamelessly promote myself like certain other unnamed parties.  But then again, the blog is only a couple of weeks and 10 posts or so old anyway, so I really shouldn’t be grumbling.  Guess I’m just impatient for some critical acclaim, hahaha.)

If memory serves me adequately, Green Lantern Corps was the first set to introduce plot twists with versions, to represent the hard light creations of the Green Lanterns, aptly named Constructs.  The search cards for this special class of plot twists, two members of the Green Lanterns, represented a compromise in power levels between characters like Boris and Alfred, who could sniff out any plot twist, and the cards in Marvel Knights that only searched for a specific plot twist.  It also made the Green Lanterns a very attractive team to play, since there was a Construct counterpart for most desirable effects (i.e. Breaking Ground for Have a Blast!, Uppercut for general combat pumps).

Equipment also came with the Construct version, and effectively cost 0 for most of the characters in the set since they cost less when equipped to characters with Willpower, making Kyle and Tomar Re (to a far lesser extent) much more versatile.  Before the fantastically broken Dr. Light 3-drop was banned, he wreaked havoc in the metagame by bringing back Kyle Rayner every turn to search for an important Construct plot twist or equipment.

Which brings us to the relatively isolated Willpower keyword, a feature that did nothing for the characters that had it but determined the potency and usage of a large number of cards.  It also became the empowering element for a couple of search cards that were only usable within the parameters set by the DGL expansion:

Considering that a large percentage of characters in DGL had a Willpower of 1 or greater, The Ring Has Chosen and Emerald Dawn brought us all a step closer to the much-coveted generic character search card, as it could be played just as efficiently in a Green Lantern team build as in an Emerald Enemies team build (and to a certain extent the Anti-Matter team).  It also allowed mixtures of teams featuring Willpower to be played, breaking VS away from the team dynamic that it had up to now seemed to emphasize.  At this juncture the designers were treading on dangerous ground, from the perspective of preserving the strong flavor of VS as a game of teams versus teams.  The selection of a team in VS with which to play was always one that considered the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team in comparison to other teams, which was diluted somewhat by the creation of a more generic search card to make hodgepodge builds possible.

The element of utilizing a keyword instead of a team stamp to restrict a search card was quirky addition to the search tech available in VS up to this point.  Unfortunately, its utility was somewhat limited to DGL and the next DC expansion due to Willpower being a keyword that, unlike Evasion or Concealed, did not translate well into becoming a basic concept or mechanic for the game in general.

Earth’s Mightiest Search Cards

The Avengers set was a grand time for VS, a Renaissance, if you will, for a serious power augmentation that successfully rendered the decks of yesteryear obsolete.  In the matter of search tech, however, the game itself saw little improvement or innovation.  Most significant was the introduction of a new card version, the Team-Up, which made decks that featured more than one team easier to play, particularly with the following characters:

Beetle was especially important because he searched for the devastating team-up card Faces of Evil, which turned the Masters of Evil and Thunderbolts weenies into combat terrors in conjunction with the other nasty combat tricks in the deck archetype named after the team-up.

It’s worth mentioning that the reason Faces of Evil did so well in comparison to the Honor Among Thieves team-up deck, which did not inquire quite as much fear, was because of the extensive search available in the FoE deck to assemble its tournament-winning components.

Beetle and Yellowjacket both made it easy to search for their fellow low-drops, and the the off-curve emphasis of FoE made certain that the player could easily fulfill the Mystic Summons requirement.  The wealth of search tech available to the FoE player gave the deck staggering consistency, and easily rocketed it to the top of most competitions during its period of dominance.

Most other search cards introduced in MAV were simply minor twists on previous themes, and the celebrated Avengers Assemble! turned out to be much more trouble to use than it was actually worth.  It is interesting to point out that the money rare search cards in MAV were actually the ones with the least impact in the game, as the builds that emerged victorious used common or uncommon search cards.

Lastly, it must be noted that MAV featured the first search card in the game to reference one of the two comic book companies featured in VS, Marvel’s Most Wanted:

The flexibility of the card was that it allowed the player to search for any Marvel card, which was practically as good as searching for any card in certain formats, and meant that characters, locations, plot twists and equipment were all fair game.  Unfortunately, it was bound to MAV’s least successful team, the Thunderbolts, whose in-team win-lose deal tactics proved too erratic in actual play.

Next:  Finding your Enemies

S.H.I.E.L.D. MUN Previews: A Discussion

Posted in VS Ramblings on April 22, 2008 by omnicresence

For those of you who haven’t checked out the new previews today, do visit the VS Facebook page or VSRealms, where these excellent previews have stimulated our brains and tantalized our senses:

“But what does it all mean?”

Well, in the first place, it appears that S.H.I.E.L.D., or at the very least Iron Man, will be sporting the +1/+1 counter theme and be the army swarm team of MUN.  While these two themes do not necessarily complement each other, from these three previews alone, one can perceive the excellent synergy that we can expect from the organization responsible for the safety of the world.

