(Metagame Archive) Gamer for Life: PC: Indianapolis and Deck Styles

By The Ben Seck

As I write this article, I’ve just finished an exhausting weekend at the very first Pro Circuit event at Gen Con Indy. For those who weren’t there, I definitely recommend going to the next one in Anaheim, because if it was anything like the first, you will definitely “Have a Blast!” (insert laughter here). From the amazing feature match area, which looked like a combination of Doc Ock’s lab and something from the Teen Titans Tower, to the Doom’s Throne Room judge station, just playing in the tournament area was an incredible experience. What made it more enjoyable was that despite it being a Professional event, there was definitely an emphasis on capital “F” Fun. The only issue I had was that Jeff Donais’s stand-up comedy routine requires a little work . . . but I’d better stop before I put my foot in my mouth! I was lucky enough to finish in the money (seventeenth place), but a few crucial errors meant that my run for Top 8 ended up one match short. Many people have written to me and asked me why I didn’t go with the Cops and Robots plan I outlined in my previous article. Let’s just say that my better gaming angels got the best of me and forced me to play a more mainstream deck (Fantastic Four Beatdown, or as I like to call it, Things in Cars). Rest assured, I will be constantly working on new and even more exciting strategies!

Seeing the incredible diversity in the decks that were present at the Pro Circuit was very satisfying. Those who are claiming that the format comes down to a few decks should examine the metagame breakdown from the event coverage. Decks of all sorts of affiliations were present, but more importantly, all sorts of deck styles were present as well. One thing that I have learned from my years as a TCG player is that it is important for a player to understand different styles of play. It’s vital to realize what your deck and your opponents’ decks want to achieve, and to keep that in mind throughout the match. Many people would say that this is obvious, but it is very easy to get lost in the intricacies of combat and forget what your overall game plan is. Your plan of attack will vary according to what you are playing and how your opponent is intending on winning the game. For those who are unfamiliar with the various deck styles, I’ll break down the most common archetypes.

Aggressive, or Aggro, decks, such as The New Brotherhood, dispatch the opponent quickly by the most direct and speedy means available. This sort of deck requires plenty of skill but not much finesse. Most of these decks lack a significant late game strategy. They need to put themselves so far ahead in the early game (turns 1 through 4) to make sure that any comeback is next to impossible. The best way to beat this sort of deck is to play a very conservative, defensive game and make low risk attacks that will reduce the amount of future damage rather than trying to keep up the damage race. Most other decks will be able to pull it through in the late game as long as you survive the early game without losing too much endurance.

Aggro-Control decks, like Big Brotherhood and Common Enemy, seek to create an environment in which they dictate the terms of combat while remaining the aggressor. The characters in these decks typically have excellent ATK/DEF ratios for their recruit costs, but what is more important than the characters in these decks are the plot twists and locations. While Aggro decks have very aggressive effects, you will typically see that decks such as these have defensive plot twists and locations, or feature plot twists and locations that can be used in a defensive fashion. These decks need extreme redundancy in their character curves, meaning that they are very consistent at dropping characters with similar costs during all turns of the game. Current Aggro-Control decks can achieve this with the Lost City/Avalon Space Station combo, meaning that you can play more characters than the average deck and thus fill out the curve better. Additionally, consistency can also be achieved by using Signal Flare and Faces of Doom, which means that you can fill out the curve by searching for what drop you need. The best way to combat these decks is to disrupt their consistency with resource denial, like Ka-Boom! and Have a Blast!, or put up a very effective offensive that can win combat consistently, such as Fantastic Four Cars.

Control decks, such as most Doom variants, seek to extend the game as long as possible so that no other deck can compete, and then win with one single, overwhelming threat. Usually, in the case of Doom decks, this threat is either Apocalypse or Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria. They use a number of stalling mechanisms, like characters such as Puppet Master and Robot Sentry, and plot twists like Mystical Paralysis, Reign of Terror, Overload, and Flame Trap to ensure that they aren’t completely overwhelmed in the early game, and mid-range larger characters to measure up against what’s left. The key weakness with this deck is a high reliance on single characters and getting the right answer at the right time. Most of these decks have fairly low redundancy, so it is very possible that a single threat slipping through the cracks will be fatal for the control player. High-efficiency Aggro-Control decks should be good against this strategy, but if you miss any character drops, you will probably not have enough pressure to overwhelm the Control deck. Also, if you let a deck like this get to the late game, it will probably win, because few decks have significant threats at that stage of the game.

Finally, the final piece to the metagame puzzle comes in the form of Combo decks. Largely unexplored and unsuccessful until this weekend, this style of deck attempts to win through unusual means and take advantage of the lack of answers in most decks. With most decks attempting to win through combat, Combo decks, such as Rigged Elections or any Cosmic Radiation–based combo deck, leave a lot of their opponents’ cards useless. However, these decks definitely suffer from inconsistent draws, since many of their key cards do not work well independently. Decks that pack a lot of answers, such as multiple copies of Have a Blast! and Fizzle, have a good shot, as well as Control decks, since they can use silver-bullet answers to most situations. With only one real successful Combo deck so far, this is a largely unexplored area of Vs. System.

Now that you are armed with this knowledge, what will you do with it? It’s important to understand a deck’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can know your strategy on different turns of the game. For example, if you are playing an Aggro-Control deck against a Control deck, you may realize that you have to make more aggressive attack choices to maximize damage because the Control deck’s late game is so effective at nullifying any late game threat that you present. In simpler terms, you may need to attempt to end a game a few turns earlier by taking a few risks rather than just keeping up the pace.

For those who were hoping for a follow-up to the Cops and Robots deck, don’t fret! I’m going to have a look at it as well as the successful rogue decks of PC Indy next week. Also, if there is an aspect of the game that you want me to take a specific look at, drop me an email at tbsmetagame@hotmail.com.

‘Till next week, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel . . .
Good Gaming!

TBS
tbsmetagame@hotmail.com

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