Across the Universe: A MUN Set Review, Part 10 (with Negative Zone discussion)

Wow, Part 10 already and we’re still plodding through the ginormity of the MUN expansion. Having cleared all the major (and arguably standalone) teams of the set, we have finally arrived at one of the more interesting and highly-anticipated minor teams, the Negative Zone, one that has been around since the first VS basic set but never really received any attention due to a severe lack of representation, until now. The Negative Zone’s greatest threat in recent memory has been the Annihilation Wave, led by that impervious insect himself, Annihilus, so it makes sense for him to be the Legend of the team, with all the fearsome abilities that Legend status implies.

Even with the significant boost in Negative Zone cards available for play, we may not have enough for a good standalone team build, so we’ll be looking outside the team for some reinforcements for the armies of Annihilus. But first, the MUN Negative Zone cards:

Card Name: Annihilus, Anti-Matter Master
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 5
Atk/Def: 10/9
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
When Annihilus enters play, if Negative Zone is not in play, exhaust him.
{Activate} {>} Stun target hidden character. Use only during your attack step.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-206

Lorenzo: The first new incarnation of Annihilus is a fine-sized 5-drop that suffers from the drawback of getting exhausted upon entering play if no Negative Zone is in play (this includes your opponent’s resource row). Not as painful as other Negative Zone character penalties, but still stifling enough to make you worry about putting this guy in without a Negative Zone around. For the risk involved in recruiting him, 2 out of 5.

Fred: In Constructed, players wouldn’t play him without a fair number of Negative Zone location cards, so what we’re really looking at is that direct-stun ability, which is excellent for dealing with all those pesky hidden characters that ruin your day and doesn’t care how big the target is. Against a fully visible board he’s still got decent stats, and there are ways to dump characters into the hidden area anyway. Plus, he’s Annihilus, so he enables those evil Annihilus Legend cards. 4 out of 5 if you’re in the Zone.

Card Name: Annihilus, The Living Death That Walks
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 8
Atk/Def: 20/20
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
At the start of the combat phase, KO up to X target resources, where X is the number of Negative Zone locations in play.
Flavor Text:“I am Annihilus. My name means death!”
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-207

Lorenzo: Oh look, it’s Apocalypse from MOR with a twist. The 8-drop Annihilus weighs in as far as 8-drops go, although his ability kicks in a bit late in Limited to really be of much use. If you’re geared to reach turn 8, though, he’s still a huge body, and he doesn’t suffer any drawback from Negative Zone not being in play. 2 out of 5, since he’s an 8-drop.

Fred: If you’re fighting a stall/control deck, Annihilus seals the deal for you by knocking out your opponent’s resources if you’ve got the Negative Zones to power his rampage. Hopefully you’ll have gotten at least 4 Negative Zones under your control, which will wipe out your opponent’s resources and his chances of winning the game with some game-ender like Galactus or Imperiex. As far as 8-drops go for their respective teams, he’s a walking win condition. 4 out of 5.

Card Name: Blastaar, The Living Bomb Burst
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone/United Front
Cost: 7
Atk/Def: 15/16
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
When Blastaar enters play, if Negative Zone is not in play, exhaust him.
{Activate} {>} Stun target visible character. Use only during your attack step.
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-208

Lorenzo: Since the grand majority of characters, particularly those of higher cost, are visible, Blastaar can reliably stun any of them without fear if you’ve got the initiative. He’s really there to make your attack step relatively painless, so even if you end up trading stuns with all your other drops you’ll come out ahead, but if you manage to reach turn 8 on your initiative and your opponent’s got an 8-drop, then you’ve got the advantage. I’d say 3 out of 5, since it’s a solid ability, but not one you’d use all the time.

Fred: Blastaar and 5-drop Annihilus function like their MOR counterparts to trap one pesky character so that he gets blasted no matter where he is. Though one of the two stuns in MOR could be avoided with some thoughtful formation, this new Negative Zone duo can reliably pick off two characters on turn 7 with the help of the Negative Zones from MHG and MUN (the new Prison Alpha). Make sure you’ve got odd initiatives. 3 out of 5.

Card Name: The Centurians, Army
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 4
Atk/Def: 9/5
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
At the start of the combat phase, if Negative Zone is not in play, discard a card.
The Centurians cannot be stunned while attacking.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-209

Lorenzo: Stunnable by lower drops on defense, and capable of stunning 5-drops on offense without fearing a stunback, the Centurians seem like something of a win-lose deal, but regardless of who has the initiative, as long as you haven’t been overwhelmed in the first few turns, they put you in a decent position. If you’ve got evens, they attack the 4-drop without fear, and your 3-drops trade stuns, leaving you with one less stunned character. If you’ve got odds, you can attack the opposing 5-drop with the Centurians, then have your 5-drop attack down into the 4-drop, with (hopefully) no stuns to the opponent’s 2. The card discard is a bit of a hassle, though, so you’d better be packing N-Zones when you play them. 3 out of 5.

