(Metagame Archive) Out of their League

By Brian-David Marshall

So Dave Humpherys thinks he can take me in draft?

I confess that he probably can—at the moment. Not only did Dave have a hand in designing the set, but he drafts it constantly. The one time I saw the Upper Deck offices, it seemed that the only two things anyone in R&D does is reluctantly play Moose or Ghost with Danny Mandel and draft. I know they get to claim that they are “doing work” when they draft—I’ve certainly worn a hole in that excuse with my wife over the years—but I’m definitely playing catch up to Dave, who has been drafting DC Origins since months before it was ever even released.

I have been closing ground, though. I have a number of friends qualified for the Pro Circuit, and we have been drafting DC Origins at Neutral Ground in New York whenever possible, trying to get them up to snuff for the big event and preparing me for my eventual grudge match with The Hump. I have learned a thing or three along the way, and I’m going to be ready to throw down the gauntlet the next time I see Dave.

One of the things I have quickly picked up is that no one chooses to be League Of Assassins in a draft—they just end up that way. Other than the huge Ubu, Ra’s al Ghul’s Bodyguard, the common drops don’t match up well with commons at the same drops in other affiliations. At the same time, you do see playable cards—albeit weaker cards than you might find in other affiliations—later than you do with any other sqaud in the set.

I became intrigued with League when I watched Chris Manning (of the same Your Move Games origins as Dave Humpherys) fight his way to the finals of a PCQ that I organized at Neutral Ground. It was one of the first Sealed Pack events, and the Top 8 was draft. Manning lost in the finals but got past two solid Teen Titans decks before an Arkham deck took the top prize. There were actually four players fighting over Titans cards in the draft, while Manning was the only player to draft League, which may be the most compelling reason to draft it at this point.

Chris Manning
League of Assassins Draft Deck
Top 2 at 7/18/04 PCQ at Neutral Ground

3 Assassin Initiate
2 Bane, Ubu
3 Dr. Tzin-Tzin
1 Kyle Abbot
2 Ra’s al Ghul, Immortal Villain
2 Ra’s al Ghul, Master Swordsman
2 Thuggee
3 Ubu
3 Whisper A’Daire
3 Lazarus Pit
1 Airborne Assault
1 Break You
1 Combat Reflexes
1 Fast Getaway
1 Shape Change
1 Tag Team

One of the things that you can do with League that you cannot do with more contested teams like the Teen Titans and the Gotham Knights is take your time picking up characters and instead focus on plot twists. With 4-drops like Dr. Tzin-Tzin and even Ra’s al Ghul, you will need to good combat tricks to survive battle with the likes of Cassandra Cain ◊ Batgirl. With players fighting to establish themselves in other affiliations, you can snag Tag Team, Combat Reflexes, and Break You.

I have drafted the deck a couple of times and found that you can’t really count on team-ups like My Beloved and World’s Finest. In the case of the former, you have two teams with different loyalty issues in the 3-drop and 4-drop spots, which are not, coincidentally, the best common cards in each team affiliation.

Rather than going through the commons in a pick order, I am going to further break it down by the various drops. I have noticed that draft is becoming more and more curve-driven, and you want to have an assortment of the best common drops in each spot along your curve.

One-Drops

Thuggee is the best common 1-drop. His ability allows you to get in for 2 on the first turn even if your opponent has his or her own 1-drop. Like all the 1-drops in League, his most important function is to enable a turn 3 Ubu. There are also Josef Witschi and Maliq in the 1 slot at uncommon, and you can usually count on these guys coming around pretty late if you don’t see your Thuggees. You don’t need to devote much energy to picking these guys early unless you are in the third pack and are short on 1s and 2s for your Ubus (You did draft Ubus, right?) in which case you might want to nab one or two earlier than you would care to normally.

Lazarus Pit is another card that goes round and round the table. With two stunned characters, you can activate the Pit to prevent one from being KO’d and recover the other. The targeted character will not recover, but it will stick around and count toward loyalty even though it is face down. This can be especially useful if you find yourself sporting two team affiliations and want to preserve your ability to cast a League character with loyalty while recovering a non-League character. The sacrifice ability was certainly relevant in Manning’s semfinal match with Rich Fein at the PCQ. The two players were in the late game, and they had a violent clash that stunned all four guys on each team. Rich looked to be advantaged as he was going to recover a huge 6-drop and dominate the board. Chris flipped up three Pits and sacrificed them to save all his guys—including a…

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