(Metagame Archive) Design Vs. Absence

By Danny Mandel

Well, it’s sure been a long time since we’ve spoken, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot to talk about. About a million years ago, I wrote an article detailing some stuff I was hoping to see at Pro Circuit 2. Today, I’d like to go over how it all went down, but first, I want to fill you guys in on what’s been happening deep in the bowels of R&D. I guess that might sound pretty gross . . .

Marvel Knights is as done as done can be. This set marked the first Vs. System design effort for Brian Hacker and Dave Smith (a pair previously known only for creating the Shaman King TCG, sleeping, and playing with balloon people), and let me tell you, these guys went to town. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises, but if there’s one thing I can say, it’s that black is definitely the new red and I’m pretty ecstatic about how it all turned out. Expect to start seeing previews on this very website in a couple weeks.

One of the main reasons I haven’t had enough time to write articles this past month is that I’ve been plugging away to finish up the Green Lantern expansion. You see, I’ve been given the much-lauded position of “Lead Designer” of the set. Unfortunately, “Lead Designer” is really just a euphemism for “Guy Who Has to Do All of the Legwork and Doesn’t Get to Playtest.” The bad news is that the weight of responsibility falls squarely on my shoulders, so if anything goes wrong, I’m the guy who gets sent to the Principal’s office. The good news is that when the set ends up a massive success, I’ll probably still be passed out from exhaustion.

So yeah, Green Lantern is all but finished. At this point, we’re finalizing development and flavor, and our editing team is . . . well . . . I’m not exactly sure what they do*. We got the art images this week—mostly a bunch of weird aliens wearing green pajamas and jewelry—which means we got to see what the final cards would look like. Or, in some cases, we got to see what the final card would look like if it had Colossus’s flavor text**.

Mike Hummel is well into leading Avengers design. (Oh, yeah, in case you hadn’t heard, the set after Green Lantern features everyone’s favorite Avengers. Take that, Emma Peel!) I haven’t actually gotten a look at the first draft of the card pool that Mike compiled from everyone’s submissions, but I have seen Humpherys (the lead developer of Avengers and pretty much every other Vs. set since the beginning of time) shaking his head in a kind of “Yep, Mike’s gone mad with power again” sort of way.

The artist formerly known as Matt Hyra has already got his nose to the grindstone, cranking out Justice League cards. (Oh, yeah, in case you hadn’t heard, the set after Avengers features Strawberry Shortcake and the many wonderful characters of Strawberry Land. Just kidding***, it’s all Justice League all the time!) Unfortunately, $ (Matt’s new name) guards his computer monitor like a bear guards a jar of honey that has a bunch of cool Justice League cards written on it, so I don’t really have anything to report, yet.

One last bit of info . . . we’ve got two new faces on the team. Justin Gary is cutting his teeth by heading up a special Vs. project I’m not yet allowed to talk about, and Andrew Yip, a former member of Team Realmworx, was grown in a lab.


Looking Back at the PC

There were three things I was hoping to see at Pro Circuit 2.

First, I wanted to see a robust metagame at the PC, and I was especially hoping to see some new archetypes. Well, I got my wish. Curve Sentinels and Spider-Friends showed up, but curve Gotham Knights and the X-Men stall deck helped put one and three players respectively into the Top 8. The rest of the tournament was a good mix of the standard favorites, with Teen Titans rising to take the crown.

My second wish was for a team from the freshly released Superman, Man of Steel expansion to claim the DC half of the double $10K tournament. All right, I knew I was kinda reaching on that one. Probably because of the newness of the Superman set, and the more obvious power of the DC Origins teams, Man of Steel teams made up only a small percentage of the tournament (with New Gods team-up decks leading the charge). A couple of bright spots were the Arkham Inmates deck that cracked the Top 8, and a brave little Darkseid’s Elite deck that placed 12th (see below).

The deck was piloted by Ben Seck (also known as The Ben Seck.)


3 Bernadeth, Leader of Female Furies

2 Desaad, Royal Torturer

1 Devilance, The Pursuer

4 Gole, Deep Six

4 Granny Goodness, Everyone’s Favorite Granny

4 Jaffar, Deep Six

4 Kurin, Deep Six

4 Shaligo, Deep Six

4 Slig, Deep Six

3 Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s General

4 Trok, Deep Six

Plot Twists

3 Airborne Assault

4 Blood Feud

4 Hordes of Apokolips

4 Mega-Blast

2 The Exchange


3 Apokolips

3 Armagetto

The third thing I hoped to see was the first ever Unused Robot Exchange Program™. The idea here was that for every fourteen of the oft-maligned Robot Enforcers and/or Sentinel MK I’s a player signed and gave me, I’d trade him or her a pack of Vs. cards. The bad news is that, since my article ended up going up a week later than I’d planned, I guess most people left for the PC without packing their robots (at least, that’s what I tell myself.) The good news is that a whole bunch of people e-mailed me about mailing in their robots. Well, it took a lot of convincing, but Mike has agreed to let me continue the UREP using the wonder that is the US Postal Service. So yeah, here’s the deal. You send me your robots, and I’ll send you some packs. Drop me an e-mail at the address below for details.

Okay, that’s all I got. Tune in next week for some Superman design stories.

Send questions or comments to dmandel@metagame.com.

*Maybe it’s not the smartest thing in the world to tease the editors, given that they’ll receive this before it goes online. Ah well, I’m pretty sure they don’t read my articles anyway, especially after I started wearing a dress and heels around the office. Did I mention that Rachel’s the best?

**No, sadly, I’m not kidding. Apparently, the Colossus flavor text was used as the default template when pre-press (the people who get the cards images ready to go to press) built the cards. Once I asked them why that was, and they said, “What is the point of possessing power if it’s not used, and of being human if it’s not used for good?”

***But Humpherys can dream, can’t he? Someday . . .


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