(Metagame Archive) Sentinel Mark II

By Danny Mandel

RoboCops

Sentinels get a bad rap. All they want to do is wipe out the entire mutant species with extreme prejudice and what do they get? Blown apart by the X-Men, reprogrammed by Magneto, and clobbered by the Fantastic Four. (Okay, maybe not that last one too often, but in the Vs. System, anything can happen.) What’s an honest mutant-hunting robotic killer supposed to do? Retire to south Florida to play shuffleboard and swim with the dolphins? Of course not! I’ll tell you what—it should team up with Dr. Doom and kick some butt, that’s what! Yeah!

Uh, let’s start over.

Robocops II

The Sentinel Mk II is one of the middle children of the Sentinel family. It’s not as powerful as a Mk IV, but it’s not squishy like a Mk I. It doesn’t have the charm and good looks of a Master Mold, but it’s no wet behind the ears Wild Sentinel either. If it were porridge, it wouldn’t be too hot or too cold—it would be just right. And it wouldn’t be just any porridge. It’d be mutant-hunting, power-negating, flying, ranged-attacking porridge. Mmmm . . .

So why is the Mk II hot stuff? First of all, it’s got flight and range, which makes it a pretty versatile attacker. Most Sentinel decks lend themselves to swarm strategies, and a low cost flier is great at taking out protected potential reinforcers that are perched in the support row. And while you might discount the Mk II’s ability to attack from range while protected as superfluous due to the Sentinels’ disposable nature (cards like South American Sentinel Base and Reconstruction Program provide efficient ways to bring them back from the KO’d pile), realize that cards like Cover Fire (that are contingent on range) work better in Sentinel decks than anywhere else.

Okay, flight and range—check. What else does this guy do? How about the ability to negate an opposing character’s activated power? There’s a price of course—you have to discard a Sentinel card from your hand to do it—but keep two things in mind. One, again, Sentinels are expendable, so you’ll probably be able to get the discarded card back with relative ease. Two, when a ready Mk II is on the board, your opponent often won’t want to exhaust an expensive character to activate its power only to have it negated. The threat of the Mk II is often enough. 

A quick aside about the term “negate.” When an effect is negated, it is removed from the chain without resolving. It’s that simple.


Be All That You Can Be

So at this point you’re probably thinking, “Man, the Sentinel Mk II is so cool. Is there anything it can’t do? I wish I could put more than four in my deck!”

Well, guess what? You can! Hurray!

The Mk II is an Army character. You can put as many copies of a character with the word “Army” in its version line as you want in your deck. And Army characters are not unique, which means you can have as many as you want in play at the same time as well. You want to build the 60-card Sentinel Mk II deck (and who doesn’t!), you go right ahead. Heck, since there’s no upper limit to your deck size, you can build the 400-card Sentinel Mk II deck. When the oversized promo cards slid off the presses, the joke around the office was that you could build a 60-card oversized deck using just Sentinel Mk IVs. Of course, we quickly decided to change the decklist to 56 Mk IVs and four Savage Beatdowns.

And to combine today’s preview with yesterday’s (and for some real army craziness), throw some Lost Cities and Marvel Team-Ups into a Brotherhood/Sentinel deck and watch your robot team go very, very large.

That’s all for our new friend, the Mk II. Now for a word from our sponsor. And by a word from our sponsor, I mean me talking about other stuff.

Rules Rule!
We’re currently working hard on the comprehensive rulebook, which will explain in detail every part of the Vs. System. We’re also compiling a game FAQ and a card FAQ that will answer tons of popular questions. But we need your help. There are lots of great questions floating around the various forums, and we want to answer them all. The problem is that it’s impractical to respond to each forum thread when not everybody reads every thread (or necessarily even visits forums at all). So what we’d like you to do is send any rules questions you might have to this address:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070425145010/http://www.metagame.com/mailtdanielcmandel@excite.com

While we won’t be responding directly to your emails, we’ll be adding your questions to the card FAQ so you’ll have your answers when the game officially releases the first week of April.

Thanks in advance and keep those questions coming.

Tune in tomorrow for a new article about the Brotherhood.

