Still on Hiatus

Posted in Randomness on September 5, 2008 by omnicresence

Wahahahaha.  Still busy playing with my Animated Transformers.  Just got Leader Class Animated Ultra Magnus a few days ago and he is simply fantastic.  Intimidating presence and benevolent leadership, topped with a kick-ass lightning-channeling hammer, in toy form.  Seriously, if DC doesn’t want to relinquish license rights for their images and characters, UDE should approach Hasbro.  What they’ve done with Animated blows a lot of what we see in current superhero lore clear out of the water, considering that one of the underlying foundations of the new TF series is “What if the Transformers were superheroes/supervillains?”

And… still struggling in the Marvel Universe drought to come up with coherent new builds.  Not nearly enough Captain America or Iron Man stuff to justify building a deck around either, though my Warbound Hulk is firing on almost all cylinders (except for the fact that I have ZERO of the 4-drop Hulk…).

And… not eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset is not the easiest thing.  I’m not Muslim, but I figured I’d give this Ramadan thing a shot.  It’s a swell diet, but I work in a food company so this is torture.

Sigh.

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Power Struggle

Posted in VS Ramblings on August 15, 2008 by omnicresence

Reading the Lost Hemisphere’s latest Thursday Thirteen has got me feeling all ashamed of my being unable to update as regularly as I used to, but this is a particularly hectic season at the company where I work, and I’ll be flying out to Beijing next week for contract signing (the drafts of which still need to be finalized), so you can imagine the punishing workload and lack of time with which I have to contend.  I am perpetually in awe of those stalwart men and women (well, men mostly) who continue to pound away at their keyboards in spite of their busy schedules to bring us their valuable insights and tournament reports, all for the selfless love of this awesome game.

Hargh.  It seems I may have a bit of spare time over the weekend to organize my thoughts.  Was planning to finish that darned MUN set review, continue with the Lethal Weapons discussion, come up with some Custom VS Hijinks featuring the Evilluminati or the DC Illuminati, and write an article about how accurately different powers and abilities have been represented in the VS universe.  Poor Storm has yet to have a version that involves more of her storm-whipping powers than simply providing and hindering flight, and Jean Grey, for all of her vaunted telekinesis, is aching for a version that involves her actually throwing something at the opponent.  Or the opponent at something.  You get the idea.  And really, is the best way to represent hydro-capable characters like Aquaman and Submariner giving them the power to excavate things from the KO pile?  Even if we were to stretch out the comparison and say that they’re diving deep for lost objects, neither character has been particularly renowned for using his powers in THAT fashion.  Aquaman possesses superhuman strength with psychic abilities over marine life.  Submariner has used his fists to clobber things far more often than he has opened them up to dig up something from the ocean floor.

Yipes, got to get back to work.

Anyway, here are some snippets from a very rough draft fantasy set involving my current favorite cartoon, Transformers: Animated.  Not sure how many VS/Comic book fans are also Transformers enthusiasts, but I’m hoping there are a few.

AUTOBOTS

Sari Sumdac Keeper of the Key

Autobots Cost 1 1 ATK/2 DEF

Reservist.

Sari Sumdac cannot be attacked while you control another non-stunned Autobot character.

Activate, pay X endurance-> recover target Transformer Autobot character you control with cost X.

Isaac Sumdac Reverse Engineer

Autobots Cost 1 0 ATK/3 DEF

Reservist.

At the start of the combat phase, Rally for a Transformer Autobot character card.

Bumblebee Stinging Speedster

Autobots Cost 2 3 ATK/2 DEF Range

Transformer.

Bumblebee cannot be stunned while attacking.

Activate-> Target opponent loses 2 endurance. Use only once per turn.

Captain Fanzone Chief of Police

Autobots Cost 2 2 ATK/3 DEF

Reservist.

Captain Fanzone gains +2/+1 while you control Prowl.

Activate, exhaust X Autobot characters you control-> Exhaust target character with a cost less than X. That character cannot ready this turn.

Wasp Framed Fugitive

Autobots Cost 2 4 ATK/4 DEF Range

Reservist. Transformer. Loyalty-Reveal.

