Archive for May, 2008

Lethal Weapons Part 2.5: An Inconvenient Truth

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 28, 2008 by omnicresence

The next segment of this article series was supposed to focus on defensive plot twist effects, but I felt the need to discuss an intriguing anomaly in the VS cosmos perpetuated by the inadvertent inclusion of one particular card.  Yes, that would be the much-hyped card from the Galactus raid set, Pathetic Attempt:

The original intent of Pathetic Attempt was to swat away annoying effects that sought to wreak havoc on the Galactus deck, which was rightfully representative of the vast power that Galactus possessed.  The resource acceleration available to Galactus made it possible to play this card as early as the first turn, though of course opponents rarely had something nasty up their sleeves at that stage of the game.

In the context of the Galactus raid experience, it makes perfect sense.  When Pathetic Attempt is ported over from that unique play environment and into the mainstream game, however, an entirely different set of conditions governs our assessment of this card.

Suddenly, every team now has a set of cards that can nullify some horrific targeted effect to which they would normally fall flat.  The strength of the Spider-Friends way back in the day against the dominant Common Enemy and Teen Titans archtypes is that they could yell Nice Try! against Doom’s declaration of his Reign of Terror or Roy Harper’s sharpshooting antics.  Though effects that target opposing characters and their owners are still in the minority, MUN looks to provide players with many more options to slap the heroes and villains of their opponents around, if not the opponent himself, most notably without having to directly engage them in combat.

Has PA then wrecked the game for everyone in a way that Overload used to?  My answer would be an emphatic NO, as there are quite a number of tightly wound decks out there that simply don’t have room for PA, and are better off including cards that contribute to their victory condition.  That said, neither is PA a sensationalized card that isn’t quite as good as everyone has feared.  Way back when Overload was still legal for play, people would be slipping them even in highly focused decks and using them to achieve a critical stun in combat.  In the same manner, just because decks these days may not have the space for PA doesn’t mean that they won’t be making space in the future when all these opposition-targeting effects from MUN and beyond rally to the forefront of tournament play.

It would be more accurate to say that what PA has done has been to skew the fragile balance between aggressive and control-oriented strategies, tipping it heavily in favor of aggression.  Consider the much-vaunted IG Concealed beats deck, and its emerging cousin from the Marvel Knights family.  Both of these decks are practically mindless in their conception, focusing on vomiting as much ATK as possible into the faces of their opponents, defense be damned.  Quicksilver and QuickSyn function basically on the same plane.  A card like Overload or even its lesser descendant System Failure could easily have shut down these decks or at least given other archtypes more of a fighting chance so that winning in VS tourneys wasn’t simply a matter of who can overpump his characters faster.  Unfortunately, since no card even approximating the effect of either Overload or System Failure has since been printed, decks seeking to win in the later turns through finesse have to rely on other effects that can take characters out directly or neuter them for combat purposes.  If any of these combat-oriented decks are packing PA, however, then that crucial Gift Wrapped or direct stun effect fades as quickly as the control deck’s chances of winning.

Well, I suppose there’s always Omnipotence.  Still, it only kicks in on turn 5, by which most rush decks will have done most of their damage, so the jury’s presently out on whether Omnipotence keeps control decks from falling completely by the wayside.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  Bring back Overload (or something like it)!


Custom VS Hijinks: Foes of the Future, Part 2

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 27, 2008 by omnicresence

I really have to get a partner or two to keep this site updated regularly. So many ideas, so little time…

Welcome to the long-gestating part 2 of my own take on the Future Foes and the discard theme! The original incarnation of the Fatal Five is the one with which we VS players are most familiar, but, like many other villainous teams, they have been known to alter their roster throughout their tumultuous history with the Legionnaires. One notable Fatal Five character is a native of Titan who infiltrated the ranks of the Fatal Five only to prove that she was a worthy addition to the Legion:

To reflect Mentalla’s dual nature, she sports both the Legionnaires and Future Foes team affiliations, and possesses attributes that would make her a worthy addition to either team. When playing for the Legion, her Press, Unity and decent stats help her fit right in, and her ability can trigger when she uses Unity as well as when she engages in regular combat. When working with the Foes, her discard triggered power helps chug the rest of the team along.

