(Metagame Archives) Marvel Knights Preview: Doop, Ultimate Weapon

Mike Flores

A powerful offensive card that can fluster your opponent and end the game, this version of Doop might really be the Ultimate Weapon. Much like the comic book that spawned him, Doop breaks all the rules.

First of all, Doop, Ultimate Weapon is absolutely enormous for his threshold cost. An admittedly expensive 8-drop, Doop is as big in front as a 10-drop Dark Phoenix! If Doop comes down on turn 8, he should be able to take out almost any character the opponent recruits, and still be able to do a little breakthrough, even while facing the opponent’s biggest giant. This use for the X-Statix mascot can yield a great tempo swing, but let’s be honest . . . often, assuming you have the initiative, you’ll want to use Doop to hit the smallest character on the opposing squad. You know . . . the Destiny or Bolivar Trask cowering in the back row.

Moreover, Doop’s being a concealed character offers a measure of insurance on that last turn of the game. Often, you’ll drag the game to turn 8, play out your huge guy, and lose anyway. The opponent has the initiative and sets you up for a series of stuns that leaves you without potential attackers, taking away your options and undoing your hard work. But not with Doop. Concealed ensures that Doop will stick around for your combat, even if you don’t have the initiative. So, even in games where the opponent knocks you below 0 endurance, the Ultimate Weapon gives you a potential ray of hope. Look to use Doop’s formidable 25 ATK for the best possible breakthrough with which to end the game, like the Red scourge of communism at the end of the eighth turn . . . I mean eighties.

Flying is also a great feature for the weapon to end all weapons. I mean, sure, of course he flies—he doesn’t have any legs. As the Ultimate Weapon, flying allows Doop to pick the right on-board character to strike. He can break up formations on the initiative and play bully while the opponent is stuck playing fair.

The odd part about this Ultimate Weapon is his miniscule DEF. Of course, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Didn’t Doop get his brain sawed out by some terrorist Russians?” Or perhaps you’re saying, “Didn’t Thor put the whammy on the little with Mjolnir straight to the gray (green) matter?” Well, while the answer is yes to both (maybe indicating his low DEF), Doop walked (floated) away from those trials to take pictures another day (for one last issue, anyway), didn’t he? In game terms, this means that while Doop might get stunned by any defender bigger than the venerable May Parker, his invulnerability won’t leave you on the wrong end of his 8 threshold come endurance loss time . . . I mean, that could be pretty embarrassing.

What it comes down to is that Doop is a very well composed and dangerous threat.

How else could he have ended the Cold War?


That’s right. Lovable Doop, X-Statix’s very visible cameraman and one of the most dangerous entities on the planet, was built for a specific purpose! Though his old buddy Wolverine probably knows what’s what, Doop’s own teammates are clueless until another super soldier fills them in.

Thematically, the concealed Doop “hides in plain sight.” Even though he is, perhaps, the most visible member of the world’s most famous and wildly popular superhero team, people aren’t coming after him for the right reasons. While Captain America may be worried that Doop might be the target of a terrorist attack or fall into the wrong hands, the Brotherhood ends their own series in a failed attempt on his life. As a political statement, that’s kind of like assassinating one of the former members of 98 Degrees to spell out their disapproval of boy bands or reality television.

A gelatinous blob of nothing? Hood Brother, you’d better head back to the Savage Land, or maybe study in Genosha so you can get a clue!

Doop is there for every X-Statix battle, just as you’ll want him on the table when you play with Marvel Knights. The thing is, the opponents are too busy shooting at Mr. Sensitive and the Anarchist to notice that the huggable floating booger with the camera might just be stronger than the Scion of Asgard himself.


(Metagame Archive) Marvel Knights Preview: Witching Hour

By Danny Mandel

And no, that isn’t the Scarlet Witch—it’s Witch Woman!*

Witching Hour is one of my favorite types of card designs—unapparent in power and modular in deck design.

For argument’s sake, let’s say there are two axes on which to describe a card. Axis one is the card’s power level. I actually don’t find this axis quite so interesting, because often, one card’s strength is only relative to other cards’, and it’s pretty easy for a developer to amp up a card’s overt power (hey, just add +1 ATK/+1 DEF to it!).

What I do find interesting is when a card’s power level is less obvious, even if it’s just at first glance. You see this all the time during previews. Some cards are looked down on as complete junk, but later become solid components of high-end decks. (A Death in the Family is a good example of this. The card was much maligned as a bad Finishing Move when it first debuted, but is now commonly used in aggressive strategies that don’t have time to exhaust a character.) On the other hand, some cards look like they’re phenomenally broken, but later end up being simply decent, or—gasp—stinky. (I blame Humphreys for these.)

So, is Witching Hour hot or not? I’d tell you what I think, but that would ruin all the fun.

A second axis on which to describe a card is how linear or modular it is when it comes to deck design. One way to look at it is that the more linear a card is, the more obvious its role is in a deck. For example, Mystical Paralysis is a very linear card. Not only is its function extremely narrow (exhaust a character), but it’s only playable in decks that include Dr. Doom himself (or possibly a Decoy Program). While Mystical Paralysis is a staple in both Pure Doom and Common Enemy archetypes, you don’t build those decks because of Mystical—rather, you include it in those decks because it’s a good card.

While still somewhat linear, Alicia Masters is a more open ended card around which you might build a deck. While she serves one very specific function (to cheapen the recruit cost of some of your character cards), one could argue that she lends herself towards a Turbo Thing deck, a Turbo Torch deck, and a Turbo Thing and Torch deck. Even though she serves a similar role in all three decks, each of those archetypes owes its existence to her. (She is the “turbo” part, after all.) Further, you might just splash her in a more standard FF build, assuming that in some matchups you’ll have the opportunity to “go off.”

An example of a modular card is Tech Upgrade. Sure, it only works with one class of card—equipment—but it works with any equipment. You can run the Upgrade in an equipment-centric Barbara Gordon deck, in a deck that wants to load up on Fantasticars, or in a deck that wants to guarantee it gets Decoy Program by turn 3.

Which brings us back to Witching Hour. While the card has some pretty specific requirements—it has a threshold cost of 7 and only works on small Underworld characters—there are lots of different ways to build a Witching Hour deck. Let’s talk about some of them now.