Wasp cannot be recruited if you control another Autobot character with Transformer. If you recruit another Autobot character with Transformer, return Wasp to your hand.

Prowl Stealthy Naturist

Autobots Cost 3 5 ATK/4 DEF Flight/Range

Concealed-Optional. Transformer.

Prowl comes into play with 2 Ninja counters.

Remove a Ninja counter from Prowl -> Choose one: Target opposing character loses –2 DEF this attack; or target defending character you control cannot stun characters or be stunned this attack.

Blurr Blinding Velocity

Autobots Cost 3 5 ATK/3 DEF Range

Transformer.

Blurr cannot be stunned while attacking.

Whenver Blurr stuns a defender, ready him. This power only triggers once per turn.

Arcee Code Carrier

Autobots Cost 3 4 ATK/5 DEF

Reservist. Transformer. Loyalty-Reveal.

Arcee may not be attacked while you control another Autobot character with Transformer that is not named Arcee. If Arcee is put into your KO pile from play, lose 10 endurance. At the start of the combat phase, look at your opponents’ hands and resource rows. Choose a card name. Cards with that name cannot be played by your opponents this turn.

Jazz Ninja Elite

Autobots Cost 4 8 ATK/7 DEF

Transformer.

Jazz cannot be stunned while attacking a character with lesser cost. Whenever Jazz stuns a defender, stun all characters that defender’s controller controls with the same cost.

Rachet Medical Veteran

Autobots Cost 4 6 ATK/8 DEF Range

Transformer.

Activate, discard an Autobot character card-> Recover target character with a cost less than or equal to the cost of the card you discarded. Gain endurance equal to the cost of the character you recovered.

Elita-One Downloader in Distress

Autobots Cost 4 7 ATK/7 DEF

Transformer.

Free-> Elita-One gains the powers and keywords of target Transformer character until end of turn. Use this ability only once per turn.

Ironhide Impenetrable Plating

Autobots Cost 4 6 ATK/8 DEF

Transformer.

Activate-> Ironhide gains Invulnerability and –2/+2 until end of turn.

Sentinel Prime Arrogant Guardian

Autobots Cost 5 9 ATK/9 DEF

Transformer.

A character protected by Sentinel Prime cannot be attacked.

Pay 2 ATK-> Sentinel Prime gains +1 DEF this turn.

Optimus Prime Reluctant Leader

Autobots Cost 5 10 ATK/10 DEF Range

Transformer. Loyalty.

Optimus Prime comes into play with an Axe Counter.

Activate-> Exhaust target opposing character with cost less than Optimus Prime.

Remove an Axe Counter from Optimus Prime-> Choose one: Target opposing character loses –3 DEF this attack, or negate target effect that would exhaust a character you control.

At the start of the combat phase, put an Axe Counter on Optimus Prime.

Bulkhead Gentle Giant

Autobots Cost 6 14 ATK/12 DEF Range

Transformer. Loyalty-Reveal.

Whenever Bulkhead stuns a character, you may replace any number of resources controlled by that character’s controller.

Activate-> Stun target attacker with a cost less than Bulkhead. Use this ability only if Bulkhead is defending.

Prowl Upgrade Addiction

Autobots Cost 6 13 ATK/12 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer. Loyalty.

Cosmic: Prowl has Invulnerability and +2 DEF.

Whenever Prowl stuns a character, that character cannot ready this turn.

Ultra Magnus Autobot Commander

Autobots Cost 7 15 ATK/16 DEF Range

Transformer. Loyalty.

Ultra Magnus cannot be stunned by characters with a cost of 3 or less.

At the start of the combat phase, you may reveal an Autobot character card with a cost of 6 or less. If you do, stun any number of opposing characters with a combined cost less than the cost of the card you revealed.

Omega Supreme Last Line of Defense

Autobots Cost 8 20 ATK/20 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer. Loyalty.

Exhaust an Autobot character you control-> Stun target opposing character with a cost less than or equal to the character you exhausted.

DECEPTICONS/VILLAINS

Blackarachnia Venomous Vixen

Decepticons Cost 4 8 ATK/7 DEF Range

Transformer.

As an additional cost to recruit Blackarachnia, discard a Decepticons character card.

