(Metagame Archives) PCQ Decklists: March 26th

By Metagame Staff

Pro Circuit Qualifiers

 

Alabama

Saturday, March 26, 2005
Location: Florence, Alabama
TO: David Spears
http://www.mindgamesonline.net
Next PCQ: Saturday, May 7, 2005/Mindgames – Florence, AL

Top 8 Decks:

1st Place: Whitney Sitzler

Characters:

4 Boliver Trask, Creator of the Sentinel Program

4 Bastion, Leader of Operation: Zero Tolerance

4 Magneto, Master of Magnetism

8 Sentinel Mark V, Army

7 Sentinel Mark II, Army

4 Nimrod, Mutant Hunter

5 Hounds of Ahab, Army

Plot Twists:

4 Reconstruction Program

4 Overload

4 Nasty Surprise

4 Cover Fire

4 Savage Beatdown

Locations:

4 Genosha

2nd Place: Adam Fears

Characters:

3 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk, Agent of Chaos

3 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove, Agent of Order

3 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter

4 Terra, Tara Markov

4 Red Star, Leonid Kovar

4 Garth ◊ Tempest, Atlantean Sorcerer

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire, Alien Princess

1 Roy Harper ◊ Speedy, Mercurial Marksman

1 Cassie Sandsmark ◊ Wonder Girl, Zeus’s Chosen

1 Raven, Daughter of Trigon

4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective

1 Pantha, Subject X-24

Plot Twists:

4 Teen Titans Go

3 Overload

4 Savage Beatdown

3 Press the Attack

3 Heroic Sacrifice

Locations:

4 Tamaran

4 U.S.S. Argus

3 Optitron

2 Titan’s Tower

3rd – 4th Places: Daniel Lanier

Characters:

3 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove, Agent of Order

3 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk, Agent of Chaos

1 Roy Harper ◊ Speedy, Mercurial Marksman

4 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter

4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective

4 Terra, Tara Markov

3 Red Star, Leonid Kovar

4 Garth ◊ Tempest

1 Connor Kent ◊ Superboy, Tactile Telekinetic

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire, Alien Princess

1 Raven, Daughter of Trigon

Plot Twists:

3 Savage Beatdown

2 Finishing Move

3 Foiled

2 Heroic Sacrifice

4 Teen Titans Go!

3 Overload

3 Press the Attack

Locations:

3 Optitron

3 U.S.S. Argus

3 Titans Tower

3 Tamaran

3rd – 4th Places: Arthur Claussel

Characters:

1 Toad, Mortimer Toynbee

4 Talia, Daughter of Demon’s Head

1 Kyle Abbot, Wolf in Man’s Clothes

4 Mystique, Raven Darkholme

1 Rogue, Anna Raven

4 Merlyn, Deadly Archers

1 Sabretooth, Feral Rage

1 Ra’s al Ghul, Immortal Villain

3 Bane, Ubu

2 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr

2 Ra’s al Ghul, Master Swordsman

2 Mystique, Shape Changing Assassin

3 Magneto, Master of Magnetism

1 Magneto, Lord Magnus

1 Ra’s al Ghul, The Demon’s Head

Plot Twists:

4 Tower of Babel

3 The Demon’s Head

3 Insignificant Threat

1 Remake the World

Locations:

4 Metropolis

4 Avalon Space Station

4 Mountain Stronghold

1 Savage Land

4 Lost City

1 Latverian Embassy

2 Flying Fortress

5th – 8th Places: Phil Smith

Characters:

3 Pyro, St. John Allerdyce

1 Unus, Angelo Unuscione

1 Avalanche, Dominic Petros

4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage

4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr

1 Toad, Mortimer Toynbee

2 Mastermind, Jason Wyngarde

2 Sauron, Dr. Karl Lykos

2 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff

2 Lorelei, Savage Land Mutate

2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress

1 Destiny, Irene Adler

2 Phantazia, Eileen Harsaw

2 Thornn, Feral Hunter

2 Rogue, Anna Raven

Plot Twists:

4 Not So Fast

4 The New Brotherhood

4 Mutant Menace

4 Savage Beatdown

4 Surprise Attack

Locations:

4 Genosha

4 Savage Land

5th – 8th Places: Shelby Thompson

Characters:

2 Destiny, Irene Adler

2 Lorelei, Savage Land Mutate

2 Mastermind, Jason Wyngarde

2 Phantazia, Eileen Harsaw

2 Thornn, Feral Hunter

3 Pyro, St. John Allerdyce

2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress

1 Toad, Mortimer Toynbee

1 Unus, Angelo Unuscione

1 Avalanche, Dominic Petros

2 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff

2 Rogue, Anna Raven

4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage

2 Sauron, Dr. Karl Lykos

4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr

Plot Twists:

4 Not So Fast

4 Savage Beatdown

4 Nasty Surprise

4 Surprise Attack

4 The Mutant Menace

4 The New Brotherhood

Locations:

4 Genosha

4 Savage Land

5th – 8th Places: Michael Sewell

Characters:

4 Valeria Richards, Daughter of Doom

4 Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom

4 She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters

4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius

1 Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom

1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

1 Thing, Heavy Hitter

1 Hulk, New Fantastic Four

1 Robot Destroyer, Army

1 Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing

1 Sub-Mariner, Ally of Doom

1 Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd

Plot Twists:

3 Overload

2 Faces of Doom

4 Common Enemy

3 Reign of Terror

4 Signal Flare

3 Acrobatic Dodge

3 Savage Beatdown

3 It’s Clobberin’ Time

3 Total Anarchy

4 Mystical Paralysis

Locations:

4 Doomstadt

5th – 8th Places: Doug Tice

Characters:

4 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter

1 Roy Harper ◊ Speedy, Mercurial Marksman

4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective

4 Terra, Tara Markov

3 Red Star, Leonid Kovar

4 Garth ◊ Tempest, Atlantean Sorcerer

3 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk, Agent of Chaos

3 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove, Agent of Order

1 Connor Kent ◊ Superboy, Tactile Telekinetic

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire, Alien Princess

Plot Twists:

3 Teen Titans Go!

3 Press the Attack

2 Ka-Boom!

3 Overload

3 Savage Beatdown

3 Finishing Move

2 Heroic Sacrifice

Locations:

3 Optitron

3 Tamaran

4 U.S.S. Argus

3 Titan’s Tower

Hawaii 

March 26, 2005

Honolulu, Hawaii

TO: Michael Otsuji

www.planethawaiian.com

1st Place: Charles Toratani

Characters:

4 Nimrod, Mutant Hunter

4 Boliver Trask, Creator of the Sentinel Program

4 Magneto, Master of Magnetism

4 Bastion

1 Sentinel Mark III

9 Sentinel Mark V

9 Sentinel Mark II

Plot Twists:

4 Cover Fire

4 Nasty Surprise

4 Savage Beatdown

4 Reconstruction Program

4 Overload

1 Have a Blast!

Locations:

4 Genosha

2nd Place: Sean Pottenger

Characters:

4 Boliver Trask, Creator of the Sentinel Program

5 Hounds of Ahab

8 Sentinel Mark II

8 Sentinel Mark V

4 Nimrod

4 Bastion

3 Magneto, Master of Magnetism

Plot Twists:

3 Nasty Surprise

4 Cover Fire

2 Overload

4 Reconstruction Program

4 Savage Beatdown

4 Total Anarchy

Locations:

3 Genosha

3rd Place: Aaron Hamer

Characters:

3 Lorelei, Savage Land Mutate

3 Thornn, Feral Hunter

2 Destiny, Irene Adler

2 Mastermind

2 Phantasia

2 Avalanche

2 Pyro

2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress

2 Toad

2 Unus

4 Rogue Anna Raven

1 Blob

4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage

1 Sauron

4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr

Plot Twists:

4 A Death in the Family

2 Foiled

2 Ka-Boom!

4 The New Brotherhood

4 Savage Beatdown

Locations:

4 Genosha

4 Savage Land

4th Place: Michael Orias

Characters:

2 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove, Agent of Order

2 Pantha, Subject X-24

2 Roy Harper ◊ Speedy, Mercurial Marksman

4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective

2 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk, Agent of Chaos

4 Beast Boy, Garfield Logan

3 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Sharpshooter

4 Terra, Tara Markov

2 Red Star, Leonid Kovar

4 Garth ◊ Tempest

1 Cassie Sandsmark ◊ Wonder Girl

1 Donna Troy ◊ Troia

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire

Plot Twists:

4 Heroic Sacrifice

3 Not So Fast

4 Teen Titans Go!

2 Ka-Boom!

2 Team Tactics

2 Finishing Move

2 Press the Attack

Locations:

3 Optitron

2 Titans Tower

2 Tamaran

2 USS Argus

Indianapolis 

Date: 03/36/2005

Location: Indianapolis, In.

TO: Alan Hochman

www.Pastimes.Net

Next PCQ: 04/03/2005 Niles IL. (Chicago)

Winner

Vince Greco

Characters

5 Robot Destroyer, Army

4 Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom

4 Puppet Master, Philip Masters

4 Robot Sentry, Army

4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius

3 Apocalypse, En Sabah Nur

3 Beast, Dr. Henry McCoy

1 Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom

1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

1 Imperiex, The Beginning and The End

Plot Twists

4 Reign of Terror

4 Faces of Doom

4 Mystical Paralysis

3 Gamma Bomb

3 Swift Escape

2 Have a Blast

2 Pleasant Distraction

1 Reconstruction Program

Locations

4 Latveria

4 Doomstadt

Equipment

2nd Place

Mike Augustine

Characters

10 GCPD Officer, Army

4 Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom

4 Alfred Pennyworth, Faithful Friend

4 Robot Sentry, Army

4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius

4 Shimmer, Selinda Flinders

3 Dr. Light, Arthur Light

1 Psimon, Dr. Simon Jones

1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

Plot Twists

4 Bat-Signal

4 Mystical Paralysis

4 World’s Finest

3 Reign of Terror

3 Marvel Team-Up

2 Fizzle

2 Press the Attack

1 Devil’s Due

1 The Underworld Star

Locations

Equipment

1 Power Compressor

3rd Place

Chris Green

Characters

4 Superman, Clark Kent

4 Superman, Red

4 Lois Lane, Star Reporter

4 Gangbuster, Jose Delgado

3 Superman, Kal-El

3 Cir-El ◊ Supergirl, Daughter of Tomorrow

2 Superman, Man of Steel

2 Superman, Blue

2 Linda Danvers ◊ Supergirl, Matrix

2 Eradicator, Doctor David Connor

1 Superman, False Son

1 Alpha Centurion, Marcus Aelius

Plot Twists

4 Acrobatic Dodge

4 Cover Fire

4 Man of Tomorrow

4 Savage Beatdown

3 Finishing Move

3 Overload

3 Super Speed

Locations

4 Cadmus Labs

Equipment

4th Place

David Blankenship

Characters

4 Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards

4 Invisible Woman, The Invisible Girl

2 Mr. Fantastic, Stretch

2 She-Thing, Sharon Ventura

2 Thing, Ben Grimm

2 Ant Man, Scott Lang

1 Invisible Woman, Sue Storm

1 Franklin Richards, Child Prodigy

1 Frankie Raye, Herald of Galactus

1 Human Torch, Hotshot

1 Wyatt Wingfoot, Keewazi Adventurer

Plot Twists

4 A Child Named Valeria

4 Cosmic Radiation

3 Signal Flare

2 Thinking Outside the Box

1 Salvage

1 Tech Upgrade

Locations

4 Antarctic Research Base

1 Pier 4

1 Baxter Building

Equipment

4 Unstable Molecules

4 Flamethrower

4 Advanced Hardware

2 Personal Force Field

2 The Pogo Plane

1 Fantasticar

1 War Wagon

5th Place

Rob Taylor

Characters

4 Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom

4 Puppet Master, Philip Masters

4 Shimmer, Selinda Flinders

4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius

4 Dr. Light, Arthur Light

2 Robot Destroyer, Army

2 Psimon, Dr. Simon Jones

1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

1 Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom

1 Jinx, Elemental Sorceress

1 Sub-Mariner, Ally of Doom

Plot Twists

4 Reign of Terror

4 Mystical Paralysis

4 The Underworld Star

2 Marvel Team-Up

2 Faces of Doom

2 Overload

2 Gamma Bomb

1 Have a Blast

1 World’s Finest

1 Flame Trap

Locations

4 Doomstadt

3 Latveria

1 Avalon Space Station

1 Metropolis

Equipment

6th Place

David Bernal

Characters

4 Terra, Tara Markov

4 Alfred Pennyworth, Faithful Friend

4 Garth ◊ Tempest, Atlantean Sorcerer

3 Mirage, Miriam Delgado

2 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal
2 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk, Agent of Chaos

