The Science of Search, Part 5

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

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2 Responses to “The Science of Search, Part 5”

  1. We are watching, see you on the mothership this week.

  2. omnicresence Says:

    Thank you, sir. Much obliged. 🙂

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