Underworld Swarm


As you might have guessed after seeing some of the other Underworld previews, a team full of demons and the undead is heavily invested in KO pile interactions. You’ll find cards that efficiently allow you to fill your KO pile and cards that “tax” you by removing cards from your KO pile. You’ll also find cards that reward you for having lots of “dead” characters. And what better reward than to bring them all back to the land of the living?

Traditionally, swarm decks run out of gas in the late game. A swarm player ends up quickly emptying his or her hand to put as many small threats into play as possible. Often, this puts an opponent on the defensive, forcing that player to stabilize the board until he or she can play larger characters that can hold back the swarm. Once the opponent has stabilized, the game’s all but over for the swarm deck, which now lacks a way to “punch through.”

With Witching Hour, the swarm player has a new late game weapon. Just as you’re about to run out of steam, the clock strikes midnight and it’s time for all your dead little buddies to wake up and smell the blood. In this build, Witching Hour acts as a kind of “Plan B.” You’d much rather tear your opponent’s throat out before the late game, but at least now you have a safety net.

’Phisto Food


We spoiled the Father of Lies a few days ago, and as one would expect from a demon, he offers you a tricky deal. The upside is that you can’t lose the game. The downside is that you can (and will) lose three characters every turn, which might end up costing you Mephisto himself. But what if there were some way to guarantee that you could feed Mephisto for as many turns as necessary? You guessed it! Witching Hour provides the perfect snack pack. Play it on turn 7 to fill up your board (just make sure you leave three critters in your KO’d pile to satisfy Mephisto’s recruit requirement), and then play the big guy on turn 8 to create the soft lock. Since you can’t lose the game, the fact that you just spent a ton of endurance to recruit your army for “free” doesn’t matter so much.

There are a couple of other things to remember about Mephisto. His start-of-attack-step power won’t trigger if he’s stunned. This means you could conceivably find a way to stun him (perhaps teaming up and using Blackgate Prison?), then recover him later to benefit from his can’t-lose-the-game ability. Speaking of recovery effects, keep in mind that the incredibly efficient but painful Rise from the Grave is a perfect match with Mephisto, since endurance loss doesn’t matter if you can’t lose the game. Just make sure you have 5 endurance to pay its play cost.

A Beastly Combo of Doom


Man, that threshold cost of 7 is daunting. But with cards such as Beast and Latveria, maybe we can get the party started a little sooner. This archetype is all about the big payoff. Spend the first few turns of the game filling your KO pile with tons of 1- and 2-cost characters. (Remember that you still have to recruit them, so to make sure uniqueness isn’t a problem. Either use lots of army guys or characters with different names). Then, on turn 5 or 6, bring ’em all back. Mix in some Hired Goons for added spice.

Okay, that’s all I got.

Tune in next week for the who, what, when, where, and how of concealed and the hidden area (bonus “why” section also included).

Send questions or comments to dmandel@metagame.com.

*No jokes. She works for Mephisto. Also, she used to own a restaurant.

(Metagame Archive) Marvel Knights Preview: Jigsaw

By Brian-David Marshall

Apparently, word of Daywalker’s existence leaked from the underworld, so I found myself suddenly faced with a change of plans. Instead of the original column I was going to write—Walking on Sunshine: Blade, The Daywalker—I found myself under the gun to pull a different preview together. Seriously under the gun . . . get a look at this little number.

For a substitute preview card, it doesn’t get much better than this. Hot art by one of my all-time favorite comic artists, a villain with a slightly unlikely story (how is this guy the only villain that the Punisher hasn’t just simply popped?), and a kick-butt ability that—depending on the other cards available to Crime Lords players—should have an impact on both Sealed Pack and Constructed.

Curve Sentinels may currently be the most consistent deck in Constructed Vs. System. The deck’s success is fueled by the power of the 6-drop Bastion. I think many people will fall into the trap of misevaluating Jigsaw because they’ll try to hold it up to Bastion for comparison. Bastion has a similar ability, though his effect lasts until the end of the turn instead of for just one attack, and he is also backed up by the card advantage–crazy Reconstruction Program.

Despite not having these advantages, and its below drop–optimum stats, Jigsaw, Billy Russo is very powerful. He has the ability to boost any of your characters on offense or defense. So what if it’s only for the duration of the attack? Basically, he allows you to power up anyone on your side of the table, regardless of their affiliation, with any Crime Lords character card in your hand.

When Jigsaw comes down on turn 5, he should give your opponent fits, regardless of which initiative you have. If your opponent wants to attack your characters, then he or she will have to play a guessing game about how many Crime Lords you have in hand, and then attempt to administer tricks appropriately. On your attack, assuming you have cards in hand, your opponent will be staring down the barrel of a handful of power-ups that will allow your characters to jump up and down the curve.

I see Jigsaw being a pretty high pick in Marvel Knights Sealed Pack, especially if you’re able to draft a near-dedicated Crime Lords deck. On turn 5, you should be able to do a number on your opponent’s side of the table. In Marvel Origins Booster Draft, Bastion was the only card that could send me straight into Sentinels, and Jigsaw may well be a similar signpost for the Crime Lords affiliation.

Since Jigsaw is an uncommon (whereas Bastion is rare), you’ll see him more often in Sealed Pack. Consequently, you can actually get some experience with the archetype and work on perfecting the strategies needed to draft it effectively. Players don’t usually get enough experience playing with rare cards in drafts because . . . well . . . they’re rare. I have seen more than one Bastion-based draft go awry because the drafter lacked the experience to know when to snag army Sentinels or Reconstruction Programs. Every army Sentinel card you select in a Bastion deck could be treated like a super power-up. When you piece together the Jigsaw deck, even the lowliest of Crime Lords characters can be treated the same way.

For Constructed, Jigsaw’s fate will rely on the power of the rest of the affiliation’s cards. Certainly, if there are any cards that return Crime Lords characters from your KO pile to your hand, things will be looking up for Billy Russo. Even without such a card, there’s still a good chance that Jigsaw will find some use in Constructed. You could build a Curve Sentinels deck with him and Bastion, provided that you have a team-up for Sentinels and Crime Lords. I’m sure an aspiring crime lord like Billy would love to look down on Earth from the Avalon Space Station. I’m sure that something could be done, but it’s too soon to tell for sure.

