(Metagame Archives) Urban Legend

Mike Flores

Urban Legend . . . of the Dark Knight . . . and the Caped Crusader . . . and the World’s Greatest Detective . . . and . . .

This may be the last time you hear something like this from me—everything you’ve heard is true. Everything. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is extraneous. Nothing is exaggerated. No one lies. Everything you’ve heard is true.

That’s the way of urban legends.

Batman is unique in comics because, in a way, he is everything. His character embraces many facets at once, even when it seems that his personality or his actions would not. He is clearly a father figure to characters like Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake. For Dick in particular, he’d said that he’d always be a friend and teacher… but never a father.

Today, we take it for granted that the police have the Bat at their beck and call with a signal on the roof of Gotham Central. However, there have been times when Batman was pursued, even hunted, by the police. Even worse, there were times when his very nature was in question—was this Bat-Man a seven foot tall hell-spawn monster, or just a guy who wore his undies on the outside of his pj’s?

In more recent years, law enforcement has taken a very different attitude towards the World’s Greatest Detective.

Note how in this example, the agents not only allow Batman to conduct his own investigation and collect clues on a closed crime scene, they actually pretend that he isn’t even there. Captain Boomerang’s son, scion to both perp and victim, can’t get in to see his father. Moreover, he’s told that there is no one investigating, even when he can see Batman with his own two eyes.

If the agents started acknowledging Batman’s presence, it would really hurt the urban legend angle . . . don’t you think?

Batman as urban legend goes a lot deeper than just plausible deniability. The way it works in Gotham City is that you can get your tail kicked by Batman without even knowing what’s hitting you. This is a guy who strikes From the Shadows. He wears black, knows all kinds of scary ways to hurt you, and uses fear as his most potent weapon. And what would be scarier than . . . getting beaten up by a girl?

In the opening pages of “No Man’s Land,” Bruce Wayne mistakenly thought that he could do more good for Gotham City as an important, civilian, public figure speaking before Congress. Wayne left Gotham without Batman, but his protégés filled in as best they could. In the above scene, Huntress is dressed in the costume that you probably recognize as Cassandra Cain’s. Huntress stepped up, took the mantle of the Bat, and used it to say, “Criminals beware.”

For my part, Batman is my favorite superhero and always has been. When I was a little kid, grown-ups thought that I was some sort of idiot because I couldn’t properly color the farmer’s straw hat, stay in the lines, or select the appropriate colors for gingham and denim with my Crayolas. In fact, I knew exactly what I was doing. Even then, I was trying to re-invent those useless coloring book outlines to be Batman. So, straw hats had pointy ears poking out the top and overalls had utility belts ground across their midsections in yellow wax. I loved Batman. I love Batman. Because Batman had a cape, I insisted that he—like that pantywaist Superman—could fly. I loved the Batman television show with Adam West and Burt Ward, and I’ll still watch it on TV Land in the middle of the night if I’m awake. A few months ago, Skaff Elias (a legend in the TCG community) tried to tell me that Burgess Meredith was one of the all-time movie tough guys. To me, Meredith seems no more dangerous than that pointy-nosed fop, the Penguin.

The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacker films I can take or leave. But for Brooding Batman, tough as a two dollar steak, give me the ’80s Frank Miller comics. Give me the millionaire kicking through a tree or the rusty old man shattering a street thug’s pelvis. Give me the spoiled playboy still afraid of the dark. Give me the white-haired guy with enough stones to put his cleats into the Last Son of Krypton’s face. I love that Batman about a hundred times more than the campy ’60s guy in the purple, short-eared cowl (and as I’ve said, I still have quite a fondness for West’s version).