Fred: With the power of the various Negative Zones at your command, the Centurians are an unstunnable attack force that help preserve your board advantage, and can be hidden away by the MHG Negative Zone or Prison Alpha to inflict pain turn after turn with impunity. 4 out of 5.

Card Name: Currs, Army
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 1
Atk/Def: 2/0
Abilities:
Rules Text:
At the start of the combat phase, if Currs is in your KO’d pile and you control Annihilus, you may discard a card. If you do, put Currs into play.
Rarity: Uncommon
Card #: MUN-210

Lorenzo: Eh. 1-drop that’s nothing special and key’s off Annihilus, so practically Legend suite. 1 out of 5.

Fred: And there’s too much discarding going on with the Negative Zone already. 1 out of 5.

Card Name: Ravenous, Steward of Annihilus
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 6
Atk/Def: 13/11
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
When Ravenous enters play, you may replace target face-up resource and gain endurance equal to its cost.
Rarity: Uncommon
Card #: MUN-211

Lorenzo: A free Have a Blast! and some endurance gain to boot? Not bad. Worst case scenario you can use the ability on your own resources to gain some endurance back and hopefully draw into something more useful. 4 out of 5.

Fred: Though he’s a blank box after his effect resolves, it’s a pretty strong effect that isn’t susceptible to Omnipotence. Good splash for other builds, and he’s a decent addition to the Negative Zone forces. 4 out of 5.

Card Name: Seekers, Army
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone
Cost: 3
Atk/Def: 5/4
Abilities: Flight, Range
Rules Text:
When Seekers enters play, rally for a card with “Negative Zone” or [Negative Zone] in its name, affiliation, or game text.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-212

Lorenzo: Though rally has proven to be a fun and potent mechanic, “Negative Zone” is a little narrow to reliably exploit in a Limited setting, given the relative lack of Negative Zone cards in the set. 2 out of 5.

Fred: Negative Zone is always scrambling for extra cards in hand due to its hefty discard requirements for flipping N-Zones. What the Seekers provide isn’t much, though. You’re better off with something that can reliably draw you cards every turn. 2 out of 5.

Card Name: Skreet, Chaos Mite
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone/Underworld
Cost: 2
Atk/Def: 2/3
Abilities: Flight
Rules Text:
Whenever Skreet becomes stunned while visible, move her to your hidden area, and target opponent loses 4 endurance.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-213

Lorenzo: Skreet’s an average 2-drop with a 4-endurance burn effect that will only trigger once in practically every game. Not really abuseable in Limited. 2 out of 5.

Fred: There are a number of teams that can shunt Skreet into the visible area every turn, which may work to your advantage as the 4 endurance loss can add up if she manages to stay in the field for a few turns. Worst case scenario, she’s the ready N-Zone character that you can have sit back in the hidden area to trigger the effects of the N-Zone Gateway. 3 out of 5.

Card Name: Thanos, The Mad Titan
Type: Character
Affiliation: Negative Zone/Underworld
Cost: 3
Atk/Def: 5/4
Abilities:
Rules Text:
{Activate} {>} Put target character or location card from your KO’d pile face-down into your resource row. If you do, KO a resource you control. Use only once per turn.
Flavor Text:“Thanos serves no master. Be comforted that our goals are the same, for now.”
Rarity: Rare

Lorenzo: Returning locations and characters from your KO pile is nifty, although those characters had better be Reservists or they’re stuck as dead resources. Thanos’ value is somewhat dubious in Limited. 3 out of 5.

Fred: I realize people are raving about Thanos, but I honestly don’t see it. The synergy is there, true, with the discarded N-Zones making their way back into your resource row, but Thanos neither searches your deck for N-Zones nor makes them easier to play. He’s no Ahmed Samsarra for Negative Zone, for certain.  A case could be made for helping him fix your resource row later on for the N-Zone dependent cards, but it’s still a narrow application.  2 out of 5.

Card Name: Cosmic Control Rod, Unique
Type: Equipment
Affiliation:
Cost: 0
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
Equip only to Annihilus. Equipped character has invulnerability.
Rarity: Uncommon
Card #: MUN-215

Lorenzo: Invulnerability? That’s it? Not to knock all the endurance loss you’ll save, but it seems somewhat out of theme.  And it’s Annihilus Legend Suite, too.  1 out of 5.

Fred: The Rod will possibly save you about 5-10 endurance on the average, but is that enough to merit inclusion in a Negative Zone deck, to say nothing of including various effects to search for it to equip on Annihilus?  I’d have to say no.  2 out of 5.

Card Name: Negative Zone, Non-Unique – Gateway
Type: Location
Affiliation:
Cost: 4
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
To flip, discard two cards.
At the start of the recovery phase, if you control a ready [Negative Zone] character, KO all stunned non-[Negative Zone] characters.
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-216

Lorenzo: The discard cost is rather steep, and the effect trigger condition tough to fulfill.  Also, if you don’t get the team-ups you need, you may end up KOing your own.  1 out of 5.

Fred: Skreet will probably help trigger this wicked location, that effectively amounts to a KO for all of your opponent’s stunned characters, recovery effects aside.  The hefty cost of opening the Gateway is more than offset by its incredible benefit.  4 out of 5.