2 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove, Agent of Order

1 Raven, Daughter of Trigon

1 Connor Kent ◊ Superboy, Tactile Telekinetic

1 Batman, Caped Crusader

1 Vic Stone ◊ Cyborg, Human Machine

1 Red Star, Leonid Kovar

1 Commissioner Gordon, James Gordon

Plot Twists

4 The Brave and the Bold

4 Fizzle

4 Teen Titans Go!

3 Dynamic Duo

2 Heroic Sacrifice

1 Bat-Signal

1 Flame Trap

1 World’s Finest

Locations

4 Optitron

4 USS Argus

2 Metropolis

Equipment

2 Utility Belt

7th Place

Scott Cozzolino

Characters

4 Mark Moonrider, Forever People

4 Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards

4 Invisible Woman, The Invisible Girl

3 Human Torch, Hotshot

3 Wyatt Wingfoot, Keewazi Adventurer

2 Mr. Fantastic, Stretch

1 Lightray, Solis

1 Serifan, Forever People

Plot Twists

4 Royal Decree

4 Cosmic Radiation

4 Salvage

4 A Child Named Valeria

3 Tech Upgrade

3 Signal Flare

2 The Exchange

Locations

4 Antarctic Research Base

1 New Genesis

Equipment

4 Unstable Molecules

4 Advanced Hardware

1 Mother Box

1 The Pogo Plane

8th Place

Darrel Kendall

Characters

12 GCPD Officer, Army

4 Alfred Pennyworth, Faithful Friend

2 Commissioner Gordon, James Gordon

2 Cassandra Cain ◊ Batgirl, Martial Artist

2 Barbara Gordon ◊ Batgirl, Guardian of Gotham

1 Azrael, Jean Paul Valley

1 Batman, The Dark Knight

1 Catwoman, Selina Kyle

1 Dick Grayson ◊ Nightwing, High-Flying Acrobat

1 Dick Grayson ◊ Nightwing, Defender of Blüdhaven

1 Lady Shiva, Sandra Woosan

Plot Twists

4 Bat-Signal

4 Press the Attack

4 Cover Fire

3 Fizzle

3 Dynamic Duo

2 Savage Beatdown

2 Finishing Move

2 Detective Work

1 Overload

Locations

3 GCPD Headquarters

Equipment

3 Dual Sidearms

2 Utility Belt

(Metagame Archive) Sorta Clever: Gadget Addiction

By Geordie Tait

Come closer. This format is so impersonal, and there’s so much space separating us. There is a dark, rat-scuttling labyrinth of network cable between you and I, and that’s a shame, because this is somewhat confidential. So crowd in. We have to keep our words low and our lips steady to discourage the efforts of whatever alphabet soup agency is tasked with poring over our data packets. There is a small room somewhere in Washington, populated by hard-faced men with names like “Agent Tanner” and “Agent Spacklin.” They’re listening in. Once this is done, I am not only going to be carted away to Gitmo, but the FBI is going to wreck house during Hobby League over at the Pentagon.

They can’t even give out their endurance totals. Classified.

Okay. That’s close enough. Open your ears—I’ve got to whisper. I’ve discovered a sort of universal truth here. Something so momentous that it humbles my very brain. In the process of penning another of what may become a series of Vs. articles, I believe I may have stumbled upon one of the fundamentals of mankind. I feel like a man who, out to pick an apple, stumbled instead upon a vein of gold. See, I understand now. I understand men who buy robot dogs from Japan. I understand how some guys can end up putting ads in the paper that say, “Selling Jeep, $500, or $4500 with stereo.” I saw the decklist I was writing about this week, and like a miraculous recovery from a severe spinal dislocation, it all clicked into place.

Here’s the secret: people love equipment. All the evidence out there today suggests that it’s actually a biological imperative, an undercurrent that floats wraith-like beneath each and every decision made by the supposedly immaculate and unadorned human psyche. Free will is an illusion. It’s the Advanced Hardware that’s real, and heck . . . superheroes and villains are no different. Sure, maybe I’m content with a 40-gig MP3 player, but Mr. Fantastic won’t rest until he’s traveling backwards through time on a modified jet ski that also has picture-in-picture . . . but that’s just a difference of scale. The government is aware of this and they let us continue along, oblivious to our own addiction, blissfully unaware of our slavery to flashing lights and $20 mail-in rebates.

Well, I’ve put the truth out there. They’re coming for me. I’d better hurry things up—my planned aside about the nature of techno dementia has turned into a time-gobbling dalliance that a wanted man can ill afford. Check this deck out. It’s like Radio Shack. Even the gadgets in here have gadgets.

Characters
3 Dagger, Child of Light

4 Blade, Eric Brooks

4 Stick

2 Thing, Ben Grimm

1 Invisible Woman, Sue Storm

4 Punisher, Jury

4 Mr. Fantastic, Stretch

1 Luke Cage, Power Man

1 Hulk

1 Thing, The Ever Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing

Plot Twists

4 Tech Upgrade

4 It’s Clobberin’ Time!

3 Midnight Sons

2 Signal Flare

4 Wild Ride

Locations

2 Quentin Carnival

3 Antarctic Research Base

Equipment

3 Jetpack

4 Fantasticar

1 Advanced Hardware

3 Unstable Molecules

1 Personal Force Field

1 War Wagon

Here’s the deal, grasshopper. There are two teams with equipment themes in Vs. System—Fantastic Four and Marvel Knights. This deck is an amalgamation, so to speak, a soulful blend that retains the power of each faction while diminishing neither. Let’s take it from the top. First, we have Dagger, Child of Light. She can search for Midnight Sons, which is probably the best team-up card ever printed. How good is Midnight Sons? Well, I was driving down to the Sarnia Taco Bell (yes, the one from Bowling for Columbine) the other day to get some cheese fries. I was just about halfway there when a radio DJ actually broke into the middle of a Limp Bizkit song, and he was like, “Midnight Sons is ridiculous. No lie, dude. I’m giving two tickets to a Hip concert to the first guy who can get me four of those things.” Then it was back to Fred Durst.

And the story doesn’t end there! Some guy actually called the station and said, on the air, “Ya hoser, I’m not giving up my play set of Midnight Sons for a lousy two Hip tickets.” The DJ had to promise him some poutine and a carton of smokes to seal the deal. Midnight Sons is so good that it’s spawning its own economies.* You can get a lap dance with one, if you want. And with a full play set? Dawg . . . what happens in Moose Jaw stays in Moose Jaw.