Even the comics themselves wink and grin at the different looks. Superstar writer Warren Ellis devoted an entire Planetary Special to examining the various incarnations of the Bat:

More than either, however, I love the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Batman from the ’90s cartoons. To me, Dini/Timm is Batman. To me, the cartoon Dick Grayson is Robin. To me, that well meaning, fresh faced redhead is Barbara. That lass from “Shadow of the Bat” and “Over the Edge” is the only Batgirl I need. This Batman is never silly like the ’60s version, but he is tender with Harley and both hard and loving towards Dick and Tim. He is kind, sympathetic, and ultimately vulnerable. He is harsh, too. You know why he’s scary. You know it’s time to start worrying when he narrows those white triangle eyeholes into thin slits (I do, anyway). Plus, the episodes themselves are so intelligent, particularly for afternoon cartoons supposedly aimed at little kids. Almost Got ’Im, Harley and Ivy, and Legends of the Dark Knight are almost too sophisticated for their genre.

He really is everything.

Batman is different from a lot of other DC heroes. Superman represents everything that we are not. He is the ultimate American—an immigrant from the middle-est part of the Bread Basket, after all—but Batman is everything that we can be. He doesn’t have any fancy super powers, but that doesn’t stop him from punching out the most powerful man on the planet.

“I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come, in your own private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

-Batman, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” #4

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(Metagame Archive) Urban Legend

Mike Flores

Urban Legend . . . of the Dark Knight . . . and the Caped Crusader . . . and the World’s Greatest Detective . . . and . . .

This may be the last time you hear something like this from me—everything you’ve heard is true. Everything. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is extraneous. Nothing is exaggerated. No one lies. Everything you’ve heard is true.

That’s the way of urban legends.

Batman is unique in comics because, in a way, he is everything. His character embraces many facets at once, even when it seems that his personality or his actions would not. He is clearly a father figure to characters like Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake. For Dick in particular, he’d said that he’d always be a friend and teacher… but never a father.

Today, we take it for granted that the police have the Bat at their beck and call with a signal on the roof of Gotham Central. However, there have been times when Batman was pursued, even hunted, by the police. Even worse, there were times when his very nature was in question—was this Bat-Man a seven foot tall hell-spawn monster, or just a guy who wore his undies on the outside of his pj’s?

In more recent years, law enforcement has taken a very different attitude towards the World’s Greatest Detective.

Note how in this example, the agents not only allow Batman to conduct his own investigation and collect clues on a closed crime scene, they actually pretend that he isn’t even there. Captain Boomerang’s son, scion to both perp and victim, can’t get in to see his father. Moreover, he’s told that there is no one investigating, even when he can see Batman with his own two eyes.

If the agents started acknowledging Batman’s presence, it would really hurt the urban legend angle . . . don’t you think?

Batman as urban legend goes a lot deeper than just plausible deniability. The way it works in Gotham City is that you can get your tail kicked by Batman without even knowing what’s hitting you. This is a guy who strikes From the Shadows. He wears black, knows all kinds of scary ways to hurt you, and uses fear as his most potent weapon. And what would be scarier than . . . getting beaten up by a girl?

In the opening pages of “No Man’s Land,” Bruce Wayne mistakenly thought that he could do more good for Gotham City as an important, civilian, public figure speaking before Congress. Wayne left Gotham without Batman, but his protégés filled in as best they could. In the above scene, Huntress is dressed in the costume that you probably recognize as Cassandra Cain’s. Huntress stepped up, took the mantle of the Bat, and used it to say, “Criminals beware.”

For my part, Batman is my favorite superhero and always has been. When I was a little kid, grown-ups thought that I was some sort of idiot because I couldn’t properly color the farmer’s straw hat, stay in the lines, or select the appropriate colors for gingham and denim with my Crayolas. In fact, I knew exactly what I was doing. Even then, I was trying to re-invent those useless coloring book outlines to be Batman. So, straw hats had pointy ears poking out the top and overalls had utility belts ground across their midsections in yellow wax. I loved Batman. I love Batman. Because Batman had a cape, I insisted that he—like that pantywaist Superman—could fly. I loved the Batman television show with Adam West and Burt Ward, and I’ll still watch it on TV Land in the middle of the night if I’m awake. A few months ago, Skaff Elias (a legend in the TCG community) tried to tell me that Burgess Meredith was one of the all-time movie tough guys. To me, Meredith seems no more dangerous than that pointy-nosed fop, the Penguin.

