(Metagame Archive) The Light of Play: Latverian Embassy

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

One of the great things about Marvel Modern Age is that Ka-Boom! and Have a Blast! are not in the format. While these cards are well balanced and in no way representative of poor game development, it’s undeniable that an environment where we can be, for lack of a better term, as “green” as we dang well want to be possesses a certain siren’s call. There are a great number of excellent locations that haven’t seen much play, strictly because they are easily dispatched. The fact that playing locations can often open a curve-based deck to resource retardation by decks like Teen Titans really discourages players from using them. That’s unfortunate, because there are some cool, high utility locations out there.

Latverian Embassy is definitely one of them. Armed with a very tricky effect, it can be difficult to play to its utmost potential, due in part to its odd utility curve. You don’t really start seeing a benefit from Embassy’s effect until you’re a few turns into the game, but at the same time, you want to get it into your resource row as early as possible. While utility is often seen to be closely linked to when you want a card to appear, the Embassy doesn’t fit those exact standards. In fact in most matchups, you’d be hard pressed to see a benefit from it before the fourth turn. At the same time, however, you want to have it in play as early as possible, because its effect is based on activation. There really aren’t any clever chaining tricks you can do with Embassy on a basic level, so if you appraise its worth using conventional gauges of utility, it can appear to be a poor card—who wants to play a location that you should have out on the second or third turn, but that won’t start benefiting you until the fourth or fifth turn?

Well, thanks to some key matchups in Modern Age, probably everybody. If you can get past the eyebrow-raising aspects of Latverian Embassy, there’s a lot of power to be had.

In short, Latverian Embassy accomplishes two goals. It robs an opponent of key plot twists that he or she may want to use multiples of, and it slows down decks that are reliant on multiples of identical plot twists for speed. It also gives a form of awkward card advantage—hand presence generally serves three functions (fuel for the resource row, fuel for discard effects, and printed card effects), and preventing an opponent from playing a card as anything but a dead resource or discard fodder cuts off the prime function of that card.

So, what’s the Embassy good against? In Modern Age, it can cause trouble for several decks. Aggressively thin builds of Marvel Knights and MK team-ups will often want to Wild Ride more than once per game, and variants of mono-MK decks that are highly dependant on Midnight Sons will take a big hit when they’re robbed of their chief legal way to play cards like Bamf! and Fizzle. While Stick can permit the use of team stamped combat modifiers regardless of the Embassy, the sheer contextual card advantage that limiting Midnight Sons creates is extremely valuable. You not only shut off three of the deck’s copies of Sons, but also some of the cards reliant on Sons to see play. How easily a veteran player might play around this obstacle is not something that I can foresee, but I imagine that it won’t be a simple matter.

Syndicate rush and variants of the deck based on team-ups absolutely hate this card. Rush decks in both Marvel Modern Age and Golden Age are dependant on the ability to play multiple copies of key combat modifiers and KO-inducing plot twists. Without the ability to go crazy and use multiples of cards like No Fear, the deck can lose some of its speed. That’s deadly on its own, but also remember that those plot twists don’t just make a good deck faster, they actually serve to equalize the deck’s erratic draws. If you’ve been playtesting Syndicate in either Modern Age or Golden Age, you’ve likely noticed one thing—when Syndicate goes off, it does so in a big way, but it’s often stymied by poor opening hands and successive bad draws. The deck’s plot twists and other combat modifiers serve to balance that fact. They give good effects regardless of which specific characters appear, and they often allow for similar ATK totals for a turn’s attack, despite a lower number of characters on the board.

Without this balancing factor, a deck that is already less reliable than some of its contemporaries becomes even more likely to fall to poor topdecking. Despite all the hubbub about Marvel Knights variants being the big thing for Amsterdam, I’m honestly expecting to see Syndicate occupy about thirty percent of the field. It’s a very good deck despite its inconsistency, and it’s easy to build. Any Latverian Embassy played at the event probably won’t be wasted.

So, what decks can use Latverian Embassy? Essentially, anything curve-based that benefits from slowing down the opponent will get a nice advantage out of Doom’s home away from home. To me, that makes it a possible inclusion for Marvel Knights variants and Underworld, but where it can really shine is in X-Statix. There isn’t a single deck in the Modern Age environment that has so much promise, yet that is ripped so easily to shreds by Syndicate Rush, than X-Statix single character strategies.

It’s not a difficult deck to slip Embassy into, either. Unlike, for example, straight Syndicate or a Midnight Sons deck, it’s not already packed to the gills with must-have cards. It has room for tech, and when you’re essentially teching against the one deck that would otherwise be an auto loss, you can definitely find the deck space. While No Fear is a big concern in the matchup, the biggest threat is Fight to the Finish. While X-Statix single character decks hate being stunned back when they attack, they hate being KO’d back a lot more. Watch for Embassy to make a splash in X-Statix builds.

In Golden Age, Latverian Embassy is still surprisingly useful. While it can open a curve deck to fatal Ka-Boom!s, it does do quite a number on several decks in the format. Cosmic Cops is the big one, as it deprives the deck of its ability to go all out with Bat-Signal, Cosmic Radiation, and A Child Named Valeria. While the deprivation of Bat-Signal and Radiation can be played around with a bit of careful resource management (you can get away with using only a single Signal, and you can keep Radiations in hand for use in the late game), it really hurts the deck’s early and mid-game to have restrictions on its use of Child. While Cosmic Cops has seen a lot less play in the past month or so, it’s still a very potent deck, and unlike Teen Titans and Brave and the Bold (which can be hurt by Embassy, as well), it’s often deprived of the location hate it would need to break Embassy’s hold on the field.

As for Titans and B&B, both decks can definitely be hurt by Latverian Embassy. Unfortunately, both also tend to run copies of Ka-Boom! or Have a Blast!, and Brave and the Bold can even seek out Blast with Alfred Pennyworth. It’s nice in theory, but not so great in practice.

On the other hand, Embassy is currently a great play against Curve Sentinels. Though Curve loads its resource row with Genosha whenever possible, most builds are currently running four copies each of Nasty Surprise, Overload, and Reconstruction Program. Limiting the playability of those cards causes the deck problems all the way from turn 3 onward. In addition, very few Curve Sentinel players are willing to compromise the deck’s focus by running Have a Blast!, and I’m willing to bet that virtually none are willing to compromise the curve for Ka-Boom!. If Teen Titans becomes less of a presence in the environment and takes a back seat to Curve, watch for Embassy to become extremely viable.

Of course, it also tears apart conventional The New Brotherhood decks and Blitz, but it needs to hit early to do so. Unfortunately, it seems that TNB is currently in a state of decline. But, should it make a resurgence, it will give players another reason to keep an eye on Embassy.

In the short term, Latverian Embassy could be a major factor in the Marvel Modern Age format, and it might be an integral component to the strong single character X-Statix concept. In the long term, it could definitely be a great piece of tech in the near future of Golden Age. If Evil Medical School and Cosmic Cops see more play, or if Curve Sentinel wrests domination of the format away from its current neck-and-neck competitor, Teen Titans, Latverian Embassy could be astoundingly good.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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