So yeah, it’s the ridicu-nuts. Really, what else can you say about a card that lets you combine FF savagery and MK savagery so seamlessly? When you don’t even have a Fantastic Four character on the board and you drop Fantasticar anyway, you’ll start experiencing things that you haven’t felt since you first met your pillow back in junior high. The rest of the deck falls naturally around equipment and team-up lines. Blade, Eric Brooks will often hit the table on turn 2 as a disgusting 6 ATK/3 DEF character with flight. That’s enough clout to attack up the curve with practiced ease. Your 3-drops are huge—Stick and Thing, Ben Grimm both tote large numbers in their respective saddlebags. Even without equipment, either one could punch a giraffe and at least get a standing eight-count out of the exchange. If that isn’t the hallmark of a potent 3-drop, I don’t know what is.

On turn 4, the fun starts with Punisher, Jury. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been thinking positively naughty thoughts about the equipment tricks you want to pull, and you’ve probably used your off-initiative turn to Tech Upgrade for a devious contraption to help ol’ Frank go about the business of doling out indiscriminate vigilante justice. I like the idea of Personal Force Field, myself. It keeps our hero alive and then heads to the bin for the purposes of the knockout. Yes, this deck can definitely fire out interactions that are positively ill. I’ll go one step further. Get a Punisher, Jury going, throw in the War Wagon and some board presence, and you have what might be called . . . and stay with me, here . . . a “K.O.-alition of the illing.”** 

(straightens tie)

Still got it.

Moving on, one other thing you’ll notice about the deck is the relative ease with which it makes use of FF-only plot twists like It’s Clobberin’ Time!. This is a good thing and I’m all for it . . . Clobberin’ has long been the exclusive property of a select few—the finest ale in a “discerning” country club frequented by an assortment of irradiated astronauts, including a beautiful woman with the poor sense to remain invisible most of the time. What a waste! Even if Victor Von Doom drops in to use the facilities every few days, the card doesn’t see a wide range of action. No longer. In this deck, it’s put to fine use. Even if you don’t get a copy of Midnight Sons (and with three Midnight Sons, three Dagger, and four Wild Ride with which to find Dagger, it’s pretty hard to avoid one), you have a bunch of Fantastic Four characters who are good targets. You also have the always agreeable Stick and Luke Cage, Power Man—two gents who would never turn down a chance to test high speed knee/neck relations.

Later in the game, the deck is the usual Bathtub Brokenness, with Mr. Fantastic liable to make recruiting it easy. If that fails, there’s nothing to stop Reed from passing around the Advanced Hardware as if it were one of those funny cigarettes. As a rule, though, you just go with as many Fantasticars as you can get. It’s the same old story with a new twist. I can’t help it, really—I love Tub. The siren song of the Fantasticar bends my will, now and forever, like a pliable runner of saltwater taffy. I mean, I thought I “loved” scuba diving and throwing bolts backward through the sunroof of my car. Now, having seen Fantasticar in action, I have to reconsider the meaning of the word.

Almost overlooked by players, but no less important, is the card drawing aspect of the deck. Antarctic Research Base isn’t a card that you’ll draw all the time, but it’s definitely a good way to get things running smoothly. If you have the Base and a copy of Midnight Sons, the ball starts rolling as early as turn 2, when Blade can suit up and draw you a card. Just keep in mind that all the sneaky ways the deck employs to scoot equipment into play on the sketch, such as Quentin Carnival and Punisher, Jury, don’t actually work with the Base. That would just be mean. Regardless, if you keep Base in play for the entire game, I expect you’ll be a very happy person—the skipping and whistling sort who might actually drop a Ben Franklin bomb on the nearest Salvation Army Santa Claus.

Time is short. I’m pretty sure the agents are at my door with a federal John Doe warrant. They would have been here sooner, but I saw the S.W.A.T. van stopped at Timmy Ho’s, where they doubtless picked up a few dozen. That definitely slowed down the oppression machine.

Before I go, I have a couple of final comments. The first is about Quentin Carnival. This is your Overload insurance. No good deck wants to be a punching bag for Overload, and this one is no exception. The second . . .

Dang. The S.W.A.T team just kicked in the door and knocked over my collection of potato chips that look like stuff. And their fingers bear the telltale glaze of a donut high. This is going to get ugly. I’ll see you next week . . . if I make it.

 ===

 GT

 gtait@cogeco.ca

* Yes, I know it’s common. It’s still that good.

**Don’t forget Poland.

(Metagame Archive) Design vs. The Headiness of Multiplayer

By Danny Mandel

Here’s how it works:

Sometimes, you work on an expansion and you have lots of design stories to tell, and you tell them, and people write you happy and positive emails. Or even if they don’t, they make some pleasant comments on the bulletin boards, or at least they don’t say anything too mean, and so you go on with your life full of self-satisfaction and glee . . .

Other times, you get Brian Hacker and Dave Smith* to write your articles for you so that you can take a couple weeks off before your typing fingers start itching, the self-loathing starts creeping back in, and you start craving your weekly dose of affirmation . . .

So yeah, I’m back. And today, I’m here to talk about something that’s been on the forefront of the Vs. community’s consciousness since the early days of Marvel Origins . . .

Two-Headed Mutant! (And its younger DC Comics brother, Two-Headed Metahuman!)

Okay, maybe it’s not the Beatdown/Overload controversy of ’05, but it is the subject of an email I got a couple weeks ago from someone I like to call “Dimitris.”**

Dimitris had some fun playing Two-Headed Mutant with his friends, but he also had several questions, mostly stemming from the fact there isn’t a whole lot of information available outside of the original rulebooks. Departing from my usual technique of copy/pasting the email and my reply into the body of an article, I figured I’d instead regale you with the hows and whys of Two-Headed’s origin. I’ll also give a bit more instruction about how R&D envisioned it playing.

First of all, here’s the entry from the Marvel Origins rulebook:

Two-Headed Mutant:

A two-on-two game of Marvel. Teammates sit next to each other across from their opponents. One team starts with initiative, which will be passed to the next team at the end of the turn. Each team starts with 100 endurance. Each player has his own resource row, but shares a single front and support row with his teammate. Play exactly like a regular game of Marvel with some exceptions.

Turn Sequence

 

Draw Phase: All players draw two cards.

 

Build Phase: The team with initiative completes the following steps, and then the next team does the same.

 

Team Resource Step: Each player on the team puts one resource into his resource row.

 

Team Recruit Step: Each player on the team recruits characters and equipment by spending his own resource points.

 

Team Formation Step: The team arranges their characters into a single formation.

 

Combat Phase: The team with initiative makes their attacks. Then the next team makes their attacks.

 

Recovery Phase: Each team chooses and recovers two characters.