The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacker films I can take or leave. But for Brooding Batman, tough as a two dollar steak, give me the ’80s Frank Miller comics. Give me the millionaire kicking through a tree or the rusty old man shattering a street thug’s pelvis. Give me the spoiled playboy still afraid of the dark. Give me the white-haired guy with enough stones to put his cleats into the Last Son of Krypton’s face. I love that Batman about a hundred times more than the campy ’60s guy in the purple, short-eared cowl (and as I’ve said, I still have quite a fondness for West’s version).

Even the comics themselves wink and grin at the different looks. Superstar writer Warren Ellis devoted an entire Planetary Special to examining the various incarnations of the Bat:

More than either, however, I love the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Batman from the ’90s cartoons. To me, Dini/Timm is Batman. To me, the cartoon Dick Grayson is Robin. To me, that well meaning, fresh faced redhead is Barbara. That lass from “Shadow of the Bat” and “Over the Edge” is the only Batgirl I need. This Batman is never silly like the ’60s version, but he is tender with Harley and both hard and loving towards Dick and Tim. He is kind, sympathetic, and ultimately vulnerable. He is harsh, too. You know why he’s scary. You know it’s time to start worrying when he narrows those white triangle eyeholes into thin slits (I do, anyway). Plus, the episodes themselves are so intelligent, particularly for afternoon cartoons supposedly aimed at little kids. Almost Got ’Im, Harley and Ivy, and Legends of the Dark Knight are almost too sophisticated for their genre.

He really is everything.

Batman is different from a lot of other DC heroes. Superman represents everything that we are not. He is the ultimate American—an immigrant from the middle-est part of the Bread Basket, after all—but Batman is everything that we can be. He doesn’t have any fancy super powers, but that doesn’t stop him from punching out the most powerful man on the planet.

“I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come, in your own private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

-Batman, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” #4

(Metagame Archive) Fun With Speed(y)

Mike Flores

Before he was Roy Harper Arsenal, leader of the Titans and co-founder of the Outsiders, Roy Harper was Green Arrow Oliver Queen’s sidekick. In their first adventure together, Roy was able to outdraw the Emerald Archer and get off a faster shot than the elder hero. Ever since, Roy has been called Speedy. Since the then-industrialist Green Arrow basically copied every possible thing that he could from Batman, Queen took on Roy as his ward when Roy’s guardian died.

Building on the existing marksmanship skills that had impressed Queen, Roy as Speedy focused on becoming a little version of Green Arrow. Check out Kevin Nowlan's kick-ass art on Roy Harper ◊ Speedy, Mercurial Marksman. He has all the classic Green Arrow accoutrements—pointy Robin Hood hat, domino mask, boxing glove arrow . . . but all red instead of green. This goes above and beyond Batman and Robin. Aqualad, Wally West, and even Donna Troy all showed greater individuality in costume and equipment selection. Roy really, really, really idolized Ollie.

So, what happens to Roy when Ollie starts hanging out with Green Lantern? What happens when his former arms dealer/patriarch/hero sells his company and starts running around the country spreading the newfound joy of left-wing politics?

That’s right . . . Junk happens. Funny habit for a kid named Speedy, don't you think?

Of course, Roy kicked the habit and went on to re-establish a great career as a crime fighter. As we've already said, Harper went on to lead the Outsiders as Arsenal (but not before he knocked up a murderous super villain), along with Nightwing.

Enough about the checkered past of this colorful character. What about the card?

I really love Speedy, and I think he would be a great addition to any Teen Titans deck. Some of my friends think Speedy is so good that you can splash him in other decks, but we won't address that possibility today.

In and of himself, Roy isn't really a bomb 1-drop. But that's okay, because he erases your opponent’s bombs.

Public Enemy Number One: Longshot

In my opinion, Longshot is the best card in the Vs. System. Going into the first PC, my playtest group really liked Sentinels. With Sentinels, while it’s not certain that you’ll have Longshot on turn 1, it is likely. Sentinels can be nearly unbeatable when Longshot hits play early, but the deck is a lot less impressive when all it manages is a turn 1 Wild Sentinel.It Takes Two: Rigged ElectionsLook at the Rigged Elections deck that Craig Edwards took to the finals of the first Pro Circuit event. A powerful deck that surprised most of the field, Rigged Elections is nevertheless built (if you will pardon the pun) on a house of cards.

