Warbound Previews

Hulk Trap.Hulkus Maximus.

Beside every Hulk stands a good woman.

And thus, we enter the second week of Marvel Universe previews, featuring that ever-lovin’ Green Goliath, the Hulk, in his most recent incarnation following the events of the epic Planet Hulk. If you’ve never read this collection before, I strongly recommend that you pick up the hardcover (available as of this time) and set aside an afternoon or so to relish one of comicdom’s most satisfying reads. I wasn’t much of a Hulk fan prior to this storyline, but Planet Hulk turned me into a believer.

The Planet Hulk storyline was both a convenient plot twist to remove Hulk from the Civil War conflict (as he would most probably have mucked that one up even more) and provide him with an entirely new story environment within which to stomp around and made his mark. In a nutshell, some of the great heroes of the Marvel Universe, namely Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt, perceived the Hulk’s continued presence on Earth as a constant threat, and decided to launch him into space without any hope of returning. He ended up on the planet Sakaar, became a gladiator for an oppressive empire, and with the help of his fellow gladiators and a few other allies, overthrew the emperor and became king. It’s a fantastic story with plenty of twists and emotional moments, as well as good old-fashioned beatdowns with the Hulk leading the charge, and I don’t want to spoil anything for those folks who haven’t had the privilege of guzzling the heady draught that is Planet Hulk.

Anyway, let’s head over to the first previews for this week for VS System, the card game that is my primary addiction. All images were lifted from the Facebook fan website maintained by “The” Ben Seck, copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc. and Upper Deck Entertainment Inc. (just so we’re clear from an intellectual property perspective).

The Hulk’s VS team, the Warbound, revisits an old favorite strategy that hasn’t seen much action in a while, that of the X-Statix and their lone-character theme. In a curious but tremendously fun and successful reversal of the conventional wisdom that “more is better”, a single character on the board could attack multiple times, avoid becoming the target of many effects, and stun or exhaust opposing characters outside of combat, usually with the help of other characters that generated effects by leaving the field. This is a strategy that, from a flavor standpoint, suits the Hulk perfectly, since he has never typically worked well with others, and has had few real friends.

The latest VS incarnations of the Hulk emphasize this loner aspect, as well as the tremendous might that the Hulk brings to the fore. Both the 4-drop and the 5-drop stun characters out of combat, and both are slightly above average in stat size.

Green Scar is the most recent card to sport the “flame trap” effect of stunning all characters with a cost of 2 or less, although it is quite a bit harder to trigger due to the requirement that Hulk get stunned, so opponents can play around it when it’s not your initiative. Also, it only triggers once unless there’s a way to replace that gamma counter, but typically you’d probably only need it that one time. We all suspect a Spin Doctoring effect plot twist is in the MUN set somewhere for the Warbound, and perhaps specifically for the Hulk without a discard cost.

Gladiator Hulk is more straightforward, and even if you don’t get to use his boost he’s a very respectable 10/10 without Loyalty or some other restriction, which makes him a sweet pick for Limited. Of course, the Boost is where his maximum potential is unleashed, and ideally you’d have the 4-drop Hulk down so that you can stun the opposing 4-drop, and then run over the 5-drop who probably won’t be as large as the Hulk. Too bad Pathetic Attempt and 4-drop Wonder Woman are fairly popular right about now, but perhaps there’s a Warbound card that prevents opponents from negating or redirecting your effects?

Lastly, we have the Hulk’s latest flame and once-rival, the formidable Caiera Oldstrong, who is a decent-sized 6-drop but is really there to give Hulk the potential to attack twice every turn from that point in the game. As TBS pointed out, this effect lasts for the rest of the game, so any Hulks in play or that come into play after Caiera bows out gain the ability to smash a second time. We shall expect to see the other allies of the Hulk (hoping that Silver Surfer has a Warbound version, fingers crossed) provide the Hulk with similar game-lasting bonuses, though how this will mesh with TBS’ statement that there will be a Hulk version from drop 3 to drop 8 remains to be seen. In theory, unless most of these effects are on 1 or 2-drop characters, players will be forced to play a delicate balance between the effects they want the Hulk to have and the versions of the Hulk they would want to see in play.

This early on, a chink in the green gladiator’s armor can be seen: Hulk and his Warbound ilk may need to stun or get stunned to be able to trigger their monstrous effects. Against, say, Captain America and his exhaust tech, or (shudder) Spider-Man, or even some clever combat tricks that avoid stunning altogether, the Warbound may face some significant obstacles on their path to freedom and redemption.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now, other than that the MUN previews are certainly fueling my anticipation for what looks to be a very keen set. We’ll be expecting a few more Warbound cards this week, and I shall do my best to provide them with adequate coverage (which isn’t to say that they aren’t already going to be generating enough publicity elsewhere).

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One Response to “Warbound Previews”

  1. (*adds your feed to his Outlook*)

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