One of our design goals when creating the Vs. engine was to make the two-player game transition smoothly to multi-player games. For example, the initiative mechanic speeds up game play because everyone’s doing something on every turn. Also, unlike some games where a player has to announce all of his or her attacks at once, the Vs. System has each player announce and complete his or her attacks one at a time. This means that there’s no mechanical difference between how the attack step works in multiplayer games or one-on-one games.

We started off testing multiplayer games in the grand melee style, where everyone’s trying to win the game on his or her own.

Next, we tried team games, with teammates sitting diagonally across the table and sharing 100 endurance. This way, one team would have a player start with the initiative on the odd turns, and the other team would have a player start with the initiative on the even turns. The game play was the same as in grand melee, except you couldn’t attack your teammate.

There were several variants to team play, among them:

Attack Left: A player can only attack the player on his or her left. This prevents one team from ganging up on and eliminating an opponent who’s gotten off to a slow start. (There’s also the Attack Right variant, which plays somewhat differently, because now you’re attacking the player who just had the initiative instead of the player who’s about to receive the initiative.)

 

Team Shields (not to be confused with Tim Shields, a Vs. Tournament Organizer): Each team starts with a 50-endurance shield. Once the shield is gone, each player has 25 endurance remaining. This also helps prevent a team from eliminating an opponent who’s gotten off to a slow start.

Shared Recruiting (not to be confused with Cher-ed Recruiting, which involves leather pants and Dave Humphreys): A player may recruit a character into one of his or her teammate’s rows. The teammate then controls that character. This variant can really shake things up, as it essentially combines each team’s hands, at least for the purposes of recruiting.

While the above variants mess around with standard Vs. game play, none of them changes the play experience as much as Two-Headed Mutant. I don’t remember if it was Matt Hyra or me who came up with the idea for the format, but Matt could probably take me in a fight, so we’ll go ahead and give him the credit. Plus, he works on the Wynx Club game, so he could use the ego boost.

The main concept behind Two-Headed play is that players share everything except their hands and resource rows. Each player has his or her own hand and resource row, but there is only one front row and one support row per team, and only one 100-point endurance total. You know . . . two heads, one body. Once a character is in play, both players control that character. Yes, this means that you and your teammate had better get along pretty well . . .

Something to consider about Two-Headed Mutant is that you can play it one-on-one (which is how Matt and I originally tested it). Each player brings two decks. Each player has two separate hands of cards and builds resources into two separate resource rows. Each player gets two recruit steps (one for each hand). However, all characters and equipment from both of his or her decks go into a single front and/or support row. Because of the double recruits, the chaos and carnage accelerates much more quickly, so each player gets double the endurance and double the recovery phase recoveries.

So yeah, that’s how R&D originally envisioned Two-Headed Mutant. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Unless it turns out that you hate it, in which case you shouldn’t.

One last thing to keep in mind: While the Vs. System was designed to support general multiplayer games, Two-Headed Mutant is a bit more off the beaten path. As you play, I’m sure questions will arise about card interactions and the format itself. Unfortunately, there isn’t a separate comprehensive rules set specifically for Two-Headed Mutant. Fortunately, Matt Hyra has agreed to answer all of your questions. Okay, that’s not true. What is true, though, is that you can send me your questions, and Matt and I will come up with answers that we’ll post online in an FAQ at a later date.

 Okay, that’s all I got on Two-Headed play. Send feedback or questions to dmandel@metagame.com.

Tune in next week for a look at Three-Headed play. Or, at least another article that makes fun of my coworkers.

*Thanks guys! Great articles! You’re both awesome! (Except for Brian. Brian stinks! Kidding, kidding! I kid because I love. And because he never reads my articles, anyway . . . )

**Because that’s his name.

(Metagame Archive) The Wizard World Los Angeles Experience

By Mary Van Tyne

 
You spend weeks playtesting your deck and trying it out against every single possible matchup. You spend too much money on a flight from your hometown to Los Angeles, and when you get there, it takes you five freeways and several side streets to find your hotel. The convention center is massive and hard to navigate, and since you didn’t get much sleep the night before, you don’t do so well at the tournament. Your record of 6-4 leaves you a little depressed.

Well, cheer up, tiger, because Wizard World Los Angeles isn’t just about playing Vs. System. If you go down to the convention hall, you’ll find all sorts of great things to see and do.

The first thing you’ll see when you walk into the exhibit hall is the Hulk at the Marvel Comics booth. He says, “You won’t like me when I’m angry!” but the swarm of fans around the booth prove otherwise, as they seem to like the Hulk pretty much all the time. If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, you can get your comic books signed by popular Marvel Comics artists like Skottie Young, Danny Miki, and Mike Mayhew.

 

You may have heard of Vivendi Universal as the owners of a little software company called Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard’s team has created some of the most universally enjoyed video games of all time, such as Starcraft and World of Warcraft. Vivendi’s booth is promoting their new game Red Ninja: End of Honor. You can try out a demo of Red Ninja after you check out their Ninja-themed racecar.

 

Of course, a comic book convention wouldn’t be complete without comic-book themed stuff. After the release of Galactus at game conventions last year, WizKids brings fans a new, extra-large figure to collect and play with. This new figure is Dark Phoenix. Now we can finally settle the question of, “Who would win in a fight?”

 

There are also several hundred different kinds of collectibles to satisfy the hardcore collector. This stylish bust of Professor X would look pretty cool on your mantelpiece, or you could bring it to the next tournament to intimidate your opponent with the Professor’s psychic powers. It’s only $45.00, and you can get your own at the Diamond Comics booth.

 

Perhaps you’re interested in history. If so, you need to check out the Century Guild booth. They claim to have “the finest art of three centuries,” and they aren’t kidding. There are original prints by Alphonse Mucha and several other Art Deco artists. “This is the root of comic book art,” Gail Potocki, the booth proprietor, told me. She paints art in a similar style to the antique art shown here. Check out the Century Guild’s website and purchase some great art for your walls.

 Speaking of the roots of comic book art, the Creative Interests Agency has that covered. Rich, Dan, and Steve Donnelly are three brothers who collect and work with original pieces of comic book art. Do you ever wonder how your favorite character looks so stunning on the cover of that comic book? Artists get a concept from the art department, then draw the art in pencils. Inkers go over the art, and color directions are added. Check out how this original Moon Knight cover art contrasts with the finished and printed comic book.

Spider-Man meets Thor in this page from the Spider-Man Annual from 1966. Notice the artist’s signature at the top of the page. Though John Ramita drew this page, Steve assured me that the lettering was done in the style of Stan Lee’s original comics. You can check out thousands of pages of original comic book artwork at the Donnellys’ website.

