Custom VS Hijinks: Rebooting the Legion, Part 1

I’ve been horrendously disappointed with the Legion of Super-Heroes expansion for the longest time, partially for my own pathetic luck at pulling Mobilize (zero in four boxes!) but mostly due to the set’s failure to do justice to what is one of the most iconic superhero teams in the DC Universe, the Legion.  I admit I’m more a fan of the Mark Waid reboot than the original Legion incarnations, but I would have been just as happy representing the 31st Century’s youthful do-gooders if their counter-popping Cosmic tactics had actually amounted to some competitive potential.  Really, why did they even have to be Cosmic in the first place?  Because they span the galaxy and therefore, the Cosmic keyword has to feature heavily into their theme?  It’s just a word for a game mechanic, after all, and doesn’t have to be slapped onto every extra-terrestrial that finds its way into VS.

Which brings me to my own ideas for the general direction in which I’m hoping they’ll take the Legion when (if?) they finally relaunch them in the now mega-delayed DC Universe VS release.  I tried to figure out some iteration of the “remove Cosmic counter to generate X effect” mechanism that would actually kick butt in a tournament, but that particular endless quest continues.

Instead, I decided to use another couple of keywords that I felt would be more characteristic of a team of native-powered flying teenagers, and, in keeping with the Waid reboot’s essence, any other teenager of any race who believed in the Legion ideal.  The first one is Press, the undeniable strength of which was exhibited and abused by the Kree, but seems just as appropriate on the Legion.  Does this immediately make them too powerful a team to make it past the drawing board?  Personally, I believe they deserve it far more than the Kree, given their sustained popularity in comics, which has now penetrated the mainstream with the release of their television cartoon.  I did attempt to temper it by giving the Legion average to mediocre stats, though I hope in the end this does not do quite enough to neuter them for so-called “play balance”.

The other keyword is an invention of mine, based on my concern that when characters attack in VS, they can strike as a team, but when they defend, they defend alone.  Sure, there’s reinforcement, but that only limits the spillover.  The defender is essentially on his own.   Well, not so the Legion, all of whom will be sporting the keyword Unity.

Basically, characters with Unity can “team defend” against an incoming attack, combining their strength to take out the attacker while trying to minimize collateral damage.  Whenever a character becomes a defender, the controller of that character may exhaust any number of his characters with Unity who share an affiliation with that defender, who will now become defenders as well.  Upon combat resolution, the combined ATK of the defenders will be matched against the DEF of the attacker (or each attacker in a team attack), and that ATK is greater than or equal to the DEF of the attacker, that attacker becomes stunned.  As usual, when defending against a team attack, only one of the team attackers can be stunned this way.

Conversely, the ATK of the attacker (or combined ATK of the team attackers) will be matched against the DEF of each of the defenders, and any defender with a DEF less than or equal to the attacker’s ATK may be chosen to be stunned.  The attacking player can only choose one of the defenders to be stunned.

When computing breakthrough, the TOTAL DEF of the defenders will be taken into account, and any ATK higher than the total DEF of the defenders will be the breakthrough endurance loss.  The primary defender can still, of course, be reinforced, to prevent any breakthrough.

At the end of the attack involving Unity defenders, all the defenders do not ready unless an effect provides otherwise.  The primary defender does not become exhausted by combat resolution, as normal.

Now, I don’t claim that this is the ideal method of representing team defense, and I’m certain there are a lot of interactions with existing cards that I didn’t quite take into account.  Ideas over execution, folks.

Anyway, on to the individual Legionnaires.  You’ll note that I am utilizing the Waid reboot version of the characters, as this is the Legion I know best.

Brainiac is the Press card draw bomb of the Legion, designed to be dropped once at the end of a Press chain to net the player a whole slew of plot twists and extra character cards for the next turn.  If he can be returned to hand and played again the following turn to display his superior intelligence, he’ll pretty much seal the deal for his team’s victory.  The hand discard prior to the draw effect is a balancer.

A mediocre 4-drop on his own, of course, but since he’s meant to Press, he should be an 8/8 on the average, and could be even larger if you can manage to maintain board presence.