At the start of the combat phase, choose an opposing character with a cost of 6 or less. That character loses its powers and keywords and Blackrachnia gains its powers and keywords until end of turn.

Lockdown Upgrade Hunter

Cost 5 11 ATK/9 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

Lockdown cannot team attack.

Whenever Lockdown stuns a character, put a Trophy counter on that character. While a character has a Trophy counter, it loses all its powers and keywords, and Lockdown gains all its powers and keywords. If a character with a Trophy counter leaves play, Lockdown gains that character’s powers and keywords permanently.

Whenever a character with a Trophy counter stuns Lockdown, remove a Trophy counter from that character if it did not gain a Trophy counter this turn.

Starscream Conniving Traitor

Decepticons Cost 4 9 ATK/9 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

As an additional cost to recruit Starscream, stun a Decepticon character you control. If you stun a character named Megatron, Starscream gains +3/+3 this turn.

Blitzwing Triple Threat

Decepticons Cost 5 9 ATK/10 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer. Reservist.

At the start of the combat phase, roll a 6-sided die. If the die roll is:

1-2: Until end of turn, Blitzwing gains: Activate-> Exhaust target character with cost 5 or less. That character’s controller loses endurance equal to that character’s cost.

3-4: Until end of turn, Blitzwing gains: Whenever Blitzwing stuns a character, that character’s controller loses endurance equal to that character’s cost.

5-6: Until end of turn, Blitzwing gains: Discard a card at random-> Blitzwing gains +X ATK or +X DEF this attack, where X is the cost of the card discarded. Use only once per turn.

Starscream Clone Creator

Decepticons Cost 6 12 ATK/13 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

If Starscream would be put into your KO pile from play, return him to your hand instead.

Free-> Put an army character card named Starscream Clone from your hand into play exhausted. Use this ability only during the recovery phase.

Starscream Clone Army

Decepticons Cost 4 7 ATK/7 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

Activate, KO Starscream Clone-> Target opponent loses 4 endurance.

Lugnut Loyal Warrior

Decepticons Cost 6 14 ATK/14 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

As an additional cost to recruit Lugnut, reveal a card named Megatron from your hand.

Activate, stun Lugnut-> Stun any number of characters with a combined cost of 5 or less. Use this ability only during the combat phase.

Shockwave <> Longarm Double Agent

Decepticons/Autobots Cost 4 5 ATK/9 DEF Range

Transformer. Reservist. Concealed.

At the start of the recovery phase, you may exhaust Shockwave. If you do, move Shockwave into your opponent’s front row, and he cannot ready this game. Shockwave gains: You play with your hand and resource row revealed, and may not play more than two non-character effects each turn.

Megatron Deposed Leader

Decepticons Cost 2 0 ATK/5 DEF

Transformer. Concealed.

Megatron cannot attack.

Activate, pay 3 endurance-> search your deck for a card with the version Megatron Construct or an equipment card and put it into your hand, reveal it, and shuffle your deck.

Megatron Allspark Obsession

Decepticons Cost 5 11 ATK/9 DEF

Transformer.

Discard a Decepticon character card-> stun target opposing character with a cost of 3 or less. Use this ability only during your attack step.

Megatron Decepticon Ruler

Decepticons Cost 7 17 ATK/16 DEF Flight/Range

Transformer.

Whenever Megatron enters combat, you may stun target character with a cost of 5 or less that is not in combat.

Whenever Megatron is team attacked, you may exhaust Megatron. If you do, stun target team attacker with a cost less than Megatron.

Soundwave Musical Miscreant * Megatron Construct

Decepticons Cost 3 0 ATK/0 DEF Range

Transformer.

Soundwave comes into play with 4 +1/+1 counters.

At the start of the combat phase, you may KO target character with a cost of 1 or less. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on Soundwave.

Remove 3 +1/+1 counters from Soundwave-> move target character with a cost of 2 or less to your front row. Use this ability only once per turn.

Swindle Intergalactic Arms Dealer

Decepticons Cost 4 7 ATK/8 DEF Range

Transformer.

Swindle can equip any number of equipment.

At the start of your attack step, you may search your deck for an equipment card with cost 1 or less and equip it to Swindle. If you do, discard a card.