An early Speedy vs. Longshot fight is not exactly the kind of thing a Titans player prays for, but the fact that Longshot would get KO’d goes a long way. Sure, the Longshot player will probably pick up some Wild Sentinels and a Sentinel Mark IV, but it’s the sustained card advantage feeding into repeated power-ups that makes Longshot so good. A short burst of card advantage is not much better than any old Reconstruction Program, and—as long as Longshot isn’t quickly replaced—it should be overcome by the superior bodies of the Teen Titans.

In any case, because a Sentinels deck has a high concentration of 1-drops, Speedy’s effectiveness will not decrease as turns go by. Having to draw him time and again shouldn’t be that big a deal. He can effectively trade with most of an opponent’s deck, and he can make attack decisions difficult when your opponent has the initiative.

The deck consists almost entirely of tiny, 1-drop characters. This makes sense, because the deck wants lots of little guys tapping to put counters on Rigged Elections (rather than one or two huge monsters). Moreover, Rigged Elections needs to play several characters of different affiliations to set up its combo.

Rigged Elections itself only works with Arkham Inmates, while Cosmic Radiation only works with Fantastic Four. Alfred Pennyworth won’t find any combo pieces unless there is a GCPD Officer in play.

So, what does this mean?

Speedy can surgically take out an opposing 1-drop of whatever affiliation is relevant at the time. If your opponent isn’t careful, you can use Mercurial Marksman to break up Marvel Team-Up or World’s Finest before either becomes relevant.

(Metagame Archive) Totally Freakin’ Broken: Cosmic Counter Placement

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

It’s no secret that cosmic effects rule. There really aren’t any bad cosmic effects. Even at their worst and most awkward, they’re still pretty good—think John Henry ◊ Irons Steel or Fastbak (who both get additional effects for ditching their counter, anyway). On the other end of the scale, cards like Big Barda; Beautiful Dreamer; Mark Moonrider; Darkseid, Uxas; and Superman, Blue are hideously good, crying out to be used in decks or to have decks built around them.

That said, many of the best cosmic effects require you to either remove the cosmic counter on the character or put that character in harm’s way. All of the really awesome cosmic effects in Superman, Man of Steel are relatively well balanced. If the effect doesn’t remove the counter itself, it will likely put the character at risk. This means that cards with the ability to replace cosmic counters are generally quite powerful and probably limited in number. Consequently, there are only four cards in Man of Steel that can replace cosmic counters.

Each card from the group is unique. Professor Emil Hamilton is the only character that can place counters anywhere you like. New Genesis is the one location that can do so, and Mother Box is the one equipment. Parasite is a character as well, but is different from the rest in that he can only generate cosmic counters for himself. Let’s look at each of these cards individually.

First up is Professor Emil Hamilton, Garrulous Genius. As a 2-drop character with 3 DEF, we’ll likely want to protect him on turn 2. She-Thing, Pantha, Toad, and several other popular 2-drops can stun him. A single stun is usually fine because we won’t lose anything if a 1-drop wasn’t played on turn 1, and Emil himself doesn’t have a cosmic counter that we need to worry about protecting. If, however, the deck Hamilton is in did play a 1-drop, we’d rather not start losing board advantage immediately. The plethora of good, low-cost characters in Man of Steel will probably make A Death in the Family see a lot more play, so protecting Emil is a good plan.

Emil is, obviously, team-proprietary. Even though Team Superman has a lot of cosmic effects (eleven characters on the team have the new keyword—more than any other team affiliation), it doesn’t necessarily have the ones that best take advantage of cosmic counter replacement. Superman, Blue can really benefit from having a fresh counter each turn to pay for his direct-stun effect, but other than that, there aren’t many characters who will lose counters on a regular basis.

