The Science of Search, Part 9

Before we proceed, I’d like to offer my warmest gratitude to Mr. Rian Fike, the insurmountable Stubarnes for graciously acknowledging my articles on the Mothership.  It is indeed an honor to be singled out as one of the Reservists of the VS online blog community, and I hope my writings continue to interest my fellow VS card floppers for the foreseeable future.

Legendary Aspirations

By the release of the Marvel Team-Up expansion, it seemed that search technology had pretty much peaked.  Enemy of My Enemy and Mobilize were the primary search cards for toolbox and mono-team builds, respectively, Ahmed Samsarra was the greatest location search engine ever printed, and equipment was even easier to search for now between Cannibal Tech, Dr. Fate’s Tower and the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle.  Plot twist search was still stiflingly limited, but this was perhaps the last bastion of chance in a game where the luck of the draw would continue to provide moments both bitter and ecstatic.

As such, MTU began taking search cards in a different direction, though not one previously unseen — that of specialization.  Search cards would now complement the team’s tactic instead of merely being based off of it.  This had been the case with the Kree’s Stargate, since the Kree player wanted to return characters to hand anyway, and also with Hero’s Welcome for the JLA, drawing out both a character and a power-up.

Death’s Embrace was just such a card, and arguably better than Mobilize in the Underworld team, which benefited from dumping its characters in the KO pile, for the same cost.  For the Spider-Friends, for whom a Spider-Man in play was a powerful asset, this card searched for him easily, and if you already had an extra Spider-Man in you hand, you could pitch him to get some other Spider-Friend instead.

This trend continued in the World’s Finest expansion, where the ubiquitous Bat-Signal returned to circulation, followed by other search cards keyed to their respective teams.  The most significant contribution of DWF to search tech, however, was to ongoing plot twists what Ahmed Samsarra was to locations:

Ruin was the glue that held the revamped Revenge Squad together, boosting its consistency significantly and ensuring that an already threatening RS roster would more easily.  Even better, the good Professor’s effect wasn’t team-stamped, and he could basically be splashed into any deck that needed some important ongoing plot twists to get its act together.  I once squared off against a RS/X-Men team-up that used X-Men Assemble to grow its characters to ridiculous proportions.  Ruin didn’t quite make as much of an impact as Ahmed Samsarra, of course, since his effect required that he get stunned to trigger, which meant he would have to leave play sooner or later.  However, if the player got even two good searches out of him, he would have more than paid for the cost of his recruitment.

It is interesting to note that Marvel Legends didn’t contribute anything at all to search tech, considering how it pushed the concept of the Legend character to the forefront.  Not even something akin to Vicarious Living or Costume Change (which would have been perfect for the set).  Instead, a bunch of old staple search cards made their appearance, along with the re-launch of Mobilize only three sets after it had first been released.

DC Legends was a somewhat different story.  Although some of the mainstays of the re-featured teams returned to circulation via DCL (Straight to the Grave, Optitron, Secret Files), a couple of new, intriguing character search cards appeared to entice casual deckbuilders everywhere:

Heroes of Two Worlds is a curious fit in a world populated by Enemy of My Enemy and Mobilize, where fewer and fewer copies of a character are becoming necessary to ensure consistency.  First of all, in a curve deck, its high threshold cost means it will be used only to search for 4-drops or higher.  Most people now run less than 3 copies of their 6 and 7-drops, and at times not even that many copies of their 5-drops, so HoTW functionally only works to get you your 4-drop unless you decide to underdrop instead.  In off-curve, it has slightly more utility to fetch a key low-drop.  In army, it does grab you one of your army characters but ends up nuking two copies of them.  In the first two instances, one will observe that the character searched for will only ever be fetched once by HoTW, since it becomes impossible to search for that character again given HoTW’s effect.  Overall, it’s a severely limited card whose utility in the current environment is questionable.

Mirror Image is really just pure fun, not tournament tier by any means, at least not from what I’ve seen thus far, but makes for loads of enjoyment in multiplayer and other casual play.  The ability to search an opponent’s deck for the character you will recruit is hilarious, and if your deck is set up to take advantage of it, could lead to some janktastic strategies.

And… that’s pretty much it for search tech and its ramifications on VS gameplay, as of the present.  Just around the corner, of course, lie the uncharted waters of Marvel Universe.  What will the special search cards for the re-featured teams and newcomers be like?  Will plot twists receive a generic search?  Will the Illuminati sport their very own legendary character search card?  Like the rest of you, my fingers are crossed and my hunger for previews remains unsated.

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One Response to “The Science of Search, Part 9”

  1. I love all of your Science of Search posts, sir! Keep up the good work!

    And congrats on being mentioned in the Mothership! 😛 hahaha 😀

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