Factory Bot Army * Megatron Construct

Cost 2 3 ATK/2 DEF

Exhaust X Factory Bots you control-> exhaust target character with cost X or less.

Nanosec Villainous Velocity * Megatron Construct

Detroit Villains Cost 2 3 ATK/3 DEF

Free-> Ready Nanosec. He cannot attack this turn. Use only once per turn.

Professor Princess Hater of Violent Toys

Detroit Villains Cost 2 3 ATK/1 DEF Flight/Range

Professor Princess gains +2 ATK while in combat with equipped characters or characters with the Transformer keyword.

Prometheus Black <> Meltdown Acid Touch

Detroit Villains Cost 3 4 ATK/4 DEF Range

Whenever Meltdown enters combat with a character, put a –1/-1 counter on that character. If that character is a Transformer, put two –1/-1 counters on that character instead.

Angry Archer Robbin’ Hood

Detroit Villains Cost 2 3 ATK/2 DEF Range

Activate->Target opposing character loses –2 DEF this attack.

Slo Mo Time Thief

Detroit Villains Cost 2 2 ATK/3 DEF Range

Free-> Target attacking or defending character cannot ready this turn. Use this ability only once per turn.

Henry Masterson <> Headmaster Total Pwnage

Detroit Villains Cost 3 1 ATK/1 DEF Flight/Range

Concealed.

Pay X resource points-> Move target Transformer character with cost X or less to your front row and place a Control counter on it. Use this ability only if you control no characters with Control counters.

Whenever Headmaster becomes stunned or leaves play, remove all Control counters from characters you control and move them to their owners’ front rows.

Momentum

Posted in VS Ramblings on August 6, 2008 by omnicresence

So difficult to maintain, really. I was all zealous and eager to churn out article after article every single day up until a few weeks ago, when work, family concerns and other hobbies and interests devoured what little time I could devote every day to maintaining this blog site.

But I guess what matters at the end of the day is that this site doesn’t die, that I’m still writing, and preferably about VS.

So I’m going back to last Saturday’s VS games, when my friends and I played VS straight from around 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. the next day, taking the occasional break only to eat or relocate when the comic shop where we play had to close at 8 p.m.

Some random thoughts:

I really need a couple of those 4-drop Hulks, at least, since I’m not hitting hard as early as I’d like.

In two-on-two team games, the team with the Illuminati player versus the one without appears to have something of an advantage.

No two players will build the Illuminati alike.

For team play, I will have to remove those Clandestine Ops and add something more useful to the team dynamic.

People have got to put more attack pumps in the Crime Lords builds or we’ve got the same nasty problem as before with the old Crime Lords – great defense, little of anything else. Though the burn of Red Skull shows promise in a team dynamic.

Bring It On is devastating in a two-on-two team game.

Two Secret Society decks are very hard to fight, particularly if one of them is packing Monkey See, Monkey Do and Coup D’etat.

I’m still learning how to use Omnipotence properly.

Jury still out on how good the Captain is in an Illuminati deck, but I’d say he has serious potential.

Even running at 40 characters, the new Avengers Reservist deck seems to misfire horribly or run out of steam. Wondering what I’m doing wrong. Maybe more search cards necessary.

Heroes for Hire: the new Mimiflo deck team-up of choice.

We ended the night casually discussing who could compose a DC version of the Illuminati. Head a bit fuzzy on the exact details since it was so late, but we figured it would be comprised of, among others, the following:

Batman – Tactical genius, tons of connections.

Zatanna or Dr. Fate – Representative of magic.

Martian Manhunter – Yes, he’s dead, but he seemed to be the best candidate for mental projection/powers.

Aquaman – Lord of the sea.

Alan Scott – Checkmate King and member of the old guard.

Mr. Terrific, Wonder Woman and Phantom Stranger were tossed around, but didn’t seem to make the cut for one reason or another. I know I’m leaving out some other people who were considered for DC Illuminati membership.

Conversely, although the concept was done before with Villains United, we figured it had to be done Illuminati-style for the DC Villains. The anti-Illuminati, or the “Evilluminati”, would be comprised of:

Lex Luthor – Earth hubris and considerable intellect.

Brainiac – Possibly overlapping with Lex, so one of them would have to be cut.