Card Name: Negative Zone, Non-Unique – Harvester of Sorrows
Type: Location
Affiliation:
Cost: 3
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
To flip, discard a card.
At the start of your recovery phase, gain 1 endurance for each stunned opposing character in play.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-217

Lorenzo: A little bit of endurance every turn is nice, and the effect stacks, so a couple of these could be gaining you 2-3 endurance during each recovery phase.  Still, its dependence on your opponent’s numbers makes it an impractical strategy upon which to rely.  2 out of 5.

Neeka: This is monstrous in multiplayer.  🙂

Fred: Perhaps the weakest of the Negative Zones, it will most probably be included anyway due to the need to bolster the Negative Zone count in the deck.  2 out of 5.

Card Name: Negative Zone, Non-Unique – Seat of Annihilation
Type: Location
Affiliation:
Cost: 3
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
To flip, discard a card.
At the start of the recovery phase, draw a card if an opponent controls more stunned characters than you do.
Rarity: Common
Card #: MUN-218

Lorenzo: The condition for drawing a card with this N-Zone is difficult to fulfill when you’re not completely in control of what your drops and/or strategy will be.  2 out of 5.

Fred: Since one of the Negative Zone’s themes is to stay ahead of the opposition by using non-combat stuns and an unstunnable character, this will more than likely net you a few cards over the course of the game, and its effect stacks with multiple Seats.  3 out of 5.

Card Name: Gift for Death
Type: Plot Twist
Affiliation:
Cost: 2
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
To play, discard three cards.
KO target stunned character.
Boost: Exhaust a Thanos you control: Draw three cards.
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-219

Lorenzo: Awfully high cost for a KO effect.  Not worth it in Limited.  1 out of 5.

Fred: This may see some use in an Underworld deck that utilizes Thanos.  In Negative Zone, a team that tosses a lot of cards already, this is too expensive.  2 out of 5.

Card Name: Swarm of Annihilus
Type: Plot Twist
Affiliation:
Cost: 5
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
Play only if you control Annihilus.
Stun target character with cost less than or equal to the number of Negative Locations in play.
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-220

Lorenzo: Annihilus Legend suite.  1 out of 5.

Fred: Off-initiative stuns are always powerful.  The fact that this can possibly stun the largest character on your opponent’s side (if your resource row is all N-Zone) makes it extremely enticing.  If it even takes out a 3-drop, it’s at least as good as Starbolts or Batwoman, with the potential to be much more.  4 out of 5.

Card Name: Wave of Destruction
Type: Plot Twist
Affiliation:
Cost: 5
Atk/Def: /
Abilities:
Rules Text:
Play only if you control Annihilus.
To play, pay X endurance. Replace X target face-up resources.
Rarity: Rare
Card #: MUN-221

Lorenzo: Annihilus Legend suite, but if you’re planning to slip him into your deck anyway, this is one of the easier Legend cards to play, with a truly catastrophic (for your opponent) effect.  2 out of 5.

Fred: Easier to use and more devastating than many other resource destruction cards out there, Wave of Destruction allows you to scrub your opponent’s resource row clean of team-ups, annoying locations and pesky ongoing plot twists, and for a little more endurance, helps you cycle through your own resource row as well to discard used twists.  The endurance loss amounts to just 1 endurance per resource replaced, which is an excellent trade-off.  4 out of 5.

Upon examining the cards available to the N-Zone, it becomes clear that they probably need to be teamed with a team that (a) can manipulate locations and fix the resource row, (b) draw extra cards or not mind losing cards to the KO pile, and/or (c) stun opposing characters without much stunback.  Whom does the Annihilation Wave turn to for the alliance proposal?

Checkmate: Perhaps the premier team for boosting other teams, the Checkmate machinery, courtesy of Ahmed Samsarra, helps shuttle N-Zones into the resource row consistently and can make use of Rook Control to keep characters like Annihilus and the Centurians safe during off-initiative turns.  Since most Negative Zones function without having to be activated, they can be exhausted to power a Huntress discard or a Target Acquired.

League of Assassins: Another team renowned for location manipulation, but not quite as strong as Checkmate since they lack a Samsarra-like searcher, and must litter the resource row with more LoA locations as opposed to Negative Zones for full effect.

Inhumans: The N-Zone already has a couple of characters from MHG that are dual-affiliated with the Negative Zone, and San can search for N-Zones when he comes into play.  Like LoA, however, it will be harder to set up the resource row.

Underworld: The discard of cards that you want in the KO pile anyway to flip N-Zones has good synergy with the tactics of Underworld, and the team also has a couple of N-Zone double agents (Skreet and Thanos).  It may be essential to play Umar to keep the card hand size up.

Marvel Knights: Ghost Rider can utilize Chains of Vengeance to stun additional characters after combat, and the new Blade is an excellent partner for either Annihilus or Blastaar.

Whew.  I’ll see if I can add to this in my next post, as well as take a look at a couple of N-Zone builds.

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