(Metagame Archive) Totally Freakin’ Broken – Resource Suppression

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

Superman, Man of Steel both keywords and further explores the theme of offensive resource replacement. The theme was first introduced in Marvel Origins with Avalanche, and was further explored in DC Origins with Have a Blast!, Batman, World’s Greatest Detective, and Remake the World. Replacement is great—it eliminates cards that are giving you trouble or that might give you trouble somewhere down the line. However, that’s all it does. Cards like Foiled and Ka-Boom! are often grouped with offensive resource replacement cards, and though they can both blow up cards that you’d rather not see on the table, they really serve very different functions in the long run.

While offensive resource replacement is designed to take care of single cards, cards like Foiled and Ka-Boom! actually provide offensive resource suppression. In addition to being targeted effects that can remove a problematic card in the resource row, they prevent the game from progressing from a resource development standpoint.

There are six cards that provide resource suppression, and all but one of them (Neutron) provides an offensive option by allowing the effect’s controller to target at least one particular resource to KO. These cards are Foiled, Ka-Boom!, Firefly, Apocalypse, and Brimstone.

Essentially, all six of these cards (except for Apocalypse) are used to prevent the game from progressing past a certain point. The advantages of employing such a strategy are two-fold. First, if you keep your opponent locked at, say, five resources, any cards in his or her deck with a recruit or threshold cost above 5 are useless. In addition, if you keep your opponent locked in the early game, but he or she has a deck focused on late game strength (like Common Enemy), not only will your opponent not be able to get to his or her strong point in the game, but the opponent also may not have enough small characters to match your recruiting capabilities. It’s an awesome strategy that isn’t as explored or exploited right now as it should be.

The classic pair, Foiled and Ka-Boom!, are staples in any deck that seeks to lock an opponent out of the late game. These cards are easy to use, and though they are costed (you get locked down, too), you can build around that cost to give your deck a distinct advantage. They are not team-proprietary, do not require a discard, and do not even deprive you of a resource point on the turn they’re used. The tricky part is that they’re dependant on the opponent’s actions. A smart player might just forego flipping locations and ongoing plot twists to make sure your Ka-Boom!s and Foileds are dead. Unfortunately, Common Enemy has a hard time without Doomstadt or its signature team-up, Brave and the Bold needs its team-up and Dynamic Duo, and Teen Titans needs Optitron, USS Argus, and Tamaran (though Terra can cause some havoc using her effect to replace Ka-Boom!’s target). Brotherhood builds need Savage Land, Lost City, and Avalon Space Station. In fact, basically every competitive deck (outside of Gray Stall or Curve Sentinel) is at least somewhat reliant on ongoing plot twists or locations. Not flipping them is always an option, but it’s a seriously inhibiting one.

Firefly’s effect is similar to Ka-Boom!’s. He’s essentially a reusable Ka-Boom! with a respectable 3 ATK, flight, and range. His effect requires activation and a discard of an Arkham Inmates character, but it’s an interesting little trick for Arkham decks. I’ve personally played Arkham for several months now, and I honestly haven’t gotten a ton of use out of Firefly’s effect. The degree of its utility is highly dependant on matchups. Regardless of matchup, he does allow for an aggressive resource-suppression build of Arkham that hasn’t yet seen serious play. With so many decks leaning towards late game power, an Arkham Lock deck could actually have serious potential.

Brimstone, Engine of Destruction is the newest addition to the suppression theme. It’s easy to look at Brimstone and see a 6-drop with an above average ATK, but his low defense is quite a hindrance. The problem is that he’s not just a good offensive 6-drop—he’s either going to take the place of your 7-drop on turn 7 (in order to lock the opponent on turn 7 for the rest of the game), or he’s going to get played on turn 6 and whoop on something that hopefully won’t stun him and leave him exposed to KO effects. If you play him on turn 6, you’ll play another 6-drop on turn 7 so you can pay a resource point to use Brimstone’s effect. So, even though his ATK seems alluring and can be beneficial, it comes with the caveat that, no matter what you do, you’re giving up your turn 7 drop if you want to use Brimstone’s effect to its highest potential.

Whether or not that’s a wise move is dependant on matchups. If you’re playing against a deck that has something it wants to KO each turn, then Brimstone can seriously rock. A team-up or a key card like Tower of Babel will work in Brimstone’s favor. If, however, you’re just locking the opponent on turn 7 and giving up your 7-drop to do so, you might be in trouble. There are some exceptions, though. Jaffar can make up for that lost resource point and then some, provided you’re okay with your turn 7 play being a bunch of small Deep Six characters (which works fine, assuming that Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing doesn’t immediately bounce them all back to your hand). Brimstone also works nicely when combined with a flurry of Ka-Boom!s and Foileds. If you can get rid of your opponent’s 7 drop, it’ll probably hurt your opponent if the game is suddenly pushed back to turn 3 . . . and that’s a very doable prospect in some games. If your second 6-drop was Darkseid, Uxas, then you’ve actually got a lot of potential for making a game-wrecking move, taking out all the big guys (except maybe one of your own) and KO’ing everything that’s stunned. Hopefully, you’ll leave a weenie horde to mop up on your side afterwards. Time will tell if a strategy like this one, which, though extreme, is feasible in a competitive form.

Neutron is, to me, the border line. Turn 5 seems like a good place to start locking the game if your goal is to keep it in the earlier turns. Neutron, upon his release, was not as viable as he is now—Rise from the Grave is his saving grace. Sure, Rise from the Grave on Neutron is going to cost you 10 endurance, but odds are good that you’ll hardly ever have to use it. Careful positioning and domination during the early game can keep Neutron protected, leaving him conscious for his effect to trigger in the recovery phase.

Beyond that, Man of Steel offers some interesting disruption cards that can hurt an opponent’s plans for attacking. While Play Time’s main use is to disrupt L formations, it can also be used against other formations to make an opponent think twice about how aggressive he or she can be on a given turn. There are some interesting options for keeping Neutron up and about, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an early game–oriented deck that runs Neutron, Ka-Boom!, Foiled, and Firefly making an impact on metagames in the near future.

So, is anything TFB? Well, I think the potential of the theme as a whole is under-explored. Watching Alexander Sacal in the Mexico City $10K rip apart opponent after opponent, locking the player in the early game and flooding his own side of the field with Titans characters, was pretty awesome. Ka-Boom! and Foiled! are under-played in that deck, and the resource-lock variant is brutal against Common Enemy. Similar trends might crop up in Brave and the Bold decks, as well. As for original decks, that has yet to be seen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something original, creative, and focused on resource suppression makes a strong debut soon.

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