Emil really shines when paired with characters whose cosmic-dependant tricks require the loss of their counter. Beautiful Dreamer is a good example of this type of card. Beautiful Dreamer’s effect is only activated when she’s stunned, so it’s obvious that her effect was intended to be used only once. Emil lets us juice another use out of Dreamer’s effect every turn, and because Dreamer’s effect provides a recovery, we can always keep her and one other character alive.

(Metagame Archive) Superman, Man of Steel Preview: Smiles, Everyone!

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

Okay, so it turns out that Roy Harper was never black . . . it was just a very darkly drawn arc around New Titans 114 that made me think he was. So, today I’m going to go for a safe bet—Joker is absolutely white.

No, wait, let me double check . . . yes! Definitely white.

The card I checked? Your fresh new preview for the day, a card I’ve been hotly anticipating and fighting to keep a lid on, a plot twist called Smiles, Everyone!. Smiles is an Arkham Inmates-proprietary card, which means that you need to have an Arkham Inmate in play to activate it. It targets an exhausted defender of your choice, and whenever that character becomes stunned this turn, you KO it.

So, it’s effectively a Charaxes minus the moth. It’s also another really crushing board control option for a team that already has some of the best control options in the game. I’m an avid Arkham player, and though the team is deathly under-played and under-explored, I’ve actually had a lot of success with it. There are many ways I plan to use this card.

It turns counter-attacks into potential board advantage. Charaxes was always able to do this, and he did it well both on his own and as part of a team attack, but that’s still just four cards out of 60. Charaxes is fragile, so in many cases you’d need to Burn Rubber him to the front or give him a Mega-Blast to make a viable KO’ing counter-attack. This is doable, but Smiles, Everyone! will make it more reliable and easier to pull off. In short, any Arkham character who Acrobatic Dodges an attack from an equally-sized character will become a brutal counter-attacker that can wipe the failed attacker off the board. Arkham is already difficult to attack into—Nasty Surprise makes Arkham difficult to approach after turn 4. The threat of brutal retaliation from Smiles or Kidnapping makes a shaky proposition much worse.

The potential for a retaliatory double KO goes up in some situations, too. If you can Acrobatic Dodge out of the traditional jump-the-curve team attack on a turn where you don’t have initiative, you can send your big hitter with Smiles after one of those smaller characters and KO it without being stunned. That then frees you up for a team attack against another attacker (likely the turn’s big drop, since it’s the other attacking party in the traditional model) with Charaxes for a second KO. That’s just brutal.

In addition, the value of cards like Fear and Confusion and No Man’s Land goes way up with Smiles, Everyone!. Don’t have Charaxes or Kidnapping or Ivy? Don’t want to wait around to start claiming hard board advantage? Smiles, Everyone! adds utility to the above-mentioned cards, and also to Puppet Master.

Arkham’s early-game potential for control is now much higher. If you hit Puppet Master, No Man’s Land, or Fear and Confusion by turn 3 and then drop Charaxes, great, but the fact that Smiles essentially works the same angle with any character is awesome. I’m personally only running four 3-drops in my current Arkham build, opting to run more 1- and 2-drops over the unimpressive field of 3-drops (with the exception of Charaxes). Firefly and a front-row Ventriloquist ◊ Scarface  will take out almost any 3-drop your opponent can throw at you, short of Wolverine, Logan. Even if you aren’t running Ventriloquist ◊ Scarface , Firefly and any two other Arkham 1-drops will do it. Or just Firefly and an in-hand Query and Echo. Or . . . well, there are a lot of ways you can do it.

Heck, it even sm…

(Metagame Archive) Josh Wiitanen vs. Sean Poestkoke

By Brian-David Marshall

As they sat down to play, Josh confirmed that two players had met during yesterday’s Swiss rounds. “Yes sir, and he smashed me.”

Sean nodded. “That’s only because he missed his 6-drop, though.”

Actually, Sean smashed everybody yesterday, piloting his Common Enemy deck to a perfect 10-0 record. The next best record in the tournament was 8-2. Josh was playing a deck that’s been dubbed UnCommon Enemy because it was tweaked to win the mirror with the hand stripping Iceman, Cool Customer and Pleasant Distraction.