Flare has a minor burn ability that can net you anywhere from 0-4 endurance loss every turn. On its own this may be a bit vanilla, but in conjunction with one of the plot twists at the disposal of the Fatal Five, she can net you huge swings in endurance advantage.

Caress had abilities much like that of Mano, and this is reflected in her potent resource replacement one-shot ability, which works in conjunction with her Vengeance attribute. She is also slightly beefier than usual for a 2-drop, helping ensure that her ability triggers only as you would want it. Note also that her ability can trigger during the build phase, but I expect that she’d be a little more difficult to abuse than Justice League of Arkham, unless we’re looking at Chomin/Join Us or Die, but even then… well, maybe there should be a “triggers only during the combat phase” qualifier.

Now that I’ve covered most of what I’d like to see on the Future Foes characters as far as the discard theme is concerned, perhaps a few supporting plot twists are in order to turn up the hand loss mayhem:

An average ATK pump, but with a little bonus for the Future Foe discard theme, that also ties into the breakthrough theme that their actual VS incarnation supported.

Another breakthrough theme/discard theme plot twist, this one can completely lobotomize your opponent if you manage to cause the necessary breakthrough. I figure this one is rather overpowered, and perhaps should only be for the attack (but then it would be underpowered).

In the spirit of Servants of Darkness and (I humbly submit) a much more devastating card than Earth Enslaved, this card burns the opponent every turn for up to 4 endurance. Multiples plus Flare plus your opponent not having a hand equal a whopping max of 20 endurance loss before the turn is out! Okay, maybe this one should be powered down a bit to burn a max of 3 endurance, but the general idea is to create a continuous burn effect akin to the Rack in Magic the Gathering.

Here we have yet another negation effect, that keys off of the number of cards an opponent doesn’t have in his hand. The smaller your opponent’s hand size, the better for you.

I’m sure we all recall those squeezeplay Future Foes plot twists that gave an opponent the choice of facing a plot twist effect or discarding a card. Well, Out of Options works in such a manner, but it really gives the opponent a hard time, working as a reverse Break You on the attack that forces your opponent to discard a few cards or take an extra 6 ATK from an incoming character. Any way you slice it, it ultimately redounds to your advantage.

Lastly, we come to a card that takes advantage of what should be the ultimate goal of the Future Foes discard deck: for the opponent not to have any cards in hand. Once this is achieved (and it’s not quite so hard once you’ve got the strategy going), you can really punish your opponent regardless of the initiative, and slap around off-curve decks like nobody’s business. Pathetic Attempt, you say? Well, that’s what Ready For It is for. I templated most of the plot twist and character effects in such a manner that would render PA a dead card in an opponent’s deck, if it doesn’t get discarded first.

Regretfully, I am still bereft of a location for the Future Foes, because I don’t have a picture or indication of where they would have hidden out. Any assistance in this regard would be most appreciated.

Next up from the mad science design board, we look at another DC space-age team that never quite got off the ground, the Manhunters, and see how we can tune up their robotic ranks.

Lethal Weapons Part 2: The Magic Numbers

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 21, 2008 by omnicresence

(I apologize for not updating this as much as I should have last week – a wedding and a wake occupied a significant portion of my spare time.)

As we are all aware, VS is ultimately a game of numbers.  Strip away the flashy card art, epic flavor text and colorful characters and you’ll see that the combat actually ensues between conflicting values and variables influenced by the players.  The most consistent gradient expression of this value system is the character curve, where character resource costs determine to a large extent the size of the character and his or her consequent effectiveness in combat.  The difference between VS and other games that utilize a form of resource system (be it gold, mana or influence) is that a single resource point matters a whole lot more.  The average ATK and DEF between drops differs by a factor of 2 to 3 points from drop 2 upwards.  In Magic, a 6-cost 7/7 Dragon would be considered overpowered; in VS, that same dragon would be splattered under the soles of the 12/12 Batman’s boots.