The Joker – Too much insane fun not to include, and remember what happened the last time he wasn’t allowed to play.

Darkseid – Cosmic-level evil.

Gorilla Grodd – Mental powers, megalomania, general nastiness.

Sinestro – Purveyor of fear.

Ra’s Al Ghul – Immortal villain with armies of assassins at his command.

I notice there are no evil magic beings among the roster. Felix Faust or Morgan Le Fay perhaps, but they’re rather too minor to be seriously considered, I think.

Ha. If only they could come up with some DC Evilluminati cards. A fair number of the characters I mentioned are already Legends in their own right. Hmmm.

Omni-impotence

Posted in VS Ramblings on July 28, 2008 by omnicresence

Hargh. Just received 3 copies of Omnipotence in the mail Friday (didn’t want to bother buying the Galactus Raid box), stuffed them into my Illuminati deck, and realized… I lock out the card that I name for everyone, not just my opponents. Which resulted in me crippling myself and one of my teammates in a 3-on-3 multiplayer VS brawl.

See, there was another Illuminati player on the opposing side, my friend Ben, and I was concerned that he would make things difficult for my team unless I could nullify him completely. So I got the Infinity Gauntlet online by turn 5 during my team’s initiative, and, worried that hitting him with the glove would get negated, named Pathetic Attempt with Omnipotence before firing the glove.

Ultra bad idea.

I got the glove off, all right, but by naming Pathetic Attempt, I had made myself and my teammate Rey helpless against the opposing targeted effects that blunted my glove usage, exhausted certain of our characters, and in the end allowed Ben to get his revenge on me by gloving me when he had the initiative.

The ironic thing is that I don’t think Ben played Pathetic Attempt in his Illuminati build, which means I could have used the Omnipotence on something much more useful instead of shutting down my team’s negation capability. I had 3 Pathetic Attempts in my hand that would have saved my team a whole lot of grief if I had been able to play them.

Hahahaha. Oh well, that’s what I get for not reading the card. Chalk it up to casual play experience.

DCU Fantasy Card Previews: Tom Bronson, Wildcat & Rope-A-Dope

Posted in VS Ramblings on July 23, 2008 by omnicresence

With the future of DC VS still hanging precariously from the ledge of license renewal, a stalwart group of VS enthusiasts have taken the initiative to cobble together a DC Universe set for us to enjoy, as well as keep our mouths watering for the myriad of possibilities available should such a set cross over into reality. Always eager to help out the global VS community, I signed up for, and was provided with, a couple of DCU preview cards for one of the designer’s favorite teams, the Justice Society of America.

Introduced in the Identity Crisis expansion, the JSA have been renowned for their extensive usage of three game mechanics or themes:  (a) gaining benefits from controlling exhausted characters, (b) attacking characters with greater cost than the attacker, and (c) exploitation of the Identity characteristic.  The new DCU Justice Society, while presumably retaining these team strengths, also seeks to take advantage of the new Rally keyword, which has been proven to have excellent synergy with Reservist decks, due to the higher-than-average character card count in these decks.

While this all seems to make for a very complicated new incarnation of the JSA, the actual cards aren’t quite so difficult to utilize.  Case in point?  The latest character to adorn the Wildcat mantle, Tom Bronson:

Tom Bronson is fairly straightforward as far as characters go, providing your characters with the ability to attack hidden characters for the turn, which is extremely valuable in today’s hidden-heavy environment.  Curiously, he isn’t a Reservist.  Nonetheless, he works fine as a silver bullet to fight opponents to like to park everyone in the hidden area in the hopes of swinging back monstrously every turn.  Given the JSA’s propensity for slapping higher drops around, you probably won’t mind playing Tom Bronson as an under-drop in conjunction with other small drops.

