(Metagame Archive) Totally Freakin’ Broken: Bounce

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

The term “control,” when used to describe an overall TCG strategy, can mean many different things. There is hand control, which involves both manipulating and decimating your opponent’s hand. There is deck control, where you eliminate cards before your opponent even sees them. There is also resource control, where the destruction of an opponent’s resources allows you to narrow their options so far that you simply out-muscle them.

Frequently, though, “control” refers to board presence¾control that involves taking characters, destroying characters, or removing characters from the board. The last is an interesting group in the current Vs. System environment, so this column will profile such cards. There are many cards that remove your opponent’s characters from the field by returning them to either the deck or the hand. In layman’s terms, these are “bounce” cards.

The cards in this group can return one or more of your opponent’s characters to his or her hand or deck. All in all, there are seven¾five characters and two plot twists.

First, let’s look at the characters. Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing is definitely the first bounce card that comes to mind. Since the early days following the release of Marvel Origins, this version of Ol’ Blue Eyes has been a showstopper. You can fetch it with the game’s premier character-search card (Signal Flare), and it boasts rock-solid stats that outdo most others at the 7 slot. Thingis a brick that not only hits hard, but also levels the playing field.

Thing is not primarily a control card¾if you don’t have control of a game by turn 7, it’s unlikely that you’re going to win via a control strategy. Rather, he’s a highly disruptive card that helps facilitate huge comebacks. If you’re seriously outmatched, odds are good that Thing can bounce some attackers. Since Thing can bounce multiple characters at once, he can quickly level a very uneven playing field. The Common Enemy deck now has three hugely powerfully 8-drops at its disposal, but truth to be told, Common Enemy decks win most of their games on turn 7. Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing is often the reason. He’s a strong staple in Fantastic Four decks, as well.

Next is Jean Grey, Phoenix Force. Though Jean’s stats are decent for her cost level, her effect reeks of contingency plans. She’s neither aggressive nor strictly controlling, and while she does combo well with certain cards, none of them are X-Men. Unfortunately, her weird pseudo-loyalty makes her difficult to play outside of an X-Men deck.

If you haven’t maintained an overall board presence advantage, Jean can make for an optimal play on turn 8 that allows you to regain lost footing in the resource point department. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all she does. The moment something bad happens, you can pull the plug and end the problem before you can say “I know kung fu.” However, that’s not what I want my 8-drops doing. Any 8-drop I play should recklessly explode buildings and set fire to innocent bystanders! For 8 resource points, I want someone who’s completely crazy, dangerous, and deadly. I want someone mean. Puppy-killing mean. I’m pretty sure Jean Grey does not kill puppies.

Ok, fine. Jean Grey isn’t some axe-swinging beast or silver-surfing initiative thief. She is useful, however, as more than a big, gold-scarfed reset button. On turn 8, she can end the game by earning you your last Xavier’s Dream token. If you don’t get that last token by turn 8, you’re probably only a Reconstruction Program away from pulling the same trick for the win the next turn with the same copy of Jean Grey, Phoenix Force. In short, once Jean hits the field, your opponent has to stun, KO, or bounce her before his or her recruit step is over and Jean sends everyone to a happier place¾and that’s only if you held the initiative. If you don’t have the initi…

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