Yesterday’s Swiss rounds were played as single game matches, but today’s elimination rounds are best of three games over 90 minutes. Josh prepared to take advantage of this luxury by properly caffeinating—he shooed back a spectator who came to close to the beverage sitting on the floor near Josh’s feet.

“I’m just trying to make sure you don’t kick my over my espresso. If I had to stall this thing another ten minutes for another drink, I might get the game loss. Come to think of it, I would take the game loss to get coffee.”

Game 1

 

Josh was greeted by a mulligan, but he liked his next four. “I got a monster,” he said. Josh had Boris and got in for 1, then followed up with She-Thing on the second turn. Sean did the same. Josh bashed with his She-Thing and flipped up Total Anarchy. “I always get that card against you.”

No 3-drop for Sean, but Josh had a Signal Flare to find the obligatory She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters. He bashed into Sean’s empty board. Josh’s Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius flipped down his Signal Flare, and Sean looked glum has he played Boris.

“You had better have a ‘stadt, buddy.” Josh attacked, and Sean did have the Doomstadt to find Faces of Doom.

Sean was falling behind as Josh tore off large chunks of endurance without losing any on the backswing. “I think you have this one.”

“I hope so. I have two more Signal Flares and two more characters . . . ”

Sean fell to 29, while Josh remained at a hearty 48.

Turn 5 for Sean saw Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius hit play. He flipped up Faces of Doom in response and Josh thought about his options, eventually opting to do nothing. Sean dug out the 6-drop Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom and flipped down his plot twist. Sean also played Boris.

Josh, who got a game loss yesterday for forgetting to discard for Signal Flare, laid a She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters on the table. “I am eventually going to discard this . . . ” he said as he Signal Flared for Thing, Heavy Hitter. Sean flipped up his Faces for another 4-drop Doom.

She-Hulk took a tentative jab at Sean’s Boris, and he flinched back into the deck for an Acrobatic Dodge. When Josh’s Thing announced his intended attack on Doom, it was exhausted with Mystical Paralysis. That was it for attacks.

Josh claims that his deck takes the evens just for turn 6, and this was his opportunity to show why that was. All he could muster, however, was a 4-drop Invisible Woman, Sue Storm. “Damn you, 6-drop. You are so bad to me. I guess I should play 4-of’s on the Spider Friends characters.” He could not Boris for a Signal Flare because he did not actually have a Fantastic Four 6-drop in his deck.

Sean fired off a Signal Flare and called on the Hulk to get him back in the game. Josh team attacked She-Hulk and Heavy Hitter into the Hulk, and both players passed without incident. Thing and Hulk both stunned. Boris went back in Josh’s deck to cause A Death in the Family for the Hulk. Sean flipped up Common Enemy to draw a card, but let the Death resolve.

Sean did get to attack his Doom into She-Hulk to finish off the turn. The totals were now 26 to 23 in Josh’s favor.

Turn 7 kicked off with Sean’s Signal Flare for Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing. He and Dr. Doom stood side by side on the front lines of Sean’s board. Sean used Mystical Paralysis on Thing and played another 4-drop to flip it back down. He also played Purple Man and activated it, targeting a specific face down resource. “That is the Dodge you played to get away from Doom, right?” It was.

Sean’s Dr. Doom attacked Invisible Woman and he powered it up. No effects from Josh, and Sue stunned. Josh cracked back at Doom with his Thing. Neither player lost any characters.

Josh Signal Flared for Silver Surfer and played him on turn eight. Josh activated his Purple Man again and giggled when he snatched It’s Clobberin’ Time! from his resource row. Sean had the 8-drop Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria, and flipped down a Mystical Paralysis and Common Enemy. When the Surfer invited Dr. Doom to tussle, Sean flipped his Mystical Paralysis back up.

Josh looked over his board and decided to attack the 7-drop with Thing and Invisible Woman. Both Things stunned. Endurance totals were 17 to 10 in favor of Josh.

A Signal Flare from Sean on turn 9 prompted Josh to Have a Blast the Common Enemy. Signal Flare resolved, and Sean found his own Silver Surfer and played it. Josh Purple Manned another resource but made no play. Neither player chose to activate their Silver Surfers at the beginning of combat.

