(Metagame Archive) Detective Work 4: PC New York

Justin Gary

Welcome to a special PC New York edition of Detective Work. Today we’re going to look at what decks and strategies you can expect to see at the Pro Circuit next week. We’ll also spend a little time talking about one of the hottest controversies in all of Vs. and how it will impact the PC.

First, let’s get a little bit of hype out of the way. PC New York is the fourth Pro Circuit and represents the end of the first season. It has been an incredible year both for the Pro Circuit and for Vs. as a whole. This game has gone from being a relatively unknown product to becoming one of the hottest games in the industry, winning multiple awards and supporting growing communities all over the world. We have already crowned three Pro Circuit champions (who won $40,000 each!), and by the end of next weekend, we will have given away over one million dollars* in cash prices. And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We still have a few surprises in store for attendees of Pro Circuit New York, and we have even more huge plans for the second season of the Pro Circuit. If there is anyone in the New York and New England area that isn’t already planning on attending the Pro Circuit, it’s not too late! The new Feature Match area (unveiled at PC Amsterdam) is an incredible sight to see, and the Pro Circuit is more accessible than ever before. There will be last chance qualifiers on Thursday to give everyone in attendance a chance to become a PC Champion. Even if you don’t qualify for the Pro Circuit, there are still plenty of side events (Drafts, Sealed Deck, and Constructed) to enjoy, including a $10K Championship on Saturday. In addition, we will be giving away special extended art promo cards just for playing in side events at the PC. But even beyond getting the chance to play against Vs. players from all around the world, you can be there while the best of the best duke it out for their chance to go down in history as the last Pro Circuit Champion of the first season.

The field for this event should be very interesting. Green Lantern is not legal for Constructed play yet, so the Golden Age format will be well developed. Does that mean that we can expect a field of Teen Titans and Curve Sentinels? Well, yes . . . but that doesn’t mean that it’s all we should expect. There’s still a lot of room to innovate in this field, and there are many new archetypes that have popped up in recent $10Ks.

Let’s take a look at the Top 8 of the most recent $10K in Detroit. In the midst of three Sentinels decks and three Teen Titans decks were two interesting rogue decks. Sammy Gilly was one of only seven players playing a Doom Gamma Bomb deck. He made it to the Top 8 with the following list:

Sammy Gilly

3 Beast
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius
4 Puppet Master
4 Boris
1 Imperiex
4 Robot Sentry
3 Apocalypse
4 Robot Destroyer
1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

3 Faces of Doom
4 Mystical Paralysis
3 Pleasant Distraction
3 Gamma Bomb
3 Swift Escape
4 Reign of Terror
1 Flame Trap
1 Reconstruction Program

4 Latveria
4 Doomstadt

2 Power Compressor

This deck is a very focused version of an old archetype. For those that don’t know, the plan for this deck is to use Swift Escape on Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria followed by Gamma Bomb to wipe out the board. Then, by playing one other character before replaying Doom, you can flip Swift Escape and Gamma Bomb face down again. Wash, rinse, repeat. The rest of the deck is devoted to stalling the game until that combo can come into play. With Beast and Latveria out, Gamma Bomb abuse can begin as early as turn 7! The interesting card of note in this build is Power Compressor. Power Compressor has been popping up in almost all archetypes that support Dr. Doom. Common Enemy, Evil Medical School, and Gamma Bomb Doom all use Power Compressor as a tool to prevent abuse of many powerful characters with activated abilities, but primarily it is an answer to Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal and the Fantastic Fun deck.

The other exciting deck in the Top 8 of Detroit was a League of Assassins build played by Steven Politowski.

4 Assassin Initiate
3 Hassim
2 Kyle Abbot
4 Ubu
4 Merlyn
1 Ra’s al Ghul, Immortal Villain
4 Bane, Ubu
4 Ra’s al Ghul, Master Swordsman
3 Lady Shiva, Master Assassin
1 Ra’s al Ghul, The Demon’s Head
4 Tower of Babel
4 Savage Beatdown
2 Have a Blast!
4 The Demon’s Head
3 Overload

4 Mountain Stronghold
3 Lazarus Pit
1 Pit of Madness
1 Flying Fortress
1 Avalon Space Station
1 Clocktower
1 LexCorp
1 Latverian Embassy

League of Assassins has periodically broken through to the Top 8, largely on the power of Merlyn and the versatility of The Demon’s Head. This deck may be ready to make its big breakthrough next weekend. In addition, though they won’t be legal for New York, the League will be getting a few more useful cards in the upcoming Batman starter deck that could help them become a staple deck in Golden Age.**

The truth is that for this event, most players will be playing deck archetypes that we have all seen before. While I have no doubt that there are rogue decks that can defeat a metagame this established, it is very hard to get a rogue deck fine-tuned enough to compete against the well-honed popular decks. If you look at how far the Teen Titans deck and the Curve Sentinels decks have evolved since their inception (remember Master Mold?), you will notice how much better these decks have gotten based on literally thousands of hours of playtesting around the world. Trial by fire through tournament after tournament has gradually illuminated the best builds for these decks. A small team working on a rogue deck can’t compete with that kind of testing and needs to rely on the predictability of the metagame to make choices that, while not necessarily finely tuned, pack a lot of punch against the weaknesses of the current top decks. This is where things get exciting.

In today’s metagame, the major evolutions seem to be occurring not in unplayed teams, but in specific plot twist and narrow “hate” card choices. Key examples of this are the huge increase in Betrayals seen in Top 8 decks from multiple $10Ks, the use of Micro-Sentinels in Curve Sentinel decks, and the huge popularity of Power Compressors in Doom decks. The big evolution that I am waiting for is the resurgence of Not So Fast. The Savage Beatdown/Overload combo has become a staple of the Golden Age metagame. Since Savage Beatdown and Overload represent the most powerful plot twists in the game even without combining them, it is no surprise that these cards see a lot of play. Not So Fast is a brutal way to break up this combo while giving your attacker a free +5 ATK to boot. Another way in which players can metagame against the Beatdown/Overload combo is to play decks that don’t try to fight. Decks like Fantastic Fun, Turbo Gamma Bomb, and Evil Medical School don’t waste time attacking in order to win, so they are inherently less susceptible to Overload. It will be interesting to see how people respond to this format-defining combo when $40,000 is at stake.

Before signing off, I want to give everyone one more reason to go to Pro Circuit New York—Me! Well, not me specifically, but me and my coworkers in Vs. R&D. Mike Hummel, Dave Humpherys, Brian Kibler, and I will all be in New York to help judge and do coverage for the event.*** Come down and talk to us! We get lonely playing Vs. all day, and we want to hear from you!**** Do you want your voice to be heard by the people that make the game? Now is your chance. We want to hear what you think of Vs. and how we can improve it. We are coming to the close of the first year of Vs. and we are all very proud of the game we have created and excited about the plans we have for the future (just wait till you see how good The Avengers is!). If you like my articles, let me know. If you think they are terrible, blame Humpherys.

Hope to see many of you in NY! As always, send questions and comments to JustinGary1@hotmail.com.

* (Said in my best Dr. Evil voice with pinky raised)

** For example, see Danny Mandel’s preview article from last week here.

*** Unfortunately, Andrew Yip won’t be able to make it to this PC . . . but who cares about what that guy thinks, anyway?

**** . . . and anything beats listening to Danny tell us how big his pants are all day.

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