(Metagame Archive) Lost City

By Danny Mandel

The Power of (Plus) One

Yesterday, Matt talked about character versions and the uniqueness rule. To recap, if you have a character with a specific name in play (let’s say Wolverine), and you recruit another character with the same name, regardless of version, (perhaps a larger, more powerful Wolverine) the first one goes to the KO’d pile. This means that if you put lots of copies of the same character (let’s say twelve Wolverines) in your deck, you run the risk of having useless, or “dead,” cards in your hand.

But there is a silver lining: power-ups!

When one of your characters is an attacker or a defender, you can discard a card with the same name, again regardless of version, to power-up that character. When a character becomes powered-up, it gets +1 ATK and +1 DEF for the duration of the attack. It might not seem like much of a bonus for the cost of a card, but you’ll be surprised how often that little bit of extra oomph matters. And don’t forget, you can power-up a character as many times as you want for that extra extra oomph.

So that’s power-ups. A nice little bonus you can give a character of which you’ve happened to drawn multiples. But while often useful, let’s be honest—power-ups aren’t really all that exciting. Which brings us to today’s preview.

Get Lost

That’s right—when the members of Magneto’s gang power-up, they really power-up. Lost City turns an extra copy of a character in your hand into a huge combat trick that can take down an unsuspecting attacker or help one of your smaller attackers take down one of your opponent’s big guns. But before you go rushing off to put Lost Cities in all of your Brotherhood decks, here are a few things to keep in mind.

If you’re planning on powering-up a lot, make sure you put lots of copies of the same character in your deck. Some Brotherhood characters that have multiple versions (and are therefore easier to stock your deck with) are Sabretooth, Mystique, Quicksilver, and of course the big guy himself, Magneto. Just remember the uniqueness rule—it never feels good to send your own characters to the KO’d pile.

Another great way to support a Lost City strategy is to use cards that can return cards from your KO’d pile to your hand, allowing you to power-up again and again. I’m not going to name names, but there are a few cards you might want to check out in the Origins set that can keep your Brotherhood perpetually powered-up.

Finally, there are some cool combos you can make by using the “team-up” cards I spoke about in my last preview. Don’t limit Lost City’s use to just the Brotherhood, when Mutant Nation will let you boost your X-Men (like Wolverine) as well. Or play Marvel Team-Up to combine the Brotherhood and Fantastic Four—each of the major FF characters has three versions. With Lost City and the FF, It’s Clobberin’ Time all the time!

Lost in Transition

In my last preview (two Fridays ago) I challenged readers to try to figure out which of the aforementioned Team-Up cards fit with each team combination. I had planned on posting who had e-mailed me the correct answers on the following Monday, but several wacky things happened over that weekend which I’ll explain here.

First of all, here are the card names with their respective team combinations:

Common Enemy: Doom and Fantastic Four
Heroes United: Fantastic Four and X-Men (this one was actually the preview card)
Mutant Nation: Brotherhood and X-Men
Unlikely Allies: Doom and X-Men
Marvel Team-Up: Any two teams.

I was hoping the contest would be kind of tricky. Four of the cards let two teams work together as one, while the fifth, Marvel Team-Up lets any two teams work together, the drawback being that you don’t draw the card like you do with the others. I figured some people would figure out the four specific combinations (three really, because one was actually the preview card), and some people would figure out that Marvel Team-Up was generic. But I also figured that only a few, if any, would figure out everything. As it turned out, things got all screwy.

First, even though Heroes United was the preview card, Marvel Team-Up’s card image was pictured instead. That kind of ruined some of the trickiness. Then, over the weekend, the entire spoiler hit, rendering the rest of the challenge moot.

The good news is that when I checked my email there were a bunch of replies that must have been sent before the spoiler hit. How do I know it was before? Well, to be blunt, it’s because no one got it right. (Actually, one person nailed it, but he came clean at the end of his email and revealed that he had seen the spoiler.)

Interestingly, while everyone got Mutant Nation correct, most people thought Unlikely Allies teamed Doom with the FF. And several people tried to fit the Sentinels in somewhere, usually putting them under Marvel Team-Up (and often with Doom).

I also asked if people were more excited about building pure team decks or mixtures, and predictably, the answers varied. You guys seem to like the aesthetics of a thematic team, but the mechanical game play freedom of combining different factions. All in all, the responses were great. To everyone who participated—thank you and enjoy your no-prizes.