Sean sent Thing into Invisible Woman, and when he came across, he passed without any effects. Josh looked through his face down cards and shrugged, “I’ll take 4.”

Sean announced Silver Surfer into Dr. Doom, and Josh had to take a moment to think. He decided to use Mystical Paralysis on Sean’s Dr. Doom and then let the attack from Surfer resolve. Josh used a Dodge to absorb some of the damage, and he fell to -1. Josh sent his Silver Surfer over along with 4 It’s Clobberin’ Time!s to pound the Thing, and Sean nodded and began shuffling for game 2.

Game Two

 

Robert Leander had won his match and Josh shook Sean’s hand. “Well, whoever wins this match . . . good luck in the finals. Let’s make a deal. You play a 4-drop this game, and I get to play a 6-drop.”

Neither player made a Boris, and neither player had She-Thing or any turn 2 action at all. She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters came down on both sides for turn 3, but there were no attacks. Sean played his turn 4 Doom and chained it so he could draw two cards off of a face-down Common Enemy. Josh did the same, but also Signal Flared for Thing, Heavy Hitter. When Doom’s ability resolved, Josh reloaded the flare gun.

Sean suggested that Dr. Doom attack the She-Hulk, and Josh was amenable to it. Sean flipped up Doomstadt. Josh thought for a while and decided to Have a Blast! Common Enemy and Reign of Terror She-Hulk. Josh’s She-Hulk stunned, and he dropped to 46. Sean stayed at a perfect 50.

Thing, Heavy Hitter came down on Josh’s turn 5. Sean Signal Flared for Ghost Rider and played him. Josh announced Thing into Ghost Rider, but was stymied by Mystical Paralysis. Josh decided to keep Ghost Rider at bay with a Pleasant Distraction.

“Are you going to miss your 6-drop for once?” asked a hopeful Josh.

“Maybe.”

But Sean had a 6-drop Dr. Doom to supplant the old one. Josh Signal Flared for Silver Surfer in response. Josh realized that he did not have another Doom character and laughed. Josh exhausted the big Doom with Mystical Paralysis and played out his mirror match tech in the back row—Iceman, Cool Customer.

“That’s great. You didn’t draw him yesterday. That is pretty good.”

“Yeah, we figured it out when we were drafting Marvel Origins/Web of Spider-Man.”

Ghost Rider came over for Thing and Josh took 6, falling to 40. Iceman came over and smacked around Sean’s Ghost Rider, and Josh finished it off with A Death in the Family.

“Recovery?” leered Josh. As Sean began to count out all the cards he would discard, Josh counted along. “Is this going to be a record,” he asked? Sean ditched seven cards, which Josh claimed was one off his Iceman best of eight. Sean discarded one Reign of Terror and six characters.

Josh played Boris and found Signal Flare for Robot Destroyer. He played a second Boris and found It’s Clobberin’ Time!. Sean had Submariner for his turn, and it stood in front of the 6-drop Doom. Josh announced Thing and Doom on Submariner, which was fine with Sean. He took 7 to Josh’s 5. Josh then announced Robot Destroyer and She-Hulk into 6-drop Doom and Clobbering Timed the She-Hulk. Sean Finishing Moved the Thing with his Doom, and then braced for 12 from the unaffiliated Iceman. Sean recovered his 7-drop. The score was 20 to 17 in favor of Josh.

Sean’s turn 8 was a Silver Surfer hiding behind the winged ankles of the Submariner. Josh also had a Surfer, and put all of his men up front. Josh went to steal the initiative and Sean just sighed. Josh was incredulous, “Tell me the character in your hand is Doom.”

Josh sent the Surfer into the other Surfer, and Sean’s Acrobatic Dodge was met with It’s Clobberin’ Time!.

Sean nodded and extended the hand. “That’s game.”

The Iceman turned out to be critical, as Sean had been forced to pitch all of his Fantastic Four characters at the end of turn 6 and could not steal the initiative. His Surfer was looking at two Boris as he died.