The relatively wide disparity between characters based on cost ratios creates an “effectiveness filter” through which all combat augmentations must pass, given the constraints of the standard 60-card deck.  Offensive ATK pumps of less than +3 ATK are almost always discarded as wastes of deck space.  3 was the first magic number, the minimum ATK bonus (or DEF reduction) that was considered acceptable, due to a number of reasons:

Beating the Averages. The average is really just that, and more often we usually see characters with a DEF of one above or an ATK one below that number, making even combat between characters of the same cost a risky proposition at times.  A +1 or even a +2 on ATK can be deflected by a power-up with uneven stats.  A bonus of 3 on ATK gives just enough of an excess to require the opponent to play a combat trick of his own to avoid the stun.

Attacking Up the Curve. A lower cost character attacking a higher cost character successfully is always desirable, since it allows the player to now use his bigger characters to deal more breakthrough against defending smaller characters with less fear of being stunned back.  Since the difference in stats between character costs rounds out to about a 3 ATK deficiency on the smaller character, +3 ATK would be the minimum offensive pump that would remain useful throughout the game for attacking up the curve.

+3 DEF pumps. Back in the days of Marvel Origins, Acrobatic Dodge was quite the popular generic defensive DEF pump, and it didn’t matter that the defending character lost -3 ATK as long as the attack was successfully brickwalled.  These days, with the existence of Against All Odds and (hahaha) Steely Resolve, using an ATK pump to effectively negate a DEF pump is still standard tech.

VS has seen a vast selection of +3 ATK/-3 DEF offensive combat effects, of both the generic and team-stamped variety.  Often the combat augmentation will be accompanied by some minor bonus effect, such as giving range to the character (Crack Shot) or allowing the character to move to a different position (Combat Reflexes).  The king of the hill, though, has always been Flying Kick.

It’s no secret that Flying Kick is one of the most used and powerful offensive ATK pumps of all time, because of all the strength and utility packed into that one plot twist.  It met the 3 ATK threshold, and in addition, it gave the attacking character flight, which was extremely valuable for causing maximum damage because it allowed a character to bypass a protecting front row character and possibly break up an otherwise tight defensive combat formation.  Most often, a valuable or more vulnerable character would be protected to minimize its chances of being stunned, and Flying Kick nullified that defensive advantage.  Flying Kick also lasted for the turn, which, while not that significant in general, turned out to be lethal on characters that could attack more than once per turn.  Lastly, Flying Kick only had a threshold of 1, so it could be played in early turns, which was critical to decks that needed to end the game quickly before running out of steam.

As such, 3 was the rule of thumb that all combat-oriented decks observed when making calculations.

Which is why Savage Beatdown was, and still is, the most devastating generic combat pump in the game’s existence.  It’s technically two ATK plot twist effects for the price of one, with the one drawback being that the card can only be played at the four resource mark or later, which is where a lot of the deadly combat occurs anyway, Quicksilvers be damned (Bring back Overload!!!!!!!!).  It also allowed a character to attack way up the curve, destroying all fair and equitable calculations that might have been had in a typical combat sequence.  It’s not a utility card like Flying Kick.  If Flying Kick is the fine blade that you use to pierce a crucial pressure point, Savage Beatdown is the spiked club that you use to pound the opponent into the dirt.  Nothing makes an opponent panic for countermeasures like a +5 ATK pump.  Larger ATK bonuses have since arrived, but they either have some narrow restrictive use (Hulk Smash can only give that +8 ATK to an attacking Hulk) or are useful too late to have much effect on the game (Armageddon’s 6 threshold).

More recently, a new class of combat pumps has emerged, or rather, been re-launched, as the heftier alternative to the +3 ATK pumps, since one can only have four Savage Beatdowns in a deck.  Yep, the +4 ATK bonuses, namely, Blinding Rage and Big Leagues, with Mega-Blast as their predecessor if we’re looking back into Golden Age.  Mega-Blast is still utilized efficiently in our casual games back here, and makes a decent alternative for those who can’t afford the price tags on the other 4 ATK pumps and the Beatdowns.  Now, +4 has quickly become the more viable alternative in an increasingly stat-heavy environment, where characters typically have a DEF one higher (at least) than the average of a couple of years ago.  I am inclined to believe that the stat power creep has gone as far as it will by this point, but 3-drop 7/7s could be just around the corner, and combat plot twists will have to be boosted in turn.