One of the main problems with playing a weenie army swarm, or any swarm for that matter, is keeping your numbers intact from turn to turn as increasingly large threats stomp on your cannon fodder, or get splattered as they attack.  The 4-drop Iron Man, while sporting average stats, has a nifty auto-recover ability for his troops that not only keeps them around for more pounding next turn, but makes them just a bit bigger and harder to handle.  Field preservation also helps out when you’re playing curve to keep the numbers up, but it seems Iron Man was built with more Stu-esque objectives in mind.

Outside of S.H.I.E.L.D., we have X-Men Assemble and Multiple Man to consider, and a 1-drop 2/2 that recovers into, on the average, a 4/4 or a 5/5 (and then the turn after, an 8/8).  We can also check out the Spider-Friends and their Evasion to guarantee that Iron Man’s leader ability triggers even if he gets attacked first.  People have discussed the potential with Doom Patrol, and there are a whole bunch of abilities out there that only trigger during the recovery phase.

Going back to the swarm strategy, it may not necessarily mean having to play off-curve, if Nick Fury is any indication.  2 free resource points for army characters each turn is ridiculously good, as S.H.I.E.L.D. can still play curve to maintain parity in terms of character size, but still pump out the little ones for serious board and combat advantage.  Even a couple of vanilla 2/1 S.H.I.E.L.D. army one-drops each turn is 4 extra ATK on the board and more characters to exhaust for dozens of effects, and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  As I mentioned earlier, more Multiple Men each turn isn’t a half-bad play, and there are possibilities (if I’m not wrong with the rules) involving Aquaman and the Sea Creatures to nab you at least a 7/7 4-drop and two 3/3 two drops on turn 4, which is a good position any way you look at it.  The “once per turn”, “from your hand”, “army” and S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliation restrictions indicate that, while Nick Fury is very, very good, he’s certainly not broken.  And yet, they’re having a huge welcome celebration for him over in Latveria, I hear.  Or was that underground?

Lastly, we come to the wonderful Stark Armory, which not only makes Iron Man bigger each turn (and indicates that there may be a 3-drop Iron Man to look forward to), but also helps to preserve the +1/+1 counter bonuses he receives so that they can be removed at any time there is a threat of your Iron Man leaving play.  Most importantly, although the tech counter is only added at the start of combat, the placement of +1/+1 counters by Stark Armory is not restricted to any phase, and is equally useful as an intimidation tactic or as a combat pump.  Stark Armory provides excellent flexibility to your Iron Man, and preserves your counter investment with little hassle.

The best thing about MUN from what we’ve seen thus far is that each of the Legends seems well fleshed-out, along with the strategy or theme sported by the team that features them, in stark contrast to the somewhat piecemeal treatment of the DC Legends.  We’ve got about 7 more weeks of previews to enjoy, and I’m confident that they can only elevate our excitement for what looks to be the most powerful and enjoyable VS set yet.

The Science of Search, Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2008 by omnicresence

A Knight to Remember

When the Marvel Knights expansion strode into the scene, players identified Wild Ride as the money card of the set, being the team-stamped search card for the set’s premier team:

As far as team-stamped search cards go, Wild Ride is one of the easiest to use, not requiring the discard of a card or even a Marvel Knights character in play, able to be played on the first turn, and costing the player a relatively manageable amount of endurance which, given the MK theme of endurance-for-benefit, would be something the MK player would take into account anyway.  It would not be the most exciting search card to emerge from MMK, however, which distinction would arguably belong to this contender:

Until MMK, team-up decks were generally much less consistent than mono-team decks, since at least one character of each of the two (or more) different teams in the deck had to be in play, and one usually had to rely on the straight draw of the team-up card to acquire it.  This was no longer the case once Dagger and Midnight Sons became available for play, with 4 Daggers effectively acting as copies 5-8 of Midnight Sons, and Midnight Sons facilitating team-ups with any team in the game for only the requirement of having a MK character in play.  More importantly, a deck running Dagger and Midnight Sons didn’t even need any character cards in it other than those from the MK team to play team-stamped cards for other teams (such as with, say, Teen Titans Go! for the Titans or Spider Senses for the Spider-Friends).  Dagger + Midnight Sons + Wild Ride gave MK the limited ability to toolbox, bringing the game one step closer to the hodgepodge VS archetypes that we see today, for better or worse (though mostly worse, in my opinion).

Quite a number of search cards actually emerged from MMK following the trend of Dagger by searching for specific cards, or card names, rather than a range of card types:

Not exactly groundbreaking as far as search tech went at the time, as cards from previous sets had also referenced particular cards or card names.  The search card that caused something of a stir when it was first previewed, though later on turned out to be a dud, was the uneconomic Weapon of Choice:

The first generic character search card in the game was quite mediocre for the fact that it cost you two additional cards discarded, and that it left the choice of what you got ultimately to your opponent, which is never a good thing.  Moreover, it forced the player to play at least one copy of a character that he may not play in 90% of situations.  Of course this was preferable to a missed drop, but compared to generic search cards that would be introduced in later sets, Weapon of Choice would nonetheless fade into obscurity.

Next:  Chosen by the Ring