One thing I can tell you about this card is that Chris Bachalo has turned in one of the best pieces of art I’ve yet seen in Marvel Knights. Card illustrations seem to get better and better with each new set, and if Jigsaw is any indication, that will hold true for Marvel Knights. Until this card came across my desktop, Andrew Robinson was my favorite gunsmith for Vs. System, with kick-butt illustrations for Solo and Arsenal Roy Harper. Move over Mr. Robinson, because Mr. Bachalo has stuck a gun in everyone’s face and announced his presence on the Vs. art scene.

The art on this card really captures the in-your-face, wet-your-pants terror that any Crime Lord worth his salt hopes to inspire. This is no “namby pamby, falling down and firing away against a typographical background” art. This is no “running away and firing willy nilly in your wake” art. I am reasonably certain that Jigsaw has never done anything in his life that rhymes girlishly. Despite the presence of a bullet-pocked wall and a hideously disfigured madman, the image that dominates the scene is the looming menace of that obviously oft-used gun.

Historically, I don’t fully understand the relationship between Billy Russo and Frank Castle. After killing a room full of thugs, The Punisher chose not to kill the handsome, rising superstar of thugdom. Instead, he threw him face-first through a plate glass window. Reconstructive surgery has come a long way since his fateful defenestration, but poor Billy developed horrible scars that led him to become the Punisher-obsessed madman known as Jigsaw.

That’s all well and good, but what I can’t understand is why the Punisher keeps letting him live. It’s not like the Batman/Joker dynamic—Batman simply doesn’t kill anyone. Frank Castle has always been a proponent of letting god sort ’em out. I guess he needed some other recurring villain besides the Kingpin (the original Kingpin, not the “Karen Page’s death has pushed me over the brink of sanity so why don’t you all join me, Matt Murdock” Kingpin), or maybe he couldn’t stand to look at Billy Russo’s face long enough to get off a clean shot.

If you want to get your clean shot at the Punisher, Jigsaw, Blade, The Daywalker, and all the other exciting characters available in Marvel Knights, you can go to a Marvel Knights Sneak Peek tournament on February 5th or 6th. I will be running a Sneak Peek on both days at Neutral Ground in New York City, and I hope to see you there. If NYC is too long a haul for you, you can find the complete list of locations by clicking here.

(Metagame Archive) Marvel Knights Preview: Weapon of Choice

By Matt Hyra

You asked for it, and soon you’ll have it. Marvel Knights is bringing us a character search card that anyone can use.

Now, any team can pretend that they’re the Fantastic Four . . . sort of. Weapon of Choice offers every team a bit of the curve smoothing that, until now, only a select few have enjoyed.

There are several things you should be aware of, however, before tossing Weapon into your next deck.

1. Don’t expect to go find a power-up during an attack.

It’s just a bit too obvious when one of the characters you choose is the same as your current attacker. If you think you’re going to need a power-up, grab a copy during the build phase. If you get the card, you’ll be power-up ready. If not, choose some less risky attacks.

2. Don’t expect to get the best character for the turn.

Your opponent knows what hoses him or her, so you’re going to end up with the card against which your opponent has the best chance. Dragon Man and Gog will never see your hand via Weapon when you’re facing a deck they do well against.

3. Don’t expect to use it four times during the game without suffering.

Discarding two cards to gain one is not something you can afford to do and still keep lots of tricks up your sleeve for later turns.

4. Don’t expect to resolve this plot twist too many times against the Gotham Knights.

One big drawback is that the discard is part of the cost. If your opponent hits it with a Fizzle, you’ll be crying, as those cards and the Weapon will be lost.

5. Don’t plan to use it very effectively in Army decks.

Army decks tend to use six or seven copies of a single character at each drop, so they can’t make much use of this card. Are you really going to play this card just to let your opponent hand you Master Mold while you shuffle up Bastion?

What does all this really mean? It means you could search your way out of a bad draw, smooth out your curve, run out of cards in your hand, and still possibly not get anything (or anything usable) to show for it. If you haven’t been scared off yet, there are some great benefits available to the wise Weapon player.

Go ahead and use six different 4-drops in your deck. If half of them are offensively minded and the other half have great activated powers, you’ll be all set to search out two characters who don’t offer your opponent any slack. Make your opponent choose between a rock and a hard place. Many decks use just two different characters at most drops—one offensive and one defensive. If you Weapon those two into your hand, be prepared for your opponent to laugh when you give him or her the option of Robot Seeker or Volcana. I mean, c’mon! One is only good while attacking, and the other is basically only useful while defending. Hmm, okay . . . I guess your opponent is really laughing for a different reason.

Another great benefit is that you can cut down on the number of characters at certain drops where you’d prefer not to overstock. If you want a decent chance of drawing a 2-drop by turn 2, you naturally need to put six or more of them into your deck and accept the possibility of a mulligan. Weapon of Choice gives you more chances to make each drop. So, if you don’t want to overstock on 2-drops, you could play with two 2-drops and four copies of Weapon. You’d then have six chances to “draw” a 2-drop by turn 2.

Questions or comments may be sent to mhyra@metagame.com.

(Metagame Archive) Cerebro #1

By Paul Ross

Welcome to the first edition of CEREBRO (which may or may not stand for Column Explaining Rules Enquiries by Readers of Metagame.com)!

I’m Paul Ross, a Level 2 judge from Sydney, Australia, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m the kind of guy who enjoys wading through the Comprehensive Rules document. (“Who wouldn’t?” as Peter Parker asks in the first movie.) I’m reliably informed, however, that this might not be everybody’s idea of zany fun.

At the same time, I’m guessing that many of you would like to improve your Vs. skills, and enhancing your rules knowledge is a great way to do just that. So, the idea of this column is to assist those of you who are perhaps not as dangerously rules-obsessed as myself, but still want to become more competitive (or even professional) at this fine game.

Please send your questions on any aspects of the Vs. System rules to vsrules@gmail.com. My only “rule” is that you let me know which part of the world you’re writing from. Simple, hey?

Since my mailbag’s a little on the light side at the moment (this being the first edition and all), the plan for the initial week is to explore a handful of areas that seem to cause the most confusion in tournaments and rules forums. So, without further ado . . .

1. Priority and the Chain

What’s priority? Who’s the primary player?