 

Another great thing about conventions is the opportunity to get things signed by famous comic artists. Phil Noto appeared at the Wizard booth on Sunday afternoon, and he was gracious enough to draw a sketch of everyone’s favorite Superman. You might have seen Phil’s work on such Vs. System cards as Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective, Poison Ivy, and Barbara Gordon ◊ Batgirl.

A sketch like this makes me wish I had a notebook with unlined paper. If you get the chance, grab a notebook and go around a convention asking the artists for sketches. You may have to wait in some long lines, but the book you’ll end up with will be completely worth the wait. Try this at the next game convention you attend!

If you’ve got a taste for spandex and capes, you can dress up as your favorite superhero. Robert from Livermore was the most striking Boy Wonder seen all weekend. “I’m Tim Drake,” he said, “the good Robin!” Batman and the Green Lantern were also spotted on the convention floor, but declined to provide their names. Guess we’ll just call them Bruce Wayne and Hal Jordan.

 

A game convention is also a great place to meet your friends, and to make new ones. After you partake in all that Wizard World Los Angeles has to offer, it’s important to take time out to spend time with your friends. Matt Tabak and Chris Wong demonstrate the importance of friendship to me in this final photo.

Now that you’ve seen all the great things to do at a Wizard World game convention, brush up on your skills and join us at an upcoming $10K Championship tournament! We’d love to see you there!

(Metagame Archive) $10K Los Angeles 2005

By Metagame Staff

The finals at Los Angeles have ended, and Jack Garrett is the latest $10K Champion! Piloting his Curve Sentinels deck to three consecutive wins made Jack the latest person to earn the title of $10K Champion.

Fellow finalist Josh Wiitanen earned himself a special place in the record books this weekend as he became the first person to play in four $10K Top 8 Championships. Despite not coming away from any of them with a win, Josh has firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the $10K circuit.

The two players fought their way through two long and grueling games, splitting them down the middle, before engaging in an anti-climactic game three that Jack won handily.

Jack and Josh certainly have an interesting ride home ahead of them. After they both lost in the Top 8 at $10K Vegas, they were quite excited to play in an all Las Vegas $10K final. They drove down here together and had agreed to a prize split before the tournament began. Each player is taking home $2,000 for the weekend, but Jack won the trophy.

Congratulations to Jack Garrett, the $10K Los Angeles Champion!

Quarterfinals       Semifinals       Finals       Champion  
                   
Adam Prosak  
 
        Adam Prosak  
           
Patrick Yapjoco      
   
      Jack Garrett  
   
Brian Eugenio      
     
      Jack Garrett      
       
Jack Garrett      
   
      Jack Garrett  
 
Ryan Jones    
   
      William Hou    
     
William Hou        
     
      Josh Wiitanen    
   
Josh Wiitanen    
   
      Josh Wiitanen    
   
Vidi Wijaya    
 
 
 
 

Top 8 Decklists

Adam Prosak

Characters
1 Roy Harper ◊ Speedy
3 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk
3 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove
4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin
4 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal
4 Pantha
1 Beast Boy
4 Terra
2 Red Star
4 Garth ◊ Tempest
2 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire

Plot Twists
4 Teen Titans Go!
4 Press the Attack
4 Finishing Move
3 Heroic Sacrifice

Locations
4 Tamaran
4 USS Argus
3 Optitron
2 Titans Tower

Josh Wiitanen

Characters
4 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective
3 Hank Hall ◊ Hawk
3 Dawn Granger ◊ Dove
3 Terra
4 Red Star
4 Garth ◊ Tempest
1 Cassie Sandsmark ◊ Wonder Girl
1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire
1 Connor Kent ◊ Superboy, Tactile Telekinetic
1 Raven
4 Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal

Plot Twists
3 Press the Attack
2 Finishing Move
2 Betrayal
2 Heroic Sacrifice
4 Teen Titans Go
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Overload

Locations
3 Tamaran
3 USS Argus
3 Titans Tower
2 Optitron

Ryan Jones

Characters

2 Destiny
2 Lorelei
2 Mastermind
2 Phantazia
2 Thornn
3 Pyro
2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress
1 Toad
1 Unus
1 Avalanche
2 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff
2 Rogue, Anna Raven
4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage
2 Sauron
4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr

Plot Twists
4 Not So Fast
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Surprise Attack
4 The Mutant Menace
4 The New Brotherhood

Locations
4 Genosha
4 Savage Land

Brian Eugenio

Characters
1 Big Barda
4 Boris
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius
1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria
1 Dr. Doom, Victor von Doom
1 Forager
1 Izaya ◊ Highfather
1 Lightray
1 Mark Moonrider
1 Metron
1 Orion, Dog of War
1 Scott Free ◊ Mister Miracle
1 Sub-Mariner
3 Vykin

Plot Twists
3 Astro Force
2 Betrayal
3 Faces of Doom
1 Flame Trap
3 Mystical Paralysis
3 Reign of Terror
4 Royal Decree
3 Savage Beatdown
4 The Exchange
1 Unmasked

Locations
3 Avalon Space Station
3 Doom’s Throne Room
3 Doomstadt
3 The Source

Jack Garrett

Characters
4 Hounds of Ahab
6 Sentinel Mark II
4 Nimrod
4 Boliver Trask
6 Sentinel Mark V
4 Magneto, Master of Magnetism
4 Bastion

Plot Twists
3 Total Anarchy
4 Reconstruction Program
2 Team Tactics
4 Cover Fire
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Overload
3 Nasty Surprise

Locations
4 Genosha

William Hou

Characters
4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr
4 Bastion
4 Boliver Trask
4 Nimrod
8 Sentinel Mark II
8 Sentinel Mark V
1 Sentinel Mark III

Plot Twists
4 Cover Fire
4 Reconstruction Program
4 Savage Beatdown
3 Overload
3 Not So Fast
2 Global Domination
2 Total Anarchy
2 Acrobatic Dodge

Locations
4 Genosha

Vidianto Wijaya

Characters
4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr
4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage
3 Rogue, Anna Raven
1 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff
2 Toad
1 Avalanche
2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress
Sauron
3 Pyro
1 Thornn
3 Lorelei
2 Mastermind
2 Destiny
2 Phantazia

Plot Twists
4 The New Brotherhood
3 Surprise Attack
4 The Mutant Menace
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Not So Fast

Locations
4 Genosha
4 Savage Land

Patrick Yapjoco

Characters
2 Destiny
2 Thornn
2 Mastermind
2 Lorelei
2 Phantazia
2 Toad
3 Pyro
1 Avalanche
2 Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress
2 Rogue, Anna Raven
1 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff
1 Mystique, Raven Darkholme
1 Blob
2 Sauron
4 Sabretooth, Feral Rage
4 Magneto

Plot Twists
4 The New Brotherhood
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Mutant Menace
4 Not So Fast
3 Surprise Attack

Locations
4 Savage Land
4 Genosha

(Metagame Archive) Voices from the Field: Here Come the Spider-Sentinels!