Next:  Building Bricks

Spotted Deck: Mimiflo

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 16, 2008 by omnicresence

What do women want? Nobody really knows, not even women. Women tend to be much more accurate about what they do NOT want.

Men, on the other hand, are much simpler. There’s a short list somewhere, I’m sure, floating around in our heads. And somewhere near the top of that list, I’m confident we’ll find boobs.

Haha. Okay, before I’m panned for being a male chauvinist pig, or a misogynist, allow me to qualify that I’m just the messenger. One day, we all decided to bring decks that were not keyed towards a particular strategy or team, and certainly not competitive, but instead on a fun theme. Someone brought a bald person deck, another brought a hairy character deck, you get the idea. Christian Borja brought his Mimiflo deck, which to his credit he assembled even before we decided to run with the theme decks. The concept was for as many cards as possible in his deck, both characters and non-characters, to feature ample female breasts.

The first deck he came up with was really more of a hodgepodge of characters cards that worked with the theme than anything else, for which reason there isn’t as much synergy among the characters as one would like. It was ridiculous fun, however, verifying each card as fitting for the theme, and a good laugh was had by all, including our own avid VS female player, Sheila. For those who didn’t catch the introductory article, the Mimiflo deck was named after the Mimiflo line of feeding products (plastic nipples and the like) for infants. It was really popular here in the Philippines in the 80’s because of their silly commercial.

MIMIFLO DECK (62 cards)

Drop 1: Lady Vic (x2)

Madame Xanadu (x2)

Drop 2: Black Cat (master thief) (x2)

La Encantadora (Lourdes Lucero) (x4)

Drop 3: Dagger (Tandy Bowen) (x1)

Donna Troy (Born Again) (x3)

Medusa (Inhuman) (x1)

Drop 4: Moondragon (x2)

Titania (Mary Macpherran) (x2)

Drop 5: Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) (x2)

Wonder Woman (Earth 2) (x2)

Drop 6: Power Girl (Earth 2) (x2)

Power Girl (Karen Starr) (x1)

Drop 7: Emma Frost (White Queen) (x1)

Harbinger (Multiverse Messenger) (x2)

Drop 8: Dark Phoenix (Alien Life Force) (x1)


Back to Back (x1)

Air Strike (x2)

Concrete Jungle (x2)

Flying Kick (MFF-025) (x2)

Female Furies (x2)

I Still Hate Magic (x4)

Magical Lobotomy (x3)

Pleasant Distraction (x2)

Transmutation (x1)


Crisis on Infinite Earths (x4)


Dr. Fate’s Tower (x3)


Amulet of Nabu (x2)

Cloak of Nabu (x2)

Helm of Nabu (x2)

The second incarnation of the deck was much more focused, concentrated on the Underworld and Hellfire Club, two teams who have decent synergy, and could be tweaked into a great Hobby League contender with the right configuration. What this proves, of course, is that you can take an outrageous theme and assemble a deck with some fighting prowess if you really put your front, er, back into it.


(Underworld/Hellfire Club) –60 cards

Drop 1: Courtney Ross (once and future queen) (x3)

Drop 2: Nekra (Nekra Sinclair) (x2)

Viper (White Warrior Princess) (x4)

Drop 3: Marie Laveau(Voodoo Priestess) (x2)

Queen Lilith (Den Mother) (x4)

Drop 4: Madelyn Pryor (Black Rook)(x2)

Witch Woman (Linda Littletrees) (x3)

Drop 5: Satana (Satana Hellstrom) (x4)

Drop 6: Madelyn Pryor (Goblyn Queen) (x1)

Selene (Black Queen) (x2)