When you have priority, it’s “your turn” to do something if you choose to, such as play an effect, flip a location, or propose an attack. If you choose to do something, you retain priority to do something else. If you choose to do something else, you retain priority to do something else again. If you choose to do something else again . . . you get the idea.

Choosing to do nothing is called “passing” priority. After all players pass in succession (which takes way too long to type, so from now on I’ll just say “successive passes”) on an empty chain, the game progresses to the next phase/step/substep.

Inside one of the game’s four steps (resource, recruit, formation, and attack), the primary player is whoever owns the step. Outside these steps, the primary player is whoever has the initiative. At the beginning of each phase/step/substep, the primary player is the first to get priority.

When do effects resolve? Can I do something “in response?”

When you play an effect (including the recruit effect of a character or equipment), the effect is added to the chain. Only after successive passes does the most recently added effect resolve. Then the primary player gets priority.

If a player says he or she is doing something “in response,” that player is doing something before the most recent effect resolves. Remember that you retain priority whenever you do something, so your opponent won’t receive priority to do something “in response” until you pass. Generally, you can’t stop a player with priority from paying the cost of an effect (like exhausting a character to use an activated power), and once an effect is on the chain, doing anything to the source of that effect won’t disrupt the effect in any way.

Playing an effect is like shooting a basketball. Once it’s in the air, fouling the shooter won’t change the trajectory, and it certainly won’t have stopped the shot from being taken in the first place.

Example: Hugh Jackman is playing Anna Paquin in a Teen Titans mirror match and has priority in his attack step. Hugh opts to activate Terra targeting Anna’s Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal. Hugh retains priority, and then passes. In response, Anna exhausts Hawk to play Roy’s pump effect (retaining priority), then exhausts Dove to play Roy’s pump effect a second time, then passes. Hugh also passes, so the most recent pump effect resolves. Roy becomes 6 ATK/3 DEF, and priority shifts to the primary player (Hugh). After successive passes, the second pump effect resolves, making Roy 8 ATK/3 DEF. After Hugh passes, Anna activates Roy (KO’ing a resource) targeting Terra, and then passes. Hugh also passes, so Roy’s effect resolves and stuns Terra. After successive passes, Terra’s effect resolves (even though she has been stunned), replacing one of Hugh’s locations and stunning Roy.

Does flipping a location use the chain?

No. Flipping a location is an action that doesn’t use the chain, but rather “interrupts” successive passes.


Example: Patrick Stewart is attacking Ian McKellen’s Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius with Poison Ivy and has priority on an empty chain. After Patrick passes, Ian flips Doomstadt and passes. The attack doesn’t conclude at this point, because flipping the location interrupted successive passes. Instead, Patrick gets priority. If he passes without taking any action, then the attack will conclude, because there were successive passes on an empty chain.


Some locations have a power that triggers when they’re flipped. Even though flipping a location doesn’t use the chain, any triggered effect from such a power is put on the chain.


Later in the same match, Ian no longer controls Dr. Doom. Patrick has a Fear and Confusion face-up in his resource row when Ian flips Latverian Embassy. The Embassy’s triggered effect is put on the chain, but its continuous power starts generating a modifier immediately. Therefore, if Ian were to pass priority, Patrick wouldn’t be able to play Fear and Confusion in response to the triggered effect. After successive passes, the triggered effect would resolve and Ian would discard a card.


Metropolis adds an interesting twist to this last example. Like Latverian Embassy, its triggered effect is put on the chain, but its continuous power starts generating a modifier immediately. However, because the triggered effect is the choosing of affiliations required to “fuel” the modifier, the modifier won’t actually do anything useful until the triggered effect resolves.


2. The Attack Step (and Attack Substep)

Will exhausting an attacker make an attack illegal? How will a team attack conclude if one of the attackers is stunned?

The key factor in these (and nearly all attack-related) questions is usually whether or not the attacker has exhausted.

An attack substep begins after successive passes on an empty chain following an attack proposal. An attack substep starts by rechecking the legality of the proposed attack (let’s call this the legality check). If it’s still legal, then proposed attackers exhaust and become attackers, proposed defenders become defenders, and the attacking player gets priority.

Before the legality check, there are no attackers or defenders—only proposed attackers and proposed defenders. If a proposed attacker becomes exhausted or stunned by the time of the legality check, then the proposed attack is illegal, even if there are other proposed team attackers who are still legal.

After the legality check, a legal attack will always remain legal until it concludes. Exhausting an attacker will not affect attack legality in any way. Stunning any number of team attackers (or the defender) will not make an attack illegal, but it may influence the conclusion of the attack.

An attack only concludes after successive passes on an empty chain. If there are no attackers remaining, then do nothing. If there is no defender remaining, then ready attackers. If at least one attacker and one defender remain, then compare ATK & DEF.

Example: Famke Janssen (Brotherhood) is playing Halle Berry (Doom) and has priority in her attack step. Famke proposes to team-attack Halle’s newly recruited Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom with Sabretooth, Feral Rage and Rogue, Anna Raven. Famke retains priority, and then passes. Halle exhausts Dr. Doom to target Sabretooth with Mystical Paralysis. After successive passes, Mystical Paralysis resolves and exhausts Sabretooth. After successive passes on the now-empty chain, the attack substep begins, but the proposed attack fails the legality check because Sabretooth is no longer a legal proposed attacker. After successive passes, the attack concludes, but nothing happens because there are no attackers. Note that even though the proposed attack failed the legality check, an attack substep began and concluded. This may or may not have some relevance to a new mechanic in Marvel Knights (he says mysteriously . . . )


Never one to give up, Famke next proposes to team-attack Dr. Doom with Rogue and Quicksilver, Speed Demon, and then passes. Halle says “Legal,” indicating that she also passes, so the proposed attack will consequently pass the legality check. The two attackers exhaust, Rogue’s triggered power puts an effect on the chain, and the primary player (Famke) gets priority and passes. Halle knows that exhausting Rogue now will not impact the attack in any way, so she plays Reign of Terror from her hand to bounce her, instead. After successive passes, Rogue returns to Famke’s hand. Then, after successive passes, Rogue’s triggered effect resolves, trying to exhaust the already-exhausted Dr. Doom. Finally, after successive passes on the now-empty chain, the attack concludes with Dr. Doom stunning Quicksilver.