By Ben Kalman

On the heels of last week’s article, which highlighted some of the underrated cards in the Web of Spider-Man set that could shine in Modern Age, I’ve put together a Modern Age deck using only cards from Web of Spider-Man. Every card but the team-ups are Web of Spider-Man cards. This 61-card deck arguably teams up the most unlikely partners in the Marvel universe—Spider-Friends and Sentinels! I put this deck together on a whim after arguing with a friend at the local shop that Sentinels could work in Modern Age. While this throws Marvel continuity out the window, think of it as a team in the other, other, alternate Marvel universe. While this deck may not win you PC Amsterdam, you’ll be surprised to find just how well it works when it goes off.

Spider-Sentinel Sense and Destroy!

 

Characters

5 Wild Pack

3 Silver Sable

5 Sentinel Mark III

2 Prodigy

4 Mark II Number II

8 Sentinel Mark V

3 Mattie Franklin

2 Ezekiel

Plot Twists

3 Crushing Blow

4 Marvel Team-Up

3 No Fear

2 Pleasant Distraction

4 Spider Senses

2 Tragic Loss

2 Twist of Fate

3 Wave of Sentinels

Locations

2 Volcanic Base

Equipment

4 Armored Spider Suit

As I said earlier, this is an all Spider-Man version—every card in this deck but the four copies of Marvel Team-Up are from the Spider-Man set. One could easily add a little spice by using the Marvel Knights set. Cards like Crime and Punishment, Blown to Pieces, Dracula’s Castle, Gravesite, Hounds of Ahab, Meltdown, and Weapon of Choice could all be potential additions to the deck. I would taste it before adding salt, however, as it works rather nicely as is.

The Deck

This is essentially an army deck with a little help on the side. There are two ways to play it. One is to play as many army characters as you can and swarm over your opponent, and the other is to keep to the curve as much as possible and use your extra character cards to feed Mattie. I also built an alternate version of this deck that was almost two thirds character cards. Its purpose was to fill the resource row with Mattie pumps, but I felt that working towards a 6th turn win with Mattie was counterproductive, especially if you somehow missed her (even playing four copies of Mattie and four Twist of Fates is no guarantee you’ll find her).

So, what we have here is half curve and half swarm, and the deck was built to function in either direction.

You should always try to have a Marvel Team-Up in your opening hand. The Team-Up is an important aspect of this deck. It’s not necessary, but it’s a lot harder to win without one. Mulligan for the Team-Up unless your opening hand is so amazing that you simply can’t let it go. But with thirteen 1- and 2-drops and six 3-drops, there aren’t many reasons you’d need to keep, unless you were unfortunate enough to draw all of your Matties in your opening hand.

Sentinels, Attack!

 

The early game is all about swarm. Your Wild Packs get a team attack bonus, making them each 2 ATK/1 DEF team attackers, and Silver Sable gives them an additional +1 ATK/+1 DEF. Your Mark IIIs, with a team-up, give your Wild Packs an extra +1 ATK while attacking, as they become Army Sentinels. Mark II, Number II is the Ricochet replacement. His DEF is a little lower, but his ATK is higher and he has flight and range. Plus, his ability, while not quite as good as Ricochet’s, affects all of your characters (assuming a team-up), not just the ones with evasion. Ricochet’s ability is all but useless in this deck, as he’d be the only one affected by it.

Prodigy, however, is a very nice card to have. He gives you a nice defensive boost and makes your smaller characters less attractive targets. While you may prefer to have three copies of Prodigy and fewer Mark II, Number IIs, I prefer the latter with their flight and range. Either way, you have a way of keeping your smaller army characters happy, especially when the Mark V’s come out.

The Sentinel Mark Vs are a key component of this deck, which is why there are eight of them. Not only are they your 4- and 5-drop, but their ability allows you to play late game Wild Packs and Mark IIIs without fear of being destroyed by the Big Boys—your opponent will have to take down or exhaust your Mark V’s before he or she can hit your smaller army characters for high amounts of damage. With a Prodigy and a Mark V or two on the table, Wild Pack becomes a 4 ATK/1 DEF reinforced defender. Add Silver Sable to the mix, and Wild Pack is 5 ATK/2 DEF. Five ATK is not the kind of ATK I want to deal with when I’m trying to take out a 1-drop. Plus, a Blown to Pieces will make this situation extremely aggravating for an opponent.

Armor Up!

 

Turns 4 and 5 are where you’ll start deciding whether or not you want to diverge from the curve. It will depend entirely on your hand and resource row. Do you have Mattie, and if so, do you want to set her up? How many Mark V’s do you have? Are Prodigy and/or Sable on the table? Your mix of non-character cards will also have a major impact on your decisions. For example, Armored Spider Suit costs 0 if you recruit two Spider-Friends characters on the same turn you play it, and giving your weenies a +2 ATK/+2 DEF boost and reinforcement is not exactly a bad thing. Also, if you have a Volcanic Base in your resource row, emptying your hand will ensure you get a draw.

No Fear is another card that helps smaller characters take on the Big Guys, and Wave of Sentinels is a great excuse for committing suicide with a solo, unadorned Wild Pack member and then swarming him with other weenies. And why not put that Wild Pack kamikaze to good use by using Tragic Loss and boosting his teammate with a gigantic +5 ATK or DEF on defense? As well, if you pop in a Crowd Control or two, you may prefer to simply place everyone in the back, discard to fulfill your Volcanic Base obligation, and ensure that the breakthrough is minimal. Pleasant Distraction is another way to avoid having to deal with retaliation from a big opponent, especially in later turns when you may need to chip off only a small bit of endurance to get your opponent to 0, and you don’t want him or her to use a 6- or 7-drop and smash you in return.

To mould this deck to your own specifications, you could remove Ezekiel and maybe even Mattie to go full-on swarm. In their place, add a couple more Wild Packs, another Sable or Prodigy, and/or a couple more Mark V’s.