Tom’s most significant trait, it seems, is the fact that he sports the Wildcat Identity.  We’ve seen Legend cards already (the Flash) that key off an Identity rather than a name, and with no less than four characters in the past having assumed the persona of Wildcat, it’s only proper that we receive some Wildcat Identity Legend cards:

Rope-A-Dope has a somewhat inconvenient cost, given that the characters we’ve seen so far are not all Reservists (including Tom over here), so whether the JSA can run with an all-Reservist build remains to be seen.  It’s a mediocre effect in general, a small ATK boost on either side of combat, but if that character just happens to have the Wildcat Identity, then it becomes a much heftier pump of +4 ATK on the attack or defense, enough to stun up at least one spot on the curve.  If new cards exist that allow you to provide Identities of your choice to your characters, this card becomes a +4 ATK for just about anyone, at practically any time.

I realize this is up kind of early (my preview date was July 25) but I may not have access to my computer on Friday due to work reasons, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt so much to have little presents like these two cards come in a few days ahead of schedule.

Stay tuned at dcupreviews.wordpress.com for more brilliant DCU previews!

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

Posted in VS Ramblings on July 18, 2008 by omnicresence

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.

Random Ramblings: Clandestine Operations

Posted in VS Ramblings on July 15, 2008 by omnicresence

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Writing Part 10 of the MUN Set review has been plenty exhausting, given that I’ve written 9 other parts and the momentum I achieved earlier is starting to wane. Not to mention, between my grandfather’s passing, my visiting relatives from the U.S., and my poor health as of late, I just haven’t been able to concentrate on this blog and give it the attention that I should.

But then, I figure not every post has to be a full-blown article about something. So I thought it would be fun to just blab about what is becoming one of the most intriguing cards of the MUN expansion, Clandestine Operations.

It has been discussed before in other blogs of greater renown that Clan Ops is an instrumental element of the Illuminati puzzle, giving you some much-needed breathing space to stall into the later turns where you take control of the game. Of this I have no doubt, although I have yet to test out its actual effectiveness, seeing as I only recently snagged a copy of the card, with a couple more or so arriving at my doorstep in the next week or so.

The exhaustion of opposing characters every turn without having to devote resources or character powers to it is a fantastic stall mechanism, practically ensuring that, with proper combat management, you won’t see a turn where you will be overwhelmed by a bunch of characters popping in to kick your butt. As the elite VS player Patrick Yapjoco was kind enough to share, even without the rest of the Illuminati tricks, Clan Ops is worth building a deck around. But what teams, or legends, would have the best synergy with Marvel’s own “Secret Six” and their covert plottings?

Doom: Captain Spud of The Lost Hemisphere has cobbled together a build that uses the Illuminati as a supplement to Dr. Doom (just the way Doom would have wanted it, haha), whose stall/control capabilities are legendary. Mystical Paralysis and Doom’s own plot twist recursion/shutdown go hand-in-hand with Clan Ops and the Infinity Watch Iron Man. I don’t need to wax further about its potential, which has been adequately covered by Captain Spud’s Illuminati article.

Inhumans: Black Bolt is an Inhuman, and his team has plenty of exhaust/non-readying capability, so this seems like a good fit. Waking the Ancestors, Jolen and Nahrees keep people tired, Medusa strangles them further and makes sure no exhausted payment power shenanigans occur, and Gorgon stops readying altogether. From that point you can play the 8-drop of your choice, though 7-drop Starfire works just as well to stun all the opposition. Galactus at 9 for the win! At the 5-drop slot, Iron Man seems fine to keep characters locked down in conjunction with Nahrees, with the 5-drop Mr. Fantastic as a backup since he’s Inhuman and can be searched out easily enough.

Spider-Friends: Spectacular Spider-Man helps you out against the lower drops with his ability and Gift Wrapped, leaving the higher drops to Iron Man until he comes back at turn 7 to lock down bigger opposing characters. Sentry and Galactus finish things off.

Heralds of Galactus: More exhaustion tech from Air Walker and I Must Obey, and the mass card draw of the Heralds gets you to your key cards quickly. Red Shift has decent synergy with Clan Ops. Life gain elements also make it easier to survive to the later turns. Galactus cleans up on turn 9, of course.

Warbound: The Great Arena is a fine stall card, and though Hulk Red won’t be of much use, Strongest One There Is, Bloodsport and Hulk, Green Scar should make short work of incoming attackers. You can use an aggro-control variant to take potshots at opponents when you see an opening.

Argh. I’m tired now so I’ll stop here, but I’m certain there are many other teams and combinations out there that we have yet to consider.