3. The Recovery Phase

The recovery phase can cause at least as much confusion as the combat phase, but fortunately, it has far fewer moving parts. So, understanding the phase is simply a matter of learning the order in which things happen. A typical question might be:

I have Gone But Not Forgotten face-up in my resource row. At the end of the combat phase, I’m at -1 endurance and my opponent is at 0 endurance, but I have a stunned character in play. Can I choose not to recover the stunned character, gain 2 endurance, and win the game?


You can choose not to recover a character, but you will lose the game before you get to make that choice. Here’s how it works:


As the recovery phase starts, effects that trigger at the start of the recovery phase are added to the chain, and then the primary player gets priority. After successive passes on an empty chain, the recovery phase “wrap-up” begins, and no players get priority until the next turn.

The first part of the wrap-up is a comparison of endurance totals. In the scenario above, this is when you would lose the game. So that we can continue, let’s pretend that both endurance totals are still in positive territory. Next, each player has the option of choosing a stunned character to recover. The primary player chooses first, and chosen characters recover simultaneously. Then, all stunned characters are KO’d. This is when Gone But Not Forgotten would trigger, but the triggered effect isn’t added to the chain until a player is about to receive priority. Finally, all objects ready, modifiers with the duration “this turn” finish, and initiative passes clockwise.

As the draw phase of the next turn starts, the game-based effect instructing each player to draw 2 cards is added to the chain first. Then the triggered effect from Gone But Not Forgotten is added (along with any other effects that have triggered since the start of last turn’s wrap-up). Then the primary player gets priority.

I control a Silver Banshee with a cosmic counter, and my opponent has two stunned characters. Can I wait until my opponent chooses which character to recover, then activate Silver Banshee to KO the chosen character?

Hopefully, you can figure out the answer to this question from the sequence described above. The answer is no, because you don’t have priority to play Silver Banshee’s activated power during the wrap-up (when your opponent chooses which character to recover). You can, of course, play it before the wrap-up.

4. The Uniqueness Rule

Is it possible to control more than one character of the same name?

Absolutely. The uniqueness rule applies only to recruiting a non-army character (or unique equipment) or flipping a unique location. If you do, then any objects of the same name you control are put into the KO’d pile as part of resolving the recruit effect or flipping the location.

As an aside, putting an object into the KO’d pile this way is not the same as KO’ing that object. One reason for this distinction is so that modifiers instructing that objects cannot be KO’d (such as Lazarus Pit’s) do not disrupt the uniqueness rule.

If duplicate unique characters/equipment/locations come under your control by any other means, then the uniqueness rule has no impact.


For example: A boosted Dr. Light, Arthur Light will return any number of Dr. Light character cards from your KO’d pile to your front row. In addition, any other Dr. Lights you control when the boosted Dr. Light resolves will also end up in your front row. This is because they are put into the KO’d pile (by the uniqueness rule) as part of resolving the boosted Dr. Light, and then returned to play when his triggered effect resolves.


Other examples abound: A Mad Hatter may “steal” an opponent’s Mad Hatter. A boosted Vic Stone ◊ Cyborg may  retrieve a Time Platform, even if a character you control is already equipped with one. Alternately, you could play Misappropriation to “steal” an opponent’s Time Platform. You could also play Relocation to “steal” a Doomstadt from your opponent, yet still keep the one you already have face up in your resource row.

5. Self-Reference

If the text of a card refers to its own name, is it also referring to any other cards of the same name?

Although fifth on my list, I’ve seen this question cause as much confusion as any of the others. The short answer is “no, with one exception,” and the long answer is best illustrated by two characters from two opposing affiliations.

Superman, Red’s cosmic power reads, “While Superman is attacking from the front row, he gets +4 ATK.” This literally means, “While this piece of cardboard is attacking from the front row, this piece of cardboard gets +4 ATK.” No other characters named Superman are affected.


Example: You control three characters named Superman, Red (all are face up in the front row and all have a cosmic counter). If they team-attack a defender, each one only gets +4 ATK, because each one is only affected by its own power.


Intergang’s power reads, “Exhaust a location you control >>> Characters named Intergang get +1 ATK and +1 DEF this attack.” The key word is “named.” This is the exception I mentioned above. If a card’s text refers to characters “named” CardName, then it refers to all characters named CardName.

Example: You control three characters named Intergang (all are face up). If you exhaust a location to use one of their payment powers, all three get +1 ATK and +1 DEF this attack.

I hope that you’ve learned at least one or two new things here today. If not, I’ll just have to try harder next time! Who knows, maybe I’ll even have a chance to delve into my mailbag. That address one more time: vsrules@gmail.com.

(Metagame Archives) The Best of Times/Worst of Times: Following Up the NJ $10K

By Brian-David Marshall

Okay . . . I think I have fully recovered.

The New Jersey $10K tournament was a great event with a huge turnout. The Top 8 featured a good mix of the game’s best players, fresh new faces, and seven distinctly different decks. Two different $10K winners squared off in the semifinals, and the ultimate match was between a $10K winner seeking his unprecedented second trophy and a Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships Top 8 competitor seeking double-threat status.

So, from what did I need to recover?

Well, about a week before the event, the tournament venue changed ownership and the new management had not quite . . . figured things out yet. This had little to zero impact on the competitors, who had an amazing time by all accounts, but it was actually the worst for this live coverage reporter.

When I arrived at the hotel a few minutes before 11 p.m. on Friday night, the staff was getting ready to change shifts. The guy who was coming on for the overnight shift made a point of finishing his drink before he got to work. By “finish his drink,” I mean down all 40 ounces of his carbonated beverage.

Later, when I came back down to get a remote control for my television set, I found him holding up the bar across from the lobby while the front desk phones rang and rang and rang. When he came over to help me, he also had to answer the phones. The calls were all for wake-up calls, and it was interesting to meet someone with such a terrific memory, because all he needed to do for each wake-up call was repeat it to the caller and not write it down anywhere—truly amazing.

When I got back to my room, I set the alarm clock and my cell phone to get me up in time for the live coverage. While I did wake up in time to do the live coverage, actual live coverage would have involved carrier pigeons. There was no wireless Internet in the hotel, no high-speed access, and no dial-up phone lines in the tournament area. There was dial-up in the business center, but the new management did not know the password to use the computer.

