(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.

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


2 Quentin Carnival

3 Antarctic Research Base


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.




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

**Don’t forget Poland.


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