Tune in tomorrow when we take a close look at the smallest of the five major teams in Origins. Or, as I like to call them, “Big Stompy Robots.”

(Metagame Archive) Finishing Move

By Danny Mandel

Don’t you people ever die?!

You’ve seen it time and time again—the Green Goblin back from the grave, Magneto surviving a cataclysmic explosion, or Phoenix rising from the ashes. The fact is that comic book characters never die . . . at least not for long. 

In the Marvel TCG, it’s no different. After the smoke clears during the combat phase, there are often one or more stunned characters in play. But during the recovery phase, each player gets to choose one of his or her stunned characters to recover. This “free” recovery keeps things from getting too bloody in the early game, allowing players to keep their characters around until the later turns so there can be some massive showdowns.

Feelin’ a Little Woozy

Of course, sometimes one free recovery isn’t enough. If a player has two or more stunned characters, he or she only gets to recover one of them. The rest are sent to the KO’d pile. Usually, if you really want to hurt a team, you try to take out several of its characters at once, but there are card effects and powers that can shake things up. One of these is the featured preview card of the day. 

 

The Plot Thickens

Let’s get the basics of this card out of the way so we can look at the types of decks it will best fit into. First of all, it’s a plot twist. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to look at the Marvel Rulebook, here’s a quick summary of how plot twists work.

A plot twist is a cool trick you can play from your hand or resource row at any time, as long as you have at least as many resources as its threshold cost (the silver number in the upper left-hand corner). Unlike characters and equipment, plot twists do not cost you any resource points to play. You just show the card to your opponent, pay any additional costs in the text box, and choose any targets. If you played it from your resource row, just leave it there face up—it no longer has any game effects, but it still counts as a resource.

Now that we’ve gotten the rules part out of the way, let’s get back to Finishing Move. This card’s application is pretty straightforward: your opponent has a stunned character, and you want it to go away before it can recover. However, there are really two situations you should consider.

Situation 1: Your opponent has exactly one stunned character that he or she will probably choose to recover during the recovery phase. In this situation, Finishing Move is very exciting because it gets rid of the character, effectively nullifying your opponent’s free recovery.

Situation 2: Your opponent has two or more stunned characters, only one of which is recoverable. In this situation, if you use Finishing Move to KO one of those characters, your opponent will recover one of the other ones that are left. All you’ve really done is eliminated the option of recovering the character you KO’d. The trick is deciding whether or not it’s worth spending the Finishing Move now, or holding onto it until later turns. Of course, sometimes it’s a no-brainer. If you opponent’s two stunned characters are Magneto and Toad, it’s probably a good idea to finish off Magneto.

Someone to do the Dirty Work

Finishing Move has a threshold cost of 2, meaning you can’t play it until you control at least two resources. It  also has an additional cost: You have to exhaust a character you control to play it. Flavor-wise, this represents that character running (or flying, or swimming . . . ) up to the stunned character to deliver a knockout blow. In game terms, this means you’d better have some extra warm bodies around if you don’t want to get stuck with an unplayable Finishing Move in your hand.

 

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place.

Finishing Move is a generic plot twist. That means it fits into any deck regardless of what team affiliations you’re playing. (The opposite of generic is team-specific. For example, Danger Room is a team-specific card. Technically any deck can play it, but only a deck with a lot of X-Men will really benefit from it.) However, a deck is not defined solely by the affiliations of its characters, but also by the strategy it employs. There are beatdown decks (which try to win really quickly by rushing out characters), stall decks (which tend to play lots of defense, hoping to bring out larger, more powerful characters), combination decks (which try to set up cool synergies between several cards to benefit your team), and so on.

The deck type that Finishing Move seems most at home in is control. While a beatdown deck wants to win by ramming lots of damage through with cards like Charge! and Savage Beatdown, a control-style deck is more interested in gaining an advantage by surgically removing opponents’ threats. Some typical control maneuvers might be exhausting an opposing character before it has a chance to attack or forcing an opponent to discard. A card that denies an opponent a recovery, or at least worsens the quality of his or her recovery, will fit right in.

Finishing Up

 

That’s all for today’s preview. Tune in tomorrow when we take a look at the fourth and final card type in the Origins set.