As well, if you take out the upper curve, the Twists become expendable. You can pop in another Pleasant Distraction and Tragic Loss, or the aforementioned Crowd Controls. Finally, you may find that the Volcanic Base is expendable, or that the Crowd Control option is unnecessary with the Mark V’s and the Armored Spider Suits. In that case, try Blown to Pieces, Gravesite, and/or Meltdown. I personally prefer Volcanic Base to Gravesite, however, as even though it’s not a guaranteed draw, there’s no discard and your opponent doesn’t benefit. You may also want to add some Hounds of Ahab, which is certainly a vicious card. I prefer the Mark IIIs, however, as they give a nice ATK boost to everyone.

Corrections Dep’t

 

Thanks to great player and all-around nice guy Jeremy Treanor for pointing out this error in last week’s article: I mistakenly recommended using team-stamped team-ups from Marvel Knights for Silver Surfer, and I said that Forced Allegiance would work. Forced Allegiance, and all of the team-stamped team-ups in Marvel Knights (except Midnight Sons, will not work for Silver Surfer because they do not affect cards in your hand.

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, and it now boasts well over 1,300 members! For more on the Yahoo! group, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Marvel_DC_TCG

(Metagame Archives) Team Theme Overview: X-Statix

Mike Flores

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why the heck do I only want one X-Statix character in play?” Why do you have all of these cards in front of you for stunning or KO’ing your own squad? I mean, it goes against everything you’ve learned over the last year or so of getting better at Vs. System play. You’ve been training harder and harder to stun multiple characters per turn, create formations that minimize breakthrough, and bait the other guy into attacks that let you use your activated powers. Why are there so many cards like this one?

 

Why? Why? Why?

No, no. Not Y. X. And ex-. As in X-Statix, formerly X-Force, the home of ex-heroes.

The thing is, other teams in the X-Universe pull stunts like the heroic sacrifice of Colossus to end the Legacy Virus, only to pull a mysterious reappearance years later with Shadowcat shadowed by a mysterious figure (made of metal, obviously)—Colossus, resurrected from the shadow of death under mysterious circumstances.

X-Statix ain’t like that. When Peter Milligan and Mike Allred launched this poignant commentary on celebrity during the innovative early term of Joe Quesada’s new Marvel, they actually re-launched X-Force. During the boom days of the early 1990’s, X-Force was one of the most popular books in Marvel’s arsenal. It was all ugly angles and scratchy hatching and incomprehensible storytelling, and children loved it. Milligan erased the previous continuity and flipped it on its head. He replaced the weird anatomy and unnecessary detail of Rob Liefeld with the fluid cartoons of Mike Allred. They gave us this:

Our first shot of Zeitgeist is there, leaping boldly in homage. Now check out the last page of this first issue of the X-Force re-launch:

So, Milligan re-launched a property with all new characters . . . and killed most of them in the first issue. Zeitgeist, the centerpiece of the dramatic Allred cover, is situated in the top left of that cover, indicating that “X-Force is a book about this guy.” And yet, there he is on the last page, splattered alongside almost everybody else. This isn’t the regular old X-Men, let me remind you. Professor X may have given Guy Smith a shiny red suit, but this team doesn’t play by the same rules. At the end of X-Force’s first adventure, the only ones left standing were the Anarchist and U-Go-Girl (and Doop, if you count floating as standing), and there is no chance of any of them regenerating from a single cell like Wolverine would, or of reappearing like Colossus did.

Over the course of the series, Milligan made us fall in love with U-Go-Girl and made Mr. Sensitive fall in love with her, too . . . and then ended that popular character. Maybe as a commentary on the modular nature of celebrity, of how one starlet or teenage singer can pop right into the last one’s spot, Edie (cute blue teleporter) was immediately replaced by Dee Milo (cute black teleporter), both on the team’s roster and in Guy Smith’s heart.

The reason that you get so many bonuses for stunning or KO’ing your X-Statix team members, and for having them fight alone, is that in the comic book, they die. And they die young. And often. These mutants live a posh lifestyle (check out the flavor text on X-Statix HQ) because they know that they might not make it through the next mission. In that sense, X-Statix is a very realistic superhero comic. Sure, you have young people with amazing abilities going on improbable adventures, but they don’t act the same way that the Fantastic Four act. These people thrust their lives into danger time and again, and they don’t all make it back. They don’t have the healthiest personal lives at all. Many members of X-Statix have substance abuse problems, delve into the seamier side of physical intimacy, or force themselves into even more dangerous compulsions. The teary-eyed Orphan, arguably the most well adjusted and heroic member of the X-Statix team, plays Russian Roulette every night. Living lives that are constantly recorded by the old Doop Cam, they just want to be able to feel something, real or not, healthy or not.

There are little joys amidst all the cynicism and doom, like in the second issue of the X-Statix X-Force run, when the former team storms a press conference to try to reclaim their superhero team name. Check out Edie’s response: “If the name was so important to you, you should’ve like, TRADEMARKED IT!”

My favorite interaction has to be the Doop/Wolverine team-up. In X-Force and X-Statix, Milligan gives us a cast of really flawed characters, but we learn to love them. Tragic Edie Sawyer, striving for redemption until her end, is the best example, but Doop, that floating booger, is probably the most lovable. Up until the Avengers crossover that I touched on in my Doop preview, we only got glimpses of this ultimate weapon’s past. But we do know that Wolvie pulls X-Force’s fat out of the fire at the end of their first adventure, and that these two veterans have history. Just as the UDE R&D team embraces the flavor of X-Statix’s dangerous, often fatal, team philosophy, it also captures the friendship between Wolverine and Doop with the updated Marvel Team-Up.

 

The thing is, X-Statix only works if you don’t pull any punches. The Anarchist is on X-Force from the first issue, and Guy Smith joins as team leader one issue later. That these two rivals survive Santa Anna, The Spike, and poor Edie does not mean that they get through it. The final lesson of X-Statix is that no one is spared. You tempt the devil, you play Russian Roulette with your life, and it can only end one way. The story ends with Guy and Tike—the last members standing—gunned down, after even Doop has been killed by nothing more impressive than men with guns. Not a world-ending attack by Galactus, not a brawl with super villains . . . just some guys with automatic weapons.

So that is the story of why X-Statix is built to give you bonuses for having only one character in play, for destroying your own board position, and ultimately, for burning resource points. Unlike family-oriented teams that play cards such as Heroic Sacrifice, X-Statix knows that death is around the corner. They are in it for the money and the glory. They probably won’t last the year. But if they’re going to die young, they’re going to get the most out of the short term that they can.