MUN Building: First Impressions – Philippines

Well, the first few boxes of MUN have managed to trickle into our shores here at the Archipelago, and of course people are trying to build formidable new decks out of what’s available. The major obstacle here is that “what’s available” amounts to about a case and a half for the entire Philippine VS population thus far, making deck construction an exercise in compromise (if not frustration). What really compounds matters is the fact of MUN being an oversized set in which even uncommon playsets are difficult to assemble. Out of 3 boxes, I’ve yet to pull even one copy of certain uncommons.

As such, building a deck like, say, the Illuminati is practically impossible. I’ve only got one copy of the Gauntlet and one Elektra Situation, and no Clandestine Operations (which are key to playing the stall game). I’ve only got two Secret Governments as well, and have been forced to turn to other less desirable methods of securing my drops. Warbound, with its rare-heavy battle complement, is also proving to be tough to construct. Savage Beatdown is a monstrous card, but it feels somewhat lacking in comparison to Hulk Smash! and Trouble With Dinosaurs, both of which go for at least US$25 each according to local price guide averages. More luck may be had with the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters (both the main team and the Thunderbolts), though the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are hard to collect and Radioactive Man 3 is nowhere to be found. New Avengers Reservist is the most feasible option at the moment for anyone wanting a playable MUN deck, with only the 2-drop Dr. Strange being the difficult component to hunt down, and Avengers Reassembled not that essential to the team’s success. Crime Lords follows closely, with the uncommons being a little difficult to pin down. Surprisingly, I got enough Negative Zone characters to slap together a viable deck, but none of the Annihilus legendary stuff that would make it even Hobby League competitive. Pulling a rare 8-drop or 9-drop is a pain, as usual, although it stings much more right now due to the sheer number of other good rares it could have been.

Well, three boxes in and it’s an awesome set with too few of the really good cards to do much more than cobble together some awkward team-up decks or play teams with a lot of poor substitutes. Seems everyone is building Avengers Reservist, Thunderbolts Radio and S.H.I.E.L.D. army, as these seem to be the least rare-heavy of the archetypes. Crime Lords not receiving quite as much love, but could be the sleeper hit. Heh. It’ll be some time before the Illuminati or that wild Carrying the Torch world champion deck emerges over here.

Avengers: Reservist Avengers looks to be as competitive now as the former Avengers Reservist build, with not as much out-of-combat stun capability but lots of consistency with the new rally mechanic and burn courtesy of Human Torch. The Young Avengers build looks to be an intriguing hybrid of the team attack theme that Avengers espoused way back when and the Teen Titans, and a team-up with either them or the Outsiders seems feasible.

Thunderbolts: Substitute and counter growth appear to be in conflict with each other, but the only character that really needs to pile on those counters is Radioactive Man, who can lock out enemy plot twists for the rest of the game. Blizzard + Radio = zero movement for your opponent. In spite of its seemingly aggressive emphasis, the Thunderbolts seem more suited to a control archetype, where they resist attacks and stifle the enemy, looking to overwhelm the opponent eventually as the game moves into the later stages.

Crime Lords: Their reinforced defense theme is not only intact, but augmented significantly to make it a bad idea to attack the Crime Lords even when they aren’t reinforced. Red Skull burns the opponent badly in all his incarnations and is a key element of their ironclad defense. They’ve also got a direct attack theme going on which actually complements the defense strategy somewhat during off-initiatives, so that your characters don’t go swinging into their dooms after having defended so well.

S.H.I.E.L.D.: S.H.I.E.L.D. is definitely the swarm team of the set, peppered with curve characters that either augment the army weenies or cripple your opponent in some way. The team doesn’t appear to lend itself to any other effective construction.

Warbound: All this loner needed were X-Statix cards similar to Star of the Show and Mutant of the Year to be perfect. As it stands, though, Warbound is an exercise in extremes, either ridiculously effective or woefully neutered depending on what you’re fighting. Supposedly Radio keeps Hulk at bay but I’m inclined to think otherwise, since Hulk has several ways of exhausting or stunning Radio out of combat.

Negative Zone: These guys really need a team-up, because with some help they can wipe out an opponent’s board and destroy his resources like nobody’s business. Checkmate and League of Assassins seem like the best candidates due to their location utility themes, although Inhumans also seems to be a good choice and has a few members that are dual-affiliated with the N-Zone.

Alpha Flight: Also in dire need of a team-up, it doesn’t help that their curve is built on 3 rare characters and a rare plot twist. Was thinking Doom for plot twist recursion, but Doom 4 conflicts with the awesome USAgent. Gotham Knights, perhaps, or Darkseid’s Elite since you can flip down resources, but Darkseid 4… Hrrm. This will require some more thought.

Nextwave: Wow. No binding theme here, which I believe is the intention, seeing as they’re more of an in-joke than anything else. Thus far only The Captain is tournament-worthy, though Elsa Bloodstone is just too much fun not to use.

United Front: Which isn’t actually united. Like the Fearsome Five of old, each character could potentially complement another team or strategy, though they haven’t seen much action yet.

Phalanx: Only one guy, but Ultron is one heck of an introduction, able to make himself unstunnable against your opponent’s characters as the game wears on. Give him a Coast City and put someone behind him who provides reinforcement and you’re all set to drag the game on as long as you want until you find a huge win condition.

Unaffiliated/Legacy: The Punisher Captain America is receiving a lot of attention, as is Quicksilver, though people have yet to find something that abuses him. Fin Fang Foom is just nasty, and people have been looking at the Marvel Defenders 7-drop Hulk to do take advantage of the purple-panted dragon. Beyonder and Death are getting attention as well for their “free” Recovery/KO effect. On the non-character card side, Superhuman Registration Act and Carrying the Torch are the obvious frontrunners, the stuff of combo decks and brilliant VS tricks to come.

Sigh. So many deck ideas, so few cards.

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