Because it takes so long to send photos via dial-up, going back to my room and dialing up did not seem like a good option with half-hour rounds. Instead, we decided to send someone out periodically to use a local Internet café recommended by the front desk. “Local Internet café,” however, apparently meant “coffee shop in Pennsylvania with dial-up where nobody speaks English.” The first two rounds of coverage and the blurb that went up in the middle of the day on Saturday were the result of the one and only trip to Pennsylvania.

I decided to wait until the end of the day to upload all the information, and simply focused on covering the event. At the end of the day, I went back to my room and called down for some room service so I could get to work. That wasn’t happening, as the hotel did not offer that amenity. So, I dashed across the highway to grab a healthy meal at Perkins. When I came back to my room, finally able to polish the coverage before sending it in to be uploaded, I stepped ankle-deep into water. The bathroom in the room above me was sending a steady stream of water into my room.

I stared at the ceiling for about fifteen minutes, waiting for the water to turn pink. At that point, I really wanted someone to be dead. Finally, convinced I was not going to see a satisfying change of water hue, I called the front desk and had them switch me to another room. Finally, I was able to sit down, finish the Day 1 coverage, and send it in, leaving me just a couple of hours to get some sleep.

Day 2 saw some fantastic matches between some great players. Robert Leander became the first player ever to win two $10K trophies. He piloted his Teen Titans deck past the top-ranked player in the game and another $10K winner before facing off with Roy St. Clair in the finals. Roy was playing Cosmic Cops—one of the worst possible matchups for Titans—and Leander won after playing a three-hour match. Over the course of those three hours, my USB memory stick was stolen, along with the Top 8 profiles and photos, and the computer that Josh Wiitanen used to cover an additional quarterfinal and semifinal match crashed and ate all of his hard work.

To make matters worse, my ride home decided to take a wrong turn, so we took a scenic trip through Newark and Jersey City before finding our way back to anything I recognized. To make a long story slightly less long . . . There were plenty of things that should have been included in the coverage, but because of time, dumb luck, and my growing annoyance, they did not happen. 

One of the things that did not get done on Saturday night was a metagame breakdown of all the deck types in the tournament. You can find that below, along with a breakdown of decks for everyone who finished in the money. I also provided deck lists for every deck in the Top 20 that did not have an archetype represented in the Top 8.

The most popular decks by far were Curve Sentinels and Teen Titans. The key difference is how the archetypes fared. While the tournament was won by Titans in the hands of Robert Leander, there was only one other Titans player in the money. Curve Sentinels, on the other hand, saw seven of its thirty-five programmers make money. Twenty percent of the players with purple robots made money, while only five percent of the same number of Titans players won money.

Before you go back to the fact that Leander won with the deck, let me make one thing perfectly clear—Robert Leander is better than you or I. Most other players would have lost in the final round of the Swiss and in the Finals match, both against Cosmic Cops.

Common Enemy had a very disappointing weekend, with only one player finishing in the cash (and even that was outside of the Top 8). TNB posted similar numbers. One of the decks that generated quite a bit of buzz during the tournament was Edison Soto’s Knights/New Gods deck that finished in the money and came within one win of the Top 8.

Soto’s deck list is among the six presented below. I have also included one duplicate archetype. Osyp Lebeodwicz’s 9th place Cosmic Cops deck list was built with some direct input from Ben Seck. The list is different from the 2nd place version in that it is more dedicated to the combo, with nary an 8-drop in sight. Osyp’s list also contained a very different plot twist base, including multiple Crowd Controls (contrary to early Day 1 reports, Roy St. Clair had only one Crowd Control, not three).

Anyway, dig in and enjoy. I believe that all of the deck lists from this event will be available sometime next week, so keep your eyes peeled. I will be organizing a Marvel Knights Sneak Peek the first weekend of February, and then on Sunday, February 3rd I will be organizing a PCQ. Both events will be at Neutral Ground in New York City. I hope to see you there. If not, I can always be reached at brian dot davidmarshall at gmail dot com.

Deck Number Played Top 8 Top 20
Curve Sentinels   35 2 7
Teen Titans   35 1 2
Common Enemy 24 0 1
TNB 15 1 1
X-Stall 12 1 1
Gotham Knights 10 0 0
Brave and the Bold 10 1 1
Spider-Friends 9 0 0
Cosmic Cops 7 1 2
X-Men 7 0 0
FF Cars 5 0 1
Superman 4 0 1
Big Brotherhood 4 0 0
Wild Vomit 4 0 0
Doom 3 0 1
Heroes United 3 0 0
My Beloved 3 0 0
Advanced Hardware 3 0 0
Rigged Elections 2 0 0
Revenge Squad 2 0 0
League of Assassins 2 1 1
Doom/Inmates   1 0 0
Spidey/Supes 1 0 0
Brotherhood/LOA 1 0 0
Doom/LOA 1 0 0
Cosmic New Gods 1 0 0
Doom/Gotham 1 0 0
Superman/LOA 1 0 0
Doom/Apokilips 1 0 0
Spidey/LOA 1 0 0
Darkseid’s Elite 1 0 0
Inmates 1 0 0
Gotham/New Gods 1 0 1
New Gods 1 0 0
LOA/Syndicate 1 0 0
Unlikely Allies 1 0 0

Rank          Player                              Decktype
9                Lebedowicz, Osyp             Cosmic Cops, deck list below
10              Crespo, Freddie                 Curve Sentinels
11              Sundholm, Peter                 Curve Sentinels
12              Renie, Paul                         FF Cars, deck list below
13              Meyer, Matthew                 Superman, deck list below
14              Zemel, David                      Teen Titans
15              Paasch, Robert                   Curve Sentinels
16              Desai, Justin                       Common Enemy, deck list below
17              Soto, Edison                       Knights/New Gods, deck list below
18              Raiff, Brian                         Curve Sentinels
19              Anderson, Jerry                  Doom, deck list below
20              Wu, Albert                         Curve Sentinels

Osyp Lebedowicz
9th Place, New Jersey $10K
Cosmic Cops

13 GCPD Officer
4 Alfred Pennyworth
4 Invisible Woman, The Invisible Girl
4 Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards
1 Wyatt Wingfoot
1 Ant Man
1 Barbara Gordon Oracle
2 Batman, The Dark Knight
1 Spoiler
1 Harvey Bullock

