(Metagame Archive) Cerebro #4

By Paul Ross

Welcome to Episode IV: A New Set! I had a great time judging the Marvel Knights Sneak Peek last weekend in Canberra, ACT. Of course, I dutifully wrote down most of the questions that came up there so we could go over them in this week’s column. As usual, I’ll also answer some reader questions at the end. Please keep them coming to vsrules@gmail.com.

Out of the Darkness reads, “Target hidden character’s controller moves that character to his visible area. That character gets -3 DEF this turn.” Does it target a character or a player?

It targets a character. “Target hidden character’s controller” is another way of saying “the controller of target hidden character.” The same goes for Deposed, Overexposed, Psychoville, Shadow Step, and Good Night, Sweet Prince.

If I target an opponent’s hidden character with Out of the Darkness, and the player responds with an effect that moves the character into his or her visible area, will the target get -3 DEF this turn?

 

The answer is no, because a visible character is no longer a legal target for Out of the Darkness. If an effect’s targets are all illegal upon resolution, the entire effect is negated.

 

If I resolve Out of the Darkness targeting Corkscrew (2 DEF) and then attack Corkscrew with Blackout (8 ATK), does Corkscrew’s controller take 8 or 9 points of breakthrough?

 

Corkscrew’s controller will only take 8 breakthrough, because the game treats negative values as 0.

The only two exceptions to the above rule are when a negative value is to be further changed (raised, lowered, doubled, halved and so on), or when a negative endurance total is compared with another endurance total.

So, after Corkscrew gets -3 DEF until the end of the turn, his DEF is treated as 0 for the purpose of calculating breakthrough. However, if another modifier subsequently gives Corkscrew +4 DEF, his new DEF would be 3 (2 – 3 + 4 = 3, rather than 0 + 4 = 4).

 

How does Gravesite interact with the two cards players draw at the start of each turn?

At the start of each turn’s draw phase, the first thing that goes on the chain is the “draw two cards” game-based effect. Next, any effects that have triggered since the start of last turn’s wrap-up (like Gravesite’s) are added to the chain. Then the primary player gets priority.

Gravesite’s effect will have been the most recently added, and consequently, it will resolve first after successive passes. Each player draws a card, discards a card, and gains 1 endurance if applicable. Note that although each player discards a card simultaneously, the primary player chooses first whenever simultaneous choices need to be made.

Character recovery during wrap-up works the same way. The primary player chooses first, and then all chosen characters are recovered simultaneously.

After Gravesite’s triggered effect resolves, the primary player gets priority. Then, after successive passes, the game-based effect resolves and each player draws two cards.

This is an expanded version of the Gravesite entry in the Marvel Knights FAQ at http://www.upperdeckentertainment.com/op/vs_rules/mmk_faq.aspx.

I control Natasha Romanoff ◊ Black Widow and Micro-Chip. My opponent’s only characters are two face-up Hounds of Ahab. I resolve Natasha’s payment effect (characters you control can attack hidden characters this turn) and attack one of the Hounds with Natasha. After that attack concludes, can I propose a direct attack with Micro-Chip since my opponent controls no visible characters?

 

No. If a character you control can attack hidden characters, then it may not be proposed as a direct attacker if your opponent controls any non-stunned hidden characters.

You could achieve the desired outcome by proposing a direct attack with Micro-Chip before using Natasha’s payment power.

Coach is the only X-Statix character I control. He has been moved to my visible area and is defending. Can I use his payment power to target himself, thereby returning him to my hand before the attack concludes?

You certainly can, because an effect’s targets are chosen before its costs are paid. In other words, you can announce that you’re playing Coach’s effect, target him as an X-Statix character you control, and then bounce him to pay the cost of his effect.

Avalon Space Station is another fine example of this sequence. Again, you must choose an effect’s targets before you pay its costs. Since the card you discard doesn’t enter your KO’d pile until you pay costs, you can’t choose it as a target.