Drop 7: Emma Frost (White Queen) (x2)

Drop 8: Dark Phoenix (Alien Life Force) (x1)


Black Magic (x3)

Cardinal Law (x4)

Death Trap (x2)

I Still Hate Magic (x2)

Join the Club (x4)

Mist Form (x2)

Raising Hell (x2)

Return of Donna Troy (x1)

Strange Love (x3)


Evil Alliance (x4)

Forbidden Loyalties (x1)

Ritual Sacrifice (x1)


Club Dead (x1)

What casual play themes have you come up with? Or what suggestions would you have for a crazy concept? Feel free to share your thoughts, no matter how twisted or potentially offensive they may be.

Custom VS Hijinks: Foes of the Future, Part 1

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 14, 2008 by omnicresence

Before the release of the Legion of Super-Heroes expansion, I was really excited for the Future Foes team, because I heard that their theme would be discard.  A powerful strategy in other collectible card games, I was eagerly anticipating how discard would be interpreted in the context of a VS team.  I was also looking forward to the card incarnations of the Fatal Five, the wacky villains concocted by comics prodigy Jim Shooter at the impressionable age of 13.

Sadly, the execution of the Future Foes in DLS was left painfully wanting.  The discard element was mostly optional, the discard-themed characters mostly Cosmic and frail enough that the Cosmic counters wouldn’t stay on for long, and the effects of having less cards in hand not quite so devastating.  Likewise, the Fatal Five were represented as a bunch of mildly oversized characters, none of whom had powers that even remotely approximated such a diverse and preposterous bunch, whose common detriment was that they recovered the characters that they stunned.  What did the half-cyborg tactical genius do?  He recovered a character that he stunned.  What about the old lady with the giant floating dictator eye following her around?  She recovered a character that she stunned.  The eye itself?  Ditto.  Even the Fearsome Five had more flavor than this unpalatable treatment.

The discard strategy still has a place in competitive VS, I think, just not in the form of the Future Foes – at least, not as they are now.  I agree that Justice League of Arkham and other discards before the combat phase are too crippling given the simultaneous turn setup of VS, allowing the JLArkham player to lock out the opponent by the 4th turn, so discard effects should still be limited to the combat phase and afterwards.  What else can be done, then, to turn up the strength of Future Foe discard element?

Firstly, none of the discard effects should be made optional.  Sure, it’s fun to watch an opponent squirm as he chooses between discarding a card and stopping a powerful effect, but between Mr. Mxy, Soul World and Ego Gem these days discarding a card isn’t as painful as it used to be.  Secondly, the lack of cards in an opponent’s hand should have terrible consequences for an opponent other than “I don’t have a card to discard to that effect”.  The Rack in Magic the Gathering hurt opponents for having less than 3 cards in their hand; why can’t a VS burn effect work the same way?  Thirdly, just as effects keyed to other themes have some minor benefit that becomes more substantial when a condition is met, the effects of the Future Foes should have that variable included.

By way of example, I have tried to adopt some aspects of this ideology in a rebooted version of the Fatal Five, who I feel should support the discard theme so that their abilities are better represented in card form.

We begin with the Emerald Empress’ floating ornament, revealed to actually have been her master, the sinister Eye of Ekron.  On its own it doesn’t seem to have had much of a presence, but with a slave to control, it becomes a true threat.  Here, the Eye is a vanilla 2-drop that turns into a constant discard effect source once the Emerald Empress is around, and cannot be knocked around while the Empress is in play.

The original Emerald Empress was a fragile old biddy who was granted the gift of youth and all those snazzy abilities by the Eye.  With her in play, the Eye comes in for free, and she transforms into a 6/6 contender with flight and range.  She also has a burn ability that keys off your opponent having less than 4 cards, burning for the full 4 endurance loss if your opponent’s hand is empty.  The tandem are strong indeed, but, like Hawk and Dove, are only truly effective when both are around.

Tharok is the leader and the tactical expert of the Fatal Five, so it seemed appropriate to give him more of a controlling effect.  He functions much like Ronan, although more powerful since flipped ongoing plot twists and locations with payment powers can’t be used while his power is active.

