(Metagame Archive) DC Origins Card Preview: Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

Roy Harper, the orphaned son of a U.S. Ranger, has undergone many changes since his introduction to the DC universe. Growing up idolizing the Green Arrow and training extensively with a bow and arrow, Roy’s debut as a true super hero came in More Fun Comics #73. Drawing beads alongside his hero (and at that point, legal guardian), Roy actually manages to draw a shot before Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), a deed which earns him the name “Speedy.” Speedy went on to become a member of the Teen Titans, replacing founding member Aqua Lad, and would eventually be referred to as a founding member himself. Armed with a quiver of tricks similar to Ollie’s, Speedy became a vital member of the team and continued to look up to Queen.

All that would change, however, when Oliver Queen teamed with the Green Lantern and Black Canary to fight terrorism. Without his mentor for support, Roy turned to drugs and became an addict. Helped through his addiction by Green Lantern and Canary, Roy then turned his sights on a different battle: fighting the war on drugs. Becoming a government agent, he added a number of more modern weapons to his repertoire, and after a long line of disillusioning experiences, he hung up the Speedy moniker forever. What remained was a new Roy Harper; even faster and more decisive, the new Roy took advantage of his excellent marksmanship instincts through the use of various firearms. Able to turn virtually any available object into a deadly weapon, he took on the name Arsenal. (New Titans #99)

Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter
Character, Teen Titans, Recruit 3
Exhaust a Teen Titans character you control >>> Roy Harper gets +2 ATK this turn.
Activate, KO a resource you control >>> Stun target character with ATK less than Roy Harper’s ATK.

Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter portrays Roy at the beginning of his re-teaming with the Titans. Gone is the happy go-lucky boy with the quiver of trick arrows and the plucky air of the sidekick. This is the Roy who can kill a drug dealer with a blunted table leg at forty paces—the man who would go on to lead the Titans when Nightwing left them.

Let’s break the card down. As a 3-drop, he’s quite viable, though not outstanding, having slightly above-average ATK and slightly below-average DEF. Like most of the Titans-affiliated characters, he’s passable on his own, but his real strength kicks in when he has buddies surrounding him. Range lets him hide in the support row while using his effects to squeeze off fatal shots at the opponent or to participate in group attacks, which is good, since that 3 DEF won’t carry him into the late game all on its own.

Roy’s effects are really interesting. First up, any Teen Titans character you control can be exhausted to give Roy +2 ATK for the entire turn. I like to think of it as Starfire or Dove taking her action for the turn to support Arsenal by hucking him a nearby object to beat people with. It’s a great effect since it adds utility to all of your Titans. There aren’t any restrictions on when you can do it, so an opponent will often have to be wary of announcing an attack against Roy. As a surprise tactic, it’s especially awesome since the buff sticks for so long. The ideal situation comes when your opponent has the initiative. He or she attacks Roy, you commit a Titan or two to a buff and slap a plot twist on him to keep him from getting stunned. He stuns his attacker and is then free to launch another attack with his increased ATK. Nasty.

It’s a nice alternative to team attacking. Instead of committing a bunch of small characters to a team attack and losing out on breakthrough, you can get them all to pump up Roy, which lets your attack deal breakthrough. For Titans that have an ATK higher than 2, it can be a bit of a costly commitment, but for a lot of the smaller Titans characters, it can actually result in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. This situation is likely to come up, since the Titans have a lot of smaller members with nice effects but low ATK. The team packs eight characters that are 2-drops or smaller, and a lot of them make great candidates for Roy-fodder. One of the big mechanics of the Teen Titans team affiliation is exhaustion with benefits—they tend to have a lot of options for gaining strength this way. Roy is just one example of this quality.

Arsenal’s second effect is a bit easier to interpret: he’s sniping people. Sure, you could use his first effect to feed him ATK bonuses and then take someone out, but the real strength of this effect rests in its synergistic potential. Give Roy a Twin Firearms, and suddenly he can take out most 4 and 5-drops if he’s in the front row. Team him with the Brotherhood, and Savage Land can make him a threat to virtually any character. Pair the Titans with the Fantastic Four, and the result is a truly killer crossover, as Roy can pop multiple characters in one turn via Cosmic Radiation. The effect isn’t cheap—losing a resource you control usually hurts. But with so many of the Titans bearing the new boost keyword mechanic, it’s easy to build a deck designed to steadily grow a field presense and then scale it back without subjecting yourself to a shaky balance on your curve, and if your weaker Titans stick around, they can work together to lay a serious hurting on your opponent.

Look for Roy to be a great pull in any Limited format. In Limited, he’s very difficult to approach offensively once he’s backed up by a few of his Titans teammates, and if you can pull off a double stun with him over the course of a single turn, it can be game-breaking. The fact that he’s an average 3-drop stat-wise gives some good insurance for those situations in which using his effects isn’t that appealing.

Playing Arsenal is a commitment, both to the Teen Titans team affiliation and to how you intend to use your resources. But he’s a versatile character that fits well into the Titans’ themes, and he’s difficult to attack safely. He should see a good deal of play once the Vs. System’s first DC set hits the tournament scene.


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