2 World’s Finest
2 Press the Attack
4 Bat-Signal
1 Team Tactics
1 Blind Sided
4 Fizzle
2 Crowd Control
4 Cosmic Radiation
4 A Child Named Valeria
2 Marvel Team-Up

2 Utility Belt

Paul Renie
12th Place, New Jersey $10K
FF Cars

4 She-Thing
2 Human Torch, Johnny Storm
4 Thing, Ben Grimm
2 She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters
4 Invisible Woman, Sue Storm
2 Wolverine, New Fantastic Four
4 Mr. Fantastic, Stretch
1 Ghost Rider
3 Hulk, New Fantastic Four
3 Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing
2 Silver Surfer

4 It’s Clobberin’ Time
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Signal Flare
3 Tech Upgrade
3 Overload
3 Acrobatic Dodge
3 Total Anarchy

4 Fantasticar
1 Personal Force Field

Matthew Meyers
13th Place, New Jersey $10K
Phantom Phone Booth

4 Gangbuster
4 Superman, Red
2 Linda Danvers ◊ Supergirl
4 Superman, Clark Kent
2 Alpha Centurion
3 Cir-El Supergirl
2 Superman, Blue
3 Kara Zor-El Supergirl
1 Superman, Kal-El
2 Eradicator, Soul of Krypton
1 Superman, False Son
2 Superman, Man of Steel

4 Acrobatic Dodge
4 Cover Fire
4 Man of Tomorrow
3 Overload
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Super Speed

4 Cadmus Labs
4 Phantom Zone

Justin Desai
16th Place, New Jersey $10K
Common Enemy

4 Boris
4 She-Thing
4 She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters
2 Purple Man
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius
1 Wolverine, New Fantastic Four
1 Thing, Heavy Hitter
1 Robot Destroyer
1 Ghost Rider
2 Hulk, New Fantastic Four
1 Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom
1 Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing
1 Submariner
1 Silver Surfer
1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

3 Savage Beatdown
4 It’s Clobberin’ Time
2 Flying Kick
1 Flame Trap
1 Faces of Doom
4 Signal Flare
4 Common Enemy
3 Mystical Paralysis
3 Reign of Terror
1 Ka-Boom!
2 Overload
1 Betrayal

3 Doomstadt

Edison Soto
17th Place, New Jersey $10K
Knights/ New Gods

4 Alfred Pennyworth
3 Barbara Gordon, Oracle
2 Tim Drake The Boy Wonder
1 Huntress
1 Jason Todd
1 Bat Girl, Martial Artist
1 Nightwing, High Flying Acrobat
2 Batman, Caped Crusader
1 Lady Shiva
2 Nightwing, Defender of Bludhaven
2 Superman, False Son
4 Big Bear
4 Highfather
1 Metron
2 Big Barda
1 Orion, Dog of War

4 Royal Decree
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Fizzle
2 Acrobatic Dodge
2 The Exchange
2 Bat-Signal
2 Overload
2 Detective Work
1 Have a Blast!
1 Unmasked
1 Flame Trap

3 The Source

1 Utility Belt

Jerry Anderson
19th Place, New Jersey $10K

4 Puppet Master
2 Robot Sentry
4 Purple Man
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius

4 Robot Destroyer
1 Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom
4 Boris
3 Submariner
3 Apocalypse
1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

4 Reign of Terror
4 Mystical Paralysis
3 Faces of Doom
3 Gamma Bomb
4 Swift Escape
1 Reconstruction Program
3 Overload
1 Flame Trap

4 Doomstadt
4 Latveria

(Metagame Archive) Voices From The Field: Judgment Calls

By Ben Kalman

“Since this is a game, people take their responsibilities less seriously than they should.”

– Tay Howland, UDE Net Rep

A situation arose a few weeks ago that questioned a spectator’s responsibilities within the game and whether or not one’s loyalty to a friend meant that one should not call attention to that person’s playing errors.

The situation in question:

Someone was watching a game featuring a player he considered a friend. The player recruited Boris before laying down a resource. He then searched for a Common Enemy and placed it in his resource row. He played Signal Flare and began to search. At that moment, the spectator went to find a judge. By the time the judge had reached the table, the player had already searched for Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria. The judge’s decision was to rewind the game state back to where the player played Common Enemy. Hence, the player would only have 7 resource points instead of 8 after playing Boris. Common Enemy would be played from his hand, and the Signal Flare could be used to find a different card.

The spectator, when posting this conundrum, was worried that he had done the wrong thing by bringing a judge over to correct his friend’s mistake, as it essentially cost that player the game. I was terribly disheartened by some of the responses he received, with people referring to him as a snitch and putting him down for being disloyal and ratting out a friend. One person went so far as to say that he should have waited for someone else to find a judge, as his responsibility was to his friendship and not to call his friend’s mistakes.

These people are 100 percent wrong. It is never snitching to get a judge to fix a game. If that player had won the game with a broken game state, he would have won falsely. If someone had discovered the mistake later on, that player could have been disqualified for cheating. In this case, the friend did the correct thing by getting a judge to fix the game (not interfering with the game itself), and also potentially saved the player from a very embarrassing situation.

When I asked Erick Reyes, owner of Edgeworld and someone well versed in tournament responsibilities and play, about this situation, he said, “There [are] two ways to look at it. One, you don’t say anything because you want your friend to win. Two, you do your duty as an observer as outlined by the tournament policy and report the error to a judge. The problem is that if you don’t report it, the game could progress to a point where your friend would be given a penalty game loss even if he is winning. As a judge and storeowner, [I recommend that] you report all errors. As a friend . . . it’s sticky, and I can see the other side, especially at a high level event where a lot is on the line. But, that being said, I would side on always reporting game errors.”

The problem is that many players don’t realize—or care—that when they sign their UDE cards the very first time they enter an UDE-sanctioned tournament, they are agreeing to the Upper Deck code of conduct. Their responsibility as players in a UDE tournament is to follow that code to the letter. Is it cheating as a spectator to not report an obvious play error? As UDE Premier Events Specialist Alex Charsky points out, “This is more of a question of ethics and personal integrity [than rules violations]. Technically, it is [the] responsibility of a spectator to report any errors they see to a judge. Can we expect it from 100 percent of all tournament participants? I hope so, but then again, I am an optimist!” Charsky does state, rather emphatically, that it is indeed the player’s responsibility to know and follow the UDE code of conduct. “Yes it is. They do sign the UDE card that says they agree to abide by UDE tournament rules.”