My apologies, UDE, I couldn’t find any other decent artistic representation of Mano on the web, so I was forced to re-use the old card’s art.  Anyway, Mano disintegrates everything he touches, so a KO effect seemed proper.  I figure this maybe should have been “remove from the game”.

Why didn’t the Future Foes get a Dr. Spectrum mass discard effect?  Well, the Persuader is the man for the job, swinging his Atomic Axe into the hands of the opposition, and cleaving his way to victory for the rest of the Fatal Five.

Lastly, we come to the malformed child of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, who is practically unstoppable if your opponent has no cards in hand.  I read that it took the combined might of Superman, Mon-El and Ultra Boy to take him down once, so I don’t think he’s overpowered, and makes a great closer if you’ve been playing your discard properly.

Next up, I’ll feverishly try to locate some more Future Foe pictures to flesh out the rest of this neglected concept.  Suggestions and ideas, as always, are most appreciated.

Lethal Weapons, Part 1: The Basics

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 13, 2008 by omnicresence

The comic book universe is an endless wellspring of story threads, character developments, anecdotes of heroism and villainy, and idea exploration, of which superhero showdowns are really a very small aspect. Stripped down to its fundamentals, however, no mainstream book featuring men (and women) in tights would be complete without the good guys tangling with the bad guys in a colorful, no-holds-barred all-out slugfest every now and then. Let’s face it – we can be intellectually enthralled by Iron Man discussing the ramifications of registration with Captain America across a conference room table, but we’d much rather they settle it with a few rounds of repulsor rays and shield tossing.

In recognition of this interesting fascination we have with comic violence, VS System has captured what is undoubtedly one of the most seamless and visceral representations of comic conflict in a game through its delightful combat system. At the end of the day it’s really just a lot of number crunching, but don’t tell me playing that Crushing Blow doesn’t give you just a twinge of glee.

And with that, we enter the wonderful world of combat augmentations. Search tech brings consistency, but the other half of the equation of victory is power, which translates in VS as an amalgamation of three things:

a) Stunning an opposing character.

b) Not getting stunned back.

c) Causing breakthrough or direct endurance loss.

Excepting some alternate win condition, even the most passive, control-oriented decks have to consider doing some or all of the above at some point. While there are some decks that manage to achieve this on the strength of their characters alone, most often, a player will utilize an assortment of non-character effects to overcome his opponent. Characters are and will always be the core of VS (good luck to those of you trying to come up with a character-less VS deck), but many a match has been decided on the strength and availability of a combat trick.

Offensive Combat Tricks increase the ATK of your character, or reduce the DEF of an opposing character. When used for an attacker, they tweak the numbers so that the attacker has enough ATK to stun the defender, which is especially relevant when the attacker is much smaller than the defender, although sometimes they are used simply to increase the amount of breakthrough endurance loss.  Attacker offensive tricks vary in size, though they normally average out at the equivalent of a 3 ATK gain for the attacker.  Defender offensive tricks are more liberal in doling out the equivalent attack gain because no breakthrough loss is suffered by attackers, so if a stunback is all the defender is hoping for, he doesn’t have to work too hard for it.

Defensive Combat Tricks increase the DEF of your character or reduce the ATK of the opposing character, and aren’t quite as prevalent or ubiquitous, but they serve to turn the flow during a critical turn.  On attack, they help to prevent stunback, which preserves your field and the endurance you would have lost from getting your character stunned, and force your opponent to go through that character (if it’s visible) if they’ve still got attackers left.  On defense, they stonewall attacks and could result in your opponent getting neutered for the rest of his attack step if he was counting on stunning that character before proceeding with the rest of his attack.  They aren’t found in every deck, but those that do have them try to take full advantage of their presence to play a more controlling game.

Combination Combat Tricks are really just both offensive and defensive, providing a bonus to ATK and DEF simultaneously for the attack or the turn.  They could be as vanilla as a +1/+1, or much more significant, and provide excellent utility since you get two effects for the price of one card.  They tend to be team stamped or require a specific condition to be played effectively.

