(Metagame Archive) After the Bomb Drops . . . Pro Circuit Amsterdam

By Tim Willoughby

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new format to consider. Actually, as far as my preparation for tournaments is concerned, I have two (Golden Age with Marvel Knights for $10K London and Marvel Silver Age for PC Amsterdam) to consider. However, for this article, I will be focusing on the Silver Age of the Marvel Universe and what we can expect to see in Amsterdam.

With Dr. Doom, Wolverine, Magneto, and friends all failing to make it through immigration to Amsterdam, the Marvel universe in Europe is likely to be wholly different from anything seen since the very first $10K event, way back when everything was still sparkly and fresh. What does this mean for those of us building decks for Amsterdam? There is a whole new metagame!

The following is a big list of cards that I’m actually quite glad I don’t have to worry about while in the land of windmills and bicycles.

Have a Blast!

KaBoom!

Foiled

Global Domination

Concrete Jungle

Firefly

Josef Witichi

Relocation

Okay, I’m going to stop there because I think the pattern is becoming relatively clear . . . while America is a big land of “hate” (as we TCGer’s like to call cards that mess with our best laid plans), there will be virtually none of it available in Amsterdam if you fancy playing with locations and ongoing plot twists. Yes, there is a girl wandering the streets of Holland’s capital who goes by the name of Typhoid Mary, but when one compares that with a Joker blowing things up at every turn, it seems like an altogether rather civilized tradeoff. When Terrax and The Rose are the other threats to your resource row, a few new options suddenly become viable.

Probably not Mole Man, though.

So all of a sudden, we have a metagame that is more amenable than ever to playing team-ups and powerful locations. Is there anything else that has become significantly saucier with this curveball that Jeff Donais has so graciously pitched at us?

While you were busy thinking, I was doing a little dance. I call it the “no more Overload” dance. From almost as soon as I started playing this game, I had found myself in a curious love/hate relationship with Overload. While it is a joy to use on one’s opponent, it is really quite miserable when he or she gets the hint and does it back. We have reached the point where the cat is well and truly out of the bag about the power of Savage Beatdown and Overload. What is the solution to this? Rather than stuffing the cat back into the bag (very bad PR indeed for UDE, who I’m sure is very animal friendly*), they have made a whole new animal—one that it is up to us to tame.

Being able to make characters ridiculously large on the front end seems like the most comic book thing possible to do. Now we can go to the Pro Circuit and do just that without the fear of our comic book heroes being unable to take the strain.

So, who are the big winners in this new spin on things?

Sinister Syndicate!

This much-maligned bunch of reprobates hasn’t exactly received a lot of love on the tournament scene thus far. Everyone has been able to savagely beat them down, and these guys (and their new girlfriend Scorpia, who is no doubt feeling somewhat outnumbered) were lacking any huge strengths that weren’t amply addressed by a 1-cost plot twist that—despite the silver number at the bottom—has become all too common. The addition of concealed (and the removal of Flame Trap) also makes life very interesting for their swarmy strategy. A dedicated syndicate of villains can dish out an awful lot of damage once characters start getting cheeky and hiding, rather than protecting their ultimate master.

New Teams!

Okay, so maybe the new teams haven’t dramatically benefited from the format swings and roundabouts. But, maybe they have. We just don’t know yet. One way or another, there is a whole new mass of mileage for each of them without the threats of the current decks ruling the roost in the Golden Age***. The X-Statix will (all puns aside) be very, very happy not to have to deal with their guys getting savagely exhausted by control decks every turn. The Marvel Knights should be happy that the risk of going out at midnight will no longer be met by the cold hard slap in the face that is Have a Blast!. For the Underworld, not having Garth ◊ Tempest and Avalon Space Station benefiting from Gravesite should be a nice little starter to their tournament career.

For the creative deck builder, this is a happy, happy time. New lines have been drawn. Will the Spider-Friends deck from PC So Cal rule the roost without interference from the majority of its competitors that don’t fancy a trip across the pond? Time will tell. I’m kind of hoping that things will be shaken up just a little bit. For those of you who are clutching at your Dr. Doom safety blanket, rocking backwards and forwards in a corner somewhere, terrified at the idea of innovating in a whole new country, here are a few tips on creativity that you might find useful.

Creativity is a rather elusive beast. It can’t be bottled and sold, though Van Gogh did seem to rather enjoy his Absinthe. Ultimately, creative sparks will always come from an individual. From there, the flames can be fanned by a big group, but the initial kernel must come from somewhere.

I would recommend, if at all possible, that you initially get together with some friends, pool your cards, and each go away to build decks for whichever team you like the most. Try not to leave any out. Test them against each other. Test them against the best decks you can find.

If you are really, really good, or really lucky (which works just as well), then you’ll stumble on the next big thing right away. If not, then you should end up with a pretty good idea of what the good people at UDE have decided are the general themes of each team.

This is the first big secret of creativity. A little bit of thievery goes a long way. Various massively creative people have spent a great deal of time and energy working out what it is they want you to think. Somewhere out there, there’s a Dave Humphreys trying to control your mind through cunning card development. Personally, I wear a little tin-foil hat at all times to stop this, but every now and again, it can be quite useful. Take what you have learned from general play with each of the teams and see if you can map out what the strengths and weaknesses of each team are.

For example, Arkham Inmates is really quite saucy at the following:

Discard

Exhaustion effects

KO effects

General disruption (bounce, cannot ready effects)

Unfortunately, they have some slight issues with fighting the good fight, as many of their characters are a little fragile.

Once you have each of the relevant teams mapped out in terms of what they can and can’t do (at least in terms of what R&D wants you to think), it’s time to see whether or not the strengths of the team can effectively deal with the weaknesses of everyone else, and vice versa. Also, start looking for random off-team additions of characters and plot twists that can either play up a strength (we like to have super-strengths) or deal with a weakness.

Ultimately, Arkham Inmates has (thus far) proven to be strong, but not in the areas that are the most directly relevant to winning the game. While they do many annoying things, this is often made somewhat moot by the fact that, all the while, they’re getting pounded by characters with amazing superpowers.

Find something you think is strong and run with it. Every time you run into a brick wall, don’t give up until you have determined that you cannot go under it, around it, or through it in your pursuit of victory.

There’s one final thing to bear in mind. Don’t assume that the speed of this format will be in any way related to that of previous formats. We have always had The New Brotherhood decks, which served as the clock on the format, and control decks that threatened their most worrisome effects on turn 8. Try to get an idea of which—speed or late game power—is the dominating factor in this new format. If you can get the jump on everyone else, I’ve heard that $40,000 is quite a lot of money.

Please feel free to email me at the address below if you have any comments, queries, requests for future article topics, or whatever. I have just gotten myself a little digital camera, so if anyone has any suggestions for poses for my little picture on the site, or wants to see anything Vs. related that only works visually (like the proper technique for shuffling your deck one-handed), then drop me a line.

Tim “Doing the No-Overload Polka” Willoughby

timwilloughby [at] hotmail [dot] com

*Just look at Danny**.

** I’m joking, Danny. You’re my favorite, honest.

*** I can’t help but think that ultimately, saying that I enjoy playing in the Golden Age of Vs. will make me feel rather old. I’m already old enough to enjoy most of the fringe benefits of living in England (I can drink, drive, get married, whatever . . . though not all at the same time).

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