Josh Wiitanen won the quarterfinal match two games to none. He’ll be advancing to the semis with his UnCommon Enemy build to face off against Robert Leander and his Teen Titans.

(Metagame Archive) Superman, Man of Steel Preview: Rose ◊ Thorn

By Ben Kalman

Superman, Man of Steel is just around the corner, so today we’re going to look at one of the more interesting characters that has ever crossed Superman’s path. We have to travel back to the spring of 1968, into the pages of Lois Lane. There, Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito wrote a backup story that introduced a new character. She wasn’t Earth-shattering, and she didn’t change the entire DC universe, but she was pretty darn cool nonetheless. The issue was #105, the character was Rose Forrest, and the story ran for about 25 issues.

Rose Forrest was a secretary. She was also the daughter of Phil Forrest, who was a detective on the forces of Metropolis’s Finest—the boys in blue who didn’t have a big “S” on their chests. Things were hunky-dory in Rose’s life. She had a good career, a happy family, and a safe and friendly environment in which to live. That is, until daddy was murdered by The 100, Metropolis’s ruling gang.

Rose was a daddy’s girl, and the trauma of his untimely demise was too much for her. She snapped, had a breakdown, got hospitalized, and went schizophrenic. In order to avenge her father’s murder, she subconsciously developed an entirely separate personality that called itself The Thorn. Whenever Rose slept, The Thorn would rise and go forth to battle The 100, eventually toppling them with a little help from our friendly neighborhood Superman. When The 100 reformed as The 1000, The Thorn again joined Superman to take them down. She’s since helped Supes fight Intergang and other criminal elements that crawl out in the silence of the night. After every crime-fighting exploit, Rose would wake up in the morning unaware of what had occurred while she was in Neverland.

So, let’s take a look at the Vs. System incarnation of Rose Forrest:

Rose is an interesting addition to Team Superman. She has fought alongside Supes on multiple occasions, so her place on the team is well justified. There are three other Team Superman 3-drops in the Man of Steel expansion, and of them, Rose is not the best offensive choice. There is a bigger, nastier 3-drop who would even make a decent 4-drop. However, if your deck has team restriction issues (like a hybrid deck would), and if you’re not running a solid Superman deck (where Superman would be your first pick at 3), then Rose is definitely worth a look.

Rose isn’t really a Constructed character, but she’s a monster in Sealed Pack. Superman, Man of Steel is not like Web of Spider-Man. There are four main teams in this set, so you can’t afford to build a Sealed Pack or Booster Draft deck where team restrictions come into play, especially when they do so as early as turn 3. Unless you’re beyond lucky, you’ll never have enough team characters to get them into play via revealing a character or fulfilling your loyalty obligations. A Superman deck would be out of the question, as you’re not likely to have enough copies of Superman to warrant making a weak character like the 3-drop Superman your drop of choice. Rose is a perfect Sealed Pack character because her 7 ATK/7 DEF stats while attacking give you a fierce attacker all the way into the fifth round. Sure, her defense isn’t great, but her offense is so strong that the extra damage you deal will more than compensate for any extra damage you may take. This is especially true on turn 4 with even initiative. In all honesty, there are very few 3-drops I would consider drafting over Rose, and none that I would outright choose in every situation.

Rose’s ability may look familiar. It’s similar to another 3-drop dual-persona, Man-Wolf, John Jameson. He has both advantages and disadvantages over Rose ◊ Thorn, Rose Forrest. He doesn’t gain the defensive boost that can mean the difference between saving or losing the character. However, unlike Man-Wolf, Rose’s bonus is only valid during the attack and not the whole turn, so she can become a real liability on defense if you haven’t planned your formation with extra care. This is because of her split personality. She attacks as The Thorn: Martial Arts Master, but defends as Rose: Helpless Secretary.

While there are one or two cards in this set that could help overcome her defensive deficit, they’re likely not worth the cost. Instead, Rose is best served with a heap of reinforcement. Still, if you want a beefcake strategy or if you’re playing swarm, she’s a solid choice at 3 as long as you play smart. Plus…