What combat tricks to include in a deck and the quantity of each have fluctuated wildly as the game has evolved. They have come in the following flavors thus far:

Non-Ongoing Plot Twists sit at the top of the heap, and are enjoyed far and wide for their surprise factor, tremendous effects, and “free” cost (requiring only that you reach their resource threshold). The highest fixed ATK and DEF pumps in the game thus far are both non-ongoing plot twists, and a lot of the better ones are generic. The only drawback is that they are one-shot deals, and cannot usually be replayed once used.

Ongoing Plot Twists provide either a continuous benefit or a reusable payment power for a combat augmentation that varies from mediocre to awesome, with the added benefit that they can be played in multiples. The best ones are usually team stamped. Their primary drawback is that they must be played from the resource row.

Locations are also played only from the resource row, and provide formidable effects on the level of both ongoing and non-ongoing plot twists, which are normally reusable. Due to uniqueness rules, only one location per name can be face-up in the resource row unless otherwise stated, so multiple copies become dead draws unless the player is willing to lose a resource to generate the effect again in the turn. Locations with strong effects are normally team stamped.

Equipment permanently augments a character with a ATK or DEF bonus, and goes to the scrap heap when the equipped character leaves play (or switches between the visible and hidden areas). Not as popular as the other options because they need to be recruited, which sometimes costs precious resource points, have no surprise value, and normally cannot be moved from the character first equipping them. Also, since characters usually cannot equip more than one equipment, multiple copies are dead draws.

It is interesting to observe the shift in favorable augments that has occurred over the years as new card outshine old ones and the bar for powerful effects rises ever higher.  During the Origins era, non-ongoing plot twists were far and away the weapons of choice, unless you were Brotherhood.  Nowadays, at least for Silver Age, the Fate Artifacts reign supreme as the generic combat “pump”, but the prevalence of the big attack 3 (Savage Beatdown, Big Leagues and Blinding Rage) means that the environment will remain an aggressive one for some time to come.

It is also important to note that there are very few strong DEF pumps that can be played while actually defending, which has been pointed out by the designers as a necessary balance to account for the alternating initiative.  Part of the game’s tempo involves being on the receiving end of attacks at least half the time, and the way VS is structured, the attacker is given much more freedom of choice than the defender, since the defender cannot choose which character defends.  As such, providing strong DEF pumps off-initiative breaks that tempo, largely negating the advantage of having initiative.

Next:  The Magical Numbers

The Week Ahead – May 12-18, 2008

Posted in VS Ramblings on May 12, 2008 by omnicresence

No second look at the controversial Legion of Superheroes expansion would be complete without a foray into the featured team’s bitter rivals, the Future Foes, and the unfortunate failure of the discard theme as a game mechanic.  Consider that some of the most powerful cards in other games, so game-breaking that many were restricted or banned, were discard cards.  How then, could the discard element have failed so badly in the context of VS?  I’ll be exploring this in Custom VS Hijinks as I feebly attempt to deconstruct the Future Foes and their “combat discard” tactics, as well as the curious Fatal Five theme of attacking small characters multiple times with oversized attackers.

I’ll also be starting a new article series this week called Lethal Weapons, that will follow the Science of Search format loosely in studying the combat pump aspect of VS, and the constant struggle between plot twists and equipment.

Lastly, my good friend and irreverent fellow VS player Alex Santos will showcase his original take on the Green Lanterns in the wake of the Sinestro Corps War and the upcoming Darkest Night.  I’m also hoping to solicit the input of other Filipino players (at least those who aren’t posting on VS Skillze, anyway) and provide ample coverage for their wild deck creations.  By way of example, another of my VS-playing friends, Christian Borja, has created a fanciful archetype he fondly calls the Mimiflo deck (after a popular brand of baby feeding products here in the Philippines), which features nothing but characters and plot twists of women with substantial frontal assets.  Naturally, the star of the deck is DC’s very own voluminous-chested Power Girl:

Ahem.  Well.  Stay tuned.