(Metagame Archive) A Paucity of Plot Twists

By Brian-David Marshall

Hopefully, all of you have recovered from the family traumas of the holidays and have managed to choke down the last of that desiccated, leftover turkey that no amount of congealed gravy could ever moisten . . .

Hmmm . . .do I sound bitter?

I was trying to stay in character. I have been trying to build my card pool from two weeks ago as if I was participating in a Pro Circuit Qualifier, and I am not happy. The pool is shallow, with not nearly enough plot twists to navigate a deck through six or seven rounds of Swiss. It must be able to do that for you to have any hope of arriving at the draft portion of the event—the first point at which you control your own fate.

Card Pool

 

Unaffiliated and Old Affiliates

1 Charger

1 Maxie Zeus

1 Imperiex

Darkseid’s Elite

1 Darkseid, Uxas

1 Desaad

1 Glorious Godfrey

2 Granny Goodness

1 Hunger Dogs

1 Kanto

1 Shaligo

1 Trox

New Gods

2 Big Bear

1 Himon

2 Lightray

1 Lonar

1 Mark Moonrider

2 Metron

1 Vykin

Team Superman

1 Alpha Centurion

3 Cir-El ◊ Supergirl

1 Dubbilex

1 Gangbuster

2 John Henry ◊ Irons Steel

3 Kara Zor-El ◊ Supergirl

1 Lana Lang

1 Lois Lane

1 Professor Emil Hamilton

1 Rose ◊ Thorn

2 Superman, Clark Kent

1 Superman Robots

Revenge Squad

1 Bizarro

2 Eradicator, Doctor David Connors

1 Mercy

2 Metallo

2 Mongal

2 Mongul

1 Parasite

Equipment

1 Beta Club

1 Supercycle

Locations

1 Armagetto

1 Lexcorp

2 Metropolis

1 Pit of Madness

Plot Twists

1 Back to Back

1 Boom Tube

2 Female Furies

1 Granny Loves You

1 Last Son of Krypton

3 Play Time

1 State of the Union

1 Super Speed

1 Super Strength

With five packs of Superman, Man of Steel to work with, you would expect to get some multiples. Play Time is not the set you’re hoping for when you’re building a Sealed Pack. Although, I have to admit to be being surprised by how potent a single copy of Play Time can be in a Sealed Pack or Booster Draft build. I had initially dismissed the card as nearly unplayable, since you can’t dictate to where the targeted character gets moved.

I was playing in a draft at Neutral Ground over the Thanksgiving holiday against Metagame.com impresario Toby Wachter, and one of my teammates was Mike Clair. Mike was debating over the final card in his deck. If you have ever done any kind of draft with Mike, this will come as no surprise to you. Mike always takes the longest time to make his final cuts and decisions, but I have to say, it pays off for him. He’s found success in multiple card games via his thoughtful approach. He was looking at Play Time, and wanted to add it to his deck.

Both Steve Sadin and I discouraged Play Time’s inclusion, but Mike made a strong case for the innocuous looking twist. He claimed that most games come down to one critical turn where your opponent just hopes to survive your initiative long enough to get to his or her initiative turn (and that turn’s gigantic man). To survive the turn, most players end up setting up their characters in the classic “L” formation, with one guy at the corner in a position to reinforce either of the characters in front of and next to it. Play Time changes that by nudging the corner character. Wherever your opponent moves it, he or she will no longer be able to reinforce the guy up front.

Mike felt that this little disruption would be enough for him to steal a game from an opponent on a turn where he had the initiative, and much to Zev Gurwitz’s frustration, he turned out to be right. Gurwitz could not make it through his seventh turn after his key reinforcement character was mischievously teleported out of the corner. I think that this card will definitely make somebody a lot of money this weekend in the draft portion at Pro Circuit So Cal.

Still, one copy is more than enough. If you are hoping for triples of a common plot twist, you want it to be something like Path of Destruction. In that same draft, I first picked a Path of Destruction, and then managed to pick up two more along the way. In one game against Toby, I killed him dead from 31 endurance on turn 6. I attacked with Big Barda, removed the cosmic counter, played two Path of Destructions, flipped a third, and KO’d a guy to finish off the bloodbath with Female Furies.

It was pretty cool, but in reality, Path of Destruction is just a good plot twist that gets better with each additional copy you pick up. It serves you admirably at all stages of the game. Rather than just throwing them all at your opponent in one fell swoop, you can use them to help you jump the progressing curve each turn. Early in the game, you rarely need to get more than 2 extra ATK points . As the game advances, you really want +4 ATK to effectively send a smaller character on a suicide mission, and in the late game, a +6 ATK Path of Destruction can be a potent finisher.

Alas, there were no Path of Destructions in this pool of cards. In fact, there were only four offensive plot twists in the deck. Two Female Furies were the best the deck had to work with, but they’re nothing to sneer at. As I mentioned in my previous column, many players have eschewed the card, either thinking that it was team stamped to Darkseid’s Elite (a common misconception), or simply unwilling to KO characters. The card plays both offense and defense, and a +3 ATK is a fair trade for a character whose better turns are behind it.

The problem is that, after the two Furies, you’re just about out of gas. Super Strength is a top flight plot twist that will get played in any deck, and Super Speed is quite good if you’re playing with Team Superman . . . sort of a miniature Teen Titans Go! All we have left after that, though, is Back to Back. Uunder more prosperous conditions, Back to Back might not even make my deck. The card is fine, but I find it difficult to use effectively and have left it on the bench in bluer waters. Granny Loves You will clearly be included if we play the appropriate affiliation. While it is potent, I would much rather have a common, combat-oriented trick like Up, Up, and Away, Stopped Cold, or Narrow Escape.

Looking through the locations and equipment, we can quickly condemn Pit of Madness. LexCorp might not be miserable, and Metropolis looks like a solid card for a mixed bag of affiliations. Armagetto, on the other hand, is a plot twist on wheels—without even looking at the characters, we want to think about Darkseid’s Elite. Especially when you see Beta Club sitting on top of the equipment pile.

Despite solid characters amongst both good-guy teams, I opted for the villains when building this deck. I was hoping to maximizing the power of Armagetto and Beta Club and sneak in extra damage with Granny Loves You. One of my favorite decks in this format is an unlikely team-up between Team Superman and Revenge Squad (for the Professor Emil Hamilton and Parasite combo), but I had to pass it up to get my Mongul on.

Here is the deck I ended up with:

1 Metropolis

1 Armagetto

1 Beta Club

2 Female Furies

1 Super Strength

1 Back to Back

1 Play Time

1 Granny Loves You

1 Hunger Dogs

1 Shaligo

1 Desaad

1 Mercy

2 Granny Goodness

1 Charger

2 Mongal

1 Trok

2 Metallo

1 Parasite

1 Bizarro

1 Glorious Godfrey

2 Mongul

2 Eradicator, Doctor David Connor

1 Darkseid, Uxas

1 Lightray

Next week, I’ll bring you the decks that readers suggested, and deconstruct a couple of drafts from the Pro Circuit.

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