Lethal Weapons Part 2.5: An Inconvenient Truth

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)!


4 Responses to “Lethal Weapons Part 2.5: An Inconvenient Truth”

  1. ukyo_rulz Says:

    No offense, but bringing back overload will, IMHO, destroy the game. PA is a powerful card, but at its heart it is still reactive. Its power depends on the opponent playing (and depending on) nasty effects that target you or your guy. The only decks that really get punished by PA are decks that seek to avoid combat (because they are far more likely to both run effects that target and depend on effects that target), and that’s fine. VS is a game of combat, so it should be easy to get around things that get around combat.

    Overload, on the other hand, is very much a proactive card. At best, it punishes people for attacking and pumping too much. Most of the time, it punishes people just for simply attacking. At worst, it punishes people for having defenders! Attacking, pumping, and defending are the cornerstones of VS System. Cards that punish players specifically for playing combat-based decks (I am counting both aggressive and defensive decks here) should be carefully regulated. Cards that do so on the same level as overload should be banned.

  2. omnicresence Says:

    I’m of the camp that doesn’t want to see VS degenerate into a pump fest of who can play the Quicksilver with all the pumps before anyone else. Lately, aggression seems to be the only way to play VS, and control decks have to be either loaded with rares or packed with aggression hate to even stand a chance of squeaking past all the brutality. While I realize the lengths to which Overload was abused early on in the game, I have greater loathing for a 2-drop that can do upwards of +20 damage before turn 3, or an environment where he who has the most ATK pumps wins. VS is a game of characters, and if there are decks that want to strut their stuff outside of combat or play defensively I say give them a fair shot.

    The compromise would be to have a card that, like System Failure, only works against attackers, but stunned them instead of simply removing them from combat. This way, defenders can defend with impunity, but attackers had better watch out.

    And anyway, those aggressive combat decks have PA, so such a card would still be useless. 🙂

  3. ukyo_rulz Says:

    I can totally see where you’re coming from, but I believe the fact that a broken effect (Overload) can counter another broken effect (Quicksilver) does not make the either of them OK. Overload can counter Quicksilver, but that doesn’t make it any less degenerate. Think carefully about what you want. Do you really want to see VS degenerate into a pump fest of who can pump the opponent’s attacker (or defender!) to twice his attack to get a free stun?

    Additionally, Silver Bullet is a particularly bad example to illustrate your point in this case. Cloak of Nabu would make your Overload worthless anyway! In fact, because Silver Bullet plays so many pumps, it is far more likely to play Overload itself (if it could) than to water itself down with PA.

    There are already many cards that exist in the meta right now that could stun or KO a 2-drop outright without the need for it to pump or even attack, and yet the Silver Bullet deck continues to be viable. Bringing Overload back would just add one more entry in the already long list of cards that would have worked great against Quicksilver if it wasn’t for the cloak.

    I have a different solution to the problem you are describing: ban the Fate Artifacts. The true power lies in the Fate Artifacts, not Quicksilver. The no-Fate version of Silver Bullet that won the last PC was badly owned by Moloids, which is basically a worse TNB deck.

    Quicksilver has seen, at best, notable amounts of success when played in decks that specifically revolve around abusing him. The Fate Artifacts, however, have been working overtime putting in appearances in aggro, stall, combo, and regular curve decks. When you really think about it, Quicksilver has seen most of its success when paired up with the artifacts themselves.

    VS is a game of character combat, and if there are decks that want to strut their stuff outside of combat or play defensively I say give them a hard time.

    Disclaimer: Although I may seem to be defending aggro decks in my comments, I actually play mostly defensive decks. In fact, I’ve won the last two consecutive hobby leagues I’ve attended by playing a defensive Spider Friends/Marvel Defenders deck against mostly aggro decks. So much for aggro dominance.

  4. omnicresence Says:

    Let me begin with a clarification – I’m not so much a fan of Overload itself as what it does to provide defensive decks with some measure of defense against early turn combat pump splatter. As such, I did suggest a compromise like System Failure or some similar card that punishes the little ones for overcompensating.

    Likewise, Quicksilver was just an example of the type of aggression that I abhor. IG Concealed didn’t have any Fate Artifacts, but it kicked serious butt in tournaments just the same for mostly the same reason. Congratulations on your excellent performance at your hobby leagues, but the emergent trend these days, of which a couple of hobby leagues may not be an accurate indicator, seems geared toward mindless ATK augmentation. Combat is sweet, but combat that relies on who brings the most pumps to the table is pretty pathetic. I’d like to see a little more strategy, a lot more interaction, and preferably a turn 6 and 7 at least half the time.

    That said, these are just my observations on Pathetic Attempt, more than a true advocacy of Overload or a hatred of Quicksilver. Glad to see, though, that we’re still both very passionate about this game, and I shall agree to disagree on the points we’ve both raised thus far.

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