Rob Leander, a longstanding Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and one of the highest ranked Vs. System players in the world, lays the responsibility on the spectator, as well. “One could say that a spectator’s responsibility would be nothing at all; all they do is [watch], as the [word] “spectator” [suggests]. However, others say that a spectator has a responsibility where if he or she sees a wrongdoing, they should address a judge and see about getting [it] corrected. Well, I believe it was the right call to inform the judge. Whether it was an honest mistake or a blatant act of cheating, it was still something that needed to be corrected so that the game state was not affected. If it were me personally, I would have informed a judge, as well. Some people say that personal loyalty is stronger then the rules. If it were Dave [Spears] or Rian [Fike], I would wish I [had] not witnessed it, but if I did, I would [do the same as] I would for anyone and inform a judge.”

As Alex Charsky points out, it is indeed a question of ethics and integrity. That means doing what is right as laid out in the tournament guidelines and code of conduct provided by Upper Deck. As a player, if you have issues with the possibility of a friend “betraying” your play errors, you should remember two things:

1) Tournaments are played in public. There is no privacy in a tournament, nor should there be. Snitching and ratting out are derogatory words designed to implicate someone who has betrayed something secret or private to people who have no business knowing it. In this scenario, the judge needs to know what has happened in order to repair the game. No one who would wish for a friend to remain silent is someone I would want as a friend, because to keep one’s mistakes under the table and hope nobody notices them is cheating.

2) What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Think about what you would do if you lost a game where an opponent made a crucial error that cost you the win, and you found out that a friend of his or hers saw the mistake but didn’t say anything because that person didn’t want to betray a friend. If you say that you would applaud the decision and go merrily on your way, you’re most likely a blatant liar. I would be willing to bet that you’d be very angry and would do everything you could to rectify the situation.

It has been said that people are now uncomfortable allowing this spectator to watch their games. I would hesitate to trust anyone who is uncomfortable being watched by a spectator whose priority is to protect the integrity of the game and who has a history of doing the right thing. This judge was lenient compared to what some judges would have done in his place, so having bystanders who ensue that the game is finished fairly and properly is actually quite comforting. If not for this spectator, the player might have had a much more serious problem. Alex Charsky said, “I think there are grounds for investigation of cheating there. I think that a friend bringing up the error is what actually saves this player from getting DQ’d for blatant cheating. It’s obvious that the player is not accidentally searching for Common Enemy, since he needs it in play to search and recruit Dr. Doom.” Charsky went on to say that if he didn’t disqualify the player, he would have pretty much followed the same path the judge did, although, “once again, all of this assumes that I believe that the player accidentally made this error, which as presented above seems very doubtful to me.”

It is a fine line to walk between cheating and protecting a friend. As a spectator, you are equally responsible for ensuring that the game is played correctly, although only a judge should interfere with a match to try to repair it.

Here are some simple guidelines on how to react when you, as a spectator, player, or judge, witness an error in play.

1) As a spectator, do not attempt to stop the match or fix it yourself. Longtime Vs. System judge and rules adjunct Chad Daniel says, “A player should not stop a game in progress. Just get a judge over as fast as reasonably possible. While this may result in a very few situations where, by the time judge gets there, it is too late to fix it, it is overwhelmed by the number of times a spectator is wrong about the misplay he thought he witnessed. What I mean is, if players were told to stop matches where they witnessed a misplay, [often] no misplay actually occurred, and we would have held up the tournament for no reason and interfered with the match, possibly even breaking someone’s concentration.”

2) Spectators should immediately get the judge and carefully explain the error to him or her. Only the judge should stop or repair a match. The longer you wait, the more danger there is of a game loss, or worse, as the game state falls into disrepair.

3) If you’re a player, you should always carefully watch what your opponent does. You should always respect an opponent’s decision to call a judge, and always respect the judge’s decision. As Rob Leander says, “The player has the responsibility to be respectful to their opponent, as they are expecting them to be respectful in turn.” This goes for judges, too. Players and judges should be respectful to each other, as they would expect the same in return.

4) As a player, never try to fix the problem yourself. Always call a judge and let him or her fix it. Charsky is adamant that “one of the worst things that players can do is try to fix procedural errors themselves. I can’t stress this enough. If you messed up, let the judge fix it. Don’t try to fix it yourself. I can’t count the number of times that I had to game loss a player for a severe procedural error that resulted from a player trying to incorrectly fix a minor procedural error. The best example of this is a player accidentally seeing the top card of his deck and [shuffling the deck] to fix the problem.”

5) As a judge, stop the game first and ask questions later. Charsky advises that “the judge should make a decision on stopping the match immediately or getting the full story out of the spectator to ensure that what he observed was indeed an error, and then attempt to fix the error. Immediately stopping the match is slightly better, since you have a better chance of repairing the game state, although you do occasionally stop a match in progress when there was no error committed.”

6) No matter what happens, the judge should always repair the problem to the best of his or her ability. Charsky says, “The absolute worst thing a judge can do is not follow up on the problem and let the players sort or play it out. Judges should practice active judging. This means that it’s okay, for example, for a judge to step in and ask a player what they discarded for a Signal Flare if it’s not obvious from looking into the KO pile.”

6) As a player, spectator, or judge, learn what the cards do. Read the comprehensive rules and make sure that you know and understand both the code of conduct and what’s expected of you as a UDE member. I can’t begin to tell you how important it is that you do this, as nearly every mistake I encounter—especially those that become unrepairable—is the result of ignorance in one form or another.

In the end, everyone who is involved in a tournament—the players, judges, and spectators—share the responsibility of protecting the game’s integrity at all times and of keeping the tournament fair and civil. If you don’t step up and make sure that an error is corrected or that a cheater is caught, then you are an accessory to the problem. Take care to make sure that you are aware of and follow your responsibilities, and the game and community will be better for it.

Also known by his screen name, Kergillian, Ben Kalman has been involved in the Vs. community since Day One. He started the first major player in the online community, the Vs. Listserv, through Yahoo! Groups, which now boasts well over 1200 members! For more on the Yahoo! group, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Marvel_DC_TCG