Cosmic Boy has magnetic powers, so it made sense for him to come with an exhaust effect that is quite powerful considering the Press mechanic.  It was supposed to be an activated power, so it would be an out-of-combat off-initiative trick, but I felt this was too imbalancing.

I really wish I’d found a better picture of Dream Girl.  Anyway, her foresight allows you to see what your opponent may have in store for you, and screw around with his plans accordingly.  I guess this one’s rather too powerful for her cost, but that’s the general idea.

Element Lad’s a bit subtle in the use of his power.  On his own, he’s a 4/6 when defending, which isn’t bad for a 3-drop.  However, with the use of Unity, he can grant that +3 DEF bonus to any other defender, allowing for an opportunity to brickwall.  This ability is intended to represent his temporary matter transmutation powers.

This guy’s meant to be a real sneak, foiling your opponent’s attack by slipping in with Unity to contribute to the defense and then slipping out without a trace.  If the primary defender won’t get stunned on resolution but needs a bit of extra ATK to stun the attacker, Invisible Kid’s the boy for the job.

The ability is supposed to represent the fact that Karate Kid probably has a countermeasure for any punches your opponent would throw.  The rarity is off; I figure anyone with a plot twist negation ability should be at least uncommon, if not rare.

Gah.  Another character with the wrong rarity.  With that ridiculous ability (in the context of Press), she should definitely be rare.  Consider that at least she isn’t abusable with Unity since she has to activate for the power to trigger.

Pretty straightforward, and could actually end up burning the opponent for quite a lot even if he only manages to attack twice a game, due to the swarming nature of Press.

Phantom Girl is meant to take full advantage of the Unity mechanic by being able to contribute to the defense in every attack unless the opponent decides to stun her.  Considering her diminutive size, however, would an opponent really bother?  Sigh.  She should be uncommon, at least.

Dr. Minerva she isn’t, but she may actually be a little better in most situations.  If you need a character in a pinch to help with the Press chain, Projectra’s significant wealth (or her illusionary prowess, you pick what aspect of her the power represents) will do the job.

The ability of Saturn Girl to read your opponent’s mind is a key game asset, and although her Leader ability is superfluous to her own team, she hands out the Unity keyword to facilitate that team defense goodness to another affiliation.

Not the flashiest of abilities, and only good off-initiative, but I feel it represents Star Boy’s gravity manipulation powers more accurately than his DLS “pitch me to put a Cosmic counter on someone” version.

Timber Wolf is basically a walking (flying) Nasty Surprise.  A really, really Nasty Surprise.

Fun with Unity!  Triplicate Girl multiplies whether your opponent wants to or not, since she can just enter the fray and spawn copies of herself on defense.  Hmm.  Perhaps her copies should come into play ready.  Or not.

Although you’ll be forced to pick awesome ATK or monumental DEF (since Ultra Boy only has one superpower at any given time), both will serve you very well if he’s at the end of the Press chain.

Whew!  I know there are quite a number of Legionnaires that haven’t yet been featured, so I’m hoping there’ll be space for them in the next installment of this discussion.  I also haven’t put up or thought out the plot twists or locations yet, so if anyone out there has got any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Long Live the Legion!

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One Response to “Custom VS Hijinks: Rebooting the Legion, Part 1”

  1. Brian Rutty Says:

    Wow. These were amazing, especially Brainiac. Being a fan of the Legion it was very disappointing to see them not even be the best team in their OWN SET. Seeing that you’re using the most recent version of the Legion it’ll be interesting to see where you go with the higher drops. Will you go for the Supergirl, Superman, Mon-El curve? Or will you press into a stronger Saturn Girl/Lightning Lad/Cosmic Boy?

    One thing I would say about Ultra Lad is that he should have a third power as he can choose between strength, speed, or invulnerability. Perhaps he can ready once a turn if you choose to use that ability. Sure he becomes a lame 5, but he’s a average four who could attack twice or get the most out of Unity with the other 3-4 chars you Press him out with. I know we haven’t seen all the chars yet but I hope you’ve got a Shatterax type of character for a turn six kill. Great job on these cards so far, I’m eager to see what comes next.

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