(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.

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