If I flip Nerve Strike and then realize that I can reinforce my defender with the character that’s about to return to my hand, is it too late to exhaust that character?

 

Yes, it is. Once you flip Nerve Strike, you set in motion the effect-playing sequence discussed in the previous question. You do get priority after your effect has been played, but by then, it’s too late to reinforce. In other words, the character you could have exhausted has already returned to your hand to pay the cost of Nerve Strike’s effect.

I control an Underworld character. Can I activate Infernal Gateway to put three cards into my KO’d pile if my KO’d pile is empty?

 

No. If an effect requires a target, it can’t be played if no legal target exists.

I control Iron Fist, Living Weapon and have resolved his payment effect, which reads, “Iron Fist can be the target of plot twists you control as though he had all team affiliations this turn.” If I target him with a Moving Target from my resource row, will he count as a Crime Lords character I control so that I get the plot twist’s extra benefits?

The answer is no, because Iron Fist never actually gains any affiliations through his payment power. It only changes which plot twists can target him.

For example, it would allow you to target him with Face the Master (which requires a target Crime Lords defender with reinforcement), but at no stage would it make Iron Fist a Crime Lords character you control.

Mr. Fear is defending in my visible area. Can I use his power to swap him with a hidden character?

Absolutely. A hidden character is a legal choice for any effect that doesn’t specify a visible character.

Remember that an attack can never be made illegal after attackers have exhausted, so the attack would conclude normally, even with a hidden defender.

I control The Russian, and he has +3 ATK because he’s attacking a character without flight and without range. If my opponent uses Jaime Ortiz ◊ Damage’s power to make him the defender, will The Russian lose his +3 ATK bonus?

Yes. The Russian has a continuous power that monitors whether or not he is attacking a character without flight and without range. As soon as Damage (who has range) becomes the defender, The Russian loses his +3 ATK bonus.

Ian K. of Auckland, New Zealand (which I am reliably informed will be the host city of the world’s first Sealed Pack $10K in April 2005!) asks a quick question about the hidden area:

If I target a hidden character with Play Time, could my opponent move the character to his or her visible area?

No. Unless a card says otherwise, a player may not move a character to a different area.

Craig P. of Indeterminate Origin asks a question about two new characters:

It’s turn 5, and I have the initiative. I attack with Dracula, Vlad Dracula on my opponent’s The Spike, Angry Young Mutant. It’s his only X-Statix character. Whose effect works—Drac’s or Spike’s?

Both effects trigger simultaneously, and in such a case, the order in which the effects were added to the chain determines the order in which they resolve. You’re the primary player because it’s your attack step, so effects you control (like Vlad’s) go on the chain first. Then, effects controlled by your opponent (like Spike’s) are added to the chain.

That means The Spike’s effect resolves first, KO’ing him. Then Vlad’s effect resolves, but has no character to move or recover, so the effect does nothing. Theoretically, your opponent could still elect to pay 5 endurance, but I wouldn’t count on it.

If your opponent’s Spike had attacked your Vlad, then the order of resolution would have been reversed. Vlad’s effect would have resolved first, and you might have temporarily gained control of The Spike if your opponent had (wisely) elected not to pay 5 endurance. However, The Spike’s effect would have then KO’d him, regardless of whose control he was under.

The Guys I Draft with Every Tuesday Night™ provide a bonus question about The Spike:

I control The Spike, Angry Young Mutant equipped with Doop Cam and two other non-X-Statix affiliated characters. If The Spike becomes stunned, does he get KO’d?

Yes he does, because his triggered effect doesn’t check for additional X-Statix characters until it resolves. Here’s how it breaks down:

Whenever the Spike becomes stunned, his triggered effect waits until a player is about to receive priority before it goes on the chain. However, the text of any equipment he’s wearing becomes inactive immediately. So, after successive passes, his triggered effect will resolve, find no additional X-Statix characters, and KO him.

That’s the end of my Sneak Peek stockpile, so I’m looking forward to receiving more of your rules questions at vsrules@gmail.com.

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